Tag Archives: head injury

Where’s Penny Been?

**Long Post Alert** I thank you now for indulging me as I answer the question, “Where’s Penny Been?”

Coming up with a focus word for 2019 was a big challenge. Before I found a word I had to do some soul searching…

…I’ve been absent for a while now. Life became overwhelming and I finally stopped most everything for a bit. I took a few months off to rest and regroup. I stopped participating in anything that wasn’t necessary for me and my spirit. A new year can be a fresh start. I just had to figure out what I needed to restart.

You may or may not know that I have two direct sales businesses as well as a virtual assistant gig. All three are part time while I work a full time job in the retail industry, which quite honestly, is kicking my ass. Having to be on the sales floor two days a week (sometimes more) as a “sales person” is doing me in physically and emotionally. I hate it. It’s a necessary evil so I can enjoy the other part of my job.

The VA work I do has grown to a 10-15 hour a week gig. Add that to a 40 hour a week job and that’s a lot of hours worked. Add to that working two direct sales businesses and that balance thing becomes tricky.

I learned in August that I had let my drivers license lapse, and it took four frustrating months to get the paperwork I I needed to renew it. A stupid accident threw me into a tailspin, and the whole thing was kind of the final straw for me.

Friday, January 11 marked the three year anniversary of my fall from the ladder. If you don’t know the story, I fell from the top of a six foot ladder, through some metal shelving, landing on the cement floor of my garage. My head literally fell 11 feet. Miraculously, I was able to get up off the floor and seek help. My head injury was mis-diagnosed and I spent the next two years recovering. My doc says that I’m actually still recovering, which I can’t wrap my head around.

Life changed in a big way that day.

If you touch my head in the right place, you can feel the now healed skull fracture. I am still afraid to put my head directly on a pillow. I still sleep at an incline with a pillow behind my neck to protect that spot from touching anything. I still feel the tingling in that area now and then, which I’m told is the blood flowing through the uneven area under my skull. I named that sensation Herman, as when it happens, I know it’s going to be a hard day. That damn Herman, messing with my head!

Some days I battle between how things are now and how things used to be. It’s difficult to describe, as the “changes” appear somewhat subtle on the outside looking in.

You can’t see that I can no longer tolerate my beloved spicy food. There is absolutely no medical reason for that. My doctor says it’s a coincidence. But since that day, my body no longer tolerates hot peppers, sriracha, and any form of heavy, spicy, hot goodness. I miss it.

You don’t really notice my inability to multitask as I used to. I will ask you now and then to hold a thought while I try to finish something. Other times you may see me staring at nothing, trying to complete my thought. I still lose my words, but not as often. I keep a lot of notes in notepads, scratch paper and an online to-do list program I found. It’s taken three years, but I finally have a system that works for me.

Most importantly I think, I lost my confidence and I haven’t regained it. I’m not quite the same person I used to be. That bothers me. A lot.

I’m battling lower back pain more and more, and I’ve developed plantar facialitis, both of which leave me drained at the end of the day when they are bad. I am pushing through it. I will happily take a migraine any day of the week than deal with that pain. This makes exercise a challenge, and I finally gave up. Now it’s a catch 22. I need to get back at it, as doing nothing is…doing nothing for me.

2016 also brought the passing of the parental units. I still hold much anger and resentment where they are concerned, though I don’t yell at them as often as I did. The mother’s passing was pure selfishness. The acts of her sister, unforgivable. I try not to let the anger surface too much. I am angry for myself and my brother. We were shortchanged, and I’m thankful we both have people in our lives to help fill that void a bit.

I’ve learned a great deal the last three years about my “other family”, the one I was not allowed to know. Of how the parents went to extremes to ensure no contact, and what I call the miracle of them pulling it off when we lived in a small town. My biological father lived less than seven miles away most of my life. He was best kept secret ever! I’m still amazed that people simply went along with it, never revealing the truth.

It was mostly the mother’s doing, but the father was not blind to what was being done and he supported her in the great cover-up. Choices were made, lives manipulated, lies told. I truly wish I’d known the truth of it decades sooner. I was so blind. That makes me angry.

I recently saw a photo of the grandparents I never met holding me as a baby, the bio father I never knew in the background. It took the wind out of my sails. The people I had heard about were real. They didn’t look like the monsters I was told they were (over and over and over.) They didn’t look like people I should have feared. They were simply…human beings who were also hurt in the crazy that was the mother. It’s a tough pill to swallow. I’m grateful for an incredibly patient aunt who answers my questions while never saying an unkind word about the parents. She’s helped me fill in many blanks. Maybe one day I will meet more of them. Maybe not. It’s not easy.

