Is it OK to be Proud of Myself?

 

Before

Before

After

After

I did it!!! the garage is CLEAN!! Is it OK to be proud of myself? 23 months ago I had brain surgery, could only walk by holding onto furniture, couldn’t bathe myself, and spent most days laying on the couch watching Ellen DeGeneris. 18 months ago I started driving again. 17 months ago my husband was diagnosed with Cancer and I was diagnosed with oscilopsy (bouncing vision) and post-surgical fatigue. Then Steve passed away 6 months ago. So maybe cleaning the garage doesn’t sound like any great accomplishment, but to me it’s like a miracle and shows me how far I’ve come in the past 2 years. Add to that my cleaning of the cold room and outside shed, and I’m convinced I can do hard things. No matter what, just keep pressing forward. I received a lot of help form my family, and I am so thankful. Basically I worked for a couple of hours then rested for a couple of hours, and repeated that pattern until I finally finished. Yippee!! Although I must say I do miss having Steve here to celebrate with. And now I wonder what I’ll do now that I’ve reached my top goals. OK let’s face it, there is still a lot to clean up around here. And now I know I can do it. This reminds me of a lady that I heard interviewed last week about being disabled. She said she focuses on her abilities, not her disabilities. That’s a good strategy. I can do this!

Happy, Angry, Sad, Sleepy

Dumpster almost full!

Dumpster almost full!

Shed looks great!

Shed looks great!

We can see the floor again in the cold room!

We can see the floor again in the cold room!

 

This grief process is confounding. I was so mad at Steve this week as I de-cluttered. My grandson and I worked hard in the heat to get things out of the garage, cold room and shed. I spilled a bunch of oil in the garage (I’m using cat litter to get it cleaned up). Our air conditioning went out (Did I mention it was HOT?). And now I have to organize everything that’s left.  I managed to blame everything on Steve. Then, very unexpectedly yesterday, coming out of nowhere, I got sad and missed Steve a lot. Really got down. Am I going crazy? I guess I could blame that on him, too. I am better emotionally today but my post-brain surgery fatigue is singing its song. So I am in an emotional rainbow lately: Happy, Angry, Sad, Sleepy. Sounds like the 7 Dwarves. And it’s the weekend, so I often get a little Apprehensive if I don’t have something fun planned. I am going to a Transcendental Meditation group meeting this evening. Fun? Perhaps.

 

Dumpster

Dumpster

Dumpster

Can I just leave it in my driveway forever?

Can I just leave it in my driveway forever?

The dumpster finally arrived today. So much to throw away! I finally finished the cold room, with the help of my grandson. The garage is half done, and on to the storage shed on Thursday. I told my family that if they want anything they need to come this week because EVERYTHING is going in the dumpster by the end of the week. I’m not so angry at Steve now. I still have bouts of saying, “What were you thinking??” when I  find really old useless objects, which is quite often. But the anger has mellowed down to annoyance. I’m headed toward acceptance and forgiveness. I’ll get there.

At long last - empty shelves in the garage!!

At long last – empty shelves in the garage!!

Storage shed: You don't scare me!!

Storage shed: You don’t scare me!!

 

De-cluttering my Energy

Cold room

Cold room

I am keeping busy de-cluttering the house. I have ordered a large dumpster that will arrive on Monday and stay for 7 days. I’ve got the garage, the cold room, and the storage shed to clean out. This sounds like a mundane task, and boring to blog about, but there is something powerful about taking control of my environment and clearing out the stuck energy. It’s a bit of a spiritual journey. Deep down I believe that as I get rid of old useless items, it makes room for new energy to enter my life. It’s like I am participating in a project that will  move me forward in life. I don’t know what that moving forward will look like, but I feel that I am proactively inviting it in.

Andy, Sid, Pepper 1982

Andy, Sid, Pepper 1982

Steve as a teenager

Steve as a teenager

My Dad

My Dad

I have run across lots of old photos and not sure what to do with them. I think I will separate them into piles for the kids and for Steve’s family and send them on. They bring back memories, which is nice, but basically they just sit in a box until they are looked at every 30 years. So I’m going to send them on their way. I might save a few to make a scrapbook, but that will have to wait until I have more time.

