April 28, 2011

IS this a side effect?

     Today's blog isn't humorous or cute.  It is just me trying to figure some things out.  I know that I know that I know I am beyond lucky in terms of this stroke.  The simple fact that I had my stroke just over 2 months ago and I am home, driving and fairly independent is nothing short of miraculous.  I know I get frustrated with myself when my energy runs out and I can't do ALL that I want.  I am truly working on that.  I have gotten good at looking over a week seeing what's up and planning activities on a more spread out philosophy instead of how much can I get done in one day American mentality.
    You can't watch a TV show today without seeing at least one commercial for a medicine.  When you listen to them list the side effects half the time you think who would be crazy enough to even think of taking that med!! I did learn a little bit about that.  If 1, truly it only takes 1, person in a drug company's drug trial study experiences a symptom it has to be listed as a possible side-effect.  I always wondered when you hear the announcer say this drug may cause insomnia and then 3 items later also state it may cause drowsiness.  Well if one person had a restless night and the other person was exhausted both these statements make the "possible side-effects" list.  This was explained to me by one of my nurses who used to work for a pharmaceutical company.  A little crazy don't you think but let's face it in the litigious society we Americans live in can you blame them for CYA?
     What about after we recover from medical procedures?  I had a very successful Anterior Cervical Fusion with Plating (say that 10 times fast) in September 2008.  All of the pain in my neck and the tingling/weakness in my arm disappeared.  As with any surgical procedure there are side-effects.  Blood clots are one of them and 3 weeks later it was discovered that I had one in my lung; medically referred to as a PE (Pulmonary Embolism).  This near wrecked my life.  First off either they find the PE because the patient was smart enough to recognize something wasn't just right and went to the ER, or they are found post-mortem.  It is that simple.  That was how honestly the doctor told us when he delivered the news.  Unfortunately not only did I have this side-effect but I am also one of those who do not respond well to the meds used to treat blood clots and went through 9 months of hell~ including 3 more hospital stays and 1 incredibly close brush with death.
     Those type of side effects are expected.  They are unfortunate but they are expected and clearly laid out to you before any procedure begins.
     When we suffer losses there are immense side-effects.  Whether it is the loss of a loved one, and even a pet.  Sometimes it is simply the loss that occurs when we leave something old to start something new.  Changing jobs even when for the better has it's losses and consequences.  I do think that thanks to the Internet and social networks that we don't feel quite the sting as 25 years ago when we move away.  While we do lose the ability to be a part of a shared experience we are able to at least stay connected. 
     What I am struggling to understand is the side-effect of fear.  I consider myself a fairly strong and intelligent person.  I can understand the reality of what has happened and how it has changed not only my life but that of those around me as well.  I am making changes to create a healthier lifestyle for me and my family in different areas.  But fear having this strong hold I just don't understand.  The Effects of Fear lists 10 distinct attributes it can have on your life.  I think those statements are true but not sure how to apply them in this situation.
     The reality: Wednesday night while I was sitting at Panera's I felt my entire body just change.  We've all had that feeling when we know we have the flu before we're truly symptomatic. But the thing is I don't know what the change was or what it meant.  The only thing I can truly describe is that I felt my heart racing. When I got up my balance was a little off.  No caffeine or different drugs to point to.  I knew better than to completely ignore it.  I didn't have vision issues.  To be on the safe side I had someone follow me home. 
     Have you seen fear spread?  It is not a comfortable thing to watch.  This was even more uncomfortable as I knew I was the cause.  First I saw it on Meg as she got in the car then on Paige who followed us home.  When I walked in the door it had arrived ahead of us and was already visible on Michael and Patrick.  Fear feeds on Fear.  It easily can multiply and become overwhelming.  How do you stop this?  How can rational concern quickly become measurable fear? 
     While feeling horrible last night the weight of fear was just making it worse.  That's a horrible cycle to let grow any momentum.  I guess fear is an appropriate feeling for anyone recovering from a situation they had no control over. Was what I feeling a warning of another stroke? Just being worried about another stroke could almost cause one!  I felt horrible to begin with and was unable to sleep.  Letting my mind wander is never a good thing.  I can't fall asleep to music.  I know falling asleep to TV prevents a true restful sleep.  I've learned if I can't fall asleep I have to distract my mind and last night was no different.  I play online games, fb and well blog.  This did help to keep my fears at bay. 
     This morning I awoke and felt some better.  I didn't sleep as well as I wanted so that added to my fatigue.  Tomorrow I am headed to Mobile so I've agreed to spend today on bed-rest to help deflate my husband's fears.
     Stress  Fear
     One in the same or identical twins?
     Either way they both need to be acknowledged and met head on.

My Royal Dilemma......

     Fair warning if someone posts a comment about recording or replays prepare to be whomped!!!

