Shared from WordPress – Concussions in kids can be detected by a new blood test: study

Concussions in kids can be detected by a new blood test: study –

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Keeping my spirits up

Well, this Thanksgiving holiday is turning out different than planned.  On the final leg of our 2-day drive, Wed night, the power steering started to act up in the van. By the time we arrived, the steering was there – but no power. I popped the hood and found the fluid was completely gone.

My brother-in-law gave me a ride to the auto parts store where I picked up a quart of specially formulated fluid for my vehicle, then I refilled the reservoir and drove around the block, and things started to sound better.

This morning, I checked the levels, and it had lost a fair amount. The van is basically undriveable for long trips – which is exactly what we have ahead of us. We took the van to a friend of theirs who is a great mechanic, and I got a call a little while ago that the power rack was leaking, and who knew what else was wrong. It’s not cheap to repair.

And they might not get it done by end of day. And then, they are closed for the weekend. Which means we don’t get back on the road till Monday at the earliest. But at least my job is flexible.  I will just take more time off.

The worst thing is putting my in-laws out. And not being on my schedule.  And my spouse being anxious.  The money is the least of my concerns, right now.

I really want to just break down. Collapse. I am so tired. And my spouse is a real challenge.  And my side of the family is so interactive, so needy,  so social and overwhelming, it just adds to the ehoke overwhelm. If I survive in one piece without getting hurt, I will be happy.

It’s  a goal. Onward.

But first, I need another nap.

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Shared from WordPress – Invisibility

Invisibility –

Great post I just found.

Concussion has been called a silent or invisible injury. None of this mystique helps when you’ve been hit on the head.  I think it’s the unknown nature of this injury that makes it so scary, not only for people who have a concussion, but also for anyone close to a person with a head injury. You see, normally when you go to the doctor with a problem the doctor listens to your story, takes a close examination of the affected area of your body, then recommends treatment. MRI and CT scans can be used to see if your brain is bleeding, but it seems that most of the information doctors are able to get from a concussion patient come from self-reporting. Reliable reports such as, “yes, that does make me dizzy.” and “Can you repeat that?” are probably consistent replies from concussion patients, but we’re talking about a pretty limited bank of knowledge. (I can’t remember most of what I hear, but I can still see irony!) I think this is one of the biggest stressors affecting people who have an injury to the brain. Once or twice, it has occurred to me that no one actually knows what happened to my head.  Well, rather than allowing yourself to panic over the lack of definitive treatment, I offer this blog as at least a conversation from a somewhat reliable, definitely honest source, a concussed brain. I don’t have any magical answers for you, but I can speak to my own experience. (Note: it has taken three days to get this far, but I’m going to keep at this post tomorrow because, I have a point: there are things you can do to help your brain get better- maybe even better than it was before, but you’ll never actually know, because you’ve probably forgotten what your brain used to be like! )
One thing I do want to say is that it’s important to take stock of what you can still do. In the past, I loved to write. Now I struggle to keep up with the most simple conversation, but for some reason, my voice still comes out in writing. That’s pretty amazing to me. Look for something that you feel strong in, and use that skill to develop your brain. The difference between oral and written language has significant meaning to me now. I can use my long term memory, combined with the slow pace of my working memory to write. Conversation is too fast, listening, thinking (and chewing gum) at same time all put me into overload, but for now, I can write. I know that there are different aspects of memory, long and short term, working memory, but to see such a drastic separation of functions in my own mind, it is truly mind-blowing. I picture a fault line somewhere between two brain structures. The gap my poor neurons have to leap to put info into long term storage is a little bit too big right now, but I’m working on it. Actually, I’m doing what I can to rebuild strength in my brain by writing.
My brain workout is a bit random, but here is a list of the things I try to do every week:
Exercise: Circulation is good. Too much hurts, so keep it light, but do it every day.
Quiet: I spend most of my days doing solitary, but productive things like drawing, yard work and baking. I don’t nap, but I do go to bed pretty early. Sleep is important for a healing brain.
Yoga and Meditation: I enjoy yoga because of it’s personal nature-there is no need to push yourself to keep up with anyone else, and it feels good. I know meditation is good for you, it is a way of resting your brain. I find it very challenging, but I’m working on it.
Social activities: I make a point of meeting up with friends for short visits. It’s very challenging to balance the amount of talking I can manage- I love to talk (believe me, I could be a professional talker) but I still can’t handle cross-conversations, with more than one person talking. I do try to expose myself to short periods of noisy chatter. I think the key is to gradually increase exposure to anything like this that hurts your head. It’s important, and it’s really tough.
Cranial-Sacral Massage (with a registered massage therapist who specializes in this treatment): It is not relaxing nor comfortable, you feel pretty rough for the 24 hours following this treatment, but once/week it takes the pressure off my head and I feel like I can think a little more clearly. Similar to my quiet time spent drawing, this massage seems to be moving me gradually into the right direction.
Counselling: Whether you work with a psychologist or have a good friend to talk to, it’s important to have a chance to discuss/vent/process the experience you’re going through. Don’t let yourself do this alone, it’s hard work. If you don’t have a support network, make it a priority for yourself.
I am not able to work right now. I love, love, love my job, and I can’t do it, yet. So, my current job is to take care of myself. It’s full-time work. I seem to have this need to help others built right into me, so I hope this post helps someone today. It took me a little while to complete it, and I am probably repeating myself, but if you know someone who is struggling with post-concussion symptoms, maybe you could share some of the information here with them.  Take care, and I’ll be back soon.

