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Concerning My Loss of Ability: Part One


Yes, yet again, I am whining and complaining about my stroke. That is because I have never gotten over my stroke, and it has been almost five years ago that I have had my stroke.

I know that many other stroke survivors are far worse off than me. I really don’t care. The thing that bothers me the most is that I was taking Warfarin, an anti-coagulant, for three years before I had my stroke. I was doing what the doctors had suggested to prevent a stroke, and I had a stroke anyway.

Why?

The VA had increased my Warfarin dosage after my stroke. And the doctors at the VA were very good at that sort of thing. Nevertheless, I guess I needed a higher dosage of Warfarin than I had had. However, I had been trying to remember to ask my doctor to allow a higher INR with my monthly blood tests.

As an aside, INR stands for “International Normalized Ratio” it is an evaluation of the extrinsic pathway of coagulation (also called “ProTime INR” or “PT/INR”). This is a rough measure of the ratio of how long it takes to form a clot. Thus, and INR of 3.0 would, I think, have it take three times as a normal person to clot.

Anyway, the VA doctors (actually pharmacists) want my INR to be 2.5-3.0. I, on the other hand would like an INR of about 3.5, just to be safe. Yes, I am in no way a medical professional, I don’t even pretend to know anything about medical stuff. But, I would much rather bleed out than have another stroke. Really!

And, so, since I know about Warfarin, and how the combination of alcohol and Warfarin interact with each other, I try to drink one or two beers a day, every day, except for the day before I get my blood tested. See, the alcohol will increase my INR to about where I think I want it. So, while I am not allowed to increase my Warfarin intake, I compensate with alcohol.

And, for the record, I am not an alcoholic, I am merely a harmless drunkard.

As I may have said before, my pre-stroke life was working with and on my mind, I was a mathematician and a philosopher by training, I had an almost PhD (don’t ask) in Mathematics and undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Philosophy. I was in college for a total of FIFTEEN years from 1989-2011, I had worked for Sun Microsystems as an educational developer. Everything in my post-military life was focused on my mind.

Then I had the stroke.

That stroke ruined my life. Forever. Yes, neural pathways can be rebuilt over time, but the rebuilt neural pathways will NEVER be as efficient as they were originally. Never! Thus, I will never be as good as I was pre-stroke. Period.

Nevertheless, I will continue to try my best. I will persevere.

So, what do I do? What do I remember?

In a real sense, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Pre-stroke, I had specific ideas and ways of doing things that many people had questioned, but, I was really really good at everything, except playing a piano. I was the kind of guy who could get away with wearing a kilt in public, and no one questioned my masculinity. Actually, I got positive responses from women, and… well… aggressive responses from men. And, I think that I can still get away with wearing a kilt even today. Except, for the past two previous years, it was a bit chilly on 6 April for me to wear my kilt on that date. {April 6 is Tartan Day. Look it up on duckduckgo.com}

So, I do the things I remember as long as I can get away with these things. Now, I am uncertain about many of these pre-stroke things that I have done. Well… it’s more like, I remember the things I have done, but I don’t know if I am good enough to do these things post-stroke.

For example: My Mathematical knowledge is sorely lacking. I need to use a calculator when I subtract two numbers. Some people will think that that is OK, but I know it is not. Some people will proudly proclaim that their math skills suck. I do not. For me, it would be the equivalent of saying “Well, I don’t really understand the English language at all”. But, yet, it seems to some people to claim that they cannot do simple arithmetic and are proud of that shortcoming. I know that I cannot do basic arithmetic, and I feel ashamed of that fact.

I used to know mathematics, advanced mathematics. I used to know philosophy. I used to be a shell scripting maniac. I could program in C, C++, Ada, Prolog, Pascal (sorry), and I even did some assembly language programming. I knew why C++ is not really better than the original K&R C. I knew why, exactly, the C-shell was a piece of crap, and that the original Bourne shell, or the Bash shell were far superior to that C-Shell (or the TENEX, or tsch). I was an educational developer for Sun Microsystems. I was a great many things, I did some very diverse things in my past.

I do remember doing these things, but after my stroke, they are all gone except the memories, but not the details.

