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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Memory Lane

Writing feels impossible these days. I once looked forward to processing my day's events, no matter how obscure, by writing about them.  Although, up until recently, i lacked the self doubt part of processing things.  I hate admitting that,  and doesn't mean I'm unwilling to do things, it just means that instead of stark nothing, where my mind was once blank,, I think, 'I probably can't do that.'  That sounds negative, but it's a great surprise to me when I can actually can do something I was not sure if I could.    It's also unbelievably variable, because my physical and mental abilities differ day to day.  The closest relatable experience I have,  is to say it's like growing up again, although, this time I already understand the process, and seem to be overly sensitive to my mistakes.  

On the upside, I've finally begun reading again.  Audiobook are a great substitute, but nothing is quite as pleasing, as holing a book, marking the pages with notes, or folding the page, to mark the place I left off.  I read a lot growing up, and I appreciate the physical experience of reading, the way the paper smells, turning the pages.  I read on the kindle too, but the act of swiping my finger across the screen, to turn the page, just isn't the same. Now, I just found  Senator Elizabeth Warrens biography, and can't put it down.  My reading is still frustratingly slow, but it's leaps and bounds ahead of where it was a year or two ago.  This recovery is a day by day thing, one day at a time.  I have to look for the small accomplishments, and pretend that's enough, because right now, that's all I have.  

I recently abandoned my cane.  It had 4 tiny feet, or prongs, for greater stability, and it helped me attain more confidence in my mobility, as I would use it to catch myself, or on steps, and curbs.  Although, this spring I started tripping on it, because I failed to pay enough attention to where I had it, or it would touch my leg, as I walked, and I'd jump, and fall on it.    I recently decided to try not carrying it.  My shoulder pain is better, and my confidence in my stability grows everyday.  I still fall from time to time, but that's my reality to face, and now I'm no longer falling on the cane, it left some very bizarre bruises. On the subject of bruises, I've revently had 2 very awkward domestic abuse conversations.  At the end of April we had a very warm week, and I got my shorts out, forgetting about the 6" black and blue mark on my thigh.  I'd fallen somehow landing on the cane.  When I put on my shorts, I saw it, and thought about changing, but didn't because these are my scars, I'm not willing to be embarrassed by the fact that I trip myself, a lot.  Although, it never crossed my mind that people might think someone else had beaten me. Oops.  Note  to self, 'I'm now too old to proudly display my 'battle scars.'

At some point, almost every day, I find myself envious of my peers, but then I realize everyone struggles, just in different capacities.  Relearning life at 23 certainly isn't an enviable predicament, but here I am, 7 years in, still trying to get a handle on it.  I'm happy to have the opportunity to rebuild, as long as it takes, one day at a time.  Summer is here again, and this time I no longer need my cane. It's all about perspective, I may not know where I'm going in this life, but the way I see it, it can only get better, I just have to keep moving forward.

Last night my friend called to preemptively  apologize for being out of touch for the next month, and I realized in that moment, what a thoughtful action that was, because that would never occur to me to reach out and notify friends, I'd be out of touch for a time.  It was a unique realization to me, in that I now seem to be processing others actions and reactions, whereas, it all used to float by, the good, the bad, the indifferent. I had no ide about how to react to things, or process them.  It's like when you're a kid you do what you're told, unless, some ridiculous idea flys in, and you do that, and then pay the price, for not doing as were instructed. It's as if someone flipped a  switch in my head, and my ability to process and empathize is more my own now. Looking back, it reminds me of playing 'follow the leader.'  It just takes time to deal with, and process all the  new, again experiences.  I remember back in the hospital, people would often ask what the last thing I remembered from my previous life was, and I'd say, 'Belize'. That was about 5-7 months prior, so not great, but not terrible either.    No one ever pressed me me for more information, but really I only remembered that I had been there, at that point, I didn't know why I'd been there, who I was with, or what I'd been doing there.   Fortunately many friends, and classmates filled me in, and the more I heard, the more visual images came into my memory, and the more I was able to remember.  I had this incredible boyfriend who stuck by me throughout my 7 month hospital and rehabilitation tour.  At first I couldn't remember him, at all, but as I continued with rehab, the more he filled me in, and the more I remembered.  I knew we were close, but I had no idea how we had met.   early on if you told me anything I'd forget it ever happened within the hour.  My mom would tell me who'd be visiting that weekend, and I'd be in dumbstruck shock when they arrived 2 days later. Funny, that I remember all this now, it's strange to look back on that time.  At that time, I was fully blind, although,I did recognize voices of family and friends.  When I think about my stays in the hospitals, I barely remember any of the. doctors and nurses.  That seems seems weird  to me.  I remember the first time they stood me upright, in some kind of walking simulator, at Spaulding in Boston, and the endless hallways of Crotched Mountain rehabilitation, where I painstakingly learned to walk again, with a walker.  I actually do remember a lot more than I thought, it just takes time to pull it out of hiding.

