Friday, December 28, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
TIES Then one Sunday while I was at church in my Sunday School class, Rachel had her little brothers tie in her bag. I don’t know why she had this tie in her bag, but she did. And we were outside just chilling on the grass, so I borrowed her little brother’s clip-on tie. I put it on my shirt as if I was a boy and I actually totally liked it! All of the other girls just joked around saying that maybe I should wear a tie to school or something, but they obviously didn’t mean it. But when I said it, I did mean it. I didn’t care what anyone else thought of me, I was going to do what I wanted to, simply because I wanted to do it. Besides my new theme song had become Typical Girl by Cheri Magill. So I said to my girl-friends, “I refuse to be your typical girl, there’s plenty of them in this world.” And when I went home that day, I asked my dad to teach me how to tie a tie. And the next day, you better believe I was wearing a tie. “What are you wearing?” Samantha asked. “A tie.” I emphatically said. “Why?” Sophia and Olivia said together. “Because I wanted to, and boy doesn’t it look great with this outfit?” I responded. “No, it just looks weird,” Samantha declared. “Oh well!” I said, shrugging my shoulders as I walked towards my first class. “What is she thinking?!?” I heard Rachel say as I walked away. I just chuckled inside my head. I didn’t care what they thought. So I wore my tie all day long. I went to the mall and picked up a bright pink tie from the store Tie One On. Then I wore that bright pink tie all the time. I loved it! After all, it was something that I had just created. But then, something crazy happened; I started noticing stores attach fake little cloth ties to girls’ shirts. And before long, it became the new “in” thing. And just like that, I became a trendsetter.
SIT UPS Because I had made friends with a whole ton of guys, and I always liked to do something just a little bit different, I decided to strengthen my abs. So every time that I had a boy come over to my house, I would challenge them to a sit-ups competition. Every guy would look at me like, are you serious? But they would eventually get down and go. Each and every single time, I would beat the boy(s), so hard core. He would be going along, waiting for me to give up, while he silently got exhausted until he couldn’t do anymore, while I on the other side, wasn’t even breaking a sweat. But although I was incredible at sit-ups, I still liked doing things that I couldn’t beat everyone at. Like football. I loved football. I would absolutely love getting all of the guys together and get down and get dirty. Of course, with a little tiny girl that I was, I always had an advantage however when I would play tackle with the boys. None of the guys wanted to hurt “poor, fragile, little Shannon.” It was awesome.
MIAMAID PRESIDENT In my church there are youth groups who have goals and great opportunities to build upon your leadership abilities. When I was just 14 I accepted a position to be a President amongst all of the girls my age. I was always concerned about everyone, particularly in my age group at this time. I tried to ensure that the activities that were planned were never biased towards one girl or another. I would recognize every girl for their accomplishments and all they had done. Then one day one of the Stake Young Women’s leaders came into Young Womens, and told us quite a few things. But the one that stuck out in particular was that we weren’t supposed to use our leaders’ first names, we needed to call them Sister [insert last name here]. That really did not jive too well with me or my crew. So Sophia and I decided to take this whole “appropriate names” thing under our own hands. We came up with a plan, we would make up names, and assign them to the different leaders! We started by asking them what their middle names were. The only one that had a cool/useful middle name however was Nodiko. That is her middle name, so that was her new name. Then we just had to make everyone else’s names up. We came up with some very interesting names. There was Finlinkoo, Dinkenhigen, DingoAce and Malibu. This was great, because everyone started calling them by those names, and the Stake Young Women’s President couldn’t get mad at us because it wasn’t their first names!
