The Red Badge Project

I attended a Red Badge Project class today.  They are writing “classes” for women veterans.  The focus is on self-expression.  I was anxious but chose to stretch my limits and go anyway.  It was a new environment.  Fortunately two friends were there also.  That helped me feel more comfortable.  I was also concerned about critique.  Although I share my blog, my writing is for me.  I don’t worry about impressing anyone or being perfect.  No criticism. The other attendess gave feedback about how the writing touched them and what they enjoyed.  Yet, we could still touch on sensitive topics if we wanted.

One of the exercises that we did was to write one continuous sentence.  One gigantic run on sentence.  I found it diffult not to use ending punctuation.  We were allowed to use commas, colons, semicolons, and dashes.  I want to share my long run one sentence.   The topic is my paretner.  The one who doesn’t exist.  My writing turned into free thought, tangetical exploration of relationships and independence.  

Romance is overrated; pressure to marry and have children- Mom really wants grandkids, talk to my brother and sister,  they’re married: no one had children, deal with granddogs, grandcats, and grandferrets- no one should be pressured into having kids: relationships are risky and confining- there is freedom in being alone- I can do things I wouldn’t be able to: I have my own destiny but I am not selfish- I help others, I honor obligations, I treat others with respect and am supportive but still, maybe I should have gotten married- religion and society demands it- why can’t I feel free from who I am supposed to be and what I should do; so I rescue those who were thrown away and are misunderstood by people but ferrets are intelligent and hilarious and they are crazy wild but yet domesticated, I understand: they depend on me -and I wonder who rescues who- Brighid was a young kitten, another castaway; I’m adrift too and she chose me and I chose her- two lost souls and I wonder who needs a partner when the ferrets and cat provide the unlimited, non-judgmental, simple love and trust that people never do but still, I have to wonder why there is so much judgment on different because everyone is- yet, here we are, all grouped together, marching toward something but nothing; society’s expectations: hide being different – because different is dangerous-  yet  I still can’t change who I am; I can’t lie to myself anymore but still I hide the truth from others behind a mask of normal to just be another lemming jumping off the cliff into insanity.

Punctuation makes a difference.  Still, the style of free writing offers a different way to communicate thoughts.  It requires patience on the part of readers.  I think it also provides more opportunities for each person to find a meaning unique to them. 

I think this style also illustrates the inner jangle of thoughts that just never shut up.  Almost everyone experiences this.  Often they are fears, self- criticism, and lists of “I need to..” or “I should…”

Really, life is a run on sentence.

Why to Learn CPR

My dad choked at dinner tonight.  He is fine now.  There are no lasting effects.

All of you know I have some…issues…with anxiety. Yeah. “Issues” sort of like the ocean has water. lolMy parents are visiting this week. It’s been hectic so my anxiety level has been overall higher. My cherished routine is changed.  Tonight we went to dinner. I was my normal, jittery self. I don’t sit still much. Part anxiety, part brain injury sensory overload.  

Long story short: my dad started choking. It was surreal. “Are you choking? Talk to me. Get up”At this point, I was helping to pull him out of the booth and up on his feet from behind him. Cleared his airway. I was calm. Like nothing was going on that was alarming. Just after his airway cleared, I stood with him, assessing airway and pulse until his coughing stopped and he was taking normally.  Even with anxiety and brain injury, I was able to perform the technique.  The training works.

After that, I sat down and went right back to being my normal, jittery self. Surreal.
If I hadn’t been trained in CPR, which includes what to do when someone is choking, the outcome may have been much different.  Dad could have ended up in the ER.  Or possibly dead.  

This may be the only time I use it.  But it most likely saved the life of a family member.

Here is a link to American Red Cross.  They provided first aid and CPR training.  There are online and in person training options.

American Red Cross CPR Training
Do it.  It can save a life.

Real Strength 

  It’s not feeling confident, calm, or hopeful in the face of adversity.  You can feel like quitting.  You can feel overwhelmed.  You may even walk away for a while or give up.  That’s life.

Real strength is continuing or returning.  You face what you fear.  Get back up when you fall.  Admit when you’re wrong.  Make amends. 