Moving forward, these are all pieces that I've had to process mentally, within the past year or two, because I wasn't fully there earlier.   I had no way of realizing it then, but I feel so fortunate to have the ability to more fully recall the earlier aspects of my journey. Of course it's been difficult for all involved, and I want to say thank you to all who've been there, and helped me along this path!  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Some days...

Writing so difficult lately.  Since acquiring this injury, my emotions have felt stunted, I recognized the basic things, such as love, and hate.  But, outside of the big stuff, I've had to slowly piece it all back together.  One the hardest parts of telling my stories, suddenly became even more confusing, as I began realize I could process more complex emotions.  I had lived in a judgement-free world, because I did not have the ability to look at others, and think about how I would act in that situation.  That's more-or-less how I perceive judgement, putting your own views on others.  Sometimes this is profoundly ugly on people, sometimes it's just annoying.  And rarely, it provides me with a teachable moment, for myself.

Yesterday, I was walking down church st in Burlington, to catch the bus down to the waterfront, nearby where I do physical therapy.  I was moving fast, and realized it, so while I'm complimenting myself in thought, on being able to move so quickly, my foot catches on an uneven brick, and I go gown.  Hard. Is that Murphys Law?  Anyways, it was really painful, and I immediately began to cry.  I then put my focus into getting up, before people approached, but it was too late.  When I fall, concern arises.  Unfortunately for me, I despise attention when I've fallen.  I feel like road-kill, where people see something, that has obviously caused pain, and injury, but are inwardly thankful, to not be in that compromised situation.  I often take a spill on a weekly basis, although recently, it's been more frequent. I'm used to falling, from lack of balance, or the unforseeable muscle tremors I occassionallyendure, that throw me down.  I understand those, and frequently move more slowly, when I feel less confident in my motor function.

Like I said, I was proud to finally feel more confident in my motor function, and was cruising along.  What got me, is a deficit I rarely take into consideration anymore, my visual field.  I tripped on something I hadn't seen.  I feel like I need some kind of training that helps remember to look more closely  where I'm walking.  Over the weekend I fell in a parking lot, because my foot hit a 2ft high cement pylon, that I hadn't seen.  More tears, though more from schock, and enbarrasent, than physical pain.  My balance has improved so much, that I seem to forget there are other reasons I need to slow down.  

Back to Curch Street, a knd young woman offered me a tissue, and a hand up, once I was able.  The resounding ache in my right hand, concerned me, but I had appointments to go to.  It looked like a sausage, and was immobile.  After physical therapy, I decided to go to urgent care, to be sure it wasn't broken.  I wound up being sent to the emergency room.  A decision I fully regret, because of its profound expense, and the minority of my injury.   I'm already fully pissed at the American healthcare system.  The expense is profound, yet urgent care I difficult to acess as a non-driver, especially when you're in pain.  I'd called my support person, but no answer.  Surprisingly, they called me after about10 minutes.  I was registered, and brought to private area to wait for x-Rays.  It wasn't broken, thankfully, so they taped my fingers together, to support the sprained one.  I left, feeling idiotic for visiting the ER with such a minor injury, but my right hand is the only one I can depend on, so, I wanted to be sure it was alright, but suddenly those hard won feeling accomplishment, are gone, as quickly as they had appeared.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April fools!?

Personally,I'm so glad that we, as the American culture, have a recognized day to celebrate playing ridiculous pranks on each other.  Personally, I've never had much opportunity to take it to heart, although I do love the cleverness, and the level of cospiration involved.  

Congratulations to all who were clever enough to pull off a joke.  I did not have such an opportunity, although, I must admit the calibre of pranks seems to have risen.  Yesterday, I read an article which outlined 10 different pranks.  Some tried, and true, others delightfully clever.  However, all in all, largely despicable.  T favorite was to Saran Wrap the shower head, so the water became redirected, at the person reaching in to turn it on.  Tonight at dinner, an auto mechanic tecounted a seriously dirty (in more ways than one) story of greasing everything. In the shop with tire lube.  The take-away point was the extreme slipperiness of the stuff,  while the story was hilarious, it ultimately reminded me that the line between funny, and cruel is not all that distinct.  

