Stroke or Migraine or Tumor?

Hospital 26 July 2016I went to tai chi yesterday as usual. While I was moving with the group I noticed that peoples’ arms kept disappearing! Yikes! I looked at my watch and half of it disappeared. Weird! I felt very tired and achy and the odd vision continued for about 15 minutes and I decided I should go to the ER.  They brought me right in, thinking it was a stroke, or a recurrence of a brain tumor. Oh what fun! I had a CT scan that was normal, an MRI that was normal, a bigger CT scan that was normal, an echo cardiogram that was normal, blood tests that were normal. They kept me in overnight, which meant I missed work, but I can make that up tomorrow. I finally got home today at 4:00 after spending 22 hours in the hospital. Boring!!! And they really don’t know what happened. My discharge diagnosis is TIA (mini stroke) vs. Migraine. The good news is I met a nice neurologist who can possibly help me with my fatigue in the future. Now I have to go to the store to get some baby aspirin for the TIA and some magnesium for the migraine. My main concern was that I would miss my trip to Europe over this. But no, I’m good. I actually feel much better today than I did all day yesterday. I was treated very well at Jordan Valley Hospital. Life is an adventure.
I do have to add here that for some of the hours in the  hospital, it felt relaxing, like I was taking a break. I took a lot of naps. I was SO CALM. Then I realized it was the Ativan they gave me for the MRI that zoned me out. I just enjoyed it while it lasted!

Bear Lake

bear lake boatUtah celebrates the 24th of July with a state holiday commemorating Brigham Young entering the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. We call it Pioneer Day. My own pioneer ancestors came to Salt Lake on the Willie Handcart Company in 1857. As for my family, we celebrated by going to Bear Lake for a couple of days. We rented a boat and towed each other on an inner tube. I lasted about a minute and then chickened out. We went to the beach, roasted marshmallows, and played Golf (a card game). Fun!  I was worried I would be too fatigued to fully participate in the weekend, but I did OK. I rested a lot when we got home. This fatigue is unpredictable. I’m concerned that when I go to Europe in a couple of weeks the jet lag will wipe me out, but seriously I just can’t stay home in bed forever! Anyway, we had a wonderful time at Bear Lake. Then last night my son Sid shot off fireworks at his house.  I can’t believe those things are legal! I had to lie down for a little while at his house, but at least I went there and enjoyed the family.
A funny coincidence happened at Bear Lake.  I needed to go the the hardware store for some duct tape. When I walked in I heard my name called and I thought, do I have my name tag on?? It turned out to be Carrie Wayman, a man I haven’t seen in many years. Our kids grew up together. Now really, what are the odds of that? I want to read some deep meaning into this serendipitous rendezvous, but nothing has come up. Life is a mystery, eh?

Grief

Braxton, Storm, Grandma, Lincoln

Braxton, Storm, Grandma, Lincoln

I am really busy “processing” my recent life events. Yesterday I saw my family physician and he informed me that it’s possible this fatigue will never go away.  I went on a hike with my son Brad and his 3 boys. I thought it would be a good test of my energy. Well, it was a test alright. I had a lot of trouble balancing on the uneven terrain, crossing streams and climbing rocks. I finally sat down by a stream to rest as they went on ahead. As I gazed at the stream I enjoyed the beauty and then realized that, as usual, the scenery was bouncing, due to the hole in my eye socket. I got very sad and wondered if I would ever be able to look at scenery again without the bounce. I shed a few tears, which surprised me. Now today I am totally exhausted and as I process what happened, I’m thinking that I have never really grieved the loss of my health. A couple of days ago I blogged about how I need to embrace where I am now instead of yearning for what I don’t have. I am still committed to that, but now I’m thinking I may have missed a step, which is saying goodbye and letting go of my formerly healthy self. I’m not sure exactly what the grieving process entails, but I feel like I have grieved the loss of my husband but not the loss of my health. I worry that if I don’t fully grieve it, then I will carry some emotional baggage around that will prevent me from fully embracing the now. The story I tell myself is that Steve got sick just 7 months after my brain surgery. I was just starting to drive again and walk without holding onto furniture. I had to focus on taking care of him and put my health on the back burner. Now that I’ve said goodbye to Steve and cleaned up my environment (the garage, storage shed and cold room), it’s like my health has come back and told me it’s time to focus on me again. Is that why my fatigue and vision seem to be getting worse lately? And what exactly should I do to grieve my loss of health? I’d like to have a good cry but that’s kind of hard to force. Perhaps I should perform some sort of ceremony or ritual. I guess I’ll just stay open and see what happens. Life is a mystery and an adventure.

Embrace It

Today I met with  my mentor at the University of Utah College of Nursing and she gave me some great insights to ponder. I told her how I felt a bit frustrated because I can’t work full time due to my health (fatigue and double vision). Seems like I’ll never recover from the brain surgery I had almost 2 years ago. She said I should understand and appreciate that the work I am doing now, although not full-time, is important and valuable. I am just so used to being very active and working more than full-time, it is hard when forced to slow down. I judge myself according to previous standards, and certainly fall short. We also talked about hiring someone to do some housework for me. embrace1My first reaction was, I don’t work full-time so I can’t justify that. She said perhaps I should reserve my energy for things other than housework.  I didn’t think of that!
The insight I received from this conversation is that I am not embracing who I am right now. I focus too much on who I used to be and keep thinking that I will be better tomorrow, that this is a temporary situation that I can get through. I realized today that thinking like that takes me out of the present as I think about life in the future. It’s time for me to embrace who I am now, and enjoy this life the way it is now.
I’ve been thinking about going on a nursing mission for my church. I got excited and looked into it and then almost suddenly I realized wait a minute, I’m not healthy enough to do that! It’s like I forget or deny my current level of health.
I was talking to a girlfriend the other day who had just taught a class and I told her that she’s a great teacher. She denied it. I told her EMBRACE IT. Now it’s time for me to take my own advice and embrace who I am right now and enjoy what I can do and quit pushing myself or pretending I can do what I just can’t do right now. I will embrace it as if I had chosen it.

Tai Chi Balls

tai chi blue balltai chi red ball Last week at Tai Chi the instructor asked us to hold a ball in the palm of our hand away from out bodies while we did the form. The first ball was blue and light weight. It was easy to hold throughout the form, just sort of in the the way. I learnedtai chi happy hands to accommodate it. The second ball however was red and very heavy. I was quite tired by the time I got it and could not make it through the whole form while holding it in my palm. It was just too exhausting. I had to hold it close to my body because holding it away was just too hard. We talked about holding onto things. The instructor said sometimes we are given burdens to bear and it’s OK to just give them back, or let them go. I thought of how I have been holding onto several things: Past hurts, and how I tend to take responsibility for certain other people’s lives and attempt to rescue them. Holding these burdens close appears to lighten the load, but it was so refreshing to give my instructor back the balls and just let them go. I need to let go of past hurts, and give back accountability to people who need to accept responsibility for their own lives. Then I can move forward freely and not be so exhausted from carrying things that weigh me down or get in the way. I learn so many life lessons from Tai Chi. I am glad I found it.

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.