Monday, June 27, 2011

"What About 'Lisa' ?"

I was having a particularly "obsessive" day (I have these worse since my aneurysm, can you even imagine that?). I have one track left in my brain and I get really, really "stuck" on one thing. This can range from a pair of shoes I want to an upcoming event. I can recognize this as a problem but can not be derailed from whatever it is I'm fixating on. I know I drive people nuts with this and I don't mean to, but I have no ability to 'let it go'. Thankfully, my family and close friends are very gracious and laugh and joke about it with me. So, I was stuck on the purchase of new glasses and, admittedly, driving Nate crazy so I got out the movie, "What About Bob", as comic relief for both of us. I did find some comic relief from watching it as I related to poor Bob's 'problems'. Nate sat there giving me lots of, "that is SO YOU", looks. Much like Bob, I think it would just be easier to say,"... well, the simplest way to put it is, I have problems." That really just about covers it all :-) So, if you want a good laugh, and you share my twisted sense of humor go find....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

the dearest of friends.....

Six years ago, I would not have even thought about driving to a hospital to visit anyone unless taken by force! Early this week, I was browsing facebook status updates when a dear friend of mine (and one of the last few left in the Albany area) posted something about being stuck in the hospital and being bored to tears. Upon verifying the exact hospital, I put some 'real clothes' on, took a deep breath, and said a prayer for her (and my driving skills in downtown Albany). I called Mer to let her know I was coming so if I didn't make it she could send out the search party. I made it to the hospital, found a parking spot in the parking garage (they terrify me because they tend to be confusing and tight and people go way too fast in circles while in them, they seem like 'organized choas'). I used my memory strategies for finding the Jeep again. I took a picture on my cell phone of the floor and staircase number, as well as noting I walked past several handicap spots on the way to my parking location! Since I had been at St Peter's before to visit family with Nate, at least I had some ability to find the Main Entrance even though it is under construction. I ask the kind ladies at the info center for the room number. She kindly wrote it down on a small piece of paper for me. I tease that I have a 'red flag' hanging over my head, letting people know I am going to need a little extra help!! She tells me to follow the signs to elevator H. Now that is great but the second I walk past the sign I can't remember for the life of me which way the arrow was pointing. Thankfully, the signs are close enough together that the next one is in sight. I found the floor and my friend's room! Upon arrival we laugh about how I will never find my way back out of the hospital.I found her so bored she drew every tile of the roof across the street, yup counted and drawn with great accuracy. 'Mer' and I went to college together and were even on a soccer team together and, while we liked each other, we never really got to know each other well. We were both very different girls than the ones we are today! Both in our 30s now living through some serious medical conditions unusual for our age and overall health! We even discovered we both HaTe throwing hay!!! I think Dr. Seuss says it best "...Nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. ...That enables you to laugh at life's realities." Mer and I both look at life through the 'wrong end of a telescope' and I find great joy in being able to laugh about it with her in a way most other people can't. Please join me in praying that next week Mer's procedure would be successful and without complication!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thank you again!

I received an email from the family who organized the aneurysm awareness walk here in Albany. Their daughter passed away at Albany Med in May 2010 of a ruptured aneurysm at only 13 years old. She was a student in the same district (their other middle school) I taught in for a year 02-03. Though our paths never crossed here on earth we share a few things in common. Here is the note from her parents........................

As we gather all the names to send this thank you, we stop and reflect. We think of each of you and how Delany benefited from your love or support throughout her life. We think of the friendship you have given to us, Delany and her siblings. For those of you who never met Delany and attended to raise money for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, we give to you our thanks. We have a heartfelt gratitude for everyone who helped make the hike-a-thon a success.

Words can’t express how happy we were when we totaled the donations of
over two thousand dollars. Your gift will enable the foundation to continue to expand critically important research, education and advocacy for this devastating disease. It is our hope that the monies raised will help to make strides to reduce the incidence of brain aneurysm ruptures and the precious lives they take.

Thank you so much again for your support!

I thought you all deserved to read it too since you helped keep her memory alive by supporting me to be a part of the hike in her name :-)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Not the day I planned...................

