Joy Disguised as Sadness

It’s been a year since that fateful day. The day my life “flipped turned upside down.” (That’s the best way I can describe it.) I feel like I’ve been living in some alternate universe for a whole year. Every morning I wake up, look around, and my heart sinks because it wasn’t just a dream! (Dangit!) What I’m experiencing is for real! The picture above has never been seen before. It was taken by my sister right after the stroke. (She understands how chronicling life is so important to me.) I only remember bits and pieces. I hear it was touch and go for awhile there.

Wrapping my head around this event has been difficult. Since my brain operates fine, I have mulled, analyzed, and stewed for just about a year. (I’ve had the time, for a long time.) I suspect it’s a lot like mourning a lost life. I used to cry at the drop of a hat. Time has healed some of that, but certain things still set me off.

Most people who know me say, “You’ve come so far from no movement at all and on life support, we wondered if you’d even still be with us.” I agree, but I still mourn the past life I lived. Then they add, “But Kim, you need to celebrate your gift of life.” I understand. I am extremely grateful for that ultimate blessing and tender mercy. I’m still a little sad, though. My common sense tells me, “Yeah, I’ve figuratively traveled an extremely long way.” I do have joy and acknowledge that I fought for what I possess, but it is still lined with a thin layer of regret and “what-could-have-beens.”

Humility is engrained in me now. I was too confident in my comfortable (yet busy) life before the stroke. I hope and pray others can gain the lessons they need to learn on their own without experiencing life-altering changes! I will feel a little better if I know other lives benefited from my hardship. But at this time, I most assuredly recognize the source of my blessings, and I am truly grateful for the hugely abundant acts of kindness on my behalf. There are so many angels on this earth. (Seen and unseen!)

I wondered how to signify this milestone. Many of you shared your great opinions. The sad thing was, the clothes they cut off me in the ER were trashed, and I had no hospital paraphernalia to light on fire. (I got rid of it as fast as I could!) So my older daughter and the girls made a poster that said, “Big fat nasty nasty nasty stroke” with a corner that said, “burn here.” After I ate my fill of cheesecake with Dr. Pepper, we proceeded to the fire pit for some burning! “Burn baby burn!” I only cried a little.

So a year has come and gone with my new normal. I have come the equivalent of 10,000 miles. (I am approximating.) In the next few years, expect to see me walking through the door! (Cuz I’m gonna do it!) 

I can do hard things, and so can you!

How Can I Keep From Singing?

I invited a good friend of mine to guest author this post. I admire her lovable attitude and resilient personality! Meet Anna Sisson… A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sing in church with my mother. My mother has a beautiful voice, and I have always aspired to sing like her. However, that is not my greatest talent, but that doesn’t stop me from singing. When I was looking for what to sing, I discovered a song entitled just that, “How Can I Keep From Singing.” I was somewhat familiar with a version from Enya that I listened to as a teenager. Though this version had somewhat of a different vibe. In fact, the fourth verse had entirely different lyrics. 

Here are the lyrics from the the original author, Robert Wadsworth Lowry, who was an American Baptist minister in the late 1800’s.

My life flows on in endless song;

Above earth’s lamentation,

I hear the sweet, tho’ far-off hymn

That hails a new creation;

Thro’ all the tumult and the strife

I hear the music ringing;

It finds an echo in my soul—

        How can I keep from singing?

What tho’ my joys and comforts die?

The Lord my Saviour liveth;

What tho’ the darkness gather round?

Songs in the night he giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm

While to that refuge clinging;

Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,

          How can I keep from singing?

I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;

I see the blue above it;

And day by day this pathway smooths,

Since first I learned to love it,

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

A fountain ever springing;

All things are mine since I am his—

          How can I keep from singing?

I love how the words don’t mask the fact that life can be hard! But I also love the fact that the words encourage us to rise above the hard times and listen to what brings us hope and peace.

It is so easy to become bitter when things don’t go as planned, or when debts are high, jobs fail, and children disobey or when health gets in the way! Yet, when we remember the many blessings we do have and give thanks, we can rise above and never stop singing praises for our Lord Jesus Christ!

My mother and I may have not had a perfect performance that day, but I am content with the message we shared. It was is to never lose hope or sight of what is most important. Cling to Him with all our might, and of course to never never stop singing!!!!!!

By Anna Sisson (She did a great job, didn’t she? I am uplifted!)

 My favorite version, by SheDaisy.

Anniversary 

Sunday marks the one year anniversary of the (not my) stroke. My occupational therapist inquired if I was having a party. I don’t imagine it’s an event that warrants celebrating. (Can you see the invite… Come Celebrate at Kim’s One Year Stroke Party. Awkward.) Yeah, we could celebrate the wondrous gift of life, but I do that every day. 

I’m inclined to burn something like missionaries do at their one year mark. That idea makes me recall back to the last scene of Return of the Jedi when they burned Darth Vader. But I don’t want to lay in the fire. So what do I burn in effigy?

There is always the consuming of tasty food to (in some way) celebrate the milestone. (A reason to enjoy yummy things, I’m in!)

Please comment, and give me your opinion. How should I mark the date?

Here’s to one year of looking with new eyes and a renewed appreciation. “Cheers!” or be of good cheer. (I keep reminding myself.)


