Saturday, January 24, 2009

Horseback Riding - "Sally-style"

Last August, after several days of horse back riding, I was literally launched out over the Clydesdale horse that I was riding's head. I grabbed on around his neck and managed to hang on until he slowed down enough for me to drop to the ground. I went into a ball, so I could minimize any injuries, but bumped my head on the ground, anyway. I was wearing a helmet, and stood right up, without any apparent injury, fixed the saddle, which had slid sideways, got back on and rode home.

Two days later, I, Katie, Jennifer and a couple of friends went on a really long ride, about 8 hours away from home. Just as we were getting home, for some reason, I lost consciousness and fell off my horse. Jennifer was the first to notice and called Dave to assist immediately. I was unconscious, for the most part, until he got me to the hospital, where he says I refused to get on the gurney and insisted on walking into the ER myself. The doctor took one look at my helmet, which was destroyed, and ordered a CT scan. Upon the results, which indicated subdural bleeding in the left frontal lobe and right occipital lobe, I was transferred to Covenant Medical Center in Saginaw, where I spent the next few days in the ICU. For the most part, I have no recollection of any of this, just little "snippets." I spent a total of 10 days in the hospital before I was allowed to go home.

Upon release from the hospital, I was scheduled for 3 followup appointments, which has since set off a number of other pathways and directions for me to take in my recovery journey. For the most part, it is my short-term memory which is causing me the most grief.

As I mentioned, I had a "neuro-psychiatric" evaluation, which is a complete workup, evaluating every area of my brain, looking for deficits and areas in which I could benefit from therapy, so I might make as full of a recovery as possible. I had my followup explanatory appointment last Tuesday, which just about sent me over the edge. I was informed that, although I am making a miraculous recovery so far, I still have 12-18 months to go before I reach a full recovery (Or as full of a recovery as possible.) and can return to work as a nurse. When we left the office, I just about became hysterical. I was so upset. What he said made sense and it definitely applied to me, but I so wanted to hear something very different. I want to get back to work!

On Monday of this week, I had a followup appointment with my Neurologist, who gave me a little better news, but also ordered a whole bunch more tests. She told me that she thinks I could return to work in about a month or so, but only part time and in an environment in which I would have good support and backup. I had a sleep study performed Tuesday night and it was horrible. I've had a cough and sinus issues for a couple of weeks that made it really hard for me to get through the night. The good thing is, the tech thinks that I no longer have sleep apnea. Needless to say, I was in bed the next night at about 1800 hours and didn't budge until about 0600 hours the following morning morning.

The interesting thing about this whole ordeal is that with my neuro-psychiatric evaluation, I've learned a lot about myself. In every area of testing, the summary came back as being "grossly intact" and well within the "normal" range, if not in the "above-average" range. My scores actually landed in the 87 to 95th percentile. I have always thought of myself as being fairly bright, but not to that extent. And these numbers are after, literally, suffering brain injury! The doctor found that my short term memory is suffering and, due to the frontal lobe injury, where emotions play out, I also suffer from an inability to control my emotions, especially, when I get the least bit fatigued, which has been pretty consistent since my injury. He has referred me to a head-injury rehab specialty clinic for cognitive and behavioral therapy.

So that's the whole story! I'm feeling like a bump on a log right now, but have gotten very involved in the High and Middle School Band Boosters Program (I am the president!), the Elementary School PTA (I'm did the concession stand for their Winter Carnival!) and will soon be driving down to Troy to work as a Chip Seller for an "All-In Poker Game" as a fund raiser for the local YWCA Summer Camp. (The same one I worked at the summer of 2007 as the Camp Nurse!) I've also become a "teacher's aide" of sorts to the Band Director. I always have found it much easier to organize someone else, other than myself, and have been going in for a few hours every day to help him with getting sheet music pulled together and new instruments (Quad Drums) put together. All these activities definitely keep me busy, but as much as I love doing them, I really need to start earning something in the way of a living.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day - Don't Forget Its Meaning

This morning, Alec's high school band was asked to participate in two Memorial Day ceremonies. One each, at two of the local cemeteries.

The same honorable war veterans performed each ceremony at both cemeteries. What was spoken really rang true to my heart.

The man leading the ceremony gave a brief history of Memorial Day (Historically known as Decoration Day, May 30th, until 1967). It was designated after the Civil War to honor the memory of fallen soldiers. After World War I, our government expanded the meaning so as to honor soldiers from all wars and military actions, not just the Civil War.

