Friday, October 21, 2016

2016 Politics; Is It Almost Over?

I have quite a few opinions about issues that have arisen over the past 18 months that I've grown tired of, and I'm going to share them with you today. People being offended by EVERYTHING, Black Lives Matter, and White Privilege are the main topics. However, Trump, Clinton, and even this Evan McMullin guy will be discussed.  Many of you won't agree with me, and that's fine because people today seem to have forgotten this:

This is going to be a VERY LONG and VERY OPINIONATED POST.  Where to begin, where to begin?  Well, here we go...

When we were young, we were taught that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".  It was called teasing, and sometimes even considered bullying.  Older siblings have been doing it to their younger siblings for centuries.  I was bullied in elementary school.  I believe that we all grew thicker skin because of this. What is going on with people today?  Every time you turn around someone is offended about something someone else has said. Words and phrases that have been used since the dawn of time are suddenly causing mass hysteria.  And why, you ask? Because....FEEEELINGS!

Under the First Amendment, we are given the right of free speech. These days, there are more and more words that are being added to an ever-growing "no-no" list. There are many words that I choose not to use, because I don't believe they are the most proper, but enough with trying to make people stop saying them, or feel guilty when we do. Many of us were taught to "use our words", however, these days when we do someone gets offended. Hypocrisy at it's finest.

This ridiculous "word policing" has just gone too far, and I'm so fed up with it.  I'm not encouraging people to run around and start calling people horrible names while at the grocery store, or at school, but instead, to not be so sensitive about what other people say.  Each day more and more "offensive" words are added to this list.  It's time all the women in the world put on their big girl panties, and for all the men to simply grow a pair. Oops, did I just offend you?  Oh well, I'm not apologizing for it!!

OK.  Overly sensitive, easily offended people spoken about?  Check.  Now, on to the next issue.

I can't believe how many people in the country have turned against law enforcement since this Black Lives Matter movement began.  Where I believe that the intentions of this group are, for the most part, good; police officers are men and women who go out EVERY DAY not knowing if they will come back home that night. They put their lives in danger while they protect us on a daily basis.  They run into the unknown that we are often running away from.  Are there a few law enforcement officers who are shady?  Yes, I'm sure there are. Are there a few million people in the country who are shady?  YES.  Of that I am certain.  I'm not upset about what problems Black Lives Matter is trying to expose, but rather, HOW THEY ARE DOING IT, and how they jump to conclusions before the FACTS of the case have been made clear.

The narrative is often the same.  A black man is shot by a white police officer, apparently for no reason, according to BLM protesters. Someone was there and caught the encounter on their camera.  Everyone ASSUMES it was the Police Officers fault, that he shot the person BECAUSE HE IS BLACK, not taking into account any information that was given about the suspect. or even WHAT THE SUSPECT WAS DOING!!  I'd like to think that Police Officers don't enjoy shooting people, and that they only do it if they feel their lives, or the lives of those around them, are in jeopardy.  Apparently Black Lives Matter doesn't agree because even before a few hours have been given to let law enforcement figure out what the facts of the matter are, (like the race of those involved, which shouldn't matter anymore, but unfortunately now does) violence is erupting in the city the shooting has just taken place in.

Often what the rioters don't take into account is that it's not always a white cop who kills a black man. Black officers also shoot black men, and more often than not, the person who has been shot has a lengthy criminal record, maybe the gun being used was stolen, and they chose to not follow the orders of the Police Officers! I don't believe that Police Officers don't identify themselves and I'm sure they ask multiple times for the person they are trying to arrest to follow their orders.  Instead, hatred and violence come out of many ill-informed people.

When the race riots begin, more and more INNOCENT people, and properties, who had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CRIME are harmed.  We've gone from relatively peaceful protests years ago, to watching people try to "one up" each other regarding just how much damage can be done.

Many of the rioters are believed to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement, because they wear their shirts.  I do believe that many people with the Black Lives Matter movement have good intentions, however, this isn't just a problem that affects black people.  Every color of people out there are victims of some form of police brutality.  And where is the uproar when it comes to black-on-black crime, which is a real problem in cities like Chicago?  That seems to go unnoticed by the Black Lives Matter movement.  It seems like the only black lives that matter to them are those who are taken by police officers.  

I believe the only way to change this behavior and help our country come together instead of continuing to racially divide is for people to unite.  It's not a contest of who's suffering from the most oppression, or who's is more important.  We're all just human beings, and unity is the way out of this mess.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."  Enough is enough.