     What little girl hasn't grown up wanting to be a princess?  Why do you think Disney has repackaged their princesses into an entire line of their own.  Little girls (and let's be honest their moms too) love the idea of being royalty.  Wearing a crown and all the other jewels as well..... think of the princess diaries when Julie Andrews shows Anne Hathaway the room of gems what female's heart didn't leap just the teeny tiniest bit?  What about the clothes?  The pomp and stance?  The bowing and curtsying when you come and go?  Only being shown the beautiful side of life unless you choose otherwise?  If there's a woman out there who has said she never ever ever wanted to be a royal well feel free to not read any further.
     Now for the rest of you.....  How often do we get to see someone walk into a building as well a nobody and walk out a Princess??  NEVER it just doesn't happen.  Well that statement will no longer be true after Friday at 11am BST.  Minute to Minute Schedule tells us everything from when what guests arrive to the infamous kiss on the balcony. 
     Do you remember where you were Wednesday, July 29th 1981?  I most certainly do.  Back then we didn't have 9 million different channels or youtube or 24hour news replays.  We had to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana when they aired it.  The TV stations played it during the middle of the day pre-empting most soap operas.  I worked at Herber Plumbing and Heating that summer.  JoAnn Herber made sure her office staff ~ 3 of us including her~ celebrated this momentous occasion properly.  Champagne cocktails and a wonderful lunch.  I remember how much fun we had ohhing and ahhing when we finally got to see her dress.  The train oh that gorgeous train.  I'll admit getting a massively long train was a must for my own wedding dress...though it was no where near 25 feet.
     So when I learned of William and Kate's wedding I started planning.  Meg and I were going to get up early wear big beautiful hats and eat finger sandwiches.  It was all planned and even Food Network Magazine must have anticipated my plans as their April issue has a pull-out section with recipes for 50 Finger Sandwiches. 
    So what is my Dilemma?  I have a saying.... if it isn't in my planner it doesn't exist.  I didn't think to write the Royal Wedding in my planner.  I have all of the kids' activities in there, all my doctor/therapy appts in there.  I don't know where my cognitive skills were or how I didn't make the connection but....
This Friday, the day I was getting up to watch all the festivities start at 3am, is the same day I am driving to Mobile for Emily's Opera!  Mobile is a 6-7 hour drive.  My dear friend Jane is coming with me.  There is NO WAY in God's green earth that I can be up at 3am then drive/ride to Mobile and be completely awake for an Opera at 8pm!!!!
    The thing is I didn't even make this connection until last weekend.  I truly was despondent though my family was totally entertained.  We were driving home when I realized this and was just dumbstruck for a couple of minutes.  I actually called my daughter to see if there was a Saturday performance.  My message included things like.... does your school realize they did this?  don't they realize the importance of this day... Great mom moment huh.  She called back laughing but made it very very clear that her Opera wasn't an option.  Then I thought well I'll just drive down a day early and be in a hotel all day Friday so I could watch the wedding...I don't see why staying an extra night in a hotel should be a big deal.
    Of course missing Em's Opera was never an option but i had to vent in true Lady Bren fashion.  I have since shared my now diffused dilemma and cannot believe the lack of support I've received.  Did people really think I didn't know how to work my DVR??? DUH I know they are going to replay it for days.  They just didn't get it ... and they too seem as entertained as my daughter.
     Em was telling me how nobody at school even cared.  Well nuts to her because today campus life posted a Royal Wedding Event @ 3am so there.
    I just wanted to see the dress the first moment it was revealed.  See Kate walking down the aisle.  See the newly married couple walk out together.  And of course the kiss on the balcony.
I have resolved to seeing the end of the wedding and the kiss LIVE.  I will be heading to bed Thursday night by 9pm and have planned a nap Friday afternoon.

I am sure you too have been entertained by my dilemma.... Oh if my world was only real.....Remember I'm Royal so I would have been invited :0)
My crown..... proof of my Royalty

April 27, 2011

Welcome to my micro farm :0) OR Death of a colony !!

     Gardening is one of those things I get from my Dad.  Growing up on Long Island the weather and the soil were perfect for a summer garden.  Way before it was in my Dad used Square Foot Gardening at our house.  We composted in the 70's... who knew my Dad was hip!!  I think our garden was overall probably 12x12 then divided into sections within.  I loved spending time tending the garden (at least that is how I'm choosing to remember those days).  One of our favorite summer dinners was simply BLT's. Using Levi's Rye Bread we only had to pick ONE tomato from the garden to make 6 sandwiches as each slice of tomato covered a slice of bread!
     Move ahead 30 years (yes I was a toddler when I worked in the garden) and our garden attempt of 2011.  We have used square foot gardening since our home in Va Beach. Here in FL it makes even more sense.  The dirt is so horrible and we live in appropriately name Clay county so add that to the mix and raised beds are truly the best option.  We have been composting for 2 years now and love that.  We do our best to be as organic as possible and even have 2 rain barrels.
     With the slight interruption of my life we just didn't get our spring garden in when we should have.  For the first time in years I bought our starter plants.  I have a small green house where we usually seed start our plants.  The weather here is also out of kilter.  We've been consistently in the 90's for 2+ weeks now.  ~So as you can see I have properly presented reasons as to why it isn't MY fault  we're behind, Thank you.

     In 2008 a friend of ours brought a huge basket of lemons to church to give away.  These beautiful lemons came off 1 tree in her yard. Since then I have been hooked on the idea of growing fruit.  Christmas of 2009 brought 2 different orange trees and this past Christmas a lemon.  None of these went in the ground as a tree first had to come down (see blog: Margins, Tumbleweeds and Chainsaws).  Recently I read an article on peach growing in my area.  I called around and no one had any.  Upon visiting a local nursery I discovered apple trees for  NE Florida.  Unlike citrus trees most fruit trees require 2 trees for production.  We now have a McIntosh and a Golden Delicious.  But it doesn't end there..... I also discovered a variety of Kiwi so of course 2 of those are in the ground as well.  **Side note private garden centers are soo willing to give you deals on plants as all of the above was less that $50**  We were in the process of planting our trees and needed to run to Home Depot.  What did we find there with fruit already hanging????? A peach tree!!! Yes you normally need 2 trees but this one was already bearing fruit so we bought it!!!!  It was the last one so having 2 wasn't even an option.
Just in case you've lost track:
  1. 1 Lemon Tree
  2. 2 Orange Trees
  3. 2 Apple Trees
  4. 1 Peach Tree
  5. 2 Kiwi Vines
  6. 6 Blueberry Bushes (forgot to tell you about these)
Did I mention we don't have even 1/4 of an acre?

