Friday, December 28, 2012

...a little story about my heart...

I went to see "The Forgotten Carols" again this year. I've watched this incredible play every year around Christmas for as long as I can remember. So I know what happens next with each event, but more importantly, I know how Michael McLean ends the show. It's actually really cool. As he talks about Christmas, the season and his testimony, he has everyone from the audience join him in singing, "we can be together, forever, someday." Then he tells you to think of a loved one who couldn't be with you that night, "whether they're serving our country in Afghanistan, they've passed through the vail" or they turned out to be little jerkfaces! (I, of course, added that last part.) So as I sat and thought about those little jerkfaces, and thought about how I still loved them despite everything they've done to me, and imangined a time where I could be together with them again, not the jerky part, just the part that I love about them. The wheels started to churn in my head, and I asked myself quite a few questions, one of them being, but why in the world do I still care about these people, people who have wronged me in such a way that it's almost unforgivable? And eventually, it came to me. I've known for a while now that I have a much more charitable love, but since the accident, I really have not seen it as a blessing. (Because I obsess over people who want nothing to do with me.) But, that's when I realized that the reason why I can love people the way that Christ can love them is because I seem them through an entirely different perspective. I don't see them the way that the world would have me look at them. I see them the way that Christ sees them. I see their yearning to be better even when it makes no sense, I see them for who they truly, truly are. And that is why I can still say I love these people who have wronged me terribly, because I don't see what they've done to me as much as I see what they try to do for their Savior. The whole way home, as I sat and thought about this, it all started to make sense. And suddenly my whole life changed. I realized why I couldn't seem to let go of "oldShannon" and that, in turn, allowed me to let go of her just a little bit more. For Christmas, I got a replacement BLUE guitar, so I went to my room to tune it today. As soon as I got it tuned, I opened my old songbook to play some of the songs I had written before. And as I read through them, I started seeing examples of this all over the place. So I thought I would share some of those excerpts from my songs. "I love you, for who you are." "All I know, is that I wish that we could be friends again. You have hurt me more than you may ever know." "I'll always believe in you" "And I'm right here, waiting for your call. Don't let go, cause I'm always holding on. And I'll never leave you" "Believe in who you are. I love you, just the way you are." Then there is this song that's titled "I really do love you" and I would basically put the entire song in here. "I care more about you, than I ever even thought I could." "I'll be your best friend, for as long as you want me to" There's also a whole song about being young and innocent... "My mind says no, but my heart won't let you go" And the list goes on and on. But yeah, that's me. That's why it's so hard to move on, to accept change. I've always been this way. Quite a few of those songs are from before the accident even. And it's just the way that I see people, as the Savior would, not as the world sees them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A few snippets from my life

Okay, well since I didn't get any answers on what parts of my book I should post, I just randomly went through my book and decided to start copying and pasting. So that is just what I did. So, here are some of the parts from my book! Oh and p.s. I won't take a picture with my new smile yet, I need to wait until my stupid face clears up quite a bit and stuff first... bleh! And I tried to get it to "enter" where it's supposed to be a new paragraph or something, and I couldn't get it to do that for the life of me! So sorry!

 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

It's been a while...

