brightlotusmoon: (Asha)
So, my thoughts have been spinning merrily amidst what could be a spiraling episode of... Oh, fuck, probably everything at once. After I had a chat with three doctors about the consequences of stress-related memory loss, I quietly decided to start a private mindfulness therapy, which I have only been sharing with the psychologist, for advice, while I move forward in my own brain to stop my own brain from destroying my mindstate.

Tomorrow, I see my general physician and have her write a referral for the local hyperbaric oxygen therapy center. Although it's a bit premature, as they have yet to call me back about an initial consultation. While I was filling out their online New Patient form, I started wondering if they would even take someone like me, with two dozen illness. Even though cerebral palsy is the cornerstone. I just feel so excited about it. That's a good thing. I can still most of my emotion things.

What I find beautiful and fascinating about my private therapy protocol is that almost nobody believes me. I have been stuck in something insane since 2010. Why would they believe I would "get better" now, so many years later after therapy and medications and meditative exercises? Then again, none of them have been in long term therapy or medication. It really does take many years to spur a change this massive. Hence the secret protocol, which includes a possible medication update and potential oxygen therapy.

I don't expect anyone to believe me. I don't expect anyone to believe in my desire to change with this therapy protocol. How could they? Why would they? I am the same as I was when symptoms started. But I don't want their belief. I don't really want support if there is no actual active knowledge. How can you say "Hey, I've been there, I get it, fist bump in solidarity" unless you really have gone through a similar structure of treatment repeatedly for a grab bag of illnesses that mindfuck you for no reason?
Actual legitimate question, BTW.
If you're also a parent of someone with interconnected psychiatric and neurological disorders, I would love input, because when I try to explain these things to my mom who only has hereditary ADHD controlled via lifestyle, my emotion-brain starts shutting down so my technical-brain can word at her, and I know she wants less science and more human. I'm trying. I just cannot get past that very protective mental guardian who shields emotion-Joanna from Outside. And oh, as much as I love Serena, she feels it is easier and gentler to let me sleep while she and Koan the calico kitten organize and compartmentalize all the Me. Ananta works hard enough balancing out all the neuroweird that Alicia in my private epileptic Wonderland can't reach. I haven't had much success in psychically merging with Asha. We are working out my dissociative and depersonalization episodes first.

I will do this. It will happen. Steps have been severely taken. Hard to talk. But if you think you get it, I would love a discussion via Private Message. I am willing to reveal bits and pieces of my Rebuild Joanna Brain Project to acquire tips and advice from those who get it.

Now, see, I view many people as family beyond my blood family - who shall remain the besy family I would want. Various people in my social circle - friends plus family - have always stood with me. I will always need and want that. But for those who are truly normal and looking at me with confusion, puzzlement, exasperation, fear, anger... and the type of condesencing that means pats on the head, chuckling, and "I love you sweetie. Of course you'll change." "You do nothing. You never help. You are too self absorbed, you don't think, you claim memory loss. It is all right, dear. We are used to hit. Just finish writing." Followed by another hair tousle. I'm used to it. It's routine because I am me.
I am not out to prove them wrong, not entirely. I am out to prove to myself that my neuroplasticity really might eradicate the worst of the annoying symptoms.
Maybe this whole autistic ramble came from my hope and excitement over this slow gentle therapeutic process. If loved ones want me to speed it up, I can turn away for a while to meditate.

All I know is that my own husband has been putting up with me forever, and that says something huge.

Love you, LJ family.
brightlotusmoon: (Asha)
...I do need to get an account of my own, mind you.

A friend posted this, so I'm sharing.


You need a (free) Medscape account to read this (you may, er, need to fudge a little about *technically* being in the healthcare profession . . . my opinion is that those of us who need to spend significant time managing our medical care are roughly equivalent to being at least *part-time* healthcare workers.) ;P

It's important to stay up-to-date on this, because medical continuing education programs don't necessarily require keeping up with specific disease criteria, and may be more general in nature -- plus, the trigger-point/tender-point exam has been around for so long, it's a matter of habit with some clinicians. You will be best-armed to manage your own care, if you walk into your appointments without assuming that your doctor is necessarily knowledgeable about the *most* recent research.

"[T]he 2010 criteria was to create diagnostic criteria that were more user-friendly for clinicians to use in practice— for example, reliance on the tender point exam, which we know may be incorrectly applied in practice and be misleading in suggesting that FM is primarily a muscle or tendon problem as opposed to being primarily a problem with sensitization and dysregulation of the CNS. The new criteria rely more on pattern recognition of the constellation of chronic widespread pain along with other characteristic features such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, cognitive dysfunction, and irritable bowel symptoms—symptoms that may occur either as an independent entity or in association with other chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis."

Also, a recent study has shown that fibromyalgia patients process multiple types of sensation differently, not just pain sensations:

"Brain scans of patients with fibromyalgia showed that they processed nonpainful stimuli, such as sound and touch, differently than the brains of people without the disorder. This may explain why patients often complain of hypersensitivity to sensations in everyday life, author Marina López-Solà, PhD, from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told Medscape Medical News.

"What we wanted to know is whether in fact there was something in the brain that would account for these feelings in response to stimulation that is not painful in nature," Dr. López-Solà said. The study, published online September 15 in Arthritis & Rheumatism, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show that patients with fibromyalgia processed visual, auditory, and tactile sensations with reduced brain activity in primary sensory processing areas, combined it with higher activity in sensory integration areas such as the insula, compared with individuals without fibromyalgia."

