Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Learn Something New Each Day

Just when you thought you knew everything ~

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Life Is So Much More Than What Your Eyes Are Seeing

I believe Christmas is a time for miracles, love and unexplainable happiness. If this is true, how come I hear stories of hearts breaking, hopes dashed, fears realized? Pain and despair are all around us ~ if not directly going on in our lives, chances are that we have a friend or family member who is in the fight of their life.

I know that I alone can't take away any of these trials, as much as I would love to wash it all away. But there's always hope ~ I encourage anyone reading this post to share the message of hope ~ of faith ~ What can faith do in your life?

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you are stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

Overcome the odds
You don't have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can!

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
That's what faith can do!
Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Is All in the Heart

Less than two weeks until Christmas and my brain is buzzing with anxiety ~ all those lists compiling in my head and certainly not enough post it notes to contain them all. I have done well with putting on my cyber hat and have done most of my shopping on-line this year, but there's always an item or two that requires actual shopping!

Being a brain surgery survivor, I feel grateful for how much better I feel this Christmas than last. Hey, I might even be able to store memories this year, too. Last year's Christmas is a blur ~ honestly, I can't remember on thing from last year. Maybe it's for the best ~ a defense mechanism to work through the pain of recovery.

If you are reading this and you have a brain tail, you just might know what I am talking about when I share with you that my brain short circuits, still, from time to time when I can't organize my thoughts or when I get a big dose of sensory overload. The holiday shopping frenzies = SENSORY OVERLOAD. ~sigh ~ 10 ~ 9 ~ 8 ~ 7 ~ 6 ~ 5 ~ 4 ~ 3 ~ 2 ~ 1 ~ This is me taking a couple of seconds to breathe ~ collect my thoughts and move forward.

The shopping will get time ~ I just need to focus on one thing at a time ~ and remember to breathe from time to time ~ oi! More importantly ~ Christmas isn't about the presents ~ Christmas is all in the heart...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hidden Treasures ~ What's In Your Coat Pocket?

Hidden treasures ~ those little unexpected surprises we discover ~ look around the floorboard of your car (you might even find a two day old burrito with a lil bit o carpet lint on it) ~ all kind of treasures between the sofa cushions, too. What about your winter coat pocket? When was the last time your looked in there?

Snow fell this weekend and I decided it was OK to go ahead and put on my wool coat ~ the thermometer read 27 degrees this morning. As I was putting on my coat I noticed there was something in my pocket ~ I reached in and pulled out the contents ~ ear plugs ~ lovely. Wow ~ it's been over a year since I wore my grey coat ~ I can tell just by pulling out those little bits of yellow foam. These must have been left over from my last MRI right before my decompression last December.

Funny how an object can cause a wave of emotions to wash over me in an instant. I would have preferred to find a stick of gum, maybe some loose change/dollar bills, a grocery list. Like a sage friend of mine told me today ~
'Maybe God wants you to remember that time in your life and He doesn't want you
to EVER forget.'

Message received ~ What will you find in the deep pockets of your winter coat? Maybe someone is trying to get a message across to you, too.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NCB ~ Simply ~ The BEST

Our North Colonie Pee Wee Large cheer team competed at the Eastern Regional competition last weekend in Trenton, NY. Our cars were covered in shoe polish with NORTH COLONIE BISON. The top two teams go on to compete at the National level in Florida, Walt Disney World. Last year we missed going to Nationals by TWO points.
After the NY competitions were done we had three weeks to totally re-choreographed our routine to kick it up a notch so that we would have a shot at placing in the top two.. We threw in one legged stunts ~ liberties, arabesques and a heal stretch. Practices were long and tiring, but the girls rose above all the sicknesses that plagued our squad and made it work.
When it came time for us to take the floor and practice one last time before performing ~ confidence was shaken to the core for Hannah. The noise level in the arena was high ~ the girls couldn't even hear us shouting out the eight counts to walk through their routine. For whatever reason Hannah's stunt group didn't get her up and there wasn't a second chance to practice again. Our team was ushered off the practice mats and we got in line to perform. Emotions were running high ~ there was electricity in the air with anticipation of performing our 2:30 minute cheer/dance.
Us coaches were getting the girls pumped up ~ wishing them good luck and getting ready to say goodbye to them before their performance. I glanced over at Hannah and saw her tear streaked face ~ she was totally devastated ~ she was shaken and I had to find a way to get her past defeat and focused on the huge task at hand. She is a flyer this year and goes up in the air a couple of times during the routine. If her confidence didn't come back and quickly it would have spelled disaster for the routine.
I rushed over to embrace her ~ looked in her red eyes and told her she was going to nail her performance ~ shake off the feeling of inadequacy and make it work. I stepped away from her to let the other coaches swoop in to boost her up, too. She got the water works flowing for me and I had to turn away to hide my tears from the rest of the team. We said goodbye and took our places in the tunnel where the coaches wait until our team takes the floor. What a nerve wracking 30+ minutes we waited!
When our NC Bison took the floor we were ushered to the coaches box to watch them perform. We all held hands tightly ~ my heart was beating a million beats a second ~ I said another prayer ~ took a deep breath and waited for them to begin. When our girls spirited onto the floor I could see their smiles and their energy was bubbly ~ they had taken the floor to give it their all and they were happy! Their performance was flawless ~ not one bobble ~ all the stunts went up ~ what an answer to prayer. When they were done we all leaped to our feet ~ screaming ~ jumping up and down. Our girls had given it their all ~ and now we waited for the results.
Truthfully, I didn't even want to watch the other teams compete. We had done our best and our fate was in the hands of the judges. When all the teams took the floor for the awards ceremony I had high hopes that we would place,but had no idea if we had done well enough to go to Nationals. When they announced our team as the THIRD PLACE winners it was bittersweet ~ yeah we missed the coveted second and first place, but we had competed with a tough competition. There were tears of disappointment, but by the time we left the arena our girls filed out with smiles on their faces and heads held high.
Not until a couple of days later did we find out what the other team's scores were ~ that's when our third place win became even more bittersweet ~ we missed Disney by one third of a point!! That's 0.333333333 ~ Last year we came in FOURTH ~ this year THIRD ~ next year ~ DISNEY.

