Unexplainable Life

I was having difficulty determining a topic for a post for My Unplanned Life until I viewed a photograph that took my breath away. In fact, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with my latest medical diagnosis and the requirements of the new lifestyle, but viewing this photograph helped me see things more clearly than I have in a long time.

Before I share this touching photo, I need to provide some detail. I am proud to report I am part of a very large and tightly knit Southern family. My Mom is one of eight children and my grandparents, whom I miss dearly, had 18 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren when they passed away. My six aunts and two uncles are an enormous part of my life and another reason I wanted to relocate back to Virginia from Pennsylvania. I feel complete being surrounded by loved ones.

Recently, my second cousin, Phillip, and his fiancé, Meredith, have been experiencing a difficult situation. Last October their son, Trevor, was born with hydroanencephaly, a condition where the brain’s cerebral hemispheres are absent and replaced by sacs filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Or, in layman’s terms there is fluid where his brain should be.

Meredith was 27 weeks pregnant when she and Phillip learned of his diagnosis and were told their unborn baby would most likely not live even a day or two. While Phillip and Meredith were planning for his birth they were also making arrangements for his funeral. However, Trevor has surpassed all medical experts’ predictions and is now three months old.

With Trevor’s condition is the need for constant care and attention and Meredith is by his side 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She left her full-time job and continuing education since she knew her time with him would be short. Her devotion to Trevor is inspiring. She has spent more time in the hospital than at home and survives on very little sleep, food or social interaction. She fights for him, speaks for him and her love speaks volumes.

Talking to Meredith and Phillip about Trevor is remarkable and as a mother myself, I don’t know how they do it. During a recent visit to the hospital, my husband and I were in awe at how Meredith was able to handle a conversation with the doctor regarding a procedure Trevor was going to be having the following day. Meredith is fully aware and prepared that Trevor is going to die. Just the mention of a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) immediately filled my eyes with tears; however, Meredith handled it like a true professional, or rather a mother who is taking care of her sick baby boy.

I have found myself praying a lot for Phillip, Meredith and Trevor these last few months. While I know we aren’t supposed to question God, I can’t help but wonder what God’s bigger plan was when He created little Trevor. While we may never know, I have to admit that no matter what the obstacle, I am proud of Meredith and Phillip; lesser people would have given up, others would have aborted the baby, or abandoned him. I have always known my family was full of heroes – these three just shine a little brighter.

Meredith and Phillip plan on donating Trevor’s organs when God decides his time here on Earth is over. According to them, “It was our decision that just because Trevor can’t live, doesn’t mean he can’t live on through other children.”

As far as the photograph that put things in perspective, it appears below. The first is a CT scan of a brain; the second is Trevor’s CT scan.


Trevor’s story may be followed on Facebook at Travel’s with Trevor at the following link:

Mama and Trevor!

Mommy and Trevor!

Baby Trevor during one of his many hospital stays.

Baby Trevor during one of his many hospital stays.

Daddy and Trevor

Daddy and Trevor!

©My Unplanned Life and http://www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2013.

Posted in Being Thankful, Caretakers, Disability, Don't Give Up, Faith, God, Hydranencephaly, Self Discovery | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What the HECK is GP?

I began writing My Unplanned Life with the quote “Life is what’s happening when you are busy making other plans.” For my life, there is probably no other quote more appropriate.

While I was celebrating losing 100 pounds through diet and exercise, having cured MRSA in my sinuses, continuing to accept the limitations of my spinal cord injury, but at the same time feeling stronger, I had to have my gallbladder removed due to ongoing pain in my side, shoulder and constant nausea and other digestion-related complications.

Following surgery, my pain level only increased and many digestion problems were further complicated.  As a person who battles with diabetes and Cushing’s Syndrome, much of my blood work was showing some alarming results. As an example, my iron saturation levels were three, when normal ranges should be 20-50. And, my potassium levels were also dangerously very low.

As things go in the medical field, I was sent for medical tests and procedures, which led to further medical tests and procedures.  The ultrasound to view my gallbladder indicated my liver was ‘unhealthy,’ therefore I saw a liver specialist. He conducted multiple tests and did every blood test known to man. Since he found my liver wasn’t unhealthy, he sent me to my gastroenterologist for additional tests, blood work, a colonoscopy and another test called a ‘gastro-emptying test’ ~ all in the record time of seven months! And, during those seven months I was doing things to actually make my condition worse ~ eating/drinking what I shouldn’t and taking medication, prescribed by the very doctors who should have known better.

