14 years ago…

After so many years, I had to start “doing the math” before each birthday, & now I can never remember how old I am!  I just have lost count…well, I have reached that stage w/my “post-stroke” years: after subtracting this year from my stroke year, I knew this was my 14th stroke-aversary!  Ha!

A good friend recently told me about the movie “Breathe” (a movie based on the true story of Robin Cavendish who, at 28 yrs. old — I was 30—was paralyzed by polio and given just months to live — I was given 24 hours to live. Against all advice, Robin’s wife Diana brings him home from hospital(like Mark did), & he becomes a British advocate for the severely disabled—which may explain why England is SUPER accessible!)

Parts of that movie hit so close to home that if I had seen that movie years ago, it would have been a struggle to watch, but since my stroke occurred so long ago, I was able to watch it & just relate to many of the situations & conversations (only my side of the conversation was either in my head, blink spelled, or signed!) I echo his words: ‘I don’t want to just survive. I want to truly live.’  Thank u to all who make that possible…this day is for u, too!

progress after 13 years???

At 1st, I  wasn’t sure what brought this on, but I think I can now attribute it to a few things, & 1 thing is the many prayers that resulted from a recent post of my Mormon Messages video!   Horse therapy, chair yoga,  & my bike (that also do arm circles) have strengthened it, & not “ignored” it…

Here’s a post about more progress, that I started to write when our foreign exchange student, Giuli, was nearing the end of her stay, & her family came to visit:

I have always felt like my anxiety has somehow blocked my speech, & in the last month, I have been doing activities to calm my anxiety (chair yoga & guided meditation).  I don’t know for sure if this is related, or merely a coincidence, but my speech has improved DRAMATICALLY in the last month.

Giuli’s family is here, & they are really nice!  I love that even I can talk to them (sometimes I need to act out what I say, but used to be that if no one was there who knew me, I sat in awkward silence with “new people, until they returned — but not now!) J  This “taking thing” is getting exciting!  I am no longer afraid to open my front door, to talk to strangers, I am more open to the idea of attending social functions, & I am able to participate more in small group activities, like brainstorming.

& to further that progress, here’s a post I started to write after I taught a scrapbook class in my home (Jan. 18, 2018):

I taught a scrapbook class here Thursday, & it was amazing!  When I teach, I usually have someone teach with me & translate my ASL.  I thought my Sister-in-law would do that, but she was sick, so her friend, Julie–who does not sign–was asked to help me.  While Julie can’t sign, when she helped me months ago, she did REALLY well understanding my speech (& my speech has definitely improved since then), so I did not ask my husband or one of the girls to help me.   I figured that this class was a good place to try teaching “alone”, since Julie understood me so well, since it was a smaller group, since I had no tight time constraints, & since I’d teach moms, & it seems like moms can usually understand me (I assume because of experience that comes from talking to toddlers!  Ha!Ha!)  

Still, I was a bit nervous.   Seeing my other sister-in-law there gave me a “pacifier” for my anxiety (since she knows my ASL & speech), but once my brain started working, I relaxed  & I could speak, & I remembered that if anyone can’t figure out something I say, I can just open a word document & type my response.  So, as I taught, while Julie sometimes clarified my speech, she sat with everyone else (& sometimes no clarification was needed)!  So, for the 1st time in 14 years, I taught “alone”  (I spoke, I played videos, I demonstrated stuff, & occasionally I typed on my large screen TV when I could tell they didn’t understand me!)

When I emailed Julie the next day, Julie said:  “I was actually surprised at how easy it was to understand you. It reminds me a bit like speaking and understanding a foreign language…it takes a minute for the brain and ears to adjust, but with a little extra focus, the communication begins to flow with more ease” 

What do u take for granted?

My last post was not a search for sympathy (though I appreciate all comments I received)!  But I did want everyone to know that I am “normal”,  & I wanted to share how I am dealing with it.  I am actually grateful because I am finally learning something that I kept trying to earn, & had run out of ways to learn it!

However, getting myself to post has been SO hard, & over the months, I have started 6 different posts, & I want to share what I have: Here’s the 1st post…I started to write it as I was getting better (after being sick a total of 3 weeks: 1 week with the flu, then I remained congested, but since I can’t cough, it stayed in my lungs & must have  gotten infected, because once  I had antibiotics, I felt like a new person!)  I added a bit to what I started, just finishing the thought I had.  Here it is:

I always assumed that I was someone who did not take my health for granted. I know how fortunate I am for every small movement my body has, since the doctor’s prognosis was that I’d only blink my eyes. But, I realized that I take breathing for granted.  It just is always there!  So, I wondered if I am that way with other things, & I realized I am: I thought of how I was when Mark or my kids were new in my life.

 When I met Mark, there were things he did that no one had done for me before, & I Ioved that he did them!  I still love when he does those things, but I think they are more “expected” now because that is “just how Mark is.”

It is the same with my kids.  We were aware that Zach was a peacemaker in our home, but when Zach left home, we realized just how much of a peacemaker he was.    When Jessie joined our family, there was this zest  for life that came w/her, & it has become  such a constant in our life, that it will surely leave a hole & change our lives when she leaves soon (she  is  18 years old now!)  Soph has filled our home with music, & is always willing to help me.  We have 2 more years w/her, & better not take that for granted!

