July 21, 2017

All thanks goes to my Doctors and Simon, on this one!

who am iYou are probably sitting there pondering why would I write a blog about the childhood game from our past. Well, easy, it became a vital part of my future.

In my last accident in December 2008, I also suffered from a TBI, traumatic brain injury. Though only a moderate TBI, it was to the front temporal lobe of my brain.

front temporal lobe

Let me give you a little medical background to this first, so then you can understand the rest of this. The front temporal lobe is a component of the cerebral system, which basically directs our behavior. It is the part of the brain that deciphers between good and bad choices, along with recognizing the consequences of those choices. It also triggers irritability, mood swings and an inability to regulate behavior. Another common impairment is memory, both long and short term. An injury to this area of the brain can lead to deficits in anticipation, goal selection, planning, initiation, sequencing, detecting errors and self-correction.  

Now with all that being said, why Simon?

That long lost childhood memory game became my saving grace! Literally!

You see my TBI went unnoticed for over 6 months. It wasn’t until my dad asked one of my doctors “When am I going to get my daughter back?” My doctor looked at him strangely, especially since I was sitting RIGHT NEXT to my dad when he said this. You see, what my dad meant was, the daughter he knew before the accident, is not in the woman sitting next to him. Things are different, a little off, or the easy way to put it “She is not Sue.”

Let me explain the meaning behind my dad’s words. Before my accident, I was always on my toes, I could calculate things in my head, I remembered EVERYTHING (which sucks at times), I never had to write things down, I laughed (a lot), I was a social butterfly. You get the picture. The daughter sitting next to him now was a roller coaster of emotions, couldn’t remember to take medications, let alone remember simple everyday tasks, like flushing a toilet or to brush my teeth. Forget counting money, running errands or going grocery shopping! Can you say NIGHTMARE!?!  I also lost a section of my memory, from about 2001 to 2005. There are a lot of just dead spaces that I just can’t recall. The worst is meeting someone again that I haven’t seen since then and NOT remembering how we met, but knowing I know them. FRUSTRATING!!

So this led my doctor to order some tests, one being an MRI of my brain. Can you believe they never did that the night of my accident after having trauma to my head? Well three days later, my dad received his answer, I had a TBI that has been left untreated, so it was still causing damage. My doctor stated that it would be reversible, but he’s wasn’t sure by how much and it would take me longer, now that I was already delayed in getting diagnosed. So it began, my venture into Cognitive Rehab. I never felt so frustrated and alone than I did during this process.  I had rehab 3 days a week, along with homework I had to do at home, it was just like physical therapy, but only with my brain. The things I was doing, were things children were learning in kindergarten. I felt extremely stupid, in a part of my brain, I knew the answers, but I couldn’t get them out. I was known for my attention to detail, remembering the smallest of facts and details to a case, but now I couldn’t even remember 3 items (written and picture) on a shopping list. This went on for weeks and weeks. This is also when I purchased my first smartphone, talk about a complete lifesaver it turned out to be. I would sit down every morning and set my alarms to go off for every medication (remember at this time I was taking 9 different ones, 24 pills in all for just one day) I had to take and which one I needed to take at that time along with the dosage. Then if I had errands to run, I literally mapped it out and did a task where I could check off as I went. Now why did I have to map it out, well because even though lived in the same city for over 30 years, I couldn’t pin point where locations were anymore, sad but true.

Then I was told by my doctor to download apps and get memory inducing games, like Simon. Well, wouldn’t you know it, once a master at Simon as a child, I failed at miserably now. To the point I chucked the game across my room several times and screamed that it lied!

Simon

Well, now let’s jump ahead one year from that point…I have almost all my short term memory function back, I still am missing gaps of memory throughout that block of years, my emotions have finally even keeled themselves to the point of where I can recognize when I go from one quick extreme to the other and I stop it. Was all this frustrating, hell yeah it was, you feel like you are standing outside your body looking in and wondering where the hell you went to. It’s even more frustrating trying to explain it to people when you couldn’t even understand it yourself. I lost a ton of “so-called” friends throughout this phase in my recovery from my accident, but I also had some amazing ones who would sit with me and try to help me get my memories back of the times I had forgotten about.

You truly never appreciate a part of your body until that part is injured or taken away from you. I am blessed that my TBI was not as severe as it could have been and that I have about 90% of what I damaged, healed. So in the end…yeah, I’ll take it!!! 

I Was Told NEVER

Never

How many times have you heard it?

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have heard it spoken to me, whether by a loved one, a friend, a doctor or even strangers. I even heard it said  in so many different ways!

You will NEVER walk again.

You will NEVER have children.

You will NEVER play sports again.

You will NEVER amount to anything.

You will NEVER make me happy.