It's the Climb

Often, I get swept away in the flurry of activity in my life ~ it helps me to not focus so much on the tireless climbing. Chiari never takes a vacation ~ the brain tail might sleep in late after a full day of inflicting pain, but awakes soon enough. In light of our cheer competition last weekend (that's another post) it's hit home more than ever that life is all about the climb.
Living with Chiari is a climb, but along the way lives have been touched ~ healing is going on all around us. I am trying to re-focus and stop looking behind at the past and ahead at the future and stay in the moment ~ the now ~ the ground beneath me. Won't you join me?
THE CLIMB ~ Miley Cyrus

I can almost see it, that dream I'm dreamin but,

there's a voice inside my head saying, you'll never reach it.

every step I'm taking every move I make feels lost with no direction, my faith is shaking,

but I, I gotta keep trying I gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain I'm always gonna wanna make it move

always gonna be an uphill battle and sometimes I'm gonna have to lose it

ain't about how fast I get there ain't about what's waiting on the other side

its the climb

The struggles I'm facing
the chances I'm taking
sometimes might knock me down but
no I'm not breaking

I may not know it but these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most yeah just gotta keep going and I
got be strong gotta keep on pushing on cuz

There's always gonna be another mountain

I'm always gonna wanna make it move

always gonna be an uphill battle sometimes

I'm gonna have to lose ain't about how fast I get there

ain't about whats waiting on the other side

its the climb

keep on moving keep climbing

keep the faith babe

its all about its all about the climb

keep the faith keep your faith

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Can Only Imagine

Blogging has been a way for me to express what I cannot vocalize and I am trying to get back in the swing of things by blogging more. As my one year post decompression date is beginning to appear just over the horizon I seem to be doing a lot of reflecting. There were a lot of blogs that I started and they ended up in my draft box. This one I actually started on 10/12/07 ~ I thought today would be a good day finally post it.

Facing fear ~ staring it in the face ~ thoughts of death and dying have come up for me, for obvious reasons. But you see, to die would be devastating for my family and friends, but for me, I can only imagine.

When I wrote my thoughts about staring death in the face, I hadn't even been detethered yet ~ but I was processing the imminent fear that comes when facing brain surgery. I look back and smile knowing that putting it all out there, expressing my fear, laying it all down for the Lord to take it from me ~ my fear was totally dissolved by the time I had surgery.

WE all face fear on a daily basis ~ rather it's a fear of spiders or death ~ we all deal with it in different ways. For me, fixing my eyes on eternity put everything in perspective and it's a good reminder for me today. I woke up with a brain tail headache ~ it's the 13th and a Friday today ~ not that I am superstitious, but I am not firing on all cylinders today. Note to self ~ no operating heavy machinery today!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Open Minded ~

Any FRINGE fans out there? Did I mention that last year FRINGE became on of my most favorite new shows. I find it ironic every time someone mentions the words 'open minded' in reference to me ~ seriously have the brain on my mind 24-7. Brain surgery ~ check ~ I am coming up on my one year anniversary since my new birthday (brain decompression 12/3/08). That day certainly was a milestone in this journey we call life, but as I am finding to be more and more true these days ~ you can't blaze past brain surgery and think that everything will go back to normal ~ whatever normal is to you.
Check Spelling
Brain surgery has changed me on so many levels ~ unexplainable things have been happening ~ maybe that's why I can totally identify and relate with the plot of FRINGE ~ nothings too far fetched when it comes to the capability of the mind. Expect the unexpected and the unimaginable to happen on a daily basis and roll with it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

If Looks Could Kill

This was the result of me leaving work early on Thursday to pick up a sick child ~ must make the best use of my time off, right? Captain Kirk so did not enjoy the DUDE hat ~ I blame him for me having lost my voice completely today!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Conquer Chiari Walk ~ 2009

So I am a little late on posting about the chiari walk that took place on September 26th ~ life has been crazy busy. The morning of 9/26 was absolutely gorgeous ~ the sun was shining and the air was crisp. I don't know the final count of how many walkers participated, but there was a good size crowd of brain tails and their friends/family. I ended up being the grand Marshall for our walk, because I was the only one who knew the route. Thank goodness the vertigo is gone or it would have been a swirly walk for everyone!

The best part of the brain tail gathering was being reunited with my brain tail friends who came from near and far. So good to see everyone and spend time catching up on our lives. We are all a hearty bunch. On the outside you might see smiles, but inside we are all struggling with either pain, financial burdens due to the aftermath of insurance bills, emotional stress ... We have our good days and other days when it's a struggle to crawl out of bed. Getting together reminds us that we are not alone in our chiari journey ~ we draw strength from one another ~ and make that choice to keep taking the next step forward in life. It's not easy, but we are all fighters ~ bound and determined to not let chiari win.

Thanks to all of you who support a chiarian in one form or another ~ every day we are one step closer to conquering chiari.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happiness Is Like A Butterfly

A month has flow by without any blog posts and yet in my draft blogs cue I have at least 70 post ideas just waiting for me to breathe life into them. ~sigh~ Oh how I wish I was wittier and had an uber interesting life ~ but truth be told ~ I am finding it hard to put my thoughts down so that they will make sense to anyone but myself.

The past month has flown by in a flurry of bug spray and cheerleading practices. I have probably swallowed a gallon of deet by now in a fruitless attempt to ward of the skeeters (that's Texas for mosquitoes). I volunteered to be an assistance coach for Hannah's cheer squad this year and I have had a great time getting to know all the girls and learning the cheers and stunting techniques.

On September 1st I passed my Microsoft SQL Server 2005 exam ~ this was my second attempt and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Funny how sometimes life throws a big road block at you. Most of the time the only option you have is to remove the barrier by passing through it. For months I felt stuck ~ unable to move forward in my life. When I sat down to take the test at the computer testing center, I bowed my head and prayed right then and there ~

'Lord ~ Please give me the brain power to pass this test so that I can focus more on my purpose for being on this planet. I don't have to make a perfect score ~ just help me to pass.'

After completing the book questions I felt pretty confident that I had passed the first part of the test, but as soon as I started the application piece of the test I felt the despair creeping in as I was certain there was no way in hell that I would pass. You can imagine my complete surprise at the end of the exam when the message popped up on the computer screen exclaiming that I had made a 70 and passed the exam. I remember answering the computer out loud with ~ 'Are you freaking kidding me?!! I proceeded to do my happy dance all the way to my car with great relief and humbling tears of joy as I thanked the Lord for answering my prayer.

When I wasn't looking ~ I think a butterfly, or two, alighted on my shoulder ~ happiness, is that you?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sisterhood/Brotherhood of the Traveling Brain Tails

Next week on September 26th, I will be walking alongside other brain tails, friends and family in the second annual Conquer Chiari Walk Across America walk here in the Albany area. Participation is free but you can make a donation on the day of the walk or online. Here's the link for the online donations ~ https://www.conquerchiari.org/ccwaa09/ccwaa_donate.asp?user=LacieHeiser ~ If you would like to sponsor me, select the Walk Location: New York, Albany ~ Then you can select my name. Even if you don't have much to give, even a little can add up.

