Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!!


Last Post for 2012

I’ve been hoping to post before now but fatigue recovery (and perpetual brain fog) has dominated my life for now, and, a trip to the doctor on Saturday for chest pains (no worries, it was an esophageal spasm) set me back a bit.  So, I write with a head full of fog before too much more time passes. 
 
That’s just the goofy thing about TBI, something we’re not exactly even close to being at our best but still have to get things done all the same.  Please pardon the fog…

Looking back at 2012

I think of Dad moving from his home to rehab center to assisted living, and my becoming Power of Attorney, taking over his finances.  It’s pretty overwhelming to say the least.  To step back in to family issues is quite odd.  Sometimes distance can be a good thing.  :)  This is one of those big life lessons, whether we feel we’re ready to step up to it or not isn’t an option.  Apparently we are ready or at least seem ready, or we wouldn’t be chosen.  :)

I think of having to wear glasses now, yes, I turned 45 this year and my eyes are showing their age too. 

This has been a year of unrest when it comes to my own personal religion, faith, and beliefs.  It is almost laughable the conversation and questions inside my head.  I’m no longer able to follow any faith blindly.  I’d imagine this is a good thing, although it is strangely uncomfortable not being so certain or sure of what I used to believe or what we hear about today.  I’m searching for timeless universal truths. 

I think about gratitude, for what remains.  Yes, I still live as a shut-in and activities are strategically planned so I can participate as much as possible without harming myself.  But the Internet continues to be a lifeline to the world outside of these walls and I am ever grateful for that.  I am thankful for each and everyone one of you.  :)  Yes, you!


Looking toward 2013

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions since I believe change is a daily choice, here are some things I’m looking forward to/have in mind for this coming year:

To continue to give/receive encouragement, strength, comfort, and humor as I’ve received, and try to help myself have more fun as TBI can be both strenuous and serious. 

Dad will turn 90!  Remarkable!

Assistive Technology – I currently own a TracFone since I do not talk on the phone much at all these days, but I’ve been wanting a device similar to a smartphone to help me be better organized, track things better, and simply manage life a bit better.  I’m saving up for an mp3 player that will have capacity for those lovely little apps we all hear about.  This way, I get the benefit of the apps without a contract I could not afford or would use to its full capacity since I don’t talk on the phone much.  (TracFone out here has no smartphones in our area as of yet.)

I look forward to being more organized and continue to declutter.

With our economy being what it is, and my medical costing more, this will be a far frugal year for sure.  The good thing about being a human animal, what we cannot change we can adapt to.  :)

I am wishing you and your loved ones a beautiful, enjoyable, content, and hopefully humor-able year.  We’re all in this together.  Thank you for being here, for making a world of difference in my life.

Blessings, Love & Peace,
RH

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Heartbeat of Humanity

I have been silent while recovering from a fatigue crash but have followed the horrific news about the elementary school shooting.  A lot of it hit home for me, as it did almost everyone on this earth who has a pulse.

I studied to be an elementary school teacher; I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and loved, loved, LOVED teaching the younger children.

I watched as social media went viral with incorrect information about the perpetrator of this crime, I watched the hatred and anger frenzy only add to this confusing and suffocating storm.  I curiously watched and wanted to know about this person who could contrive such an unthinkable series of crimes against humanity itself.

In my own anger and disgust, I called him THE biggest coward in the world to go after innocent children and unarmed teachers.  You want to talk about the heart of humanity?  It doesn’t get any purer or sweeter than children, especially young children still full of natural curiosity, empathy and wonder and the teachers called to educate and nurture them.

I quieted my anger by allowing the grief it was hiding to surface instead, to allow the compassion and empathy to emerge.  To rage would only make me similar to him and I wanted no part in that.  And honestly, there are no answers for the questions I have, there is no reason in the world that would ever ease my aching soul.  There is nothing anyone can tell me that would make this event ever be okay.

I think of all the firsts these families have to face and have already faced.  Imagine taking your child to school or saying good-bye at the bus stop to come home with only the child’s belongings (if that), and the empty bedroom, the empty space at the table, the empty seat in the car, the empty silence.

I can choose to turn off the media or look away from the photos that make me cry, these families and communities cannot.  Theirs is the walk of raw, inescapable reality, the dreams and the nightmares.
One word continued to repeat in my mind over and over, that word is ‘torn.’  These children, teachers and administrators were torn from humanity.

This premeditated act of cruelty shatters every concept we had of feeling safe.  How do we keep our children safe?  How do we keep ourselves safe?  Perhaps it is best to remember we are humans, but we are still animals and we are all very vulnerable.  Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst?

Locks and laws did not save the children and adults that day.  The school had safety measures in place, the doors would lock at a specific time and people had to check in at the office to be allowed in.  Connecticut law bans assault rifles yet they were in the home, owned by the coward’s mother.

Truth is children are murdered every day.  Children in all corners of the world face devastating violence and dire survival every day.  It’s just different when it’s on our soil, or is it?  To what extent do we let the suffering of the world in our hearts and carry it with us?

Growing up we had earthquake drills and fire drills, and as much as I hate to say it, we need emergency evacuation drills or other safety drills.  We are very much a conflicted society in trying to protect our children, but are we protecting them when we fail to teach them about clear and present dangers?  So many questions I have, and so few answers.

The Intrusive Media
I chose to select only one or two news agencies to glean my information from and do my best to suspend any judgment until more is known for sure.  There are those who are only adding to the storm of negativity, stress, strife and making money off of a lot of people’s misery.  I cannot support that type of media or ‘journalism’.

I personally boycotted intrusive media the day the paparazzi killed Princess Diana.  Details of people’s lives are still sacred and none of my business!  Enough said.

The Personal Attacks
The farthest I will go in saying anything about anyone is focusing on the cowardice that is all.  I give no power to the coward.  I have no comments toward mental illness or gun ownership.  This profoundly sad and unfathomable event is sacred ground.

End Note
Personally, I have not yet been successful to go anywhere without seeing children and thinking, “they were that age.”

I can only hope and pray the families and community can find the slightest light and comfort in all this darkness.  I hope, as Oprah says, they experience ‘the visitation’ where loved ones appear in our dreams to let us know they are okay.  And, I hope the families and community never give up until they get the help they need to heal.

We can each be broken by this moment or become stronger, it is the choice each of us have as we sort through this horrific experience. 

Do we allow the heartbeat of humanity that is beating in every one of us to be stifled or silenced because of one person's actions?  Or maybe it's moments like this that help us find 'the better angels of our nature' as Abraham Lincoln said. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Anniversary, Traumaversary or Survivorversary

I swore I wouldn't blog about this, but as much as I tried to avoid it yesterday, the little wounded heart and brain both said, "It was 10 years ago today...and we still hurt."

Ten years ago yesterday another unfortunate set of circumstances unleashed an emotional, psychological and fiscal avalanche. I got fired. I worked for people who were at one time close friends, I even attended their family gatherings on the holidays.

I imagine there are a lot of things that happen in life that we just accept and move on with, there may never be real healing...

They said they felt God was preparing me for the ministry.
I wondered if that was so, why didn't God tell me first?

They said they felt I was being squelched there.
I was shaking and thinking to myself, "I just bought my first house...and...the holidays, the holidays..."

I told them I'd gone to a Bible study just the night before and the topics were ironically Surrender and Obedience, and that was what I chose to do here.
She said, "Oh don't you go being nice or anything."

Wow.

I kept myself together, telling them it would be okay.
They asked me what THEY should tell the patients. I thought it was none of my business and quietly said, "I don't know."

They helped me move the last weekend in October to my new home, her entire extended family helped. I attended their family Thanksgiving, less than two weeks later, on December 5, I was fired?!

I never understood any of this. People would ask me what happened and I said I didn't know. They'd always say, "But they have to give you a reason for being fired." I'd just shrug my shoulders.

Years later, at the Brain Injury rehab center I was talking with the Social Worker. We broached this situation and I told her what I've shared here. She said the reason why I hadn't processed it was because it threw me into survival mode, and, she summed up that "it was personal."

To add insult to injury, years later, in sworn deposition, my ex-boss said I was fired due to performance, a relationship breakup and, Willful Insubordination.'

Wow.

