Sunday, October 11, 2015

Be Anxiously Engaged

Today in church the 2nd counselor in the Relief Society, and my sweet friend gave a beautiful lesson on Elder M. Russell Ballard's 2012 General Conference talk "Be Anxiously Engaged".  I heard this talk two years ago. As she read, I recognized a few things. It was familiar but also new.
Elder Ballard starts his talk discussing bees. 

He says, "My beloved brothers and sisters, each time I enjoy a fresh, vine-ripened tomato or eat a juicy peach right off the tree, my thoughts go back 60 years to when my father owned a small peach orchard in Holladay, Utah. He kept beehives there to pollinate the peach blossoms that would eventually grow into very large, delicious peaches.

Father loved his gentle honeybees and marveled at the way thousands of them working together transformed the nectar gathered from his peach blossoms into sweet, golden honey—one of nature’s most beneficial foods. In fact, nutritionists tell us it is one of the foods that includes all the substances—enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water—necessary to sustain life.

My father always tried to involve me in his work with his hives, but I was very happy to let him tend to his bees. However, since those days, I have learned more about the highly organized beehive—a colony of about 60,000 bees.

Honeybees are driven to pollinate, gather nectar, and condense the nectar into honey. It is their magnificent obsession imprinted into their genetic makeup by our Creator. It is estimated that to produce just one pound (0.45 kg) of honey, the average hive of 20,000 to 60,000 bees must collectively visit millions of flowers and travel the equivalent of two times around the world. Over its short lifetime of just a few weeks to four months, a single honeybee’s contribution of honey to its hive is a mere one-twelfth of one teaspoon.

Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bee’s one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive. The bees depend on each other. Work that would be overwhelming for a few bees to do becomes lighter because all of the bees faithfully do their part."


She then proceeded to show the Mormon Message called "LIFT". 

I have seen this clip before. I first watched it on Facebook after several of my friends had shared it on their feeds. I scanned over it the first couple times I saw it because of the length of it. I finally watched it though. I laughed and cried while watching it because the video struck many very personal issues for me.  I too have felt I was a burden, the awkwardness of things I have needed help with, and questioned if I had anything left to offer. I laughed when they talked about adjusting her in bed at night because in the hospital I had my own nightly routine that probably seemed crazy to everyone. It touched my heart but honestly I haven't thought much about it since.

As soon as the video was over there was a small moment of quiet. I knew there would be a moment of discussion with the class. I felt like my heart was going to leap out of my chest. I knew the spirit wanted me to speak. It wanted me to share my very personal connection to "Lift" but I held it in. I sat and convinced myself that what I was thinking in my head wasn't really a full thought. I decided to listen longer and see if my thoughts would come together more fully.

The conversation then continued to service. To how as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we often teach of service. If like the hive of honeybees, we each took a small moment to serve, our seemingly small effort could bring forth great things. In comparison, a large jar of honey. Through serving we all can grow and feel love. Whether we were serving or being served, our testimonies would grow and we could feel a deeper sense of the love our Savior and Heavenly Father feels for us. 

Finally as class ended my thought came together. I didn't want to lengthen our already out of time meeting but I knew that I needed to share.

So I am rectifying that prompting I had to share. Here.  Now

I didn't come up with some profound thought. Instead I feel a real desire to give thanks.
I have been blessed through this trial with endless amounts of service. I literally could not list them all.  Not even close. 

Over 5 years ago when I went into the hospital I thought being stuck in the the hospital would make me feel alone and isolated. That was not the case. My devoted parents were there all but 5 days of the five months I was in the hospital. They brought me food, clothes, and anything else I needed or wanted while I was in there.  They watched TV with me, took me for walks around the hospital, even sat quietly as I slept. They watched, loved, and cared for Jack as did Julie and Keith. I had two to five visitors almost every week. Family, friends, ward members, coworkers, and even strangers came. They brought me treats and snacks, flowers, gifts, and spent time with me. Nurses, therapists, and doctors became my friends. They brought me treats, stayed after their shifts to painted my toe nails, or spent their own money on supplies to do black crayon therapy with me on days that were tough, the brought me DVD's of their favorite TV series, movies, music, and books to read. After Talon was born we received baskets filled with clothes and other baby necessities from the hospital and its staff, blankets made by friends, and so much more.  For the whole 5 months I was in the hospital a nearby stake brought and blessed the sacrament every Sunday so I could partake.

