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.

I love Halloween!

It has been forever since I have written… I seem to go from one thing to another, without ever coming up for air.  But this year, I had 2 Halloween costumes that were created by 2 very creative people: 1st I went to a Halloween party with my helper & friend, Angie, who did Dr. Finkelstein in one style, using make-up—Angie went as Sally, Dr. Finklestein’s helper from “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Then, we had a trunk or treat at our church this weekend, but I wanted a more family-friendly costume for it, though…At 1st, I wanted to be a transformer. Then the Dr. Suess fish in a bowl.. But one day Mark joked about how when I talked, I sounded like E.T. & he had me say, “E.T. Phone home”. I DID sound like E.T.,  & the costume was born…so, Mark did ET in another style, using his own set of talents. He was Elliot, I was ET, & my niece was the moon.  I love how I can give  Mark or Angie a creative project, & say, “Here’s what I want to do…now make it look awesome!”  & they do!



BTW, I still LOVE my standing chair!  Our world & our bodies are made for standing, & it comes in handy for the smallest things (like I stood up in order to pull down the medical coat for my Dr. Finkelstein costume)! I had a tilt table (a type of standing frame), & had looked at other standing frames before the standing chair, but the fact that I needed help getting into them turned me off – & now I’d add that the lack of mobility while standing would kill me, cuz I love being able to move while standing: getting into cabinets,& going down the hall (which freaks my kids out to see me “walking” down the hall!)

Several years ago we looked into a standing wheelchair, but we were in our old house, & it wouldn’t fit in my elevator.  I was super bummed, but it was a blessing in disguise: I was not strong enough then.  I was too weak to even stand up w/o assistance, & after sitting in this chair for extended periods of time, I can see how much less support it offers…it would have exhausted me!  , This chair requires much more torso strength, which I never developed until I started taking horse (equine) therapy (which I started  later–I was like a rag doll until then!)

More Than Meets The Eye!

I feel so smart!  I had dropped my keyboard, but I wasn’t strong enough to pick it up with my grabber, so, after several attempts, I leaned my keyboard the long way against my tire.  If u saw my posts on Facebook or Instagram, u know that on April 16) I got a new wheelchair that can stand.  But in order to stand, I wear a chest strap that prevents me from leaning forward.  But my backrest moves, so I leaned that forward, & I was able to pick up my own keyboard!  🙂

About my new wheelchair: Like 7 years ago, I looked into a standing wheelchair, but my old home used an elevator, & it was a bit too big.  However, it was a blessing in disguise.  Not only has the technology advanced & made it safer & capable of doing more, but additionally, I was not ready for it!  My core was way too weak, & it would have made the chair uncomfortable—so a big thanks to horse therapy, again!

Now, 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, I turn into a “robot” that is much taller than my “human form”!  I will try to post a video!)

The last few weeks have been crazy trying to NOT sit!  (After 14 years of sitting, standing is a bit more appealing!)  In the last 14 years, I have created a world for myself where I sit, so at 1st, 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 I have spent more time doing other things.  Talking I can do sitting or standing, so I’ve done a lot of standing & having conversations—& it has actually become a challenge to sit & talk: (Maybe it is a coincidence, but I think my diaphragm is less “squished”, so I get more air…)

This means that 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, & 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?”) , so at first, I made a make-shift “tray” for my iPad, but it was hard to type, so I spent more time deleting. I now have a tray (which is AWESOME because now I can do anything I want to do while standing—like typing this post!), though it is requiring a few adjustments from my OCD-world.  The biggest adjustment is by my dear husband, who has a myriad of straps & equipment to remove from me every time I need to potty!  🙂

My kids are adjusting, too…At 1st, it freaked them out to come home & find me standing in the room, or to walk down a hallway only to find me rolling down the hallway as I stood!  But my favorite was that one morning, while I was standing, I went to see if my daughter was up & knocked on her bedroom door.  She opened it & gasped: she was NOT expecting to see her mom STANDING outside her door!  J
I am so grateful to God who has provided me with the means to be blessed this way.  This chair has provided physical & emotional benefits (hugs are SO much better now!), & increased independence (in my personal activities, & it has also allowed me to do more therapy on my own.