Wednesday, April 25, 2012

6 Month Update

I just posted a 6-month stroke update at if you are interested in joining me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Am Moving!

I decided to start a new blog just for stroke updates and another book I will hopefully get to work on. Find me at Stroke of Grace now.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Prayer Warriors

I don't know any details yet, and hope to post more when I do, but for now I'm just calling out the need for prayer, My friend, Kendra, with children very close to the ages of my own, is planned to be air-flighted to a Seattle stroke center tomorrow after multiple recent strokes.

I never thought we would share this commonality. Kendra has been a huge cheer leader and prayer warrior for me. Now it is our turn. I am so upset! Please pray!

Full-time business

I've decide a full-time job would be less demanding than stroke recovery! I think this is true for my mom/chauffeur who did my laundry, multiple loads, plus most of the folding (I did a little, but mostly just towels) and putting away today.

We went to two therapy appointments today, see the dentist tomorrow, another therapy appointment Wednesday, followed by an eye exam across town, my friend Kati is taking me to therapy Thursday, then Mom's taking me back, half way across town, to meet a new audiologist Friday. Praise the Lord for good insurance! I think I'll be all caught up, other than ongoing therapy and at least two more dentists appointments, until I see the neurologist again next month.

Therapy was great today. I walked, still with two therapists on guard to catch me the several times I lost my balance, without even a gate belt on today. After I had done a regular lap up and down the hall, G. made it more challenging, giving me an obstacle-course (all on flat ground) to navigate, then uneven mats of different textures (one felt as unstable as water, so when I commented, he teased me about claiming to walk on water), then an obstacle-course on these textured mats, all on my own two feet!

My occupational therapist was excited to hear I have written 1/3 of my book. She also gave me some strategies for rolling over, as this has been an issue with my weak shoulder, was excited about my crocheting, started a dexterity test that we hope to finish next session, gave me suggestions for lacking short-term memory skills, and suggested I start using a wheel chair again so I can get around the laundry room and kitchen more safely. She was also pleased that I am independently showering and drying myself (with Rick to help me in and out of the shower and on standby while I'm in there) and that I've moved from a 3-in-1 chair to an armless shower chair this week. (She tells me to think of sitting to shower as a luxury since high end resorts have a shower chair built in.)

My eyes seem to doing minimally better, with very close objects sometimes becoming a single (or at least mostly) image and distance items seeming to be slightly closer together. Thank you for your prayers!

I was feeling great about all this progress until the doorbell rang and I (painfully slowly went to answer it) had to take three breaths to tell the two little boys at our door that our youngest, "is with his grandparent until Thursday afternoon." There went all the air out of my puffed up chest! I am making progress much faster than medical professionals ever though I could (or would be able to at all) so there is no doubt God is working mightily. I get discouraged though, when I think about how very far I still have to go.

This morning I was sad and discouraged when I woke up to face this ongoing hard work yet again. The dailiness is very old. May God's strength shine through all my weaknesses! One day at a time...

Now off to eat another great dinner, so faithfully and lovingly provided by our church family for so very long. With thanksgiving!


Sunday, April 15, 2012


Our 9-year-old has said a couple of really funny thing this weekend. I wish I could remember most, but I want to get at least one written down while it is on my mind. Last night at dinner, she was talking about a cake decorator she admires and said the lady was "desigitive," meaning a cross between good at design and is creative. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Own Little World

For my friends that are living with chronic illness, I would imagine you have read this before, but here's the link if you need it again. The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino.

I had my first Occupational Outpatient Therapy today. Because I primarily use my right eye, I consistently turn my head to the right and tilt it down, trying to center my field of vision as much as possible. The cerebellum injury from one of the strokes also impacts my balance and makes me carry my head to the right.  This, in addition to still carrying my right shoulder high and my left shoulder (that's slowly becoming stronger and less painful, but still needs some healing) low, and I'm noticeably off balance.

We worked on "finding center" and balance exercises, typically to be done with my eyes closed. I kept feeling that what she was calling center was far to my right, though I did somewhat better without my eyes. We also did some detail work with my hands. I have a 70-pound grip with my right hand, but only about a 15- to 20-pound grip with my left. By the time we left I was very dizzy and constantly feel I was falling to the right, but I'm told I was standing straighter.

