The Oz Blog View about stuff while living in the Land of Oz

28Dec/16Off

The harsh reality.

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As I walk alone with no hope and no light in my life, I begin to wonder where is my life even going? For I can see no great purpose, I see no achievement, all I see is darkness and loss. I am a nomad wondering in an endless wasteland of blight starved of the faintest glimmer light. Have you ever known the feeling or are experiencing the feeling now?

The isolation can be deafening, yet if you have never experienced this you will not understand. We can never truly walk a mile in another's shoes, but the mutual understanding of shared experience is close. The key to understanding another human is communicating with that person, true and honest communication. If we break the silence, we can also break the darkness.

A lot of times in life people are afraid of honest communication. We do not like dealing with the harsh realities, we much rather like dealing with cupcakes and rainbows. Yet, to truly deal with the self, you must honestly communicate. Because if you are not honest with yourself, who can you be honest with?

You may want to deal with truth, like you want to eat a bowl of nails for breakfast. The truth is tough, harsh, and full of love. Parents do not tell their child that a hot stove is cold just to watch the child get injured. The truth is there for our benefit. If you are struggling in the darkness, I hope that you find the truth and the peace that comes with that.

In Christ,

Red Beards

19Apr/12Off

When should I let go?

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Can I truly let go? When is the appropriate time to let go? Do I have the ability to see those kind of people in a new light? What truly is my problem?

I will start from the beginning for those of you who do not know what is going on. About three weeks ago there was a shootout between my neighbor and some unidentified people in his front yard. A stray round from the weapons being fired entered my house 18" from my head while I was sleeping. This has started a whole flood of emotions in my family that are hard to describe or list.

I shall stick to those emotions that only I have and that I still struggle with. After this event I felt unsafe walking around my house without an unloaded weapon on my person. One day after the shooting, our family decided that it was in our best interest to start staying at a different location. We have been staying at this alternative location too this date.

The problems that I have are as follows: 1) whenever I am near our old city I revert back to my Army training, 2) I have trouble with people who look the same as the shooter, 3) I have flashbacks whenever I hear a loud bang, 4) I almost was shot in the face and do not care about it. Upon further reflections of these feeling, I am fine with numbers one through three. I am glad that I reverted back to my Army training during the event and following. I need to remind myself that not everyone is like those people who were shooting. And eventually the flashbacks will go away, just like they did with my leg injury.

But the lack of regard for my own life is of some concern. Why would I have so little regard for something so precious? What is different about my thought process that allows me to have this opinion? In society we are surrounded by ways to stay alive or try to stay alive longer. Yet, this man has no problem walking away from this world. Please do not twist my words or mis-understand (I would never or have never thought about taking my own life).

The only difference that I can find is the comfort that I find in the Lord. I know that His hand is guiding me in all that I do. For the Lord has a perfect plan for my life even though I  may not understand it. But I will bold walk through this life not afraid of what this world has to throw at me. I have seizure, migraine, chronic back pain, a head injury, and now have almost been shot in the face. I pray that the Lord will continue to give me the ability to boldly proclaim His name and give Him the glory while doing it. If you want to find out about people really going through troubles, you only need to read the book of Acts.

**To the Ends of the Earth**

Red Beards

21Mar/12Off

National Brain Injury Awareness Day 2012

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March 21, 2012 is the National Brain Injury Awareness Day for the United States of America. Today is meant to raise awareness about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), talk about the prevention of TBI, and celebrate the lives of those living with TBI. The study of TBI did not become prevalent in the medical community until after the start of Operation Enduring Freedom. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought TBI closer to the front of the line in medical research. Although there are still a lot of stereo types about head injuries that are damaging.

First let's address awareness, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), "a TBI is caused by a  bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain." This means that anytime something impacts your head and you lose the normal function of your brain, you have suffered a TBI. Now to the good news, according to the CDC "not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in  mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of  unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. The majority of TBIs that occur  each year are concussions  or other forms of mild TBI."

So what have we learned from the CDC? We have learned that anything that caused you to lose normal brain function is a TBI. But not every time you impact your head do you sustain a TBI. Most people have hit their head, but have not hit their head hard enough to lose normal brain function. We have also learned that a majority of TBI related injuries are mild and have no long term consequences. Only in some cases are TBIs considered severe and have long term consequences.

