Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: October 25

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

One of my Facebook friends posted the above quote and it's exactly where I'm at right now, so I had to share it. This past week wasn’t what I was expecting, but maybe that’s the reason God allowed it to play out like it did. My successes weren’t final. My failures weren’t fatal and God’s given me just the right amount of courage to continue on. Thank you, Winston Churchill for saying that – it perfectly describes what I'm going through!

It’s officially been Fall for a little over a month now, but (at least here in Knoxville) it hasn’t felt like Fall until this past Thursday into Friday. Knoxville dropped 29 degrees in 24 hours.

What happens in Fall, you ask? Well, apparently, I fall. Literally. Yes, that’s right, my streak of no falling ended in fine form on Thursday with my first fall of Fall. The irony is not lost on me.

I was already having a rough morning before the fall as I woke up with a massively bloody nose. So, I had that going for me. I got to work fine and I got in to work fine…it was just on my way to my desk that I let my guard down for one tiny second and the next thing I knew I was on my knees. I was wearing a dress and was loaded down with my laptop, purse and lunch. I landed hard, but just as fast as I went down, I got back up again. Someone came out of their office and asked if I was OK. I assured her I was. Thankfully no one saw me. ;) I got to my desk and then realized, my knees were bleeding. All this before 8am. Welcome, fall-like weather!!

I thought maybe falling would actually loosen me up some (I’m weird like that), but Thursday turned out not to be the best walking day. I made it the rest of the day without falling again, but walking was definitely a struggle. At the end of the day my sweet, sweet co-worker, Debbie offered to walk out to my car with me. I didn’t object. I didn’t want to ask, but since she offered, I accepted. I was and am extremely grateful for her. She was the “just enough” distraction to get me to walk on my own (with the cane, but not needing to hold on to her or a walker or anything else) to my car without falling, tripping or slipping. I literally almost started crying because of how sweet not only she is but how sweet my entire department is towards me. I know if I asked any last one of them to help me, they would do it. They have done it. I could not be more blessed to work with the group of people that I work with. I really don’t deserve them. Thursday was a tough day, but then again was it, really? I think it was more a tough few minutes than an entirely tough day.

Friday morning I woke up and wrestled with the idea of turning the electricity up in my deep brain stimulation device. By the time I was done with my shower and after praying about it, I made the decision to do just that. Only by .10 to 3.80 volts, but UP nonetheless.

It gave me enough confidence to walk into work with minimal issues. Debbie asked if I needed/wanted her to walk out with me to my car again that day. I said no, but she must have sensed the hesitation in my voice or recognized something in me, because almost inconspicuously, she headed toward the elevator and pushed the down button. I told her again, I’d be fine, but she insisted and I think she could tell that I did really want her to walk with me. According to Debbie, I did walk better that day then on Thursday, but she knew I’d be much less stressed if she walked with me. So she did, without anything for me to show her how much I appreciated her other than a hug and a “thank you”. After I left work on Friday I did feel like I could make it around the grocery store for a few items I needed. I held on tight to a cart, but survived with no falls, slips or trips.

I slept in on Saturday. I think my body needed the rest. Sometimes, I feel like I expend more energy and burn more calories, walking to my car then I do when I actually exercise. (I know this isn’t true, but it feels like it). I did get out of the house though on Saturday and I early voted.

Sunday, I woke up and wrestled some more with the idea of turning the electricity in my DBS device up even more. In the end, I did just that. Again - only by .10 volts. I was now up to 3.90 volts.

Sometimes the brain just needs a jolt of electricity. I kept going back to what the DBS nurse said about the brain getting complacent sometimes.

