Archive for the ‘healing’ Category

WONDERFUL WORLD, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
October 16, 2017

“Take a look at the world,
and the state that it’s in today,
I am sure you’ll agree,
We all could make it a better way.
With our love put together,
Ev’rybody learn to love each other,
Instead of fussing and fighting.”
Jimmy Cliff

There have been so many natural and human disasters around the world recently. It seems endless and it seems impossible to know what to do to help besides throwing whatever money one can afford to throw. But that doesn’t feel like it’s enough and it precludes any direct connection with the victims, and fall out.

After seeing the devastation in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and the tragic aftermath of the senseless shootings in Las Vegas, or the massive loss of life in Somalia due to two car bombings, we look to one another for answers, comfort, and relief. We hold our loved ones tighter and make effort to let those we love, know we love them. We join campaigns and donate to organizations to provide assistance. We hope that our own cities won’t be the next struck by any kind of tragedy, natural or manmade. And we then we go about our lives feeling we’ve helped.

And we have. Being kind to one another is important and providing much needed funds to relief efforts is necessary. Going about our normal daily lives is also important both for our communities, our families, and us.

But there are some people who think outside the box and make effort to effect change and to impart a different kind of care, the care of action. I am blessed to know one such angel, and I want to share what she did in the wake of the Las Vegas tragedy. She made a pilgrimage of kindness to Las Vegas; where she did fifty-eight acts of kindness, encouraging each recipient to pay it forward themselves, in honor of each of the fifty-eight victims.

The deeds ranged from surprising random diners in Flaming Fajitas with gift cards to cover their meals, to presenting flowers to a senior in an assisted living home, to paying for haircuts at a local Fantastic Sam’s, to bringing pizzas to the first responding police station, to providing her cab driver with a generous tip, that he then donated to a collection his company had going to provide aid to the victims, and so much more. Each deed was accompanied by a note with the name, hometown and age of the shooting victim she was honoring. Many of the recipients had stories of their own to share with her and ideas for paying her kindness forward on their own.

She touched an entire city. She connected with people on a whole different level. The local paper caught wind of her mission and wrote about her. She shared the journey on Facebook and had lots of supporters wanting to help facilitate her passion. She took the idea of helping a step further than most of us even conceive. I know her to be one of the kindest, most caring, friendly, enthusiastic people I’ve ever met and I’ve been inspired by her since she came into my life. I aim to think outside the box like she does. I hope you will find inspiration in her actions too.

58 Acts of Kindness

JUST LIKE STARTING OVER
September 19, 2017

I’m one month out, post surgery. I got the clearance to begin easing back into physical activity. I can walk with vigor, exercise moderately, and tend to some of Cole’s needs (still not quite ready for heavy lifting, but can move towards it over the next few weeks). I’ve been back in the office since the start of the third week. I tired quickly at first but I feel like myself again.

Yesterday all of the surgical tape was removed, and I got my first clear view of my new self. While the procedure was prompted by health concerns and constant pain, I must say the superficial benefits of it are pretty amazing. I actually have breasts that fit my frame and compliment my body. I feel lighter, stand taller, and am completely inspired to get the rest of me in better shape to better suit my new boobs. All of my clothes fit differently too.

As I wrote previously, the aching pain I have suffered from for twenty odd years is gone. Though I haven’t been able to lift Cole yet, I can tell that not having so much body in front of me, will be an asset in lifting him safely and more comfortably, especially as I move deeper into my fifties and beyond. The need to lift him and support his body whilst taking care of personal needs and dressing is not going to end.

It will be several months before I’m completely healed, and at least one or two more before my new breasts settle into their final size, but even just four weeks in, I have to say it was worth all of the hardship I’ve inflicted on my poor husband and child, who have had to make adjustments to their routines to accommodate my needs. At the end of the day, it’s just a few months in the lifetime we will continue to share. From here on out, each day will give me a chance to get stronger, healthier and to become more the self I dream of.

Doing something this major, largely for myself, has taught me that it’s okay to take chances on myself. I view it as an opportunity to reset some of the habits I’ve fallen into over the years of my adult life. I am eager to continue transforming myself both physically, through better eating and regular exercise, mentally, by engaging in things that interest me and feed my soul, and emotionally, by trying to be a better wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister – a better me. My guys and my friends have shown tremendous kindness, support and love during this process and I want to keep that alive in all of my relationships.

