Posted in Bandora

The Night that Changed My Entire Life

In this case I am not referring to motherhood (although that did change my life)

For over 12 years I have been living with the consequences of an event that I never gave real credit to and that I rarely think about. My life has been affected in many ways and just now I am finally coming to terms with it all and accepting it.

It was the year 2003. I was young and successful for my age being a Miami executive at the tender age of 22. At the time I had “everything”, good income, my own house, car, a boyfriend, a cat… Except good health; I was underweight, ate like crap and was anemic and hypoglycemic. Everything was fine as long as I remembered to eat every 2 hours or the hypoglycemia monster would rear its ugly face.

It was so bad that I always had glucose pills on me because once the first signs of dizziness would hit, I would have no more than 15 minutes to get something in my system before passing out.

One night I had a small argument with my boyfriend over something so inconsequential that I don’t even remember what it is. I was too upset to eat so I went to bed without snacking. Huge mistake.

A while later I woke up very dizzy and feeling horrible. All I needed to do was elbow my boyfriend to wake him up and he would have gotten me a snack or glucose pill but I didn’t. The moment I tried to stand up I blacked out and landed head first on the tile floor. My life would never again be the same.

I regained consciousness fairly quickly but the rest of the night was a blur. I remember my boyfriend freaking out and insisting on taking me to the hospital. I don’t remember getting in the car or the drive there. I remember the intake nurse asking me inane questions like what is today’s date, count to 10, etc. I thought the questions were stupid but what I have no recollection of and my boyfriend had to tell me later is that I was so out of it that my responses had nothing to do with the questions. I would answer “what is your date of birth” with “I am doing good, how are you?” and “what is today’s date?” with “my insurance card is in my wallet”. I failed the test, was labeled a concussion and quickly sent to the back, no line, no waiting.

I don’t remember much else from that night other than talk of mild brain swelling, being kept for observation and a warning to never ever forget to eat again. I was home later the next day with the biggest headache of my life thinking that life would go back to normal pretty quickly. I was so wrong about that.

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What the Neurologist didn’t tell me or my boyfriend that night was that the impact to my head was strong enough to cause permanent damage that would trigger a slew of problems. A lot of them didn’t get diagnosed until years later and it took a while to link their root cause to what happened that night.

After that incident I developed debilitating migraines that used to be as frequent as 3 times a week until I learned to control them years later. They were so bad that I couldn’t drive when they happened and I had to wear sunglasses even in a dark room.

My speech changed, it’s almost as if I got a stutter as I would find myself getting stuck on some words repeating others or thinking one word and saying a different one (for example, I would think I said the word “pillow” but really said “sock”). I still have this problem.

I think I lost some IQ points too. I used to be known for my mental agility but since that night my thinking slowed, I became forgetful, I couldn’t do mental math beyond the bare basics anymore and hearing processing got affected. I started to have to ask people to repeat themselves more than I’d like, not because I couldn’t hear but because I had trouble understanding. By now it’s so frustrating that I sometimes nod along even though I have no clue what the person said. Sometimes I think I understood what they said and later find out I was wrong. It’s very frustrating.

The retina on my left eye suffered a tear that thankfully occurred in a spot where pressure keeps it from tearing more and making me blind but still needs to be kept and eye on.  That is my good eye! My right eye’s prescription changed for the worse after that night, that is my lazy eye so it didn’t seem like a big deal at first. I needed new glasses and now if I were to close my left eye my vision would be super blurry. I have to be very careful to avoid future injury because the retina in my good eye could detach with the slightest provocation.

The Neurologist that attempted to treat my migraines diagnosed me with “TBI” (Traumatic Brain Injury). I guess I never really accepted that “label” as I never even thought to mention it when filling out a medical history questionnaire. But now I realize that I had been providing an incomplete picture because this is not something to be ignored. 12 years of denying this is enough. This post is my first time EVER accepting that I am living with this “invisible illness”.

The neurologist said that new “glitches” could pop up years after the injury and that things may get interesting when I am older; and here I thought I was done with the surprises! After several years with nothing new, last year I started to suffer from a new disturbing trend. If I laugh too hard I will involuntarily and spontaneously start to cry inconsolably. It is so annoying that I am scared of laughing, apparently this is common on people with brain injuries but I had no idea it was a thing until it happened to me.

Now I wonder if my increasing levels of anxiety and inability to handle stress like I used to are also related, I guess I’ll never know for sure.

One small positive from the bucketload of negative effects is that the concussion opened my psychic eye. Before then I sucked at anything psychic. I read books, took classes, all with no results. After that it was effortless and accurate, it did usher a very profitable career as a psychic for a few years.