Now let us move on to prevent the easiest of today's topics. Some brain injuries cannot be prevented unfortunately. For example:  the soldier who is injured in war serving his country, the person injured in a car wreck, or a person who trips and falls. Yet, too many TBIs can be prevent with just a little bit of forethought and effort. A simple bicycle helmet will help prevent a TBI, but a majority of parents do not buy or require their children to wear a helmet. In soccer, a padded helmet will help prevent a TBI for children and youth. Yet the US Youth Soccer Organization does not want to make soccer look like to violent of a sport. A motorcycle helmet will help prevent a TBI or save your life, but too often people say, "I want to feel the wind in my hair."

I do not think that people truly understand the consequences of what they are doing. All it takes is one split second to change your life and the life of the people around you, forever. But of course too many people have to learn from their own mistakes. Well, this is one mistakes that you cannot learn from because if you mess up your brain there is no getting it back. The brain does not heal like a broken arm or torn ligament. Once you have damaged a part of the brain, that part of the brain is damaged forever. Then all you can do is tell other people and hope that they will listen to you.

And finally to celebrate the lives of people who are SURVIVORS!! We have all meet people in our lives that have a TBI. The key is whether or not you noticed that person or not, whether you could tell if that person even had a TBI. Most of the scars of a TBI are hidden to the rest of the world. Today we celebrate you, Survivors. Do not be ashamed for the way your are, be proud of who you are. Never feel like you are alone, because you are not. There is always someone out there that is going through what you are. I know what I am talking about, because I am one of them. I am a SURVIVOR!

**To the Ends of the Earth**

Red Beards

8Mar/12Off

Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury

    March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and March 21st is National Brain Injury Awareness Day for the Nation. Today I would like to talk about what it is like to live with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I want to education parents, students, coaches, players, officials, and league organizers to the dangers of TBI. Because without being aware of the dangers of TBI, we are setting up people for a life of misery and pain. You must only find the family of a military member who has suffered a TBI and talk with those people about how his/her life has changed.

I will go over just a few of the changes for you today. The first thing you lose as a result of a TBI related injury is your short-term memory. For example, you are sitting in the living-room watching television and need to refill your drink. You walk into the kitchen to get your drink, only to forget by the time your arrive in the kitchen what you are in the kitchen for. So you go back and sit down in the living-room. After you sit down you realize your need some more to drink. A person with a TBI injury will repeat process several times before actually refilling their drink. TBI will normally cause a person problems with remembering information for a short-term basis.

Away to deal with this situation is to create a task list. A person might invest in an electronic device or devices that will allow them to create those task lists. On those electronics you can program reminders for any medications that you take and what time of day that you take the medication. This is a great help in dealing with short-term memory loss, but electronics do not help you pay attention.

The second problem we will look at for a person suffering from a TBI related injury is attention deficit. Some people become more sensitive to movement and some people to sound. While some people become over sensitive to both sound and movement, which means that holding a conversation is very difficult. Or writing a paper, listening to something important to that person, watching a television show, and working have all become harder now because the brain does not tune out sights or sounds properly. A person's brain will normally filter out secondary or unuseful noise or sights, but as a result of a TBI the brain no longer functions properly. The person's brain cannot tune out the child three tables over while out at dinner or not notice a person walking by, without hyper-focusing on the current topic and blocking everything else out.

The major problem with hyper-focusing is that a person must block everything else out. Which means that if someone else tries to get their attention, a lot of effort is required to break the barriers in place. The person that struggles with attention does not want to seem aloof or that they do not care. This is something that the person cannot control because of their brain. Yet, if the person hyper-focuses the problem maybe even worse.

Another serious concern from sustaining a TBI is headaches and to be more specific, migraine headaches. These headaches are serious and a majority of people who suffer a TBI suffer from headaches. Luckily the large majority who have the headaches go away, but there is a percentage of people who have the headaches stay around. A migraine headache will be the end of your productive day and if you have never had one (you get a gold star!!) try to keep it that way. In the news over the past couple of years have been a number of professional athletes who have suffered from migraines after sustaining a TBI. The headaches keep these people from playing their profession, a migraine is not something your want to invest in for the rest of your life.

Now to one of the more serious aftermaths of a TBI, a friend of mine from Church has sustained a TBI from a motorcycle wreck and now has seizures. Yes, if you hit your head hard enough or often enough, you can cause yourself to have seizures for the rest of your life. Depending on how quickly you are treated after you have a seizure and what type of seizure you have, you will start taking medicine. Then you will not be able to drive a car for 6 month from the date of your last seizure. If you continue to have seizures, then you will not be given the privilege of driving a car. One of the crazy part of seizures if that you never know when one will happen: while you are at home, shopping, at Church, or at dinner. If you have seizures you will not be able to go to concerts will flashing lights. Do you want your family or friends to worry about whether or not you are going to have a seizure all of the time?