FOOTBALL 8.14.08 8.15.08 I went over to Tyler’s neighborhood as one of the last days of summer before we started high school. The day started out just Tyler, the twins, Daniel and Joseph, and I, but the twins left pretty quickly after I got there. But then Tyler’s little sister, Julie, came out and hung with us for a while. Then Alex came over, we played on Josh’s tramp (he wasn’t with us, but his backyard is connected to Tyler’s), Tyler’s swingset, and best of all, we played tackle football! Of course, the boys wanted to be all masculine and be on each other’s team, so Julie and I were a team of our own. It was great. We had a whole lot of fun, and Julie and I were not those wussy little girls playing “big boy football” or anything. Oh no, we were tough! But I did end up getting a goose egg - on my eyebrow nonetheless! Then we left Julie, and we headed back over towards my neighborhood. Of course, Tyler, being the amazing sweetheart that he is, he had to call Sophia and Olivia to have them come play with us. Alex and I really did not want them to come though. Tyler knew that, so he told us not to worry, that he doubted that they would come. Alex and I just looked at each other, thinking, “they will come, they’ll do anything for Tyler.” So when they didn’t come after like 30 seconds, Tyler called them again, and again, and again. He called them so many times I think they ended up coming over just to get him to stop calling. Alex and I were not very happy with Tyler. And now two other girls were with us too, so Alex and I walked off away from the other 3 and we just started talking. After we had been talking for quite a while we went back, hoping that Tyler would not still be with Sophia and Olivia. Of course, he was however. So we took him aside and we talked to him, while in the meantime, Sophia and Olivia had Tyler’s bike. We just left and went up to my house. At my house we jumped on the tramp. It was so fun because the boys would be on both of my sides, we’d count to three, and then I would go on my back. The boys would pop me up, so I went so high, then they’d both rush in to catch me. It was such a blast. At one point in time, Alex was trying some different ways that he could pop me and catch me and stuff while Tyler pretended to be filming us. After we had been worn out from all the jumping, we just sat down on the grass barely underneath the tramp. Of course, it was me in the middle and Alex and Tyler on each side. Tyler and I thought we were so sly when we slipped our hands in between each other’s fingers. I don’t know if it was my shortness of breath, or my delirious thought processes, but Alex seemed to notice something, so he hopped up on the tramp and put his face in between the springs, right where Tyler and I were holding hands (underneath our legs of course though). He just like stared at us. Curfew time came upon us rather quickly after that. So Tyler and I retrieved his bike back, and we walked Alex home. Then Tyler showed me his brand new pegs that he had just put on his bike. He told me to get on them, and we would ride around for just a minute. He told me that I was the first one on his “virgin pegs.” While he rode around my block once and then back up to my house, I would either rub his shoulders, lean on his back, or mess up his amazing hair. Oh, I loved him so much! I loved being so close to him! But we knew we had to say goodbye, so he gave me a tight hug. “I love you, Shannon.” “I love you too.” It was getting progressively easier to talk during a hug. It was just hard when he’d squeeze me in tighter, only barely because it cut off some air to my lungs; mostly because of the way in which I could hardly breathe. This was because every time he squeezed me in closer, or even just squeezed my hand while we were holding hands, it was like he was telling me that he really does love me or something.
GOLDEN DESERT WITH DILLON But during those 4 months, I was doing a lot of other things. I went to many national, prestigious debate tournaments. The first tournament I want to talk about happened in early December. It’s called Silver and Black held at Alta High School. But first, I should explain a little bit about national debate tournaments and how they work. First, you have prelim rounds where that decides who breaks (goes on) to the elimination rounds. Then depending on the tournament you get a TOC bid at different stages of elimination rounds. You need 2 TOC bids to go to the Tournament of Champiuons at the end of the school year, which is a tournament that has only the very best high school debaters in the nation that year attending. Then at national tournaments you assign which teams are your schools best teams. For example, David and I were the B team, because there was one team who was better than we were. Okay, back to Silver and Black. This tournament they have 7 prelim rounds. You were guaranteed to break if you got 5-2 (5 wins, 2 losses) or better. By far, the most exciting round at this tournament was the 6th round. We were up against a team that was pretty dang good. One of the team members attended the TOC the year before. Going into this round however, we were 4-1, and she was 3-2. We went into this round being assigned the negative position. When we went negative, I was the 1N speaker position. When you are in 1N speaker position, it is nearly impossible to look seful at all. It is very, very easy to simply look like you are a tool, not doing anything to help your team win. But as the round got started, David and I got prepared. After the round was over, it felt like an eternity for the judge to make his decision, but he made his decision. He announced that we had won. David and I, we had just beat a TOC debater, stopped her from breaking thus even having a shot at getting a TOC bid and we were guaranteed to break without even using all of the prelim rounds. The only team we had lost to at this point in the game was Palo Alto’s (Palo Alto High School is pretty good at debate) A team. The final day we lost the last prelim round, but we hit a team from California’s A team. And after we broke we barely lost, because there are 3 judges in the elimination rounds and in this round 2 of the judges voted for the other team and 1 voted for us, but even then, one of the two that voted against us said he really could not make up his mind.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Monday, July 2, 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
After recently reading blog posts and comments from the very beginning (right after my accident) and seeing how everyone all pulled together and all cared so much and were so concerned, I felt it important to inform you all on the struggles I continue to face. This is one heck of a long, hard road that lasts a lifetime, not just the 7 weeks (or whatever for others) that you spend in the hospital. Although those are some of the most critical times in your recovery process, that’s only the most critical in your physical recovery. As for the other areas of one’s life, it is a constant struggle and by all means some areas, such as social, the time spent in the hospital is the very, very least critical moments.