And as I have said, I have known some stroke survivors that are far worse off than me. And, again, I don’t care. It seems to me like a cruel thing that left me a memory of my once former glory, but not the ability to regain it. And I know that there is no god, there is no “higher power”, there is nothing but other people. BUT, if there was a god, I hate his guts for what he/she/it has done to me. For such a god would not, and could not, be omnibenevolent, omniscience, nor omnipotent. This god would be evil.

Luckily, I am still an atheist.

And these are the things that I remember what I have lost. These are the abilities I once had, but are gone because of my stroke. That is why, exactly, I am so pissed off almost all the time. That is the source of my shame and my anger.

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Let’s Talk About Executive Functions: Part One


As I have stated before, a major result of my stroke in 2011 is the loss of my executive functions. I got this diagnosis from having had two Neuropsychological test (which I refer to as Neuro-psyche evaluations) which were taken in 2012 and 2014. And that was the most surprising result from those two evaluations.

Now, let me tell you that a Neuro-psyche evaluation is not cheap. These things take all day and they are given by a psychologist who also interprets the results. They are a series of tests and each test is somewhat grueling and tedious. But they seem to test EVERYTHING within the context of the patient’s psychological state. And in my opinion, they are no fun at all.

Now, when I say that my executive functions took a major “hit”, this does not mean that my executive functions are gone. Rather, these functions are in some way, damaged. And also, I can probably regain those functions over time, if I am given the time, and if I work on these functions, actively.

As I have stated before, the executive functions are a set of cognitive processes which include, but are not limited to:

  • attentional control,
  • inhibitory control,
  • working memory,
  • cognitive flexibility,
  • reasoning,
  • problem solving,
  • planning, and
  • stimulus control

Let us consider each of these functions one at a time.

ATTENTIONAL CONTROL:

This is my ability to pay attention to things, or the ability to not be distracted by things. And, yes, I do find it harder to focus my attention for more than a few minutes.

Hell, sometimes when I am talking, I distract myself and I forget what I was saying, and with that coupled with the remnants of Aphasia, I “lose words” sometimes, which causes other people some confusion, can cause amusement as I try to remember what I was talking about. I was talking in a small audience recently, concerning friends and friendship, and I could not remember the term “acquaintance”, the only word I could use was “associate” which was the wrong word. Fortunately, someone helped me out and gave me the proper word.

However, my attention does wander a bit, and it is quite easily for someone to completely derail myself.

INHIBITORY CONTROL:

This causes all kinds of problem for me. My inhibitions are really damaged. You have no idea how hard it is for me to behave and say things that are appropriate. I am the guy that says thing that need saying, but everyone else is afraid to say them. And here I am who says what they think and feel.

Really, as an employer, how many people want to have an employee like me? I am generally labeled as a “wise-ass”, because I generally just say what I think, and I don’t concern myself with the consequences.

However, I do recognize that my inhibitions are broken. I have recently “come out of my shell”, and I am trying to “fix” my inhibitions. But you have no idea how hard it is for me to behave appropriately. Now, my “shell” was mostly self-imposed. I had a stroke in 2011, I knew I had a stroke, I knew that I had lost a great deal of my cognitive functionality, and I was, and still am, embarrassed by that fact. So ever since my stroke, (FIVE years ago), I have pulled within myself and kept everyone away from me, primarily for my own protection.

Now, in addition, Inhibitory Control is necessary for one to override “stimulus-driven behavioral responses”. And that is yet another part of my downfall. It is really hard to resist buying things I see at Costco that I like. The only positive I can see in my behavior is that I am not interested in most things I see at Costco. But that didn’t prevent me from buying 500, yes FIVE HUNDRED, envelopes. They were cheap, but, I am probably die of old age before I even use half of them. And, on three different occasions, I purchased yet another multi-tool. I have a drawer in my kitchen that is half full of these multi-tools, I just cannot resist. And once, I saved the money to buy an expensive telescope. Fortunately, I had finally done the appropriate research and had learned to discover that I would have to drive an hour and a half to go to a totally dark sky so I could use the telescope in the most efficient manner.

WORKING MEMORY:

Once upon a time, pre-stroke, my memory was a steel trap. Now, while I didn’t remember everything, I retained alot of information. Post-stroke? Forget it! (pun intended). Working Memory is also called Short-Term Memory, and my short term memory is broke. I cannot remember a three-digit number for even five minutes. About once a week, I read two formal definitions on “Injective functions” and “Surjective functions”, and I totally forget the definitions within about five minutes or less.

