Posts Tagged ‘Neurology’

Rebuilding the Mind Palace/Interior Castle using universal design. When those things are multi-leveled and crash on in, it hurts something fierce from the brain through the emotions to the body to the soul.

Raise your hand if you actually know how many times you have hit your head in your lifetime? (if you actually know, I loathe you). 12 days from now, 1 year ago, my life literally neurologically crashed in on itself (watch out for turning 39 years old it is a trap). Since then it has been taking life one chapter at a time attempting a rebuild or a reboot as the analogy may go.

Looking back, known, yet hard to prove scientifically it was the culmination of a build up of environmental factors and neurological factors triggered by most plausibly a microstroke(s) a year and a bit before hand. It involved nothing showing up on ER visits back then, and any crash down sick time in between looking like a flu or de-stress after pushing oneself, yet through different eyes weird symptoms lines up. Everything from weird vomits to headaches to coldness/fatigue/foginess/minor memory loss to soreness down to ones bones. But in the early coming bouncing back and things would cycle through happy black spaces and reboot quickly.

But, as the stubborn man I can be, always bouncing back. Not truly understanding how neuro-a-typical I was until it slipped away. To last year with almost daily ER visits. Weird seizure/convulsions; increase in the symptoms severity (to the point that my body was continually running hypothermic, yeah I was Ice Man baby)…facing stigma in the ER because until I wound up before an RN who had been a student on rotation in my programs that advocated for me, they kept putting me off as a fentanyl addict overdosing (even after my wife showed video, and they kept telling me it happens again come back). That was the trigger that fired me into Neuro, and eventually led to my leave from work to try and figure out a new reality. A new reality triggered, by literally, my old mind palace collapsing in upon itself. All the years of self care, healing, from the journey of helping walked, shattered. Body rife with pain, physical exhaustion, mind losing memory, the neuro-memory of tools for the work of aiding another, struggling some days so my words wouldn’t slur, or fighting with my weaker left side to not need a cane and unable to focus to read something as simple as a Murder, She Wrote mystery novel (when I would usually juggle 10 books within a four day span) and the vivid lived again flashbacks of the worst days of my life (think of a computer reboot on the old DOS systems when some things would not load and you would have gaps, that is what would happen within my reboots post episodes).

The full court press of figuring it out through our health care system (which I am grateful for), yet triage’s highest need-that is silo’s the person into pieces- (stopping the brain from yo-yoing inside my skull–still a work in progress, though slowed). Trust me, when your brain clicks on and off like a light switch you have the constant stress that one time it may switch off and won’t switch back on. I can sit here frustrated and angry. Yes I have those moments, not as many as I used to. Some answers, yet as those were answered, and some symptoms vanish, others would persist and leave people stumped (I think maybe 8 folks have looked at different brain scans trying to figure it out-yes I enjoy excelling at what I do lol) and am still awaiting more tests to close loopholes. The doctors still not able to answer if with my partial unsteadiness if I should use a cane, or with my weird mind I need a medic alert bracelet because well I am weird. It is all about seeking the answer to the question that is needed now (for I knew how it used to–freakishly mutant like I am told):

How does my brain work now?

In the midst of that, and living with a constant migraine style head ache, we have lived a journey that we are thankful for an employer that has supported us with good benefits to aid in the healing. We have faced the challenge of keeping our 45ish year old house shored up (nice word for what happens when main drains meet poplar roots); renewing major appliances; minivan; fighting the government over my son’s wheel chair; fighting Alberta Education to treat children with disabilities with dignity when they lose friends; fighting with CBE to treat transporting of children with dignity. Fighting to hold my brain together to aid when questions are asked as innocuously as how the system of homelessness works for a Nativity play, that the asker would not know triggered a week of flashbacks at that time in the journey.

Some positive memories finally popping up, like a live action real of Facebook in the mind’s eye:

4 August 2012 · 

The greatest blessing I was reminded of in my time in ministry The Mustard Seed a former resident looked at me and said, “when it was my darkest and I thought no one cared, you told me to come home. Who knew Come Home would be such a life changer”

Yet it is not down a rabbit hole of despair. For the above Nativity play allowed me to aid my son in being apart of it; and our daughter to shine. We were able to make summer camps work for my daughter to maintain some normalcy. My daughter still being able to have a major slumber party she was planning at Christmas time and other sleep overs. I am getting better at reading and processing, not like it was before, but getting back a bit (chapter by chapter). Focusing on working on writing, as it brings focus to the scattering (and allows for downtime after when needed to reboot). Those moments when a friend makes time each week to get together, knowing your family has taken a financial hit, and still connects to discuss life, politics, spirituality and whatever else happens or a friend that has blessed your kid when needed with vcr’s so he can keep his independence. Another friend that seeks your counsel on different matters. The regular book study still happening in your home, and growing a little bit. Some have aided in the financial tightness that can exist between life and safety nets kicking in. My Dad and his wife, helping with meals, or whatever else (would have been a chilly winter without his furnace expertise), and just being grandparents and having their granddaughter out for sleep overs on the farm. Being able to be apart of a few parades with your kids like they are used to in summers (its their philanthropy and volunteerism). The moment in the VBS feast when the adults ensure that not only is your daughter invited to the youth group, but they have planned out all the logistics to ensure your son can get through to the event and belong.

