Sunday, December 29, 2013

My "Christmas confession"

"The wound will never heal, he[she] will carry it for the rest of his[her] life"

"They are neither living nor dead"

While attempting to watch "Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring" with my hubby these are my two favorite quotes! If you live with a brain injury you understand that watching a movie, that is 3+ hours is totally out of the question. After almost 9 years of healing I still can't focus that long and follow an unfamiliar story! So, I got about an hour and a half in before NOTHING processed anymore! This is progress over the 10 minute attention span (on a good day) I had early on in recovery!
So, how does this relate to Christmas??? Maybe, that story didn't but those two quotes sure do for me!  This year,  I tried to summon all my strength and "enjoy Christmas again." I admit mostly for my husband's sake as I still have that numb, glazed over feeling that comes with anything I know is going to be busy.  I made sugar cookies & frosting from scratch.  Normally, I buy the kind in a tube you just hack off and bake! Frosting??? What's that, it also comes in a container, right!  Cut, bake, frost, okay,  but sprinkles are really pushing it!!! This year I decided to try the "real" kind for my hubby, of course.  The first batch was "touch and go" at moments! But, I did it and they were even edible but, I should tell you my hubby will eat pretty much anything I have spent energy making.  I even tried cutting out shapes but abandoned the effort after a near melt down......too many steps to have them not look like their intended shape!! I may have threatened to throw them out the back door! Baby steps!!!!
The quotes, Lisa, the quotes......................Christmas season (like November to January) I have that feeling like I am neither living nor dead.  Merely, a fly on the wall taking it all in, ALL the BUSY!  I dread even leaving the house for necessary groceries! Christmas shop?  I don't think so! I Christmas order!!! No matter how well the rest of the year goes or doesn't go, it is always Christmas time that reminds me of  "the wound that will never heal, the one I will carry with me for the rest of my life." The TBI with all it exhaustion, confusion, frustration and more EXHAUSTION! But, I survived another Christmas.  With some help I planned for, shopped for and cooked for 10 people (hubby's side)!  Four under the age of seven!!  I survived that chaos too! Then, the next day, was my scheduled day for working at the library and nobody was going to take that shift for me.  The day after Christmas when the library was closed for the previous two days!  I survived that too, though it wasn't easy and I took some drugs to help me be able to stay calm, and think better!  I took a break and laid down after eating a snack too!  The next day, my supervisor was desperate(like months ago) and asked if I would cover just for an hour.  So, still not being able to say "no" when I should, I was there the next morning but thankfully it was insanely quiet so I survived that too!  Although, it meant missing an extended family (my side)celebration that I REALLY wanted to go to. Realistically, even if I wasn't working, traveling 5 hours was pushing me past my limits, anyway(no matter how badly I wanted to be there!) I hate that it has come down to merely surviving it but that is life's reality, still.  So, here is my Christmas confession: I'm glad it's over! I'm thankful for the warm memories (most of them, anyway) and I'm happy to have it all a mere blurry memory, now!! I'm truly not a Grinch, I just get easily overwhelmed!! I'd have all the decorations cluttering up my house packed away, if it weren't for my Christmas loving hubby.  We compromised and I will leave them up until the New  Year then they are fair game for finding their way back up into the attic!!!!!!!
Christmas confession: I'm smiling because it's almost over!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas 2013

I wish I could send each one of you a card in the "real mail" but this will have to do!  Merry Christmas from our home to yours!  My hubby was a good sport about my "photo shoot" obsession this year! Then, I went a little crazy with the photo editing, it's my favorite hobby!!





Monday, December 2, 2013

Why TT,why??

*This is a post I wrote then saved and never published! I have edited it years later now and decided to finally post it!
Dearest B & B,
"Why TT, why," you say hundreds of times a day! Let me try to explain!! Before you were born, before your mommy and daddy were even married your TT got very sick.  There was a "boo boo" in her brain.  God helped your TT get better and she lived, but her brain still has a "boo boo", but you can't see with your eyes. It is called T/ABI (Traumatic/Aquired Brain Injury.) TT will be healing from this for the rest of her life, it takes a very long time to heal your brain. It makes TT very tired and sometimes confused.  That is why TT always takes a nap with you (sometimes even if you don't nap, I still have to!)  I know you have noticed that TT is terrible at your memory game or putting together puzzles (especially those halographic ones you like) It is also the reason TT has to wear sunglasses all the time and can't stand very loud noises, it hurts the "boo boo" in her brain.


Sometimes, TT needs you to remind her when she forgets simple things, like it is time to eat lunch or looking both ways before you cross a road! It's okay to laugh with TT as you try to understand.  Thank you for being patient when TT is slow or when my brain is too flooded to honor your request! Your TT chooses to be amused that you notice if she wears the same outfit as yesterday, right down to the socks on her feet!  Sometimes, TT doesn't remember things like this. Other times she just doesn't have the energy required to remedy the situation and simply gave up caring if she wore the same thing as yesterday, if it doesn't smell! I know it is hard to understand right now and that is okay!Your TT will keep answering all the "whys" she can and will repeat "I don't know" when she is simply too tired to put other words together.  Thank you for always putting a smile on your TT's face and for being so gracious to her!  Thank you for all the times you tell TT,  "I love you" and "I'm glad your here for a visit TT." Her heart melts when she hears "It's okay TT, I love you just the way you are." You both are the perfect example of "Faith like a child," faith that believes beyond reason and is a free gift of love without strings attached, no matter what! Your TT loves you dearly! Thank you Lord for letting me be an exhausted mess if it means being a part of your life!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

confession of the day................

