Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: September 19

This past week was wonderful. It wasn’t without struggle or frustration, but it was wonderful all the same. I have decided to remain where I’m at in regards to the electricity. I’m still at 2.90 volts on Frequency B. I see LOTS of room for improvement, but I also see lots of opportunity for me to be patient and wait – which I’m terrible at, but I’m trying to be better at. Who knows what the week ahead will bring, but as of today, I’m remain at 2.90 volts.

Do you ever stop to think that maybe the struggles in life are meant to be so that the sweet spots in life are sweeter? I confess that I don’t always look at struggles like that. I dwell on the struggles. I’m a “why me” girl (just being honest!). But, when God grants me the grace to be able to see that something bigger is intertwined with the struggles, I am always and forever humbled. This is just something I’m thinking about. Struggles make victories sweet. No underdog movie would be complete without struggles or victories. Maybe that’s why I like sports movies so much? Because they are always about overcoming obstacles? Maybe… It’s funny that I’m thinking about all of this now as I haven’t fallen at all in the last week. But that doesn’t make the struggle to stay vertical any less of a struggle. ;) I’ve fought for every step. And every time I’ve thought that I’m doing this on my own (as in, I’m the one getting myself from Point A to Point B without falling), God reminds that I wouldn’t have anything without Him. God’s grace is abundant and I see it in every aspect of my life.

On Wednesday, I got a BIG surprise from my company. In an earlier blog post, I spoke of my friend and co-worker writing an e-mail to the VP of Facilities asking if they would consider moving some handicap parking spaces closer to the building. Well, on Monday, September 13, I got word that that would take place starting on Monday, September 18 (yesterday). And it did! Yesterday was awesome. I parked closer to the building! But, I shouldn’t sugar-coat things. I admit, it was still a struggle. It’s a new spot and I’m rebuilding neuropathways in my brain. Unlike most people, I can’t just walk freely (yet!). This means, I can’t turn on a dime. My steps are very rigid and sometimes probably look forced (because in some instances, they are!). I’m almost like the tin man when it comes to walking (and yes, Kristen, I did make a reference to "The Wizard of Oz", but it doesn’t mean I like the movie. I’m still scared of it!). Walking doesn’t come naturally yet. Sometimes, I don’t bend my knee and other times I don’t trust my foot to hold me. Sometimes my foot collapses on me or my toes curl under. I’m working on those issues. But, at the same time, our bodies are awesome. They adapt and somehow, I “automatically” do what I have to do, to stay upright. I’ve walked my previous path into work so many times that I finally got those neuropathways active. They weren’t perfect, but I knew the route. Now I must get new neuropathways built. I need to learn “the lay of the land” so to speak. I don’t know any other way of explaining it. It’s just not as simple as walking from point A to point B. If I’m not making any sense, just ignore me.

They haven't added the handicap sign yet, but I get to use it! And yes, it was dark when I took this picture. I had to get to work early to make up some time that I'd be missing for an appointment. :)

Thursday was completely awesome. I went to the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill concert with my mom, Annie (my sister-in-law) and her mom. The four of us had a blast. We had 9th row seats!!!!!!! It was amazing!! Not being able to walk properly (yet!) does have its advantages. Mom and I realized on the way to pick up Annie and her mom that between the two of us we only had $3 cash. We completely forgot about having to pay for parking. We were going to run by an ATM, but Annie’s mom had $10 on her. When we got up to pay, the parking attendant only wanted to see the expiration date on my handicap placard. When we showed it to her, we got free parking!! We also got a perfect parking spot. It wasn’t in a handicap parking spot, but was right next to the entrance. God provides. I was worried, but in the end, I didn’t need to worry – God knew what He was doing and everything worked out perfectly. The concert was awesome. I can’t put into words how great it was. Tim and Faith did not disappoint! I had so much fun and made memories to last a lifetime. I can’t thank my mom and dad enough for the tickets. It was a fabulous concert and one I’ll remember forever.

We were THIS close to the stage!!!

I took the next day, Friday, off work. I’m glad I did. We didn’t get home from the concert until midnight and I was so hyped up from it that I didn’t get to sleep until after 2am. I used my day off to run errands. I dropped off a ring that needed fixing. The jeweler goes to my church. We had a lovely conversation. After I did that I went to the Honda dealership to get a recalled faulty airbag fixed. I also knew I needed all new tires. I was going to go elsewhere for them, but ended up getting them at the dealership as they had a good deal on them, a coupon and a rebate. The man assisting me at the car dealership turned out to be a real blessing. He saw that I had a handicap placard and he saw me walk a few steps to his desk. He made sure that I didn’t trip on the speed bumps and other things in the floor. He didn’t make a big deal out of things, but was just genuinely nice. By God’s divine plan, we started talking about my walking. It turns out, he knows all about not being able to walk. He was completely paralyzed for a time due to three exploding discs in his back. We ended up talking a lot. He told me more about his situation. I told him more about mine. (And before you go thinking anything, he’s married, so it wasn’t anything like that!) As I left the dealership that day, he turned to me and said that I was an inspiration to him. I don’t say that to brag. Really, I don’t. I don’t think of myself as inspiring at all. The only reason I’m bringing it up now is because I think that it is totally amazing how such a mundane thing as going to the Honda dealership can be used for God’s purpose. He uses every situation we’re in for His good. I was as inspired, if not more, by him. To see him walking perfectly after what he went through, gave me hope and lifted my spirits. He said I inspired him, but he was the one who inspired me. Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to meet such a kind soul.

Saturday was a great day as well. I had been invited to a UT/Florida football watching party. I had a blast. I met new people and had an all-around great time! Saturday night, Mom and I went to see HGTV’s Property Brothers. They were in town promoting their new book and they put on a live show. It was fantastic. I love doing mother/daughter things.

My new house?

At only 123 square feet, it's not for me, but it was fun touring it!

Sunday I was struggling a little to walk into church. I could have done it, but God put someone in my path to help me. One of the elders at church saw me walking and asked if he could help me. Since he asked, I accepted. I felt more steady with his help. “I get by with a little help from my friends.” I so, so do! My friends and family are all wonderful. I am eternally grateful for ALL the help I get. I may not be able to pay everyone back, but I sure hope I get the opportunity to pay it forward. Kindness goes a long way.

Last night (Monday), I watched "Dancing with the Stars". I don’t watch that show. I think I watched one season of it when it first started, but I don’t normally watch it. I tuned in last night because Drew Scott (one of the “Property Brothers”) was on it. He had brought his dancing partner to the show on Saturday night, so I was intrigued. What I didn’t know, was that Victoria Arlen would be on the show. I didn’t know anything about her, but heard the plug that she had spent the last 10 years in a wheelchair, so I had to find out about her. What I saw, left me in awe. Our God is POWERFUL. Her life is a testament to God’s power. I’m also reminded that my life is a testament to God’s power. God is more powerful than the strongest man on earth. He is more powerful than any hurricane, tornado, tsunami or earthquake. He's more powerful than the wind or the rain. He is more powerful than any struggle. God IS.

This morning, I felt God reminding me again to be patient and that IN HIS TIME, I’ll walk (better than I am now). I’ll leap. I’ll dance. But in HIS time. I still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot of growing to do. The perfect time is whenever HIS time is. Many, many, many times in life, I look back at things that have happened in my life and go, “Oh, so that’s why God did it that way!” So, I’ll wait. I’ll keep fighting. I’ll keep walking even if it scares me to death. I’ll probably continue to stumble and maybe even fall, but that’s OK. (Remind me that I’ve said this the next time I fall or embarrass myself!) I’ll trust in the Lord. I’ll let God do His thing because I know GOD’s GOT THIS!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday: September 12

I’m starting to write this post at 7 AM instead of my usual 7 PM. Truth be told, I’ve been up since 2:15 AM for NO.GOOD.REASON. I could of done something constructive with my time, but, no, I got on Facebook. I did, however, make it out of bed at 4:40 AM and got a work-out in – so I was half-constructive. ;)

In the week that was, trust came into factor in a big, big way. I left the electricity in my device where it was and didn't play with it at all. This is no small feat for me as I’m constantly wanting to mess with it until it’s "perfect". I’m beginning to realize (or maybe beginning to accept) that there may not be “perfect”, but isn’t that life?! We are all imperfect because of sin. That takes the pressure off of being "perfect"!

One day last week (it was either Thursday or Friday), I tripped all day long. Seriously. It became comical to me just how many times I did trip. But, guess what?!! I DIDN’T FALL. It was truly miraculous. All I can say is God caught me EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. There’s no other way to explain it. And after every catch, I thanked Him profusely. There’s no reason I shouldn’t have fallen every single time, but I didn’t. Not once. Praise Jesus!

Continuing on this level of electricity (2.90 volts on Frequency B), means my big toe does have a lot more wiggle room to actually help me with my balance (even though I just finished telling you I kept tripping for a day). I find that my foot and toes lay flatter and give me more stability. That’s a huge deal. Overall, I feel more balanced, though that may not necessarily show all the time. ;)

I haven’t had too many spasms in my leg or foot, which I tend to get when I’m on a lower setting of electricity. I’m very thankful for that.