It is a time when you get to know your friends and family. You get to see who continues to journey along with you, not simply those who help, but those who adjust and still keep up life that was before. For health and healing, is a process of the whole person. The system only handles a piece of it. The rest is the belonging one has in their social circles of support.

Discerning your true place of belonging.

This journey is hard. It is frustrating. Some days my memory or mind will betray me. Some times my emotions betray me, for no reason.  It is getting better. I am still the person I once was. I am learning to be the person I am now in this chapter. It is like a preface of a new book, this is what brings us up to the point before the prologue. The unofficial start before the official pieces of the life narrative.

The preface is arriving at the entrance of a new labyrinth if you will. The prologue once understanding how everything is functioning, and rebooting without so many gaps… well that will be stepping into the new labyrinth and beginning the walk to the centre.


Turning the page into the prologue and entering the centre is when the prologue ends.

And the great writer of my story.

Types the simple words:

Chapter One.

That will be a day of new gratitude.

Tonight, I am grateful for the blessings of my Mind Palace that collapsed.

I am thankful for the implosion.

I find gratitude in creating a new work… Thank you to those who have supported us on this pilgrimage. (And yes, FYI, my soul mate is a living angel and saint for journeying with me before any of this happened, and continuing on).





“I’ve always known I’d die alone”

-Captain James T. Kirk (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

Stay positive. Focus on what you can do. Easy mantras to say, hard to live when it is not good days you talk about during a week with the unknown rattling your brain and causing the reliving of mental and emotional pain, but good hours in the week. Yet it is the gratitude for what still is that must also be talked about within the journey. Each chapter of the book of our lives, begins with letters put together to form words, those words into sentences, those sentences into paragraphs, those paragraphs into pages, those pages into chapters, and those chapters into a book.

The thing about flashbacks is that when lived with sometimes, some good can be remembered. The quote that opens this reflection up may seem weird, yet in my time building children, youth & young adult ministries/groups and outreaches I have not only used spiritual texts but media to percolate constructive and critical thinking. The first I used in this purpose officially was Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the movie where literally they discussed the purpose of pain in our lives, and where to discover the intrinsic spiritual piece, the shared belief in an afterlife paradise.

As Kirk pointed out to Spock and McCoy when Sybok came for his pain, we need our pain, it shapes who we are, it is how we have grown. This is partly true, pain plays that role, but through the actions of the movie and how family is shaped/found in the journey to beyond the Great Barrier, what is also shown is that bonds are created in gratitude, shared life and community. This is about that gratitude. Those moments of reading a few chapters of a book or writing a short piece and knowing the pain to come. But it is about still being able, however briefly, to participate in the simplicity of lifelong passions.

Much like was shared in the earlier post around my awesome employer, the PMO office, Service Canada and my MP aiding in ensuring my family’s continued financial viability.      The pause on the vocational journey for a family that has always been giving can be challenging, but there were still those moments over the past several months when we were able to feel included in creating that dream of a better world:

CP Kids and Families  is a great non-profit that aids families and individuals who are blessed to experience life differently due to Cerebral Palsy. It has many programs, but the adaptive bike clinic has blessed my son with freedom like none other. This year our funds may have been short, but gifts in kind we were able to provide art to support the silent auction at the annual Christmas Party, always a great time that the family enjoys as it becomes a community party based around fun and the joy of the season where labels slip away.

Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta another great non-profit, where it aided us during this time is the ability to donate goods through their drop bins (you can never know when you have the energy to make it a place to donate, and sometimes it is only kids clothes you have as they keep growing).

Calgary Drop In Centre: Donations Centre & Recyle Centre the ability to drop goods off that aid in new homes is a great blessing, the fact they have ability to take goods around the clock gave us a great place to donate items. We knew that we were giving so others could enjoy a home.

