Sunday, December 15, 2013

So Close

I was so close to being all healed.
And I am so close to being home.

2 weeks ago, I went back to the doctor--it was supposed to be my last time. We were supposed to start me to get off of my final medicine, and I was supposed to be almost good to go.
Instead, I started regressing, my speech got off again, mobility slightly off, I was super light-sensitive and hearing sensitive. I went into the doctor and just started crying--my irritability was sky high, my emotions were sky high. And those four symptoms had been going on about 1 1/2 weeks prior to this visit.

So, I got put back on another medicine (the one I had earlier in the semester), plus another (so 3 medicines in total) and have another appointment for tomorrow.

Finals week is this coming week--I'm all done, but have to get all of my students through it (tutor student-athletes at KU). Last week was my final week, so all my stuff was due the past 2 weeks.

The light and noise sensitivity started to go away--I still have it, slightly. Emotions and irritability have started to subside.

But actually, I'm doing pretty well. I've been super tired lately, go to bed early, wake up late.

And! I am going home this weekend for two weeks! I was briefly there in May (less than 2 days), so not counting that, haven't been home since last Christmas.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Concussion Update

Went to the doctor on Monday. The last time I went to the doctor, I still wasn't reallyyyy legitimately recovering. So, I'm finally recovering, though not yet recovered.

I didn't do well on my cognitive impact test=( But! We have theories.
I go in the afternoon. I had a long day, had to take 3 tests for a training (100% on those!), had to drive an hour to get to the doctor, I was late, it was raining, I was stressed, I was tired. So, doc is cool with my results and is still quite pleased.

So here's where we're at:
-I am going to go the concussion clinic only one more time in 3 weeks!
-I have been approved to have alcohol. Haven't had a drink since the concussion in July.
-I still cannot participate in contact sports, roller coasters, ride a bike, water parks, etc--anything where I can get another head injury (where it's fairly likely)
-She is willing, yet weary, to officially approve for me to do extra cognitive things (like more work, classes, school, etc.) Unofficially, I'm doing it all anyway and she knows that. But officially, I'm still not technically approved for every thing.
-My symptoms are super low, which is great. But they still exist. Not as often and not to the same degree. But I will be on some kind of restriction (like no roller coasters) until I have no symptoms related to the concussion, no matter to what degree. Even if I only have 1 and it's slight, still not allowed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

What Would You Do If You Could Not Fail?

Me? I would take the GRE and the LSAT.
If I had lots of time and lots of money.
I would apply for PhD programs and law school.
I would want to get my law degree, PhD in Clinical Psyc, PhD in Social Psyc, Master's in Organizational Leadership or Org. Psyc.

When I'm really dreaming.
I'm profiling people.
I'm adjusting systems to better serve people.
I'm consulting.
I'm facilitating group therapy.
I'm doing individual counseling.

But I can fail. And I haven't figured out the whole timing aspect.
But I can fail.
So I either need to learn how to be okay with failing.
Or I'll likely be stuck in case management.

I've never directly shared my dreams or goals.
So here we go. Step 1 to being okay with failing.
Sharing dreams.

Your turn. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Friendship Struggle

"I didn't want to hear what you would say."
"I knew what you would say."
"I didn't want you to judge me."
"You would point out the red flags and all the warnings I should have caught."

I just got off the phone with one of my best friends. She was upset, hurting, crying. She told me...

"I haven't told you about this, because I knew what you would say. I know you would never and haven't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever (she really did use that many "evers") rubbed it in my face or say 'I told you so'. But I always know it,  I always know that you're right, and I don't want to face it and I have to when I talk to you."

She isn't the only person to tell me this. So many people in my life (seriously, so many. I would venture to say well over 85% of the people in my life who we actually have a legit relationship) tell me these things.

Especially when it comes to relationships.
I don't know what to do about it, how I'm supposed to feel about this, if I'm supposed to change, what's the most right, if this is good, if this is bad, if this is helpful, if this is hurtful.

My friends are afraid to tell me things (bad).
My friends tell me I'm almost always right (good?)
My friends are afraid I'll judge them (bad).
My friends know and believe that I won't ever rub anything in their face (good).

I sometimes ask these questions, when my friends finally tell me whatever it was they were holding back:
What red flags would I have pointed out/why would I point out red flags?
Why do you think I would have thought this was a bad idea?
Why did you fear my reaction?
Why didn't you think I'd support this?
Why did you think I'd have that reaction?
What do you think my reasons are for cautioning you (or whatever)?
What do you think my "goals" are for you?
Do you think our goals are the same?

And always. Always. Always. They are able to answer those questions. The response has never been "I don't know, Ashley. I don't know why you would point out red flags, I think you're just a judgmental jerk. I don't think you care about my happiness. This was a good idea, I don't think it's right for you to think it's not. I think you want me to not do anything with my life. I don't think you want me to have a relationship."
Never have any of those things ever been said, hinted at, or thought.

My friends are always able to identify the red flags, the warnings. They know they exist.
My friends always respond to the fearing reaction question and why I wouldn't fully support something with "because I knew you'd be right"
My friends always say my reaction matches the situation.
My friends are always able to identify my reasons for cautioning them.
And they always answer the goals questions with "because you care about me".

Every single friend. Every single time. (And believe me, it's been A LOT of times with A LOT of friends. And a lot of times with the same friends. Almost every friendship, we've been through this conversation.)

So that still leaves me in the dark. I don't know what to do.
My friends don't think I judge them, but always fear I will.
My friends know I care about them.
My friends know I don't ever rub anything in their face.
My friends know I don't ever make them feel bad about their choices/decisions/actions.
My friends know I can identify when something may not be all rainbows and sunshines.
My friends know I can identify when someone may not treat them well.

But my friends are afraid to tell me things.
My friends don't want to tell me things.
My friends keep things from me.
My friends are afraid of my reactions.
My friends think I'll judge them.

Am I a good friend because of this.
Or am I bad friend because of this.

Am I thinking about this too black/white, pro/con (If you notice, those were all broken into pro/con lists), too either/or?

Do I need to change?
Am I supposed to change?
Am I helpful?
Is my process beneficial?

If you've been in this situation with me.

How many things have you decided not to tell me because you either feared my reaction, assumed my reaction, thought I'd be mad, thought I would judge you, etc?

Or, perhaps to make it more "strengths based"
How many times have you thought about what you assumed my response would be and took that into account and that changed your actions/made an impact?

You don't have to give details, I don't need/want an explanation, we don't need to discuss it. You can just say a lot, a few, never, almost everything, more so recently, more so in the past, whatever.

I asked someone this questions and they told me, "I don't think I have ever not told you anything but a few times I have procrastinated tell  you in fear of your reaction"

And then they said, "It is because you are so influential. I value your thoughts and opinions."
Another friend told me, "But I trust my relationship with you and what you have to say plays a big impact on what I think".

So maybe. I'm doing okay.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Processing and Grieving

I walked into school this morning right as the sun was rising, just before 7:30am. I saw one of the SPED teachers with the assistant principal and they had looks like I'd never seen before. A look that I immediately recognized as grief and confusion and hurt. I doubted it was a student, but thought maybe it was a student's parent. For reasons x, y, and z (I do have my actual reasons), I chose not to engage or ask or stop and say hi. I walked past, went into my office and shut the door, drank my coffee, and ate my breakfast.

I was planning out my day, put in a call slip for one of my kids, and decided to check in with my supervisor before our 8:45am meeting. Just as I was getting to her office, I saw her about to disappear  with that SPED teacher. She saw me just before she turned the corner and came over to me. And then she briefly filled me in.

She told me I should probably clear my day, just as she had done. Explained why. And that I can go with her.

We went into the classroom. Where the SPED teacher broke the news to the students.
One of their paras died in a car accident last night.

Let me tell you about this classroom and this specific teacher before I go on.
This classroom isn't just a special education classroom. This teacher is actually our SESC teacher and this is our SESC room. Severely emotional support classroom if I remember correctly...I don't remember the exact acronym, but these are the students who are SED--severely emotionally disturbed (that I do remember). These are students with emotional disorders and some with behavioral disorders. These are students who I do group therapy with. Who have individual counseling twice a week and group therapy three times a week, provided by the school, and outside counseling and support. These are students who can hardly function in a classroom due to their SED.

It's one of their paras who was killed.

Let me now tell you more about this para.
-He was 23. He grew up in this school district, so super connected in his community. And Lawrence is not that big. He was also a baseball coach at a high school.
-Three of the other paras were super close to hime, went to MS, HS, and worked with him. One of them coached with him. All are paras in this ED room.
-His mom is one of the cafeteria lunch ladies at the school.
-His girlfriend's mom is the learning coach at the school.

That's the impact. That kind of gives one an idea.

The district has a crisis response team (by the way, do all districts have this? Because it's freaking awesome) and they came. Each school has a mental health team, which I'm technically part of (as a student...).

At first, I wasn't really sure what to do. I've never had to respond to a crisis. Scratch that. I have, when I was an RA. I have done so many suicide assessments as an RA, it's unreal. But no suicide actually happened during my time as an RA. No actual "tragedy" in the community actually happened. This was my first "crisis".