Please feel free to quote and repost anywhere -- just please don't attach my name to it, since I don't want to lose access to *my* Medscape account. Thanks!

brightlotusmoon: (Asha)
FYI! Got my brain CD. The neurologist couldn't find anything out of the ordinary that was not already abnormal, etc. So I went and got the CD with my MRI and brought it home, and Adam turned it into a Power Point presentation. I wish so much I knew what to really see, that I could see with a neuroscientist's eyes. I can see my butterfly's broken wings. And the thinning of the corpus callosum.

Let me see if I can copy from the paperwork...

Abnormal dilation of both lateral ventricles with an asymmetric area of dilation along the mid body of the right lateral ventricle. Waviness and distortion of the lateral ventricular margins bilaterally. Dilatation of the third ventricle. Partial absence of the septum pellucidum. Generalized thinning of the corpus callosum which appears grossly intact. These findings likely represent developmental anomalies of the brain; however, these findings could also represent the sequela of in utero ischemia and periventricular leukomalacia. There is no evidence of focal abnormality of the temporal lobes.

Ahh, science. *basking in words*

Now, however... I am still irritated about the lack of EEG response. They tell me I was born with epilepsy - and there is the physical evidence in my brain creature right there. However, I feel... I suppose silly is the word. This may not be an ordinary kind of epilepsy where electrical activity shows up on EEGs. But... but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. I guess. I just sometimes wonder, that's all.
brightlotusmoon: (Asha)
Via Facebook:

So, anyway, people seem to be asking over and over and over "Does CP cause X? Is X linked to CP?" and I keep posting websites as replies and I don't know who actually reads them...[tt_news]=206306

Also, does anyone have full access to articles from sites like Medscape, NCBI, etc?
brightlotusmoon: (Asha)
So, the comment threads have turned awesome and have been a ton of fun. We're still rolling. Starting with critiquing Temple Grandin's societal status as "that famous autistic" and moving to needing autistic representation to cerebral palsy comorbidity to mental illness and neurodivergence, this is one of the most fascinating off-topic threads I've participated in.
brightlotusmoon: (Magic Goddesses Mix)
"Imagine being born into a world of bewildering, inescapable sensory overload, like a visitor from a much darker, calmer, quieter planet. Your mother’s eyes: a strobe light. Your father’s voice: a growling jackhammer. That cute little onesie everyone thinks is so soft? Sandpaper with diamond grit. And what about all that cooing and affection? A barrage of chaotic, indecipherable input, a cacophony of raw, unfilterable data.
Just to survive, you’d need to be excellent at detecting any pattern you could find in the frightful and oppressive noise. To stay sane, you’d have to control as much as possible, developing a rigid focus on detail, routine and repetition. Systems in which specific inputs produce predictable outputs would be far more attractive than human beings, with their mystifying and inconsistent demands and their haphazard behavior.
They call it the “intense world” syndrome.
The behavior that results is not due to cognitive deficits—the prevailing view in autism research circles today—but the opposite, they say. Rather than being oblivious, autistic people take in too much and learn too fast. While they may appear bereft of emotion, the Markrams insist they are actually overwhelmed not only by their own emotions, but by the emotions of others."
brightlotusmoon: (Asha)
So, this Saturday's MLP FIM was a fantastic, perfect example of different types of learning, specifically when working with mental, neurological, and learning disabilities. My love of Rainbow Dash has increased a bit! She's more humble, less egocentric, and more inclusive.
And it reminded me of the ways I learn well.
I tend to learn best when I have more than one thing happening, like Rainbow. I prefer books and lessons like Twilight, and I love musicals like Pinkie... but my method of learning is peripheral absorption. I could have stopped researching holism in relation to neuroscience years ago. I kept going because a new thought, question, or concern forms in my mind, I rush to look it up, and by doing that I drag other bits of information into the edges of my processing.
This is also how it can be easy to lose information into the depths of brain fog, seizure activity, memory problems, and mental fatigue. I can fixate on specific subjects out of desperation, and once the symptoms of information degradation has passed, I can call up the tidbits I saved and re-learn them.
This is also part of why some of my friends hate the show Futurama. They are so irritated that they lash out. I cannot explain very well that the program is a very specific kind of background comfort. I've been told, "You can recall all this dialogue from Futurama. That means you don't have memory problems. You just need to turn that focus on to important and smarter things, because Futurama is stupid." What they don't realize is that I use Google search for most of my quote-backs. And this is where being autistic comes into play, of course. Special Interests, specific focuses, comforts. I could easily do the same with MLP, but it is still new. I could and would repeat every since episode over and over. I could do that with other series, like Archer. Adventure Time. The Tomorrow People. Lost Girl. The Big Bang Theory. The Simpsons. American Dad.

MLP FIM is a huge part of my special Interests, specific focuses, comforts.
"Testing Testing 1 2 3" is my new favorite episode. I hope schools wind up applying it to help learning disabled students.
brightlotusmoon: (Asha)
'Reborn' by Laura Sava (
'Mirabella' by Rachel Anderson (‎)

Two forms of my own story character, Asha Clara Night, my strongest, most individual, most personal fiction character.

These paintings. Completely different images that look almost exactly like incarnations of the same character of my own subconscious creation Women who look almost exactly like the dreamself I am becoming in my dreams and visions.


Rachel Anderson Mirabella

She was in my dreams last night and many nights before. I haven't decided exactly who she is yet, but in my dreams her name is Asha, meaning "desire, hope, hopeful; life; alive; she who lives." Which says so much, so so much.