I’m learning how to slow down and “drive in the snow” as my friend Debbie puts it. She said that she must tell herself when it’s snowing outside and she has to drive somewhere to slow down. There’s no rush. The goal is to get there safely rather than speedily. I know it doesn’t look like I maneuver speedily anywhere while walking, but the “rushing” and the “I have to be fast” goes on in my head. I should be fast. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, so I should hurry up and get out of the way or when walking with people, I should keep up. My brain’s going a mile a minute with thoughts that I should be faster. This boils over to walking and I end up falling. I have a work-out top that says, “I Could’ve, I Would’ve, I Should’ve, I DID”. So, I’m “driving in the snow”!

I’m discovering God’s “little” blessings that in actuality, are quite big! My walking is so slow at times, I've literally had time to observe things I would have otherwise breezed by. One thing was this cool little dude:

I snapped this photo this morning of a leaf that looked like it was in the shape of heart.

Being on a lower amount of electricity does have its disadvantages.

I’ve gotten “stuck” a couple of times this past week. That’s truly one of my greatest fears. Thankfully it doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen occasionally. The best way I know how to describe it is literally getting stuck. I can’t move. It’s like being paralyzed in mid-walk. I know that if I take another step, I’ll fall, but at the same time, I can’t even move my legs or my body to even take a next step. I’m frozen. Anyway, God always showers His grace on me when that does happen and after a few seconds (but to me they feel like minutes), my brain gets a reboot and eventually sends the signal to my leg to move. It’s extremely hard to describe this situation, but maybe you can imagine what I’m talking about. If not, you’ll just have to trust me. ;)

Only God knows if I'll stay on this level for another week. So far, so good. It hasn't been a "no-problem" week. Those don't exist for anyone! But, I didn't fall. That's a win!! Each day continues to have little struggles of its own, but along with those come little blessings of its own as well. I'll soak up the blessings and try to forget the struggles.

I laugh because when I start to think, “I have it so bad”, God always allows me to see someone worse off. When I think, I have things “all figured out”, God shakes things up. Such is life. I keep going because I know without a shadow of a doubt…GOD’S GOT THIS!!!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Turn-It-Down Tuesday: September 5

Another week has passed and it’s now September. How did that happen?! My parents used to tell us kids when we were little that when we grew up we’d know what they meant when they said time flies by and they were right!

This past week has been good, but I didn’t come to that conclusion until tonight while writing this post. :) It definitely saw its share of tears and bruised knees, frustrations and impatient moments, but sitting here tonight writing this post, I’m more in awe of God’s miraculous ways than anything else. In several incidences this past week, God performed miracles and I’m in awe of them.

On Wednesday, my church held a screening of the movie, “A Case for Christ.” If you haven’t seen it or read the book, you must! I haven’t read the book yet, but the movie made me want to. It was so good! It was entertaining, but it really made me think too.

Thursday, I had a “Peter walking on water” moment.

(On a side note – outside of Jesus, Peter is my favorite person in the Bible. I relate SO MUCH to him. He was impulsive and impatient. He was always putting his foot in his mouth. He rarely thought before he spoke. He was bold, but then sheepish. He wanted to always be right at Jesus’ side. I love the story of him walking on water because I see myself doing exactly what He did. So, yes, outside of Jesus, Peter is definitely my favorite person in the Bible!)

Now back to my Peter moment. On Thursday, I was walking into work and my left foot and toes were curled into a ball. No amount of anything I did could get them to uncurl. Needless to say, I was having a tough time. So, I prayed, “Lord, make my foot and toes lay flat.” And guess what?! The very SECOND I prayed that, THEY DID!!! Shamefully, I must admit that I was stunned. I know God performs miracles, but I was still stunned. They literally laid flat and relaxed. I was praising Jesus. But then, I got distracted, took my eyes off of Jesus, got scared and promptly fell. BUT, just as quickly as I fell, I popped back up again. I wasn’t physically injured, although I was a little embarrassed as someone did see me fall. They came over to assist, but I was up before they got to me. Then I had to laugh, because the Peter walking on water story was the first thing that popped into my head. I just need to keep my eyes on Jesus.

I had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday afternoon. It had been raining off and on all day long – sometimes torrentially. I prayed that anytime I had to be outside, that it wouldn’t rain. I was having a really, really hard time walking and rain would just make walking all that more difficult. You know what? God answered. It didn’t rain at all when I had to walk to and from my car at work or at my appointment. In fact, no sooner had I gotten back inside work then one of those torrential downpours happened!

My doctor’s appointment was nothing neurological related, but it seems that a lot of my doctors are moving buildings. ;) I knew that my appointment was in the same building/area where I see my neurologist. As I was walking in, I was a little confused as where to go, since this was the first time I was seeing this doctor at her new location. Trying to distract myself enough to walk as normally as possible, I was looking down at my phone, when I heard this voice say, “Are you lost?” At that moment, I looked up and there was the door to the office I was supposed to go into, so I said, “Actually, no…there’s where I’m supposed to go.” Then I turned to look at who I was talking to and did a double take because it was my (Knoxville) neurologist, Dr. LeForce. After we said hi to each other, I asked what he was doing and he said that he was taking a little walk at lunch, to which I said that I’d be doing that some day. We talked a little while longer and then I made my way to my other appointment.

Friday afternoon, I fell again – this time on carpet. It was just one of those things. I didn’t get hurt, but I have a nice bruise now. I was so frustrated because my foot and toes would not lay flat.

By Saturday I was so fed up with my horrible walking that I decided I couldn’t wait any longer to change the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device. I got it out and kept lowering the electricity until I could see and feel a difference. That meant that I went to the lowest setting on Frequency B – 2.90 volts. Since turning the electricity down, my hand is almost back to normal and my foot and toes lay flat on the floor. But, it's not perfect (far from it!). In fact, it’s a catch 22 (I hope I’m using that term correctly!). I noticed that on the higher level of electricity that my hand majorly acts up and my foot and toes curl under. All of that is hugely annoying, but I still somehow feel like I have more “control” over my movements, even if that means walking stiff-legged. I realize just typing that sentence out that none of that makes sense. ;) On the lower level, my hand is normal and my foot and toes lay flat on the floor, but I get these spasms in my leg and/or foot and they make me fall or at the very least lose my balance. I don't get them on the higher level (maybe that's because everything is in one big spasm?!). On the lower level I feel more balanced and stable except for when the spasms happen. I can’t predict when they will happen either as they are random. It doesn’t happen every time I walk. I need to get over the fear of the spasms and walk freely, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. So…I’m taking it day by day. I’m hopeful that I can stay at this level for an extended period, but I’m not ruling anything out. It seems one fall is all it takes for me to start questioning if I’m on the right level after all.

I have seen so many instances of God’s hand of protection over me this past week. I have also seen so many miracles. And, yes, I do call them miracles. Whether they be “small” things like making it not rain so that I can get into and out of appointments without having to deal with rain or umbrellas to the “big” things like making my foot and toes lay flat…to God they are all the same. He is teaching me so much. There aren’t enough words in the human language to describe all He is doing in my life. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely, 100% have days when all I want to do is cry my eyes out, but then He gives me glimpses of what He’s doing in my life and it’s amazing ya’ll. The devil tries to weasel his way into my life and my thoughts and my heart and sometimes, I must admit, he gets in and starts destroying things, but God is always there to pluck me from Satan’s grip and remind me that yesterday, today and for forever more – God’s Got This!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Turn-It-Down Tuesday: August 29

I got word this past week that my company is doing something amazing for me. Well, not just for me, but I can think that, right?! :)

Right now, where handicap parking is located at work, it’s not very handicap accessible. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s to code and everything, it’s just farther from the door then I think it should be and it’s slanted so that you either have problems walking to it or from it (It’s not on even, flat ground.) The idea of moving it has been brought up before. Right now, there are a great deal of visitor spots right in front of the building. These spots are also on even, level ground. About 2 weeks ago, my friend, Debbie started walking out with me to my car each night because I’ve been having more problems. One night, as I was about to pull away, I noticed she was standing there with a pensive face. I rolled my window down and asked if she was OK. She said she was, so I left. The next morning, she told me why she looked so pensive. She said that she saw how much I struggled that night getting to the car, even with her help. She also saw another co-worker with a disability struggle to his car. So, after I left, she walked the route we had just walked again trying to see things from my perspective. Then she walked the route I would take if my car were parked where the visitors parking and the expectant mother parking is located. And then she walked into work and sent an e-mail to the vice-president of facilities. Do I not have the best co-workers and friends in the world?! Just a couple of days later I was called into the director of Human Resources office. She prefaced her e-mail with “you’re not in trouble”, which greatly eased my fear that I had done something wrong and at the same time made me laugh. She said that Facilities had received an e-mail about handicap parking and they wanted to get my opinion and suggestions on things. So, I gave it to them. Last week, I was told that 2 of the 4 handicap spots would be moved to where the expectant mother’s parking is currently located and the expectant mother’s parking would be relocated a few spots down. Epic. Amazing. I am so very, very thankful to my co-worker, Debbie for e-mailing about it and for my company for listening and responding. Debbie gives no credit to herself (she says “I was probably the 10th caller”), but she deserves credit for sending that e-mail. She has elderly parents and she knows the struggles they have walking. She’s walked with me on numerous occasions and knows the problems I have. For her to go out of her way to send an e-mail about something she doesn’t even gain from – that’s true friendship and looking out for one’s brother/sister. Thank you, Debbie!