So maybe some things never get healed, or wrapped up in a nice tiny package for presentation. Maybe it's our job, or our calling, to make the best out of the hand we've been dealt.

It was an emotionally dark day yesterday, I was quite out of sorts...and then...a thought came to mind. What if...instead of this being a day associated with an enormous amount of pain, betrayal, etc., what if, I consciously chose to plant acts of kindness instead?

I started thinking, what if I decided to do something as simple as writing a thank you note to someone? That was kind of a neat shift in thinking and for some reason, Deepak Chopra's phrase of "Imagine smiling with every cell in your body" seems to be on instant replay in my brain! I can have dark and gloomy or happy cells! :)

Nothing can change the past, it's best to feel the hurts, express emotions in a healthy way and try, even in the smallest of ways, to create a beautiful life for ourselves in this moment. Who knows, we might just be on this planet for some time and find the tools we needed for a good life, and getting ourselves unstuck, were right here inside of us all along.

In some circles people use the term 'Traumaversary" and I could never adopt that word. Maybe we'd do ourselves and our world a favor and think or say, "Hey, it was on that day I became a survivor!"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holding On and Letting Go: A Foundational Piece to TBI

It had been an idea in the back of my head all year long, to once again try my hand at selling on eBay. Motion would back this idea whenever I found something I could, “Flip on eBay”, as I called it. I would get excited, tuck away the treasure and then promptly forget about it!

At this writing I have 19 items listed in active auctions, this may be the most I’ve accomplished post-injuries. In preparation I unsubscribed from those ad messages we all get, but I never paid attention to how much brain bucks they extracted. I made sure I could focus solely on eBay.

Intentions being all well and good, here I am, almost at the end of one set of auctions ending and I am exhausted. I don’t mean a little run down, I mean flat out, daily naps are never under 3 hours! Oh yes, and let us not forget the nightmares. Interesting combination, eh? I am now beginning to wonder if overdoing it = nightmares. Curious question I’ll continue to explore.

I am not getting anything else done at all. Mornings, Richard takes care of the chores because I’m sleeping. Ugh! Calgon, take me away! :) LOL!

The fact I was once successful selling on eBay, a whole lot faster, etc., is a mute point. That was all pre-TBI. Just like this is a different fiscal economy than when I first started on eBay, my own brain economy has changed too.

I did that thing Pema Chodron mentions about asking ourselves how comfortable I was/am doing this? Not at all. My spirit disappeared to wherever spirits go when we compromise ourselves, add in the low energy cycle, the lingering images of nightmares, and I begin making mistakes…as if I weren’t slow enough to start with!

I forget this is why I couldn’t work. I’ll be damned, I STILL have a brain injury! LOL! I can maintain something short-term, but long-term, no go. I might have four good hours a day to get everything done, chores, etc.

Not even one week’s worth of auctions and my brain has left the station! On one hand, it is really good practice for me, I consider it my own Occupational Therapy, but, consistently making mistakes and my spiritual self vacating indicate this isn’t the most ideal path. I could muddle through, trying to ‘make’ myself do this, but I can’t do it.

Success without mistakes is pretty rare, but boy, when it’s there, my gosh, it feels unbelievably good! So, for now, I let go of what I can’t do and focus on what I can. I like helping and giving, so will focus on that. I need a place where my spirit is free…and I can just go back to reading and writing blogs and encourage all the souls I meet along the way.

So for now, I let go of the notion of selling on eBay as I had hoped. One more thing to let go of, but this path of TBI, to successfully navigate and live each day well, requires that. I figure I’ll sell the items that need the eBay audience, but, other things. Well, it’s time to let go of that. Not all letting go is bad…in fact, maybe none of it is bad.

Thanks for listening! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Janine Shepherd: A broken body isn’t a broken person

A kind soul on Twitter and Facebook shared a TED talk that really touched my heart.  So, since we don’t have TV here, and I was hoping to find another inspiring talk, I went to TED.com.  Call it coincidence, Godincidence, Serendity, etc.  This particular talk was at the top, and I was intrigued by the title alone.

Yes, brokenness.  It is a topic known to so many, but how does one get through it well?  This is one woman’s courageous story.  I hope it fills your heart up to overflowing as it did for mine.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Peaceful Thanksgiving

Richard and I went next door for their family gathering and it was nice.  I worked hard on trying to simply remain in the moment and comfortable.  I usually carry a good (LOL, understatement!) amount of fear with me into social situations because I’m never quite fully sure what my brain will choose to do or not do.  It is the oddest thing!

I mean, think about it.  If you’re going somewhere you’ve gone before with people you’ve seen before, you know what to expect.  You have no issues adapting and going with the flow, knowing what you’ll say, do, heck, even where you’ll sit.  Not for me.  For me, it’s almost always like someone took a magnet over the hard drive of my computer (brain) and it’s almost always brand new to me.

I may have done something or been somewhere before but that doesn’t mean I’ll remember anything at all.  It is quite spooky…and is VERY difficult to get used to, that feeling of almost continuous groundlessness.

I still find it quite remarkable there is no drama there, just down-to-earth folks getting together to share time and holidays together.  One of the Granddaughters got married this summer and came in with her husband.  The other Granddaughter came in limping, she’d stepped on a nail. 

This being a calm, no drama area, everyone was interested in her injury but no one panicked or made more of it than it was.  Wow…the world could use some of that common sense!  The Mom and Grandmother got out some Epsom Salts so the foot could be soaked.  She’ll need to get a shot, most likely, but again, not really a big deal.

I sat there and marveled…is that what it’s like to have go-to people?  I am 45-years-old and am still struck by families who are, well, functional!  They knew what to do, it wasn’t like they were reinventing the wheel (which is the world I live in).  Such stability, OMG!  Remarkable.

It was nice, I also worked on breathing, trying to enjoy it, I didn’t eat too much, and kept asking myself, “Am I comfortable?”  It really is quite odd being there physically and needing all my senses to be present and accounted for, so I can be involved and all that.  I hope to learn, in time, how to ‘be’ and yet not be so on-the-edge. 

I guess the times of social embarrassment are engrained pretty well in my mind…but fear robs us of the moment.  So, I’m working on it.  :)

Thanks for listening. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving, Holidays and Stuffing

Hi everyone,

This gets to be a crazy busy time of the year here in the states due to the holidays which really get going prior to Thanksgiving.  Why?  Stuff.

It's a time of turkey and stuffing, stuffing ourselves and then we are off on a most unbecoming mad dash to buy stuff.  Because it's the holidays, that's why!  This synopsis is brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood Brain Injured person...me!  :)

Not everyone gets into the race for material stuff, some realize it's about the stuff that matters...humanity.  They decide it's a great time of the year to reach out to others, to help those in need.

My wish for you is the stuff that makes you content in the long-run and at peace in the short run.  We could all use a little bit more of humanity, and a lot less stuffing!  :)

Be well, my friends.  Happy Thanksgiving to those who will be celebrating it tomorrow.  A large part of my thoughts and heart go out to those for whom this time of the year is anything but happy. 

Blessings, Love & Peace,
RH

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Be Grateful To Everyone

That was the phrase that bounced around in my head while Richard and I waited for someone to show up...five minutes, then ten, fifteen, twenty minutes...

Ugh!  It's just not that easy to do these sort of things, trying my hand at selling stuff on craigslist.  So yes, Richard drove us the 65-miles one way for this small event to take place and it didn't happen.

We did have someone come up to our vehicle and ask if we're the person or persons he was to meet...who had the gun!  OMG!  Um, no, that's not us!  WOW!!  After that, and having waited a full 30 minutes, we decided to leave. 

I could just feel the little energy I did have leave my person.  Great.  Just great.  And we had a long drive back home.  Initially I had planned a little more shopping, but at this point we both needed home.

We made the return drive fine, Richard had me drive some of it because he was so tired.  It's not bad driving, it's a lot of scanning left and right looking for deer that might just decide to implant themselves into your oncoming vehicle! 

When we got home I told Richard I now understood that phrase I'd heard Pema Chodron say about being grateful to everyone.  I said in cases like this it's not about the other person not showing up, it's about my reaction to it, and what it teaches me about myself.  Wow, that was a huge A-ha moment. 
I had to think about this a lot...because everyday life pretty much knocks the stuffing out of me, I had to ask myself if I was using that to justify feeling anger, resentment, disappointment?
 