And I actually did pretty well. In the beginning, I hadn't a clue of what to do, what to say. And I still don't, exactly. Here's the gist of the day...

The other paras, the students, the kid's psychologist (doctoral student), myself, my supervisor, and the school psychologist were gathered in the room. Immediately, one of the kids said "who died". The teacher calmly responded, telling that kid that that was inappropriate, and may be offensive. And then went on to break the news to them. The paras already knew, and it was clear they had been crying. The kids immediately started crying. Most of them. A few of them sat in silence. They were given the option of staying in the room or going to class, but couldn't just wander the halls. My supervisor (LMSW) explained that there are different ways to grieve, not a right or a wrong way. She explained that some people find it helpful to go back to their normal routine, and some people need to step away. That some people cry, some people don't. Some people talk about it, some people need to be physically active. She reminded them that not everyone may know the situation and to not be mad at other kids in the school if they are laughing or seemingly having a normal day. She went and got them butcher paper and had them make a banner for the family.

One of the girls decided she wanted to try to go to class. Within a few minutes, she was back and just sat. My supervisor and another person kind of approached her, but she wasn't having it. I went up to her and told her we could go for a walk whenever she wanted, assuming she wouldn't want to at the moment and maybe in like an hour. She looked at me and nodded, got up, and we walked around. I was debating if it would be helpful to walk in silence or more helpful to talk. And if talking, to talk specifically about this, or about random things. I settled on silence. She seemed to appreciate that. As we were walking, some people from the CRT stopped us to ask a question. I felt like they unintentionally interrupted us, as though we were in deep conversation, even though we were silent. Then, one of them asked us to get out of the halls. I know it was well intentioned, and it was important, because other kids could see us. But there was nowhere to go. I decided to go to the auditorium, thought that'd be perfect and she agreed. But, there were people in there doing vision tests. So she just decided to go back to the classroom. Regardless, I think the walk around the school seemed to be helpful.

Back in the classroom, I noticed my supervisor engaging with the students, talking about random things. Hair cuts. Art. Superficial, surface level things. And I realized--this is it. This is a huge part of crisis and grieving. It doesn't have to be, nor should it be, all serious, all deep, all the time. It doesn't have to be intense conversation directly related to the tragedy. I thought, I can do this. I slowly started talking to the kids about random things. And then got into the groove. And then I got them laughing. I engaged with one of our students who is on the spectrum and his fixation is dinosaurs. I talked to him for a long time about dinosaurs. I asked him questions. I had him help me pronounce things. I related it to other animals. I told nonsensical stories. I had him laughing, I had him explaining, I had him seemingly happy and doing well.

And then I switched to the girls who were drawing the banner. And I encouraged them. I made positive comments. And they invited me in. They invited me to draw and color on their banner. They started complimenting my coloring abilities.

And then we decided to bake some goodies for the family. After a discussion and voting, we decided to bake a red velvet cake and chocolate chip cookies. At first, I assumed I'd just hang out in the room. We were going to split them up, half go to the store and get ingredients for the cake, come back, bake it, and then the other half go to the store, get the ingredients for the cookies, come back, bake it. So I figured I'd just be at the school for the half that was there each time.

The SESC teacher asked the psychologist to go with them. And a member of the CRT went with them. And one of the paras (so, not really a "trained support specialist", rather someone grieving, but an adult). And then she looked at me and told me she thought it'd be a good idea if I went. That actually meant a lot. She trusted me enough to go and be a support outside of the school. We got the ingredients, came back and on the way to the kitchen, I see one of the paras.

I stop and check in. But as those of you who know me, I have a "special way of checking in". This I am aware of, the one time I actually claim a "gift" that I have. The ability, often times, to ask the right questions at the right time to get people to share. Not always, but often. And this was one of those times. The psychologist had the kids, so I sat with the para and talked with them. That was my first crisis conversation directly relating to the tragedy in my life. And it went well.

I got up and checked in on the kids making the cake. I teased them, goofed off with them, laughed with them, and settled a small disagreement on who got to lick what.

We went back into the classroom and for the first time, instead of asking permission or waiting for someone to tell me if it's okay or not or offering a suggestion, I decided to ask one of the kids if they wanted to play basketball. This kid has behavior issues, although never with me. But I knew he was getting restless. I started spittin' game, and he said it's on. To my surprise, he asked if other kids wanted to come. Even more to my surprise, they said yes. So I took 6 grieving kids to the gym by myself to play basketball. A few of them decided to play tag, a few stood, a few played basketball. Me and this kid goofed off a lot and spat a lot of game. He had sick moves. I told him, "You got a lot of style, but not as much skill. This isn't space jam, fool, you don't get points for style!" Because he had moves, but as far as the scoreboard went, we were tied, or I was ahead by one point for part of the game. It was a lot of fun.

I checked in with the para again and talked with her some more.

The SESC teacher then had me take pizza orders for everyone--all 20 of us, decided to do that for lunch. They each had the option of having lunch in the room or go eat with their friends. They all chose the room. In the middle of me taking orders, I finally saw my supervisor (during this whole time except for the morning, the only three of us who had any training in mental health were me, the kid psychologist, and the CRT member. Except then, the CRT member went to the guidance office where one of the girls went with her friends to hang out on their own). So just me and the psychologist, really.

I then remembered I had put in a call slip for a student, so I went to the office to remove it and then saw the para again, and she waited for me to talk some more.

After lunch, the same boy I had played ball with earlier asked to go play basketball with me again. I said maybe later, because then, I was the only adult in the room. And one of the paras, but the paras were 1-grieving and 2-not trained for crisis. So I said later. But then, everyone wanted to come again. So cool. So we went back to the gym and played more, for a long time. Then, we all went outside (the child psychologist was with us again) and went out on the track and walked around. I messed around with the kids and teased them some more. Another gift I'm okay to claim is my ability to tease without demeaning people and without pushing people or crossing lines. That worked out well in my favor. I raced the kids (lost, obviously). But then the gym class came out, so went in.

And then the SESC teacher asked me to deliver a call slip to the student in guidance, because she needed to get her vision checked. I went in there and after sending her off, talked to the child psychologist and a member of the CRT. (Who was actually my field liaison last year, so it's kind of weird/super cool that now we are "working together" and sort of "on the same level"). And the CRT member said:

"You fit in really well, you seem to be doing a great job. You're good at this."
And the Child psyc said, "Yeah, you are really good. You connect really well with the kids. And it seems like you and (the boy student) bonded really well, and it's like you two have a special connection."

That meant so much. I hope I remember that conversation forever. I wrote it down, typed it here, bolded it.

The child pscy and I went back into the room and played uno attack with them. On the way back we saw my supervisor and she told us about a meeting and told me I should be there. I played for 5 minutes and then had to go to a MHT/CRT meeting. The child psych didn't go because she's not technically pat of the mental health team.

As I was going back to the room, I saw one of my kids I see individually. I walked up to her to check in, unrelated to this crisis. I was pretty sure she wasn't really aware or didn't care about this para (doubt she knew him). I "checked in". Read: I asked the right question. She responded with something along the lines of telling me she's fine, good, whatever. I said, "that means you're not good." She questioned how I knew that. I told her I was just that good. Turned out, she was supposed to be taking a math pre test, and her para couldn't get her to do any of the work. I talked with the student. I walked away. She yelled after me telling me she still wouldn't do it. I smiled and said that's your deal. I'm not backing away from my deal. If you decide to go back into the deal (she does 2 of the 4 problems, she gets candy), that's her choice and she can come find me in the room.

I knew she'd do it. Okay, I didn't, but I really hoped. And she did. Just before the bell rang, she walked in, proudly showed me she did the test. I said okay, we walked to my office, I gave her her candy. That was awesome. Unrelated to the crisis, but getting a student to do work that they refuse to do and no one can get them do it (also, I have so much more to say about this student, last week I was going to write something, but haven't yet).

And then we had a faculty meeting right after school about the tragedy.

And then it was time to go home.

That's primarily what happened today. There wasn't a lot of direct talk yet. And I don't think a lot of them know how. And it might also be too soon. With the one para, I kept checking in on her and talked with her, I listened mainly. She talked about not being able to cry and I reminded her that that's okay.

I asked other members on the CRT how to respond if and when (as they had brought up this point) a student asks why they need to do math, because, what's the point in doing it if we're just going to die, etc. They had a good response, and it was there are many more chances that they'll live than not. And to keep living as best as you can to the fullest, as the para certainly did. He didn't live as if he would die soon.

I'm exhausted. Grieving is exhausting. Even though I didn't personally know him. And even though it seems like I just played games and hung out with middle schoolers. And even though it sounds like no one needs to be trained to do those things.

You really do. Because it's so, so, so evident that there is grieving in all the activities. It's so evident that there is hurt and it's such a good reminder that not everyone grieves in the same way. And it is okay to not have direct and intense conversations, those are important, but so is laughing, playing ball, goofing off. And both are just as exhausting. Both are just as wearing. Both are just as hurting.

I got home and had to sit for a few hours. And then I took a super long shower. I'm exhausted. I needed to process, so I wrote this super long thing. And I feel better. And my roommate is on her way home now to talk with me.

