Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When the Brain Fatigues, the Whole Body Fatigues

     Our wonderful, marvelous brain that not even an incredible scholar understands controls our every movement. Our brain is the mastermind behind everything we do. This includes the annoying rituals of waking up, brushing our teeth, washing our hair, etc. to the unconscious work we do all throughout our lives; like breathing, keeping our heart breathing, digesting, etc. The brain is very connected to every other piece of our body.
     I'll get back to that in a minute, but having that been said, with a traumatic brain injury, one's brain is much, much faster to fatigue. While I do not believe my heart had any problems remembering to beat, I did have a number of problems with breathing so I was put on a ventilator. I had to work for MONTHS and MONTHS to get to a point where I could eat normal things because of the disruption with different parts of my digestive system. I do not have the balance that a normal person has let alone what I used to have. I walk on the edges of my feet where it creates more stress on your knees, foot, ankle, hip and back And these are the things that you are not supposed to think about! So add in the things that a functioning human being should do every day on top of that - wow, what a workout!
     So if our brain controls all of the things I just mentioned, as well as the ordinary thinking, driving,  exercising, going to school/work, cleaning, etc. wouldn't it make sense then, that a person who has to think overtime about all of the unconscious routines would wear out very, very quickly? Yes, and that's what happens to me ALL the time. It's also very frustrating at times however. Because I don't look like I have a disability, I don't give any "physical signs" that I should be fatigued, but when the brain fatigues, the entire body fatigues. What I'm saying is that there doesn't need to be physical signs, there doesn't need to be a reason why someone is overloaded. Sometimes, they've taken in more than they can handle for the moment.
     This is why it has literally taken me SO long to post. I have so many ideas and wonderful things I would like to talk about. But when it comes down to it, which is more important, updating the world, or trying to survive a little bit longer? I hope to post soon, update you on all of the things I've been thinking about lately, but hopefully in light of this post, you will try to understand if that doesn't always happen.
And don't forget to vote on the poll on the side of the webpage!!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Please Don't Blame Me

Trying to live my life on a daily basis is a never-ending battle. I go about things in ways that may seem unconventional or annoying, such as:
      I might be too annoying or too frustrating. It may seem like I never do anything or that I’m always too tired. I may get angry very quickly or walk away without warning. I may take too long to process words or always seem to get lost in my thoughts. I may seem selfish or too involved in my problems. I may seem too churchy or not enough. I may want more physical attention and less sexual; I might be stressed too often or get too overwhelmed to do anything – including clean my own apartment. I may wake up too many times in the middle of the night or not be able to fall asleep for hours. It may be because I love being with my family a little too much sometimes. I do have problems with social filters and cues. I do have problems with the volume of my voice. I do (or at least used to) have problems with the tone or fluctuation of my voice. I might be childish or upset that you don’t have enough experience. I may become upset over stupid little things. I may be very weak. I may never leave you alone, even after you've asked me to several times. It may be any number of things.
     But truth be told, I'm just trying to survive. Some of my methods are not fully thought out. Many of the things I do are out of impulse, or from deep emotions, like every blog post I've been wanting to post for the last month. The hardest thing about all of this is that it honestly does stem from the TBI. My accident literally was a desecration of my skull and destroyed parts of my brain. It was such a trauma that my body may never heal in some regards. The TBI does not have an ending; just because you cannot see it, doesn't mean that it is not there. My TBI is just about as real as it gets, but I do not use it as an excuse. In fact, doctors that have worked a lot with TBI patients commend me for continuing to work so hard against all of the struggles it adds to my life. But I still refuse to accept their commendation because I still make way too many mistakes. See, I will not ever allow myself to use the TBI as my "consequence-free ticket to life." I try my hardest to fight the TBI in all moments, but when I can't, I am sorry. It is not a result of me saying "oh, well I can blame it on the TBI. I don't even have the capacity to think forward enough to say "I can use my injury as an excuse!!!" This is a lifelong injury and I am going to have to deal with this every single day - people telling me I use the TBI as an excuse for everything. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Failure

