an update…finally!

Believe it or not, I’ve already written five different blog posts, none of which I’ve come close to posting!  I write them at night and never get back to them again!  Guess that tells you a bit about how I’ve been doing.

I am quickly approaching the one year mark since the car accident that changed everything for me and what a helluva year it has been!  I’ve learned way too much about TBI’s (traumatic brain injuries), seizures and epilepsy.  After a four month wait I finally got to see a neurologist here in Tucson.  A month after that I spent five days in the hospital while undergoing an EEG that entire time.  I was not allowed out of bed without help and only to go to the bathroom!  The whole time I was also being videoed as well as audioed (yeah, I know, no such word but I’m betting you know what it means!).  Big brother was watching!  Sadly there were no seizures for them to observe which was the goal of the whole thing.  I’ve still not gotten the results, if there are any, since my appointment is not until next month.  It is possible that even without any out and out seizure activity there could still be abnormal brain activity.  

My view for the five days I spent in the hospital. Between the TV and the clock you can see the camera and audio recording device. There are actually two cameras – one for daytime and one for night when there is little or no light.

I’ve written little since I have little to say.  How many times can one write that they have had a nocturnal seizure or they are walking around like a total zombie?   My memory, certainly better than it was in the first couple months post accident, is still pretty horrible.  When I have good days I really take advantage of them by finally catching up on cleaning the house, doing laundry, going food shopping or grooming Picasso.  Mostly my energy has waned big time, not unusual after a TBI.  Time has undergone a dramatic change for me.  It often feels like it doesn’t exist anymore.  

While I certainly wish the accident never happened, there are things I have found fascinating about the whole situation.  Having taken courses about the brain during grad school it is quite interesting to see those issues in myself.  There is often a strong feeling of dissociation that I experience.  During those times I feel completely disconnected from my environment as well as from myself.  Speaking with me can be most entertaining since brain and mouth are barely talking with each other so the weirdest things can come out of my mouth.  Sometimes I can hear what I just said but most times the other person gets quite confused trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make any sense.  

This is the view from my apartment complex of the Catalina Mountains. I never tire of that view!

I have spent a lot of time reading about epilepsy, a diagnosis I now share with far too many other people.  I get to read first hand experiences from other people many of whom suffer from grand mal (tonic-clonic) seizures.  I cannot tell you the utter respect I have for these people and their harrowing journeys.  The courage and strength they exhibit on a daily basis is beyond my comprehension.  Their compassion and empathy for others is huge.  My story does not compare since I, gratefully, do not lose consciousness during my seizures, the vast majority of which occur at night while I’m sleeping.  However, after a nocturnal seizure I can be terrified to go to sleep the following night, something I found many others experience also.  One woman told me that “sleep is not my friend”.  I understand completely.  I’ve not had a daytime seizure in over six months at this point because of the anti-seizure medicine I now have to take.  I am allowed to drive but I self restrict my driving to days and times when I’m feeling well and limit my distances.  I used to drive thousands of miles on trips.  Now I’ve been averaging 40 miles per month!  

This is a grandfather saguaro, around for well over a century! Picasso and I can walk there from our apartment.

Believe it or not, I’ve not taken my camera out once since moving here almost six months ago.  I really have not felt up to it until just recently.  I’ve felt the loss of that, too, because that is my major area of creativity.  While I took lots of photos after the accident while living in North Carolina, here I find I have to drive to get somewhere to take photos which has pretty much completely limited my ability to shoot.  I’m hoping that might change soon since I found myself thinking about getting out with camera in hand.  If nothing else I can always Uber my way somewhere.  That’s a step in the right direction.

I am writing all this so as to give you an update.  I’ve come to terms with my new life, at least most days!  Please, no pity but I will take support and love!  It really has been rough year but I’m hoping for a vastly better one coming up.  Be patient with me…I’ll be back soon!  Maybe next time I’ll even have some photos of my new desert life! 

© 2017 deborah kauffeld

Photos taken for this post were from my iPhone.

summertime & the living is….

Yep, it is summer and the living isn’t exactly what I would’ve expected.  But I sit here with some lemonade that I made from all those darned lemons I seem to be accumulating and I’m ready and raring to go!  However, I’m still not quite ready to get there by driving since my wings are still temporarily clipped!

I was standing in my RV kitchen looking out the back window toward the stream.  I noticed a wildflower sticking up above the other plants and grass out there.  I really liked it and have taken its photograph several times including this one.  The flowers are small, less than 3/4 of an inch.