I also mentioned to Richard what Pema said about understanding life...if we accept life on life's terms, what is there to get upset about?  If we KNOW people may not show up, then why get upset?

This was another huge A-ha moment and it was a LOT easier to just let it all go instead of having that sticky, heavy feeling of 'oh great, woes me, another disappointment, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.' 

I was right about feeling drained, I did end up in bed ALL day yesterday with a migraine.  So, note to self:  This is a lesson learned without a negative outcome, and in fact, it was a good test to see where my heart and spirit were...

...and, I learned, it wasn't really even that big of a deal in the big picture of life!  :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dr. Oz Would Be Proud!

Those were the words I said to my doctor today as she went over the results from last week's blood work, I was shocked, but in a good way.  My HDL, LDL, and Triglyceride numbers are all in Dr. Oz's 'optimal' range.  I am thrilled because Heart Disease is part of my adoptive family legacy.  So, my dear friends, the great news is that hard work does pay off...

My doctor said these were some of the best numbers she's seen in a long time, and, she added that I wasn't taking cholesterol medication, to which I confirmed, grinned, and said, "I juice." 

She said she learned about juicing by watching "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" online and recommends it to her patients.  She believes so many of our illnesses these days are due to dietary habits and lack of micro nutrients.  What a huge confirmation that was to hear, yeah!  My doc and I are on the same page when it comes to diet.

If you haven't seen it, you can watch it free here or visit the website here.  As you know, I do not monetize my blog or receive any sort of compensation for anything I share here, my motive is simply continue to share the help and support I did (and did not) receive.  :)

I wish I could e-share the incredible joy I had hearing these results and still feel right now.  [Okay, I have tears in my eyes!]  There have been countless times I've walked out of doctor's offices either crying or on the verge of crying because I was doing everything I possibly could and the news was still consistently bad.

It really did my heart good (terrible pun intended!) to know I was still able to be an overachiever, especially after the blood draw was more like a slow, blood drip!  :)

If this encourages one person to start, even make a small change, oh my gosh!  How cool is that? 
Without health, we have nothing.  I was 16-years-old when I lost my Mom to Heart Disease, how piercingly painful we had been at Disneyland "The happiest place on earth" that Fourth of July so many years ago.  My elderly Dad has had his own heart issues.

We can break the cycle by what we choose to do each and every day.  I'm not saying it's easy, but I am saying it's necessary.  I may not be able to undo head injuries, but I guess in one small way, I am still fighting for my life...to do my utmost to make it a good life.

Now it's your turn!  :) 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Not This Time: A Costly Lesson

I dream in horses…well…actually horse clinics of the Vaquero tradition.  Last year I actually got to go to a Buck Brannaman clinic after many, many years of not being able to (thanks to TBI).

Being back at a clinic, it was pure equine bliss!  But unlike clinics attended pre-injury, by the end of the first day I felt like crying…not because I was so happy, but because my brain was so tired and I knew I had two more days to get through and I wanted to soak it all in!

The only way I got to go was for Richard to drive me there and back.  He stayed for some of the clinic and drove me the entire way home, or, on the days he didn’t stay, he drove home again, then came back and picked me up later.  Huge, long, exhausting days for him because of all the driving.

When I was at the clinic, it was a time machine back to the era pre-injury where I enjoyed chatting with others, made a lot of jokes, and got a lot of people laughing.  It was, a precious moment in time, to say the least.  I got to see my true self!

This year I didn’t wish to inconvenience Richard and so I adamantly went to Priceline.com, got a room for about $50/night and started planning.  I was to be packing and resting today, but didn’t plan on getting sick…or whatever this is…

Yesterday I had bloodwork done for the annual physical I have coming up.  No big deal.  I fasted overnight, and went in first thing in the morning.  The happy vein that had been used last year wasn’t as inviting as my other arm, so we started there.  Yes, I say started because my blood literally dripped annoyingly slow into the vial.  Oh yeah!

The nurse said, “You just must be a dripper.”  I thought that was hilarious and I jokingly said, “Well, I’ve been called worse!”  My blood has never dripped like that, at any rate, she had to switch to the other arm, so there we go sports fans, dual needle pokes.  Still I didn’t consider it that big of a deal, but it did make me wonder.

After that fun Richard and I went to breakfast and it felt so good to get to eat, especially on a very cold morning. Later on, after we got home I took a typical TBI nap and when I got up Richard had made a meatloaf so I had a little bit…but wasn’t really hungry in the first place, but felt really out of sorts.  I ate some and then got a huge stomach ache, even my back hurt.  What a way to compliment his cooking!  I had some Pepto-Bismal but haven’t quite been the same since.

With not feeling even slightly well, I called the motel and canceled the room, then had to call Priceline to see if they would issue a refund, which the itinerary said the would not.  If I could get a doctor’s note, they would refund $93.36 after the $75 cancellation fee.  Oh yeah.  I hate to say it, but feeling as poorly as I did, I didn’t have the energy or brain bucks to pursue anything so I’m out a big chunk of change.

The folks at the motel were very kind, she said they would not pursue any fees and, she said she hoped I felt better soon.  Needless to say Priceline did not have the same heart.

Note to self:  Always have a Plan B and never do anything where I cannot cancel in case of TBI crash or health.  No clinic for me this year.  It was hard enough going last year when I had a lot of energy and excitement, LOL, at least initially, before I started to get exhausted.  With not feeling well, being this tired, and who knows if I’m sick or whatever, I would be hard-pressed to be able to tolerate any time in a freezing cold arena.

I guess if I can look at the bright side, it was good practice trying to plan and prepare for something so near and dear to my heart and not allow disappointment.  At least I got to go last year and had him sign some of the treasures I refused to let go of when I nearly lost my house.

This is why I’ve been quiet for some time, just resting and preparing, preparing, preparing!

Isn’t this a life lesson for us all, though?  How we handle things when things don’t go as expected?  I’d imagine that’s exactly where all of our resilient hearts get their training and are strengthened…

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tools: Where In The !@#$ Did I Park?



After countless episodes of anxiety and panic forgetting where I parked, I picked up a few helpful hints to pass along.

First rule: ALWAYS park in the same general area or direction.  Some examples: at WalMart, I parked in an isolated parking strip by the garden center.  At Costco, I parked near the tire center.  At support group, the doctor’s office, the chiropractor, I was almost always able to park in the same spot.

Second, whenever possible, do not cross traffic.  I know of too many head injured folks who have been hit by cars, I offer this as a huge safety precaution because we may not have the same awareness as pre-TBI.  Ever see someone blatantly walk in front of a moving car totally oblivious?  I rest my case.  In the event you forget where you parked, you won’t be in that potentially panicked, unaware state crossing traffic and risking yet again another injury.

In the event I could not park in my normal areas, as happened at the grocery store, I would find a spot close so when I walked out the door I would see my vehicle.  This one is a little trickier because everyone parks close to the store, office, etc.

Third, on our cars we have the same stickers in the same color, ‘wag more bark less’ which helps identify it as ours.  In fact, while at a café one time Richard and I saw a man almost get into our car, we think he saw the sticker first.  He had parked his matching vehicle around the corner.  Forgetting where we parked happens to just about everyone, for TBIers it’s pretty much a daily thing that costs us precious brain bucks.

Some folks have things on their antenna to help them find their vehicle.

And as much as it’d be a very helpful tool for a TBIer, I don’t know of many who have a nice enough car to have the beeper on their keychain they push that tells them where there vehicle is.

There is nothing more bewildering after the stimuli and stress of shopping than to come out into the parking lot and not be able to find your vehicle!

Do you have similar strategies you’d like to share that have helped you?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tools: Homemade Signs

I thought I would go back to focusing on tools that have helped me with my TBI.  I know these aren't necessarily TBI-only solutions either, so enjoy.  :) 

Brain fatigue is a common problem for many TBIers post-injury, myself included.  As a part of education process at rehab they spoke of "The Brain Budget Analogy".  With this concept we are given an allotment of, say, $20 or 20 brain energy units, for example.  Our job then, is to budget these resources carefully throughout any given day because they're all we get!  Pre-injury we were in the hundreds if not thousands of brain bucks or energy!