As I happen to so spend so much time piecing a manageable life back together, these realizations  occasionally blindside me.  Sometimes I lose it, and breakdown.    Others, I just remain stoic, and attempt not to process the implications of having lost so much, that I still have no idea, as to the ultimate extent of my injury.  Anoxia is still the great unknown.

  Like pranks that inflict pain, or emotional harm, where is the hilarity in the creation of anothers  suffering?  It often appears that our society feeds on this negative energy.  I now find it necessary to occasionally stop, center myself, and remember that I don't have to/can't let all of it in.  I'm often forced to filter the world piece by piece, as orchestrating all movement, thought processes, and all othe life functions can't simply overload my abilities.  In this case, I stop, or freeze until my brain mangages to process, even one detail, and I can go on in my world.  Every survivor lives with different struggles, although, I d like to imagine that the struggle of Putting  your broken world back together, can be triumphantly universal.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The glory of the White Mountains

Every year around Christmas, my step-dad Marty, gives me a weekend of adaptive snowboarding, at his local mountain.  Cannon, in the white mountains of New Hampshire.this mountain rage still has a similar grandeur to it, as it did when I was a kid.  I love working with adaptive program there as well.  They all make an effort to provide me with  the same instructor, each year, I love that continuity, plus it's like seeing old friends, upon returning.

Marty picks me up in Burlington, and shuttles me, my gear, and his dog, back to the white mountains.  Henry, the dog, is a recent addition to the mix.  He seems very skeptical, and uneasy about me.  Sometimes, even animals need more time to figure me out.  My movement patterns are absolutely unique, which often invites curiosity, or occasionally uneasiness.  Henry largely avoided me the whole weekend, unless I was sitting.  The White mountain range always strikes me as far more dramatic than the Green mountain range, in Vermont.  Not sure why, they looming, and create a sense of grandeur.  I've lived in Vermont for 11 years, and have yet to find that same feeling.  The Green Mountains are a different nail to me, I find myself unable to describe why.  Perhaps because I'm soo familiar with them now.

I look forward to riding at Cannon every year, mainly because of the continuity.  I work with the same guy every time.  It's always fun to work with someone you know, and appreciate working with.  The conversation is easier, because you already know some things.  It's also extremely helpful for me, as he has a gage of how my mobility improves/changes year to year, which is extremely helpful.  The person who works with Ben, to support us, handle the extra gear I may need, or help out with the ridiculous process of getting me safely on a chairlift.  This visit that was Dave, a newer volunteer.  After our first run, we atteptd to sit 3 across, on the chairlift.  That went rather badly, and we had a fantastic wipeout.  Ben caught me as the chairlift took me by surprise, and somehow managed to recover, and continue riding the lift.  Things didn't work out well for Dave, who was carrying our boards.  I have to walk on the lifts at Cannon.  Not sure why, it's just how adaptive seems to do it there.  Actually, it's probably because of the challenging landing, getting off the lift.  It's quite steep.  Actually we slide down this brief embankment, on our heels.  Ben tells me I get to practice my skiing as well, there.  I originally fell in love with snowboarding for the sense of freedom it gave me.  I grew up skiing intermittently skiing.  At 19, I bought my first snowboard, because concept of having both my feet attached to the same moving object, seemed more stable.  The learning curve was slow, and I remained consistently bruised, from every venture.  Months before I acquired my injury, I bought myself new gear from Burtons tent sale,  after my injury, they had me in adaptive programs while I was still on inpatient recovery.  As I progressed, I decided to stick with it.  I quickly learned that sit skiing gave me a very cold bum, and that my left arm was not able to support my turns.  Therefore, I still snowboard.  I miss freedom, and indepence in nearly all of my physical ventures, though I'm certainly not alone there.

On Saturday ,ourday ended early, due to thi instructors being needed for a promotional film clip shoot. Marty had disappeared,mand coulnt be reached.  Eventually I found him, napping in the car.  That evening we had a delicious dinner at a fantastic flat bread pizza, combination brewery.  Such a divine mix of 2 wonderful things.  I'd been looking forward to their pizza.  Schillings has become a favored eatery for me.  Upon returning to the house, I called in an early night.

The next morning, I got up, and washed up.  The sink is a rather unique design, where the water shoots up, before gravity pulls it back down.  That morning it was perturbed with me, and there must've been some air in the pipes, because the water shot at me, not up, including its usual fashion.  Awkward.  I had to put a different shirt, but considering how much water had randomly exploded from the sink, I'd done well, to not be completely soaked.  I did what little I could to dry things off,found a dry shirt, and went downstairs to find oatmeal ready, and waiting.  After that, we piled back into the truck, for the quick jaunt over to the mountain.  