Crisis intervention is hard. But it was such a great experience and I truly loved it. It served as a great reminder of why I chose this field. This is what I want to learn how to perfect. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Don't Know What Happened

I was so good at keeping this updated, and now, not so much...
October has been super duper busy.
I'm doing three types of therapies.
Speech, physical, and cognitive. Speech and physical, I'm much more willing to talk about and mention. Cognitive, I've only told a few select people. Cognitive therapy is counseling--my doctors...and a few friends..have encouraged and recommended I go to process everything that's going on. I kept putting it off, for all kinds of reasons.

^So, I started writing that last week, and then I stopped. A week later, I am done with counseling...went to a whopping two sessions, done with speech therapy (SPEECH IS FLUENT AND NORMAL FOR OVER A WEEK!! So I met my goal, so got released), AND no longer have to take one of my medications! Boooom! I still have to go to at least one more physical therapy session...I'm still not strong really in my walking..Ironically (I don't think I'm using that word right), when I started, physical therapy was scheduled all the way through November, because my speech was so terrible, and physical therapy was only scheduled for 3-4 sessions, because it was pretty good. But, turned out, speech was much easier to fix than my walking, apparently.

Annnnd still have to go to doctors and take that iMPACT test.

But, this past week, like....last Wednesday? Was when I first started finally doing WELL. Like, compliments from people and a huge, noticeable difference.

Also, I went to Chicago and that was awesome. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

So much Homework

Doctors have asked me to do 40304928 things for homework. Okay, maybe not that much, but it feels like that much. One of the things is to keep a journal of my day, how I feel throughout the day, note the changes, etc. I was pretty good about doing that the first few weeks on here, but then, I got busy/tired/bored/overwhelmed of doing that.

But now it's actual "homework" so I gotta get back into it. So here we go.

Today, I did really well. Actually, the last few days, since Thursday (sort of), I've done pretty darn well. Saturday afternoon/evening was the first time when I was really so much more like myself than I have been since the injury. I still get super fatigued after a few hours of engaging though.

Take today for example. Here's what I did.
1. I woke up late and didn't leave my house until 5 minutes after I should have already been at my destination. (7:35am)

2. I planned on when I was going to see students, wrote out the call slips, and wrote out my calendar for the day.

3. I went to my first IEP meeting (that was overwhelming, there were 13 people at the meeting, so many people trying to coordinate services for this student.) (9:15am)

4. I met with a kid who I'll be doing indirect service for. That was awkward.

5. I talked to my field instructor about the IEP meeting. She told me I need to be more assertive. I think she forgets how awkward it is for a student to try to speak up to other professionals and share their thoughts. Because it is. Awkward and hard.

6. I met with a student and we came up with a game plan of how we'll do our sessions. He's on the spectrum, and his area of expertise is drawing. At first, I had three different activities and was going to have him choose which one he wanted to do. He self advocated and said he is cool with me just asking him questions (which is what I prefer anyway) and he will answer them, so long as he is drawing. So I asked if he's cool with me getting him a journal, where every time we meet, he can draw in it during the session while we talk, and I keep it and can respond back in words because drawing isn't my thing, and then he can respond by drawing something, etc. So the plaaaaan is for us to "journal" back and forth and also talk during the sessions.

7. I met with another student who wasn't so sure about having me as his new social worker and wanted to stay with my field instructor. He came at the same time I was meeting with the aforementioned kid, and as such, I didn't really get to talk to him, I will on Monday. I basically asked him if he's willing to give me a shot, we'll try it out for a few weeks and if it's not clicking, he works better with my FI, he's just more comfortable with her, whatever, it's cool if he's with her. He was down for that. Sort of... The trouble with being a counseling/SW intern is that a lot of the "clients" that you start seeing, already have a relationship with whoever is the supervisor, and that's someone they are comfortable with, and don't want to switch to a new person. And with students, their parents are involved his parents have a relationship with my FI too. But he'd be a GREAT kid for me to "practice on"and learn from, because holy geeze, his home life and how he reacts to things is just..well, needs a lot of intervention.

8. I had my lunch and finished my second Brené Brown book.

9. I met with my FI to update her on the students.

10. I went to a meeting about our SESC classroom (basically, classroom for students with emotional disturbances and behavioral problems) and observed how the paras view data collecting. (2pm)

11. Went home and hung out with my roommates. (4pm)

12. Did my speech therapy exercises, which my roommates found to be hilarious. I texted them yesterday and said my speech therapist sends her apologies, because she has assigned me work that I need to do twice a day that involves me being really loud. They were a hoot to do it with. I was going strong.

13. I did my physical therapy exercises and I started to get pretty dizzy and took me awhile to do.

14. I watched a TED video with my roommates. (5pm)

15. I went to dinner with my roommates and friends. Today is national taco day (who knew?!) so we went to this place that had dollar tacos. I had never been there before, because it's called "Fuzzy's Taco Shop" which just freaks me out. But oh my geeze, so freaking delicious. I was doing pretty well still. By around 6pm, I started getting really tired. Within a few minutes, I was almost asleep. In the short car ride home (like 5 minutes), I fell asleep.

16. We got home (6:30ish) and my roommate had to hold me so I could walk. I went up to my room and within a minute, I would imagine, I was asleep.

17. I woke up around 8:30 and decided if if I wanted to get up to shower and finish my paper, or just sleep. I made myself get up and do what I had to do. And then remembered I had to journal. So that's where this comes in. Also, I'm supposed to do my therapies twice a day, but they are so time consuming (and I have to be loud for one of them), and I only did them once today. But I'm too tired.

Take home point:
So now I'm going to bed. 
I did well until 6pm. But I went from about 8am-6pm going pretty strong. But boy, I was wiped out beyond belief by 6, I couldn't speak clearly or walk well by then. 

Also, my medicine is almost out (I have one more day left) but insurance won't pay for it until another few days. So I'll  have to go a day or two without medicine, so we'll see how that goes....

Also, if I get one more lecture about how I'm doing too much and need to keep resting, I might actually yell at someone. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I had my first speech therapy session today. The doctor put in a request for a whole year...the speech pathologist said it shouldn't be that long. Holy geeze, I would hope not. She wanted to see me twice a week, but my schedule doesn't really allow for that, so I have to go once a week. I also have to do physical therapy, so that will start next week too.

I took the impact concussion test again, third time. I did really poorly. I decreased one standard deviation in two of the categories and my cognitive efficiency level is now at .24 (average is .34).

I have my first paper due this week and the research is 4342 times harder than it should be. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Compromise of Sorts

I thought a lot this weekend about withdrawing. Because the truth is I won't do well this semester. I can't really do things. My brain doesn't function how it should right now. I'm not doing well.

I decided I would stay in school, so long as I do two things.

Today, my field instructor sent me home. She said I couldn't drive, so she drove me home in the middle of the day. Because I wasn't doing well. My speech was off again. I was walking funny. She said it's like I've had 4 drinks. That really is how it is. It's like I'm doing everything as if I were pretty tipsy. That's how my reaction times are, my words sound, my brain moves.

Yesterday, I had a doctor appointment. She is so kind. And I think both she (PCP) and mTBI doctor are on the same page in that, professionally, they don't think I should do school. But on a personal level, I think they get where I'm coming from and are willing to let me do it. She reminded me though that no one would fault me for withdrawing. No one would say, "Why weren't you able to handle it?". And she said she was more than willing to write any medical note for anything. She would talk to the school if she needed to.

The doctors are on my side and I love them for that. They're trying their hardest to get me better. And for me to do my part is probably to not be in school. But since I can't bring myself to do that, I'm going to try to do other things.

They wanted to give me a handicap permit, but I don't think I meet the legal requirements and would feel weird with one, so I have to have a special parking permit on campus to park close, because I can't walk a long time.

Both of the doctors have come to the conclusion that should I keep my current schedule, I will be battling this the entire semester. I'm only on week 4 and I'm already really struggling.

And I have to stay on my medicine for a long time now. One of them was extended for 6 months, but the hope is I don't have to take it that long. 

Friday, September 13, 2013


I had my follow up concussion appt Monday. I retook the IMPACT test. I improved in some areas, regressed in others. Overall, somewhat improved, although "remarkable improvement" given my schedule, according to the doctor. She upped my medication, so now I have to take medicine morning, noon, and night. She wants me to slow down more. I asked her where the line was between pushing myself and trying to engage and when I should be resting. She said I'm not at the point where I should be pushing myself, I haven't improved enough. She said I need to be resting as much as possible and if I could go to bed even at 7pm and sleep through the night, that would be best.

This week, I struggled quite a bit. And, I did something to my shoulder (it seems like tendonitis), so I can't hardly use my right arm these last few days--hurts to extend, get dressed, raise hand, turn head, etc. And I still don't know if I'm allowed to take ibuprofen, which would probably work wonders.

Anyways. So, I have seriously been considering withdrawing from school. That's what the doctors want me to do. That's what other people's suggestions have been. Just delay school for one year. And in the past, I was so stubborn, I just said no way.

But I'm really struggling. It's hard to keep up. I'm not critically thinking like I was. I'm not as sharp.