In our home one of the ongoing issues was neither of us knew whether our indoor/outdoor kitty was inside or outside, we could not remember no matter how hard we tried!  So, we created a sign! 

The door is metal so we placed a magnet in the middle and sealed it with clear mailing tape, on one side is "In" and the other "Out", and, it can be flipped over with just one hand.  It really is a simple concept and helps A LOT because of that precious brain budget.

In time I created a second sign for my elder kitty, Tux, who likes to go outside but doesn't stay out long.  Having that sign helps when I forget she's out there, I hate that!!  She's always been a bit skittish so I want her to be able to come back in quickly when she becomes afraid.

The "Out" sides of the signs are both green to hopefully remind us that green means go!  :) 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Creepy: It's Not Just For Halloween Anymore...

I decided to do some Twitter housekeeping, unfollow people who haven't been active and maybe follow new inspiring folks.  No big deal, I thought.  Making good connections is fun for me.

I was NOT expecting to find a person following me from my past...especially when it wasn't ME who gave him my blog info with Twitter info.  That information was given to him WITHOUT my permission from a person who quickly became an ex-friend years ago.  I have no patience or tolerance for folks who violate my trust and boundaries. 

This person was on Twitter for no other reason than follow me...as I was the ONLY person he was following!

This infuriates me on several levels, as it should.  Cyberstalking is creepy, I don't care who you are and what justification you give.  Healthy people DO NOT stalk or follow someone they no longer have a relationship with, that's what abusive people do!

I haven't exactly had a supportive or protective environment growing up with domestic violence, I do not tolerate people being reckless with my life.  Call me cold, call me a bitch, I call it survival and it's what keeps me strong. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who?

This little fellow decided to pay us a visit, it's the first time I've seen a Pygmy Owl since moving here, it was so cool I had to share it with you all.  :) 

I'm so happy he stuck around long enough for me to get some great photos. 

At this time of the year most of the transient birds we enjoy during the summer have made their way to warmer climes, so it's a melancholy time to say good-bye to our feathered friends.  But this, this was a huge surprise!  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Taking Steps

I previously blogged about going back to Step 1 (“we admitted we were powerless over ________ – that our lives had become unmanageable”). By going back to this foundation, I had strength and direction to rediscover what works for me.

 It was also during this time of introspection and looking at life with greater curiosity that I realized the trip back to visit my Dad and family unleashed an unexpected emotional avalanche that I struggled to process. I felt very much emotionally stuck and changed to the core and wondered who I really am.

In the 12-step programs there is a lot of mention of a “fearless and moral inventory.” Okay, that alone strikes fear in my heart…but…I slowly began to realize that inventory would also show good things like compassion and insight. (Aren’t we all criticized by self, society, etc. to the point it indeed becomes abusive???)

I had to go back to the basics asking myself how was I REALLY managing my life? How was I doing at keeping up on feeding the animals, cleaning litter boxes and mucking, how was my sleep cycle? How about diet and exercise? I found I was kind of caving in, not doing much to support myself. I know the life I WANT to have is an active one, so, changes are in order…but it’s never just that simple with TBI.

The lack of stamina post-TBI is an ongoing, raw, unwelcome experience. But, it is what it is. I thought about how am I doing managing my depression? I do pretty much remember to take my meds everyday, but what about other things I know that work?

That brings me back to diet and exercise.

Going back to taking small steps, I first put my pedometer on and thought I’d see if I get those 10,000 steps every day Dr. Oz recommends. Um, not even close! On my own, I average about 3,000 steps on a good day. Bad days, egads, probably barely any at all.

So, I’m working my way back to exercising, I have the hardest time being consistent with anything post-TBI because I crash and will be out for several days. Starting over gets old, enough said.

For now, I am focusing on exercising and keeping track, so the pedometer which gets hooked up to my computer keeps track for me. In time, I would love to have a smart gadget that is able to help me keep track of everything day-to-day, even steps. It’s good to have a goal.

For now, just taking steps helps me feel better about myself to know I’m heading in the right direction, and that’s real important this time of the year with the cold weather, a lot of time spent indoors, and the darkness.

For many who have had to learn how to re-walk, or lost the ability to walk, post-injury, I dedicate each step to you. Never give up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Texting Can Wait Documentary

It is rare I urge folks to do something, but this is one video everyone must see.  AT&T produced a documentary on the devastating, and sometimes deadly, consequences of texting and driving. 

Texting can wait.  This powerful, powerful message cannot.  Thank you for listening - and yes, please share with everyone you love.  The next 11 minutes might just save a life...


http://itcanwait.com/videos/att-dont-text-while-driving-documentary/


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

911: Somewhere in Between Heroic and Horrific

While I have been off-line refocusing my life and redirecting my energies to greater self-care, I continue to try to read blogs I am following.  Two in particular I read today touched my heart, both are regarding 9/11.  This is always such a difficult, sad anniversary.  I know this will be a short post because my grief is so large it is hard to articulate.

Two years ago I addressed this anniversary: http://resilientheart.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/back-to-the-beginning-patriot-day-2010-introducing-tbi-warrior-posted-sept-11-2010/     

These beautiful posts soothed my grieving heart, especially because they are not U.S. citizens, yet they felt our hurt.  One world, one heart, one human race, we are all connected.
Here are the two posts: 

http://buckwheatsrisk.com/2012/09/11/911/
and
http://louisebehiel.com/2012/09/11/in-memorium-september-11-2001/

A thought that has been with me so much lately while I ponder my childhood, adulthood and trauma, how is it possible the same species is capable of incredible feats of the heroic and the horrific?  Two complete opposites on the spectrum of human behavior.  What is it that drives a human to saving lives, while another thrives on injuring, destroying or killing?  

I have far more questions about the working of the human animal than I have answers.  Perhaps we are such an entertainment-centric world that we have lost touch with our own true nature, believing the fairytales and Hollywood happy endings.

I would imagine all our questions about humanity have existed since the beginning, nature v. nurture.  Are people natural-born killer or healers, how much does one’s environment shape the human soul?

All I know is this: we are capable of greatness and must choose awareness and mindfulness above reaction and justification.  And, I am grateful.  I am grateful for the hearts of those who are as big as the universe and are not bound by geographical limits. 

These moments of unspeakable cruelty cause me to ponder the deeper questions of life without much sunshine.  But, I am reminded of this quote:

"...if you insert into this weird slot machine of modern life one evil act a thousand acts of kindness will tumble out."
- David Gelernter, the Unabomber's 23rd victim

For those dear souls a world away, thank you for being on the side of the heroic.  You are an inspiration!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Oh the Irony!

No joke:  I forgot to return the book on Alzheimer’s to the library yesterday.  Ha ha ha, I hope everyone gets a nice giggle, at least, out of my error.  Oy vey!  Calgon, take me away!  :) 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beautiful Inspiring Article on Writing Post-Injury

This came via Twitter and was so beautiful I felt I had to share it.  Enjoy & share the encouragement/inspiration!  :)

http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/writing-to-calm-and-compose-the-injured-brain/

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Step One: Changing Focus

Beautiful Montana Sky Sunset














For anyone who has walked the 12-Steps, you know it begins with admitting we are powerless over our own, or, our loved one's addiction, and our lives have become unmanageable.

Some have inserted the words "powerless over other people, places, and things" to the only true power they/we have, is to change our own lives.

Unmanageable.  Webster defines unmanageable as "difficult to manage or control".  As reason would have it and introspection could only show, I was not managing my life, and with TBI, that is dangerous territory.

Another part of the 12-Step process later on is a fearless and moral inventory.  Soooo, how was I doing with my self-care?  Exercising?  Eating healthy?  Regular sleep schedule?  Daily routines?  Not so much.  I cannot control anything that has happened or will happen, I can only control the little bits of life entrusted to me right here, right now. 

For my own health, it is best for me to remain quite distant from my family because I know from experience I am not one who can detach and be in close physical proximity.  There are things I still do not know or understand about my upbringing that I will address with a licensed therapist to help me heal. 