I only “fell” once this past week and I put “fell” in quotes, because it was again, more like taking a knee. It happened on Wednesday, but since then, I’ve been fall-free. However, I still decided today to go down in the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device. I have a few reasons for doing so. First and foremost, my left hand is acting up. I know it’s directly because of the electricity. Also, the callous on the bottom of my left foot is coming back and I know that’s because I’ve not been walking right. My foot does not relax. There are a few other reasons why I feel decreasing the electricity is what I’m supposed to be doing this week. I stayed on the same frequency (B) but went from 3.90 volts to 3.70.
Although I haven’t fallen, that doesn’t mean I’ve haven’t had problems, it just means I haven’t fallen (which, don’t get me wrong, is a huge deal!!). I admitted to my sister-in-law that I think having the toe/foot surgery set me back – for the time being. That last part is critical – FOR THE TIME BEING. If I had it to do all over again, I’d have the surgery. In the long run, it’s going to help me tremendously. In the short-term, God’s still working on me being patient. As He works on me, He doesn’t leave me. He shows up when and where I need it the most. I am continually amazed at how this happens. He’s using friends and family and sometimes even strangers to be His hands and then He’s allowing me to see how He works. I’ve been in awe.

I was feeling particularly anxious on Friday. I don’t know why. I wasn’t steady on my feet and I had an anxious heart. As I was getting ready to leave for work, I got a Facebook message from a church friend, Allie. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing what she said, but this is what she wrote: “‘But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from a stall.’ (Malachi 4:2) As the sun rises today, may joy fill your heart and be your strength. Go and skip about today.” My response to her was, “Wow! God provides. I was just thinking how Satan causes me to fear and how my faith in God sometimes wavers. I was just praying that the Lord would increase my faith in Him and forgive me for my lack of faith sometimes and then you sent this! God knew I needed to hear this from Him and He used you to say it. God provides. Have a wonderfully beautiful day!”

Time after time this week, when I didn’t feel like I could walk without falling, God’s provided a friend to walk along beside me. I’ve been praying every morning that God would keep me upright both physically and spiritually. He’s kept His promise, even when I haven’t kept mine.

I get frustrated, mad, sad, angry, anxious, depressed but even in those times, I come to the realization that I am extremely blessed. God never leaves me or forsakes me. God provides. God goes before me. He stands beside me. He’s got my back. God uses the struggles we have in life to refine us. I’m being refined. When struggles abound, my prayers increase. I'm in constant contact with the Lord of Lords. God uses the struggles in my life to give me perspective and to make me stronger. God can heal with one touch. In one breath He can make it be. He can also say, "Wait my child - you're a miracle in the making." God’s Got This!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: August 22

God provides. That has never been as evident to me as it has this past week. In all circumstances, in little ways and big, He provides. It may not look like we expected it to, but nevertheless, He provides and then gives us the ability, if we’re open to it, to see how He provides. When we see, at least for me, it’s awe-inspiring.

Right off the bat I’ll say, this past week was not good fall-wise. I fell 3 separate times. These were a little different though from my “regular” falls. All three times, I fell while walking with people in the hopes that that would give me enough security that I wouldn’t fall – haha! I didn’t hurt myself and in fact the last two falls were more like “taking a knee” as opposed to sprawled-all-over-the-place falls. I even hesitate to say I fell, because my Dad really wants me to use my cane and NOT FALL. But falling’s part of the learning too, right?! I totally get where he’s coming from, but I don’t want to get dependent on the cane or the walker again. It would be so easy if I just used them, but easy doesn’t necessarily get me to my goal. I scrape a knee or get frustrated, but I trust the Lord that I won’t break anything. If I do break something, well then, God has a plan for that too. I say this, but don’t get me wrong, I get mad, sad, frustrated, teary, impatient (and the list could go on…) when I do fall. I lose confidence. I ask for help. I pray. Maybe those last two things are what the Lord wants me to be doing: humbling myself enough to ask for help and being constantly in prayer and communication with Him.

How did God provide this week for me?! Oh, let me count the ways and tell you!!! Last Wednesday, I was contemplating how I would get into church without using a walker or cane. I thought about staying home, but every time I don’t want to go to church because I’m too tired or too busy or too worried or too scared – that’s EXACTLY when I need to go. So, putting fear away, I went. I prayed the whole time, wondering how God would show up. The Lord is awesome. Guess who I see in the parking lot as I park my car? My dad. I wanted to cry (happy tears!). I had been pouring out my heart to my Heavenly father, when he brings my earthly father to rescue me. I did start out walking on my own, but he quickly saw me and offered his assistance. This is when he said I should probably use the cane to keep from falling. My response was, “Who’s to say I won’t fall while using the cane?!” I’m quite talented like that! Then he said that maybe for a time I should use the walker again. I don’t like either option. I haven’t resorted to using either one, but I do take my dad’s words to heart. After church, a woman named Chris asked if she could walk beside me to my car. She’d read my blog post from the day before, I’m pretty sure! I, of course was overjoyed to hear this and quickly agreed. She and her husband, John walked with me to my car and then we had a lovely conversation. God provides!

Thursday, I had to leave work to attend a funeral. I was nervous about having to walk to my car and two of my co-workers picked up on that. They said that they would walk me to my car and then when I returned all I had to do was text them and they would come and walk with me back into work. I do want to make it clear – I could have walked by myself out to the car and back in again, but they sensed that I was nervous and on their own said they would walk with me. My co-worker, Sarah ended up walking with me out to my car. I got to the funeral and walked (all be it, stiffed-legged) in by myself. I walked out the same way. Sarah had told me to text her when I was on my way back. I was stopped at a red light and sent her a text. I made it back to work and didn’t see her in the parking lot. I almost started to text my co-worker, Debbie. As I got out of my car and turned around, there Sarah stood. She told me that she decided to run to the bank real fast and was a little concerned that she would miss me, but my text came and she was on the same road as I was just coming the opposite direction. She got to work maybe a minute or so before I did. God provides!

Friday, Sarah took the day off to close on a new home (Congrats, Sarah!) and Debbie had to work from home because a water line needed replacing at her house, so it was just me and the guys, holding down the fort at work. It was a good, busy day! When it was time to leave my co-worker, Drew hung around until I was ready to leave. I don’t know if Debbie or Sarah had said anything to him (or my other co-workers for that matter) or he just instinctively knew I may need help, but he casually walked out with me. He said Monday-Thursday he usually has to book-it out of work in order to go pick up his daughter before her daycare closes, but on Friday, his wife is able to pick her up and he has more time to stay after if need be. So, he walked with me. Unfortunately for him, I either got overly confident in my walking abilities or just wasn’t paying attention or some other phenomenon happened, but I fell. It could have been a lot worse, if he weren’t there. I made contact with the ground, but he caught me as well, so I didn’t get too badly injured. Even though I had a bandage over it, the way I fell, I tore the scab off the scraped knee I had from the week before, so that was a little sore and bloody (under the bandage), but again, God provides!! I was so blessed that Drew was there!

Saturday, I wasn’t going to let walking issues get in my way. I also wore tennis shoes which gave me a little more support. ;) I didn’t fall! It was a momentous day another level too: I got my hair cut. I don’t know what it is about me and my hair, but I never want to get it cut, even when it badly needs to be. But, I knew I needed a cut and Saturday was the perfect day to get one. My mom’s birthday is today (Happy birthday, Mom!!) and she always wants me to get my hair cut, so as a birthday gift to her, I went and did it. And guess what? My favorite stylist was there – the one I met in April and who cut my hair for the first time after I’d let it grow since the deep brain stimulation surgery: Clare. I had a wonderful time talking with her. I also ran into someone from my church! After the haircut, I swung by my parent’s house to give Mom a little pre-birthday gift and to show her my hair. ;) After that, I ran to Walmart where I ended up seeing someone from work in the parking lot, running into my grandmother in the store and then both of us seeing someone we knew from church. I NEVER see or run into anyone I know while shopping so the fact that I ran into a total of 4 people in one day was pretty spectacular.

