Friday, November 12, 2010

Seven Year Itch

Last week my seven year anniversary of living with a traumatic brain injury passed virtually unnoticed. I was engaged in life. Thus, the post didn't get written until now.

Seven things I've learned in the past seven years:

1. I am in charge of my own rehab. I learned this from the helpful folks in the chatroom at I was in there one night of many nights whining about the lack of rehab in my life. Someone spoke up, told me that I had to be in charge of my own rehab. I listened. Although I didn't stop whining immediately, I did locate brain games and other things on-line that helped me.

2. Anything worth having is worth working for. I continue to progress in major ways to this day because I work at not allowing my traumatic brain injury overrun my life. I am not my labels and I am certainly more than my problems and deficits.

3. In order to be able to challenge myself to progress, I have to get extra rest. A disability advocate at an independent living center taught me this. Very early on, I complained that nothing was automatic anymore. I had to think myself through pretty near everything. The brain needs periods of stimulation and periods of rest in order to heal.

4. Relationships change in the face of an ongoing disability. Some friends wandered away for a time, some forever. Some remained. And I made some new friends.

5. I do not have to second-guess people anymore. I can accept others today as doing the best they can most of the time with what they got. Building a psychological profile of anyone is a meaningless activity. Ultimately, mental masturbation is a waste of time.

6. Cyberbullying is alive and well among adults. Cyberbullying is not limited to any specific age group or occupational status or intelligence level. We can disagree, involve ourselves in heated discussions, and moderate comments without engaging in cyberbullying. Cyberbullying shares many of the same characteristics and effects of bullying in the schoolyard or workplace. It sucks and it's wrong.

7. Life with traumatic brain injury is different but still most definitely life and worth living to the max. It's good to be alive, yo.

sapphoq healing traumatic brain injury

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dear Neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

The other day I noticed that you were adding another panel to your "privacy screen." Although I do not understand why your driveway needs privacy, it is your property over there and you have a right to do as you please over there in accordance with local laws blah blah blah. There are some grand old pines that have been growing between our driveways long before either of us moved in which provide a wind-block and a living natural privacy screen. But no matter. I digress.

I object to your tying of two garbage saplings to a third in order to avoid having to cull them before putting up the latest panel. I found these two saplings tied up to a third with baling twine yesterday. Yesterday was the perfect day to go shopping for another bird feeder, which I hung up on one of the pine branches in front of the tied up saplings and adjacent to the privacy screen on my side of the property line. Yesterday I refrained from digging up some clone saplings of the aspen in my backyard and replanting them on my side of the privacy screen. I also refrained from decorating in front of the fence with some very large bluebells which persist upon reseeding themselves wherever they damn well please. And I ordered myself not to take cuttings of some poison ivy (which seems to irritate my skin much less than most folks' skin) and tuck them in along your privacy screen. I hid the knives and scissors from my mate who had sudden urges to experiment with how much force would be required to cut through baling twine. The problem, dear neighbors, does not lay in the existence of your privacy screen.

You have a pool. It must be an elegant pool. I do know it is an in-ground pool. That much I can see from one of my porch decks. Some Sunday mornings in the summertime you have jazz and champagne pool gatherings. I actually like the jazz-- although the jazz you favor is not the N'Orlins jazz that I remember from living in Louisiana years ago-- and your drinking is not my intimate concern. Although I am brain damaged, I am not brain dead dear neighbors. I distinctly remember pulling into my driveway with the thing held together by duct tape and chicken wire that pretends to be a car and watching the last of your pool contents drain down my driveway that day in early September. I remember thinking, "How odd." This trespassing by your chlorinated water upon my tarmac must have required some finesse. Your driveway lays closer to the source of the water. Indeed I dare to point out that your driveway slopes downward in a direct route to the sewer. This event was not repeated in subsequent years as I happened to be home during the great laying of the pipeline.

You have lilacs. They hang over my yard and that's okay. How it is that you think it is perfectly alright to enter my yard with your shiny shears in hand without so much as a by-your-leave escapes me. Similarly, my rearranged brain cannot wrap itself around the three men I found one day on my property cutting some of your trees down. "It is customary for a neighbor to advise another of the necessity of entry in order to take care of things like trees," I told the workmen. "It is your employers' responsibility to have spoken with me beforehand. I would not have objected had I had that courtesy extended to me. So now that I know what you are doing, carry on."