Above: My last picture before the stroke, with Whitney at the Kelly Pickler concert up at Cherry Peak.

Bloom

Today I was sitting in the courtyard when I noticed three wild turkeys enjoying the flowers with me. I watched them for quite a while and thought, “You guys are seriously out of place!” It made me think of that saying, “Bloom where you’re planted.” Then my brain turned to my personal life circumstances. Who would’ve ever thought I would be residing at Sunshine Terrace (a rest home) or unable to walk, or not utilize my right side, or not care for myself? (I won’t even get started at what I thought my husband and kids could do!)

Man, I am not in the position I assumed I’d be at this time. I feel very out of place. Now I’m not going to start singing the “Live your life to fullest, you just never know” song. (Unless you need to hear it, then there it is.) My train of thought is going to another station.

Even though our feet aren’t planted where we intended to ultimately take root, we must make the most of it while we are on our journey. (I’m just full of idioms today!) We spend our lives wishing for that “Impossible Dream.” It might be in the possible future, but it’s imperative for our happiness to live in the now or the present reality. We might reflect back on this time with fond memories, but we will most probably be glad to be past our current situation. (The fondness level might vary.)

In many cases, we are the master of our reality. We work and act and improve our lives. Then there are those times, (like in my life) when we can’t change our reality even though we desire it greatly. We do possess the power to turn that frown upside down, and make the situation better just by changing our attitude while this season of our life is happening. See the good.

I have chosen to make friends, make fun of myself, and bide my days here as best I can. I try to consider the feelings of others in all I do. (Shouldn’t we always?) I feel like if I can make another’s day lighter, I, too, will have an equally improved day.

Sooner than later I will be home with my family. But for now, I will do my best to show the true colors of my pedals, improve and thrive, and enjoy my time right here in my present. Remember: “It’s good to be alive right about now!”


I took this picture with my nose on my iPad!

Cardio

 I desired to increase my cardio workout, so I requested more exercise after my normal therapy session. (I am a gluten for punishment! See video.) They assist me as I get onto this bicycle-like machine they call a Biodex. It’s more like pushing and pulling with a bike motion.

My goal is 50 RPMs (I tried to convert to MPHs, but there’s all these other factors, such as resistance.) Sometimes I fall below 50 RPMs, but I go in surges. It’s difficult to do that constantly. I’ve done 70! By the end (10-15 minutes,) I am very sweaty. So I must be exerting myself. (Looking for energy donations!)

Foundation

​Our house remodel has finally started! The hoop jumping we had to perform to obtain the necessary signatures was exhaustive. (But it’s all legal now.) I actually see a light at the end of our addition tunnel. We no longer have just a hole in our yard! It’s real. (Thank you so much, Bart Bodily and Geneva Rock!)

Foundation is an important part of any life. We need to be built upon a solid base. Without it, we could easily be swept away with the slightest wind or storm. I am speaking metaphorically. Take a deep inner look inside yourself. What is your foundation? Is it physical or spiritual? Your foundation could be one of many things.

My foundation is rooted in Christ. I know I can always depend on His solid stabilizing support in my life. His teachings and His love hold me up when the gusts and whirlwinds attempt to knock me over. (And they’ve tried!) I have previously decided where to lean when life tries to push me over. So when it tries, I’m ready for it. “Solid, solid as a rock.”


This happened the day after!

Knowledge

Depending on what type of stroke one experiences, some people have much or parts of their brain function affected. The stroke I went through didn’t touch the thought or memory section of my brain. I was foggy for awhile, due to fatigue, but I don’t have any trouble recalling currently. (If you ask my husband, he’d say I am an airhead. But I’ve always acted crazy, however I still finish his sentences!) My speech has deteriorated probably due to the trach and decreased lung output. Therefore, some think I have a cognitive delay. I just can’t articulate what my intended comments in my normal debating, choral, high inflection voice. (My kids probably love my soft speaking!)

Sometimes, I kind of wish I was less cognitive, then I wouldn’t constantly over analyze everything. Life would be much simpler. Sometimes I’m up all night, thinking. I remember how it used to be, and that can be difficult. (But on the whole, I enjoy having my mind.)

Those who help me on a day-to-day basis know I can hold my own, and they run the risk of being called out on something by me. I could totally train CNA’s. (A year at this game really teaches you. I’ve seen really good and incredibly bad service.) I appreciate when things are done correctly. Many times, I will remind them of what they need to be doing! (Hopefully, in a nice way.) I have learned to hold my tongue. When I give too many instructions at once, people get overwhelmed or feel bossed around.

God blessed me with a tender mercy of perfect knowledge, as you can tell. (I love word games and Rummikub.) This concept reminds me of verses 18 and 19 in the Doctrine & Covenants, Section 130. “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” 

I get to keep my knowledge with me! So we can enjoy our best body form (I will be run-ning!) and possess all of our earth-gained knowledge in heaven. It’s the only thing that we can retain with us when we pass on. (Exciting!) I better get to work.

I recall the old attage, “Those who can’t do, teach.” I am pretty certain it wasn’t a compliment (no offense, you wonderful teachers!) but I think that’s where I am right now. I can’t do, so I’m supposed to teach. I possess 48 years of experience and knowledge. I venture to say, I was allowed to keep my knowledge so I can pass it on. (Tag, I’m it!)