Cleaning the Garage

Garage1Life is such a mystery. I have been working on stepping back from as many things as I can in order to deal with my fatigue. Last week I decreased my work hours and stopped doing a church assignment, and I’m still looking at things to drop. Lo and behold, yesterday I had very little fatigue! That was so great! What a gift! I was finally able to start working on cleaning the garage. I felt like a “regular person!” I gotta say though that cleaning the garage is a huge challenge. I got kinda mad at Steve for leaving me all this to do. I can’t believe all the pesticide I found!  In his defense, he did apologize for this before he died because he knew I would have a lot to clean up. And I will forgive him when I’m done. My goal now is to work on it about an hour a day. Steve would agree that it’s important for me to “clear the space” and “balance the energy” in my environment, so that’s what I’m working on. I think hanging on to his stuff won’t be an energetically sound thing for me to do. Stuck energy can be detrimental to physical and emotional and spiritual health. My fatigue feels like stuck energy so de-cluttering will help. My kids have been a great help, and I know this is hard for them. The circle of life keeps rolling on.

Fatigue Wars

Image result for fatigueAttending the AHNA conference in Florida last week gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about holistic nursing, and also a bit more about myself. Since my brain surgery in August 2014 I have been plagued by fatigue. It is always with me. If I don’t meditate twice a day, I am totally exhausted by late afternoon. I was telling my girlfriend Carol about this and she pointed out that although I meditate, I also keep going and going and stay very busy all day. It struck me that although I teach students about the importance of self-care, I have only tricked myself into thinking I am engaging in appropriate self-care for someone with post-brain trauma fatigue. I Googled the topic today and found that fatigue after brain surgery is very common and can last for a few years. It’s time I quit denying this. I am competing with the person I used to be. Before surgery I had tons of energy and was constantly on the go. I like that! It is so hard to face that I am just not able to live at the same pace as I used to. Ugh! So when I  got back from Florida I spoke to my supervisor we decided I will go back to teaching 2 classes instead of 3. It was very hard to admit that teaching 3 classes is more than I can manage. I was planning on spending the summer preparing for fall classes. Now I don’t have as much to prepare. And now I’m going to look at what else is on my plate that I can eliminate. It’s time for me to step back and take charge of my self-care instead of letting life wear me down. I love being busy, but I guess it’s time for me to learn to love taking it easy. Wish me luck!

Bucket List: Check!

CDC signMy nursing background, besides holistic nursing, is in public health. I just love learning about population health and communicable diseases. For years I have had “Visit the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)” on my bucket list (things to do before I kick the bucket). And yesterday my son and his family took me to the CDC Museum in Atlanta. I was in Heaven! I just loved being there. In another life I would have worked there. I always thought being an epidemiological field investigator would be so satisfying. So yeah, it’s a strange bucket list item, but I have checked it off! Take a look at my pictures below:

Andy, Kathryn, Eve, Quinn

Andy, Kathryn, Eve, Quinn

Iron lung for Polio patients.

Iron lung for Polio patients.

"See that the privy is clean or take the blame on yourself if your family dies of Typhoid Fever"

“See that the privy is clean or take the blame on yourself if your family dies of Typhoid Fever”

I REALLY wanted to go down this hallway!

I REALLY wanted to go down this hallway!

Letter ending the Tuskegee Experiment in 1972

Letter ending the Tuskegee Experiment in 1972

 

Swamp Thing

swamp1swampYesterday I took a tour of the Corkscrew Swamp Nature Reserve here in Florida. I was actually in the Everglades! So beautiful. I enjoyed spending time with other holistic nurses, and I learned so much about our ecosystem and how we’re sort of wrecking it. It was very educational and a bit scary. I saw a tree that was 500 years old, so Ponce de Leon may have touched the same tree I touched yesterday. It was cool and damp to the touch. The tour guide talked about the interconnection between all the plants and animals in the swamp, which was meaningful because our holistic nursing conference is about innterconnectedness. He illustrated how destroying one species of tree could destroy the butterfly that uses the tree as a breeding ground, so we would lose the tree AND the butterfly. It reminds me of decision-making. I do the best I can but my decisions often affect others, or affect my future in unexpected ways. I think I should think things out a little more carefully…

My Mentor

EllieI’m having a great time re-connecting with fellow holistic nurses at the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) annual conference in Bonita Springs, Florida. I was fortunate to spend the morning with Ellie Slette my long time friend and mentor. She lives in Minnesota but we have stayed in touch. We served on the AHNA Board of Directors together and she was my Adviser to the President when I was the AHNA President. She and I have been through challenges together and her wisdom, patience, love and acceptance have been a huge strength to me. Having a mentor is such a wonderful blessing. It’s so nice to have someone wise to talk things through without being judged, and just totally accepted. I am a blessed woman.
nde2We watched a Near Death Experience (NDE) video at conference last night. It talked about how healthcare providers need to accept patients’ stories about being out of their bodies, with acceptance and caring. The video had examples of people who had NDE’s and were judged harshly or ignored by their care providers. I gotta say, I shared my NDE with my care providers, and they were all accepting and understanding, and interested. So I guess I’m lucky. Oh yeah, like I said in the previous paragraph: I am a blessed woman!