Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sleep, sleep, sleep

Okay, we all know sleep. There is not a person who can read this who has not experienced sleep in one form or another. I have been very lucky with my experiences. In fact, the sleep I experience is the perfect "Soldier's sleep" that can ever be had. I'll explain:

My wife used to think I slept like a log. No matter what was going on around me I would stay in a nice deep restful sleep. She even has a funny story about how nice and deep it could be. In the beginning of our dating life we were sleep on my bed in the middle of the day. The phone rang (I had a headset cordless at the time) and I answered it. I slipped the headset onto my head and proceeded to take the call. It was a call from a survey seeker and I was willing to do the survey however I warned them that I was still asleep. They thanked me, we think, and hung up. I hung up and went back to sleep. When I woke up later my wife asked me about the phone call and I responded "what phone call?"

Apparently she woke up enough to watch me taking the call, listen to me during the call, and watch me go back to sleep. While I have no memory, ever, of the phone call of any kind. Even before my accident - No memory of the call ever existing. So I'm sure you can see where my wife thought that I was just a log that slept there, no thought. Nothing, just plunk and <sniffle> >snore< <sniffle>.

She has had no experience with the military and little close in experience with military men. So she had no way of knowing that she was right and that she was very very wrong. This story does end well mind you but she does not realize the times it could have ended very badly. Horribly even.

My wife's realization that I wasn't a sleeping log took a couple of years. She was spoiled in habit even. She could use her hair dryer without consideration. She could even run the vacuum in the bedroom wherever. She even, a few times, use the vacuum nozzle right on me without any reaction from me. However one time she did something that got her shocked and scared. Sadly, not scared enough but on that later.

We had plants in our bedroom. My wife has a house green-thumb. She feels that a house needs a few plants inside it though she dreads pruning with a passion. She can't bring herself to do what needs to be done. So one time, after many years of marriage and audio abusing of her husband, she decided to water the plants while I am asleep. She gathers the water pot, fills it up, and heads into the bedroom. She starts to pour the water and then something so shocking happens that she drops the water pot entirely. When she catches her breath she then answers my question, which I will not stop demanding an answer to, I then lay back down and go back to sleep.

Later on, my wife being the gentle pushover the she is (NOT) demands to know what the hell happened? Why didn't I stay asleep like always. When I give her the answer she then remembers many examples during our engagement, our life together, and our marriage that the same thing happened just not as clearly defined as this one instance.

I will sleep through anything EXCEPT what is not supposed to be there. If my cat goes up on me, expected. If my wife runs the hair dryer, expected. If one of my nieces or nephews pulls on my arm, expected. If a niece or nephew exclaims in surprise or pain, UNEXPECTED. If there is a strange sound from one of our doors, UNEXPECTED. Pouring, or running, water while I am in bed, VERY VERY UNEXPECTED.

When the unexpected happens I wake instantaneously. I wake almost fully in action, ready for anything that might be occurring. Fully functional but not quite cognizant just yet. That takes a minute or two to happen however by that time I will have handle or responded to the situation in appropriate manner. If I can then go back to sleep, I will, and if not, I won't. This is Soldier's sleep.

The military tries to develop it in Soldier's during basic training. They instill it during service. And they call on it ..... whenever it is needed.

Sounds great doesn't it? It is not. In fact, it is very frightening to those who have it and in my case I had it naturally without the Military having to do anything. When I say perfect Soldier's sleep I mean perfect. It has been in me since childhood. It helped me survive a sometimes violent bi-polar mother. It helped me survive the unforgiving streets of North Philadelphia. It let me sail through basic training with perfect rest never being tired no matter what the Drill Sergeants threw at us. And let me tell you, they really tried to break me but without any effect. In my basic class, I was the only soldier who always laughed at what the Drills tried. In fact, it took a Drill Sergeant to accidentally knock me unconscious for them to learn their lesson and leave off.

During an inspection of the barracks I did not notice that the Drill who finished and made the appearance of leaving did not. I thought it was just me in the room. I expressed my self frustration by lifting my foot and using it to close the drawers while at the same time expressing a verbal grimace. Unbeknownst to me this was seen by the Drill in question. He demonstrated what a foot can be used for.... he reached forward with a yell and kicked to locker door closed. The locker door that by visual inspection, from that angle, that I was not behind. However I was partially behind that door indeed.