She is another dreamself, not a spirit guardian, but much closer to my Self than my other characters (Alicia, Serena, Ananta: my spirit guardian coping mechanisms for epilepsy, memory loss, insomnia, sleep problems, [Alicia], chronic pain and fatigue, depression, anxiety, physical disabilities [Serena], neurology, neurodivergence, autism, total mind-body connection [Ananta].

Asha seems to represent many internal things about my emotions, my heart and mind, my rhyme and reason, my logic, my science, my creativeness and creativity, my power, my energy, my beauty. If she were to reveal herself as a guardian, she would be for emotional states, creative thoughts, desires, loves, patterns, ideas.
Asha is definitely powerful in a way I always wanted to be since childhood: Fae and and Elemental Mage and Neurodivergent and Autistic Witch and Quantum Magic Scientist and Story Crafter and Shape Shifter and Magic Librarian and Magic Keeper.

Asha seems to represent my deep, obsessive, compulsive wish and desire to be one of the psionic-mage superhumans in my stories, to take over for be when I feel failure and self-loathing and terror and panic. I think Asha may in fact be an actual entity, one who communicates outside instead of simply speaking into my visions, dreams, pain flare withdrawings, anxiety attacks.

All I know is that Asha was in every dream last night and throughout the past several sleeps, long detailed intense dreams, and she quoted Kosh. She spoke in a soprano version of my voice that could sing. She was always here She is always here. She has always been here.
I think she was with me since I was a baby. In different forms, in different species, with different names, in different imaginary beings, in different fictional characters. She was made of fire. She used to be a phoenix, a unicorn, a dragon, a star, a nebula. I know Asha. I know Asha in the way I hope to know myself.

The thing is, Asha has a fully active voice when I am completely conscious, aware, awake, functional, and stable. She didn't completely create herself, but she grew and evolved over my lifetime in her own way as a character in my subconscious. She took ideas I worked with and wove them into her personality, behavior, and mentality. My disabilities are hers. She stayed and changed and grew with me like a permanent piece of my spirit. Asha also represents my fluid sexuality - I often visit her in the place she calls home and we make love, representing my desires for love and orientation.

She lives with Alicia in the Wonderland cottage, but she freely moves about my brain more often. She shapeshifts into elemental energies, she moves around my hippocampus and amygdala and temporal lobes and cingulate gyrus and thalamus and auditory cortex and somatosensory cortex and parital lobe and the back of my brain.
She has altered the Wonderland cottage to be something else entirely, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two office rooms, a large entertainment living room, a large kitchen, a basement. The outside build would contain concrete, cement, hemp and limestone, bamboo, steel. The glass windows are shatterproof. The doors are hemp-lime and timber. That must say something about my mind's inner workings. Especially since the main reason for hemp being illegal is due to its threat to corporate patentable synthetic fibers and wood and paper product industries, while the medicinal drug potential became subject to false claims and fear mongering alarm campaigns until the original industrial potential became buried under the alarmist anti drug campaigns. Part of me probably knows how powerful this is. Medicine from nature itself and the human brain itself is usually denied and seen as worthless.

Asha represents that part of me that firmly supports the controversial balance of traditional pharmaceutical medicine and nontraditional botanical medicine.
Asha is my activism and advocacy. Asha is the fire that moves my belief in the combination of synthetic drugs and organic drugs. Asha is the phoenix in me that rises after every defeat, every failure, every attack, every oppression, every attack and assault on my truths and faiths.

Throughout many names, faces, back stories, lives, personalities, and individual growths... she has always been Asha Clara Night. And this is how she asked me to look so I could see that there is beauty deep and shining.

I must find and thank the artists for these images, since I found myself taking these pieces of artwork and subconsciously turning them into incarnations of my own fictional character.

Asha may well be the character in that second novel after all. It won't be this Asha, my Asha; just a version, a more humanized incarnation I can bring out to show the public. This excites me. She could help me write it, just by living in my mind.
brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Ruby Blood Dragon Witch)
Seizure happened in the kitchen. Jupiter meowed and rubbed against me while I crouched. Adam came in and gently lay me on the floor. My eyes were open and blank. Adam touched my face and reached for my mind, and I spasmed and gasped and blinked. I asked why I was on the floor. Adam helped me up and stood me against the large freezer. My memory is swirling. Alicia is holding me. Earlier, Adam said he told his boss, a fellow animal lover, that he needed an extra day to care for his wife. I rolled my eyes and said that was not necessary; that I was fine. Never mind. It was so dark and so white equally braided as order and chaos magics. I was spinning at ninety-nine percent light speed and thirty-five miles an hour. The world was elsewhere. A few seconds lasted a thousand years. Adam suggested I go upstairs and rest. Jupiter is suggesting a cuddle. I am thinking coffee and clonazepam and baclofen. I am made of light and love and pure order-chaos magic in its simplest form. I can give myself the right strength. May be that I can regenerate. As brightly and intensely as a Time Lord. I always shine enough for everyone.

brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Ruby Blood Dragon Witch)
BTW, I'm officially on MediCare Part B (retroactive as of November) and earlier my Part C Aetna Medicare ID Card arrived, which won't be active until January 2014. It is all good. It will still save over a hundred dollars a month between all insurance and drug coverage. All my doctors are covered, all my drugs will be cheaper, and I have carefully read, re-read, and examined all the paperwork with a magnifying glass (no, really). So December's SSDI check will be less two months' insurance payments, and then January's check will also be less the Part C payment, but it is all good, because it is still cheaper than what I am paying under MHIP Carefirst in general. I feel... well, I don't know if "lucky" is the best word. But it is not as bad as it could have been. I mean, I also ride Metro and local bus transit for free thanks to being disabled and a member of Metro Access paratransit system.