I was standing in my RV kitchen looking out the back window toward the stream. I noticed a wildflower sticking up above the other plants and grass out there. I really liked it and have taken its photograph several times including this one. The flowers are small, less than 3/4 of an inch.

Thanks to the wonderful things many of you mentioned to me about my photography and the very real reality that there is little I’m able to do until we find the right anti-seizure medication (currently on my 4th one), I’ve decided to plunge into photography because it remains one of the few things I can do.  Every day I try to get out and take some photos or, minimally, edit them on my computer.  You’d be surprised by how much there is to photograph here!  I downloaded some updated software programs, took some online classes to better learn how to use them and even decided to add a new lens to my kit so I could take telephoto images.  Given how my credit card got more than a little bloated with this extravagance, it had better be worth it, right?  I’m happy to report that I think it was both in terms of the joy it has given me so far and as well as the images I’ve gotten!  You will be the judge of that when I show you some of my new work.

I'm not sure if this is getting ready to bloom or has already bloomed.  I just liked its "head down" shape and felt compelled to take its photograph.

I’m not sure if this is getting ready to bloom or has already bloomed. I just liked its “head down” shape and felt compelled to take its photograph.

I will say that watching those videos on the new programs I had downloaded and then trying to implement them was more than just a little interesting.  Thankfully I was able to restrain myself from throwing anything at the computer or throwing the computer out the window!  I did a little at a time to keep the frustration manageable and finally did manage to learn what I needed to learn.  Well, mostly.  There’s still something in Photoshop I used to know how to do in the old program but no longer can make work in the updated version.  I still have to figure that one out.

This little girl box turtle was down by the stream.  I assumed she was burying eggs since it is that time of year.  As soon as I got back into the house I saw another one, also a female!

This little girl box turtle was down by the stream. I assumed she was burying eggs since it is that time of year. As soon as I got back into the house I saw another one, also a female!

My new life theme is a version of “Grow where you are planted” which, for me, has become “Shoot where you be!”  The longer I stay here without being able to get out, the more I see how very much there is here to learn about, get to know and photograph.  I’ve found an intimacy with the flora and fauna that has been a surprise with both yielding their secrets to me.  I hope that you can feel that intimacy through the images I’ve captured.  Hopefully through this intimacy you will be able to see their souls.

Enjoy!

One of the flowers I was particularly excited about finally seeing was the rhododendron that are on the other side of the stream.  This photo was take around 30 feet away thanks to my new lens!

One of the flowers I was particularly excited about finally seeing was the rhododendron that are on the other side of the stream. This photo was taken around 30 feet away thanks to my new lens!

 

A rhododendron bud from across the stream.

A rhododendron bud from across the stream.

 

My eye caught the rhododendron flower petals on this rock.   There was just something about it that spoke to me and so I started to shoot it.  Kind of a still life.

My eye caught the rhododendron flower petals on this rock.  There was just something about it that spoke to me and so I started to shoot it. Kind of a still life.

 

I found this guy and his friends eating my tomato plants a few days ago.  After taking his photo I decided to spray him with an all natural substance I was told would work to kill him.  It worked.  However, it also worked at nearly killing my tomato plants.

I found this guy and his friends eating my tomato plants a few days ago. After taking his photo I decided to spray him with an all natural substance I was told would work to kill him. It worked. However, it also worked at nearly killing my tomato plants.

 

I had trimmed my plants after attempting to kill them.  Don't ask.  Not intentional.  Anyway, this little guy was nestled in one of the leaves.  So pretty!

I had trimmed my plants after attempting to kill them. Don’t ask. Not intentional. Anyway, this little guy was nestled in one of the leaves. So pretty!

 

This may be the cardinal that showed up the day my mom was dying.  I waited over two months for birds to come to my feeder and this cardinal was the one to finally break the drought.

This may be the cardinal that showed up the day my mom was dying. I waited over two months for birds to come to my feeder and this cardinal was the one to finally break the drought.

 

Sunflowers - such happy flowers!  I particularly liked this one with its floppy "ear", perhaps because it wasn't perfect and had character.

Sunflowers – such happy flowers! I particularly liked this one with its floppy “ear”, perhaps because it wasn’t perfect and had character.

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

me & my brain

I am finally letting this baby make its way out into the world.  I’ve been working on it for nearly a full month now and I just cannot keep attempting to edit it into perfection.  Even now, after reading it yet   again, I find myself sitting here staring off into space.  Yes, it is that taxing and that much work.  Forgive my imperfections!  As with my last post I’m going to include some photographs just to keep you from getting too bored.  They have all been taken since the accident as it is one of the few things I can manage to do more easily.  They are totally unrelated to the content, or at least I think they are!