We picked up where we had left off the day before.  The first run often feels ridiculous and awkward, as my brain slowly figures out how I need to move.  One great thing is that this year, I've e  noticed how much less I feel the need told onto my instructors with a white knuckle death grip.  My hands say a lot, for me, and in the past 2 years, I've noticed tem relaxing more, in new, or different situations.  When I'm nervous, or frightened, with regard to my mobility, my left hand involuntarily freezes into a clenched fist.  Snowboarding challenges so much my motor difficulties, balance, visual processing, and coordination.  As with anything, the more I do it, the easier, and more natural the movements become. Prac, practice,, practice, oh, and more practice.  Welcome to the single most frustrating, yet unbelievably amazing part of my brain injury world.  Retraing, my adult self to move, and attempt to function.  It has been a blessing, and cuse to have retained certan skills, and memories, only to not be able to execute them, as I remember.  Back in inpatient rehab all those years ago, we had to work everyday, at training my arms and legs to move, on command.  I had lots of spastic movement, but little to no control.  I have to think about how to move, before I do, sometimes.  Although that can be a slippery slope, and frighten myself into being unable to move, occasionally.  Every day, is really a new day, as I have to orient my frame of mind to my ability to move, that day.  The inconsistency is a bitch.  There's just no other way to succinctly describe how frustrating it can be, to not be free to trust in your physical ability to complete a task.

Sunday morning, the conditions were somewhat miserable.  It was 15-20 degrees cooler than the day before, the snow was fast, hard, and crunchy, where it had been sticky pow,  the day before.  We took faster runs, and harerd falls.  Ben made a game of weaving through some cones, on a section of the hill, and we ended up dominating it, but only after  a couple epic/ridiculous falls.  After luch we decided to call it a day, and ride tram to take in the views of Franconia Notch State Park/ Cannon Mountain ski area.  What an incredible view! Mi always forget that Cannon has a tram.  I swore I'd never  known about the tram, yet as soon asistepped onto the platform, I had this flashback memory of riding the tram with Marty's family, when I was in college.  So bizarre how old memories sneak up, and surprise me like that.

That afternoon, I packed up my gear, and we hit the road, back to Vermont.  I am so grateful to have this opportunity each year, the White Mountain lifestyle has always been so inviting, not to mention I always enjoy making connections to my life, pre-injury.  I feel it's important to be able to draw connections.

Sorry there are no photos this time, they refuse to load.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oh, the irony.

Through the last several years of blogging, I've come to take more pride in my expression of the written word.  Editing pieces takes considerable time, though I feel it's important to document my experiences, despite my sometimes, obvious editing misgivings.  Unfortunately, today I just learned, my lack of attention to editing, has screwed me out of a job I desperately wanted.  The day before we left for  Iceland, I scrambled to create a cover letter, and grab my resume, as well as a writing sample, for a job I'd been very excited about, with Local Motion.  Unfortunately in my haste,I failed to check my writing sample.  It turns out I submitted the mangled draft of an assignment from last semester, and lost any consideration for the position because of my writing sample.  It's not that I even thought I had a real shot at the position, but to learn that I screwed myself out of consideration because of my writing ability, is just plain, old,devastating.

That is all for today, I feel humiliated, and have to find other jobs to apply for, whilst not wallowing in my own idiocy.

Also, never fear, my Iceland post will go up soon.  I have to download some photos from my camera, and non Apple technology continues to baffles me...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Nordic Travel Adventures

This evening I'm sitting in the international departures terminal at Bostons Logan Irport, in elated disbelief that my dream of visiting Iceland is being realized.  11 years ago, I found myself seriously unhappy with my choices and direction (or lack thereof) in my life, so, I dragged my sorry self to classes, and peer activities, but in my free time, I scoured the Internet for international jobs working with horses.  One October day, I found a job that called to me.  I immeadiately fired off an email, inquiring about logistics and job details.  Within a week, I booked a flight to London, had formally become a college dropout, and had never been more sure that this was the right decision, for me, at that time.   There is such a sense of freedom, when you find a way to pursue your passions.  The following year, I'd booked a return flight that happened to have a layover in Rejykavik, Iceland.  One of my coworkers had gone on, and on about its beauty, from a tour she had been on there, flying in, I remember being captivated by the essentially black ground, amidst shrubbery, and sparse fields.  Very curious.  I decided then, I would return, to learn more of this land.