That reminds me. You have a garage which sits parallel to a portion of my now fenced in back yard. The property line allows for you to maintain your garage and for me to plant columbines. Trimming your trees and then tossing limbs back there onto my columbines is uncool. I also object to your snide comments rendered within my hearing about my supposed need for lessons on where the property lines exist. (I have the map dear neighbors, and my property consists of a square and an added isosceles triangle). And it is difficult for me to ascertain what it is that you "will not put up with" anymore when you declare this within my hearing but fail to tell me directly about your specific objections. If you approach me and calmly state what actions of me and my mate besides breathing that you find so irritating, perhaps we can stand together like adults and work out a neighborly solution to your woes. Until then, there will be no alleviation of your troubles.

Here are some things which you may not know about me dear neighbors: I don't celebrate Christ Mas and I don't have credit card debt. I don't take out massive loans for home improvement. I save up for home repairs and I pay cash. I like doing it that way. My cash paid for the driveway to be paved, the attic to be redone, the new windows to be installed, the fence. My cash will pay for my new clunker after the current clunker gives up the ghost, the window sills to be scraped and painted, and the new linoleum in my kitchen. I never understood the "keeping up with the Jones-es" compulsion and I refuse to participate in it. I choose to live within my means, not above it. We all make our choices.

Today I have chosen this format to put you on formal notice. Dear neighbors, my actions already bespeak my intentions to enjoy life to the fullest for however long I have left on this earth in my present form. I like feeding the birds and watching their antics from my back deck. I like sitting on said deck while my quiet dog snoozes in a patch of sunlight. I like my wildflower patch. I like my trees, bushes, weeds, flowers, bees, and chipmunks. I even like the little violets that grow in my grass. I like watching families of birds in my nesting boxes and forsythia bushes. I like studying the birds and other natural events from my bench on the back deck. I like hanging out on my back deck. The dog likes having a fenced in back yard. My mate likes resting on the back deck after weeding the tomato patch. The back deck and the smaller deck by my driveway both look like two people with brain damage stained it and I like that too. My dad helped me stain both decks.

My dad has dementia and I love him. My mate is fond of sharp edges and I love him. My dog is in love with life and I love her. I am defensive and irritable and brain damaged and I love myself.

No love,
sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Sometimes, my brain feels like it is exploding.
I remind myself that my brain has been damaged
and that the nice guy at Sunnyview told me
that my multitasking has shit the bed and it
ain't gonna come back.

Sometimes, my brain feels like it is exploding.
I tell myself that I am doing the best I can
with what I got most of the time. A nap might
help, or going out for a walk with the dog.
I feel so old, like an old lady and I wonder if
that part of things can be healed. I watch
the birds from my window and I envy them
for their freedom and ways of being.

Sometimes, my brain feels like it is exploding.
I remember that risk-taking is risky. And so
I put away the bittersweet memories of
what used to be. I can choose instead
to concentrate on the right now, on the cat
that just now jumped up on the desk to remind me
that I know who I am. Although I did care once,
I am no longer interested in your opinions.

Sometimes, my brain feels like it is exploding.
And I wonder at the heat of the fireworks
heading for the sky and then dissolving
before returning to touch the earth.

sapphoq healing tbi
all rights reserved

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Jumping through hoops

A meeting was held between the job developer and myself. We both showed up with an uninvited guest. I came equipped with an advocate whose primary function is to keep me from exploding in fury and the developer with the VESID counselor in tow who "wanted to see" me.

Many things happened during this meeting. Apparently I had met with the VESID counselor in November and we had spoken about going to school for computer repair. I do remember getting a list of questions in an e-mail regarding this and filing the questions under "totally overwhelming and just not able to get started on researching and answering." These questions allow the VESID folks to distinguish between VESID customers who are able to do the required research in order to get VESID to finance a bit of edumacation from those of us who have brain injuries and aren't able to do the extensive interviewing and looking up stats in order to get VESID to finance a bit of edumacation. [This talk of edumacation may be a moot point as I tried taking an online course in computers and stopped doing any of the related assignments after the second or third week]. At any rate, I thought the last time I had met with the VESID counselor was sometime in the summer. And thus I didn't remember to call the VESID counselor in January "after the holidaze" because I don't remember us meeting in November. I believe the VESID counselor when she said we had met-- I just have no recall of it. If I was able to locate last year's appointment book within the disorganized heaps laying around my home, then I would at least have something in my own handwriting showing that there was such a meeting.

