Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election ponderings on the lighter side!

No matter who you voted for, ultimately God is Sovereign and Reigns! So, this morning like everyone in America the first thing I did was check the results of the election.  After easing into my day, I opened Facebook.  My newsfeed exploded with upset comments about the results.  Frankly, I was just thankful I had the privilege and ability to vote. So, while most of my friends lament I just thought.........
1. I was alive to vote.
2. I drove myself to the polls.
3. I walked into the polling place independently without a wheelchair, walker, cane or belt with someone holding me up.
4. I followed signs to get to the polling area without crying.
5. I didn't have to use an alphabet strip to find where my last name fell (sure hubby had prepped me a bit on the phone before I went so I knew which voting district I lived in),
6. When I got to the beginning of the line I was able to tell them my name and address without a speech therapist there.
7. I made a decision and filled in the ballot, without drooling on it from my left side, all on my own without an Occupational Therapist.
8. Curly (my left hand) carried my ballot to the scanning machine. She may have unintentionally flipped someone off as the middle finger is just a natural relief point from lingering tone, even with a brace.  I made it without crashing into anything or anyone. I did not walk/drift into a wall! A very big accomplishment actually.
9. I fed the ballot in upside down but I figured it out.
11. I remembered where I parked my Jeep (sure it towers over every other car) still, I found it without asking anyone if they saw it!
Then, I went home and took a nap!
This morning while people were ranting I was just trying to make sure I put my clothes on in the right order (I still have to consciously think about it) before I headed out to another doctor appointment. Because, no matter who the president is, every day will still be a struggle. Neither president can give me back the brain cells or neuro-pathways I have lost.  They also can't get rid of PTSD anxiety after such a traumatic life event! And since God is still seated on His throne, life is good despite the struggle!
So, I leave you with the words of CS Lewis:

“If you find yourself with a desire that no experience in this world can satisfy, then the most probable explanation is that you were made for another world.”

Friday, October 28, 2016

Take her to the moon for me!



Once a "people person" and psychology minor I am fascinated by people, what they do and why. Also, I care deeply for others as a general rule. It's just who I am. So, My dear sister knew I had to watch this kids movie about feelings and the struggle that goes on in our heads between them.  Then, the above scene takes place. My sister keeps watching me, waiting for me to cry. I did not disappoint. Tears streaming down my face my niece (then 7)and nephew (then 5) have no idea why I am crying over this movie as they happily sing along with Bing Bong before he silently disappears.  My nephew notices my reaction and simply grabs my hand and holds it.  And, this is why I call him Mr Knightly.
He has no idea why but he just smirks at me knowing it is probably endearing since I use it when he does things like feed me the marshmallows out of his Lucky Charms.  One day, he did finally ask his mommy why Ti Ti called him Mr Knightly.  Thankfully, he never asked why Ti Ti cried about this movie. I'd have to tell him it is because I have this vague recollection of  being in the hospital and listening to praise music.  It was the only thing my family could find to calm me down. I think it spoke to a place in my soul that had been withering. A place where Grace was replaced by duty and doctrine.  But mostly, I remember being so relieved that I could remember the words, I could, REMEMBER!   My M-I-L tried to teach me about brain injury long before I had one.  I used to ask her, "Doesn't it scare you when you can't remember things you know you should?"  This possibility freaked me right out! This was a huge reason I did not drink in college.  Frankly, I never wanted to know what it was like to not remember what I had done the night/day before, rather ironic right?  Not remembering scared me. So, as I lay in my hospital bed I quizzed myself about things in the past. I was pretty sure most of my long term memory was intact and this was probably a large factor in my ability to cope with what had happened. At least I had my long term memories and I clung to them.  Each person I recognized, every question I answered from a nurse was a tiny piece of hope.

