Friday, December 4, 2020

Heavy metal and snow

Pain behind my eyes and in my forehead all day today, I took something for it and nothing has improved.  Sometimes the curamin vitamins I take work. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes ibupropfen works, sometimes it doesn’t. Yesterday was better. My shunt beeped once while I was driving last week. Most likely it was adjusting or reprogramming itself. I did think for a second that it was communicating with a satellite since it is magnetic.

If only I could order take out food or pick up on radio stations with the advanced technology inside my brain.

Many people benefit from taking prescribed medications, I’m not one of them. In the past, I’ve used prescribed medication for pain management. Because of the side effects, I had to stop.

My local mall santa decor
I was given anti depressant medication once for pain management and all it gave me was severe  mood swings. Other medications like gapapentin made my knees, fingers go numb.

Exercise is a good distraction from my pain issues as is making new art and seeing black santa d├ęcor at my local mall.

Seeing black santa fills my heart with joy, as does heavy metal holiday music.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Time to draw...

This morning, I have some nausea and headache from the chiari malformation in addition to sharp pains from the shunt valve. Time to draw....

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


 I noticed around last night at 6:30pm I didn't have any shunt, forehead pain. This has continued into this morning. I can move my head and I don't feel the shunt making adjustments or pain from the shunt valve. So for now, I am not a war with my programmable shunt valve. And an added bonus, no falling incidents for two weeks now.  

Saturday, October 17, 2020

brain walk '21 and turtles

 The Brain Injury walk I and many others usually participate in this year was cancelled because of the pandemic. Hopefully next year, we'll be able to walk in person for brain injury awareness. Last Saturday was the one day in a while where I didn't have any shunt or chronic pain from my injuries. My medical device has been reacting to the weather and whatever it feels like doing on that particular day. Monday,  10/12 I had nausea from the distal catheter part of my shunt into the evening at the same time as shunt and head pain. This made me nervous, angry and sad as I feared the shunt was getting obstructed again. Then the nausea went away by the following day. 

As of today, I have pressure in my forehead, dizziness, right eye pain and of course balance issues. Shunt malfuncioning symptoms include severe vomiting and headache, and the inability to walk and gait issues. For that reason, I was worried on Monday and relieved when things got better. With past shunt revisions, I didn't have any indication my shunt was obtructed. I would just wake up the next day and had have all the symptoms. Anyone who has a shunt or a family memeber with one will tell you how unpredictable this thing is. You just don't know when it will stop working.  

Super Nintendo classic, Turtles in Time
SNES Ninja Turtles IV
A fun escape during these uncertain times. 
When shunt madness makes me sad and angry, I escape through art, scrapbooking, movies like National Treasure or video games like the Super Nintendo classic, Turtles in Time.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

balance and a few roses

Me (Veronica) outside at a local rose garden. 

My walking and balance issues are random and they've been happening more frequently. I fell backwards yesterday which is different from my falling routine which is almost always right leg crossing over left leg. I told my neurologist about this and she gave me a referral over the summer for physical therapist in my area.

I have to delay Physical Therapy for now.....

                                      Because of the pandemic, masks are required in public places and it will be difficult for me to wear a mask for an hour long physical therapy session. 
A flower in the garden 

In the meantime, I went for a walk at a new rose garden discovered by a friend. I had shunt and scalp pain issues all day.

Monday, September 7, 2020

m&ms and the brain

 As the shunt and chronic pain madness continues, I've rediscovered scrap booking and music to help escape. This song M&M commercial song from 2016 makes me smile.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

right eye rebellion

Recently, I went to my local aquarium and saw brain shaped coral which is totally appropriate for this blog and this month, as it's Hydrocephalus Awareness Month.  

Brain shaped coral at the aquarium

Visiting the aquarium was a great escape from chronic pain issues. My right eye is still adjusting to my new eyeglasses. There are times when it has drifted to the right side if my head on it's own and images split in front of both my eyes as they did when I had double vison for a year and 12 days in 2014 and 2015.  

