Concussion (from the MayoClinic.com)

Concussions — Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, causes and treatment of this common brain injury.
Definition

Concussions range in significance from minor to major, but they all share one common factor — they temporarily interfere with the way your brain works. They can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance and coordination.

Usually caused by a blow to the head, concussions don’t always involve a loss of consciousness. In fact, most people who have concussions never black out. Some people have had concussions and not even realized it.

Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport such as football. But every concussion, no matter how mild, injures your brain. This injury needs time and rest to heal properly. Luckily, most concussions are mild and people usually recover fully.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.

The two most common concussion symptoms are confusion and amnesia. The amnesia, which may or may not be preceded by a loss of consciousness, almost always involves the loss of memory of the impact that caused the concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions are not apparent until hours or days later. They include:

  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Depression
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Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Meat Market

Nick Sakaki had finished the last of the clean-up, set up the laptop as instructed by his new employer, and had the innards of the office sealed as tight as a drum against encroaching light.  It had been a long day and something kept tugging at him.  He knew where his new employer would be; he’d suggested a place that he trusted, knew the bartender there Viktor to be a good reliable person.  He considered the place safe.  But what it needed to protect against, he still didn’t know.  Sophie had promised to clue him in now that his statement of work was signed off.

 He should just wait until morning.  He still had to pick up his last bartending check at Jerry’s but then the Ice Lounge was a quick swing out of the way of his parent’s place in the International District.  It was really no trouble to stop by and check, make sure she made her appointment all right.  I mean, he was her new assistant, right?  He’s just being thorough.

 He bounded down the stairs with such purpose that he failed to see Oksana, the eldest daughter of the Russian deli owner until he was literally bumping into her as she stepped out of the shadows.

 “Hello,” she purred.

 “Shit!”  He took in her appearance in a hot instant:  trashy, skimpy outfit, fuck me boots, black stockings showing underneath her too short skirt.  But it was her face that turned up his caution:  she looked strung out, pupils too big, eyes too dark, mouth messily stained with dark red lipstick, hanging open almost unnaturally.  “Sorry, you startled me.”

 “Well, you’re a pretty one.”  She took in a long inhale as she casually put a long arm around him.  With her boots and her natural height, she was a smidge taller than Nick.  There wasn’t any part of her that didn’t send his tramp-ho Klaxons off.  “Where are you going tonight?  And can I come along?”

 “Uh, sorry.  I gotta head to work.  No rest for the barely employed.”  He gently tried to extricate her arm.  She replaced it with her leg, wrapping it around his waist, leaning him back against the wall. 

 She pouted.  “Don’t you want to party with me?”

 “How can I say this nicely…not really.”  He tried to step away from her, without pushing her away.

 She let him step away but just enough to put both arms around him.  “You sure smell nice.  I can hear you blood throbbing.”  She laughed deep in her throat.

 “Yeah?” He said, willing himself to be cool.  Then he forced all the concern out and began to put on the mask of indifference.  “Probably just ’cause I’m late.”  He shrugged, stopped trying to evade her, let himself go limp with her arms around him.

 The effect was immediate.  “Mmm, you’re no fun.”  She stepped away.

 He shrugged again and slowly began to walk around her, toward his sport bike.  He finally hazarded a glance back as he spoke, “Maybe next time.”

 She was gone.  She hadn’t made a sound.

Later, at Jerry’s, a bustling hotel bar full of the pretty sort of people, Nick leaned over the bar.  ”Hey Tobie, Sal was gonna leave my check.”

 Tobie, equally hip and just old enough to serve, waved him around.  “He left it behind the register, man.  Serve yourself, it’s hopping tonight.”

 Nick came around the bar and glanced over the crowd in the darkened lounge.  It was complete with the model types, the cougars, the traveling businessmen, the waitresses that all looked like they were walking a catwalk.  Every man’s possible type was wandering about, plying and cooing for appletinis and ceviche.  Including tall, leggy, trashy, Russian fake blondes.