Rant on that over.  Moving on...

I'm so very tired of being accused of having some kind of advantages in life because I'm white.  I'd love to know just when in my life I've had any more privileges than anybody else.  I've been working since right after I graduated from high school.  I didn't receive any kind of college scholarship like those that are available for minorities.  I had to take out a rather large student loan that I am still paying for, and will be for years to come so that I could go to college.  I worked the ENTIRE time I went to college to pay my way through life.  I fought VERY HARD to graduate from college, due to my health issues, and worked even harder to make sure that I was employable because of said issues.  NOTHING has been handed to me on a silver platter.  20 years out of high school and I'm driving the car that I PAID FOR and have had for the past 11 years. The only thing automatic about it is the transmission.  There are no fancy bells and whistles.  Brandon thinks that all cars have windows that roll up manually, and any kids who've ever been in the car have NO IDEA how to get the windows to go down, or even how to lock the doors!! 

I continue to fight to keep myself inside the field that I worked so hard, and accrued so much debt, to graduate from college to do. And after all this time who would've ever thought that I'd be living in a small apartment instead of renting, or even OWNING my own home. Many young people today believe that EVERYTHING should be handed to them FOR FREE, simply because of the color of their skin.  Get out of my face. I am grateful for all that I have.  I realize that I do have more than some people, but I worked my butt off  to get to this point. Before you go accusing me of having been given all that I have because of the color of my skin, remember one thing:

This is the last, and biggest issue in life right now:

Is it November 8th yet?

This has been the WORST presidential election cycle since I was old enough to vote for the first time...maybe even the worst in history. Mind you, they're always uncomfortable and mean, but with social media so important to our culture today, and the media becoming less and less impartial and no longer reporting the news about EACH AND EVERY candidate EQUALLY, this election has taken on a life of its own...and I'm SO TIRED OF IT!

After 8 years of President Obama, I understand why millions of people are eager for a DRASTIC change in the leadership of our country.  I've never cared for Obama.  Since I'm conservative, his policies have rubbed me wrong since day one.  ENORMOUS steps backward have been taken when it comes to issues such as race and law enforcement, as I've already discussed. We've also witnessed the general decline of people in this country being able to use the brain that God gave them, and make decision for themselves, instead of basing them on what other people in the country do and think.  All of this has happened while under Obama's watch. What I have seen the past 8 years makes me wonder what has happened to our once proud, thriving country. Did it all start with Obama?  No, not all of it.  However, has it gotten worse under his leadership?  I absolutely believe it has.

When the primaries began almost 2 years ago, there were FAR TOO MANY Republicans seeking the office of the President.  There were around 17 people who duked it out for MONTHS, taking part in screaming matches that were called debates, until there was just one man left standing for the GOP.  Have I ever been happy about who became that last person?  OH, NO WAY!  I was always a fan of Ted Cruz.  I hope that he runs again in four years because I believe he would be a fabulous president. I'll admit that at one time I was intrigued by Donald Trump.  He said what many of the angry, frustrated people wanted to hear.  Where most politicians have always been more concerned about being politically correct, and worried about being re-elected, Trump told it like it was and many people ate it up.

The CONSTANT primary GOP debates made it difficult to stay interested in all of the candidates. There really seemed to be a debate every week.  I think that Trump fed off of this.  Instead of debates being a time for the candidates to voice their ideas and opinions, they became "must see TV", and it began to feel like we were watching a soap opera!  As the debates continued, I quickly grew tired of Trump's continued interrupting and yelling.  Many of the candidates made jabs at each other, which is normal, but they managed to do it politely, for the most part. Trump started to look like the school yard bully, and not very presidential. Unfortunately, enough people in the country didn't agree with me and he became the GOP candidate.  As my two only choices were now between Trump and Clinton, this is how I have felt ever since then:

I don't like, or trust either of them. Between Benghazi and the email server, Clinton should be in jail.  Trump is arrogant, new to politics, has many ideas that probably won't work, and doesn't play well with anyone. However, when I break down where each of them sit on issues that are important, like the 2nd Amendment, abortion, and national security, I side more with Trump.

The question plaguing most people is which one of these people do we vote for to run our country?  Many are now talking about voting for what their conscience says is best, and it's leading them away from the two most likely people who will this election.

This brings me to a former member of the CIA from Utah who is now running for president: Evan McMullin.

