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Friday, June 20, 2014

Good Morning Burlington PD

This morning, I'm standing in the kitchen, still in my pajama pants, when I hear someone at the door.  I put down my coffee to answe the hall-way door, assuming it's probably maintenance.  He asks for my housemate/aide.  Only then, does my brain process his uniform, as a police officer.  Marc is the kindest aide I've had in years, with an intact moral compass, and decent values.  It's why I hired him.  Apparantly openness and honesty are difficult to find in the 'real' world.  I've put up with some very questionable souls, but this is the first time I've gotten a visit from the police department.

I invited him in, while I tried to see if Marc was in.  He works nights, so it usually takes a moment to get an answer.  I finally realize this is not a social visit, and ask if everything is alright, wondering briefly if I live with a very unique criminal, although I find it totally unimaginable he would intentionally cause any trouble for anyone, ever.  He tells the corniest jokes I've ever heard, and never has a bad word to say about anyone, or anything.  Even when someone cuts him off in traffic.  I had foolishly assumed Marc had probably befriended a local police officer, so it took me a moment to realize he was here on official business.   Apparantly, Marcs employer did not receive the message he had called out of work the night before, and asked the police department to check on him.

This idea seems absolutely senseless to me.  if you work nights, you sleep in the daytime.  He puts his phone on silent when he sleeps.  I have to give him my schedule in advance, so he can sleep outside of the time I heed asisstance.  If I called the cops whenever I could not get ahold of him, I think there would be warrant out for a civil violation on my part.  I thought you had to wait 24 hours before the police could intervene.  The officer said it was  an unusual call.  As soon as Marc came out, he seemed thoroughly confused, and realized his employer must not have gotten the message he had called out, and the officer left.  What a bizarre start to the day.  I've  already decided when the nosy neighbors ask about why the saw they police at my door, I'll tell them I was arrested for running a drug cartel, but there was no evidence in my apartment, so they had to release me.  Often, I find myself annoyed with obtrusive questions from my building neighbors.  They usually misunderstand my responses anyways.  May as well make it more interesting...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Food for thought

lesson-1
Expect the unexpected.

A little story about myself.  6.5 years ago, I'd landed my first 'real adult' job.  I was very nervous to leave everything I knew behind, and start over again, although my career goals aligned with non profit management, and public relations.  I tentatively accepted this position, in Texas, as a personal assistant, to a woman who'd founded her own non-profit, primarily aimed at assisting children, and education in various ways.  I left, the day after my 23rd birthday, or I was supposed to.  The nihht before I left, my heart stopped, dead.  At least, I was, for an estimated 12-15 minutes.  My then boyfriend, fortunately realized, and did CPR, while getting my roommates to call an ambulance.  I am still here, because of his quick action, and later, my families unwillingness to give up on me, and faith in the bodies ability to heal itself, even in the face of the unknown.  We pushed through inpatient care, in 6 months, and then  I settled into my Medicaid/care funded rehab program here in Vermont.  Did you know that Vermont is #3 in the whole country, for brain injury rehabilitation ,and has the#1 most compressive/best outcome mental health programming in the country?There are plenty more external factors to wrestle with, but I stayed in Vermont to relearn life with an unknown kind of brain injury (anoxic).  I also had fantastic friends, and contacts from college.  Though, I didn't foresee losing. My relationship, and most of my college friends over the next 2 years.

Today, I am hopeful that you all, as well as others, can be persuaded to be more vigilant, and consider the ramifications of possible side effects, listed on your prescription bottles.  I know many of us believe that anything prescribed by a doctor, will help us, or remedy a problem.  To clarify, the reason, I briefly died, and was revived, and concurrentlydetermined to have sustained severe brain damage, is linked to my then, contraceptive, Yaz.  The company that produces it, BayerLLC, has had to change the name from Yazmin, to Yaz, to Ocella.  Reportedly, it's name is getting changed yet again.  Here's a novel idea, Bayer:  instead of changing the name of your drug to avoid lawsuits, how about changing the components of the drug, to make it less harmful, to less women.  Yes, I'm sure it's more expensive to do that, but think about the money you could save in your legal department.  I'm one of over 200,000 plaintiffs seeking an apology, at the very least, though preferably compensation for the damages, and experiences endured.

