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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ladies weekend!!

I have a group of 7 or 8 girlfriends I went to HS with, who've remained quite close, as the years have passed.  A few are married, and live far away, the others are all the New England area, still.  We have random intermittent getogethers whenever possible.  After I missed the last opportunity, by confusing my travel dates for a wedding, I was pretty bummed.  I missed the opportunity to see everyone, near and far.  As a result, 4 of the more local gals came over  to VT, for a visit.  This hasn't worked out in 5 years, and I couldn't be more thankful have such an amazing group of strong, talented ladies to help motivate me.  Were all pretty different, but somehow the mix, and array of goals, dreams, accomplishments, and even loss, has held us together.  Val has always been there for me, with regular visits, and a comforting, and sarcastic demeanor, I look forward to catching up, whenever possible.  She and  Hazel hatched a plan to coordinate with Erin, and Melissa, and somehow, against all odds, they all appeared at my door, last Saturday.  I know I have nothing to be nervous about when they come to visit, but I cleaned repeadly before they came, and still thought my apartment looked crammed, and messy.  It was as clean as it gets, these days, but I haven't moved in 4 years, and still have a lot of junk that's no longer relevant, in every corner.

No one cared, and I saw the momentarily open floor space become filled with their stuff.  It felt like high school, all over again, cramming everyone into one room.  We decided to go for an extremely brisk walk along the waterfront.  The arctic feeling wind came across the lake, with a chilling bite.  We walked about 2 miles round trip, we got to where the beach begins, and picked up pace, even more, returning.  We hit 2 of my routine stops in that area.  Skinny Pancake for hot drinks to warm up, and then the Peace and Justice Cener next door, where I volunteer.  I rarely look around the store, so I had fun looking more closely at the retail.

The next stop was Outdoor Gear Exchange, and finally dinner at The Farmhouse, a local eatery featuring predominantly local ingredients for all dishes served.  We had to wait about 40 min. In the bar ((darn) to get a table.  This is a master business plan, to have the bar downstairs, and send the wait list down there.  Hands down, they serve the best burger  in town, so that's what I had.  The meal was delightful, all around, and I felt so blessed to be in such great company.

The next morning Melissa and Erin were the early risers, who dared to venture into the frozen, snowy tundra to go running.  I'm terrified of ice, and loosing my balance, so I didn't go out, but Melissa čame back with great pictures of a dam I couldn't identify.  Eventually we rallied for a late breakfast at Magnolias, a favored downstairs brunch spot, of mine.  I'd recently had a conversation about steel-cut oatmeal, and that person had mentioned that their oatmeal was A-mazing.  So, that's what I had, though, I believe we all  felt contended through the 4 hr drive back to Maine, after that meal.  It was sad to have the weekend disappear in a flash, but in was so grateful to share parts of my life with them all.  I am sure that having friends I admire, like these ladies, has helped me to look for the good in my situation, and to stay strong, in hopeless times.

Fears chilling grip

Today began in great fashion.  I had an immediate victory, when my alarm went off at seven, and I got up, and stayed up.  Any day I do that, it's a victory, in my book!  I got some breakfast, and then set about playing with my apple peeler device, to make apple pie.  I don't know what it is, about this device, and even though I've had my dad re-explain how to use it, on nearly every trip, I cannot do it.  At a certain point I get so pissed at myself, I walk away and give up.  Ny roommate comes out, and I ask for his help.  It takes him all of 30 second to tell me to flip a lever, I'd already messed with.  I stuck an apple on,only to realize they are too soft.  Note to self, do not leave apple in the fridge for 2 weeks,  and expect them to be usable.  Feeling defeated by own idiocy, I retired to the couch to send some emails. At 1030 Marc (roommate/aide) dropped me off downtown at the department of Labor.  I wouldn't choose to make this a regular destination, however this is the current location of the TBI support groups, which I recently became a facilitator of.  Attendance has been extremely minimal recently.  However I young man showed up, whom I'd never met before.  We shared our stories, and he'd recently gone back to his job at Burton snowboards.  It was wonderful to meet such a kind soul.  It was a good meeting, even though there was a sole attendee.  It was probably the first time I've appreciate the role of facilitor, and felt like I could put my strangely vast knowledge of TBI program tips and tricks to use.