 He saw her across the room as if the crowd parted just for them to meet eyes.  Hers were darker than before, pools of obsidian peering at him as if expecting him to be jealous as she brushed barely covered breasts against the arm of some 40-something suit with a bulging wallet as he ordered yet another round of overpriced appetizers.

 Something told Nick that pork dumplings weren’t on her mind for curbing her appetite.  She kept her eyes locked on Nick’s and he couldn’t look away as she nuzzled the suit’s ear, then ran the tip of her tongue along the rim of his earlobe, showing teeth that seemed too sharp and large to fit in her mouth.  Nick blinked and turned his back on her, grabbing his check and stuffing it into his pocket, struggling a bit with the fit of his jeans.  He rushed out from around the bar and dared to look back in her direction.  She blew him a kiss and smiled, lips pulling back.

 He hadn’t imagined it.  He felt the cold dread creep through him.  The pieces illogically fit together and he hurried out of the bar.  Ice Lounge was ten minutes from his parent’s place.  If he pushed it, he could be there in fifteen.  Somehow, he just knew Sophie needed a hand.  Though he couldn’t figure out what he thought he’d seen or why he thought he’d be able to do a damn thing if he was even right.

 He sped off anyways, kicking it into a new gear and risking a serious ticket, if only to shake of the willies the blonde had given him.

 

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Phone Call: 206-555-3663 to 425-555-8267

Morena:  I’m not coming over tonight.

Jesper:  What’s wrong?  You sound upset.

Morena:  Nothing.  I’m just not coming over.

Jesper:  You were with Sophie.

Morena:  Leave it.

Jesper:  What happened?  Is she safe?

Morena:  I said leave it.

Jesper:  I can hear it in your voice, Morena.  Just tell me what happened.

(pause)

Jesper:  Morena, it’s all right.  Just tell me what happened.

Morena:  You asshole!  You shoulda warned me.

Jesper:  Morena, tell me—-.

Morena:  (yelling) No warning, no nothing!  You didn’t prepare me.  You think this is a joke?  For me?  For her?  Protect her?  How the fuck am I supposed to do that?  You pat me on the head, make me believe I helped you save Camille.  That was all just a big fucking joke to you, wasn’t it?  You didn’t need my help.  Is that how you get off?  Watching humans thinking they can go toe to toe with you…you…You fucking asshole!   

Jesper:  Morena, calm—-.

Morena:  Fuck you!  Don’t talk to me.  Don’t call me.  You…you should have warned me.  You should have warned me what your kind can do. 

Jesper:  You ran into another.

Morena:  No shit!

[CLICK]

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sophie’s Voice Mail

9:05PM   Nick:  Uh, Sophie?  Yeah, it’s Nick.  Nick Sakaki.  Uh, I was checking in to see if you’d made your appointment?  Anyways, call me back at this number.  It’s my cell.

9:25PM   Nick:  Sophie, it’s Nick again.  Checking in about your appointment.    Well, it’s not for a bit but I was hoping you’d at least let me know where you’ll be and what time you expect to be done.  [laugh] Kinda hard to keep your calendar when I don’t know where you are.  Ok, then.  Call me.

9:45PM   Nick:  Sophie, Nick.  Really would like to know your stats.  When, where?  Call me.

10:05PM Nick:  Sophie.  Did I mention I’m worried?  You took off in a huff.  Am I supposed to be worried about you or just supposed to be all Moneypenny for you?  Does this thing even work?  Call me.  ASAP.

Published in: on September 27, 2009 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Excerpt: Who’s Who

Valerian:  Past Client, Male, Last Known wheareabouts: Prague.  Age, etc: Who cares?  As long as he stays away from me!

Lucy and Maurice Burim:  Clients & Charges, Last Known Whereabouts:  Catalina 1510.  Age:  Unknown status, assumed dead Vborn:1467 Hborn: 1454 Albania.  Horror Strain: suspect Carpathian, but unclear.  Maker: Unknown vampire, killed during incident.

