Saturday, September 23, 2017

#prayforGrace

Let's begin this post by asking for your prayers for the 15 year old daughter of friends who collapsed at school a week ago only to learn that she had a ruptured AVM.  Let me tell you how I know her family.  It was back in May when my neighbor and I were chatting about how the next day she would have a house full of girls getting ready for a big dance.  She was telling me that all the parents were going to come take pictures before the group left at her house.  We were discussing good backdrops for these pictures.  I offered/ begged her to use our beautiful rhododendron bushes (I also was excited to live vicariously through them.) When the group made their way to our yard and I excitedly bound out of my door to see all their dresses, etc. The couple closest to me introduced themselves and their youngest daughter. We ended up realizing we attend the same large church and promised to look for each other again.  The very next Sunday we did connect and since I was wearing my wrist brace on my curly left hand this time, we briefly spoke about my aneurysm; of course, then we had no idea how our lives would soon share a similar path.

This week has been full of lots of road blocks for Grace and her family, as is always the case in these situations. Grace is now awake, confused, scared, and asking questions, Praise the Lord.  If you know me you understand that this is going to be a long road for her as she moves forward and heals. Next week is her surgery to remove the rest of the AVM/AVF so it doesn't rupture again in the future.  It is a little different than my surgeries; please continue to lift her and her family in your prayers.  The surgery is on the 26th of September, which is Tuesday.

I haven't written in awhile because hubby has been working some crazy amount of hours this summer and has felt burned out which, of course, makes me burned out.  We decided some weeks ago to escape on a little overnight trip to VT right before peak leaf season.  The mountains were beautiful and it was nice to get away.  In light of all that is going on here I did not take for granted the fact that this time I was blessed to be the one to have life go on as "usual".  I remember being in the hospital thinking how "weird" it was that life was just going on for people out there.  They were going to work, getting groceries, letting their dogs out. They were not thinking about hourly neuro checks, MRIs, angiograms, vasospasms, blood pressure, etc., you get the point.  As we were away I still prayed without ceasing for Grace and her family.  We saw some interesting trees and this letter/post came to my mind.  It's not perfect, but here you go.....

Dear Grace,
  I know you woke up in an unfamiliar scary place.  You are in shock at what has happened to you, as are all those who love you.  Right now it all seems so very overwhelming and even at times hopeless.  If you are like me your mind has raced to the future wondering how your current situation fits into your hopes and dreams of what you wanted it to be.  While this event has taken us all by surprise, God is not surprised. He has known all along and has a plan far greater than your own.  This does not mean it is going to be easy, no my friend, it will take a whole lot of faith and yes, Grace! The trees we found on a recent trip to VT reminded me of the journey you are about to take.

Trees subjected to harsh conditions adapt by spreading their roots out deeper to ground them and keep them from blowing away in storms.
They don't grow as tall in stature as they put all their energy into sending out deeper roots.   As you cling to Christ, the solid rock on which you stand, you may not rise to be the tallest tree.  The struggles you face daily may keep you from soaring to the top in the world's view and may keep you in humble places with deep roots close to Him.
Other trees also overcame adversity in their own ways. Their trunks had become twisted as they fought to stand against fierce winds. But, they remained standing strong.
Twisted trunk but standing strong!

Comeback!! Between a rock and a hard place.
Some looked like they had given up, fallen down, but then made a comeback.  We even saw some thriving in very unusual places.
"Getting knocked down in life is a given.
Getting up and moving forward is a choice."- Zig Ziglar.
Not one person walked by them without stopping to admire their beauty, tenacity and resilience.  They held others up and gave them hope! Be the trees with strong roots holding to THE ROCK. The ones that overcame adversity with strength and dignity never giving up and becoming more beautiful because they chose to make the most of what they were given!

The trees around them seemed so ordinary and unremarkable, although each has its own story to tell, I'm sure!



“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami


“Storms make trees take deeper roots.” -DP
Literally clinging to the rock!