When I was sent for the gastro-emptying test I was told I was being tested for Gastroparesis. When I first heard the name I thought my doctor was speaking a foreign language.  I had never heard of it and actually asked the doctor to spell it while I wrote it down.  Gastroparesis is a nerve/muscle disease, which literally translates as stomach paralysis. Those with Gastroparesis have stomach muscles and nerves that work poorly, if at all.  Patients with this disease do not digest food normally or very slowly, or are unable to digest most solid food. For those who suffer from the condition a normal digestion system no longer works and food doesn’t travel from the stomach to the small intestine.  Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, pain, bloating, and reflux — often severe and constant.

Gastroparesis patients (or GPer’s) have to learn how to eat differently, and in fact, live differently. Any medications, and there aren’t many, have such horrible side effects most patients opt not to take them. And, if they do, they are short lived. The majority of the patients get a gastro pacemaker/neurotransmitter or many severe cases end up with a feeding tube. One of the sadder statistics is there are currently 12 medical ‘experts’ in the United States who treat Gastroparesis. There are doctors who treat the condition; however, many are doing so incorrectly or poorly as in my case. There are approximately 1.5 million people in the United States living with Gastroparesis and millions more worldwide. Sadly I am unable to locate an exact number.

My doctor called me on December 20, 2012 and confirmed I did, in fact, have Gastroparesis.  My gastro-emptying test revealed zero emptying during the numerous hours of imaging. He believed there was injury to the vagus nerve (the longest cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem throughout your body) when Dr. Liar hit my spinal cord and years of ongoing slow digestion could have been a result of this nerve trauma, like many of my other medical conditions that have remained delayed or undetected. He also told me in the same breath to Google diets for the condition and wished me a Merry Christmas. I was left confused, frustrated, disappointed and very sad. Merry Christmas to me ~ yeah right.

While I admit I went through the ‘why me’ and ‘what did I do to deserve this’ and haven’t I been through enough already’ moments, I tackled this newest condition/disease differently. Since it was the holidays and I didn’t have anyone to turn to professionally since most of the world is on vacation (as it should be), I did what my doctor suggested.  I began searching the Internet for Gastroparesis diets and found it to be the most complex and confusing search I had ever conducted. The diets contradict themselves and what worked for one person didn’t work for others. I was beginning to feel lost, overwhelmed and as if I was never going to find answers.

While all of this was taking place, I had my encounter with the gentleman at the store whom shared with me about losing his wife recently and how he was struggling with getting through the holidays. I knew what I was going through was nothing compared to the suffering taking place in the world today. In fact, I wrote about it on December 23 (My Christmas List), just days later. And, I prayed about it that night. I asked God to please send me answers. And, he did…Christmas night. He sent me Crystal Saltrelli, a Dartmouth graduate, who was diagnosed with Gastroparesis in 2004, who went back to school to become a Certified Health Counselor. She, like so many others, was so frustrated with the misinformation she began studying Holistic Health and Nutrition and shared her knowledge through her blog and at the same time began helping others (hmmm…sound familiar?). She has a newsletter, cookbooks and her most recent book Living Well with Gastroparesis was the answer to my prayer.

It has taken me a few weeks to wrap my head around this disease, the lifestyle changes, where to locate the necessary supplies, what to stock the kitchen and pantry with and educate myself about exactly what foods I can eat and how to eat them. However, thanks to Crystal and a few days of a total GP diet, my stomach pain has decreased and my energy level has increased.  While I still have a lot to learn, a new doctor to find, and products to buy, I am blessed to have found Crystal’s blog and book. She was the gift I asked God for and the comfort I need in this most current medical storm I am living. If this disease had occurred a few years ago, I believe it would have taken me months or even years to adjust. It’s been weeks and I am already feeling better. Ah, the power of blogging! Thank you Crystal…I will be forever grateful! To me, you ARE the expert!

Find Crystal’s book and valuable Gastroparesis information (including yummy recipes) on her web site by clicking below




©My Unplanned Life and http://www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2013.