This afternoon I asked my Dad to raise my walker by about 3 inches. It didn't look or feel too short before, but I noticed that the more I tried to walk without it, the more sore my upper back became, so I concluded those muscles must not be used to being fully upright. M new therapist, P., wants me to walk (still using the walker) as if I don't need a walker at all, using it only for balance when needed, thus raising it helps accomplish that goal because it forces me to have better posture.

I typed most of this update using both hands! It was painfully slow going, I had to watch the keys carefully, I had to backspace and delete a lot, and I wouldn't have made it without my much-needed spell checker, but it is progress!

When I am writing I forget my physical limitations for a while. It's just my brain and spirit, communing with God. I feel smart again, like I have something to contribute to the world. Yesterday I spent all day writing and wrote most of 4 section (out of 46) of my book. At dinner time I was "surprised" when my own little world shattered and to find myself still living the reality of these limitations.

I'm trying to write as much as I can while the kids aren't home. Please continue to keep this book in your prayers. I am close to a third of the way through it, then I am thinking of writing a book specifically on  stroke before I move on to Paul. What do you think? I would love your feedback.

A couple of resource notes for myself and my current book project:
For verse look up: BibleGateway
For historical or linguist questions: Greek Concodance and Strong's Concordance with Lexicon

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I was sharing with my mom yesterday how unprepared I felt for this crisis. I guess that's the hallmark of a crisis though, it is something devastatingly unexpected and if you were fully prepared you wouldn't react to the crisis negatively, so in your eye the event wouldn't be a crisis!

I compared having a stroke to a single house fire. In a wide-spread crisis like a flood or an earthquake, everyone can understand what you are going through because they are dealing with the same types of issues.

A fire is just as unexpected (sometimes more so with today's weather prediction technology) and just as individually devastating, but very few truly know what your daily life is like in the days, week, months or even years to follow. There isn't a manual to tell you what to expect or what steps come next along your journey. And it is a unique process for anyone, all though their are some general commonalities with others who have lived the same trauma.

The good news here is that while others can't personally relate, they weren't traumatized at the same time you were, so they have the emotional and physical resources available to help you out, unlike fellow catastrophe victims would.

 I went to therapy again yesterday. Nearly an hour with the occupation therapist for my intake interview. Tthen my normal physical therapy stuff for another hour or so.  As for walking, G. says that they hardly ever see this kind of progress, especially this quickly, even from a single stroke, much less six with such deep brain involvement like I've seen. I know the only answer is God's grace, since my medical prognoses was so poor.

 I told him that I would still like to be walking by now and he agreed that ever other patient wanted to, "be better yesterday" as well, but he still seems quite amazed at my progress. I am still walking like i severely drunk, but I am walking a bit so there is progress. My new goal is to be fully walking on my own by my 40th birthday, the end of July. I don't know how realistic that goal is, but it is where I hope to be.

 I also do a seated stepping machine. A week ago my record was around 600-700 steps in 15 minutes. Last Wednesday I made over 1,060 and yesterday I got to 1,275 in the same amount of time. I like this kind of measurable progress with such exciting outcomes!

When we came in from therapy we smelled a little smoke in the air and heard a fire siren. Within the next half hour we watched in fascinated horror as a pillar of smoke rose over our neighborhood, first white and then thick and black. At least three more fire trucks came roaring past our house and we knew the lives of our neighbor were changing forever.

Just a few blocks from our house, two children were home alone (imagine their parents, leaving for work one ho-hum morning, then having no home to come back to at the end of the day) when the fire broke out. According to the news, there were no injuries, so I presume the kids got out safely. I do not know the family and do not know how we can help out, but the stroke analogy kept replaying in my mind as I watched the smoke rise, and I covered this hurting family in prayer.

We have been through or own crisis, but now we are in a position to be the blessers to others because this tragedy wasn't our own. God, please give us the wisdom to turn our kind intention in to healing and helpful actions, when I'm at such loss in how to respond.

Last night I enjoyed a couple of independent "firsts." I went to writer's group again, so this meant I rode somewhere in the car without an immediate family member AND it was my first time out for a meeting in the evening. I was quite sore and tired by the end, but I am thankful I was able to go! I was so blessed by the fellowship of the ladies and the feedback on my Fruit of the Spirit book. It was a stretch, and I was fearful to go without family and hand-holding, but I was embraced quickly back into the fold and was well taken care of.