Sunday, I was again nervous to walk in to church. I prayed about it. I didn’t find my “regular” parking spaces open, so I parked somewhere different. When I got out of the car, I ran into Mary, who had just moved to South Carolina, but was back for a quick visit before she starts a new job. I asked if she would walk in with me and she said she was just about to ask if she could walk in with me. She’s an occupational/physical therapist (I think. If I got that wrong, Mary, please forgive me!) and noticed how I was walking stiffed-leg until I got to the curb where I had to take a step up and I did bend my knee. She asked about using the cane or walker and I told her the same thing I told my dad. I just don’t want to use them. ;) We both made it safely into church. We had communion and rather than fall, I decided to hold onto to Mom while walking up to receive it. After church, I started walking by myself to my car, but Mom quickly came and helped me. Again, I could have made it on my own, but it would have taken me forever and made me exhausted so I was thankful for the help. After church, Mom, Dad and I, along with another couple, went out to eat. Normally, on Sunday afternoons all the family goes to my parent’s house for lunch, but we were all going to be meeting there Sunday night to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. It was the only time all of us could be there. In order for that to happen, my nieces needed naps, so we all went our separate ways after church. After eating at the restaurant, Dad helped me out to my car. Again, God provides.

Sunday night celebrating my mom’s birthday was so much fun. Now that I have little nieces, it’s seeing everything through their eyes and it’s magical. We had an absolutely fabulous time. Dad grilled hamburgers and each of us kids (well me and my sisters-in-laws) brought side dishes so Mom didn’t have to do anything, but in the end she did make corn and baked beans. Even celebrating her birthday, she’s serving us!

Monday (yesterday) was a fun day at work. With the total solar eclipse happening, it was pretty much a ghost town. Schools were closed, so a lot of people took the day off. I didn’t, but it turned out to be so fun! At work, they handed out solar eclipse glasses. I walked over to the other building with my co-workers to pick up my glasses. On my way back, I fell. My co-worker, Debbie said it happened because I got my toe stuck in the carpet. I didn’t know how it happened. One minute I was up, the next I was down. I fell on carpet, so I got more of a rug burn than anything else, but my poor left knee cannot heal from last week’s fall. I keep reapplying bandages to it. It starts to heal and then the scab is ripped off once again. But I guess it does show consistency in the way I fall, right?! Haha. Debbie said she felt so bad she couldn’t “catch” me, but really, it was totally fine. I’m no worse for the wear. I fell. I got up. I kept walking. Story of my life! Once again, God provided. Debbie was there, Drew was there…people were there to help and be concerned. I’m thankful! I can’t leave my “Monday” paragraph without commenting on that eclipse. I’ll admit, I was not into the hype of it. I didn’t get solar eclipse glasses ahead of time. I didn’t take off of work. I didn’t research. I wasn’t really even going to go outside to see it because I could see it from one of the conference rooms, but at 2:15pm, Debbie and I decided to go outside and man, am I ever glad I did. I’m saying right here and right now, boldly: How can anyone who saw that eclipse with their own eyes not believe that God orchestrated that? Our world, in a lot of ways, is in (man-made) chaos, but God loves us enough to show His majesty amidst the chaos. The heavens certainly did display His majesty!

Today, I fell again, but out of the three, this was the least of the falls. I really did just take a knee and thankfully this time, I gave my left knee a break and fell on my right. ;) Again, though it was where I could have grabbed a wall to steady myself. It happened so fast though that I didn’t have time. I was up as quickly as I was down and on with life. Today, I also realized that I think I have the deep brain stimulation device on the right frequency (B), but maybe not the right amount of electricity. So, this evening, I decided to look back at my blog posts from when I was doing well and try to get on that level again. I found a post from back in February that said I had settled on 3.90 volts. Tonight, I went from 3.50 up to 3.90 volts. We’ll have to wait to see if that does anything. I’m willing to give it some time. Dr. Tollesson always says it takes about two weeks to see any real difference, but we’ll see if I can be that patient. ;) I’m back on the same frequency and electricity amount I was when I saw major, significant, awesome strides before. If it works, I’ll give to glory to God. If it doesn’t, I’ll test some more!

This past week has truly taught me that God provides. It’s also taught me that there are learning opportunities in every fall and in every struggle. It’s taught me to rely fully on God. It’s taught me again that’s God’s Got This!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: August 15

In my last post I said that I wasn’t going to do any adjusting to the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device until this week and only if need be. I lied. Or, I got impatient. Or, I'm just stubborn. You choose. But, I didn’t even make it a full 48 hours after I posted that entry when I decided I had to do something and I've been experimenting and testing all week.

The last time I saw Dr. Tolleson he programmed 3 different frequencies that he said I could play with:

Frequency A - the low level
Frequency B - the level I came in on (in case the other two frequencies that he newly set didn't work)
Frequency C - the high level

I can officially say that in one weeks time, I've "played" with all 3 frequencies. That's a far cry from my initial goal of being patient and waiting a week. Oh well! Medicine (and the science behind it) is actually an art. ;)

Thursday morning I started out on 2.80 volts of electricity on Frequency A. I went up to 3.00 volts on A. That voltage lasted all of 7 hours, when I decided to turn it down to 2.60 volts on A. That level lasted only 4 hours when I decided to turn it back to where I had it before messing with it: 2.80 volts on frequency A. During the day I tested other levels of voltage, but kept the frequency on A. Since my iPhone has the date and time of when I take pictures on it and I took pictures to remind me what level I was on, Thursday was a full circle day. It was at 6:36am that I upped it to 3.00 volts on A and it was 6:04pm when I conceded and brought it back down to 2.80 volts on A.

Thursday’s also when I fell. This time, I got hurt a little (just scraped knees). God turned it into a life lesson. I was leaving work and fell outside. I bloodied my knee and my ankle, but otherwise was unhurt. I thought I was alone when I fell, but then I heard a co-worker (whom I don’t know) ask me if there was anything he could do. I told him no. I just had to get up and carry on. Surprisingly to me, I didn’t cry. I didn’t get upset. I didn’t feel hopeless. I didn’t feel frustrated or angry. In fact, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Falling doesn’t make you special. Get up, dust yourself off and carry on. People fall all the time.” So, I got up, dusted myself off and walked to my car. I was a bloody mess by the time I got to my car, as blood was running all down my leg. (Sorry for the visual, Kristen!) I grabbed some napkins out of the glove compartment and cleaned myself off as best I could until I got home. When I got home I put an antibiotic ointment on and bandaged everything up.

Friday was a new day! God greeted me with this amazing sunrise on my way to work:

Sunday, I got up and decided yet again to play with the DBS settings. I decided I’d had enough of the low frequency, so I switched to the high frequency: C, but I set it to the lowest voltage I could go on that level: 3.70. But, even on the lowest level of the higher frequency, my hand was giving me fits. I knew I’d need my hand for work the next day, so Sunday night I’d had enough and went down to 3.00 C.

Yesterday morning when I woke up and was no better I decided to go to the lower frequency (A) again, but set it to the highest level it would allow me (3.60). I stayed on 3.60 A all day yesterday, but last night I was over it. I literally went to bed at 8:30pm because I was so exhausted both mentally and physically. I told a friend today that I think walking to and from my car at work is as much a workout for me as my actual workouts on the stationary bike. It has literally taken every ounce of strength I have both mentally and physically to get me from point A to point B.

This afternoon, I remembered that I still had Frequency B that I could try (more like go back to.) I switched frequencies AGAIN (right there at work) and am now back on Frequency B at 3.50 volts. That may even change as I think I may “play” a little more tonight with the voltage. And this my friends is why they call it “practicing medicine”. ;) There’s an art to it.

There’s a sweet spot. I had that sweet spot once. I must find that sweet spot once more.

A lot of things have been weighing on my mind these past couple of weeks. Because of this, I’ve been waking up at 3am for no good reason! The first few times it happened, I’d try to go back to sleep or I got on Facebook (I know, terrible!), but then it hit me: I should be in God’s Word. So now, when I’ve been waking at 3am, I grab the Good Book (OK, really, I grab my phone that has the Good Book on it) and dive into God’s Word. It’s brought such comfort and peace.

It's been a rough week. I get so frustrated and angry and grouchy when my walking isn't what I think it should be, but even when I'm like that, God doesn't turn His back on me. I could choose to focus on the negative (and believe me, I have done so and continue to do so at times), but when I really sit down and examine my life, all that matters is that God's Got This! And because He does, I can face tomorrow. I can fall and get back up again. I can be embarrassed and still not die from embarrassment. I can know that I'm a child of God and that He loves me with an EVERLASTING love.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: August 8

"Stand firm, and you will win life." (Luke 21:19 NIV)

I know, I’m probably majorly taking the above verse out of context, but I read it this morning and it pierced me. Maybe it pierced me because I haven’t LITERALLY been able to “stand firm” this past week, so I’ve had to stand on the firm foundation that God knows what He’s doing and I shouldn’t put my two cents worth in. Maybe it’s for the simple “you will win life”. Life isn’t about walking or falling, but rather about relationships and Jesus.

It’s definitely been an interesting week! It’s been interesting on several levels. I’ve seen how my body reacts to stress and the weather in a way that I haven’t been tuned in to before. But more than that, I’ve been blessed so richly and abundantly BECAUSE of the problems I’ve had this week, that I almost don’t mind the falls I’ve had to have to see how richly I’ve been blessed. Let me stress, ALMOST. I really dislike falling, so God and I have this conversation every morning:
Me: "God, please, please, please don’t let me trip, slip or fall today."
Me (about 5 seconds after the first plea (I mean prayer): “God, please, please, please don’t let me slip trip or fall."
“But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.” (Luke 21:14 NIV)
“Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'" (Luke 18:27 NIV)
“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (Luke 18:7 NIV)
And probably my favorite this week:
“yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me.” (Luke 18:5 NIV) – Persistence, people, persistence!!
And another good one…
“Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.” (Luke 13:13 NIV)

Can you tell, I’m reading Luke right now? Haha. But God has brought about so many golden nuggets that I had to share!!

