Shade Bio

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Learning to Love Yourself

Good Morning my lovely little Otherbeasts! I hope you're having a very terrific Tuesday!

Challenge Issued!
Go to LearningToLoveYourselfMore.com, pick a project, and then do it!

Project #11
Photograph a scar and write about it.
Photograph a scar on your body or on someone else's body. Make it a close-up shot so that it shows just the scar. Include a story (write it on a computer as a separate file, don't write it on the photograph) about how the scar happened.


     This is a photograph of a scar that was self-inflicted. It was about 6 years ago and I was at my apartment waiting for my boyfriend at the time to arrive home from work. He had been working in a Cedar Break and would occasionally bring home branches of cedar that he thought would make good walking sticks/staffs. I became bored after watching TV and began to wander around. I eyed one of the branches and decided to start peeling away the bark to make myself a walking stick. I searched around the apartment and found his Buck Knife and proceeded out to the patio so get some fresh air and peel away the bark.
     The first half an hour of peeling off the bark went smoothly and I was beginning to expose the pale yellow wood grain. I reached a point in the branch where there was a knot. I was having trouble peeling around it and couldn't whittle it away, so I decided to use brute force. I remembered my mother's words, "Never point a knife towards you when you are cutting something. Always point it away from yourself." So I took the heavy Buck Knife and starting lobbing at the knot in the branch away from myself, up along the branch, towards the sky. I was having little luck, using my force against me and against gravity, and decided to use it in favor of the best results. I took the knife and turned it towards the ground, noting that I would have to be very careful not to injure myself.
     The hand that was holding the branch moved further away, down the branch, from the knot, just in case. I began hacking at the knot again, this time using my own strength and gravity in my favor. After several hacks, suddenly the knot gave way and peeled apart from the branch. My reaction was too slow and stopping the knife after expecting resistance was like stopping a boulder from rolling down a hillside. The knife sunk into my skin with a sickening thud. Since I didn't feel any pain I thought that maybe I had hit the handle against my knuckle.
     I looked down at my hand. I was wrong. The knife had lodged itself into my skin and since I hadn't moved my hand, was still resting there, waiting for my bidding. I internally panicked, knowing that this was not a good thing. I dislodged the knife, wondering why the pain hadn't hit me yet, and set down the branch along with the offending weapon. I walked into the house, into the kitchen, and to the sink. I began running cool water from the tap. I pulled my hand closer to my face to examine it and where the deep cut was, I could see white. I gently tugged on my skin, pulling apart the wound ever so slightly and that's when the pain hit me like a freight train. The slash began to bleed profusely and startled,  I jumped, my heartbeat accelerating in my chest. Not good, not good, this is not good, I started repeating to myself silently. A chuckle escaped my lips because the voice in my head sounded like Dustin Hoffman from Rain Man.
     Gotta call Joseph, gotta call him, need to call him. I grabbed several paper towels and wrapped them around my hand. Ugh, this is new carpet. No dripping blood on the floor. I ran to my underwear drawer and grabbed a thigh high stocking, sheer tan, and bound the paper towels to my hand. I dashed back to living room and picked up my cell, my shaking hand fumbling on the number pad as I tried to make the call. C'mon, c'mon, pick up, pick up. I heard a click, "Hello?"
"Baby? Something happened." I said as calmly as I could
"What? What is it? Are you okay?" He started assailing me.
"Well... yes and no." I hesitated. "You know your buck knife?" I heard him grunt in acknowledgment on the other end. The words started flying out of my mouth at the speed of light, "Well, I started trimming down that branch you brought home and I hit a knot and so I started hacking at it and my hand was in the way and I cut myself with it."
"How bad is it?" I heard the panic rising in his voice.
"It's bleeding... and I think I might need stitches." I mumbled, a bit ashamed of myself.
"Okay, just calm down, baby." He sighed. "We're leaving now and we'll be there as soon as we can, okay?"
"Okay. Please hurry." I requested before the line went dead.
     Joseph was working with his father and they were both on their way now. I sat down at the kitchen table, applying pressure to the cut as best as I could without sending shooting pains through my hand. The minutes seemed to drag by like hours. I began to rock myself slowly in my chair, holding my hand to my chest. The phone rang and I jumped, startled again. I answered it quickly, "Hello?"
"We're 5 minutes away, are you still okay?" He asked quickly. I could
hear the roar of his truck in the background as he sped forward.
"Yes, I think so. Please hurry, please." I begged again.
"I'm going as fast as I can sweetheart, okay? My dad's with me and we're going to take a look at it and take care of you, okay?"
"Okay." I sniffled a little as the line went silent again. What was I thinking?! What an idiot I was being. Why hadn't I had just done things the right way?
     Moments later the door flew open and Joseph was hauling towards me. He placed his arm gently around my shoulders and squeezed me lightly, setting his lips briefly on my temple in a quick kiss, "Lets have a look okay?" I shook my head violently, I didn't want to take the bandage off, I wanted to go to the hospital. He knew what I was thinking, "Look," he started, "we need to look at it so we can see if the hospital is necessary, okay? You might just need butterfly stitches, all right?"
I shook my head back and forth again fervently like a small child.
"Stacey, please... trust me?" He looked into my eyes, pleading. I nodded almost imperceptibly. He began to undo my handy work of the pantyhose and the paper towels. He took my hand and looked at it, it was muddied up with blood. He led me over to the sink and let the cool tap water run over my cut. A new pain stung through my arm, like someone had injected ice water into my veins. He looked at the slash and assessed it. "Looks like you'll just need some butterfly stitches, okay? We can go get those at the drug store."
"No... no... " I started, "No, I need to get real stitches." My brow furrowed into determination. His father walked in at that moment, flinging the door wide, worry creased on his already wrinkled forehead. He came to examine me, too. He looked at my hand, took it in his own gently, and got a better look. He nodded to Joseph, "She's fine." He gave me a slight smile and then handed my own hand back to his son's hands before walking back out of the room. He was a man of very few words. Joseph spoke to me again, "Sweetheart, you're just fine. Butterfly stitches will fix you up like it never happened."
     I knew he was stretching the truth but I agreed. I didn't really want to go to the emergency room anyway and have to wait for all those people ahead of me to get their sniffles treated, or their stomach flu fixed, or their hypochondria confirmed again.
     So after getting the butterfly stitches taped onto my knuckle and being told I was fine, I finally relaxed. After a week, I had a scab protecting my accident and after two weeks, I had a bright pink puckered line where there had once been a deep cut. The pain inside my knuckle persisted for a good six months, maybe even a year, before I finally noticed the scar returning to my normal skin color.

