Monday, June 04, 2007

Hope you like to read

6/4/07 Monday
It wasn’t too long ago I wrote a post about us reaching a pivotal moment in our lives. I think a better description is we are turning a corner, getting off a bumpy dirt country lane onto a nice paved road. Yesterday morning I had a lot going on in this crowded empty mind and vented a little. By the time we reached the end of the day I was done for and, hitting the bed I disappeared into the oblivion of a deep sleep. Waking up was a slow process as I heard the dim sounds of Cherie doing things around the kitchen as if off in the distance. The sounds drew closer as I became more aware that I was not sleeping. Then I heard Cherie getting the puppies. I could tell she had picked one up as she baby talked “OOOh! Your so cute! Yes you are!” interspersed with gleeful laughs when puppy licked her face and did what happy puppies do.

We are starting to let them scamper behind us on the journey from the front porch, where they are kept at night, to the kitchen door, where they go outside to do their morning duties. Before we carried them as they didn’t move well enough or follow us. So Cherie led them into the bedroom as I hoped she would and put them on the bed where they could attack me with their joy over discovering I was there. As before they both thought my ear lobes were tits. Nothing like wet slurping nips right in the ears to finish the job of waking me up. I liked it and loved them back.

So we are turning a corner. Life is good. It always has been but sometimes it’s hard to see with all the hard things happening all around. But now we have puppies!!!! Actually the puppies are only a small part of the blessings we suddenly find ourselves enjoying. That brings me to yesterday. This will take a bit for me to get recorded as I am fighting a headache and slight slowdown. It is 12:20.

Trixie can fall asleep anywhere. Even up upright against the wall

After I got done spouting off on the blog I went out and started chopping weeds. I’m sure I did some other stuff but that’s what I remember. Janie or Steve had called to see what would be a good time for them to come over and install the evaporative air unit they had picked up for us.

I just looked at yesterday’s post and see I covered this. Steve 1, Steve 2, Janie, and Cindy (Steve 2’s wife) got here right at 2:00 as planned. Now, I need to make things a bit easier regarding distinguishing between the two Steve’s. These guys are like brothers. They have known each other for years and have similar backgrounds so the term “Two peas in a pod” could well apply. In her conversations with Cherie, Cindy referred to them as “Frick and Frack”. I think I’ll call them Jib and Jab cause these two love verbally sparring and teasing each other. Jib will be Steve 1, Janie’s husband, and Jab is now the honorable title I bestow on Steve 2.

You know, their coming over to install the air unit that they are giving us is great and as I write this I am enjoying the first cooled air we have had in this house. But what we enjoyed the most was the camaraderie and fellowship.

For Cherie it was a time where she sat and talked with Cindy and Janie for the hour or three they were here. Every time I went passed I heard nonstop conversation with Cherie sharing stories of her life, job, and experiences we have had since we got here. Plus Janie and Cindy were sharing as well and there was much laughter and joking. This was a blessing for me to see for I know how lonely it has been for Cherie and how much she needed this. Why the women of the Stanton church couldn’t do this I don’t understand. Cherie will be meeting Karla in a few days so one person has reached out.

For me it was great to be around the guys. I don’t get comfortable easily but with time and familiarity can become secure enough to… fit in I guess is the way to say it. But I enjoyed watching and listening to Jib and Jab, jib and jab, watching the friendship and camaraderie.

I ran around trying to help where I could, fetching tools and holding things up. Steve (Jib) asked me what I thought of how he was planning to do something and I told him that he knew more than I did about that kind of stuff so “Do it however you think”. Steve gave me a reproving look and basically said that I wasn’t ignorant of this kind of stuff. There are lots of things I used to be able to do but most things I have had to learn all over again because of the memory loss. Besides that I have confidently proceeded with a concept to learn it wasn’t a good idea after all so I suppose I don’t have a lot of confidence in my opinion and would rather rely on another’s.

There was a time that Steve thought I was upset or angry because of the expression on my face so he questioned me about it. “I can tell you’re not happy about something I’m doing” was the way he put it, or something like that. This illustrates one of the issues that comes with a brain injury. It’s an area I will cover if I ever get to finishing the paper on TBI.

There are an estimated 100 billion neurons in the brain. With a TBI the brain is bounced around and shook up like a bowl of Jello causing millions of little tears in these connecting circuits. One of the big areas hit with a TBI is social skills. This is much more complex than just getting along and being friendly. Our brains rely on an incredible array of signals in order to interact with one another. It’s much more than what you say or how you say it. Our brains observe and interpret things we are not even aware of on a subconscious level. We have all heard of “Body Language” and indeed recognize and understand much of this. Police are trained to watch for some of these signals that indicate someone is being deceitful. I used to train sales forces how to “read” their prospective client as well as how to be aware of their own body language and use it to enhance trust and help make a sale.

But we detect much more than that. There are so many subtleties that our brains take note of, interpret, and then send a message up to the conscious sector. That is why we feel comfortable or uncomfortable with someone we just meet, we trust them or we don’t. “There’s just something about that guy” is a statement you might hear. Well, there is just something about me that is unsettling. In Toledo I was told by a pastor that I was arrogant. He based this on how I stood in the foyer. A lady recently was terribly unsettled by me. She was serving me at a counter in a business and as she walked past serving others kept asking “What are you thinking? What’s wrong?”. I asked her a few questions to understand what I was doing to cause this reaction. She finally said it was the smirk on my face that bothered her, like I knew something about her. Now I am sure she had her own emotional issues but there was something, some signals my face and body were sending out that set this off.