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Another great post to share

The Diagnosis –

The thing with invisible conditions like mine is that no one knows what you are going through unless they are going through it. I hear often “yes, but everyone forgets this and that”, “well, I also get overwhelmed when cooking”, as if undermining my difficulties. It gets to a point that I don’t talk about it anymore and just pretend that everything is easy and fine.
Then there are those that forget you have this condition. I am currently going through a tough time having an overview over my life, figuring out which inner jokes are connected to which people, past experiences and connecting them to people and situations.

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A great post about the truths of brain injury

Reconciling Lies and Truths –

“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.”
– DH Lawrence

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone

May your day be filled with gratitude and peace.

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And the “embracing change” emails start to circulate at work

In another couple of weeks, they’re going to start reorganizing the company I work for. And the best damn’ job I’ve ever had, may change. Forever.

That would be a record. Usually, they take at least a year to decide to go in a different direction, and I have to scramble to line something else up.

Frankly, it pisses me off, that all this is happening. It’s like the mainstays of my life are dissolving out from underneath me. My neuropsych is retiring, my PCP died, and now my job may be changing — if not going away entirely. I looked on LinkedIn. The company we’re merging with already has a bunch of people that do what I do. And they’ve been doing it longer. And they are generally 10-20 years younger than me.

Oh, God.

I’m 50 years old, and I’m sick of this sh*t, quite frankly. Part of me wants to just opt out and crawl under a rock. I’m actually really hoping that I’ll get an early retirement package. I haven’t been with the company long enough to take them up on their regular offering of early retirement at 50… or 55. But in the grand scheme of things, people who are older are members of “protected classes”,which makes us harder to get rid of, when the time comes to restructure and downsize.

That time always comes, eventually.


And I’m hoping like crazy that they can buy me out for a nice chunk o’ change that will let me skate along for a while — and free me up to do some other things with my life. It would be completely, totally awesome, to change careers, right now. All the drama of the tech world just gets stupid, after a while, and it would be awesome if I could do something different with my life. Maybe teach. I would be a good teacher — especially for folks who are coming up in the tech world after me. I could tell them a thing or two about how to have a resilient career through their most productive years. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s find work and keep working. I could teach others how to do it, too.

The main thing I worry about is my insurance. It’s expensive. Then again, if I got a package that paid for my insurance for 12-18 months, I would be so set. That would be amazing.

But who  knows what will happen? I think we’re going to find out in the next month or so. They already have people looking at how to reorganize things. They didn’t waste any time. And I’m guessing they’ll want to tidy up before the year is out, possibly to take advantage of tax breaks. If they can shed a bunch of people and pay out a truckload of money, then maybe they can ease their tax burden… and make things easier to rearrange in the new year.