September 26th is an emotional and significant day for me. My chiari brain tail was discovered on 9/26/06 ~ three years ago. As I pause to glance over my shoulder and reflect on my three year that has brought me here today, I am overwhelmed with every emotion ~ fear, denial, disappointment, hopelessness, hope, pain, elation, frustration, sadness, joy. How did I make it through those incredibly tough times? All of the neurologist appointments, hours of phone calls with the insurance company, volumes of paper work, countless MRI and CT scans, tethered cord surgery, invasive cervical traction, brain decompression, morphine pumps, hours of physical therapy ~ all these things and more have consumed my life for the past three years. Every baby step I took was taken in faith ~ a blanket of reassurance to keep me moving forward.

As I briefly glanced at the list of walkers signed up for Albany walk ~ I recognize and know a large number of people. These amazing individuals were strangers to me and now have become instant friends all because of our brain tail bond. I am so thankful for all the friends I have made through my chiari journey ~ they have made the road a lil bit easier to tread upon.

We all walk to raise money for chiari awareness and research to one day find a cure. There IS NO CURE FOR CHIARI. Painful surgeries will help prevent some irreversible nerve damage and perhaps paralysis. But if I would dare to speak for many other brain tails ~ we all live with some degree of pain on a daily basis ~ We deal with it and keep moving forward. But wouldn't it be awesome to find the gene that goes crazy during gestation to put a stop to chiari once and for all. Life is for the living. I'm looking for the brighter days, won't you join me?


WHAT? A series of coordinated Chiari walks held at the same time across the country.

WHERE? This year, the walk will take place at more than 30 locations. Check the List of Sites to see if there is a walk near you.

WHEN? Saturday September 26th, 2009. September has been named Chiari Awareness Month in many states. In conjunction with the Walk Across America we hope to get more states to recognize September as Chiari Awareness Month.

WHY? To raise awareness of Chiari and to raise money for vital research. In 2008, the Walk Across America raised $170,000 for research, with 90% of the money going directly to fund exciting research projects at major universities and treatment centers.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Words I Would Say

What would I say? Be strong in the Lord ~ Never give up faith ~ You are going to do great things ~ God's got his hand on you so don't live your life in fear ~ Come find peace in the Father

My heart feels the pain and the weight of the world. This blog had brought me so many brain tail friends, all in different parts of their Chiari journey. It's so easy to be completely consumed by pain and fear ~ I wanted to share this song with you ~ in hopes that it gives you hope where you haven't found any.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just Breathe

Sometimes, a little reminder goes a long way. This time each year I feel the pull of the vortex of activities looming just ahead. School projects, assignments, cheer practices, football games, homework, cheer competitions(GO BISON!) , birthdays, anniversaries. Although, this year is different ~ I don't have a brain surgery scheduled for December this year. I think I am going to achieve my goal this year to stay out of all operating rooms in 2009!

Even with the stress that comes with school starting up again, I feel like an enormous load has been lifted off my shoulders. I passed my Microsoft SQL Server 2005 exam a couple of weeks ago so now I have tons of brain cells freed up for mindless movie/TV trivia! I am looking forward to the season premieres in the upcoming weeks: Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Fringe, Castle, Brothers and Sisters, Medium, The Office, Flash Forward, Heroes, Biggest Looser... time to make room on the DVR.

I hope to blog more this month ~ there's lots to say, just not feeling inspired at the present moment. There's lots to say about my brain tail ~ still putting up a good fight in my head, stay tuned for more details on that soon. I am sure the blog drought will end soon. In the spirit of story telling, please leave me a comment to request a blog subject you'd like me to write about.

Oh yeah ~ and one more thing ~ don't forget to breathe ~

Monday, August 10, 2009

Having One of Those Days

Today was a day when I wanted to cover my eyes and make the world just disappear ~ transporting me to another time and place. Where is that FRINGE elevator anyway? Mondays are hard for most people, but when you heap on an extra helping of stress first thing in the morning it makes getting through the day all the more challenging.

Even with heavy laden shoulders, there were bits and pieces of great news that I received ~ A month after I mailed a package off to a friend doing tribal mission work over seas, the package finally arrived. Must have gone via yak train ~ and the best part was that all the contents arrived with no pilfering. In an age of instant messaging, twittering (still haven't found a need to twitter my life away even though I have had a Twitter account for a year now), texting and emails it's reassuring to know that the postal system still works!  

Also ~ in a day and age when people with extensive medical issues (like me) face mountains of  medical bills to pay and frequent surly letters from insurance companies ~ I actually received a CHECK from my hospital ~ refunding money to me for paying too much ~ SERIOUSLY? So ~ a lil bit of good news has presently lifted my spirits enough to muster up enough strength in my completely drained body to get out there and coach cheerleading for 2 hours tonight.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

PAIN Is Weakness Leaving the Body

Pain is Weakness Leaving Your Body - Nietzsche

Brain surgery isn't 100% successful ~ I knew the odds going into my decompression. Honestly, I didn't expect a 100% recovery.  After all, I still have cranial settling ~ I can't remember the exact weight it took to lift my head off my spine before I felt relief during my invasive cervical traction, but it was over 20lbs.  Coming to terms with the fact that my brain tail will always be with me is a tough fact to digest.

I'm not sharing this with you in any way to get the sympathy vote ~ just sharing what's on my heart. Yesterday I woke up feeling like I had been mowed over by a dump truck ~ an all familiar feeling that I hadn't felt really since my surgery. As I was waiting for the effects of my first cup of coffee to take effect I made a mental note ~ warning alarms going off in my mine ~ this just might be one of those days when a chiari headache totally hijacks my body. So later in the day when I could feel that fullness feeling at the base of my head I knew it would only be a matter of hours before I had to lie down in a dark/quiet room. 

Believe me, I fought the headache with every ounce of energy. I sufficiently hydrated myself, tried not to bend over at all, no cardio workouts ~ I mostly spent most of the day doing a thousand loads of the girl's camp laundry. Then, around suppertime, in the middle of preparing dinner, I suddenly had to stop what I was doing and lay down on the couch. The nausea had set in and the pounding in my head reduced me to tears. An hour after I had taken my high powered migraine meds the headache was still going strong, so I decided to throw in the towel and go to be for this night.  

I am praying that these types of episodes will be few and far between.  More than anything, it's just so discouraging to know that brain surgery hasn't made me exempt to chiari headaches. *sigh* .  With that said ~ I truck load of weakness left my body yesterday ~ looking forward to a stronger me in the upcoming days. There is no cure for chiari yet ~ keeping the faith for a cure/procedure to rid all of us chiarians from headaches for life! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You're Not Shaken

It's so easy to get through to the other side of the valley of the shadow of death 
and never look back.  I would love to just completely  erase 2008 from my mind, but then again, that was a HUGE part of my life journey. With each passing day I am in awe at my recovery ~ serious miracles have settled upon me. Look how far I have come in such a short time. 

