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Monday, March 25, 2013

Crested Butte- You can dance if you want to

Day 1: Life in an ideal setting.
I woke up several times in the night, to a far off beeping. The only thing I remember thinking before falling back asleep: "hope that's not a carbon monoxide detector." Clearly, I'd be helpful to have around in an emergent situation. Apparently, my ability to sleep through a persistent beeping noise, also, still persists. Later, I was getting up, when Maggie's came in, very apologetically, and declared apologies for her beeper. As an EMT, it's always on, and she's learned to sleep through it, if she's not needed. Apparently, so have I. It's more likely that my extreme lack of sleep, made me comatose.
I was psyched for my 1st day on the mountain, and to meet my instructors, as well as, reconvening with he the ladies. Unbeknownst to me, Ladies camp, didn't officially begin until Saturday. I saw Elaine, and Julie, both of whom I knew from the year previous. They are both long-time veterans of ladies camp. This camp feels like a close-knit family, it's members change, each year, but everyone is welcomed. After saying so many hello's, I made it to the area, where all the snow gear is kept. Maggie helped me find all the gear I'd brought. Just as I sat down, I heard a familiar voice, say my name. I looked up, to see Alex, whom I'd met last summer, on Lake superior, in Wisconsin, with Push America. Alex and I had been partners during the tip-test (when you intentionally tip your boat, to ensure you can free yourself from its confines, should your boat ever flip). We both escaped the flipped boat, if you're wondering. He also was kind enough to he me find my gate, at the airport, when the time came to head home. Needless to say, I was pretty psyched to have another connection, right then. Alex was interning with the ASC, and assisting Marc, the instructor I rode with. Marc was a very easy-going, calm, but excitable, type of guy to work with. Right away, I felt at ease talking about my difficulties, where I've been, and previous experiences. We discussed the snow wing, as I'd only used that piece of equipment, last year, with the ASC. I was really surprised, when he told me, he'd prefer to try hand-held assist, at least for he first day, because he suspected my comfort level was the highest, with that type of assistance. That was correct, but, I'd genuinely expected to be asked to try new things. I was relieved, and pleasantly surprised. Last year, I never had the chance to see, or interact with the other ladies, as I never went on the the trails they did, once. I was really surprised, when they brought me up Indian Brook, and Houston, that first morning. Those are 2 of the runs, that I repeatedly heard about, from the other ladies, last year. It was breathtaking to catch glimpses of som of the surrounding peaks, after we'd gotten off the chairlift. For all of the times I must've asked about the elevation, I still cannot recall. I feel like whatever number I drag out my cluttered mind, it would be a great injustice. Being in terrain like this, is breathtaking. Figuratively, and literally. It's a bit like the 'on top of the world feeling' that comes about, when you climb a huge mountain, and are able to see for vast expanses. Not really though, as there were so many surrounding peaks, in eyesight. Still breathtaking though!
Right from the beginning, Marc was very adept with providing direction, helping me to prepare my mind, and body, or he adjustments I needed to make, with each turn. Every year I ride, I've worked on linking turns, with hand held assist. This year, more than ever, I've really felt like I'm using the assist, as a security blanket, for my slowed visual processing, and my balance. I need to relearn trust in my own abilities, but that is, really, he hardest part. It doesn't seem to matter how many times I catch edges with Marc, or whomever has my hands, or no matter how many epic crashes I endure (there have been a lot this year), I still have a very hard time trusting my own abilities, or whatever they are, at this point. Nonetheless, when they found a suitably safe place, to Give me my freedom, lost my cool, and my posture disintegrated, and I went down. Repeated that move several times, until I began to get really exhausted. Marc, again helped me get myself down the rest f the slope, while Alex kindly got photos, and videos, on my phone camera. At this point, I'm fairly certain, my phone has a better camera, built into it, then my 5 year old digital camera.

We headed in for lunch, and I bumped into Elaine, and Julie, 2 of the women I knew from last years trip. They're both longtime veterans of the camp. I was really excited to have the opportunity to catch up with them. We each enjoyed plump, juicy hamburgers, before returning downstairs to Adaptive. And, my day wasn't even over yet. Marc and Alex helped me conquer more of the slopes that afternoon. There was plenty more breathtaking scenery, comical falls, and fantastic camaraderie. We headed in, around 4. I couldn't I tell, then, but, as soon as my muscles began o cool off, I knew id worked hard. Maggie concocted a delicious stir-fry dinner, that night, before we rushed across town, to catch a comedy show with a disabled headliner. If I recall correctly, he was living with cerebral palsy, And, had  an unbelievably hilarious method, of making fun of himself. Occasionally, it would get pretty crude, and I found myself wanting to laugh, but feeling like I was crossing a line, if I did. He jokingly described is parenting abilities, responsibilities as man of the house, and even heckled audience members.  All in a good night, if you ask me(maybe, because I was spared from being put on the spot!)                