I've seen a rise in his popularity on Facebook as of late, and I want to express my views on him.  This man jumped into the race AFTER the primaries once he was unhappy with who the GOP candidate was.  He didn't go through the GRUELING process that all other candidates participated in.  I don't doubt his motives, but if he really wanted to be president, he should've participated in this process.  I feel like he did a HUGE disservice to the people who don't like either contending candidate by not allowing himself to be seen by the ENTIRE COUNTRY.

The majority of the country doesn't know who he is, or what his platform is.  We've never seen him in a debate, and had he participated then MILLIONS of people would've been introduced to him, seen him in action, and we might have had a LEGITIMATE alternative to Dumb and Dumber!  From the little I know about him, he is the candidate that my values and beliefs align with the most, however, there is a snowball's chance in hell that he will win.  People argue that if you vote for McMullin you aren't voting for Hilary. I completely disagree.  Like I said, the odds of him winning are slim to none. There are SO MANY different scenarios that would have to come into play before he'd even come close to the White House. Below is a link I found that explains how the stars would have to align, and what would have to happen for McMullin to become President.

Can McMullin really win the Presidency?

I fear for our country. The next president will have many difficult choices to make that have the potential to completely change the way our country has worked since its inception. Either of the main candidates pose reasons for us to be concerned.  In the end, this is how I feel:

If I could pick someone to be our president, this is the man I'd vote for...

If you've made it to the end of this post, I congratulate you.  These issues have been on my mind for quite some time.  There are so many other things I could continue to discuss, but I'd probably be writing for the next month straight, so I'll leave those for another time!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action!

About a month ago, I was contacted by people from Intermountain Health Center, where I had my surgery. Each year they interview people who've benefited from the technology that Intermountain Health Center offers.  The stories are put onto the hospital's main web page, and it's also printed in a hard copy.  My neurologist threw my name into the pile of those who could be interviewed and they decided that my story was interesting enough to highlight.

This last Friday my apartment was turned into the set of a TV show!  There were about 3 cameras, a microphone, 2 different kinds of lights, and 4 people here who were all involved to interview little ol' me! It was crazy to see how much equipment was needed, and watching them decide where I should sit, what should be in the background (turns out it was my Star Wars plates!) and where the furniture should be moved to.  All of this to make sure what they filmed turned out the best way possible.

Nick took Brandon and ran errands.  If Brandon had stayed, the entire process would've become all about him!!  He LOVES to be the center of attention, and nothing would've been accomplished! My mom stuck around in the event that I had a seizure; that way someone who knew what they were doing could help, and she was also there to help fill in any gaps in my memory since they were asking questions regarding things that happened years ago.

Questions were asked about when my seizures started, how they've changed my life, how Nick and I met. Many different topics came up.  My surgery in July and hopes for the future, and the discrimination I've had to deal with throughout the last 20 years were also spoken about.

It was nerve-wracking sitting in front of the camera, not knowing if I was giving them what they needed.  I felt silly.  I've been on TV before, but it was in high school while I was doing parades with the band. During those performances your family is lucky to even see you since the camera shot is constantly changing, and you don't even know where the cameras are...there was no time to get nervous! Apparently the man who interviewed me will have his voice edited out, so I had to make sure that I restated the questions in my answers.  The teacher inside of me laughed when he said that to me!  Isn't that what we're always telling our student's THEY need to do?!?

Look at all the equipment they needed just to conduct a small interview!!

After the interview, they went outside looking for a place where they could take pictures of me. Pictures...ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?  I was uncomfortable enough while they were interviewing me.  Now they wanted me to actually pose for pictures?!?

While the pictures were being taken, I began to understand, if only just a little bit, how the girl's who SUCK on America's Next Top Model feel!  The nice man snapping the pictures kept asking for ways he wanted me to stand, or hold my head.  It was just unreal.

It was also during this time that I was asked to call Nick and have him come back.  They wanted to shoot footage of the three of us.  Turns out Brandon was going to be on camera after all! Brandon got out some homework and they filmed us working on it at the kitchen table.  We all sat at the table and were filmed playing Uno. Then the three of us went outside and a cheesy "walking hand in hand" shot was filmed.  I can already picture how THAT footage will appear in the final copy!

This new piece won't be featured until next April, so they want to check back in with me around February and see how I'm doing.  Great...more time to loose more weight!  They also want to film my neurologist and I interacting together, so I'll be doing that next month.

I now have an idea about how shows like Property Brothers are shot.  I know that TV shows are edited, but certain shows have a very "cut and paste" feel about them, like Property Brothers.  I have a feeling this piece will have that feel.  I picture my interview being a voice-over, with the footage they shot of us in the background of the piece. I could be wrong.