As challenging as it was to endure brain surgery, I want to remember how lost, alone, afraid I felt at the time so I can empathize with other brain tails going through the same journey. Chiari will continue to rock my world ~ I will take all of it ~ the good and the bad. These lyrics really spoke to me when I heard them the first time ~ touched a memory from last year. The indescribable instinct of holding on and lifting my eyes towards the Lord, even when I didn't understand why me ~ brain surgery ~ how can this possibly be happening. To look back and see that strength that comes from trusting the Lord ~ as weak as I was in body ~ still not shaken. I hope these lyrics bring strength to some of you going through a similar journey. Hang in there! 

Phil Stacey - You're Not Shaken
From the album Into The Light

I am sinking in a river that is raging 
I am drowning, will I ever rise to breathe again 
I want to know why I just want to understand 
Will I ever know why 

How could this be from Your hand 
When every little thing that I have dreamed would be 
Just slips away like water through my hand 
And when it seems the walls of my belief are crashing down 

Like they're all made of sand 
I won't let go of You now, because I know You're not shaken 
I'm trembling in the darkness of my own fear 
All the questions with no answers still grip me while 

I'm here And I may never know why I may not understand 
But I will lift up my eyes And trust this is Your plan 
When I am in the valley of the shadow of death 
You're not shaken, You're not shaken 

You're right here beside me and 
You have never left 
You're not shaken, You're not shaken

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How Sweet It Is!

I have been remiss in blogging about my post-op TCI followup appointment I had back in May. Here's my latest Brain Tail photo ~ wow ~ they really did do something to my brain during my 7+ hour brain surgery! You can compare this one with the one on the side bar ~ notice all the extra room in there!

With that said, here's what the good docs at TCI had to say with the progress I have made since my decompression. First off, I am healing quite well and although not up to full strength yet, I am getting there faster than most patients. Also, most of my symptoms are completely gone except for the low barometric pressure headaches, which I am learning to deal with.

Now for the not so good news ~ I guess when you are facing brain surgery, the docs only focus on the task at hand instead of overwhelming you with your bleak lifetime outcome. Sigh ~ So, now that brain surgery is out of the way, I was told that I have degenerative disk disease and stenosis. Translation ~ I will probably be dealing with chronic pain in my body for the rest of my life. Sounds pretty bleak, but I am fighting this with every ounce of strength in my body.

I guess EDS is showing how destructive she can be ~ Honestly, I am so thankful to be alive, to have survived brain surgery, that everything else that may be just around the corner is cake. So I am focusing on increasing my bone density, working out and getting stronger. The bigger picture of living with CHIARI is coming into focus ~ it's a lifetime battle, but thank goodness I am not at risk of having a stroke or paralysis any more. All you brain tails out there ~ the sisterhood/brotherhood of the traveling brain tails make traveling on this crazy journey so much sweeter. 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

10,000 Miles

What is it about this song that is so mournful and bittersweet ~ this melody expresses my mood today as I remember my brother, Trey's, birthday. Sneaks up on me every year. You know, I don't actually even recall one memory of one of Trey's birthdays ~ but I do vividly remember the way it felt when he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me like he was never going to let go. So many years have passed since his passing and yet it still feels like he's just gone for a while ~ I know we will be together again, one day.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

First Encounter Sunset

For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

I took this picture a couple of years ago while on the First Encounter beach at sunset ~ I am in awe of the sunsets that our creator paints for us! What a gentle reminder to keep making plans for the future ~ as long as I am breathing and still on this planet I know that He has plans for me ~

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Keeping the Faith

I am reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons and I just came across a brilliantly written paragraph about terror. In light of the TCI ongoing investigation this really hit home and explains the ripple effect of terror.
"'Terrorism', the professor had lectured, 'has a singular goal. What is it?' ...'To cause terror?'
'Concisely put. Quite simply, the goal of terrorism is to create terror and fear. Fear undermines faith in the establishment. It weakens the enemy from within...causing unrest in the masses. Write this down. Terrorism is not an expression of rage. Terrorism is a political weapon. Remove a government's facade of infallibility, and you remove it's people's faith.' Loss of faith..."
Life continues to teach me many hard lessons ~ some numerous times ~ life is hard ~ the good guys don't always win ~ nothing is fair ~ pain comes from living a full life ~ there is good and evil in all situations. I thought that maybe after surviving brain surgery that I would be exempt from anymore hardships ~ clearly I had a delusional moment ~ but it's OK ~ I still have a lot of living to do and a lot to learn.

This post might seem a little cryptic, but I am sorting out something in my head. I have really had to sit and simmer for a while ~ remove myself from an emotional tornado ~ the mama bear in me wants to spring forth and play the protector. Faith has been completely shattered for many and getting that trust back is a slow and long process. I am so thankful that I am where I am in my chiari journey so that I have a clarity that comes from stepping out in faith and entrusting my life to brilliant neurosurgeons.

~Sigh~ How do I find the strength to continue to do my part to infuse the chiari community with a renewed hope and faith in surgeons who heal? One breath at a time ~ one baby step at a time. Living with Chiari is a moment by moment struggle ~ a lifelong battle ~ but there is so much more to life than living and dying. As long as I am breathing I will continue to encourage those of you who need someone to cheer you along in your journey ~ you are never alone! Finding joy and a peace that passes all understanding ~

If You Want Me To - Ginny Owens

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Medium is one of my favorite shows ~ last night's season finale really got my attention when the episode focused on Allison's deteriorating mental/physical health. **SPOILER ALERT** Allison collapsed at the office one day and when they ran some tests on her they found a rapidly growing tumor on her brain stem. Ooo MRI's of Allison's brain ~ I perked right up straining to see if she has a brain tail. Do any other loyal viewers out there remember a Medium episode early on in the series where it was found that Allison and all three of her girls share the same type of brain malformation? It's been driving me nuts, because I can't recall what they found but my hunch is it has something to do with chiari.

Anyway ~ the doctor was discussing surgical options with Allison and her prognosis with the newly found tumor in her brain. They must operate immediately as the tumor was growing fast and if they didn't operate and take it out it would cause her brain to herniate ~ GASP! The doctor went on to explain the urgency of the need for surgery as herniation of the brain can cause paralysis even death! GASP again ~ I wish I had found her doc when I was diagnosed with my brain tail. It seems that the local docs don't think a brain herniation of 17mm is anything that serious!