You will NEVER know what true love is.

You will NEVER graduate.

You will NEVER get married.

You will NEVER lose weight.

You will NEVER….BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!!!!

And the list goes on and on.

So why am I writing this? Why am I blogging about this ONE WORD? Why do I feel so strong about this?

I am writing about the word NEVER because as much as it can be a absolutely HUGE negative in someone’s life, you can also make it a pretty massive positive, it all depends how you react to the individual spewing the negative NEVER.

Let me explain~

Ever since I can remember I have always had someone telling me “never” and for the longest time…I believed that word for my life. I don’t think people truly know the depths of a wound that one word can make in someone’s life. One of the hardest things I had to overcome was my own mind and what I let others do to it. I remember laying in my hospital bed at age 18, after being told on Christmas Day, that  would never walk again or have children. Merry Christmas to me! NOT! And here is the kicker, I BELIEVED HIM! Why? Because I was 18 and he was a Doctor…well I learned very quickly that just because someone has a doctorate, doesn’t mean they get to decided the outcome of the rest of your life. Imagine if I listen to him and all the other doctors that spoke that word into my life.

TractionI look at this way, my doctors might have told me that I would NEVER walk again (at 3 different times in my life), but that didn’t mean that I had to stop using my legs. In all of us we have the spirit to fight, to buck against the system saying this is HOW IT IS. Yes, they are doctors and they specialize in the trauma that was done to my body, not once but three separate occasions, but that doesn’t mean they know EVERYTHING. Why? Because a doctor is only a person who PRACTICES medicine. (I say this strongly because my sister is an ER doctor and she iss one of my BIGGEST supporters and cheerleaders and told me NOT to listen to ANY Dr that says that word)! There are so many deciding factors on all the “what COULD be” for me! How does a doctor, let alone anyone for that matter, know what YOU are capable of. No two people are the same. So you can have 10 people, all with the exact same injuries, in one room and have 10 absolutely different outcomes of their recovery.

Let me put it this way, just because a doctor told me I would never walk again, didn’t mean I wasn’t going to keep trying to stand and take a step. Just like when I was told I would never have children, would that stop me from getting into serious relationship and staying abstinent for the rest of my life because of what a doctor said!  HECK NO!! Imagine if I did…almost 4 years  to the date of my first accident, I became pregnant and I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl.

Over time I learned to use someone’s NEVER and make it be the driving force to prove that NEVER wrong. Now, I will admit, I might have not walked again, but I would have found a way to walk, it might just have looked different than what people are use too. I might not have gotten pregnant, but that wouldn’t have meant I would have not been a mom. I might have not played sports again, but that wouldn’t have meant that I wouldn’t have found a new sport to fit my life.

I look at life this way…every scar, every battle wound…INSIDE and OUT…make me who I am today…the good, the bad and the ugly…I could have just gave up. Trust me, I get that statement all the time “Sue, if I went through half of what you have, I would have just let myself die”. And they are right, I could have. I could have not fought to regain my life. I could have died on the scenes of my accidents, I could have died in the helicopter or  ambulances, I could have died on the multiple OR tables I have laid upon. But I chose life…as hard as it may be sometimes…I chose ME!!

I am not saying that your life will look like the way society makes you think normal should be…but what I am saying is that you get to decide what your life looks like and you get to FULLY control which way you want your life to go. YOU DECIDE YOUR NORMAL! And I think that is kinda awesome!!

survived cropped

Things I Get Told OR Overhear

don't judge meCareful ~ you might be shocked by the statements or my answers to them!

People on the Internet ~

“It’s easier for you to do eat healthy and workout out…it’s your job!”

Let me first say this, THIS IS NOT MY JOB, it’s my lifestyle. I don’t get paid to eat healthy, workout, meal prep, etc. But would I love it to be MY JOB…HECK YEAH!! But with that comes more accountability!

“You don’t know what it’s like to be a mom/wife/full time worker.”

You must not have read MY STORY, been on my page long or live in a world full of rainbows and unicorns! First, I am a mom, oh yeah and I am also a dad. Full time, 24/7, no breaks, no breathers. As for a wife, no, I am not…but I am dating someone, which means finding time for us, since we both have separate homes in different cities. I don’t get to lay in bed 5 minutes longer while my partner/spouse/boyfriend, gets up to make breakfast or take kids to school. And as for work…yes, I work full time besides being a full time mom AND dad, who do you think pays the bills?

“You already make money off your Facebook and Your website, so why do you promote money opportunities for yourself?”

