Friday, March 17, 2017

My Head vs The Ice (Spoiler: The Ice Won); My Concussion Story


5:30 am: I awoke to a text message saying schools were closed. Since I knew ice could be the problem, I got up to watch the news. Accidents and slide-offs all over.

6:45: I texted my son to be careful on his way from work. (Third shift)

7:30: I left for work after checking the ice situation on the driveway. Definitely a glaze, but didn’t worry too much. I even wore my flat shoes instead of boots. There was hardly any snow, so I never even thought of it.

Traffic moved slow, but people were smart on the ice. Mostly moved at 40-45mph in a typically 55mph zone.

8:15 Stopped at Starbucks. On my way back to the car I thought, “This might have been a good day to use the drive-thru,” as I navigated the glazed parking lot.

North of town the traffic moved a bit faster at 60mph on the highway.

8:45 I arrived at work. The parking lot was covered with snow and a layer of ice. I slightly slid sideways into my parking spot. Ah-hah. Be careful getting out.

I prayed, out loud even, “Lord, I’m afraid of falling. I know fear is not of You, but I have it. I also have faith that You will help me. Please just hold me up so I don’t fall.”

I made a trip into the building, taking small, careful steps with my purse and coffee. Made it in!

“Thank you, Jesus! Now I need to make one more trip to the car to get the rest of my things. Please just hold me up.”

Made it back to the car, grabbed my tote bag, laptop and bowl with my lunch in it.

“OK, Lord, now is when I need You, because when I close this door it might throw my weight and I don’t want to fall. Please just hold me up.”

Holding everything in my left arm, I closed the car door. Still standing.

“Thank you, Jesus. Just hold me up so I can get in the building.”

I took maybe three steps.

BAM!

Before I even knew what was happening I was landing on the back of my head. No time to scream. No time to try to grab for balance. No time to put arms out to stop myself. Just landing on the back of my head.

“Owww…Owww… Owww… Owww… Owww…,” on the ice for about 20 or 30 seconds.

I sat up and said, “God, you didn’t hold me up.”

While still sitting on the ice I texted my pastor, “I fell on the ice. Please check on me.”

I was scared. I know it’s not a good idea to be alone after hitting your head and I had no idea when Pastor planned to be in that day, so I asked hime to check on me in case I passed out or anything.

I managed to get in the building, and long story short, I called 9-1-1 so they could check me. They wrapped my head to hold a bag of ice in place on the goose-egg that had immediately showed up.

Pastor came and took me to ER. I checked out neurologically, so they wrapped my head with more ice and sent me home.

Pastor took me back to work, put me in my car, got my things from inside the church, and sent me home. In retrospect, driving that day was a very bad idea, but I made it.

And that’s where I would be for the next 9 weeks (and counting) - home.

The next week my doctor diagnosed me with a concussion, post-traumatic vertigo and told me not to go back to work for a couple of weeks. (Which has turned into a couple of months now, but I’m almost there!)

I had friends bring meals the first few weeks since it was too hard to stand and cook, and I got tired of take-out.

Most of the first 6 weeks was spent in my chair in front of the tv, resting and doing nothing. There were days I didn’t even get out of my pajamas. Normally I hate being in pajamas all day, but I just didn’t care. (No makeup most days either. Gasp!)

Driving was out of the question. I only started back driving a couple of weeks ago, and then only small trips on quiet roads.

My parents have been more than fabulous about taking me to all of my doctor appointments. I’m so grateful they like road trips because it’s quite a hike for them and time-consuming in their day. But when you have the best parents on the planet, it works in your favor!

(“Thank you, Mom and Dad,” just isn’t enough. I love their sacrificial love for me so much.)

February 8: I woke up at 3:00 am with the worst vertigo! I had some at the beginning, but never this bad. I was sweaty, nauseous and could hardly sit up to roll over. Same at 4:30.

At 6:00 my husband was getting his lunch ready for work. I texted, “Come back up here.”