The last three days I've had pain on the shunt valve, nausea and pain behind my right eye.  It's around 1am where I am right now and I can't sleep. I am

Myself out for a walk on 
a pain free day last month. 

 sitting by my sofa with my cat because of chronic pain issues. I've also been having sound sensitivity in my right ear. After my injuries in 2014, it caused several changes to my nervous system including TMJ and hearing issues in my right ear.  Sometimes I am sensitive to sounds, like this morning, it's raining and the sound of the rain is bothering me. 

I move my head from side to side and there's pain. It's 1:55am. 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

in purple

 Last week, I got a new pair of glasses in purple. All week, my right eye ( surgery eye ) has been rebelling and drifting occasionally to the right. Or other times, it will not align with the other eye when I move my head. The glasses are a little bigger than my previous pair. 

Chronic pain has been bad the last few days. Today has been a lot better and I saw a yellow butterfly this morning, which made me smile.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

One day this week so far....

Right eye pain, nausea, pain on sides of head and shunt valve pain for the last few weeks. Friday 7/17 there was a thunderstorm which only added to the discomfort with my medical device. No pain yesterday which was a small miracle and welcome relief.  Today I have some shunt issues with the heat and pressure in my forehead. The pandemic has made me draw more which makes me happy and distracts me even for a minute from chronic pain issues when they arise. Alternative therapies for coping with pain are great when they work. During long periods of pain I often get sad and angry.  It's a reminder of what happened to my nervous system and how things will not be the same again.  Sometimes I'm happy and grateful to have survived other times I cry because of how it's changed everything. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

distanced brain?

Thursday 6/11 and Friday 6/12 were pain free and then Saturday pressure returned in my forehead along with a chiari malformation headache. Haven't had one of those in a long time. I acquired the chiari malformation from the shunt revision surgery in 2009 when my shunt was moved and my brain almost herniated.  Instead, I have this malformation by my cerebellum which causes headaches.  I've been sleeping on my side to avoid putting pressure on the back of my head which would irritate the chiari malformation and cause headaches on both side of my scalp. Also pain when moving my head has also returned. No nausea from the distal catheter which is great. I started volunteering again from a distance with my local United Way. For their Spring Day of caring, they were asking people to donated crafts and drawings which would be given to home bound seniors who receive Meals on Wheels. An example of one of those drawings I created can be found here.

The cool thing is I've discovered another distraction from my chronic pain and illness.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The happy return

No shunt or head pain yesterday and today. Last Friday was the first pain free day I've had in a long time. And an added bonus, I'm not feeling any pain before the weather changes tomorrow, we're getting thunderstorms...

There's a chance I'll be volunteering again from a home. Soon, I'll be able to make greeting cards for seniors who get their meals delivered. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

copper and the eye

Less dizziness more shunt pain. My shunt has been adjusting itself the last three days. I know this because I've had the following symptoms: Throbbing shunt valve pain  along with nausea and pain from the distal catheter at the top of my brain and pain behind my right eye. I saw a commercial today for the copper belt.
Part of me wishes for second I could wrap this around my head to relieve my chronic pain. 

Yesterday, I watched a webinar from the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey. They were discussed mental wellness during the COVID 19 pandemic and how to cope. They talked about feelings of hopelessness, isolation, anxiety and panic attacks which people are experiencing now during the pandemic. They made comparisons to how these feelings are similar in many ways to recovering from brain injury. I hadn't realized this until the speaker started talking about how the act of putting on a mask and gloves to protect yourself when going out in public is similar to having to get prepped to go into the operating room.

I really enjoyed this webinar and I feel others will find it helpful as well. Their website posted the slides from the Covid19 in their webinar archives. These can be viewed below the webinar link.

Saturday, May 16, 2020


Pain issues have been minimal the last week, which is a nice change for once. Recently, I had a video appointment with my neurologist and she suggested I try and put pain cream on parts of my head and  when I feel discomfort from my shunt or elevated csf pressure in my forehead. I'll try this and we'll see what happens.