Occasionally, though, I still feel that throbbing pain in my knuckle, as if my bones remember the incident all too well.

Until Next Time,
<3 Shade

Monday, July 30, 2012

Easy Duct Tape Roses

Hello lovely little Otherbeasts! I wanted to share with you one of my favorite crafts:
Duct Tape Roses!

Approximate make time: 10 minutes per rose.
(It took me longer to write this blog than to make one rose.)

What you'll need:
- Scissors (Safety for Kids)
- Straws
- Green Duct Tape
- Duct Tape (Any Color)

To Begin:
Take out a straw and lay it on a flat working surface. Either measure with a ruler or eyeball the length of the straw and cut off a piece of green duct tape slightly longer than the straw. 

Turn the duct tape sticky side up and place straw on edge of duct tape lengthwise.

Start rolling the straw, pressing against the tape, until the straw is wrapped in the duct tape. You'll wind up with a green "stem." Set the stem aside, we'll come back to that shortly.

Now choose any color of tape you prefer for your flowers; it could be pink, yellow, purple, blue, tye-dyed, camo, or anything your heart desires. I will be using yellow duct tape for this blog. Tear or cut off sections approximately 2" to 2.5" long. 

Depending on how many petals you would like on your roses you can choose any number of strips; I usually use a minimum of 12 individual 2" strips. You can use more if you like.

Start by turning your petal duct tape tape side up and folding one corner into the center like so:

Follow up with folding the opposite corner in as well, forming a triangle with a strip of sticky side exposed. It won't matter if they're perfectly even and lined up, but if you're a perfectionist like me, it can't hurt. Just try to get them as close as possible.

Continue to do this for the next 11 petals and you'll wind up with 12 petals total.

Next take each petal and round out the triangles by scalloping the edges with scissors. If you want a flashier, more fierce looking flower then leave the petals uncut.

Now take your first petal and begin rolling it onto one of the ends of the stem. I always roll my first petal at an angle in order to cover up the tip of the straw.

Next take each petal and place it on top of the first, making sure to put in little creases and darts where the sticky strip is in order to create waves in the petals.

Don't worry about the bottom of the petals where they meet the straw just yet, we'll fix that once the bloom is formed.

Tray alternating starting points for the petals so they lay in an overlapping pattern. Continue for all petals and you'll start seeing this:

Continue for all the petals until you are satisfied with how your flower looks.

If you want more petals, then add more! I used 14 for this rose and for symmetry.

Next take your green duct tape and cut a strip approximately 2" long. Cut little triangles out of one side to make rosehips.

Take this piece and wrap it around the bottom of the bloom halfway between the petals and the straw.