 How do you put a dollar sign on a life?  In my opinion, you can't, no one can.  We all have different values, and hold them in different places.  To clarify, I mean that characteristically, and not monetarily.  Same word, entirely different meaning.  Life can be fuzzy, as in, when the line is grey.  Defining right, and wrong  is different for each of us.

Today,  I'm asking you to look at yourselves, think about your own healthcare experiences.  How was the outcome?  Good?  Bad?  Indifferent?

Today, our country is on the crux of major health care reform, where all American citizens could gain access to the healthcare they deserve, and need.  Public healthcare is not the  psychotic, dying, bloody, disease ridden, festering mess it appears to be made out to be.  It's just (gasp) CHANGE!  and, a big one, at that.  What are we, as Americans, deathly allergic to?  Exactly, that.  Change.  I know, it might as well be a curse word, right?  You can faint now, or proceed with any overly dramatic reaction of your choosing, now, should you feel the need...

Alright, now that we've all recovered, let's get back to it.  Our country is touted for its freedoms,  however where money is involved, freedom seems irrelevant.  I live on government funds, my apartment is through section 8 (a government subsidy for people with little income, or a disability).  I use food stamps to buy my groceries, and receive a small monthly allotment to cover my bills.  What cracks me up, is that the fiscal resources I currently receive, is more than what I worked 3 jobs to make per month, while I was in school. The government system is created on formity, which I'd like to point out is the opposite of independence, and freedoms.  Needing government aid is all too common these days, but it all depends on your education, and willingness to look for the resources you need.  I now firmly believe that the media is our largest social enemy, by propagating false impressions regarding the validity and success of these programs.  In my nonprofessional opinion, we invest far too much money in defense, and international relations, where the valuable investment is domestically, within our own borders.the number of Americans seeking financial assistance goes up every year, as wages fail to rise, despite monetary inflation.

There are a million and 1 problems with the difficulties and rigours of public funding.  However, bottom line, they were created to provide asisstance for people in need.  The rules are quite strict, and there are seemingly endless threats of possible ways to *poof* lose your funding.  However, I've come to realize much of these difficulties have come about through poor implementation, or grievances caused individuals not understanding the system.

I think back to US history and social studies courses in high school, and while I agree there is a certain need to understand our heritage, I cannot get over the fact, that we are not required to learn more about the use and implementation of govrtnment programming.  If we have federal aid programs available, for nearly every purpose, why isn't there better dissemination of these programs?  we are always going to have our own misgivings, dependent on our own situations.  That will always be true,but clearly we have gone awry somewhere in the succession of arriving to the social plague American society currently suffers from.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Story of a lifetime

Today I went in for my annual Physiatry appointment.  I see my physiatrist, and neurologist annually at this point.  It's a question and answer session basically?  How's your mood?  Are you experiencing difficulty focusing?  Any changes since last year?

Without fail, I have always been against the use of a neuro stimulant.  Throughout my progression, and rehabilitation, I've been fortunate to gain a perspective of watching myself grow, relearn, and adapt to my surroundings as if I'm growing up again.  Somedays it's an infuriating perspective, as I'm nearly 30, and I'm relearning social norms, traing myself to walk, run, react in a timely fashion, and speak clearly.  Of course there are days I don't even want to face the world, yet I get up, and go out, and often meet amazing people on those days.  It's been a difficult spring, as I'm more aware of who I am now, yet I still don't have a handle on what to do with the rest of my life.  It's like when I graduated from college, and didn't have any idea what to do next.  Things fell into place for me, just in time to acquire the most unique,brain injury out there.  I mean really, who takes Yaz (a contraceptive), and expects their heart to stop?  Certainly, not me, or anyone else out there.  I recently learned I am not the only woman to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest as a result of this drug.  Sadly, it seems I might be the only survivor, though.  Apparantly, there is little to no research regarding cell death from lack of Oxygen (Anoxia).  That caused my brain damage.  Frankly, I'd prefer to be single parent, over the single survivor of severe cerebral anoxia.  The hardest part of this injury for me, is it's inconsistency.  The random tremors that toss me on the ground, without warning, the way my visual accuracy can differ with each day, how much my vocal clarity can differ from one moment to the next.  