I control only my behavior, but, I am clearly affected by the behavior of my family members, learning detachment for me, is definitely a process.  So much of my identity was/is tied to what I did or didn't do, did I earn approval, etc.


So this is also a slippery slope to not get pulled into the guilt treatments, the constant barrage of how I'm not good enough.  I saw with exacting clarity some of what my Dad is experiencing and I felt compelled to do something.  I had to take a long time to figure out what, if anything, I would do. 

When I saw Dad's face light up when he took my Sister-in-Law's camera to take a picture that sure got me thinking.  Initially I was going to send him my camera I've had for less than a year.  It's a big deal buying a new camera, my last one I had for over ten years so this one would have to last a long time too.

I thought about it.  A lot.  I was going to, but couldn't.  The part of me that has begun to heal could not do it and in came a battle of conscience.  Dad would not give us the best, the best was always reserved and guarded, for him.  I could not give to Dad what he was unable to give to us, a very difficult, but also strikingly clear conclusion. 

I could not send him my new camera knowing the cost it would be to me and I may never see it again.  I have been falling in love over and over again with Montana sky, taking photos often, as the beauty changes daily! 



So, I sent him an older Kodak video camera we found that also takes pictures.  Dad never called to thank me, he did thank me the Sunday when I called him and that was enough.  I don't want to live with regrets, it was something I could do, and, feel good about.  He was tickled pink!  From what my brother relayed to me, my Dad was pretty emotional about the whole thing.

This became a pretty big emotional drain, thinking through all this stuff, dealing with the past.  I finally came to peace.  In with the camera I handmade a card, the border was black and white in an attempt to draw filmstrip, and wrote, "Lights, Camera, Action!" on the front.  Inside I shared that I saw his eyes light up and that got me thinking that Dad needed a camera, that he wasn't actually retired, but now the photographer of his "new digs" as he loved to call the place.  I thanked him for sharing his love for photography with us, and that every time I take a photo, I think of him.

This is tough stuff, not just the knowing we're heading toward his death and I, wanting to remain authentic to my new self, but all that stuff that happened...I am researching therapists and will go with the one who have the ability to walk people through the trauma, and, get successfully to the other side.  I'm here to do the work, go to the places that scare me, and heal.

So for now, I blog when I am inspired, have something worthwhile (and hopefully helpful too) and, go back to Step One...managing my life!  I have to get those basics back into play as my foundation or I have no strength from which to live or give...and don't we all do better running on a full tank?  :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

FREE Webinar this Friday: Concussion and the Perfect Storm

Received this via Twitter:

Presenter is Dr. Richard Ellenbogen. To learn more about Dr. Ellenbogen, here

Register here

I've registered and hope to 'see' you there - free information rocks!  :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Traveled, Trauma-triggered, Tongue-tied, Tired, and now Talking


[For those in a tender place or who have gone through trauma a time or two before, you have the option to not read this post.  There are *not* gory details, but more, wound(s) needing ventilation.  I am also fully aware by staying silent I go against the possibility of a greater good, a deeper level of healing for self and others.  Had this happened to anyone else, I’d tell ‘em to let ‘er rip, let it out!]

A trip back home was in the plans, the timing was to be when Dad moved to his new place and we could offer him the best support.  My hip going out delayed me getting anything done around the house in preparation for the trip, so we went a week or so later than expected.  With how busy work was getting for Richard, we managed two days to visit, hoped to get things squared away with banks and lending institutions, and two long, hot days of driving to/from.

Going home, seeing family is always a stressor, always has been and chances are, it always will be.  I’ve mentioned a time or two before that it took me years to get to the point where I could attend family gatherings without getting physically sick.  

Anyway, I needed to get Power of Attorney stuff taken care of and postponing the trip was not looked upon favorably by family, indeed a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario.  I began having violent nightmares before the trip; the sleep I did get was poor, at best, when you’re at that place.  I would try to nap during the day to catch up, but even there, the nightmares found me.  I became weary of both no sleep and being terrified to sleep.    

No matter what I did, there was no relief.  In addition, I was tormented by memories of a rape that occurred in 2005, why, I would not know…

We visited Dad in his ‘new digs’ as he loved calling it.  He was tired, but good.  He held my hand like a man drowning.  He’s NEVER held my hand before.  I am 45-years-old. 

We had a family dinner one evening; in attendance were my Sister-in-Law, two Nephews and one Girlfriend, two of my Brothers, Dad, and my Step-Mom, Richard and me.  Awkward doesn’t quite express it. 

We all sit there in the strained silence, my Sister-in-Law tries to make anxious conversation asking Step-Mom questions and she’s clearly annoyed.  These are all people if I weren’t related to I’d have nothing to do with, we have nothing in common.  I’m also there struggling because I promised to help, but my conscience doesn’t want me trying to shrink myself to fit their small impression of me, or trying to be who I used to be, etc.   

We’re the old religious stereotype where the women do everything and the men pretty much just show up.  Shallow?  Yes.  Uncomfortable?  Beyond belief!  Exhausting?  Totally!

Richard and I literally reminded each other of the accomplishments or hurdles we made it through, and the rest will be easier.  True, those difficult family interactions are drains of epic proportions.  Times like these I joke about being ‘my enhanced version’ which means I’m jacked up on caffeine 24/7 just to get through.

But, counter to that drain, there were invigorating times of being back to my old stomping grounds.  Being in a familiar place where my brain ‘knows’ where things are or at least which direction we’re facing, well, it’s a nice feeling.  It is strange how some things just ‘click’ with our memories and while I enjoyed it, it would not last, so I tried to neither hold on or dread, just breathe in the moment.

We left early, early Sunday morning as Richard had to be back to work early Monday.  In tow are several boxes of Dad’s files for me to go through.  I will now be taking on his finances.   

Visiting with him I clearly see his Dementia, confusion, fatigue, depression, and forgetting.  I get it.  I am not afraid nor do I get pulled into a sadness of him deteriorating.  He is 89 years old; he has had a long, good, active life with much to be thankful for when he can be or is able to choose.

We get home and the nightmares continue.  Still jacked up on caffeine, I spend a long time with those files trying to get a handle on things and come up with a strategy for all this.  In a way, I feel like my struggle to survive and work through the broken systems post-TBI has prepared me for this.  I wasn’t, however, prepared for a letter dated in July 2005 my Dad wrote to me but never sent.

He tells me things I’ve never heard before about how Mom and Dad both wanted a daughter, they’d tried eight years to conceive but could not, so began the adoption process.  I always heard from Mom it was she who wanted a daughter, Dad was content to stop adopting when he had his three sons.  He would tell me most of my life he never wanted a daughter, period.  He would tell me in this letter how I was Mom’s special girl and through her I became his ‘special girl’, how he and Mom would talk about the things I did each day.  Wow.  Nice to know at age 45…I seriously thought I was the family problem until I reached age 25.  Mom died when I was 16 and I remember the distinct knowledge my world died with her.  Dad could say what he wants but the reality was something much clearer and less kind.  

At any rate, even with those unsettling things he said, the real zinger was his concern about my dating choices.  Seriously?  Really?!  Where in the hell would I learn about men in the first place?  I learned about a woman’s role, I learned nothing how to be strong in myself as a unique and meaningful human being.  I was a role to be filled, not a person to be loved, nurtured, etc.  The equation looked like this, act as a different person and perform well = loved and accepted.  If not, he would tell me in that horrible tone of voice how he was so disappointed in me.  

In Spring 2005 I made the irretrievable misjudgment by telling my Dad and brother about a horrific date rape.  Yes, people.  Date rape.  It is far more common than we give our consciences room to fathom.  By nature, by my growing up in a home with domestic violence I became highly self-protective, never truly feeling safe in the presence of another human being because I didn’t know that was an option.  

The rape was by a person I knew and trusted for YEARS – he snowed everyone in my life at that time, they were happy for me feeling I was finally in a good place with someone who would have my best interest in mind.  He offered to step up and help me keep from losing my ‘nest’ as he called it.  He showed my Birthfather his huge motor home with Italian flooring that we’d come visit him in Georgia.  

I was, at that point in life, in my third year post-TBI and at rock bottom.  I had lost my steady job, friends, and was struggling with the new work I was trying to do. 