For now, I’m hanging tight, figuring out my different Plans Of Attack. They sent out a link to a “change hardiness” questionnaire, and apparently, I’m a Master Of Change. Ta-da. Ha. Pretty funny. Few things are more difficult for me to navigate, than change — I just know what I’m supposed to do, and I do it, which supposedly means I’m adept. But all the while that I’m doing it, I’m dying inside. I’m in excruciating pain. I can logically think and function, even while I’m in blinding pain — I’ve been doing it for years. But that doesn’t mean I’m not suffering and struggling.

That’s the thing my neuropsych doesn’t seem to realize. It’s not that I’m compartmentalizing my pain and frustration and emotional upset. It’s that I learned an awful long time ago — mainly through long-distance running and having a blazing headache, 24/7 — how to continue to think clearly and function despite feeling like I’m dying inside.

Which brings me to the checklist for the next neuropsych I deal with:

  1. They need to be an athlete — former or present, preferably endurance — so they understand my own perspective on things and appreciate my emphasis on performing at the top of my game whenever possible. Athletes understand things that non-athletes don’t – and my present neuropsych is about as far from an athlete as you can get. They’d rather get a root canal, than exercise. That seems strange to me.
  2. They need to be a good conversationalist, so I can continue to practice my sequencing and flow and active listening skills. The one way that my neuropsych has helped me the most, is just being someone I can talk to without being judged or challenged or made to feel stupid. More than anything else, that’s been what’s helped me.
  3. They need to be easily accessible. All this driving back and forth to get to and from… it’s just hard on my system, and it really puts a dent in my week.
  4. They need to have an open mind. My current neuropsych seems to think they have everything all figured out, after having practiced for 40-some years. They’re a bit too brittle for my comfort, at times.

That’s my list, so far. Honestly, I could live with just the first two. And of course, all this assumes that they know a ton about brain injury and take the approach that recovery is actually possible.

Anyway, it might be moot, after my neuropsych leaves, because I might not have access to that kind of care, thanks to my insurance situation. But it’s a thought. Heck, maybe I could work a trade with a neuropsych to just stop by and talk to them on a regular basis about whatever — without them needing to “treat” me. I could trade some pleasant conversation with someone who’s bound and determined to get their life in order, as a counter-balance to all the other folks they deal with who need their help but have less determination and drive, and who sort of depress them after a while.

I could be a ray of sunshine in their cloudy day.

But who knows what will happen? All I know is, today I am driving to see my family for Thanksgiving. And I’m looking forward to getting away from all this.

I certainly am.


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Tired of everything. Oh, well…

meet-people-leave-peopleI’m feeling a bit worn out, this morning. I’ve been feeling weary for a number of weeks, now. The whole international war / terror / WTF scene gets me down – partly because of the tone that everyone is taking, partly because I know from independent research how much the USA actually has to do with creating the conditions of international war / terror / WTF.

It’s complicated.

Work is good, and I love my job. It’s a lot, though. There’s a reason why many, many people don’t last at that company for longer than a year or two. It can be a brutal environment to work in, for some. For me, it’s just a lot. All the time. It keeps me on my toes. And it also wears me out.

That’s complicated, too.

My spouse has been so-so, for the past couple of months. They’ve been working a lot, and this weekend is their last business trip weekend till spring arrives. I’m ready for that break. It’s about danged time. When my spouse has a business trip, they need help getting everything together, and then when they return, there is the inevitable emotionalism, the volatility, the antagonism that accompanies their fatigue from the trip.

That’s less complicated, but considering that I need to deal with it when I am typically not at my best — when I’m wiped out from work, or I’m just trying to catch up with myself — it becomes more complicated than it needs to.

And I get tired. Worn out, wrung out, like a sponge that’s been used too often, and not rinsed out enough.

What to do?

What to do, indeed?

Ultimately, the only thing for me to do is… exactly what I’ve been doing for the past several days: take care of myself, don’t let myself get caught up in a lot of drama, see the bigger picture, tend to the things in my life that have meaning (and also need to get done)… and take care of myself some more.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few days. I’ve been feeling really out of it, and I’ve almost been in a couple of car accidents — once when someone braked really fast in front of me and I nearly rear-ended them (I stopped just inches from their rear bumper), and once when someone pulled right out in front of me when I was approaching the intersection where they were stopped, and they drove me off the road. Fortunately, my latest vehicle has all-wheel drive and anti-locking brakes. It saved my ass twice.