Confession today: I don't even have the mental stamina to change the sheets on my bed!  After thinking I had the short side and long side figured out, it would get down to the last corner when another would pop off.  I then took it all apart and tried to turn it 90 degrees. Last corner...POP. So rip and repeat, a few more times. Now my brain is so tired I'm not even really sure the fitted on goes on the bottom any more! Stop, lay down, get a drink of water and come back to it!  Finally success, I think! We will see tonight when we go to crawl in tonight! I had other errands I could run today, but the sun is blazing so brightly I don't dare leave my house for the over stimulating experience of driving to an overstimulating store. So the errands will wait until some brain fog passes a bit! Have a wonderful week!!!! I'm going to nap.......SLEEPING!

This about sums it up!  Thanks Buddy for making me smile, you silly dog!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

World Series

How do I pick who to root for in the World Series (baseball, finally got that straight???) Um, well, my strategy is very complicated........ 1. Red is my favorite color 2. I LOVE socks! There you have it; I'm a very sophisticated fan.  Okay, and the hubby is rooting for them, good choice babe!!
LETS GO...................

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Quote about letting go........

I just finished "Once Upon a Prince" by Rachel Hauck.  If you know me/knew me/or are any good at "reading between the lines" of my posts you will know why this quote spoke to me......

"When she forgot herself, [she] was most beautiful. Because she laughed freely, spoke openly. Far too often she treaded with caution, peering at life with timidity. Afraid to let go."
He is truly my perfect match!!!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Thoughts about leaves on life


      So normally, I am not really a lover of nature but being married to an outdoor man, I try to like it or at least tolerate it when I can. But fall, I love fall!! Even outside moments like apple picking, I love apples!! Okay, here is my confession though; I really love apple picking pictures the most! This year is the first time since my aneurysm/TBI that I have actually even cared remotely about the leaves changing again, instead of the fatigued "brain injured numbness toward everything." Or, as E.E. Cummings once was quoted saying, “unbeing dead, isn't being alive.” But fall, I love the fall. Chilly, not hot or freezing cold (an indecisive season). Hoodies and a favorite pair of jeans, a little closer to "alive;" just a little!! I have been trying to sort my house too, less things = less brain fog!!

     Usually,  I wouldn't pick up fallen leaves just because they were pretty. But, a few of them just spoke to me this year and seemed too pretty to just rake into the woods. In a weak moment, I picked them up and put them in paper under a heavy book to dry and maybe dip in wax to preserve then hang them from fishing line in my kitchen window as a fall decoration. A decoration, that I will get sick of quickly and toss in an effort to again reduce visual clutter, a vicious cycle, isn't it?? As I put them in the paper to press, I noticed something. These leaves were still "changing." Each of them, indecisive and unsure. Two colors, not one firm ,solid one. Welcome to my life now little leaves.  Even the simplest decisions, are now seemingly impossible to make.  Am I hungry? What do I want to eat? Should I wear short sleeves or long? Do I want chocolate or vanilla?? I never know.............so frustrating on a daily basis. So, I just pick the first one I see or am offered! Hey, at least I have a coping strategy, right?
   On a larger scale each of those leaves is stuck in transition! Maybe this is why I just had to pick them up. Maybe I could relate, indecisive and longing to transform from this state to something more beautiful? But, what is that?? How do you maintain sanity while fulfilling our destiny?? Is yellow thriving or is it red that is thriving, should you just stay a "safe green"?? What is red? what is yellow? I'm refusing to just stay 'green', clinging to the "safe" choice as I always have, never transforming into the more beautiful. I'm asking, "Lord, where do you need me most." I know I feel most "alive" helping others. The moments I almost thought I could be alive were those advocating for others or speaking to others, educating/teaching them or spreading awareness! So, like the leaves, I am still transforming; waiting for clarity. Or, as Michael W. Smith would say "[I'm] Looking for a reason, roaming through the night to find, My place in this world." So, what color will it be, waiting for the right doors to clearly open. Until then, it's going to be making the most of the hard transition, but I get discouraged sometimes so I'll just look at my pretty leaves; hoping for a little help deciding what color to become!!
My favorite one!







Saturday, October 5, 2013

a quick THANK YOU

I'd like to take a moment to thank S.B. for your comment on my blog post!  I was feeling very discouraged the past several days and pleading with the Lord for encouragement in any form!! Your comment, was the answer to that prayer.  I know that sometimes it is just nice to hear that 'somebody noticed'! So again,  THANK YOU!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Trapped Again