I could barely sit up. I needed him to help me to the bathroom. He ended up staying home with me that day. Thankfully, I saw my doctor the next day which helped enough for me to be on my own.

By Saturday I was still quite dizzy. I went back to ER for a re-check. They did a CT scan and blood work.

The CT scan came back normal. No bleeding, no bruising.

The blood work showed hypothyroid. Not surprising. Doc diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue the week before.

So I’ve had some work to do and additional diet changes to my already increasingly restricted menu. If you’ve read me for awhile, you know I’ve already had to pare back some things. Now even more! But ultimately I want to be healthy, so I do what Doc says.

Last Friday I saw a neurologist. He said I’m normal!

Verified by two separate medical professionals, people! Normal! Hello!

Yesterday was the 9-week mark. I’m finally starting to feel my normal self again. I have energy. I’m driving on the highways a little more. I’m cooking dinner again. Shopping at the grocery store doesn’t bother me anymore. (Oy, the lights, the people, the noise, all the things to look at. Painful in the beginning.)

I still have to be careful about how I sleep, staying propped up because I don’t want the vertigo to come back. I still feel a twinge of dizziness when I roll over, but that will go away with time.

Somedays I wonder and ask God what the purpose is in all of this. Why did I have to fall when I asked Him to hold me up? Why did I have to sit alone - bored - in my house for the past 2 months? Why did I have to be dependent on so many others to help me? Why is this recovery taking so long?

But here’s how I know He held me up, just not in the way I expected.

The first time I went to ER, there was a 77-year-old woman who broke her arm falling on the ice. Thank you, Jesus, I didn’t break any bones.

The first time I went to ER, as I was leaving there was a woman about my age wheeled in holding a cloth on the back of her head. She fell on the ice too. She asked how many stitches I got. None! Never thought about that. Thank you, Jesus, I didn’t need stitches.

The same day I fell, my neighbor’s friend fell too. He broke the temporal lobe, stayed in the hospital overnight with vertigo and nausea, and had hearing loss for quite awhile. (I’m not sure it’s even back yet.) Thank you, Jesus, I didn’t break bones in my head or have hearing loss.

I didn’t lose consciousness, I never had vision or balance problems, I don’t have memory loss, I haven’t had cognitive issues.

There are so many more things I could have to deal with.

So here’s my bottom line to you. God may not always answer your prayer (“God, hold me up.”) the way you think He will, but He WILL answer your prayer in ways you may not expect.

He showed me how many people love, and are willing to serve me. Some not even being super close friends, but that’s what makes it all the more special.

I learned a long time ago, you find out who your friends are in a crises. I was surprised by a few of my friends who I didn’t know loved me so much!

I know this is a long post. Thank you for sticking it out and reading.

If you’ve had experiences with concussion, vertigo (check out the Foster maneuver), being homebound, dependent, bored, lonely, please leave your comments below and tell me what helped you get through it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mistakes Were Made


I’ve made some massive mistakes. Uh, just in the last month!

Mistake One: I quit my job. The one I love, have a passion for, and completely flow in my giftings of organization, typing, creativity and details. I resigned.

My husband and I told our pastors after service one Sunday that I had to resign. I was going to babysit my granddaughter 4 days a week. They were amazingly supportive, understood and prayed with us.

As Pastor Judy prayed, I cried. Not because I was sad to leave, but because already I had a clue I wasn’t doing the right thing.

The next week there were moments of, “Man, I’m glad I won’t have to do this [particular task] anymore.”

There were also moments of, “I don’t want to give this [particular task] up. I don’t want to stop doing this [particular task]. I’m going to miss the people in the community I work with. I don’t want to give my keys back. Who’s going to do this job? I know I’m going to criticize the work that comes out of this office now; I don’t want to do that. Are we going to have to leave this church?”

Endless thoughts and questions!

