Friday, January 27, 2012

My Victim Impact Statement

Before I share my statement, I thought I'd define what a Victim Impact Statement is. Please also keep in mind that this was written mostly in December 2010. I kept a checklist of things to include in my statement, and I would add to that list whenever I thought of things.It seems really cold and removed, reading it now. There were a lot of rules about not abusing the offender with my words, and keeping it fact-based.  The police gave me a brochure of How To Complete a VIS.

  • A VIS is about the victim, not the accused and should describe how the crime has affected the victim.
  • Suggestions about the sentence should not be included in a VIS, because it is up to the judge to make sentencing decisions.
  • A VIS must be legible.
  • A VIS must be completed using the victim's own words.
  • The victim should identify, in their VIS, their relationship to the offence and/or other victims.
  • Vengeful comments should be avoided.
  • A VIS may contain concerns about probation conditions. For example it may be important to state whether the victim does or does not want contact with the accused.
  • Information regarding the facts of the offence should have been included in the Witness Statement, and should not be repeated in the VIS.
  • A VIS should not contain complaints about the justice system or how the case was handled.
I also had the option of reading it in court. I did not. I don't want to even know what this guy looks like, for fear that anyone that looks similar to him will be unjustly judged by me.

Saturday morning, December 5, 2009.
My husband, Troy, was driving me to work (Metro Pet). Firefighters used the jaws of life to get Troy and I out of the car. Car was destroyed. It was my favourite/dream car. A lot of memories of great times in that car. Honeymoon trip, canoe and hiking trips, concert trips, etc.

I wasn't breathing on my own, I had a respirator. I was wearing a jacket that I loved, bought on our New York trip, April 2009. I was also wearing boots that were a gift. Both items of clothing were destroyed.

I was taken to the General Hospital by ambulance. Medical staff thinks I may have choked a bit on my own vomit. I was put in a coma so my body could focus on healing.

My belly dance performance group's Christmas Party was that evening. One woman I dance with works at the General in the lab and saw right away that something bad happened. All of my fellow dancers were always at the hospital. Party never happened.

On December 9, medical staff put in a trach because I still wasn't breathing on my own. I woke on December 12th, didn't open my eyes till the 13th.
Troy and I missed Brandt's (Troy's work) Christmas party.
I couldn't speak because of the trach. Luckily, I know sign language. Unluckily, the medical staff does not know any, and too bad only my sister knows the alphabet.

I had to relearn the things we take for granted, like how to walk, talk, print, simple math skills like subtraction, sit up in a chair, tie my shoelaces, etc.
I have severe damage to my right frontal lobe, and occipital lobe. I had double vision till April 2010 sometime. Double vision made everything harder.

The trach was removed on December 18. The scar is still healing.

I went to Wascana Rehab on Demcember 21, 2009. My condition was stable enough to be transfered. I no longer needed a catheter, feeding tube and the trach. At Wascana, I continued my physiotherapy, speech language therapy, and occupational therapy. Relearning walking, talking, etc till I was officially considered an out-patient. So instead of therapy every day, it was twice a week as of February 2, 2010.
Also in February, we missed our try-to-make-it-annual snowboarding trip to Fernie with 6 close friends. We had booked it in the fall.

As a result of my severe brain damage (I almost died) I easily become overwhelmed when more than 5 people are present and I'm easily frustrated or angered. I type much slower (typing skills are required for Great-West Life job-was full time). I must write/print slowly so my words are legible. Luckily with much practice things have gotten 'easier'. I used to have to think about the physical mechanics (how to make certain sounds) of speech, while speaking, which is absolutely exhausting! Today is December 2, 2010, so it was maybe last month I still had to do that! I usually get 12 hours of sleep a night (when I'm not tossing and turning) plus a 2 hour nap during the day. Sometimes more if there are many people around that day.

Words (vocabulary) escapes me. Both my jobs require communication. I've lost a lot of strength and balance. I used to be able to walk both our dogs by myself. Troy has to be there in case I fall or lose them. As of May 2010, I can walk them one at a time by myself, takes twice as long. Losing control is still an issue.

