Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Catharsis: The Domino Effect

from November...early post-concussion

Instead of flying on the night quiet
of neighborhood streets,
I dodged
demons
in the dark intersections of
the why of my life
until
Domino’s delivery
dabbed into my life
at the
dark intersection
of 28th and Hampshire.

I turned my headlamp into the windshield,
stared him to stop
and pedaled,
pissed
off.


- ob

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Catharsis: Sea Legs

from November...early post-concussion

The bike lurched sideways
as studded tires clamped and rolled over icy bumps and patches
and I rehearsed my logic,
"be supple"
but my elbows stiffened
chest tightened
breath caught
...be
supple....
I rode past the turn for home,
tears freezing
because of fear
and freedom
and I wasn’t sure which was more terrifying.

-OB

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Post Concussion Day #101

Wednesday was my first day back to work full-time -- I'm glad it's a 3-day week!

For the first three weeks of Dec., I gradually increased my time at work from a week of 4 hours every other day to 6 hours daily. Each week I dealt with mild headaches and concentration difficulties, but both gradually subsided as each week went on. I likened it to starting a new exercise routine: muscles that haven't been used are typically sore for a few days after increased activity. Seemed my brain was similar.

Back in early October, my GP and neurologist each said "oh no" and shook his head as soon as I started saying "I'm an elementary school-" even before finishing with "librarian" when I asked how to manage this thing combined with work. There just isn't anything that's anywhere near as taxing as dealing with a zillion children daily.

I still notice some lack of ability to filter, some frustration with interruptions, and some definite "brain farts" (WHAT was I just saying??)...I know we all have those, but these seem a bit more pronounced to me than usual. They're lessening in frequency, however.

And, speaking of exercise, I've been on the bike -- I feel more comfortable there than running or skiing, especially with studded tires. I don't feel as through I'm starting from nothing, and I'm not totally wiped out the day afterward. But, I'm slow. I have to talk my way through some things, like left-hand turns (I hit my left side in the accident), but the "auto-flinch" isn't as strong as it was initially.

I feel like an old lady in that I'm concerned with things like ice on the sidewalk (studs for the hiking boots just arrived--seriously!) and stupid drivers. I need to keep my noggin bump-free for another 3 months.

All-in-all, I'm feeling around 90-95% of typical.

There are other things for me to ponder now; larger small things like fragility, statistics, instances, thin lines, and probability have started making their way into my thoughts. I'll let them rattle around a bit and see what profundities they bring...

...great word, profundities....

- OB facebook excerpt 


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Recuperation 3

11/12
Post Concussion Day #51. Popped-in to work for 3-4 unofficial hours. Hauled boxes of books around until the little old woman inside my brain took her cane to the side of my head: WHADAYA DOIN HERE, EH?!?

11/13
Post concussion Day #52. Stamina and abstract organization (i.e. getting someplace on time with what I need, dressed, breakfasted and prepared) seem to be the next hurdles.

11/16
Post Concussion Day #55... good God, it's day #55. Was at work last night as our book fair brought in $6000 over three hours. Woke up tired this AM, but not wiped-out. Progress!

11/17
Post Concussion Day #58. Spaghetti supper with a crowd at friends’ home tonight. Sound hasn’t bothered me for awhile now, but it did tonight. On the way home, stoplights were spears through my eyeballs.

11/18
Post Concussion Day #57. I tend to push my bed times because I somehow think I’m going to cheat the day and gain a couple more hours if I stay up late. Today, the whirlies were back but I'm choosing to look at it logically and rationally with a calm mind and peaceful @#!$! thoughts laced with bunnies and kitties and vampire bats and a few rabid dogs because THIS IS #@!$*^! IRRITATING!

11/19
Post concussion Day #58. Feeling better today. Good thing I'm not prone to irritation or anything. Three unofficial hours at work last eve. Headache today.

11/20
Post Concussion Day #59. You HAVE TO do yoga! along with a long-winded explanation of how great it is for whatever ails me is just not what I need to hear when I mention to you that stamina and abstract organization are my next hurdles. My dealing with memory struggles and fatigue is not your “just like the time I ____” unless your blank is filled-in with the words HAD A CONCUSSION.

11/21
Post Concussion Day #60. I'm feeling similar to that of being three days beyond the ralphing part of the stomach flu...OK, but not 100%. Tight neck and shoulder muscles cause headaches. A heating bean and contoured pillow are my best friends. Wide awake at 4:30 AM for two days in a row. WTF?!?

11/23
Post Concussion Day #62. Up until midnight making Spring Break plans. Whoopie!