You see there is more than just the brain’s ability to recognize and interpret the signals others put out. There is a complex system in our brains that correlate a myriad of thoughts, instincts, and desires to send out signals as well. So a person with TBI not only has difficulties understanding and interpreting other’s signals but often, because of damage, present signals that do not correlate at all with what is truly inside. This makes things very difficult. The Bible precept of “Judge not” becomes a truth desperately needed for those with TBI for the signals we all use to make these initial judgments are terribly skewed with us. For some it is much more than others. That is always the difficulty because the incredibly complex ability of the brain to synchronize and balance every facet of behavior is always effected differently depending on where and how severe the damage to the brain is. Here is an excerpt from one of the papers I have studied while learning about my injury that illustrates a small aspect of this.

What to Expect after TBI
By Tom Novack, PhD
Presented at the Recovery after TBI Conference, Sept, 1999

Lack of emotional response is demonstrated by a lack of initiative and a flattened affect. The individual does not smile or show any emotional response to things going on in the environment. An example is an adult with TBI who was told by his mother that he cannot drive anymore. His reaction was to put his keys on the dresser and walk out without exhibiting any reaction or emotional response. Most adults would react differently. The emotional response is just not there.

Oh yeah, I was talking about yesterday. Got sidetracked. Ummm that’s a brain injury issue also but I best stay on track or I’ll never finish this post.

So Jib thought I was upset but fact is I was and am about as happy as can be. If anything else he over engineers a job. But he’s an engineer so I suppose that’s appropriate. These guys rock and it was fun working with them as they jibed and jabbed about anything they could find.

Again I must take note of how things seem to come together as if there is an unseen hand orchestrating events. When Steves Jib and Jab went to Lowe’s to investigate getting the evaporative cooler Jib said he was surprised to find it cost about $400. As they looked and pondered the store clerk came up to help. Seeing their interest and dismay over the price he volunteers that there was one that had been damaged and could be bought for a reduced price. I can’t remember if it was the exact one they were looking at or another but J & J presumed it might be fifty bucks or so off the price. No, the price was fifty bucks out the door. WOW! What a coincidence or perhaps one should say “Godcidence”. If this kind of stuff keeps happening I’m gonna hafta start believing. I don’t know and I’m sure I’m a bit thick headed but things like this have been happening ever since I woke up from the coma. Still seeking, still want to know, still have doubts, but things like this and people like Steve, Janie, and gang are chipping away at them. Others who don’t practice what they preach don’t help but just confirm the depravity of man. The corruptions of greed, ambition, lust, jealousy, and all the rest exist whether there is a God or not but in a way confirm there is. The juxtaposition of good and evil is the classic battle of all humanity.

So we are blessed with friends who are true and live their beliefs. We are blessed and thankful. Fact is I am impressed and see them as an example of how to live a life. No I don’t put them or anyone else on a pedestal and I am sure they are a bit embarrassed by me saying this but if I can leave a mark in my life as they then there will be no shame. Thanks guys. God will reward.

Alright, enough of that stuff. The whole gang had other things that they had put off to do this so had to leave. Cherie and I decided that we could afford to splurge a little so we went to Cheddar’s, the restaurant Steve and Janie took us to, and had a nice dinner. After that we drove the two blocks to the movie theatre and saw Pirates. It was a good movie though I don’t think as good as the previous one. What amazed me wasn’t the movie but my first glimpse at a part of today’s youth culture. Going in I saw a kid (Anyone under 25 is a kid to me) who had is cell phone open. “I’m not going to sit near him” I thought “He’ll start yapping and I’ll have to tell him to shut up”.

So we sat towards the front where Cherie got a neck ache from looking up at the screen. Next thing we know there are about forty kids sitting in front and behind us and I’m seeing cell phones flipping open all over the place. “Man, this ain’t gonna be fun” I was thinking. I found it curious to see the bright screens of cell phones open but not hear anyone talking on the phone. Then my antique ass figured it out. They are text messaging. Duhh! Yeah I heard it was the thing and was amused at the TV commercial showing the interaction between a mom and her daughter using the new language that has evolved around this newest advance in teener evolution but this is the first I saw of it first hand. Yeah, my birthday is four days away. I’m not a fossil yet but sure getting there.

Today was a normal day. Not much to say other than I watered plants, got bottled water, poop scooped the cat litter and cleaned puppy poop. It’s been ninety degrees outside and around seventy five in. I’m happy.


Amy E said...

Congrats on the air cooler Bob! (I want one too!)You are right it is a God thing!

You make me smile...every time something happens to you that is good or positive, you say "if this keeps happening then I will believe"....well it keeps happening....LOL!

Bob said...

I don't know, maybe I'll have to get smacked upside the head with a two by four. Oh wait, I got smacked with my car as it spun end over end and was pronounced dead and came back. Hope I figure this out soon.

Janie said...

Jib and Jab....that's awesome!

Actually, the two Steves' met just last year, one time...until March, when we went to Missouri to the hunting dog field trials.

They just kind of connected. And they weren't the only ones teasing each other...I think that would now be...

Jib and Jab and Bob.

Bob said...

When I read my medical records from the accident I saw how they had put some kind of metal screws in my head to relieve pressure on the brain so I started calling myself "Frankenbob" Perhaps that will fit better with Jib and Jab. I'm sure someone will come up with a nickname for me. Hmmm...maybe we can have a contest for that.