I can't seem to always 'hold it' when I have 'to go'.
Struggling with my creativity. I'm in a belly dance performance group and when it's time to improvise, I just stand there. I majored in visual art and minored in dance in university, so this was never a problem before.

Everything takes at least, if not longer, twice as long as it once did (walking, eating, reading, etc). It takes me an hour to draw something that used to take me 60 seconds.
I am unable to drive without more testing. I've lost a lot of independence and freedom. Got my motorcycle learners license in the fall 2009 because I had every intention to get my motorcycle's license to ride to Sturgis (bike rally in August) with Troy and his parents. Now I don't even have the endurance to just ride behind Troy for that trip.

I have no memory from about mid-November to mid-January. February and March are pretty fuzzy & memories are jumbled approximately 6 months before the collision.

I have to write everything down to remember. I have many notes & lists. I had started a holistic pet nutrition course for my Metro Pet job in October 2009, I've completely restarted that course. I have no memory of what I studied. They give you a year to finish, they've extended my time, but it could be 2 years to finish. My  right knee is sensitive but numb. It had a huge bruise that covered the front of my calf. Had to get nose piercing resized because it shrank. Was originally pierced 9 years ago.

Sometimes I am awake all night thinking about everything.

Currently going to counseling. I close my eyes at intersections, and now that it's winter again, I squeeze them closed.
Troy and I had just started taking our kitchen apart to do renovations before the collision. Kitchen renos at a standstill.

Time was stolen from Troy and I. I have zero memory from Christmas, we missed out on countless holiday celebrations & trips with friends, etc.

Oh yeah! Did I mention I had to relearn everything?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brain Injury =Vegan

I'm tempted to make the joke that I'm vegan because I have a serious head injury.            Bada Bah!
Get it???

That wouldn't exactly be inaccurate...but I didn't wake from the coma and decide, then and there, to stop eating animals and their secretions.
My vegan path began with reading Skinny Bitch. (More details here.)
I started for selfish reasons. I wanted to lose weight and get healthy. I mean, good reasons, but all about me.
I stay vegan for ethics. Because it's the right thing to do.
Because taste doesn't trump ethics.

I hear rape is a pleasurable and satisfying activity for many people too . . .

My brain was slowly recovering from the injury as I began researching more and more.
It literally felt like the lights turned on in my brain. Like I'd been living in a dark cave for the first 28 years of my life and someone had somehow let the sun in.
I've heard this same truth from other vegans and I doubt that many of these vegans have brains that were also damaged.
As I obsessively researched, I discovered that a vegan diet can be very healthy. Provided I'm eating real, whole food, like fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and not just eating junk like Sweet Chili Heat Doritos, Oreos, and Coke.

I discovered that a vegan diet benefits my health, it's really good for the nonhuman animals, and it's great for the planet.
                             Kind of a no-brainer.

Organizing Day!

I am organizing my blog more today.

***I lied. I blogged more.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Need To Rewrite That Last Post

Ch-ch-ch-chia pudding
So, I read over what I wrote the other day and I'm not happy with it.
I somehow never finished certain thoughts, and I didn't connect other thoughts together. It's a mess.
So I will be editing that last post.

Clearly, I was too tired to be writing.

I have amped up my physical activity, and increased how much raw food I eat.

Recently listened to an Our Hen House(episode 103), and they were interviewing a nutritionist, Gena Hamshaw, the creator of Choosing Raw. This blog focuses on raw vegan food, with recipes and tips. In the interview, Gena says that ideally, we'd be eating 60-70% raw.
Geez! I eat like...10% or 20% raw! Yikes!!
So I've taken Gena's raw food tip of starting with one meal and increasing.
Breakfast has been fruit smoothies and chia pudding.
Lunch, it's either all salad, or salad with some leftover supper.
Snacks has been carrots and snap peas with hummus, or celery sticks with peanut butter.
And supper is the usual, cooked dish. Last night we had Spring Vegetable Risotto from the The Vegan Table.
It's been yummy and I've been satisfied, and enjoying how I've been feeling.

