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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School

We've been relatively busy, but not with much excitement as far as Mark is concerned.

He has been driving me to work on finding us a house to rent. I've been looking, but so far have had no luck. I'm pretty sure I don't want to move until he at least has his driving privileges back. And my mom read him the riot act about being able to get the girls up and out the door for school on a consistent basis. He needs to work on that, as he has a really hard time getting going some mornings. I'm checking in with the neurologist about a medication that helps stimulate the brain in the morning to get moving a little earlier. So for now I'll just keep looking and he can practice his "Mister Mom" duties.

We got 2 out of the 3 girls off to school this week. Avery can hardly stand not going to school this week. She's bored, for one, misses her sisters, and really feels left out. I'm sad my baby is starting kindergarten. I tell her everyday that she wasn't supposed to get any older than two. She just laughs and tells me she loves me the mostest. Further evidence that I am truly blessed.

I've been giving Mark Flax Seed Oil capsules to take every morning and night. They are high in Omega-3 fatty acids that are VERY good for the brain. He said that if he takes them consistently he really thinks they make a difference. And they're cheaper than salmon.

We're going back for more cognitive therapy. He'll be working on this for some time. He's been enjoying his speech therapy because they've geared it towards the electrical industry. He loves coming home and telling me how much stuff he remembered and how some things were difficult. It energizes him to work hard. I don't think he'll be able to handle running another business, but if he could at least get back to work it would be a tremendous boost to his self esteem and worth. He's been told from the beginning that he needs to be patient because healing of the brain is a LONG process, but patience is NOT something Mark Davis possesses. Another thing he needs to work on.

Blessing of the Week: return to schedules

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Here Fishy...Fishy

Oh my, we haven't been taken from the planet. But seriously, I either have time to post 3 times a week, or every other week. Thus is my crazy life.

So much to report on. Let me begin with Sunday, August 7th. Mark has never really been a good sleeper. So much so that he has anxiety about it and stresses about it ALL DAY. On Saturday night he didn't sleep well and was anxious all day on Sunday about not being able to fall asleep. So, he decided to take an Ambien. Now, I must preface this with a little history. There is a warning in the Ambien literature that states some people have a tendency to walk around, eat, and even try to drive, all while being in a drunken state, and then not remember anything about it the next day. We have experienced these happenings a time or two (Mark ran into the door a few years ago and wondered why his face was sore the next morning), but it's been so long since he's taken it that he wanted to give it another try. He took a half of the tablet and didn't feel anything. So an hour later he took the other half. And the games began. I couldn't get him to stay in the bed. He was stumbling around like he was drunk. And because of the head injury, I couldn't just let him do what he wanted. I had to stay with him at all times to prevent a fall and possible increased head injury. He would get really sleepy and try to lay down, but the left side of his body would constrict and wake him up. When I tell you that we were up ALL night, I mean ALL night. We didn't get ANY sleep. He ate 3 pints of Hagen Daaz, 7 popsicles, a plate of melted cheese, half a bag of Muncho's chips and half a bowl of Frosted Flakes. A lot of the ice cream melted and spilled into the bed, one of the popsicles melted onto his shirt, and I had to keep him from spilling his cereal all over because he wanted to walk around while he ate it. At one point he was in the living room opening and closing the drapes and he tried to go down the back stairs off the deck and nearly crashed through the sliding glass door. Needless to say...I was pooped from running that marathon. And his last seizure was partly caused from sleep deprivation, so I was a nervous wreck all night that at any moment he was going to start seizing. It was awful. And he doesn't remember ANY of it.