Less pain, more dizziness for me this last week.  I experience this when move my head from side to side or when I am sitting, standing and everything else. Now that it's getting warmer and more humid outside my shunt ( which is magnetic) responds to the warmer temperatures. If I don't wear a hat outside when it's very hot and humid, it can cause different issues with my medical device like fainting and disorientation.

I can't volunteer because of the pandemic. Like everyone else, I'm home unless I make a trip for something essential like to the grocery store. My local Stop and Shop has a robot,  I think it's name is Bob or something... The robot has made me paranoid because of my shunt. I don't feel magnetic waves off of the robot like I do when I walk by a pest repeller on a wall.  I avoid the grocery store robot as much as possible. At one point, I thought it was following me in the produce section....

The pandemic has made me (along with millions of other people) anxious about going anywhere, outside. I can only wear a mask to cover my nose and mouth for short amount of time.

My local brain injury association has free webinars to help people cope with this pandemic.

Another great way to help all of us who need it now:

Sunday, April 26, 2020


Yesterday, I almost fell trying to get dressed. My right crossed over the left leg, I caught myself when I landed halfway between the floor and the side of my bed.  Dizziness and walking, and turning issues have been the brain injury theme for me this week.  I’ve heard from other stroke/brain injury survivors the recovery process is a marathon, not a sprint.  Some parts of your life return to the way they were before your injury, other things do not.

Everything in your life is changed in some way.  Some things are just never the same again.
Because of the walking issues I was having yesterday, I decided to stay in one place and not walk as much. I ended up drawing for several hours yesterday. I haven’t done an hours long drawing session in a while because I’ve struggled with energy and concentration issues.

It was wonderful to escape for a little bit and forget for small amount of time the balance issues.
My cat, Stella, sometimes has walking issues when she is running. Yesterday, she was running into my room and she almost tripped over her two front legs.

Besides other stroke survivors, it seems my cat can relate as well.

I haven’t been able to volunteer for two months because of the pandemic. Some of the help needed requires lifting boxes, which I cannot do. This makes me sad, although I know I’ll be back saving the world through volunteering again eventually.

I’ve found music to help with both coping with the pandemic and my gait/pain issues. Happy songs include this classic from Oliver & Company ( NYC in the 1980s with Billy Joel) and Anastasia (1997)

Friday, April 24, 2020

dizzy with a side of music

I learned earlier this week, I have a relative who had a stroke; he is now home recovering and doing better. I’ve been having walking issues today and almost fell twice. I’ve had right leg crossing in front of the left leg randomly, which happens sometimes and not too often. Then today I experienced something, which never happens, my left leg crossed in front of my right leg when I was walking.

The left leg almost never does this, so it was especially odd. Shunt and scalp pain on the left side of my scalp once this morning around 2am. Followed by some scalp pain in the top right corner of my scalp this afternoon at 1:37pm.

The usual shunt and scalp pain issues could be from a variety of things such as barometric pressure, phases of the moon, and rain/snow…

These stay at home orders during the pandemic remind me of when I came home from rehab after my brain injuries in April 2014. I couldn't drive for a year and 12 days because of the damage to my right eye. The only difference now is I no longer have double vision and can drive.

During these uncertain times this Altice One commercial brings me joy:

Sunday, April 5, 2020


Today I have barometric pressure headaches. Earlier this week like on Tuesday thru Friday my shunt was adjusting itself and I had nausea, eye and pain on the shunt valve and distal catheter at the top of my head.

The starlings outside my window are really loud and are a bit of a distraction from the throbbing in my head.

I've also rediscovered various movie soundtracks which have helped lighten my mood.  You can never go wrong with Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure or The Power Rangers Movie and Van Halen.

Friday, March 6, 2020

6 on 6

Today, March 6, 2020 marks 6 years since I survived multiple brain injuries during a shunt revision on 3/6/14.  Today is my golden brain birthday - six years on the 6th day of March.  I had two shunt revision surgeries during 2014.  The second was when the rest of my shunt was finally repaired in May 2014.
After my brain injuries on 3/6/14.

