Pushing

Lately, I have been working on stability when standing. (See both videos.) I stand in the middle of the room, and they push and pull me to see if I can recover. I always say, “Oh, you’re pushing me around again!” I am convinced that moving my single arm is definitely going to help me. (A hopeless attempt!) The greatest help comes from my toes. (Really! They assist a lot with balancing.) When I hold my hand in the air (raise the roof,) I feel as if I’m being mugged! (I wouldn’t know, I’m just guessing!) 

When they pull me with a band, I often overwhelm them. My left arm has become very strong! Sometimes I pull her. It’s assuring that the therapist is there holding my right arm. I have a safety net if things get out of control! We laugh the entire time, I guess it is pretty funny looking!

​In my normal fashion, I begin thinking deeper about pushing. As the mother of a former and a present teenager, I know pushing (or in other words nagging or forcing) you most definitely will get push-back and obstinance. Things will never go your way. Just like pushing on a screw won’t get it into the hole. But if you slowly, surely twist it in. (Tada!) It’s in the way you intended. Teenage relations require a little more finess than simply twisting, and it totally depends on the kid, too. Whatever you’re dealing with, it almost never works to just push something with all your might. Frustrated pushing rarely yields favorable results. You must stay calm, take a breath, and slowly and with concentration try again. Use ingenuity instead of force. I think that’s true with a lot of things. (Just sayin’!)


​​

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’…”

​​

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.)

Liberty

Liberty is the privilege to do whatever makes you happy within your own timing and freedom of choice.

Lately, my liberty has been relinquished. My power wheelchair malfunctioned last Wednesday, and the repairman came, looked at it, and said, “It needs a new motor, two weeks.” (Whaaa?) Why don’t you just punch me in the gut? That little occurrance took away my freedom, my legs, my ability to go where I wanted. I was totally grounded. (And I didn’t even deserve it!) I was literally trapped inside these four walls. I have a deeper appreciation for those people who are in a normal wheelchair and must depend on others for mobility. Someone pushed me to therapy, then someone pushed me back to my prison. You know, prisons don’t always consist of jail cells and bars. I absolutely hated it!

I wanted to go to the sidewalk sale this weekend, but my attitude ridden teenage daughter didn’t want to push me there. No amount of bribery would work. I ultimately gave up.

I had no outside lounging soaking up vitamin D. (You know how much I like that.) I could do nothing. Add other disappointments, and it’s sum equals a really horrible week.

I can sincerely understand why people go to war for their God-given liberties. (It’s a far reach, but I’m going there.) Freedom and independence are the reasons people fight against tyranny and oppression. Being decision limited makes one truly unhappy. When your freedoms are taken away (or limited) you just want to go kicking and screaming (or shooting, whatever it takes. I think we should have a dance-off!) for your way of life. I get it. I have a new respect for our armed force Veterans throughout the many, many years. The Stars and Stripes (or whatever flag you salute) is a waving symbol of that ultimate sacrifice by so many.

Luckily, some wonderful people have worked hard to get me a loaner. I finally have my freedom back. I immensely dislike depending on others and mechanical things for my independence, but that’s a fact of my current life right now. My liberty is restored after a long week and much relentless complaining. The squeaky wheel eventually gets the grease. (That happens in life and war!) Thank God for all your big and small liberties.

Keeping the Tiny Humans Alive 

We had our six children in groups of three. (No bad luck in my threes!) The first group was much more difficult. I guess it’s true the learning curve starts high!

The first three arrived within three years and nine months! I was coping with two, but the first time I was left alone with all three I had a little panic attack thinking, “What do I do? I only have two arms?” Soon after, I learned the ropes.

Barney, the dinosaur, was my televised babysitter for many years. “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family.” You do things as a parent of small children that you never thought you would otherwise do. (Bribery with candy is not out of the question.) It’s all about surviving another day in one piece. (For both parties, and it was no party!)

As fast as you clean, another mess is made at the other side of the house! One day I was doing the same old redundant housekeeping when I walked in on my oldest boy baby powdering his sister from head to toe. Well of course I flipped out, but no cleaning of the ghost toddler took place until I got my camera and chronicled this funny event. (Well, in hindsight it was funny.) They were always doing something crazy!