Robert McClure United Church falls under the giving back section because it accepted my family, but more…it took both my kids as kids. The ability to be apart of both sharing their belief in a better world through fully participating in the Christmas Pageant without barriers or labels, participating in liturgical painting, and lighting the candle of Love while sharing Indigenous Sacred teachings…well…. I encourage all of you to look for the little ways you can give to make a difference whether it be in word, deed, goods, action or monies. However, you can help your neighbour, please do, for that is what makes community.

Kirk: I thought I was going to die.

Spock: Not possible, you were never alone.

It is true. In the darkness of the battle to stay upright some days, one does feel alone and that the end is nigh. Yes, in moments of life like this, you can lose “friendships” but that is what one should not focus on.

Yet it is not only building community through the giving to help others. Sometimes as much as we do not want to stubbornly admit it, we need help. The true gratitude is when it happens without judgment, without hyperbole, or making one feel less than. It is simply happening because we are family—blood or otherwise, bonded together through being. Whether it was simply spending time, sharing cake (deserts are always good); cup of coffee, meals, aiding with minor/major repairs; money, laughs and an ear,  if need be…and all the things in between, the small to major ways that life happens and can need support.

Being our neighbour, thank you.

For all those that stepped in to help my family up until and past now on this journey, we thank you for in the smallest of actions to the grandest, we know that we are not alone.

Bones: Do you ever think we will find God out there?

Kirk: Perhaps God is not out there (taps chest) but in here, you and me Bones.

How today will you create or realize gratitude within your interconnected life?


The most read posts on my site, are my most recent short stories featuring Rick Saturn, the Bionic Knight as he entered what I dubbed the heart of evil. K, an ancient evil returned to earth, Susan his wife running for mayor. Yet Rick was not fully himself, he hands off reigns to another. It is the story of an elder hero who has been challenged by the collective of the holistic self.

These stories found under Bionic Knight Pulps  emerged over the last few months the story of a hero, who is breaking down but still trying to remain strong and place the needs of others ahead of his own. The greatest victory comes in the end, when he makes the choice to return home and choose living forward to look after himself and his family first. To step out of the heroics, for holistic health (it was found in the tale Lightning Rod).

Yet, it was also showing that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (see End Note section), may or may not happen within a vacuum. For there was physiological symptomatology the hero was battling. Hand tremors, weird inexplicable neurological issues. These with environmental exposures throughout his career, all these aided in the breaking down of his self care and allowed the mental health to wane, or perhaps it was the mental health that began to wane that caused his system to react to gain more attention?

Either way, I believe this was an important story to be told during my time of current challenge, because it shows that a human being is interconnected. Our systems do not exist in silos. Alberta Health Services likes to treat and triage us as such. But our symptoms are part of a whole. What happens neurologically, emotionally, physically and mentally are all tied together to create the life experienced and the patient before the physician.

I have received decently reactive care, and I do believe the right thing has been triaged for treatment first. Things moving more timely would be nice.

But I digress. For at the core of the story of B.K. was the shattering of having done everything right to care for himself. What the first responders and helping professionals dub self care. There are the textbook answers on caring for the whole self, but what it breaks down to is doing that which refuels you, and allows you to put the pain to rest, and heal.

In the moments, what had happened to the hero is that his own brain had betrayed him. The unknown neuro events had shattered the self care updates. When his system rebooted all the pain, trauma and stress came back online flooding his brain and heart without the healing.


The other challenge that I hoped these stories would bring out, is that the hero does not just exist in the role or the career. There are still life stressors at play in their day to day life that need to be navigated and dealt with as well. When the dam breaks, all this jumble together.

This is the battle that was going on within our humble hero as he chose one last path. The metaphor of unknown for that minute is within that moment the individual to choose which path they are going to stay on. The path of healing even with course corrections and change, or the path of succumbing. Neither choice is wrong, both are made with the best faculties of the moment, and each time the choice rings out again and again.

The Bionic Knight story over the past several months, was my own hearts attempt at allegory of the journey I was on, and still journey. The mystery of darkness swirling around and within me. The struggle each day to not let the lie win. The lie at reboot that my life mission of making my own little corner of the world a better place had failed.

Each reboot I must focus to name the lie and walk out of it.

Each day is a challenge for I live a mystery of not truly knowing what is happening as I await more testing to truly diagnose. I am learning to live with the new me, and how I experience the world.

My first goal is simple, to be a good husband and Dad, my second goal is to discover what is happening. My third goal is simply to see what that means in my life, with vocation secondary.

Why does the Bionic Knight story matter at this moment in my life?

Like him, I have a lightning rod of family, beyond that…

the journey is only being discovered.