Posted in Disability, Dr. Liar, Holistic, Pain, Self Discovery, Spinal Cord Injury | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

My Unplanned Life…year in review

The WordPress.com stats helper prepared a 2012 annual report for My Unplanned Life. Those who follow the blog may find this data interesting. It lists information regarding how many people are reading the blog, which posts were the most popular, and where readers are living. I am able to see this information daily and still find it so darn fascinating that with a click of one button my blog is seen by so many people…in 108 countries! It’s still quite humbling. WordPress, the gatekeeper of the blog, sums it up nicely, with the data below, which I hope you will find interesting.

More importantly, I would like to wish all who read the blog faithfully and to those who stop by occasionally a Happy New Year. This past year you have touched my heart and enriched my life more than you know. Life is very busy and I appreciate the time it takes to read the blog and/or to post a comment. It’s your loving words that keep me writing. My 2013 wish is for each of you to have a year filled with love and a life abundant with health and happiness. Blessings always.

Here’s an excerpt and be sure to click on the link:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. My Unplanned Life had 42,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, My Unplanned Life would power 10 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Being Thankful, Dr. Liar, Faith, Finding the joy, Happiness, Hurt but not Broken, My Unplanned Life year in review, Self Discovery, Spinal Cord Injury | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Christmas List

On this beautiful night on the eve of Christmas Eve, I am at home enjoying our lovely decorated house and listening to Christmas music. What is it about Christmas music? I find it very magical and only adds to the spirit of the season. In fact, I can’t seem to listen to anything other than Christmas music during this time of the year and I don’t ever get tired of hearing Silent Night, White Christmas, Oh Holy Night, Ava Maria, just to name a few.

I am also thinking about Mary and Joseph and the journey they were making some 2,000 years ago. I wrote about a wonderful movie, The Nativity Story, in the blog last year and how it allows viewers to see the relationship between Mary and Joseph and the struggles they went through getting to Bethlehem. Tiny Baby Jesus born in a stable, placed in a manger surrounded by animals, hay, nothing to keep Him warm — not the most suitable accommodations for the Son of a King. However, Jesus’ life was never easy, beginning with birth and His horrible, painful death on the cross. He entered the world in a quiet, magical night with a star pointing the way, but died 33 years later, on a cross on Calvary with thousands mocking Him after being tortured, stoned and beaten. True suffering.

Earlier this week I was picking up a few food items for Christmas Day since my family will be gathering at our house. While at the store, I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman. He was looking for a particular item and asked for my assistance. He seemed a little troubled and after a bit of time he mentioned his wife passed away in September following their 64th wedding anniversary. With Christmas music playing in the background and people rushing all around us, he wept as he shared the details of her death. We talked for some time and I could feel his raw pain, his loss, his hurt. As we held hands I wanted to make his pain go away, or bring back his wife…even for just a day. He talked about the medical personnel who tried to save his wife following 30 minutes of her being unconscious and then shared how he told them to stop beating on her chest and shocking her with electricity. He said he could feel in his heart that her heart was no longer filled with love or life. However at the same time, I could tell he was burdened with guilt for having to make that decision.

At that moment, I knew I had to find the words to help ease his pain. I paused and asked God to help me know what to say and do to help ease this man’s suffering. I told him what he did was the kindest, most courageous and selfless gift he could have ever given his wife and he didn’t end her life, but he gave her life. I told him it was my belief she is watching over him and she would be proud of his decision and actions. We hugged and continued talking, but our conversation has stayed with me. I know his Christmas won’t be merry and bright, but I know he will gather up the strength to go on.

I also can’t help but think about the 26 families impacted by the horrible tragedy in Connecticut. Many children of various religious backgrounds, but many Christians whose parents I am sure already had presents wrapped under the tree for many of the children who were killed. As a parent myself I can’t imagine having to bury a child. It goes against the order of events of how we figure our life should play out. The families impacted by this tragic event are experiencing true suffering and to them Christmas will come and go and there will be nothing joyful about it. In fact, will Christmas ever be the same for many of these families?

These two separate events have helped me personally put some difficult medical news into perspective. I have been delaying, or rather procrastinating, writing posts for the blog since my medical problems have taken a difficult turn. My battle with the long-term effects of a spinal cord injury continue and I am dealing with a problem I had never heard of prior to six months ago. I will admit this condition is going to be a challenge. There is no cure and gets worse over time. So, my struggle, on the eve of Christmas Eve is to continue to have strength to forgive the doctor who put me in this situation, to keep fighting the medical problems that plague me and to maintain the faith that has sustained me thus far.

