Sunday, August 26, 2012

Breakin' Stuff...

I never mean to, but I break stuff.

A stapler. Plastic utensils. Eggs (casualty of untimely hand tremor). The handle from my washing machine. A button on my shirt. The clasp of my necklace. The wheel from the mower deck of my lawn tractor.

:::the what?::: 


"See Deere go.  
Go Deere go! 
Uh oh. 
Deere hit rock. 
Bad rock, bad rock!"  (Dick and Jane called, they want their story back)

A girl who was feeling slightly "vertigo" should have "vertistopped" prior to climbing onto the tractor and taking it for a spin 'round the ol' yard.  Why?  'Cause she needed to look down to judge the distance between self and rock.  Vertigo doesn't like to look down. Rock won.

I was instantly embarrassed. My first thought? Get a picture, because my church family eagerly anticipates my lawn adventures and THIS most definitely qualifies.  My second thought, and I'm just going to come out and admit this, was:  "Can I fix this before he (husband) gets home?"

So I put the rock back:

After careful inspection, I noticed the wheel had been welded on, therefore erasing any chance of I stuffed it into my cupholder. 

I continued on, mowing sans mower deck support wheel, while entertaining several potential explanations against my husband's probable responses:

  • "I didn't see that rock" = 'why were you mowing if you couldn't see?' 
  • "I misjudged" = 'why were you mowing if you couldn't judge yourself in space?'
  • "I wasn't paying attention" = 'why weren't you paying attention while mowing?'
  • "it SO was not there!" = 'rocks don't move...did you take some old neurontin or something?  And if so, did you not learn your lesson the first time you mowed on neurontin?'

Truth was, I really didn't judge it properly. I mean, I saw it? But more in 'side view mirror' terminology.  And that looks like this:

But this story has a happy ending. I posted the pictures of my debacle on facebook in order to share a laugh with my friends. Within minutes, offers of help appeared. And before the sun went down, I had a repaired mower deck, freshly painted welds, and sharpened blades (woo!) snugly affixed upon the belly of my tractor. What did it cost me? Just a hug. And the hug was actually a gift to me.

The 'body of Christ' is a powerful thing and I thank God that I am just a tiny part of it. They say the words "one another" are mentioned over 50 times in the New Testament. 

I believe that :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Letter To My Right Eye...

Dear Right Eye:

I feel as if you and I aren't quite to me?

I thought we've typically had a strong relationship. It was always Left Eye and I who struggled. Like that time when I had a really tough time seeing with Left Eye?  And I lost color vision?  And it hurt really bad?  And once the dust settled, I acquired that little flock of black eye floaters that I affectionately refer to as "eye flies"?  Yeah. See, Left Eye and I? We've been through thick and thin, but we've settled our differences. The eye flies are kind of fun to watch when I'm bored. Not everyone can say they have 'built in entertainment'.

This recent turn of events troubles me, Right Eye. While the floating bubbles are an interesting shape with a slight hue of greenish blue on the outside and are more aesthetic than flies, the pain is something I could do without. Also something I could do without? The burning sensations. There shouldn't be pain where bubbles are involved. Just as 'hips don't lie', bubbles don't hurt. Seriously...

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I'm thankful that you've allowed me to see clearly, albeit through tiny bubbles. This morning's sunrise was amazing, as were the many beautiful sights my Lord's skies displayed throughout the day. In return, I did my best to shield you behind sunglasses as a token of my deepest appreciation. I guess it's just that you're making it pretty difficult for me to work 8hrs/day on a computer screen with tiny letters and numbers...tiny letters and numbers that can't be enlarged...tiny letters and numbers approximately the size of the bubbles. And, because I'm working very hard to focus through the bubbles (and the pain and the burning), I'm exhausted. And my forehead hurts from squinting. And I'm pretty sure my boss thinks I'm ridiculous for dousing you with eye drops and using most of her tissues. And I'm ready for bed. And you're still burning. Still. Burning. Twisting. Squeezing. In my eye socket.

Hold on a minute.  Just as I finished that sentence, my son came to me to ask if I would read him a chapter from his book. Part of me wonders...could I exchange the reading for like, napping?  "Hey, bud!  Let's see how still we can lay!  Isn't this great?" Alas, I will shove the pain and optical inferno to the wayside.  He won't always want me to read with him, and I'll be darned if I allow you (or ms in any form) to stand in the way of my most important occupation: motherhood.

:::fighting the urge to swat at bubbles in vision::: least he's plenty old enough to correct me when I end up on the wrong line and wrong word, on account of how I'll be reading with Left Eye and closing the flaming, twisting, ball of hate ;-)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

MS Challenge Walk - The Training Chronicles - "What Are You Thinking???"