After the meeting, I headed to outdoor gear exchange to ask about fixing a tear in a down jacket.  I got what I needed, but not before being swayed by a deal on pro meal bars.  They taste amazing,  and have saved me from 'hangry' siituations.  I then trundled down Chrurch st. to grab the bus I needed to get to PT.  As I was seething over my ATM card not working, for no apparent reason,a young man walked by turned around, and came back, said "I LOVE YOU, I have a mental disability, but you need to know I love you!'  Normally this behavior frightens me, and get I feel angry because I can't flee quickly.  But this was really sweet, and made me smile. I caught by bus, feeling great.

I made it to PT, and started with a great session.  I was moving fluidly, even doing my push-ups felt good.  I was having a hard time with my right shoulder though.  Nearly every motion was more painful than norma.  l My PT suggested we try electric stimulation to loosen up the joint. It's a bizarre tingling sensation, but as he increased the frequency I started to freak out.  Tears began streaming down my face, and I felt frightened.  The more intense the stimulation got, the more it reminded of these sensation  in my heart, when I got shocked 107 consecutive times by an internal defribilatof, whose lead detached, ans shocked me consecutively, until I could be transported to another hospital, with a means of deactivating the device.  I rarely think of it, these days, and had no idea, anything as as simple as pulsing therapeutic pad on my shoulder could ever give me a panic attack.  I tried to tell myself I was safe, and it was impossible for me to have another shock from a defibrillator. as I no longer have one.  I didn't have the mental ability to deal with that situation, and when I felt the stimulation on my shoulder, it all came back.  I asked Ray, the PT, to tell me a story, but he couldn't start before I completely lost it.  I'd hoped that distraction would get me through, but I lost my cool, I couldn't even hear him, and suddenly demanded he take it off my shoulder.  I slowly calmed down, as he took it off my shoulder, but the trauma of that incident was still so fresh. They tried a heating pad, instead,and the pain lessened.   As soon as I got to the locker room, my emotionalal dam burst, and I called a couple people for a ride, but couldn't get anyone.  So I caught the bus.  As I walked back to my apartment, from the bus stop, I realized that even though I didn't receive a blunt force traumatic brain injury, my injury, I  still harbors plenty of trauma, that I've been unable to deal with.  I hope that the fear attack, I had from the electronic stimululator was a one time resurgence of the greater difficulties surrounding my inpatient days.  Those are not days I'd wish upon anyone.  I was extremely fortunate to have the support of family, and friends, which is absolutely why I still look for the best outcome, and still push for it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A day in the life of...

My alarm goes of at 7, however, I've adapted an unpleasant skill of getting up, turning it off, and dozing through the morning news on VPR.  I have NEVER been a morning person.  It's not my finest time of day, but that's how the cookie crumbles.  Today, I dragged myself out of my cave of covers, when the fire alarms started blaring.  This upset me for 2 reasons.  1. No one finds the blaring fire alarm sound, pleasant.  Think elementary school, when you had to march outside, and it was so loud you thought your ears were bleeding.  We don't have to go outside, but I sure wanted to.  I quickly ate, and threw my things together, and walked to my first appointment.  It's probably 3/4 of a mile, and is great walk, if the weathers okay.  I have to cross the bridge, and go to an old mill.  The building is enormous and contains an oddly large number of yoga studios, for one building (3+).