Who knew that new boobs could lead to such a whole being revolution?

CHANGES
September 18, 2017

It’s not often that parents of special needs kids do anything to radically rock the boat, but I recently did something radical that impacted everyone in my family. I got a breast reduction. I have contemplated doing so for the better part of fifteen years but held back for any number of reasons – cost, time off work, the physical restrictions, my weight, and the fact that electing to have surgery made me nervous.

I researched and researched and finally decided to just go in for a consultation so I could learn my options, my potential outcomes and whether it could be covered by insurance. My surgeon took one look at my bare, braless breasts and exclaimed, “They’re huge!” Followed by “Please let me help you”. I was simultaneously amused and taken a back. She’s a breast surgeon; surely she’s seen large boobs. Apparently mine were in a class of their own. Who knew?

I learned that there was little doubt that my insurance would approve the reduction and that the surgery itself is considered a fairly simple surgery. There’s no muscle or organ cutting and it generally is a 3-4 hour procedure. I learned about the post-op care, very limited movement for the first couple of weeks, and no lifting or sweat worthy exertion for several more. This again gave me pause because I have a 15 years old child who I lift and transfer and dress and change. How would that work with just one of us being able to do that for nearly two months?

My husband was supportive and cleared his travel schedule (he travels a lot for work). He assured me we could get through this and that it if this surgery was necessary and wanted, we’d figure it out. We do have a history of getting through all kinds of challenges, obstacles and uncertainties. Part of it comes with the territory of special needs parenting (you have to be very malleable) and part of it comes from us being a pretty good team.

So I moved forward and got it on the books. It was initially scheduled for August 14th, the day before Cole started his sophomore year of high school, but it got moved to the next, his first day of school just weeks before. We enlisted childcare to be home when his school bus arrived in case we weren’t yet home (the surgery was supposed to be 3-4 hours, starting at 10am so chances were good we’d be home on time), but just to be safe…childcare in place.

I cleared it with work, with the plan to work from home after the first week and then take it from there. I’ve been at the same company for many years and had their full support. It goes without saying that telling your male bosses that you’re having breast reduction surgery is quite a funny experience! Lots of gulping on both sides and averted eyes!

I got cleared by internist and again by the surgeon, and off we went.

My surgery lasted hours longer than a typical reduction, over six hours. I felt groggy leaving the surgical center, but immediately noticed the effect of the reduction. My neck, shoulder and back pain lifted. I had drains and tubing sticking out of my sides, obstructing most of my arm movement and I felt sore. I was warned that they do a lot of lifting of your torso and twisting during the surgery to ensure that everything is even, and in place properly and symmetrically. The after effects of that did not go unnoticed.

It will be months before my new breasts are completely healed and able to lead a normal life but almost instantaneously the effects of the surgery are life changing.

More to come…

CRUEL TO BE KIND
January 11, 2016

I had a bit of a revelation this past weekend. Perhaps somewhat overdue revelation but I had it (finally) and it’s put me to shame.

A discussion about something Cole related with my husband turned, as it often does, into an argument. I took my frustration out on him and got nasty. It’s my M.O. – not one I’m proud of but it happens a lot when we get into these emotional conversations. I think a lot of people do the same, and it is a learned style of fight that got passed on to my by my mom and brother. Hurt the ones you love.

The revelation I came to, is that my frustration when discussing difficult things in my life, is that we’re discussing difficult things in both of our lives. Shared frustrations, concerns, fears, anxiety, and stresses. When I talked to friends about these things, I have an outside opinion to bounce things off and to bring in different views. When I discuss things with my husband, the frustration is that we’re both in a similar place and it doesn’t help to remove me from where I’m stuck.

I’m not sure if I’m expressing that properly but in my head it makes sense and it struck me that it’s the root of some of the anger I direct at him. He can help me resolve some things because he’s looking for the same resolution, and I can’t necessarily help him. Sometimes you need a trusted or knowledgeable outsider to provide perspective and insight.

While I know that my fighting style is cruel, and not appropriate, especially when aimed at my partner, someone I love, this recognition I had gave me cause to reflect on my misguided anger in a way that I haven’t before. It gave me a deeper awareness of my failing. When I’m hurt, worried, concerned, or even appropriately angry, it’s not useful or helpful to deflect it upon someone else, especially someone who is often sharing the same emotions and therefore doesn’t need the additional burden of my wrath.

