Tonight I just wonder


Tonight as I sit here writing this very post I catch myself just stopping and staring at the wall and wondering where will I be in 5 years?  Where will I be in 10 years? Will anything like this ever happen to me again? It is kind of weird to type about 3 words and then catch yourself listening to the ticking of a wall hanging pendulum clock while you look at absolutely nothing. It does every once in awhile make you think if you are still a little on the weird side. I know in my heart that I am not, but when this comes to my head I can’t convince myself that I am normal until it passes.

I don’t feel abnormal in a bad way so to speak, just a little off. I ask myself questions about previous conversations that I may have recently had. For example I may say “why did you say that it had nothing to do with what you were talking about?” It happens. I don’t like it and I can’t change it, but it does. i also still find once in awhile having trouble trying to find the word that I want to use in a sentence. I can see it in my mind and I can hear myself saying it, but it will not come out of my mouth. My wife is so patient. She doesn’t want to give me the word early, but she doesn’t like to see me struggle for words. I have stated this before in this blog, but I see it as important so I decided to say it again.

Sometimes I have a problem with sticking to topic. You  have seen or will see this if you follow this blog.

What truly makes a person tick? What makes us strive to become better everyday even though we are constantly being beat down and every time we get back up? My answer to that is self pride and family motivation. When I say being beat down I mean that we face a new challenge everyday some harder than others and some that seem to just be there as an unnecessary hurdle that has been put in front of us. If life was too easy we would take everything for granted and life would be boring and short.

Personally I want to be challenged as long as the challenge is not what that has an unattainable goal. Those types of goals are like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They are pretty to look at and neat to dream of, but we know it will never happen. Instead we need to focus our energy on goals that we can meet and then add another.  Each time we set that goal we can challenge ourselves just a little bit more but know in our heart that it is not too much to handle

My goal in this blog was to help people and their families. I think today that I have finally seen that goal come true in a small way. I say in a small way but small does not mean not important. Some of the most important things in life are small. I will continue this blog to the best of my ability and attempt to help more.

there is still one or two items that i would like to discuss. I will discuss them because I promised to be true in this blog. The ability to suck it up and just spit it out is taking a little more time than I want. I GIVE YOU MY PROMISE THAT IT WILL BE DONE.

Shortly “My Fall to Life” will have no chapter with empty pages

Español: Reloj de Péndulo Ansonia Clock Co. Mo...

Español: Reloj de Péndulo Ansonia Clock Co. Modelo-C.1904, SANTIAGO. Color caoba (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Back on Track


English: This CT scan is an example of Subdura...

English: This CT scan is an example of Subdural haemorrhage caused by trauma. Single arrow marked the spread of the subdural haematoma Double arrow marked the midline shift Deutsch: Dieser CT-Scan ist ein Beispiel für ein subdurales Hämatom durch Trauma Einzel Pfeile markieren die Ausdehnung des subduralen Hämatoms Doppel Pfeile markieren die Mittellinenverlagerung (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am going to attempt to get back on track tonight with the traumatic brain injury topic. The last post or two has shown that I have been a little fired up lately. I do not regret what I posted, and I stand beside my posts 100%. It seems when I get in one of these downward spirals I tend to let my attention focus heavily on a topic.

Before I had this brain injury I was not the type of person that would air things out as loudly as I do now. I think that this can be both good and bad. On the good side I express my feelings whole to the T and nobody second guesses how I feel. On the bad side I have a tendency to let things get under my skin and I will speak until I am heard. I can not be convinced that I am being irrational and sometimes I am being irrational. Allow me to finish my thought and things will be fine.

No matter how much I try to think otherwise a critical TBI has changed me as a person. I have stated before that I take nothing for granted and that is very good, but I also get  a little hard to get along with. Life is too short not to be heard but I have to remember that I need to be heard while also being courteous and respectful.

I was told that the medication that I was put on would make me gain some weight. Of course I didn’t believe that because I am a pretty fit 42 year old man. I have to be in order to perform my job. Well guess what. It is starting to happen. I am trying to change the way I eat and the way I exercise, but so far I cannot keep up. It is not a lot of weight gain yet, but it is quick. I need to get with it here or I am going to put on too many pounds. I can’t blame the meds, I need to take action.