The blow took me by complete surprise. The towel bar attachment struck me fully in the middle of my tall back and made me collapse. My head hit the other door in the process so for a brief, very brief moment, I was unconscious. Only during my fall though. By time my knees could they caught me. At that time, the Drill rushed forward to catch me realizing in horror what was going on. (This is where the perfection goes astray.)

Coming to, being out for a fraction of a second, I catch myself from falling. I then feel a body pushing in on me from behind. A body pushing in very quickly... with force attached... so I curled in ever so slightly and performed one athletic feat my father (an old golden gloves) taught me and had me practice again and again. An uppercut. One that I executed upon a closing target who had no defenses raised. One that almost connected fully on the face of that Drill until, just before there was skin contact, I realize what I was doing and threw off my aim.

I missed the Drill.

But I came close enough that his look of worry, shock, and ultimate surprise was on his face for almost a full minute. Then Drill Sergeant training kicked in and his composure was regained again. After verbally reaming me up and down he stomped out of the room informing that I would stand at parade rest waiting for him at his office. Once he marched me, later on, into the Drill's office he relaxed a bit, all the while I am still at parade rest sweating my eventual termination as a Soldier. He then chuckled and asked me if I was physically well. Once that was determined he started laughing at instructed me to sit down.

Long story short, he became my best friend in my military service.

Ah, the point, the dreadful side effect of my perfect Soldier's sleep. The thing my wife doesn't know and if she did she might not be my wife in the future. As, sadly, my wife has a very bad habit. She is a little more free with her hand upon my body than is wise. Granted it is on the level of childhood schoolyard "I like him notice me" kind of physical contact. In fact, I love it and encourage it however there is a problem. She, without realizing the flaw, does it to wake me up as well.

This is where the problem lies. If awoken by UNEXPECTED physical contact my initial thought processes are "handle the situation". That can mean take out the target. Take out the target before I am cognizant enough to determine the target or, more importantly, the validity of the target. We've all heard stories about the accidental late night shooting. Where a wife inadvertently kills her husband with a gun. The horror I have is.... I don't need a gun to kill someone. I just need one hot moment and >boom< there your remains lay.

Now, this has not been a real major problem. Sometimes my instincts are triggered, yes, but never to the point of my cognition failing the situation. I am, or was, mentally sharp at any hour of any day. However, I am no longer as sharp. I have scared myself once, truly deep to my core in my soul scared, with this ability and I do not know yet how to avoid it.

I sometimes have seizures. My brain can only handle so much before it shuts down. I am learning how to fight this because of my fear. Because one time I seized, my wife brought me around from my unresponsive non-communicative state earlier than my brain was prepared for. While this may seem like good news, "How'd she accomplish what emergency medical people have not accomplished?", it is not. Her success makes her think she has the answer but unbeknownst to her she's playing Russian roulette.

Her secret technique is: To haul back and slap the shit out of me.

The one time she's done this, which she is proud to describe, I almost killed her. In fact, just describing this right now is making my brain want to shutdown but she is home and Icant letthathappen nomatterwaht. Shedoesnot realizethatI identified her as a target to be hanndlededat that tme andlmost handledher. I can't letthat happen as Iamnot suicidial. inadvertatnly killing my wife issuicidial as Iwont, I can't live without her. She is truly my soul, she is as much my savior as the Lord Christ is. I can nomore hurt Christ than I can my wife. Thatwould be killing myselfand i am not suicidial.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

One of the Flaws of TBI... ...

Today I put in a vigorous day. I set up a new Neurologist, who is so busy that I won't be seen until the end of August. Also drove a rental truck down to the Restore where I could pick up some furniture I bought. Along this way I thought I saw something wrong. Saw it, captured part of it with my camera and become very proactive on the issue. Never you mind that I was so wrong on my interpretation of matters as to embarrass not just myself but a honorable man.