For my physical activity, I usually take the dogs out, one at a time. Now I am running on the treadmill for 30  minutes as well.
Well, not running the entire time. 2 minutes of walking, 2-3 minutes of running.
I have found that on days that I run, I do end up needing a nap in the afternoon. Which is a bit disappointing, but not all that surprising. I don't sleep near the amount of sleep I needed, even a year ago. It's getting better.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Impromptu Getaway Meal Ideas??

On November 1, 2010, I posted on
My husband, Troy and I are going on a little impromptu weekend getaway vacation this weekend. Apparently, (I don't remember) we had put our names in for them to contact about deals,etc. They have a GREAT deal this weekend, so we're going. Anyhoo, I'm vegan, Troy's flirting. We're going to Elk Horn Resort in Manitoba (we're in Regina, Saskatchewan), and I'm not entirely sure what to take, I've Googled their menus, and there's not a lot of options. If it was one meal, I could make it work. If it was one day, I could make it work without too much planning, but three days?? I'm not sure, without some guidance. <smiles sheepishly>
Should I call the lady that booked us in about requiring anything special? I think we can make no fridge work, by taking a cooler, and using hotel ice. Should we take a toaster? For sandwiches, toast and such? I know I can easily take nuts and dried fruit. Should I make vegan waffles, freeze them and take them for breakfast? Toast them? Or do you think the restaurant would toast them for us?
See many questions. Maybe I should just call the resort. Thank you in advance!

 I did end up calling the resort to see if our room came with a fridge and such. No reply for a week, but I was able to figure it out, and I posted again once we got back.
For others looking for similar information, thought I put what I learned.
First, I planned our meals so I knew what to take. Luckily our room had a little fridge, and we brought our own toaster, for waffles. For breaky we had vegan waffles (recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau'sThe Joy of Vegan Baking-delicious and easy). Made them the night before and froze them, took Earth Balance and maple syrup. Also took 4 bananas and a small thing of strawberries & chocolate soy milk. For lunch, we had sandwiches, with mutigrain bread, tofurkey, eggless mayo, mustard, tomato, pickles. Supper, we ate at the resort's restaurant. Really the only thing vegan was the salad Tangled Greens. Very much a rancher's steak house atmosphere. :( Not to worry, I had that and seasoned baked tortillas with white bean dip back in our room.  And I was pleasantly surprised at how accomadating the staff was. They made a special vegan burrito with sundried tomato hummus, in their lounge the next day. Delish! I also remembered that we would need cutlery and such, so I brought our awesome picnic basket, it even included a cutting board and cutting knife! It was pretty awesome.
Oh yes, for travel snacks, I made Walnut Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (also The Joy of Vegan Baking), I brought a nut and dried fruit mix, and pumpkin seeds and for dessert we had Chocolate Almond Brittle (The Joy of Vegan Baking...again).
Everything went well. I made sure we had our stuff together (I'm very much a list girl). Any questions, just ask, if anyone would like that white bean dip recipe-it's really good!-again ask. :)

The recipe post:
Alright, it's actually called White Bean Spread, now that I've got the recipe in hand. I got it from a cooking instructor, she always gets requests for the spread recipe when she takes it to functions.
1/3 cup olive oil, 2 large cloves of garlic-minced, 3/4 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/3tsp pepper, 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed, 1/4 cup lemon juice (also good with lime juice), 1 tbsp Tahini (sesame paste), 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce, 3 tbsp frech coriander-important ingredient
Blend together olive oil, garlic, and ground coriander, salt, pepper, white kidney beans, and lemon juice, tahini, cumin and hot pepper sauce (I find the hand blender works best). Stir in fresh coriander. Can be made with different beans.
Let me know how it goes, once you get a chance to try it.  :)

So that was what I was doing as a brand-new vegan, at a month and a half.
Just took some thought and planning. Which I've found to be a valuable tool with my brain injury. Plan, plan, plan.