However, since I know that my short term memory is damaged, I need to be honest. Yes, I really need to be honest with other people. That is because I do not have the memory to remember what I have lied about. I knew that back in 2011, and I know it now. And since I moved to Fargo North Dakota in 2013, I have always been honest with people. My memory loss cannot allow me to lie. So, for better or for worse, I am condemned to tell the truth, probably for the rest of my life.

And, really, would you like to know a man who always told the truth? Ya know, if your wife were ummm… a little chubby… would you really like to hear the truth? I have no idea. And while I am under no obligation to say what I think, if we combine that short-term memory loss, my honesty, and my broken inhibition control… well, I could conceivably say the wrong thing to the wrong man, or the wrong woman.

COGNITIVE FLEXIBILITY:

That is the functionality of a person when doing task switching. First off, I need to say that the human mind is totally and irrevocably unable to “multitask”. Let’s face it, while people claim that they can “multitask” that statement is pure fantasy. The best that humans can do is “task switching”.

And poorly at that.

However, me, the guy with broken executive functions, am even worse at task switching than a slug. Yes, my Neuro-Psych evaluation had tested my task switching capabilities, and to be honest, in my own words, they sucked. Alot!

I am able to focus on a single task, especially playing games. I am and have always been a gamer. Now, my game-playing skills have become crappier since my stroke, but that has become the only thing that I can enjoy. So I game.

But, I did notice something earlier today. I was getting severely beaten in a boss battle, I was getting my butt kicked repeatedly, like fifteen times in a row before I finally killed the boss. and I had realized that I had been holding my breath for about a minute and a half throughout the final battle. I almost passed out from lack of oxygen. Thus, my task switching skills really need to improve before I pass out during another boss battle.

REASONING:

Pre-stroke, while I was not a “Randroid”, I did pride myself on my reasoning ability. I was working in a lab in 2009-2011 and there was a lab procedure that we require to mix “stuff” together to use as a reagent in animal testing. The person who had made that reagent previously told me that it needed to be mixed in really really hot water in order for the chemicals go into suspension. I had tried that about three times and then I started to think. Maybe this previous lab-tech was wrong? The previous lab tech was dead wrong, I even used a “failed” batch of that perticular reagent to go into suspension quite easily once it had cooled down to room temperature.

The point being that I didn’t believe the previous lab-tech, and I had thought a little, did a test, and it was successful. Easy Peasy.

Then the stroke happened. Since my stroke, I have tried to remain rational, I have tried to reason everything out. And eventually, I guess I do the right thing. However, I am, to some degree, ruled by my emotions. And while I know that emotions are an effect, and never a cause, when it comes down to the real life in real-time it is difficult for me to think rationally and reasonably, and I sometime “think” with my emotions, often to my detriment.

PROBLEM SOLVING:

OK, in my defense, I think my problem solving capabilities took a hit. However, that did not dissuade me from replacing the high-pressure power steering fluid hose, the heater blower/fan, and change my oil in my car last year. Now, it did take me about four days to replace that hose, about an hour to replace the fan, and about four hours to change my oil (don’t ask). So, I am still able to, eventually, solve problems successfully. But, my problem solving skills have been somewhat limited due to my stroke.

PLANNING:

Generally, I don’t plan anything. I am always early for all appointments, because after 2_1/2 years, I still have no idea how long it takes me to drive four miles to the VA hospital, drive/walk 1/2 mile to my local UU church. And while I generally go for a walk every day, I don’t actually plan when I will leave for my walk or when I will be back from my walk. I just walk, and then I go home, and 2-3 hour later, I am back home and I take a nap, usually.

So, my planning skills are probably the worst. I had to drive to the VA hospital in Minneapolis last year, I checked maps.google.com and made my best guess of how long it would take to drive there, added an hour for a meal on the way, and then multiplied my estimate my +50% “just in case”. Of course, I was early, as usual. But, I accept that as a part of my normal daily life. At least I am never late,

STIMULUS CONTROL:

Now, among all the damage to my executive functions, I think that my stimulus control is mostly intact. I know that I should stop when I am near a stop sign, I know these things and I have never forgotten these things. So, in my opinion, my stimulus control is pretty good, I guess. I can look at the situation and make a relatively quick assessment of how to change my behavior to avoid getting in trouble.

