Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spiritually Speaking

I find myself in a rather odd position of continually needing to encourage others and "defend God." I am just now starting to understand how my strokes shook others or made them angry with God. I've had several conversation in the last couple of weeks where I've found myself in the role of comforter.

I really don't mind, and I love each of these ladies fiercely, so I hurt that they hurt. It is just weird to be trying to explain what I can of God's plan while I'm still walking it for myself. I am not asking you not to share your hurts or questions or feeling with me or to "protect" me. I believe God has given me a gift of encouragement and it feels good to be used by Him. I'm just saying that it does feel strange, in a season when I lean so heavily on others, both emotionally and for the basic needs of life, that I still have something worthwhile to pour out to others!

Thankfully I have not been angry with God or even asking Him "Why?" too often (this time...I sure did through our infertility! And now I see that was only a training ground for the years to come - thank you God, even though both events strive to break my heart.) What I have been really struggling with is not knowing my earthly purpose, this side of the strokes.

Right now, I have lost my identity. I not a Mom. Marriage is rough, so I sure don't make a good Wife. I'm no longer my children,s school teacher. While I am in the process of writing again, years have slipped by since I last published a book. I can't situationally relate to most of the women I've invested my heart in, those actively struggling through infertility or loss today. I am no longer a licensed driver (I really didn't care for driving before but the loss now really frustrates me because I've lost much of my independence). Because of bodily limitations and transportation issue and even the ability to write with my hands to keep up relationships, friendships are neglected. I can't even scrub out a toilet, something I never thought I would long for so much!

I wondered why God sent me back to a significantly more limited and broken body when He could have easily taken me Home to unbrokenness and ultimate peace. It comes down to the basics of why we were created to populate this earth at all if our time here is just a fleeting moment and we are living only a "poor reflection" of eternity. Yesterday it hit me that we are primarily created for worship, to praise God, both here and for endless days to come. I can still do that, it's not contingent on the limitations of my body!

I'm not saying that I always worship or praise well, but it was a relief to realize it is really that simple! And that I still have a meaningful purpose even in my brokenness. Thank you, God, that in all things, you can redeem pain for glory and it doesn't take anything of value on my part!! 

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 (NIV, 1984)

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17 (NIV, 1984) 

Be sure to visit "part 2" of this post, while you are here!

If you are struggling with the value of your own life, read this link called,"Finding Hope After Thinking About Suicide" or this one entitled,"I Forgot My Life was Not My Own".

Play Day

Rick and the kids come home tonight. I am so excited! Rick called yesterday morning to try to let me hear music from Its A Small World, my favorite ride and a special part of our dating story.

Yesterday my mom and I enjoyed 6 hours out shopping, mostly at consignment stores, our favorite. We were afraid we would get kicked out of multiple fitting rooms for our hysterical fits of laughter when I got stuck in clothing I was trying on and couldn't figure out how to get them back off with a dead left arm. (I did not buy any outfits that "trapped" me no matter how nice they looked on!)

I did spend about an hour in a wheelchair, and there were other times sitting for lunch and in the car, but otherwise I spent lots of five hours on my feet with the walker. I told my mom I had to make up for all those months I wasn't able to shop! I got several long skirts, a shirt, a couple of longer winter-style dresses (it was 70 yesterday, but I'm sure we will have snow in April), an adorable set of Disney overalls, and some cute hats. Thank you for the fun play day, Mom!

I'll have to do a separate post on my hats someday. Love them, and they give me more peace about my short hair. It has to do with a Bible verse God showed me last year, and a personal conviction (I hesitated to share publicly for over a year because I don't want anyone else tied by what's it has taken me nearly 40 years to feel convicted about). I have a sweet friend who know how much my hair upsets me and she's encouraging me to buy a wig, but I think I've decided to just stick with hats and wait for my hair to grow again.

This morning my circulation seems to be better as I woke up to find my left foot isn't purple like it usually is in the morning. I guess it liked all that time upright yesterday! This morning we are going to pick up a few things at Wal Mart then go to my Mom's choir practice this afternoon. I kept busy and survived another week!

Friday, March 30, 2012

More Than Meets the Eye

"So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever"
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 The Message).