The soldier described the picture in his mind from years gone by where he had also officiated. Of the ~60 people present today, he described a time in the early '70's as the crowd being 'ten times greater;' a time when there was a lot more awareness and pride in what our armed forces have done to make and keep this Country the greatest in the world.

Today, Memorial Day is no longer a day in which we remember individuals who have given everything to keep our Country safe and strong. It is more commonly known as Memorial Day 'weekend;' an entire weekend to spend shopping all the huge sales, taking the boat for a spin, camping, picnicking, going to sporting events, watching cars go in circles in Indianapolis, etc.

In 1968, Congress created the 'Uniform Holidays Bill,' which moved three federal holidays to a specific Monday, so it would create convenient 3-day holiday weekends. Unfortunately, I believe this is the reason the majority of our society has failed to recognize the true meaning behind this special day.

It became oh-so-very apparent this morning as 11 of the 21 kids in the marching band were getting ready to load the bus. Just a hair over 1/2 of the kids were present. Where were the other ten? I know of 2 who were at the big "Memorial Day Stockyard" sale/flea market with their parents. I'm also aware of one who was just "too tired" to get out of bed to make the bus when it left the school at the dawn-breaking hour of 0900 hours. (This is sarcasm, folks! Never mind that he gets up every day of the week and is in the school weight room at 0600 hours trying to 'bulk up' so he will be bigger and better come next fall's football season!) I'm sure the others were out camping, shopping, or planning a big picnic.

Last year, I was asked to accompany the band as a chaperon. This year when I asked if help was needed, I was told no, because there 'weren't that many kids going.' It just about broke my heart. So, this morning, our family was up and getting dressed so that our hearts and bodies would be present. I sent a text message to the Band Director asking for permission to ride the bus with the students. She quickly and efficiently got this cleared with the bus driver and we were on our way.

The ceremonies were almost identical, giving what was said into the microphone a chance to drive home much deeper. The 11 kids present played as big as they could, considering they were half of the usual numbers. There was a 21-gun salute, which never fails to make me jump. And then there was the playing of Taps. This piece of music makes my eyes water and all my hair stand on end.

Upon completion and dismissal from the ceremony, my youngest daughter, Jennifer and I approached the aging soldiers, reaching for their hand and thanking them for their service. Not only for the service they provided to our Country, but also for the service they provide every Memorial Day.

"For as long as there remains two of us on earth, there will always be a Memorial Day ceremony performed."

---VFW Chaplain, Post 8872, Port Sanilac, Michigan - 26 May 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Crazy Day!

Today started out with a phone call from a couple of girls who have brought their 4-H goats to our farm for safe keeping. Because it's inconceivable for them to get transportation every day, twice a day, to our house to take turns feeding all the goats, they have agreed to come over periodically, to clean out the goat area. Of course, they wanted to know if Alec would be around to help them. (Wink, wink!) They arrived and did a good job hauling the 'pooh bedding' out into the area where we want to put a garden and orchard in someday soon. Just as they were finishing, I let all the goats out into the yard to do a little latent weed clean up and get a bit of a romp in. They loved it. Both of the girls were worried that they would run off and possibly get hit by a car or get lost. I assured them that the goats knew where they lived and would, more or less, just wander around the yard doing their goaty thing. They voiced concern about getting them all, safely, back into their enclosure. I reassured them that by asking them politely to go in, along with a little sweet grain, will work well to get goats to do just about anything. Although they've heard the story numerous times, they still don't believe that Dave and I used to raise goats and care for them, including milking, twice a day, for several years. Although we'd never profess to be 'know-it-all's,' when it comes to goats, we definitely understand the goat personality and behavior.

Next, we moved on to Lily, our horse. Otherwise known as our BIG dog with the long swooshy tail. We added a new member to our clan, Tiz, the spotless Appaloosa, last summer. She's a great companion to Lily and they are best friends but, when it comes to food, she's a real P-I-G! She has nosed Lily out of many a feeding, both hay and grain, enough so, that Lily has lost a lot of weight. The kids and I have gone out 2 times/day to personally make sure Lily is getting the grain she needs to gain weight. Little did we know, that Lily was experiencing a condition that is common among horses that are lowest in the pecking order. Her first few mouthfuls of grain are huge and not well chewed. She does this because she fears being nosed out by the other horse and not getting any. The problem it creates is the grain forms a dam in her esophagus, not allowing the rest of the grain to enter her stomach. The end result is a lot of chewed, but not digested grain, coming back up and dribbling out her nose and mouth. I called the vet and learned what I needed to do and promptly moved her to the pole barn in a paddock the Dave put together for her, using pallets and a field gate that was not being used. She is snug in there now, with free hay and her own little water bucket, with the built-in heater to prevent it from freezing. Tiz calls to her occasionally and she answers, but she is, once again, eating and drinking with no problem. Tomorrow, she is getting worming medication and another go at the grain. Only this time, the grain will be slightly moist and spread out on a cookie sheet to prevent her from getting a big mouthful again, causing the same problem.