Continue to wrap around until completing a circle, it's okay if two strips are necessary.

If you would like to add leaves to your stem then just repeat the petal process with the green duct tape, but varying the shape you cut out to resemble that of a leaf.

Now attach to stem about 3/4 to 1/2 down the length of the stem.

You can use as many as you like.

Viola and congratulations! You've just made your first duct tape rose!

Make as many as you want, heck make a dozen and stick 'em in a vase: Perma-Flowers!

Try making them your own and experimenting with the shape of the petals to yield a daisy or anything you like!

Maybe use regular grey duct tape and make "metal" roses!

You are only limited by your imagination.

Super cheap, super simple, and super fun! Great craft idea for kiddos or for the creative genius in all of us. Guys: Give your girl flowers that will never die!
Have fun my lovely Otherbeasts!

Until Next Time,
<3 Shade

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another Seizure, Another Medication

Hello my lovely Otherbeasts! I hope your weekend continues to be an outstanding one!

Well, some bad news to report: back on July 7th I had a seizure. No, it's not the first one I've ever had, but it was the first one I had since I've been on medication since August 2008. I was so mad! I had made it almost 4 years to the date without having one and then BAM, another one struck.

My seizures started back in 2006 when I was 23... I am now 29. After a year of ignoring them and assuming they were terrible dreams (I used to chew up and bloody the inside of my lower lip) in 2007 I finally had a seizure during broad daylight on my back porch with no one around and it scared me into taking it much more seriously. From 2007 to 2008 my old neurologist even gave up after putting me through the wringer with every test imaginable – which all came back normal - and settled for “convulsions by history” since he could never witness one (3 or 4 of my seizures were witness by two different people) and prescribed me to take 1000mg Keppra 2x Day and 0.5mg of Clonazepam 2-3x Day.

I guess I should tell you a little bit about my seizures as they're very atypical. Also in the hopes of finding SOMEONE who might experience the same thing. Since my diagnosis of "convulsions by history" in 2008, four years later I have yet to find but ONE person who has seizures similar to mine. I have auras which have yet to be determined to be actual auras or simple partial seizures; but really they're just the same thing:

(From Wikipedia) ((Oh, how I love Wiki.)
Simple Partial Seizures: "Simple partial seizures are seizures which affect only a small region of the brain, often the temporal lobes and/or hippocampi. People who have simple partial seizures retain consciousness. Simple partial seizures are often precursors to larger seizures, where the abnormal electrical activity spreads to a larger area of (or all of) the brain, usually resulting in a complex partial seizure or a tonic-clonic seizure. In this case they are often known as an aura."
My Experience:
Auras (Simple Partial Seizure) (5-10 Seconds: Daytime and nighttime left arm tremor/spasm/jerking - occasionally accompanied by tingling and/or numbness. Arm will pull in to chest and pass usually within 15-30 seconds. Occasionally left foot will become numb/tingly with accompanying twitching of big toe and/or the rest of the toes. Intense feelings of discomfort or foreboding/panic. During the night I will wake approximately 5 to 10 seconds into the seizure onset and grasp at or shove my partner to let him know that a seizure is imminent. When the Complex Partial Seizure takes place my consciousness is impaired but never lost. 

I panic. Now usually it just stops there and I go about my merry way, but on those terrifying occasions where, for whatever reason, my seizure threshold is lower, it progresses into a Complex Partial Seizure.
Here comes Wiki again:
Complex Partial Seizure: "A complex partial seizure is an epileptic seizure that is associated with bilateral cerebral hemisphere involvement and causes impairment of awareness or responsiveness, i.e. loss of consciousness."

My Experience:
Progresses into Complex Partial Seizure (5-10 Seconds) to a Generalized Tonic Clonic Seizure:
My body freezes up. I hear myself in a blood-curdling scream but it reality it has been described as a low moan. Visual disturbances occur and become impaired. Painful Sensory Disturbances begin to take place - most often in my feet and progress up my body until it reaches my head - excruciating pain along with the feeling of being unraveled or de-pixelated, sometimes the pain is like I'm in a vise or my limbs and body are literally being torn, twisted, or corkscrewed. The pain is overwhelming and excruciating.

Now, there's nothing I can do at this point to stop it, and it continues to develop into a Tonic-Clonic seizure: Wikipedia says: "Tonic–clonic seizures (formerly known as grand mal seizures or gran mal seizures) are a type of generalized seizure that affects the entire brain. Tonic–clonic seizures are the seizure type most commonly associated with epilepsy and seizures in general, though it is a misconception that they are the only type."