The next week was also the most trying time of babysitting my granddaughter I’ve ever had. Crying and screaming that would. Not. Quit! One afternoon was an hour and 20 minutes by the time my daughter came to get her. I love the girl, but I was ecstatic to hand her off!

That was the night I sent a text to Pastor Judy and said, “Please don’t say anything publicly yet. Can we talk Sunday? I’m feeling confused.”

How was I ever going to do this four days a week? I’ve always said I’m NOT cut out for daycare. I don’t like it. It’s definitely different with a grandchild - it’s more enjoyable, it’s easier, but it’s not the thing I enjoy most. (I feel like a terrible grandparent when I say that.)

My passion? Office work. (I’ve been in love with forms since I discovered them at 7-years-old!)

My husband and I did a lot of talking. I think we over-discussed it. But we were in agreement that I needed to revoke my resignation. Office work is life-giving for me. It’s my creative outlet. Where was I otherwise going to have that?

The next Sunday we had lunch with Pastors Keith and Judy and they were relieved when I revoked my resignation. I was relieved. I knew it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Mistake Two: When I arrived at my job the week before Christmas, I was trying to set up for the day. Unlocking drawers, setting up my laptop, switching from boots to shoes, checking email on my desktop…ah, the email.

With too many things to distract me, I tried to plow through some emails to catch up and get them cleaned out. There was one from USPS Same Day. It told me a package could not be delivered because nobody was at our office to receive it.

True. I’m only there two days a week.

“Click on the attachment for further instructions.”

You know where I’m going, don’t ya? Yep. I. KNOW. BETTER! But distracted. *Click* and a flash. What was that? Hmm, nothing seems to be happening so I must be ok.

Then my laptop (thank you, Jesus, I had my laptop on!) started showing notifications about Dropbox files being updated.

Long story, short, I downloaded an encryption virus. I had to delete my Dropbox account, but fortunately the virus hadn’t made it to the server yet, so all other documents were safe. Although I’ve lost all my contacts and calendars because our IT guy had to rebuild my desktop.

It’s been 3 weeks since I did that and I’m still fuming mad at myself. I know better than to click on attachments, especially from a Canadian email address that claims to be from the US Post Office. How dumb can you be?

What is my point in sharing these mistakes? Life goes on. We can go back and admit our mistakes, ask forgiveness, change the situation as best we can and move forward.

The world didn’t end because I resigned, then revoked it.

The world didn’t end because I downloaded an encryption virus onto my computer that inconvenienced people for days because they had to work around that.

I know you’ve made some mistakes too. Some are way in the past - over and done with. But some may be recent. The past year, the past month - yesterday.

What can you do to resolve the situation? Sometimes we need to humble ourselves and admit our mistakes - then apologize for the inconvenience we cause everyone! (A la computers with viruses!)

Sometimes the only thing we can do is move forward, having learned from our mistake.

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
Philippians 3:13 [NLT]

Sometimes it’s just therapy to write about it and share your stupidity with the world! Because I know I’m not alone in making mistakes, and I want you to know you’re not either.

Care to share any mistakes you’ve made and how God redeemed them? Let's encourage each other.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Just Say No To Resolutions


When I was in school, my teachers would almost always check the box on my report card that said, "Makes wise use of time." These many years later, it still makes me crazy to waste time.


Over the past couple of weeks I did some goal setting for 2017. I want to look back and see some accomplishments so I know I made wise use of my time. I am intentional about living a life of purpose - to tell a meaningful story with my life.

In January 2016 a few goals I had written were:
  • Clean cupboards, closets, clothes, bookshelves, and give things away to Goodwill.

  • Have coffee dates with long-lost friends.

  • Lose Weight

  • Finish an online course I had started, then put aside.

  • Publish my health journal book.

I listed specific goals for each area - exactly which cupboards and closets I wanted to clean, which friends I needed to reconnect with, how much weight I was going to lose (and specifically how I was going to do it), when I would finish the course, and set a deadline for publishing my book.