So, at least my executive functions aren’t entirely broken.

CONCLUSION:

Now, I think I have run down my impressions on what happened to me with my stroke.

As a brief comment, what generally happens to the brain such that the executive functions have taken a hit?

Now, the prefrontal cortex is necessary, but not solely sufficient, for executive functions. Thus, I would imagine that the physical damage of my brain had impacted my prefrontal cortex. However, the caudate nucleus and the subthalamic nucleus, whatever those things are, are also involved in inhibitory control and the behavior. Thus, my best guess is that not only did my prefrontal cortex take a “hit” but also my caudate nucleus and subthalamic nucleus as well. So for all readers who understand the geography of the brain, this is for you. Because I cannot understand anything in this paragraph.

So, what do I do about this executive functions being broken?

I deal with them as much as I can. I know that these executive functions change naturally over time. With my stroke, I imagine that it will be slower for me than with a normal person. So, as always, I will persevere.

I know that many stroke survivors “give up” after 2-3 years. I am not one of those people. Yes, I have isolated myself for about five years, but I have recently, as I had said, “come out of my shell”. I actually talk to total strangers when I go for a walk, on some occasions these conversations have lasted fifteen minutes or more. Recently, I have been having conversations with a person that have been lasting for an hour or more, we have drunk coffee, we have played scrabble (PS: I am really bad at scrabble), and we have just talked. And for the first time since my stroke, and probably since 2003, I see a decent and kind person and I think that I might have been wrong when I have said to myself that with my stroke, my life is over.

Now, I don’t know. Nevertheless, I will persevere.

 

Concerning My Atheism: Part One


As I have said previously, I am an Atheist. I have been an Atheist since, approximately, 1990.

The reason I say “approximately” is because it was not an instant decision. I had looked into several religions, including, but not limited to:

  • Buddhism, specifically Theravada Buddhism.
  • Taoism
  • Hinduism
  • Sikhism
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Judaism

and several other belief systems, and I found them all lacking in any real explanation.

Now, in my opinion, and in my experience, there are generally three broad categories of Atheism.

The first category is probably the most common, I call it “Atheistic Humanism“. This is essentially a form of humanism that does not believe in the existence of a deity. The Atheistic Humanists generally agree with some version of “The Humanist Manifesto“, from either 1933, 1973, or 2003.

Now, I am not, nor ever was, an atheistic humanist. I could never agree with all of the points on the Humanist manifesto. And if I do not subscribe to all the points on an issue, I want nothing to do with it.

Now, the least common category of Atheism is “Atheistic Satanism“. OK, I will ask you to consider what I have said. I need you to think about it. If there is no deity, then there can be no “Devil”. Really. REALLY! However, although I am not an Atheistic Satanist, I do respect their position.

These are the guys, and gals, that will cause a shitstorm when the Christians want their “Ten Commandments” obelisk on the city hall, and the Satanists will come in and demand equal time for a satanic statue of Baphomet right next to the ten commandments. And, by using the first amendment to the constitution to insist that they have the right to be represented equally, the Christians generally go apoplectic.

That is why I respect the Satanists. They get things done.

Now, the third type of Atheism I will call the “Rational Atheist“. This group of Atheism was promoted by Ayn Rand. Yes, Ayn Rand, the woman that was hated my many. However, when I decided that I was an Atheist, I had gravitated to the rational arguments. Thus, I am a Rational Atheist.

Now, in my current situation, due to my stroke in 2011, I am somewhat conflicted.

First off, I am probably less rational than I was pre-stroke. And my loss of rationality has caused me some concern. While I keep trying to act in a rational manner, since the partial loss of my executive functions, it is difficult for me to act rationally all the time.

But I try.

But, nevertheless, I am an atheist, and I think I will always be an atheist. That single fact is certain for me. And I know that I am not a Humanist Atheist, and I am not a Satanic Atheist.

Additionally, since my stroke, I have become somewhat dependent on some social services. And for that, I am not sure that I can live entirely rationally. Because a rational person can stand on his own.

I cannot stand on my own, currently.

 

Confessions: Part One.


I, like all other people, have at least one story to tell. I, like all other people have a story about a tragedy. I have such a tragedy, but I will not get into the specifics. I will only talk about my reaction to my personal tragedy.