Okay, so once upon a time I got yet another assessment done, reporting my areas of strengths and weaknesses. I want to post that, but it is taking, for freaking ever to get that report to my house. So in the meantime I thought I should update any of those crazy people who still read this blog on some stuff. First, I am writing from a hotel in Seattle. It is Thanksgiving weekend and we came up to visit my aunt/uncle for Thanksgiving, and we just finished the trip up to Seattle to come and visit my brother, sister-in-law, my niece Lilly, my niece Sarah, and my nephew Gus. :D Secondly, my memory seems to be getting terribly worse. I would love to update you on all sorts of new Tonyaisms, but I can't seem to remember them until the next time I can get to my computer to record them. So I don't remember any. Third, my social life still totally sucks. Even with people who it really, really shouldn't. Fourth, I still hate life in general, specifically because I can't do anything with my life, like school or work. Fifth, I still really, really don't want to hear any of your "constructive" criticisms about how I'm lying to myself and that I really could do all of it and everything. It still won't change a thing, except I might just get more upset. Sixth, I'm working on writing a book. Something very much like an autobiography, but not quite, mostly because I want to kind of give other people with a traumatic brain injury the kind of life they can prepare for. I don't know if anyone who still reads my blog would want to read just a teeny, tiny clip from my book so far, but if you do, just leave a comment. I have changed everyone's names, but if you think that you might be any of the following, leave a comment or text me! There are some important people in my life and they are: Tyler, Alex, Sophia, Samantha, Jake, Nick, William, Scott, Brittany, Brandon, and so, so many more! Text me if you think one of those might be you! I probably could report a whole lot more, but like I said earlier, my memory totally sucks! So if anyone has anything they want me to talk about, feel free to ask me any questions or whatever. (If you can't tell, I'm really wanting some comments! But I am also really totally serious about all of the reasons why you might comment!) Oh and p.s. if anyone wants to see some AWESOME pictures of the inside of my head, let me know! :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Life

Well I haven’t posted in quite a while, and I’ve been going through a lot lately. I am basically a failure at everything. See, I can’t do anything to help out at home, I cannot go back to school, I can’t do anything at church and I can’t even survive work anymore. And I know what you’re thinking; but that’s the worst part. I am so sick of hearing everyone tell me that I can do a bunch of crap that frankly I just cannot do. And worst of all, I literally/physically cannot do them. One of the doctors that I have had was a great advocate for me in this case. He said that there is something chemically wrong with my brain, which actually does make a lot of these tasks impossible, or next to impossible, and with my lack of drive to do anything (again from my chemically imbalanced brain) therefore impossible. So all in all I’m going through a lot, still without any friend my own age, I don’t see a purpose for anything, and I can’t even help myself. That’s about all that I’m even going to write today though. So take it, and soak it in I guess. :/

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Just A Couple Of Funnies......

Okay, so yes, I know that you're expecting some more Tonyaisms here, that's not what I'm going to be putting on here today. Although I do realize there have been quite a few more that you have not heard, I will add those later. Today I just want to tell you about a couple of other funny things that happen in the Blackham household. I got jaw surgery on August 14, 2012, right? yeah, so I have not been able to eat anything except for liquids - but not even through a straw because it hurts so bad to suck. But anyway, so they initially gave us some big thick syringes that we could suck up my food into, and then squirt it into my mouth. Well you see, as time went on, the syringe would get more and more difficult to move. One morning in particular, we were having a really rough time, so I was working as hard as I could to try to get the syringe to move so that I could get some nutrients in me. Okay, so then it FINALLY moved. But, it decided to EXPLODE. What I mean by EXPLODE is that it went everywhere. I was sitting on one side of the kitchen, Tonya on the other, and the food that was in the syringe ended up all over the ceiling across the entire kitchen, so much so that it ended up dripping, on Tonya's head. It was so funny, I cannot write it justice. Second thing that was so funny that happened recently has something to do with strawberry shortcake. I don't remember what I was upset with Tonya about, but I was very upset with her over something. So I yelled "Tonya!" and smacked my hand in her lap. But, she had strawberry shortcake in her lap, so that's where my hand went, and it made the bowl and everything in it go flying way up in the air. There were strawberries everywhere, but my favorite part is yet to come. We just got kitties, right? Yeah well Tonya's kitty, Mazie, is completely black. And the whipping cream from Tonya's bowl, got ALL OVER Mazie. It was so funny and words just cannot do it justice.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

19th Birthday.... or 20th..... or 18th twice....