Nearly every person who never knew me before the concussion has said I seem totally normal, and they wouldn't have known I had mTBI. At first, I was kind of offended, on one hand, and on the other, glad I was "normal". It dawned on me, these last few days, that I didn't realize how smart I actually was. I never realized that I was actually really good at things, until people have said I seem "normal". I've had difficult times in school, but I've never truly struggled to grasp things like I am now. I've never had so much trouble with my words, I've never gotten so confused or lost in discussions, like I do now. I didn't struggle with interactions like I do now. To those who haven't seen me or talked to me and just read this, I can't really explain how I am in person.

I'm just average person, I suppose. I keep up, I can do things, I can meet standards. I'm just not excelling. And excelling was what was normal for me. Excelling was meeting standards. Going beyond excellence was truly excelling to me.

I always thought I was "normal". I didn't realize I was actually good at what I did or how high my standards really were. That's been a huge revelation for me these past few days.

Anyways, withdrawing.

  • I could actually rest and truly recover. 
  • I wouldn't struggle like I am now.
  • I could go home. 
  • I would be doing what I'm supposed to be doing..
  • It would delay my plan. 
  • I wouldn't graduate when I'm supposed to.
  • Not my choice. Not my idea. 
  • Not really what I want. 
A few hours ago, I was bawling in my car. I've cried several times due to this thought. I've only had this conversation with two people, where we've seriously talked about this. And if I'm being honest, withdrawing probably is the right thing to do. It would just delay me a year. And I am really not doing great. But if I'm being more honest. I'll probably still pass this year. Even if I don't get "exceeds" and A's in everything. I'll still learn. Maybe not as much as I could, but I'll still learn a little. 

I don't know if it's the right choice or just me being stubborn. I don't know what it's going to look like, come mid term. A few hours ago, I was almost ready to begin the process. And I'm still considering it. 

And I have never in my life really considered withdrawing from school. Ever. 
So I'm struggling. And I don't know what to do. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Weekend

I slept. I slept for almost the entire weekend. My roommate thought I had left for the weekend because I didn't even leave my room or make any noises.

Saturday I was literally in my bed all day. Most of it, asleep. Sunday, I at least made it down to the couch, but still slept most of it. Monday, I actually did a lot better. I was able to do homework and read and hang out with my roommate. I accidentally fell asleep on her 4 times, so still rested quite a bit and get tired pretty easily.

I think Friday wore me out. Luckily, I also have most of Tuesday off too.

But rest is what's supposed to make me all better. And the neurologist said that the fatigue/tiredness/drowsiness/etc will be the last thing to go away. With the exception of that, I think/hope that's pretty much the main symptom now?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rest of the Week


Wednesday was my first day of Practicum. I'm in a middle school (and sort of elementary school), doing school social work. For second year clinical students, we have to do 24 hours of supervised Practicum per week for 30 weeks (720 hours total). I'll be doing group therapy with emotionally disturbed kids, those whose mental health impairs all ability to perform academically, and will do individual counseling with students who have SW on their IEP (that's my understanding anyway).

I was only there for 3 hours on Wednesday. And all I did was talk to my supervisor and go on a brief tour of the school. As soon as I got home, I went to bed. I woke up for 20 minutes, ate, and went back to sleep. I essentially slept from 5pm-6am. Then, I had to get up to go to class.


Thursday is when I have all of my classes, 8am-6pm. Three classes, with about 90 minute break for lunch. Each class is about 2 hours and 40 minutes. I was super concerned about how I was going to do, because I hadn't gone that long since this thing happened. Ever. Especially having to concentrate and such. I was really slow and not engaging my first class. But hey, it was at 8am, so what's new. I got to rest a little bit at lunchtime, and then did better as the day went on. I wasn't great, I wasn't the regular "Ashley" in class. Luckily, one of my teachers, who is at the end of the day--I had him last year, all year long, so he definitely knows me. But my other two are new to me. And there are so many new people this year, so I'm all super bummed that the only "Ashley" these people know is the post concussion Ashley. 

But, after unloading and talking a little bit with that last teacher of the day, I was feeling better. That, and he let us out of class after only 1 1/2 hours, so it was super early. I was getting tired again, but my friends were being super, super nice and supportive. And I hadn't seen them in awhile, and one in particular, who lived near me. So we went out to dinner. At first, I was like..look, I'm not fun to be around, let's not. But she's super nice and said, "I've been having fun with you all day!" Towards the end of the meal, I got a lot better. She noticed a dramatic shift and said, "There's Ashley! She's coming back!" So that made me feel a little better. She still didn't trust my driving and my friends made a safety plan for me as far as driving and such and potential game plans that I could do and not over extend myself. 

As soon as I got home, which was around 6, the time I would have gotten home anyway, I went straight to bed. (I showered first, then went to bed). I slept, again, all the way through the night, until Friday morning. 

My speech was a little fumbly, especially as the day it went on, it got worse. 

So both Wednesday and Thursday night, I slept for like 12-13 hours. 


I had to be at school at 7:30am. I did great today. My speech was on par, I was coherent, I was present, I remembered things (like my new funky password!), I walked, I engaged. Today was awesome. Maybe it's because I got so much sleep the last few days. Maybe it's because the medicine is starting to get into full swing (the new one is supposed to help with concentration and mobility, basically, and it's decent dosage). 

At school, my first full day, was also great because of casual Friday. I always do better when I'm dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Preferably, soccer shorts and a shirt, but whatever, I'll take what I can get. But for reals. There were 48032984 meetings we had to go and some were impromptu and some were scheduled and some of the scheduled ones we couldn't make because of the impromptu meetings. We were all over the place. It was great, I loved it. I didn't understand what was happening most of the time, but I loved it. 

I got home and chatted with my roommate. And then I was in much need of a nap. I dozed for like an hour, and then felt rejuvenated. The rooms and I tried to decide what we want to do...and decide to hit up bingo night because the website says it's free. We call to get the deets, but the dude wasn't super helpful.

So we go and we're all excited...and we caused shenanigans within the first 20 seconds. We escorted ourselves out within the first 5 minutes and decided to not go there ever again. We accidentally stole someone's ink thing to mark bingo, someone's seat, and we had an old lady scold us and an old man. Then, it was explained that it costs money to play bingo. And it costs more money for a marker. Why can't I just use pennies? Okay, maybe it's like $5. No, a card and marker costs $19. But, that particular lady, and other people around, had like 7 bingo cards. What the filth. Anyways, we left. 

And decided to see Monster's University. So good. So inspirational! And then watched a TV episode. 

So, I've gone all day, been awake since 6:30am, working and out and about since 7:30am with the exception of my hour nap, and it's almost midnight. And I did super well all day. I'm tired now and ready for bed, but still. I made it two whole days in a row. And I had one perfect day--I went one whole day without too many symptoms. 

Now I have the whole weekend to rest. And it's a 3 day weekend. Things are hopefully looking up. Long, not so great, very symptomatic week. But today was pretty good. 

Week Long Updates

This may sound strange, but I completely forgot about this blog. I completely forgot about a lot of things, actually. Maybe not so strange, since,  you know, I do have mTBI (apparently, the preferred name for what happened--mild traumatic brain injury).


So, Monday, I went to the concussion clinic. First, I got super lost and went to two places before I ended up in the right area and parked on the complete opposite end of the place. I had forgotten my directions and all the instructions. I ended up wicked late to the appointment, instead of wicked early, as planned.

The special doc did some balance testing...she asked if I could do it without blinking my eyes so much. I told her I didn't realize I was. She asked me to do other things. And then I got dizzy and had to sit. But not super dizzy, so I asked if I passed. She, not really.

Then, I had to do a special computer IMPACT test that is specifically designed to test one's memory, concentration, recall, recognition, spatial ability, vocabulary ability, reaction time, and some other things. It also has a way to test my reliability with the test. Before I took it, I had to rate all of my symptoms, based on severity. Directly after the test, I had to rate them again. Anyways, I did that and when the scores were printed, I asked the administrator if I passed. She, well, there were..some low scores..but you know what, the doctor will discuss it with you.

My head pounded, dizziness started, and super light sensitive (which hadn't been an issue) and my emotions were..a little higher.. after the test. I sat for 40 minutes waiting for the doctor, where I closed my eyes and blocked all the light out and probably cried a little bit and tried to rest.

The special doctor comes in and we talk a little bit. She tells me overall, I didn't do too bad. My words/vocabulary was really good without the distractors, but with distractors, a little low. My design memory wasn't great (spatial) and symbol match and total memory (recall, not recognition) was awful (but really, does that surprise anyone? I've never had a good memory..) My color matching was completely accurate, but a bit slow and the three letters test I was really slow. (You can google the test, it goes over the entire thing, so you can actually know what I'm talking about, and I have my exact results if you want them.)

Then it has all my composite scores listed. And then calculates my cognitive efficiency index. Mine is 0.32. That measures between accuracy and reaction time. The range is approximately 0 to .70, with a mean of .34. So I was just slightly below the mean.

So, not awful, but not wonderful.