That's what the 'voice' in my head said this morning.

"What are you thinking???  You can't do this!!!"

I woke with the mindset that I was going to hydrate the heck out of myself, throw on the FPS (Fantastically Purple Sneakers) and head out on another 6 mile attempt. But then, I took a glance at a reminder email from the NMSS that I've not registered for 'housing'. Housing is referring to a camp with - and I quote - RUSTIC cabins shared among 12-16 women. There are 2 toilets and 2 showers. Um? Here's a math equation for the masses:

Tina + 11-15 others + 2 toilets = Tina using the shower stall/area behind cabin/woods/middle of grassy field as a toilet.

(I went to college, people...I've never lost the ability to go wherever I can find) 

There is an alternative of a hotel. For $89. I don't think so.

Listen, I don't mean to grumble...I'm just a light-sleeping woman who needs ample rest, ample coffee, ample gatorade packets, and ample toilets. I'm trying to walk 30 miles for goodness sake! I'm nervous enough about the walk, much less adding the possibility of total exhaustion into the mix! Nevermind peeing in the woods...

And then it hit me. I probably can't do this. I'm not the strong, athletic, stamina-filled person I was pre-1999. I may still possess the mindset, but that could actually be working against me. I'm sometimes a little too stubborn for my own good ;-)

Just as I began to feel pretty defeated, something in me said: "this isn't about some 30mi walk...this is about the process."

The process? Go on, self. You have my attention.

Ooooh. Like how I've met new neighbors I wouldn't have known had I not be walking new roads? Noticed new scenery I never thought about while driving by in my car? Or was it how I stuck out like a sore thumb over in the new development on account of how my exercise outfit isn't tiny and cute and matching? Not that one? I've gone too far again? Sorry, self. I'm refocused:-) Yeah, those are great things, but you're right...the process is about how each walk is spent in conversation with the Lord. And how, lately, I've been having these mental 'replays' in which I'm specifically recalling the huge ways He has worked in my life. My heart is always uplifted. My mind is always focused on grace and mercy. I'm always overwhelmed with thankfulness. And sometimes, I even find myself with a few happy tears in my eyes:-)

The reality doesn't matter if I'm physically able to walk 30 miles, or if some of that time is spent on a golf cart. It really is the process. The love of family and friends. The time spent with the Lord. When I'm walking with Him (even if 'walking' isn't meant in a literal sense), there is comfort and peace. No matter what.

Healer of my heart, walk with me...

(love how they tried to put lyrics to a Kim Walker-Smith song. Pssht! Kim sings from the heart! No time for adhering to lyrics! Putting this on my iHat. It's 15mins long. That'll get me at least 3/4ths of a mile...thank you, Kim!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

MS Challenge Walk - The Training Chronicles 6.0 - Walking In The Lord

I decided to take my MS Challenge Walk training to the next level after being inspired by a discussion with my boss.  The goal - 6 miles.

I had done 5 miles last weekend.  How hard could 6 be?  I figured...what could happen?  A lot, actually.  A lot could happen. mile 4 - blurry left eye mile 5 - stiff left thigh
...also at mile 5 - stiff left knee
...again at mile 5 - stiff left ankle

Seriously, left side?  Seriously?  

By mile 5.25 or so, the pain and stiffness was pretty unreal.  But that wasn't the worst of it.  Searing sensations over the outsides of my shins.  You know how, like, you go to a restaurant and they bring your fajita out on the sizzlie tray?  Yeah.  Like that.  I ran my hands over my legs to see if someone was really lighting them on fire, or if that was just furious nerve endings.  Rest assured - it was the latter.  Come on, fellow ms' know what it's like when you assume the crawling sensation is ms - and it turns out to be a tarantula.  Or, more realistically, an ant.  Same thing.  

:::and because I lack that thing that tells me to stop a physical activity that is bad for me:::

I continued on, mentally pushing through the fiery pain and stiffness - tripping, clomping, sliding my left foot and overcompensating with the right.  I began praying for the ability to make it home, and with that prayer came overwhelming memories of yesteryear.  

Memories of significantly impaired sight, colossal falls, and poor mobility.  More memories flooded forward of the bouts of trigeminal neuralgia that caused me to shout in sudden pain...right in mid-sentence at a meeting with my bosses.  And how can I leave out the moments of psuedobulbar laughter/crying jags that came out of nowhere, causing onlookers to doubt my sanity?  

I became completely overwhelmed.  To tears.  Not psuedobulbar in nature.