Here's a question for you brain tails out there ~ has having a brain tail made you more extra sensitive to things that are unseen ~ thoughts that are not spoken? I completely identify with Allison from Medium ~ not to that degree, but it can really make me feel like I am not from this planet sometimes. Maybe it's the hernation or the extra room now in the back of my head that makes me more sensitive ~ thoughts ~ anyone?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What A Package Deal: Faith, Hope, Wisdom and Courage ~

A month ago, I had a bucket full of iris bulbs in my garage that have traveled all the way from Texas to New York. The story behind the traveling bulbs is that they were originally dug up out of the ground at a family property in the Texas Hill Country back in the early 1970s. Since then they have been planted ~ dug up ~ stored ~ transplanted ~ and so the cycle repeats over and over again with each move. So here we are in 2009 and I just put the bulbs in the ground. They have been sitting in our garage for almost THREE years ~ since we moved I just haven't gotten around to transplanting them ~ and finally I can check them off my list.

I always thought that the spring time wasn't the greatest time to put bulbs in the ground, but I knew if I waited much longer, I would blink and another year would have flown by. I also was not expecting any blooms this year as I thought the blooms had to sit in the ground a year before producing blooms ~ guess I was wrong! You can imagine my surprise when I noticed just the other day that we have a couple of deep purple blooms peeking out ~ just waiting to burst forth with breathtaking blooms.

Since nature always seems to be speaking to me I looked up the meaning of the Iris flower and was reassured that certainly their symbolism speaks louder than words. The iris is associated with faith, hope, wisdom and courage. I'll take two helpings of that!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

There's Some Good In this World Worth Fighting For

Yesterday there was a public announcement that Dr. Bolognese ~ neurosurgeon extraordinaire has been reinstated to resume business as usual again ~ This is great news for the Chiari community. I have seen every spectrum of emotions just flooding out of bloggers across the community ~ anger, rage, fear, hopeless, dread, panic ~ I can't tell you how many of you I have talked down from the bridge ~ urging you to keep the faith in TCI ~ lean on the facts and not the feelings. Dr. B is a groundbreaking, incredible doctor ~ those are the facts ~ he has restored my health to 90% and I am forever grateful :)

Something I have learned as a brain surgery survivor and as a chiarian is that when all hope fades and all you can see is darkness enveloping you, this is when faith steps in and shines a light in those dark places. I think we all can stop holding out breaths and breathe a deep sigh of relief. I had my post op f/u appointment today at TCI ~ I have news. but more on that in another post. Just a reminder that no matter what life continues to throw me, there's always something good in this world worth fighting for ~ looking for more brighter days.

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

Leeland-Brighter Days Lyrics

Time keeps moving on
Through the sunshine and the storm
And my dreams are set in stone
And someday I’ll be who I want to be
For now I’ll wait
For the sun to shine again
And for now I’ll wait
For the rain to pass away

And I’m looking for the brighter days
When all my hurts seem to fade away
I’m looking for the brighter days to come my way

Faces come and faces go
But none seem to look my way
And walls have stood and walls have fallen
But my heart seems to wait
For now I’ll sit at the end of the road
And for now I’ll wait
At the end of the pathway

I’ll see the sun one day shine upon me
I’ll see the sun one day
And watch the night time turn to morning
But for now it all comes back around

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brain Tail Whisperer

I was so sad and sick to my stomach today as the scathing accusations ripped the headlines. I won't dignify the press here, you can find the articles on the Internet ~ but I feel as a loyal patient of Dr. B and Dr. M, I must say something.

The facts are that my incredible neurosurgeons (Brain Tail Whisperers) were recently suspended for two weeks due to a scheduling mishap with the hospital. I am still hoping that the real story will eventually come out, but my brain tail tells me that there was a family emergency and the powers that be didn't get the message to cancel a surgery. Let's face it ~ communication breakdowns happen ~ it's part of life. Recently there was a HUGE miscommunication that resulted in panic in NYC when Air Force One flew over Manhattan for a photo op and forgot to tell the Mayor of NY! It's unfortunate that this happened, but seriously, I have been a patient at North Shore Hospital three times and it's a zoo over there. My docs perform two surgeries a day ~ five days a week. I know they are way over worked and must be completely exhausted! The bright side of this is that they got a well deserved vacation!
I seriously doubt that any of the reporters or the lawyer who is filing lawsuits has ever met Dr. B in person. My Chiari journey has involved 4 local neurosurgeons. Two of which I adore and they referred me to TCI as I was a complicated case and way out of their league. The other two told me to my face that the good docs at TCI were making diagnosis up! When it comes down to it, I have leaned on faith and what my heart has told me where I should be treated.

When I had my initial consult at TCI in May of 2007 a surgery plan was proposed that involved a spinal detethering followed by a posterior fossa decompression and fusion. I was told by Dr. B that the decompression surgery was brutal and would be a long and painful recovery. He said that when surgery looked better than living with my symptoms, then I would know when to have the procedure done.
On 2/1/08 I had my spinal detethering surgery ~ remember this was only diagnosed by TCI. They had explained that my spinal cord was tethered and responsible for causing my chiari malformation. The constant downward pulling of my brainstem had caused all kinds of horrible side effects. I was willing to believe in the unseen and put my faith in my surgeons. When I came to after my detethering Dr. M stopped by the recovery room ~ held my hand ~ looked me in the eye and told me that I was incredibly tethered. He wanted me to cancel my brain surgery that was scheduled for the next month as he was certain that the detethering would reduce my brain herniation.
After the detethering, my symptoms were greatly improved, no more gait problems, my constant nausea was gone ~ but truth be known, my brain tail measured at 17mm ~ it was going to take an act of God to make me feel up to 100% again. I scheduled my decompression for 12/3/08 as it seemed evident that my brain definitely needed more room. I wasn't disappointed that the detethering didn't 'fix' me ~ I understood the complexity of my case. I couldn't continue to live with the constant swirling vertigo, brain fog, trouble swallowing, trouble breathing. I know that my docs at TCI are not super heroes ~ although they come pretty close in my book. The day before my decompression I found out that between Feb and Dec 2008 my brain tail had shrunk from 17mm to 10mm due to my detethering! The surgery absolutely improved my condition.
I know I have rambled on, but I am almost finished ~ So I had my brain tail decompression done on 12/3/08 and I am so thankful that I was decompressed. Sure, I have Chiari pressure headaches on a rainy day, but compared to how I felt prior to surgery I would say I am close to 95% now! TCI takes patients who have no where to turn ~ patients turned away from other surgeons who claim they need to be locked in a padded room as all their symptoms can't possibly be related to Chiari! Their bedside manner is incredible ~ how many neurosurgeons do you know that will hold your hand, look you in the eye and put your fears to rest?
I could go on for another hour, but the point I am trying to make is ~ please don't lose faith in TCI. Please don't be quick to judge before all the facts are in. These are good, hard working, caring surgeons who have saved thousands of people! They need our support now more than ever. This too will pass ~ take the higher road with me ~ I still believe.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our Lil Maple Tree

Last year we adopted a pair of maple trees ~ or maybe I should say that they were the targets of a rescue mission operation. They were living in a vastly overpopulated grove of trees and by transplanting them to our yard we gave them a second chance at starting over again with a longer life expectancy. Needless to say I have been watching the trees closely to see if they would survive their first NY winter without the protection of other larger trees around them. 