This morning I was excited to wake up see I was only seeing one mirror on the dresser in my right field of vision. I was confused because images to the far right, overhead and especially to the left were still noticeably doubled. When I shifted my head just a tiny bit on the pillow the mirror was doubled as well. I finally realized that the bridge of my own nose had been blocking the view from my left eye at the angle I first woke up this morning. Overall I would say the double images are moving a little closer together, overlapping each other at times, though when I intentionally try to focus and draw the pictures closer together, they tend to drift farther apart. The neurologist still couldn't ger my left eye to move clear to the left, but another friend commented yesterday about how much better my eyes look.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I took a shower by myself this afternoon. I still had to sit down, using the "3-in-1" chair and my mom stayed right outside the shower door in case I needed her. It was pretty short, and maybe not as though as I might normally take, but I did it myself, my first independent shower since October!

It was another busy day. A friend came to clean my house (again) and my mom and I went out to brunch with her. After some down time and the shower, my parents drove me to another friend's house for over an hour of visiting this eving, right before dinner. Both were delightful times!

I am so thankful to be moving forward, though my therapist warns me I will, most likely, soon hit a plateau when I'm not seeing the forward progress for a season.

Laughter, The Best Medicine

Another 6-year-old funny. J-Bear shares a room with his 12-year-old brother. By personality, Big J. is very neat and precise while J-Bear is very free-spirited. The other day J-Bear told me that Big J.'s "room is all clean, except for my stuff." The "except for my stuff" part was an understatement because their room was an absolute disaster, but J-Bear was right that his brother's stuff was all picked up and put away while his was not!

We shared a pastry the other day, cut in three pieces. J-Bear went home and told Rick, "We shared it in three quarters."

Rick bought me an orchid a few weeks ago. He gave me a funny look when I was reading the care instruction. When I read, "Keep away from drafts," he thought I said, "Keep away from giraffes." We have been careful to keep an eye out for those apparently orchid-loving, long-necked creatures ever since!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Broken Brain

I thought of one more J-Bear funny. For several weeks after I came home from the hospital he (just 5 at the time) was explaining what was going on to anyone who would listen, saying, "Mommy broke her brain." :) I have mental images of a cast over my face!

Today's Appointments

I got up this morning thinking I would be smart and compose most of this post early in the day so I could add my updates from today's appointments and be done. The more I typed the more I had to share so my "draft" became a post of its own. Now I can tell you about today...

I walked quite a bit in therapy, without anyone holding on. I still am far from graceful, but it is progress. In the midst of one of my laughing fits I noticed a well-dressed gentleman in a suit standing at one of the desks, watching us. I made some comment to my therapist and he said that was his boss, who also worked at the rehab hospital so I might recognize him. As it turned out, he was the head of the therapy department at the hospital and I had also become good friends with his mother when we were next-door-neighbors as fellow patients in the hospital. It was cool that we both remembered each other and I could get a brief update on his mom!

The TMJ is doing better. He found some more really sore spots again today, but overall we are seeing some improvement. Yesterday I yawned and didn't have terrible pain for the first time since I woke up in the hospital. I still had some pain then, and it was more sore again today, but such a blessing and relief not to be in agony!

My neurologist seemed pleased with my overall progress and surprised to hear I was walking without even a walker in therapy. He said he's never so glad to be proven wrong as when a patient does something he never expected them to do. He noticed that my hands are in pretty bad shape, even my "good" right one, so he wants me to restart occupational therapy for them. He wrote the order today, but I don't know when that will start or how long insurance will cover me.

That's it for today. Thank you for your ongoing prayers! 

Re-entering Life and Re-visiting The Past

I had a dream last night that I could type using my left hand. It was slower than it used to be and a little bit awkward, but still reasonably fluid. I woke up this morning to find that was not the case. But I did manage to send my Dad a brief text message last week and I did use my (slow) left thumb to type part of it!

I still need to gain both strength in and control over the left arm, but we still aren't doing much with it because of the shoulder problems. I did notice in the mirror this morning that I am holding my shoulders more evenly whereas I had been carrying the right one much more tensely and higher up ever since I came home from the hospital (and maybe there too, though I couldn't see any mirror to find out). I am still holding it a bit high, and my left shoulder is slightly dropped, but the shoulders are visibly more even. I still tend to hold the left arm clawed and pulled up close to my chest unless I make a focused effort not to.