Able to ween them off human blood with no known complications.  Had been turned accidentally, still unclear how.  Suspect they had been drained and during fallout of battle, had feed on nearby vampire before being found by their mother.  Mother fled country with immediate family once it was known they were vampires.

I wish I could find them again.

Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 5:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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DJB: A dream revisited

It’s the dream again.  Much like the vision induced by the lemon.  The sun is upon me.  Then it’s inside me, a roaring combustion.  And I’m holding it in, spreading my arms, my eyes glowing, stoking this internal fire, and just as I’m ready to explode, I hear a squeaking.  I look down and there’s a little girl in long dark pigtails on a tricycle.  She looks up at me with big brown doe eyes.

“Can I help you Mister?”

I want to tell her to go but before I can, she rides away.  I move my head to watch her go, want to follow her but notice, I’m now tied to a cross, unable to break free of golden chains holding my arms out, legs dangling.  My chest heaves, the strain of my own weight dragging me down.  I’m not me any more but an older, nay, historic, mortal, lesser version of myself.  I raise my head up, straining against my chains, ready to be consumed.  But I’m fighting it.  I wrestle with it. 

Then I feel a cool touch on my shoulder.

It’s an angel with gossamer wings, the symbol of infinity branded into her skin just at her jugular.  She alights down to me, hovering above me, drawing my chin up, kisses me, and a lemontreecool refreshing feeling courses through me.  Tart but sweet.  Tangy.  She leans away, my lips still wet, and I open my eyes as she speaks.

“I’m here to help free you.”

I smile.  The golden chains are gone and I’m no longer attached to a cross.  I’m standing in front of a great green tree, its branches laden with bright, glowing lemons.  I turn and pull one from the tree, hold it in my hand, feel the life in it flowing through me.

I look back at her and she’s Sophie, just standing there, just as she had that evening, eyes wide open and bright.

“You already have,” I tell her.  I then step away from her and burst apart into a shower of yellow and gold crystals.

I bolt awake in my bed.  Sweating, still sweating, but not afraid.  The room is entirely dark.  But immediately, fatigue hits me and as I feel myself collapsing back onto the bed, I realize that it’s daytime outside the dark cocoon of my condo.  That for the first time in my vampire memory, I have awoke during the day.  The knowledge greets me just as I slip back into uncounsciousness.

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Preparations

Sophie’s List:lemons

1 Lemon
1 Orange
Large Orange juice
Lucid Dreaming by Stephen La Berge
First Aid kit (fang plugs, gauze, styptic powder)

Remember: No perfume, use all fragrance free products tonight

Morena’s List:hkpolish

ASP tactical baton, jacket pocket or holster?
HK USP 40 Pistol, holstered
Benchmade knife, pocket?
Manicure, Loreal, Fleeting
Samsara, Notes: Jasmine, Sandalwood, Rose, Narcissus, Vanilla.

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 8:36 am  Comments (1)  
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DJB: Memoirs Volume 3: After Conclave

After a rather mundane meeting of the Conclave in which we reviewed current known population counts and several requests for migrations, I asked for a few moments with Valerian.  I didn’t expect to get them knowing he’d just recently returned from a cleansing in the Congo and had historically sought isolation after such travels.  But instead, my web call was answered and I saw Valerian wrapped up in his darkest, thickest cloak resting on his chaise.

“Good even-tide,” he spoke softly, deliberately.  A servant came into view, refilling his cup with a steaming, nearly clear liquid out of a tea kettle.  I thought I spied pine needles.

“Evening, Valerian.  How do you fair after your long journey?”

He gave me a look that reminded me who he was.  “I fair well enough.  The journey was elementary.  I’ll say this for the mutts, they have advanced the comfort of our traveling arrangements immeasurably.”  He paused for a drink, which made him vibrate slightly, before he continued.  “Seems negotiations were well-spent after all.”