Thursday, May 11, 2017

"The leftover"and other terrible tales

*CONFESSION* this post  has been sitting for months as a draft while I decided if I would post it or not! Here you go.............life was meant to be shared!
So, I don't know exactly why I've been feeling so blue and down for months now. But, I'm going to tell you two stories about a few of my worst moments growing up.  Maybe somebody needs to hear them. Now, if you don't know me personally you need to know that I am/was a very shy, sensitive person who tends to be very critical of herself, insecure and sufffers from terrible self-esteem. I have never felt like I was particularly great at anything, I still struggle!

Here is a story about me, in 9th grade, on an Earth Science field trip to dig for Trilobites, Google it they are real (some ancient creature that left fossils about an hour and a half from where I grew up.)  It was field trip day and right before everyone got on the bus our teacher told us to find a partner for the day. Everyone quickly paired off. Everyone but me! There I was, the only unwanted leftover.  As we loaded on the bus people found seats with their partners. I had to sit in the front seat with one of the teachers....gag! Not even a nerdy girl wants to do that.  It didn't occur to the teachers with us (both male) to have pity on "the leftover" and simply allow one group of three to save my dignity. Nope, their solution was one of them would work with me. So, there I rode in the front seat, on the inside with a teacher. It felt like the ride of uncomfortable shame! I was mortified! When we got there everyone got to pick their location while I was forced to remain on the edge of the digging site so the teacher "working" with me could still keep an eye on the group. While others are digging and laughing, there I am on the outside chiseling away by myself. And no, I did not find one of those ancient sea bug fossils. Then we returned and if it wasn't for my homeroom pal, S, or my 10th grade lab partner and friend, N, I would have left high school with many more self imposed scars!

Now this next story still makes me cringe. And to be honest, I don't want to tell you all the exact details but I will.

Also, in high school we used to show horses in 4-H horse shows. This particular day it rained all morning, like poured.  The show ring was muddy especially along the rail where class after class wore a nice ditch for water to collect. Now my horse (okay, mule, there I was riding a mule) did not like getting her hooves wet. And mules, being smart and thinking for themselves, don't do anything they don't want to like walk in water when they can't see what lies beneath it. So, I was the only one in this particular class (shocking since it was a mule class,right?  I have no idea why my sister wasn't in it with me though.) Anyway, there I am going sideways around the ring as my very skeptical mount flared her nostrils and kept a good eye on the ring of water I wanted her to step in!  All I could think about was how my horse, back at the trailer, would have stepped in mud for me! Having no mercy, the judge made me reverse and go the other way. It made no difference to a mule, sideways we went the other way; walk, jog, lope all sideways.  Finally, I lined up in the middle completely humiliated thinking I'd just hold my head high and walk out of there with my ribbon.  What I did not expect to hear in a class with only me was, "In second place riding Candy, is Lisa..........." Now I'm mortified.  I get my ribbon and get out of there as fast as possible.  I didn't make eye contact with anyone and just hiked back to our horse trailer to hide!!!  I mean this was 4H, not a high class show, show a little mercy people.

So, now you know why recently when a friend noticed I wasn't at an event and seats were filling up, she saved me one and I was so touched by her kindness I almost cried! Okay, but I was also tired and tears usually follow that too! This event I was going to was a Brain Injury related one. It was "downtown" and I knew one place to park and the lot was full. I was directed to another one, which thankfully I knew about from numerous trips to the hospital, the only other route I know!! To make a long story shorter, that lot was full and I was directed to another. I wrote down the name of the street. The attendant instructed me to just follow the car ahead of me (Ummmm, OK it was already out of site and who knows if they were going there or not!) So, there I was making turns here and there guessing the direction I wanted to head.  I found myself on an undesirable street. The stories I heard about this street during my pharmacy days were all very bad!  I was sure a car hijacking was immanent! Naturally, I found a newer store parking lot to turn around in and stayed just long enough to type the address into my GPS. I have a terrible time following GPS but I was desperate!!! I did make it to my destination without hitting anything and only slightly rattled! I parked and made my way to the event.  And there in the front row was a seat saved for me, it made my day so thank you, AMT, you have no idea what that means to me!!! ! Take that "left over girl with a second place ribbon," maybe you aren't as forgotten and invisible as you sometimes feel!

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?