Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This is spike's brain

This is my post- t.b.i. brain.  As I've said before in these pages, her name is Briella.  Still brilliant, just a bit sideways.

My brain is a bit different now.  I've gotten used to her glitches.  I adjust when the whirley-gigs fly out of rhythm.  I no longer run after the scattered pieces of random chaos.  The patterns that are my thoughts are snatches of memory and pieces of dreams.

It takes courage to dream new dreams.  I don't have too much of that yet.  I've only scratched the surface of possibilities.

sapphoq healing t.b.i., brain damage, attitudes and a bunch of other stuff 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

She Slammed My Head into the Wall or He Beat Me with a Tire Iron

I remember my dad driving me somewhere in a car along the Garden State Parkway going north.  A call-in talk show was on the radio.  Women were calling in and talking about the physical abuse they were enduring from their husbands.  One man called in to complain that his wife was physically abusing him.  My dad made fun of that.  "Oh yeah," he said, "She beat me.  She's a tiny little woman and I'm a big man and she beat me."

There was no domestic violence hotlines back then.  When the hotlines first appeared, heterosexual women were first recognized as being victims of domestic violence.  Women whose husbands or boyfriends were the victimizers were given help.  At first, lesbians were not welcome at domestic violence shelters.  The lesbians protested and so that changed quickly.  The idea that a man could suffer domestic violence at the hands of his male or female partner came later on.  

Yes, a man can be physically abused by his partner-- male or female.  I have seen evidence of this more than once.  And yes, a man can be raped.  I knew a man who had been [legal word "allegedly"] raped by a woman.  It was a very traumatic experience for him by his description some twenty years later when I met him.  This is something that is not talked about much even today.  And yeah, my dad in his old age experienced [legal word: "alleged"] physical abuse at the hands of his domestic partner.  I will not offer you proof here in the form of the physical examinations by qualified physicians that do exist nor will I offer you the police report.  Consequently, any references to direct knowledge that I have will remain under the realm of "anecdotal only" by necessity.

After my traumatic brain injury, I had [sigh, and still continue to have] problems with uneven ground and long, narrow spaces.  I fall.  I fall more than I used to fall and I fall more than the average person falls.  Some docs say yeah that is a balance problem even though it is not caused by an inner ear problem.  Others say that isn't a balance problem because I don't have an inner ear problem.  The bottom line is that when I've toppled over once again [and I usually but not always tend to fall to the right when I do fall], I don't rightly give a shit whether a medical professional calls it a genuine balance problem or not.  The external vertigo [the "room" spins to the left 24-7] is a constant but a constant that I am now used to.  My tendency to fall is not something that I am able to compensate for effectively.   It's a pain in the ass to always have to be conscious of this particular liability and to fall despite my best efforts not to.  I've hurt my back twice within the last two months because of falling.  The physical therapist advises that indeed my falling problem has to do with my perceptual difficulties rather than anything that physical therapy can fix.  "That's what the special eye doctor told me too," I said.  That sucks.  I work really hard anytime that I land in physical therapy.  So if P.T. was able to fix this, there would be a different sort of hope than the hope I currently have.  Rather than hope for the falling to stop, I now have prescribed exercises to loosen and stretch my hamstrings as well as some to strengthen the muscles around my spine.  And we will also be doing stuff to help with uneven ground.  The physical therapist also advises [so many years after my brain damage] that my right side continues to show evidence that it is worse than my left side.  A bit discouraging because I do a lot of work to help myself.  Reality nonetheless.  I can complain about it so that beats being dead and unable to complain about it any day in my book.  

My brain damage [or if you wish to refer to it in vanilla and sanitized words, "my traumatic brain injury"] was caused by an automobile accident.  Falls is another biggie.  In no particular order, there's also poisoning, strokes, brain tumors, drowning.  And suffocation, strangulation, shaking, gunshot wounds, beatings around the head and the neck with or without implements such as tire irons.  If someone else does the suffocating, strangling, shaking, shooting of gun, or beating that's abuse.  If someone who is sharing living space with you does it, that's domestic violence.  If they are your partner, that's intimate [partner] domestic violence.  And yeah, you can get brain damage-- or a traumatic brain injury if you wish to sanitize the phrase-- from those things.

Researchers have researched the connection between head injury and domestic violence. They've written papers and stuff.  I found bunches of the papers on the web.  There is even an acronym to help emergency room personnel and others remember to ask about domestic violence and brain injury.  H.E.L.P.S. stands for Hit, Emergency Rooms, Lose Consciousness, Problems, Sicknesses.  A pdf can be found at: along with a more detailed explanation than the one that I am going to give.

Hit:  Did you ever hit your headDid someone hit your head?

Emergency Rooms:  Did you ever visit an emergency room or been hospitalized?  For what? 

Lose Consciousness:  Did you ever lose consciousness?  For how long?  Why?  [Caveat: One does not have to lose consciousness in order to have a brain injury].

Problems:  After hitting your head / being hit on the head have you had any problems?