There is nothing that I can’t do if I want to do it. I have proven that already over the last year and a half. However I need to remember that I cannot do it all alone. I need to lean on the people around me that care about me and love me. A strong support system is the backbone to success after dealing with a life changing event or just a happy successful life for that matter.

Please take two things away from this post. Number one is that do not try to tackle a major life event on your own, and number two still thank your veterans as I asked on the previous post.

 

A different outlook on a critical injury


A couple of days ago I had an email conversation with a very nice and smart fellow blogger. She said that if there was a way for me to show a different point of view to this injury that it may shed a little more light to a complicated time in someone’s life. I am going to take that conversation to heart and I am going to try to do that in this post. I am going to attempt to explain what I saw as my families reaction, as well as actual reactions that my family had.  Everything that I have written in this blog to this point has been shoot from the hip style of writing. I sat down with the lap top and I went after it. This post is going to be a little different. It may take me a day or two to tell this point of view in an effort to be as clear and concise as possible. Please be patient. Hopefully it will not be too long and still hit all the points I want to hit.

The first part of this is the obvious. A families reaction to this type of injury or life changing event as I say sometimes will be the same for everyone. You will be afraid, confused, worried, tearful, mad, and sad. You will ask “why has this happened to our family?” Of course there is no answer that you will hear that you will make you as a family feel better or understand such a quick and unexpected tragedy. You will do everything within your power to make it go away. The only thing that will make it go away is time, compassion, understanding, and the ability to accept what has happened and look forward to better days. Sometimes I suppose that won’t even work, but remember I am only speaking from my families experience.

The second part of this is a little more complicated to understand unless you are the one who has had the injury. There are going to be alot of emotions running through your head, and as much as you the family are trying to help an injured adult, they may think that you are holding them back or treating them like a little child. I had alot of these emotions going through my head for sure once I was able to use my brain again for something productive. What a family or spouse needs to understand is everything that you are doing for the best of reasons may be beating the injured one down in their mind. I am not saying that is the truth, I am just saying that when I was injured I had those feelings. I was full of guilt thinking that this was my fault, also for my children to have to watch me when my wife was at work. I had to be followed around the house when I stood up. I had to have my food brought to me, I had to be bathed, and actually dried off and dressed because I could not bend over to put my own socks on without excruciating pain. This causes alot of guilt for a man that is used to going to work everyday  providing for his family. I was the rock that all of my family depended on. Now I am literally a rock that can’t get off the couch by himself.  I was full of grief for seeing my family in so much emotional pain. I tried to make it all go away for them.  Actually I was making it worse by trying to do too much which scared them and made them work harder.

As a family caregiver, you may get yelled at alot. “I can do it myself” or “just leave me alone” were common for me. Leaving me alone was nothing more than just stop talking to me for a few minutes. When this kind of injury hits your family remember that the only thing the injured may have control of their opinion. Do not take their opinion away from them. You don’t have to agree with it, just acknowledge it. The injured may want to speak for an hour at a time about things that have no relevance or may not want to talk all day. I wanted to talk so badly about what I was feeling but I felt that it would cause more grief to my family. I stayed to myself about it which made me withdraw completely some days. Its ok if they decide not to say much today. Its ok if they get a little angered, or frustrated, or sad, you most likely have done nothing wrong. It is a cycle that I went through that had no rhyme or reason.

I did do things that I was not proud of of. Most of it I have no recollection of because of the nature of my injury but it did happen.One that stands in my mind is a story that my wife has told me on a couple of occasions and I do have vague memory of. She had taken my medication and hid them because I was messing them up and taking the wrong ones at the wrong times. She would get the proper pills out and give them to me when needed. When I first went to get my pills and they weren’t there and she told me what she had done, I picked up a large down throw pillow from the couch raised it above my head and slammed it to the floor. I have been married for 23 years and my wife has never been afraid of me. She told me that she was afraid of me on that day. She had put those pills in a safe place for a very good reason but I could not see it that way at that time.