I now realize that so many of us allow our fears to stop us from pursuing our passions.  Myself included.  Last year, I was thinking about this, while reminiscing about some of the sights and differing perspectives I once had the opportunity to glimpse. One of the many, supposedly common brain injury characteristics is impulsive decision making.  Whether it was my overwhelming fear of being swallowed whole by federal aid programs, or a compulsive behavior that I'm not prone to, I cannot be sure.  The moment I saw a travel excursion to Iceland, on Living Social, all of these memories poured in.  Before I knew it, I had a flight and hotel in Iceland.

Once I gathered the strength to tell my dad, I was surprised when he wanted to come.  Soon we were both booked to go to Iceland.  It's my opinion that Iceland has a quite hospitable weather climate during the winter.  Although, I sincerely believe New England winters are particularly adverse.  Iceland had projected temperatures for above freezing, so I was immediately excited.  Temps in Vermont have been hovering between 0 and 10 degrees Farenheit.  Temps in Iceland were projected to be around 40 degrees midday.

Flying in!

As we finally boarded our overnight flight, 2 hours late, it settled in that I was actually going to visit a new (to me) land.  Honestly, for me, the adventure, and thrill of new place, and experiences is what I crave, always have.  I love meeting new people, learning new customs, heritage, and taking in new landscapes.  The 'red-eye' flight passed quickly, even though I was too excited to sleep.

Landing in Reykjavik Monday morning, the airport seemed as welcoming, if not more than it had 10 years before, on a layover from London.  We easily found our way to the bus terminal, and boarded a Reykjavik  bound bus.  This country has tourism facilitation down to a science.  Although, we learned of a growing fear/concern, that because almost all of the countries GDP (gross domestic product) relates to tourism, their national economy could shut down if any kind of tourism decline occurs.  One of the guides informed us that the country receives 6-10 million visitors/year, while the countries population is fewer than 650,000.  Tricky business.  Although, the tourism industry appears to be coordinated quite seamlessly.  Everything we saw, and experienced was handled extremely well, even when tours were cancelled due to foul weathe conditions.

The bus dropped us off at the hotel where we were booked, Plaza Centre.  Unbelievably, they were quite accommodating with early check in.  We had to wait 2 hours for the others to checkout, and for them to clean it, so we ventured forth, to find a meal.  We walked maybe 2 blocks, and discovered a somewhat French themed cafe.  Breakfast foods are my favorite of the day, and I got French toast, and an interesting chai latte.  Curious combination, I like them both as their own things, but together was strange, in my opinion.
 Inside the church'attrium
 Curious brand name, in the grocery

Monday evening, we had scheduled a trip to the blue lagoon, one of the 25 wonders of the world.  Truthfully it's a man made mistake, from extraction and mining difficulties, that formally created this wonder, however it is absolutely magical.  We boarded the somewhat empty tourbus, and took in the sights, through an ever strengthening snowstorm.  As the bus slid all over the road, though still climbing the steep incline, we all collectively wondered about a) the ever decreasing possibility the blue lagoon would even be open, and b) surviving the bus ride.  Soon, the driver anounced that upon our arrival, the bus would remain on site, until the road reopened.  There was a brief uproar from all the unhappy tourists, although, upon arrival,we could go into the parking, and booking Center to use the facilities.  Back on the bus, we befriended a Blue Lagoon employee, Erla.  She had a true gift for keeping people at ease.  She shared many interesting tidbits about local culture, and we learned more about local customs, as well as stories about her family.  After 2 hours passed, the road was reopened, and we were allowed to return to Reyjavik.  Although we missed the oppottunity to relax in the healing waters of the blue lagoon, our tickets remained valid for another visit, and we had the opportunity to converse with so many different people.

Iceland has a very group centered approach to tourism.  The tourism industry herds everyone, 'en masse', into packed tour buses, where a guide talks about points of interest, and tells fun facts along the way.  I was worried about my dads response to this type of tourism, although we both did remarkably well, being on a bus, with intermittent stops for waterfalls, the black sand beach, a museum tour, a lunch break, and a visit to what's referred to as a glacier tongue. This is where a glaciers is attached to a land mass.)  That was such a mesmerizing day, as there was so much to take in.  This trip was so short, and gave such a brief introduction to the multitude of majestic natural wonders this land has to offer.
Ice on volcanic matter
Countryside in motion!
Traditional Viking craft restored in a museum
Skogarfoss-almost the same name, however, Yet an even more grand waterfall!

