Author: Jenny

In March 2004, I suffered a severe brainstem stroke, & was "locked in" for several months". I have been married to a wonderful man, Mark ever since Dec. 1994, & we have 3 kids: Zach (1997),, Jessica (2000), & Sophie (2002). I have been blessed in so many ways by God, so I wanted to keep a blog to share my recovery, life, & answer questions.

Did I Control My Emotions?

It occurred to me that I may have had a small win on Thursday:

Movies like to play with your emotions. This is bad when u have PBA (PseudoBulbar Affect Disorder) & can’t control your emotions cuz u may laugh uncontrollably at something that deserved a chuckle (& u keep laughing after everyone is done laughing); or u cry when u want to laugh (or vice versa). But the hardest one for me, since music greatly affects my mood, is when they use music to evoke feelings, esp. sadness.  Now that’s just mean, cuz I don’t just cry quietly or whimper (like most people). I HOWL! (When Sirius Black or Dumbledore died on Harry Potter, it was humiliating how loud I was!)

I have found a solution that works great if I’m watching alone.  Then I watch movies in about 20-30 segments – this works well since my emotions can’t build.  Shorter segments are needed for more emotional movies, or I have to employ other techniques, like distraction…(I will get really interested with my controller on my wheelchair, with what’s going on around me, or get really itchy!  Ha!)

Thursday I was watching Frozen 2 while doing therapy. It was at an emotional point in the movie, & I was doing over 30 minutes of exercise, but I held my tears back (well, until the show was off) – so, by not crying, did I control my emotions?  I did use distraction… Does it still count as “controlling” my emotions?

For fun, I took a PBA quiz.  I scored 30/35. 

My recent challenge

I’m usually a pretty healthy eater, but I had developed some bad habits over the holidays that I wanted to eliminate before they got bad. I’ve tried on my own to occasionally go without sugar, but It always backfires because my thinking hasn’t changed. Consequently when I’m done, I go crazy eating tons of sugar! So, I decided to get educated & signed up for a 21 day no sugar challenge. I didn’t think much of it.

As the starting date neared, we were counselled to clean out our drawers/pantries of anything tempting.  At 1st, I didn’t think I had much, but when I finally resolved to clean out the few things I had, I started to see how much more had to go than I realized (like all my dried fruit, including snacks that were a nut/dried fruit combo).  I started to wonder if I was crazy for signing up to do this   (& I’m sure that many of u reading this are thinking, “yes, u are!”)  It was very tempting to pull out, & I had too remind myself why I had wanted to do this in the 1st place!

As a result, I went ahead with my initial plans.  The 1st week was not easy.  I went through sugar withdrawal, & got headaches & so, so moody!  (I recall getting mad about stupid stuff, & crying, because I didn’t see results I was hoping for right away.)  At times I craved sugar soooo bad, & while my husband supported me in so many ways (making meals  I could eat, buying food I could eat, not making it an issue when I ate w/others), he wasn’t doing the challenge, so occasionally, I saw him eat stuff I “couldn’t” eat, & I wanted it!  & I got so moody

But with work & as time went on, I started to see positive results (more than the obvious weight loss!)  Some of those results I’d desired, & other results were “a nice bonus.”   & by the end, I wasn’t even tempted to eat sugary snacks!

The challenge is over.  I can eat sugar now, & sometimes I do.  But I really like the results that came so I continue to try to minimize my sugar intake.  & when I do have sugar, I have to be careful, because that “sugar monster” pops up  & wants more.  Then I have to remind myself of the results I’ve seen, & why I have CHOSEN to keep doing this!

I realized that much of my life has required this kind of determination.  I know when I had my stroke, I could’ve gone home & laid in bed & watched TV.  I don’t think many people would have argued (my husband would have, but that is for another post! haha)  I had to push myself on to a rehab hospital, or to try other therapies, or to continue working on a skill.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but I think we all have our own challenges to keep pushing through & overcome, & then to keep pushing.  I hope u will consider yours, & “keep pushing!”    

What helps me to endure

I have been asked what has helped me to endure the trial I’ve been given & I’ve always felt that my beliefs play a big part & that my testimony of Jesus Christ has strengthened me throughout my entire life, & especially during these 17 years post-stroke. So (as usual) I’m excited to watch general conference this weekend, but I get more excited when Easter is the same weekend!