Letting mother nature take it's course has been difficult for me. I kept wanting to cover up the trees to shelter them from the harsh winter ice and snow storms. With each passing winter day I kept preparing myself to see one or both of the sappling broken in two or uprooted ~ but thankfully this never happened. Now that spring is here I waited with great expectation to see which tree would grow leaves first. 

One of the trees I am more attached to ~ you see ~ this particular tree is about a foot shorter than the other one. Maybe she's the runt of the forest. Regardless of her size, she sprouted leaves before the taller, healthier looking tree! She's a fighter for sure and this has reminded me that just because the outside might look smaller it doesn't indicate that everything is going according to plan on the inside ~ sigh ~ Do you hear a parable coming????

Working out in the backyard this weekend I was reminded that weeds grow like crazy as soon as the weather is warmer and they will completely destroy any healthy plants in their path. I spent about two hours on my hands and knees uprooting dandelions. I was so focused on the task at hand that I forgot to put on gloves. About an hour later, the seering pain in the palm of my hand nudged me to go ahead and put on the gloves to avoid further blistering! Whenever I choose to purge something unhealthy out of my life, whatever I am removing will fight back with the power of a thousand lions. Duly noted!

So back to the parable of my favorite maple tree ~ she needs a strong, hearty name, don't you think? Perhaps Eowen ~ As I look back over my Chiari journey I have often felt a bit like the tree weathering harsh weather. No one else has been able to 'share the load' ~ shout out to Samwise Gamgee ~ This path that I have endured is mine alone and my burden to bear. Although I have many supportive friends out there ~ especially you fellow 'brain tails' ~ it's up to me to stand tall, press on and encourage others who are somewhere along the winding road on their Chiari journey. 

The absence of me in the blogging world hasn't been because my symptoms have returned. Truth be known I am feeling really great and only have an occasional pressure Chiari headache, but compared to all the symptoms I had prior to brain surgery ~ I have nothing to complain about. I still feel like I am coming out of a very long coma ~ seeing life through new eyes again ~ remembering what it feels like to feel alive again. For those of you Chiarian's out there who are paralyzed with fear with even the thought of brain surgery ~ know that from my perspective, the surgery absolutely works. My quality of life has been restored to almost 95%. There is always hope ~ dig deep and find your courage and draw strength from those of us who have gone before you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Always Looking Up

Last week I DVR'd an Oprah episode when Michael J Fox was the guest. Today I finally got around to watching it and wasn't prepared for the profound effect the show had on me. It's been a rough couple of days. The sky has been dense with grey clouds and the rain and some snow flakes have been falling. As a chiarian these weather conditions can cause those lovely barometric pressure headaches from hell, not to mention the feeling that an elephant has camped out on my chest making it difficult to breathe. On top of it all I have been hunkered down in my study bunker trying to cram for my SQL 2005 test that I took yesterday. I passed the multiple choice ~ 35 question section that I have been studying for, but I totally failed the application part of the test that I had no idea existed! Needless to say I was feeling defeated and disappointed yesterday. All that studying and I have to take the whole thing all over again ~ sigh
Anyway, while I was sulking around last night I was thinking about the aftermath of my brain surgery. I do survival mode really well ~ I know my path and I slog through it. But what now? After brain surgery there isn't anything anything harder in life ~ right? Wrong ~ I am learning that my perspective on things have totally changed post surgery. I can't even begin to explain it yet ~ maybe it's a feeling I have deep down in my heart ~ like I need to be doing something profound ~ making a difference. But honestly, I just don't have the energy yet ~ I am getting there, but slower than I would like. That brings me to the point I was trying to make all along.

I have always been a big Michael J Fox fan ~ ever since Family Ties. How could you not love the guy?! Remember Back to the Future (the flux capacitor is fluxxing) and Secret of My Success? Classic movies of the 80's. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease about 18 years ago. I have kept up with his condition and I am amazed at how he has continued to live his life despite all of the odds stacked against him. Oprah's interview with Fox was inspiring to say the least.

When my Chiari symptoms were at their worst I thought I just couldn't continue to live with the constant tilt-a-whirl effect of vertigo and the crushing headaches. Then I hear Michael talk about feeling like he's got a four year old constantly tugging on him ~ pulling his body in every direction. I can't even to begin to imagine how difficult his struggle must be ~ but he does it and is making a difference in this world by raising awareness and helping to find a cure.

I saw a quick one minute promo for the special and was intrigued by the fact that Michael's symptoms were lessened when he was in the high altitude of the Himalayas. Sounds like my intuition about going to Everest just might be more than a passionate desire! Again, I am inspired by Fox's great positive attitude, proof that even when you can't change your circumstance, you can choose to be positive. Adventures of an Incurable Optimist is on May 7th, 10pm on ABC. ~ put it on your calendar and watch with hopes that you just might find a glimmer of hope and renewed faith. too. Thanks to Michael for awakening my blogging muse who has been slumbering for way too long!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Barometric Pressure Headaches ~ still

They say it takes about a year to be healed from a brain decompression and here I am thinking I feel pretty good so I must be healed already ~ until I get whacked with the stealth barometric headaches again. My surgical report did state that I had absolutely no flow at all in my 4th ventricle prior to surgery. The decompression restored the flow to that of the 'jet stream', but I wonder how much time I must wait until the pressure headaches are gone. Maybe I will always be plagued by them due to too much damage from 38 years of ventricle squashing in my brain?!

I was reading up on what causes these pressure headaches. I must fall into the category of 'weather sensitive' individuals. There is a feature on http://www.weather.com/ where you put in your zip code and it will tell you on a scale of 1-10 what the Aches and Pains index will be for the area where you live. They are predicting a 6 for today and a 7 for next Monday. This might be a good idea to keep track of when planning activities for the week ~ to not expect much when the numbers creep above 5. But then again, I usually can tell at least 24 hours before the pressure is coming.