Monday, I made it in to work OK. I didn’t fall, but it wasn’t as easy as it’s been in the past. When I really sit back and think about this whole thing, it makes me laugh. It really does. I mean, walking should be one of the easiest things to do in life. But it’s not for me. I can’t force myself to just walk fine. Believe me, I’ve tried! I can’t just put mind over matter. I’ve tried that too. It’s frustrating and fascinating at the same time. Monday night, Debbie asked if I needed help out to my car. This time I told her I could do it. There may have still been some hesitation in my voice, but I HAD to try it by myself or I’d never do it. As I was walking towards the elevator, I heard someone behind me, so I stopped and told him that he could pass me because it was going to take me “forever”. He laughed and as he passed by he said “but you’re doing good!” Confidence boosting. So I tried and I succeeded and God gave me just the right amount of courage and confidence to do it. It wasn’t “perfect", but I didn’t fall. I didn’t slip. I didn’t trip. So, in my book, in this chapter, that was “perfect” enough for me.

Today, I turned the device up more. I’m now at 4.00 volts.

We’ll see what happens. I didn’t trip, slip or fall, so I’m calling today a success. God is teaching me courage and patience ad confidence and trust and about a million other things!! I'm a slow leaner, but it's catching on.

On a lighter note: I found my "doctor's excuse" for never having to go skydiving. But I can't go scuba diving either and that actually sounds interesting to me now. Go figure! Oh well. At least it doesn't have parasailing, zip lining, riding in a helicopter or ice skating on the list!

This past week has been one of the tougher ones, but not the worst one. It’s given me many, many points on which to learn from and grow from. As always…God’s Got This!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: October 18

I don’t know if this is a direct result of brain surgery, or maybe it’s a direct result of being a hermit the past 11 years, but since my surgery, I’ve wanted to do things that scare me, but also thrill me. I'm starting to knock them off the list. To date, I’ve gone tubing on the lake, I’ve tried (tried being the operative word!) climbing a rock wall, I’ve ridden a camel (I wasn’t afraid of this, I’ve just been wanting to do it for a very, very long time!) and just this past Saturday, I rode a motorcycle for the very first time. I'm not reckless in any way, however, I’m starting to finally live life. I'm starting to do things I’ve been wanting to do and not worrying, caring or otherwise letting anything else get in my way of doing those things. Grant it, I didn't tell my family or friends I was going to ride a motorcycle, but I think that was mainly me thinking I might back out of doing it! But, I did it and LOVED it. And then I told my family and friends. ;) One of my bosses asked me today what was next on my list and I told him (family - here's your warning that I may do these things soon!) it’s riding in a helicopter, zip-lining and parasailing (in no particular order). I’m by no means a daredevil and there are things that absolutely terrify me that I still have NO desire to do (skydiving, riding rollercoasters, holding a snake are just three of them), but I really, really want to do the other things. I’m terrified of heights and yet, riding in a helicopter intrigues me. I would love to ride in LifeStar (the helicopter that transports patients to hospitals), but NOT as a patient. I rode in an ambulance once and don't remember a thing about it (since I was the patient). I DON'T want to ride in LifeStar as a patient!! So maybe I'll just take a helicopter ride in the Smokies, instead of LifeStar. I’ve been wanting to zip-line for a couple of years now and parasailing has always intrigued me. Eventually, I also want to ice skate. I don’t feel like I have quite enough balance to do it yet, but who knows maybe I’ll just try it any way. I know these may be silly things to most people, but I don’t care – they are things I want to do! You know when people say “do something that scares you every day”? Well, it struck me today when I was talking with one of my bosses that I am doing something every day that scares me – I walk. He asked, “Doesn’t it get easier, the more you do it?” I had to be honest and say no. It’s not that kind of fear, I guess. I don’t really have an answer as to why it doesn’t get easier. I don't know if this will change or stay like it is. I have really good days and then really not so good days. I’m thankful for the good days and wear God’s ear out on the bad days.