Onward and upward, I always say. Next job was to go get some long over due firewood. We drove out to Deckerville and picked up a trailer-full or firewood, not having correct change, so we will be going back for more. We hand-filled our trailer, 4' x 8' x 2' with Ash wood. Upon arrival home, Dave announced that he had no intention of unloading the wood, because he needed to get some sleep before going to work tonight. The kids and I unloaded and stacked the whole load on the front porch, to make obtaining the wood, easier in inclement weather. Won't Dave be surprised when he leaves for work?

Now, it's the end of the day. I am feeling satisfied that we have accomplished some things that were in need of getting done. Tomorrow, I am off to take Alec to the school at 0700 hours for pre-Baseball conditioning and then to the post office to drop off 50 envelopes with 50 letters to high school, middle school, and elementary school band parents in preparation for the annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser. (I also created a flyer, 50 of them, to be posted in multiple locations to advertise this dinner.) I think I will also apply for a full-time job, as being a stay-at-home mom is a lot of work and I can't find anyone willing to pay me for doing it to help with paying the bills.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I just got home from working the conecessions stand for a Girl's basketball game at CPS high school, while Alec played for the Pep Band. A week ago, we were in the snow storm of the season, with 18 inches of snow deposited in our front yard, with strong winds and drifts that made it difficult to walk to the mailbox. This morning, school was postponed 2 hours, because of the thick fog in our area. Today, the temperature was in the low 60's and it rained most of the day. Everything from last week is a memory or exists only as a puddle in our front yard. We are currently under a "tornado watch" status, to which Katie came out from her room, asking me to check the weather on the inter net. Yup, we are still under a tornado watch. We now have thunder crashing all around the house, as well as very close lightning stikes. Enough to shake the fillings out of your teeth. They say in Michigan, if you don't like the weather, wait twenty minutes. It's true. The lightning strikes and thunder are already fading into the distance and I can only hear the rain against the windows, now. It's time to go to bed now. Flood warnings are in effect until 0700 hours tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A friend of mine, hit it right on the head in his blog:


So, I 'cut and pasted' it in mine. Please feel free to peruse his blog any time you want. He's got a lot of good to say and learn from.


Last night was the host and facilitator training held by the Grandjacksons. We do this each year to kickoff the start of connection groups. This training isn't usually a bunch of new stuff for people, but rather a review of why we are doing this and some thoughts on how to run a meeting. The most important thing I was reminded of was the same thing we work so hard to teach on a Sunday morning. This idea that church is not an is not an island or a separate entity. Rather the church, the body of Christ, is in this community. What we teach on a Sunday...what we talk about in our connection all about recognizing God in our daily interaction with people rather than bringing God into our world and interaction with it. All too often, there is a church facade we put on to act holy and proper while we attend church, but here at RCC we work very hard to teach and show the fact that God is everywhere. We just need to recognize that fact and possibly sometimes pointing it out to others. The Real Estate agent doesn't leave God at home and can go out lying to people about what they are selling...rather the agent recognizes God is with them always and hold themselves to a higher level. Ditch digger? Nerd? Candy maker? God is with each and every one of us...we just need to recognize that. Sometimes, during the day, as we go about it, we need to stop for the three seconds or so it takes to read Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God"

Monday, September 03, 2007

Are you aware that Jeff Foxworthy is now picking on Michigan?

1. If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 18 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Michigan.

2. If you're proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights each year because Pellston is the coldest spot in the nation, you might live in Michigan.

3. If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in Michigan.

4. If you instinctively walk like a penguin for five months out of the year, you might live in Michigan.

5. If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you might live in Michigan.

6. If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, (or at the top of his ankles) you might live in Michigan.

7. If you have worn shorts and a coat at the same time, you might live in Michigan.

8. If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Michigan.

9. If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Michigan.

Part 2 - You know you're a true MICHIGANDER when . . .