The doctor kind of said...not so sure about school. I told her the same thing I told my PCP. If it's not going to kill me, I'm doing it. So she said okay on a few conditions:

1. I don't work, at least for the first few weeks.
2. I get a medical parking permit from school (I have to park close to campus buildings for the next 5 weeks, because I can't/not supposed to walk that much.)
3. I follow up with her in 2 weeks
4. I do as little as possible, just school, and that is absolutely it.
5. I understand that I won't do as well in school.
6. I start taking another medicine, in addition to the one my PCP prescribed.
7. I potentially go see a speech pathologist.

So here's what's actually happening.
1. I'm not giving my new job her note. I already lost one job because of this, not going to lose another.
2. I do have a medical permit now. I feel weird with it. It's not a handicap or disability, it's a different kind.
3. The appointment interferes with my practicum........
4. Well...not happening...
5. I've almost come to terms with that, but um, not really.
6. It actually has also helped.
7. They were supposed to call me and still haven't.

So that was my Monday appointment, in detail. The doctors want me to stop my life, and I get it, and I understand, but I can't do it. It's not feasible. We need to come up with a legitimate, feasible, and doable game plan. The doctor said I'll definitely have 100% recovery, but the more I do, the longer it will prolong my symptoms. Again, I get it. But I can't not do things. I can't not work. I can't not do well. I can't not engage with people. I can't not keep going to all these appointments.

She said, it's likely that with my current potential schedule, my symptoms will last all semester, because I'm doing too much. 

So I'm trying. I really am. I'll post the rest of the week in another one, because this got wicked long. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Oye to the Poodles Already

Quick 35 second clip of one of my all time favorite shows, Gilmore Girls.

Today, my speech super regressed. And I started drinking a lot of water again and going to the bathroom a lot. I didn't connect the dots, but as I've mentioned, I have a super awesome and smart doctor.

I had to get my TB test read today, so when I was in the doctor's office, my speech was how it was like the second week. Slow, skipping words, slurred, you know..
So they could finally actually hear what I was talking about, because every time I've been there, I've been "pretty normal". So the nurse was all worried and then the doc called me and said if I continue to not do well, particularly if I urinate like double (like I was), then I have to go to the ER this weekend.

She said, "Hopefully, we can make it through this weekend". She's thinking it may be connected and I might actually have DI, and so when I get "dehydrated" (in quotes because I drink soooo much water), it may affect my speech. I said, "But you tested me, and I didn't have it" and she said, "It wasn't the actual test" and she explained the actual test, which sounds super, super awful (water deprivation test) and that it's my electrolytes I have to get tested and such.

I have no intention of going back to the ER and have less than zero desire to, especially after my last incident there.

Anyways, so now, I'm just going to start drinking a ton of gatorade again to replenish the electrolytes, stay in the AC, keep track of water and bathroom and speech and gatorade intake again, and rest.

The nurse (who is also super awesome) gave me the emergency doctor number. The pharmacist gave me their emergency number, just in case. And then the doctor said I may have to go to the ER. This is getting ridiculous. Three different health professionals, all giving me special numbers.

My roommates both left for the weekend, so I'm all by myself this weekend..I will try to be very careful and track everything.

So anyways, I just took like a 45 minute nap, been drinking gatorade, and now feeling better.

Also, good news: I double checked with the nurse and doctor, and the medicine I'm on is just temporary, just to help me through this recovery process. So I feel much more calm, knowing that it's a short term medicine, even though it's normally for long term things. And that it's on the lowest possible dosage (10mg/1x day--and the normal dosage for adults is 25mg 3-4x/day) also makes me feel a lot better.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Some people are texting me, messaging me, asking me how I'm doing. And when I'm real and say, not so good. No one knows what to say.

I'm struggling.
I just want to be better. I want to be normal again. I want to be Ashley again. I want to engage with people again. I want to love life again. I want to read all the time again. I want to excel in what I do again. I want to make jokes again. I want to laugh again. I want to be fun again. I want to be outside again. I want to be easy going again. I want to be how I was on July 23. The day before all of this.

I realized that medicine scares me. I used to be such a huge proponent of medicine, but now that I have some, I'm scared. I'm sure it'll be good and helpful, hope so anyway. But what it actually is for scares the hell out of me.

What the doctor actually said, that I didn't write, scares the hell out of me. What it is actually going on is the most frightening thing I think I've ever encountered and I don't know what to do.

All I did was hit my head. No brain bleeding, no brain swelling, no permanent brain injury. So why are my symptoms so horrible. Why are they not going away. Why am I not recovering at the rate I should be. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More Doctor Appointments

First, I looked up the word "disgruntled" and I realized that's exactly what I am.
Second, I was in my irritated stage when I wrote about the exit interview.

Anyways. Today, I went to my follow up doctor appointment.

Before doctor appointment, my friend came over and brought ice cream, lunch, and coloring books. That made me feel 4830x better.

Basically, doctor was super impressed with my organizational skills, not so impressed with my recovery.

I have constant fatigue, sometimes insomnia, sometimes I sleep all the time, constant headaches, irritability, withdrawn and not wanting to socialize, and have difficulty concentrating.

She thought maybe I should do cognitive therapy. She called the neurologist and they talked and decided to do two things.

1. I have to go to a concussion clinic next week. There, they're going to do all kinds of tests, educate me more about concussions, check my reaction time, balance, impact/computer test, etc. From there, they'll come up with a potential plan of action, if need be.

2. I now have a prescribed medicine. It's supposed to help with some of my symptoms.

I asked the doctor about school.
She said:
1. It definitely won't cause permanent damage.
2. I probably won't excel anywhere near the rate I was (until I'm fully recovered).
3. It will be extremely difficult, may delay recovery, and concussion will strongly affect school.
4. There is nothing the teachers can do as far as any accommodations to help me.
5. She's unsure if I'll actually be able to do it, given that at work, they would send me home after 3 hours.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Exit Interview

I had my exit interview today from the CMHC, which is just weird according to my mom and aunt since I was involuntarily terminated.
For those who don't know, my aunt is HR manager of a mega church (18,000 members, approximately 9,000 attendees any given service) and my mom is Senior Director of HR at a major health network (5,000 employees), so I go to them for HR advice and questions, they're pretty good at their jobs.

I turned in my phone, charger, keys, and fob. The HR manager hands me the paper to do the exit interview--doesn't go over it with me, doesn't ask me the questions, doesn't dialogue with me about it.
I fill it out, I'm pretty honest, and then when I'm done, HR just says, "Okay, thanks". So I made them dialogue with me.

I explained that while I understood from an employer perspective, I no longer meet their minimum requirements and don't necessarily argue the fact I'm being terminated (I'm a little pissed, don't get me wrong, but I do understand it). However, I didn't think it was handled well. No one asked me how I was, no one checked in, I wasn't given a time frame, I wasn't told that if I wasn't fully released within a specific time frame I would be terminated, I wasn't told which specific reason I needed to be released on (she told me it was the driving), all I was told was that I had to be fully released in order to return and when I turned in my note saying I wasn't fully released, the first words were that I'm being terminated.

This is the part that actually almost sent me over the edge. 
The HR manager, who was very kind, said, "That's very surprising to hear that, because I met with the director and supervisor, asking about progress, checking in, following up, and all we got in response was a doctor note." She had put on "that face" and had "that tone"--you know the one. I have it all the time when I know someone is lying (especially when I was an RA) my mom has it all the time when she knew I was lying when I was little or her "HR face". That one.

But I wasn't lying. And I got really mad. I think I did actually manage to keep my cool, but I also explained, no, actually. I would go straight from the doctor to work to turn in my notes. I am responsible. The very first week, July 26, when it first happened, when I couldn't communicate, my uncle called my supervisor for me. Otherwise, I never heard anything. The only other time I heard anything was when I was partially released, and I got a VM saying I could only come back if I was fully released. Again, no time frame, not saying I would be terminated if I weren't released soon, not asking how I was. I said I called back, we played phone tag, and she left me another VM saying same thing.

The next week, I turned in my note, I caught my supervisor. And first thing she said was that I was being terminated.

I said I have the messages, my phone records, if you want to see how many times I was called. I offered to play the VM, even. I only have two phone calls, two VM, not until the third week, just saying I need to be fully released.

So now it's just a he said/she said and I'll probably just be seen as a "disgruntled employee" and they're the shining supervisor who apparently checked in, communicated with me, explained everything, and all I did was give them a doctor note and didn't respond. I'm so mad.

I'm not a disgruntled anything. I'm not disgruntled. That's not a word people use to describe me. More recently, maybe irritable, but I'm still Ashley, for the most part. I'm not mean. I don't fight people, I don't tear people down, I don't act irresponsibly,  I don't lie, I don't demean people, I don't 'fight fire with fire'.

But they don't know me. They don't know that. All they saw was what was reported, not in writing I presume, from my supervisor. And what was reported was different than what I experienced.

I am almost okay with the whole being fired thing, because I didn't do anything wrong. I understand the reason for the termination, and that's something I have to deal with. But I am definitely not okay with being made to look like I'm in the wrong or like I lied or anything like that. Because I'm not and I didn't. 