“I’ll take the compliment anyway I can get it.”

He sighed, leaning back, his face somewhat flushed, fevered.  “Your contributions to the Conclave sometimes go unnoticed.  Where would we be without the secret language you helped develop which protects our communications and our council from prying, juvenile eyes?”

“It’s nice to be remembered for one’s work.”

“Consider this your favor, I don’t like showing myself at times like these.  But I trust you.  As much as I know that emotion.”  He was right, he did look ill indeed.  As soon as he finished what I now suspected was Pine Needle tea, his glass seemed magically refilled by an unseen servant.

“I’ll come to the point then.  My companion has made contact with the Vampire Psychologist as we had spoken before.”pineneedletea

He sipped.  “Indeed?  And your research?”

“She calls herself Sophie Quinn.  From what I can find, she lived in a small community in Ohio all her life until a few years ago when she left and started ministering to vampires.”  He said nothing, just sipped.  So I continued, “She claims to have done this for lifetimes.  That it’s her calling to seek balance within the vampire being.”

He stopped sipping.  He lowered his cup slowly.  Then, his fangs descended and he laughed heartily.  “Does she really say that still?”

“Still?”  I was confused.

In less than a blink, the laugh was gone, he had retracted his fangs.  He took a long sip as I could see his mind calculating.  “Make contact as we discussed.  Learn what you can.  Report back to the Conclave at next tide.”

“That’s it?”

He looked up at me.  “You were expecting something more drastic, I gather.  I’m learning the art of negotiations, my old friend.  And at my age, I’m learning what is important and what is…noise.”

“I understand.”  I didn’t.  Not really.  Valerian and I were about the same age of ancient lines that may have one time been united.  But our polarities, our mentalities, our very natures couldn’t have been more different.  Valerian volunteered for blood cleansings not out of some greater good for the human race, protecting them from the very plagues that had once ravaged through past populations.  The effect on a healthy vampire of consuming that much tainted blood was to weaken them, force them into seclusion while their bodies metabolised the viruses or toxins and made them inert.  Shadria, who ran that particular program within the Conclave, picked only the strongest and most capable vampires to do the work.  It was messy and required restraint.

No, Valerian volunteered because he was a killer.  He enjoyed it.  He missed the eras when he could go on sprees and gorge himself on so much blood his eyes would turn red from it.   But that Valerian seemed a much different one than the one across the webcam from me, drinking his tea.

He shuddered and sighed.  “No, you don’t.  You don’t understand.  Not yet anyways.”

I smiled as response.  I was about to say my farewells when he abruptly ended the call.  After every interaction with Valerian, I felt guilty for thinking the worst of him and then gullible for forgetting what he was capable of.  And ultimately, confused as to why he considered me worthy of continuing in the Conclave representation at all.  I had no horror.  I had no idea of my maker or his strain.  And therefore, no designs on bearing kindred for fear of what problems might arise.

And maybe that was where my answer lay.  Valerian had a sizable horror, somewhere on the order of 50 now accounted for.  And all of them were welcome in his circle, his seat.  Maybe what I didn’t want to admit was that Valerian was capable of change to protect his own.  Somehow, the thought chilled me more than anything else.

I finished scripting the protocols from the Conclave and went back to the fbook site of this Vampire Psychologist.  The meeting was set for tomorrow night.  If it weren’t for the preternatural state of comatose that vampires fall into during the day, there would be no way I could sleep.  No way at all.

fbook.com/vamppsych

Search: vampire age

Results: […] } vampire age but a vampire’s abilities are more a product of his maker rather than age.  However, age does speak to the maturity of the vampire, the refinement in use of his abilities, and control over the impulses to feed.  Vampires begin to mature once they are made but at a much slower rate than humans.  Vampires newly made up to approximately one hundred years old are considered youths, adolescence being between 80 and 100 years old.  Adult vampires are classified between one hundred and one thousand years old.  Vampires that have survived to be around 800 yrs old are considered elders until they reach the next phase of maturity.  Vampires older than one thousand years old are referred to as ancient and are extremely rare. 

