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!