Onto our garden.  We have 4 4x4 boxes.  Each one will be filled with various yummies before long.  Our first box is in and most herbs with eggplant and 1 bell pepper.  I was working in box 2 weeding and sifting the dirt.  I noticed that my hands and arms were itchy and I wondered what new weed was causing this.  Then I saw it.  Mid-way up my arm the nasty little scourge of playgrounds in the south.... a fire ant.  For those unaware of these little critters:
Unlike many other ants, fire ants do not really bite, they sting. But then, neither do mosquitoes and we call those bites, too. The fire ant will bite with its pincher's, but that is only to get a tight grip on you. Then they sting you from their abdomen and inject a toxic venom. One welt can be the result of ten stings! They hold on with their pincher's and turn a circle, stinging you all around it. This can result in a pea sized welt or even larger depending upon your sensitivity to their venom. They can then move to a different area and continue stinging you. About 40% of people in infested areas, or more than 20 million, are bitten each year by fire ants. The worse thing to do of course is scratch.  You're supposed to massage the area in an attempt to get the venom out.  Usually though you've been bitten in numerous areas by the time you realize what is happening and who has time to massage? And if you haven't guessed by the name these pea size welts...feel as if they're on fire
last night this was covered in grits
     Now while I have acclimated to living in the south there are a few things this Yankee cannot adopt and grits are one of them!!  However after attending an Ag Extension class I learned a new use for these nasty little grains..... FIRE ANT KILLERS!!!  Remember we try to keep our garden as organic as possible so NO pesticide is coming anywhere near my farm.
UGGHHHHH Total depression.  I thought it would be cool to find a link showing how grits cause ants to well..explode.  We've used grits in the past quite successfully to rid ourselves of these tiny dragons.  Well in doing my properly required blogging research I have learned <big sigh> that grits do NOT in fact kill the ants.  They simply just move :0(  BUT I did find a new PROVEN remedy... garlic juice!! 
Well maybe I didn't kill that colony as I hoped when I dumped half a bag of grits on it. But they better be gone for the garlic is coming.   Hey if they don't like garlic does that make them part Vampire??? Think about it makes sense!

our baby peaches one is hiding

going to be a great blueberry season

our 2 kiwi vines



April 26, 2011

The Easter that wasn't?

     Easter has always been my favorite holiday.  Spring is my favorite season.  Hyacinths and Tulips are my favorite flower.  MaryEllen's blood was miraculously cured onEaster (Doctor's words!!) So together the whole thing just works for me. 2011 just didn't happen.
     This is the weird thing though.  In the last 2 days not one or two but a number of people have mentioned that this Easter just wasn't what it normally is.  At first I thought it was a Florida thing as the temp here was in the 90's!! But that wasn't the case.  A friend on LI had a real laid back Easter and her son commented how they didn't color eggs.  Another friend across the country noted how they didn't even buy Jelly Beans!!
     HMMM why the lack of EASTERNESS this year???  Well in my world... which of course this blog is all about.... I really think the late timing of Easter had a lot to do with it.  Did you know that the latest Easter can be is April 25 and that won't happen until 2035. The earliest it can be is March 22 and that will never occur in our lifetime.  A couple years back Easter was March 23 in 2008 and that will be the earliest all reading this blog and their grandchildren will ever see. So essentially this year was the second latest it could be and it tanked!!
     So to back up my theory here are other things to ponder.
The timing:
This is how our annual schedule usually happens:
Winter yuck brightened by Valentines.  Then eat up those chocolates because Lent is shortly behind.  Get Happy in March for St Patrick's day and before you know it Easter is here.  There's a bit of a break with weekends free then Mother's Day.
OH NO not this year.  Lent didn't even start until March 9th.  Valentine's candy and even those we bought on clearance were long gone.  Now see right there~ issues in my life.  I usually buy that clearance candy and save it for Easter... soo didn't happen this year as there was plenty of time to enjoy it before Lent.  Now I can't say that happened in my house as, well I wasn't around for the post Valentine's Clearance~~ Hey another thing to blame on the stroke~It's great to be in my world and Royal.
The weather:
  Easter, even here is Florida, is usually enjoyed with pleasant Spring weather.  Nice breezes, blue skies. Today my car thermometer showed the outside temperature to be 97.  Now I want you all to be impressed as well as feel as sense of my commitment to you: I just spent the last 15 minutes googling and yahooing and well searching everywhere possible to find out what the highest temperature recorded was this Sunday here in Jacksonville... you could find out more about the life expectency of a fire ant (that's another blog) than past weather. But with today's temp in the high 90's it is safe to assume Sunday wasn't that much lower.  Hide Easter Eggs in this weather.... better be sure they're boiled or the kids will crack open eggs to find them scrambled.  Or better yet the candy filled eggs?  Can't you just see some cute preschooler in her pretty white easter dress opening up an egg that once held a chocolate treat only to have it drip all over!! Who needs a microwave for peep fun just leave them out in the sun.... ooo have you tried chocolate covered peeps~ so did not need to discover that one.
The Flowers:
     Easter is a lunar based holiday and many of the traditional Easter flowers are bulb based so that works.  EXCEPT for growers.  Usually EAster flowers are set out and THEN the spring bed flowers.  There are articles for growers and suppliers on how to handle the limited space available for all thier flowers.  Usually tulips are around for Easter.  Nope dead and gone this year.  Even my hyacinths weren't available, well not at reasonable prices.

Well those are my gripes but it all boils down to me just still struggling with what I can and can't do.  This year was also rough as Emily wasn't home and it was our first real holiday without her.  I did get her basket to her in Mobile and am so glad she was folded into the Hembree family's Easter weekend activities. 

You know what though despite all of that Easter was and always will be glorious.  Whether the meal is all it should be.  The weather is hot or cold and rainy. The baskets get filled or not. It all boils down to:

He's Alive and I'm Forgiven!!!

April 21, 2011

EOB = Explaining our Bull**** (I have many more)

    (Disclaimer) Health care is such a hot topic button right now.  I truly do not know which side of the argument I am on as I see faults and benefits to both.  Do we need reform?  Most definitely I just don't think there's a proposal out there yet that isn't too far one way or the other.  I have very little knowledge outside of personal experiences and those of friends.  I honestly can say I am not 100% against socialized medicine.  It absolutely baffles my mind the amount of people I know personally without health insurance ~ and these are not people on welfare or without full-time jobs!  I have a friend who lives in Canada so my info comes from her experience with socialized medicine.  She had no complaints whatsoever.  Waiting for an appointment is par for the course but she also impressed on me that they don't run to the doctor for every little ache and pain like Americans do.  If there is an emergency she gets in immediately.  She knows all her doctors and gets to see who she likes.  She also got paid to stay home when her children were born AND housekeeping was provided for the first 6 weeks.   With all of that being said onto my happy relationship with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida.
EOB= Expenses on Bren

     In November of  2007 we had a car accident and there were massive medical bills that followed.  Law suits were filed and all medical bills including BCBS were paid (oh did they take a mighty chunk).
I mention this because it seems that here now in 2011 BCBS believes that my stroke is related to a car accident and therefore are denying payment on all bills.  Yes I've heard that shopping in BJ's is very similar to a car accident when it comes to where your stroke occurred.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? In what reality does this even make sense??