“General conference is the worldwide gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Twice a year, during the first weekend of April and the first weekend of October, Church leaders from around the world share messages or sermons focused on the living Christ and His gospel. Viewers learn how to find peace, hope, and joy in Jesus Christ; how to strengthen families by following Jesus’s teachings; and how to receive personal guidance and inspiration from God. General conference is streamed and broadcast live in about 70 languages and is later translated into more than 100 languages. We invite everyone—of all faiths, beliefs, and backgrounds from everywhere in the world—to watch, listen, and participate.”(https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/learn/general-conference?lang=eng)

If u want to watch with me, here are Ways to Watch or Listen to General Conference Live: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/learn/ways-to-watch-general-conference?lang=eng

There are 4 sessions (Saturday 11-1 & 3-5, & Sunday 11-1 & 3-5, central time. U can watch 1 session, or all 4 sessions! Or, after the conference, the messages are published on ChurchofJesusChrist.organd in the Church’s Liahonamagazine.

Here’s an Apostle Testimony Montage:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/video/2015-10-0001-apostle-testimony-montage?lang=eng

How would you describe yourself? 

In August 16, 2007, in his article “Greatness”, D. Todd Christofferson, said

“Your greatness in the things God has ordained as primary and fundamental will not come in a day or with one grand act. It will be built over time with the sort of patient, persistent effort that has brought you to the achievement that we are celebrating today.”

How would you describe yourself?  Would u describe yourself as someone’s parent, spouse, or sibling?  And/or would u include your talents, interests, hobbies?  Or maybe your personality traits? 

As my 17th year post-stroke approaches (my “stroke-aversary” is March 16), I have been reflecting a lot in who I am now.  One of the hardest things after my stroke was re-defining myself.   I actually went through a grieving process as I felt I lost part of my identity. Now, 17 years later, I see why this was SO painful: if I had been asked to describe myself, many of the ways I identified myself was by my talents & abilities that I had either been changed (mother, wife, sister, daughter), or had been lost (singer, dancer, teacher, scrapbooker, pianist, journaler).  In time, some of these things were adapted (I play piano w/1 hand now, I use a translator & speaking software to teach now, I scrapbook digitally , I’m a very different mom now—I laughed when my youngest pointed out how her friends do not potty their mom!, etc.), but it was recently pointed out how much of me did NOT change—all my personality traits are still there, & I will always be a child of God. While I knew back then that I was a child/daughter of God, I see now how I minimized what that meant.  There were so many things I had abruptly lost—it was difficult to see the solid foundation I stood on.

When President Nelson, prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visited Texas in 2018, he said,  “if we truly understand who we are and why we are here, we can face God’s eternal plan – there TRULY will be another life after death”

Interestingly, as my testimony grew, this belief helped me keep going everyday, & will keep me going for years to come!

How have u been prepared?

This last week has been crazy!  Since I had a lot of time with no power, I did a lot of reading on my ipad.  I’ve been reading a book about the Children’s Songbook for primary (https://kobo.com/en-US/ebook/stories-of-the-children-s-songbook?utm_campaign=TextQuotesIOS&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=App_Acq) & read this this week:

“She (Adele Howell, who was recently widowed, & needed a “distraction” from her husband’s recent passing) was called to serve as a counselor to her friend, May Hinckley. “What a Godsend work is!” she wrote. “I’m so busy I have not time to think about myself and how lonesome I am.”

Being primary president is Godsend work for me as well…I’m so busy that I, too, don’t have a chance to think about my own issues, either.  I think of others instead of me & my quiet house.  I had planned on serving a couples mission with my husband (for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) when my kids were grown, but since that is not a possibility now, I see this as one way I can bring the gospel to others.  But what is so amazing to me  are the multiple ways I’ve been prepared to be a primary president!

Lately, I have been thinking about how the Lord prepares me for the challenges of life & the trials I must face, either through resources, knowledge, or experiences. Sometimes I’m prepared in small ways, like just charging all my electronics & my wheelchair before a power outage, or by filling my 32 ounce waterbottle w/water prior to my pipes freezing.  Other times He prepares me in bigger ways (like marrying a man who’d stay by my side, & help me pull through some of the darkest times in my life), & there have also been things I have learned throughout my entire life whether from a variety of experiences (from school, college, dance/singing classes) or just from being raised in my family & in the gospel..  These experiences have prepared me for things I’ve faced as an adult, as a parent, & even now. I’m just so grateful to be watched over, protected, & to feel so loved.

When my 1st child was born, I felt such an overwhelming responsibility, because God was entrusting me w/1 of His children. Now that all my kids are away, I’ve struggled to know my new definition for “mom.”  Knowing that I, too, am a child of God, to see how He has continued to help me (even when I’m “away from home”) is pretty eye opening! I know that just because my kids aren’t in my home, it doesn’t mean “I’m done” or anything (once a parent, always a parent!). But looking at how He “parents” from a distance, helps me to see how I should be.