While a vampire’s body ages so slowly as to be preserved, his mind is subject to the ravages of time.  Few vampires survive long enough to be considered ancient and often become dangerous and unpredictable as their minds struggle to control the derth of memories that no longer have clear connection to their current reality.[…]

Search: ancient vampires

Results:  […] {The mind of the vampire is subject to all the extraordinary senses the vampire possesses.  Because of this increased awareness and capacities of their minds, vampires often quickly become savants, masters of any talent they lend their time to.  But as they age, the minute details of hundreds of years of memories begin to erode their sense of currency, in some cases causing the vampires to become withdrawn into a mental world hard to penetrate.  Comatose ancients often perish from starvation. 

In other cases, the vampires act out their frustration of not being able to tell the current time from the myriad of lives they have lived in the past.  As vampires best mechanism of folding through centuries is to steal identities, as ancients, the identities become confused and hard to separate, resulting in schizophrenia and sometimes psychosis.  These vampires usually begin to threaten the societies in which they have hidden, forcing humans or other supernatural creatures to attack and kill them.

In the few documented cases of this, werewolves have often surfaced as leading excursions to eradicate the errant vampire, further perpetuating the hostilities between these two..[…]

Search: vampire sun

Results: […] { not all vampires are immediately endangered by the sun.  Of the types of vampires, blood vampires all have a high sensitivity to solar light in common, regardless of their area of origin.  Most blood vampires will burst into flames with any exposure, ultimately turning to ash from prolonged exposure.  How much sun scorching can be repaired by the vampire depends on the horror strain to which they belong. […]

Search: horror

Results: […] { A horror is a familial group of vampires, usually made up of a maker and his direct progeny, sometimes including extended progeny.  The term is also used to describe a familial line of vampires.  As vampire powers are strictly determined from a maker’s abilities, identifying the familial line or horror strain can determine what abilities the vampire has.  While it has been noted that a vampire’s abilities can grow in strength from consuming large quantities, usually a heart cycle, of a fellow vampire’s blood, it has not been observed that powers transfer from vampire to vampire.[…]

Published in: on August 14, 2009 at 8:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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Time behind the Iron Curtain

It is observed several moments after the Russian teenager leads the young Asian man and the dark curly haired woman out of the deli that the old lady’s other granddaughter comes in, wearing the same gold lame halter top and black sequined miniskirt from the night before.  She is carrying her four inch gold heels and her black hose has gone missing somewhere.  Her face is stained with day old mascara and fire engine red lipstick. 

But she seems blissfully happy and carefree.  It even takes her several minutes of her grandmother’s rapid tirade to goad her into a rebuttal, her accent thicker than her younger sister’s.

“You stupid stubborn old hag!  We are in America now.  And I’m 18.  I can do whatever I want.”

She strides past her angry grandmother to the back room, ignoring the bit about living under her roof, on and on.  Usually that is enough for her grandmother to get it out of her system.  But she pursues.  But before her grandmother can reload, she brushes her long dirty blond locks aside and gently caresses the two puncture wounds at side of her neck.

“Oksana!  You have been with him.”

The defiant girl looks up as her grandmother stares in fear and starts to make the sign of the cross.  She continues to make the sign, backing out of the room, shaking her head.

“Superstitious old bag.”  She looks at herself in the mirror, inspecting the wounds with red lacquered nails bitten to the quick.  They are angry red, probably from a second helping.  Maybe a third.  She can’t quite remember.  Maybe the vodka.  At least, she thinks she had had a drink.

But what does it matter?  She’s met her Prince Charming.  And he drives a big shiny expensive car.

She snickers.  “What a good night.”  She starts to hum a tune as she sways in front of the mirror, admiring her neck.  Soon it turns to laughter, even as she begins to scratch at her arms, suddenly itchy all over.