To the worst part of TBI, people who sustain a TBI often have a change in personality or behavior. The person will not have the same attitude that they have always had, because the connections in their brain have been disconnected. To the dismay of the people around that person, that person a majority of the time does not understand the change in behavior. You can go from being the best person in the world to being the worst person in the world in less than a second as a result of TBI. You can be the happy-go-lucky person one second and the mean guy the next as a result of TBI. TBI is not picky on who get the punishment for their lack of judgment.

A terrible side effect of TBI is unbelief and mistrust. After you sustain a TBI related injury and you start to suffer from the aforementioned symptoms, people will only think that you are faking those symptoms. People will tell you that the brain heals, that you did not use be like this, TBI is not a real thing, or just refuse to accept you for who you are now. Even better are the people that will tell you that use your TBI as an excuse. Those people will tell you, "Every chance you get you blame your brain!" These are the same people who do not understand why you honestly repeat yourself in a conversation. Well, you repeat yourself because you cannot remember if you already said that or not. But you are different now, just accept yourself for the way you are.

From all of the research that I have done into modern culture, being different is good. You can consider yourself a trend setter. Although, I do not think that this is a trend that you want to be in the front of the line for. I will take my place at the back of the line. You should really consider the effects of your choices, because those choices do not just affect you. Parents, coaches, and league organizers, you are responsible for all of those children in your leagues. Please do not take the brain of another lightly.

Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**

5Mar/12Off

Brain Injury Awareness Month 2012

     Have you ever hit your head hard enough to a lot of stars? Have you ever played a sport where you have 'rung your bell'? Have you ever been in a car accident where your head impacted any part of the car? If you answered yes to any of these question, then you have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). According to the Center for Disease Control, 1.7 million people  each year sustain a TBI. Let us really look at that number, 1,700,000 people who actually go to the doctor. This number does not account for the people who refuse to go or who do not even know that anything has happened to their brain. Of these 1.7 million people: 1.36 million are treated and released from the doctor, 275,000 are hospitalized as a result of the injury to their brain, and unfortunately 52,000 people die each year from their brain injuries.

If you have been watching the national news lately, a ten year old girl was killed from a TBI. The girl sustained the TBI during a fist fight at school. We of course cannot forget the men and women of the Military. According the researching that is being done 20-30% of all injuring in from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are TBI. The US Youth Soccer organization does not support kids wearing a padded helmet. Even though statistics show that in soccer, players are just a likely to get a concussion as in football. There are many ways to injury your brain, but many of the injuries can be prevented.

The human brain is not one of those repairable objects in the world. Once you have broken your brain, you just cannot turn back the clock and fix it. People take risk that they should not and will not listen. Yet this is one area of life that if you do not listen, there is no cleaning up the mess. We must only look at professional football players, professional soccer players, people who have been in car wrecks, and people who have served in the Military. To see the results of mild to severe TBI.  The Lord gave us a wonderful gift in the human brain, please do your best not to destroy it!

Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**

25Feb/12Off

Is the Border War Really Over?

  How did the Border War even start? Well let's go back and look at history. Before the Civil War, men from Missouri would go across the state line into Kansas and tried to stop Kansas from becoming a Free State. The men from Missouri would try and stake a claim right before a city would take a vote, those men would vote for Kansas to become a Slave State, and then go back to Missouri after the vote was over. This tactic did not work though and Kansas became a Free State. And of course we all know about the blood shed between the Jayhawkers and Raiders. This sporting rivalry goes far deeper than just two school that do not like each other like most other schools.

The rivalry is ending this year with the University of Missouri moving to the Southeastern Conference. The Universities of Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri have all been in the same conference for a very long time. The fans from all of these teams do not get along with each other. And this past year has been a great year of goodbyes. In football this year, each state claimed a win, KSU 24 v MU 17, MU 24 @ KU 10. Then of course is men's basketball, the state of Kansas 3 - the state of Missouri 1. (KSU 75 v MU 59, KSU 78 @ MU 68; MU 74 - KU 71, KU 87 - MU 86 OT). These six games will be the end of an era.

There has been high drama is the two KU v MU basketball games. These two games have been two of the best in the series. We as fans can only hope for a third match up this season in the Big 12 tourney. The outcome of each game was to be expected, each team won because of home-court advantage. Let us see a game on a neutral court, that will be the true test between these two teams. This is one of the best coached and hardest working MU basketball teams that I have seen in years. You also very rarely see a team shoot free-throws that well. MU fans, you have a found a great coach and have a lot of success to look forward too. KU has turned around their season very nicely. After their loset to UK early in the season, I said that KU would not win more than 23 games this season. I have been pleasantly surprised by the Jayhawks this season.