 

There have been some who have inquired as to the symptoms I’m dealing with after the concussion.  I’ve struggled with just how much to share.  For now, I’ve chosen to be wild and crazy and share some of my experiences during the last seven weeks.  It is actually helpful to me since it solidifies my experiences by getting them down in writing in one more or less condensed version.

I am writing this not so as to get sympathy from anyone but more for educational reasons.  The reality is that concussions and seizure activity can be very different for different people yet for just about everyone it remains invisible unless the seizures produce convulsions.  This is my version of the experience.

Some kind of veggie.  I've no idea what it is but I thought it was cool!

Some kind of veggie. I’ve no idea what it is but I thought it was cool!

I have not been diagnosed at this time with either epilepsy or having had seizures.  Both will require further tests before that determination can be made.  I’ve already had – and failed! – a regular EEG.  At some point I will need to have a sleep deprived EEG, something I’m not at all looking forward to since it requires staying up the entire night!  The idea, of course, is to stress the brain to see if seizures are manifested during the EEG.  The first EEG I had was difficult enough for me.  Adding sleep deprivation doesn’t sound like fun at all.

I’ve kept notes concerning how I’ve been feeling.  At first I was writing almost daily but how many times can you keep saying the same thing?  So now I write if anything seems different.  Those first days I wrote a lot about the blankness I was feeling, staring off into space more than being alert.  I’ve come to understand that the blankness serves as a shut down mechanism for my brain so it doesn’t overload the circuits while allowing my brain to rest and keeping it from more serious issues like a seizure.  My brain has had too much stimuli at that point and needs to withdraw to protect itself.  Certainly the brain is still processing during those times of blankness but in a very down-regulated manner which means my overall awareness is not as good as it would normally be.

If I sit long enough in front of my tomato plants it is amazing who comes to visit!

If I sit long enough in front of my tomato plants it is amazing who comes to visit!

Speaking of focus, even when I’m at my most alert I still lack focus and constantly have to fight to maintain even that diminished focus, something very evident when I’m driving.  Staring off into space isn’t exactly a good thing while driving.  Perhaps, then, you might understand the issue with driving – it isn’t that I cannot drive and drive “good enough” but rather that it is a tremendous amount of work to keep my brain focused.  My brain quickly tires to the point where it wants and requires a break – staring, blankness, even sleep.  Often when I get to my destination I sit in the car for five minutes before I get out so as to recompose myself by resting.  Because it takes so much energy, my driving is limited to rather short distances and the next day or two are spent recovering.  As an aside, because of the work it takes a brain to manage during the day, I’m often taking two naps a day, each about an hour long!  This from someone who never normally naps.

All stimuli are difficult at this time.  Bright lights (merely being outside in the sun or even under the awning looking out toward brighter light, for instance) are very stressing to my brain.  I cannot ride with the top down on my car.  I have to wear my sunglasses while in the car to keep my eyes protected, something I maintain when going into stores since fluorescent lighting is difficult.  Sound is even more obnoxious since it makes my head feel like it will certainly spin right off at any moment while exploding at the same time.  Kids’ voices, particularly if they are screaming or crying, are horrible for me.  Laughter, kids’ or adults’, can also be difficult.  Not surprisingly, male voices tend to be easier to deal with since they don’t hit those higher notes that bother my ears so much.  As a result of this sound sensitivity I find myself unable to listen to anything other than gentle, soft music and even that has to be kept at a lower volume.  Stevie Wonder’s harmonica playing is not welcome at this time!  I find going into stores with their background music to be sheer torture right now.  If you have never experienced it, it is hard to explain just how torturous sounds can be at this time.  It is more than just the horror of the sound; the brain almost immediately goes into overload and, as a direct result, I find myself unable to control the explosions in my brain which end up manifesting in feelings of frustration as I melt down.  I went to a food store a few days ago where they have relatively loud music playing throughout the store.  I hardly got into the store when I could feel my head reacting to the sounds.  I almost panicked not knowing what to do – should I sit down to rest (but I’d still be in the noxious environment), should I run like hell out the door to my car (what a wasted trip that would’ve been) or hurry as quickly as possible to get what I needed and then get out while running the risk of greatly exacerbating the craziness in my head?  I chose the last one but not without great difficulty to my being.  I got woozy and quite blank as I progressed through the store, my brain clearly looking to shut down to protect itself.  Did I make the right choice?  No clue but I made it home safely with the food I wanted to buy.  It took two days to recover from the exaggerated symptoms.