As it was such a quick trip, we found ourselves constantly torn, with regard to choosing tourism ventures throughout the country, and blazing our own path around Reykjavik.  Wednesday, I was very excited to go on a tour, referred to as the golden circle tour, When 2 English ladies recognized us from the day before, and gave rave reviews of the local public bathhouses.  We had already heard great reviews Monday, as well, and the idea of hot tubs, and a sauna, combined with more more movement seemed far more appealing than another 11 hour bus tour.  Deciding between volcanoes, and glaciers, or the public bath-houses seems like a no brainer, I admit.  However, given our need to stay moving, it made sense to learn more about the local culture by hitting the pools, and hot tubs, and then checking out a nearby market, where I stocked up on a couple of my dietary staples, (bananas, chococolate milk, yogurt, and teas to bring home.  The final 'piece de resistance' was the the Saga museum, where their cultures history as it has been handed down through story-telling (sagas) , and is shared in audio format, via headsets, as you wander through various scenes of the ages.  I have no adequate means to describe how captivating this museum experience was.  We basically walked around looking at depictions, and scenes, while listening to an audio guide tell stories about each charachter, on a headset.  Yet, the stories were so captivating.  Sometimes you just need a classical experience of foreign culture to tie everything together, or at least I did.  That evening we had our classic debate over food choices, although, in the end the food was  still great.

Friday was our last morning, and we were rebooked at the Blue Lagoon, as it was en route to the airport.  Rising that morning, I felt somewhat forlorn, and disappointed to have say good-bye, before I was ready.  The night before, I had needed some time to myself, and had responded to emails, and orgaznized travel notes.  When I was 20, I traveled the U.K. And Fance alone.  Mostly to meet friends, where they were living while studying abroad.  Sitting there watching the groups of people, I got lost in reminiscing about my former freedoms.  Although, it made me glad I had those earlier experiences, as they had provoked my Iceland fascination, and now I truly understand why I'm so passionate about visiting new places.

After our final breakfast at the hotel, we loaded our things, and headed back to the Blue Lagoon.  This experience was so different than Monday's.  Whe could see stark black and white contrast of the hardened lava fields, bathed in the sun-sparkling snow.  Amongst this contrast were small pools of baby blue water.  Reminded me of a blueberry freeze-pop, and the funky color they turned your toungue when I was a little kid. Putting on my bathing suit seemed counter intutive in this climate.  Ice water plunges? are one thing, but it didn't seem possible to get into 80-100degrees Fahrenheit water, surrounded by snow, and ice.  You leave your bathrobe on a rack, before stepping outside, and descending into the blue lagoon.  The lagoon is much larger than it first appears, accommodating over 600 people t one time.  We did one full loop. Stopping at the bar for smoothies, continuing on through surprising water temperature differences, inspecting caves, observing the many different nationalities, experiencing a steam room,and playing in a waterfall.  They had given me swim noodle, to use for stability, as I've lost the ability to swim.  I had to resist the compelling urge to smack the water with it, and splash passer-bus.  Juvenile amusements never cease, altogether...  
Surrealism at the Blue Lagoon!

They are currently preparing to build a luxury resort on the property, as well.  Hearing this, I grew extremely grateful that we had visited before that was built.  Resorts often change the existing serenity amongst such grandeur.  I'm sure it will still be worthy of its heralding as a wonder of the world, the commercialization will just reach new heights.  After 3 hours in the Lagoon, I was ready to get out, However, not ready to leave.  We said our goodbyes to Erla, and were so grateful for her accomdation.  , Then it was time to board a bus to the airport.  We had a good 4 hours before our flight, so we ate our final Iclandic meal, paninis, and salad, and then went shopping.  Part of the airport, is literally a shopping mall.  I am much happier walking around looking at new things, than I am sitting around waiting for time to pass.  My dad views shopping differently, and wasn't quite as excited as I was, though he was a good sport.  The only disappointment was the ridiculously high prices.  I found a coat I loved, it was $350 for a light wool coat, if I made any income that could be a consideration, although it still struck me as ridiculous for a coat I might wear 4 times in a year.  Still, it felt difficult to walk away from.  In the blue lagoon souvenir shop there were cosmetic testers, and tons of trinkets with the Blue Lgoon logo.  As we walked back to our gate, we passed a gigantic liquor store, and beyond that, 4 bars, a Brookstone store, and a newsstand.  We were still unforgivably early, so I went on a coffee hunt.  I had my decaf mocha latte, and returned to the gate area, to hunt for an outlet, to give my tablet more life.  Eventually, they made the boarding call, and we bid adieu to this grand land of wonder, and beauty.  On the flight home, I savored every last sip of Icelandic spring water, and tried to surmise a list of the top 3 moments, of the trip, with my dad.  It was a great idea, but I couldn't favor any one experience, over another. Im alreadysaving my  pennies to return, and go horseback riding, and glacier hiking.  I wonder if it's compable to walking on a frozen lake, except there's more comfort in knowing you cannot fall through the ice...