Overall, I had a great brain birthday today. I had no chronic or shunt pain issues. The whole day and into the evening.

During the day today, I tried a Virtual Reality simulation at my local mall. I was on a swing somewhere in Asia. Very cool experience there were times when I got a little dizzy going up high into the air.

During the holidays in December 2019. 
6 Years surviving multiple brain injuries.
I also enjoyed some arcade games today. Finally, I made some new characters at the lego store and then returned home and enjoyed my cupcake. I didn't use a number candle this year, just because of last year's experience.

Blowing out my candle today made me hope to have more pain free days and of course, no more shunt revisions....I made a film about my brain injuries in 2014.

Friday, February 14, 2020


I had five pain free days earlier this week. Kind of a small miracle, which should always be celebrated. Then about two days ago, all the shunt drama returned.  Shunt valve pain with dizziness, distal catheter pain, nausea ,pain in my right eye and scalp sensitivity where my shunt is located.  Last night, my balance was really off, I had walking issues and I was bumping into things.

I've read in the news that soldiers in Iran suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of an Iran Strike recently. The article can be reach here: 109 troops suffered brain injuries

I just hope these troops are getting the appropriate services they need to assist them in their recovery.

Symptoms of brain injury often never really ever go away completely.... A fellow survivor told me once, that recovery is a marathon and not a sprint.

In the meantime, I've re discovered word search puzzles, which I use to pass time when I'm not out saving the world through volunteering or drawing.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Grumpy with a side of tea

I've had shunt and forehead pain with a side nausea and right eye pain consistently for over a week now. The eye pain ( strabismus surgery eye ) happens at the same time as shunt and distal catheter pain. My shunt is probably adjusting itself or just being an unruly medical device or both. I've also had scalp sensitivity where my shunt is and am more aware of this when I comb my hair.

Either way, it's made me grumpy and I've been staying indoors when I don't have anywhere I need to be. Pain reliever's haven't been working.

I don't think the settings are have changed. Although, I wouldn't have anyway to check this because...

1. My neurologist doesn't know how to check my shunt's settings
2. The last neurosurgeon I saw in 2018, didn't know how to do this either. Because...

Apparently the shunt I was given isn't used anywhere nearby.

And this is just so helpful...

I can't go back to my ex neurosurgeon (who placed this shunt) because I fired him and he got animated into one of my films...

All I can do is wait for this to go away.

And there's always a little time for a tea...

Sunday, January 5, 2020


I had three days of pain free no drama from my shunt this week. Yesterday, barometric pressure headaches returned.  Apparently, there is snow in the atmosphere expected later today.  I've had episodes of dizziness since yesterday. The shunt is adjusting itself again and I feel distal catheter pain in my abdomen yesterday and today. Saturday morning around 11am was when I felt light throbbing from my shunt valve at the top of my head. This happened while I was driving yesterday, which almost never happens. Today, besides the pressure in my forehead, there is some pain in the back of my head from the chiari malformation, I acquired during the shunt revision in 2009.

Thursday, January 2, 2020


I've been pain free for two whole days this week. Which means...
X Ray image of my shunt 2014 to present.

No elevated csf pressure in my forehead.

No pain from the shunt valve and/or distal catheter in my abdomen and neck.

No nausea associated with the shunt adjusting itself.

No right eye pain (strabismus surgery eye)

No dizziness when moving my head or sensitive scalp.

I also haven't heard my shunt beep since 2016.

So for now, I don't feel my shunt at all. Something I haven't experienced in a while. I took this for granted prior to my shunt being moved in 2009.

Before then, I only knew the shunt was in my brain when it stopped working....

In the 2000s I had one revision in 2009.

In the 2010s I had shunt revision surgery in 2011 and two in 2014.

Having chronic pain makes me grumpy/irritable/depressed and there have been times when I wished I could remove my shunt myself. Obviously, this can't be done...My nervous system cannot survive without one...

It's a great feeling to not be in pain and not want to wage war against my medical device.

Here's hoping for less pain and no shunt revisions in the next decade.