Evidently I'm going to have a whole series of white petunia shots.  I like the minimalist quality of this one.

Evidently I’m going to have a whole series of white petunia shots. I like the minimalist quality of this one.

Mornings are the most difficult time of the day.  In general I am more sensitive to everything and all my symptoms are increased.  One morning I decided to watch a TV show because there was nothing else I could do.  The background music they used had more treble in it and I actually had to stop watching the show until later in the day when I could better handle the sound.  It made my brain nuts, like fireworks exploding uncontrollably in every direction imaginable!  The only thing that I’ve come up with to explain this hypersensitivity in the morning is that it is taking longer for my brain to wake up and properly process what would be very normal for the average brain.  Perhaps there is a better reason but that’s the only one I’ve got for now!  Another example – this morning when I took my shower the water hitting the shower floor was way too loud for me and I wanted to run out of the shower!  I had to make sure the water hit me rather than the floor which cut down on the intensity of the sound.

I’ve been experiencing a lot of what I call wooziness.  The doctor told me this is vertigo.  Mornings often find me walking as if I’ve been drinking.  I’d never pass a sobriety field test – walk a straight line!  Ha! I’ve learned to be more careful during these times so as not to risk falling.  Today I stopped at the supermarket to get a few things.  When I was waiting for the cashier as he rang up my order I found myself starting to get really woozy and needed to hold on to the counter so I wouldn’t fall over.  It is an odd feeling, almost fun but for the inconvenience and potential danger.  For years I suffered with low blood pressure and the dizziness that goes along with it.  This is nothing like that which is why I do not use the word “dizzy” to describe it.  I never feel like I will pass out as I did when my BP dropped.  Instead, to me it is like some kind of weird warping thing my brain does, as if the stimuli coming in and my experience of it are no longer in synch.  You know when you are watching something on television and the visual of the person speaking and their voice don’t match up?  It’s a bit like that.  It feels to me almost like my brain cannot process things fast enough so there is a gap between my visual experience and my brain’s processing of the stimuli. It is quite bizarre.

You have no idea how many bad shots it takes to get this one but it's all worth it!

You have no idea how many bad shots it takes to get this one but it’s all worth it!

There was another experience I had that was closely related to the above.  It happened when I moved my head to either the left or the right.  Imagine if you will what an old time movie looks like.  It is visually a little choppy since the frames per second were not high enough to produce smooth actions.  Rather than zzzzzzzzz, it was more like z..z..z..z..z..  To a healthy brain it is probably not a big deal since it naturally fills in the blanks and experiences it as smooth enough.  But to a compromised brain those choppy moments are exaggerated.  So when I would turn my head either left or right it was choppy, like an old time movie, rather than smooth.  It was clearly a processing issue.  I experienced it only in the mornings and only for the first three or four weeks.  The feeling was quite disconcerting and very disturbing to me so I would do my best not to turn my head in either direction thus cutting done on the experience.  Then one day I realized I needed to actually force myself to pay attention to the experience if I was to attempt to describe it in any real way.  Once I paid attention and really allowed myself to feel the experience fully, I realized why I did everything I could not to experience it – I hated the feeling.  I’m learning that when I really hate a feeling, like the strobing lights of the EEG or turning my head as I just described or high pitchy sounds, it probably has something to do with my brain being overwhelmed.  Best to give my brain a rest and not push it.

Not surprisingly, I’m getting headaches.  At this point they have not been too bad.  They are certainly aggravating and concerning but since they seem to come and go, they just aren’t all that bad for me.  I’m grateful for this little piece of good news and hope it remains this way while improving to the point of no headaches at all.

WARNING - BUG PORN!!!  Hehe!  Two Japanese beetles doing their thing.

WARNING – BUG PORN!!! Hehe! Two Japanese beetles doing their thing.

One of the things that concerned me the most is the lack of affect I experience.  My emotions feel flat to me.  I’ve always been a passionate person and it is one of the traits I’ve liked the most about myself.  Evidently passion has gone on a walk-about and forgot to take me along!  The only emotion I feel at all seems to be fear.  That I would feel fear makes perfectly good sense since I’m in a very vulnerable position with a brain that isn’t functioning normally.  I guess more correctly stated, my brain is very vulnerable right now.  Thankfully I can fairly easily keep fear at bay by merely changing my focus.  Within moments I completely forget whatever was making me fearful!  Being forgetful has its perks.  Evidently emotions take a great toll on the brain and so not having any is another one of those things that helps keep the brain from getting overwhelmed while compromised.