On Sunday, my dad preached a sermon on persistence in prayer (Luke 18:1-8 – the parable of the persistent widow). It was just the sermon I needed! Yes, he’s my dad and yes he knows what I’m going through, but to have a sermon like he did and have it speak to my soul – that’s only a God thing!! As he was preaching, the thought came to me: What if God wants me to stay in constant prayer with Him? What if He wants me to stay in constant contact with Him? Maybe He’s allowing me to still have fear of walking, so that I will cry out to Him over and over. No sooner had I had that thought, then my dad said the exact same words. I mean seriously – that is GOD!!! It’s true though…I pray the hardest, the longest, the most earnest, the most real and the most fervent when I don’t want to fall. When things are going great in life, I tend to slack off in my prayer life (I’m just being honest). But when walking is hard or seems impossible, I wear God’s ear out. I don’t know how many times I say over and over and over again, “Please don’t let me fall. Please don’t let me slip. Please don’t let me trip. Please don’t let me get “stuck”. Please don’t let me be embarrassed.” until I reach my destination. When I reach my destination, I start praying over and over again a new prayer, “Thank you, Jesus! I didn’t trip. I didn’t slip. I didn’t fall. I made it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I’m not lying…this is exactly what I do, every day. Now, if I could walk flawlessly, do you think I’d be in fervent prayer every single day? Probably not! I never pray as hard and fervently as I do when I’m walking. For you it may be something entirely different. Maybe you’re praying that God would take cancer away from you or a loved one. Or maybe you are praying to find your significant other. Whatever you pray for and so desperately want – don’t you persist at it?! I also loved the fact that my dad said (echoing the words of Jesus), “There is nothing too small to pray about – nothing!!!” It gives me contentment that I can pray, “Don’t let me fall.” and God doesn’t laugh at it. If you only knew some of the other prayers I pray, I promise you, you’d probably laugh, but God doesn’t and that’s what matters most! Pray without ceasing. Pray!!

A funny story: one day this past week, I walked out of work with one of my co-workers. Once we got outside I turned to my right to go to my car and he turned to the left to go to his. He was probably in his car on the way out of the parking lot when I probably wasn’t even half-way to my car. :) I walked on until I got to my car and drove off. Just a couple of days ago, he told me what happened after that. When he was leaving the parking lot, he saw me walking on the sidewalk. The next morning, I had an appointment to go to and he was just arriving for work. He said he had to do a double-take because he saw me in the EXACT same spot I was in the night before when he drove off. He said he wondered to himself, “Surely, she hasn’t been stuck in that same spot overnight!” I laughed and assured him that I did make it to my car the night before, did go home and did come back. I told him if worse comes to worse, I’m not below crawling to my car, but thankfully, I’ve never had to do that!

All the sudden yesterday, my hair started to part automatically like I've had it for 35 years. So, I'm just going with it!

Walking has not been the best this past week, but just like last week, I can triumphantly declare that at the end of each day I was able to lie in bed and marvel at the fact that not once did I ever fall, trip or slip. I made it another week with God’s help. I turned up the electricity in my device by .10 this morning and now I’m at 3.70 volts on frequency B. I’m still seeing that my toes curl under and my foot draws in, so that means I need more electricity. But with more electricity, my left hand went a little wild today. I guess it needs time to settle down! ;) Ironically, when I needed it to do something, it did it perfectly. It was just when it was “at rest” that it started moving weird. I don’t know how to explain it in words, you'll just have to either trust me on this or see it in person. It’s annoying but not troublesome, which is how I’m going to gage things these days. I was amazed though that when I put my cane in my hand, my hand held tightly to it and worked! So we’ll see what this new level does for my walking.

I still declare deep brain surgery as one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given. If I get no better than I am right now, I’m OK with that. Of course, I DO want to still get better and better and I think I will, but no matter what I’m thankful for the progress I’ve made. I’ve been given freedom I didn’t have before. I’ve been given a new spark in life (no pun intended). I want to live life fully and abundantly. I want to be joyful always and thankful every day. I marvel at what God has done, what God is doing and what God will do in my life. God’s Got This and that being said, I know I’m safe with Him.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: October 11

Last week I said I was going to stay at 3.40 volts for 2 weeks. Well….today, I turned it up to 3.60. I know, I know, I know…but Dr. T. had stated that I could turn it up if need be and the need arose. I’m kind of shocked I waited a full week to turn it up. My toes are still curling under and my foot is still turning in – all signs that I need more electricity. While this past week was nowhere near being the worst, it definitely hasn’t been at the top of my greatest weeks either. HOWEVER, as my co-workers reminded me, was it worse than before the surgery? Did I fall? The answer is NO and NO – so, in retrospect, it wasn’t a bad week in the least bit! The resounding theme has been God’s protection over me. Every night when I lay in bed, I marvel at how the day played out.