I would learn terrible things about what humans can do to each other.  There are reasons why the word ‘horrific’ exists.  The perpetrator was the worst, but those who blamed me only added to my pain and I seriously considered suicide…yes, I understand why sexual assault victims, those who have been trafficked, victims of child rape, PTSD survivors, why they kill themselves.  There is only so much a person can take.  And to blame?  Wow.  

I will address that unlovely event another time…

Since returning home, having gone through the family stuff, I found Dad’s letter.  Why in the hell didn’t he just destroy the damn thing?  When we had been at Dad’s, my oldest brother, whom I share Power-of-Attorney title with said he was real proud, Richard seemed like a good man, he had his doubts in the beginning but welcomed Richard into the family.  I remembered being a little taken aback by it, but also didn’t breathe it in either, for that is life with my family.  I did, however, ponder for a moment in my heart, if that is what being supported by a family member feels like.  

It wasn’t until later his comments of ‘having been concerned about my dating choices’ hit home.  He wasn’t telling me I’ve done well, turned over a new leaf, or had some great epiphany in my life, he blamed me for the damn rape too!

Holy shit, Batman, this is enough drama for a lifetime.  

I have been depressed beyond all measure since returning home and unearthing this most unlovely discovery.  I have tried stuffing all that baggage and trauma back down where it was stowed quite nicely until recently, but the truth of the matter is something like that changes you.  You don’t just go on with your life.  I felt responsible, yes, me.  I blamed myself…but I kept following that stirring, you know, that voice inside that just doesn’t go away, that has its own truth no matter what circumstances look like?  

I have been completely unable to function outside of eating and trying to sleep.  All extra-curricular activities like blogging and reading blogs was pushed aside.  Fight or flight mode, once again.  I don’t know if it was PTSD or the family all getting together that pushed me over the edge.  I only realized very recently how far gone I had been, so numb, so shut down.  The sun was shining, birds were singing, the sky was beautiful but I could neither see it nor feel it.  I felt lost, like I didn’t even know who I was anymore…

I have lost a lot of faith in religion, family, friends and people during my tumultuous years post-injury.  The thing about trauma is it will shake all the fluff that is man-made and doesn’t mean a damn thing and cleverly rearrange everything we once called ‘priority’ or ‘right and wrong.’
What is helping me get out of this bad place was trying to see everything as though it had happened to a treasured friend.  For that, there is only compassion and tears, well-placed anger, and honoring a hurt or hurts that only served to terrorize me as long as I kept them hidden.

Maybe if I can ventilate this a little bit here, I can get back to being more of myself again.  I began to feel a crisis of identity, not knowing who I really was anymore.  I’m still not out of the woods quite yet, wondering if I’m needing to speak to a professional again to help me through this patch, I don’t know.  

The nightmares had subsided for a time and reoccurred just today, but, I did have a wonderful dream about being at a Buck Brannaman horse clinic in between.  I realize I have an insatiable need for Vaquero horsemanship, the spark was lit years ago and its okay for me to love something.  So much of my growing up years, I wasn’t exactly encouraged to get involved with horses although I jokingly say ‘horse’ was my first word.  

I write to get this out in hopes I can get back to reading the blogs of so many people whom I admire beyond words.  You probably have no idea how your courage, strength, hope, perspective, collective wisdom inspire me.  It is you who I have to thank for being strong enough to write again.  And for those wise, courageous, noble souls who counseled me from 2005 on, your kindness and treasured heart-gifts are remembered every single day.  I give what I can where I can because of all that has been given to me and transformed my life.  

This is also for those innocent souls who have walked through this path, or are now entering into it. 

It was never my fault, it will never be my fault. 
It was never my shame, it will never be my shame. 

It was never your fault, it will never be your fault. 
It was never your shame, it will never be your shame.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Time Capsule/Snap Shot from 2003


[This was written in 2003, almost one year to the date of being rear-ended on the freeway.  I thought this writing was long since lost.  Before the accident I started a group and we went through Cheryl Richardson’s book “Take Time for Your Life,” the following was what I read to our group.  I have done no editing to this; it is in its entirety unchanged, warts and all.  The faith I had at that time is different than what I feel/see now, my spiritual life is evolving.

I would never know how prophetic it was to have gone through Cheryl’s book that speaks volumes on extreme self-care which is exactly what TBI requires for survival.  It is fascinating to go back and read this (although it makes me cry sometimes) this is who I was after the first TBI.  I really did feel I was getting better…little did I know another rear-end accident would happen in just a matter of months and my life and hopes would be shattered once again...permanently.]

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Tonight I wanted to do something different in that I want to have a time capsule to share with you and to keep for myself. 

I believe I am finally turning the corner after nearly one year and am feeling better more often than simply once every three to four weeks – and without the use of caffeine!  As I’m heading into what I hope to be the final days of feeling terrible, I want to document some this journey.  I’ve asked myself three questions, what have I lost, what have I gained, and what have I learned?

What have I lost?

I lost the things our world claims of greatest esteem – I lost the very essence of myself.  I lost the ability to do and be for others and waited with bated breath for my return so I could even be there for myself.  In the beginning, I struggled to sit or walk or even do laundry!

I lost the ability to look and more importantly feel beautiful.  I lost the ability to coordinate outfits and feel good in them.  I lost the ability to make decisions.

I lost the ability to recall names, events, things important to this heart of mine.  I lost the ability to remember little details people say in average conversations, specific mention of need or want so I could bless them by giving that thoughtful and loving little gift.  That’s just who I am, and I lost that. 

I lost the ability to speak – I lost the ability to communicate with people I love and cherish the most in this world.  I lost the ability to determine what I was feeling at any given time.  I lost the ability to deal with things as I had in the past; my coping skills were all but lost. 

I lost “friends,” I lost a boyfriend who said “he’d love me unconditionally,” and “his love for me would never die.”

I lost my job.  I lost my confidence.  I lost my self-esteem.  I lost my knowledge of everything I’d ever known.  I lost the ability to work with my horse.  I lost the ability to carry things.  I lost the ability to have the satisfaction of starting and completing a task. 

I lost the ability to see any task as anything less than a mountain – from doing laundry, to getting myself ready each morning, to making a simple phone call – I was exhausted before, during, and after the task. 

I lost the ability to hold thoughts long enough to write them.  I lost my gift for encouraging greeting cards to people and that’s a precious gift to me. 

I lost my strength; I drowned in weakness, helplessness and hopelessness.  I tasted despair and was suffocated by depression so deep that all I saw was black. 

I was stripped of my pride and felt painfully alone and embarrassingly transparent and vulnerable.  I could feel the cold floor as I hit rock bottom and could do nothing but pray and cry. 

I lost my sense of humor, I lost another precious gift of being able to make others laugh, something I’ve loved since I was a child when I first dressed up as the Fig Newton guy and danced in front of the TV every time that commercial came on. 

I lost my connection with myself, God, my friends, my family, and my world.  I suddenly believed I didn’t belong, fit in, or was accepted anywhere, and I was now visibly different if only through my own eyes. 

This newfound awkwardness made puberty look like a cakewalk.  I lost the shelter of belonging and being active in my groups and social life.  I lost being a part of life itself.  I lost being able to give and help, to be and do.

I lost the ability to make new friends because I couldn’t remember anything they told me. 

I lost the ability to recognize people I’d known just months or years before, lacking words to speak in greeting or replies. 

I lost the ability to ask my birth family questions at our first ever reunion last year in Georgia.  I lost the ability to know what it feels like to feel good, energetic, or have stamina that lasts.  I lost the feeling of having energy reserves. 

I lost the ability to multi-task.  I lost holidays, evenings and weekends with friends and family.

I lost my immune system and suffered from more colds, allergies, and viruses than I probably have my entire lifetime combined.  I lost the ability to be active, another love since childhood. 

I lost the ability to have success, for everything I did was muddled with mistakes, distraction, and lack of concentration and focus.  I lost my hope for being a productive member of society. 

And I lost my hope for the future believing I could not live out my duty or role as a loving wife and believed no man would want a woman like that.


What have I gained?

I have gained a heart that wants to understand more, judge and criticize less. 

I have gained a heart that wants to help more and hurt less. 

I have gained a heart that wants to communicate to find a solid ground, rather than fight creating walls and wounds. 