A couple of weeks a go in Sunday school, we started talking about the “thorn in my side” that Paul was given. There’s much speculation on what that “thorn-in-his-side” was. Some say it might have been his eyesight. My Sunday School leader, Brian, said that whatever it was it sounded like Paul had to rely on others to take care of him at times. In all my years, I had never heard it explained like that. I really took it to heart. Paul had to ask people to help him. Somehow, with that explanation, I found comfort.

After proudly declaring that it was a “no-fall week” last week on the blog, the very next day, I fell. ;) It wasn’t a “normal” fall though (if there is such a thing). It was in a confined space where I had walls and doors and things to grab ahold of. It just happened. One second, I was up and the next I was sprawled all over the floor. Thankfully, I was only in front of friends. (It would have been better if 1) I hadn’t fell at all or 2) I hadn’t fallen in front of anyone but since none of that happened, I’m glad I fell in front of friends!) I seriously don’t know how it happened, it just did. But what do you do when you fall? You get back up and carry on. Again, easier said than done, but I did it with God’s help. I did cry though – I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t so much over the falling, but everything that was going on around the fall. It was a stressful week. My friend/co-worker, Sarah, helped me come to the realization that stress takes many forms and I guess in me, it manifests physically sometimes. I’m sure I’ll learn to manage it better and hopefully figure out a good setting to go to (in regards to the deep brain stimulation device) when stressful situations arise and I need a little more help to walk.

The second fall came on Sunday in church. Here’s hoping a lot of people didn’t see it. It happened (again!) in a place and time that I never thought it would. After making it successfully up to, through and back from communion, I fell in the aisle to my chair. I had chairs to hang on to and people to hang on to and suddenly, one second I’m up and the next I’m down on my knees! I didn’t hurt myself and I was up as quickly as I went down, hoping people that saw me either thought that I was praying or that I was grabbing something off the floor. ;) I think most people were distracted enough going up to communion that they didn’t even notice. It did give me a whole new meaning to the song we sang after communion, “Lead Me to the Cross” and these lyrics from the song:

“Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross”

I do believe that God loves when we laugh and I seriously had to laugh (internally) that not even a few minutes after I fall, I hear “Bring me to my knees”.

As tough as walking can get, the Lord ALWAYS allows me to trade those bad days in for good and He ALWAYS makes me laugh, think and downright SEE HIM in every situation. After my fall on Sunday, I decided that I would walk with someone outside to my car. I was thinking maybe my mom or one of my sister-in-laws. Well, all of the sudden, I look and they’ve all left!! (If they are reading this, I am totally OK with everything, I just had to put what I’m going to say next in to context). So, I think to myself that I could get Dad to walk me out if I really needed to, but he was talking with people. So, I thought, “OK, God. I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but I know you are with me, so please don’t let me slip, trip or fall.” As soon as I prayed this, Todd appeared.

To get even more of a background on this, a few Sundays ago I was having problems walking in to church. I saw Todd walking in at the same time and I asked if I could walk with him. I didn’t need to hold on to him or anything, I just wanted someone to walk with. He obliged. We started talking and I got to know some of his backstory. I’ve been going to church with this man and his family for years (seriously, probably since moving here to Tennessee) and I never knew what he was telling me. He has his own medical issues with his eyes. Fast forward to the Sunday before last: after the installation of our new associate pastor that Sunday night, Todd saw me struggling a little to get to my car, so he came running out of church to help me. So, for him to just appear out of nowhere this past Sunday when I needed him most, right after I’d prayed – you cannot tell that that wasn’t God. I know without a shadow of a doubt, it was!! And I told Todd so. I told him that he was a blessing from God and an answer to prayer. He told me that he had been praying that God would use him to bless others. God answered BOTH of our prayers. How utterly awesome is that?!!!!

I’ve also been blessed immensely by my co-worker and friend, Sarah. She just calls it “walking and talking with a co-worker” (as does my other co-worker and friend, Debbie), but to me it is SO MUCH more. Sarah has been walking out of work with me a few times this past week, just to lend a steady hand if I need it. I have been so incredibly blessed by this. It’s meant the world. The weather has been rainy and icky. My walking has been extremely effected by this. Sarah has been incredibly kind and patient walking just as slowly as I do, so that just in case I need some help, she’s there. I have to say that ALL my co-workers have been just as kind. I am SO BLESSED.

Even with walking poorly, I’ve kept the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device the same as it was last week. I really am convinced that if this weather will clear up, my walking will too. But, if doesn’t after this week, I’ll revisit turning the electricity up or down.

So, you may be wondering (or maybe not, just humor me!) why I don’t go back to using the cane or the walker when I really need it. My dad has begged me to. Friends have mentioned that it’s not a failure. The truth is, I’m afraid I’ll become dependent on them again. I was speaking with someone today and I told her that I think my fear of falling is just as great, if not greater than actually falling. I need to fight that fear by doing what I fear the most: walking without assistance. I’m not completely stupid though. If I truly feel like I can’t walk, I will use (or at least carry) the cane. But, right now I’m in a battle with myself over fear. So, it’s between me and God. Today, I had the vision of Peter walking on water stuck in my head. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he could walk. It was fear and taking his eyes off of Jesus that made him stumble. I also had the vision today of my foot in Jesus’ hand. He has me in the PALM of HIS HAND – ALWAYS!! Why do I forget this every five minutes?! He’s kept me safe thus far and He’ll continue to keep me safe. There is nothing that happens in my life that He doesn’t already know about, that He hasn’t already ordained, that He hasn’t already turned around for His good. Why then must I worry? I shouldn’t and with God’s help, with my very being in the palm of His hand, I’ll be alright. God’s Got This!!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: August 1

This past week has seen more GOOD days then bad and for that, I’m eternally grateful!!

I was talking with a high-up executive at work yesterday (who knows about my walking issues) and he said, “I saw you walking in the other day!” I immediately thought, “Oh my gosh, was it a good walking day or not?!” He could have seen me walk well or he could have seen me fall in the flowers – haha! He didn’t go any further and I didn’t press him. I really, really, really hope he saw me on a good day though!

I am happy to report that I haven’t had any more falls or embarrassing situations this past week, so that’s a win! God’s kept me upright and (somewhat!) stable. Like I’ve said in an earlier post, I try to rationalize everything in regards to how I’m walking. Like, “Oh, I must be walking bad today because of the weather.” BUT – I’m learning that the more I try to rationalize, the more I drive myself crazy. It is what it is! This past week’s stab at rationalization was that there is a very, very, very fine line between when I’ve over-done walking and when I haven’t done enough. Saturday, I felt wonderful, so I ran errands. Saturday night, I realized that maybe I’d over-compensated and I was spent! This also meant that I had trouble walking on Sunday, but not all the time. What got me the most on Sunday was the church parking lot. I’m like a deer in the headlights. It’s this vast parking lot with nothing to grab ahold of if I feel myself falling and I tense up. Thankfully, I have wonderful church friends who lend hands when need be, or just walk with me if all I need is moral support. However, when I’m inside church, I walk well on the carpet and so-so on the gym floor. Go figure!

I had to make a decision this week on which neurologist I would see exclusively. The reason? Well, it turns out that my Knoxville neurologist and my Nashville-now-turned-Knoxville neurologist have ended up at the same neurology practice here in Knoxville.

