Thursday, January 26, 2012

neuro side effects at work

Today I'm going to talk more about the neurological side effects of hydrocephalus and brain damage/injury in general.For more info read my last blog entry .I'm going to focus more on the ones that I've struggled with the most on how they've effected me at the different jobs I've had,hopefully in some way helping others. The ones I've struggled with the most are speech,vision,muscle strength,memory problems,balance,coordination,organization skills,keeping/breaking habits,and clumsiness.Out of these few of them have really made a impact on my work,but it's differents for everyone.I recently found out that alot of people with multi task for example but that's something I've personally never have had trouble with,it's actually something that I've been good at.

The ones out of these that I've struggled with the most while working is memory problems,organization,and not being able to keep a habit.Other than the ones listed above I've also struggled with are ataxia,the inability to focus,and also my emotions usually having to do with anger.It's hard to find info about what emotions has to with hydrocephalus online,unless it's about kids and adults dealing with emotions after or before surgery.The only reason that I know it has something to do with hydrocephalus is because of others with the condition that I've spoken to online.

The first job that I had that I really I really struggled at was Peter Piper Pizza,at least when it came to neurological side effects.Unless you live in Arizona you probably don't know what Peter Piper Pizza is.It's a Pizza chain in Arizona with a large dining room,and also a game room.Like it's main competer,Chuck E Cheese it's a place that mainly used for birthday parties,youth sports pictures,and for families with children. It was the only job I had where I couldn't focus sometimes.It would mainly be when what I was doing wouldn't keep me busy enough,and my reaction to that would usually be losing focus.At Peter Piper Pizza one of my main jobs was working the prize cabinet, which is where kids and and sometimes their parents would come trade in their tickets they had won from the games for prizes.It sounds really simple but I also had a problem keeping the toys and prizes where they belonged and they were just end up on the ground alot,and over time it would really start to pile up.This was mainly caused by my ataxia because my hands always shake so it's hard for me to do anything with my hands,and also not being to keep the habit of just picking it up each time.Something else that my ataxia caused me to struggle with was replacing the receipt tape for the ticket eater because you need to steady hand to be able to get it in correctly,I ended up having the same problem during the first several months that I worked in the produce department at my current job.A ticket eater is the machine that you feed your tickets into so it could count them and print up a reciept instead counting the tickets by hand.I also would bring the game keys often without knowing it until I got home,because I kept it in my pocket I wouldn't really think about it.

Except for my current job,my only other job was at a italian resturant where I was a busser for two years.My coordination and memory was a problem at times,for example the two years I worked there I never was able to memorize the table numbers.Also something a problem that me memory caused was trying to remember which customer I was getting something for,didn't help when they wouldn't make eye contact with me when I came back.Other than that the only other problem I had their that's worth mentioning had to do with closing.It was the closing busser's responsibility to be tipped out by the servers,write down how much I got from each server,keep that money on them and then split up the tips at the end of the night.Not only would I always forget to bring my pen to work,but I'll also forget to get change before closing,and on occasion I would lose track of money,something I've personally never been able to do well with my own money.

I've been working at my current job for 4 and a half years now,and I've been working in the produce department their for almost a year.organization,memory,ataxia,and keeping a habit.As a courtesy clerk I had trouble with the bags,they would stick togheter alot anyway but my hands didn't help either.I would also let empty bags pile up in my work area,but that was the worse of it.In Produce clerk I'm in charge of the cut fruit program which consists of fruit trays,melon slices and also "fruit cups".I've had problems making it a habit to do alot of the small things that has to do with the job like making it a habit to fill out my melon log.Another problem I've had is to remembering to let my manager know what I need for the order and once in a while that means going with out some supplies or getting it from another store.This is also my first job where I know what's causing these problems so it's alot easier to work on getting better,and I know I can overcome these obstacles like I've done or at least worked on for many others.

I plan to continue talking about this subject next week,but more about how it's affected other parts of my life.Thanks for reading :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

neurological side effects of brain surgery and injury

Today I'm going to talk about neurological side effects to hydrocephalus or brain injury and surgery in general.Info on some of them can easily be found online,but others not so much.The ones I have no sources for are ones that I've always struggled with and I've met or known of other people who have hydrocephalus,or had brain surgery for another reason.I'm also going to talk some about how they effected my life either in school  hoping to help others in the same situation.I've discovered that alot of these side effects are easier to deal with and overcome when you know exactly what your dealing with and why,instead of just being confused.