Also, my speech is regressing today. I started to be unable to use contractions, start to get a little slow and deliberate, and it was like back to the second week. But sometimes it is better. Maybe it's just when I'm stressed/mad it goes back?

On the good side, while school said if I can't actually fully meet the requirements, I should withdraw or do PT, they were very kind and very helpful. My new practicum instructor said she is more than willing to work with me and my new job said they were too. They were all very kind in their responses. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Do Not Tell Me 'It Can't Be Done'"

Pearl Harbor is one of my favorite movies. Arguably, this is one of the most moving scenes. School has suggested I don't do FT--I either withdraw for this semester or do PT. I will be asking my doctor what will happen if I do FT school, even if I'm  not actually ready.

It's a lot easier for people to say pushing school off isn't a big deal when it's not them. I didn't just give up everything and move halfway across the country because I only kind of care about school. School has always and will always be my priority. More than work, more than my health, and more often than I care to admit, more than my relationships. Is it wrong? Probably. But school comes first.

My friend asked "Is it worse to delay your degree or to delay your recovery?"
My degree.
She was a little mad.

I've basically been resting/sleeping from 5pm Friday until now. (So the past 48 hours..)
I'm about to go back to sleep.
Still have massive headaches.
Still super irritable. And now really frustrated.
Less anxious, as I was in the first two weeks.
Still can't concentrate.
I either sleep all the time or can't sleep at all.
But I'm always tired.

I have to meet with HR on Monday. My doctor on Wednesday.

If the doctor says it will be difficult to do school FT, I'll do it. If the doctor says I may cause permanent damage if I over stimulate the brain too quickly, I may consider my options. If the doctor says it'll just delay my recovery, but I'll still eventually be fine and it'll just be really difficult, I'll do it FT.

I only have one more freaking year of school. That's all. I just want to finish. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Neurology Appointment

Today was a much better day than the past two days. I woke up and got to work and felt pretty decent overall. They didn't let me do anything, but holla to the CM who willingly did my job and laughed and talked with me (Cindy, that's your shout out!). Anyways, went to my neurology appointment.

Here's what happened.

First, he had me tell my whole store, starting from day one. By now, my story isn't nearly as detailed as what it used to be, so it didn't take as long. Which is good, because I'm really tired of the story. We looked at my MRI and he was very nice and explained everything to me, let me look at the MRI and the pictures of my brain and pointed out what was what.

When he tested my reflexes, I told him the first time, a few weeks back, they weren't strong, and he explained what that meant. And when he had me touch my finger to my nose, I told him the first few times I struggled, and he said "I  bet you couldn't really do it". I said no, I couldn't gauge where the finger was or where my nose was and I couldn't control my strength and slammed my finger on the side of my nose and it hurt! I loved that he guessed that and he understood.

He said it looks like there is slight heterogeneity with my pituitary gland, which is probably why I'm showing slight DI symptoms. Basically, my P-gland (which is responsible for all kinds of hormones being released into the body, such as telling your body when you need to pee) is bruised and it should heal, but it'll take time, that's why I'm drinking and peeing so much. But both have gone down! I'm down to about 96oz of water a day and bathroom averaging 5 times a day.

He said nothing is major and I should fully recover. Hallelujah, oh my geeze, that was the best news I had heard in almost my entire life.

Also, the neurologist said that it seemed like I was severely dehydrated and had a severe concussion. "You had a double whammy of severeness, that's why it's taking awhile, you really have had a traumatic injury" (actually, triple, with my broken nose, causing sinuses to kind of act up too). This explained why I passed out (which is what I was trying to tell the doctors in the first place and they kept saying I was really hydrated, but I'm going with the neurologist on this one. And it also explained why my symptoms were so much worse than an average person, even though I didn't have any brain bleeding or swelling.

He also said it was absurd and ridiculous that a doctor had even thought mental illness or drugs could have been involved, which eased me even more.

He did say though that I really have got to seriously slow down, even more so, and if I don't, school may actually be pushed back. So, my plan is going to work tomorrow morning, say bye, and then next week do as close to nothing as possible. I WANT TO BE BETTER BY SCHOOL, AUGUST 26.
As of now, that might not happen. But it's going to.

He gave the example of when driving stick shift and the car is neutral, you just have to let it coast. Otherwise, if you hit the gas, all it does is spin the wheels. He said, "Right now, your wheels are still spinning. You're slowing them down, but they aren't stopped yet. They have to stop for awhile and just coast".

At work, my supervisor and coworker sat with me and suggested I actually process this with someone. They made the point that, I am about to start my last year of graduate school and having to go into with it with a traumatic injury. And they said with everything else you have going on and all the stresses, make sure you're talking it out and really processing. They kind of called me out...again.

So basics:
-I have slight DI, but it should go away.
-I will recover fully.
-Nothing is super major or permanent.
-I have to slow down even more and may not be ready for really engaging in FT school and such.
-I had a really traumatic concussion.
-I should process.

Doc also confirmed that irritability is a strong sign of concussion and it should go away and that my fatigue will be the last symptom to go away. I asked him if he had any kind of timeline, and he said no. Which I expected. I told him his field needs to get on that and he laughed.

Also, it turns out his wife got her MSW from KU. That was cool to hear, so he better understood my courses and what challenges I was facing. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


To put in basic terms, that's what happened today. I got fired from my weekend job at the community mental health center because I am unable to perform the necessary duties.

I woke up today and didn't feel much better from yesterday. My full time job (which ends this week anyway because I have to go back to school) told me I couldn't come in today, unless I was actually better.

So I had to go to the hospital to pick up my radiology images for my neurology appointment tomorrow, and figured since I knew I wouldn't be better by this weekend and CMHC is right by the hospital, I would just give them my new doctor note. At first I was waiting, because the doctor said if I got better this week, she would re evaluate me and may release me for the weekend. But I knew I wouldn't be better by then, and I had to give them the note sometime.

My supervisor was walking out of her office and didn't acknowledge me. I said Hi, I wanted to give you the doctor note and explained that the doctor was not willing to release me for full time yet and I still couldn't really drive.

She said, "Well, we will have to discontinue your employment. This has been too hard on the team to get people to cover." Then she said, "You must have really hurt yourself" to which I almost had a snotty reply, but I refrained and just said, "Yes, I will be seeing a neurologist tomorrow". She said, "Okay, well we'll have to get something in writing, but we can't have you employed here anymore. I hate to lose you, you have been good staff, and maybe you can come back." I just nodded and walked out.

And did my best to hold back the tears. The started coming though. And as soon as I got to my room, they were uncontrollable for a long while. I called my mom and she tried to calm me down. And then I kept crying.

I have never been fired or let go or whatever word you want to use. It wasn't due to performance issues, and yes, I know they said I may be able to come back, and yes, I know she said I was good at my job.

I know I was good at my job. I was really good at my job. I know that. This injury has taken away so much though. My freedom, my independence, my drive, my jobs, my health, my abilities, my work ethic, my kindness, my compassion. And we don't know what's wrong. I just get irritable and grumpy and tired and frustrated and I'm not better and I'm mad. And I'm getting worried and scared now.

I'm the most frustrated about two things.
1. She didn't really seem to care about my injury, she didn't really ask about it, and the first thing she said was that my employment was to be discontinued. No one on that team has ever texted me, called me, asked about me. They don't care.

2. I let the team down. I knew they never cared about me, that's been my rub with this job since day one, but I still care about whether I perform well or not. She told me I let them down. That it's too hard on them. Which I get and I understand. But feeling like I've let someone down is literally one of the worst feelings.

If you're going to comment on this, don't say anything that you think is helpful, because it probably won't be. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Today has not been a good day. I was incredibly irritable. I started getting very tired, very quickly, and my speech slowly regressed again. Slurred a little bit, skipped a few words. I think I just very tired again.

Last night I slept for long time, 12 hours. I woke up for water. I went to work for three hours and did not do well. I went home and took nap.

My supervisor does not think I'm well enough and doesn't want me to come in for rest of week. I just want to finish this week. It is supposed to be last week.

 Why am I not okay and all better. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 4

I called the doctor this morning, because my weekend job required me to be fully released, not just partial, and needed a new doctor note.

I talked to the doctor and we both kind of agreed that I still wasn't actually good enough to be fully released. This past week, I haven't gotten worse, but I'm not so sure I've actually's kind of like I have stabilized. Which would be fine, except I'm not good yet, so it kind of sucks...a lot. For people who don't know me, I seem normal, actually. I talk decently, I'm pretty with it, I'm just a little tired. For people who do actually know me, they know I'm usually pretty quick. I can respond to things when people say something, I'm generally on top of my game, and even if I'm tired, I don't generally seem beyond exhausted all the time.

The doctor wants me to see a neurologist, just to make sure we haven't missed anything. We're pretty sure that I will be okay, nothing is really wrong with me, and I'm just taking a long time to recover for whatever reason. She just wants to be sure.

The doctor's assistant made my appointment for me and got me all squared away. I really appreciate this doctor, I just feel like I've been in a pain in the butt patient.

Anyways, I'm still only partially released, still not okay to really drive too much. I went to work this afternoon, and will be working half days this week. I did okay at work, but now I'm really, really tired. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I'm finally starting to be able to read and watch TV! Right before this whole thing happened, I ordered some books...and I got them the day I fell. I haven't been able to read them and I have been super excited about them so I'm stoked that I'm able to start!