When I heard "brain injury" I determined in my own mind right then and there I would not use it as my excuse for everything unfavorable I did.  I may have over compensated, wearing myself out to function effectively, unlike my perception of what a brain injury looked like!    Perhaps this explains my obsession to write everything down, take pictures, way too many pictures, just in case. And yes, it shocked me to hear my therapist tell me I had issues with control, who me??? To me it preserves memory and helps when struggling with the functional short term part of memory. At least I had my long term memories! It is likely a video of Clive Wearing (google it) that traumatized me forever this way. "Ten Second Tom" in the movie "50 First Dates" was based on this man.  I have never forgotten it since I watched it in a psychology course in college. Sleep deprived and all,  this video haunted me! Ironically, also in college there was a video we watched in chapel once about harvesting. The man in the video went to bed with "the worst headache of his life" and never woke up.  I don't even remember the point of the video. but I can still see that man half way up the stairs in his house leaning against the wall, holding his head. It haunted me for years even though they never used the word "aneurysm." Over the years, I had a lot of terrible headaches I was concerned I may not wake up from!

Long term memory without understanding may have slowed recovery down a bit at first. I could remember reading, writing, talking, walking so well that I could ALMOST fake actually being able to do these things. I was totally convinced of it! In the little movie clip above the character Bing Bong and friend, Joy, wade through the pit of lost memories. Desperately, they try to escape after picking up and cherishing a few lost memories one last time.  Bing Bong realizes he is just holding Joy back. He bails out of the wagon so Joy can continue on.  That was similar to this thing we call recovery. We desperately try climb out of the forgotten memories, because none of us wants to forget who we were before our injury.  However, for joy to live sometimes we have to leave that part of us behind but having someone there to wade through them when we need to cherish who we were. Bing Bong is still a part of who we are even though he doesn't walk around with us every day anymore.  He yells, "take her to the moon."  I can imagine a journey to the moon is scary and filled with all new things! It is a long and traitorous journey.  There isn't even gravity when you get there to hold you down, ground you. I bet going to the moon will require learning how to do every day tasks a different way.  Sound familiar?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Be Still My Soul

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I have heard that 2016 has been named "the year of fear" and it isn't hard to imagine why! Well, I'm not going to lie, it has been a struggle on a personal level too! I haven't written in a long time because I just couldn't do it. I struggled with quieting my mind and knowing what exactly to share as thoughts overtook me.  While I have always struggled with anxiety, this year has seemed like I have been fighting an all out war! Hubby hurt his back in early June and was out of work all summer. We probably spent more time together in those three months than we had our entire relationship and we still like each other!  But, being the overly concerned girl that I am, I worried terribly about hubby's back and the "what ifs." Hubby thinks that one single phase should calm all my fears, "That's just life" he kept telling me, "And, it's certainly not even the worst thing we have been through!" Now, I don't know about you but, "that's just life" is no comfort to a worrier. But Hubby, thank you for trying!!!
When wars are fought in real life or the very real ones in your head, the past is always there fueling the fight as the war wages on.  For me, it is the past, very unwelcome, pressures put on us to have children, like right away. It is my own silence as I felt my soul drying up in a church I felt forced to attend.  It is the desire to keep my teaching certification but the cost/toll on me of keeping it. It is my own immaturity in not creating healthy boundaries. It is the present trail of a hubby in pain with bulging discs frustrated at having to sit still. It is the daily sensory overload, the unrelenting fatigue. It is loosing a dear friend to ovarian cancer at 37, a month after we learned of the diagnosis.   It is aging grandparents far away and not being able to help, it is feeling much further than a few hours from my family because I no longer have the energy to just get in the car and go visit and the days required after to recover with nothing in my schedule.  So, this summer my plea has been, "be still my soul."
But I can't just leave you with my burdens. This past week, I went to the store where I got some new glasses to help me on the computer. I was ready to return them because they made things worse.  I was upset by the service I received and planned on kindly letting them know this; then washing my hands of them.  As I spoke with the manager, I learned that her brother-in-law is also an aneurysm survivor.  I gave her the chance to work on my glasses and ended up leaving feeling blessed as I was able to share my story with her and her staff.  Oh, and my glasses just needed a simple adjustment! Then a few days later, I saw a truck from our power company at the end of our road so I stopped to ask if they could take care of a tree that was leaning in our cul-de-sac threatening to rob us of power. I met two of the kindest people around, who made it possible for the tree to be taken care of! Today at church I was reminded that " life is worth the living just because He lives " So, Keep running my friends, keep living!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

March madness??

I will now post this since it is April and I have actually survived March, although admittedly, I am still recovering!