Be ready for a mix of emotions that you have not seen before. You will see plenty of tears, anger, sadness, guilt, some happiness and gratitude as well. There are plenty more and I could name them all day. Just be ready for the unexpected.

Just remember that you do not know what they are feeling or what they are going through. Also remember and make them remember that you are going through it as well, just in a different way. Do not allow them to continue to pity themselves. Encourage them that it will get better and try to help them keep their held held high. You cannot make it better, but you can make it worse. Be very understanding while at the same time standing your ground. You do do not deserve to be talked to in an angry fashion. It is not your fault and let that be known. “I am sorry you feel that way but  its not my fault. I do not deserve for you to talk to me like that.” That is how it sunk in to me. I was actually causing a bad situation to get worse. Once I realized that,   things started to get better.

You can and will get through this and hopefully the outcome will be great. If there is anything that I missed or  did not say clearly, please do not hesitate to send me a message or post a comment. I will try to clear anything up as well as I can.

Lisa thanks for the idea to try to get this point of view across.

A job and a lifestyle


A picture of American firefighters in the 1770s

A picture of American firefighters in the 1770s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Am Your Firefighter

Friday, May 03, 2013 CDT

Dear citizen,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am your firefighter. I’m the one who shows up at the firehouse for my shift, and I’m the one who shows up when the pager goes off. If we passed each other on the street, you most likely wouldn’t recognize me. My face may not be familiar. But rest assured, I am your firefighter. I am a brother; a sister; a mom and a dad; a son and a daughter; and, yes, a grandfather and grandmother.

I am writing to you in an effort to clear up some misinformation. You may have heard lately that firefighters make too much money or don’t want to respond when the rooftop siren on the firehouse wails, that they don’t care and have lost their grip on the true meaning of being a firefighter. Rest assured, they haven’t. They still very much do care and do more to stand that post than ever before. We train in the skills of firefighting; emergency medical services; hazardous materials; specialized rescue; and, yes, in weapons of mass destruction. The list is long and can range from the basic to extremely technical. We do not sit around the firehouse and play checkers like you may have read in a children’s book. We stand ready to respond to your emergency no matter what it is. You see, I am your firefighter.

We sleep in a firehouse or with a pager next to our bed at home, ready at any moment to respond to someone in need. Our response to those who need us is done so without prejudice. We don’t perform a credit check or make you submit an application. We respond to your needs immediately without regard as to who you are or what status you carry in the community. We take care of the wealthy and the homeless, and we will treat your children, your grandmother, and your home or business as if they were our own. This is not a practiced or trained skill but a way of life for your firefighter. To us, it’s not a job or even a profession; it’s a calling–one that involves the thrill of helping others in their time of need. You see, I am your firefighter.

It’s not a new job. We’ve been there for you since Benjamin Franklin decided to create the first volunteer fire department. The position has gone from that of prominence to that which people look down on; we have gone from being perceived as heroes after our country was attacked to, once again, those who have too much. Let us be clear in this area as well when it comes to having too much. Most of us work two jobs in an attempt to put food on the table or into a college fund. We miss a lot of our kid’s soccer games, recitals, birthday parties, and so many special moments that are gone forever to either work that shift or make that call. We work on Christmas and a long list of other holidays and run out the door when our children are opening their presents from Santa. When you wouldn’t think of giving up one of those special moments, we do. We stand ready for you. Yes, it is a choice we made, that of serving others, but it was a choice made without promise of wealth or personal gains–just that of taking care of others. You see, I am your firefighter.

And can we address that issue of being a hero? You see, those of us who serve or have served as firefighters do not consider the position that of a hero. We will admit the task does require acts and deeds of bravery at times; it comes with the work we love to do. Again, we’re just moms and dads, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, who just want to make a difference in the communities we serve. We have never met a firefighter who said, “I can’t wait to be a hero today.” All they want to do is serve others, take care of people, and have a belief in “family” that is paralleled by few. They are values driven, not money driven, so please do not read this wrong. Firefighters are some of the bravest people we know, but there is a difference between an “act” and a belief in something special. To them it’s not about being a hero; it’s more about being guardians, those which support family. You see, I am your firefighter.