       I hope this post finds nobody who can relate, but I know someone will.  Most days I far exceed any body's expectations of me (well except my own).  While other days, I simply feel trapped inside this damaged head of mine with no way out! Yesterday was a "trapped" day.  Let me start by telling you fatigue was definitely part of the equation.  My hubby was out of town for work Monday-Wednesday and I never sleep that well without him there! Even our two dogs are on high alert all the time without him.  So, when I got to work on Thursday morning my brain was already "foggy," at best!  The shift the night before decided they would shelve books the way they like instead of exactly the way we do it in the morning.  Only slight differences but still enough to throw me off. So, after some quick rearranging I felt more capable of being proficient at my job with minimal extra energy! I knew I was in "survival mode" and had determined not to chat with anyone unless absolutely necessary.  The morning was steady, not insane but there were constant interruptions, question, phones, patrons.  This is still hard for me on a good day but I was determined I would stick it out for my four hour shift, taking breaks of course!!! I ran into a question that needed a judgement call  I was not willing to make about a cracked CD.  I went to the back office to find my supervisor. She gave me an answer and proceeded to list the steps to take.  It sounded familiar enough and I wasn't able to process it all right away so I repeated the steps I heard her say and agreed to follow them. I walked back to my desk station, repeating the steps to myself until I had a pen and piece of paper to write them down(short term memory strategy, I am religious about using them). Now, standing in front of my computer I got step one but then I couldn't find the icon I thought I needed to complete step two.  I asked the lady on the desk with me and I probably started in the middle of a thought when I asked her for help. She in not computer savoy and could not immediately help me. So, to make my long story short, after pulling out our desk manual (her idea not mine, the desk manual is like a recipe book; no good, too many lengthy explanations of steps. I was going to ask a librarian to show me) neither of us could figure out how to mark this item as damaged the correct way.  She kept asking me questions and I kept answering them just to stop the questions from continuing to come.  I knew I wasn't explaining myself clearly.  I knew what I wanted to do but felt 'trapped', unable to effectively communicate it.  Now, I am annoyed and frustrated almost to tears but determined not to let it get the best of me! I decided to walk away from the desk and take a deep breath in the quiet back room to regroup before a panic attack came over me. After regrouping I found someone else who was able to understand what I was wanting to do and she helped me take care of it correctly!! All this to say, I hate the feeling of being trapped inside my broken, disconnected brain, unable to get the right words out in the right order to be understood!

Monday, September 30, 2013

What about the road you never ever, ever wanted to travel?

"Never mind the “road less traveled.”
What about the road you never ever, ever wanted to travel?" -Rosemary Rawlins

Even the most loving and supportive family and friends fail to "get it" from time to time. Sometimes their own agendas and pressures cause them to push you 'too far'.  I always struggle with this.  First, I have a huge heart and would love to help anytime I possibly can, making the answer, "I'm sorry, I just can't" a very hard phrase for me.  Then, when I finally do admit my limits and boundaries, I am left feeling guilty.  Thus the second struggle, when is it good to stretch past my comfort zone and when do I simply have to say "no" and accept that without guilt?? Sometimes others fail to realize the reality of the insane fatigue.  Or, do they understand and I am simply too sensitive about it? Life is such a delicate balancing act of carefully planning in order to survive the constant daily "unknown".  What I mean is this, if I commit to doing something I carefully plan my week accordingly.  I must plan for a slow day both before and after a busy one.  Even with careful planning some days are, simply put, bad ones.  The brain fog comes and goes as it pleases.  This is why I work one little morning a week.  It seems survivable now even on a bad day.  I can drag myself the 10 minutes on back roads to the library.  I can take frequent brakes and limit the amount I talk to people around me! This is my strategy to survive it at all. I know that people probably think I am "being a baby" but they don't live in my head every day.  So, here I sit frustrated by my guilt for simply drawing a line and not being willing to suffer another terrible "brain crash" by being busy on four consecutive days.  Even if, in a perfect situation, I do get a nap; it won't fix all the overstimulating busy and there will still be the days of 'cloudy with a chance of migraine', no thank you! Please, if I decline just accept it without seeming aggravated or annoyed! Please advocate for me when I loose my nerve and cave to the perceived pressures around me! My big heart will win every time and then we all loose.  I am left with the shell of me plagued by insane fatigue and brain fog, paired with nausea from the crazy fatigue, and the "tightest neck muscles" a massage therapist has ever felt! And, everyone around me is left with a quiet, antisocial girl unable to tolerate even the slightest demands on her!

On another note here is a blog I worked on weeks ago and never "published":
I am up at camp with my hubby against my will since I really love the modern conveniences that civilization provides. I unashamedly love running water, electricity, hot showers, Internet access, phone service and close stores for forgotten items. However, I do not miss the constant annoying noise of a television that is, in my opinion, WAY TOO LOUD! With all of this being said I finished the book I had been reading, Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. It was the most lovely, enchanting book I can remember reading since my aneurysm! After finishing I had that feeling of being a little disappointed it ended! I was not ready to shift gears and start another book so I ventured off alone to take a walk with my camera! As I was walking, the sound of a running brook stopped me in my tracks. All of the sudden, I was 18, a freshman at college, and homesick. Usually, fall makes me long for those days, to pack up and head back to college! This college I long to head back to is only made up of all the happy moments and good memories. Hearing that brook today brought me back to the less than wonderful moments of stress when I would walk to this little brook behind the dorm I lived in! I used to go here to pray and clear my head amongst the inevitable drama and decisions and hours of uncertain study! I had no idea what I wanted to be or do for the rest of my life and yet by the end of sophomore year I was going to be forced to decide! Oh, the turmoil in my brain came back to me as I struggled and desired for God's will yet couldn't hear above all the “noise”. Suddenly, standing by that brook today I didn't long for my “old” life! There sure are a lot of things about that girl that I miss and probably always will. But for one brief breath I could be okay with the day that she was lost and it seemed like nothing again would ever be clear! That day when moving forward could only happen with faith!!  While I thought that was exactly how I was living back then, it is only through the storm that I can now see that girl. That scared, worried, stressed girl who only made decisions based on “what was sensible” even if she hated every minute of it! She worried about all the perceived expectations of her and was totally consumed by fear. Fear of headaches, migraines, having kids, hating classroom teaching, marrying the wrong person, never meeting the right one, and the list could go on and on!!! She was a mess in college trying to hold it all together.  So she went along often unnoticed,  unsure, immature,having unreal expectations of both herself and others. But, with a heart truly seeking God's will for her life. Thankfully, she was/is a daughter of an infinitely loving King who answered all her silent prayers and heart's desires, even though she would have to struggle and life with all these blessings would not be perfect or "how she pictured it." I'm not really sure what other people would tell you about the girl that she was. Most would probably answer, "who??" If she, that 18 year old by the brook, had  known what the next seven years would hold for her, I am quite certain she would have responded much like Moses did at the burning bush, I imagine her with intense fear saying, "certainly you can't mean me for that story, you know how weak and fearful  I am, nobody even notices me, it is all more than I can survive".  Yet, God gave her an incredible testimony.  I am the girl she resembles. I am still imperfect and often times scared and unnoticed.   I still haven't figured it all out nor has everything been revealed in His perfect will but He has never let me go, I would not have made it through alone!!!! So now I, the 30-something aneurysm survivor with a TBI, waits and longs for doing more in His perfect will. Still, while being incredibly thankful I can remember that 18 year old version of me! Thankful that I was privileged to go to college and finish strong with all of my brain cells still intact, no matter how many mistakes I made along the way!!