     So I'm not exactly excited about this post, because well, who would be? But in all honesty I figure it's something that probably gets overlooked a lot when reading my blog and is a real issue in my life. I'm sure that everyone feels this way at times, but the propensity for failure and emotional instability that comes with a TBI makes it near impossible to deal with at times.
     Let's start with why I needed to write this post: school. In my last post I addressed the idea that I had to get my associates this summer. I talked about how I was fed up with everything and therefore bound and determined to make it work. First block of summer, although extremely difficult, put me on that track. Second block of summer came around and nothing was what I thought it was going to be. So I looked around for other alternatives. And the choices are so extremely limited second block of summer that I found nothing. So I quit second block of classes. So yes, that means I have 2 classes left to finish my associate's degree. And yes, I am still 6 years post high school. And yes I already had almost a year's worth of college credits graduating high school. And yes, I know that I should just get 2 more classes in really fast to at least show the work that I have done, but.... for what? Because see this is (partially) how I look at it: 1. All of those things that I just mentioned are still there. 2. It's a freaking Associate's Degree! Good for what? NOTHING. Except going on to more school and saying that you already have done all of your generals and such. 3. Once I get my associate's it will be pointless to only have the associate's especially because 4. The last 2 classes I would take would have something to do with neuroscience and I would get sucked in and in neuroscience the only degree that's worth anything is not a 5. bachelor's not a 6. master's but a 7. PhD. 8. the last thing I want in life is to spend the rest of my life being scored, graded, evaluated, etc and get nowhere because 9. as the last 6+ years have proven, it will literally take me the rest of my life. 10. I still don't get to work or contribute anything to the workforce 11. I don't get to make a difference with people on the personal level 12. I will always be living on next to nothing 13. Finally, this is not what I want in life!
   That's school. I've had this blogpost written up to this point for probably a week. I just don't exactly want to talk about the other crap. So I won't go into anything in much detail. Actually let's just say that I do my fair share of failing cognitively, emotionally, socially, spiritually, physically, mentally, etc. And despite what Cody thinks, my TBI is not an excuse, it is as real as day and causes so much turmoil, grief and extreme difficulty. I cannot explain it. I feel beaten, trodden down, defeated. By everything in life, everyone in life and I feel like I am totally alone. I know that I have people around me who "love" me, but I feel like they get as sick and tired of me as everyone else does.

Monday, June 26, 2017

School..... Oh no!!

     After high school you go on to do one of a few things; you either go on a mission, get a job, get married or go to school. I have hated this ever since I graduated high school although especially around 19 years old. I hated this because I couldn't work a full time job, I could no longer go on a mission like I had always planned, I couldn't do more than one class for the entire year and my social life was at the ultimate low. I still hate that stigmatism. I hate it for the same reasons - with a few altercations. So let's talk about school. Yes, school has been at least somewhat my pursuit. It's been something to keep people off my back about not doing anything - and that's been almost all that it has been; up until this last 1/2 semester. 
     I've decided that school is WAY too hard with a traumatic brain injury so I was just going to get my associates and be done with it. And because it has taken me 6 years to do it, I also have to obtain a 4.0 GPA - even though I have neurological damage that says I shouldn't be alive. As soon as I get my associates, then I would reward myself by finally going on my humanitarian trip to the Philippines, then I would finally look at a job (still can't handle a regular full time job though). And furthermore I was sick of this annoying dialogue that would take place ALL the time about what I was going to do (this is before I came up with the plan I just told you about). But where the real trouble came from was the consistent battle inside of myself. I am driven for continual progression and I'm hate to say it but even all the therapy that I was doing wasn't satisfying that internal conflict. 
     So, being sick of this continual struggle, I finally gave in and said "Screw it! I'll just get it done this semester!" What? Yeah. I had 12 more credit hours to finish and the most I had ever done in a full semester before was 7. This semester is summer. The good news however, is that I like the faster pace of things, but anyway I decided to somehow manage 12 credits into the summer semester without totally killing myself. Although, I had wanted to take this Intro to Brain and Behavior class about a year ago but I ended up dropping it. So I decided to try to take it again. I went to class the first few days and wanted to drop it again, but I decided to try to stick it out. Here's where things went wrong. 
     This class was going to be the most difficult class I had ever taken and it was. But once again, I pulled an A so that wasn't the problem. The problem was that I loved this class! Okay, I didn't love the class per say but I love the material. I love the brain. It fascinates me so much and is so intriguing. I'm kind of super upset that God had to give me a TBI for me to take this route, but... His way is higher than my way. So now I think I may end up continuing school. Not at UVU - likely at BYU because they have a neuroscience program. But this is just about the last thing I wanted - to stay in school. Anyway, I think you've heard about enough from me for now!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cruising the Carribean with a TBI