Okay, first I should probably explain the title. So I turned 19 (technically) on Thursday of this week (August 2nd). But I didn't want to turn 19. And here's the reason why. The conversation when you are 19 goes like this: "how old are you?" "19" "Oh! That's so great! When are you getting married?" But then as soon as you say "20" they stop asking you about marriage. I don't know, it's weird. But because I am not even seeing anyone, I didn't want to have to answer the question that always seems to follow when you reply "I'm 19 years old." So I would tell people this a few weeks leading up to my birthday, and I would always just say I'm turning 18 twice. But then, one of my cute little cousins said, "why don't you just say you're turning 20?" And I thought back to my 2 year anniversary when lots of people said happy birthday to me, and thought, this could work. So then I decided that it was my 20th birthday. Eventually, I decided that it doesn't matter, and all the stupid people who ask when I'm getting married when I tell them I'm 19 can just forget it. Anyway! So, let's start with the beginning of the week. I went to church on Sunday, talked to one of my (same-age) home-teachers and told him that I didn't have any plans as far as friends for my birthday. Then Sister Wellman kept talking to my family about going over to their house "tomorrow" (Monday) for family home evening to go swimming at their pool. Right? I just thought those were both two totally separate, and totally normal things. Little did I know, those two were so correlated! You see, thanks to Logan Raban (my same-age home-teacher) and Sister Wellman, when I went to the Wellmans' house for "family home evening" I was literally super surprised. Yes, they had thrown me a surprise party! It was great! It was really, really awesome the different people that they had gotten to come too. They had some people from my ward, like two of my favorite families, my Young Women President, and of course, my so-extremely-loved Bishop and his family. They had also gotten my dear good friend, Trisha Cook, who works with Tonya for my family, and her husband, and Trisha, did the most incredible thing by getting none other than my favorite (yes I did just say favorite!) co-worker, Jefferson Campbell to come as well. Oh my goodness, I was so excited! So I actually had a FUN time this Monday, which is kind of saying a lot, since I don't remember the last time when I could genuinely say I had a fun time. Then, Wednesday after work my family left to go up to San Francisco. We made it to Reno, NV by Wednesday night and spent the night there. In the morning, we went to the Reno Temple. This is so important because one of the goals that I set before I even turned 12 is that I was going to go to a temple each year on my birthday. But not just any temple, a NEW temple, one that I have not ever been to before. So, I've been to all of the nearby Utah temples, so we knew that we would have to travel a little bit, and my Dad's company in San Francisco is moving this weekend, so we thought that we would come down here and help him out and in turn, we'd get to go to a new temple! So we started out my birthday by going to the Reno Temple. Then we drove, and drove, until we got to a Rue21. We had to go into a Rue21 because I had gotten some emails talking about a few big sales that would end this weekend and stuff. So, after spending about 1 1/2 hours, I walked out of the store with $311.88 worth of stuff, but I only paid $132.01 for it! So that much was good. (comment if you know where that comes from!) Then when we got into San Francisco, I was put to work a little bit and stuff, but you know, whatever. Then, yesterday (Friday) we hadn't done a whole awful lot (I wasn't feeling so hot) but we decided to go cruising around the city. Oh my gosh! It was so great! I can honestly say that I was feeling happy! Which is another thing that i honestly don't even know when the last time I can say I truly felt happy. Then today, we went to Chinatown. That was okay fun. But it was cool because I got a wicked-cool sweatshirt from my mommy and daddy! :) Then we went to fisherman's wharf where we ate crab. And lots of it. It was delicious! So all in all, I think that this week has been a pretty good birthday week. There are still a lot of troubling things that weigh heavily on my mind, but overall, I have been able to forget about those troubles a time or two, for the first time in I don't know how long! So one heck of a big thanks to all those who contributed, people like Logan, Sister Wellman, my mom and dad, my bishop, and most importantly a Father in Heaven, who, for the first time since the accident, I actually feel like he might care about me, just a little bit.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Change