My memory sucks.  Ugh.  The worst of it is when my memory fades out completely and I’m left with nothing in my head.  Scary in those brief moments.  My word finding ability has been quite spotty.  Way too often I find myself searching for a particular word and not finding it.  Frustrating to say the least.  Part of the memory issue is because I cannot pay a whole lot of attention to things.  I try but fail more than I succeed.  The interesting thing about memory is that it is best laid down in the brain when accompanied with emotions of one kind or another.  Think about that for yourself – what is it that you remember more vividly – the everyday, boring things in your life or the high/low points that are accompanied with emotions?  Thinking about it in this context it becomes obvious why someone with a head injury and flat affect would have difficult with memory also.  Another way of putting it is that the brain is just too tired and in need of healing to do the work involved in memory.

Peaceful late spring afternoon at the stream.

Peaceful late spring afternoon at the stream.

My fingers now twitch.  Not horribly and mostly not visibly but it can be obvious if you are watching my hands.  When I hold my iPhone sometimes I need to hold it with both hands to keep it from flying out of my hand when the twitch comes.  Flying iPhones are not a good thing; they have a tendency to crash land!  This is also an issue when I try to handwrite anything, as I do in the mornings when I’ve attempted to resume my writing.  I’ve found I not only have difficulty with staying focused but also the work of trying to keep my hand still enough to write is very taxing on my brain.  I usually find I can only write a paragraph or two before I can no longer continue.  Just prior to the accident I was easily writing 12 or more pages every morning.

When I walk outside I have found I no longer feel part of the environment.  Removed if you will.  It is as if I’m no longer able to actually feel what’s around me.  It’s a very odd feeling yet, at least on one level, a bit comforting in its feeling of safety.  Things don’t effect me since I’m no longer in touch with them but life sure does become a whole lot more boring when it just passes you by like that.

Bee and flower

Bee and flower

Some might say that obviously I’m still quite capable of writing but I’m very aware of the differences I both experience internally and see in my writing.  As I sit and edit this post I see errors all over.  Some I correct and others I leave.  Cohesiveness is extremely difficult to manage.  Achieving it is something I just don’t seem to worry about right now since it feels like far too much work to get there at this point.  I have to be very careful not to say the same thing more than once or refer to something I thought I already wrote but didn’t!  It is just too easy to forget!

The writing I long to do and seem incapable of for now occurs when I go to what I call my “deep place”, a place of quiet solitude within myself that is very different from when I write something more simple like I’m doing (or trying to do!) now.  It is from this deeper place that I find I have written the things that mean the most to me, all dealing with the spiritual life.  After mom died in January I found myself not long afterwards beginning to get back to this type of writing.  I’ve done it in the past but with mom’s ever increasing needs prior to her passing I found it very difficult for me to maintain the kind of focus it required since I was always getting a phone call from the facility or from mom herself.  For over two and a half months I wrote pretty much daily after her death, every morning until the accident.  Within that time I hand wrote well over five hundred pages!  The words were flowing, a gusher of wonderful thoughts, each one better than the one that proceeded it!  I was able to fully and completely devote myself to this writing.  I was peaceful and happy, even joyful, as a result.  I now find I can no longer write in that manner.  I feel lost and without direction.  You would think that losing a fully functioning brain would be the worst part of this but, no, for me it is the loss of this amazingly special place I found within myself every morning, connecting with the Divine.  I knew the material I was writing about was capable of changing people’s lives since it was changing my own.  I hope and pray that I can get back to this work and get back to it soon.  I believe this is my legacy and the culmination of a lifetime of work in the fields of spirituality and psychology.  I’m hoping that even if I cannot get back to the writing part soon at least I’ll be able to start transcribing it from my handwritten journals into the computer so as to keep myself enveloped in this beautiful work and energy.  For now, reading my own handwriting has proven more than my brain can handle without going into overload.

This started out as a clover flower but something changed as we met on the computer.

This started out as a clover flower but something changed as we met on the computer.

This is ending up becoming a much longer treatise that I had expected.  It has taken me a few days to get this written and will probably take at least another day or two to edit it (in reality it has been nearly three weeks of editing!).  If you’re really observant you will see the issues I’m having with writing even after my corrections.  There were times when I left a space for the word I couldn’t find and was later either able to fill the space or find another word entirely.