11/25
Post Concussion Day #64. Wiped out. I’m going on two nights of not-enough sleep. Sleep patterns have been bizzarre: nights of 10 hours, then a night of five.

11/26-30
Post Concussion Days #65-69. This is the first entire week that I've felt back to normal at home...been running errands like a madwoman, digging through thrift store piles, started an old-bicycle project.

12/2
Post Concussion Day #70. Curt letter from HR on Friday afternoon has kept me awake for the past two nights...finally able to sleep after figuring-out it resulted from the neurologist filling-out out the Return to Work form incorrectly and HR communicating it to me in their imbicilic manner. This is not what I need right now.

12/3-6
Post Concussion Day #71-74. Three half-days at work this week...headaches after 4 hours. Not migranes. Man, little goobers take a lot of eyes and ears...and I DO this for a living?!?

12/7
Post Concussion Day #75. My first whole Surly Furious since September!

12/11
Post Concussion Day #...let's see, it happened 9/23, so today is...today is number ...I found a winter beater bike on CraigsList...working half-days...overhauled the front hub...Day#78???...damn, the pet hair around this place...IT'S COLD OUT....

Is there such a thing as Adult-Onset ADD?

12/12
Post-Concussion Day #80. Today's watershed moment: I got to a meeting almost on time with almost everything I was supposed to have along! Back to work half-days.

12/17-21
Post Concussion Days #85-90. Back to work for about 6 hours daily. Finally seeing progress dealing with complex thought processes and interruptions. Fewer headaches. Still some sensitivity to loud sounds. Feeling around 85-90% of normal...whatever that is!

- OB

Friday, December 07, 2012

Recuperating 2

10/24
Post Concussion Day #32. Cleaning up around the house takes just too much walking back and forth. Yardwork = getting up and down. Makes me dizzy!

10/25
Post Concussion Day #33. Went in to work for a couple of hours, unofficially (if HR asks, I was home watching the grass turn brown), to deal with some organizational tasks. I still can’t filter auditorally or visually – everything has the same significance and it takes a ton of concentration to focus. Many coworkers glad to see me – heartwarming. Left with a headache and tight neck and shoulder muscles.

10/26
Post Concussion Day #34. Spent the day sleeping and reading USADA documents...maybe the need for a nap wasn’t due to the concussion....

10/27
Post Concussion Day #35. Breakfast at Barbette. Lots of yardwork. Exhausted.

10/28
Post Concussion Day #36. Mark says I can consider going back to work as soon as I consider making a sandwich to be “making a sandwich” and not “multitasking”. Sticking to a sequence is surprisingly challenging! My Experiences with (hopefully) Temporary ADD

10/29
Post Concussion Day #37. Spent the afternoon finally able to start through my desk piles for the first time in 5+ weeks: misc. stickie notes, financial stuff, papers, bills, filing, clutter....

10/30
Post Concussion Day #38. Coffee with a friend with a short ride afterward. Riding straight ahead on a bicycle = fine. Changing directions while walking around a school library = queazy. No balance issues. I feel at home on the bike.

10/31
Post Concussion Day #39. Sunny day! Felt pretty darned OK. Answered work email. Writing anything takes me twice as long as usual. I haven't been writing writing yet...I miss it, but I can't really stomach it right now.

11/1
Post Concussion Day #40. TODAY, impatience set in. Tues. and Wed. I felt relatively OK except for some fatigue. Still spent the majority of each day on my arse. Today I woke up with the whirlies and they stuck around for the day. Criminy. Yes, everything is moving forward...bla, bla, bla....

11/2
Post Concussion Day #41. Biked downtown to meet Mark for lunch. Meeting coworkers and lots of skyway walking was exhausting. I definitely felt “flat.”

11/3
Post Concussion Day #42. Sitaround Saturday. Met up with friends for supper -- I'm not an extrovert, but I sure enjoy getting out and being around people.

11/4
Post-Concussion Day #43. Posted four sets of cycling shoes on CraigsList and needed a nap...there’s all the pictures, the taking, the uploading, the descriptions.... A dull headache seems to be the pattern after a few hours of concentration.

11/5
Post Concussion Day #44. Friends who have gone through similar say this is when it gets tough: feeling better enough to have some relatively normal days, but not consistently enough to depend on feeling well every day. It’s easy to do too much and then I pay for it.

11/7
Post Concussion Day #46. I’m finding that I'm better able to concentrate without exhaustion, multitask (multitasking is two things, like cooking while doing laundry), work through a list, filter out a lot of extraneous visual and auditory stimuli, drive freeways without fatigue. I’ve felt “relatively OK” for three days! “Relatively OK" = fatigue and maybe a slight headache, but not feeling wiped out. Progress!