Friday, August 23, 2013

Beautiful words!!

I could only aspire to say it so eloquently, .....................check out what my survivor friend "R" wrote: "To my Survivor Friends". Trust me though, you don't have to be a survivor to appreciate her words! Have a great weekend!



Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Stranger in my place" Poem

I came across this poem by a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor! Although it is a bit sad I was touched by it, so I'll post it for my survivor friends so I can also remember it!

Stranger in my Place

My husband has a new wife
My daughter, a new mother.
And sometimes I think I hate
The stranger who has taken my place.

It's painful just to watch her
Do what I once did.
She cooks (a little), cleans (not well),
And dreams her little dreams.

But where is the laughter, the passion,
The two of us used to know?
Where, the bright hopes and the wonder
That bound us, heart and soul?

And yet my husband loves her
(I wonder how he can)
A person slow and awkward,
Limited and sad.

The accident that brought her
Saw the old me die
Left this strange new person
To carry on in my stead.

Now my daughter calls her Mommy,
And trusting takes her hand.
My husband calls her Dearest
And draws her into his arms.

But deep within me something
Remembers and protests,
I refuse, I will not be
This stranger who has taken my place!

Anonymous

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

3,098 or more thoughts on fatigue

Saturday: I sit here, thankful to be alive but crashing STILL!  I only left my house once this week to attempt my four hour shift at a library!  I'm trying not to pout about missing out on a garage sale adventure with my mom and sister today!  I'm so tired today,  I will save the beginning of this post and finish it another day, I'm too tired to try to put words together correctly! Today I was feeling so tired and down, I thought maybe if I did one productive thing this week, maybe I'd feel better about life! I chose to pull weeds in my flower garden.  I knew better and did it anyway because it was really bothering me! If you have ever had brain surgery you will understand that your head/skull/nerves never go back the same way!  There is always some degree of mild discomfort in the "head crack", as I call it.  Pulling out weeds only exaggerates that!!! I pushed through, determined to check it off one of my neurotic lists! While it feels good to have it done, the process still exhausts me.  It seems so simple, pull weed, put in bucket, empty in woods when full, repeat.  Mix that with balance while bending down  then balance getting up and balance while walking on uneven ground, over roots, up hill etc. It works my brain to think about all that, while you would just have to walk to the woods, dump the weeds and repeat; lucky you!! So, here I sit thankful for amazing family and friends who allow me time to crash still,  8.5 years after my aneurysm ruptured!! I know that many survivors are not given this kind of unconditional love and understanding, the following post is for you (you know who you are)!

Now Tuesday: No power yesterday, who knows why, so no blogging.  Instead I had  a forced "quiet day" to read! So I will attempt to finish my "blog on fatigue" for a friend who asked for a little help describing it to her friends and family! So aneurysm survivor friend, here you go:

I'll do my best to describe the horrid fatigue I am now plagued with.  I have never experienced a fatigue like the one post aneurysm/brain injury but, I think I have said it before, it is like living your life in 'finals week' at college. Now, I went to a small private college but I am pretty sure the feeling is universal and easily remembered.  Your brain is so overloaded with information it literally hurts and you are sure not one more thing will fit in there! Thankfully, back then my brain at least had an "autopilot mode" to carry on with. I remember eating only out of necessity because your lack of sleep and too much coffee made you nauseous all week long! Every little thing seems like it is just going to be "the straw that broke the camel's back", so for a week, you just exist in survival mode.  You just need to get through the normal every day routines caring very little about extraneous things (do my clothes match? did I take a shower today? am I wearing shoes? who cares if my feet are covered).  It is all out survival mode, you are simply too tired to even care or have energy to take care of all the little details, It's simply too much to deal with! Oh, and making decisions, what are those?? I don't even know what I like and at this moment I'm not sure I'm left with liking anything, I feel N U M B. Except, I'm left with a brain that can't handle too much light, or sound.  It feels like these things are a personal assault to the delicate balance of remaining nerves and neuropathways!! I feel like I want to curl up into a ball in a dark quiet corner, while my flooding brain unwinds! (*Earplugs may have saved my marriage several times already when the volume of the television or radio were unbearable to me, and yes I wear sunglasses when it rains or at dusk, I have no shame, it's pure survival)
Photo by me edited on PicMonkey.com