Now that I’ve written this and started the editing process I’ve become extremely aware of the differences in my writing.  Oh boy.  Not at all good to see but now that I’ve written this I’ll have a baseline from which I can later compare as I improve.  And that’s what I say when I’m feeling optimistic.   When not so optimistic I fear deeply that my life as I knew it up until the accident is forever over.  Seeing the neurologist’s face, as he told me my EEG results, in my mind’s eye helps to support that fear.  I worry I’ll be losing my independence and will no longer be able to travel on my own.  I try not to go there too often since it is of no help to me whatsoever.  Still, I do end up there on occasion.

Blue wildflower

Blue wildflower

I am in the process of trying out my third anti-seizure medication.  In fact it is time to go take another dose right now.  There are even hurdles to face with this medicine since it is not in my insurance plan’s formulary and may not be covered as a result.  Apparently the neurologist’s office will attempt to work with the insurance company explaining to them why I need this particular medicine.  That is, if it works.

Flowers from my basil plant.  Yeah, I know I shouldn't let it go to flower but I was so curious to see what kind of flower it would have!

Flowers from my cilantro plant. Yeah, I know I shouldn’t let it go to flower but I was so curious to see what kind of flower it would have!  They are really quite small and very dainty.

So that’s about it for now.  Time to wrap this thing up but I’ve got no pithy ending and I don’t feel like looking for one in the moment!  My brain is tired and needs a break.  Thanks for reading.

[Just a note on the editing process – it is taking me so much longer than usual since I am finding myself unable to read through this all the way through!  Then I forget where I was when I stopped and start from the beginning again only to not make it through yet again!  So please forgive any errors that might be remaining since my editing skills aren’t so great in the moment!]

Cilantro flowers.  Really small, really pretty.

This image was taken before the car accident as the dogwood was blooming.  However, I processed it just yesterday.  So it kinda qualifies!

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

changes

I am writing this post to serve two purposes – first to update you on how I am doing and second to share spring with you!  All of these photos have been taken here in the campground.  The beauty that surrounds me is astonishing and very healing.

It has been nearly 7 weeks since the car accident.  I’d like to tell you that everything is better but I’d be lying.  For the most part the various pains in my body are gone although my neck/shoulder/upper back area can still be problematical for me especially when I’m trying to work on the computer.  It just depends on the day.  My brain, however, has seen little improvement so far.

 

The clearing in the campground is home to a number of wildflowers that attract a variety of butterflies.

The clearing in the campground is home to a number of wildflowers that attract a variety of butterflies.

 

Isn't he beautiful?

Isn’t he beautiful?

Just over a week ago I had an EEG done to determine what was going on in there!  The test is considered non-invasive and normally not much of an issue for the average person.  For those who’ve not had one done, they hooked up 23 electrodes on my scalp to do readings of the various brain waves.  The test began with my sitting there, eyes open and quiet, no doubt a baseline reading.  A while later I was asked to close my eyes for, I assume, another baseline reading.  Eventually, while keeping my eyes closed, a strobe light begins intermittent strobing, on for about maybe 5-10 seconds, then off, then on again, etc.  Each time the light comes on it strobes faster than previously until it gets to the point where it strobes so quickly that it is as if it is on the whole time.  I believe this is to stress the brain to determine how it will respond.  I could hardly handle it.  It was completely maddening and I wanted to scream out for her to stop torturing me.  I asked her later if that was a typical reaction and she told me some people actually enjoy it!  It was at that moment that I knew this wasn’t going to go well.

 

The pyracantha flowers attracted a huge number of bees!

The pyracantha flowers attracted a huge number of bees!

 

This is one of the flowers I planted in my four half barrels.

This is one of the flowers I planted in my four half barrels.

When the doctor came in later to give me the results it was obvious that he was bringing bad news since it was supposed to be the Physician’s Assistant who was to be giving me the information.  Given the look on the neurologist’s face it was abundantly clear that this was not going to be good news.

Wild blackberry flowers.

Wild blackberry flowers.

 

A blackberry flower with a friend!

A blackberry flower with a friend!

 

Yeah, I know - more blackberry flowers!

Yeah, I know – more blackberry flowers!  But check out the friend on this plant!

To make a much longer story a bit shorter, while I’m clearly still suffering from Post Concussion Syndrome and all the lovely symptoms I get from that, evidently my brain was rather severely traumatized from the accident and was throwing a bunch of waves that aren’t supposed to be there.  I was given medicine to hopefully keep this from becoming any worse.  Unfortunately I’m having an allergic reaction to the medicine so I don’t know what comes next.  I’m waiting to get a call back from the neurologist.