Change is my worst enemy. There is only one thing that stays pretty consistent that I do not like. That is sleep; or rather the inconsistency of my sleep. It is now 5:15 AM, and I've already been awake for almost 3 hours. It sucks, and that is pretty regular. As far as I can think of at the moment, that's the only kind of consistency that I'm not so fond of. (wow, I don't know if that made any sense... I've been awake too early for too long!) Well, let's cover our bases. First let's talk about school. School sucks, because frankly, I can't travel across campus all day, and I can't concentrate as much as a single class requires, I can't stand people and I just can't handle college at the time being. Next let's talk about church. I was called as a nursery leader a while back, (not quite a year) and it was great. I LOVE little kids and my co-nursery leader is awesome. But fairly recently they changed her on me, she's now doing something in the Relief Society and they put in some different nursery leaders. Nothing is the same there, but I'm not going to go into that one anymore. Then, let's talk about work. It started off with my co-worker buddies moving around so I barely got to see them anymore. Then my very best work-friend got moved to a different position. Then my supervisor changed, then he went somewhere else so he changed again, then my first supervisor went to a completely different department. And I'm hardly even working at all anymore. Frankly, I don't know what happened. And if you have talked to me at all in the past 2, nearly 2 1/2 years, you'd know that I absolutely cannot stand people changing like crap on me, with absolutely no warning. See, it goes a little something like this. Nearly everyone has just abandoned me, without any explanation. And each time I try to get them to explain to me what I did, they run even further. My best friend is my bishop, and I thought that it had something to do with his calling, but little did I know, it is just because he is an INCREDIBLE guy. Because you see, I've had a few encounters with another bishop, and he is heartless to say the least.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

2 Years

So last Saturday officially marked 2 years since I ran straight into a backhoe on a motorcycle. I was trying to decide what to do to celebrate. I thought about doing another open house type of thing, but after my last post about people, hopefully you can understand why I wasn't so psyched about that idea. But this is where I think that Kelli Biegel (a lady that my family does family home evening with) was inspired. You see, she had invited me to go down to St. George with her to go see Brian Regan. (Yep, here's yet another Brian Regan story!) But I felt really uncomfortable going down with Kelli and her boys. So I had come to the conclusion that I wasn't going to go.... until I decided to call Yamari (Brian Regan's super sweet secretary). I called her and told her that I had the opportunity to go down and see Brian, but I was just wondering if I could possibly see him backstage again or something. She was so sweet and said "of course!" Then my neighbor, sweet as could be, offered his St. George house to me and my dad and sister for the weekend so that we could go to Brian Regan's concert. But then we ran into the problem of my dad and sister not having tickets. Well, that was more than taken care of too. My neighbor's boss used to be on the board of the theater that Brian Regan was performing at or something. So we got a few tickets that my neighbor's boss had kept reserved. Guess what row these seats were? 6th ROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were psyched! (mostly me, but my dad was super excited too.) As for before the show however, we got to go around the theater to this little area where Brian was chilling before the show and he was so great! He is SO GENUINE, anyone who was with me the first time we met him will vouch for me, but I LOVE IT, SO MUCH! He is the greatest guy ever! After we left, I remembered something that I had wanted to do with Brian, so I got up by myself and ran back to that room. Long story short, I ended up giving him MY autograph. (I did already get a card signed by him, so I guess that means I already have his!) ;) But, yeah, that does mean I'm gonna be a super famous person, ask Brian Regan. Lol. Then during his show, I decided that I would move to Las Vegas (where Brian Regan lives) and do whatever it takes to make his son marry me. :D How cool would it be to have your father-in-law be Brian Regan?? So that was how I spent my May 12th 2012.
Here's a comment I don't have a place for. So you see, on my new facebook, I put May 12th as my birthday. Because although I can't use that as my birthdate at hospitals and such, it really was the day that I was born as a new person. So it was funny because I had about 7 people (over 10% of that particular facebook friends) write on my facebook wall "Happy Birthday Shannon." And these people were some that I barely know, and others like my brother-in-law and my closest cousin. It was great.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I thought...... But I guess not....