Some fully able-bodied people like to scold me for feeling grateful that I am disabled enough to qualify. It's not about that 'grateful' feeling or that whole "skip to the front of the line" thing. It's not about any of that. It's... I dunno. It's about taking whatever disordered damage you have and turning it into a personal individual advantage that works in your favor. It's about accepting and embracing the awful pained cracked parts of life and seeing that they have been opening all these shiny doors, after slamming closed other doors so furiously that the whole building shakes and walls crumble. You may never be able to walk through those slammed locked bolted doors that most able-bodied people get to glide through easily, but you have all these other doors opening just for you, ready to lead you to places where you, personally, will feel more comfortable, accepted, embraced, and understood on a level secure with your disordered damage. It's not your fault, and the places these doors lead you are fully aware and have already set up a spot for you. You are always safe in those spaces in between.

Like... having mild disabilities. For example: Having mild cerebral palsy is like being in interstitial places constantly - interstice being a small space that lies between things; a space that intervenes between things. Neither completely here nor there. A space in between. A crack in the continuity. Mild autism in that nobody believes me until they spend a few word-filled hours trying to decipher my brain languages. Mild ADD and mild OCD and mild/moderate but fierce migraines and headaches and mild/moderate but fierce epileptic complex partial seizures and mild/moderate but fierce chronic pains and mild inflammations and and this and that. Mild mild mild. Haunting and interstitial. Never bad enough to cause me to be rushed to a hospital, never simple enough to merely pass by with a handwave. I am those spaces in between, as are many, many, many people with certain neurologies. We are in those cracks. Oh, they say, it's all right, they're not too bad, they could be worse, they say. And then what?

Any fellow disabled folk and people who understand want to chime in? Am I making enough sense here? I feel like I am.
brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Ruby Blood Dragon Witch)
Some random rambling about my own mind, my imaginary friends, and how my mind likes to invent coping mechanisms that talk back.

One of my imaginary friends, Amara, who is the human coping mechanism in charge of all the neurochemical, neurodevelopmental fuctions, has been interacting with me more and more ever since Alicia (the epilepsy mechanism) and Serena (the pain, fatigue, psychological, neurobiological functions) urged her to show herself more often after I fell into a chemical depression with severe anxiety. Serena and Koan could only do so much.

Amara, at the beginning of her creation, was not even human; formless and elemental. These days, she is human shaped but she loves to take bits of my writerbrain as inspiration. Her ears are pointed and her eyes and hair change color with her moods. She likes to mimic my bone structure and basic figure shape, just with more muscle intensity. Serena says it's because Amara wants to show me that I am beautiful.
Also, when I saw a Google image painting of a woman with elf ears and a unicorn horn, posing with a unicorn, Amara insisted I make it my current Facebook cover photo. She made herself up to resemble like that character while still mimicking my features, including the horn that represents the third eye - just with chestnut brown streaks in her white-lavender hair and honey brown flecks in her intense blue eyes... although none of that is her true coloring. When she made herself human, her coloring randomly became alabaster skin, gold eyes, and pale flame hair, essentially inhuman. But she kept the mirror shape of my skeletal structure and body shape. She even plumped her lips, made her eyes bigger, and made her nose smaller, because she knew I desired that. It makes me smile, which I think she likes. She wears the same jewelry as me, the same clothing colors, the same makeup colors. She is determined to "reboot" the parts of my brain that are having trouble accepting the recent flooding overload of information about these disabilities and chronic illnesses. The name Amara means everlasting, eternal, immortal... which is why she was formless and elemental to begin with. I finally understand why I created her. And she wouldn't mind being the inspiration for any stories I write. I'm grateful for that.
She insists that my jaw, hair, and eyes resemble the jaw, hair, and eyes of Elena Risteska from Macedonia, which I agreed with and humbly accept with a simple thanks. The only way I even knew about Miss Risteska was through searching for shades of brown.
She just wants me to feel better, to feel my own positive human emotions. Since Amara is still learning about humanity, she looks to Serena for help. In my dreams, they have amazing conversations.
I'm so glad I created these characters. They help keep me sane, emotionally stable, intellectually stable, and psychically curious. Also, every time I meditate and concentrate on my third eye, I actually feel a short unicorn horn on my forehead.
I just love that my own mind is creative enough to make up whole people with entire personalities, back stories, individual appearances, individual likes and dislikes, and actual behaviors. They mainly come to me in sleep dreams, daydreams, and meditations. My psychotherapist adores the fact that they exist, which relieves me. It's just one of those things that I, Joanna, have in my brain to help me handle all the stuff that life gives me. Awesome.
brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Ruby Blood Dragon Witch)
This has been running around my head for a few weeks and I've been wanting to get it just right, so other people with disabilities and chronic illnesses can know that they're not alone and that if they're afraid, we can be afraid together.

To quote a friend:

"I’m not very functional. If you see me out and about, I’m either doing well, or I’m going to pay dearly for it later. Probably both."

What this means is that on the surface I might appear perfectly fine and normal in every aspect almost all the time. What this means is that as time goes on, I'm going to be worn down, exhausted, and unable to properly, correctly finish all the things I was doing well.