Brandon is pretty sure that this will make him famous!  I'm excited to see the finished product. It was an exciting afternoon.  Between brain surgery, and now this interview, this year has been full of "once in a lifetime" opportunities...if you consider brain surgery an opportunity!!

I'll be sure to post the video as soon as it comes out.  I'm very grateful to be able to provide more information for those who are struggling with this decision.  This has been a big leap of faith for me, especially since there isn't a lot of information available for those who are trying to decide if this is the right choice for them. I hope that through this interview, and my continued blog posts, that I can help others who have questions.

Since the surgery, I've had more seizures than usual, but I know that this is a process.  I believe that in the next year or two, I will have been able to go a good 6 months without having a seizure, and will be on my way to gaining my independence back.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

NeuroPace RNS Surgery Recovery: 3 Months

Three months out from surgery and I'm completely healed.  I can sleep on my right side again, my hair is growing back, and my scar can't be seen by anyone.  I'm exercising, and am back at work, having fun.  All my coworkers were so excited to see me and hear about what had happened when school started.  I was stunned by how many people found out through word of mouth.  Everyone has been so kind, offering help in any way possible.

Look how fast my hair is growing back!  I have sideburns again!!

My scar, 3 months later

My RNS device has been "active" for about 2 months now.  Since that time there hasn't really been any decrease in the amount of my seizures, which has surprised us.  What has changed, however, is what happens to me while I'm having a seizure.

In the past, my seizures have caused me to completely "zone out" and not be aware of what's going on around me.  When the seizure was over, I'd have no idea what had happened during the seizure and would need those around me to fill in the blanks.  During the 8 weeks since the device has been turned on, I am now aware of what is going on around me during a seizure.  I can't quite continue having a conversation, but I don't need anyone to fill me in on what happened.  One day I was showing a bunch of girls at school pictures of my nail manicures.  I was aware I was in a seizure, and I was able to continue showing the girls the pictures.  I remember realizing I was having a seizure, actually thinking to myself, "Wow, you're in a seizure and you're still scrolling through pictures on your phone!  And you are able to have this conversation in your head!!"  It was very surreal.  Unfortunately, I still have the "old seizures", but they are few and far between, which is FABULOUS!  The fact that I'm aware they are happening, and can maintain control of what I'm doing has made this surgery completely worth it!  Another change I've noticed is that when I have one of the "new type" of seizures, I no longer have three.  In the past, if I have one seizure, it's a guarantee that before the day is over, I will have at least 3.  We have no idea why, it has just become my pattern.  This has been a welcomed change.

Next week my device will be adjusted, since the number of seizures hasn't decreased, but has increased.  It's taken a few weeks to get this appointment put together, since people from Neuropace have to fly out to Utah from California and make the adjustment.  This is still such a new procedure that even my neurologist continues to learn how this all works!  I'm excited to see what new changes the adjustment will bring.  I'm hoping that the amount of seizures will decrease.  We will have to wait and see.

I've had many people ask me how the process of getting information to the computer and then having the device respond to me works.  I still don't know all of the details, and I'm hoping to understand more of this when I have the device adjusted this week.  I have pictures to show you regarding what I do with the computer.

Here is the wand that I use.  This wand goes on top of my head where the device is placed.

Each time I begin, I test the wand strength, making sure that I have it in the correct place, directly over my device.

Once I know it is in the correct place, it begins transferring the data from the device to the Neuropace system.

I do this every few days, and especially on the days when I have a seizure.  Like I said before, I don't understand how this exactly works, but I look forward to getting more information about this as Neuropace receives more data from me.

Finishing on a fun note, the hospital that I had my surgery in, Intermountain Healthcare, does an annual report, highlighting the new technology the hospital offers.  They pick a few people who have been helped by this technology and produce this report in both a digital and paper copy. I've been asked to be interviewed for this annual report.  People will be coming to our house to conduct the interview.  Apparently this will take a good 2 to 3 hours.  I'm told that this is because they need to set up lighting and sound equipment.  It's like a TV show being filmed in my house!!  Hopefully I won't come off looking stupid...I've never done this before!

I'm excited to be able to help others decide if this surgery is for them.  There isn't a lot of information about it, and I've sent my blog posts to my neurologist so that she can give them to others with questions, concerns, and fears.  I hope that these posts are able to help those looking for information about this procedure.

I'll post all about the experience once it's completed!