If I do tell anyone about this, and I probably will never mention my particular tragedy, you will probably understand my situation.

Once upon a time, on 12 February 1985, someone died. This hit me really hard, and when at the hospital, there was a Catholic Priest talking to me. See, at that point in my life, I had identified myself as a Catholic. Thus, the Catholic priest was talking to me about it.

I still remember what the priest had told me, “It was God’s will”.

That single phrase hit me hard. In my opinion, that is a huge non-answer. And after having heard what the priest had said, I thought about that phrase. I thought about that phrase a great deal.

See, previous to that phrase by the priest, I was NEVER interested in anything resembling philosophy, or even thinking. Yes, prior to hearing that simple phrase,I was a mindless drone of the military. I knew what I was told to do, and I did it. I knew who to salute and I saluted these people. I knew whose asses to kiss, and I kissed them.

Then, I started thinking for myself. Not only about the “God’s will” thing, but about everything. And I do mean everything!

I was in the Air Force, my career field had been deprecated in 1997, for some reason. But, essentially, my “job” in the Air Force was to train all the time to kill “bad guys”. Yup, that was my whole purpose in the Air Force, to kill “bad guys”. And when I was faced with a real live honest unjustified death, I couldn’t deal with it.

After I received my honorable discharge in 1988, I was still thinking about these things, and I eventually became an Atheist around 1989, right before I entered college.

That single event in 1985 led me to start thinking, go to College, go to University, go to Graduate school, and other things. It wasn’t “god” that did this to/for me, it was me. I did this, all me. No god involved in the process. And, if I could “blame” this course of events on a single person, it was the priest that made me an Atheist, that started me thinking, that had me realize that there is no god, that had me learn all these things that I have learned.

And, then, perhaps if I had remained ignorant. Maybe I would have been happier.

Welcome to My Life: Part One


OK, I have previously pointed out that I am unemployable, and that I am currently on SSI/Disability. However, my SSI apparently runs out in November of 2016, if I am correct in my assumptions. Nevertheless, my SSI will stop at, or before, November 2016. And then I may be screwed.

Thus, I will be attempting to get a job. However, pre-stroke, it was easy for me to get hired. Throughout my pre-stroke life, I only went to a single job interview for every job in which I was hired. That is, I was, once upon a time, that good. I was hired by Sun Microsystems, when, in the interview, I intentionally said everything wrong. I said that I was not a team player, I didn’t work well with others, and I STILL GOT HIRED, and they moved me from Oregon to Colorado, they paid my hotel room for a month until I found a place to live, and they paid me a butt-load of money. And I had tried to not get hired. Post-stroke… well, I have to deal with employers like the rest of the people who need a job.

And I will not attempt to deceive anyone with respect to my “issues”. That seems to be my major obstacle– honesty. If I tell an employer that I have had a stroke, I don’t get hired, and if I don’t tell an employer that have had a stroke, then I feel guilty for not being forthcoming about my disability. However, when I go for a job interview, I will not point out my disability until, and unless I am officially hired, then I will “drop the bomb”. That still feels somewhat dishonest, but I think I must do this to protect myself and my interests.

However, in my current situation, I really only need to work 20 hours a week. And I think that some employers will appreciate that. Actually, I do not want to work more than 20 hours a week, for income tax reasons.

I resent paying income tax. See, once upon a time, I was working for Sun Microsystems, and my tax liability was huge, as my income was in the top ten percent in the United States. At that point, I had learned to hate the IRS, income taxes, and all that nonsense. And although I am now, essentially, dirt poor, I really do feel for the people who pay income tax.

Really.

This is all I will say about this for now.

So… what is my life like?

During the Spring, Summer, and early Autumn, I go for a walk every day, approximately three to five miles a day. On Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day, I walk to the VA hospital in Fargo, which is four miles one way, but I don’t go there in the most direct manner, thus I walk at least ten miles those days. After I get home, I take a nap. This is because I am dog tired after every walk due to a medication I take.

I go the supermarket two to three times a week, because I do not like to carry more than two bags of food from my car to my apartment. I do laundry once a month at seven AM, because I generally try to avoid people.

On the first day of every month, I go to Costco for cat litter and cat food. I buy a case of beer.I pay my rent in person. And I buy about 4-5 cigars.