Buttercups!

Buttercups!

 

Clover flowers.

Clover flowers.

In the meantime, I am nearly unable to drive at this point.  There are a few days when the fog clears enough for me to go to the food store but I am driving less than twice a week for the most part.  I am also unable to read for any length of time, cannot sit and work at the computer (in fact, I can hardly do anything at all that would stress my brain, including just standing outside in the sun), cannot talk for any length of time, have great difficulty with noise and so on.  If I do any of those things for too long I start to get all sorts of symptoms – headaches, increased fog, confusion, vertigo and others I’m not thinking of in the moment.  My memory is quite faulty and words escape me.  It is rather impossible to remember much of anything when you aren’t really aware enough to experience it cognitively.

I love these pretty little wildflowers that are all over the campground.

I love these pretty little wildflowers that are all over the campground.

So why am I telling you all this in such detail?  Well, to tell you that I’m seriously considering selling the RV and moving closer to my son and daughter-in-law into an apartment.  As a result there is hardly any reason to maintain this blog since I won’t be traveling.  Besides that, I’m thinking I cannot exactly afford the money to renew it for another year.  I will update you on this but it is very likely that come August or so I will probably close the whole thing down.

Another view of the same flowers.

When I first looked at these flowers I thought they had some kind of black marks on them…and then I realized that’s how they were supposed to be!  Duh.

In the meantime I have managed to get a few shots of spring.  To me, spring is all about new beginnings and so, while not seemingly connected to this post, I decided to include them anyway.  As I’ve been editing this post it occurs to me that somehow the juxtapositioning of these two disparate subjects might seem a bit off to some but it is a wonderful example of how my brain now seems to be working.  Things that are in no way connected seem to somehow come together in my brain now.  You should hear some of the mistakes I make when I talk!  Often I end up with a sentence, if you can call it that, composed of two totally different parts and completely unrelated.  I have spent a HUGE amount of time attempting to edit this post.  If there are errors I know you will forgive me for them.  I’m just hoping for it to make enough sense!  I think I’ve got that covered at least!

Some kind of veggie with yet another friend on board.

Some kind of veggie with yet another friend on board.

It is my intention to keep you up to date up until the time when I have to renew my website.  At something like $120 per year I really cannot afford it right now.  I’ve really enjoyed communicating with you like this and will miss all of you.  I am open to things changing as I hopefully improve so know that nothing is cast in stone!

A marigold from my planter.

A marigold from my planter.

Blessings to each and every one of you!

Blackberry flowers.

Blackberry flowers.

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

…and just like that – KABOOM!!!

It was the fourth of April, a beautiful spring day, and I decided to take a ride to town to finally go to the Division of Motor Vehicles to get my driver’s license and then register my car.  I had three days to spare before my registration from Florida expired so time was of the essence.

Top down, visor on, enjoying the day when all of a sudden…

The white Ford 150 in front of me stopped for a left hand turn into a parking lot.  I stopped behind him with plenty of room to spare.  The guy behind me in a red Toyota pick-up failed to slow down and slammed into me – TWICE – at 30 MPH, pushing me into the truck in front of me.  I immediately knew that it wasn’t a good thing for my car but was less sure about myself since there were no obvious issues.  Yeah, I was sore but nothing broken.

No damage at all to the truck in front of me, thankfully.

No damage at all to the truck in front of me, thankfully.  It is hard to see the ball hitch since it is hidden in the shadow.  

 

It doesn't look all that bad from behind, does it?

It doesn’t look all that bad from behind, does it?  The bumper, bumper cover, back-up sensors and trunk lid had to be replaced along with a bunch of hidden parts.  

 

So sad!  That ball hitch sure caused a whole lot of damage.

So sad! That ball hitch sure caused a whole lot of damage.

 

And  you should've seen the other guy!  Totally most likely.

You should’ve seen the other guy! Totaled most likely.

An officer was there immediately to ask me if I was okay and then asked me to drive into the parking lot, the same one the man in front of me was heading for when this whole thing started.  It turned out that the officer actually witnessed the whole accident and even videoed it, something I figured would clearly be in my favor. Unfortunately the truck in front had one of those ball hitches on the back of his truck which impaled my poor little car, effectively killing the front bumper, grill, radiator and a bunch of associated parts.  Thankfully, the air bags didn’t deploy.  The officer told me my car was not drivable.  A little while later my car was yet again on the back of a flat bed tow truck, the third time since moving to North Carolina.