We had a big day yesterday, going to a lady's lunch with my mom's church, then surprising some friends with a visit (great hugs!), then going back and visiting the rehab hospital where I stayed last fall, then going to Bible study last night. Thanks to my mom and dad for driving me all those places! I have not had such a "normal" day of real life in nearly half a year!

I got to hug some of my favorite nurses and CNAs, see many of my therapists, talk with the medical transport guy who drove me to and from the hospital several times, and visit with my (Christian) doctor for about 1/2 hour. I still ask your prayer for T. - I did not see him yesterday, but he was a CNA who had especially touched my heart. Before I left the hospital he was expressing interest in finding a Christian church and his daughter had just broken her leg during her birth.

While there, another doctor (who had provided my weekend care) stopped by and was amazed at my progress. She kept shaking her head in disbelief and mumbling something about, "six strokes." She said when she had first seen me, she didn't expect me to recover. But she called me a "miracle" (maybe this will be a cracked open door for my regular doctor to share the Lord's power?) and said I was an example of hope for every stroke patient they have seen.

This is similar to the EMT who took me back to the regular hospital after my 4th, 5th and 6th strokes and before my stent surgeries. She had responded to the initial call when I had my first two biggest strokes and nearly die, though I was unconscious then and didn't actually meet her. I was feeling pretty rough when I headed back to the hospital this time. I explained to the EMTs that I had had 6 strokes, as most presumed from my uncontrollable head movements that I had been in a serious car accident. One of the ladies said she had responded to the first call and said I "looked so much better now." It made me realized that I must have looked truly horrible the first time around if this was "better."

We know that it is all by God's grace and to His glory that I've seen the improvement that I have! I hadn't realized how poor my prognosis  until the doctor revealed she hadn't expected to see recovery yesterday. And to think this was one of my rehab docs who didn't even meet me until over a month after the first strokes! I honestly still don't know what to think about where I had been, or why God has gifted me with such unmerited blessings in recovery! (Thank you all for your ongoing prayers!)

It seems painfully slow to me, especially when I talk to other patients who have had strokes and regained function in a matter of "days" or "weeks". But on the other side of the coin I know of others who have not regained from my extent of looses even in a year or more, if ever.

My mouth is a barometer for me as are my eyes.When I feel recovery is going, "too slowly" I remind myself that my tongue still feels burned and numb and I'm still fighting double vision - these are two areas I cannot change with any amount of therapy, so they are ongoing reminders of my brain injuries and reminders that no matter how much I fight, this is all going to take time! The weekend therapy doctor did mention yesterday that my eyes, while still not moving exactly together, are noticeably improved. Even I can see the difference in a mirror. My primary rehab doctor said it had pained her to see my eyes before.

I'm feeling stress in being in my 5th month of recovery, as several medical professional have told me that the majority of my healing will take place buy 6 months. I do not want to slow my progress forward! Many have told me that the deficits I have at one or two years will  be with me for life, but I've talked to stroke patients who are still seeing minor improvements after 10 years, so I am choosing to take their stories to heart over the "experts".

It sounds like the kids are having a blast at Disneyland. When they called me yesterday I asked J-Bear (6-year-old) if he was being a good obeyer. Instead of answering, he quickly changed the subject by saying, "I love you, Mom. Bye!" Rick said he was actually doing pretty good, so I guess the short attention span came from excitement, but it still was pretty funny. Another recent J. funny came when I was trying to talk to him about the strokes and using the experience to talk to him about the Lord. I found out how ineffective my talk had been when, at the end, he looked at me with huge, brown eyes and innocently blew my illustrations out of the water with, "But Mommy, you didn't go to Heaven after your stokes. You went to the hospital."

I'll post more, probably this afternoon or by the weekend, if I have anything to share about today's therapy or neurologist sppointmennts.

Monday, March 26, 2012

5 months

On Sunday we took my smaller walker to church, instead of my wheel chair, for the first time. This was exactly 5 months since the first strokes.

Today I was able to walk the length of the hall with only two therapist on stand-by (walking with me, ready to catch me if I fall), by no one touching me, three different times in the same hour! I did still need my legs to be weighted. Anyone seeing me walk like that in public would think I was drunk, and I still have to learn to keep my arms down to my sides, but a few weeks ago, I was just starting to take a few aided steps in therapy at all, so this is very exciting progress!