I go to VA appointments when they happen, I go to “church” every month, I have a monthly meeting at a group called “Philosophy for All”, and that is the extent of things I do.

When I am at home, I read a book, I play with my cats, and I play games on my computer.

Yes, my life is probably boring for some of you. Nevertheless, I enjoy my life as it is.

However, I think that I have been isolating myself at least over the past five years, perhaps longer. Looking back at my pre-stroke life, I suspect that I have been isolated since about 1999. See, my pre-stroke memories are clearer for me than my post-stroke memories. And I think that my ex-wife tried to keep me away from my friends. And I think that may be “normal” behavior for a wife. Or at least my ex-wife.

However, I cannot make valid guesses on this matter, since my ex-wife is not willing to communicate with me, and if she was, she would most certainly become angry at my accusations.

So, my only option is for me to trust my instincts in this matter, and since these are pre-stroke memories, I trust them more than my post-stroke memories.

And, so, here I sit, needing a job by the first of November, at the latest, that requires exactly 20 hours a week, no more, no less. And with that income, I can continue living my life that is comfortable for me.

Wish me luck.

 

My Diagnosis: The Aftermath.


I had a divorce on 5 April 2013, after my ex-wife realized that I was unemployable. I had started the process for disability about a year previously and was waiting for my hearing. However, as my ex-wife no longer viewed me as a “utility”, or a “success object” she initiated the divorce proceeding. I didn’t fight it, I didn’t complain, I just accepted the inevitable conclusion that my marriage of fourteen years was about to end.

Now, while I have no statistics to support my idea, I believe that when a man suffers a stroke, more women initiate divorce than when a woman suffers a stroke. This is based on the fact that what I have learned from the stroke community. Yes, this is a half-baked idea, at best, but it is supported that women view men, in general, as success objects.

So, my divorce occurred on 5 April 2013. We went through mediation rather than though the legal proceedings, and once my divorce was official that morning, I rented a u-haul trailer, loaded my things in the u-haul, and got out of Utah as quickly as possible.

I headed for my half-sister’s house in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. And, while she wanted me there for two years, she kicked my out of her place for some unknown reason. She threw out her husband at the same time, and she claimed she was “cleaning house” or some silly nonsense like that. Nevertheless, I did in approximately two days later, got all my things from that house and moved into my mother’s house, where I lived for six months until I was awarded with SSI (disability) in November of 2013.

AT that point, I left my mothers house, and drove me and my two remaining cats, to Fargo, North Dakota.

Say what you want about North Dakota, the native North Dakotan population is, in my experience, the politest people whom I have ever met. And, with my stroke, I need to be around polite people, as a survival strategy. SO, I currently live in Fargo, North Dakota, in a really nice neighborhood. The neighborhood is safe (well, there are no really dangerous neighborhoods in Fargo), and if everything went my way, I will live here until die. Yes, this is a damn good place.

The Fargo VA hospital is a bit small, and I have had to drive to the Minneapolis, Minnesota VA for an appointment once. But this is one of the rare good VA’s that I have been in. And, for the record, the Pennsylvania VA is not very good. I would probably classify it as bad, if pressed. But, well, I love the Fargo VA hospital.

Now, I don’t know very many people in Fargo. I don’t go out and about much. I go for walks every day in the Spring/Summer/Autumn, and I go for a walk about once a week in the Winter, but I don’t actually talk with people. This is because I am a stroke survivor, I know I am a stroke survivor, and I don’t want anyone to know that I am a stroke survivor.

Pre-stroke, I was brilliant. Post-stroke, I am somewhat dim. And I know that. Maybe no one else knows that, but that doesn’t matter, the important thing is that I know that.

My Diagnosis: Part 3 (Conclusion)


Now, I was on Warfarin, the most common “blood thinner” (Actually, it is classified as an Anti-Coagulant) for approximately three years, taking my medication faithfully the entire time, I had regular appointments at my anti-coagulation nurse when needed. I was working for Unisys, yes, Unisys, on a midnight shift it was approximately 4 AM on 2 September 2011, and I had a stroke.

It was an ischemic stroke, rather than a hemorrhagic stroke, which means that my blood was still too thick, thus the stroke. Now, I had no idea that I had had a stroke. My head hurt like hell, I lost the ability to talk, and I suddenly became very stupid. Somehow, I survived my shift, I went home and fell asleep.