If you run a page, then you are probably laughing at this because you have heard it a thousand times. Let me inform you all, 99% of Facebook Pages are run absolutely for FREE. We don’t get a paycheck for it; we use OUR personal time to engage in your life. Why? Because we love it, we are passionate about what topics our pages are about. As for my website, I will tell you I have made $1.87 in 7 months! WOOHOO!!! I can’t even get a cup of coffee for that! But I CAN tell you how much I have SPENT on it to keep it running for you to sit there and complain about all the money I am making from it. If we add in monthly domain fee charges, web admin charges, electric to run it, internet to get it out to you, then the TIME (which personally is PRICELESS) I put in to do it….yeah easily $100 a month…if not more and that is not calculating in MY TIME.

People in Real Life (STRANGERS) ~

“Why does she get to sub out certain things and I can’t?” (referring to training)

Why? Oh I don’t know because I was told I would never walk again THREE times, I was also told I would never be able to squat past parallel ever again. Why? Because I am not really in the mood to FUCK up what the doctors fixed in order to please who is watching. Nor do I feel like reinjuring myself to prove something to someone who has no importance in my life. Oh, but trust me, when my body allows me to do things again without tweaking them…I WILL do it and I will be smiling ear to ear!

“Why do you feel special enough to park in a handicapped spot?”

Special, that’s a new word. I am so honored you find it “special” that at 37, I have a permanent handicap parking sticker. My doctors wanted me to have it at age 18, but I refused. There are days that I park where every “non-special” person parks because my body is feeling good and is agreeing with me. Then there are other days that I know just going to the grocery store for a few items is going to be the hardest thing to accomplish and I do it praying that my hip and left leg doesn’t give out on me. The one thing that is WAY different of me than most 37 year olds, is that I personally own a cane, a pair of crutches and a walker since I have been 18 years old. And to this day, my cane is never too far from me.

“That’s just disgusting.” (referring to my tattoos)

If you are a part of my Facebook Page, you recently saw a post just about this topic! You see just last week, I had an elderly gentleman make this comment, while eyeing my tattoos and shaking his head. My response to him was this, “No sir what’s disgusting is you…your judgment on someone you don’t know…and for your information, I have a tat for every surgery I have had due to being injured in the line of duty. I took an oath to serve and protect disgusting people like u, so you are welcome…have a good day.” I love my art work; it represents so much to me, the struggles, battles, accomplishments, achievements and goals in my life. Like my dad once said, I would rather have my daughter alive and fully tattooed, then having to visit her grave-site. NOW, THAT PUTS THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE!

don't judge

So why have I decided to write this? Well easy, because no one knows someone else’s journey. Someone’s outside doesn’t depict who they truly are on the inside. Give them a chance, let their inside catch up and shine and you just might be surprised!

From NEVER to ALWAYS…Meet Kirsten!

Kirstens Running Journey

From day one, Kirsten, was a fighter, being born 12 weeks premature, she literally was fighting just to stay alive! That was 39 years ago and back then we didn’t have medical advancements we have now. Her first helicopter ride was the one in which to save her life, since all her doctors didn’t believe she would make it.

Kirsten has spent every day since her birth more determined than the average person. Why? Because she wants to prove people wrong and do things she was told she would NEVER be able to do! And that is exactly what she has been doing….until she was 25!

Yet again, Kirsten was fighting for her life; she was in a severe car accident, where she had to be extracted via the Jaws of Life and took her second helicopter ride to the local trauma hospital. There, she slipped into a coma and her mother was told that she might not wake up from it. But again Kirsten showed her fighter’s strength, she awoke! Kirsten’s photographic memory became sporadic recall. She has no recollection of the accident, just only knows what people have told her and what she has read. She has seen pictures of her car, but she doesn’t remember actually seeing it in person because her memories of that time during recovery/rehab are blurry. The one thing Kirsten does remember is being in a wheelchair, being told she would never walk again! And from what she remembers, this is also when she first attempted to stand up for the first time!! Pure anger and determination had her propelling medicine balls across the rehab room. Not only was Kirsten dealing with not walking, but she couldn’t even do some of the simplest things, that we take for granted on a daily basis! The one that sticks out for her was having to do basic subtraction. Before her accident she could write a computer program to do this, now she couldn’t get her mind to subtract 36 – 17!

cantRehab for Kirsten was a very lonely journey, as it feels for most who have suffered traumatic injuries. Though Kirsten admits, most of it was all in her head. She knows her own mind was and still is her biggest obstacle. She uses laughter to try and brush some things off, but to Kirsten, on the inside, NOTHING was funny about any of it. In Kirsten’s own words, “Knowing you can do something, but not being able to is a poignant mindfuck.”

She realized she needed to get out and by this she meant going for walks. And she did just that. Whenever she could find the time, she walked! You see, Kirsten at this time was also a single mom to a young son, so her walks became things she looked forward to.