My Experience:
Progresses into secondary generalized tonic-clonic seizure (grand mal seizure.)
Tonic Phase (Often Overlapping with the Complex Partial Seizure): (5-10 Seconds)
-My Experience: My body remains stiff/frozen with continued shivering. The terrifying and excruciating painful sensory feelings travels upward from my feet and legs while I am in this position. Once the painful twisting sensation travels up through my legs, waist, torso, chest, and neck and finally reaches my head I lose consciousness.

Clonic Phase (Overlapping the Tonic Phase): (5-10 seconds)
-My Experience: My eyes will go to the 2 o'clock position (from the perspective of an observer). I remain frozen in this position for approximately 5-10 seconds while still vibrating/shivering. I have never experienced incontinence or loss of bowels. Afterward I am unconscious and my breathing is labored. I salivate and it mixes with the air passing through my lips which creates a spittle foam.

Now, after all of that is said and done, I experience what's called the postictal state.
Wikipedia: "The postictal state is the altered state of consciousness that a person enters after experiencing a seizure. It usually lasts between 5 and 30 minutes, but sometimes longer in the case of larger or more severe seizures and is characterized by drowsiness, confusion, nausea, hypertension, headache or migraine and other disorienting symptoms. Additionally, emergence from this period is often accompanied by amnesia or other memory defects. It is during this period that the brain recovers from the trauma of the seizure.
While the postictal period is considered to be the period shortly after a seizure where the brain is still recovering from the seizure, the ictal period is considered to be the seizure itself, and the interictal period to be the period between seizures, when brain activity is more normal."

 My Experience:
Postictal Phase (2 minutes-10 minutes):
-Description: Due to physical and nervous exhaustion, Postictal sleep invariably follows a tonic–clonic seizure. Confusion and complete amnesia upon regaining consciousness is usually experienced and slowly wears off as the person becomes gradually aware that a seizure occurred.
-My experience: Approximately 5 minutes after losing consciousness I will be awake for 6-8 seconds at a time followed by an equal time of unconsciousness. I am receptive to verbal commands at this time, but in a massive state of confusion or a mental fog, I have a very hard time understanding what is being said to me as I lapse back and forth; I will go limp until my next cycle of being conscious. This lasts for 3-5 minutes after which I remain awake and finally speak with some difficulty. My words are difficult and usually slurred. During this phase where I am able to remain awake I always experience labored breathing, accelerated heart-rate, the sense of terror, confusion, and an inability to calm down due to the entire episode being so traumatic and painful. I must be told several times by my partner to relax, calm down, and that I'm okay. I experience extreme coldness to the point of shivering and needing extra blankets or else needing a warm bath. The remainder of the day is spent cat-napping due to exhaustion.

So, the conclusion I've come to (although I'm no neurologist or even a nurse) is:

A Seizure in Three Phases (Possible IC3 Seizures: Simple partial seizures evolving to complex partial seizures evolving to generalized seizures in the form of Rolandic Somatosensory Generalized Tonic Clonic Seizures). 

Sounds fancy right? Well, it doesn't feel fancy. Luckily, I've had someone witness two or three of them and so if you're wondering what they look like, here is the personal third person testimony:

“During the night she will wake approximately 5 seconds before the seizure and grasp my arm to let me know that one is imminent. When the seizure takes place she will become stiff, extend her right arm at a 90 degree angle (with the right hand curling slightly inward), her left arm will bend and curl to her chest, and her eyes will go to the 2 o'clock position (from the perspective of an observer). She will remain in this position for approximately 15-20 seconds.

A very minor shivering or shaking sensation will start to travel upward from her legs while she is in this position. Her lips and teeth chatter which cause the inside of her lower lip to become bloody and torn up. Once it travels through her torso and neck and reaches her head she will lose consciousness.

She is conscious for these episodes and describes still being able to hear my voice despite being able to see or respond. Usually tears stream from her eyes.

Afterward she is unconscious and her breathing is labored. She salivates and this mixes with the air passing through her lips to create a foam that runs down the side of her face.

Approximately 5 minutes after losing consciousness she will be awake for 6-8 seconds at a time followed by an equal time of unconsciousness. She is receptive to verbal commands at this time, but as she lapses back and forth she will go limp until her next cycle of being conscious. This lasts for 3-5 minutes after which she remains awake and finally speaks with some difficulty. Her words are difficult and usually slurred.

WOW. So, I am extraordinarily embarrassed that a couple people have seen me in that state ( and it must be scary) but I can't exactly control it. My other thought is that it's either originating or traveling across the somatosensory part of my brain. (Wikipedia!: Somatosensory)

 Here's why I think this:
"Other somatosensory features in epilepsy are body image disturbances, such as feeling of movement or altered posture in a stationary limb, feeling of floating, twisting or even disintegration of a body part." ( http://www.e-epilepsy.org.uk/pages/articles/show_article.cfm?id=88 )
This seems to be in line with what I experience
I think the pain is due to still being conscious in the Tonic (stiffening) phase because of its evolution.