March madness, it's not basketball and brackets and the final four. Those were the days, the memories of college stress mostly faded and only fond memories of Sunday afternoons with friends remain! It was the people not the game that really mattered to me. I've never been a real sports fanatic. If I were completely honest, I still don't really understand the game of football. I'm an American in their mid 30s. This isn't normal. As a chronic headache sufferer, it pained me every time I heard helmets hit each other, now as a TBI survivor I wonder about the long term lasting impact of hitting your head so many times. It just doesn't seem worth it! At least in basketball players were not out to tackle each other. But, I digress.

March has been utter madness. I did it to myself by scheduling too much. It didn't seem like it would be but I still underestimate the recovery time I will realistically need. In the beginning of March I went with four co-workers to the state capital to advocate for libraries. I had two relatively quiet weeks to follow before joining other TBI survivors to advocate for Brain Injury awareness. I didn't realize the amount of anxiety this second advocacy day was causing me, subconsciously.  It was the first year, so I didn't know exactly what to expect. Unlike the library system that has a plan made for us, appointments had to be made and scheduled ourselves (SCHEDULE, the very word gives me anxiety.)With schedules made there was then the dread of a parking garage my Jeep may or may not fit in! Yes, I called the garage first and there was some ambiguity about the actual clearance.

It would seem reasonable that this was enough on my plate. But, then the Brain Injury Association was trying to promote an awareness campaign. They were calling it "Blue Jeans for Brain Injury." It seemed easy enough. Plan (sounds a lot like schedule) a day where library employees wear blue jeans to work for a small donation.  But then my "Houghton College, teacher brain" kicked in and it seemed like a "teachable moment" so posters were made, brain injury information was secured and containers were covered in blue jeans to distribute the information, because plain containers just wouldn't do for a Houghton grad!The day that worked best was the day before going to the capital to advocate for brain injury survivors. Can you see the problem?

So here are my confessions for my March of Madness. I had clean laundry sitting in a basket on my living room chair for three weeks before I gathered the energy to fold it. My doctor was concerned about my inability to recognize I was doing too much and sent me to a behavior specialist.  The specialist gave me one goal for the next month, using this phrase and sticking to it.  "Thank you for thinking of me. Let me think about it and get back to you." I am then to run it by hubby who has a more realistic view of schedules and my relative sanity! My love for being involved in worthy causes sometimes clouds my view of my current reality. *insert Elsa singing "Let it go."

But, on a positive note, my Jeep does fit in the parking garage and I got to visit with old friend and make some new, pretty amazing ones.  I got to be once again supported by my library co-workers who happily rallied behind me with support of the blue jeans campaign. Was it worth it?? It will be; once I don't need three naps a day (true story). And thus concludes by diatribe about March.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The ghost of Christmas past

I have lost track of the number of times I have written and deleted this post in the last few weeks. Why? Simply because I am exhausted and still recovering from "the most wonderful time of the year." When I am so tired I tend to be short,blunt, to the point and unkind. I am trying to be better about recognizing this because that is not who I am or who I want to be! This year seemed particularly brutal. The fatigue and fog brain was so bad it brought back the unrelenting nausea of days gone by. I don't know about you, but when I feel like this, I get annoyed that it is expected that I just go on when I feel so incapable of it.  But, as always, Grace wins (even when I'm not feeling so gracious). If I were honest, I'd probably recognize that I had not fully recovered from the crazy summer/massive shop building process. Then Thanksgiving, deer hunting season (it's a big deal in hubby world), and Christmas were all the greeting me with their own large dose of busy, insanity. And, of course, with weather more like spring it just didn't feel like Christmas, for this snow loving girl! The only redeeming thing is that I get to watch silly, cheesy, happy Christmas movies on TV instead of trying to read and tune out the usual Alaska survival, logging, and cop shows that hubby prefers. For the 25 days of Christmas, the TV remote is mine! *evil laugh* (I'm not really much of a TV gal anyway so I cope with earplugs and a book for the rest of the year!) Usually, it "all feels worth it" after it's over but this year is taking a bit longer to feel that way!The best medicine was visiting a dear friend yesterday and laughing like I haven't in a long time.  I had such a good time that I forgot how to get home and ended up in neighboring, Massachusetts. Thankfully, I was able to call Super Hubs and he calmed me down and got me home! At that point, I was beyond the ability to follow a GPS.  Upon arriving home I even discovered he had assembled the pizza ingredients I had left out so I didn't even have to struggle with dinner. He is pretty used to this sort of thing from me by now. Once (like a year or so after my aneurysm), a college friend and I were traveling to meet other college friends in Long Island. I was "navigating" aka: reading the directions we had printed out to her the best I could, as she drove. That trip I called Hubs and told him we were in NJ. He saved us that day too!

