November 26, 2016 - Personal Blog, My Brain Injury
I have pondered posting this information for quite some time. I feel I should inform the buying public about what has been going on from a personal standpoint. The recent revelations of what has happened, have caused me to slow down a bit and concentrate on taking care of myself to recover from this newly discovered injury.
Some of you may remember that I was injured in a very traumatic motorcycle accident on Nov. 19, 2003; the anniversary was just 7 days ago marking 13 years. Spinal fusion surgery was necessary to repair the damage to my spine from that accident. That surgery has left me with a very painful existance on occasion, but also reminds me of how fortunate I was to have survived at all and am able to walk. I often tell myself, "I'll take the pain over paralysis any day". My recovery from that accident took a few years, and I was finally back working at my full potential (software development) probably within about 7 years; around 2010. Although the physical limitations are bothersome, I was still riding a motorcycle, and my wife had purchased a new Harley for my 50th birthday in 2007.
I had thought of creating a 3d tower simulator many years ago. I became serious about it after selling the Japanese game, "I am an air traffic controller 3". ATC gamers were very much wanting a real 3d tower simulator to fill a niche that many longed for, including myself. Most attempts had failed miserably at providing just want the customer was looking for. I tried to convince the Japanese company to employ some new ideas into their design to better meet the needs/desires of the American consumer. They just weren't interested. So, I opted to create one myself. This design process for TOWER CAB began in 2010/2011.
Before writing a single line of code, I created a design document that would become the blueprint for TOWER CAB. I painstakingly identified the key aspects of what the customer would like to see.
I used my Airline Sharks game as a design model for the interface that would be used. I was very excited at the prospect of creating a tower simulator that everyone would enjoy and appreciate.
Creating a 3D simulation would require that I choose a different programming language to accomplish this.
The language used with ATCsimulator was not a good fit for this type of application. I also acquired some new graphic tools to build all of the 3D models and scenery. An enormous amount of learning on my part how to take place to pull this off. But, I was determined to finally build this product. I had also been offered a part time job that I had accepted as a graphic artist. This part-time job would help fund the development effort of TOWER CAB since I would work 4 hours day in the mornings, the rest of the day at my own office.
After more than 3 years of effort, in the summer of 2014, I was in the midst of creating the 3D aircraft models. Programming was not my focus at the time with so much scenery and models to create. I was nearing completion of the models when another near tragedy occured.
On August 27, 2014, at the end of my part-time morning shift at noon, I called my wife to let her know I was on my way to the office (this had become standard
operation since the accident of 2003-keeping her informed of my whereabouts at all times when on my motorcycle). It's but a 15 minute motorcycle ride. When I reached the I-35, I-240 interchange, tragedy struck once again. I moved into the right lane to slow down to enter the ramp to head south on I-35. A vehicle that was merging onto I-240 from the northbound I-35 ramp, was going to head west behind me. The driver of the vehicle was looking to his left to see if traffic was clear so he could proceed, all the while speeding up. I was watching in my rearview mirror. I had to speed up to avoid being run over by this person. Doing so, caused me to enter the ramp too fast. As I was pumping the brakes to slow down, the bike slid out from under me and we began to slide toward the west edge of the roadway.
This was the last thing I remember for about the next 3-4 hours. Once my senses had returned, I was laying on a bed in the emergency room with my wife, my oldest son, and my pastor and his wife at my side. According to the reports by the EMT, they found me sitting up in the grassy area next to the ramp. I gave my complete medical and personal history/information. I have absolutely no recollection of anything except a brief moment when my cellphone rang while I was in the ambulance. I told the EMT that was probably my wife calling. Then nothing until finding myself in the hospital hours later. I suffered a facial fracture of my cheek. The entire perimeter was fractured. I also suffered a severe concussion. Here is how I looked before leaving the hospital to return home.
The gash in my forehead was caused by the Oakley sunglasses I was wearing. The earpiece came off and the prongs on the glasses cut a slice into my temple requiring 10 stitches. I also had some roadrash on my left arm.
Because I had no medical insurance, they stitched me up, and sent me home. They didn't even clean the impacted dirt and grass from my wounds.