What this means is that if I have been able to recite entire poems, paragraphs, television dialogue, and instruction lists, I will be unable to do so when I go into a fog. I have been accused several times of lying about my memory disintegration, because if I can remember specific things constantly it must mean I have a perfect memory for everything. Here is the thing about the human brain and memory: Memory is insane. It is fickle. It lies all the time. It writes fanfiction of your life. Just because you can quote everything said by a character in a television show does not mean you have a good memory. It just means that when your brain is in a good place, you can quote everything said by a character in a television show - although these days I cheat by looking it up on Google because I actually can't recall everything. It just looks like I can. That's the trick. I seem so normal.
The point is, when someone is diagnosed with brain disorders such as memory disintegration, it means that it is happening now. Everything is happening now, has been happening for years, and will happen until death.

I have been accused several times of lying about my level of physical disability, because if I can walk and run without a cane for a few hours it must mean I don't actually need the cane or any sort of assistance. I have been accused several times of deliberately wanting my symptoms to get worse, of living inside my disorders so that I don't have to face reality, which aggravates and irritates me, since it is the exact opposite of what I actually do - reality is happening no matter what I believe, and my reality is that I am permanently disabled and I am not getting better. The thing about cerebral palsy is that patients as young as twenty-five will begin to feel physically aged due to wear and tear on their muscles, joints, bones, and nerves. This is called Post Impairment Syndrome.To quote: Post impairment syndrome is a combination of symptoms that affect adults with cerebral palsy. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, this combination includes fatigue, pain, arthritis and weakness that is often a part of daily life. This symptom is due to the muscle abnormalities and bony changes that happen as you age with cerebral palsy. You can use three to five times more energy each day than an able-bodied person just to complete your daily living activities. This extra expenditure of energy combined with the spasticity and extra wear on the joints is a hallmark symptom of adults who suffer from cerebral palsy.

What this means is that when I say that I feel sixty at age thirty, I really mean it. I am not exaggerating or subconsciously causing it. What this means is that no amount of positive magical thinking and no amount of disbelieving my conditions will make me better; I might feel better for a while after psychically insisting that I don't hurt too badly, but eventually that will stop working and the symptoms will strike even harder, especially if I have been highly active from my positive magical thinking and my belief that I was not in pain. What this means is that I can decide my symptoms are gone and my bodily systems will just laugh; for someone like me, there is no power to make myself not have symptoms. What this means is that my problems are not temporary inconveniences that I can massage, medicate, meditate, and wish away... when I explain that I feel decades older, I really mean it, and I cannot slowly heal myself just by forcing myself to feel better.

Having a permanent physical disability means that I cannot just recover easily. Having a chronic pain disorder means that I cannot just force pain to disappear. What this means is that no matter what, I will be living alongside my medical issues.What this means is that I am never the same from one minute to the next.

What this means is that I really need to quit talking about my health conditions with people who don't want to know. I make too many assumptions when acquaintances and random people ask about my conditions. I have to remind myself that they don't want to hear about it. I have to remind myself that people will start thinking that I do want to live inside my medical conditions if I talk about them in so much detail. I have to remind myself to simply say things like, "I am reasonable" and "I'm disabled with cerebral palsy" and to expand only if asked. When I get scolded, snapped at, accused, and told that nobody wants to know about my medical issues, I often don't understand what is really happening. I need to remind myself that social interaction means holding back. And this is why most social interaction makes me want to curl up and hug a book, because books don't scold me for trying to talk about myself. Also, cats. Cats just want me to pet them.

Long quote, which I am quoting because many people I have met over the past few months literally do not believe that my health is declining on its own, and they literally believe that I could just make myself feel better with magical thinking, ie positive thinking, law of attraction. This is also why I've joined support groups. Being told "You're making your disability worse on your own" is starting to chip away at my optimism. I'm making this public so those new acquaintances can read and come to their own conclusions.

All Americans are living longer than people did years ago, and people who have cerebral palsy (CP) are no exception. For people with disabilities, however, living to an old age is a new phenomenon. We are just now learning what it means to grow older with a disability.

Although much of the information we are gathering on the topic is discouraging, there are strategies to make aging with a disability a more successful experience. “I have seen many advances in diagnoses and treatments since I was young,” said Bonnie Witt, an adult who has cerebral palsy. “People with disabilities are living longer, more productive lives. Doctors who treat adults with disabilities are navigating uncharted territory. This is a fairly new area of medicine, so—in a small way—we are pioneers.”

Symptoms of Aging Appear Earlier

People without disabilities reach the peak of their physical function between ages 18 and 25. After that, their abilities decline about 1 percent per year. At age 70, therefore, people without disabilities are likely to have about 50 percent of their top lung function, 50 percent of their peak kidney function and so on.

Even before their abilities begin to decline, however, people who have disabilities typically don’t reach the same highest points of physical function that people without disabilities do. And when the decline begins, it might be steeper in people who have disabilities. Author and Professor Bryan Kemp reported that people with disabilities show a decline of 1.5 to 5 percent per year after reaching their highest level of physical function.

In addition, people with disabilities experience aging-related changes years earlier than their non-disabled peers do. Although study results vary, aging-related changes generally occur 20 to 30 years after the onset of a disability. For people who have CP, such changes can occur in the 20s, 30s or 40s.

Pain Is Common

Pain is the most common initial problem for adults with CP. Studies show that most of the older adults who have CP report daily pain. One-third report constant pain.