Maybe those ancient memories ingrained in my DNA about sailing across the ocean serve me well. I would have been be very handy on a ship since I can tell if there's bad weather coming ~ sigh. Now where's my Excedrine Migraine medicine?!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Believe In The Sun Even When It's Not Shining

It's easy to get lost in the dreariness of winter. It seems like the wintry mix and clouds will never part. That's what I was thinking on my drive in to work this morning ~ then as quickly as the depressing thoughts came into my head, they were gone with the sound of lyrics on the radio that transported me once again to a place of hope and warmth.

I Believe In Love ~ Barlow Girl

How long will my prayers seem unanswered?

Is there still faith in me to reach the end?

I'm feeling doubt I'm losing faith

But giving up would cost me everything

So I'll stand in the pain and silence

And I'll speak to the dark night

I believe in the sun even when it's not shining

I believe in love even when I don't feel it

And I believe in God even when He is silent

And I, I believe

Though I can't see my stories ending

That doesn't mean the dark night has no end

It's only here that I find faith

And learn to trust the one who writes my days

So I'll stand in the pain and silence

And I'll speak to the dark night

I believe in the sun even when it's not shining

I believe in love even when I don't feel it

And I believe in God even when He is silent

And I, I believe No dark can consume Light

No death greater than this life

We are not forgotten

Hope is found when we say

Even when He is silent

I believe in the sun even when it's not shining

I believe in love even when I don't feel it

And I believe in God even when He is silent

And I, I believe.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Helloooo ~ any blog readers out there? I know I have been taking some time away from the world of blogging ~ I am still alive and thought I would start with a random post to try and jump start my muse again. Surely this picture would inspire at least one reader out there!

Let me introduce you to our latest outside resident ~ have you ever seen such acrobatic skills just for a bite to eat? I have yet to actually witness how this creature gets up to the feeder in the first place. This squirrel didn't get to be so full and fluffy by hanging out in a hole of a tree ~ he's spent some long hard hours thinking outside of the box ~ learning new skills. You should see Captain's reaction when the acrobat show begins. He jumps up on the window sil and stares intently at the squirrel ~ I think he's decided that it's another cat and not categorized as a second breakfast. Hey, he's brown and has a fuzzy tail like him, so it must be a cat, right????

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chiari Ripple

When I was a kid growing up in Texas, one of my most favorite things to do in the country was to try and skip rocks on a pond or lake. When I grew tired of rock skipping I would find the heaviest rock I could heft and I would hurl it into the pond with great anticipation of how big a splash it would make! Even though those splashes were spectacular I was always mesmorized by the ripples the rocks created ~ those perfectly formed circles seemed to go on for miles.

Now that I have the post-decompression perspective I am still in awe at how the chiari ripple continues to grow.

When I first learned about my invasive brain tail I felt so alone in my journey ~ how could anyone possibly understand what I am going through? After starting my blog I found with each passing day that I wasn't alone ~ there were others out there with chiari suffering along side me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Our Hope Endures

I have been absent in the blogger world and wanted to touch base and let your know what's going on in my little corner of the world. I celebrated my 1 year anniversary since my spinal de-tethering surgery yesterday. Hooray ~ today I went back to work ~ that 2 month 'spa' vacation really flew by fast! I am finding that getting back into the swing of things is like getting to know the characters on LOST again after they have been on a long sabbatical.

People keep asking me how I feel in comparison to before the surgery. It's a tough question to answer, because I felt so bad for at least three years prior to surgery. Now ~ I truly feel like I have been given a fresh start at life ~ I feel more alive than I have for a very long time. Yes, I have rock star neurosurgeons, they did an outstanding job restoring my brain and I owe them my life. However, I know that my faith in God's healing hands and my positive spirit have healed me from the inside out.

I wanted to share some beautiful lyrics I heard last week that continue to haunt my thoughts. I so identify with the lyrics I posted below and the emotions they bring up to the surface. There are so many Chiarians out there who can identify with the constant struggle with chronic pain ~ there seems to be no end to the struggling & the pain, but our hope endures. As for me and my journey, something I am getting more and more comfortable with is taking steps in faith. I know that no matter what comes my way I will have enough hope to endure.

"Our Hope Endures" ~ Natalie Grant

You would think only so much can go wrong

Calamity only strikes once

And you assume this one has suffered her share

Life will be kinder from here

Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years

Sometimes the sky rains night after night

When will it clear?

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake

Our Hope is unchanged

How do we comprehend peace within pain?

Or joy at a good man's wake?

Walk a mile with the woman whose body is racked
With illness, oh how can she laugh?

Oh, 'cause sometimes the sun stays hidden for years

Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?
Emmanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient
We never walk alone

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Here Lizard, Lizard, Lizard

There was a passel of lizards in my dream last night ~ clearly they were trying to deliver a message. I looked up their animal totem meaning to give me insight and here is what I found.

  • Lizard totem tells me to listen to my own intuition above anyone else's.
  • It can show me how to break from the past by letting go of old ideas or negative behaviors which endanger my growth.
  • Lizards are experts a subtle perception.
  • Lizards reveal hidden messages through the dream state.
  • They prompt the energy of change.

Ufff ~ what an intense message ~ looks like I need to start writing down my dreams no matter how bizarre they might be! Also, interesting that a lizard can lose it's tail and grow another one in it's place ~ hopefully I won't grow a brain tail again. Speaking of sleep and dreaming I am finally beginning to dream again and it's getting a wee bit easier to fall asleep. I think I just need to be patient with the whole healing process. I wonder how long it's going to take before my brain has found a happy medium.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Forget Me NOT

I just finished reading another inspiring book ~ Forget Me NOT by Jennifer Lowe-Anker. What an incredible journey the author has had thus far ~ her strength and courage have inspired me to live more in the moment and get started on my own memoir. Ever since I picked up Ghosts of Everest I have been spellbound with the mountain and the mountaineers who climb the highest peak on the planet. You know, you've probably read about many other blogs where I have yammered on and on about Everest (29,035 feet) ~ but seriously, I can't help myself. This feeling that wells up inside me when I open up a book about someones journey up the mountain is indescribable.

I have some theories ~ maybe my brain is re-playing some heart memories of some distant relative who climbed Chomolunga-The Goddess Mother of the World. Perhaps I identify with the incredible endurance of the human spirit to keep moving forward even when you have nothing left to give. Anyway, with each Everest book I have read I have learned about the greatest mountaineers on the planet. Their stories are intertwined in the brotherhood of the rope.

