Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh, the bloggers

I went to the Front Range Bloggers Meetup on Monday night. What an engaging, talented entrepreneurial group of people. They’re out there; they’re in here; they’re making it happen. I was impressed! So, this is where the kids who were in the chess club, had science fair projects and were in the 4-H Club ended up. Good to know.

In contrast, the Boulder’s Writers Meetup was a quiet bunch. They were polite, but small talk didn’t come easily. This is where the English majors go. The two pieces we critiqued were well crafted and the comments were solid and direct; I like that. I’ll definitely go back.

So, where do I fit in? I’m a talker really. I’m a speaker. I certainly identify as a writer, but blogging is too new. I don’t know if I’m a blogger. But, I like to say the word. BL – AH – GG –ER… blaaaaaaaaaaaah…ggggggggggeeeeeeerrrrrr. Yes, it’s a good word. I like the way it feels in my mouth.


It’s a cold snowy Wednesday. Most of my patients canceled today and the others I called to reschedule. We have nearly a foot of snow at my house and we’re just at the beginning of the storm.

My writing time got off to a scattered start today. Oh, I was up, coffee made and at my laptop by 5:30 AM, but I decided to play with my emerging blogger identity. So, I used some of the strategies I learned. After prowling around the internet for over three hours, I was able to figure out how Google Analytics works, I signed on to Evernote (this seems like a good idea to track my internet prowling), and I posted a some comments on a few blogs related to brain injuries. I got a new URL in my name, which points back to this blog. I’ll design it as both a website for the book and my blog site. But for now, it’s just my blog, because… I guess… I’m a blogger now.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just coffee, words and me

I was lying in bed for about a half an hour; mentally working this one character for the book. The clock read 5:25 and Kevin leans over and whispers to me. “It’s time to get up and write.” The house is cold; we turn the heat down at night. It’s difficult to get up out of my warm cozy bed, but here I am up like a shot!

“You love this time of day, don’t you,” he continued.

“Yes, I do. It’s just coffee, words and me.”

So, here I sit, the fireplace is warming the room. I’ve just taken my first sip of coffee. The house is quiet. This alone time is heavenly. It is essential. It is my time with the creative energy that brought me back from the darkness; that sustained me when I thought there was no hope; that showed me my purpose again when there was none.

Just coffee, words and me-a fine trio of friends.

Thoughts meander in and out of my mind; some of them actually make it to a page. I resist the powerful urge to check emails and my friends on Facebook. But, I sneak over there a few times anyway.

It’s been a little over two months since I found my inspiration to work on the book, and thus blog about it. Inspiration is a funny thing. It’s there or it isn’t (I guess). I was at my friend Jeanne’s house warming party at the end of the summer and was talking about the book and the blog, and someone asked, “Is this for real, or is it just your latest, greatest obsession.” That gave me pause. Did this inspiration have sustainability? After all, I finished the first draft in January 2001 and I hadn’t touched the book again until August 2009. I doubt myself sometimes (OK, a lot). I have a busy life--the kids, Kevin, my practice/business,other family members, my friends, running, gardening, knitting, hiking, traveling and the occasional domestic chores (I wouldn’t win a house-wife of the year award). Honestly,how does one get all of this done? But, it is getting done. I write every day (well, nearly every day). I’m writing ten or more hours a week. There have been massive changes to the book. And many more changes will come.

I have a writing buddy now. We met for the first time last Friday to share our thoughts, processes and work. We’ve agreed to meet once a month.

I’ve connected with some folks in Boulder. The Boulder Writer’s Meetup Group meets on Saturday mornings. I’ll attend my first meeting this Saturday.

I’ve also heard from a friend of a friend on Facebook about a bloggers meetup group. So, I’m going to attend that also and see what the bloggers have to say.

Are these simply distractions? Maybe. Or are they useful endeavors to help me along on my journey? Hopefully.

I’ll let you know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There is a solution

I love my life! This morning is a gray cold October day. The fireplace is on. The house is still. The air outside is still. The leaves are turning. This huge Ash tree in the back yard usually turns a brilliant yellow before the leaves fall to the grown, but not this year. The brown leaves hold firmly to the branches.

I woke up with a severe headache. This doesn’t often happen anymore. It used to terrify me, because it symbolically spoke of how damaged I was. It limited me; I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. I’d feel trapped and the fear would grow and the pain would consume me. How many days I was late for work because of this, I couldn’t say. But, this morning, after 11 years of experience, when I awoke and my neck screamed and my head pounded, I lay there and breathed. I meditated. With each in-breath I imagined space at the base of my skull. I smiled inwardly. I breathed softness to the muscles around my eyes and forehead and I fell back to sleep for two hours (so my morning writing time got off to a late start). I feel fine now; still a bit of a lingering head and neck ache, but they’re tolerable.

Down in the basement in those two boxes I tucked away eight years ago that hold the draft of my book, Out of the Darkness: a remarkable story, and newspaper clippings and notepads and my memories, I found an article in The Journal of Cognitive Rehabilitation, (a publication for the therapist, family and patient) that I wrote in the May/June 1999 issue. It’s the strangest thing. It’s like some fairy tale character who awakens and realizes there had been places she’s gone and things she had done, but it was like someone’s else’s life. I have no memory of writing the article or that it laid in that box for years. I think I'll see if they're interested in an update.

It’s time for a run. Oh, and it’s the 13th of the month, so it’s a day of celebration!