Now onto yet another chapter of Kirsten’s life…marrying her husband and the birth of her second son. You see, he was sick from day one. Doctors were constantly poking and prodding him, taking drop after drop of his blood trying to figure out why he was so sick. They came to her with wanting to do blood transfusions and liver transplants. The most renowned specialist at the top-notch hospitals came up with very interesting diagnosis’ that had too many syllables for Kirsten to remember what they were.

Kirsten is not against doctors or medicine, but she would rather be as natural and holistic as possible, she has always been this way. Even through her accident and rehab, she refused pain meds. Kirsten is so thankful she didn’t listen to most of the experts, because what her son has is treatable without any meds or any procedures. Her son has Celiac Disease. This started the beginning of Kirsten learning all about food. She thought she was already one up because she didn’t drink soda and her pantry wasn’t filled with crap. The more she read and learned, the more she realized she had A LOT to learn and change. She began researching the way food is manufactured, started cooking more and buying differently. Now, they are completely gluten free, eating mostly clean and Kirsten is leaning toward vegetarian.

Now to how did walking turn into running, and where is Kirsten running?

run7

Well Kirsten reconnect with a friend on Facebook, who just happen to post she was running the Army Ten Miler, well the status was how the person she was running with bailed and she needed a partner in order to do it. Well, at first Kirsten told herself, “Ten miles, NO WAY!’ But then she was at the finish line…she DID IT and she became instantly addicted!!

Kirsten said what hooked her was the feeling she received from 10,000 strangers. You see, to her, it felt like a lifetime of praise came down to this…thousands of strangers cheering and clapping for JUST her as she came across that line. Kirsten knew from that point on she was signing up for everything she could, that was 2009…and she has done just that over the last 3 years! Her first goal is to run a “100 miler” (so far she has completed a “50 miler” race), another goal is to do her first triathlon this coming August and after that her next goal…yep you guessed it…is to do an IronMan!

Kirsten doesn’t talk about TBI (traumatic brain injury) and subsequent MRIs riddled with migraine scars or her sensitivity to light or even her random pain.

Kirsten is who she is and she embraces it every day!!

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Staying Positive AFTER An Injury or Surgery

You might be thinking to yourself, is she kidding, everyone at some point becomes negative during the recovery process! My response to that is, you are ABSOLUTELY correct! We do, it is part of human nature for us, but at the same time, we also have the capabilities to counter act that choice.

Let me give you a little background to back up what I am about to say to you. I am a 37yr old single mom and I should have died not once, but 4 different times in my life. I have been told by doctors at 3 points in my life that I would NEVER walk again. I was told my life would NEVER be the same. I lived through 3 near fatal car accidents, my last being in the line of duty. The other thing that almost killed me was when I contracted bacterial meningitis. I have more titanium in my body holding me together than anyone should EVER have. I have gone through 20 surgeries to date, mostly on my lumbar spine, pelvic and left hip. So now that you know a little about me, let me tell you why I am a SURVIVOR, not a victim!Never believe words of people who have NEVER gone through what you are going through, and YES this includes the doctors treating you! You truly are your own worst enemy when it comes to your recovery! It is just like when we want to hit a PR (personal record), if we go into negatively, we might as well NEVER even try! But when we go into with a positive mindset, it is truly amazing what our minds are capable of putting our bodies through! Another thing about mindset, don’t be a stubborn or a prideful person when you reenter the box/gym. You do this; you might as well have just stayed home! Let me tell you this now and get it out of the way – YOU WILL NOT BE THE SAME PERSON AS BEFORE, throw out all your old goals and make new ones for the person you are NOW!!  Now, I am not saying that you will never get back to where you were, hell you might even exceed all your past PRs! What I am saying is your body has changed, PERIOD! There is no going back to the way it use to be. It is time to start finding out what works for the body you have NOW! This is probably one of the biggest struggles people deal with when in recovery. The second is the time from which the injury or surgery occurred to when you actually get back into the box/gym!

So let’s talk about that for a second, that down time can either be used to play the pity card or it can be used to start formulating a path in which you want to go. Only YOU can make this decision. Only YOU can decide if want to be the “oh woe is me” person or the SURVIVOR! And I don’t care how many cheerleaders you have in your corner, NONE OF THEM can do this journey for you! Matter of fact, there will come a point that if you hear one more positive word out of someone’s mouth, you literally might go insane!

In closing, let me just make one thing clear! An injury or surgery doesn’t define WHO YOU ARE…you do!  I am not going to sit here and tell you that it’s going to be easy, it actually might be the hardest fight of your life, and like me, you might have to fight it a few times. But what I will tell you is not only will it be worth it, but you will be stronger than you have ever been hitting any PRs!!!