11/8
Post Concussion Day #47. All my past experiences (illness, injuries) tell me how healing "should" progress, but Progression doesn't seem interested in my preconceived assumptions. Writing, wording, organizing, filtering noise, multitasking...all are still tiring, but not exhausting anymore. I met up with WD for his bicycle commute home through Lowry Hill. It felt great to be out, but really? Hills??

11/9
Post Concussion Day #48. Woke up tired and headachy with my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth...which, you know, isn't so far-off given I'm clawing out of a pit with regards to my fitness level.

11/10
Non-Epilogue...seven weeks. You know how you feel coming off the stomach flu? Feeling better, attitude better, but still fatigued and droopy? That's about where I'm at. I'm getting used to a new ebb and flow. It seems that each week adds a day that I wake up feeling relatively OK--three so far this week--but I'll then deal with whirlies and fatigue for a few days. I haven't been too impatient yet...tough to be ancy when I'm feeling queazy.

-The Old better by fits and starts  Bag

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Recuperating

9/24
Post Concussion Day #2. Drove to work. Nauseous. Went home.

9/25
Post Concussion Day #3. Oozy road rash and oozy ointment was making my cheek a sticky gross mess. Washed it all off and slapped on a sheet of Tegaderm. Went for a walk on a breezy morning today and returned with no leaves, hair or small dogs attached to my face.

9/26
Post Concussion Day #4. Work for a half-day. The face surely gets students’ attention (whoa! harsh penalties for late books!). 6th graders said I look gnarly. I find work to be challenging to my thought processes: the constant interruptions take quite a bit of mental effort.

9/27
Post Concussion Day #5. I napped for 4.5 hours today--rest keeps the queasiness at bay. I overdid it yesterday. Crushing fatigue.

9/28
Post Concussion Day #6. Facebook is about the only thing I can concentrate on these days...then I nap. I’ve heard from three friends who’ve had similar experiencs. Looks like this will take a couple months.

9/29
Post Concussion Day #7. Easy paddle around Christmas Lake.

9/30
Post Concussion Day #8. Mark and I went back to the scene this morning armed with Garmins, texts, and a phone screenshot from last weekend. The accident site was pretty benign--fat, curving, tree roots, well-placed 3" tree--means I was complacent. I'd feel better if it was something gnarly.

10/1
Post Concussion Day #9. Went to work for the morning because I thought I should. It took me about 2 hours to write a coherent email to staff. Vertigo. Napped.

10/2
Post Concussion Day #10. Freeway driving exhausts me—do you have any idea how much multitasking is involved?

10/3
Post Concussion Day #11. Dr: Stay home through October 12th. I was amazed at how much stress that relieved.

10/4
Post Concussion Day #12. I'm finding my brain to be overly sensitive to things I didn't previously think much about: vitamins, caffeine, noises, carbs, sugar, music, rambling conversations....

10/5
Post-Concussion Day #13. Hmmm....what should I do today? Maybe I'll try SITTING AROUND since I HAVEN'T DONE ANY OF THAT LATELY.

10/6
Post Concussion Day #14. Today I'm going to shake things up and nap in the easy chair first, THEN the guest bed.

10/7
Post Concussion Day #15. Today’s watershed moment: grabbed a pencil to write down something and my fingers felt like fingers, instead of like stumps. I tolerated Pandora for an hour or two. Greg Brown radio=perfect. James Galway radio=drill in the side of my head...and I’m a flute player. Wilted during a quick errand run to grocery store and hardware.

10/8
Post Concussion Day #16. Vacuumed, groceries, made soup, and had conversation with a friend over lunch. Then a 2-hour nap after it all.

10/10
Post Concussion Day #18. I'm actually thinking it would be nice to get out for a walk....haven't DONE it yet, though. Headlights at night pierce my brain.

10/11
Post concussion Day #19. Last-minute appointment at neurologist. Clinic surrounded by road construction. Between the driving and the construction, my blood pressure was sky high, my legs ready to give out. Neurologist: Stay home until December 11. Me: DECEMBER 11?!? Options to go back early.

10/12
Post Concussion Day #20. On the way to WI, I show Mark the 2 Instagram pics I took of the Drive In..."hm, nice" he says, to which I respond "won't it be nice when you have a partner who can make intelligent conversation again, instead of 'look at the pretty thing I just made'?" to which HE responds, "at least you've stopped drooling!" Making it through the packing list: egads.