I was even able to hold a few brief conversations while I walked, something I had not been able to do before.

Thank you for your prayers. My therapist said that the parts of my brain that were only bruised (not killed) seem to be starting to healing and my brain is learning to rewire to rework new connections around the parts that have been destroyed.

Switching to the smaller walker seems to be forcing faster healing, as I was not safe to use it before (high fall risk with any form of walker but my big, sturdy one) but now I have to rely on my own balance to prevent multiple daily falls with this one because the new walker is so much lighter.. Every time I almost fall and can recover, my brain is learning what to do and what nogt to allow my body to do in the future.

 Please keep G. and my whole therapy team in your prayers. Their salvation would make this experience seem to hold a more tangible purpose!

Rick and the kids made it safely to their hotel, after a 10-hour car ride. I struggled a lot with fear last night and this morning, but today I'm trying to focus on remembering Romans 8:15, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' (NIV, 1984).

I also really was hit by my own emotionalism. I tried so hard not to cry, but while I might have been able to wait until my family left, or at least keep most of the tears at bay, before the strokes, there was no such control now. I blubbered last night and again before they were out the door this morning. I was still crying a good half hour after they left. I didn't mind that part so much (though my eyes still feel salty and caked), but I was really mad at myself for not being able to prevent or even slow the tears before they left.

Tomorrow Mom and I will go back and visit the rehab hospital where I spent parts of November and December. I am so thankful for all my parents are doing to take care of me while my hubby is gone!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tying Shoes

I couldn't tie my shoes as recently as yesterday. I tried again today, and while it took me several attempts and a long time to get results, I did it!

My left hand was shaking and pretty wild (I should of taken a video of the process!), the shoes aren't very tight and as you can see I tied the left one pretty lopsidedly, but I feel the same pride that I did when I mastered this skill in first grade!

My daughter gets photo credit for this picture. See her cute toes in the lower right corner?

Friday, March 23, 2012


Hubby spent his first full day back at the office today. Though I missed him terribly, I survived. He's due back in the office for full days (he's been working from home afternoons) in the middle of April, so we are starting now to ease into the change.

I also had a friend come spend the morning with me before she took R. to a birthday party for the afternoon. Two more friends came for a fun lunch.

Rick's out of town all next week, taking the kids on a long-awaited trip to Disneyland with his parents. My parents will come and stay with me, but we will have a pretty big week with therapy appointments, a luncheon through my mom's church, seeing my neurologist, and possibly going back to visit the rehab hospital.

Disneyland is the first "big thing" I've missed out on, but a big trip like that isn't remotely a possibility in the foreseeable future. We've had to put the trip off several times, for various reasons, sine our 6-year-old's 4th birthday, so it has to happen this way. The kids are excited, but honestly I'm trying not to think about it much. I pray it doesn't "hit" me too hard after they are gone or when they get back and are talking about it even more. I do hope they all have a wonderful time!

I used my big walker, but the kids and I walked the length of our block all the way down to our mailbox and back tonight. I had my cell phone in the basket of the walker and the emergency call button around my neck (I think the range only goes directly in our yard, not clear down the street). With three kids also with me, especially the very responsible and mature 12-year-old, I felt confident enough to try. It was quite a bit harder than I though it would be and, my left foot was really dragging by the time we even made it down the street. I was panting and sweating and exhausted by the time we got home. But I'm thrilled we were able to do that. It was my first time out of the house, without adult supervision, since the stroke!

I know it seem like rather random information to post, but as I don't want to forget it, I'm recording it here. I've now had two physical therapists tell me that "walking is just controlled falling." Apparently our bodies act like they are going to fall with each step we take, but we normally "catch" ourselves with our legs and that's what moves us forward. I pray that I learn to take regular "controlled falls" and that God prevents me from the uncontrolled ones!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Picture Thank You

Thank you for all the prayers and encouragement this week. I am doing better.

 A friend came over yesterday morning and we had silly fun trying on wigs together (sorry, no pictures). I just learned from email that another friend tried to stop by later in the day, but I was at therapy. Sorry I missed her. Yet another friend (and possibly my mom, but she just had oral surgery yesterday so I told her to take care of herself) is coming this morning to bless me by helping with the house. The kids will come home for the weekend, starting this afternoon. I am so loved!

Here's the sweet surprise from a friend in Maryland that I came home to find after therapy yesterday:

The purple butterfly matched my shirt!