I began using a human growth hormone gel about four months ago. I got on an antidepressant around September because my doctor and I decided it couldn’t hurt the exhaustion and edginess I was experiencing. I am feeling “better” these days. That edge is gone. I am calmer, I don’t get my feathers ruffled as easily as I did, and I feel my mood is much more even.

I had no idea how the HGH was helping until I stopped using it. It’s expensive, so I slowed down the use then kinda stopped. But damn! I was SLEEPING at night, and there were other things it was doing for me that complimented the other. The two together had me experiencing a calm I’ve never known. As I lay here on the middle of the night writing this, I miss the sleep part. Yes, I’m “back on the gel” (sounds funny, huh?)

If you can’t yet tell, I’ve been overwhelmed for a while and spinning. What I need to do is find my balance again, as well as my confidence. Develop a plan. Decide what I want out of my businesses and choose a path that I can grow with. Get that balance back. Grow my confidence. Disassemble what’s not working and rebuild.

I enjoy the products I sell. I have struggled with some of the internal things associated with the companies, but I keep those feelings separate. The products are amazing.

I have decided I need to build a business strategy this year and work it. There’s great potential there if I can simply get past all of this. Where will that lead? I don’t know. Will I still have three side gigs this time next year? No idea.

So, what word did I choose?

Metanoia. The journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life.

It’s a word I stumbled upon a few years back. I’ve kept it tucked away, and after weeks of struggling to find the right word or phrase, I stumbled upon it again.

It’s fitting. I need to be consistent, find balance, be brave. In doing so, the other things will fall into place and my path will come into focus.

Yearly Doctor Visit

1) Vitamin D practically non-existent. He wants me on 5,000 IU a day. I stopped to buy some and was horrified at the ingredients list! Many had oil!! Olive and safflower were the oils of choice. Why?? I finally found one that was oil free, didn’t have a lot of crap in it, and was vegan. Not an easy feat! He told me that being low is contributing to my overall exhaustion and brain fog issues. And I was blaming the brain injury ha ha!

B) Cholesterol a tad higher than he’d like. It’s actually been higher. The fascinating part? It is right in line with where it’s been for five years…four of which I was plant-based! About 80% oil free to boot. He said that some people simply create cholesterol, and he believes I am one of them. He wants me to start exercising to avoid meds. (I love that he tried to avoid meds!)

3) Thyroid appears to have reversed itself. How do we know? I’ve been off meds for two months and the test was so normal it’s crazy. He was perplexed. Why?? Well, all we can figure at this point is that I’m 50 and my body is changing. I also added meat and fats back into my diet last year. We have no idea if that had any impact, but the Autoummune Protocol calls for both, which suggests their may be a correlation. Fascinating. We will retest in a few months. 

D) Herman is here to stay. That bumps on my head are remnants of a skull fracture. Herman will continue to act up, and the doctor considers me still in recovery. The swelling didn’t subside completely until November. He said that’s normal, and I probably still have a little swelling going on that I just can’t feel. We talked about the issues – brain fog, struggling for words, inability to multi-task – and he had the bear be to suggest some of that is age! I told him to shut up. We laughed. He said I feel Herman when the blood flow increases in my brain. The fracture area is no longer flat, so there is less room for the blood to flow. Facinating. 

5) He wants me to start walking again, slowly, not to overdo it. A few days a week, 15-20 minutes to start. He said not to over-exert myself, and to listen to Herman. 

6) Potassium is at the bottom of the normal scale. Considering I’ve had three scary potassium crashes over the years, I need to eat more mushrooms, broccoli and bananas to bring my potassium up. And drink coconut water. Someone also suggested dates and Brazil nuts. 

7) We discussed autoimmune. The mother’s MS, Rheumatoid, and diabetes. My brother’s diabetes. He said my sugar is good, thank goodness. He said if I had to choose an autoimmune issue, he’s glad I have a wacky thyroid. I agree. 

Apparently I will live another year. Pretty good news really! 

Life is a Choice…Just Choose

Something amazing happens when you fall off a ladder. It can go one of two ways:

  1. You give into fear and it doesn’t end so well. 
  2. You choose to fight and you end up living.

As I felt the ladder fall out from under me, I knew I had to protect my head from hitting the cement at all costs. I didn’t want my best friend and emergency contact to find me dead on the garage floor. Yes, that was the thought process. 