In all of my fog/exhaustion this season, I did have one small revelation that had nothing at all to do with Christmas.  It reminded me how hard I have always been on myself. There was a conversation on Facebook started by a fellow education major talking about how a professor had told her she didn't have what it took for teaching but how she loved it and it was her dream so she pursued it anyway. It has a happy ending too,she is now a teacher and still loves it. But, a few other Education majors shared stories of being given the same advice by a supervising professor or teacher. They had been discouraged and decided to change their major.  But, this thought crossed my mind as a result of their stories; maybe I wasn't such an awful teacher, like I had convinced myself, after all. Of course, I dug out my old teaching portfolio and read all the notes parents and teachers had written me. I even kept a copy of their recommendations of me and made peace with what I sometimes refuse to believe about myself. Maybe I was actually good at something. It reaffirmed for me that God used that major in ways I was not expecting at all. Maybe, not finding a teaching job wasn't about me at all. Maybe it spared a classroom full of children from witnessing my rupture, which doctors say, was likely not a pretty sight as the body responds to that kind of trauma.  Not having the responsibility of a classroom made it eventually "much easier to give up" And made recovery at that time a bit more simple without the inevitable responsibility I would feel for returning or making it "OK" for my students.  The daily struggle of life with a TBI is still very real but I could see how all things are working for good. Truly it is not and never has been, all about me! Although, I often carry it around like it is without even knowing it or meaning to!  IT IS WELL, despite the many times it sure doesn't feel that way.

Here is a link to one of my new favorite songs GRACE WINS by Matthew West

Grace Wins
By Matthew West

"In my weakest moment I see you
Shaking your head in disgrace
I can read the disappointment
Written all over your face

Here comes those whispers in my ear
Saying who do you think you are
Looks like you're on your own from here
Cause grace could never reach that far

But, in the shadow of that shame
Beat down by all the blame
I hear you call my name sayin' it's not over
And my heart starts to beat
So loud now, drowning out the doubt
I'm down but I'm not out

There's a war between guilt and grace
And they're fighting for a sacred space
But I'm living proof
Grace wins every time

No more lying down in death's defeat
Now I'm rising up in victory
Singing hallelujah
Grace wins every time

Words can't describe the way it feels
When mercy floods a thirsty soul
A broken side begins to heal
And grace returns what guilt has stole

And, in the shadow of that shame
Beat down by all the blame
I hear you call my name sayin it's not over
And my heart starts to beat
So loud now, drowning out the doubt
I'm down but I'm not out

There's a war between guilt and grace
And they're fighting for a sacred space
But I'm living proof
Grace wins every time

No more lying down in death's defeat
Now I'm rising up in victory
Singing hallelujah
Grace wins every time

For the prodigal son, grace wins
For the woman at the well, grace wins
For the blind man and the beggar, grace wins
For always and forever, grace wins
For the lost out on the street, grace wins
For the worst part of you and me, grace wins
For the thief on the cross, grace wins
For a world that is lost

There's a war between guilt and grace
And they're fighting for a sacred space
But I'm living proof
Grace wins every time

Yeah!
No more lying down in death's defeat
Now I'm rising up in victory
Singing hallelujah
Grace wins every time

Every time
Yeah, I'm living proof grace wins every time."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Keep calm and Grinch on............