End Notes:

Research: PTSD and Burnout in Workers in the Homeless Sector in Calgary. Read here:

DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD

Full copyrighted criteria are available from the American Psychiatric Association (1). All of the criteria are required for the diagnosis of PTSD. The following text summarizes the diagnostic criteria:

Criterion A (one required): The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, in the following way(s):

  • Direct exposure
  • Witnessing the trauma
  • Learning that a relative or close friend was exposed to a trauma
  • Indirect exposure to aversive details of the trauma, usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, medics)

Criterion B (one required): The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced, in the following way(s):

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders
  • Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders

Criterion C (one required): Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Trauma-related thoughts or feelings
  • Trauma-related reminders

Criterion D (two required): Negative thoughts or feelings that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Inability to recall key features of the trauma
  • Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
  • Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
  • Negative affect
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Feeling isolated
  • Difficulty experiencing positive affect

Criterion E (two required): Trauma-related arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Irritability or aggression
  • Risky or destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance
  • Heightened startle reaction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping

Criterion F (required): Symptoms last for more than 1 month.

Criterion G (required): Symptoms create distress or functional impairment (e.g., social, occupational).

Criterion H (required): Symptoms are not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.

Two specifications:

  • Dissociative Specification.In addition to meeting criteria for diagnosis, an individual experiences high levels of either of the following in reaction to trauma-related stimuli:
    • Experience of being an outside observer of or detached from oneself (e.g., feeling as if “this is not happening to me” or one were in a dream).
    • Experience of unreality, distance, or distortion (e.g., “things are not real”).
  • Delayed Specification.Full diagnostic criteria are not met until at least six months after the trauma(s), although onset of symptoms may occur immediately.


To my friends in the Great Crime Fighters—give the bastards hell!

-Susan Kobwash-Saturn, Mayoral Candidate 2017


Hours until voting polls open.

Media coverage going crazy.

K rips underground piping to create a weird looking pentagram and crucify the young new Bionic Knight to it.

Johnny Power’s stamina is running low. His coat shredded, his t-shirt. Face and fists bloodied.

A rallying call went out to extremists of all stripes to join with the Church of the Killer Face with Susan’s challenge to the provincial government to strip them of official religious and non-profit standing.

Overnight an extended emergency session of the Provincial legislature was held to debate an all-party motion and bill.

Shotgun with bowie knife in one hand, double barrel sawed off in the other (that is no longer firing rubber bullets).

S.W.A.T. and riot moving in. Tear gas everywhere.

The province refuses to postpone the city vote.

Blood and sweat sting his eyes as he gets the paramedics to the crumpled form of Speedster with piping through her abdomen. Shotgun looks at them as he provides cover fire. “Get her out of here. Start sealing that wound, her speed will save her.”

“She’s almost dead.” One young paramedic bellows over the explosions and gunfire.

Shotgun raises his knife. “The lass dies, I will forget I am one of the good guys, capeesh?”

Both paramedics nod as they begin to cut the pipe.

Arch-Deacon Lived looks out on the carnage, glances at his watch. None of this will matter in a few hours when the citizens re-elect him. It is after all civic politics and no one cares enough to vote out incumbents, he just had to live through this. But he knew that K would not allow him to die.

Shotgun drops some crazed church member or other extremist as the paramedics’ load Speedster and speed away.

Choppers and cameras are everywhere.

When the word’s reach his ears.

“The government has voted to repeal the religious and non-profit status of the Church of Killer Face. Citing they actively work against human rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The members are at the very least culpable for organized crime, and at the worst terrorists. Full authority has been given to the Great Crime Fighters to bring all members into custody by any means necessary.” The reporter was young and hiding behind the police line, but the words were music to his old ears that were getting deafer by the minute.

He noted the advancement of Power. Getting closer to K. If they could take down the monster the rest would surrender.

_ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I hear the radio softly playing Toby Keith good as I once was as I walk the house. Ancient naval tradition before a battle, to walk the ship and know that the captain may not come back. My twins slumber, in past life I was a pastor. It was saner to be an investigative journalist and continue with my super heroics.  Did not matter where on the theological-political spectrum the church fell we ran into battles over inclusion. Battles that I gloriously fought when I was not a father, and had allies stand with me to ensure inclusion would happen, at least for a time until the religious found a way to fire me or drive me out.

But when it came to my own children. No allies stood with us. Public firings followed. Shunning where we thought we had friends that would no longer talk to us, hell they would actively run from us when seen in super malls. The more progressive the religious the more harm they actively did against us.

Yet we persisted seeking community. Needed a place to rest and renew after walking through the valley of death daily. A life built beating the odds, rescuing the oppressed, bringing down the oppressor. Within and without costume walking in the darkness. Having my life and limb threatened. Being exposed to God knows what in the midst. Watching my friends die, being unable to save family when addictions and the darkness seized them. And asking myself why bother? What good am I when I cannot even save them?