With most other injuries, if you break, or tear something, your body can attempt to heal itself, in time.  That's my perspective on this injury too.  It took me 3 years to sell my car, because I believed my vision would recover. (I was initially blind from this injury).  Clearly, much of my vision has pieced back in, and for that, I am so thankful, however, I don't see myself safely behind the wheel of a car anytime soon, because I cannot react to anything, in time, to save myself.  I fall too often to keep track of.  My approach is, if no one saw, it didn't happen.  Although, my consistent bruses, and road rash indicate otherwise.  Physically, I can say that I have a definitive faith in my ability to improve.  I would rather afford myself the opportunity to push, and test my abilities, and likely get hurt in that process, than sit, and wallow in a pit of despair.  We all have good days, and bad days.  It just so happens that ny bad days are profoundly more so, because I can't trust my body to do what I ask it, in a timely, or effective manner.  My mental hang-ups increase ten-fold, as I've learned from experience, that I cannot trust myself.  Although, through all of the pain, tears, and frustration, I have seen myself improve.  I've learned to walk, and run again, without help (sometimes).  It may not be consistent, but it keeps me going.  Life is about testing yourself, accomplishing new things, and taking pride in where you're at, and how far you've come, even if there's still a long road ahead, we have to appreciate the journey.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Total Recall

Wednesday morning, I was up early, walking in town.  Ihad plans to meet a friend for breakfast.  We had agreed on a place called Misery Loves Company.  I'd only heard great things about them, and was excited to try them.  Mind you, I am not in any way, shape, or form, a morning person. 7'is my normal rising time, not my be dressed, and walking out the door time.  I said I'd walk because I know I need that time to assess myself, and my surroundings.  I am rather unpleasant as a conversationalist, if I just roll out of bed, and meet you.  I figured it would be nice to walk a short distance that early.  However, I was apparantely incorrect. On auto pilot, as I crossed 4 lanes of early morning traffic.  Somebody, is apparantely less of a cheery morning person than I, and proceeded tocurse at me, as I trundled by.  I stopped to smile, and wave, and the car beside him waved back.  I decided to walk, and take my chances with early morning road rage. If you're going to be rude, I'm going to focus on finding everything I can do, to walk as slowly,  and carefully as possible.  It's a gamble, I realize, but if you hit me, your life will be a lot worse too.  I think the traffic pattern in this town is idiotic and senseless.  I also still have not come to an understanding with my brain, and how it flakes out on me, at seriously inconvenient times.  Although, I'd appreciate it, if my first communication of the day, was not being cursed at, because you can't wait 30-60 seconds for me to pick a route I feel safe walking.  Whatever, you've probably forgotten this particular interaction, as you've likely repeated it multiple times since then.

Moving on, I walked into a restaurant that clearly wasn't open yet.  Their doors were open, but everything was neatly stacked, so I asked when they opened, and immediately realized my mistake.  The bake shop part of this merchant was back on my street.  I'd braved rush hour traffic for nothing, and now had to do it again.  As I walked back down the hill, a man passed me, stopped, turned back, and said my name.  I wasn't interested in trying to figure out how I knew him,  in that moment.  though, I did feel guilty, because he knew me from my old life, and I wasn't willing to take the time then, to put the pieces together.  I continued on, and had a great breakfast with Zetty.  A lot can happen, in a quick walk to meet a friend.
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I awoke the next morning, Thursday, to, eat, wripte a couple emails, and set off for PT.  I worked on some rigorous (to me) balance exercises, and then headed off to do the rest of my routine independently.  As I was doing one of the exercises, it occurred to me, exactly who the man on the street the day before was.  He'd said, his name,and that I knew him from Fletcher Allen, and my brain said, I think they called him 'mcdreamy.'  (As in Patrick Dempsey  charachter from Greys Anatomy.)  Though, I looked at him, and thought, 'that's odd, he doesn't look like Patrick Dempsy, I must be confused, AHH, big, loud truck in traffic circle!  Don't freeze/fall!'  I recovered from my fear freeze, and we said goodbye, and I concentrated on crossing the street again. 