So I write today not trying to make anyone feel bad, but rather as an informative and almost more of a documentary of what kinds of things those of us with brain injuries continue to deal with for the rest of our lives. So let’s just go over some of the aspects of one’s life. First we have physical, next we have mental/cognitive, then there’s emotional, and spiritual, but last but by all means not least in the slightest, we have social.
Okay, so physical, I don’t know much about other people’s recovery time, I actually am going to ask one of my brain-injured-friends before I post this but, I’m just going to write what I know. As for me, much of it came back fairly quickly, but by all means, even though I look okay, do not be fooled by the mask. There are many things that I still struggle with, even physically. For a long, long time, my parents didn’t want me to walk the halls of school alone because of my balance issues. And rollerblading is super hard for me now, a lot having to do with balance issues. Obviously there is many issues with fatigue however. For example, I will try to occasionally work out, and I last about 15 minutes before I just about pass out. This however, I do know is very different from my other friend with a tbi (traumatic brain injury). But you see, the reason behind this logic is that he decided that he would get back to exercising the way he used to immediately, whereas I focused all of my energy into cognitive, which also means that where I have excelled there, others have not. But we’ll get to that later. As for another thing that I still deal with, is standing. I know, it sounds crazy, but I honestly, cannot stand in the same spot for longer than 5 minutes. After about 1 and ½ minutes I am feeling restless and if you try to make me stay still for 5, I’m about gone. I don’t know how to describe it, it just kind of feels like the weight of 65 semi-trucks are resting on the backs of my heels, and before long, even sitting in a pile of mud sounds better to me than standing. How much of this comes from fatigue, I don't know. But that's a major issue too. Often times I will just get worn out very quickly, without necessarily doing anything straining. And it's not just physical fatigue, they often talk about things like cognitive fatigue as well. But as for physical fatigue, it has a possibility of coming from lack of sleep. So doctors tell you to get 10-12 hours of sleep every night right after a TBI. Yeah, like that's going to happen! Not. After traumatic brain injuries it is a common problem that many people have. That is to sleep. Getting to sleep is never easy, and staying asleep doesn't happen all that often either. It's also no bueno when you already had terrible insomnia before your TBI (aka me). So sleep's always been a big issue as well. Then, there’s still a couple of other things I should mention in the physical aspects of life. First, let’s talk about bones. Bones like to dissolve, they will look totally smooth one day, and then about a month later, there is a huge divot in some random place where they have replaced some of your bone. It got so bad that I went in for a reconstructive surgery at the end of July in 2011. The repercussions of that surgery are far more than anyone ever imagined. But I’ll mention that later as well. Last thing I should mention here is vision. I hate how one day I went from having 20/20 vision to seconds later, having roughly around 20/80. And sad thing is, that it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to get any better. For various reasons, but unimportant nonetheless. Oh, it looks like that was not the last thing, I was just writing on this page fairly far down and thought of another thing. So I’m not really sure if it’s anxieties or results from the accident, but I get random pains all over, all the time. Things such as headaches, sometimes they get so bad that I have to call into work sick (like today) or they are so bad that we have to rush me to the emergency room at the hospital (which also did happen). Another one of these random pains is in the stomach. There are days where I have no idea what to do but pray that I will either throw up, or have some other terribly disgusting thing happen or just die right then and there because my stomach just aches so bad.