Thursday, I was bragging a little on how my cane was “getting in the way”. I felt like I could leave it behind and just walk at certain times. However, lest I get too boastful or proud, God only allowed a taste of what’s to come. By Friday, I was unsteady on my feet again. The good walking only lasted a day, but it was “just enough” to revive hope.

I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how God puts people in the right place at the right time. I can’t get over how He continues to protect me and love me, even when I don’t deserve it. Like I mentioned above, I was feeling a little unsteady on my feet on Friday. I said as much to my co-workers (hence the conversation about whether it was as bad as before the surgery). One of my co-workers left for the day before I did – or so I thought. I had just exited the building when I heard the door behind me open again. My first thought was, “Oh great, now I’m going to have to walk in front of someone.” But it was Sarah!! She asked if I needed help and at the same time said she wasn’t watching me walk. Haha – she knows me!! Well, two things happened. One – something flew into my eye (even though I had sunglasses on) and I couldn’t NOT stop and try to get it out. It was so bad that it actually distracted me enough that I quit thinking solely about walking. It took FOREVER to get out of my eye, but did eventually come out. The other thing that happened was Sarah started walking with me (her car was in the opposite direction of where my car was parked) and we started talking about anything BUT walking and in so doing I walked all the way to my car without falling. I don’t know if Sarah planned this whole thing or not. She really did leave before me, but somehow ended up exiting the building AFTER me. I’m just going to say it was “God thing” and leave it at that. I couldn’t be more grateful or thankful for her. She was the “just enough” distraction to get me to walk on my own and was and is a huge blessing in my life.

Saturday night, I went to “Boo at the Zoo” with my nieces. Little G and Baby H have been hands down one of the greatest blessings in my life. I love those girls with all my heart. I can’t get enough of them. I thought I could do the zoo with just a cane. Well, first – I haven’t been to the Knoxville Zoo since I was a teenager and 2nd I still was not on my “A” game walking wise, so I was eternally grateful that Baby H came with her stroller. The zoo is surprisingly very hilly and not laid out all that great (in my opinion). It turns out, I don’t think I would have been able to do it without any help. So, I was ecstatic to push her stroller as I used it like a walker. Hope’s momma held her the whole time, so people would peek into the stroller expecting to see a baby and I’d have to tell them, “Oh, the baby’s up there!” I’m so humbled that even in that situation, God provided. I didn’t fall, I didn’t trip. I didn’t slip. Technically, I still haven’t used the walker in weeks, but I did kind of cheat on Saturday with the stroller. But sometimes you have to do what you have to do in situations like that.

Sunday, I was ever so grateful again for people placed in strategic places to help me (knowingly or not!). I love how God does that. One church member came out to meet me in the parking lot as I arrived and asked if I needed help. He said he saw that the wind got to me. Haha, this was a true statement. Not that I’m so light the wind will just carry me away, but sometimes it does make it very hard to walk!! I had a few near misses (I almost fell into someone!) but I made it into church without falling. My friend, Whitney was there to help when I felt like I was losing my balance. And then on the way back to my car after church, Sam and Kristen (whether they knew it or not!) helped me be distracted “just enough” to keep me walking “by myself” all the way to my car without falling. I did chicken out a little and decide NOT to go to the grocery store on Sunday night because I didn’t feel steady enough, but sometimes I have to realize it is what is and even if I have a “bad” day, it’s only a day (or a minute, or an hour…) and move on. At the end of the day, I can say God protected me and allowed me not to fall.