No matter how big a problem you seemingly face, there is a solution. Mine today, is to focus on life, love, health and happiness. May you find yours.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

And then what happened … from Chapter 4, Tuesday

To the numbers of you who have commented and spoken to me about this blog, thank you. Your comments and kind support are very appreciated and I’m thrilled to hear that you’re enjoying it.

My intent is to actively blog about my experience with, and recovery from a traumatic brain injury, and to share selections from the “book” as I edit it (which is nearly a complete rewriting of it).

As a refresher to those who haven’t read the pages here in their entirety, this blog began in mid-August this year after a session I had with my wellness coach, Melodie Matice, who encouraged me to complete the book. I suffered a traumatic brain injury and other physical problems after an automobile accident in 1998. On October 23, 1998, I awoke from a dream of sorts with the book title, character names, chapter outlines and a voice in my head that said, “write the book.” So, I did. Two years later, I put it aside. It was an awful first draft; a cathartic self-absorbed rant really. I meant to get back to it, but was busy healing and recovering and I guess ultimately completing my own story; finishing the work that needed to be done to put humpty-dumpty back together again. In January 2001, when the book was put aside, there was no happy ending. There was no hope.

To those who have asked, the book has not yet been published, because, again, it really was just a crappy first draft. I’ve been happily writing almost every day and making massive changes. It will get published eventually, but it’s far from ready.

We last left Camryn sitting in the physical therapist's office embraced in a memory of Salvatore (blog dates: Saturday, August 29, and Friday, September 11, 2009).


“Are you Camryn?” There was kindness in his deep resonant voice.


“I’m Baxter, Baxter Stanwood. Please come in,” he turned and slowly walked into the inner offices and entered the room on the left.

As Camryn stood up to follow him, she saw that the older couple was gone and a woman with out of control gray hair was sitting in one of the chairs, her head leaning against the wall, eyes closed and mouth agape.

The room looked like a small gym with foam pads strewn around, therapy balls, free weights, benches and an exam table. Baxter sat on a large red ball and motioned for her to sit in a chair next to the desk.

“I see here from Dr. Siemens’ notes from yesterday that you had a motor vehicle accident Saturday night. That’s great that you’re in here so quickly. Tell me more about what happened.” She repeated the story for the second, but it wouldn’t most certainly be the last time.

“The headache bothers me a lot. And lights and sounds are too much. It’s like everything just got brighter and louder. Why is that?”

“How are you today?”

“I’m sore and still stiff. It feels like my head is too heavy, like my neck muscles aren’t strong enough to hold it up.”

“Have you filled the prescription for the pain medication that Dr. Siemens gave you yesterday?” he glanced down at the chart again.


“Why don’t you go ahead and do that. It’ll help. What he’s ordered in a non-narcotic medication and a muscle relaxer. One of the reasons you’re experiencing pain is that some of your muscles are tightening as a result of the jarring they received in the accident. The problems you're having with light and sound are something different.”

“Ok, I think I have that prescription,” she said as she shuffled through her purse. “I know it’s in here somewhere.”

“Well, let me know if you can’t find it,” he said softly, “and I’ll have Dr. Siemens fill out another one.”


Baxter placed the chart on the desk and gestured for her to sit on the exam table. He faced her. “Before I begin my exam, I’m going to tell you three words. Listen carefully. It’s important that you remember them. Ready?” He looked her in the eyes.

“Apple, Bicycle, Pencil,” he said slowly, “be sure to remember them.” He spent the next forty-five minutes asking her to do various maneuvers, turns and bends. He asked her to resist while he pushed down, then up on her arms, then left, right, forward and backward to her head. He periodically made notes in her chart, then asked her to do a few additional maneuvers.

He sat back down on the red ball and explained some of his findings, then referred back to the chart. “You know, it says here that Dr. Siemens thinks you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.”


“Yes, he wrote that he mentioned this to you.”


“So, what do you think of that?”

“I don’t know. I think I’m OK.”

“Dr. Siemens’ note says you got lost on the way here yesterday.”

“Oh, yes, I guess I did.”

“Doesn’t that seem a bit out of the ordinary?”

“I don’t think so, I was never at this office before.”

“How long have you lived in Boulder?”

“OK, I got lost getting here yesterday,” she said as her annoyance edged to the surface.

He stood, moved the red ball closer to her and touched her on the arm. “All I’m saying is that we see this kind of thing here in this office every day. It's just possible that the jarring effects from the impact of the accident caused a mild brain injury.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Tell me the three words I asked you to remember.” She couldn’t. She sighed.

“Think of it like this, the brain is an uncooked egg inside a hard plastic container. Now, imagine that you throw the container as hard as you possibly can against the wall. The plastic container looks fine, but the egg inside is scrambled. The soft tissue of the surface of the brain gets torn and sheared as it bangs against the hard surface of the skull. Some of the symptoms of a mild brain injury, which is sometimes called post-concussive syndrome, include headaches, confusion, short-term memory loss, slowed thinking,” he could see her agitation growing, “and a few other things.”

“You think this happened to me?”

“Yes, it’s possible. I agree with Dr. Siemens’ suggestion that you see the speech therapist and schedule an appointment with the psychologist for a neuro-psychological exam.”

“OK, I’ll think about it.”

“Great! I’ll see you Thursday at 2:00 pm.”

Camryn would grow to have a great fondness for Baxter. He lived in downtown Boulder in a renovated bungalow with his partner of twenty years. He described himself and Jim as an old married couple with their two dogs and quiet lifestyle.