After the second near-miss, I realized that I wasn’t being careful enough. I wasn’t paying close enough attention. I was going too fast, in general.

So, I slowed everything down. I took a much more gradual approach to my life, not getting all wrapped up in the drama – the drama –  and just focusing on the things in front of me. Yesterday, especially, I did myself a huge favor and just took it easy. I caught up on some reading and writing I’ve been meaning to do, and instead of running out to do errands, I took a nice long nap and laid in bed as long as humanly possible, till my spouse needed to pack up and get on the road.

And last night, I just chilled. Again. No television, just listening to music, thinking about things, hanging out around the house.

It was just what I needed — a break. And it was as much of a mental break, as it was a logistical or physical one. I needed to just step away from all the craziness and busy-ness of “normal” life and allow myself to just be. I need to focus on things that build me up, not tear me down, and really live as fully as I can from moment to moment, rather than getting stuck in my head and getting tangled up in others’ tortuous thought processes.

It’s that hermit mind – desert mind – that I actually seek. I cannot control the world around me, and I cannot control the behavior of others. But I can control my own reactions to it and the way I relate to it. Every situation offers many, many different opportunities to get my act together. It’s really up to me, whether or not I do that.

And you know – it’s funny. The longer I live, the less I actually need to have and do. I realized lately that, all summer long,I wore pretty much the same clothing, from week to week. I have a week’s worth of work clothing, and I have my comfortable clothing for home. I wear just two or three t-shirts, trading off between them to wash them when they get really gamey. And I have two pairs of jeans — one that I wear to do outdoor work, one that I wear in polite company. I have a pair of sturdy work pants, and I have a hoodie that I wear to do dirty jobs.

I don’t need more than that.

I also don’t need all the busy-work projects I pursued for so many years. At one point in time, I had over 20 different projects in the works, with complete plans for execution and maintenance. I knew exactly how it should all be done. And if I hadn’t been alone in those projects, I probably would have put some of them into action. But I was alone. I am alone. I don’t have the time and energy for a lot of social interaction, and I’m not a big fan of talk-talk-talk. I’m exhausted when I get home from work in the evenings, and on the weekends, the last thing I want to do is spend time with others. I spent my entire day — or any time I am interacting with others — going to great lengths to “meet them where they are”, to speak in terms that they can understand, to relate to them in ways that make sense to them, to connect with them on a shared human level.

It’s exhausting.

At times, I have thought it would help for me to find someone who can offer the same to me — to meet me on my terms, and relate to me in ways that make sense to me. But I actually don’t want that. I want to be left alone. I need solitude. I need there to not be any direct human interactions that force me to work so hard.

Dealing with people is hard. It takes a lot of effort from me. Nobody around me actually realizes that, because I work hard at hiding it. I work really, really hard at hiding it, and it works. It works so well, that even the people I try to explain it to… well, they can’t actually fathom it. Because I seem so personable and engaging.

That’s the finely sharpened double-edged sword of my world.

That sword allows me to have solitude in the midst of all the chaos around me. Playing to an audience with a persona that puts others on center-stage lets me keep my inner world exactly that — inner. Is it lonely? Being alone in this is a lot less lonely than trying to explain to others what it’s like “in here”. People just don’t know how to be empathetic. They just don’t know how to relate to others on their terms. Well, some people do, but they’re often hijacked by sociopaths who latch onto them to fill their needs. And the empathetic people get sucked dry in the process.

In the end, though, it’s all about choice. I know I live the way I live in part by choice, in part by default. It’s all I can do, really, under the circumstances. You make the best of what you’ve got, and you learn some lessons along the way. It’s all fine, it’s all good.

