Monday, July 23, 2012

Get to them before they get to you! (Guest blog by Keyt Harrington)

In the past few years a lot of attention has been given to bullies, what they do, why they do it and how to "fix" them. Unfortunately, not much attention is given to those who are bullied at the time it's happening, only when time has passed and the victim has had to spend a big portion of their life in therapy.

I spent my teens and twenties in therapy, but for various reasons. The majority of my bullies were my own family members because I wasn't the perfect child they wanted. That or whenever I was sick they thought I was faking it or looking for attention. Sure, I'm going to go up to a neurosurgeon and say "Hey, would you shave off all my hair, cut open my head and put plastic parts in it just so I can get a little attention around here?". I don't think that would work.
One time while in family therapy the doctor asked my dad why he seemed so distant to me. I'll never forget his exact words: "Because I wanted a normal child, not one that would cost me thousands of dollars to keep alive. I have better things to do with my hard earned money than that!". Yup, that's what I lived with!

Don't get me wrong, I had my bullies in school too. Not many because there's one important lesson I learned early on by having a messed up family; act like they don't bother you. You hear it a lot in discussions about bullies but it really does work! I learned some tricks by watching comedians on tv (this was long before YouTube!) and practicing in the bathroom mirror.

Here are some real examples of things that have been said to me and what I said in return:

Bully: "You're stupid!"
Me:  "At least I know I have a brain, I have pictures of it. Do have any of yours?"

Bully: "Everyone is smarter than you!" (said to me by my 12th grade English teacher!)
Me: "Oh yeah? Not everyone has a pump in their brain making it bionic!"

Bully: "What happened to your hair, did it catch on fire like Michael Jackson's?"
Me: "What happened to your face (pointing to her zits) did you fall in a rose bush?

Dealing with bullies is all about taking them by surprise. Laughing at and teasing a bully in return isn't easy but in almost every case they stopped teasing me as much or quit altogether. Of course a shy person will have a difficult time standing up to a bully in this way so a little practice with someone they know might be in order.

Most bullies act the way they do for two reasons: one is lack of knowledge. They may not understand how much it hurts the person they are attacking or, if that person is disabled they may not know why. Like with me, I don't look sick except for the times I was missing hair or had seizures in class. The other reason is they may have been bullied themselves so they strike out.
In 5th grade my teacher set up an assembly where I got up in front of the whole school with my mom and my teacher. She asked me questions about my hydro and my shunt and I answered them while facing all of the students!! I even went there with an IV bag and an old shunt for props (most docs will give you your old one if you ask for it!). At recess that day my biggest bully, Greg came up to me crying and apologized for being mean to me!! In middle school I had a really great counselor who brought me and a bully into his office to have a chat. It gave me the opportunity to explain how much his words hurt and to tell him why I did the things I did.

Believe me, even at 43 years old words still hurt me. For example, even when I act silly on purpose and someone says "That's retarded!", I get the heebie jeebies! They may use it as a saying but that word shouldn't be used in any situation! Yes I'm slow, can't remember anything from one hour to the next and I stutter. However I am a functioning human being...with different than those with less physical or psychological abilities than me! I have learned that those who want to act like children and bash and belittle me are not worth my time and I completely remove them from my life if I can. If I can't then they get the tried and true silent treatment and they don't hear from me unless it's absolutely necessary.

I'm sorry but the walking away from a bully thing that my parents always told me to do doesn't always work. Using a little comedy or explaining your situation does. In today's world it's a little easier with social media because it's easier to hide behind a computer and say what's on your mind that you couldn't say in person. Granted, it may not work if you see your bully every day like if you were in school. A few times I have been known to send emails to the people that were hurting me (as an adult because emails pretty much weren't in use when I was in school lol) and it did work. It might take a little help but there's almost always someone around you who is willing to help. If you can't ask anyone for help, go to a search engine and type in something like 'letters to send to bullies' and you will find some examples!

Now, all of that was speaking to those being bullied. Before I end, I have a couple of things to say to those who bully. Some day you may grow up and find out that person you are picking on is seriously sick, dying or God forbid, dead. Do you want that on your conscience? Do you really think picking on someone makes you a bigger person? Well I have news for you. It's rare that a bully doesn't say the wrong thing to the wrong person and not get hurt at some point. Just like some people who are bullied commit suicide, well some bullies are killed because of what they say. This goes for kids AND for parents!! Think of school shootings. Almost all of the people who did the shooting were bullied at some point. So, which would you rather have, a little temporary fun picking on someone or a bullet to your head? Frankly, I prefer keeping my mouth shut so I can live!
Oh, and you may think everyone likes you because you have a ton of friends? No, they're friends with you because they're scared of you and they feel like they don't have a choice. That's not friendship, dude, that's survival!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

side effects of injury to each lobe of the brain

The following is a list of common side effects to the brain and categorized by each lobe of the brain,and all my information is from the video at the bottom of the screen.No brain injury is the same,and what me seem like the same brain injury (like a neuro disorder) doesn't mean that the same two people are the same either.So some of these may effect some people but not others.Also just because the brain injury occurs at birth or soon after doesn't mean that the person will experience these same things,it just means that they won't able to experience what it considered to be "normal".I gave descriptions for some of the side effects that I felt didn't explain enough,but others I had a hard time finding info on it so I just left it blank.Thanks for reading..
Frontal Lobe