I’ve always had such a big heart and so I’ve always been there 110% for all of my friends. So I thought that they would at least stick around and be there 70% for me. But it turns out the doctors were absolutely right when they said that I wouldn’t have ANY of my former friends within six months after I left the hospital. This false perception that I had of the world, based on how I had always treated others, was life shattering. This is why I say to ONLY promise what you will actually be able to fulfill. Repeated empty promises hurt more than you may ever know. It’s important to me that everyone understands where I’m coming from. I am still in the recovery process, and people often forget that. Although my hair has grown back - I’m walking and I’m talking, I do still have to get additional plates put in my head, I’m not driving on the freeways, I’m not able to rollerblade the way I used to, I still should be getting 10-12 hours of sleep every night and I still can’t even run farther than about 100 feet. But one of the hardest things of life post-traumatic-brain-injury is the social aspect. I obviously can’t explain it all perfectly, but I’m still going to give it a try. I know that almost every one of the following explanations are mostly minor offenses, but when they get compounded on top of each other, it becomes an extremely major offense to me. It goes something like this: When we used to spend hours on end hypnotizing, and figuring out what crazy things we could make each other say, night and day - and I thought that they’d be interested in any of the crazy things that I continue to say. After the accident there was a lot of physical pain. The doctors warned me about it, but I didn’t anticipate how bad it would be. Since I had been there to listen when you were complaining about how badly your wrist, or back, or whatever else hurt, I thought you would’ve been there to listen when I complained about how bad my head hurt. I remembered a few friends who would understand how hard it is to be happy and in pain - but they didn’t understand. One day when I was feeling particularly lonely, I got on facebook for some “social interaction” – only to discover that a lot of my friends were hanging out without me - no calls, no texts. I used to make movies with different people – now they don’t even bother to call me when they get together. I even had a friend who got married and I was never told. I used to get in arguments with someone my entire childhood, but things had finally started to mellow out between the two of us. As soon as I thought we were finally getting along, it turned out that she really didn’t even care about me in the first place. Yep, we weren’t the best of friends as kids, but that’s because we both had very type “A” personalities. In high school though, we learned how to put that aside and we became really good friends. She showed how mature she could be when we got past our differences. But it was disappointing to find out that maturity sometimes has a limit. I thought I had at least a bajillion pretty good friends that would at least had the decency to still speak with me, or at least not speak over me, but apparently they aren’t like that at all…Not even when I was struggling to regain confidence spending time with friends and such because I had to relearn how to speak. I thought I had a lot of real good friends before, but when I came back, they expected me to be all better - and when I wasn’t, they fled. It’s hard enough to live up to your own expectations. And when I had doctors telling me that things were going to be extremely different, and I probably wouldn’t be able to do it, I needed you. And when I needed you to understand that things would be a little different, you proved that my life would become extremely different – but not for the better. When my accident forced you to be a little less na├»ve about life, and things got scary and hard, you bailed. You’re not the one who had to lie in the hospital bed for nearly two months, realizing the whole time that your life was completely contradictory to all of your once-upon-a-time dreams. It was hard enough when professionals told me that I would no longer be able to accomplish all of my life long dreams, but I tried to prove them wrong. What made it even harder was when all of my best friends (or all that I thought I had left) went and proved them right. Before, I believed that I had the best friend in the world that would be there for me throughout everything, because I had been there for every single bit of her hell. But when it came down to it, she ran away every time I came near, didn’t answer my calls, and didn’t text me back. I know that my accident was a life shattering event for you, and you were scared to death for your best friend, but when I stuck around, why couldn’t you? I understand that often times I would come on too strong, but there are a couple reasons why. First, it’s who I am, it’s my personality, and you loved me before, so why couldn’t you love me now? Second, it’s also part of a brain injury. Many of you actually sat down and talked with my parents about this, so I know that you knew that there was a likely chance that I would likely become annoying and obsessive. I know