After only a few short weeks in the hospital one nurse told me how lucky I was. The nurses had discussed how there was a frequent flow of people to my room. I hadn't really thought much about the visits but after that I noticed the truth in that. I noticed other patients would go days without anyone entering their room who weren't  from the hospital. I felt so much love.  When I was finally able to be discharged from the hospital the whole hospital celebrated with me.  There was a cake, gifts, and many hugs.

The service and visits didn't stop after I was released and came home to my parents house.  My ward and friends brought meals for weeks after we were home to lighten the burden.  I'm talking weeks. Friends and family stayed with me and the boys when my mom went to work. My aunt and cousin started taking Jack and Talon, as he got older, to story time and out to play so they were not always stuck inside. My friends and ward members did fundraisers to help pay off my extensive medical bills.  We were overwhelmed by countless kind acts like the 12 days of Christmas and a beautiful Christmas filled with presents bought by Cents of Style and those who worked with them. My friends also came to visit me often. They brought me favorite treats we used to eat, new movies I hadn't seen, and helped watch Jack and Talon so my parents could be forced away for a weekend.  ;)

After I had been home about a year I was able to go to Boise for some for extensive therapy. My brother, his wife, and my sweet niece and nephew accepted us into their home and let us invade their family, Matt modified their home, and they helped to look after, but mostly to loved, Jack and Talon, as well as my sister in law helping me with many personal needs I was unable to do myself. Without their love and extreme sacrifice I would never be as independent as I am now.

At rehab I met many nurses, therapist, CNAs, and doctor's who became friends as well. They help me learn new skills, set goals, and even spent time we should have been working sitting in my room watching TV, talking, and sharing snacks.

When I came home my friends were anxiously waiting for my return and took on many other large tasks.   They learned how to transfer me in and out of a car so we can go see movies at a theater and go out to dinner at restaurant. I have also been blessed these last five years to make many new friends. These friends didn't know me when I had a fully functioning body but not once have they hesitated at being my friend.  Not even once!
These things, though they are many don't even begin to scratch the surface of the service and the selfless acts that have happened and been given to my family.

I know because of these acts and because of the "bees" in my personal hive, my testimony has grown. I felt the unconditional love of those around me as well as the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. Through this love my testimony has grown and I have been reminded that no matter what my body can or cannot do I still have much to offer. My life is in no way how expected it to be but I know that there is still a great road ahead.

I have a true testimony that service can change lives. I am impacted by the small acts of love and service as much as I am the large. I know that everyone has much to offer.  Everyone has worth and value.

After today's Relief Society lesson I guess the thing I need to express most is thanks.  I needed to write these acts down. I will never forget them but I want my children to know about them too. Thanks to my family, friends, my ward, my community, and my Heavenly Father and Savior. 

A a big thanks to Sister Wehrli for what I believe was a guided and inspired lesson. And of course for the yummy cookie as well.

I do not know where I would be or the road I would be on without these acts of loving humble service. So I know it isn't much and I can never say it enough, THANK YOU!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shake

The earthquake that shook Nepal on Saturday is devistating. 4600 people lost their lives, rescue efforts are still taking place, homes, buildings, and historical places were reduced to rubble in an instant.

Waking up to the news of this earthquake brought back a rush of anxiety and fear.

On January 12th, 2010, one day before my onset, was the earthquake in Haiti. I was aware the earthquake had happened, I read updates, and even made a small donation to Red Cross to help with the rescue efforts. What I was unaware of was the fear that this earthquake, that happened 2,800 miles away, would instill in me.

