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.

Make the best of whatever life hands u!

I posted this on FaceBook & Instagram,but in case u still missed it, I thought I’d share it here:

At first, this virus thing wasn’t affecting my life too much…I’ve had to face some cancelations, but now I’ve had to start canceling therapies, so it’s getting personal. Not fun. Yoga & music therapy I’m doing via Skype/Zoom, still not my favorite! 🙄

However, one of the reasons I married Mark is because, if he wants to, he can make the best of any situation. (I had no idea how useful that’d be!). Today, we were using the paintball guns to shoot stuff. Quite therapeutic. 😂

I have a video & more pictures on FaceBook & on Instagram

Stroke-aversary/Typical day

This year on the 16th day in March, it will be 16 years since my stroke, & I will also be one year older than my mom was when she had my baby brother, Mike (there are 7 years between my 2 youngest brothers–can u even imagine thinking for 7 years that u are done having babies, & then–surprise!  Time to start over!)  Not only am I  about the same age, but instead of a baby,  my son got married, & soon  I will be an empty nester: 3/5/2020  was a big day for our family, as it was Sophie’s 18th birthday (I can’t believe  I have no more KIDS, only ADULTS!) & it was also my daughter, Hermana Jessie Lynn’s hump day (in other words, her mission is halfway done)! I KNOW the Lord is watching over her & protecting her!

So, what have I been doing all these years?  If u are just looking at me, I don’t come across as someone who can do much, but if u get to know me, u might be surprised by all that I can do (& the advancements in technology the last few years have only increased my independence).

Years ago, Jack Rushton (who was paralyzed from the waist down) said it best when he said (emphasis added), “Lying in bed I truly feel handicapped, but in my chair, sitting upright, just think of what I can do.  I can work on the computer, read and write, or go outside and sit in the sun or roll around, and if I’m real lucky, get hauled into the van (or go on a plane/cruise ship)  and go off with Jo Anne (Mark)  for a never ending adventure.  I truly am a lucky — or as I prefer to call it—a blessed man.”  (woman!”)

So I thought I should address my typical day—from my husband’s eyes:  I have taught early morning seminary for the past several years and we usually get up at 5am.  I help jenny use the toilet and then I shower both of us.  I dress her and quickly do her hair.  She has been attending seminary with me so I load her up in the van and drive her to the church where I commence to unstrap her (and the chair) and help her out of the van.  After seminary, I load her back up and unload a few minutes later once we get home.  I make her breakfast and give her some liquid meds, but she is able to get her pill meds from the prepared med box by herself and take them with food or water.  Jenny can get water from the refrigerator, as well as some prepared food from a refrigerator drawer. She needs assistance with a paper towel bib to protect her clothing while she eats, but she does all of her own feeding.  Self-feeding is not always pretty by the time she is finished, but Jenny literally buys Shout Wipes by the case.  Jenny drops her dishes in the sink and throws her garbage in the trash can.  We have tried to hold family scripture/prayer sometime during the day.  I will shortly thereafter help her use the toilet again and she is able to access her computer and other supplies in her craft room with little or no help for most basic things.  Jenny has a few exercises that’s he does with and without help from others- mostly with help.  Her new wheelchair is a “stander” so she can get standing exercise and reach higher things on shelves without help. Jenny has discovered grocery deliver service, Amazon, and other related tools to be a huge blessing for her independence.  Our current home has smart home technology where she can play music, turn on/off lights, adjust the thermostat, and open and close dose remotely from her iPad.  Jenny usually does not need assistance until lunch (which she can get on her own if need) and then to use the toilet shortly thereafter.  Things kind of repeat until dinner (which is the similar routine as with lunch).  Jenny requires me to dress her and help her use the toilet one last time before bed.  I carry her to bed and get her situated with a rolling stand that has her iPad and ear buds.  Jenny needs significantly less sleep than me (or average humans) so she will often go to sleep after me and get up well before 5am and either lays there or keeps herself busy on her iPad.  I no longer have to move her several times each night.  It is less than once a week where she needs me to roll her on her side or reposition her in some way.  I own this to the magic of memory foam and her ability to make slight movements on her own.  I still reposition her when sleeping in hotel beds, but still not as often.  Depending on the day, I may go to work and one of Jenny’s two helpers will come and help with the lunch and bathroom routine and other tasks Jenny is working on.   She is always working on something.  I am a little upset at the doctors because they promised me she will be sleeping all day in bed.  Jenny is ALWAYS working on something.  She makes me tired by her constant activity.