Now too address the raging fans as a result of today's game from Allen Field-house. I still hold and will always hold that every single college basketball game is officiated unevenly. One team will get more of the 50/50 calls than the other team. With this premise goes a couple of thoughts on how a team gets those calls: 1) one teams has more prestige than the other, 2) one team has higher national ranking, 3) the official likes one coach more than the other coach, 4) which team is at playing at home. These are what I feel are the main factors that affect those close calls. The officials are human and will make mistakes, they will get caught up in the moment of the game, will hold a grudge against a person, or have more respect for one person.

With the officiating in mind, let us move to the game. When the Jayhawks and Tigers played in Columbia. MU was the team that was getting those close calls. Yet when the game was played in Lawrence, KU was the team that was getting the 50/50 calls. Although, just getting calls by the officials will not win a basketball game. At the end of both games, the team that won made the plays down the stretch. Fans from the losing teams both went crazy after each game and blamed the officiating. Yet, you do not want to claim victory thanks to the officiating. But at the same time people do not blame a loss on the officiating either.

When you blame the officials, you sound like a kid who loses at video games and blames the controller. Or the golfer who says his high handicap is because of his golf clubs. Our favorite teams lose games and will lose more games in the future. There has never been a team and will never been a team that goes unbeaten throughout the team's existence. Now, I am not saying to accept losing like David Glass. But these are just sports teams and they are just playing a game. If you want to rage over something, rage about the lack of coverage for our troops! Those men and women are awesome and do not get enough coverage from us.

Red Beards

*To the Ends of the Earth**

14Feb/12Off

Prescription Medication and Alcohol

  Over the weekend Whitney Houston died from reportedly mixing prescription medication and alcohol. Houston was a very talented person, but made a very huge mistake. She was reportedly taking very strong medication. The day Houston died, she had spent several hours at the hotel bar drinking. The death of a person by mixing medication and alcohol is completely preventable.

While I was serving in the Army, I attending a lot of meeting about this very topic. Most prescription pain medications will slow down the heart of an individual. Of course, alcohol has the same effect of slowing down the heart rate of the individual consuming the drinks. Which means by taking prescription medication and by drinking alcohol, you are slowing your heart rate down by a significant amount.

Drinking alcohol has been a part of the culture of the Military for a very long time. Also, Soldiers and Marines that are suffering from PTSD often try to find comfort in the bottom of a bottle. A large number of these military personnel have physical injuries as well and are receiving prescription pain medication. During my time in the Army there was a problem with soldiers going to sleep after drinking and not waking up.

These soldier did not intend to take their lives, but they did not understand the consequences of their action. The soldiers are use to drinking and are also trying to find peace. The soldiers are also taking medicine to manage the pain in their body. They do not know the problems that they have just caused. After a couple of drinks or beers and the soldiers go to sleep, then they just do not wake up.

Whitney Houston did not understand the effects on her body. Someone around her should have known or understood the things that were happening. Whitney's case is not special, because there are people everyday who tragically die from this. And unfortunately there is not a lot of light being shone on this problem.

People should always understand what their medication does to their body. The people around them, should also understand what that person's medication does to that person's body. And if that person is doing something unhealthy, then you need to stop them. Because if the situation was reversed, would you want the other person to save your life?

Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**

3Feb/12Off

Accept myself, really?

I am a disabled Army veteran, who has trouble walking, talking, and remembering. I have anger issues and seek help at the VA Medical Center in my home town. The people I talk with at the VA, my family, and my friends, all tell me that "I am doing great!" Over the summer I started having seizures and now I have to walk with a cane. I was told, "just get use to people looking at you, toughen up a little bit."
I talk with a lot of people who try to encourage me to drive on. Well, driving on is what put me into my current situation. While in the Army at Airborne school, I suffered several concussions and did not tell anyone. I want to be Army Strong and make the jumps. Too bad in the end, I broke my lower leg in two places and hurt my back. After three surgeries on my ankle the Army said I was not fit to be a soldier anymore.
So I go from being Army Strong to unfit in about 20 seconds. Plus, during a time of war, this soldier does not get the option to deploy. Now, I am injured from training and not war. So do people really care about the soldiers who are injured in training, nope. I can tell you from experience. I put my life on the line just like everyone else who signed up for the military. I wanted to deploy and fight, but because of an airborne injury I could not. So now I am less of a soldier.
Let me understand this right, you want me to accept myself? First, people wonder why I am disabled and limping around. Then I hear, "well at least you did not have to deploy." Yeah, because I joined the Army during war not to deploy. As if deploying would make the injuries easier to accept.
I would fully love to accept myself for the way I am, but I just cannot. The way that I am right now is just not good enough for me. I do not want to be like this the rest of my life! I will not accept myself like this! I will strive to become better than I was before. I may not be able to run as fast, so what. I am not be able to do as many push-up or sit-up, who cares. Or I may not even be able to drive, but that will not stop me from becoming a better person, husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend!