Consequently, when the job developer called me whenever she called me to set up the recent meeting and she told me that my employment plan now says part-time work with animals like in a shelter or something I was willing to accept that. Whenever it last was that the job developer and I had a meeting I believe there was a discussion about that. Over the phone, the job handler allowed as how she would go with me to seek out volunteer work related to animals and that she would go with me to get me into such a place. Please bring the names of three animal places you would like to work at. I did.

Once the VESID counselor came into the room though, things changed. Due to funding, this cannot be. They cannot help me get volunteer work, even as a pre-requisite to seeking employment. They can get me "work tryouts" or assessments cleaning animal cages and whatnot. And wasn't I wanting to go to school for computer repair anyway? That was when I found out that the VESID counselor and I had met in November.

Along with work tryouts there was some talk about:
* a "new" t.b.i. day program,
* and t.b.i. residences,
* and the usefullness to them of having reminder notes [I have tons of lists and charts and notes but the problem is I don't remember to look at them IF I remember where they are],
*and a guy doing t.b.i. in private practice at his home evenings,
* and make an appointment with so-and-so regarding getting people in to help me organize and clean my house that isn't based upon Medicaid funding which I don't have.
I became overloaded within twenty minutes but the meeting lasted for forty five minutes.

I told them-- the VESID counselor and the job developer-- three times that I was overloaded with information. The VESID counselor informed me that she wanted me to ask questions if I didn't understand something. I was at the point where I was catching only isolated words of the conversation between the two of them. After the third time of stating that I was overloaded and adding that I was done and had to go, the meeting was brought to a close.

Once in the parking lot, the advocate commented that she was getting overloaded in there-- and she doesn't even have a brain injury. She also said that these two were not "getting" me as far as she can tell and some other things like that. Their whole focus was to push me into working (even as a "cashier" or someone who puts together uretha catheters-- I can't imagine myself succeeding at either occupation). Meanwhile, a friend of mine who lives in the same town was found a volunteer position by the job handler and a couple acquaintances several counties over were both directed by their job developers to do specific volunteer work at specific places related to their job goals.

At any rate, the job developer is supposed to contact me about the next deal-- work assessments cleaning up after animals-- at some point. For those of you whom VESID or O.V.R. has proven useful, that's cool. This has been years now of non-useful for me. I who used to access services and develop resources for others to utilize have been unsuccessful at utilizing services my own self. Ain't that a kick in the head.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On the Edges of Space and Time

The outskirts. The borderlands. The hedge. Jumping over the broomstick. The threshold. Betwixt and between. Crossroads. Turning point. Tipping point. Diverging roads. Blasting off. Journeying. Caves. Initiations. All of these places of power.

Yes there is power, a sudden wildness coursing through her veins. The traveler packs her solitary knapsack, slinks it over her back, and is off again. Unlike tripping through the throes of past addiction or neurology in sudden reverse, she chooses this time of leaving. The open road and the train tracks lay before her. The subtle recognition of the unfamiliar. She leaves once again to collect pieces of her soul from places she had never been before.

The bags are not packed. The tickets yet unbought. And yet she can taste it. She Knows that she will be leaving once again. Not where or how yet. The traveling nourishes her spirit.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Three Out of Four

I was on the table-- or more accurately, in the bed-- waiting to be put out so the gut doc could peer inside my colon with her fancy camera. I had been in that place just last week and the same gut doc had yanked a polyp out of my stomach. The blond athletic nurse leaning over me this time with a huge needle she intended to jab into one of my contrary jumpy veins began to talk.

"I don't get why people can't work," she said.
"They stay home and get big and fat and lazy," she said.
"It takes work for me to be in this shape," she said. "I work out six days a week at [a local expensive gym]," she said.
"And some people get handicapped parking permits and I see them springing out of their cars," she said.

"I don't have a handicapped parking permit," I said.

sapphoq healing tbi


I am spent and weary with the requirements of a world which I no longer understand.

*sapphoq in need of healing