I have gained a heart that relentlessly wants to help others in similar situations – help out without the person having to tell me what to do because most likely they simply just don’t know. 

I have gained humility and a willingness to suffer and finally accept the outcome of loss understanding that if God sees it fit to even take the very essence of me away that has to be okay because it was Him who gave it to me in the first place. 

I have gained a heart that seeks forgiveness and healing for the deepest hurts caused by others and to walk in a love that this world has only longed for.  I want to remember to “forgive everyone for everything.” 

I have gained a heart of compassion that cries and prays every time I see a car accident on the news or in real life.  I have gained a fragile heart that cries even when car accidents are merely portrayed by Hollywood. 

I have gained a heart that wants to make mature decisions that have been well thought out and planned. 

I have gained an understanding of my limits. 

I have gained a respect for God and the strength He gave me every day that I took so much for granted before. 

I have gained a painful insight to understand we all have our trials and our pains – no one gets through this life unscathed, even though many appear otherwise. 

I have gained insight into how much we mask just to get ourselves through and sometimes so we don’t have to deal headlong with the truth, and many times, because we’re all so scared. 

I have gained an insight and perspective on friendship and gratitude for those who did not turn away, and I’ve been disappointed and lost respect for those in my life (who spoke of ‘unconditional love’) and did.


What have I learned?

Why are we so busy and yet no one is really living?  We’re not enjoying life; we’re just trying to outrun each other to the finish line.  Yet children grow up, friends die, and life passes us by without us ever really embracing each other or the moment. 


We choose to live in discord and carry so much unnecessary stuff in our heads.  What ever happened to just loving each other for the sake of it?  Why is it children can love people who are different but we can’t? 

I have learned why some people turn to addictions – I did for a while, there is just so much pain a person can take…especially alone.  I have learned what it feels like to go crazy, like I’m losing my mind.

I’ve learned we don’t really listen; we’re too busy forming the next thing we’re going to say.

I’ve learned we make everything priority when in reality all we need to do is work, eat, sleep, breathe, and pay our bills.  And I’ve learned that life is about choices.

I have learned to have greater compassion for the man in the wheelchair for we are more alike now than twelve months ago.  When he smiles at me and says “Hi” and I’m in my pit of depression not wanting to be anywhere, the dawning of a new thought takes root, I start to think I can make it too.

I have learned I want to live a simpler, more peaceful, fuller, beautiful and satisfying life.  I want to be free of the man-made entanglements that are so common in this generation. 

I have learned that no matter how dark your circumstances are, there is a net of people – many of them I never knew before, that God will be place in our lives that we do not fall too far. 

I have learned of God’s provision and more of His character…and I’m learning about real unconditional love.  I’m learning, hearing it said from people who do not know each other, “You’re so precious to me,” as if from God Himself, and I know I can make it.

I have learned I am not as good or as pure or as lovely as I once thought I was.  Seeing inside myself into the deep recesses of my pain shows me my dire need for God and His grace, mercy and forgiveness.  It shows me too, the human condition of everyone and the knowledge that I really need to rest in God’s care. 

I have learned how hard we strive for things that don’t really matter, throwing away the things that really do. 

I have learned the devastation that Alzheimer’s patients and families must feel and the helplessness that accompanies that disease.  I have learned statistically, because of my injury, I’m now more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and I have a genetic link to this disease as well.  But then again, I believe in miracles and I believe in a God who can do anything He darn well pleases.  So I’ve learned to take it one day at a time, and I’m learning to Let Go and Let God. 

I have learned to do what I need to do for me even though it disappoints others.  I have learned that I don’t like to ask for help when I’m at the place where I cannot return the favor nor even take the time or energy to write a thank you note.  Gratitude and showing appreciation are such a part of me; it’s difficult to not be there! 

I have learned the friends that can’t ride with you through the hard times cannot be classified under the precious gentle term of “friends.”  This has been one of the toughest things to accept since I’ve walked through the fire with others.  I’ve learned Love must be Tough.

I have learned what bondage our thoughts can be.  If Dr. C. (my former employer and ‘friend’) had been open to the idea of finding out what really happened to my brain right after the accident as I had asked, this entire passage of time would have been much, much different.  I have learned how much we judge one another, not accepting the other person as they are.

I finally learned with help that yes, my brain injury is the reason why I lost my job; I had long accepted the words of others over their behavior.

I’ve learned that we love life wrapped up in beautiful packages with ribbons and bows…I’ve learned what we cannot accept we try to change. 

I’ve learned that we’d choose not to struggle if we could, and I’ve learned that when faced with something like this people ask, “Isn’t there something they could give you to help you remember?”  Ah, the answer is always in a pill. 

I’ve learned that acceptance equals peace, no matter how you slice it. 

I have learned it’s best to let the person you’re trying to help lead; trying to change them or tell them what to do will only add distance and pain.  You never know, you may just be their only link.

I’ve learned what it means to really minister to another person.  I’ve seen the rehab folks time after time accept me exactly where I’m at, even though it wasn’t what they had planned that day, they met me where I was and gently directed and supported me.  They never preached, but listened, extended themselves in compassion, integrity, understanding, and encouragement, and always in the comfort of kindness.

I have learned its okay to just be where I am, disheveled or not, with makeup or not, wet hair and sweats or not.  I have learned that good enough is good enough and perfect cannot exist.  I have learned it’s best for me to just do the next indicated thing and leave everything else up to God.

I have learned its okay to forget, and I’ve learned that love is all that really matters because it’s all that remains in the end.

I have learned that perhaps God allowed me to finally have a home of my own and the job He provided for me in December so I’d have safe places to hit rock bottom.  And I’ve learned that if we look for them, we will find God’s fingerprints (and footprints where He carried us) all over our lives in places He provided, guided, and protected us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rippling Effects of Suicide

[Written Saturday morning]

Richard and I went to a garage sale at our neighbor’s house this morning; I was excited to get out of the house and go to a sale or two.  To my surprise I found some really neat horse t-shirts and jackets.  The jackets had beautiful horses and my name embroidered on them, I was so very happy! 

It’s not very often I find horse stuff at garage sales, but with my name too, that’s a first!  There is no way in the world I’d ever be able to afford things like these retail.  Our neighbor and their friend were hosting this sale…the friend was the one who showed me a new jacket and told me how much his wife had spent for the embroidery.  Holy cow!

I bought a few really lovely items and the man threw in the coat he’d pointed out to me, wow!  When we put our treasures in the back of the car Richard mentioned he didn’t know our neighbor’s friend’s wife and I shared the same first name.  I could tell by his tone of voice I should have memory of this man and his wife…we got in the car and it dawned on me, I slowly asked Richard if his wife had been the one who committed suicide, he said yes.

I don’t know where all the oxygen went in that moment, I could not breathe.  My joy had turned to a still, silent sadness.  I did not even know this woman, when I heard about her suicide last year at Christmas I felt the same thing.  Oh yes, the rippling effects of a suicide on its community, it simply does not begin and end with the person(s) who killed themselves.  This man and our neighbor had the difficult task of going through all of her belongings, pricing them, reliving the tragedy.

Not too long ago a woman from our Brain Injury Support Group back home committed suicide, yes, we have the same name…

Should any of us doubt the importance of carrying the light forward, this is a good reminder.  I don’t want my name to be associated with a pain that oftentimes cannot be healed and this took me back to last month’s post on suicide. 

As I finished writing this post, I went on Facebook and this was posted…I am in awe of the timing, this was posted by Grieving Mothers at
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grieving-Mothers/162680380444494:

“A few years ago, when a young man died by his own hand, a service for him was conducted by his pastor, the Reverend West Stephens. What he said that day expresses far more eloquently than I can, the message that I'm trying to convey.  Here are some of his words:

‘Our friend died on his own battlefield. He was killed in action fighting a civil war.
He fought against adversaries that were as real to him as his casket is real to us.
They were powerful adversaries.
They took toll of his energies and endurance.
They exhausted the last vestiges of his courage and his strength.
At last these adversaries overwhelmed him.
And it appeared that he had lost the war.
But did he? I see a host of victories that he has won!

For one thing - he has won our admiration - because even if he lost the war, we give him credit for his bravery on the battlefield. And we give him credit for the courage and pride and hope that he used as his weapons as long as he could.