There were many comments on my last post, especially through Facebook and private email. Thank you all! One issue that came up more than any other was women sharing their own baby aches with me. A passage that's been playing over and over in my head is Proverbs 30:15-16 (NIV,1984):
The leech has two daughters.
   ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.

   “There are three things that are never satisfied,
   four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
 the grave, the barren womb,
   land, which is never satisfied with water,
   and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!

 This is proving to be true in my life, though the heartache is no where near the level I felt the first time. I think it is directly because of our years of infertility that I'm having a hard time feeling fully satisfied now. The barren womb still speaks and calls out "Give." God knows His plan for our family and while I may have seasons of longing, overall I choose to be content in that.

I walked several more steps, unaided, yesterday in therapy. We couldn't get good video as I was laughing too hard and had to stop every few steps. (I do a LOT of both laughing and crying with little provocation these days. As my mom says, both emotions are very "close to the surface" now and the entire staff at the rehab center knows me by my laugh. Whenever I am working hard at something, like therapy, I burst out in uncontrolled laughter, I think just as an emotion outlet even if nothing is funny.) I've told my therapist we would get a lot more accomplished in my hour of therapy if I didn't spend so much time laughing or recovering from laughter, and there are times he obviously doesn't know what to do with my hysterical self, but generally he takes it pretty much in stride.

What girl doesn't get a lift from a little shopping trip (or as my mom now calls it, "retail therapy")? I've had my tennis shoes for about 5 years, including my stay in the rehab hospital and ongoing therapy. As a result, they were falling apart! Immediately after therapy yesterday Rick took me to a shoe store and while were lots of cute but impractical shoes I could have tried on, I left with two new pairs of much-needed tennies.

One with a flat soles for now:

And a rocking pair for the future, in hopes that I gain enough balance in the future to wear them:

I know it seems kind of silly to buy a pair of shoes I can't even wear yet, but I've wanted to try this style for years, and it is good to both have goals and expectations of the future.

I did have a different gal work on my jaw yesterday. She didn't press as hard so it was slightly less painful. She is a student in training so I haven't decided yet if the lower pain level is because she wasn't as effective or if I am actually seeing improvement. Thank you for the anonymous tip in my comments suggesting I try capsasin cream.

On Tuesday I did graduate from my old walker for at-home uses:

to a newer, lighter style (accessorized with my weight to help me keep my balance):

Our bird is clear in her preference for the older walker:

 It's funny the things that excite my now. I know I can complain a lot, but I am thankful for these aids and for the ability to walk at all!

 I keep thinking of those who had strokes even 50 or 100 years ago, and I am so thankful for the equipment, technology, tests and level of understanding we are blessed to know today!

And I'm thankful for YOU. I know it is God's grace, through the power of your prayers, that allows me to keep getting up each day. Thank you for your faifulness.

Monday, March 19, 2012

12 Steps

Rick says there were several times my therapist let go for several steps today. I still walked like a drunk, but surprisingly better than last week. Rick took one video where my therapist let go of my belt for about a dozen steps! We hope to post to the video to Facebook (see previous post for links) later this week.

I'm still wearing 3-pound weights on both legs when I walk to help my brain understand my body's place in space. I am finally strong enough to wear 1 1/2-pound weights on my arms, on and off, here at home, for the same reason. My left hand continues to be rather non-functional

My left shoulder has acted up all week, so today in therapy, we skipped any machines or exercises that could irritate it or cause further inflammation and pain. I've had it explained to me that the shoulder isn't fully dislocating, but because of the muscle weakness, it does repeatedly slip partially out of its socket, thus causing pain to an otherwise mostly numb area of my body. It "popps" back into socket several times per day and that's painful when it happens, but ultimately brings some relief.

The only way to strengthen the shoulder is through specific exercises that I have to do several times per day, but most exercise aggravates and inflames the joint, bringing more pain and loss of mobility. It had calmed down for the few weeks I was out of therapy (between home health discharge and my first outpatient appointment), even though I was continuing with an exercise regiment here at home, but now that I'm doing home exercises on top of regular therapy, my shoulder is giving me plenty of trouble again.