Book 1: I Thought It was Just Me (But It Isn't), Brené Brown
Basically, it's about shame. And as I've said several times, I'm not so great at actually talking about my shame. But this story was just great as far as right now. Also, today I learned I had a chance to see her speak, but didn't know it (story below)

Because I don't want to type all of it, this is a basic paraphrase (p. 74-76) and background:
Brené Brown (author) got super sick, and growing up that was an "unwanted reality". While her parents never shamed her for being sick and were empathetic towards others when they are, when they were sick, they were hard on themselves. 

"When they were sick, they toughed it out. They didn't slow down....I kept telling Steve, 'This can't be happening. I'm tough. I don't get sick.' Finally out of frustration, he lovingly held my face in his hands and said, 'Well, apparently you do get sick. And right now, you're not so tough. You're human like the rest of us. You really need to work through this--you're not going back to work for a couple of months. This is serious. You need to apply some of your own shame medicine right now.'"

"And as my experiences demonstrate, it doesn't have anything to do with what I say or how I treat others. I have to watch what I do and how I treat myself when I'm feeling sick. Being married to a compassionate physician helps. He often reminds me that 'being tough' is more about being lucky--that when illness strikes, toughness has nothing do with it. We're all vulnerable."

PS. Brené Brown spoke at the Willow Creek Summit, which is a GIANT global leadership summit, primarily for church leaders and such. Every church I've gone to talks about it, because it's giant and a big thing in church world. They broadcast it globally. One of the host churches is Church of the Resurrection, a mega church in KS, where my aunt works at and she invited me to go (it was this past Thursday and Friday), but that's when I was still feeling not super great, and I would feel guilty being there, and not at work. She didn't know the speakers, but today I was with her and she showed me her book and Brené Brown was there.  (

PPS. The whole TV thing..turns out I can, but then the next day I cannot use technology at all. And I have to take frequent breaks still. Sunday, I had to take 5 "naps" (don't sleep, just rest). So, I guess I got too excited too early.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


That's how I feel. I feel selfish. That's been one of the worst parts about all of this.

One friend is about to start her last year of college.
Two friends are about to start their last semester of college.
Many friends are about to start their first year teaching.
Two friends are about to start student teaching.
One friend is getting ready to move across the country for an internship.
Four friends are pregnant.
One friend is getting married.
Two of my friends just got married.
One friend just had a baby.
Many friends are starting brand new jobs.

What kind of friend doesn't ask about all of those events and keep up with those friends? The worst kind. That's me.

I either don't have conversations with people, or when I do, it's about me and how I'm doing.
I hate talking about myself. I hate that I have to. I hate that I'm not okay. I hate that people feel obligated to ask about me. I hate that I don't have the energy to genuinely care about anything right now. I hate how tired I am, all the time. I hate how frustrated I am. I hate how selfish I feel. I hate how lazy I feel.

I hate when people tell me to enjoy this vacation. It's not a vacation. I hate when people tell me I'll be fine. I'm not fine right now. I hate when people ask me what happened. I don't know, I fell, it was stupid.

Two friends called and I wouldn't answer their calls. I told them all I would do is complain, maybe cry, and sound selfish. They were very kind. They told me I've always been there for them. They told me it's okay to do those things.

And I'm usually really good about being careful and using things like FB wisely. Today, I made a terrible mistake and posted something about this. Who does that? I hate doing that. I hate that I did that. As someone said earlier to me, it's like I lost my filter. I've never ever been close to "losing my filter". Ever.

I don't do things out of anger or frustration. I'm logical and rational. But it's too tiresome to be logical right now. And nothing is helping.

I want to be better. I want to work. I want to care. I want to engage. I want to ask about my friends. I want to have conversations. I want to catch up and learn about people. I want to have energy. I want to be a good friend. 

Main Point: I Still Can't Work

I went to work yesterday and worked a full day. I didn't really do much of anything. I basically sat there. The only real work I did was do my July audits, which normally takes about half hour, and it took me nearly all morning (like 4 hours). I had to do a few things with family, got home, and crashed by 8pm. I slept all the way through the night.

Except I did wake up for the giant storm (10in of rain in some places).

I went to work today and told them they were right, couldn't do full day, it wore me out even from doing nothing. Just being awake. They told me to go home right away. I said no. I gave them my plan. Work half day Wednesday, come into work an hour later and leave work an hour earlier (6 hours) Thursday, and don't work Friday. They said how about you leave at 10am today and don't come back until next week if I'm doing better. My boss said, "I don't want you to have to push back school by a semester" and I said there is no way I would ever do that. I will start school. I will do what I'm supposed to do. And I will graduate on time.

I would have fought more, but I knew they were right.
I came home by 11am and was asleep within seconds. I slept for about 5 hours.

Then I got a call from my weekend job. I have to be fully released before I go back there, so I can't work there this weekend either.

So I'm out of work for at least three weeks. I may be able to go back next week. I may have to meet with the doctor again sooner than I'd like. This is a lot of income I was expecting to have and save that I'm missing out on. I'm not a real employee so I don't have any benefits. So you calculate how much money you'd be losing if you didn't work for three works, maybe four. Seven days a week. And you see how much you like it. Because it sucks. And when school starts I can't work as much.

I'm not really improving. I was just hoping I was. Now I'm just mad. I have other words to use for my emotions, but do still have enough wisdom to not write them.

I also started my period, so my emotions are raging like no other.

But I did get flowers yesterday. From one of my married couple friends. They somehow figured out my aunt's address and sent them here. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm Cleared (Sort Of)

I had my follow up appt today and I'm allowed to go back to work. Doc is a bit worried still, so I have to do half the work load and have to limit my computer screen time. I'm still not supposed to drive a lot, so doc wants me to stay in Olathe this week so my drive time is pretty minimal. (She didn't want me to drive at all, but we talked it out, and I just have to be super super super limited.) I drove about two blocks today and I was exhausted, took another nap and took some Tylenol.

I'm going to rest a bit more, get things ready, and then prepare for 45 minute drive...I have to get to Olathe somehow, so that's why. But hey, then I won't have to do that drive twice a day this week, and only twice this week.

Also, all my tests came back normal, as per usual, and so that still lives a lot of unanswered questions, and still don't know why I've been so thirty and drinking so much darn water.

If my thirst doesn't improve or my symptoms don't continue to improve, I have to go back to the doctor.
Otherwise, I still have to go back in a month to follow up again, because doc is still slightly concerned.

Hopefully next week I'll be totally normal?

My head throbs. I'm tired all the time. I'm bored of sleeping. Something is off, but every test is normal. I'm starting to get really frustrated.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Finally Home

My mom left this morning--the fact that my mom was willing to go home proves that I'm doing better! My aunt said Saturday was the first day she say remarkable improvement and I truly did seem more like myself.

Saturday, my mom, aunt, and I went to get our nails done. I about fell asleep and as soon as we got home, I took a nap. I woke up and we got my grandpa, my mom and aunt's dad, and he joined us for dinner. I was able to watch 1 1/2 hours of TV (House Hunters)! I was about ready for bed same time as Grandpa--around 8! After we took him home, I pretty much got ready for bed and went for bed.

Sunday, my aunt, cousin, and I took my mom to the airport. It was super busy and super rainy. Stood with her to get her bags checked and as far as we could with security, and then said bye. Soon as I got home, I took a nap. Woke up, had lunch, chatted...took another nap.

And then my aunt drove my car back to my house, I straightened my room a little bit, and then took another nap. I got up, had dinner, talked to my new roommate...and now I'm about ready for bed again.

I'm averaging about 2 naps/day. Get tired every 4-5 hours when I'm at home, 2-3 hours when I leave the home. My max TV time is 1 1/2 hours and max computer time on mindless things (like FB) is about 40 minutes and max computer time on blogs, news articles,  reading anything I care about, is only about 20 minutes.

Tomorrow I have my follow up doctor's appointment.

Anyways, I'm finally home. I've been in another city for the last 1 1/2 weeks. Good to be home. (And good to have a roommate finally home!)

Friday, August 2, 2013


Today was a legitimately good day, though kind of a slow start. I slept until 10:30, so basically rested from 7pm on Wednesday until 10:30am Friday. In the morning I went out for a little less than three hours and that exhausted me. I started feeling asleep at lunch and took a three hour nap. After my nap, I was able to watch thirty minutes of TV--progress!

And then was able to do dinner and did pretty well. I had to rest again for another hour or so, but then I was better. And I was able to watch an hour of TV (Friends) and maybe about thirty minutes on the computer.

With the exception of when I get really tired, my speech is almost up to par today and my typing speed is getting back up there.

I still wear out after a few hours, but I was able to concentrate a little more and be out and about for a total of like 5 hours today.