I read a quote the other day and I wished I would have written it down. It went something like this: “You know you have grown up when the gifts you want can’t be wrapped and put under the Christmas tree!” I guess you could say I have officially grown up since my Christmas list is filled with things such as ‘no more suffering for tender-hearted souls or for children, for long-term medical problems to finally have cures and for all of us to love, care and support one another.’

©My Unplanned Life and http://www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2012.

Posted in Betrayal, Christmas list, Depression, Disappointment, Dr. Liar, Faith, Finding the joy, Forgiveness, God, Happiness, Spinal Cord Injury | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

God’s Plan

The following poem is circulating throughout the web, mainly on Facebook, regarding the tragic event in Connecticut. My heart, like so many others, has been heavy. However, when I read the poem, I was left with a sense of peace and reassurance that the children and adults who lost their lives on Friday morning are now in a better place and God’s plan is much bigger than anything we here on Earth can imagine or even try to comprehend. While it doesn’t make the grieving easier or the loss understandable, it does offer a bit of comfort. I hope it will do the same for you. This beautiful poem is written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, Pennsylvania, who I would like to personally thank for putting so perfectly into words a message so many of us needed.

twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“this is heaven.” declared a small boy. “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
“may this country be delivered from the hands of fools”
“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“come now my children, let me show you around.”
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

©My Unplanned Life and http://www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2012.

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Life is like a Train Ride

I read the post below from one of my favorite blogs (www.amsdaily.net). While the author of the story is unknown (even following an exhausting Internet search), the message was one I wanted to share with the readers of My Unplanned Life. I read it earlier today and was surprised how much I thought about its message. Hoping it gets you thinking as well.

Life is like a train ride.

We get on. We ride. We get off. We get back on and ride some more. There are accidents and there are delays. At certain stops there are surprises. Some of these will translate into great moments of joy; some will result in profound sorrow. When we are born and we first board the train, we meet people whom we think will be with us for the entire journey. Those people are our parents!

Sadly, this is far from the truth. Our parents are with us for as long as we absolutely need them. They too have journeys they must complete. We live on with the memories of their love, affection, friendship, guidance and their ever presence.

There are others who board the train and who eventually become very important to us, in turn.

These people are our brothers, sisters, friends and acquaintances, whom we will learn to love, and cherish.

Some people consider their journey like a jaunty tour. They will just go merrily along.

Others will encounter many upsets, tears, losses on their journey. Others still, will linger on to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.

Some people on the train will leave an everlasting impression when they get off…

Some will get on and get off the train so quickly, they will scarcely leave a sign that they ever traveled along with you or ever crossed your path…

We will sometimes be upset that some passengers, whom we love, will choose to sit in another compartment and leave us to travel on our own.

Then again, there’s nothing that says we can’t seek them out anyway. Nevertheless, once sought out and found, we may not even be able to sit next to them because that seat will already be taken.

That’s okay…everyone’s journey will be filled with hopes, dreams, challenges, setbacks and goodbyes.

We must strive to make the best of it…no matter what…

We must constantly strive to understand our travel companions and look for the best in everyone.

Remember that at any moment during our journey, any one of our travel companions can have a weak moment and be in need of our help.

We too may vacillate or hesitate, even trip…hopefully we can count on someone being there to be supportive and understanding…

The bigger mystery of our journey is that we don’t know when our last stop will come. Neither do we know when our travel companions will make their last stop. Not even those sitting in the seat next to us.

Personally, I know I’ll be sad to make my final stop…I’m sure of it! My separation from all those friends and acquaintances I made during the train ride will be painful. Leaving all those I’m close to will be a sad thing. But then again, I’m certain that one day I’ll get to the main station only to meet up with everyone else. They’ll all be carrying their baggage…most of which they didn’t have when they first got on this train.

I’ll be glad to see them again. I’ll also be glad to have contributed to their baggage…and to have enriched their lives, just as much as they will have contributed to my baggage and enriched my life.

We’re all on this train ride together. Above all, we should all try to strive to make the ride as pleasant and memorable as we can, right up until we each make the final stop and leave the train for the last time.

All aboard!

Safe journey!

©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2012.