Red Beards

 

**To the Ends of the Earth**

26Nov/11Off

Toys for Tots


One of my favorite times every year during my time as a Marine Reservist was Toys for Tots. Every year during November and most of December the Marine Reserves will have boxes all over town and go to events to help collect toys for under privileged children all over town. Normally the entire reserve unit I was with would drill at the same time every year, but during those months the unit would tend to split up by different groups to help out as much as we could to make sure that as many toys were collected and distributed as could be.

I remember many of events even being outside and I would be freezing my butt off, but then I would just think about my children and think how much I would appreciate something like this and that helped me really enjoy doing any Toys for Tots event. It even seemed like some people would create events just to bring the Marines out to help collect toys for children. It is stuff like those types of events that really help out any community and can bring in some toys that children really would love to have.

One of the biggest events each year that would allow the Marines to collect enough toys to fill a box truck was one of the Chiefs home games in early December. I only got to work one of these events, but there would be a couple Marines posted at every main entrance to the actual stadium, and I could not believe the support and amount of toys that showed up. The gate I was at with a close friend of mine could of filled up 3 of the normal Toys for Tots box to include 3 bicycles and there was even one gate that had 6 bikes.

Not every toy is great though as the Marines would tend to get a lot of toys donated from smaller unknown companies with toys that nobody had ever really heard of or seen, but we all have to remember that it is the thought that counts and I am sure that several kids still enjoyed anything that they got. It never seems to be enough though as orders just kept coming in even as the toy surplus pile got smaller and smaller. We would have to give kids toys that they were either too big or too little for.

So there never seems to be enough toys. I am writing this blog post to try and help get more awareness for stuff like this. You don't have to buy anything big or expensive like a bike or video game system like that. Just something simple that is $5, $10, or maybe even $15 would make a big difference in a child's Christmas. Yeah you may never get to see the kids actually play with any of the toys, but neither did I. Do you also think that the Marines would just go around collecting toys to give to kids that didn't need them? I highly doubt that.

So this year please consider going out and getting a toy for one of these kids. Any age range is fine, because there are even teens that don't get a single thing each year. If you have a kid or more then take them out to the toy store and have them pick out a toy that they would possibly like and then have them drop it off in one of the Toys for Tots boxes all over town. If you can't find any then contact your local Marine Reserve Unit or even google Toys for Tots to try and find out more information.

11Nov/11Off

Veteran’s Day – 2011


Veteran's day is upon us and it is time for those to honor veterans whether they be young or old.

It has seem that people the last decade have really taken an appreciation for veterans and given them the respect that they deserve. It would seem like it should be that way but it hasn't always been that way for some reason. Yeah more then half the veterans might not of actually put their life on the line but 99% of people don't even serve in the armed forces, so take that into consideration when you might see someone who did serve but didn't do much and you jus blow them off or show them disrespect.

When I was was younger it just always seemed like the only veterans I possibly knew we're my grandpa's age when in reality they are all over the place and as I get older I find that out more and more each year but a lot of them don't always go on and on about it. They figured they were just doing their job and why should they receive praise for that.

I am a lot like that. I personally served six plus year in the Marine Corps Reserves with a year of that being activated during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. I didn't do hardly anything besides what was asked of me and I tend to not go out seeking rewards or praise for what I did. I most times don't really know what to do when somebody finds out I was a vet and thanks me for my service because as soon as they do my mind immediately goes to the men and women that actually gave their lives for our country.

Even people like my great uncle who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor when he was stationed on the U.S.S Oklahoma and was thrown from the ship during the attack as he was headed towards church service. He was also later involved in the Midway Conflict. he survived all that was just recently passed away this year.

It is people like him that all of us, even other veterans, that I think we should be celebrating and honoring the most. But that isn't the way things work and it is still a great honor to be recognized on days like this.