it’s a lot to expect everyone to be mature about such a huge, hard thing – especially in high school. But something I never expected to have to face is an adult who couldn’t handle it. The universal solution is always this: ask the adults for help. But when the adult (the ones we are supposed to rely on) is the untrustworthy one, where am I supposed to turn? So it’s like this… I had an ADULT friend who loved me and they pretended like they still loved me when really, the only reason they even pretended was so that I would go to their house and clean it for them. I have had a lot of changes and disappointments since the accident. But something that should never change, even after everything - no especially after everything - is the promises that people have made. I had been told that I was loved, but then after a head-on collision with a backhoe, all of the sudden, I was told I was not. I was having a hard time accepting all that I had lost, but before I was even an inch past bald, I was broken hearted. I had a boy who I had been there for when he needed me most, and I believed (and still believe) that I deserve some of the same respect. But after the accident, he blocked every form of communication with me, and even moved so that I had absolutely no way of finding him. I understand that a lot of relationships, particularly those in high school don’t work out and that’s okay, that’s not what the problem is, it’s not that simple. We were best friends before we even dated, and this accident took a lot from me, and I was mentally preparing myself for that; I thought that you were too, because you were warned that things might be different. But I didn’t expect to have to prepare my heart to have love ripped right out of it. People immediately stopped caring about me because I couldn’t do everything that I used to be able to do. I’ve noticed since the accident that people treat me like I’m worth a lot less but that doesn’t mean that I’m completely worthless. I was great friends with someone and I had no idea they were dating another one of my friends. I had been in debate for the last 2 years, where I had proven how freaking good I was. I had made friends with just about the whole team, and I shared things like winning state, multiple overnighters and we basically became like siblings but then they all disappeared and pretended that I had never come into their life. I understand that a lot of them moved on with their lives and went to college a year before me, but I also know some of them are staying at home. They most definitely could have hung out, or at least texted once in a while. I’ll talk more later about people who moved on to college as well. There had been a lot of hard adjustments that I had to go through immediately after the accident, but what hurts the most now are those that continue to happen. When I had a friend whose life I literally saved, they deserted me too. I was there when she absolutely needed me most, but when I needed her, she pretended like she really wanted to hang out. But anytime I’d make plans, she’d bail. Then, she noticed that I created a second facebook and got mad at me when she found out she wasn’t my friend on that facebook. At least she noticed though, because it’s hard when you have to create a new facebook because no one in the old one treats you like anything living, and just about no one even realizes when you deactivate the old facebook. When there were people on the student council - the people who are supposed to be everyone’s friend - and they don’t even pretend like they care. I mean, that’s a whole heck of a lot better than being fake like almost everyone else, but isn’t it worth a try? When I was the drummer, and I met a cute guitar player, the two of us promised to always keep in touch, and one day he just fell off the face of this planet. Yeah, I know, we already started to lose contact. But now, if you asked him if he knew Shannon Blackham, he’d say, “no, who is that?” When I was so excited to see someone who moved away couple years back and they’re coming up to the same college that I was going to, but they didn’t even talk to me. Okay, so I did see him once, but then I would text him a few times and he always said he was busy. I know college can be really busy, but can’t you show a little courtesy by asking me to hang out on the weekends, especially if you’re going to hang out with all of both of our old friends some weekend? I knew that some people were dating before the accident and to this day I still don’t even know when they broke up, I just started seeing him flirt with a bunch of other girls. When I had a group of girlfriends that I would go over and swim at their house all the time and everything. But not a single one of them calls me anymore, or even take my calls for that matter. Yeah, they went on to college, but oh my heavens that most definitely doesn’t excuse them for not hanging out with me EVER. Especially when they were hanging out with all of our old friends all the time (not to mention all summer) with each of them having pools in their backyards! I used to be the star of the show when I was with a group of all boys, and they all at one point or another had a crush on me. But now not a single person