Water intake and bathroom was much lower today too!
Water: 160oz and 32 oz of Gatorade (realized I probably need to replenish all of the electrolytes)
Bathroom: 7 times

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Daily Update

Today wasn't "as good" as yesterday. As far as my speech and mobility, pretty darn good. However, I rested pretty much all day. I wasn't "perky" or "upbeat" at all and had close to zero energy. My head hurt way more today than it has. I couldn't sleep at cousin thinks it's probably because I'm bored of sleeping, which is probably true. But I also still can't be on the computer for more than thirty minutes without getting worn out, can't watch TV, can't read, or anything. So that leaves me with just laying down, eyes closed, but not sleeping all day. Meaning, I get really bored but can't do anything. At all.

I only moved from the couch to eat, maybe a total of two hours all day. Last night as soon as we got home from the doctors, I rested for a few hours, pretty much crashed as soon as we got back, around 7pm. And then awake for an hour or so around 9, and then fell asleep until 8:30am. And then just laid in bed for another four hours, moved downstairs to the couch, and laid/slept/rested until now, and I'm about to go to bed.

I was able to play two card games--I won both. And that tired me out.

I'm also keeping track of my bathroom and water intake...
Today, I drank 256oz of water and went to the bathroom 13 times.
I wasn't exerting any energy, because I literally laid down all day.

I think it's just because I had two long days in a row and I'm just not able to keep up. I usually average being awake about 5 hours before getting really tired. The last few days, I had about 9 hour days, and I couldn't do it. And so I get tired, but not necessarily sleepy. And we're afraid for me to take any kind of sedative or Tylenol PM, so that leaves me with laying down, doing nothing, but drinking and peeing. Good grief. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Power of "Me Too"

Last  night I really got to see the power of "me too, I get it". Without going into too many details, my anxiety levels last night went through the roof. I've been anxious before but never in my life have I been as anxious as I was last night. Holy goodness. It was all set off by a specific thing, but then I talked to a friend who had similar concussion symptoms and said "me too". She talked about being asked weird questions, showing pretty bad symptoms, etc.

I cannot express enough thank yous to my friend to basically saying that I was normal, I would be okay, and that it can be a really confusing, frightening, scary time. A few of my other friends who have had concussions did not really have any of the symptoms I had, and had more "normal" symptoms. So I was beyond grateful to find someone who said they also had extreme symptoms, out of it for awhile, were asked seemingly inappropriate questions, but all is okay now.

Later in the night, I started to talk much better. Less choppy, almost back to normal. This morning...

...ALMOST ALL BETTER! My speech isn't perfect yet, but it's really close. I'm still a little slow, but not like I was. I walk pretty well now, don't get as tired, but still do get pretty tired.

I had a follow up appt with a PCP today, who was awesome--loved that doctor.

I'm still not cleared to drive or work and have another appt on Monday to get checked again, but it looks like I'm well on the road to recovery and as long as I keep resting and taking it easy for the next few days, hopefully I'll be checked out on Monday and good to do. I will have to figure my schedule out to slow down a little bit, and I will still have to kind of ease back into things.

The PCP did say I showed pretty severe symptoms and she understood why people were so concerned and worried and said she is pretty sure I was just showing signs of severe concussion this past week.

I asked about my extreme thirst and frequent urination (okay, maybe TMI, but this blog has been helpful for me to track my progress) and all the other doctors didn't seem to care, but she is now testing me for DI.

I've had three blood tests, three UA, and six doctor visits in the last seven days. Goodness gracious. While everything has come back pretty normal, it's still seems to be of slight concern as to why I have had such atypical concussion symptoms and why I even fell in the first place.

So hopefully, I will just keep resting, getting better and will be cleared to resume life on Monday. For now, I have doctor's note saying I can't do much from 7/24-8/5.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Good News/Bad News

Good news: I can breathe just fine
Bad news: My nose is crooked

Good news: I do not have brain tumor
Bad news: Doc actually thought I may have had one.

Good news: I do not have MS
Bad news: Doc thought may have that too, and said may still and just takes a long time for it to show up.

Good news: All tests are normal
Bad news: No answers

Good news: Docs think I'm sort of talking normal
Bad news: I'm definitely not.

Here is story:

Today I had appointment with ENT doctor to see about my nose. My nose is a little crooked, but it's not all that bad. Since I can still breathe, there is no need for actual surgery, but for cosmetics I can have OP surgery done to straighten nose. If surgery, then would have to do that within a few days before it really starts healing. I probably won't do the surgery, since I'm still dealing with concussion and if you didn't know me and look hard, can't really tell it's crooked and only slightly.

Talked more with ENT doctor and he thought I normally talked the way I talked today. Later I told mom I was very offended he thought that. After we explained that I'm usually pretty articulate and talk pretty well, he basically sprung into action and called hospital and ordered them to do more tests.

So yes, I had to go back to ER. Again. Fourth time less than one week. By then I was getting very tired and started having slight trouble walking. Met nurses and they were pretty worried about me and said I was showing atypical symptoms and not normal for concussion. Said I should have been pretty much better as far as speech and we had to explain again that I'm not dumb and don't skip words in normal speech and pretty good communicator. They also seemed to think it could be my normal speech. They asked what was different so I said:
-I am not using contractions
-I say "um"
-I'm talking very slowly and deliberately (mom's words)
-I skip words
-I affirm a lot
So then they did MRI and CT scan and more blood and urine tests. I've also been drinking a lot of water (like 20 glasses/day) and going to bathroom a lot (almost every hour).

So again, good news, everything came back normal. Bad news, there are literally zero answers.
Why do I drink so much water? Why do I have to go to the bathroom so often? Why is my speech so off? Why did I pass out in first place? When can I start work again? When can I drive again? When will my face look normal again (I have two black eyes from swelling and bruise from broken nose)
Don't know, not even a guess for any of those questions because everything is normal.

So then doctor started asking about mental illness, and thought I was making symptoms up (not exactly sure what doc thought, but did start asking about mental illness history and then put on discharge papers undiagnosed neurological or psychological issues or something like that) which brought on anxiety...and anxiety is part of concussion symptom, so I got very anxious tonight because I felt like doctor said I have mental illness.

Doctor also asked if I did drugs, specially shrooms, after all tests normal and thought that was reason. 

Doctor also talked to me about stress and thinks that was big part of problem and I just did too much and overloaded my brain.

But I really am getting better. And my speech is improving, just still deliberate and slow, but getting much better. And even this post is better English. I think I just have bad concussion and will be better very soon. I talked with my mom and she apologized for going a bit overboard...and she calmed me down about my anxiety about doctors thinking I normally talk this way and have SPMI.

Tomorrow I have normal doctor appt and will talk more with them.

I am getting better.
My English is getting much better.
I will be okay.
This is just result of bad concussion. 


My mom is here now because she very worried, and so she can better talk to doctors. I be okay. 
I do not slur my words, no I do not. But I do miss words but my words are clear more now. Worst part is I think way I talk, but I know wrong but too work to change. 

I go to nose doctor today and tomorrow I go to normal doctor. Yesterday I was awake for very long time. I walk at airport to get my mom but after standing for like thirty minutes I got very woozy again. 

I affirm many times and say like
yes, that is very true, yes, yes so very true 
And I do not like that because I do not talk like that. I do not use contractions either, no I do not. I ask doctor tomorrow. 

Easier to type than to talk, much less work. But I do much better now. 

My aunt laughed very hard when I say I sound like 4 year old. Later in day I sound like robot. Then like English my second language.

I think I normal concussion. Yes, I normal and I responsible and I not stupid.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I do better today. I was awake for six hours. Then I got very tired. Long time awake.

I walk better and talk better but still slur words but not as bad.

Focused more today, but then get tired. I did short word search and maze on kids menu today.

My head hurts and I get anxious and sometimes get irritated but not a lot, just a little.

I took shower today and had to get more clothes to stay more nights because people still have to watch me and we don't know for how long.

Friday, July 26, 2013

ER 3x

They made me go back to ER again. Three times. No more. I will not go anymore. No no.

I now have moderate concussion not just minor.

I am tired. My face is swollen. I have very slurred speech. I often need wheelchair or someone to help me walk.

I had Dr Jeckyll Mr Hyde symtoms today because I was usually goofy they said and more fun but then it changed instantly and I became very irritable. I was very nice and then i wasn't.

I am showing classic concussion symptoms. I am tired and I am done typing this, too much work. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Health Update

I went into work today, because that's what I do. My supervisor was all upset and big boss came in and was all concerned. I took some meds, got a little loopy and pretty disoriented again. They called my aunt, called the hospital, and I had to go back to the ER.

They're pretty sure I was just reacting to the drug (Vicodin) since I wasn't used to heavy narcotics..although even after 8 hours, I was still pretty out of it. They think it was because I was concentrating too hard and are amazed I was able to drive to work. They also determined that I have a concussion. I had to have a CT scan, where I felt like I was on a roller coaster. But they said it was normal.

The nurses were very nice. This morning, I was concerned because I didn't have tennis shoes on. My colleague said that should be the least of your worries right now. But it wasn't. For the last 5 hours all I have said basically over and over is "my house is a mess". That's all I can focus on. I have to have someone watch me for awhile, including overnight.

My nose is looking really bad now, and it looks like I have two black eyes. It's getting really swollen.

I have a concussion. I have a broken nose.

But I still feel like the boy who cried wolf.