Oh my goodness! I have so much to write about. But let's take a different approach. This post I'm going to attempt to write what the last month or so has been like coming from a brain injured perspective.
     Let's start off with my first cruise -- with my whole family!!! Okay, what I mean by whole is my parents and all of their kids and grandkids - with the exception of Annika. Which means there were 20 of us. It was SO much fun! I had such a blast. It didn't matter that we were on a cruise, it wouldn't have mattered if we were in Timbuktu. What mattered was that I was with all of my family and it made all the difference. In fact, most of the time I was not bothered by the TBI that I carry with me ALL of the time. There were days/events/moments of course, that it still hit me, and I'll address those, but my family made it worth it. I was with people I love and people who love me. There was always something to do or someone to be with. There was a couple of times where I did get upset - sad, discouraged, miserable. This is something that just happens. Yes, it happens even amidst all of the wonderful blessings that were encompassing me. I am not where I would like to be; my life is not where I had always planned that it would be; I am not the person I should be.
     Furthermore, I could tell you about the excursions that we had on Haiti, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. But that's not the point of this post nor is it truly the point of my blog. Jamaica however did lend quite an opportunity to show you how frustrating dealing with a TBI can be. So we hike up a succession of waterfalls. I'm with 4 of my siblings (or in-laws) and my nieces and nephews who are 15, 13, 8, and 6. So we are having a lot of fun - hiking up waterfalls and then jumping in them. But my feet are KILLING me. Not just because I didn't have any shoes on, but because my feet always hurt. After we are done there, we drive to another fall and I'm exhausted. Not only do my feet hurt but I am tired! I want to go have fun with my family so bad though! But I didn't even want to keep going at the end of that last run. But what happens if I don't go? But what happens if you do go and you suddenly can't go any further? Well shoot. So I sit by myself, doing nothing, NOTHING (which is a whole separate story) for a few hours while I send my 6 year old nephew off to do something that I, a 23 year old, I, Shannon, the funnest aunt ever, I cannot do. What kind of failure is that? (Don't worry, I'm over it, I'm just trying to let you attempt to feel what it might be like to have a TBI.)\
     Okay, so I'm back at home and I forgot how to function without wonderful people bouncing around making me want to be up and doing something. Furthermore I am PISSED. Oh I get pissed off so easily. Thank heavens I'm quick to forgive. But there are some people that just irritate me over and over and over. Oh and I decided to go back to school in the summer to finish off my degree so I'm overwhelmed and stressed beyond belief. I start school like 10 days after we get home from the cruise. And my first class starts at 8 in the morning. And I'm having a hard time getting out of bed period. I'll update you on the first few days of school next time!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tragic Anniversary

     My anniversary is coming up. Not that soon, but soon enough. For some reason, it seems that this year is going to be a rough one. I don't know why but I've been anticipating this anniversary for a month or so already, and it's still a month away. I cannot explain what happens to me on my anniversary. I can only relate to people who have experienced the loss of a very dear loved one, or a painful divorce, or a severe change in your life or some other tragic event. The day that marks the remembrance of that significant change is brutal. It's like you're dying all over again.
     I've had triggers come from all sorts of different things and places. But it seems like they're everywhere. I get anxiety like crazy. I feel like I'm starting to experience PTSD side-effects. Like legit ones, not just social ones, like I'll be driving down the road with my window down and suddenly get super panicky until I roll the window up.
     But worst of all, and probably completely unrelated to the anniversary, although I'd like to wish otherwise, is my lack of doing anything. I haven't written on my blog for almost a month and longer than a month before that. I haven't been doing any of the things that I know I should do, and why? I don't know. I just don't.
     I am at a loss for words really. I have been a lot lately, which is extremely weird. I'm excited for some of the things that are coming up in my life, but terrified for others. One of which is my anniversary. I can't explain it, I don't know how, but it scares the crap out of me to think that my life was one way 7 years ago, and 6 years and 11 months ago everything, EVERYTHING changed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cherie Call