Sequencing-Not being to sequence activities or achieve a goal.
Decision making-
Attention-distractibility and poor attention
Personality-Problem solving-
Verbal expression-the communication (in speech or writing) of your beliefs or opinions; "expressions of good will"; "he helped me find verbal expression for my ideas"; "the idea was immediate but the verbalism took hours"
Spontaneity-Spontaneous behavior, impulse, or movement.In responce to others and enviroment.
Emotions-Control of them or how they function
Movement Initiation-The lack of control of them,seen a lot in Parkinson's.
Changes in social Behavior-
Impared working memory-

Temporal Lobe

Spoken Word-Understanding spoken word.
Selective attention-the process by which a person can selectively pick out one message from a mixture of messages occurring simultaneously
Inhibitions-A feeling that makes one self-conscious and unable to act in a relaxed and natural way.
Facial recognition-
Locating Objects-
Short Term Memory loss-
Persistent talking-

Parietal Lobe

Object Classification-
Tactile Processing-
Academic Skills-
Cognitive Ability-
Directional Understanding-Knowing the difference between left and right etc etc..
Hand-Eye coordination-
Spatial Orientation-

Occipital Lobe

Vision Field-
Locating objects-
Color identification-
Word Blindness-Not being able to recognize words
Movement Perception-
Visual Processing-
Visual Illusions-Inaccurately seeing objects

Cerebellum Lobe

Gross and Fine motor skills-
Voluntary Motor skills-
Equilibrium-State of balance. Condition in which contending forces are equal.
Postural Controls-
Eye Movement-
Scanning Speech-also known as explosive speech, is a type of ataxic dysarthria in which spoken words are broken up into separate syllables, often separated by a noticeable pause, and spoken with varying force.

Brain Stem

Body Temperature-The lack of a control and keeping a normal body temperature.
Heart Rate-
Swallowing-Not being to swallow foods and liquids as well.
Vertigo-True vertigo is the sensation of moving around in space or of having objects move about the person and is a result of a disturbance of equilibratory apparatus.
Sleeping Difficulties-

Friday, July 13, 2012

Media views on Hydrocephalus:Jason Voorhees

While coming up with new topics I've decided to while still post about Hydrocephalus and neurological disorders in general,I've decided to start having people do guest blogs and write more about media and social views on Hydrocephalus.

Considering it's Friday the 13th,I'm going to write some about Jason Voorhees.If you don't know already,he's the serial killer in the majority of the Friday the 13th movies,with the exception of the first.It's rather hard to say if it gives a negative or bad impression because the movie is set in the days before shunts.

In the movie his untreated Hydrocephalus has caused him to be mentally retarded and disfigured.This  caused him to be picked on by the other kids at camp,where his mom was a cook.The outcome ended up being Jason drowning while the camp counselors were having sex.The rest of the movies had to do with Jason and his mom getting revenge on future camp counselors.Sorry about the short post and the lack of details.I'm hoping to get a more detailed post up soon,and posts about other movie and TV characters that are at least believed to have Hydrocephalus.Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hydrocephalus and autoimmune diseases (Guest blog by Keyt Harrington)

Hello! My name is Keyt (Kate) Harrington and Tim has asked me to tell you a little about my story.

I am 43 years old and it is believed that I was born with hydro, but sadly it wasn't diagnosed until I was 5. I spent my early years with terrible seizures, jaw and mouth issues, medication allergies and countless emergency room visits and hospitalizations. It wasn't until I was 5 years old when I had my first bought with cerebral meningitis (I've had it 3 times!) that doctors finally discovered why I had been so sick.

Since then I have had 20 shunt replacements or revisions and had my gall bladder, appendix and right kidney removed plus a full hysterectomy. I have also had multiple surgeries on my feet, mouth and several other exploratory surgeries.

All of that, believe it or not is not the worst of my battles.