remembers I ever even existed. When one of those boys told me that he’d always like me, and now he’s not even my friend on facebook - when that same boy didn’t tell me that he’s moving like 8 states away. I understand that I’m the one who told him that he could move on with his life and forget about me, but I didn’t mean literally forget completely about me. Like, for example when he texted me a few weeks ago and said that we needed to hang out next time he came home and then I see on my oldshannon facebook that he’s moving to Dallas! How am I supposed to have any self confidence when I went from having a billion options to not only no options, but no one (not even girls) who talks to me anymore? I thought that I had defeated all odds, and gone through one of the hardest things. But at my high school graduation, they recognized someone else, who went through a lot, even though I had gone through everything that she went through, and a 1000 things more. And see, I understand that this isn’t really anything to really blame anyone for, but couldn’t there be more than just my family and one other girl there for me when I was bawling my eyes out after the ceremony? I thought that I had finally found some friends after the accident, but then they forgot to tell me that they even had a boyfriend, and I saw that they got engaged on facebook. I waited for them to tell me themselves, but they never did. I understand that they had moved away for college, but they still mention those kinds of things to our other friend who’s still at home! And the excuse that “we all went to college so we’re just too busy,” doesn’t work anymore because I found out that my very bestest friend, and some of my other best friends, come back down to Alpine, and hang out with my other old friends (who wouldn’t even be friends if it weren’t for me), ALL THE TIME. And it’s also the time of year now where everyone is coming home from college. Still, not a SINGLE call. I had an awesome friend who I was going to room with, so I explained the kinds of situations that I needed in order to stay there. I told them sooooo many times, and they still didn’t listen to me, until I had to move out. Then they got all upset with me. I understand that it is hard to understand my situation let alone remember. But I did tell her that doctors told me to do these things and such. I also told her over and over so that she wouldn’t forget. I had friends promise to do something with me and either they blew me off for someone else, or they didn’t even answer my calls or texts. We’re not just talking about one of my friends that I knew in high school, we’re talking about BEST friends who would come over every single day and we would have so much fun together. For a long time, they spent far more time at my house than at their own. I thought that I had finally found someone who will finally stick it out by me through this whole thing (because they did for a little while) and they didn’t. It’s really hard to trust anyone after your heart has been shattered right in front of your face, and every time you put your heart on the line again, there it goes shattering again! The reason why this is such a bigger deal to me than you may understand is because so much changed after my accident. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dealt with plenty of heartbreaks and abandonments before the accident, but that was when I had at least one other person there with me. So you see, the reason why this is such a huge deal to me is because it was abandonment of everyone, all at once. I found a boy who promised to love me forever, and promised to always be at least my best friend - he also blocked all communication with me, and told his whole family to flee anytime I came over. I prayed for him to get past all of his struggles. I used to give my 100% of myself to him at his every wish. Why can’t he pray to get past the anger that he has towards my obsessive behavior - especially when he had been warned (time and time again) that it would come? I emailed his father about why his son treated me so crude, and all he did was confirm that he wished that I was never born. I know, you’re asking how would anyone do that? It’s when I emailed him stating those exact words and I didn’t get any response. I know I’m reading far too much into this. But tell me this, wouldn’t you at least email me back and say that you don’t know what to say, you don’t feel that way, and that you don’t know why I feel that way but that you’re sorry that I do? I know I would. And finally, I do continue to try and go out to meet new friends and I can visually see them losing interest after less than 5 minutes. Now I know, you people would tell me that I’m reading far too much into people. Once again, I have given everyone the benefit of the doubt but it turns out that they proved to me that I really shouldn’t have given them the benefit of any doubt. Like I said, none of these things alone wouldn't really be a very big deal. So maybe this can help you understand why I continue to struggle with this part of my recovery. One of the things that all of this has taught me is what a real difference true friends can make.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