With brain injury and/or mental health issues, strength is facing every day with determination and hope it will be a good day-while recognizing it may be a day you don’t function well.  Then getting up the next day.  Strength is acknowledging you need help and getting it.   It’s taking time for self care.  It’s accepting there are days that you won’t function as well and do the best you can.  

Real Strength is recognizing your weakness and embracing it. In accepting yourself where you are, you have the chance to grow. 
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Three Goals

I went to the creative writing course at the VA today.  It’s not exactly a journaling. We have a topic we write about.  Some are more therapeutic topics than others.  Today’s topic was “three goals.”

Goals 

I have no goals; none at all

Look inside to find the call.

When there is no focused life

Heart and soul are filled with strife

Finding hope in darkness lost 

Breaking free from chains’ high cost;

Maybe I will a path find

From fear’s chasm to faith sublime.

To grow my goal is to try

To revive what inside died

To hold to the future fast

To leave behind what has passed.

———————————————————–

Goals come in all forms.  Mine are getting prepared to identity and strive after goals.  It’s funny: my goal is to have a goal.  

Brain Injury Awareness Month

On April 2, 2011, I completed a marathon, winning age group and placing 20 overall. On the 25th, my life changed forever in a roll over car accident resulting in a  TBI.  
It’s been a journey of recovery and challenge. I have reduced perioception in my feet, issues with visual depth perception and reduced peripheral vision. I had to relearn how to walk and balance. I had intense speech therapy to address aphasia and recover writing skills. The recovery therapists helped develop strategies to reduce problems with sensory overload.
Diagnosing brain injury and the residual issues was an exercise in frustration. I underwent countless tests: MRIs, CT scans, neuropsychological exam, EEG. I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder secondary to the TBI. The neurologists eventually diagnosed Diffuse Axonal Injury. 
Like many survivors, I suffer from anxiety, depression, and mood instability. My treatment team (clinical social worker, neurologist, psychatirst) and I have a solid regime to improve my life and function. Things are much better.  
Eight months after the accident, I ran again. Well, shuffled was more like it. Running became my release and hope. I constantly saw improvement in endurance and speed.  I celebrated milestones such as achieving my longest run and my first road races.  Running is now my stress relief and source of peace and mindfulness.
This is Brain Injury Awareness Month. I am a brain injury survivor. This month I celebrate being a survivor and what I have overcome. April 1, 2017, I meet a new milestone: my first marathon post brain injury.  

Brain Injury Awarness Month

I am a brain injury survivor.  It has changed my entire life.  

Many brain injuries are avoidable with precautions.  The severity of injury can also be reduced.

Every brain injury damages the brain.  Most people recover fully but many are left with long term, possibibly life long, disability,   ranging from mild to severe.  I experience speech aphasia, difficulties filtering sensory input, seizures, loss of endurance, depression, and anxiety.  They cost me my career and many of my hobbies. I still work on rehabilitation and hope to return to work in the future.

To learn more, visit Brain Injury Association of America

Determination

Some days, nothing goes right.  Staying with it is determination and discipline.  No matter if the challenge is a run where everything is going wrong or struggles with life, keep moving.

 There are times hat I just want to give up when the depression and PTSD are doing their worst.  In the past I found that getting back into the race seems so much harder than keeping moving, no matter how difficult, painful, or frustrating it can be.  

Discipline and determination.

It remains to be seen if the marathon will go well… or not.
——————

Long Run

A bad rehearsal is said

Should not fill one with cold dread

The concert will go just fine

The Planets will all align

I hope the same concept holds 

For marathons sevenfold 
The forecast called for bright sun
A warm balmy day for one

Fluffy cotton clouds above

Early spring; a day to love
But it rained with icy sleet

My clothes did not demand meet 

I froze my toes, feet and hands 

This was not what I had planned.
We stopped for rocks in our shoes

Then one had to number two

A shoelace came untied twice

A water flask did drop thrice
Walking by a person called

Into bushes I did fall

Woonnnk! A car’s horn was blasting

Balance was not long lasting 
I wasn’t hurt. Not really

Do I need stitches on knee?

I have scrapes and bruises too

But no blood on my new shoes!
Twenty two long miles of jinx

Now shaking out hamstrings kinks

It truly sucked but is done

The final long pre race run.