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Super-duper day of riding freshies

I just wrote that title, and then thought to myself, I don't even know if people still use that term. Gah, it's weird that I've lived here o long, and m so out of touch with local lingo now. Oh well, I still live in this 'city' and live for days like today.
I got an afternoon lesson today. My roommate (properly, live in aid) was kind enough to take me up to Smuggs, in not so great driving conditions. Things were good, until we got close, and the roads weren't well cleared. It got a little tense, but we arrived, all in one, sturdy piece.

I was already to get out there, so we all hopped on the mountain shuttle. The more I get out to snowboard, the more I've begun to pick up on the limits of my abilities, physically, and mentally. The same with running, but snowboarding is vastly more social, because of all the support I need. Right now, my biggest goal is mastering the strength, and coordination to ride without assist. The scariest part of riding alone, is my vision. I see 20/20 now, but my brain cannot process movement, with any speed. I have a terrible habit of looking straight down, when I'm riding without help. I know some of that is from blind spots in my eyes, and it may also be easier for me to focus on an object not in my periphery. My vision difficulties, are an endless subject, even though I know see 20/20, my brain is slower at recognizing the images it takes in. That combines with my innate lack of tut in my physical condition, makes relearning my favorite outdoor activities, relatively frightening. Although, I figure, if I'm not pushing myself to create new y apes in my brain, it's a day wasted. This injury is single-handedly an unfathomable curse, while also, a unforeseen blessing. I realize this, more, and more through every adaptive opportunity, which comes my way.

The 2 you g men helping me at Smugglers Notch, outside jeffersonville, VT, were extremely open to my requests, of attempting to ride unassisted, and also get off the bunny hill. The bus dropped us off at the intersection of a couple trails, nearby an outbuilding. Did I mention Tuesday, was an epic powder day, because, it was! Snow came down for the majority of the afternoon. I'm not used to the powder, but my confidence is unrivalled. In soft snow, to inevitably tumble into. I'm far more comfortable turning from my toes, to my heels. Also, having a rather narrow trail, is pretty nerve-wracking visually. I fell a bunch, but could feel my confidence in my abilities, steadily growing. We also used a snow wing, which is an adaptive device, that wraps around you, in I wing shape. I was surprised to see it, as they hadn't had one, on my last trip there. Also, my only experience with it, was in Crested Butte, CO, the year before, and I wasn't aware of any eastern mountains,that were familiar with the device.

To be honest, I have a hard time with these devices, the stronger I get. I also catch myself putti g up a fight, a d then blanking on it, after I get my way, and it doesn't go as I'd hoped. Not cool, Courtney, not cool. Although, I usually realize this, well after the fact.
We made 2 runs down a lo g, narrow, winding path. Once with the snow wing, once with my go to, offhand held assist. All in all, it was a great morning to be up there!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Getting back in the game

I have to make fun of myself, at his moment. Only because I'm certain I look absolutely ridiculous right now, wearing my gym clothes, snow boots, and my down puff jacket, chilling in a corner of a large open space, in a downtown building.. I do have a lovely view of Lake Champlain,however. I also have 2 bags, at my feet. Mondays, are busy days. I begin with voice lessons, not speech therapy, but voice lessons. I'm paying someone privately, to re-teach me how to articulate, and breathe at the right time, in conversation. Apparently, I have a bad habit, of cramming my entire sentence into one breath, and as a result, the ends of my sentences are unclear. In all of the hours I've logged with speech pathologists, none have described my speech difficulties, in a manner that allowed me to believe that there is a possibility, I may be able to speak clearly. I'm learning how to use my lips when forming sounds. Pretty basic, but its stuff I can control, if I put the effort into it. Think about what I'm trying to say in conversation, as well as, how to move my lips, and tongue, when speaking. That's a tall order, for me, also because I need to slow my speech down, to be more clear. As the years drag by, the more I recognize, my old, ridiculous self. The good, and the bad. I'm still the same procrastinating, active, joyful, sarcastic fool, I always knew. I came off a memory drug last spring, Nememda. It's traditionally given to people suffering from Altzheimers, and me, because I had a very difficult time recalling anything, for a long time. I was excited to come off the drug, but also frightened, as I'd heard they have the ability to not allow you feel, or process emotion. There have been a lot of feelings to be had, and the idea of being attacked by everything from grief, loss, anger, frustration, and betrayal, to love, joy, curiosity, fulfilment, and strength, all at once, terrified me. That's the tip of he iceberg, for me. And, I got exceptionally lucky last year, in finding new friends, skills, and adventures to be had, to distract me from learning to realize, and deal with the fact I have a disability, and this is who I am now. It's not like I've done 5 years of rehab. In the sate system, and can pretend I'm ready to go, and hit full speed. As much as I love that idea, I can finally see where I am now. I've come a long way, but unfortunately, I know that I will never think I've come far enough. That's who I am. I go full speed ahead most of the time. I like to be on the move, all the time. I've been very sedentary, the last couple of months. It's also been strange to have tv again, because, for the first time, I found myself able to empathize with certain stories. I cancelled my cable in the fall of 2011, because I int care bout it. I didn't watch it, and I wasn't all that interested. I now have Internet tv, which I a problem at times, because you NEED self control, for it. It's way too easy to sit, and watch a season, all day, especially when you don't have a lot going on. It's agin oh, but I've had to relearn to ration myself with it.