The hip, knee, back and neck are the most common sites of pain. Medication is the most common treatment for pain. Studies show that 92 percent of people with CP report that exercise helps their pain symptoms, but only 49 percent report that they exercise even infrequently. People with disabilities use other methods of pain treatment, such as biofeedback or counseling, less frequently than people who don’t have disabilities do.

People with CP who walk have the most problems with pain, because their gait and movement patterns cause abnormal wear and tear on their bodies. That leads to arthritis. Twenty-five percent of people with CP who walk as children lose that ability as teens or adults. Others stop ambulating in their 40s because of pain. For all people with CP who continue to walk, distance is compromised—in other words, they can’t walk as far as they used to.

Additional Issues

People who are in pain typically experience more fatigue than other people do, so they tend to do less and rest more. When people are less active, they lose strength and endurance. Less strength means less ability to perform necessary or enjoyable activities, and it results in a decreased ability to care for oneself. That, in turn, can lead to depression, a need to ask more from family members or a need to hire more assistance. The effect on relationships and the corresponding financial consequences are obvious.

Falls are very common in adults with CP. Reports show that 40 percent of adults with CP fall at least once each month, and 75 percent fall every two months. In fact, falling is so common that most people do not even think of reporting the falls to their doctors.

Because the risk of breaking a bone increases with age, it’s important to improve strength and to plan movements, as much as possible, to reduce the incidence of falls. Other problems that occur in people who are aging with CP include increased bowel and bladder problems and more joint contractures.
brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Blood Red Dragon Witch)
So, stuff.
My body and brain have been up and down in normal chronic pain ways, and now that I'm medically on the autism spectrum with Nonverbal Learning Disability, my doctors and therapists can focus on more specific treatments for the sensory and communication issues, and I no longer feel I need to justify why I do so many weird and fucked up things that make people angry. I'm not gonna use any of my disabilities as an excuse, because I find that revolting, but I will merely say, "Look, I'm super neurodiverse and I have issues, so just hang on a minute while I get my brain in order, okay?" I don't think I have ever been neuro-typical.

I've been venting on Facebook more than LiveJournal, which i find backwards, but I have so many friends on Facebook who are immediate and who know exactly how it is. I refuse to leave Livejournal, since it has been my home since late 2001, so I plan on writing here more and more, copying between here and Facebook.

So, I have been in a major depression episode for several weeks now. It has been quiet and lurking, like a huge tar pit, and every so often a creature rises with flashing claws and strikes and I break down and my insides begin screaming. It happened last night, while Adam and I were eating the rabbit stew he had slow-cooked. I randomly, suddenly began sobbing in heaves into a napkin, and Adam placed his hand on the back of my head gently - it's a gesture he does to Mikey to let Mikey know he is there and to guide Mikey in his blindness, and he's been doing it with me ever since we met. Adam began massaging my neck and shoulders, and then I began gasping and rasping "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so so sorry..." and Adam asked "Why?" and I gestured violently at my body and rasped, "THIS. I just... I just... I can't. I fucking can't. I can't even eat a whole meal with out..." and I sobbed again and he held me and held me, and I cried about how broken I was and that i was a horrible housewife and how I couldn't do the things he needed me to do sometimes, and he said, "Honey, it's okay. You are so important. You pay our bills, you make the appointments, you keep the house from exploding, you remind me to take of myself. I bring in the money. I may break my back doing it, but you're already broken and it isn't anything you did, and that's okay. It's all okay. Everything is okay. I love you."
We had moved to the couch, and I cried and cried while he held me, and Jupiter came over and sat like a sphinx on us and purred with his entire body and we pet him and scritched him, and the creature in my brain faded.

Adam needed to wake up around five in order to go to his IT/AV shop in Virginia and then to New York for a job overnight. We went upstairs and prepared his luggage and had sex that comforted me and made me happy with the afterglow jokes, and then later, Luna came over in one of her precious rare moments and settled between us on a small pillow to purr us to sleep.

I still have this weird lump in my throat from... so many things. I still need to print out that form that my new psychologist needs for insurance and such, and on Friday, our second appointment, we may try hypnotherapy. I'll tell her about the spectrum thing just so she keeps it in mind. I think we'll get along just find.

I sent back the forms to get Medicare Part B, and once I'm enrolled at the end of the year, I shall enroll in Part C with Aetna, and then things should be cheaper for me. Next week will be the dentist and then the pain physician.

I still need to eat more.

And then... and then, there is this. Found and shown to me by the magnificent [ profile] naamah_darling, it is the absolute ultimate expression of what I've been calling The Spear Theory (as opposed to the spoon theory).

Always. Forever. I am my shield and these are my spears. Because spoons can only do so much. The spear theory leaves me scarred and shattered and covered in the blood of my pain monsters. And after I recover and refresh there is a new set of shiny spears waiting to be hurled, broken, stuck in the bodies of my pain monsters, and repeat.
And as I rest and recover, spoons are there to help feed and nourish. But there will always be more spears.
I am a pain warrior. A warrior in an old way.

And Naamah's thoughts:

It is too perfect.
brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Blood Red Warrior)
Note: Seizure.
Dreamstate. Melting clocks, supernovas, galaxies whirling like pinwheels.
The looking glass shattered when I fell through. Alicia my guide held me tight and whispered, hoarsely, "Those hands of time and space will not move unless you stop watching."
The melting clocks began to burn.
Alicia was screaming for Amara to come get me. Wonderland looked like a rainforest on LSD.
Amara slid her cool hand into mine and said, "Neurology is hell, and then you live."
I was wrapped in a silk cocoon, shoved through a broken cracked pathway of shorted neurons and synapses. Amara was with me. When we broke through, I heard Serena say, "I'll take her now. Thank you, sister." And I heard a kitten purring so loudly it made me vibrate, and I felt pure comfort. I managed to mumble, "I need Amber to wrap me in safe." But it had already been done.
I love my spirit guardians, also known as my human-shaped coping mechanisms, also known as my creations with minds of their own, also known as awesome psychological methods.