I slept all day on Saturday and Sunday. Monday morning, my manager at Unisys called me on the telephone and fired me, without explanation. I then had my wife take me to the hospital, The University of Utah Hospital. So, the stroke occurred at approximately 4 AM on Friday morning, I got to the hospital in the afternoon of 5 September, when I got the diagnosis that, yes, indeed, I had had a stroke.

Now, I know that there is a medication that one had a stroke and got to a hospital within about three hours, that would prevent most, if not all, of the effects of a stroke. However, since I was on Warfarin, even if I knew I had a stroke, I couldn’t take that medication.

If my wits were about me, which they weren’t, I could have filed for workman’s compensation. However, I didn’t even think about this until the time limit for filing for workman’s compensation had expired.

The next year was hell for me. had gone to speech therapy a few times, when I had decided to go to the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. That was about a month after my stroke, I guess.

See, some VA’s have bad reputations, however the Salt Lake City VA hospital is a damn good VA. It is huge, so it may take a week or two to get an appointment, sometimes, but, for te most part, the Salt Lake City VA is probably one of the best in the United States.

I went to speech therapy three times a week, yes, three times a week for about a year. or so. I had relearned alot of my vocabulary at speech therapy, until the lady at the VA told me that she cannot teach me any more, I have depleted all of her knowledge and ability.

I went to weekly occupational therapy, weekly vocational therapy, weekly mental health, a weekly memory meeting, and other various and sundry rehabilitation courses sponsored by the VA. This is because my stroke killed my life. Everything I knew how to do was GONE.

See, my stroke did most damage to my cognitive abilities. My IQ dropped to approximately 80 from about 120. This comes from my Neuro-Psyche evaluations I have had in the past. Thus, my brains weren’t working anymore, I get “bewildered” alot. To the point that I do not trust my own judgement much of the time.

In addition to my cognitive abilities taking a major hit, I have right-side weakness, I walk with a limp, My Fovela has been degenerated due to my stroke (the Fovea is at the base of one’s retina, thus my eyesight in my left eye is “wonky”), my sense of smell is somewhat impaired, and half of my tongue is numb and I cannot taste things as well anymore.

Most importantly, my “Executive Functions”…. hmmm…. aren’t functioning. This is that part of one’s mental faculty that governs regulates attention, inhibition, working memory (short-term memory), task switching, reasoning, problem solving, and planning. Essentially, I have become very irresponsible, and somewhat … well… stupid.

Welcome to my life!

In addition to my stroke, because I have a blood clotting disorder that has caused Portal Vein Thrombosis, some doctors think that I have Cirrhosis. In addition, I also have Gilbert’s Syndrome, which causes my bilirubin to be higher than it should be.

So, I went to the VA in Minneapolis and a doctor ran some tests, which gave me a diagnosis of Gilbert’s Syndrome. Gilbert’s syndrome is not really a disease, and it isn’t really bad. It is a liver disorder that causes higher levels on indirect bilirubin, but normal direct bilirubin. People with Gilbert’s Syndrome could cause some jaundice due to stress, exertion, fasting, and infections. But that jaundice is harmless. BUT, it does give people some concern as they mis-interpret it as Cirrhosis.

On the amusing side effect of Gilbert’s Syndrome is that it reduces the risk of Coronary Artery Disease, ALOT. Thus, I am also nearly immune to hardening of the arteries.

WINNING!!!

So, there is a part of my diagnosis that is good!

Well, I guess that that is the extent of my diagnosis, I guess.

My Diagnosis: Part 2


I had ignored my problems from 1999, since I had never been given a diagnosis of why I was bleeding from my stomach. In June of 2005, about a year after second time in graduate school, I started having intense abdominal pain. I went to the hospital and the initial diagnosis was “stomach flu”, they gave me some pain killers, and they sent me on their way.

Two day later, I went to the same hospital, writhing in pain, and complaining again. They admitted me. They still had no idea of what was wrong with me, but I had stated vomiting bile…. Yes, bile. That vomit was horrible, it smelled like hell, it watered my eyes, and I swore it peeled paint from the walls.