Posted in Being Thankful, Faith, Finding the joy, God, Happiness, Joy, Motivation, Self Discovery, Spinal Cord Injury, train ride | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

To Chonda, with thanks!

I have written many times about where I get my inspiration…music, books, quotes, people, messages; however, my most recent uplifting and encouraging message came from the beautiful Christian Comedian Chonda Pierce on a Friday evening in a lovely church in Virginia Beach. For three and a half hours Chonda entertained my husband, parents and a 1,000 or so other people and me with her sense of humor, beautiful singing voice, personal stories about her life and her relationship with God. While her life hasn’t been easy, she has a way of making those in the audience feel as if she can survive life’s ups and downs and get up on stage and laugh about it, the rest of us can handle whatever is thrown our way. She makes it look easy so why can’t we? Is it because she is a performer? I don’t think so. I believe she picks herself up from the obstacles because of her love for God and truly believes life’s lessons are meant for a reason. She calls herself a Comedian; however, she is that and so much more. She is a survivor with a smile, an infectious laugh and a message that inspires you to want to be a better person.

I was first introduced to Chonda’s comedy by my husband who heard her on satellite radio. He later purchased a few of her DVD’s while I was recovering from my spinal cord injury. I also read her book, Laughing in the Dark, a very candid book about her battle with depression. I immediately connected with Chonda without realizing it since I was also depressed at the time and didn’t know it. Chonda also has several CD’s and wrote songs about the lowest points in her life and how God was there when she needed him the most. Much like my life.

I had the opportunity to thank Chonda in person during intermission at the show. Always looking out for me, my husband asked if she had a couple of minutes to talk to me and with her beautiful Southern accent she said, “Why yes!” And, it was with tremendous gratitude I was able to tell Chonda how she was there for me without ever knowing it and how she ‘spoke’ to me when no one else could. In fact, she still does through her music on my iPod. A few of my favorite are Potter’s Hands, We Belong to You, Mercy Saw Me, Hold on Tighter. Heck…I should just list them all!

While at her show and laughing more than I had in a very long time, I realized several things. Laughter truly is the best medicine. I had been in a lot of pain during the past month and nothing my doctors were doing helped; however, during the three and half hours of the show I didn’t think much about my pain, my injury or Dr. Liar. Secondly, there aren’t many performers who use their platform to spread a message of love, faith and encouragement.  She could have left the Christian tour and become more popular in one where she would have been unable to talk about her personal relationship with God, Chonda remained steadfast in her life’s work and turned down offers that could have made her more popular and more money. Our tickets were only $25 per person and we were on the third row…how many people entertain for three and a half hours and charge that low of a fee?

While sitting in the audience and listening to Chonda, I thought about if she knew how many people’s life she had touched during her almost 20 year career? In fact, how many celebrities or, in fact, any of us, know what impact we have on others? Mitch Albom’s book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, is a novel that explores this topic. It’s a terrific book, one I think about almost daily since you never know whose life you may touch and what footprint you may leave on their life. I hope through the blog my message has been one more than just about my injury and the fight to overcome it. I hope to spread the same message that Chonda Pierce does — no matter how difficult things are that God loves us, He is always by our side and we are blessed.

As I have written before, I have received so many wonderful messages from readers of the blog and how it has helped them deal with the difficulties in their life and I thank you for those messages. I am so grateful to all who have taken the time to write especially during this time of the year when we all are counting our blessings. Truly, don’t we all have so much to be thankful for?

Chonda ended her show with another one of my favorite songs. I don’t think she will mind me ending this post with lyrics from that song. I admire those who have a platform to spread God’s word and do so with respect, wisdom and knowledge. And, throwing in a bit of humor…well, that’s just icing on the cake.

God Loves You

Hope, like a flower, will push through the smallest crack in your broken heart
And out of the deep darkest night will shine the brightest burning star
Oh it’s there, like a half remembered song
The thing that you’ve forgotten
But have known all along

God loves you
And He wants you to know
He is with you
You are not alone
He will see you through
God loves you

Tears are just water and salt, but a thimble full can feel oceans wide
But trust that just one gentle breeze can sail you to the other side
Oh it’s there, like a whisper on the breeze
The truth that’s so familiar
But still hard to believe

God loves you
And He wants you to know
He is with you
You are not alone
He will see you through
God loves you

You don’t have to be anywhere near perfect
You don’t ever have to prove a thing
You are loved, you are loved
So far beyond your imagining

God loves you
And He wants you to know
He is with you
You are not alone
He will see you through
God loves you

Additional information regarding Chonda Pierce can be found on her web site at www.chonda.org.