Alright so cognitive, like I mentioned before, I have excelled here in ways that no one else ever has. This is because I focused so hard on my grades before and after the accident alike, and I was not about to let some stupid backhoe get in the way of my straight As. So yes, although I did do extremely well my senior year of high school, it was so far from easy you wouldn’t be able to understand. I went to school after one period was already over, and left school by the time lunch came around. Yes, I was that exhausted. Not only was I hardly ever at school during school hours, but even when I was there, for all anyone else could tell, I wasn’t really there at all. But oh how I was! So I learned that in order to pay attention at all really, it was best for me to just rest my head on my desk, buried within my arms, and only listen with my ears for as much of the lecture as possible. Then, I was constantly (and when I say constantly, I mean 24/7, ask my mom or dad) working on homework. And when I still didn’t get it after hours and hours put in, I would ask my dad for help, and if he couldn’t explain it to me, then I would go to the school either before or after school started and ask my teachers for help. It sure is one heck of a good thing that my teachers were all so good with me. For example, my AP biology teacher, Mr. Louder, would help me make power-points for myself early in the morning, and again after school was over. So thanks to awesome teachers, I got through my senior year of high school. However, then we had my cranial reconstructive surgery, and that was basically the end of my success in school. Trying to go to college about one month after that surgery was practically suicide. So I dropped out. So although I am finally to the point where I can tell you that a fridge goes in the kitchen and that a moose doesn’t say moo, that does not mean that my 5 on AP Calculus exam knowledge has even come close to returning.
As for emotional, this one’s an extremely difficult one. And when you combine all of the other hardships of a traumatic brain injury, it only makes it even worse. So if you’ve ever dealt with such bad depression that you wish every single day that you were dead, I can honestly say I know how that feels. If you’ve ever dealt with such bad anxieties that you are in some sort of anxiety attack (type of thing) for hours on end, I can honestly say I know how you feel. If you have ever wished that you didn’t exist, not just on Earth, but at all, I can honestly say I know exactly how you feel. If you have ever hated yourself so much that you’d be willing to join all the others in abandoning yourself, I can honestly say I know how you feel. And then, the fact that you can’t get away from your stupid annoying self makes you hate everything and their dog, I can honestly say I know exactly how you feel. If you have ever not had the motivation to do what you know is good for you, no matter how easy it may be, I can honestly say that I know exactly how that feels. If you have ever woken up in the morning and just punched the headboard of your bed, I know what that feels like too. If you can honestly say that you can’t reach inside of yourself to make yourself do anything, even just whisper a tiny prayer in your heart, I can honestly say I know exactly how you feel. If you have ever been so angry that you want to kick the entire world like a great big soccer ball, I can say I know how you feel.
But anyway, that’s enough about emotionally, it’s not helping the whole how much I hate myself business. So let’s move onto spiritually. I feel as if I have lost all communication with God. And it makes me so angry, because before the accident, I was in such a good place with God. I never went a morning or a night without saying my prayers and rarely ever a day without reading in the scriptures. But now? No. Now, I feel as if God doesn’t answer any of my prayers anymore. So why pray? If He’s listening, but doesn’t give me the strength to stand for just 5 seconds longer, what’s the point? Especially when it takes more effort than you could ever imagine just to pray, even if not on your knees or even for longer than a minute, if it takes more effort than you even have, why do it if it doesn’t change anything anyway? So have I lost just about everything on the spiritual side of things? Oh yes.
Last, let’s talk about social. All of the doctors in the hospital warned me that I would only have one friend, if I was lucky, after the accident. I didn’t believe them. Not for a second. I proved them wrong in just about everything else, and I had soooo many friends before. I was SO wrong. Friendships have been so rough. The key part of friendship (in high school anyway) is being able to relate and understand with others. After someone has a brain injury, the reason why no one sticks around is because of lack of understanding. Honestly, the only friends that I have now, weren’t really my friends before the accident. Besides adults (aka my beloved bishop) there’s only one person that I even KNEW before the accident. And she knows who she is and she also knows that she is extremely privileged to be considered my friend. As for the others, they’re hard to count because I rarely get to see them. For example, the young man who I’m going to have revise this before I post it, he lives in New Jersey. I live in Utah. Doesn’t make for very good face to face communication. And as for the adults in my life, it’s not the same. Like my bishop for example, I love him to death, he means everything to me, but is he anywhere near the same as having a boy my own age who I could possibly date or something? Not in the slightest.
Just reporting back, I have now had my friend look at it. He said “I believe this is true, cause I know it is.” There was not a single bit above that he thought to not be the case. So, it’s now official, this is the long, hard journey of a traumatic brain injury; in the words of a person who’s been through one and seconded by another.