Recovery

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!

TheDemon in the Phone

Back around 2006 or 2007 (before I could talk), I started using a phone.  We had caller ID, so I only answered when my husband or kids called, cuz they knew “the system”: 1 beep on any button meant “hi, this is mom.”  Then the “fun” began (I’m being sarcastic, if u can’t tell)—whoever called played 20 questions with me (usually, the 1st question was to see if someone was there who could read my ASL,  & I would answer them with 1 beep for yes, 2 beeps for no).

Then, I got a cell phone in 2016.  This seemed silly, since I couldn’t use a phone yet, really…the phone was more to hold on to my son’s phone #, during his mission (which I “stole” because I’d been texting from it those 2 years, so my son was nice & let me keep my texting #.)

Last year (2018) my son called me & asked me to return his call…& when I went to return his call, I had like a 15 minute panic attack before calling him back—“what if he didn’t understand me & I was all alone, & there was no one to translate me?”  It had been 15 years since I held a conversation on a phone….I was kinda’ out of practice…”what do I say/ask to keep a conversation going?”  “Was this a good time for him?”

I told my music therapist about this experience, & she encouraged me to start having more phone conversations with more open-ended questions, & to also have people call me.  I started small with just immediate family & 1 friend, until I got the nerve to post about it (but to those kind friends who responded  & said to call, I STILL haven’t had the nerve to call them!)  However, my sister & I set up a weekly time to talk.  I still can be hesitant to call her  if I don’t think my speech is good that day, but now it’s not my “usual” anxiety as much as it is just knowing how much energy I  need to  have to speak,& if  talking is hard that day, it takes lots of energy to speak!

Monday, my missionary (daughter) called me—& for the 1st time ever, I wasn’t even phased when I heard my phone ring, I just answered it, not even caring that I was alone!  She seemed to understand me just fine, & I enjoyed our talk! I felt  like Supergirl when we were done because I had conquered a demon!  I am sure it has helped to talk to my sister (thanks Missy!), because I’m ok if my family calls now…someday I’ll get to where I feel comfortable answering any call(instead of getting nervous & hanging up on telemarketers! Ha! Ha!)

Five Loaves and Two Fishes

I faintly recall hearing this talk years ago (Five Loaves and Two Fishes by James E. Faust), & enjoyed hearing it again!   (https://www.lds.org/study/general-conference/1994/04/five-loaves-and-two-fishes?l=)
At the risk of sounding prideful, after listening to this talk, I felt like this talk (in a way) described me currently.  Let me explain: I know I was very troubled after my stroke, feeling like I had previously been blessed with all these talents that were “taken away” by my stroke…& I wondered, “had I not used them properly, so they had to be taken away?”
However, despite these troubling thoughts, I also came to know that this was a trial that I needed in order to fulfill the mission that I was sent here to do, & as time has gone by, I have seen how those talents (that were there pre-stroke), have oddly been helpful in many ways now (by building certain muscles, increased knowledge in ways that would later benefit me, & by building brain pathways that would allow me to regain certain abilities  later).  These previous talents were not “lost”.  They have aided me in becoming who I am today.   I do not feel like any years (or money, dad!) were “wasted” by being a singer, dancer, actress, teacher, mother, reader, horse lover, or even a milk drinker (Ha! Ha!)  I have seen how every one of those things has helped me in my stroke recovery today.  & even though I don’t have much to give now, I continue to have opportunities & people placed in my life so that the Lord has been able to make a lot more out of my life than I could ever do alone.

It’s been 15 years!

15 years ago on the 16th of March, I had a stroke. Over the last few months, I have been thinking about how many people (immediate & extended family, & friends) as well as other things that I have gained back & I have started to take for granted: For ex., I have an incredibly supportive husband who has stayed by my side through physical & mental health issues, & helped to raise 3incredible children…& despite all the hardships, he is still here!  & I can recall how thrilled I was when I got a Kleenex out of its package on my own the 1st time.  Or how excited I was when I put a CD into the CD drive of my computer. Recently my oldest daughter had knee surgery & was thrilled when she was able to finally moved her leg, & I was reminded of all of my 1st movements & how thrilling it was to regain each one!

A while ago, I got this text from my daughter (who is recovering from knee surgery): “Both my friend and I are on crutches and we got front row seats to the game even when we were late”. I am sure that was very frustrating to all the “normal” people. But with all the daily hardships of disabled life, it is nice for us to find a few pleasures in life.  Those few perks can really help on a bad day.

So, in honor of all that has occurred in the last 15 years, I’d like to return the favor. I have been blessed in countless ways since then, & 5 years ago, I found Red Arena, where I do horse therapy.  When I began, I was like a rag doll who couldn’t talk.  Doing equine (horse) therapy at Red Arena has been an incredible blessing in my life by strengthening my core, giving me increased independence, helping me regain a lot of my speech, & even reducing some anxiety. Red Arena is currently trying to gather the funds to build a covered arena (which would be awesome, cuz then I could go on rainy days).  In honor of my 15th stroke-aversary, I’d like to help them out by gathering donations.  If u’d like to help, go to  http://www.redarena.org/  … Once u click any yellow donate button u get a menu and one is of “donate in honor of someone” and u can put my name there.

Just checking in…

It has been a while. If u saw my posts on Facebook or Instagram, u know some of what is going on:

–my son, Zach, came home from his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ, serving the people in San Diego, CA in ASL (sign language).

–My daughter, Jessie also graduated from high school

–we had a party for my son & daughter to welcome Zach home, & congratulate Jess

–we went on an Alaskan cruise

–both my son & daughter went to BYU a few weeks ago, & on the way, they were rear-ended (they are ok, & were protected)

–my 18 yr. old daughter became the Relief Society president over the other college-age girls in her BYU ward (congregation)

–I got a new wheelchair that can use to either sit or to stand.   (I am like a transformer, & if I have my knee brace & chest strap on, I can “transform” from a sitting car, into a  robot…& when I do turn into a “robot”, I turn into a robot that is much taller than my “human form”!  (My “human form is 5 feet, 3,5 inches, while my “robot form” is like 6 feet tall—it’s pretty awesome!). 🙂

 

The week after I got my new chair was crazy trying to NOT sit!  (After 14 years of sitting, standing is a bit more appealing!)  However, in the last 14 years, I have created a world for myself where I sit, so I was very limited to what I could do standing...BUT if I’ve learned anything in 14 years, chances are high that I will need to make a sacrifice in order to gain something greater. So, despite limited things to do, I spent more time doing other things:  when I stand, I lose my belly (that I support my iPad on), & I lose my lap (which means I can’t use my iPad pillow, or carry/transport stuff, but talking I can do sitting or standing, so I  did a lot of standing & having conversations.—Oddly, it has actually become a challenge to sit & talk: Maybe a coincidence, but I think my diaphragm is less squished, so I get more air when I stand…However, I don’t think our dog, Cooper, likes my chair too much, also, since his lap is gone, & he’s always staring at me like he’s saying, “When’s it my turn?”  I now have a tray (I am standing as I type this!), but our dog HATES how he can rarely sit on me now!