There I see a rehab. Psychologist.  It's not the easiest thing in the world for me to sit down and talk about what bothers me, or things I'm having trouble with.  However, this one is pretty is pretty good at it.  I left, extremely pleased the sun was out.  It was a short uphill trek to the bus stop.  I reached the crosswalk, and waited for the light.  There was man, unshaven, holding a random piece of cardboard, also standing there.  He offers, in a thick Slavic accent to help me cross the street.  This is probably the one thing I always want help with.  I hate crossing the street.  Even as my mobility improves, I get anxious, and worry that the light will change as I'm in the middle of the street.  I can't remember that having happened, but still not my cup of tea.  Anyways, I took his arm and we crossed.  Mid-stride, he says, "What is your injury?"  Does no try to beat around the bush, or apoligize for asking.  Thankfully.  It's not a hard question.  But, for some reason we've made it one.  I said, 'I have a brain injury.'  He tells me he knows of this, amd talks about an Italian relative in a car accident.  I tell him mine is from lack of Oxgen because my heart stopped.  And that my heart stopped because of a drug a doctor had given me.  Which drug?  Yaz.  He, like more people these days, hadn't heard of it, so I dropped it.  There was no deed to talk about the birth control, that almost took my life, with random hitchhiker.  As soon as he crossed the street, he held up the other side of the cardboard, he held, and it read, 'Going To' and the rest of it was too small to read from a distance.  My first thought was, 'what a weird place to hitch hike.'no where near a highway ramp, and right in town.  Eventually he gave up, and crossed the street to come to bus stop.  Which was going back to town, not away, as he'd been trying to do.  I asked where he was going, but he never said.  Very nice man, just had an unsettling character about him.  I got off the bus at the hospital, to transfer buses, and was drawn in by a sign reading, farmers market.  I bought a cookie, carrots, and a cucumber. And a coffee on the way out.  Then, caught my bus down  to the lake.  I volunteer in this area about 200 yards from the lake, at a place called the Peace and justice Center.  It's a great community, and I enjoy the people.  Although, I'm not contributing much right now.  I feel a bit useless, which is a sadly common theme, these days.  I returned to my apartment with my roommate, and set to making food.  After I'd gotten dinner, I set to making these awesome bana based cookies.  They are wicked tasty.  The batch didn't make as many as usual though.  Oh well, it will be an excercise of Will power not to demolish them, before  my high school friends come to visit...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day of rest?

My day began today with one of my classic faux-pas'.  I dragged my slovenly self out of bed, at 9, and made coffee, and toast.  Slowly, I assessed the filth of my living space, and gathered dirty dishes.  Also rembered to water my plants.  That doesn't happen often enough.  I sat down with my toast, to hear a knock at my door. I felt all of the Color drain from my face, as I realized it was Sunday morning, and I had 10 o'clock breakfast plans.  I got up to answer the door, ahem, wearing pink, snowflake panama pants.  This okay if your guest is in your age group.  However, it's extremely embarrassing, should your guest be your old academic advisor, from college.  I look forward to catching up with this husband wife team, whenever we can find time.  It had been almost 2 years this time, and I had already dropped the ball, by neglecting to return an email.  To add fuel to my shame, I'd then had a lapse in memory.   Thankfully, they were extremely gracious about my difficulties.

They waited for me to put on more appropriate clothing, although told me I didn't have to.  However, you could not  pay me to leave the house in pajama pants, especially pink ones.  I hurried out to the car, a few moments later, quite ashamed.  Though they wouldn't hear it, so the conversation turned to Jay's retirement.  Sometimes college seems like a different lifetime, and I suppose, in some ways it was.  Though, as we discussed the Belize study abroad program they'd created, and my classmates, my mind slips back to the joy, and freedom of those days.  I know how far I've fallen from then, and slowly scrambled to put myself back together.  I accepted a long time ago, that I'd never be who was before this happened to me.  It was not easy, however, it was necessary.

I always enjoy hearing about their upcoming winter plans.  Since the Belize program was not able to continue, after 3 years,  they've concocted clever travel plans, sight seeing  Central America, integrating into local cultures, whenever possible. The meal quickly passed, and before I knew it, I was back, and immediately was motivated to redeem myself, and repot a couple of plants I've needed to, for over a month.  Who expects a sunny day, in the 50's, in November?  I then vacuumed, as I had dropped a bunch of dirt on the carpet.  Off white wall to wall carpeting is so convenient...  Oh well, what's another dirt stain?  It's more like a blotchy brown rug, these days.