Whew...okay. Now onto Monday. When he finally "woke up" at 6:00, he wanted to go to Maverick to get a soda. We jumped in the car and went over in our pajamas. I didn't even care. I was still walking around with him because he still wasn't too sure on his feet. Then he started complaining that his back was killing him. So much so that he couldn't sit still. I thought it was because of the pain, but then I started to really watch him. He was somewhat okay while he was walking around, but the moment he sat down his whole body would twitch. And not just a little twitch....a full body spasm. We had to wait until Costco opened to get his pain prescription. Once the pain started to subside, he calmed down a little and was acting more like himself. At first I wondered if he was having withdrawal symptoms, but it had been over a week that he had been out of pain meds and he only takes one if he's absolutely dying. They have to dissolve under your tongue and evidently they are disgusting, so he only takes them if he has to. Anyway, I think that because his pain had subsided and the Ambien was out of his system, he could relax enough to go to sleep. I was worried about the spasms, so I made an appointment to see the Neurologist later that day. We both took a nap until it was time to go. The neurologist didn't seem too overly concerned. He said it could be pre-manifestation of seizure activity. Mark was on the lowest dose of anti-seizure meds, so he upped his dose and told me to watch him to see if there were any changes. He prescribed a muscle relaxer so that if he was having the muscle constrictions at night, he could take one and relax enough to get some sleep. We will NEVER take Ambien again.

So, things quieted down from there. He was working in the yard that evening while I was staring into space. I wonder if he was actually "sleeping" during some of that wandering around. I know I didn't get any sleep. It was awful and I don't EVER want to do it again. But I will say that it took him a few days to recover. He was really tired the next few days and didn't do much of anything. Almost to the point that we were going to cancel our camping trip. But I had taken 3 days off and wanted to get in a long pre-school "vacation" with our girls. So we did.

It was one of our best trips. The girls were kind of bored so we went to Ephraim to Walmart and bought some fishing gear. We took the girls to the lake and over the next 2 days they caught 5 fish. The only reason we didn't get more is because on Sunday a thunderstorm started rolling in. Mark went back to camp to get our jackets and came back with the little pop-up tent and some dry clothes. By the time he got the tent set up, the storm was upon us. After we piled inside with all of our gear, the hail started. It was LOUD! Madison and Avery were loving it....Olivia not so much. She sat in my lap and cried until it stopped. By then everything was wet, we were cold and it was time to go home. We had experienced a few "technical" problems with the trailer and truck this trip. Mark had fixed a water leak on the trailer and it succombed to the pressure. If we turned the water pump on, water would spray underneath the tub. The generators were running to charge the batteries and run the TV so the girls could watch a movie during the rain storm. But the batteries weren't charging. So Mark went out and investigated and found that the plug head on the trailer cord had melted. So he cut it off and hard wired it to the generator. Voila...the batteries were charging. Then, we tried to open the tailgate on the truck and the handle would go all the way up, but the gate wouldn't come down. So he took the handle apart and realized that one of the latches had come undone. He put it back together and ta da...the tailgate worked. It was at this point that we decided it might be time to pack up and go home before something SERIOUS broke and we couldn't fix it. I must say that I LOVE being married to a handy man. I swear this man can fix almost anything. And I am amazed now to watch him do a lot of the things he used to do. The human brain is truly a work of God.

Blessing of the Week: my eternal family

Thursday, August 4, 2011


We took the girls to Sundance tonight to see The Sound of Music at the outdoor theater. There isn't a more beautiful venue to enjoy the theater. It's carved out of the mountain with seats made from logs. It's a professional setup, with all the lights, sound and a stage. It's just a spectacular setting in the mountains amongst the pine trees and wildflowers. It's tradition for us now. We go every summer as a treat for my birthday. It was the girls' first visit. They loved it.

While we were waiting for the show to start the girls and I headed down for a potty break. As I was waiting for them, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, walked right by me. When I was telling Mark about it he was pretty excited. I wanted so badly to shake the hand of an Apostle of Jesus Christ. During intermission Mark made me go down to where he was sitting. I stood about three feet from him, watching him interact with his family. I decided it was better to admire him from afar. I didn't want to disturb the outing he was enjoying with his family. But it was pretty cool! That's the closest I've ever been to an Apostle of the Lord.

Mark doesn't eat very regularly. When we were at the neurologist's office on Tuesday, Mark stepped up on the scale, fully dressed with belt, shoes and really thick heavy jeans. A meager 179 pounds. I just about died. He's really skinny. Anyway, he's not really good about eating. So when we got up to Sundance he was complaining that he was feeling kind of weird. And now that we have the seizure issue to contend with, he gets a little nervous when he feels anything different than normal. I told him he probably needed to eat. Once he got a BLT in his stomach he was feeling much better. Don't know if this man will ever listen to his wife of 18 years. I'm hoping he'll remember that experience and try a little harder to remember to eat. I don't seem to have that problem. Wish I did.

Blessing of the Day: Apostles of God

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Post Traumatic Brain Injury Seizures

In an effort to educate myself on the new trauma in our lives (seizures) I decided to do a little research. Something interesting for your gee-whiz collection.

Approximately 5-10% of individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience new- onset seizures. The risk of seizure increases with increasing injury severity, depressed skull fracture, intracranial hematoma, and penetrating trauma (Mark has all of these). The risk is greatest in the first two years after injury and gradually declines thereafter. All types of seizures may occur as a result of trauma, but the most frequent are focal or partial complex seizures. Generalized complex seizures (what are commonly called "grand mal' seizures) occur in approximately 33% of cases. (Mark's was a grand mal)

Immediate onset seizures, those that occur immediately or in the first few hours after a brain injury, do not suggest a chronic seizure disorder. Early onset seizures and those which develop within the first 7-8 days after trauma require prophylaxis for up to one year. Spontaneous resolution of seizure activity has been noted in this group. The highest risk group for persisting seizures are those individuals who experience seizure 7-8 days or longer following injury. Current recommendations for seizure prophylaxis suggest that patients who have not suffered a seizure within the first 7-8 days following a closed head injury, probably do not require prophylaxis. (Which is why Mark wasn't prescribed medication until he had an actual seizure)

Penetrating trauma is another issue entirely, particularly if involving the temporal or frontal lobes. (Mark has substantial temporal lobe damage) The guidelines with respect to early onset seizures and medications do not apply in this group. Current thinking is that prophylaxis with anti-convulsant medication is not necessary if seizures have not occurred. It should be kept in mind that most seizures do not result in increased brain injury and status epilepticus is a rare event. The protection afforded by medication must always be balanced with the effects on cognition and other side effects, such as bone marrow depression, liver toxicity, or diminished motor coordination.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Worry Warts

The last time I said it had been a quiet week Mark had a seizure. So this week I'll just talk about all the stuff we have on the calendar and maybe we can avoid catastrophe.

Mark has been VERY busy in my mom's yard. The yard needs it, but Mark needs it more. It's the only way he can keep his sanity. And things are really starting to shape up nicely. He's doing a very good job. He does overdo it a little. He works until dark every night. He's not very fast, but he's putting in lots of hours. He says he's not really working "hard", just for a long time. And since the seizure we've all been a little paranoid that he'll trigger another one. Especially Madison. She is constantly worrying about her dad. She asks him if he's taken his medicine. She checks on him frequently so she knows where he is. She asks him to take breaks while he's working so that he doesn't overdo it. It is precious to see how much she loves and cares about her daddy. But it makes me all the more angry that she has to. A 10-year-old shouldn't be burdened with such a heavy load.

Mark and I are paranoid, as well. I worry about him going anywhere alone. What if he has another seizure and I'm not there to help him? What if he has another seizure and he falls and hits his head? What if he has another seizure and I don't call 911 and he stops breathing? What if...what if...what if...

We saw the neurologist today. He didn't seem overly concerned about Mark's seizure. He said that the temporal lobe is "seizure central", and with the amount of damage Mark sustained to his temporal lobe, seizures are very likely. We already knew that, so I guess the fact that he's only had two, we're counting our blessings. We did find out that he only has to be seizure free for 3 months (not 6) to get his driving priviledges back, and we're almost done with one. That made Mark very happy. We're doing okay working around it, but it's more frustrating for him than anyone. It's difficult for a very independent, self-sufficient person to have to rely on others. But he's muddling through pretty well.

He has been suffering with depression recently. It's kind of like a roller coaster. Some days he's happy and working well, others he's really down, crying a lot, and wondering where God is and why He's not blessing us. We've had a lot of talks about the nature of God and what He can and can't do. I try to empathize with him, but truly I have no idea how he feels about all of this. I know how I feel, but I can only guess at how he feels and try to help him in any way that I can. I would give anything to take this burden from him. I love him so much that sometimes my heart hurts it's so full. And sometimes I don't have any other answer than, "I love you and we'll get through this somehow."

Blessing of the Day: good medicine