      On the 11th of March I was able to meet someone that has been an inspiration to me for over a decade. I went to a very small concert put on by one of the most beautiful, uplifting music artists I have ever come across. Cherie Call was the first LDS artist I found when I was maybe 11 years old from the CD "Not Your Mother's LDS Music." Ever since then, I have fallen in love with every single song she has ever produced. Some are more religious (like Faith to Find the Answers) whereas others are not (like Heart Made of Wind) but they are all influential. As many of you know,
      As many of you may or may not know, I don't pick favorites. This is not only because I don't want to make any of the other [colors] feel left out, but also because there's a time and a place for specific favorites. For example, when you are feeling down, out of luck, and like there's no hope, I love the song Believe or Grace is Amazing. When I feel like I'm doing nothing in this life and I'm pretty much worthless, I listen (or at least I should) to the songs How to Move a Mountain, Somebody Else's Shoes, Invinsible. When you feel ugly, or hurt, like no one cares, listen to Beautiful, A Secret I Can't Keep, Somebody Cares, He Gives Flowers to Everyone, or The Ocean in Me. Or when you need someone to understand, to tell you that things are going to be okay, to help you through disappointments, the number one song I would always recommend is No.
      And this isn't even a quarter of her songs!!!! I love them all so very much. I love her so very much. Meeting her face to face was incredible. I was able to tell her a very short version of my story and tell her that she has kept me close to the Savior, close to what really matters and I don't know where I would be without her music. She is even sweeter in person than you would've thought from all of her beautiful music. Thank you Cherie Call for letting me meet you and for your amazing music! Thank you for never giving up! Thank you for helping so many people you may never know about. You truly are a hero.
P.S. Subscribe to me on Youtube to get Cherie Call and other great artists music! (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClzUohViVFqgivMwsxFyubQ)

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Hug from Heaven

      I had a cool experience that I thought might be worth sharing with everyone. First I think it might be worth mentioning that my mind has begun to shift, being more positive and I LOVE IT!!! How long is it going to last? With the TBI and its natural tendency to stay negative? I don't know, but I'm going to take it, embrace it and ask for more. Another small tidbit I will share is that I've changed the book that I am writing from being all about me to being a self-help book for those struggling, primarily those with a TBI, but really for anyone. I have decided that I am going to get this book written before Summer semester. How realistic is this goal? Once again, I don't know. Probably not super likely but that's why I'm going to need all the support I can get.
     Anyway, let's move on to the point of this post. This morning when I woke up initially (at 5:00 am) I had "I Believe in Christ" playing in my head. Super, right? Yes, super. Although I don't know all of the words anymore so I looked up the words on my tablet before I went back to sleep. Then when my alarm went off at 7:00 my alarm played one of my favorite songs "Beautiful Life" by Mercy River. Gosh I love this song! In fact I didn't just turn it off, no, I danced in my bed until the song ended before I turned the alarm off. But I still didn't have to be up so I went back to bed. By the time I woke up on my own, I had the song "He Loves Me" by Hilary Weeks playing in my head. Which is interesting because I don't know this song all that well. I know some of the lines of the chorus but that's about it. So I went to my iPod and played that song.
      Also, notice that I said that they were playing in my head rather than stuck in my head? Total difference. Anyway, then I called my daddy and told him about it and he told me that it must be a tender mercy, a little hug from heaven. I loved that! So I wanted to call my sister, and brothers and tell them about it, but they didn't answer their phones. Then I remembered when my aunts said that they loved my post about almost dying from the car accident, but how I identified so many tender mercies. So I decided I should make it a blog post. So here we are. Anyway, I just thought it was cool. If you agree, comment, like the post on facebook or something!
For awesome music, visit my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClzUohViVFqgivMwsxFyubQ

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stand by You

     There are so many additional challenges that one with a TBI faces. There are so many battles that we have to fight every single day. But that does not mean that you do not have challenges that you deal with. That does not mean that you don't struggle, too. That does not mean that life is not hard for you too. We all struggle, every day. We all are attacked by the devil every second of every day. We are all part of the human race. And as such, we each have faults, flaws, imperfections, but most of all, we have the need to connect with others.
     Whether I know you or not, I want you to know that I will stand by you. "Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through Hell with you." I know what it feels like to feel completely alone, like no one is by your side. I don't want anyone to feel that way.
      On the reverse side, I have learned that there is so much strength that can come from within. Talk positively about yourself, think positively about yourself and your world will change. It's like I've said for a while, LOVE YOURSELF and you can overcome anything.
     But when you're still not quite ready to face it on your own, I'm gonna stand by you. Create your vision, know where you are going and ask people to join you in supporting your dream. These people will stand by you. Accept that they will be there for you when you need someone, and accept that you are strong enough to face the hardest challenges. Begin to acknowledge the fact that you, and only you can overcome the challenges that you deal with. Because you can. Then you will be able to stop asking "why me?" and start to establish a thought of "I'm glad it is me, because I can deal with this."
     I am not kidding when I say to create a vision and ask people to join your team. Do it, wake up every morning, think about it, dance, then carry on with the rest of your day. And support others when they ask you to be on their team. Stand by them.