After cleaning, I took the jogger out for a 3hr jog/run.  Burlington was exceptionally weird today.  I got hissed a by a guy walking by.  I already detest the fact that walkers pass me, but really, is it necessary to hiss?  No, I don't think so.  If you're 12, that's cool, but otherwise it's rude. I also saw a homeless tent community in the woods, which instantly explained all the weird noises I heard there as I ran by, this summer.  Also passed a strangely large group of Hispanic men.  They were all huddled together, in a circle. Either yelling or chanting things in a  language I didn't recognize.  About a mile from my place, was when it began to rain, which I'd hoped to avoid.  When I first got the yellow sign stating 'runner with asisstive. Device' I worried it might make more of a target,for the strangers I encounter, although, it's been just the opposite.  More people smile and say hi, than ever before.  With exception of the hisser, I saw today.

I returned, and occupied the kitchen for 3 hours,  I only made chicken, and green bean casserole, but I cleaned out my fridge, located missing dishes, and took out the recycling.  I can't remember the last time I accompshed everything I needed to get done, around the apartment,  in a day.  Maybe I should find a way to shame myself, each day, because apparently, that's what it takes.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How Bizzare

In high school, that was the name of a song, I liked, by a band called OMC.  No idea if they're still around, but the title seemed appropriate for my day.  I've recently been fielding queries, as to my lack of writing.  It's been a good fall season, lots of memories, I've begun to record, and then gotten distracted, and done other things.

Today, I thought ahead to make,and pack my lunch.  Convienienly, this idea only seems to occur to me when I haven't recently bought lunch meat.  I had an avocado hummus, lettuce, cucumber, and smoked bacon sandwich.  It wasn't bad, though, it was a bit odd.  I love cucumber with smoked salmon, and bacon with turkey, but I must've lost my mind while buying groceries this week.  Whatever, it was a different sandwich.  I caught up on some emails, and headed out for PT, angry at myself for not having written down, the fact that I needed to get my own ride, or leave enough time to take the bus.  It takes me 2 hrs to walk or run, 45  minutes, to catch, and transfer  buses, if I'm lucky, and 15 min, to ride in a car.  With 15 min to spare, I called a cab, once I'd located my phone.  The app. find my iPhone, saves me everytime.  The most ridiculous place I've found the phone?  My refrigerator. The  worst place I've left my phone, and thought I'd never see it again? A bench, in a municipal building.  As soon as the app displays a map, and address, or makes your phone beep. I wish I wasn't this forgetful, but I'm so thankful, that I'm not the only one, and someone has created an app for sieve brains like me.

I made it to PT, and was sent off to do what I can, independently.  Like the weight machines.  The therapist I work with, Ray, is pretty clever with developing new ways to test my balance, and coordination. Both of which, are challenged, for me..  It's like reliving my childhood, where my friends and enemies mocked my lack of coordination, and speed, by referring to me as sloth.  Unfortunaly, a nickname that is one of the 7 mortal sins, sticks around.  As a kid I was very ashamed of the nickname, but as I grew, I learned to appreciate its comedy.  Fluid coordination is not, nor ever was, a skill I  possess.  I have to step onto excercise blocks, forwards, and sideways, and then step on specific targets, like colored dots, ropes, and mats.  I have a really hard time getting my feet to hit those specific  targets. Sometimes I fall every time I walk through, sometimes, I only fall once, like today.  And very rarely, I don't fall at all.  Imagine that.

After PT, I located my bus pass, in a lost and found, at UVM.  Apparently, I'd left it, last week, while at the Telluride film festival.  Somehow, I got the free bus up to campus, walked across campus, got my card, walked back, caught the same bus downtown, and went to my volunteer role, at the peace and justice Center.  Although, I didn't actually get much done, because one of the interns announced there was a school shooting, or hostage situation,  in the square mile sized town, I live in.  There was a gun, whostage situation, at the same school, last spring.  Why this idea of guns at school, is such a fad, I don't know.  Columbine happened when I was in high school, and I feel like there have been shootings, every year since, all over the country.  Why anyone would purposely target the most defenceless, of our population is beyond me.  There weren't any news reports earlier, but, I heard about it again, on VPR, with vague details.  It sounds like school mayy have  already been out for the day, but, even so, guns and kids are not a combination you ever hope to hear about.  Especially, not twice in the   same year, at the same high school.  What a terrifying day for the families in Winnooski.