Kids are so destructive in their busy curiosities. I had a small village collection. I purchased a tiny scaled “H” gauge train that would highlight my houses beautifully for the holidays. (Not for long.) I assembled it proudly up high on top of an entertainment center to keep out of the reach of grabby children. But my first son and my niece climbed on the arm of the couch, balanced teetering on the edge of the arm, and pulled all the wheels off each car! We just couldn’t have nice things during these years!

My three musketeers did everything together. That was okay on the farm. It was convenient when one did something stupid, one could stand by and one could go for help. They spent many hours in the sandpile digging and building and burying. It was hilarious when they buried my third son and proceeded to make him breasts out of sand! They swam in the ditches, played in the feedpiles, and climbed on the hay bales – all under dad’s watchful eye. The tall weeds and grass were especially fun. Dogs and cats were usually part of the antics. Who needs expensive toys, we’ve got a farm! 

It was eight and a half years later, and we were content with our three. They were finally self-entertaining. (Whew!) We had cleaned out and donated all the baby clothes and equipment. (Three kiddos will wear most things out!) We assumed we were finished having children, but you know what happens when you assume? God says, “Not so fast!” I was unexpectedly expecting a fourth child.

Within about four and a half years three girls graced our home. It was a wee bit easier having built-in babysitters, but now we were raising six ankle biters! Whenever we went somewhere as a family I would instruct the older trio to watch their personal “Mini-Mes.” 

Laundry and dishes were never-ending. It was an eternal round of dirty things. 

Kids do say the darndest things. My youngest had a thick toddler accent. The best was when she asked for, “Ass-cream,” especially with hot fudge and bananas! I loved when my second had to go. She was really doing wildly uncomfortable motions. My husband asked her if she had to go. She said, “No, I just like to dance this way!”

Three littles girls under four made for a crazy estrogen-filled madhouse. Dora, the Explorer, was our go-to tv fallback for quiet time that was usually snack related. “D-d-d-d-d-Dora! Grab your backpacks. Lets go! Jump in! Vomanos!” (I can hear her annoyingly high-pitched voice right now!) It was like a land mine field of naked Barbies and razor-sharp Legos strewn from heck to breakfast across the floor. (I got that from an older generation.) Housecleaning was frequently done, but it was a futile exercise. Keeping the house clean while they were growin’ was like shoveling before it stopped snowin’! (I love that saying. Don’t know who said it.)


I had fun with those girlie girls, I could dress them the same until they started protesting. Hair ties littered the bathroom. (Still do!) Each of my triple sets had a random large-scale haircutter. It was very traumatic for mom. In both cases, we had to just wait it out and do hairstyles that accommodated the situation. Dolls lost their hair, also. I reluctantly witnessed the sacrifice of many pairs of scissors when an angry dad would toss them.

Girls and costumes were synonymous! We had all the princess dresses, wings, boas, shoes and every other accessory associated. I had amassed a whole box of costumes through the years. (You never know when you’ll want them again!) Dressing up is a key part of childhood. The year #5 wanted to be a fairy Snow White for Halloween, I knew it was not a battle worth fighting. I think the fourth daughter wore the Cinderella dress for a good six months straight. I had to wash it while she napped. It ended up being Cinderella’s rag work dress.


But getting them ready was quite a task. There was ALWAYS a shoe missing, it never failed. (Every time!) It habitually happened when you were running late. Someone had to consume something messy, or screw up my well-planned strategic dressing system. Being on time was really not an option. Trying was quite unrealistic, but we attempted it anyway. I would stressfully exclaim, “Don’t make me be a mean mom!” (I said that a lot!) I won’t even start on how dirty the car interior was, constantly!

Raising six kids is quite a daunting endeavor. It is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Many unpleasant diapers were changed, cartoon bandaids unwrapped, and late night vomit messes cleaned. Looking back, I know it was all worth the exhausting effort. And I will thoroughly enjoy the sight of them experiencing the unbelievable pleasures themselves with their own kids. (What comes around, goes around!) “The circle of life…”