Monday, December 7, 2015

A Little Less Safe

I'm suffering this minute from what I can only imagine is a version of PTSD. According to the Mayo Clinic these symptoms could include:

Mood: anger, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, inability to feel pleasure, loneliness, loss of interest, nervousness, panic attack, or emotional distress
Behavioral: aggression, agitation, hostility, hypervigilance, irritability, screaming, self-destructive behavior, self-harm, or social isolation
Psychological: depression, fear, flashback, hallucination, severe anxiety, or mistrust
Sleep: insomnia, night terror, nightmares, or sleep deprivation
Cognitive: thoughts of suicide or unwanted thoughts
Whole body: acute stress or blackout
Also common: emotional detachment, headache, or lack of emotional response

I'm inclined to describe them more as "feeling constantly on the verge of tears; not able to focus on anything important; wanting to shut-down, go to bed and pull the covers over my head."  Although I have experienced nothing of the magnitude that, say, someone who has fought in the military or lived through a mass shooting has experienced, in my own small way I have suffered from a traumatic experience that makes me afraid of my own neighborhood and has me looking over my shoulder for the enemy.

This morning, in the still early twilight hours we were headed out to a meeting. We passed the little store in our neighborhood where a car had just pulled into the small parking lot. As we passed the car pulled quickly out of the lot and came up behind us. I thought nothing of that although my hubby got one of those weird feelings like "what if this driver has ill-intent and tries to ram me at the stop sign." While that specific action did not take place what happened in the next few minutes amounted to harassment on a level that spawned terror in us. The driver of the car started speeding up close and then backing off, swerving all over the road behind us, flashing his high beams at us. Our first response was that we should just get off the road and allow him to pass and create some distance between us. However, whenever we would make a move to get off the road he clearly intended to keep following--and terrorizing us. I began to have visions of being run off the road into the ditch or worse, being shot at. He turned off his headlights altogether a couple of times and the second time sped up to come up alongside us. At this point we sped up and I called 911. Between our speeding up and his backing off we put some distance between us again in time for other cars to enter the road. Whatever the reason, we saw no more of him after that but the deed had been done. We were terrified beyond reason and couldn't wait to get off the road and to our destination.

So many thoughts have gone through my head since that encounter, not the least of which is fear to be in my own small neighborhood, a victim of some crazed lunatic with a 2,000 pound car as his weapon. It brought home the truth that we can never become lulled into thinking that even our own little corner of the world is entirely safe. And certainly this notion is confirmed at least weekly it seems as another mass shooting takes place in this country. I feel fear but I also feel anger--anger that someone could in fact act so dangerously and terrify me so completely, anger that he took away any sense of safety. 
And in the end, I feel a little less safe than I did 24 hours ago.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Exclusive! Book Excerpt!

I finally launched my first published book this fall. There is something quite wonderful about hugging nearly 300 pages, bound in a shiny cover, of words that you have written. Even if you have to publish it yourself and even if you give away more copies than you sell. It is proof, right there in your hands, that you have accomplished something.

So the next accomplishment would be to sell a few copies and actually get someone to read it and maybe even give feedback. So as an enticement, for those of you who like to try before you buy, I present to you a sneak preview of of chapter. (P.S. You can also scroll back in this blog to find other excerpts if this one isn't convincing enough!)

Limbs are from Mars, Brains are from Venus
Jun 7, 2011 5:21pm
So when you have a stroke like mine the bleeding causes death to the brain cells in the area of the bleed and brain cells do not regenerate; they stay dead (an obvious misstep in the evolutionary process!). But all is not lost; the brain can often create a workaround with a bit of a rewiring job to reconnect the disconnected circuitry. The way it has been explained to me this process, while spearheaded by the brain, is a partnership--not unlike a marriage--between the brain and the newly disconnected body parts such as muscles. In my case the process requires a renewed commitment to communication between my brain and my right appendages. But also in my case the 2 parts have been in a relationship so long that as with male/female relationships of any length--say, more than 4 months!--the one partner has really stopped listening, with any intent, to the other partner. They have reached the point in their "marriage" where she (in this example, the brain) can be talking directly and emphatically to the foot, leg & arm muscles to do something and he (in this example, the disconnected limbs) are either ignoring the brain outright (as husbands are wont to do at times!) or at best responding, "Sorry, did you say something?"

The obvious result is slow progress toward the goal of reconciliation; hence there is an also obvious need for therapy in which the partners need to be led with help to find new ways to communicate with each other their needs and aspirations. Therapy does take time, is often hard work, requires mutual agreement to commit to, and isn't necessarily a cure-all. But the results are almost always worth the effort!

I am seeing progress, inch by inch, as my brain & limbs reunite, albeit often stubbornly. I am able to push myself to a standing position, stand w/o holding on for a few seconds, dress myself almost completely alone (curse you, bras and underwear!), shower almost completely independently sitting down, take a few "Frankenstein-like" steps with something to support me, and even practiced stepping up onto and down from a "step" with assistance (go ahead and cheer; I'm becoming slightly more tolerant of being the center of attention and will work on my bow!). There might be hope for this "marriage" yet!