In a discussion with Naamah yesterday, she referred to me as "so inscrutable zen-master... really at peace with the fact that sometimes, things don't make sense... and don't need to." I used to quote Chang Tzu without knowing it was Chang Tzu: "Use understanding to understand what can be understood with understanding, and then stop." and when people asked, "Wait, how many 'understandings' are in there?" I would reply, "Yes, exactly."
And so Naamah suggested that if Serena had a companion, it would have to be a little koi-colored calico cat named Koan. Today, my mind remembered that and ran with it, constructing a six-month-old calico kitten with koi patterning, named Koan. And she will be infinitely gentle, patient, and a deep lover of head-butts, cheek nuzzling, face licking, lap sleeping, and Being There When I Need Her.

I'm back in reality. I must rest now. Hi. I believe the seizure lasted approximately two minutes. I can type, with exhaustion, but reading is becoming fatiguing. I will do things to recover. Yes.
brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Blood Red Warrior)
In the past week, I have learned some fascinating things about cerebral palsy that I honestly never knew and which truly puts many things into perspective.

1. We tend to exert more energy than others - around 3 to 5 percent daily.
2. We tend to have higher, faster metabolisms. For some, this can lead to clinical, neurological "nervous loss of appetite" - not always the eating disorder, but an actual screw-up between signals being sent between the brain and the stomach. Some of us do develop eating disorders at some point in our lives.
3. 75 percent of us will lose our ability to walk by age 25, or at least we will begin a slow decline, and of that percent, most of us will need walking assistance devices such as canes, no matter how mild the cerebral palsy.
4. After age 30, most of us will begin to rapidly decline physically, neurologically, physiologically, and psychiatrically. Our neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems will quietly suffer and lead to conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis, neuralgia, migraines, TMJ, sciatica, seizures, sleep problems, and breakdowns of connective tissues.
5. A vast percentage of us have clinical depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar, and other major mental illnesses.
6. A huge percentage of us have sensory processing disorders, spatial relation difficulties, and memory problems that can get worse after age 30.
7. Even the most mild cases of CP may wind up needing permanent care and assistance by age 60.
8. No amount of exercise, yoga, dietary changes, nutritional boosts, positive thinking, holistic treatments, or pharmaceutical treatments can completely slow the progression of syndromes and disorders comorbidly associated with cerebral palsy. While the damage done is static and non-progressive, the repercussions from that damage will continue to affect the brain and body for the rest of the patient's life. It is not our fault, we cannot and must not fee guilty or ashamed, and we must learn that it is completely all right to ask for help.


Excuse me, I need to go cry quietly for a while.
You know my phone number if you wanna call and chat. If not, and you wanna chat, message me. I'll probably be crying.
brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Blood Red Light Pale)
I stretched the hell out of my back and legs and arms. It was lovely. I did it my way. I am very pleased and very satisfied. I won't discuss the various burning barbed wire pains that are distracting me even through the codeine, but I will talk about the beautiful meditative exercises I've been working with. Peaceful, serene, tranquil, calm, relaxing, refreshing, fantastic in multiple ways. The scene always changes, but always appears Zen in some way.
I had mentioned that my human coping mechanisms, my spirit guardians, had begun communicating with each other deep in my brain without my conscious knowledge, which leads me to believe that parts of my brain are starting to come together as part of the story, as my unlimited imagination and writerbrain is starting working on a whole new, amazingly unique, private story all on its own. No wonder I have been working on Amber's story beyond these bits of my brain. Amber has also given me free reign to write her as a fully developed character and not just a created coping mechanism.
In general, I am just... very happy.
And the funny thing is that I am in a depressive episode. I have all the symptoms, and I am quite conscious and aware. But I have things that are helping distract me: Talking about my imagination and my creativity, talking about the triggers for my panic attacks and my simple seizures, talking about comedy TV shows and powerful fiction books. Somehow it all is able to keep the major depression away, although it is a very intense fight. Sometimes I find myself weak and struggling, even physically, as thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness, frustration and terror, pessimism and guilt all slam into me and my wall and my shell.
I suppose I could say I am happy. I feel happy.
But... what is happiness?
"Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy." Sure, I feel those things. However, there is a strong undercurrent of the exact opposite.
Brains, man. Brains are wild. Brains are weird. Brains are so complex. One day, I want to have an MRI and see exactly what my brain is doing. I want to sit with multiple brain specialists for hours on end, and just... talk. I want to talk about my brain.
Brains, man.
brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Blood Red Light Pale)
Why is it that, in most dreams where I am in physical danger, I am unable to scream or move quickly?
My last dream involved a bad fall and crash at the top of the stairs, while a large group of people were downstairs having a small quiet party. Something supernatural was with me, something insidious. I grabbed the stair ledge and pulled myself up to a kneeling position. I yelled my husband's name, but it was only a whisper. I couldn't call for help, not with the shadowy creature surrounding me. I was moving so slowly. It felt as though nobody was in the house but me, me and the cats.
And abruptly, I realized that nobody was in the house. Adam was at work. There was no party. The cats were all downstairs. It was only me and the shadow entity. I struggled to call on my internal resources, my spirit guardians, but even my psychic voice was muffled. I was not afraid. I was determined. I was badly injured, and I only had myself, and my powers to create weapons and defenses were drained. I stopped trying to stand. I knelt there and mouthed words, calling on the water in the bathroom, the air circulating around the house, the earth under the house, the fire downstairs used to light the gas stove. I pulled in all into me, and with a desperate burst, I unleashed it. The shadow creature shrieked and vanished.
Without any warning at all, the house filled with presence again. There was that quiet downstairs party. I whispered my husband's name again, struggling to turn it into a cry. Someone must have heard. Adam came up the stairs and found me, sagging against the door of the bathroom, my nose bleeding. He spoke to me. He half-carried me to the bedroom and helped me lie down. He brought damp towels and tissues and water with electrolytes. I managed, somehow, to tell him that a negative spirit had entered the house and stole my strength, and I pulled all the elemental power I could to drive it away. He was very proud but also puzzled, since the house was supposed to be powerfully shielded and guarded. I was crying but I didn't mean to cry. It was just a reaction without intention. He stroked my hair and curled up with me, and me took my hand and fed me energy and power and strength, and he said, "Go to sleep, my darling. I'll be monitoring you through our psychic bond and everything will be okay. I will strengthen the wards." He needed to check on our friends. He would back be up soon.
The dream ended there.