A little background in case you’re new around here: A few years ago I had to find another neurologist as mine was moving out of state. Thanks to a friend and fellow church member, I started seeing Dr. LeForce. He’s the one that suggested deep brain stimulation. At the time, his practice referred deep brain stimulation patients to Vanderbilt. So, Dr. LeForce referred me and I met Dr. Tolleson. While going through all the DBS appointments and the like, I saw Dr. Tolleson in Nashville and Dr. LeForce here in Knoxville. Dr. Tolleson controlled all my adjustments to the DBS and was in on the DBS surgery. Dr. LeForce prescribed all my medication. Fast forward to January 31 of this year. I was at a follow-up appointment with Dr. Tolleson in Nashville. At the end of the appointment, he said, “I’m not going to be able to be your neurologist anymore.” I was absolutely crushed as I’d grown to really like and trust him. Seriously, I wanted to cry. But in the next breath he said, “I’m moving to Knoxville.” I didn’t know if I had heard him correctly, “Did you say, Knoxville? As in Tennessee?” “Yes”, he responded. And then I burst out, “I live in Knoxville!!”. He had forgotten that I traveled to see him. He turned to his resident and said, “Well, that’s not the reaction we’ve been getting when we tell people this news!” He said I was free to follow him to Knoxville. Yay! A couple of months later (I think in April), I got a letter in the mail from Dr. LeForce. He said that after much consideration he was leaving the practice he was at and joining a neurological practice at the University of Tennessee. He said that I was more than welcome to follow him there or find a new neurologist. I, of course, was going to follow him. Now fast forward to about a month ago. I realized that I was almost about to run out of medicine. I called Dr. LeForce’s old office and left a message because I didn’t know the phone number to his new office. I got a call back and they gave me the new number. I put it in my phone for safe keeping. Then, when I started falling a few weeks back, I called the University of Tennessee Medical Center to get Dr. Tolleson’s new number. When they gave it to me, I dialed it and Dr. LeForce’s name came up in my phone. Needless to say, both neurologists work in the same practice now. I got in to see Dr. Tolleson on July 20 and while there, completely forgot to ask about whom I should be seeing. I only remembered this week, when I saw that I had an appointment with Dr. LeForce on August 3. So on Sunday, I brought up my dilemma to my family. They helped me hash it out. My ER doctor brother said he would go with Tolleson, since he’s the one who adjusts my deep brain stimulation device. Then it warmed my heart because he said that Tolleson is strictly focused on movement disorders whereas LeForce is general neurology. I asked him how he knew that and he said that he was talking to a neurology drug rep and asked the rep if he knew a new-to-town neurologist by the name of Tolleson. The drug rep said yes, but he didn’t deal with him because Tolleson is specifically focused on movement disorders and the drugs he was selling didn’t fit under that category. It warmed my heart to hear this because my brother had no other reason to ask about Tolleson other than me. ;) Anyway, after we all talked, I felt better. I called the neurology practice on Monday and had to leave a message explaining my situation. When the scheduler called me back, she said, “I see that you have an appointment with Dr. Tolleson in October, but I don’t see any appointment made with LeForce for August 3.” That’s when I told her that the appointment was made before he switched practices. She then said that all of those appointments had been wiped out when he moved practices (I should of known that!). She said that she talked with both doctors (or their nurses) and they were both fine if I wanted to see Dr. Tolleson exclusively (I had stated that in my message). So, Dr. Tolleson it is. Whew! That was a hard decision to make. I really do like both doctors, but it makes no sense to see them both.

So, that’s what went on this past week. I am so, so thankful that my walking has been better. I didn’t mess with the electricity this week since I seem to be in a good spot. It’s not 100 percent, mind you, and there have been times when I’ve needed help, but overall, it’s been pretty sweet.

Sometimes, it still strikes me that I’m walking with my own two feet without a walker or cane. It’s in those moments that I stop and thank the Lord for His goodness. And when there are days that I can hardly walk, well I stop and thank Him that I made it from point A to point B and I remember the times I have been able to walk. It’s definitely a journey. Some days I’m in the valley and other days I’m on the mountaintop. But I always remember that God’s Got This!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Turn-It-Down Tuesday: July 25

I know I just wrote a post on Thursday and it hasn’t even been a week, but it’s Tuesday and I write blog posts on Tuesday, so I’m just caring on the tradition. ;) Thank you, as always, for reading and following along on this journey!

Since Thursday (when I saw my neurologist), I’ve walked well and I haven’t walked well. It’s been a mix. Thursday was a good walking day. Friday was not. Saturday was OK. Sunday morning was not so good, but Sunday afternoon things started to improve. Yesterday was OK, but last night I made the decision to go down more on the electricity.

I turned my deep brain stimulation remote on and saw that Dr. Tolleson had me on Level A (the low level) at 3.00 volts. I hadn't touched it since he adjusted it on Thursday.
So, last night, I stayed on A but went down to 2.80 volts.
I wasn’t positive that I made the right decision though. I woke up in the middle of the night and could feel my foot twitching. Or – maybe I just dreamt that. I really have no idea and I'm being completely serious!!

When I got up this morning, I didn’t feel all that different, but by the time I got to work, I was walking better – yay!! A huge sigh of relief.

Today, I’ve walked pretty well. Not fantastic, mind you, but well. I always want more then I have. But I’m working on that. Actually, I should say God’s working in me on that!! I'm working on being thankful right where I'm at. God has shown me, through others, just how far I've come. It's wonderful to sometimes see progress through someone else's eyes.

I had an appointment I had to go to today, so I left work and ran into (not literally!) the guy that I had fallen in front of a week ago, but this time, no falls! In fact, I stopped and talked with him a minute as he was cleaning the fountains outside work. I didn't walk well in front of him or other co-workers coming in, but I got where I needed to get to (my car) without any falls, so I'm chalking that up to a win. Little victories lead to be big victories. Every time I walk, and walk with minimal effort, it builds my confidence. Every time I fall, it shakes my confidence. In the scheme of things though, I have a pretty sweet life.

Besides the electricity, I’m also trying really hard to be conscious of how I’m walking. I probably should of known this years ago, or maybe I did know it and forgot, but I was told/reminded that the big toe is in charge of stability and balance. All this time I’ve been walking on the outside of my foot (hence the callouses) when I need to be maneuvering my foot to walk more on the inside near the big toe. When I consciously walk like this, it’s amazing the balance I gain back! It’s almost miraculous. But, my muscle memory is to walk on the outside of my foot, so when I’m in a hurry or just not thinking about it, that’s the way I walk. So, I’m trying to retrain my brain. It’s hard, but not impossible. And with God, ALL things are possible. I literally take it step by step. Today was a good day though and for that, I am so very, very thankful.

I have to laugh - I was looking in the mirror tonight and saw a gray hair. Why on earth do gray hairs have to glisten?! My first instinct was to pluck it. But I didn't. I didn't because you know what? I EARNED that gray hair! Yes, I could pluck it. Yes, I could color it. Yes, I could try to hide it. But, ever since deep brain stimulation surgery, I treasure every hair on my head - no matter what color it is. Oh, yes, I definitely have bad hair days, but I'm learning to treasure those too. If you've ever lost your hair (whether it be to cancer, alopecia, or having to have it shaved for surgery like me), you know how precious every single hair is. So precious in fact, that God our Father knows the number of hairs on our head. He also knows that I lose a lot of hair in the shower every morning. ;)

I know that the Lord is for me and not against me. I know that through this whole journey He's teaching me valuable lessons and He's growing my faith in Him. I don't know His ways, but I know His ways are good and that they will always and forever be for my benefit. As always, God's Got This!!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday (but on a Thursday): Neurology Appointment July 20

God is good, all the time! And all the time, God is good! Today was a blessing!

I saw Dr. Tolleson (my Nashville-now-turned-Knoxville neurologist). I was nervous, but that's just who I am - haha!! I worry about the craziest things: will I be able to find his office? Will I be on time? Will I be able to walk? What if I got the date and time of the appointment wrong? SHEESH!!! Putting it down in words and seeing it in black and white, I realize how absolutely, utterly ridiculous my worries are!! That is why the Lord says, DO NOT WORRY. DO NOT BE ANXIOUS. Over and over and over again, He says this in the Bible and still - what do I do?! I worry! God gave me sign last night though. It was as clear as day. I was at church sitting in the pew with my parents (Dad wasn't preaching!) and my grandmother. The lesson wasn't on not worrying, but the leader was teaching from Matthew. My grandmother got out the pew Bible and looked up the verses. I glanced over and what did I see? "Do Not Be Anxious About Anything". Thank you, Jesus. I got that message loud and clear!

As I stated in my last post, I've been wearing the (surgical) boot to get in and out of places (walking in parking lots is hard when I feel like I have nothing to hold on to). I told Dr. Tolleson that I'm too stubborn to use the walker or cane again, so I use the boot instead. Today though, I tested myself. I got to the clinic and was determined to make it in with no walker, cane or boot. And you know what? With the Lord's help, I made it!! There was a gentleman walking in the same time I was (and NO he was not my age (older) or single...can you tell, I've been asked this earlier today?!). He asked if there was anything he could do to help me. I told him, no (but in a nice voice with a thank you at the end!). He had gotten to the door before me. He said, "OK, I'll just wait for you." Normally, I dislike people watching me walk (even the doctors - haha!), but today, for whatever reason, I didn't mind. He waited for me and then held the door open and then even let me get in front of him in the line. At 7:50 am there was already a back-up in the waiting room!! Thankfully there are multiple doctors! I got up to the receptionist and she couldn't find me in the computer. (See, maybe some of my worries are worth worrying about! Just kidding on that!). She did find me though on a piece of paper - haha. Turns out, they just got a new computer system on Monday and things were still a little wacky.

When I finally got to see Dr. Tolleson, it was like a breath of fresh air. Weird, I know. But everything around me was different. Different neurology group, different building, different receptionist, different waiting area, different everything, except the doctor! So yes, I was very happy to see Dr. Tolleson. He apologized for the wait, which in hindsight was not that long of a wait. He reiterated that they just got a new computer system and were all trying to figure it out. He asked how I was doing and I said great, up until the past 2 weeks when I'd fallen twice and tripped a lot. We talked and then he had me walk. I hate this part. I know he needs to see it, so he can help me, but I don't like walking with other people watching me. I know, I need to just get over it. ;) Easier said then done though on my part!! He did observe right away that I wasn't walking as good as I was when he last saw me (and had adjusted the settings on my deep brain stimulation device). He observed that my foot was turning in more. After walking the first time, he did some adjustments. His deep brain stimulation remote is much larger then mine. I asked him what all he could see with it. He said he sees the battery life of my device, what settings I'm on, when I change the settings, how long I'm on each setting. Basically, (as I told him!), I'm being tracked! I told him I feel like I'm coming in for a tune-up, every time I see him. In reality, that's kind of what it is!

