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.
my youngest child, Sophia, got married in October, &
my middle daughter, Jessie, was married on Friday, June 3.
Here’s a picture with all my kids, their spouses, & my grand-baby, James.
Obviously, I can’t be there for them (the way I’d like to be), so one thing I’ve always hoped is that they marry into families where they feel comfortable receiving help, & feel as fortunate as I do to have married into such a family!
I’ve been so focused on my kids that I didn’t realize until now how comfortable I am with each of my kid’s MILs! It’s crazy! I feel so blessed to be so comfortable & to be friends with each of these women – women who are sharing their children & (future) grandchildren with me!
A few days ago, I just wanted something to listen to, so I turned on a podcast I like. (Better Than Happy). I heard the title of the podcast (Managing Depression with EmyLee McIntyre). I didn’t think it’d apply to me because I’m not currently depressed. But oh, how wrong I was! 18 years ago, I was VERY depressed, & the podcast applied so well to my 18th stroke-a-versary (which is today, 3/16)! First thing to catch my attention was this gem of a conversation:
You create happiness cause you’ve been through hard things & you’re still ok…
We don’t have to dislike who we were in the past to become a different version of ourselves… “But I liked her! I still want to be her!” Ok. You can like her AND become an even better version of yourself.
(because) She’s you!
Then they shared this cool idea:
“Write down a thought u want to have & each day write down 3 evidences of how u saw it was true” (for example, if you are having trouble believing that God Loves u, write down “God loves me” & each day find 3 reasons why that is true)
What a fantastic idea! I don’t need to prove to myself that God loves me – these past 18 years have been filled with reminders of how God loves me & has stayed by my side these many years. But for fun (& because it has been on my mind), I will list 10 I have seen recently – though there have been many, many more!
Because of choices He has prompted, I believe it helped me to have a quick encounter with COVID (though I’m still recovering, I feel great & well cared for)
My husband was sick before me, so he could help me when I was too weak to do anything
I am always amazed at the physical strength of my husband when he’s ill, & knowing how weak I got, there’s no doubt in my mind that he received heavenly assistance!
My helper was also sick slightly before us, so she has also been here & could help me both when Mark was sick, & while I am sick!
By some miracle, I didn’t get sick with COVID until my helper AND Mark were both well enough to help me, but it was close enough to when they had COVID that they could feel confident about their antibodies
I saw my grandbaby just the day before we had to quarantine
In 2020, I finally had surgery (that I’d put off forever) on my deviated septum…it has TOTALLY helped me deal with COVID
Not too long ago, my husband picked up Navage (which basically sucks your boogers out – Ha, Ha). Not to sound like a commercial, but it has helped me SOOOO much! I’m less congested than I’ve ever been from a common cold!
Years ago, it seemed like a mean, cruel trick how my diet had to suddenly change, but now all I see is how it blesses me! The week before I had COVID, my diet was jam-packed with anti-inflammatory foods! Stuff I never would’ve eaten 18 years ago! It was like I was being prepared for a battle! … & the clincher: it wasn’t even planned! (which is strange, since I’m a planner!)
Recently, I was reading an article called “The Joy of the Saints” (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/10/14christofferson?lang=eng), & I was reminded of a man who had a lot of influence in my life during the early years after my stroke. The article read, “ Once in an interview, Jack observed: “Problems will come into all of our lives; it’s part of just being here upon this earth. And some people think that religion or having faith in God will protect you from bad things. I don’t think that’s the point. I think the point is that if our faith is strong, that when bad things happen, which they will, we’ll be able to deal with them. … My faith never wavered, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t have depressions. I think for the first time in my life, I was pushed to the limit, and literally there was nowhere to turn, and so I turned to the Lord, and to this day, I feel a spontaneity of joy.”
Now I should pick a phrase I want to believe, but am having trouble believing…
1. Sophia married Davis Wycherly in October in the Jordan River Temple (though it mostly just meant more travel – my awesome S-I-L, Margot-Mark’s “big” sister–by 1 year, was the most awesome wedding planner!)
2. I had my first primary program in October, & I have now been the primary president for a year. Being the primary president at church is crazy busy from September (when I finish writing the primary program) until January (when I’m finished organizing for the new year). But I love it! It makes me so happy to feel like I still have something to contribute!
3. We went on a cruise during thanksgiving. It was great if u are vaccinated & go w/o the kids. They have the non-vaccinated & vaccinated sections, so u can go w/o a mask sometimes. It was also very uncrowded.
4. Jessie just got engaged & will be married in June in the Timpanogus temple to Kyle Van Roosendaal. All 3 of my kids married within TWO years…crazy!
5. Zach, & his wife, Maddie, had my first grandbaby, James, in December, & they just moved to Texas! (Yes, I’m a grandma! I’m not a fan of the word “grandma” though … my mom is “grandma” & she’s really old! Haha – love u mom!)