When I was hospitalized on the 13th, I was paralyzed from the neck down.  My next 8 days were spent in the ICU.  The first few days I had no movement in my arms. Everything was done for me, feeding, drinking, adjusting a pillow, turning on the TV, coughing .... EVERYTHING.  This was a tough adjustment as I assume it would be for everyone. Everything took such effort. I didn't eat much because chewing and swallowing were actually exhausting. I also didn't eat much because I felt embarrassed to have to be fed. Just hours before I was feeding my 11 month old son and now I couldn't move my hand to my mouth. Luckily the complete paralysis in my arms was short lived.

Within a couple of days I was able to barely move my arms. I still couldn't feed myself and I couldn't push any buttons.  This meant I couldn't adjust my bed, turn on the TV, or even call for my nurse. My nurse, Shelby, went on the hunt. She was looking for something I could push to work as my call button. She found a small square pad that had a button inside.  I still couldn't push the button hard enough with my hand, but I could move my arms enough to shimmy my nurse call button up my body and into my mouth, then I had to bite it to actually push the button.

A couple days later, I was able to feed myself again. Like before, chewing and swallowing was exhausting enough, now lifting a fork was as much effort as bicep curling 25 pounds.

Because everything took what little energy I had, I slept a lot as a result.  My family was by my side as often as possible. There were times I asked them or the nurse to turn on the TV. I would watch whatever was being watched by someone else or whatever was left of after the nurse left, because I wasn't able to change the channels.

I remember watching the news one night. It was covering the earthquake in Haiti and had images of dust covered people being pulled out of the rubble. Then they began discussing how a hospital had been destroyed and many people inside were buried. Some where found alive and many more died.

I think this was when true fear set in.

I was paralyzed. I couldn't do anything for myself and my mind raced with horrible thoughts. What if there was a fire? Would someone be able to help me in time?  What if we had an earthquake? What if there was an emergency and the elevators didn't work? How would I get down the stairs? Would I even be remembered if there was an emergency? Or would I be forced to lie helpless in this bed waiting whatever fate was coming.

Since the minute my onset started just a few days earlier, things that were always constant were suddenly not. One thing I could do, that was still effective, was prayer.

And I prayed.

All. The. Time. 

I sang primary songs and prayed when they put me in the MRI tube for 90 minutes. I prayed at night as I fought to stay awake (I felt safer sleeping during the day).  I prayed everytime I took a breathing test that I would pass and I wouldn't have to be put on a ventelator.  I prayed for Jack, that he wouldn't forget me, that he would be happy and safe, that he knew my heart was aching to see him, hold him, kiss him (I was in the ICU 8 days and he wasn't allowed in the ICU). I prayed that my tiny baby in my stomach would be able to grow and develop normally, that he would be ok, that he would stay inside long enough to be born with minimal complications. I prayed for my family and friends who were forced to watch helpless from the side lines. I prayed for my doctors, nurses, therapists, & cna's. I prayed that I would feel comfort. I prayed I could sleep and just for those moments forget it all. I prayed to recover. I prayed and prayed and prayed to recover.

I PRAYED.

I have known and been taught of prayer my whole life. I'm sad to admit this was the first time I really learned of its true power. My prayers were many. Short prayers, long pleading prayers, and everything in between. I felt comfort every single time. My anxiety left and my body became filled with warmth. I had an overwhelming sense of love.

I was NOT alone.

EVER.

Since then my prayers have become fewer.  I still say many prayers, long and short and for a variety of reasons, but they are not what they should be. Waking up and reading about the earthquake in Nepal, I am sorry to admit, was the shake I needed. I don't need prayer and it's many blessing any less now than I did then. I need to rely on my Heavenly Father, my Savior, and the blessings of the Holy Ghost. I still need them and the guidance. I need to be better. Other people need the blessings of my prayers. I need to be thankful and I need to express that thanks.

