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


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**


The Focus of Dedication.

     During this 40 Days of Dedication so far I have attempted to go without soccer of any kind for I do not know how many days so far. That is a little weird for me to think about. I was talking with a good friend last night and he asked me, "How many days do you have left?" My response, "I don't know, can't say that I have been counting." He then asked, "Do you even know when Good Friday is?" My response, "Nope, do you have a calendar?" I have gotten into a routine of living without soccer and I know what I must do to survive. I know that I cannot look a certain channels and if I am tempted too much. Then I must turn the television off, period!

Yet, I struggle to understand why I am not keeping better track of the days. I mean this is suppose to be a 40 day experiment. Although, for some strange reason the amount of time seems irrelevant to the overall situation. I know this is for my betterment and no matter how long the time and the invest of pain, I must put in the work. I know there will be an end to this some day, so until then I will just drive-on. I am reminded of making it through some of these kind of days in the Army. I had good days and bad days, but I always knew that I was progressing towards the end of training or whatever we were doing.

Often times we do not understand the season of life that we are going through, but hind-sight is always 20/20. The Lord is always guiding us down the path that is best for us, even though that path might not seem terrific at the time. In the end the narrow road is worth the trials and tribulations, the heartache and sorrow. For the Lord was only growing and stretching us to becoming all that we could be to glorify Him.

Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**


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**


Thoughts after a week of Dedication!

     The journey of self discovery and personal dedication is going very well. I am very much enjoying this time that I have to spend with my family and friends. I also have surprised myself with the levels of creativity required to fill my time up. I wasted a lot of time before now on senseless stuff and now I am starting to see other areas of my life that I need to remove to make my life better. When Pastor Bob at Maywood gave me this challenge, I did not know the truly great impact that this would have on my life.

Of course this program will only impact my life as much as I let it. For if I chose tomorrow to not put forth my best effort, then I will not get the best possible result . This is true about every aspect of life. If we do not put forth a great effort into being a parent, then we cannot expect our children to turn out as responsible adults. If you watch the news, you can see parents that have put in the minimum effort or no effort at all. This whole situation goes back to the principle: to gain much, much is required. Too many people do not want to put in the 'much' that is required to received the 'much' on the other side.

You also do not see individual people putting in the effort that is required to better themselves. People just expect to become better over night with a magic pill. Take the weight loss industry for example. There are a lot of products out there that promise tremendous results in the first week or two of use. Yet true weight loss requires a total change of life style. A person must change their eating habits and start exercising, not just take a pill. Changing your life around will not happen after only one day.

As the changes take hold, mistakes will happen because we are only human. The key for dealing with a mistake is taking responsibility for the mistake. Do not try to push off responsibility or deny the mistake, because you need to face these problems head-on. The best way to deal with the problem is early and face the problem. The worst way to deal with a problem is to let the problem fester and have the problem sneak up on you from behind.

We have to set our priorities and let nothing get in our way. We must fight for those things that we deem worthy of fighting for. Because if we do not make the situation better or model behavior for the next generation, who will? If you leave the job for something else to do, then we cannot complain  about how the job is done! But if we only start moving now, we have chance to change the future.

Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**


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**


Day 3 of 40 without Soccer

   Well day number 2 was not an eventful day, because I had a migraine headache. Although, I did discover I had to navigate through the television chanels very carefully. I forgot about all the lesser known channels that could possible have soccer. So to not cause my self to slip, I just decided to watch Season 2 of 'Boy Meets World'. That was a very nice distraction for the day and helped me to pass the time. I did not make any mistakes in day number 2. Although, one of my good friends decided to mention me on his Twitter account. If he keeps this up, I might not be able to us my email.

I am a huge Kansas Jayhawks fan and am looking forward to the basketball game with Missouri this Saturday. Yet, I am not for sure that I will be able to watch the game. I know that I cannot listen to the game on the radio, but I do not know if CBS covers soccer. This will be the last time the Jayhawks and the Tigers play for awhile.  I will also be missing the Daytona 500 this Sunday.  I cannot go to my favorite cigar store, The Outlaw Cigar Company. The Outlaw has three huge televisions and sports on all the time in the smoking lounge.

Why am I doing this? Why did I go all in? Because without much being required, much cannot be given. If I did not go all, what was I really giving up? And truly what reward would I be able to reap? I am only able to reap what I sow. So if I give up and dedicate myself, then I have even more to gain. There is no lottery to play and hit a jackpot, there are no lucky numbers. There is only hard-work and long-suffering, too reap the benefits of the harvest.

Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**


Day 1 of 40 without Soccer.

Today starts my 40 day fast from anything soccer. I was not awake for two hours before making my first mistake and forgetting not to look at Twitter. I realized also that more of the local news stations have a sports crawl line at the bottom of the screen. Which means that I will not be able to watch the local news, because I will be gettting soccer information there. While I was picking out clothes this morning, I had to pass a lot of soccer jerseys. I do not think I fully understand the challenge that I have set up for myself. Nor do I fully understand the rewards that I have to find along the journey.

Today, I have found myself searching for alternative activities that I would not normally do. I have had to be open to new things, because I have told myself 'no' to the old ones. One of the best quotes that I have ever heard in my life is, "you can not steal second, with your foot on first base." I do not know who said these words, but the quote is brilliant. The very of concept of you not being able to achieve your dreams until your leave the place where you are at. For if your are afraid to go, where will you have ever been?



Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**


40 Days of Dedication!

    The 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday is going to be a trying time for this individual. I am huge soccer fan. I follow Sporting KC, Manchester United, and Bayern Munich. I have coached my daughters soccer teams for the past three seasons. I have to the ability to wear a different soccer t-shirt or jersey on each of the day week. For those 40 days, I am going to give up soccer to bring balance to my life. I will be giving up all things related to soccer, except for this website. This website will be a place for me to chronicle my adventure. I will be giving up wearing soccer t-shirts and jerseys, watching soccer shows or games (which also means not being able to get information on the sports tracker; so no Fox Soccer Channel, GOLTv, or ESPN channels), no soccer video games, no soccer web-sites or web-sites with soccer information (Facebook and twitter, included). I have a feeling that is going to be very hard.

Sporting KC is getting ready to start the season and I am super excited about that. I would love to go to the first game and get the limited edition scarf. Or Keep track of both ManU and Bayern as they compete for titles down the stretch run of the season. Yet, I think that this is about finding balance for myself and becoming healthy. A person just needs to have the ability say 'no' sometimes, and not overload. I am looking for that in this coming 40 days and will be posting all about it. You too have the ability to take some time to walk away from something that is taking control of your life. There is no time like the present to take back control of your life.


Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**


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**


Sportsmanship is Dying!

    In the world of sports today, how hard is it to be a good sport? In sports today what is the value placed on sportsmanship? In today's soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool, sportsmanship was placed at the very back of the line. Earlier in the season there was a problem between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra, where Suarez said something to Evra. For his actions Suarez received an eight match ban from the English Football Association.

Today's match at Old Trafford was the first start for Suarez since the eight match ban. Before the match today Suarez refused to shake hands with Evra. At halftime there was a report of an incident on way to the locker rooms between Suarez and Evra. Evra attempted to talk with Suarez, but Suarez refused to talk with Evra. Then other players from both teams became involved in the situation, with I guess pushing and shoving.

After the match was over and Manchester United had won 2-1. Patrice Evra was running around the pitch celebrating. He made his way over to right in front of Luis Suarez, to celebrate in his face. Where is the sportsmanship in the kind of action? Of course the Liverpool players took exception to that and went after Evra. Which in turn caused the United players to come to the aid of Evra.

Also in England this is a controversy and trail for former England Team Captain John Terry. Terry is accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a match. The England Football Association stripped Terry of his spot as Team Captain because of the charges. John Terry's trail will begin on 09 July 2012.

This idea of trash talking during a game is not discourage in most sports. How often do you see on ESPN after a great play, do we see a highlight showing the player yelling curse words at the other player. Or how often are players told to try and get inside the head of another player by talking trash. Yet, we are only allowed to talk trash about certain things. This sounds like a double standard to me.

Either you want me to talk and distract the other player or you do not. If I can get the other player mad and cause that player to make a mistake, then my job was done correctly. Yet, you are going to tell me that I have standards with which I must talk trash? So I have must talk bad about someone, but I can only talk a little bad? So does that mean when I tackle someone, I can tackle them a little hard but not too hard in football?

I played sports for a lot of years. I competed on many levels and I believe that sportsmanship is a personal choice. Just like most choices in life, you can either choose the good or the bad. People will not remember the games, but people will remember how you played the game. If you play hard and have a great attitude, you cannot go wrong. Always treat others after a play how you wanted to be treated is a good start point!

Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**