Approximately 7 years ago I began developing strange thickness and curving of my fingernails. They didn't hurt right away but as time went on it didn't matter what I bought over the counter, nothing worked. About a year after that started, my scalp began to itch, and as I scratched it I had flakes fall like it was dandruff. I tried dandruff shampoos but it made it worse. I couldn't wear dark clothing, wear hats of any kind or use most shampoos. That was it, I gave in and asked my doctor. She looked at my fingernails and my scalp and just said it was an allergy.

It has been said often by those of us who battle hydro or any long term illness that we know our bodies better than most doctors. I knew this wasn't an allergy but my doctor wouldn't look into it further. That was when I surprisingly gave up too. I let it go for another year, didn't talk to anymore doctors and fell into a depression as my fingernails kept swelling and my hair began to fall out.

Then one day I woke up after only a couple of hours sleep because I was itching so much and I decided I HAD to do something. I had spent a lot of time reading about skin conditions and remembered that sunlight could help. I was a guard at the pool at my apartment so I thought it would be perfect! I had nothing to compare myself to all those photos I saw online except for my nails because I had no idea what my scalp looked like! So I asked my neighbor's husband if he could shave all my hair off. He looked at me funny but I told him it wouldn't be a big deal because when I was little, neurosurgeons would shave off all of my hair instead of just the area they were operating on like they do now!

The day Mike shaved off all of my hair, his wife, Justine invited a bunch of our neighbors and we grilled some burgers, had a few beers and made a party of it!

But...once my hair was all gone, I saw Justine crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she handed me a hand mirror. Before I even looked, I took a deep breath. I knew I was going to see something bad, but little did I know what I'd see!

It's called plaque psoriasis. Those little white things raise and sometimes fall off on their own. I eventually developed a habit of picking them off because they would pull my hair and really hurt! Plus notice how it's very close to my shunt scar? Well, this was 3 years ago. Not long after this photo was taken it did creep onto my scar and down my neck. I just assumed I would have to live like this forever.

That was until I met my boyfriend, Aric 7 months later. When we met I barely had any hair. He said it didn't bother him, but what did was the fact that I was so miserable. He called around and found a different general doctor for me and insisted that I make an appointment. I had already spent 2 years not seeing any doctor so I didn't have any interest, but he told me I already had enough going on that I didn't need this too. So I made the appointment and joked that the poor doctor will kick me out because I had so many health problems!

Dr. Coombs was shocked that one person could have as many health problems as me and still be alive or not in some mental institution from major depression! She immediately sent me to a dermatologist but after a few months there and only receiving a few injections, I wasn't happy. By this time I could barely walk, lift, bend over or anything and she knew it had to be something more than just psoriasis. She decided to send me to a rheumatologist because they deal in both skin and bone conditions. After a couple of blood tests Dr. Dinning confirmed  psoriatic arthritis. I cried because finally someone believed me and confirmed what I had known for 7 years!

Basically, psoriatic arthritis is psoriasis and arthritis together. It's much like other forms of arthritis but it can often be worse because of the skin irritations. It's an autoimmune disease. That happens when the immune system mistakes some part of the body as an organism and attacks it's own cells. Anyone at any time and any age can get an autoimmune disease, but usually people who have had surgeries (even just one!) or some other disease (trauma) will develop an autoimmune disease. Psoriatic arthritis is just one, there are other more common ones such as celiac disease, eczema, lupus and multiple sclerosis. 

Unfortunately since my official diagnosis last year I've gotten worse. It's harder to walk, I can't stand for long periods and my sleeping patterns are worse. In March, my doctor decided it was best that I try infusions. As soon as he said that word I cringed. Not because the idea of infusions bothered me, but the needle did. I'm not scared of needles, but when you've had as many surgeries and hospitalizations as I (and many of us) have, your veins begin to fight back!

This tatt gets a lot of attention. When in an emergency room I've had people come from all over the hospital to see it or people take photos with their cell phones!

The first two times I did an infusion it took 6 tries each to get a needle in a vein. Since I had to have them regularly (and will have to for the rest of my life!), my doc sent me in for an infusaport. It's like a PICC line but it's under the skin and can stay forever.

Now all it takes is a poke into a small little port under my skin and I don't feel a thing!

The infusions don't completely take the disease away. In fact, after I began them, I developed raised spots on my legs.

These are just as itchy and uncomfortable as the ones on my head! I have about a dozen more since this picture was taken a month ago. Wouldn't you know they develop during summer too! But, here's how I look at this; I'm alive. I can't work anymore but I have a wonderful boyfriend whom I live with in a home that's paid off. We build things to sell and make money plus I get Social Security so it's not all that bad. We have a small farm with approximately 80 animals so they along with Aric all keep my spirits up. I try to look at what I do have instead of what I don't anymore.

Plus I have wonderful friends like Tim who allowed me to tell my story and spread the word that things could be so much worse!