The flight back returns over incredible views of Greenland.(which is, ironically, more icy than Iceland)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

These are the days!

"where anything goes."  It's a line from a song I Ove knew.  Best opening line, ever, am I right?  All jokes aside I often go back to this horrible place,,where I feel stuck, and cursed my lucky stars, and go off to ponder what may be next.  With brain injury rehabilitation, there's always work to be done, and new therapies to be realized and/or created.  However, I'm closing on 8 years of existing only to put my life back in some semblance of working order.  My Goal is mo longer to be the girl I was, but to find a way to make a difference in my obscenely negative world of misery.  Overkill?  Maybe.  Honestly, I prefer to only capture the more pleasant stories/details in life, so that has posed some difficulties in soe aspects of honest expression.  Everyday has its hardships, no matter the activities, though I'm certain we all face that, throughout our lives.

I'm also particularly indignant, from spending much of the last 3 days in bed, with a miserable seasonal illness.  Spent quality time watching too much Netflix, sleeping, and eating soup.  I started feelingbetteryesterday, but decided to lay low, and canceled my awesome plans to hold snowboarding,  and attend a potluck, and meditation in the evening"

Next week, my dad and I are headed to Iceland (yes, you read that right) and it's very important to me to be healthy enough to go.  It's only a 3 day excursion, but I haven't gotten to travel out of the country in ages, and could not be more excited.  Iceland is one of those places I've always dreamed of visiting.  From horses to glaciers, public funded health care and education, to glimpses of the nothrthern lights and hot springs, the country captivates me.  Yes, it's winter there too, so there will be less sunlight, butthe estimated temps are around the freezing point 32 degrees) so I won't mind.  Likely, it will be warmer than my current home state of Vermont.  So that's something to look forward to, though I'm right back at today, so I'll have be contentious about my wellness.

I saw my voice coach, Bill Reed, who primarily trains actors/actresses for performances, though his skills have proven to be exactly the kind of retraining I need to speak more clearly.  It's not technically speech therapy, which makes it difficult on my pocketbook, though, he has proven to be incredibly helpful, in the past couple years.

Currently, I'm at a restaurant with more food, writing before I head toOn Track, the gym where I do PT.  Often PT is one Fo the bright spots in my day, as I love being so active, and am  in constant appreciation of the progress they've helped me to make.  Much of my sessions are currently focused on balance, and increased coordination of my movement.  The progress is curse fly slow, though considerable, since I've started there.

After that, one of my closest friends from college is in town, so we have plans to catch up.  It's Amber!  I'm so excited to see her, we don't get to catch up often, so I'm pretty excited.  I've seen her twice in the past 2 years, on her present home turf, in the big city, and am very excited to catch up.  I don't have many close friends that are often available to catch up, around here, so, needless to say, this is my high point of the week.  And it's snowing today, which always makes me happy.  I desperately needed stuff to appreciate, after being home, in bed, for multiple days.  Yay, things are really looking up now:)

Monday, January 19, 2015



So, what's the secret to a positive mindset?

Trust me, if there was such a thing, it would not be a secret.

Part of my life, longevity, and happiness here in Burlington,I owe to a truly inspiring friend of mine.  She also a TBI (traumatic brain injury( survivor, we met in 2008, at my first TBI conference.  I think she had been named survivor of the year, that year.  She was in a different rehab program, but her family lived nearby.  Over the years, we've found common interests, and last year she enrolled in a residential mindfulness program, which is a monastic tutorial and teaching center.  They run The Center for Mindful Learning, which works to give students unclouded judgement, and a more sincere ability to remain focused, and mindfully complete a task (not do greater harm).

For me, he center has been an important guide, and refuge to sort out the tangled mess of crazy emotions that surface in my head.  On Sunday's, the centers visionary, and head monk leads a guided community meditation.  I've been attending the past couple years, with my friends family,as she is now a resident, working to further their mission.  The talks give us much to contemplate, whether a fable like tale, or an informative speech about world matters.  Tonight's talk struck me more like that of a TED talk, than anything else.  He discussed emotion, how it is perceived on the world platform, in the workplace, to our individual, or family lives.  In our culture emotionality runs the world.  How each of us is perceived, often has an enormous weight, behind our social standing.  The old me, did not give a shit about others perception, as in I really was not aware of this, I just did what I did, which was usually about 3 more responsibilities than I could manage effectively. There was no time to think about anything worth pondering, and if there was I was probably busy squandering it away at work, or the bars with friends.