We, as grateful survivors, understand your life has been turned upside down by this too too! We understand you feel like you lost the "old us", we miss us too, please find ways to love us now for the new great things about us so we can start to love ourselves now too. We need your help to move forward in life and discover what we tare good at now, it will be different but there is certainly something good to find!  We need help redefining ourselves, not just as people who beat the odds and survived the unspeakable! Yeah, we know "what could have happened" and we are trying to make the best of it now, thankful for life and moments we get to be part of even if we miss a few along the way out of sheer exhaustion! Please be patient with us, but don't treat us like a child who never knew anything "before"!! Sure we have things to work on too, we are well aware, even if we aren't able to express it or deal with it yet or ever, fully!! It is too big to even process!! Saying words like "lazy" are very hurtful! We don't want to be "lazy", we simply lack the capacity to do anything some days but sit and stare everything else is too many steps or just plain too exhausting to face!!!Nobody knows why some days are good and some days aren't, they just are. Please know my brain caan't recover from things as quickly as yours! Realistically, parts of my brain are probably completely dead now. Other parts work overtime, ALL the time to accomplish anything!!! Frequent naps and rests are vital to my damaged, healing brain even several years out. While I am resting, is the only time the brain can heal! I need you in my life and I need you to remind me, who I am, when I forget! Together let's look for the good and positive experiences we might have missed, if this never happened.  The people we met, the friends and family who faithfully stayed by our side, the new depth and compassion for others going through trials or the assurance we are surely here for a reason!! Thank you for reading this, there is no way you can fully understand this journey I am on, unless you live it too and I would never wish that for you!!
copyright unknown from Facebook

Friday, July 19, 2013

Random Life Reflections mostly on an "easy recipe"

     First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY WONDERFUL FATHER!!!!!!!
     Second, I'd like to preface my story below with saying this;  my aunt, a licensed psychologist and life coach, told me early on in my recovery to keep a journal so I could remember my stories and see just how far I had come.  I knew she was a wise woman and trusted her advice so I began to blog, a public journal.  I did not do this to draw attention to myself or make others feel bad for me!  Instead, I decided to share my journey because I so desperately sought someone my own age to relate to! In my warped brain at the time, any brain injury survivor would NOT do.  Even if they had many of the same struggles, it HAD to be an aneurysm survivor, specifically, to truly relate at the level I so longed for! Doctors graciously told me people just don't live through the magnitude of aneurysm I survived. Well aware of how annoyingly persistent I am, they tried to offer me a more realistic view! I decided that just in case anyone felt the way I did they could, by the Grace of God, find me and read my unfiltered story, just the way I wished I had been able to find.  Of course, I have since healed enough to realize that any aneurysm is traumatic no matter the degree of rupture and any brain injury no matter how you sustained it is also very traumatic.  I no longer have to find someone with the "exact same experience" to be able to relate to people again. Healing through my own journey has also taught me that we all share many struggles in life equally as traumatizing and life altering in every way! Just last night, we had a honor of eating dinner with an old friend.  She left her good state job, with its many benefits, to answer God's call and translate the Bible for unreached people groups, many of whom have no formal written language, in Papa New Guinea. As were were catching up she was talking about her first few years in a new country, unfamiliar customs and all new situations; everything was different and had to be done differently.  Not usually a "nap taker" she required daily naps in order to carry on! She talked about the insane fatigue of having to relearn ways of doing things in her environment now! She too had to learn how to relate to people in her new situation! Yeah, I get that! There are still some people I find it impossible to relate to in a meaningful way but this I recognize as simply being human!
     Now, telling me 8.5 years ago that I read at a 5th grade level was probably generous seeing as I just messed up an easy "three step" recipe because I couldn't process all the steps!!!! I'm thankful though for doctors kind enough to exaggerate the truth for a half paralyzed, 25 year old aneurysm patient drooling out of the left side of her mouth, totally incapable of understanding or dealing with what just happened to her! I'm also glad I have a BS in Elementary Education (that I never had the opportunity to really  to in the professional world but use every day in my 'real world') and can remember that if I just broke it down sentence by sentence I could probably handle it! Step one, put 2.5 sleeves of crackers in a zip lock bag a crush into fine pieces. This roughly breaks down to find crackers, find Ziplock back, find meat tenderizer to use to break the crackers, now what was I supposed to do with that Ziplock???????Next, the "normal brain" may call mixing 3 different things together then moving it to a pan only one step but NOT my brain. Combine is a few steps (after you locate each item and figure out how you are getting them into the bowl, oh yeah, a bowl. find an appropriate sized bowl), stir is a step then pour is another step!!! The last step in the recipe simply said "bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  That simple, single step to me is several also. Turn oven on, open door, put pan on desired rack, close door, and most importantly, SET TIMER so when you forget you are baking (in three minutes, before even leaving the kitchen) it beeps at you until you acknowledge it!! You get the picture; and this was a pretty "good brain day" for me (I'm not kidding)!!!!!!!!!! I suppose I was a bit more tired than I even realized since I tried this new to me recipe on a day I was at the busy library all morning! I know better!!!
It's a good life though!

PS- the toffee bars were actually edible and actually tasted pretty good too....here is the link to the "easy" recipe if you want to try them, for "normal people" it truly would be easy!
Toffee Ritz Bars Recipe

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lorelei's wild jungle brain




This is what my brain feels like 24/7.  I can't concentrate on anything to save my life and when people talk to me this just like how my brain processes things for me. This is probably why talking to people (especially on the phone without other cues) is so exhausting to me, but I am so thankful I can "fake it" really, really well!

Monday, July 15, 2013

THE PINEAPPLE STORY



Or read this version of "The Pineapple Story" by clicking on the title or attached below!!!!