They did a “exploratory” surgery discovered that I had ischemic bowel. My entire small intestine was riddled with clots, and part of my small intestine was, essentially, dead. The surgeon did what he could, but he had to remove approximately 1/3 of my small intestines. Now, after approximately eight weeks in two different hospitals, Innovis, now called Essentia, in Fargo, North Dakota, and Saint Mary’s, part of the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, I was released from the hospital, just in time to return to graduate studies.

Now, at that point, I still had no diagnosis as to why I had that massive blood clotting throughout my small intestines.

Also, due to my abdominal surgery, I developed an “Entero-Cutaneous Fistula” that ran from my small intestine to where my navel had been, prior to my surgery. And although in 2014, the Veterans Administration (VA) surgeons offered to close that fistula, I declined, since there is no surgeon that can guarantee that I will not develop another fistula after the surgery. Now, the fistula hurts all the time, it feels as if there is a rusty nail in my abdomen. I have accepted that this is a fact. Nevertheless, it hurts all the time, and I have been feeling that pain for the past TEN AND A HALF YEARS.

Three years later, in 2008, I was in the hospital, this time at the University of Utah Hospital, yet again. I had developed a bowel obstruction, and, yet again, it hurt like hell. However, as I had that damnable fistula, the doctors and the surgeons told me that they do not need go cut me open, and they would let it work itself out. Whatever that means. Now, while in the hospital, I had developed a pair of “Pulmonary Embolisms”.

After the pulmonary embolism event, I was visited by a doctor named Robert Pendleton. Doctor Pendleton was interested in my case, not the bowel obstruction, but the pulmonary embolisms. This guy, Robert Pendleton, ordered a BUNCH of blood tests and gave me my diagnosis, finally. He explained everything to me as, at the time, I was pretty smart. He knew I could understand academic papers, and so he gave me some academic papers, and he explained my diagnosis to me as an equal. He explained the how and the why I should be on Warfarin, for the rest of my life, he explained my blood clotting disorder to me, he was, and still is, a truly great doctor, he even told me exactly what factor is missing from my blood clotting cascade, and what factor is over-compensating.

Anyway, after I was released from the hospital, three weeks later, I had my diagnosis, I had my medication, and I had a definite regiment of when I should take my medication, and that I should have blood tests for the rest of my life to monitor my blood clotting.

… To Be Continued …

My Diagnosis: Part 1


I have a medical condition. It was a medical condition that I was born with, it is a non-inherited blood clotting disorder. One factor of my blood clotting cascade is not present in my blood clotting cascade, another factor is over-compensating for the missing factor.

I did not discover this until 2008, when I was in the University of Utah Hospital. But, the first indication of my problem occurred in 1999.

I spontaneously started bleeding internally in my stomach, I went to the Mackenzie-Willamette hospital in Springfield, Oregon. I had started bleeding about two hours after I had had a small drink of Yukon Jack. However, the nurse in charge of me had claimed that I was, for some reason, an alcoholic. This initial “diagnosis” ruined my entire treatment at the hospital.

A doctor, Sarah Brendler, was the official doctor on my case, they did an endoscopy and noticed that I had some esophageal varices in my esophagus and stomach. She didn’t ever try to look for the cause.

After three, yes THREE, liver biopsies, where she determined that I had no cirrhosis, she pretty well ignored me for the rest of my stay. After I got out of the hospital after a few days, she had me do some more endoscopies, with more bandings.

I was also taken to the Sacred Heart Medical Center University District, in Eugene Oregon, wherein I learned that I had a big blood clot in my liver that was blocking approximately 70%-80% of my blood flow through my liver, which, I learned later, gave my Portal Vein Thrombosis, which caused my earlier bleeding in the stomach incident. But, as I had said earlier, I didn’t know these things until 2008.

Thus, the doctors I had seen in Oregon entirely missed my whole blood clotting disorder thing, and had no idea at all about what was wrong with me.

Now, before my endoscopies, I was given Demerol to sedate me, the doctor then stated talking to me, WHILE I WAS ON DEMEROL, and she persuaded to allow her to take me to a surgeon in Portland, remove my stomach, and essentially plug my small intestine where my stomach was. I would then be on a very weird diet for the rest of my SHORT remaining life.

My, then, wife heard that and she went ballistic. I immediately fired this evil doctor, and went on my way.

To be continued….

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