I realized that God was there in each and every one of those moments. Each time I wondered if a 'new symptom' would transition into my 'new normal'...each time a new symptom became my new normal, He was there. Every flare, every pill I downed, every IM shot, every bit of nerve damage to my face, every MS hug, every pain, every fear: He was there. I mean, I knew that...but in this moment, I really felt it.

I'm not promised that my days will be easy, but I am promised peace.  Peace in Him. And that's a feeling much more powerful than the sizzlie-tray-fajita-on-my-legs feeling.

Thankful for renewed mercies, unending grace...and aspirin. 

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Employment Appreciation Day(s)

I spend most of my 30min commute in conversation with the Lord.  I say 'most', because there are times I find the need to explain to other drivers how they could do it better - all while nestled in the confines of my tinted windows.  It goes something like this:  "Lord, thanks for...oh come on, you have to swing all the way out to the left just to make a right turn?  You think you're driving a Mack truck?  It's a Honda.  Ugh.  ...Lord, where was I?  Oh yeah..."


Anyway, what I've been expressing so often lately is how thankful I am for the job I have.

Sure, it's a job...meaning it's an income...with a benefits package...and a coffee machine one cubicle away. And while I do give thanks for those obvious perks (no pun intended), the things I'm most grateful for have little to do with money, vision/dental insurance, or automated coffee.  It's about relationships.

I work with a neat mix of personalities.  Though each of us is different, we all just sort  Our bosses are incredible people.  They care about one another and us - far beyond whether or not we're on time for work (which I actually am, and that was so never me!).  Basically? We are a family.  In good times, we celebrate with and for one another.  In times of trial, we support one another with words of encouragement, hugs, prayer, even a surprise coffee from the local Dunkin'. Because you can always 'say it with coffee', right?  Totally.

I think back to how nervous I was to leave the comforts of where I was, and to take a direction that differed from anything I've done with employment in the past 15yrs or so. I'm passionate about working with kids. My 'office profession', previous to that, was medical coding/billing. But God (my favorite words) knew exactly where I needed to be.

So glad I didn't decide to go off in my own direction, confident that I knew what was best for me. I would have missed out on the blessings I have, right here, where I am :-)

Now if only I can stop referring to customer files as "charts"............

...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fine Motor Disaster

I've mentioned before how I developed a particular system of checks and balances (or imbalances...'tomayto'/'tomahto'), which I run through upon waking each morning.

Hear the alarm?  Ears - check!  See clearly, or almost clearly...with both eyes?  Eyes - check!  Move legs?  Check!  Does the room stay still when I stand?  Vestibular proficiency - check!  Make it to the bathroom in time?  Bladder - check!  I then give thanks to the Lord and begin my day.

...even when one or more of those checks don't work out the way I'd like, I still give thanks and begin the day.  Meh.

But some things can't be checked off right away.  Take 'fine motor skills', for example.

I find that out when I try to peel open my giant bag of Dunkin' and I...brace yourself.............CAN'T!  These are the days I wish I could just call out.  Why not go to Dunkin' on the way to work for my coffee?  Because I'm not going to be able to fish my debit card out of the small pouch in my purse.  Not going to be able to peck the change from my cupholder.  Yes, I meant to say 'peck'...because that's the motion I make with my hand while in a state of 'Fine Motor Disaster'.

Today's outfit for work?  Was the shirt with the giant buttons, which I got sick of dealing with by the time I finished.  It took me approximately 5 minutes to latch my necklace.  I nearly gave up and decided my boss knew me well enough by this point that I could ask her to help me.  Then, I realized I've only been there about 6 weeks.  Something I didn't hesitate to do at my previous job - asking a fellow teacher or boss to put my necklace on for me - has the potential to be slightly awkward in a new environment.  No, I didn't get it latched...but I did get the hook over the chain, which meant it kept sliding throughout the day as I moved.  In addition, I had to remove my thumb ring and nearly took my wedding rings off.  Though they spun freely, the sensation of having them on my fingers was of 'death grip' level.

And seriously?  Who designed the aluminum seal on yogurt cups with that tiny tab.  No thanks to that person, I wore a portion of my french vanilla yoplait...after I couldn't get it open and became frustrated, thereby mauling it with a pen.

Let's talk about writing!  I had a form to complete at work.  A form with tiny blocks.  Lots. Of. Them. I totally squinted my eyes in concentration, chewed on my tongue, tilted my head in 52 directions, and slowwwwwly pressed pen to paper - circa 1978.  Let me handwriting was also circa 1978.  Suddenly, I began to covet a gigantic pen.  I mean, how easy would life be if I had a gigantic pen?  Writing would be easier.  Yogurt would be easier.  It would command respect in the workplace.  It would make the following statement:

"This woman has a gigantic pen...and she's not afraid to use it!"

Get on my level.