Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to faithful reader and dear Aunt (you know who you are, I try not to mention names unless I ask first!) I thought this year was a big milestone year, even had it starred in my planner.  I was year behind :-( I had a card all ready to send, it is on it's way but will be late. I have been living in utter brain fog for the last few weeks!  So, Happiest of St. Patrick's Day Birthdays to you Dearest Aunt N <3 and="" lisa="" nate="" nbsp="" ove="" p="">

Friday, January 27, 2017

Another "new normal"

I really don't care for the phrase "new normal." I don't personally associate it with good things.  What I hear is "suck it up buttercup, this is how it is going to be now." Doctors and therapists love to use it when tears begin to fill my eyes (so you can imagine,I have heard it a lot.) I have a new understanding of the autistic student I taught. He would pinch you when you said certain "trigger phrases" like,      "say (insert any word here)." If I could get away with it I might pinch people when they said "this will be a new normal." Of course, in my head (usually) I'd think "not if I can help it." A few weeks ago, my beloved, super sassy, Lab mix, Mookie, "crossed the rainbow bridge." It was not unexpected but still a hard thing for me to deal with! My dad used to lovingly tease me that he wasn't sure where her quirks started and mine ended, or something like that. I think we fed off each other. But, for many years she was the easiest thing to relate to, mostly because she didn't talk or require me to! She was just there and she knew my routines, sometimes better than I did!! She checked on my every 10 minutes and never left until I gave her a scratch on the head. Unless I was sleeping, then she must have just checked if I was still breathing.  .  Although, I knew she could really do almost nothing to really help me it reduced the anxiety of being alone! Being without her is another post-aneurysm "new normal."

I looked for my Cardinal bird the day she left but got this sky instead!

When we first adopted my precious, Mookie (she had that name, we kept it because I figured she was already used to it) I thought it was because she needed us. I was wrong. I was going to need her, more than I could ever imagine at the time! Even before my aneurysm, which rocked her world too, she was my buddy, nursing me through migraines when hubby was at work. She quietly crawled into bed with me when I was shaking from pain. She just understood me and I her, we "got each other" in a very odd way ,that way only an animal can. She never would come when you called her. This caused me anxiety to no end. She would stay right with you until she saw something to chase and then realized her freedom and would take herself on an adventure blissfully unaware of the busy traffic she narrowly escaped.  I was always very careful about who I left her with when we went away.  There were very few people I trusted enough to leave her in their care. The list pretty much begins and ends with my parents, two hours away.  I would also trust my Mookie loving 8 year old niece and 6 year old nephew. They were always so concerned about Mookie being on her leash and always fed her from their hands so the anxious dog would eat something, if only they weren't 3 hours away! Once, I left her with family she already knew. They lived much closer and were right on the way to our destination.  I thought since it was only an overnight ], I would survive the separation anxiety I had.  Even though they knew, I left very specific instructions about always having her on a leash outside, especially in an area she wasn't familiar with.  Upon arriving to pick her up the next day, she was in the yard running around without a leash near an extremely busy road.  Thankfully, my prayers for the weekend visit were heard and answered that day and it all turned out okay. Well,  except for my disappointment that my instructions were ignored and her safety and my sanity disregarded.  Needless to say, trust was shattered that day and I drove the extra two hours each way or my dear parents met me half way so I could go away without having to worry about my poor, dear, anxious Mook Dog.

To this day hubs says he has never been more jealous and so happy at the same time as when I woke up after my aneurysm and the first thing I asked was if he fed Mookie.  Now, my hubs did things no man married for 2.5 years and in his 20s should have to do for his wife. Unfortunately, my memory of that time simply doesn't exist BUT I will never forget the moment when we had just brought Mookie home from the vet after seizures in 2015 and instead of sticking to the ridiculous notion that ,"she was a dog, and I was ridiculous." He picked her up and carried her down the stairs that night. I snapped a picture of the moment, I was so touched!
Her face is saying, "this is silly, I can totally do it myself."
My motivation for learning to walk again? Mookie loved walks, it was her very favorite thing. She needed me to walk again! After I came home she learned many new ways to tell me what she needed or found it on her own. You know, like there is always water in the toilet if you run out! So, at the equivalent of being almost 105 years old in human years here are a few lessons Mookie has left us with. And, thank you to everyone for loving me and for the cards and gifts.  I simply couldn't include them all and was too distraught to take a picture of everything!

Flowers from dear friemds that arrived not even 5 minutes after hubs left to go to the vet!

* Take a walk every day!
* Don`t live to please other people
* Always be ready for a little adventure
* Be loyal to those who truly love you and ignore your critics
* Be pleasantly persistent if you need something or find a way to help yourself
* Cherish every day you are given
Gift from dear friends that sums her up perfectly!
* Recover like a fighter
* PTSD is real!
* Be cautious who you call friends
* It's okay to take more than one nap in a day
* Clean up after the cook and you will always be fed
Plaque from neighbors that will go in a "Mookie memorial rock garden" in the spring!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

MercyMe - Dear Younger Me (Official Lyric Video)

I admit/confess it. I'm a thinker, analyzer, one who ponders.  I loved this song. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks about this from time to time...............

Dear younger me

Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running through my head
I wonder how many different things would be
Dear younger me

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you'll make ‘cause they're choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
Dear younger me

If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would've had no power
My joy my pain would've never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would've not been hard to figure out
What I would've changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It's not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
Dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart
A brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Through each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me

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


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.