I ask you to keep this nameless family who lost their home in yesterday's fire in your prayers. Also my friends R. and M. who remain so heavy on my heart as they continue grieving for their daughter.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Our kids are home for the weekend! :)

I am thinking on two things today . Christ's sacrifice on the cross and the physical process of aging...

Why do we call this day "Good Friday" if there was anything but goodness in a Father witnessing the brutal death of His Son, until the sight, and the weigh of my sin, became more than He could bear? From the cross, Jesus cried out, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" He was forsaken in His hour of need so that I never will be. As a friend put it, we call this day good because we know how the story ends, but no one there that day, none of the disciples or others, would have called the circumstances "good" at the time!

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)

I am using a walker, answered a wrong number telephone call this week to, "Grandma?" and am praying to be fully walking before my 40th birthday this summer. What an odd mix of realities! What has been on my mind this week, in addition to the brevity of earthly life,  is the normal process of aging and how blessed I am to realistically envision a future on my own two feet.

Usually by the time someone's body fails enough he or she needs the aid of a walker or other assistance device, there is no going back. The normal process of aging requires the ongoing loss of strength and capabilities. I am so blessed to be recovering and regaining some of what was lost, but my body is only my temporary home. What is regained now is bound to be lost again, sometime in the future. This though both discourages (what's the point of striving to recover then?) and comforts (we are all frail, this world is not my Home) me.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. (Psalm 103:11-16 NIV)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Train to Omaha

I had therapy again today. It was more of a laugh-fest than usual. I asked my therapist if he thought the laughter was getting any better (even the tape marks on the floor made me laugh today) and he replied, "At least your walking is improving." I've noticed that he does not say anything negative, no matter what you ask him. Translation, yes my unpredictable laughing is growing steadily worse!

I got a fun surprise in today's mail. A copy of the book The Train to Omaha, by my friend Diane Harper. She has been writing this book as long as I've known her and I guess it was accepted for publication while I was in the hospital. The book's official release date was March 1 and is available through Amazon at this link.

We got a new Kinect today. I haven't tried it yet, but know the Wii was part of physical therapy at the rehab hospital, so hopefully I will learn to use this machine successfully to improve movement as well. Thank you, Rick!

Our visit with Diana ends tonight. It has been fun and my mom says I have walked her feet off three days this past week when we have gone shopping. Even though I'm using a walker, I am so thankful to have more energy!

I invited myself out to lunch at Sushi Pier 2 today. Diana was getting together with some friends and read a text message out loud yesterday. Her friend said something like, "I think they like sushi..." She was talking about some other friends, but I though we (my mom and I) were the "they" she was talking about, so I pipped up with something like, "Oh, we are invited too?" We were welcome to join them after all, but wouldn't have gone if it weren't for my foe-paw. It was very funny, but maybe you had to be there.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

God Is In Control!

 From laughter yesterday to torrents of tears this morning, my emotions are so unstable and unpredictable! I am used to being relatively "in control" but God is showing me that I really have no control over anything. Its a painful lesson to learn, but an important one!

I used to think that "pain and suffering" was just a phrase people would use to try to get more money from the legal system. I am learning, by first-hand experience, that the emotional price is often even higher than that of physical losses. I don't think I will ever roll me eyes at true "pain and suffering" again.

Diana and I are having a wonderful visit. I pulled out all of yesterday's crocheting and gave it a second (and a third, and a forth) try. With my mom's help I finally figured out where I went wrong earlier and I ended up with a fairly respectable granny square before I grew too tired and put the yarn away this evening. Diana is making a beautiful blanket for Princess R. in all her favorite colors.

Rick worked another full day at the office today. I really missed him, even though Diana and my mom kept me busy! I am thankful he has a job and thankful his work has been so understanding during this season. God is slowly working healing in our marriage.Thank you for your continued prayers. We need them!

Sunday I was able to thank God for allowing the strokes for my first time. In many ways I feel God has given me a profound series of gifts and all the yucky stroke stuff just came along for a ride. My views on life and death have profoundly been impacted. There's much more here than I'm ready to publically  unpack, but I am thankful for these realizations and change in perspective. I still am having hard days, but God is gracious and faithful to redeem whatever is intended for evil!