1. "Vacation" means going up north on I-75

2. You measure distance in hours.

3. You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

4. You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.

5. You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.

6. You see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings).

7. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

8. You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them.

9. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

10. D riving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

11. You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.

12. You can identify a southern or eastern accent.

13. Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your blue spruce.

14. You were unaware that there is a legal drinking age.

15. Down South to you means Ohio.

16. A brat is something you eat.

17. Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole barn.

18. You go out to fish fry every Friday.

19. Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.

20. You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

21. You find 0 degrees "a little chilly."

22. You drink pop an d bake with soda.

23. Your doctor tells you to drink Vernors and you know it's not medicine.

24. You can actually drink Vernors without coughing.

25. You know what a Yooper is.

26. You think owning a Honda is Un-American.

27. You know that UP is a place, not a direction.

28. You know it's possible to live in a thumb.

29. You understand that when visiting Detroit, the best thing to wear is a Kevlar vest.

30. You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all your Michigan friends.

Have a Nice Day..... and a Better tomorrow.....

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Long Summer.....

Well, where do I begin? It's been a busy summer for all of us. Alec played JV baseball for his high school. Katie played softball and Jennifer played T-ball for the city leagues. Dave went to New York with Alec's high school band. In May, Dave and I made a quick trip down to Mesa to see his Dad and Cathy. Dave's Dad was diagnosed a couple of years ago with McGee-Drager syndrome and he is not doing well at all. We had a good trip and accomplished everything we intended to accomplish, with the exception of being able to stay longer.

In June, I started working at Camp Cavell as the Summer Camp Nurse or, as its official title is: Health Officer. Over all I had a really good time. The Director is wonderful and really good with kids. She has a way of getting in touch with even the toughest of kid-personalities. I lived at the camp, beginning on the 15th of June until the 18th of August. The good thing was that the camp is only 10 miles from home and Dave and the kids could come visit me whenever they wanted to. I ate, slept, and existed there all summer long. We got a break of 24 hours, maybe, from noon on Saturday to noon on Sundays. The camp hired 4 international counselors, which created a wonderful opportunity for me. One of the counselors was from Spain. Her name is Carmen and she is wonderful! We became very good friends and spent most of our time off together doing things near and far. Some of the things we did included going to the Barn Theater, a Detroit Tigers' game, and to Frankenmuth. About 2 weeks ago, we, as a family, took Carmen to the airport on her way home to Barcelona, Spain, via Chicago and New York. As for the 9 weeks at Camp Cavell, Carmen and I really enjoyed the relationships we formed with the campers. Most of them came up from the Detroit area and a culture that is very different from what we are used to. We learned a lot of patience, acceptance, and understanding throughout our summer. (I still can't stand listening to rap music, though! I just don't get it.)

As for my weight loss, my last weigh-in showed a total weight loss of 70 pounds! My kids say that they can tell I'm losing weight by looking at my arms. I affectionately call them my "bat wings." I'm wearing clothes that I never dreamed of ever wearing again, and even they are too big. I'm finding that I can sneak through openings that before my surgery, I'd never even consider trying. One of the kids that is in the 4-H program with my kids made a comment about my arrival at the county fair: "Big Momma is in the house" and it offended me. In the past, it would have rolled off my back, but I guess now that I am seeing a light at the end of the "becoming thin tunnel," the comments about being fat are penetrating deeper. Definitely something I need to work on.

Last week, Dave and the kids and I went up to Cross Village. My Uncle George and Aunt Laurelynn have a home on Lake Michigan and own a piece of property across the road of about 40 acres. Way set back on this property is a double-wide mobile home. They generously allowed us to spend a few days up there in heaven. The wild setting of this place is wonderful, rain or shine. Talk about the "little house in the woods!" We spent a couple of days on the beach and also made trips up to Whitefish Point and the Sault Ste. Marie "Soo Locks."

Now, with Labor Day being tomorrow, it's time to focus on the first day of school being the day after. And I need to get out and secure gainful employment so we can survive the winter. By this I mean, having enough financially to get 2 horses and a goat through the winter, as well as heat our house with a wood stove, in an effort to conserve propane. Another challenge we are facing right now is well problems. I'm hoping a praying that the well is NOT running dry and it is just a pump problem. Ya Hoo!