 I see people from my old life, intermittently, and can rarely place them in the moment.  A couple years ago, a teenager, came up to me, and said, 'hi Courtney, it's Katie'.  I had no recollection of who she was.  About a week later, I realized I had been her babysitter.  Their mom had to be into work by 7, so I went over, woke them up, got the cereal, reminded them to get their things, and brought them to school.  In that moment, I realized how far I still have to go, to get back to being that responsible.  

When this man told me who he was, I knew I would put the pieces together, and I did.  Now, I'm very moved, that he recognized me on the street, nearly 8 years after his group of interns rounded, on the general surgery unit, where I was the secretary.  He was the only one patient enough to answer my coding questions, or who didn't mind translating handwriting.  I just wish I had put it all together,yesterday, on the street.  I always feel horribly rude admitting I have no recollection of people, I used to see often. All in due time, I suppose.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Super scary soul vibration

The above is a random line, or title of a Lenny Kravitz song.



Welcome to my strange, and twisted mind...
This morning I was out meandering the streets of my tiny  city, at the unacceptable time of 6:45.  I had made plans to catch up with my friend Zetty over breakfast.  Breakfast is hands down, my favorite meal out, always has been.  The plan was to check out Misery loves company's bake shop.  Unfortunately for me, I'd forgotten the bake shop was specified.  I raved traffic hell (welcome to Winnooski) for nothing.  I shuffled through 4 lanes at a cross walk, and continued up the hill.  Upon walking in, I immediately realized they weren't open for the day yet, and was sent back to the street I'd walked over from.   I walked outside, and called my friend to let her know I'd be late. Good thing though, as the call, woke her up. It made me feel better about my tardiness, as I knew it'd take 15 minutes to get through the circle again.  Winnooski has this asinine traffic circle that no one actually seems to comprehend how to drive in. In Maine we refer to a traffic circle, as a rotary.  I'm fairly certain the rest of the country follows suit in saying rotary.  In a Vermont, it's a traffic circle, and no one seems to understand the traffic patterns or rules to abide by, for making it a useful traffic pattern.m my next letter should be to the DOT, regarding the thoughtlessness behind the circle.

I finally hot to the correct location, ordered good, and just after I'd taken my first bite, my friend walks in, says hi, and asks 3 questions in succession.  I'm awkwardly trying to nod my head yes or no, to wussy ions that can't be answered that way.  Once I can speak without fear of spewing croissant everywhere, we decide to sit outside in the morning sun, and delightful sounds of road rage, a few hundred feet away.

I'm at the age where it seems 95% of people in my age group, are either getting married! having kids! and/or buying homes.  I got to hear all about the antics surrounding a mutual college friends wedding.  Then it's my turn to share what I've been up to, and howi answer this question, is completely dependent on my mood, and emotions of the moment. I say usually say, 'okay', or 'good', and change the subject.  Trust me, it's easier than hashing out the widely flawed governs programs I currently participate in, or have.  However, over coffee, I'm feeling pretty open about it, and try yo explain the various prgrams, and departments I'm affiliated with, through the state.  This now seems like I may have dropped a truckload of information on her, about every program,  the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Sometimes I'm listening to what I'm trying to say, while simultaneously wondering how I know about it.  This conversation was one of those moments, how bizarre.

As I'm blundering through my soliloquy of program difficulties, a woman nearby calls out to me, and I look over to see my neighbor, and former writing coach.  She's a wonderful, inventive, and talented woman, however,has also had the unfortunate opportunity to venture into neurological difficulties by way of  negative side effects from  a medication. I felt a pinge of guilt, over having said some negative things about the department I'd originally met her through.  Such is life.

After breakfast,  my aide Marc helped me get to my psychology appointment.  In my usual fashion, I mixed up the time, and left right before my appointment began.  I'm heading into the library,  when she calls, and arks where I went.  Gold stars for me...

My final event of the day, was PT.  I realized I felt a bit slow today, but am starting to get a bit more control in some of my new exercises, despite my slothfulness.  However slow and inconsistent my progress is, each time I have this realization, my spirits profoundly improve.

And now I'm writing it all down, hoping to one day find my purpose in this path.  My days are full, and generally happy enough, I've just lost sight of what exactly I'm currently working towards.  And that,my friends, plain,old sucks.