My mom truly has a servant’s heart. I casually told her that I wasn’t going to the grocery store and she offered to get my groceries for me. She didn’t have to do that. I would have found a way or just waited until I felt better, but I’m so thankful for her and her willingness to do it for me. There was a time at the very beginning of this journey that she was grocery shopping for me every single week. That’s something I’ll always remember and always be thankful for. She literally will do anything for anyone. She brought the groceries over last night. I still wasn’t feeling right, but yesterday ended with NO falls.

This morning I had a dentist appointment. The ladies in the office said I looked “glowing”. I love that. I want to glow. I hope it eventually shines through - even on bad days. I still get highly frustrated and annoyed, but underneath all of that there is truly pure joy. My goal is to let that be known to all I come in contact with. I have joy in my heart and hopefully a glow to my demeanor. God has given me a huge gift. I am so blessed to have had this surgery. I can’t stress that enough. You’re probably thinking, “Surgery, a gift?!?!”, but yes, I do consider it a gift. I know it’s not for everyone and by no means is it perfect, but compared to a year ago – wow, I’m just in awe of how the Lord works. I am incredibly grateful.

God’s Got This. He always has and He always will. That’s what I’m resting on this week. He doesn’t promise us easy, but He promises He’ll be with us every step of the way. Believe me when I tell you, I KNOW He’s with me every painfully slow, agonizingly scary, gloriously triumphant step of the way!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: October 4

It’s Tuesday again and I’m finally back up to where Dr. T. initially set the electricity at in my deep brain stimulation device when I saw him back on September 22. I turned it up to 3.40 volts and so far, so good, but it’s only been about 12 hours. :) I turned it up because my toes are still curling under and my foot is still turning in. However, I’m going to keep the device at this level for at least two weeks as Dr. T. recommended. If I don’t see remarkable effects, then I’ll turn it way down (to 2.00) as Dr. T. suggested. If that doesn’t work, I’ll activate “Frequency C” and see where that takes me. I’ve been given license to play, so I’m going to play! One of these settings will work, right?!

I have to share this photo with you. Yesterday, I woke up and looked in the mirror and my hair was literally standing straight up! Talk about a really bad hair day. ;)

However, it did return to "normal" and this is me today.:

Yes, this is me on October 4, 2016 wearing a sundress - it was 85 degrees out!

This past week I’ve tackled different feats.

I walked the entire Little Ponderosa Zoo without a walker. I had “just enough” distraction with the company I kept and the animals I was surrounded by, that I just walked and didn’t think about it. It was wonderful!

I’ve walked into and out of work, into and out of church, into and out of stores – no walker needed. It’s so freeing! I’m doing things again that I haven’t done in 11 years.

Sunday another milestone was met: I walked up to and back from communion with no help except from the cane. I didn’t hold on to anyone and no one held on to me. It was daunting. I could just “feel” people looking at me – haha. I’m sure no one really was, but I still battle with that anxiety. However, I made it without falling, without slipping and without tripping. Of course, had I done any of that, I know that people would have come running to assist me, but it’s so freeing when another “confidence building” scenario plays out.

I do find it absolutely hysterical that growing up, I wanted to be an actress. Sometimes, I still dream about being one. But, I find it funny because right now, the LAST thing I want people doing is watching me or staring at me while I walk. I’m still battling this anxiety, but every day, I face it head on. Eventually, it’s got to become easier, right?! ;) I’m building those neuro-pathways and eventually, I hope to look back on these blog posts and laugh that I was this anxiety-filled just walking in front of people.

However, even with all the tackling of different feats, there is still fear. I fear falling. I fear failure. I fear the unknown. I fear being embarrassed. I fear. I'm admitting this because it's part of my story too. But, "I know who goes before me. I know who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side." ("Whom Shall I Fear", Chris Tomlin).

At the end of every day this past week, I’ve marveled at the Lord’s goodness and how He’s kept me safe through the day. Not one time did I fall this past week - not once! Sure, every day brought its own worries and anxieties, but at the end of the day, I had to give thanks to the Lord above for keeping me from falling.

I know – whether I fall, whether I trip, whether I slip, whether I walk “perfectly”, whether this DBS therapy works for me or not – I know, God’s Got This!

The beautiful sunrise God allowed me to see this morning!