10/13
Post Concussion Day #21. Rainy morning breakfast after an evening of pizza and belly laughs with a crowd of friends...bit of a headache this AM, but it's all good medicine. Riding in car=fine.

10/14
Post concussion Day #24. It was a big, wonderful annual weekend away with friends. Lots of chatter. I was surprisingly OK not going mountain biking (drizzly weather). Pooped!

10/15
Post Concussion Day #23. Worn out. Slept late. Napped. Jammies all day.

10/16
Post Concussion Day #25. Lazy midday paddle with friends on Lake Minnetonka. Hmmm...retirement? I continue to be challenged by working my way through a list.

10/17
Post Concussion Day #25. Whoa! First day I've felt motivated to get outta my jammies by 8:00! Coffee with a friend, 1.43 mile walk with the dog, made granola, shuffled office piles.

10/18
Post Concussion Day #26. Went to work for a few hours in the quiet today (school isn't in session). Too much chatting, didn't get much done. Pooped at noon, left around 3:00. Too long. Supper out with friends, lots of talking. My head is tired.

10/19
Post Concussion Day #27. I was able to think ahead enough to have laundry going while I was making breakfast then vacuuming--this is new! Packing myself, some food and the dog for the weekend went a TON more quickly than last weekend.

10/20
Post Concussion Day #28. I continue to be challenged visually (clutter breaks my concentration) and auditorily (vacuum=fine; overheard phone conversation at grocery store=SHUT UP YOU)

10/21
Post Concussion Day #29. Back home after a weekend with family. Beautiful weekend and day.

10/22
Post Concussion Day #30. Did some work from home that seemed to take forever. I have energy for concentrating until about noon. Things still take me about twice as long. Hopped on the bicycle for about 4 miles...felt at home.

10/23
Non-Epilogue. Healing is micro-incremental, but is steady. I continue to be amazed with what our brains typically filter for us, and with what multitasking REALLY is (driving, grocery store). I'm not ancy yet at being away from work--my work involves some pretty intense multitasking and I'm clearly not ready (if it didn't involve a zillion 8-year-olds, I'd be fine!). My reading and my physical activity are gradually increasing. The brain's control of endurance is surprising--after the accident I was immediately exhausted, and I continue to have little energy. Any mood swings seem to involve easy irritation, but no depression. It all amazes and fascinates me.

-The better Old each Bag day


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Incongruity




The helmet mystifies me.

Granted, the chunk of missing plastic came from the spot in the helmet where the visor clips in, however there are scratches and gouges going in three different directions, two significant. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was a fairly high-speed crash on some technical section, but there was nothing high-speed about my day. My other injuries, besides slight road rash on my left cheek, include a raspberry on my left shoulder and another on my right knee...no cuts, bruises, broken anything or road rash.

The jersey and knickers are intact. Shoes, gloves, elbows don't even show scuff marks. The front wheel is slightly out of true.

September had been a hellaciously busy month at work, and I hadn't been riding much. I wasn't feeling any need to push my pace or take features more complicated than a rock or two. The guys were off hammering, I was pulling up the rear and we'd regroup periodically. The trail was like cement due to a lack of rain, and was covered with a fine dust that rode a little greasy...earlier, I'd thought I'd let some air out at the next stop.

On the second lap I was happily wheeling along, and then I was standing there, looking at the trees and the trail: Whoa! I'm in the woods.

About the time Mark (WD) and crew were beginning to wonder about me, a rider came through and told them I'd spilled, that he'd helped me and hung around for a bit, that I was a little banged up but would be along. Mark texted me and started salmoning his way back down the trail.

I have no memory of the rider who helped me, no memory of the spill. I don't know if I had a loss of consciousness or if I functioned with amnesia. My awareness returned while standing in a spot that, according to my Garmin, was not where I spilled. I don't remember getting up and walking with my bike. About 10-15 minutes are lost. About 40 minutes are cloudy.

The Garmin implicated a curvy piece of trail that angled ever so slightly downhill. It wasn't anything gnarly (we initially thought it happened at a technical hairpin nearby), and according to the GPS I was going 6.5 mph. Given my vaporous recollections, the best I can put together is that I grabbed for my Camelbak bite valve, leaving me with a relaxed one-handed grip on the bars. As the trail curved right, there were exposed roots. I must have bobbled enough to be tossed forward and left. My helmet and face met a 4" tree on the left side of the trail before hitting the ground.

A beautiful kick-back day, greasy conditions, one-handed, roots, tree...the perfect storm.

- The Old forensics Bag