I don’t remember much else. I don’t remember hitting the heavy duty metal shelving, which miraculously broke my fall and saved my life. I don’t remember hitting the ground. I don’t think I lost conciousness, but I’m not positive. 

I do remember laying there, with my head tucked forward, realizing I was alive. I had not hit my head in the cement. I got up, assessed for injuries, and called my boss to tell her I’d be late. I didn’t realize until later that my head had crashed into the shelving. 

It took about a week to realize, I could easily be dead. People fall off ladders and die. I had not. I had instinctively chosen to fight and to live. I am still amazed. I have always heard how the fight or flight thing works. I’d never experienced it. 

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this. The whole experience has been life changing. Being forced to slow down has been a good thing. Doing one thing at a time has brought me a bit of focus. I no longer take anything for granted. I seem to say, “Life is too short…” at least once a day. 

Life can change on a dime. The life we live is a choice. We are responsible for our own life experience. Personal responsibility. 

I have chosen to be positive. I have chosen to find something to be thankful for every day. I have chosen to live with intention. Purpose. To make a positive difference. 

As I was going through this metamorphosis, my mother was choosing to stop fighting. Stop living. Her passing has only solidified my choices. We all make choices. 

I choose life. It may not always be easy. It may not always be fun and exciting. But it’s my life, and I am the navigator. 

Derailed…

When last we met, I was recovering from a fall from a ladder.  A few…developments, yes, we shall call them developments, have taken place since them…

  1. I joined a Direct Sales company.  If anyone had told me a year ago I would be in Direct Sales, I would have laughed at them.  What can I say?  Everything clicked.
  2. I turned 50, with zero fanfare. In fact, I had the flu and was pretty darn miserable.  Every plan I had was cancelled due to the ankle and head situation.  Then I got sick.  I will celebrate next year!
  3. I discovered I was mis-diagnosed, and had a pretty significant concussion.  Significant.  Concussion.  My doc was pretty horrified.
  4. My mother died. It’s ok. She’s in a much better place and is happy and at peace for the first time in years.
  5. I was forced to slow down and reassess my entire life – how I live, what I do,  my daily activities, what is important, what is not – there has been a big shift.

Let’s start with the head injury.  It’s been four months and twenty days.  I still have a lump  and swelling on my head.  I can no longer multi-task.  I am unable to lift anything more than about seven pounds without “feeling it”.  I forget my words from time time to time.  I tired easily.  Headaches are more frequent.  I become extremely anxious when I see anyone on a ladder.  I am now terrified of ladders.  Stressful situation trigger issues.  I have been forced to slow down, as I can not manage well with a lot of physical or mental exertion.  I mean WAY down.  Life is different.  It has shifted.

I am beginning to see small improvements.  They can not happen fast enough for me.  I’m told it could be a year before I’m “normal” again.  Normal.  What is that?  Do I really want to be who I was before the ladder incident?  Hmmmm.  I kind of like new me.

I named my concussion Herman.  I visualize him as one of those green gremlins that got wet and was fed after midnight.  Herman and I are co-existing.  Some days he takes the lead, some days I take the lead.  Some days he’s quite obnoxious.  I work hard to not aggravate Herman.

The ankle is healed and unsteady.  It gets sore easily.  I’ve not walked since I fell because I’ve not been up to the exertion.  I plan to start soon, as I need to do one more thing to move forward.

My mother died after many years of ups and downs with her physical and mental health.  I was unable to fly, and could not go out when it all came down.  While I would have liked to be there to support my brother, Herman saw to it that I kept my feet on the ground.  She is now at peace.

Life is different.  Everything has changed.  I have modified so many things in my life and how I live it, I look back in amazement.  I have a good attitude.  I do NOT let it get me down.  I get frustrated with it sometimes, but I will win in the end. Slow and steady wins the race.

That’s the recap of the last few months.  Taking life one safe step at a time.  Managing Herman.  Embracing the new shifts.  Living each day with intention rather than just living.  Life is a gift.

Lessons learned?

Cats will find their own way down.  Do not climb a ladder to save one.

If you are moving too fast, you will fall down stairs and off of ladders.  Slow down.  Look around.  Smell the roses.

Some people want to live and fight hard to do so.  Some don’t.  You can not force someone to live who no longer wants to.

Direct Sales is actually a pretty good gig.  Don’t believe everything you hear.

Meditation helps calm me and prepare me for what the day has in store.

Not everyone gets a second chance like I did.  I am eternally grateful and don’t want to waste a minute.