Pineapple 1

The Pineapple Story


Heidi’s dad let us borrow a book last weekend called the “Pineapple Story”.  It is a story about how God taught a missionary to Dutch New Guinea a lesson about surrendering everything to Him.  We read it as a family for our family devotions one night but It is a great story for anyone to read.  We hope it challenges you the way it did us.
Pineapple 2
My family and I worked with these people way back in the bush.  One day I decided that I was going to bring in some pineapples.  The people there had heard of pineapples and had tasted them before, but they didn’t have any source to get them.  So I got some from another mission station.  I bought about one hundred plants.  Then I got one of the local men to work for me.  He planted all the pineapple shoots for me.  I paid him, of course.   I paid him salt or whatever he wanted for the days he worked.  It seemed to take awfully long for those little shoots of pineapple to become big bushes and finally yield pineapples.  It took about three years.  Back in the jungle you long for fresh fruit.  You don’t get much fresh fruit or vegetables.  So finally that third year we could see fresh pineapples coming on, and we were just waiting for Christmas time because that is when they are ripe.  When Christmas finally came, my wife and I would go for walks to see if any were ripe enough to eat.  Finally, when they got ripe, we didn’t get a single one of them!  The natives stole every one!  They stole them before they were ripe.  That is their art.  Steal it before it is ripe or the owner gets it.
Pineapple 5
Here I am, a missionary, getting mad at these people.  Missionaries aren’t supposed to get mad.  You all know that.  But I got angry.  I said, “Look, you guys!  I have been waiting for these pineapples for three years.  I didn’t get any of them.  Now there are others getting ripe.  If any more of these pineapples are stolen, no more clinic for you.”
Pineapple 4
My wife was running the clinic.  She was giving them all their pills for free.  They didn’t have anything to pay.  We were knocking ourselves out trying to help these people, talking care of their sick, saving the lives of their babies.  One by one the pineapples got ripe, and one by one they were stolen.  So I felt I had to stand my ground with these people.  I couldn’t just let them run all over me.  But that was not really the reason.  It was a selfish reason.  I wanted to eat those pineapples.  So no more clinic!  Then they let their sick people die.  They couldn’t care less.  Life was cheap over there.  People with bad pneumonia would be coughing and begging us for medicine.  We would say, “No!  Remember you stole our pineapples.”  ”I didn’t steal them, they would say.  ”It was the other guys that did it.”  They would go on coughing and begging.  We couldn’t take it any longer.  I broke down and said, “Okay, tomorrow morning we will open the clinic again.”  When we opened the clinic they started stealing the pineapples, and I felt bad again.  Man!  These rascals!  But we finally found out who was doing it – the guy who planted them.  I called him on the carpet and said, “Look, buddy!  What are you doing stealing my pineapples?  You are my gardener.”
Pineapple 3
He said, “My hands plant them. My mouth eats them.”  That is the rule of the jungle.  If they plant something, that is theirs.  They had never heard of the idea of paying for services.  So he said, “They are all mine.”  I said, “Oh no!  They are mine.  I paid you to plant them.”  But he just couldn’t understand how that made them my plants.  I thought, “Well, what do I do now?”  It was the rule of their tribe.  I’d better learn to live by their rule.  So I said, “Alright, I will give you half of these plants.  ”Everything from here to over there is yours.  If they get ripe, they are yours.  And these are mine.”  He sounded like he was in agreement.  But my pineapples still got stolen.  Then I thought, “Maybe I should let them have all those pineapples, and I’ll get some new ones.”  But I knew that I would have to wait three more years.  That was hard for me to to do.
argument
Finally I said, “Look, I will give you all these pineapples, and then I will start all over again.  Now you make a garden and you take all these pineapples out of my garden so I will have room to plant new ones.  I don’t want your pineapples in my garden if you feel they are yours.”  So they said, “Too-wan, (which means outsider/foreigner) you will have to pay us.”  ”Now wait just a minute!”, I shouted.  They said, “No, No! You are asking us to move your pineapple bushes, and that is work.”  I reluctantly agreed, “Alright, I’ll pay you one day’s work.  Take them all away.”  Then they said, “We don’t have a garden ready.  Will you pay us to get it ready too?”  I said, “Forget it!”  These people were going too far.  I had had enough!
Pineapple 6
I told my wife, “This is impossible!  I am just going to pay some guy to root them all out and throw them on the trash heap.  Then if they want them they can just take them.”  So we did.  We rooted them all out and threw them on a heap.  What a shame, they were nice pineapple bushes.  Then I bought new plants.  I said, “Now look, all you guys.  I am going to pay you to plant them, but I will eat them, me and my family.  You don’t eat any.”  They said, “You can’t do that.  If we plant them, we eat them.”  I said, “Look now, I don’t have time to mess with a garden.  I have too many important things to do.  There are so many of you, and there is only one of me.  You have got to help me.  I want you to plant them, and I will eat them.”
knife
I wasn’t getting very far with them so I said, “I will pay you.  What do you want?”  I will give you this nice knife if you will agree to do it.”  They started to think.  ”He will pay us that knife so he can eat our pineapples.”  Finally they agreed.  During the next three years I reminded the guy who planted them, “Look!  Who is going to eat these pineapples?”  He said, “You are.”  I said, “Good!  Have you stil got the knife?”  He said, “Yes.”  I said, “Well, take good care of it.”  I knew that If he lost the knife I would be in trouble again.  The payment would be gone.  Finally, after three more years the pineapples began to ripen.  My wife and I walked through the garden again.  I said to her, “Pretty soon we are going to have a crop of our own pineapples.”  We started to thank God that He was providing them for us.  But do you know what happened next?  Every one of them was stolen!  I would see the natives go through my garden in the daytime to spot where the pineapples were, and then at night they would be able to go right to them.
Pineapple 5
I thought, “What am I going to do?”  We can’t cut out the clinic.  Let’s cut out the trade store instead.”  That’s where they get their matches, salt, fish hooks, and things like that.  They used to do without them.  That won’t kill them.  The next day I said to the men, “Okay, there will be no more store since you keep stealing my pineapples.”  When we closed the store they began to say, “We had better leave because we don’t have any salt.  If he is not going to have a store, there is no advantage for us being here with him.  We might as well go back to our jungle houses.”