It’s been awhile…

It’s my nature (well, my OCD-personality!) to apologize & explain when I disappear for a while, so sorry I have not posted in awhile! While I’ve been gone, I’ve been jotting down notes of things to post over the last few months.  Rather than make 1 mega long post, I plan to write this post, & then post about 6 shorter posts in the next few days…

As for a brief explanation of what has been going on:  1st, I was fighting depression (I just had too much going on, so when I crashed, I really crashed)!  Then I was sick (& STAYED sick for like 3 weeks)!  & I have been incredibly busy (I was recently asked to be the primary secretary at church, so I now assist those who help & teach the kids who are 3-12 years old)

I have also been gone…Over President’s Day weekend, we went on a Carnival Cruise.  Carnival cruises are very “red-neck”¸ so I feel very out of place on them: I am like Rose on the Titanic, visiting the lower decks–she kinda doesn’t fit, but enjoys the people, ya’ know?  The entertainment on Carnival cruises suck, but I enjoyed every minute in my room—whether I was playing cards or having family scripture/prayer with the relatives who were on board, or whether I was alone in my room letting Mark rest.

A while ago, to help me deal with my depression, I began reading a book that Mark had introduced to me, called “Feeling Good”, by Dr. Burns.  Dr. Burns mentions 12 Cognitive Distortions. If we can change them, it helps depression, anxiety, OCD, & more. So, in an attempt to really learn them, I began “fasting” from one each week (instead of no food, each week I would focus on a cognitive distortion): I had read something about an alternative approach to fasting–rather than giving up food or TV, it suggested ;

  1. Fast  from anger & hatred (love more)
  2. Fast from judging others (overlook faults)
  3. Fast from discouragement (hold onto God’s promises)
  4. Fast from complaining (remember blessings)
  5. Fast from resentment or bitterness (be forgiving)
  6. Fast from spending too much money (save 10%, & give to the poor)

I liked that concept, so I tried to fast from these  cognitive distortions.  But that wasn’t working, because I need to learn to identify them, before I can “fast” from them…so, since I’d obviously been focusing on cognitive distortions of late, my OCD came into play as I did it…however, I got tired of writing the same stuff, & looking up meanings, so I made a template to fill out. (Mark gave me 4 more distortions that I added to it, as well!)  In case u are curious, here’s my template:



My Thoughts/Emotions: 


Cognitive Distortions/Rational Thoughts:

Filtering (Mental Filter)

Good and bad things are happening simultaneously but you only focus on the bad


Disqualifying The Positive

When good things happen, you reject it by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other, thereby thinking that nothing good happens


Global Labeling (and Mislabeling)

Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded—it is an extreme forn of overgeneralization: Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself

 “Black and White” Thinking (All-Or-Nothing Thinking)

If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure–when something has to be one way or it is ruined



You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat


Jumping to Conclusions—Mind Reading, The Fortune Teller Error.

You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out, or you anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an established fact


Catastrophizing (Magnification) or Minimization

You exaggerate the importance of things, or  you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny



a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to the person. May also see themselves as the cause of some unhealthy external event that they were not responsible for & we also compare ourselves to others


Control Fallacies

If we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as helpless a victim of fate, but if we feel internal control we assume responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us.


Fallacy of Fairness

We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us



We hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem



You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.


Emotional Reasoning

We believe that what we feel must be true automatically


Fallacy of Change

We expect that other people will change to suit us if we just pressure or cajole them enough


Always Being Right

Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness


Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

We feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

You can do it!

A while ago, I visited a stroke survivor in the hospital.  This was not my 1st trip back to a hospital (the 1st time, I was freaked out, cuz when I came home from the hospital after my stroke, it took years before I could watch shows on TV that showed hospitals), but I’ve been fine, so I thought nothing of it.   But this was so familiar that going to the hospital brought a  flood of memories of being locked-in.  Both of us were pegged as being stubborn, & I realized that as a necessary characteristic of stroke survivors.  While being stubborn can be a bad quality, it can also be good, if it is determination & persistence…in fact, it can be quite necessary for stroke survivors!  Case in point:

Before leaving for the hospital, I finally did something that has required lots of trial & error, but I FINALLY did it:  Around the time that I was becoming more independent, by being able to make many of my own breakfasts & lunches, I was introduced to this Superfood shake that is a powder…which I needed help mixing with a liquid. It killed me that I again needed help making my breakfast!  It wasn’t like it only was something I wanted occasionally, but I wanted it EVERY DAY!  So, I was taking a step back in my independence… To make matters worse, for some reason the girls hate making them for me, so it felt like a burden!

Well, I have a can of the powder mix on the kitchen counter, but for months, I wasn’t strong enough to open it…so I have a grip exerciser that I have been using as I watch TV.  When I could open it, I thought that was it—but I was wrong…very wrong!  The first time, powder went everywhere, & I was not so good at shaking it.  The next time, was less of a mess, & I stirred it with a fork, which was better, but my daughter still had to vacuum up my mess.  The next time, I thought I was so smart by using a funnel, but the neck of the funnel was too small, so the powder got stuck in the neck of the funnel, & I made a mess again.  So, I got a new funnel with a wide neck.  FINALLY, I could open the canister, not make a mess pouring the powder, & mix my own shake!  It took me awhile; but I finally made it by myself, without making a  huge mess!   I still have not mastered it, but it’s a start!

So, to all of u who are struggling:

“I was giving up. I would have given up – if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in my heart. The voice said “I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen everyday. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.”

― Yann Martel, Life of Pi