It isn't a road I would chosen and I still find myself, like today, saying, "I can't believe I have been damaged by strokes, " or simply, "I can't believe I've had a stroke!" Sometimes my thoughts add on " my age," sometimes I am just surprised to be so disabled at all! I feel different inside than I realize I look or act outside. I still hate to hear my slow, slurred words as I talk. I've decided to generally avoid mirrors or videos for a while, as I look very different from the way I picture myself. I like my mental pictures much better than reality! The experience has changed me dramatically, and yet I am still very much the same person I have always been.

My heart has been with M. and R. today as they held a viewing for their 10-years-awaited daughter. I know they would appreciate your continued prayer as they face the heartache of a funeral service tomorrow and live all the future days to come without their precious child! Abi's twin died earlier in the year (I think December?) and she was born (a few weeks early and underwent heart surgery just days after birth) only last week. Abi touched hundred of lives through a Facebook prayer group. She went Home on Saturday. I feel both great joy at the peace she is now living and much heartache when I think of M. and R., who only tasted parenthood under the stress on a hospital and crisis circumstances, and are now left with empty arms yet again.

I was asked to please pray for R. who was recently hospitalized with an enlarged heart and possible mild heart attack. And for A. who is battling depression after several years fighting cancer. Would you please join me?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Walked Without Weights!

I laughed walked my way through most of a half hour of therapy today. Am I ever tired! But I also feel energized by the knowledge that this was totally without weights on my legs for the first time and only a few brief resting breaks! Praise be to God!

Rick (yes, he's safely home! - thank you, Lord!) took a video that I imagine he will post to Facebook sometime this week.

I told my therapist that when I went to the neurologist's last week their was a question form outside his office and all I had ti do was read the question, something to the effect of, "Do you laugh or cry easily or without reason?" and I burst out laughing. 

My sister-in-love (wife of my brother who visited earlier this year) is visiting from WA this week. She got in last night and will be in town until Friday morning. She's actually staying with my parents, but as they live 5 minutes away I got to spend the morning with her and plan to see Diana (pronounced Diane) again when they come down for dinner tonight.

Since Diana and my mom were both crocheting this morning, and my Mom had extra yarn and a big hook, I gave it a try again, figuring it would be good occupational therapy. My granny square (took me about three hours to get three levels) somehow looked more like a triangle than a square by the time we had lunch, but it was a start. Of course, we had a good laugh over my efforts. I'm again, so thankful that I'm right handed as all my left hand had to do was hold some yarn. There is no way I could even try if my left hand had to do most of the work!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Purpose" (part 2)

Yesterday I received a great reply to my post on finding purpose. I've asked permission to share the reply from a chronically ill friend here. Please remember, this is a personal note written to me, not an "article" written for this blog. But since I am using this space as my personal journal (and you all are welcome to read along) its a reply I want to record.

It helps to remember that God didn't create us to be useful. We weren't made to be "tools" - we were made for Communion with Him, for relationship. He made us because He loves us - not because we had to have some kind of "purpose."

I struggle a lot with this because in our culture our "quality of life" is somehow connected to how useful we are to society. (I'm totally useless. Just being alive creates medical debt and I can't do anything to alleviate that. I even looked into volunteer positions and I don't make the physical qualifications for that either!)

Its easy to slip into the idea that we surrender our lives to God so that He can "use" us, so that we can be a "tool" for the Kingdom, but that's not really what He's interested in. He can handle all the Kingdom work Himself! He doesn't "need" anyone (though He does allow us to work with Him at least in the transformation of our own lives) but He created us to become One with Him. That was the prayer of Christ - that we would be One with Him and each other, as the Holy Trinity is One. We were made for Communion with our Creator. and none of our life circumstances can take that away.

I know that people tend to think that healing is a requirement for a "good life" - that if God truly loves, then He will bring complete healing. But God's ways are not our ways, and what He wants for us is nothing less than the fullness of salvation, something we may not attain under different life circumstances. Plus I think people forget, even if we are completely healed - physical healing is only temporary. Every body eventually sickens and dies... even those who Christ raised from the dead eventually died. It's the transformation and healing of our broken souls that is the true eternal healing miracle.

Lazarus became a bishop (was it in Crete or Gaul - I can't remember), but he still returned to the earth that his body came from at the end of his (longer) earthly life. Yet Christ Himself had raised him from the dead after four days before His own Resurrection! You can't get much more miraculous than that -- unless you consider the complete healing of a soul transformed in union with Christ. That is the goal. Physical healing is only a side issue... :)

- Nonna Jennifer-Anne Buckley


You can find "part 1" of the post Nonna was replying to, here.