It has been something of a recurring thing: My slowness in dreams. My exquisite agony in dreams. My whispering words in dreams. Sometimes I can barely walk for the pain in my hips and knees. Sometimes I can only speak with thoughts instead of physical words. Sometimes my body is wrapped in a floating translucent shell and it is the only way I can move. In my dreams, the pain is so much worse than in reality. But I have access to weapons of all kind and I feel safe, even if something horrible grabs me.

When I was a child, I had flying dreams every night. Even astral projection. Like my father and cousins in their younger years. And if a harmful person appeared, I just waved my right hand fiercely, shouting "Shoo! Shoo!" to make then disappear.

When I was a child, I dreamed of dragons, of ancient tortoises, of unicorns mixed with white tigers, of phoenix birds with feathers of every color. Dragons have never been dangerous to me. Even if some were, there were always other dragons who were benevolent.

It is why I always bristle when I read an article comparing chronic pain to dragons. The only way I can see such battles happening is dragon against dragon. And I am a human amalgam of dragon, phoenix, tortoise, unicorn, white tiger, and fae, wrapped in the skin of a moonlight witch.

Then, why do my dreams cripple me? The only reason I can think of is to teach me to use the insides, the powers coming from my spirit and not my body. My body is very important and vital to me. But perhaps not so much in my dreams.

And I think this piece of art, beyond anything, is one of the greatest ways I can understand myself. Every time I look at it, I weep. I even have that same cane. I know Shinga and I barely know each other, but she knows chronic pain. She knows what being a warrior means. She was in the US Army and was badly injured and treated so poorly during therapy that she has severe PTSD. She is disabled badly. She knows battles. And I want to hold her and hold her and tell her what this means to me.
(Note: Please please refer to Shinga before borrowing or using this image. Please use the Deviant Art link. This is her work. Copyright Shinga. The only reason I displayed the actual image was in case someone can't click on the link.)
brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Blood Red Light Pale)
Well, now that I've learned how to properly pronounce "Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy" I can do more thorough research into how the brain lesions from periventricular leukomalacia damaged those particular sections of my brain.
As cerebral palsy is a static encephalopathy, yet always comes with co-morbid and co-existing disorders that are progressive, cerebral palsy can sometimes be confused with a disease that progresses. But no. The damage has already been done and cannot change. However, the extent of that damage can spawn syndromes and conditions over the years that can still cause permanent and progressive damage to the brain and the body. Which basically means that I get to smack anyone upside the head who insists that I can be completely cured. Because it's funny.

Also, this is accurate:
Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is a type of brain damage that involves the periventricular white matter of the brain. Damage to white matter results in the death and decay of injured cells, leaving empty areas in the brain — called lateral ventricles, which fill with fluid (a condition called leukomalacia).
The brain primarily consists of white matter and gray matter. Gray matter has neural cell bodies, which can initiate nerve impulses, while white matter transports impulses between gray matter cells. The periventricular white matter that surrounds two horseshoe shaped cavities in the brain is primarily responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses that control motor function. Damage in this area can result in spasticity and intellectual impairment.
Myelin is an integral component of white matter that coats and essentially insulates cell pathways, promoting speedy transmission of nerve impulses. Damage to myelin slows and impedes nerve transmission, possibly impairing brain function.
Approximately 60-100% of infants with periventricular leukomalacia are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Four to 26% of premature infants placed in neonatal intensive care units have cerebral palsy. In severe cases, postmortem examinations have discovered that 75% of premature infants who died shortly after birth had periventricular leukomalacia.
Experts believe intrauterine infections are the underlying factor for periventricular leukomalacia. Membranes around the fetus are affected by the release of toxins, which travel through amniotic fluid to selectively injure areas of the developing brain. These toxins can also cause premature rupture of the membranes and premature birth.

In conclusion: Whenever someone thinks they're insulting me by telling me I am brain-damaged, I always say "Thank you! I am brain damaged! I'm impressed you noticed!" Which confuses them so much that they just stop talking altogether. And then I feel happy.



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