Sicknesses:  After hitting your head / being hit on the head have you had any sicknesses?

Over at: what follows the H.E.L.P.S. chart is a suggested list of questions tailored for women victims of domestic violence in order to screen them [I hope people think to use this for MEN who are also vics of domestic violence, sigh] for signs of head injury.   

My first neurodoc after my life-changing brain event earned the nic the needle-sticking neurologist.  His practice was primarily composed of people like me.  Most of us had been diagnosed as having a traumatic brain injury.  All of us had various pains which required pain management.  The nerve blocks I received from him [six very long needles to precise areas in the back of my skull three times] eliminated the constant HEADACHE that never let up no matter what.  I had fallen the day before going to see him once.  Consequently, I was black and blue.  He noticed.  He asked me if I was okay, if my housemate had done this.  After I replied in the negative, he had one of his female assistants come in and ask me the same thing.  Although I wasn't being abused, I did appreciate that he had thought to ask.  And then thought to send in a sympathetic woman ["Honey, are you okay?  What happened?..."] to ask just in case I would feel more comfortable to disclose the abuse [which I wasn't suffering from] to a woman.

sapphoq healing t.b.i. says: Yeah.  Some people-- women AND men both-- do wind up with brain damage [a.k.a. brain injuries] from domestic violence.  There's lot of info on the web for anyone who wants to read about itI recommend this here site: as being most comprehensive and easiest for a layperson to understand.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Mini-Mental

December 27, 2004.  

It's winter.  No, it feels like winter.  It's actually spring.  

93, 85 or 86.  

d - l  What word am I spelling backwards?  r  What word is it?  o - w.  

I'm not going to remember any of them.  Nope.  

My childhood was fine.  The biggest problem is that we were poor.  

My biggest problem now is my voice.  I can't sell you a car.  I keep practicing.  I want to go back to that.  They still haven't gotten my glasses right.  

School is fun.  

I try not to use the credit card much.  

I have to go to the bathroom.  Where is it?  

I do push ups.  

It's boring.  They fix meals and do my laundry.  That's all.  What's my address again?  

Around ninety dollars.  Nine hundred.  It went down.  And then they charge you extra for everything.  

I don't talk to my friends anymore and they don't talk to me.  I don't know why.  

She travels a lot.  No.  

Once or twice a week.  I have no one who will take me to the store. 

Speak up so I can hear you.  

That's not right.  This one here?   

A watch.  A pencil.  

Wednesday.  I don't know what county it is.  I'm not from around here.  The tenth floor.  

I leave the strings hanging down so people will think that I am poor.

sapphoq healing t.b.i. says: The mini-mental took more than an hour and a half.  Dad no longer cleans up well.  Dementia sucks.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Falling and Physical Therapy Again

I've succeeded in injuring my back twice in a month.  After the first injury, there was a spot in the middle of my lower back that had spasms for three weeks.  Out came the TENS Unit.  I was glad that I had one [purchased for me after the motor vehicle accident which had insulted my brain into her present condition].  

A few days after the spasms stopped, I fell.  When I do fall, I tend to fall to the right.  I am still having trouble with uneven ground.  This time, I fell on my back.  I was not a happy camper.  My neck muscles kicked into automatic and strained forward in order to avoid a whiplash.  A week after this, I consented to sign up for physical therapy.

I had my eval this week.  I learned several things.  There was good news and not so good news.  The good news was that my hips were fairly strong and that the p.t. folks would work with me on some balance exercises and my uneven ground issue.  The bad news was that my falling had more to do with my perception problems [courtesy of the brain damage... le sigh] and that my right side, all these years later, was still showing evidence of having been far more injured during the accident than my left side.  I've worked very hard through the years and to find out that bit of news did not exactly thrill me.  Brain damage sucks.  Oh well.  I am alive to complain about itThat is something.  Beats the alternative.

I was given a sheet of exercises to do at home.  That was something I had requested.  Some of them target the latest back injury.  Some of them target my very tight hamstrings.  Yeah, I did them today.  Yes, when I go to physical therapy I work very hard to derive the greatest benefit from it that I can.

Meanwhile, I have renewed my commitment to myself in terms of healthy eating habits, sleep, and exercise.  I am worth it.  This body is not the body that I came into the world with.  Likewise, Briella [still brilliant but a bit sideways] is not the brain that I came into the world with.  Shit happens and it is up to me to make the best of it.  Whining is ineffective.  I cannot be who I used to be.  I might as well keep striving to do the best I can with this particular set of cards that I've been dealt with.

sapphoq healing t.b.i. says:  I've done my share of screaming and crying.  I've been at this for quite awhile.  The grief and sorrow that I went through after realizing that my battered brain was not going to revert to the brain that I used to know was a very necessary grief and sorrow.  Because I've been at this for quite awhile, I am no longer overwhelmed by the impact that my traumatic brain injury has on my life.  Aside from the occasional bad moment, I pretty much keep myself moving forward as best I can these days.