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!

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!

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!

Closure

This weekend I visited the cabin up Ogden canyon where I was staying just prior to the stroke. It was the spot I was last normal. It haunts me like a ghost of life past. I never actually verbalized my inner conflict, because I was trying to remain in denial as long as possible at the time. (Sometimes you gotta use denial for self preservation!) However, the thought was always hovering in the back of my mind, even though I was welcomed with many with open arms.

Certain sights brought back memory vignettes of the days preceding my big change almost a year ago. Picture the ballfield, spotted with family playing softball. (With my mad skills, I got a hit everytime!) There’s the corner of the yard where the night before we watched (an old family favorite) John Wayne movie outside. (Popcorn included.) I recall scrumptious meals as we all gathered together to laugh and associate. And right before, (all those who opted out of river tubing) rambunctiously played cards with the necessary drinks and snacks. All was right with the world. We were encircled by trees and the babbling water. In the company of seldom seen extended family, we shared stories, memories, and experiences. Always laughing, we enjoyed the careless serenity of the crisp outdoors.

This was the scene from a normal life that would soon come crashing down, not just for me, but all associated with me. (Kablam!) 

It’s amazing to think of one event (like a stroke) rippling out to deeply effect so many. It just goes to show you it’s expedient to live your life to the fullest now and every day after. You never know what tomorrow will bring. (Seriously, you just don’t know!) How would I have lived those final normal days? What would I have done to prepare? I feel like I was in the right place, with family.

Here’s my unsolicited, but well-earned advice: Turn off the TV or put down the phone, and give your precious time to the people you love.

The cabin will always hold treasured memories for me. (Sorry, I was responsible for ruining a wonderful family weekend. It certainly wasn’t on purpose.) But instead of dwelling on the sadness this event caused many, I will focus on the good times. I will pull aside the veil of disappointment and desperation, and I will strive to only remember the happiness and joyful times. That’s my goal. (Wish me luck!)

 Appreciate What You Have

You may look at my predicament and empathetically think, “Man, I’m glad that’s not me.” I would have perceived it the same way in my pre-stroke days. It’s all about your personal perspective. 

I recently had a visit from a new rehab resident. It has been six months since Barbara had her leg below the knee amputated due to diabetic complications. She was recently discharged from the hospital. I became acquainted with her when she was our Post Master about 8 years ago. (I don’t remember back that far.) But I do remember her. She was so perky and cheery. I sent stacks of mail as I was busy with eBay. We became fast friends. 

I tried not to stare. (So hard not to do.) Barbara was so incredibly happy and bright as ever. (I had a hard time keeping it together with guests for quite awhile. It’s hard to be happy when you think about how your life changed in an instant.) Her overwhelming positivity was contagious. I felt uplifted and reenergized being around her.

Wow, how can I feel bad for myself? I might not be entirely mobile, but I’m entirely whole. I have all my limbs. I look normal. (Well mostly.) I’m going to walk normally,  someday. I have been pondering this situation frequently. What I experienced might seem like a tragic hand I’ve been dealt, but there is always something worse. I guess it’s how you look at it. My self-pity train stops short when I look around and see where I could be. If we focus hard enough at our own lives, we’ll see our God-given tender mercies.

Not one person can complain about their lot in life. (Not even if you’re a teenager!) Gratitude really is an attitude!

Brace For It…

I’ve written about my brace previously. (New short video below.) It is like a cast you can apply and remove. (That’s why it’s blue, so they don’t think I’m the Mummy!) The guy wrapped my leg like a cast to make a mold. I wear this brace to keep my ankle from turning or spraining, and it stops my knee from hyper-extending. (It tends to do that!)

Lately, the calf on my bad leg has been getting larger. (My awesome muscles are expanding. “I’ll be back!” said in an Arnold voice.) The brace still fits, but it hurts when they put it on! I would scuff my toes on the pool floor, because they were hanging over the end of the brace! I told Darin I needed a water shoe in a bigger size to go over my brace. We traveled to Walmart to find a cheap one. (Just kidding, you don’t need to travel far.) In the summer, we should have an expansive choice. It’s the first of July, and the water shoes were pretty much non existent! (I guess they’re stocking school supplies now!) We discovered three pairs of men’s water shoes in a corner, and chose the smallest one at a men’s size 10. (Too bad they wouldn’t sell me one shoe!) 

Now my tootsies are safe, and I can walk (in water) with confidence! “These shoes were made for walkin’…”

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Dry Spell

Have you ever had a time when you’re mind is as dry as the desert sand? The same things happen day in and day out, and everything seems so dull. (Insert yawn.) You feel like Forrest Gump, when he says, “That’s all I have to say about that.” I feel unmotivated and uninspired. I’m sure one of these days I’ll have an “A-ha moment” when the light bulb will flip on, and I will hatch a stupendous thought. But for now I sit without an idea to put to pen. (I type, but you get the jist.)

We all have those spurts when nothing brilliant hits us. We experience the dulldrums. It’s difficult not to curl up in a ball, and take a day-long nap. Or we consume a whole carton of ice cream to forget the world for awhile. (Been there, done that.)

So how do we kick this blah feeling? The only thing I can think of is to stop thinking about ourselves. Like when President Gordon B. Hinkley quoted his father, “Forget yourself and go to work!” (I know it was used in a different context, but it can apply to my problem, too.) The way to “forget yourself” is to think of others, help others, get outside your own pity party. Step outside the box of self absorption. Volunteering is a great way to adandon your own cares, and you might just receive that inspiration you desire. 

Listen to your heart. The opportunity to make a difference is right there. (I don’t know if it’s your heart, your mind, or a bit of both. It could be something else.) I have numerous opportunities to serve, and I’m stuck in a rehab home. Think of what good you can do, out in the real world.

To sum it up, we all experience dry spells. But what will moisten those times is unselfish service and getting outside our own heads. (Nuff said. Kim out.)