 

Okay, stick with me here.  Hubs and I find the characters on "The Big Bang Theory" whimsical and amusing.  Probably more me, than the Hubs, but he humors me and we watch it together. I got the biggest kick out of a character, who is likely autistic, comment about the Grinch. It goes like this Sheldon Cooper says, "No, on the contrary. I found the Grinch to be a relateable, engaging character."  As a child I loved the old Dr Seuss cartoon that played before Christmas, it was nostalgic and exciting to watch TV, which we normally didn't do a lot of! I, of course, wanted to "love the stuffing" out of that Grinch! I wanted to convince him he could be loved.
 As an adult with a brain injury my world is often a numb place.  Whether it is the injury to my brain or the result of just trying to survive on any "normal day", Christmastime now overwhelms me with everything being so busy, busy, busy. And I still struggle a great deal with making and coordinating plans!  All my usual parking spots at stores are taken, merchandise rearranged, lights flashing, bells ringing, its a sensory overload night mare. I tend to park in the same place and shop at the same stores to make up for some short term memory gaps! My family teases (out of love) me about being a "Grinch". If you came to my house right now you may agree! The tree is up (minus ornaments, its a fake prelit one, don't judge, it's survival, and my mom sent me little 'scent sticks' to put on it so it smells like a real tree) because poor hubby couldn't take it any longer.  The rest of the decorations? Still safely in their tub! It all takes energy I don't have and decisions I don't have the energy to make and it is frustrating at times trying to make my "hand and a half" (stroke curl) work together! And, this year I don't even want to talk about the 60 degree weather squashing my idea of a warm, fuzzy snow covered Christmas! Let's hope the heat savings equals the Amazon ordering (aka, the only way I will Christmas 'shop'.) Dear Mr Grinch, I can kinda get the living on a hill in a cave far from all the crazy overload in a quiet dark place with your dog for company (hehe.) I could never live like this all the time but just from November to January, it sounds mighty tempting!!!
   But, here is what I have come to love the most about the Grinch.  He has a change of heart.  He swallows this pride and bitterness and slides down that hill with all of the baggage and all of the wrong and returns. He drops his baggage and does not begrudgingly eat with the Whos in Whoville, he truly shares in their feast joyfully. The whos' don't shun him or "make him pay for what he has done. They forgive and invite him to dine.   "His heart grew three sizes that day!" It reminds me to let go of all that frustrates, and at times consumes, me this season and focus on the real reason for the season, The Messiah was born. He came to save me from my sin. The bitterness, the anger, the unkindness. He was born and died for me! And here's the even better news, he was born and died for you too! All you have to do is repent and believe and His shed blood will cover your sin too! 
  So, keep calm and Grinch on.           

"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" 

Let Christ the Savior change your heart and Merry Christmas!!!! 



Friday, November 20, 2015

I remember you....................

I'll probably never get used to "being remembered." Here's the story, I was at a specialist today (unrelated to the brain, specifically.)  I haven't been to this particular doctor since 2011 when I just decided I had too many doctor appointments and that they were running me ragged.  I made a change and didn't go to followups that weren't vital to my existence.  In that time, this office changed from paper records to digital ones.  Those patients not seen during the course of that year are now considered "new patients."  I called this office concerning a medication they had originally prescribed but they had no records for me. Over six months ago, I made a new patient appointment and today I went.  The doctor hasn't seen me for years but walks in and shakes my hand. He says, "I thought I had a new patient appointment, then I saw your name and realized it wasn't really.  It isn't often I remember a patient from years ago but, I remember you." Of course, I reply, "It's the aneurysm thing, right?" He confirms that indeed it is a very unusual story to a doctor. To a rather shy, and generally unnoticed gal, it is always astonishing that somebody "remembered you" for any reason.  I have always had quite a memory for people related things especially before my aneurysm. It is still pretty good but there are just too many other things to sort out and it isn't quite as good as it used to be! What can I say, I just find people interesting and I genuinely care about their lives more than most people do.  It is both my greatest asset and biggest downfall!
 Thank you Lord for always remembering me even when I feel invisible and insignificant in this busy, foreign world!

 "I survived, my hair grew back and I got strong again. I look relatively normal on the outside, but on the inside, I am still the same stitched back together little creature................." -Clare Bowen
Only in my wildest dreams, did I really believe I'd find a guy who, in all seasons of life, always remembers me, stays with me and loves me despite my many faults, I'm a blessed girl!