P.S. I apologize, I feel like this is not a very well written blog post.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Motivation

Another one of the most challenging things associated with a severe TBI is the extreme lack of motivation. I'm not exactly sure what or where it is in the brain, but there becomes a literal, physical altercation that occurs that tanks motivation. It especially doesn't help in someone who has pre-frontal cortex damage (like myself) which regulates emotions. It especially doesn't help when everything that you once had planned and dreamed are now far beyond your reach. There is literally no incentive to do anything. I'm not just talking about big things like running a marathon, graduating college, going to work everyday, no. I'm also talking about little things like brushing my teeth. It's something I know I should do, I know all of the benefits to brushing, I know all the consequences of not brushing, but can I get myself to do it? Often time, still no. There are reasons for some things, like showering. I HATE showering. Amongst the typical washing, drying my hair, shaving, washing my face, brushing my teeth (again?!), which is hard enough to get myself to do, there is still the difficulty of standing on my own two feet for the short duration of a shower. Yes, my feet do ache that badly.
Anyway, I lost all of my dreams, goals, etc. I try to build new dreams but I don't find any real happiness (as noted in my post 2 posts ago) doing anything so it's hard to find something new to enjoy.....

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Consequences

     Another product of my TBI is not being able to connect all the dots sometimes. This kind of makes sense with the diffuse axonal injury I suffered, being that the pure definition of diffuse axonal injury is the axons connecting different neurons to each other got severed. I don't know if that sentence made sense. Basically the pieces of your brain that connect thoughts, information, muscle controls, etc are cut off and no longer work. Now my brain has to take a much longer, roundabout way to come up with the same result, and sometimes it just doesn't.
     For example, a + b = c, right? Yeah well in my brain it gets stuck after a + ..... I cannot come up with consequences for my actions. Since my accident, I never really have been able to, which is probably why I lost a lot of my friends in the first couple of weeks. Although I have gotten remarkably better at it, I still struggle a lot. From the beginning, I didn't understand that telling people to leave was hurtful. Quite honestly, that one is still hard for me. I continue to speak my mind no matter who it might hurt, not because I don't care who it will hurt, but because most of the time I don't have the comprehension that it will hurt anyone. I do things on a whim because another product of the TBI is being impulsive. I don't always think about things before I do them and I usually get bitten in the butt for it. I am not excusing my crappy behavior, I am simply explaining it and apologizing if it has hurt you. Because yes, I do not mean to hurt you, but I also am not always capable to think about if it will. So I am sorry if I have hurt you and I hope to inform you of life post-severe-TBI.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Happiness, or Lack Thereof

One of the more devastating effects of my TBI is my inability to feel or recognize happiness. I say both feel and recognize because I seldomly ever feel happy, and all those close to me can attest to that. But even when I do, I can't recognize it as such. Anyway, it's one of those things that is quite bothersome but I've learned to deal with it, like all other symptoms of my TBI.
As I think about everything I do in life, I can't think of many things at all that bring me happiness. It makes it quite difficult to have the motivation to continue doing anything. I struggle to do anything, as does almost anyone with a severe TBI (I think). I have a problem with attention, even when it comes to people, which is where I derive most of my happiness. I have a problem with anything that takes a significant amount of effort, and with a TBI, that just so happens to be EVERYTHING.
All in all, I don't mean to be a downer, I'm just explaining life with a TBI. And life with a TBI sucks, bad. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I would wish everyone to be a support to those with a TBI. I love to pieces those who are my friends now and who have stuck it out with me for as long as they've known me. I can't ever say thank you enough, because I know what sheer and utter abandonment feels like and you are giving me the opportunity to not feel that way again.