EOB= Economic Opportunity BLOCKED

     The 10 day stay at the BCBS approved Orange Park Medical Center was just shy of 100K.   The hospital would like to know when they can expect payment.  I spoke with the billing office explaining that there was an error with BCBS gave them the name of the person I spoke with.  This was not enough for this person she wanted a 10% down payment which she would be happy to refund once they received monies from BCBS.....uh how about just my co-pay?  Well she couldn't be sure if BCBS would approve everything from THIS bill.  THIS bill are there others? 

EOB= Eyeing Our Bottom-line

     Well don't you know there are others.  They aren't exactly from OPMC but from their contracted doctors and providers.  This is the new way to get around "everything" being included in your hospital benefits co-pay.  Now we've had these before (Patrick racked up 30 days of hospital stay in 2006/2007) but never to the extent like this.  As far as I know the 3 MRI's I had occurred within OPMC.  Granted I can't share much about those first few days but I think I'd remember going somewhere.  Well they are within the hospital but in the X-RAY wing.  3 more co-pays. Plus the doctor who read them have their own co-pays as well. (they each billed $150 ~ my share is $75, BCBS paid $0.38 and the $74.62 gets written off!)
EOB= Enemy's Order of Battle 

    Most of us have had experience when it comes to doctors bills during a hospital visit.  You know the ones from a doctor you barely remember seeing who has just charged you $200 for his few minutes of time.  You are going to love this.  I received a bill, well no I haven't received the bill yet just the EOB, for $518 from a Dr. Diaz.  Have no clue who this man is.  I'm pretty confident you're sitting down but just in case you're not please do.  The EOB states "Benefits are provided for diagnostic and treatment services as specified in your benefit brochure. (Here if comes) Benefits are NOT AVAILABLE FOR TELEHEALTH SCREENING OR ASSESSMENT SERVICES."  Do you even have a clue what that means?  I sure didn't.  Hello BCBS ~~ Liset was so nice.  Even she couldn't figure out what was what and gave me the number of both the referring doctor and Dr. Diaz.   Well no wonder I couldn't find the man when I googled him.... HE'S FROM MIAMI!!  Can someone please explain to me why a doctor from OP who has access to what is called the Medical Corridor of the SouthEast right in his area code consult someone in Miami?  There are 88 neurologists right here in Jacksonville!!  The University of Florida/Shands hospital has 6 different departments with Neuro in their title.  Well it gets better.  Seems I was billed over $500 for what amounted to a skype session.  They apparently brought a TV in my room with a camera so the doctor could sit in his house in Miami and assess me.  This was done on Sunday morning and I have absolutely no memory of it but can assure you the conversation was one way. 

EOB= End of Bren

April 20, 2011

Therapy Day 1..... already loving it!! You can learn something too!!

    So last week when I met with my therapist I explained how truly surprised I was at the stroke and the idea of needing stress therapy.  Today's session ended with her saying that back to me adding: and we've only just begun!! 
     Being new to the whole therapy process (outside of grief therapy after losing my Dad) I really didn't know what to expect.  Do they start with your parents because as we know they ARE the cause of all the grief in our lives right?  How personal would the questions get regarding well everything.  Was I supposed to have an idea of what I wanted to talk about?  Nope nothing that deep.  My therapy today started with: What's been going on this past week? Really~ that was easy.  Didn't think there was anything in there that's new (PS Not going to tell you Everything ~well not now at least).  Then we hit the hammer on the head and boy did she pounce.
     Meg's birthday was 3/21.  My sister called and explained a card was on the way.  Like any typical teenager~ No let me rephrase that.  Like ANYONE Meg would ask if her card had come in the mail today.  This was a daily question for about a week or so.  Then last Friday as I drove her to school (out of the mouth of babes) I guess Aunt 8 just isn't sending that card.  Well don't you know that card came today.  On the back was written: Thought this card was mailed weeks ago found it in the to do pile. Mea Culpa. 
     I had 2 different feelings.  1 Glad Meg's card finally came 2.  Did she really think my child wouldn't acknowledge having received your card/gift card for the last 4 weeks!!!!
     Well Murren was all over it.  (Yes I've spelled that correctly)  First off did I really think she had that card for weeks?  Secondly why should I feel guilty over thinking she thought Meg didn't say TY when SHE is the cause for the entire situation.  OMG
     She went on to continue that sooo many of us, in more than not, have a relative like 8 in our lives.  The person who truly believes that their effort or their time is somehow worth more than ours.  Of course they don't come out and say it but their actions certainly do. 
    I shared how for years my sister would send the most inappropriate gifts to the kids for Christmas.  When her package came I would unwrap everything return the gifts and of course reshop. My sister was considerate in that she included the gift receipts and she always spent $100 or close to on each kid.  Anyone who has teenagers knows shopping for them is near impossible unless they themselves have pre-chosen their gifts or sent you out with a written directive.  Somehow my sister felt she knew better.  2010 she sent Patrick a balloon art kit, Emily a sun-picture kit and Meg a book on fairy princesses.  This was the year I decided they needed to be aware of my gift recovery program. 
    I finally shared my recovery program with 8 and to say it wasn't well received is an understatement.  This was also the year that each of my kids were given $40 gift certificate.  The gift certificate was from a website where they could choose from a list of different charities to give their money to. 
     Now your chosen family member may not have quite the same actions.  But chances are they are doing things that say somehow their decisions and their time spent on your behalf is more valuable than any time you spend on the same activity.
     Here's the thing..... if a friend did anything like that would you take it?  Would you continue to allow your friend to make you feel less worthy? No of course not.  It is true we pick our friends not our family.  The flip of that is family is family we can't really do much about it until we decide the true value of that relationship. 
     I will always love my sister.  She's my only sibling.  Reality is we had very different childhoods.  Coming out of that situation created 2 different people with 2 different perspectives of the world.   If we met somewhere chances are we would not be friends.
     What Murren helped me realize today is that my sister isn't going to change the only thing I can change is how I react to her.  So when it comes to things like the kids' birthdays we are going to approach them differently.  Instead of being frustrated when the cards are late we are going to anticipate the card will be late.  Murren actually suggested turning it into a game, almost like a pool. Who thinks the card will be ontime, 4 days late.
     Accepting that the way I view these situations is so different than they way 8 does as well as placing the "blame" where it properly belongs was an incredible freeing lesson.