When you can work your mind around details you get so invigorated by being able to do so. So invigorated that you follow through... seeming almost impulsive. Which is misleading because what I did today I would have done even before my accident. One does not need TBI to successfully put one's foot deep in mouth. TBI does help to ensure your success however.

That is the flaw: seeing something so clearly that it blocks out potential other explanations. Not so much a locked focus that you won't shake in the face of naysayers, No. But a surprisingly limited focus that doesn't allow for alternatives to formulate.

It is so hard to feel you are right about something while at the same time keeping an honest distrust of your judgement faculties.

People who have known me for many years are used to my sometimes mistakes. Now they have to open their minds to my "sometimes" become a bit more regular. Not that I want to, oh God no I don't want to be so mistaken, however I have to accept, and understand, that I most definitely will never again be so sure of anything that I have to be a summarily different person than that who I was.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

People often misunderstand to power of the internet. Because a few jerks, and companies, have used the internet in nefarious, or frivolous, means people either discard internet actions or fear them. Little do they understand the healing power of the internet. In equal measure the internet can possibly hurt our lives but only with annoyance. Great annoyance, no doubt, but truly nothing more than bookkeeping annoyance.

However the healing.... Great healing that can bring forth much. As great healing does.

As an example of this I was introduced to David. Though both of us are cyclists in the same state we did not know each other. To be honest, we probably would not have met each other at all in the normal course of things. He was... correction.... is an endurance cyclist. Me? I'm just a fat ass getting smaller by using a bicycle.

We commonly did the same amount of miles but we moved in different circles. His was a circle of athletically motivated tiny butts and mine was a circle of not so physically motivated computer geek butts. What connects us, at all, is two things: The internet and our brain injury.

Now, just because we have so many similarities we are still very different in what we have to experience. I have zero memory of my accident, it is wiped totally clean from my mind. The struggle I have is with such a huge gap that exists in my mind. I go through fears of "what else" am I not remembering and am I not remembering something right in front of my car while I am driving. These troubles are almost paralyzing. Almost....

David remembers a lot more of his accident. He struggles with PTSD over it. I am spared PTSD over my accident but probably because Desert Storm filled my PTSD tank to the top. I have never thought that my military experience was a direct help to my TBI struggles but apparently it is.... interesting that.

But, back to the internet, using it I have been surrounded by my computer geeks friends (via Skype) who have made themselves available at any hour to talk with me. They even once came together to visit my body in the hospital and give my wife support during that visit. Via email and facebook, I am touched by so many people in so many countries. (My previous activities involved a lot of countries peripherally.) And now....... I have found a brother.

Another brother to line up beside my 5 siblings, and my good friends, and my Krempels mates, and my Masonic brothers, and my church family.........

Before this accident I appreciated the people in my life, yes, but I had no idea of how many lives I touched. But from them touching me back I now know.

Welcome to the pack David.

Go ahead, lead it, show us how it is done. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

On Facebook a fine creative woman, who is nowhere near my country, discovered this mind awakening picture. A picture that is impressive in laying out my, and many other people's, daily decision process. Or at least it should be everyone's reasonable mental attitude.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I am at this moment trying to think of how to greet you. There are many ways to do it, of course, but what do I want to hang my hat on? Considering the nature of TBI that is a serious question indeed.

Okay, I have found out much about how I used to be from my old internet activity. So I guess that the first person I am writing to is not you, some random anonymous visitor, but is to me. Not the me who is writing this right now but to the me who finds this in the future. See, you may not remember writing this, at all. So this is a note to the future me who I hope is living well and without pain, who has slowly traveled forward in time at a rate of one second per one second, who is reading this trying to figure out what this crazy man is writing on this web page.

That is the problem with TBI. It only affects one kind of person, those who are living. But living with it is not easy. There are memory issues, cognition issues, process issues, and major confidence issues. After all, what piece of personal body do you use to make decisions? If it is faulty do you still use the same piece?

That is where TBI strikes the hardest. You learn to doubt your biggest supporter and your best friend all in one action. You learn to not trust yourself very much, if at all. And that is the most heinous injury of all of them. When you yourself becomes your most hated enemy, then you have work in front of you.