One climber in particular I have grown to greatly admire and respect ~ Conrad Anker. Not long after he discovered George Mallory's body on the North side of Everest he was in a deadly avalanche in which he narrowly escaped. His best friend, Alex Lowe, and Dave Bridges lost their lives that day. Since that tragic day, Conrad has gone on several other expeditions, has started a Khumbu Climbing School and married Jennifer Lowe-Anker.

So, this weekend I was up in the Keene Valley with some friends at the 13th Annual Mountainfest ~ both Conrad and Jennifer Lowe-Anker were doing a slide show presentation about her book and Conrad's expeditions. I had both of them sign some books ~ it was amazing meeting them both! I also had a chance to go on a snow-shoeing outing ~ shhhhhh don't tell my surgeons. There wasn't anything on my discharge papers that said 'no snow-shoeing' ~ it just said no vacuuming for 3 months! Despite the bitter cold ~ it was down in the negatives at night and a high of 13 on Saturday ~ I had a great time this weekend relaxing and breathing in the sweet mountain air.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What A Heartfelt Acceptance Speach

Each year around Oscar time I try to make an effort to see as many nominated movies as possible. The Golden Globes is a good barometer for the Oscar nominations. I have already seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading, Mamma Mia, Tropic Thunder, The Dark Knight , Kung Fu Panda, Wall-E and The Reader. There are several films on my Netflix list: The Changeling, Rachel Getting Married & Vicky Christina Barcelona. The Academy Awards are on February 22nd so I should have time to see an handful of movies on my wish list.

Some movies have yet to be released in the theaters ~ maybe later this month ~ The Wrestler, Revolutionary Road, Last Chance Harvey, Slumdog Millionaire. I am thrilled that the films that have been heard to be Oscar worthy are not extremely violent in nature this year. I enjoy seeing an intricate drama that really gets under my skin, makes me really think about what matters in life. Last weekend I saw THE READER ~ what an incredibly hard story to tell. Fabulous acting all around, especially Kate Winslet. I am so looking forward to seeing Revolutionary Road sometime, soon. The reunion of Kate and Leo is worth the price of the ticket. When Kate won her Golden Globe for RR I was so touched by her message to Leo ~ I posted her acceptance speech below. She addressed Leo in the beginning of the fourth minute ~ What a connection those two actors have together ~ simply magical!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ultimate Vertigo Test

Just search my blog for the words: dizzy, swirly, vertigo, tilt-a-whirl ~ the posts are numerous! One of my motives for going forward with my decompression was to rid me of vertigo. Since my surgery I have not had one incident ~ knock on wood ~ and yesterday I had the chance to prove my theory.

I drove over to my office and had lunch with my co-workers yesterday. Four days out of five, my co-workers would often choose striped or checked shirts to wear. Mind you that I only work with a handful of people. Anyway, when two or more of them would don the stripes on the same day they loved to mess with me by standing side by side. If I looked at them I would get the serious spins ~ it was just awful to have to talk with someone and look the other way for fear of falling over or throwing up ~ yikes!

So, yesterday, three of my co-workers were wearing stripes or checked pattern shirts. And when they all lined up together the wave of vertigo was no longer there ~ woo hoo! Hooray for the little things that can make life so much more enjoyable. I had yet another milestone yesterday when I tried the Wii Fit step aerobics activity. I did so well I managed to unlock the advanced step exercise. I could almost feel my brain singing as the neurons were firing on all cylinders and working correctly.

More later, I was looking out the kitchen window, admiring how warm and beautiful the sunshine looks, thinking I could maybe go for a walk outside today. Then I checked the forecast and saw that 18 degrees with a cold 25mph wind did not sound so enjoyable ~ drat. So, I am off to the gym to practice my new physical therapy exercises ~ enjoy your weekend ~

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brother Fire

Fire is such a primal energy source and yet I still would fail miserably at being a pyromaniac. Seriously, I have so much trouble lighting a fire in the fireplace. I can get the fire lit, but it fails to meet my expectations ~ how silly is that?! I want to see a blazing fiery furnace, but a good fire takes patience and time. Just because there aren't leaping flames doesn't mean that heat isn't being generated. I know, this is all so elemental, but it made me ponder a bit on this snowy, icy night. Just for the record, no, I have not fallen off the wagon and started using morphine again!

Fire makes me think of one of my favorite Bible stories, The Fiery Furnace. The bulk of the story is about three men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) who would not bow down and worship a golden statue so the king ordered them to be thrown into a fiery furnace to die. They claimed that God would spare them from death. The fire was so hot that it killed the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace. The king was awestruck when he saw FOUR men walking around in the furnace. Perhaps an angel was sent to protect them from death. When the men were ordered out of the fire, not a hair on their head was singed.

I've rambled on again ~ surprised? But really, I learned something from brother FIRE today, even if there aren't raging flames, energy is still being created. It mirrors my life right now ~ my steady recovery. I might want an intense flame, but in reality I have red coals, providing a steady flow of heat. It's so painfully hard to pace myself in this recovery process. I don't feel pain until I have waaaay overdone it. I keep having to remind myself that this is going to be a slow process. Thank you FIRE for subtly reminding me and teaching me to be more like the slow burning coals.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Monthsary!

How could a month passed by so quickly ~ one breath at a time. It's been a month since my brain lift ~ I survived Christmas and New Years Eve. I really don't have any complaints. My recovery is moving along at warp speeds. According to my husband, AKA Warden Bubba, I need to park it and slow down a bit. In theory, that's good advice, but he is out of the house 40 hours a week at work and I no longer require any caretakers ~ you connect the dots.

I started physical therapy and am doing quite well. It's such a humbling experience to pick up three pound free weights and do bicep curls when I used to curl 10-15 lbs before the brain tail hurled me down a dark and twisted path. The hand bike was the most challenging exercise I did today at PT. My session finished up with the balance board ~ man was that fun! Having vertigo was one of my chief complaints prior to surgery and I thought I might never feel balanced again. I have been working on the balance activities on the Wii Fit and I have already seen some improvement.

Baby steps ~ one day at a time ~ slowly I will get my full strength back again. For a year before brain surgery I was growing my hair out so that I would have an adequate comb-over and today I had my hair cut. My hair stylist was so gentle and made extra care not to rake the comb over my zipper scar. She cut off about 2 inches and evened everything up a bit. We decided to wait until the spring before jumping into a new style. She commented that I had so many hospital chemicals all throughout my hair still ~ it will take several more weeks for the morphine and anesthesia to make it's way out of my system.

There's a nor'easter headed our way tonight ~ snow and ice expected overnight and throughout the day tomorrow. Planning on chilling on the couch and relaxing all day long ~ hey ~ maybe I will even dive into studying again for my SQL exam ~