Some of the ones that can easily be found online are memory problems,balance and coordination problems.Others that happen when certain parts of the brain are damaged during surgery are speech,vision and muscle strength.Then there are more severe side effects like nerve damage,paralysis,clinical depression and seizures.At time other brain surgery or injury can cause different neurological disorders (hydrocephalus,epilepsy,and chiari malformation just to name a few).Other side effects that are hard to find online are problems with organization,keeping and breaking habits,clumsiness and not being able to focus.

Out of thesen the ones I've personally struggled with are speech,vision,muscle strength,memory problems,balance,coordination,organization skills,keeping/breaking habits,and clumsiness.For me though speech,muscle strength,and clumsiness all has to do with ataxia.Balance and coordination at least seemed to only have little effect at school or work,only in smaller situations like when I attemped to learn how to ride a bike or when climbing stairs.However with the others at school  they've gone from being a bunch of small problems to one big problem.For example my organization problem and my inability to keep a habit made me struggle to keep my backpack organized and the result of that was a bunch of homework assignments in the bottom of my backpack and crumpled to the point to where it was ruined.My memory didn't help either because by the time I would get home not only was I not able to develop the habit of doing my homework,but I would have forgotten what I was supposed to do.Another way my memory affected my school work is that it made me struggle to be able to study or even read a textbook.My inability to keep a habit caused me to struggle to keep up with some homework assignments that included a daily activity.

I'm going to continue to talk about this subject on Thursday.I'm going to focus more on how it's affected me at work,and hopefully I'll be able to find more info on other side effects before then.Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Speech therapy and Adaptive P.E

This week I want to talk about the benefits of preschool and going to a public/private school.As I mentioned earlier before I started school I couldn't speak,although I had figured out how to use "sign language",not asl but it was a that I could  communicate with my parents and sister.The problem was noone else knew what I meant,and it wasn't going help me in life at all.After being enrolled in a government paid I went from not knowing how to speak and "signing" to no longer using that method and getting started on a 10 year program to get myself to a point where people can usually understand me,and something that was only stopped because I was given a option to stay in it or not.I decided to get out of so I could stay in my classes,but that's something I regret.They also did alot when it came to helping me to be able to use my hands,something I've always and probably always will struggle with.Not only did they worked with this problem at school but they also recommended presents to my parents around christmas time,toys that would help me be able to develop my motor skills when it came to my hands (for example,legos and mr.potato head).

In elementary school I continued getting speech therapy until high school when it was also getting in my way of classes.Among other things they took me out of class for,most I can't remember what for I was in Adaptive P.E for a few years started in the 5th grade.This program is used to catch up "disabled" kids to the point where they'll be able to keep up with other kids the regular P.E class.Several placement options are available for adaptive P.E that include but isn't limited to a seperate class for kids who need it, general P.E with a younger class, in a small group or one on one,or at home.The method the school district I did was one on one or with a group of two or three kids.I'm thankful that they did it this way because any other way would have been embarrassing for me then and thinking about it later.My adaptive P.E teacher not only taught me alot of skills that I still use,but he was also a big part in helping me learn to tie my shoes,if it wasn't for him I would have gone into middle school without knowing how.I also remember how he treated me,in a way where he treated me like I was a normal kid,that's something that didn't happen much and even worse it's something that happens even less now.

Below are links to the preschool I that helped me,and have been helping other low-income kids and many with special needs for 50 years.There's also a links for a better explanation of the programs I was in.Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I've decided that I'll be posting on Mondays and Thursdays on a regular basis.Thursday because it's usually my day off and Monday because it's about half way through my work week and I already know I won't be able to post during the weekend. However sense I have to post them from the library for right now I won't be able to post on bank holidays,but I'll let everyone know ahead of time.

Today I want to talk what has affected me the most,as least when it comes in hydrocephalus.It has affected how people see me more than anything,and sometimes it's affected how I function.It's also the main thing that caused me to take longer to learn things that other kids were able to learn alot earlier.It's also something that my parents were never told about when I growing up,causing them to wonder if it could be because of how long it took them to diagnose me or if it was something worse.