Sunday was supposed to be the day of rest in our house, that was the plan! We were doing great until I jumped into the shower. About half way through the sink gurgled or was it the toilet? I hear some banging and tapping in the basement. I finish and yell for answer.......great! Grabbing a towel I head for the hall to investigate. The basement door is open, slight relief. I yell again, Nate answered but I can tell by the way he answered it wasn't good. "WHAT'S WRONG", I yell. I cringed at the answer "the septic is backed up. Now naturally, I immediately think the worst; thousands of dollars on a new septic system. Nate doesn't even see my face and he yells back up the stairs "don't worry about it, I think there is just a clog". Boy, does he know me or what! Since the clog could be anywhere down the line, it was not a Sunday morning DIY project for Nate aka "Mr Fixit". Our brother-in-law owns a Rooter Man franchise so we call him! Rooter Man says" dig up the cover to the tank!" Right, where is that again???????????? As it would just so happen, I take pictures of EVERYTHING!! Yup, Nate had me dig out the 2009 thumb drive and look for pictures of our septic system test before buying our house (Nate was at work while they did the test 2 yrs ago so he was relying on my memory of it, YIKES). Thankfully, I quickly found them in the 'move 2009' folder!! I unplugged the laptop (yup, it started out as a 'good brain day' for me)and ran it out to Nate; who now had a shovel. He counted the exact number of rungs on the deck and got to digging!! I decided to 'play it safe' and snap a picture while repairs were being made in the basement.............Meanwhile, we discover the tank is not backed up so that relieved my lingering fears of a total septic overhaul. Nate confirmed this with Rooter Man and he graciously told us he would be there at 1:30, after church. Oh yeah, I was getting ready for church!! As you can imagine our basement was now literally covered in 'septic'.....IT WAS GROSS!!!

Now, Nate may be 'Mr Fixit' but I am 'Mrs Neurotic'. Assessing the damage, Nate pulls out the wet/dry shop vac, brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm thinking the mop just wasn't going to cut it; and that was before I opened the washer....YUP full of you-know-what!! Nate vacuumed up the water while I pulled out the Clorox!! Nate sprays everything with Simple Green but we need a toxic substance for this mess!!!! Nate decides he has the cleanup under control and sends me to church (so my plan for the day might be salvaged if only for a few hours) while he gets ready for Rooter Man. So, I took a deep breath and drove off to church! So, what was it???? A blocked trap, Rooter Man cleaned it out and all is well now!! This drama queen will sleep well tonight! I am more of a 'specific, color coded plan' kind of girl :-) I am told that these things are "good for me". Life has so many rough, tough lessons, doesn't it?? I am so thankful that it is fixed and working well now thanks to Rooter Man and Mr Fixit!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

just a usual day!

Here is how the day started, it is WAY before the time I get up. I was sound asleep when I hear a horrible howl come from our basement. Buddy, our epileptic yellow lab, does this from time to time. I swear he has some form of doggie Turrets Syndrome; seriously he is a spaz! Now I have been jolted awake and am in my usual fog so I think, "great, he must really have to pee". I am not so concerned that I actually get up to let him out but nonetheless, now I can't go back to sleep. By like 8am there is a large annoying fly buzzing around my head. Forget it, I'm getting up already. Buddy goes out, I think he was fine, just having nightmares or something. Apparently he didn't get the memo; this den mother does not get up early and still function very well. As I eat breakfast, I am using my left hand to stabilize the bowl as I eat on the couch. I know this will only end badly!! Not paying attention my left hand does it's usual curl and my cereal and milk is all down the front of me. I get that cleaned up, sit back down and begin eating again, this time without the assistance of my left hand. All is well until, like most stoke victims, my swallowing is uncoordinated and food goes down the wrong tube (happens all the time, even with spit)after a short coughing fit I am thinking, "it's just going to be one of those days". We all have them, I just blog about mine :-) Now I am all 'out of sorts' and climb in the shower with my glasses on (sequencing is still an issue). Believe it or not I still left to go to my doctor appointment and it actually went very well. I decided that I would even attempt grocery shopping. Since all my usual stores have all conspired to rearrange and redecorate at the same time, I figured it didn't really matter where I went, I'd be wandering either way. I think I may just have to stick to the Hannaford in my tiny little town despite the fact that they don't always have everything on my list!!! So, now I think I have earned a nap, have a wonderful day!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011


I attended the annual Brain Injury Association NYS conference last Thursday and Friday. It always proves to be the highlight of my year, two days with people who 'totally get it' because they have indeed 'been there'; priceless to this survivor! What always impresses me is the human need to meaningfully connect with other people. I guess since my aneurysm/TBI I feel like I lost some of that because relating just seems so much more exhausting than it ever used to! Every year, at this conference, I am reminded that I still long for this connection to people around me. It is almost as if I feel more like my old self around people who only know the new injured me; maybe I just don't have to 'try as hard' when common struggles and experiences are all around me!
Our speaker was Kevin Pearce, the Pro Snowboarder who suffered a TBI after an accident training for the 2010 Olympics. His presentation was short and sweet. It was real and easy to relate to, his fame seemed to melt away and was replaced by the common stories of survival with a sense of humor!!! I even had the opportunity to speak with him the next day as he was waiting outside the hotel. I had already had enough language processing for that morning and took a walk. I couldn't resist thanking him for his transparent honesty and even chatting about our recovery. I have no idea how he is able to travel and talk and sign posters a year out; six years later and I would have a hard time with that! Good job Kevin, keep up the good work!! It doesn't seem to matter how many doctors tell me that the fatigue is "completely normal", I always feel better hearing it from other survivors!!! I am thankful for these unique experiences to connect with other survivors and their families!