If you are looking for a specific prayer focuses, we would appreciate real prayer for our marriage. We hope to celebrate 20 years of marriage this August, and though we've been through a lot of painful things (business loss, unemployment, infertility, recurrent miscarriages, several adoption losses, chronic illness, etc.) this outranks any experience we have yet faced. This has already been a long and painful trial and we know we have many more months or years of adjustments ahead of us before we can begin to find a "new normal."

Even if I do regain physical functions through God's re-wiring of my brain, there are six areas of my brain that are (barring God's miraculous invention) dead and cannot be recovered, so my cognitive process have been forever changed. That's hard for both of us to cope with. Although, Rick married me "for better or worse, in sickness and in health," this is a trial neither of us remotely imagined facing! God's power is our only hope or strength!

We would also appreciate your prayer for wisdom and unity in parenting. While we still haven't moved the kids back home full-time, this has been a painful growing season for every member of the family. We are finding parenthood to be more challenging than ever and know we desperately need God's guidance. Our kids are finding life to be full of surprising adjustments and challenges. This is one season where I'm especially thankful that Noel, Joel and Hannah never had to face any of the challenges of this broken world! Please keep J. (boy, age 12), R. (girl, age 9) and especially J-Bear (boy, age 6) in your ongoing prayers! I know God's purpose in this must include their lives in His holy plan, so I am learning to yield them in a way I never have before, but it is heartbreaking to watch them go through such deep struggles and be fully unable to fix anything or make the situation any easier.

Physically, besides longing for walking and seeing better (my new glasses will have to be exchanged, as they create a "blind spot" in my good eye), my TMJ remains my most ongoing and painful "thorn." My therapist works on my jaw about an hour per week and it the process is so painful I fear I will throw up on him (something my sweet husband has already endured) one of these days, from the intensity of the pain (and this said by a woman who has survived endometriosis and three unmediated labors). He says my jaw dislocation is very deep and we can't even begin to address the slipped disk in the jaw until he has re-adjusted me enough that the muscles relax enough to begin trying to move the disk back into place in the jaw joint. It is very strange to experience a numb left half of my mouth and feel such deep and profound pain in the left side of my face, my jaw joint, my lower jaw and my teeth!

Another couple thing that have really "gotten" to me this week are the finality of our sterility and my self-image. Before my strokes I had been praying about adopting another child. Even though it's been 3 1/2 years since my (medically necessary) hysterectomy, and though we've been abundantly blessed with living children, I still held out hope that "someday" (sooner rather than later) we would continue building our family through adoption. God had other plans. Instead of caring for a baby, I'm dependent on others to do my laundry, cook my meals and clean my house. The door feels firmly locked and bolted closed now. For the first time in a long time, seeing a sweet baby made me cry on Sunday and that familiar old ache was back in my heart. We've had three turns I thought we would never have, two after I had been told to expect a hysterectomy - I am so blessed! But it will never be again, and that finality is hard.

I keep another blog called Inner Beauty Girlz but I guess my message, that outer beauty is fleeting and that true beauty comes from Christ on the inside, is one I still need to learn! I started sobbing in church Sunday while everyone else sang, "You make everything glorious, and You made me!" I could only think of my brokenness, my chopped hair, my crazy eyes, my weight gain and my losses and inabilities. At that moment I could not think of Christ or who I am in Him, but only of my ugliness. I have voiced to several people that if only I were a baby or even a toddler I would be "cute" in my re-learning how to walk and move my body, but so far no one seems to really understand my self-loathing. Obviously, I am still really struggling with this.

My book on the fruit of the Spirit, is also coming along, like my physical healing, very slowly, but it is continuing to move forward. I'm asking the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom about what He would have me say about Himself and His work in our lives. Please join me in praying about this.

That's all I can think of to update for now, but it gives you a picture of where I'm at both emotionally and physically. Thank you, again, for your faithfulness in ongoing prayers! God is faithful and gracious and so good!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Walking More

My therapist said I took a couple steps without him holding on Monday! There's a video from last week when I started walking (with weights on my legs so I can feel and control them better and two therapists walking with me to catch me when I start to fall) on my Facebook page (sorry I couldn't figure out how to post it here - look for March 7 posts or on my husband's page). We praise the Lord that I walked even farther, independently today, though I looked quite drunk! My therapist teased me that I should drink three shots of Brandy before I try to walk and I actually might walk a straighter line.