Villagers leave
There I was sitting by myself eating my pineapples.  No people and no ministry.  I said to my wife, “We can eat pineapples back in the States, I mean, if that is all we are here to do.”  A runner returned and I said, “Get them all back.  We will open the store next Monday.”  I thought and thought.  How am I going to eat those pineapples?  There must be a way.  Then I got an idea.
Pineapple 7
A German Shepherd!  I got the biggest German Shepherd I could get on the island.  I brought him in there and let him loose.  The were very afraid of him.  They had never seen a dog that big.  They had little, mangy dogs.  They never fed them and they were all diseased.  And there was my well-fed German Shepherd dog.  I would always have to feed him when the people weren’t around because they would resent the dog’s food.  It was better than anything they got.  But that dog sure did the trick!  Most of the people didn’t dare come around anymore.  So we had the same result as closing the store.  People didn’t come.  I didn’t have anybody to tell about Jesus and I couldn’t get anybody to teach me the language.
eating pineapples
I thought, “What do we do?”  The dog wasn’t working after all.  In the meantime, the dog was starting to breed with the village dogs and would raise up a wicked half-shepherd, wild and hungry.  The doctor in town said, “If your kids or anybody gets bitten by that dog, I am not going to treat them.”  He was using the same tactics on me that I was using on the natives.  I said to my wife, “We’ve got to get rid of that dog.”  Well, I got rid of the dog.  I hated to do it.  Now that the dog was gone, the people eventually came back and my pineapples were disappearing as before.  I thought, “There must be a way.  What haven’t I tried?”
Then I came home on furlough and went to a church service.  The lesson I learned that day was that we must give everything we own to God.  The Bible says it is better to give, than to receive.  If you keep everything for yourself, you will lose them.  Give the things you love and want to God, and God will take care of you.  This is a basic lesson that I had forgotten.  I thought, “I don’t have anything to lose, maybe this will work.  I will give that pineapple garden to God because I am not eating them anyway.”  Now I know that is not a very good sacrifice.  You are supposed to sacrifice something that is valuable.  But I would give it to God and see if He could control it.
One night, after I returned, I stood out in the garden all alone.  I prayed, “Lord see these pineapple bushes?  I have fought to have the fruit from them.  I have claimed them as my own.  I have stood up for my rights.  It is all wrong, and I realize that now.  I have to give them all to You.  From now on, if You want me to eat any of Your pineapples, fine.  If not, then that is fine too.  Amen.”  So I gave them to God, and the natives stole the pineapples just like before.  A little frustrated that my new plan didn’t work, I thought to myself, “See, God, You can’t control them either!”  But I didn’t say anything.  I just kept praying and trusting the Lord to take care of it His way.
a Christian now
Then one day they finally came to me and said, “Too-wan, you have become a Christian, haven’t you?”  I was ready to react and say, “Look here, I have been a Christian for twenty years!”  But instead I said, “Why would you say that?”  They answered, “Because you don’t get angry anymore when we steal your pineapples.”  This was a real revelation.  Now I was living what I had been preaching to them.  I had been telling them to love one another, be kind to one another, but I had always been standing up for my rights and they knew it.
Finally, one of the young men started thinking and said, “Now why don’t you get angry anymore?”  I said, I have given that garden away.  It isn’t mine anymore.  So you are not stealing from me.  I don’t have to get angry now.”  Another said, “Who did you give the garden to?”  They looked around at each other.  ”Did he give it to you?”  Whose garden is it now?”  ”Whose pineapples are we stealing?”
gardener
Then I explained to them, “I have given the garden to God.”  They answered, “To God?!  Doesn’t He have pineapples where He lives?”  ”I don’t know whether He has any or not but I have given the garden to Him.”  The men left and went back to their village and said to the others there, “Do you know whose pineapples we are stealing?”  Too-wan has given them to God.”  After discussing the matter further, they returned and said to me, “Too-wan, you should not have done that.  Why don’t you get them back from God?”  ”We have not been able to find any pigs when we go out hunting.  The fish are not biting our hooks.  Even our babies are getting sick.”  They they said, “We shouldn’t steal them anymore if they are God’s, should we?”
God's Pineapples
The pineapples soon began to ripen and the natives came to me and said, “Too-wan, your pineapples are ripe.”  I said, “They are not mine.  They belong to God, remember?”  They said, “But they are going to get rotten.  You had better pick them.”  And so, I went out to the garden and got the best pineapples I could find and then I gave some of them to the natives.  When my family sat down to eat them, I prayed, “Lord, we are eating Your pineapples.  Thank You for giving some to us and some to the natives.”  All those years, the people God sent me to reach were watching me and listening to my words.  They saw that the two didn’t match.  But when God changed my heart and mind, He began to change theirs too.  Soon many of the natives decided to become Christians.
Fixing things
The natives began bringing all sorts of things for me to fix.  I said, “Lord, my time is Yours too.  If you want me to fix pots, shovels, and harmonicas out here on the mission field, then I will.”  I wasn’t getting as much Bible translation done as I wanted to, but more and more people were coming to Christ!  They kept saying to each other, “Too-wan has become a Christian.  He tells us to love one another and now he is loving us.”  One day, I was fixing a broken chair in our house and one of the natives came over and said, “Here, let me help you hold it.”  After we fixed it I said, “Aren’t you going to ask me for any salt?”  He said, “No, Too-wan.  Don’t you remember?  You helped me fix my shovel.  Now I help you fix your chair.”  I thought, “Wow!  That is the first time they did anything for me without getting paid for it.”
Pineapple 11
So what is in your pineapple garden?  Have you surrendered it to the Lord yet?  Do you trust Him to take care of the things that are most important to you?  Will you patiently wait for Him to answer your prayers?  If you can answer “Yes” then God will give you your own “Pineapple Story” someday.
You only believe as much of the Bible as you are willing to live.