A few weeks later, I had a follow up visit to discuss the possibility of surgery to implant a metal plate to secure my checkbone. Luckily, the x-ray revealed the checkbone was fairly stable where it should be, and they decided against surgery (it could be because I was not insured as well).
I returned to work and began concentrating on the programming by October. I was trying to complete TOWER CAB for the 2014 Christmas season. Many of you pre-ordered. A few months after the accident, I began to experience a variety of problems. I started having memory problems, trouble staying awake after about 3 in the afternoon, noises were distracting me, talking was distracting me, I had to work in total darkness. I was having to constantly refer back to programming manuals to understand code fragments that I had written. I could not recall important information in programming. I was unable to retain almost anything I read; that's if I could even finish reading what I started. I could not remember from one day to the next, what I was doing, and why. It was becoming very frustrating. This is why I delayed releasing TOWER CAB when I did.
I continued to struggle on "thinking" I had everything under control. I released TOWER CAB convinced it was ready for human consumption. It didn't take long to show how wrong I was, and how bad the struggle had become. I had no choice but to pull the product from the market.
I really appreciate how gracious everyone has been regarding the product.
These problems continued on until my wife finally realized the symptoms I was exhibiting, very much sounded like ADD (attention deficit disorder). ADD is very prevalent in my wife's family, but I have never shown any kind of ADD symptoms. I have always been quite the opposite. My wife had me take the Amen Clinic screening test for ADD and sure enough, I exhibitied I think 7 out of 9 markers for ADD. I then took the complete ADD test and it was confirmed. I took the test results to my physician who has since prescribed medication for ADD. It has been helping immensely with all of the issues I had been struggling with. But, I was still showing other signs that something else may be going on, especially in the area of memory--repeating the same stories over and over, and still having recall isses. ADD is found in individuals in 1 of 2 ways, genetically, or by traumatic brain injury.
My wife is a counselor and recognized the symptoms and suspected that I may have some kind of brain injury from the 2014 accident. We discussed this with our insurance agent who said that they would not pay for a visit to find this out, but it was proven to be true, she could re-open the claim. We discussed it and decided, we should at least check it out and know for sure paying for it ourselves. The cost would be around $5000. If she/we are wrong,then so be it. If not, we needed absolutely definitive proof of the damage. A visit to the Amen Clinic in Atlanta, GA is the only way. We flew to Atlanta, GA and had a SPECT scan of my brain on Sept. 15, 2016. The images below show a view from under the brain, with the front of the brain at the top of the image(s).
Here is an image of a healthy brain:
Here is the scan of my brain:
If you will notice, the normal brain appears totally intact with no areas that look like holes. But, in my scan, there appear to be 2 holes at the front of the brain. This is the pre-frontal lobe and frontal lobe areas. It was determined, this is where damage had occured from the full frontal faceplant in the dirt in this last accident. The "holes" represent areas of the brain where there is no activity. Meaning, the neurons that should be firing in this area, do not. And, the harder I concentrate, the larger the area will appear. Here is a chart showing key areas of the brain and their function:
The frontal lobe controls, concentration, planning, judgement, emotional expression, creativity, inhibition. Although not identified on this chart, that area also controls short term memory.
So, now this makes total sense as to what has been going on. My treatment plans involves supplements, ADD medication, exercise and a high protein diet. It will take some time to recover. My brain most likely will have to find ways to bypass the damaged areas so that normal function can return. In the meantime, I have to find ways to remember things that are important. Memory recall has been the biggest factor in moving forward with my programming career.
Ironically, all of my memories leading up to the accident are still intact. My VB6 programming skill is still very much intact. But sadly, that skill is no longer viable in the current IT field and is currently being replaced with C# or C++. Replacing VB6 with a new programming skill is the real challenge I face today and will dictacte when/how my programming career moves forward.
I decided it was time to stop riding motorcycles. I have riden motorcycles since I was a youngster. I've probably logged 250,000 miles in my lifetime. So giving up the motorcycle to ensure that I don't get killed, is probably a good idea. I don't think I'll miss out. :-) So, I purchased a vehicle that I saw when I was about 22 for the first time. It is a 1980 Shay Model A. This is now my daily driver.
I thank you for your understanding, and support of my software creations. More to follow.