25th wedding anniversary

26 years ago, I attended the First Presidency’s Christmas devotional, not realizing that night would change my life forever, as it was my 1st date w/my soon-to-be husband, who I married a year later tomorrow. (Shout out to Sandra who set us up on that blind date!). I was pretty naive back then, & I like to think that I was smarter than I was & subconsciously knew what I needed because now I have an incredibly supportive husband who has stayed by my side through physical & mental health issues, & helped me to raise 3 incredible children…& as I attended my 1st child’s wedding reception, it occurred to me how, despite all the hardships, he is still here!  Looking at the newlyweds, I recalled how when we 1st met, there were so many little thoughtful things Mark did that made me fall in love with him, but after 25 years of marriage, these same things that used to be so great, have become a part of my life, & more common.  So at times, I can feel entitled to them.

But as great as things can be,  there are still tough days. Years ago, I read somewhere that when I take the sacrament, & am seeking for the forgiveness of my own sins, I should offer that same consideration to my spouse. That was pivotal advice for me!  Some days, that is easy to do, while other days, it can be super HARD!  I’m grateful, though, for that advice, as it has helped me with some very difficult times!  How ironic that our 25th wedding anniversary falls on a Sunday this year!

tender mercies

A while ago, I began a journal to record the tender mercies I saw from God each day in my life. I have been very sporadic, but whenever I do it, I am overwhelmed by what He has (& continues to do) for me.   Here are some of the more recent “tender mercies”:

-there have been several days where I either needed time alone to process/understand my feelings, or to “catch up”, & one of my helpers was either delayed, or couldn’t come into work. I hate to say her trial is a blessing for me, but I know the Lord has a way of turning lemons into lemonade.

–people saying things that I need to hear precisely when I need I need it

–people doing things at a time that works so they can give me the help I need, exactly when I need it…though sometimes it has presented as a test or trial–& if I “pass,” I receive help emotionally, too…not just physically

–people are constantly being put in my life to help me in more ways than one.  Here’s an example:

No cause was found for my stroke, but one theory is that my diet was a factor: pre-stroke, I rarely ate fruit (unless it had nutella), I hated most veggies (except corn), pasta was a staple in my diet (& it was often chicken Alfredo) & I rarely ate greens, so my blood was thick.  (I tried eating healthier when I found out I was pregnant w/Zach, but that was a very bad idea to try to change my diet when I was pregnant!)  Anyway, I hit my head a few days prior to my stroke, & the theory is that my blood was too thick to get through a skinny nerve I had at the base of my skull.
I was over-joyed (note the sarcasm) to learn post-stroke to be told to eat LOTS of leafy green vegetables. “Just my luck!,” I thought, & for years, I just ate what I wanted.   (“I already had a stroke…what could make me worse?”)
But then I gained a lot of weight, & since Mark transferred me, I felt responsible when Mark kept hurting his back. So I replaced my stash of chocolates & Cheetos w/freeze-dried fruit, & gave myself other restrictions…& with some small, though difficult, changes, I lost tons of weight.  As a bonus, I learned to like eating healthy, & then I got a new helper, who is the bomb at making healthy food super yummy, which was a tender mercy to be sure!

Over the years, this helper has helped me in countless ways w/physical, emotional, & social ways as well…& she is not the only person who has entered my life, & helped me in multiple ways.  Many friends AND family have equally blessed my life!

–sometimes other people in my life will be the answer to a prayer or be given challenges where we can relate & strengthen each other

–daily events that have helped “mold” me so I am better equipped to face current challenges in my life

–During the past year, I have enjoyed being able to bite into whole pieces of fruit.  It’s been almost 16 years since I’ve done that, so it is exciting every time I do it!  I started w/a pear, & added other fruits: nectarine, plum, peach—even opening an orange & a banana.  By October 2019, I bit into a soft apple!  I can’t explain the joy that followed!

— The thing I have wanted to gain back the most is my speech. It has been a long journey (which is not over), but my speech has continued to improve —  & even more drastically during 2019!  Music therapy got me started (around 2006?), & when I began horse therapy (2014), it strengthened my diaphragm, & then music therapy could then focus on  all the fine motor work & put the muscles (that I develop in horse therapy) to work so I am able to relearn speech.  All my therapists hold conversations with me, which only could strengthen my ability to speak. By  September 2019, I felt confident enough to approach someone on my own, & talk to them—something I haven’t done  since my stroke, almost 16 years ago!  & after almost 16 years of only being able to text & email my husband when he travels, in October 2019, he Facetimed me not once, but THREE times  on a trip!