©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2012.

Posted in Being Thankful, Depression, Disappointment, Don't Give Up, Dr. Liar, Faith, Finding the joy, God, Gratitude, Spinal Cord Injury | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Things Work Out

I have been having some difficulty finding the proper words for a post so I was very happy when I ran across the poem below written by American poet Edgar A. Guest. I thought it was a very inspirational message and may help others going through a difficult time. Thank you for your patience and I promise to write an originial post soon.

Because it rains when we wish it wouldn’t,
Because men do what they often shouldn’t,
Because crops fail, and plans go wrong
Some of us grumble all day long.
But somehow, in spite of the care and doubt,
It seems at last that things work out.

Because we lose where we hoped to gain,
Because we suffer a little pain,
Because we must work when we’d like to play
Some of us whimper along life’s way.
But somehow, as day always follows the night,
Most of our troubles work out all right.

Because we cannot forever smile,
Because we must trudge in the dust awhile,
Because we think that the way is long
Some of us whimper that life’s all wrong.
But somehow we live and our sky grows bright,
And everything seems to work out all right.

So bend to your trouble and meet your care,
For the clouds must break, and the sky grow fair.
Let the rain come down, as it must and will,
But keep on working and hoping still.
For in spite of the grumblers who stand about,
Somehow, it seems, all things work out.

©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2012.

Posted in Depression, Disappointment, Don't Give Up, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Dr. Liar, Finding the joy, Happiness, Joy, Self Discovery, Things Work Out, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Being Courageous

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I admire courageous people. Last week my sister in law’s grandfather passed away and she made a beautiful eulogy at his memorial. While I can only imagine her grief, she spoke with love, gratitude and respect. I admire her strength under such difficult and sad circumstances.

I am having trouble with courage these days. While I had several months of positive medical news, sadly, I am once again dealing with some troubling obstacles. New medical problems stemming from the effects of my spinal cord injury and once again I am faced with the medical problems and the demons of Dr. Liar. I never thought I would be facing new problems seven and a half years after Dr. Liar hit my spinal cord. It leaves me scared and confused about the unknown and what might still be around the corner.

During my most recent session with my shrink, he told me it was okay to feel the emotional pain of this most recent medical disappointment, to be mad at Dr. Liar and God, and to allow myself time to also be sad with the shock of this news. He also indicated in time I would pick myself up as I had done in the past and would get through this…just as I had gotten through all the other setbacks. Hearing those words were comforting, but it didn’t erase the fact I was once again at war with more medical issues and Dr. Liar.

In addition, I have had my feelings hurt these past few weeks by the very people I thought were there to lift me up and help me re-gain my confidence. To these people I am struggling with being able to say the right thing when they say the wrong thing. I used to be able to immediately speak the correct response when someone would say something inappropriate or hurtful. It’s not that I want to hurt someone’s feelings, but I also don’t want to be a doormat. I want to say the appropriate thing. When someone treats my family or me unfairly, shouldn’t I speak up and demand respect?  However, at the same time, I also like to think about things before I say it. Once words are spoken…they are forever out there. “You can never un-ring a bell.” Sadly things have been said to me that can’t be un-rung.

While I know people treat you the way you allow them to, I am struggling with seeing the person I used to be slipping away. I am no longer the strong, self-confident woman I once was. I know the people around me see me as a much weaker individual who is far different from she was in 2005. In many ways, as I have written before, I wouldn’t go back to that person; however, in some ways, I am tired of having to explain myself, the reasons I am medically retired and justify to others the decisions my family and I have made. I am also tired of people not being responsible for themselves and blaming others for all that is wrong in their lives. I want adults to take ownership for their problems and stop asking for handouts.

I also want to shout from the rooftops when I hear people complaining about the smallest, most non-important things. Try focusing on serious medical issues for many years and you will know what is important and what it means to stress over something truly critical. The quote by Augusten Burroughs — ‘when you have your health– you have everything’ certainly rings true.