We paint, clean, maintain, and mow the grass at our firehouse not as much because it saves our taxpayers money but because it is our home. We realize that a firehouse has stood within a neighborhood as a place of safety for decades, a place where a senior citizen who is lost and can’t find the way home can go and find help, and those helping her will treat her like she was their own grandmother. A place where a child who is scared, lost, or being followed by a bad person can go and find protection. Please understand to a firefighter their firehouse isn’t just another building; it’s their home and a symbol of what is right within a community. It’s a building where we train together, prepare to respond to your call for help together, and for some where we eat, sleep, and spend a third of our lives together. It is where we stand ready for you. You see, I am your firefighter.

We realize that each time the economy takes a downward turn, the first thing they say at city hall is, “What can we cut in the fire department?” and we once again will do more with less. We will always try to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar and save money wherever we can, but there is only so much you can do with less. You can line the street with as many fire engines and ladder trucks as you want, keep in mind that fire trucks don’t fight fires, firefighters do, and we need them to be successful at serving you.

We’ll change your smoke detector battery free of charge, make sure that there is no carbon monoxide in your home waiting to harm you or your loved ones, and we’ll walk with you through your home, helping you identify areas that need to be addressed for your family’s safety. We stop along that dark roadside and help you change a flat tire because you are family and we would never leave a loved one stranded along the road. We read to children hoping to promote literacy and to help them understand that reading is just not important but can be fun, too, and those that can read do well in life. We conduct fundraisers to help those in need and give little children fighting cancer a ride on our fire engine because we know that 30 seconds of your life can change another’s forever. And if you’re ever wondering just how important a firefighter is in the life of a child, the next time you’re in your local bookstore, go to the children’s section and count how many firefighters, fire engines, hook and ladder trucks, and ambulances you see in the books there. To a child they are a hero, but more importantly a mentor and role model, again, a person who values family. You see, I am your firefighter.

It may seem that I am a bit partial when it comes to firefighters, but please don’t look for an apology. I am that way because I have seen firefighters risk it all for those they do not know and in some cases for those who could care less about them. I have seen the biggest of them kneel down next to and help an 85-year-old grandmother who has fallen for the fifth time this month with such care and compassion that you find yourself choking back tears. I have watched them bring life into this world, save lives, and many times do everything in their power, to the point of exhaustion, to save another’s life, only to not be able to do so, and I have heard them cry. Yes, firefighters have feelings and yes, they cry. You’ll never see it, because they’ll do it when they are alone or in the bunk room sitting on the side of their bed. It’s after they’ve done everything to breathe life back into that baby or to cut someone’s daughter out of their wrecked car or after they have lost a fellow firefighter in the line of duty. It’s not normal to see what a firefighter has to see or do what a firefighter has to do, but they do it. They do it because they want to serve you. They want to stand that post for you and your family, to be there for you all day long and for you long after you go to bed. You see, I am your firefighter.

In closing again, firefighters don’t do “it” for the recognition. Yes they are proud of what they do, but don’t try to give them medals or accolades. They’ll just tell you they were doing their job. They have a passion for serving others and are not looking for rewards. Maybe just decent tools, equipment, and protective clothing to do their jobs. The training that keeps them prepared to take care of you and your family and the staffing they need in order to make that happen, and once in a while the secure feeling of knowing that they’ll be able to continue volunteering in your community or working in that firehouse, without the fear of cuts or closings. They won’t ask for laser beams, fancy titles, or for a “room with a view.” To be honest they already have the best view in the house. It’s from the firehouse down the block from your home. The one that allows them the privilege and honor of serving you and your family. You see, I am your firefighter and we will always be there for you!

Written by Rick Lasky

Hmmmm…How did I not realize this earlier?