One of my greatest worries/fears about this appointment was that he was going to tell me that there was nothing else that could be done. That this was as good as it was going to get. Praise be to the Lord, I was WRONG!!! He tinkered with the settings. At one point, my hand went all bionic on me and was doing things I wasn't telling it to do. At that, he said he had turned the device completely off, but then quickly retracted that statement and said it was on, he was just messing with settings. He did a few different settings and after each, he had me walk. I really couldn't feel a difference. After a few more adjustments, he told me what he had done. Instead of adding more settings, he decided to adjust the settings that he had already created.

A is low
B is the same as what I came in on
C is high

And now he's told me to play again. I can go up and down on the amount of electricity in each level, but the goal is to find one setting that really works and stay on that one. I told him, I had stayed on my previous level the longest: from the end of January to May. And it was working wonderfully, until two weeks ago. He did say that he thinks some of my problems do stem from still recovering from the foot/toe surgery. He thinks once that heals completely things will be better. He asked if I had the boot with me and I told him it was in the car. He said he had no problems with me wearing it, if I felt like I needed to. He also said I should try to walk without it (which I am doing!) and he emphasized again that the goal is to get on one setting and stay there. But in the next breath, he tells me to play around with the settings. Haha. What he said was that if a setting was intolerable then I should change it right away and not wait a week or 2, but otherwise I should give a setting 1 or 2 weeks worth of a chance. ;) He told me that he has me on the low level now (A). We'll see where that leads!

So now for some funny things, because laughter truly is the BEST medicine!

I now have a daily reminder of when I fell outside while walking into work. The poor flowers have a gaping hole where I landed in them. ;) I do thank the Lord that I landed in a soft spot though! It makes me laugh every time I walk by them. I hope I don't get in trouble for ruining the company's flowers!!

On Monday night, as I got to my car, I realized I didn't have my shoe with me. I ended up putting my boot on halfway through the day. It made me laugh to think what the cleaning crew must be thinking. "Why is there just one shoe in her cubicle?" Tuesday, I came in and found my shoe all the way at the back of my desk.

Back on July 12, after having worn my real shoe all day, I took it off and my foot looked like the Michelin Man.

And here's a picture I took today while at Dr. Tolleson's office:

Tonight, as I write this post, I am so grateful. I am thankful. From my littlest worry, to my biggest, God took care of every one of them. He didn't let me stumble (literally or figuratively). He answered every prayer. I am thankful for my life. I'm thankful for the people who are in my life. I saw this little thing on Facebook today and I love it, so I'm borrowing it. It goes:

"If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means "First Attempt In Learning". End is not the end. In fact E.N.D. means "Effort Never Dies". If you get NO as an answer, remember N.O. means "Next Opportunity". Positive Thinking!!"

I also saw as a memory on Facebook, that I had posted this statement awhile ago: A.S.A.P. means Always Say A Prayer.

Today was a blessing. I'm alive. I have hope. I didn't fall. I walked ALL day boot free. I have a God who loves me no matter how many times I fail Him. I am reminded even more that GOD'S GOT THIS!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Turn-It- Down Tuesday: July 18

Last week's post began with, "What a week!" I can say the same for this week's post - What a week! Good, bad and everything in between wrapped in to seven days!

Between Monday and Friday, I fell twice and tripped into a wall once. ;) But I'm alright, so everything's good! In last week's post, I mentioned that my fall on Monday reminded me to call and make an appointment with my (formally known as) Nashville neurologist who now works here in Knoxville. Well, God answered my prayer fast! When I called, the office said that they would have to receive my paperwork from Vanderbilt before scheduling an appointment and that could take a little while. Well, last Wednesday they called me back and said that they had received some of the paperwork and Dr. Tolleson wanted them to go ahead and set up an appointment with me. Praise Jesus! Seriously, I've never been so happy to get a doctor's appointment. And the cherry on top, is that I see him THIS THURSDAY as in July 20 and not in 2 months. I am so very, very thankful!! I kept thanking Jesus for speeding up the process. All this and I never once told them that I was having issues, just that I needed to see him again. Thankful - I am so very, very thankful!!

I started wearing the surgical boot again. It's given me so much more sturdiness and balance. Mind you, it's not the "perfect" solution, but it has allowed me to walk better. Wednesday night was the first time I walked out of work without someone walking with me. I had the boot on. As I'm walking down the hallway on my way to the parking lot, I pass my boss' office and tell him good bye. No sooner had I walked past his door, then I promptly tripped over my own two feet and ran into the wall. I was so afraid that someone heard me, but I think I got away without anyone noticing. The silver lining: the wall caught me, so I didn't fall. Haha. When I got to church that night, I thought I could walk in without issue, but it turned out not to be. Thankfully, Larry was there to lend an arm to hang on to! God always puts people in my path to help me when I need it the most!

My walking was no better on Thursday. I wore the boot in to work, but then changed out of it into a regular shoe once I made it to my desk. I was walking to the break room, when I literally took a knee. Actually two knees. A co-worker saw me and asked if she could help. There was nothing she could do really! I just got back up and continued walking, but once I got back to my desk, I put the boot back on. I got more injured falling on the carpet then I did when I fell outside work and landed in the flower bed. ;) The injury was only rug burn, but still. This happened about 2 hours before I was to go to the doctor for a physical. I, of course, had to tell him what happened because he asked why my knees were all red. When I told him the boot was giving me stability, he agreed that I should probably wear it when walking into/out of work and anywhere I had a distance to walk until I see Dr. Tolleson on Thursday.

Friday was a better walking day because I had the boot on. Go figure!! Most people can't walk right in a surgical boot and I seem to walk my best in it. Just like sand. Most people find walking in sand the most difficult, where as I find walking in sand the most enjoyable. ;)

Saturday, Mom and I went to see a live production of "Little Women" at the Bijou Theater. I wore the boot and didn't fall! I have to say that this production was one of the best I've seen. Everyone seemed perfectly cast and everything about the production was lovely. I had so much fun. The theatre is an escape for me. I get lost in the story lines and I just love watching live productions. Being with Mom makes it even more special.

Sunday, I woke up and wrestled with the idea of doing something with the electricity in my DBS device. Part of me wanted to keep it where it's been until I saw Dr. Tolleson, but the other part of me wanted to be able to walk. In the end, I decided to turn it down some. I could feel an immediate release of my foot. I went from 3.90 volts to 3.60. But, I still didn't feel like I could go without the boot and now that it's been a couple of days, I don't see any marked improvement.

I'm excited and yet nervous about seeing Dr. Tolleson. What if there's nothing more he can do? What if this is as good as it's going to get? All the what if's and yet, I'm reminded that the Lord says, "Do not worry." DON'T WORRY!!!!!!!!! I'm also reminded that GOD'S GOT THIS!! I hope everyone has a very blessed week ahead. Remember: don't worry and God's got all of us in the palm of His hand!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: July 11

What a week!!!!

Thursday, July 7, I got the stitch out of my toe and my foot out of the boot. :) Dr. Gardner said everything looked good. I told him how great I was doing in the boot and that it allowed me to be "free" at my brother's wedding. But it was time to get rid of the boot. I no longer needed it for surgical matters. The next step, Dr. Gardner said, would be to think about getting a brace. I have fought and fought against this, but even I, after the freedom I felt while in the boot, realized that he may just be right. So, I agreed to a consult. He wrote a prescription for me to get in to see an orthotics specialist. In the meantime, he told me that if I felt more balanced and could walk better in it, to use the boot whenever I felt it necessary. There is another option though - get the deep brain stimulation on the right level. ;) Dr. Gardner said the worst that could happen is that I go to the orthotics specialist, I get the brace made and then the neurologist finds the golden spot and the deep brain stimulation takes care of all my problems and I don't need to use the brace! So, I'm going to go see the orthotics specialist, while at the same time praying that the deep brain stimulation will work and I don't have to use the brace. Dr. Gardner released me from his care (although he does want to see me after the brace is made). All my toes are straight now, except I'm pretty sure my big toe is trying to compensate for all the other toes. It never used to curl in, but is starting to now. Dr. Gardner said the big toe is responsible for balance, which could explain the week that was (more on that in a minute). Back to Dr. Gardner. He said I have no restrictions from his perspective, meaning I can exercise or even run a marathon if I want - ha! I went back to work on Thursday in two of the same shoe. My foot is still swollen and Dr. Gardner said that could take up to another month to completely go away.