My hands tremor now.

There is shooting pains in my brain.

My brain in different areas have shooting pains.

The flashbacks are the worst.

Those moments…

When power did not matter.

When magic could not solve.

When I was not fast enough.

Good enough.

When death rode victorious anyways.

I feel her hand on my shoulder. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“The Premier just called.” My soul, my lightning rod, Susan said.

I already can feel the answer in her. She knows sadly the voters won’t vote out the Arch-Deacon, but…” They did the right thing.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, it is about time you stepped out.” Susan said.

I told her on this journey when I came back from my last quest I would be what I vowed to be. There were others. Now the city is staring into the void of evil and the soul of evil is holding the heart of what is good and squeezing. “I…”

She kisses me tenderly on the neck. “Hun, I will see you afterwards. We will sip coffee and discuss what is right with the world. We will put our kids on the bus for school, and we will make love.”

I gently kiss her hand. She was always the strongest of us. I feel the blue energy flicker in my eye. Pen is stirring and moving to my coat.

“And then we will go vote, and this city will have a new mayor.”

She kisses my lips gently, I kiss back hard and long.

Grab my bomber jacket on the way out.

_ _ _


K lands on the charred ground.

Johnny Power looks at him. He is tired. He is sore. His invulnerability is not Superman levels, it is tied to his stamina, which is depleting.

“Ah. You are not the one I know. Like the runner, a legacy. There was a time the Street Avenger’s were the only ones. I ended them.” K said.

Johnny’s fist swung and connected with the villain’s jaw. A lip splits. K licks the blood.

“No, you didn’t, they beat you, and we will too.”

Flames erupt around Johnny, he feels his skin beginning to blister. The screams escape his lips.

The shotgun pellets slam into K.

The flames vanish.

Johnny collapses trying to get the smoke and searing out of his lungs.

K laughs openly as he looks at the broken down former villain, who he once called ally. “Some old cowboy thinks you can kill me?”

“Like the song says ya Nazi ass, should’ve been a cowboy!” McKay leaps with his bowie knife out.

K forms a psychic knife in his right fist and swings out towards the older man’s left temple.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Susan and I had always used music to calm out nerves. We also used it to connect to pieces of our story. Walking into traditions that have harmed us and finding belonging is hard to process. But there’s a song by Brad Paisley, we held to. As I step onto the road behind the police line, Pen resting on my left shoulder watching the scene.

Shotgun being heroic. Saving the kid, Johnny Power.


I hate death.

I hate evil.

I lowly whistle Me and Jesus have it figured out. Two separate constables try to stop me from crossing the line. I drop them with a stun bolt from my pet dragon the size of a—well his name sake—Pen.

I watch McKay’s Bowie Knife hit K’s forearm deflecting the psychic dagger.

My friend hits the hard ground and groans as he rolls out of a blast of fire.

K is a sociopath.

K was a supra. A tri-kinetic (pyrokinesis, telekinesis, and telepathy) who was genetically engineered by the Nazi’s during World War II to be a key piece of the last solution.  What is happening today he was built for. Glorious chaos and death of hate.

Shooting pains in my brain.

Flashes of images of friends dying. Those I couldn’t save. Smells. Voices. Sounds.

I freeze slightly.

My eye catches the child who the ring found. Strapped into a pentagram.

Not much older than me when the ring found me.

Her words that started this ring in my ears. “Where’s my brother?”

Seems like a fair place to start.

“Where’s her brother K?” My voice has a tremble in it. The boom of the Bionic Knight is gone. I regret those I could not save, I strive to forget those dark times.

I stand staring at evil.

I feel the pain of those around me.

The hatred that keeps driving the battle.

The dualism that one must be right, one must be wrong.

I remember history reading of the vote for World War II in Parliament where the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation could not vote as a whole, not because of not seeing Hitler as evil that needed to be stopped, but rather the complexity of war to do it.

J.S. Woodsworth could not fathom the loss to the poor who would be used as the front-line troops, the millions made by munitions manufacture. While Douglas and the rest of the party held those fears, but they feared more of the evil mounting in Europe crossing the Atlantic.

Complexity. Critical thinking. Holistic. Seeing all sides of an issues. Discourse.

But then, there is times when one must simply look at evil and go.

No more.

K laughs. “The broken Knight believes he can stop me.”

Susan called it my cheeky grin that would cross my lips when folks would tell me that I couldn’t and I would just to prove them wrong. I believe that is the grin on my lips now.

“Not broken. Bionics on.”

The blue energy rips through my very being….

To Be Continued