Ok so we here we are now in the middle of Winter in NW Pennsylvania and my wife had made an awesome dinner of spaghetti and meatballs with her homemade sauce. This homemade sauce is the BOMB. She bakes the meatballs in the oven with little squares of mozzarella cheese on the top so when they come out of the oven the cheese is melting down over the meatballs. I think it may be a Tyler Florence recipe. I know the meatloaf recipe of Tyler Florence that she uses I sure do miss because of this taste loss thing. Anyway the spaghetti is by far the best spaghetti in the world that I have tasted. We are sitting down and having our dinner and she looks over at me and asks me “how is it babe?” It took me a second to collect my thoughts and realize what I was about to say to her. I did not believe it myself, so how could I expect her to believe me. My answer was “I have no idea. I cannot taste it.” here I am a months after my injury and I am just now realizing that my taste is gone. It is not just diminished, it is 100% gone. I could not taste anything except for extreme heat such as Tobasco sauce, or something very bitter like ground instant coffee. I think that subconsciously I was remembering the taste like I used to know it so it never crossed my mind that I couldn’t taste it. To this day if someone asks me how something tastes, the taste instantly turns to that of water. As long as I am eating and not being asked about thte taste I remember it as it used to taste to me. I also think that because of all of the other things that were going through my mind that I had never taken the time to realize that I could not taste anything. Once that I had realized that my taste was gone it was rather evident that my smell had gone away as well. 100% GONE!!!! You could sit a skunk fart on my nose and I could not tell you what had happened unless I saw it myself. This was a very hard pill to swallow. I have absolutely have no taste or no smell. This is going to change my life entirely. I am not going to be able to smell fresh cut grass, or taste corn on the cob roasted on a fire. The smell of pumpkins or the autumn leaves in my hometown. Halloween is my favorite holiday and this really hits me hard. Our family always carves between six to 12 pumpkins every year to put out for the children and their parents to enjoy while trick or treating. Our yard is always filled with tombstones and spooky Halloween decorations and lights and we always dress up. How can I enjoy Halloween the way I used to if I cannot take in the aroma of the season to go along with it. What about the holidays. When the food is always cooking at Thanksgiving or the cookies baking at Christmas time. There is no way that this is going to last very long. I know it will come back before my favorite holiday. On my next appointment with Dr. M I told him about this new finding of mine, and he told me that this will sometimes happen with the type of injury that I had sustained. The best way to describe it is that the taste and smell are little hairs hanging downward and when you smack your head that hard, it basically flattens them out. He told me that it could come back and may take 2 to 4 years to do so. I did not know what to think. This put me back into a mild state of depression for awhile. i didn’t want to eat properly, I would not sleep at night because I would lay awake thinking about the taste and smell along with the upcoming court hearings, my family, my job, and my own mental state. After dealing with this for a period of time and being too proud or stupid depending how you look at it I finally had to ask Dr. M and Dr. B if it would be beneficial for me to be temporarily on an anti-depression anti-anxiety medication. I cannot say that I ever felt like I was a danger to myself, but I can also say that when I was sitting at home by myself I thought that maybe my family would be better off if I just was no longer around. maybe I could just get in my Jeep Wrangler and drive until I ran out of gas and that would be where i remain until they found me. My wife is a pretty stubborn and very loving woman so she would have found me. I saved her and me the trouble and just stayed put. I didn’t want to put her through the stress and worry if I had decided to act on that thought. What about the kids. I am sure that they would have thought “How the hell can he leave us after we were there through the roughest of times.” It would have been the coward’s way out, and I didn’t see that as a good option. It was an option, but not the best. Both Dr’s agreed to try the medication a trial period to see if it would lower the anxiety. I insisted on the smallest dose possible and I am still on it today.

I would occasionally catch myself looking to the sky and asking why this had happened to me. Then I would come back to reality and realize that I was very lucky to have survived, and I should feel blessed that I was still able to look up to the sky and form a thought. Everything went in phases like this, and I am sure by the end of this journey you will see that I have said the same thing a couple of times. I am doing that because that is how my mind was working at the time. It still works that way occasionally when I mow my lawn or see someone else mowing theirs and I don’t get that fresh cut smell any more. The smell of garlic cooking in my kitchen, or a steak on the grill just aren’t the same. I ate to survive at first and no other reason. It has now just become a part of everyday life.