We’re going to fight still, everyone does, but I’m really going to make a bigger effort to stop to better understand the whole of a situation and what might really help to resolve it before I lash out.

Maturing can be a real bitch sometimes, especially when the mirror reflection is of someone were not proud to see…

BABY ELEPHANT STEPS
November 5, 2015

Cole’s doing an intensive two-month long, three days a week, bout of physical therapy. He’s getting up on his feet, standing and stepping using a Lite Gait treadmill system. So far he loves it. It’s hard work and already this week he’s doubled his walking distance. After four months of largely reclining on a bed or sitting in a comfy Chill Out Chair, it’s got to feel good to get his body moving again.

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This is a boy who for years would repeatedly respond to almost any question with “I want to move my body” on whatever communication device he happened to be using at the time. He has always preferred to be on his feet, whether supported by equipment or human.

Until the surgery, he even liked to move when he was sitting, the “kicky dance” as we fondly call it. When he hears music he likes, or sees something funny or entertaining, he would kick his legs and feet whilst drawing his hands to his hips – think River Dance but seated. He started doing this when he was baby and continued up until the surgery. We are just now starting to see the tiniest bit of foot action, giving us hope that the kicky dance will return. It’s adorable, and the smile that most often accompanies it is beyond infectious.

I feel relief in the joy he seems to be taking from doing the physical therapy. While his endurance still needs some building (he’s exhausted at the end of the day, which makes evenings a bit trying for all), he’s finally starting to show signs of psychological recovery from the surgery. His body and mind did not heal at the same rate but it seems like the mind is starting to catch up finally.

The holiday season is a time of year Cole loves, giving me lots of hope that between all of the strength and walking training, and his love for all things holiday will have him completely back to his happy, strong, amazing self in the New Year! I’m also holding on to hope that we can stave off the constant listening to holiday music until after Thanksgiving…only 21 days…could happen…

PHENOMENAL CAT
November 2, 2015

Prior to Cole having his surgery I read a funny article about the healing power of a cat’s purr (Healing Power of Cat’s Purr). I shared it with my husband because we have a cat, Charlie, and I thought it was kind of interesting. He scoffed at the idea, as he’s apt to do when I share something off the beaten path, and particularly when it comes to health or medical related subjects.

Charlie is about twelve years old. We adopted him when Cole was two, along with his brother (Nick) and sister (Nora), both of whom are no longer with us. Charlie’s a fairly independent cat. He’s always liked Cole and as he’s aged he often tries to sleep on Cole’s back or bottom (Cole prefers to sleep on his stomach), but otherwise, we don’t typically see much of him during the day. Charlie spends his days sunning outside, visiting a few neighborhood dogs and cats, and doing whatever cats do. He relishes his independence.

However, Charlie’s routine took curious turn when Cole came home from the hospital following his surgery. Charlie became a caregiver. He took to vigilantly curling up between the casts during the day and night or draping himself over one of Cole’s legs with his head resting on Cole’s hip, purring. Purring a lot. Purring healing purrs.

He spent every day of Cole’s healing nestled on or near Cole. We took to calling him Nurse Charlie because he was so consistent. When Cole was moved to another room, Charlie would curl up in the spot left by Cole until he returned and then would reposition himself to be close to his charge. It was really fascinating. He took his nursing duties very seriously.

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Even now that Cole’s returned to his usual routine and is out of the house during weekdays, Charlie still hovers nearby and curls up with him for bedtime. It’s rare that if Cole’s resting on the bed, Charlie’s not nestled right next to him. It seems he’s not quite ready to stop caring for his precious patient.

Funnily, my husband and I both took to posting #NurseCharlie photos on our instagram accounts and when he was recently away on business he had lots of inquiry about Nurse Charlie. It would appear that our cat has captured some hearts. Perhaps he needs his own instagram account!

SEE THE LIGHT
September 11, 2015

This week has been all about filling my mental toolbox.

I’ve come to realize that if I want to successfully help Cole with is anxiety I need to arm myself with some useful tools and strategies. My approach, generally to try to reassure him that everything is going to be all right and to spell out every step of each day so that he has a complete understanding of the days expectations isn’t working, even just a little bit. Last night I started reading a book about dealing with kid and teen anxiety and they eschewed my instinctive actions practically from the first page, so I have some reading to do this weekend to see if I myself can get a better understanding of anxiety and methods for supporting Cole.