April 16, 2011

Toys or Food?

     What happens when you get a group of teenagers ask them to not eat for 30 hours and to top it off have them spend the last 3-4 hours of that working in a food bank?  Serious damage to the local Golden Corral LOL.  That's how 20+ members of our Youth Group spent Friday and Saturday.
  30 hour Famine is a world wide movement that groups participate in to help bring awareness of hunger and what going without really feels like.    While working at our county's food bank Miss Shirley shared different stories of families that have been helped.  One particularly touched my heart.  While working with a new family the volunteer offered the little boy a toy.  He didn't answer her.  She showed him the toys he could choose from and again he didn't respond.  Wanting to be sure the little boy could have a toy she asked the mother if is was okay.  The mother prompted the little boy to answer and he did:  "If I take the toy will we still be allowed to get the food?"  A 5yr old child was so aware of the meaning of hunger that he was afraid his decision could jeopardize his family a the food they desperately needed.  I cannot comprehend that hunger like that is affecting families that are essentially my neighbors. 
     April 5th was One Day Without Shoes .  Around the World there was over 1,000 different events held on college campuses as well as places of business.  This event is sponsored by Tom's Shoes.  While walking without shoes around your school or office doesn't seem all that challenging imagine walking miles everyday in Africa without carpeting or sidewalks barefoot.  At Emily's school they had the kids walk through different ground coverings to get a true feel of what a shoeless day could feel like.  While today it seems that every time you do a charitable activity there has to be a T-Shirt to accompany it.  Instead of going out and having shirts made Tom's supplies stencils so everyone can make quick shirts on their own. 

We've all seen homeless people.  Have you thought about what they go through during the winter?  Would you be willing to spend the night outside?  I'm not talking about camping.  I am talking about sleeping in a cardboard box.  If it dropped to 20 degrees they don't get to give up and go inside.  If it rains and their boxes collapse they don't get to run inside change clothes and restart fresh.  Cardboard cities are popping up all over our country.  Granted they may just be for 12 -24 hours but students  of all ages are doing this so that instead of being just sympathetic but have just a little bit of empathy as well.

     Growing up I just don't remember being so aware of the needs of the world around me.  I did volunteer at The Lighthouse in Bay Shore.  This was a training center for the Blind.  I really enjoyed reading to them, helping them learn life skills or simply playing the guitar.  I had friends who were candy stripers at Southside Hospital.  Many of us were Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and involved in our church groups working around our community.  I just do not remember there being events.  Well now there always the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon that signaled the end of summer but beyond that I can't recall
     I am awed by this current generation of kids and how quickly they will answer the call.  Is it just a day without shoes or 30 hours without food, maybe.  Do you really think they'll forget it??

April 13, 2011

It absolutely amazes me :0)

     I started blogging at the encouragement of my nurse.  I couldn't communicate very well and she kept talking about how important it was for me to express myself as an attempt to keep my frustrations down.  I really didn't think I had much to say and as I've mentioned before journaling just isn't my thing.  Much to my surprise I have really really enjoyed this blogging experience.
     Here's what I truly had no idea to expect.  The incredible amount of support and feed back I've received.  Of course I expected my close friends to read it from time to time.  What completely blows me away the fact that I have registered followers~ God Bless you :0)  The amazement doesn't stop there.  Since I have started blogging my rants/thoughts/fears have been viewed in over 20 different countries.  There is someone from Denmark who seems to be a fairly regular person.  Now come on you've got to admit that is pretty cool.  I've never been to Denmark nor do I think I know anyone who has (Swiss cheese memory disclaimer here)! 
   I can't tell you how much the responses mean to me.  It's so exciting to log on and see messages on my Facebook regarding how a story touched someone.  Or simply knowing that I'm not the only one who has felt a certain way.   The other day I received an email comparing me to Erma Bombeck. (While she probably kicked in her grave over that one I was so touched)  She was one of the first humor authors I fell in love with and still bring up her dinner roll story for a good laugh before a trip.
   Yesterday I started my Stress Therapy.  I love my therapist already and we wound up going 30 minutes over!  She was asking a lot of background questions.  She was interested in where my support come from.    While I rattled off a list of friends I also realized that it is also you ~ my readers where an incredible amount of my strength during this recovery is coming from.  I can't tell you what it feels like to receive an message from "anonymous" google ID cheering you on!  This person found my blog by mistake and took the time to tell me I made them smile! 
     I'll be honest today was turning into a real pity party.  I woke up (well finally got out of bed) just feeling wiped and frustrated.. I wanted to have b'fast with Meg before school this morning so guilt was poking me as well.  The puppies and watering my citrus trees were momentary distractions but that balloon quickly deflated when I was having trouble on the fasfa website and with the computer.  Being a self declared Math Geek I enjoy doing these things so I truly felt betrayed.  My sole "activity" today was driving Patrick to the DMV which wound up being a waste of time.  After a long day and already picking Meg up from Charlie Brown rehearsal Michael really wasn't up for driving her to Youth.  FYI: we live 20 minutes away so dropping her off and going home just isn't smart.  When one of the kids are at church we hang out at Panera (WiFi).  Tonight wound up being another one of those amazing moments that I so desperately needed but didn't even know.  As I was sitting down 2 beautiful girls come over with huge smiles and tears in their eyes.  Dear friends from church, Hannah and Megan, are hugging and tearing because they are happy to see me.  I haven't seen them in months and they've been praying for my recovery.  That pure love is such a gift.  I can't begin to put into words the feeling of warmth that came over me. 
     I'm telling you about these amazing girls because your notes, email and comments affect me the same way.  I actually look forward to going to the mailbox because much to my continued amazement I am still getting cards.  I received one the other day and it simply said I am praising God for your continued recovery!  It is God who truly deserves all the glory for where I am today.  I am so blessed by friends here and those from, well, all over the world who simply take a few moments of their day to spend with me.