So, if you want to get real nerdy and make your brain sweat (challenge issued) here's the description medical terminology:

Bilateral motor seizures starting in the right rolandic area and spread via the corpus callosum to the left rolandic area; painful seizures have been described, but are uncommon and thought to be more often related to involvement of the somatosensory cortex than simply the conscious awareness of painful involuntary motor movements. Furthermore, pain is often part of the somatosensory aura preceding the motor manifestations. In our patients, the pain occurred during motor movements, but seemed excessive given the intensity of the movements. Therefore, whereas the pain was timed most closely with the limb movements, dysaesthesia related to involvement of the primary sensory (SI) or secondary sensory (SII) cortex is an alternative and perhaps a more likely mechanism.

In summary, we describe painful seizures in which consciousness was preserved throughout bilateral clonic or tonic-clonic motor seizures documented by simultaneous video-EEG monitoring. We think that this seizure type results from the spread of the seizure activity to both hemispheres, yet is limited to sensorimotor pathways in the central brain regions, and sparing the neural structures involved in maintaining consciousness and in processing language and memory.

Somatosensory cortex:
Seizures arising in the somatosensory cortex produce paresthesia on the contralateral side that can spread (in a manner similar to the "march" of motor symptoms) over the body. After the focal seizure there may be diminished sensations in the region.

The patient with rapid onset of transient sensory symptoms can represent a particular diagnostic difficulty. The differential diagnostic possibilities for this presentation include transient ischemic attacks (TIA), migraine transient dysfunction, and simple partial seizures of a somatosensory type. There are some factors that would favor a diagnosis of TIA, such as older age, clinically evident cervical vessel stenotic disease, lack of a "march" (see above), previous history of cerebrovascular disease, changes in the retinal blood vessels (e.g., residual cholesterol emboli) and additional involvement of motor systems. Migraine would be suspected if the sensory symptoms were followed by headache, usually unilateral. However, it must be kept in mind that headache may be a rare manifestation of seizure (usually during the postictal period), and may also be seen with transient ischemic attacks on occasion. It is helpful to note that the sensory symptoms of migraine spread ("march") over the body in a period of minutes, while those of seizure usually march over seconds. On the other hand, symptoms of transient ischemia appear suddenly. Of course, if the focal seizure is followed by a secondarily generalized seizure, the diagnosis of seizure disorder is almost assured since it is very rare that transient ischemia initiates a focal seizure.

Somatosensory Seizures: These are the most common type of seizure in parietal epilepsies. Patients with these types of seizures describe feeling physical sensations of numbness and tingling, heat, pressure, electricity and/or pain. Pain, though a rare symptom in seizures overall, is quite common in parietal seizures, occurring in up to one quarter of patients. Some patients describe a typical “Jacksonian march”, in which the sensation “marches” in a predictable pattern from the face to the hand up the arm and down the leg. Rarely, a patient will describe a sensation in the genitalia, occasionally leading to orgasm. (I wish.)

Somatic Illusions: During a somatic illusion, another common symptom of parietal seizures, patients may experience a feeling like their posture is distorted, that their arms or legs are in a weird position or are in motion when they are not, or that a part of their body is missing or feels like it does not belong.

Vertigo: Patients with parietal seizures may experience a sensation of movement or spinning of the environment, or of their body within the environment.

Visual Illusions and Hallucinations: Patients with visual illusions report a distortion of visual perception: objects seem too close, too far, too large, too small, slanted, moving or otherwise not right. A patient with hallucinations describes seeing objects that seem very real, though in fact they do not exist.

Language Disturbances: Rarely, a patient with a parietal seizure will report difficulty understanding.

So, in conclusion, my lovely little Otherbeasts: if you have your health: CHERISH IT. Also, if this is familiar to you, or know someone who describes similar experiences, please, please, please, please, PLEASE, send them in my direction.

Other than that, my new neurologist increased my Keppra (levetiracetam) to 1500mg 2x Day.
The clonazepam has stayed the same.

Hopefully this blog article will help some people out there, and maybe, just maybe, if I'm lucky, it will help me too. For now, I am alright (beside the fact that it's Texas State Law that I be legally forbidden to drive for 6 months after the seizure for everyone's safety) and I am doing well despite my seizure disorder. Let's hope and pray for another almost 4 years of being seizure free!

Until Next Time,
<3 Shade