Maybe my car is just lazy and likes to be driven around!

Maybe my car is just lazy and likes to be driven around!  She’s a DIVA CAR!!!  Note that the top is still down!

Three days after the accident I realized I wasn’t really okay and went to the ER where I was diagnosed as having blunt force trauma to the abdomen as well as post concussion syndrome (PCS), the diagnosis given after one has had a concussion and the symptoms haven’t abated within 72 hours.

It is now five weeks since the accident.  I have been to my primary care physician twice as well as a neurologist.  The neurologist confirmed my PCS diagnosis, added vertigo to the mix and has set me up for an EEG this week.  Hopefully there’s something left in there for them to measure!

I have all sorts of cognitive symptoms at this point.  I’m not going to elaborate since I don’t want anything taken out of context.  I’m not happy that I still have symptoms and I hope they go away.  The neurologist is hopeful but acknowledged that there is also a chance that there will be no improvement.  Bottom line is there is no way of knowing now.

At this point I’d say I’m about 60-75% optimistic that I’ll be good enough in a while, potentially a while longer than I’d like.  But then there’s that other 25-40% of the time when I’m overtired or have just overdone it in some manner or just plain frustrated.  It’s those moments when I feel like my life has been taken out of my hands and I’ll never get back to where I was the morning of April 4th, prior to the accident.  I fear I may not get better and the issues I’m now having will interfere with the writing I had been doing every morning before the concussion.  I keep expecting the symptoms to ease up.  So far they haven’t.

I waited to write this post, hoping I’d have some kind of better news to share but it has already been too long without my sharing so here I am.  For the most part I’ve done okay enough with my mood.  At first I was sure I was more or less okay until the symptoms started to ramp up in intensity.  The day I went to the ER my whole front right side was so sore I could barely move.  The seatbelt, while doing its job, must have dug into my right side and caused some real muscular contusions.  The adrenaline that kept me going right after the accident has now been replaced with something else.  I’m terribly disappointed that I hardly got myself back on track after mom’s passing when I find myself derailed again.  As I said before, I’m also scared.

Like you've never seen this view before (from my RV window) but you've not seen it in spring yet!  You can see one of the four barrels I planted with flowers, herbs and tomato plants.

Like you’ve never seen this view before (from my RV window) but you’ve not seen it in spring yet! You can see one of the four barrels I planted with flowers, herbs and tomato plants.  Things sure did get green!

I have managed to get some photos of spring.  It really has been beautiful but more of that in my next post.  I will say that each of the seasons I’ve experienced so far (fall, winter and spring) have been extraordinarily different.  Surprisingly, my favorite season at this point has been winter.  Why is that a surprise?  Winter was always my least favorite season.  Spring was my second favorite season but it has been booted to third place with autumn now coming in second.  I suspect that summer will remain in last place since I’m not really a fan of the heat.  Things really can change.

Home again!  All fixed good as new.  Well, almost!

Home again! All fixed good as new. Well, almost!

I’ve gotten my car back after over three weeks spent at the body shop and nearly $7000 worth of repairs.  I suppose one good thing to come out of it is finding that the guys there were surprised to see how well my car held up in the accident, calling it “over engineered” (referring to what they told me was more of a truck bumper as opposed to a normal car bumper) and a “brick sh*t house”!  Thankfully the other insurance company already accepted liability.  I neglected to mention that the guy who hit me was cited for failing to slow down.  My “repairs” (doctor bills) are not initially covered by the other insurance company so everything is out of pocket for now after my insurance pays their share.  I’ve already received bills that I have no way of paying right now.  I receive no money for them until a final settlement is reached and who knows when that will be.

Okay, funny stuff – my car has been on the back of a tow truck three times, my car has spent seven weeks away from home being repaired in one way or another (spending time at one dealer and two body shops), I have now had a total of six different vehicles in my driveway (my car, four rentals and my original RV) and my car’s rear bumper and backup sensors were replaced less than a month prior to having to get them replaced all over again…all since I moved here!  I’m starting to think my car believes that getting repaired is vacation time!

Well, I guess that’s about it for now.  Hopefully I’ll be back soon but if not, at least now you know why I’ve been missing!

[A week has passed since I originally wrote this post and I am very slightly better.  Still not close to normal but at this point movement in a positive direction is better than none at all!]

© 2016 deborah kauffeld