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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Project Valour-IT Day Five

As of this post, the Marine Team has collected $8,775 for Project Valour-IT. The goal is to buy 30 voice-activated laptops for soldiers who have lost the use of an arm from an injury. That will require $21,000. You can donate at Holly Aho's.

Don't do it out of pity. Do it with confidence in them. Holly linked to a newspaper story profiling three wounded servicemen. Erik Castillo of the 82nd lost 45 % of his skull and is facing three more surgeries:
I had a problem with being really angry, from my brain injury. It makes you get short-tempered. I would get angry and start cussing and doing all this crazy stuff.

My mother was the one I would take it out on the most. You expect your mother and your family to take care of you, so you kind of lash out at them. She got used to it. We really didn't know what a brain injury does, so we all kind of grew together.

Every day, there's something that will get me fired up. But now I've learned how to deal with it and I put it in check so it won't come out. My therapists here, I talked to them about it. We went through these steps of trying to prevent it.
...
I can't hear in my right ear. There was too much nerve damage. I can see from my right eye, but it's kind of hazy sometimes. And they don't know if it's from my right eye or from the brain injury, but my left peripheral vision is kind of impaired.

Due to the right-side brain injury, the impairment is to my left side. Left-side neglect, they call it. That's why I have to use a brace on my left leg and walk with a cane. I have no functional use of my left hand.

My life is different now. I can't do most of the things I used to do. I have to sit in a chair to take a shower. Just normal things. Everything we take for granted, I had to change.

But it can't get any worse, is how I see it. Because every day you keep getting better.
You might think this is a terrible story. I think it's a great one. He is going to keep getting better. Even six months ago I used to have to go find my feet when I woke up. I'd start trying to move them, and then they'd start thrashing around, and eventually I'd get to the point at which I make them do what I wanted them to do. Then I'd get out of bed. Now, I just wake up and get out of bed.

I've done this. It's slow but doable.

His comment about the anger is why I wanted to write about him. I know he's going to get better, because he sees his temper as his problem and his duty to learn how to manage. That's the hardest part of reassembling a working brain - beating yourself. Once you do that the rest is pretty easy. It's better to deal with an inanimate object when you're really pushing, though. It takes tremendous effort and concentration, and when you're trying that hard it's difficult to control your temper.

They don't need your pity. They do need tools. I still practice with my computer every day.

I coughed up, and it was an honor and a pleasure. I never went on disability. I never took any government money. I figured I'd beat myself or die trying. It's hard to explain how wonderful it is to be back working and to be able to give money I earned to help a person who is fighting the same sort of battle. I know they can do it. They could use your help.


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