Results? My closets, cupboards, drawers and bookshelves have been pared down by around 60% (and I still look for things to get rid of), I reconnected with 5 long-lost friends, I lost 28.4 pounds and discovered which foods I need to avoid, I finished the course and published my book!

I heard a stat that only 8% of new year resolutions make it to the end of January. That means by the time you read this, if you've made resolutions you're already struggling.

Pastor MarkPettus (Church of the Highlands, Alabama) said, "Resolutions depend on me to fix a problem I caused," and that's not a good idea. He said we need more than willpower, we need a Higher Power - Jesus!

Our resolutions are meaningless if we don't depend on Jesus to change us. I also believe we need to pray and be intentional about the changes we're going to make.

"Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth." Isaiah 43:19 [NASB]

For the past couple of years I've read James Clear's Annual Review on his blog. He looks back over his year and discusses the good, the bad, failures, improvements and where he can use those lessons going into the new year. I love his overview-style and it has helped me consider my year and where I'm going.

I also recently read a great article from Chris Guillebeau, "How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review." He's more specific in his review style using a step-by-step process, listing distinct areas, what the summary theme is for each, which 3 or 4 specific action steps it will require, and checking in with yourself each quarter to see how you're doing.

Even though we're already into January, I encourage you to take some time to look over your past year. This may not be a quick process; it may even take a few days, but that's ok so you can put a good plan together. What are your wins? What are your losses? What did you learn from them? Where do you want to go in 2017? What will it take to get there?

Even if you don't meet all your goals (I didn't in 2016), at least you've got something to aim for. You'll have a story of accomplishment to tell on December 31, 2017. You'll be excited and proud of living a story of purpose.

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." Mary Kay Ash

A few of my goals for 2017 are to be consistent in daily time with God, walk at least 5000 steps per day, connect with 4 or 5 long-lost friends (the ones I didn't make it to last year), read 6-10 books, attend the Tribe Writers Conference in September.

Check out James Clear and Chris Guillebeau and let me know if you create a plan for 2017. Just say no to resolutions and yes to goals!

Happy New Year, Sweet Friends! Thank you for being on this journey with me.

And let's check in with each other on January 1 so we can see how well we did!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Pizza Quinoa


Continuing my accidental series of recipe creations, this week I give you Pizza Quinoa. It's the usual blah-blah-free: gluten, dairy, egg and tomato. Yes, I can't have tomatoes either.

I LOVE pizza and have been craving it a lot lately. I could eat it every night and be happy, but since I'm all-those-things-and-more-free, I can't have it. Gluten, diary, tomato - crust, cheese, sauce. Blah.

It's with pizza on the brain and a need to bring a dish to a potluck last weekend that I came up with Pizza Quinoa. It was a hit!

Of course, if you're not dairy-free (lucky), add some shredded mozzarella or cut some fresh mozzarella into bite-size cubes. It would be delicious. (Definitely do this after the quinoa cools.)

If you're not tomato-free, maybe about a 1/2 can of drained, fire-roasted tomatoes would be fabulous as well.

Pizza Quinoa

1 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions
Add to the cooking water:
1 1/2 t basil
1 1/2 t oregano
salt
garlic, generous sprinkle (I like lots)

*I like to allow the quinoa to sit for awhile after cooking so it's fluffier, but you can certainly use it as soon as it's finished.

Chop
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup green pepper
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/2 of a 3.5 oz package of pepperoni, sliced in half. 



Mix together and add the quinoa.

Drizzle with some olive oil. If you have access to the fancy olive oils (Fustini's in Holland is awesome), a basil or Tuscan olive oil would be extra delicious.

As always, make it your own. Add whatever you like on your pizza - olives, sausage, pineapple, etc.

I'd love to hear how you like this and how you change it up!

Happy Pizza-ing!

DON'T FORGET!
My book, Be Real Health Journal: A Guide To Slowing Down For Better Health will be a perfect jumpstart for your health in 2017! Click here to order!