Fall is here. Thanksgiving is next week. I’m traveling on Tuesday and won’t be back till the next Monday. Maybe I’ll blog here, while I’m away. Maybe I’ll go “dark” and re-emerge after I return. Who’s to say? It’s a tough time for me, so the important thing is to take good care of myself, make the effort to remain positive, and think in terms of the bigger picture, while the holiday craziness sets in.

I’m tired of everything. But I don’t have to let it get me down.


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Today is a 2.

I used to be consumed with numbers. It’s how I kept myself occupied and non-bored.

It’s how I kept myself awake while driving.

Everything can be reduced to numbers, and I was often involved in figuring out “what number something is”.

Today, for example, is a 2 — because it’s November (month #11, or 1 and 1 –>2)  20 (2 and 0–>2), 2015(8)

And since 2 (Nov)+2(20)=4, and 8 (2015) divided by 4 = 2… Today is a 2.

I haven’t thought about that much, lately, but it used to be constantly on my mind.

Most things, to me, seem to have a numerical value. Hard to explain why, but it seems that way.

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Happy Friday

Indeed. It’s been a settling week, with all the international upheaval feeling a lot more familiar than it did, 10 days ago. I have been a little behind on my sleep, as I’ve had a few late nights, and I’m running on 6 – 7 hours, instead of 8+. I had some interesting experiences last weekend with sleeping past 7:00, which is “sleeping in” for me. But I don’t really like to do that much. I need to keep to my schedule. Fortunately, my spouse now understands that, and they are actually helping me get to bed earlier, instead of insisting that I stay up late with them, like they used to.

I can’t believe it’s nearly Thanksgiving. That’s crazy. I’ll be traveling through several states to see two sides of the family, this year. The ranks are thinning at my parents’ house. My siblings all have some adult children of their own, now, and their kids are starting to get engaged,married, and have babies. So, they’re starting to congregate in their own spaces, rather than at our parents’ place. Which makes for a quiet time.

And that’s fine, actually. Thanksgiving at my parents’ place has always been so loud, so overwhelming, so chaotic… that’s how my parents like it — lots of people, lots of noise, lots of activity. They just love it — as do most of my siblings. But for me, it’s always been sheer hell, to have to deal with everything. It was always exhausting, always depleting, and 11 years ago, I got slammed with a nasty TBI, thanks to being over-tired and un-coordinated while standing at the top of my parents’ stairs.

This year, things are much more mellow. And that’s fine with me. It’s even fine with my parents, who are slowing down and are (finally) starting to realize that spending quiet time just hanging out and talking with your loved-ones is a good way to pass the time. They both get squirrely, sure, but they’re better at just chilling out than they ever were before.

Might have something to do with them getting older and literally slowing down… Which is sad, in a way. And they’re old enough that each year I have to wonder if this is the last year we’ll all be together.

This time of year always brings that up for me. The seasons are shifting and changing, fall is gradually turning into winter, and things appear to be dying. There’s been a lot of death, over the past months. A lot of losses — for me and for the rest of the world. My PCP, who was the only doctor I ever actually got along with and formed a decent working relationship with, died at the beginning of September. That business in Paris. All the bombings all over the world. And now my neuropsych is getting ready to retire.

In a very real way, their retirement is a sort of death. Because the person I am, when I am around them, is going to cease to exist in another 4 months or so. There are 19 weeks left, till we stop working together, and I’m conflicted. On the one hand, they have really, really helped me, and I frankly don’t know what I would have done without having their help each week since 2008. I believe I actually used to see them twice a week, at the start, then  went to once — and it was pretty nerve-wracking, at the start.

Anyway, I want to really do that working relationship justice and close things out properly over the next four months. But the prospect of 19 more weeks of that is a bit daunting. So, I’ll just take it day by day and let it all just be. It’s Friday. I love my job. Things are good. I have enough money in the bank that I could pay for the timing belt repair on my van without needing a four-month payment plan, like before. It took 1/3 of my available savings, but I did pay it off. No debt. No harm. No foul.

So, today, what shall I do? I am working remotely today. The library opens at 9, and I can hunker down and do some work. I will have uninterrupted time to really study and dig into the guts of what I am working on. I need some time to study, away from the busy-ness of the workplace, and this is what I’ll have.

So, that’s good. Happy Friday.

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