I don't suppose I have, one Clear topic for today, other than needing o clarify who I am now, and where I want o go. YIKES!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Nuts and Bolts

One of the hardest parts of authoring a blog, is trying to maintain new ideas. I've been full of thoughts regarding the emotional tolls of learning to accept my disability. Although, unlike most other disabilities, I find the more work I put in physically, nd emotionally, the easier they become. In many ways I've had to start completely over, and re-train my brain (heh) to be human again. With my experiences, the old standby line "You don't know what you don't know" has occurred to me, a ridiculous number of times, throughout my recovery. Each and every brain injury is different, therefor it's impossible to create a systematic treatment for each.

As I've progressed, I attempt do my best to never act on those emotions, which is largely why I've withdrawn from any social life I had. Also because, it can be terrifying to be so open about all of the skills, and abilities I've lost.

Before I suffered this injury, I moved from work to school, to group meetings, and to another job, everyday. I may have also been known to frequent some of the bars. I felt this unfulfilled need to accomplish my dreams, and pursue my favorite hobbies, all at the same time. I was constantly moving from activity to activity. So much so, that I a broad variety of people. I honestly, loved that aspect of my life. But, here I am, 5 years later, pulling myself back together, and realizing how lonely I felt then, too. Everywhere I went, I knew someone, and that's great feeling, Neil you realize you Kay know their name, a few mundane details, but take away the pleasant exchanges, and you both know very little about one-another. No commonalities. I didn't have the time, to really allow people in, closely, into my life. I never really closely looked at the decisions I've mad for myself, until now, simply because I feel time knows no bounds. I'm lost, I don't hav direction, or goals, outside of attempting to regain my independence, and outdoor recreation.

Not entirely certain where my head is at today. Feel like I'm picking myself up, and attempting to find my routine, or a new one. I'm getting the one thing I've wanted, more certainly than anything else in the next few months. I'm getting out of the brain injury waiver program, because the state will have apparently deemed me no longer needing those specific services. I will always have a brain injury, but thankfully, the brain is somewhat elastic, and I've come back. I'll never be who I was 5 years ago, but honestly, who can say that they're the the same person they were 5 years ago?

I really have no desire to act 23 again, anyways. I loved life, and even what had brought me to where I was then. Looking back, I may regret my devotion to play, over academics. In some cases, also spreading myself so thin, by committing to every club I had a minor interest in. I love to be busy. Always have, and am realizing I always will. I'm realizing now, how I find myself myerered in this strange, new world, that does not show me, or anyone else, what to believe in, or how to empower themselves.

Thankfully, I still remember who I was, and how I thought, as well as my belief system. I believe those have all been key factors in ability to get through this. The public systems we offer, are often disgraceful, and exceptionally classist. I don't care who you are, or what your relationship is, it is simply so, because every situation is different.

It is purely unacceptable to put words in my mouth, or anyone else's. This is exceptionally difficult to to do. My friends and family do it "for" me, and it really upsets me, whenever it happens. Depending on the situations, depends on how gracefully side. Saying that I may, or may not react to it.

I suppose my convoluted message today, is about the hardships in starting over, but also the strength, and full net that lay on the on the other side. And now, I feel like a cat chasing its tail. Going around, and around, but never quite within grasp. Hopefully, one day, and soon! Never give up.