Are you kidding me?

     First  off know this... I do not consider myself handicapped just simply recovering and in need of some handicap services some of the time.  However during these last almost 4 weeks of being home and 2+ weeks of driving I have encountered some unbelievable people out there.
     We have had a handicapped parking tag since Patrick's bout with SB a few years ago.  It automatically renews itself every 4 years.  I could have gotten my own with my CFS diagnosis but why bother we really don't need to have 4 blue tags around the house now do we?  I also will admit that I love having that baby at Christmas time, though honestly it seems like every other car today has a tag.  I guess this is a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black as maybe I've taken advantage of our blue tag in the year or two between Patrick's recovery and my recent diagnosis :0(  Well with that self-incrimination over I am going to share with you some of my recent experiences.
     The three most frustrating experiences I'm going to share each represent a different handicap service.

   We'll start with today's experience.  Now as I mentioned above it seems as if everybody and their brother has a handicapped parking tag.  Today was my first appointment for stress therapy.  It was right after my physical and speech therapies and I was a bit tired.  Being a new patient I had to arrive early for all the forms and such. So anyway as I arrive I found the two handicapped spots; one was filled one not.  There was a spot available right next to the open handicapped spot and I took that.  As I go inside I notice a woman sitting in the parked car in the other handicapped spot.  Forty five minutes later after telling them everything but my grandmother's maiden name I went out to my car to get my iTouch and I see this woman is STILL sitting in her car (the other spot was filled by this time).  REALLY are you kidding me?  I understand that this woman was obviously taking time out of her day to drive someone to an appointment and that is a wonderful thing to do.  But did she really have to sit in the handicapped spot?  Even if the person she accompanied was/is handicapped why did she need to sit in that spot for the entire time? The office has a entrance to the building that she could easily pull up in front of when her passenger left the building so there's no reason whatsoever for her to be sitting there.  BTW she was gone by the time I left~ not that I would have said or done anything but good thing just the same, lol.
     My next story concerns the motorized shopping carts.  To be honest I don't think anyone could do any real shopping with one of those.  The one or two times I have used them I found them to be very frustrating and limiting as well.  And navigating them isn't easy either don't let those commercials on TV fool you.  Granted the ones at Wal-Mart and Publix aren't hoverarounds or whatever they're called.  But easy no!  So back to this happy experience.  Saturday I head to Wal-Mart to get last minute things for lunch.  Saturday at Wal-Mart is never pretty and the parking Lot is always chaotic.  To top it off there are 2 girls walking to Wal-Mart who most think they're indestructible.  Why walk on the side-walks or at least straight down an aisle?  No let's cut through the enter/exit lanes at a diagonal.  Now mind you our Wal-Mart has a gas station at it's entrance so it is even more congested than most.  This intersection is of course where these girls truly believe the world revolves around them as they just keep on walking.  I never saw them slow down to check on traffic.  As this is a Wal-Mart Super Center and the only one for miles at what starts to be rural it has quite a large parking lot.  I eventually find a parking spot (no handi-capped available that day).  As I push my walker into the store I am actually debating should I use a motorized cart as I'm a bit tired from this morning's gardening activities and I know I will be wiped when this is done.  Well it doesn't matter as someone has made that decision for me by taking the last cart just as I walk in.  Who was it?  Well you may have guessed by now ~ it was one of those girls who just walked across the parking lot!!  Now just to fill you in there are no apartment complexes right next to the store that they have walked from.  In fact there is literally NOTHING next to Wal-mart and across the street is a shopping center.  I don't know where they came from but I can assure you that walking to Wal-Mart from any residence would be at least a mile.  Yes it was hot out Saturday, maybe even 90 degrees.  Were they tired, I'm sure they were.  But to take a cart, never mind the last cart~ Are you kidding me!!  I really had a hard time being polite (never mind Christian) as they passed me slugging behind my cart with my walker hanging out knocking displays over.  (I really did hit 2~oops)
    My last observation is almost too surreal.  (The names and places have been changed to protect the guilty)
While attending a function where we knew most everyone I needed to use the restroom.  As with most facilities they have a handicapped stall ~ONE.  As I make my way in a friend stopped me to say hello.  This restroom isn't huge so women are going around me. This entire time me and my walker are facing towards the stalls so obviously I'm not on my way out.  While the bathroom is busy there are open stalls available.  Can you guess what happened....
That's right ~ someone walks right past me and goes into the handicapped stall!!! I literally cannot fit into a regular stall with my walker so I have to wait.  You know how it is when you need to go and you're oh so close.  Well maybe your body doesn't turn on you like mine does but when I am that close it is as if Niagara Falls needs to bust out.  I had 1 or 2 people ask if they can help me and in a not so quite voice I say thank you but I really need to use the handicapped stall as I need the bars for help.  I'll admit that I have always preferred to use the handicapped stalls but I have never nor would I ever use one with a handicapped person waiting!  Of course to me it seemed like she took an extra long time and said nothing as she finally walked past.  It blows my mind that people are truly that oblivious to others around them.

    There are reasons we offer these services for those individuals.  Thank heavens.  I know there are plenty of people out there who take advantage of them but there are just as many people who rely on them.  I can honestly say that this experience has really made me very self-aware of how I use and even have possibly misused them in the past. Maybe this new Bren will be a little better~ we can only hope