please help!

Hi. This is me again. I am in absolute dire need of some help tonight and tomorrow morning especially. And for any of you who know me, you'd know I'd never ask for something for myself unless it was more than critical. So now, I ask whoever will, to please, fast with me tonight, just until lunch tomorrow, Sundays fine too, but I need major support today. I can't even begin to describe some of these feelings to you, so I'm not even going to try, at least not now. Please, fast, pray do whatever you feel would best put the Lords little voice enter my ear, because I need it now, so much more than ever before.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brian Regan! backstage and all

On Thursday, January 26th, 2012 I got to officially meet my hero. First we went to Abrevanel Hall to see the show. When we got there I had to go downstairs to go and get my tickets for the show, and my VIP backstage passes. Because of some miscommuncations that I had with Brian's secretary I ended up with 15 tickets, so these are the people that I took. Of course my family and my self, that's 4. Then, Kate and Chad (sister and brother-in-law), 6. And of course the people who introduced us to Brian Regan a few years back, my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Alfred, 8. Then I had to bring my bishop and his wife for everything that he's done for me in the past nearly 2 years. And the other one that's been such a good, good, friend to me, Michelle Madruga, I had to bring her too. That's 11. Who the heck could be the other four? See this is where I had some miscommunication with Yamari (Brian's secretary). So two of them were Tonya's worker, Trish Cook and her husband, Justin. Then, finally I wanted to bring someone who has been such a good friend to me since long before the accident and has remained there anytime I need a friend (or 4 including her 3 sweet little girls!) This one is Jen Call, and her husband Doug Call.
So we went to our seats, fairly close to the front, and got to see the show. It was probably about 90% new stuff, things that I hadn't heard before. Which is saying a lot since I practically stock him and own every album, or DVD he has come out with. But then, after the show came. This was it. This was the moment that I have lost so much sleep in anxiety about. I was going to get to meet Brian Regan! Oh my gosh! So I called Chris Abbott, the manager for Abrevanel Hall while he was there and I got directed to go around to find him and Brian's stage manager Andrew Levitt. They had us all put on our backstage passes on our shirts and they escorted us backstage. Before Brian met us back there we saw an assortment of food that Brian had put back there, specifically for us. And there was a big cake on the other side from where we came in and my sister pointed that out to me and told me to go see what it said on it. This part, you'll never believe, but see first, you have to remember the phone call that I had with Brian on my 17th birthday. If you have trouble remembering it, here's a link to my blog post when it happened http://www.shannonblackham.blogspot.com/2010/08/thursday-8-6-10.html. So then you should remember that i ended our conversation saying "take luck Brian." And on this cake, it said, none other than "Take Luck Shannon." OH MY GOSH!!!!!! I totally screamed so loud when I saw what it said. And then not too long after my mom told me to turn around and there, coming from the hall I saw Brian Regan himself. So of course, I started screaming so loud again and I ran over to him and just like stood there gawking at the fact that I was actually standing right next to Brian Regan. And then, omg, he totally reached out to hug me!!! Oh my gosh! He totally hugged me!!! Oh my gosh!!! But anyway, then I gave him the two little gifts that I had brought for him. And this should be exciting. I gave him a little book about Christ and amazing pictures of Him and stuff, and I gave him a Book of Mormon. Yep, I totally did. And I have 14 witnesses, including my bishop if you don't believe me. But throughout the course of the evening he kept giving me hugs and stuff and OH MY GOSH!!!!! So we ended up talking with him for about 45 minutes, talking about my progress, his family and just about everything. But it amazed me at how truly genuine this celebrity actually is. For example, he told me that from time to time, he still checks my blog. And that he is so ecstatic about all of the impact that he's made in my progress. He is seriously the greatest guy ever. And you would think that me going backstage to meet him would ruin that perception that I have of him and such, but oh heavens how it did just the opposite. Meeting him just reinforced every amazing perception that I have of the man. He is incredible and I am so grateful to his secretary, Yamari, for making this possible, and so incredibly grateful to Brian himself for everything he does. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The long, hard journey of a traumatic brain injury.

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.