We shall remember not his death, but his daily victories gained through his kindnesses and thoughtfulness, through his love for his family and friends...for all things beautiful, lovely, and honorable.

We shall remember not his last day of defeat, but we shall remember the many days that he was victorious over overwhelming odds. We shall remember not the years we thought he had left, but the intensity with which he lived the years that he had.

Only God knows what this child of His suffered in the silent skirmishes that took place in his soul. But our consolation is that God does know, and understands.’"

~~~~~~~~~~~

It is Tuesday, July 10th, I am wearing one of my namesake's t-shirts.  Her light is gone from this earth but mine remains, in honor of her and all others, because no one is insignificant.

Friday, July 6, 2012

This Beautiful Tapestry

As I spend time off-line, healing and completely off my normal routine, something struck me and I just HAD to share.  You have NO idea how grateful I am to each and every one of who stop by, maybe leave a comment, share a joke, a quote, share about your hobbies, your lives, your hearts.  In turn, I get to go look at your blog…

I am so grateful to each and every one of you.  I’m looking at this beautiful tapestry of lives being woven together in front of me and all I can do is stand in silent awe, my heart an endless well of gratitude.  Your stories, your character, your sharing life-changing truths, laughter and tears, and experiences are all shaping my life in a most beautiful way.
“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”
- Henry Drummond
(Canadian poet 1851-1860)

Upcoming BIAA Webinar – July 19, 2012 @ 3 p.m. ET – Get Things Done and Have Some Fun with Smart Devices

Thursday, July 19, 2012, at 3 p.m. ET:

Michelle Ranae Wild, M.A.
Caregiver’s Education Series

Registration Price: $30
Continuing Education awarded: 1 hour

Registration closes at 5 p.m. ET on July 17.
Click here for more information. Information on how to join the webinar will be sent to registrants on July 18.

Get Things Done and Have Some Fun with Smart Devices - Caregiver's Education Series Live Webinar
CAR71912

Part of the Caregiver's Education Series. Michelle Ranae Wild returns in this follow-up webinar to her very popular Technology as a Cognitive Prosthetic webinar.

To help get things done, we will explore to-do/task apps available, including the native Reminders app that comes standard in iOS devices. The to-do apps can be used to track such things as shopping lists, individual tasks (e.g. buy gift for Lisa's birthday), and projects that include multiple sub-tasks.

Then, for having some fun, a number of game apps will be demonstrated. An emphasis will be placed on how the games demonstrated work on various cognitive skills (e.g. planning, sequencing, attention to detail, memory, etc).

Most of the apps discussed during the Webinar can be purchased and downloaded for Apple iOS and Android smart devices.

This lecture will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the to-do apps demonstrated; identify at least one non-native to-do app, and explain what additional functionality it offers as compared to native to-dp apps (reminders); and, list at least three games and identify what cognitive skills they work on.

The webinar will take place on July 19, 2012: 3:00pm - 4:00pm eastern time 2:00pm - 3:00pm central time 1:00pm - 2:00pm mountain time 12:00 noon - 1:00pm pacific time.

Please review the order confirmation e-mail for details about webinar instructions and handout materials. Cancellations received in writing by 5:00 pm Eastern Time two business days prior to the webinar will be refunded, less a $5.00 administrative fee; after that time no refunds will be issued.

You may substitute a registrant or may apply the live webinar fee to the purchase of the CD & Handout package for the webinar, provided that you notify BIAA (products@biausa.org) in writing no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Time the day before the webinar.

No Shows: There are no refunds and the webinar price cannot be applied to the CD & Handout package for those missing the webinar. Registration closes at 5:00pm EST on July 17, 2012.
$30.00

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sidelined

I didn’t really think it was a big deal when I woke up yesterday feeling as though my hip was out of joint. I’ve felt that before, stretched and was able to relieve it and go about my day. Not this time. I was already in bed due to a HUGE case of acid indigestion, thinking I was going to vomit although I had nothing for breakfast. Whoo hoo, what a way to start the day!

At any rate, as the day wore on the pain increased. I slept for hours on end and that completely surprised me, I thought it all well and good, take a day off from family stuff. No big deal.

By evening I started to think maybe this is more than a minor inconvenience. The fact I hadn’t felt better by then had me a little concerned, I still thought it could correct itself…until I went to answer the phone. I was moving pretty slow at that point but when I tried to hurry my shuffling feet my hip gave out and I would have fallen had I not caught the counter.

I heard something snap or crack and felt an immense amount of pain enough to make me want to cry. Richard came over and asked me where I wanted to go and I couldn’t go anywhere. I got really scared and the barrage of questions like “What did I do to myself?” rolled in. As if I could have prevented it! The self-berating talk was cut short, I needed to move somewhere. We tried to walk me over to the kitchen chair but I couldn’t do it. Instead, Richard brought the kitchen chair to me and there I sat wondering ‘Now what?! Here I sit in the middle of the kitchen…’

In a few minutes Richard brought me the rolling desk chair from the office, moved carpets and I was able to roll the chair on the hardwood floor by furniture surfing. Yippee, movement!

Last night I decided to look online for symptoms of a dislocated hip. What I was experiencing was pretty doggone close to what the Mayo Clinic stated. Wow. I need to see the doctor first thing in the morning, so I did. I could barely walk in the door, holy cow!

I told the staff I felt I’d dislocated my hip, they poked me, tried to get me to move certain ways (ouch!) took x-rays (which showed no break), gave me a prescription for pain meds and referred me to Orthopedic docs in the ‘big city’ 60+ miles away. Since my pain was that debilitating the Ortho docs were able to fit me in if we came in after 1:00 pm.

Long story short, this doctor told me it is impossible to dislocate your hip, it might feel like you have, but it’s too solid a joint to come apart. Hmmm…of course I didn’t remember what I’d read on the Mayo Clinic’s website. More poking and prodding and oh my gosh how painful it was to lie on the uninjured side. Wow! He asked me to press my injured left leg back toward his hand on the back of my calf. I couldn’t do it. That frightened me!

We decided since he thought it was a pulled ligament that if we numb the area then we can see if that resolves the problem. If so, he’d shoot steroids in there and I could walk away pain free. Oh yeah! No pain, I almost did a happy dance! It didn’t work. I took a few steps delighted I was out of some pain, but couldn’t get my left leg to function. It did that sort of collapse thing it did last night. Drats. I really do hate the time they leave you in the exam room to think about things and get scared. What in the world did I do to myself? Would this mean surgery? What would this mean long-term. I’m only 45!

He returned hoping the numbing worked and suggested a steroid shot but I’d had enough of the needles. I can’t tell you how terribly painful that was and I felt sick right away. He told the nurse to make sure I stayed lying down; she offered me water and put a cool cloth on my forehead. I was thinking I never hurt like this even after the accidents. The doctor mentioned on his way out it’s not uncommon for people to PASS OUT! He said if people stay lying down it’s virtually impossible to pass out. Thank God he was right on that one. I think passing out or having been sedated would have made it bearable.

I opted for an anti-inflammatory steroid prescription, part of my hip may be numb but there’s no way I’m going to visit that hell again anytime soon! Oh my gosh they have to go deep into the hip. Bleck! He said we could do an emergency MRI but he feels its calcification of the bones or a pulled tendon. So, I’ll take the meds for five days and call the office to let them know how I’m doing. If I’m not better hopefully then an MRI might show something like a fracture. We’ll see.

Richard felt bad I kept looking at him for help with questions the doctor asked me. I wasn’t able to tell him then but all the information really was coming too fast. He said he understood I didn’t mean to put him on the spot; I just had trouble with decision making and processing.

This is a part of medicine I really do hate. Was the doctor’s ego getting in the way of a complete and thorough diagnosis because he thought he was right? I heard the nurse discussing my case with him and he said he may be barking up the wrong tree but wanted to see if this worked, which it didn’t.

So there we have it, sports fans, an entire day for two doctor appointments and travel. Wow! I have crutches in the meantime which have been very, very helpful already. The doctor gave them to me this morning and wow, what a difference. As long as I use them the feelings of spasms/seizing up are at bay. More shall be revealed. :)