I have new glasses as of Monday afternoon. Though I can't see crystal clear I see significantly better than I did. I can patch one lens at a time, so while one eye is still visibly out of synch with the other, and while it really throws off my depth perception, this mostly solves the doubled vision at least as a temporary (until my eyes either self-correct or I have surgery in about a year) fix. I'll try to post a picture soon. I don't have peripheral vision with one eye patched, so I'm rather blind unless you are standing right in front of me. I will need to adjust to the change (and hope I don't drive my walker over too many people in the meantime) but I am enjoying seeing clearer and being able to read more! My right eye is my "better" eye overall, but I've noticed when the other eye is patched, my vision is significantly darkened.

My temporomandibular disorder (TMJD) and left shoulder pain are still giving me fits. My therapist is working on the TMJ and when my jaw loudly popped last week I could hear better for a short time (that afternoon), but I am hopeful that addressing this may improve my hearing in the long run. My hearing is still quite muffled and I miss a lot. I haven't recently mentioned my shoulder to the therapist, but I think it is hurting more with exercise, so I will bring it up at therapy next week if it is still bothering me.

I'm still dizzy and sometimes nauseated when I move my head. I've described the sensation to Rick as having a gyroscope in my head. One wrong movement and I'm reeling! I can move my head from side to side a little more now, but my neck still feels like it needs to be adjusted. There is no way I desire to have my neck "popped" again, since that's when all this started with the dissection of an artery at the chiropractor's office.

My hand seems to be working a tiny bit better but is still very weak (especially in trying to spread my fingers apart) and shaky. My therapist says I can start wearing light weights on my arms to help me feel and control them better. I am finally washing and rinsing my own (cut very shot while in the hospital) hair, though my right hand does most of the work. I didn't have the strength to grasp anything left-handed until recently, but can now hold the shower head and squeeze the handle of my walker with my left hand, though my grasp looks funny. My right hand functions well as long as something is firmly passed into it and I grasp solidly before someone lets go. I am, thankfully, right-handed and my penmanship is starting to improve with practice.

My blood flow is still a problem. My left hand and foot often look purple due to blood pooling in them. As I am on blood thinners for at least six months, bruising is not surprising, but I frequently sport many large and ugly bruises. My knuckles look perpetually banged up! I don't feel as continually cold as I did but I still chill easily, in spite of a nearly 30-pound weight gain since I've been home.

I'm excited to make a new friend. Joanne Heim is also a Christian, nearly my age, used to homeschool and is a published author! What a perfect fit of commonalities. She is also recovering from a major stroke (14 months, I think) that was nearly fatal. I look forward to getting to know Joanne better! What an answer to prayer. If anyone knows of other stroke recovery websites, especially Christian-based, please tell me in the comments. I would be so grateful.

Those are today's prayer request and praises. Thank you for standing with me! It is wonderful to have this log to "journal" my ongoing journey. Thank you for walking this long road with me through your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Walked & Teaching School

The best news so far in my recovery has been having our kids home sine Wednesday night. They are scheduled to go back to my in-laws' on the 15th, but at least we are getting closer to bringing them home full-time. We have been doing school again and other than the walker, the emergency call button hanging around my neck, a funny-sounding, slow voice, eyes that don't see well, and a hand that won't work, it feels pretty "normal" again. I tell my first-grader that he can write and cut better than Mommy can, and I worry about my youngest son's speech since I can't pronounce words well, but we are learning. I still need someone else to fix meals, do laundry, and general housework, but we are slowly getting there.

I started outpatient therapy last week. (Technically, I am still categorized as "home-bound" but my amazing hubby gets me and my equipment out the door a few times a week.) Yesterday I WALKED 300 ft.! I needed two attendants to keep from falling, but it was the first time I have been equipment-free since October! My therapist says it will be a long road, but that was a start. He says when he asks me if I want to stop or do more, I always answer that I will do more. He asked if I used to run marathons (funny!) and says my motto seems to be, "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing."

I'll see the regular eye doctor this afternoon and hopefully we can get some eye glasses ordered to address the blurry part of the vision. My mouth is still very numb and I keep biting myself, even on the "good" side because of that. Eventually we will have to address hearing loss issues and dental so I can open my mouth more than an inch, but we can only take so many things at a time. For now I am enjoying being a mother and am rejoicing that I can actually envision a future on my own two feet!