Story used from "The Smith Family"  http://www.smiths-givelife.com/the-pineapple-story/

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

3,080

According to my "Siri" it has been 3,080 days since February 1, 2005. That is 73,920 hours of recovering(I don't dare calculate the actual number of hours I may have been sleeping) from the damage that life sustaining blood cause when it escaped from my right middle cerebral artery! It occurred to me today, I had not written a blog post in about a month.  It is not for the lack of posts that formulate in my exhausted brain as it refuses to simply fall asleep without pondering, reflecting, or writing emails and blog posts! Sometimes, much to my husband's dismay,  I can't resist grabbing the pen and paper on my nightstand and writing these ideas down.  Anyway, after a complete total and utter crash after a long busy weekend I decided to take today to go nowhere and do nothing but things I enjoy doing! So, blogging it is! Okay, so i also have a load of laundry in the washer but that seems manageable today!  Yesterday, was another story.  I stayed on the couch......ALL day until Nate came home from work.  I knew attempting stairs would surely result in a lack of depth perception or even worse, forgetting a stair means I need to step differently than on a flat, familiar floor!I have ended up sliding down the stairs on my bottom a few times when I forgot to step!  If you told me this story before my TBI, it would have scared me that a person could literally "forget to step" and there may have been a small piece of me that couldn't even believe such a thing could happen to an otherwise highly functioning person! Life is funny like that. I'm not going to lie to you, I am still learning to accept this reality in my life! With that being said, I crashed so hard this weekend that my head felt like it was "buzzing" and the only thing I was capable of was SLEEPING!!!! It has been years since I crashed this hard and this way.  I no longer feel guilty about how many hours might have been spent sleeping because I know my brain needs it.  There is no other way for it to recover from it's new way of functioning!! Even still, I push my limits sometimes and am always surprised by how exhausted a human being can feel after just a "normal, busy weekend".
  With all that ranting behind me, here is what I have been up to the last month!  The beginning of June started with a "BIANYS Annual Conference".  This is always one of the highlights of the year for me!  I get to see old friends and feel "normal with a brain injury" for two whole days!  Everyone there gets it, because they live it or work with and advocate for loved ones with brain injury! It is a LONG, EXHAUSTING two days for everyone.  But, well worth the calculated exhaustion.  This year my friend K, convinced me to escape the dinner crowd and get some fresh air by walking across a busy street to Olive Garden.  Thankfully, this city girl knows how to cross a busy street because this is a skill I still struggle with, especially on foot.  Perhaps, you remember that my family always grabs my hand to avoid catastrophe. If left alone I don't manage it well.  With K's expert street crossing skills we made it across a busy highway safely.  It was nice to be in a quiet, dimly lit room after a day of harsh florescent lights and large crowds of indecisive people! We enjoyed a quiet,yummy dinner and were so stuffed K insisted on dessert "to go". Upon leaving, it was obviously pouring outside!  The entrance to the hotel was right across the busy street but was set back quite a way from the road!!!We had not been prepared with an umbrella or even a jacket with a hood! I'm a shameless country girl, so I suggest just walking back to the hotel briskly! K, a girl with class, insists we do not walk in the rain!! She wants to wait it out until it stops, I want to go home and my Jeep is parked across that busy road between the rain drops! I sit with K for a few moments before calling Nate for some comic relief! He is amused and informs us it is supposed to rain ALL weekend! I'm so tired and I just want to go home and lay on my couch so I decide I am just going to brave that busy road myself, get my Jeep, and pick K up! She is a good friend and would never allow this to happen. After asking the Olive Garden staff for an umbrella to borrow she settled on just using a paper carry out bag to shield her hair from the water drops! As we are walking out the door a couple behind us is obviously amused by our solution to the rain problem.  They apologize for laughing at the situation and seem to have a great sense of humor about it! K, still not keen on walking to the hotel with a paper bag over her head, asks them if they will give us a ride to the hotel across the street! Graciously they finally agree.  I can only imagine what was going on in their minds.  I am pretty sure they were trying to remember all the emails they had read about the latest "scam" to be weary of!  We made it across the street safe and dry as we all laughed about the story they would tell their friends,  it went something like picking up two "bag ladies".  I added to their story, suggesting they include the part about the "bag ladies" being at a "brain injury conference" and leaving on a humid, cloudy evening without any thought of an umbrella! So, K gave me permission to share with you the story of our adventure and the photo to prove it!











June was also filled with a  family reunion to celebrate my two amazing cousins. One graduating High School and the other a Yale graduate. But first we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary, a wedding, went strawberry picking, took my turn working at the library on a weekend (thankfully before summer reading was in full swing), never ending yard work, Nate's tractor restoration,fought  a war on Carpenter Ants eating our log home, survived ablation #7 for a dear friend to correct heart arrhythmia, and the discovery of a benign spot on my dad's liver, aging grandparents, and the celebration of life after the death of a brother in Christ.  July has proven busy, busy, busy too.  Fireworks, friends, camp and life during the summer married to a busy service technician!  Shoo, no wonder I crashed!  Here are some pictures to prove it.....
Thankful for God's promises!




Naptime at my house (I'm not kidding)


11 years with my love!





BIANYS speaker PJ Long!

The amazing 'A', I love this woman!!