Anyways, back to emotions, tonight's talk gave me some much needed perspective on the cognitive progress I've somehow made.  For most of us, emotions are linked to memories.  For me, tonight's meditation brought a deep sense of appreciation, and even whimsical longing for the months immediately after the onset of my injury.  WTF!?  Right?
I was a blank slate then.  It was as if emotionality was not a perceivable factor in my world.  That is why I rarely got upset over the severity, or lack of understanding of my injury, because those things no longer existed in my literally fractured mind.  The world was very basic then, yes I had incurred a severe brain injury, and  no one seemed to have any answers about it, but I did have love.  As a former cynic of 'the power of love', I'm inclined to cringe at the statement, 'all you need is love', though I certainly admit, you all have carried me through,this far!

As I was attempting to explain my previous experiences to the head monk, it struck me how grateful I am, not only for my survival, and the endless support, but also, amazingly enough, for the  new perspective.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

All in my head

I've got over 10 half written draft posts on here.  I'll start to tell a story, and get interrupted.  I used to back to them that night, and pry into my sleep time.  Last year, I gave that up, but I also Learrned that I forgot my compulsion to tell a story, and only comes around once, occasionally twice, if it's a particularly memorable event.  My memory plainly, sucks.  I cannot remember new faces, which is Apparantly a condition other people have too, facial blindness.  I'm not sure if I have that same condition, as I've become able to recognize people I see regularly.  Almost everyone I knew during my hospital stay, I could identify by voice.  I couldn't see you, but I did recall the voice tones and pitches.  Adaptation is amazing that way!  

When I first acquired my injury, I saw nothing.  My world was a dull shade of brown all the time, no matter what time of day, nothing was there.  All of my early memories involve me waking up, and screaming, 'I'm blind, why can't I see?'   I don't remember my visitors, my first steps, or even the first thing I was able to eat.  I just remember the trauma of losing my sight.  I had no concept I was in the hospital, but also, no memory.   The reason that is my only memory, is probably because everytime I woke, I freaked out because I couldn't see, or speak (all the thracheotomy tubing), and thenothey sedated me,but I don't even remember that, only that I had no vision.  Very slowly, my brain has rebuilt those connections, and now, I likely processes 80-90% of the world around me now.  In 2011, I had about 70%, that was also the last time I did the eye exam, that measures your visual field.  I only did it then, to satisfy the requirements to have LASIK (laser eye surgery), as my neuropathy prevented me from being able to manage contacts well, and my glasses often fell off my face, plus my lenses often needed to be replaced.  Now I've adapted to look down, while moving, because if im not looking at something, my brain may not process the physical changes I need to make, to alter my course.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my friends house.  She had another friend from her gymnastics class, that I knew from school.  We were an interesting triad, mainly because they were graceful, and I was the opposite of graceful.  Always tripping myself, and being the clumsy idiot who dropped everything.  I'm still clumsy, some things you just do not grow out of.   That phase of my life life was earmarked by the unpleasant nickname, of Sloth.  I wasn't upset that sloth was a moral sin, I was upset that other kids thought I was slow.

 I was 12 when I got my first pair of glasses, so I immediately noticed an improvement in my  regular tripping and falling episodes.  It's funny though, because even then I cannot recall how much my world changed when I got glasses.  Most people seem to remember that 'ah-ha' moment, when they got glasses.  I couldn't remember that in college, ether though, so that's not a lost memory.  I remember not being happy that I suddenly felt like I had to take notes in school, because the stuff on the board was actually relevant information, but  that's all.

I still have existing processing delays, from my injury, so I cannot react with speed, in most situations.  My reaction time is nearly non-existent, but I will always be graful for my recovered ability to see.  This is also why my injury has robbed me of the ability to drive, or even move more comfortably, as in without the resounding fear that I can so easily hurt myself, if I overlook anything.  As someone who involuntarily falls over, 2-3 times a week, because of spastic muscle activity, I would prefer not to increase that number by tripping myself, because I didn't see something, I should have.  I suppose my childhood nickname of Sloth lives on.  Again, I was sloth, because I moved slowly, and now I do, once again.  Thankfully, I outgrew that phase before, and expect to again.  Guess it's time find my super classy track pants, with the word sloth, plasted on the ass.  Weirdly, some things follow you around forever...