Friday, I walked into and around work boot-free - trying to do my best to adjust to real shoes again. :)

Saturday, my mom and I went to see Mamma Mia! at the Tennessee theater.
It was marvelous as always! Before the show, we had lunch on Market Square and walked around.
I was having issues. I probably should of worn the boot to walk around in, but instead, I held on to Mom the whole time. She was great about it. We had so much fun! One funny story: A vendor who was there told us that she loved both of our dresses. Mom replied with, "Thank you! It's from France!" So I chimed in with, "Mine's from Target!" which made us all laugh and the vendor respond with, "No, it's Target (spoken with a French accent)!" I had an absolutely fabulous time on Saturday with Mom. It's one of those days that I'll remember forever. When I got home I worked out on my stationary bike for the first time in a week and half. It felt so good!!

Sunday was another great day in so many ways, but walking was getting more difficult. I could not figure out why. Walking into church, God provided for me. I was having a really, really difficult time and a church member, Todd, helped me. I am so very thankful! I was also grateful that we didn't have Communion because that would have meant that I would have to walk up to receive it and walk back to my seat and the less walking I did, the better! A surprise awaited me though. Even though my dad is the pastor of our church, I did not know that The Voice's Emily Ann Roberts would be at church that day. We have 3 services at my church and she was at the 9:30am service. At 9:30, I'm in Sunday School. But when Sunday School was over with, I passed by the sanctuary and the service had just let out. Someone asked if I met Emily Ann yet. I hadn't, since I didn't know she was there, but quickly scouted her out after they mentioned her! I did get to meet her and speak with her and even get my picture made with her. She's just as sweet as I thought she would be! She was at the service to sing for a baptism taking place. She's friends with the baptismal family. So cool!!! After church, my brother Stanton helped me to my car. Then it was off to Aubrey's Restaurant (NOT my sister-in-law Aubrey's house - haha) for lunch with the "Young Adults" (I think we average at 32 years of age and 2 kids - so whether we are "young" or not depends on your point of view - haha!!). There, I met a new couple that had just come to our church for the very first time that morning. They are an engaged couple who turned out to be so sweet. We started talking and I told them I had a condition called dystonia and the girl turns to me and says, "My cousin has dystonia!" Seriously, I could not have been more shocked. Every time I tell people what I have, they look at me with a blank stare and say, "what's that?!", but this girl actually knew what it was! How cool! I had a fabulous time with every one that went out to eat. And to think, I almost wasn't going to go. But God knew I needed to be there and so it was. After lunch, I stopped by Walgreens to pick up some pictures. I actually grabbed a cart and held on, just to pick pictures up, but I needed it to not fall. Sunday evening, I had an absolute blast! There are sunflower fields in South Knoxville (Forks of the River area) and I had been wanting to see them.
My friend Samantha had posted it on Facebook and when I expressed interest in it, she said I could tag along with her family if I wanted to. She's married and has 6 month old twin girls who I adore. Of course, I wanted to tag along!! It turned out that two couples from her neighborhood along with their kids went too. I had never been to where these sunflower fields are, so I was under the impression that we would drive right up to them and walk right in. Well, in all honesty, we probably could have, if everyone in Knoxville and surrounding areas weren't there with us! The place was PACKED. We arrived a little before 8pm (so as to get pictures with the sun setting). We ended up walking, I would guess, about a mile there, maybe shorter. Brad and Samantha were Godsends who said I could push the twins stroller so that I would have something to hold on to and boy did I need something to hold on to! I was not walking well at all. But they and their friends were patient with me and kind, for which I will always be thankful for. Once we reached the sunflowers, they did not disappoint!! They were stunning, but - in my opinion - not more stunning than Ms. Brooklyn and Ms. Blakeley who hammed it up for their parents. I got a couple of selfies, but honestly, I was a hot, sweaty mess, so I didn't feel like having my picture taken all that much! But, the sunflowers themselves were beautiful. On the walk back to the cars, we encountered a domestic dispute coming from one of the houses along the way. Every curse word you could imagine was being used. We just looked at each other and tried to high-tail it out of their vicinity as quickly possible. By this time, my walking was all but over. I tripped a couple of times (while holding onto the stroller) and one time did "fall" (my knees hit the ground, but I never let go of the stroller or lost control of it!). By the time I got home that night, I couldn't walk in my own house. I seriously thought about dragging the walker out, but was too stubborn and prideful to do it. I thought, I just needed sleep.

Yesterday (Monday), I realized how much I over-did it over the weekend. I wouldn't change anything about what I did though! I had an absolutely wonderful, fantastic time, but I paid for it a little on Monday. I had the worst time walking in to work. I did it, but it was painfully slow and methodical. I took a step. Stopped. Took another step. Stopped. At one point a co-worker (whom I didn't know) asked if I needed help. I thought about it for a second. I looked at where I was and where the front door was. I was almost there. So, I told him thank you, but no, I had to do this myself. So, he went on. I continued on my path. I was literally maybe 2 steps away from reaching the front of the building (where I could hold onto the building), when I was startled by a co-worker coming out of the building. The windows on the front door of the building are those where you can see your reflection, but not see in, so I didn't know anyone was coming out the door. It startled me so bad that I lost my footing and fell into the flowers. But, just as quickly as I fell, I got back up again. The co-worker asked if I was alright and if I had hurt anything. He really was concerned. I was more embarrassed than anything. I told him that I was fine (and I was!) and that I was actually kind of glad I did fall, because maybe I had gotten falling out of the way for the day! I made my way into work. All I could think of was, "Pride goes before a fall". (The actual Bible verse is Proverbs 16:18 and says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (NIV version)). If I had just let the first co-worker help me, I wouldn't have fallen. My pride got in the way and then I was completely humbled. Lesson learned! The fall motivated me more than ever to call and get an appointment set up with Dr. Tolleson (my neurologist). He's now at UT (yay!) and not at Vanderbilt. He doesn't yet have a direct line to his office so I had to call UT's scheduling department. I had tried calling about a month ago, but was on hold for forever. I gave up that day and told myself I'd call back later. Well then my walking got better so I delayed it even further. But yesterday, as soon as I got to my desk, I looked up his number and called. Unfortunately, my records from Vanderbilt have not been transferred yet, but the woman I spoke with said she would make sure they got transferred ASAP and as soon as that happens she'll call me back to schedule an appointment. It could take up to a week. But at least I now have the ball rolling. The rest of yesterday was OK. Walking wasn't the best, but thankfully, I didn't have to walk that much! At the end of the day, I asked my co-worker, Debbie to walk out with me to my car. I knew I needed help. She didn't hesitate in saying that she would help. I actually did have to hold on to her to make it to the car. I came home Monday night and was completely exhausted. It's hard work learning to walk again. :) I also decided to turn the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device up again. I went from 3.70 volts on level C to 3.90 volts on level C.
This morning when I woke up, I was so very thankful for a new day. I exercised on my stationary bike and went into work. I made it into work on my own. Slow and (not-so) steady! But all that matters is that I made it without falling. I prayed every second of that way and God allowed me to make it, slip, trip and fall-free. Thank you, Lord! I had a doctor's appointment a little while later (not related to anything with my walking). I started out and was doing fare, but half way to my car, I got stuck. That's the only way I know how to describe it - stuck. I couldn't move at all. I knew that if I took one more step, I'd fall. For a brief moment, I thought about crawling, but then God sent an angel. A co-worker was walking in and saw me having problems. She came over to where I was. I was so focused on walking, I neither saw nor heard her, until she said in a soft voice, "Can I help you?" And you know what? Without hesitation or embarrassment, I exclaimed, "YES!" I truly believe she was sent from God. I didn't know her (it's a big company!), but now I do. She lent me her arm and helped me get the rest of the way to my car. Then, when I got to my car, she gave me her card and said if I needed help getting back in the building, I just needed to call her. I went to my doctor's appointment and the doctor told me not to think of using my boot or cane or walker as a failure (again, I didn't even go to see this doctor about my walking problems, it just came up in conversation), but to look at them as "self-caring" for myself. Using them doesn't mean I'll have to continue to use them. So, when I got back to work, I decided to walk in wearing the boot. My foot is still majorly swollen, so maybe wearing a regular shoe was aiding my walking problems. I walked in with no trips, slips or falls. Once inside work, I changed back into my regular shoe. At the end of the day, my co-worker, Debbie walked with me to my car at my request. Yes, I want to do it on my own, but I also knew that I'd feel a lot better if she were there, just in case. I wore the boot to walk back to the car. Debbie was there with me and I had the boot. Those were the only 2 allowances I gave myself. Which meant, I crossed my arms so as not to be tempted to reach out for Debbie or anyone/anything else to steady myself. And I made it. With the help of God, Debbie and the boot. I made it safely to my car.

This has been my life this past week. It's been filled with amazing adventures and fun-filled times with family and friends. It's also been filled with falls and trips and doubts. I've experienced some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows. That's just life though, isn't it? You may not be dealing with walking issues like I am, but I'm sure you have lows that don't seem like you can recover from and then you have highs that you want to last for a lifetime. Through all the ups and downs this past week, God remained faithful. God remained present. God remained sovereign. God answered. And because He did all that and more, I can still say confidently and without reserve: God's Got This!!