I am glad that my hypoglycemia is much better now that I am older. Breastfeeding helps with blood sugar regulation so I have been able to go longer than 2 hours without eating, I am able to experience hunger without fear of hitting the ground. I hope that lasts.

Accepting the label doesn’t define me, it doesn’t change who I am. What it does is allow me to accept myself and embrace this instead of constantly fighting it.

brain injury

Take care of your brain, it’s the only one you have and brain injuries are no fun.

Posted in Bandora

Media Typos

I used to consider traditional mass media (newspapers and TV news) to be good role models for spelling and grammar. That is no longer the case. I am sure that the deterioration has been gradually going on for years but since I neither read newspapers nor watch the the TV news I was missing it the transition.

It is terribly easy to transpose a couple of letters when typing quickly, and to fail to notice one’s mistake. Who hasn’t done that? But some of the errors I see go way beyond that to using words completely out of context.

Now I see so many spelling errors, grammatical errors, slang and even incorrect use of words that it makes me sad about the state of education in this country that editors are missing such big mistakes so often.

media typo

If you type “media typos” into Google you’ll see a lot of examples that will have you shaking your head and making you wonder if nobody ever proofreads anymore.

Is this a reflection on the state of our educational system? I wouldn’t be surprised given how rarely do I see quality writing at work, and even with a lot of the Kindle books that I read from the Amazon store. It seems that those able to write decent sentences seem to be of an older generation and a lot of people seem to rely on auto-correct instead of a real editor.

While English has been my primary language for 15 years, it was my second language for the first half of my life so seeing errors like these always confuse me at first and make me question myself.  It amazes me how many people read the example above and don’t catch the error.   As a homeschooler, this is something that I will need to keep in mind with my children to ensure that they don’t have the same level of confusion once they are older and start to have more media exposure.

Posted in Bandora, Random

A Mid Life Crisis of Vanity

I always had low to average levels vanity, I was concerned about looking clean and semi presentable but beyond that I didn’t fuss about my appearance. I’ll happily wear wrinkled clothes without a second thought and I refuse to wear something that is uncomfortable no matter how good it looks. My best friend in college used to call me a tomboy in a dress. I don’t own any make up, don’t even know how to use most of it. I suck at styling hair besides a basic braid or ponytail and for most of my life that was ok.

Recently I started to feel drawn to the “girly” things that I have never done before. Suddenly I am more interested in skin care, hair care and make up. I haven’t done anything about it because I am too ignorant about the subject to do anything on my own and I don’t trust sales people to be unbiased. Add to that the fact that I don’t want to spend money on stuff like that and it’s fairly easy to keep the impulses in check.

Having found my first gray hair at 9 years old, by my early 30s my natural hair color would make me look much older than I already am so I used to cover it with natural hair dye. Last week, I put the last of my henna on my hair. If things go according to plan, this will be the last time that I ever put henna on my hair. The pretty red highlights in my hair right now will be silver by this time next year. I don’t know if I am ready to embrace salt and pepper hair but I just don’t have it in me to maintain the henna if I let my hair grow. I don’t have the money (nor desire to spend it) to pay someone to henna my hair every other month. Hopefully I learn to embrace my gray easily.

Thankfully my mid life crisis hasn’t extended to my wardrobe. I don’t pay attention to fashion, I dislike “women’s” magazines and hate shopping for clothes and when I do shop I choose based on comfort and personal style which rarely reflects what designers dictate I should be wearing.

It saddens me to see teenagers today have self esteem issues because they are unable to fit the look of what is portrayed in magazines. Over the years I have met some super models, beauty queens and celebrities and while they are attractive and some look great, not a single one of them look in person like they did in the (insert magazine name) cover.

Photoshop in modeling is setting an unrealistic standard of what women should look like and this isn’t limited to super models, practically anybody that poses for a magazine article or even a Sunday sales flyer will have their digital image subjected to the “artistic” strokes of a Photoshop artist’s definition of beauty. Like the say: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and may I also add that influence by cultural and social factors as evidenced by this Photoshop experiment in 27 countries.

Having a father that worked as a photographer in advertising before computers and Photoshop, I got to see how different things were back then. I miss old fashioned modeling with film cameras and actual airbrushing that was so expensive and complex that it forced the photographer to be a true artist, pay attention to all details before taking the shot and not be just someone that knows how to operate a DLSR but doesn’t understand much else about what it takes to take a photo that highlights a person’s natural strengths.

I will leave you with this video for some additional food for thought:

Photoshopping Real Women Into Cover ModelsWe asked four women if we could Photoshop them into cover models. Their reactions to the results might surprise you.