Why do we so quickly forget after the tough times have passed to pray?  Why do we expect answers to prayers only when times are tough?  Why do we only ask for blessings when the road is rough?  Do we suddenly become strong enough to handle things on our own?

I didn't feel the physical shake of the 2800 miles away in Nepal, but I felt it inside.

I'm praying for the people in Nepal as well as the many other people effected by this tragedy and so many others.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Different Type of Recovery

It's been on my mind for quite a while now to write again. With my own nudging and the nudging of many friends, now it's time.

I originally started this blog to track my physical recovery. To track struggles and set backs as well as progress and milestones met. After a couple years though it became apparent that my original prognosis of recovery was not accurate and I wouldn't be jumping up to walk at this time in my recovery. I truly believe it will happen at some point in my life, unfortunately not right now. This left me feeling stuck. How was I suppose to blog about recovery and milestones when there weren't any. It left me feeling like there wasn't anything else to say. Nothing worth documenting.

I was asked to speak at a Young Women's in Excellence earlier this year. I was intimidated. I know I have a story and a testimony but having to express my knowledge to youth was nerve wracking. I knew it was an opportunity I needed to take. It turned out to be such a great evening. I felt my talk fall into place, I was able to study and learn for myself, it turned out to be just the bump I needed. These girls and their parents were so kind and really boosted my spirits. Likes it's so often said, I feel this opportunity to speak was much more for me than those I was speaking to.

A few days later as I was reflecting on this opportunity it struck me that my recovery wasn't over. It wasn't all a physical recovery. I think we are all on a continual path of "recovery".  Hopefully we are always trying to learn & grow, heal old wounds, and move in a constant forward progression. So while my physical recovery is currently halted, my spiritual and emotional recovery will be continually on going.

It might not be frequent but there's still much more to say, to learn, and always so much to be grateful for. Physical triumphs are still worth celebrating but they are not the only thing worth documenting.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Goal #25 - Check

While it wasn't before my birthday, I was able to still complete this goal. My parents went to Boise to drop off Christmas presents to my brother and his family and spend some time with them. This gave me the opportunity to figure things out for myself. My boys left Friday night to go with their Dad and that left me alone for almost exactly 24 hours. It was different being alone completely. My parents help me out so much, things I sometimes overlook. It went well though. There were a few small snafus, but nothing serious and it was a great feeling to have to totally be dependent on me. I had many great friends who checked up on me, which put me at ease knowing they were there If I needed anything. My sore arms and shoulders were a big reminder or how much more I worked being alone. Time to do more and build those muscles and stamina!

Goal #29 - Sort of Check

Having to use my arms to sit up after leaning forward creates some interesting situations. Like when I'm trying to help clean up toys and I need both hands to pick up a bigger toy, it's definitely quite a process to pick it up and sit back up. While I can't do it without any help from my arms, I am able to sit up using my arms, in my wheelchair, from almost any position. It's much better than I was. I remember when I would lean too far forward and I was done for. Someone else had come sit me back up. So while its not a complete check off, it's progress, and I'll always take progress!

Goal #30 - Check

The Elk's really jump started my independence by making me a set of leg straps.  They were fabric straps the had loops on them.  They had velcro and were placed around my thighs and ankles to help me move, lift, cross, and position my legs.  They really were vital to learning to transfer and helped in strengthening a lot.  As much as they helped I reached a point that I hated them sticking out and seeing them over my clothes. So I decided one day not to wear them. It took a lot of practice and troubleshoot but eventually I was able to get rid of all four of them! I am thankful for what they did for me, but now there is one less contraption I'm dependent on.

Goal #22 - Check

Before my van, getting in and out of a car was something I needed to learn. Using the hoyer lift to get in and out of my parents car was no easy task for anyone involved (especially for whoever had to take apart and load the hoyer lift). So Tami helped me learn. There was a little trial and error, but with the right equipment we got it done. It was a big help. It made getting to Dr appointments, shopping, and outings in general so much easier. It's definitely not something I can do independently but it can be done!