April 6, 2011

I think I have created a monster but maybe it's my Dad's fault

     Any of you who know me know that my Dad was my hero.  Music, books, history were just some of the interests my Dad and I shared.   Pop-Pop, as Emily named him, may not be with us any longer however my children are certainly following in his footsteps.
     My Dad absolutely loved anything Disney.  I remember seeing Mary Poppins at the theatre on Sunrise Highway where you had to walk down the stairs on the side of the building to leave.  Shortly thereafter I had the music book and was learning "A Spoon Full of Sugar".  Growing up on Long Island going to Walt Disney World  really wasn't something most families did.  However when the opportunity arose  he took us to the Happiest Place on Earth.  Oh how he loved seeing all the characters.  I think we went in 77 but I'm not sure as they were still celebrating the Bi-Centennial.  Now remember back then Disney characters weren't immediately available in Toys R Us and such places.  To see Mickey was HUGE!!!  I remember him simply savoring the tours on the history of Disney and the old characters.  Oh how I would just die to find the pictures from back them but that's another dark and dreary blog.
     I'll even admit that shortly after we were married The Little Mermaid came out.  Being childless was not going to stop me from seeing the new Disney movie.  Michael and I snuck subs into the movie and I had the sound track shortly thereafter.  My Dad took both Emily and Patrick to their first Disney movies though they'd have no memories as they were both babies LOL.  When Emily was a toddler Disney started creating sing a long videos.  They were usually centered around the latest movie but also included some tune from what we now call Disney classics.  We had the entire collection~ they were educational you know.  Seeing the words on the screen reinforced reading skills (that's my story and I'm sticking to it)
      I can't count the number of Disney themed parties we've had over the years.  All 3 kids have dressed as Pooh and Tigger for Halloween ~ I still have those costumes. We've had spaceship tents, Princess teapots and an assortment of character toys.  We've even gone on eBay to get the missing piece of the connectable toys from Tarzan and the last leg of Inspector Gadget. And of course living in Florida we have been to the Disney parks quite a number of times. 
  So yes my kids have grown up with Disney in their veins.  They really didn't have much choice in the matter did they :0)
     Last November you would have thought that I was a 7 year old the way I was excited to see Disney's latest movie Tangled.  I didn't go alone or at least childless I took MaryEllen and my dear friend Karen.  Oh did we love this movie.  We laughed out loud maybe a few times too much if you ask Meg.  The story was wonderful, fresh and didn't stoop to adult humor.   It quickly became a favorite of mine.  (OK I saw it twice but so did Karen)  Tangled was released last Tuesday and last Tuesday we owned Tangled.
     MaryEllen knows the movie backwards and inside out.  Now mind you she is 14 years old.  And I absolutely love it.  When so many kids her age are obsessed with growing up before their time she could care less.  I love that just last Saturday she was shopping with Kalla for high heels and dresses for their 8th grade formal and this Saturday the two of them are having a Tangled Sleep Over.
    There are many things we pass onto our kids.  Some good some bad.  Some we don't see til later years.  I love seeing the joy of Disney living on in my kids.  BTW Emily has asked that we send Tangled to her at school as her friends want to watch it during finals ~~~

 I think Pop-Pop is looking down on his Grand babies and
 just loving it and maybe just maybe smiling along with them!

Mother Nature's Ego Boost

     It absolutely poured here this morning.  I am talking intense thunder and so much rain that all the parents drove their kids to the bus stop.  In my current world I needed no prodding to turn this into a nap morning.  OK I know nap may not be the correct word as in all reality it was pretty much just an extension of sleeping with a quick morning parenting break ~you caught me.  Truth is I have been pretty much a sloth these last few days I literally have no energy just getting up and getting dressed takes almost all I have.
    So by the time I had to leave the house for therapy the sun was shining and it was in the upper 70's.  We have morning glories blooming out front, my rain barrels are filling up and the blueberry bushes look incredibly promising for at least a couple of pies.  Despite nature showing off I still have no energy whatsoever.  Therapy was well therapy and I always leave exhausted, which I guess is good that means I'm working hard.  I do enjoy therapy as the crew strives to keep the mood light and fun.  I notice no matter how sweaty I am I do always leave with a smile.
     Today instead of heading home I had to pick MaryEllen up from school.One of her last NJHS meetings (thank heavens) at 430.  Tuesday night is B'fast for Dinner night, at least when Emily's not home.  The kids asked for French Toast and despite the many different ways I have tried to "fancy" them up the favorite at this Royal house requires the use of cheapy white bread.  So I stop by Publix on the way to get Meg to grab the bread and other groceries.  I wind up arriving at the school 15/20 minutes before her meeting's over.  What to do to kill time? Mind you I am on my quad cane so i thought I'll go look at the ducks in the retention pond.  Sorry for those of you not here in Florida all of our schools have fenced retention ponds around them.  A couple of schools have goats and such as school pets living inside them.  As I approached the fence what I would guess to be about 2 dozen ducks are literally swimming and waddling their way as fast as their webbed feet can take them to meet me at the fence.  Well with such a energetic as well as melodious welcome what could I do but go back to the car and get...... the bread that was supposed to be for dinner so I can feed the ducks.  I actually counted out how many slices I thought we'd need and feed the rest to the ducks. 
     Who knew that ducks could be so good for my ego.?  Everywhere I went they followed.  If I bent down they huddled closer.  If I stood up they backed away as if anticipating where I would throw the next piece.  All singing to me.  Sure I know they were in it for the food but it was me who was making them happy :0)
     Now I'm going to let you in on a little truth.  You know one of those stories that you share at those bonding games you play at retreats and such.  I AM TERRIFIED OF WHITE DUCKS!! Seriously I am terrified.  I wasn't always but I do have a legitimate reason.  When we live in Va Beach I worked at a YMCA that was next to a park Occasionally we would take the kids over for a walk.  However it got to a point where we couldn't as the kids would literally get surrounded by ducks looking for food.  So one day Michael and I go to the park with Emily won't this be fun.  Let me give you a mind picture.  A wooden picnic bench surrounded by white quacking ducks and me standing on top having a vision of "The Birds" running through my head.  Sure laugh but I only love ducks when they are behind a fence.  YES I know they can fly over the fence but for whatever reason they don't.  As long as they stay on their side of the fence life is good.  Once they cross over ~ well I do make a great duck a l`orange
     So I am going to bed with the happy thought that today for 15/20 minutes these 20+ ducks thought that I rocked.  Thanks Mother Nature for the Ego Boost.

April 3, 2011

Even a dog's life has it's ups and downs

     We have had 4 dogs since the existence of our family. 
  1. Hobbes 1989~1995 Male,  Corgi/Shepard.  Think Calvin and Hobbes and you've got an excellent personality snapshot
  2. Pirate 1998~2012 Female, Golden Retriever/Labrador.  The most laid back dog I've ever met.
  3. Mutiny 2003~present Female, Rescued from pound Long Haired Dachshund mix.  Total Drama Queen thinks the house revolves around her.
  4. Treasure 2010~ present Female. Bulldog/Hound still a puppy but leaning towards ADHD at the moment.
***The last 3 dogs have themed names due to us living on Penzance Parkway.  And if you can't make the Pirate/Penzance connection~all I can say is how sad and empty your life is LOL

In one of my rehab blogs I commented how if I was reincarnated I wouldn't mind coming back as a PT work dog.  Well let me clarify that statement.  I would not want to be a female dog.  Especially one that has not been spayed. 
     For some reason I was thinking that you spayed dogs after 18 months.  I can't even blame this on the stroke I really thought this.  Obviously I've never had to worry about this before as our dogs were neutered before we got them. So here is poor 9 month old Treasure miserable.  You guessed it, bless her heart she has her period.  So went on line and researched and OMG the poor dogs!! First off 9 months old are you kidding me! Dog years or not that just simply sucks.  Secondly the bleeding can last for two weeks the entire heat cycle can last anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks. 
     Well the funny thing is poor Treasure's clearly suffering from every stereotypical comment you've ever heard about women and their "friend".  She is emotional.  She is tired.  She is beyond being ravenous when it come to food. To add injury to insult she has to wear I believe the boys call "tighty whiteys" around the house. Which of course she removes the moment you take your eyes off of her. I have to admit I'm a bit impressed because even when she's cooperating it takes 2 minutes or so to put on yet Hudini has them off in mere seconds. If she gets those off I am certainly glad that I didn't spend my money on the puppy panties ($20 was the cheapest).  Gross FYI:  My research also showed that there is such a thing as a "dogpon".  After the initial shock of it my thought was who would be brave enough to even do that unless they were a breeder and even then ugh.  However be warned if you put dogpon into a search engine be prepared to see an incredible amount of links to dog porn~EWWWWW.
     What a sight life at my house is currently.  Me trudging behind a walker chasing Treasure to put her panties on.  Mutiny running out of everyone's way. When Treasure's not sleeping she's in everyone's face for food.  Oh what a joy!   Remind me why we got a new puppy again. LOL
    ~~ I originally started this blog Thursday and forgot to post it.  Since then my therapist has allowed me to use a Quad cane around the house.  So the 3Stooges moments of me chasing Treasure are ever more entertaining as I am much slower and less efficient on the cane.  I do have to be extra careful around Treasure as she wants to snuggle still and thinks coming up from behind and nudging me is fun:NOT

April 1, 2011

There are some people....

    We have a saying in our house that is saved for very specific people in very specific situations:
There are some people born with a part of their brain missing!!!!

  Now this is not in anyway a crude reference to people with any kind of brain injuries or disorders.  OH NO This is for that very select group of people who for some reason or another have been able to disconnect that part of the brain that creates a normal sense of reality.  We developed this saying a few years back while watching some program on the animal channel.  Maybe it was shark week I'm not sure.  But the people who earn this glorious epitaph are those who chose to let's say swim with the sharks.  I'm not talking about those who are in a steel ~ nothing ain't getting through this ~cage.  NO NO NO I'm talking about those people who seriously SWIM with the sharks.  And then just for kicks sake actually try hitching a ride by grabbing the shark's fin.... are you getting my drift!  Now I am willing to admit that thanks to people like Steve Irwin (who I believe falls into this category) we have been able to learn and see things we might never have seen before... but as tragically unfortunately Steve proved there are serious risks involved.  At least his life served a purpose beyond seeing how far an  idiot can go before really pissing off a Great White!
  So why am I sharing this with you?  Thursday and Friday I had to drive Patrick and MaryEllen down to St. Augustine for their monthly Youth Quake Live show. Here's a link for those of you unfamiliar with this incredible teen ministry Well on the way you pass signs for the attractions St Augustine is famous for.  This way to the Fountain of Youth.  Over here for the Oldest City in America.  You get the idea.  Having lived in Florida for 16 years now I think I've seen it all. NOT There was a new sign on the road today for the St. Augustine Alligator Farm(a must see I'll admit).  
     Now every time we have gone there one of the must see shows is the feeding in the gator pit.  The following announcements are  made before and during the show PLEASE DO NOT PLACE CHILDREN ON YOUR SHOULDERS IF YOU ARE STANDING NEAR THE RAIL!! PLEASE DO NOT SIT ON THE RAILING!!! I think it is pretty obvious as to why they make these announcements.... how many bites do you think it would take a gator to eat your child!!! It never fails but at every show there is some idiot (who must be missing part of their brain) that believes this doesn't hold true for them and the staff stop the show and wait for them to return their child to safety.  Thankfully as far as my research proved no one has dropped their child or fallen in at the St Augustine Alligator Farm proving the theory God sends extra angels to surround fools.  Side note: there were some idiots in Australia who purposely broke into an alligator's habitat... everyone say it with me They were definitely born with part of their brains missing!
     Returning for my reason of this rant.  The billboard I saw Thursday announced: NEW ZIP LINE Open! Yes you and your family for a fee of $65 per person can participate in a 90 minute obstacle type course OVER the Alligator Farm.  I think Jimmy Fallon said it best:  
"An alligator farm in Florida just installed a zip line visitors can ride above the alligator tanks.
It’s like the alligator version of a sushi bar with one of those conveyor belts."  
   So while I am ranting in the car MaryEllen announces she thinks this would be a hoot.  My reply short and sweet~ great enjoy but not while you are living in my house.  OK no prob I'll wait til I am married but you are coming with me is her reply.  Why would I want to do that I ask.  You're going to love this answer~ In case I die don't you want to be there!!  I nearly slammed on the brakes laughing/crying.  So what you are saying that if your line breaks and all the safety equipment fails you think it would be appropriate for me to see you become gator bait!!  Without a beat she answers well at least you'd see me before I died!  And wouldn't you jump in to save me??
  Which raises another question~ at what age is it OK to think before you act if you need to sacrifice yourself for your child?  Wouldn't that be her husband's job at that point LOL  

Oh and just for fun
WJXT reports:
 ~A zip line tour and obstacle course at St Augustine Alligator Farm
 will soon offer the chance to play a real-life game of "Pitfall."