Prior to my stroke, I was a “Pintrest mom”. I threw amazing birthday parties (I’d taken a cake decorating class so my cakes would be amazing, & I went all out, like making Superman shirts w/capes, or balloon light sabers), made file folder games (thanks to my Elementary Education background), etc.
After my stroke, I had a really hard time re-defining the word “mother”. If u know the enneagram, I’m a 3, & I define that word by what I do. All of my “best mom” identity was stripped away with my stroke. It was so tough for me, but Mark says my stroke made me a better mom…the kids didn’t care about all of that! they were happier just having me there to cover with stickers, watch a puppet show, or to play our improvised version of hide-&-go-seek!
I don’t think I learned from it though, cuz I’m facing the same issues as a grandma! I think I’m facing the “Pintrest grandma”. I seem to define that word by what I do, as well, & my OCD-personality only makes it worse, because I don’t “do” what I “think” I should do. To me, a grandma helps mom, possibly by take care of the kids, & does stuff like bake cookies. I do neither. So, I’m working on re-defining that word now. In the beginning last time, I felt so useless until I discovered unique ways to still be a mom. Hopefully I’ll learn faster this time! I’m sure it will help having him live closer!
Sorry I’ve been MIA. I’ve had a hard time setting aside time to write on my blog. In what little “free time” I have, I have been reading & learning about some stuff & I attempted to work some more on the book I wanted to write 17 years ago… but as u know, I’m the primary president (which I LOVE!) It’s so awesome to be able to serve, & I have witnessed many little miracles to make it possible!
I have two counselors & a secretary to help me (plus my “co-presidents”, Mark & my helper/friend, Angie, who serve as my arms & legs), but now the Primary program is coming up (it’s usually in the fall, & occurs once a year), & planning the program has kept me busy! (The primary program is a time for the kids to share about the things they’ve learned that year & to share their testimonies through word & song.)
That alone has kept me busy, but to add to the fun my youngest daughter (Sophie) just got married on October 9 in the South Jordan temple in Utah (shout-out to my awesome sister-in-law, Margot). But wait! The fun doesn’t stop there: my son’s wife is expecting grandbaby on Christmas. So I figure life will not be slowing down anytime soon!
So, thought I better share… about the wedding: I let Mark’s sister, Margot, & Sophie plan it – Margot had done my little brother, Mike’s, wedding, so I knew she’d know “my style,” & since it was Sophie’s day, I didn’t want to get in her way! It was supposed to rain all day, but after the sealing (which was amazing), the “heavens opened up” & I did not see even a drop of rain until they left! Amazing, right?!?! & I thought my reception was fancy, but hers blew mine out of the water! Only thing I did fancier: the dads & groomsmen wore tuxes instead of suits (Zach was best man, & bet he liked doing suits instead of tuxes! Maddie was a bridesmaid, & Jess was co-Maid of honor, & heir dresses were “less fancy” too, accommodating Maddie’s pregnant belly!)
I had a small win at Sophie’s wedding: I did my own make-up! The few times I’ve worn make-up, Sophie did it. Jessie & Maddie don’t do make-up, so at 1st, I didn’t know what to do. I knew others who would’ve done it for me if I asked, but I didn’t want them to! I am still in my toddler phase, where I want to do everything myself! So I had my eyebrows dyed, my eyelashes dyed & curled, & put on concealer, blush, & lipstick!
With all the stuff going on, I tend to push aside caring for myself, so I’m grateful hippotherapy (horse therapy) has started up again! It forces me to take care of me too, & now it is at the new covered arena, so I can go rain or shine! It makes me so happy when I go (still the best part of my week), & not only is the new arena AMAZING, but the windy road to get to it is therapy in itself! Ha!
I have a new horse, & new therapist who I LOVE! I have loved every horse therapist, because they all have a different focus so new muscles get targeted This therapist is making muscles tired that haven’t been tired in awhile – which is always a good sign! (Luckily, the arena is by a restaurant that sells a yummy spinach salad, so I can “get my Popeye on” – I get super tired, but eating spinach helps me regain enough strength to at least pick up my iPad & turn on an audio book! Haha)
I used to stand daily on a tilt-table for 30 min – 1 hour. When I got my standing w/c, I stood like 1-2 hours after every meal. This new standing chair, it’s dwindled to like 10-20 minutes a day (I can’t do as much when I stand now, & as I pointed out previously, when I’m busy, the 1st thing I “let go off” is me!). I keep trying to self-motivate to do more, but it wasn’t working. Then my new horse therapist brought it up…it has been brought up before (by my old therapist), but this time I gave myself “homework” 👏🏻. Yay – it’s the push I needed!
Anyway, I’d love to have u join us at the primary program! It just so happens that our primary program is the same weekend of my daughter’s wedding reception in Texas (the primary program is on the 31st – probably because I could guarantee I’d be home then-haha)
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?