People seem to be stressing in excess about money, politics, gas prices, family dynamics, etc. I understand many of the stressors personally, after all, our family went without my husband’s income for a year, our medical insurance coverage decreased while our medical bills increased, and our regular bills certainly didn’t go away. However, to put things in perspective, I have been thinking about a friend who recently went to the hospital thinking she had suffered from a stroke. Sadly, instead of leaving the hospital with a treatment plan, she was told she has brain cancer and just months to live.

My friend is demonstrating true courage. She is facing death and getting her affairs in order. Under the circumstances, I am not sure how I would react or what I would do. When I heard the news I immediately thought back to the post I wrote regarding Richard and Kristine Carlson’s book If You Had an Hour to Live. Have I drifted away from what is important in life and gotten too bogged down in the nonsense? Am I once again sweating the small stuff? Or, like my shrink said…should I just allow myself time to feel sad and mad and pick myself up when I am ready?

Whatever the case, I want to work on being more courageous.  Napoleon Bonaparte summed it up nicely when he said “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.”

©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2012.

Posted in Disability, Disappointment, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Dr. Liar, Forgiveness, God, Hurt but not Broken, Richard Carlson, Self Discovery, Spinal Cord Injury | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

He Got a Job!

One day shy of a year from the day he was downsized, my husband walked through the doors of his new place of employment. I don’t think there was another person alive who was feeling happier or more blessed to have a job when he woke up that morning. After sending out more than 1,000 résumés, contacting 100-plus friends, previous co-workers and family members, joining Résumé Rabbit, LinkedIn, Snagajob.com, CareerBuilder.com and a dozen other job referral web sites his time had arrived.

It was almost surreal the telephone call from the Human Resources Manager. It was a Thursday afternoon and my husband had taken me to a doctor’s appointment and then we were running a few errands. He received the call and following a few preliminary questions he was asked to come in for an interview. We had gone through this before and had learned to not get too excited. However, he prepared for the interview and several days later, looking professional and handsome, left the house feeling upbeat, educated about the company and polished on his interviewing techniques.

Several hours later he called me letting me know he thought the interview went well and he should hear something before the end of the week. He came home, typed his thank you emails and for the next several days the job quest and life continued. We had gotten used to waiting for the telephone to ring and sadly it never did. Job hunting these days is difficult and my heart goes out to those who are searching.

However, several days later, the telephone DID ring…a bit earlier than usual. We both looked at each other as if we knew. My husband answered the call and as if time stood still for a few seconds, he was told he was being offered the position pending a background check and drug test. When he was done with the call, we were motionless. Most would think we would have jumped for joy, screamed with delight, watched the weight being lifted off our shoulders…no, at that moment, we paused and prayed.

We thanked God for helping us survive the year without a job, for the lessons we learned, for strengthening our relationship and for having money in savings and, for the job my husband was just offered. We felt God’s presence and have always known we were working on God’s timeline — not ours. And, while we knew we had to be patient during the past year, it was frustrating as well as a test of our faith. However, we have been through a lot in the last seven years ~ a spinal cord injury, Dr. Liar, medical malpractice, MRSA, depression, the list goes on and on, but knew we would manage this setback as well.

During the next few days we decided not to share the news until all details were completed and fully ironed out. We also wanted to privately thank many people in person who had assisted with my husband’s job search and even given verbal and written letters of recommendations. In fact, there are two very special people who we will never be able to repay. They know who they are and we will forever be grateful. They hold a special place in our heart.

My husband worked his first full week and is now settling in with his new routine. He is back to being his happy confident self, talking about the company, the people he works with and the new things he is learning. I am so proud of him. It wasn’t easy watching him be unemployed for a year; however, in my husband’s style…he didn’t complain. He kept plugging along and his hard work finally paid off. However, I know he is less stressed and is enjoying his new position. A few days ago, I heard him laughed, which is nothing unusual — he laughs all the time. However, it wasn’t his every day, average laugh. It was his ‘I am so glad I have a job’ laugh. I paused and was thankful to once again have the pieces of our life back together. And, while none of us know how long the pieces will stay together, I have learned to celebrate life’s little moments. In fact, I have learned how to take the little moments and make them into BIG moments!

©My Unplanned Life and http://www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com. 2012.

Posted in Being Thankful, Depression, Disability, Don't Give Up, Dr. Liar, Faith, God, Joy, Self Discovery, Spinal Cord Injury, Unemployment | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments