A Year with Head Trauma, Mild Brain Injury

It’s my birthday and Facebook does the function that it is best at, getting birthday wishes from many nice people around the world.

I’ve had severe head trauma for the last year, confusingly called in the US a mild brain injury, and alas it’s not fixed yet. The symptoms are very random, sometimes I get very fatigued and need to sleep, sometimes I get head aches that can’t be touched by any combination of drugs, sometimes I just need to lie down and stare into space, sometimes I run out of breath and sometimes I’m entirely fine. Sometimes I go to sleep early, sometimes late, sometimes I get up early, sometimes late. Sometimes I can cycle out to ratho and go climbing for a few hours, other times I have trouble leaving the house.

My eyes still have double vision, they’ve been healing slowly which is annoying because it’ll still need surgery one day but they can’t give it yet incase it overcorrects. Maybe next month.

Time moves faster is the most curious symptom, it’s evening before I expect it’s afternoon, the months finish before they should and a year has gone by before I noticed it had.

The Department of Work and Pensions are supposed to refund my hospital costs from France but they have a presumably deliberately inefficient system which has taken a year to tell me I sent the wrong paperwork, I do wish the government would just be honest about not wanting to pay for it.

I’ve travelled for work to California, Copenhagen and Tallin, tiring but rewarding. The forest in Tallin is just like a fairy tale, the cargo ships of Oakland are impressive and Copenhagen just does the right thing when it comes to bikes. I’ve even visited the tourist traps in England of Long Eaton and Manchester. I love visiting friends around the world or having people visit me, thanks Paul, Chris, Ryan, Roman, Natalie and especially Beth who has done ever so much looking after me. My new employer expects to open an office in Barcelona soon which I’m really looking forward to, that’ll be a commute worth doing.

I’ve achieved a number of things this year. Starting with fixing the roof of my house, not a big achievement but interesting that I can do it when none of the 10 other owners of the building can (most of them running it as a commercial business). My first foreign trip involved organising KDE’s presence at FOSDEM, on the way home I actually collapsed on the train after running for a late connection but it felt good to be helping people. I spent a lot of time looking into a potential new site for my canoe club, that ended up with lying and incompetent politicians and civil servants but I did stop Scottish Canals from kicking us out our current building and moving us to the edge of the city by shouting at them, extra aggressiveness from head trauma coming in useful there maybe. I ran the biggest canoe slalom there has ever been in Scotland, that was too much. I changed employer, I reasoned this was easier than changing job as my old employer wanted me too, a good choice I think although the transitional details have been stressful from my old employer.

Targets for next year I think will be to get Kubuntu working well on tablets for work. And get back into running some canoe trips for leisure. I’ve recently started some driving under guidance again, it’s tiring so I need to be careful but I’m a careful sort. Weirdly the DVLA gave me the all clear to drive after a peripheral vision test – I have twice as much peripheral vision as before not less, the actual issue is reaction times which they don’t seem to care about. Mostly I need to take things easy, grab the maximum enjoyment I can and do more gentle exercise, I have a habit of doing none when I feel poor and doing too much when I feel good.

How to Recover: Comebacks from Traumatic Brain Injury is a great blog I follow. Brainlash is a great book. I wish the neurologist had pointed me at these when I had my only appointment instead of an unhelpful “he’ll recover, I hope” letter. There’s not much can be done for head trauma but information to cope would be the obvious thing, it took me 10 months to find out that NHS Lothian even made their own useful leaflets on the topic. I’ve been referred to a rehabilitation consultant but I’ve not heard back from them and I don’t know what they can do anyway.

Now a couple of weeks of parties and gatherings but mostly I’ll be relaxing. If I seem unfriendly or disinterested at all, it’s just a normal symptom of head trauma, keep those birthday wishes coming it’s much appreciated. I’m looking forward to another year of randomness.

Riddellleaks M.D.

My riddell@gmail address continues to get all sort of e-mails intended for other people called Riddell. Today I had the first chat with someone and ended up giving her advise on bronchiectasis. It’s nice to be able to help people.

Previously on Riddellleaks: Foreign Office Invites me to Security Meeting, RiddellLeaks – Foreign Office Latest.

15:02 Su: Peep po!
me: hello
15:03 Su: just looking at who was online and thought I’d say hello
15:04 me: howdy, do I know you?
7 minutes
15:11 me: oh well, guess not 🙂
15:12 Su: sorry, Phil has popped in and was just chatting to us
whilst your there. May I ask your advice on a Mum issue?
15:13 me: umm, ok
5 minutes
15:18 Su: A couple of weeks ago, she had a home visit by her GP. He said that her lungs are failing. I called her last night and on asking how she was got the usual angry response “I feel ill”. I asked what was wrong and she repeated that her lungs are failing, and she was worried about the xmas break. I suggested I phone her GP to find out more about her lung failure (thinking I would also get a prognosis). She flew into a rage saying she forbad me to contact him. My probably is that she tells me she is seriously ill before every time we go away. Do you know anything about lung failure – is it a long term or sudden condition?
15:21 me: I expect there could be any number of reasons for lung failure, not one condition
15:22 Su: she has bronchiectiis
15:23 me: NHS england has some info here http://www.nhsinform.co.uk/health-library/articles/b/bronchiectasis/introduction
15:24 bacterial infection
needs antibiotics
15:25 unlikely to lead to sudden failure if she’s got antibiotics
without knowing you or your mum it’s probably not wise for me to advise more
15:26 Su: Sorry it was unfair to ask.
The NHS site is very useful
5 minutes
15:31 Su: Have a lovely xmas, and watch out for the re-launch of the Westerb fan site on Facebook!
15:32 me: thanks, I shall, although I don’t know what that is and I don’t know you on facebook
15:33 maybe you want S Riddell? she seems to be a facebook friend of yours
15:36 Su: Thank you very much for your advice, and patience. I am sorry I that I have just twigged that you are complete stranger to me!!!!!
me: no bother 🙂
15:37 Su: Well we’ve given my colleagues a good laugh – happy christmas and good bye!!

heraldscotland.com Subscription

Today I subscribed to heraldscotland.com. Being the self-righteous type I give to various charities and good causes monthly and I consider this to be the same. Newspapers are losing readers fast as people either read them on the internet or stop bothering to care about the news. Newspapers are responding to this by either moving into sensation tabloidism ending in scandals like phone hacking or re-printing articles from agencies and other papers (churnalism is the term). So I think it’s up to everyone to support decent newspapers while they still exist. I buy the Sunday Herald every week because it has genuinely interesting and original articles, it’s Scottish and has good design. But that’s still nothing compared to my parent’s generation who buy newspapers every day of the week.

The Herald’s website heraldscotland.com recently required a registration after 5 articles and subscription after 10. It’s only £35 a year (or £3 every 4 weeks) which I recon is very cheap. However when charging for something that used to be free, and is freely available from many competitors, something more should be given. You still get annoying flashing adverts which I would have expected to disappear when subscribing. And the need for a subscription is trivially worked around anyway by just deleting the site’s cookies in your browser. The subscription has a joint option with the daily Herald but I’m not Glaswegian and only want to read the Sunday Herald yet there’s no subscription option for that. It’s good to help responsible journalism but I think to be at all sustainable they need to give us readers more of a reason to subscribe.