My topic for today is ataxia,which means "lack of order".It's a neurological symptom that usually stops after treatment (shunt placement or ETV for Hydrocephalus).However along with other symptoms it's not something that always goes away. It causes the nervous system to not work properly,and that results in a lack of Motor coordination.This may have been part of the reasons why I couldn't even hold myself up until my shunt was placed,but I know it has to do with alot other problems I have or had. I couldn't even speak until I was in preschool and it took years of hard work before I even got to the point where people could understand me,which is really disappointing now because of the chronic headache and daily migraines during the last couple years because my ability to speak is back to being worse as it was when I was about 10.So after all that hard work I'm back to the point where people can't understand what I'm saying.It also has affected my hands,to the point where I couldn't open door knobs as a kid,and that's something else that I've started to struggle with that again.It caused me to not be able to tie my own shoes until the fifth grade,something I was really ashamed of.The last thing it really impacted me as a kid was getting potty trained.I caught on while I was still young but it was after elementary,and it ended up being one of the things that started years of constant bullying.

Ataxia caused my hands to shake constantly started when I was about 8 or 9 something that was thought to be caused by early signs of Parkinson's,something that I'm very thankful that it's not.It was also thought to be caused by being hyper,I've always been borderline adhd.I was diagnosed in elementary school but I was tested again my senior year and found out that I don't have it.Something else that I thought that I had caused it was my late diagnosis,and that caused me to be angry with the doctors that had told my parents that I didn't have hydrocephalus,and that there was nothing was wrong me.I'll never know if ataxia would have affected me differently or if at all if I would have been diagnosed earlier but it's also something that I'll rather now know,thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I've had a interest in writing since the third grade.I remember the teacher who got me interested,and how he did it too.When I entered that grade I was always trying to get out of it by writing in ridiculously large letters.But a project having to do with the children's book "wayside school is falling down" changed that for me.He had us each write a short story about our fellow classmates.After until I finished high school I liked to write short stories.Some were for classes but most were for my fellow classmates.After high school that all stopped,and I don't remember why.Before Myspace wen't downhill I would blog on there but that stopped a few years ago.Yesterday a good friend told me that he had seen what I've written on facebook lately and that I have wasted talent.He encouraged me to use it,and to write a book.I'm not ready to go far since it's something I haven't done much of in years but I am taking his advice.I've decided to start this blog and to start taking gen ed classes to get a journalism degree no matter how I'm physically doing at that point.

I knew I wasn't going to have a problem trying to think of something to write about,that's never been a problem.I just thought I was gonna think of a topic I could write about.I knew I wanted to write about my neurological condition because it's became a passion for me since I'm stuck living with and there's no cure for it,only treatment.I also know that I don't know alot about,and there are already blogs about that topic.Instead I've decided to write about how it's effected my life in almost every way.

I have Hydrocephalus,it's either something I was born with or developed as a new born.Even with the severe lack of of motor skills and almost constant high pitched screaming there was a least a couple who over and over told my parents that there was "nothing wrong me".Thankfully at 17 months a volunteer nurse at a clinic for poor families told us that I have it and refered us to a neurosurgeon,and then one of the doctors still told my parents I didn't have it.I may have problems that I may or may not have had if I would have been diagnosed but I would have been in deep trouble if I wouldn't have been diagnosed at that point.

Hydrocephalus is a build up of spinal fluid on the brain,normally the fluid is drained normally but with someone Hydrocephalus that doesn't happen.Instead a shunt is usually placed to drain it.A shunt is a silicon tube and valve that drains the fluid,it's either a "non-programmable" like mine where it's just placed and you can't make any changes but with programmables a setting is set depending on conditions that stop it from draining as fast.50% of shunts fail within the first 2 years and for some people there childhood becomes a "merry go round" of surgeries and hospital stays.For me this didn't happen and mine hasn't malfunctioned yet after 24 years..Just because that hasn't been a normal part of my life and headaches hadn't been up until the last couple years doesn't mean I have struggled.Having Hydrocephalus or a brain injury in general has caused me to struggle daily,and for a long time I was "fighting alone".There's alot of stuff my neurosurgeon didn't tell my parents,and that's something that's very common.This blog is to help people understand how it's effected me,to help others dealing with the same thing and to help me get my writing to the point where I'll be able to write a book.Thanks for reading :)

-Timothy Landry