I am also adding some creative tools to my box. I have quite a few DIY home projects I want to work on and while I’m not necessarily a builder, designer, or mason (some involve brickwork!), I do have some visionary qualities and want to build on that. Saturday night I’m attending an art party where I’ll paint and drink wine, both with the intention of sparking my creativity. I’m not a painter, but it sounds fun and I’ve come to realize that I don’t pursue fun enough. I need to play more!

I’ve also recognized that I have a tendency to procrastinate so I’ve been working on moving myself forward instead of being stagnant. The summer left me a bit shell shocked and I felt like I didn’t accomplish any of the little projects I had wanted to take care of whilst being tethered to the home front. Now they are all screaming at me to take care of them!  Each little task that gets handled makes me feel lighter, and brighter.

Even though things are still in flux and Cole’s still not back to his old self entirely, I realized that me standing still isn’t going to help anyone.

On a really positive note today, Cole happily stood up for about ten minutes at his physical therapy evaluation…Maybe he realized that moving forward even just upward, is better for him too!

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PAIN & SUFFERING
September 8, 2015

This past weekend seemed longer than the long weekend actually was, if that makes sense. I continue to be frustrated in my inability to discern the nuances of Cole’s pain and anxiety. I find it odd that nearly three months out from the surgery he’s still in so much pain and discomfort. It doesn’t seem to be improving at all. My husband suggested we take him to see his surgeon a few weeks ago and at the time I thought it unnecessary, and he didn’t push it. Now I kind of regret it. We have a long set follow up appointment with her next week so at this point it makes the most sense to wait for that but the fact that he still seems so fragile physically, and mentally (which is a totally different beast) concerns me.

He came home Friday and cried for well over an hour. Not a whimpering cry, but a wailing, heart wrenching cry. Nothing I did helped or consoled him. He just cried himself out.

My husband was still away and friends had kindly brought a birthday party to me as it was my actual birthday. Cole was excited to hangout with his friends (their children) and to watch Pitch Perfect 2 with the gang. While the moms sat in the backyard enjoying champers and cheese, the gaggle of kids watched the movie, shuffled around the living room, talking and laughing, and Cole slept more soundly than when he’s tucked in bed. He slept through the movie, the singing of happy birthday, eating of cupcakes, and gentle hugs and kisses to his sleeping self as everyone piled out. He slept through me moving him, pajamaing him, and slept pretty soundly till morning.

Saturday we were supposed to hang out with my mom and Cole and she had plans to take me out for birthday sukiyaki (a word that Cole finds hilarious!).   However, when I suggested we start getting ready to go pick her up, he outright panicked, and continued to do so for the rest of the day. He couldn’t seem to stop himself from hyperventilating and worrying about every movement, touch or suggestion of change. He finally admitted to me that right now he needs his Saturdays so be plan free and that he only wants to hang out in my room, resting on the bed, watching TV or movies. No suggestions of going out, no trying to move him to different rooms. I don’t understand, and I don’t really like it but if he feels like it will help him regroup after the week or whatever, I’ll respect it. For now…

Sunday I managed to get him out of my room because my brother and sister-in-law surprised us with coffee & bagels, so I just moved Cole. He wasn’t pleased but he settled down fairly quickly and enjoyed hanging with them. His dad got home while they were there too which helped boost his day even more. The three of us actually got out of the house for a bit and he enjoyed some bath time.

Monday though was more of the same refusal to leave the bedroom. He just struggled to hold it together all day. It’s really starting to freak me out, and to worry me. I’m so unsure of what’s physically paining him and what’s mentally debilitating him. Both seem daunting on their own but pair the two, and throw in normal teenage hormones and stresses and then try to figure out what’s what and how to help. I honestly can’t. As a mother, it’s the worst feeling in the world to know that you simply have no answers, solutions, or comfort for your child.

We’ll see what the week brings. Lately he’s done so well during school hours, and at homework club, and then falls apart when he returns home. I tried finding solutions to that last week with some success, but I’m not confident that this week will be the same, though I’m not sure it could be any worse. Mustering a little optimism, maybe it will be better for him…