Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Leaves...

Fall leaves behind the warmth of summer, the sun penetrating through my skin and into my body. Fall leaves late nights with kids playing outside until the sky becomes dark and little bodies become tired. Fall leaves children running through the sprinklers, jumping in cool pools and swimming until dusk. Fall leaves green trees, blooming gardens and flower baskets hanging from back porches.

All of these things fall leaves behind, but fall leaves bring us a whole new world of color, majesty, rainbows and life! I love fall colors and was excited when Tolan's parents, Larry and Kay, invited me and the kids (plus cousin Rheanna Brown) to go on a scenic drive and picnic to Snowbasin (ski resort) up Ogden Canyon. Because of the "late" fall, many of the leaves hadn't changed color yet, but when we arrived at Snowbasin, in the cool shadows of the mountain, the colors emerged! We had a fun picnic together with Grandma and Grandpa and enjoyed the crisp air and cornucopia of colors! A beautiful family night activity!

For me, fall also leaves behind summer days in the hospital and at home in bed and brings a new prospect of better days ahead. Yes, I am still struggling, but thanks to all my wonderful friends and family, I know I will have the help I need, even if I don't like to ask. :) Headaches and body aches may persist, but life is still becoming more colorful every day.
Just this weekend, I discovered yet another facial muscle has started to move! And, after 4 months of not having my nose work, it suddenly started to work again on Saturday! (By working, I mean it started to "run", which may not sound fun to some, but since I have not had any use of it at all for months now, having my nose run was a big accomplishment!)
So, as much as fall leaves, it also brings, and for that I will always be grateful. Thank you to the many caring friends who emailed or called me, concerned about me after my last post. You are the colors that fill my life with rainbows and I love you all!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Two steps forward, Three steps back

I have hesitated in writing this post, in "going public" so to speak. I have not wanted to admit it to myself, much less to those around me, but I have to, for myself and my family. You see, I have been getting better, every day for months now I have been getting better. But, in the last 2 weeks or so, I have been regressing, and I don't want to admit it to myself or anyone else. My physical strength and energy have been decreasing instead of increasing. My headaches have returned with a vengeance and my entire body hurts, or perhaps aches is a more appropriate term.

So, what does all this mean? Well, it means I am clearly not better and the setbacks are mostly my fault. When I see all of you, my dear neighbors and friends, I desperately want to be better. I want to do what you are doing. I want to run by your side as I see you jog by. I want to go to the games and cheer for our kids. I want to wave to you as we see each other work in our yards. I want to clean my house and make dinners and still have strength left at the end of the day. And so, I do all of these things, to try and be like you. But, I am not like you, not yet anyway. And the more I do, the worse I feel. Strangely enough, I am only doing normal stuff that a mom does, but it is still too much for my body. All the lessons, sports, scouts, errands, trips to the schools, bank, grocery store, etc. have proven once again to be too much for me. I need more rest and less stuff to do.

Last night was a perfect example. I went to Orem to watch my brother's football game. He is a senior in HS and I so badly want to be there, to support him, to cheer for him and to show him my love. But, I cannot drive on the freeway because of my eyesight and depth perception. So, I loaded the kids into the car and we drove the short distance to the commuter train station. We rode the train to Salt Lake, where we met Tolan. He drove us the rest of the way to Orem (it took nearly 2.5 hours from the time I left my house until we reached our destination, a trip that normally takes just over an hour). We ate dinner at the mall, then went to the game. It was Orem High's homecoming game and it was so fun to be there and cheer for Brett and the team. I loved it. I love being there. I loved feeling a part of the excitement. But, part way through the game, our Casen started feeling sick, so we left early. Brett played a good game (playing both offense and defense) and OHS won, and I was so glad I could be there. But, truthfully, we left early for me, too.

By the time we got home (after turning around because we forgot about the other car still at the train station), I was "hammered". My body was so worn out, but I couldn't sleep. My muscles were so tired, I couldn't even keep my eye closed, so I kept holding it shut with my hand, in hopes of getting some rest.

Today, well, today I feel pretty lousy. So, why do I tell you all of this?? I am not trying to complain. I love life, life is so good. That is precisely part of my struggle. I so desperately want to live my second chance at life out to the very fullest that I overdo it and make myself go backward instead of forward. I am telling you this so you can help me, perhaps simply by reminding me to slow down, or maybe even by not inviting me to do the things I so badly want to do. I just need to slow down, and often, I don't know how.

I am still very happy and positive about my long-term recovery. Just yesterday, we discovered another small facial muscle that I can move. And, last week I heard more good news from a neurologist. I have been experiencing a metallic taste in my mouth for about 6 weeks now. It never goes away, though some food tastes cover it up temporarily. The doctor told me this is a good sign, that my taste buds are trying to overcome the paralysis and re-establish a connection, but right now the taste sensors are misfiring. So, I guess the taste of sucking on pennies is a good thing. :)

If you have made it this far, congratulations. I have not meant to sound down, because I am not down. I just need for all of you to help me be realistic with myself and my abilities...I need my very own road signs that say "Slow Down, Recovery Work Ahead. Body Fines Double for Speeding in the Recovery Zone." Love you all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. We "upgraded" our internet, then it didn't work for 3 days! Yikes! I was lost without my connection to the world! :)

Yesterday I was helping my daughter with her spelling words when the door bell rang. Lindi went to get it, but I didn't hear her talk to anyone, so I started to walk over and see who it was. Then, a very familiar face rounded the corner of my house and my childhood/youth friend, Tamee Beaver Sutherland, was standing in my living room!
I grew up with Tamee in Warrenton, Virginia. We met when we were 12 years old and have remained friends for 21 years now (yikes!). I haven't seen Tamee since our 10 year HS reunion, 5 years ago, so I was shocked when she walked in my house. What a wonderful surprise! We visited the whole evening and all day today, until she left this afternoon. She went through heck and back (and about 8 airports) to get here, but I hope she will feel like it was worth it! She brought me a special scrapbook album made from pictures and notes from my friends in Virginia. So special! Thanks to everyone who helped contribute and put it together!

Thank you, Tamee, for the amazing talks, the fun surprise and the years of love!! Thanks Tolan and Tami for helping coordinate the details of this great visit!
Tamee, Daven and I hanging out by our little waterfall in the back yard! Soo fun!
Posing by my front porch. I tried to get my smile "normal" but this was the best I could do.

Tamee and I on the river walkway by my house.

So, because of the internet downtime for the last few days, I didn't even get to post about my weekend. Tolan and the boys had a great time with my cousin, Brad, at the Miller Motorsports Park races on Friday. Trenden drove the go-karts and said it was the funnest thing he has ever done! :)
The kids had soccer games on Saturday morning, then in the evening we went to Tolan's cousin's house for a BBQ. Michelle and Anthony Bocchino are so much fun to be with! The kids all had fun together and the adults, well, I think we had even more fun than the kids! At the end of our fun BBQ, they treated us to dessert at their new store, Yogurt Vibes, a frozen yogurt shop that was sooo fun! We loaded up on the much frozen yogurt, and topped it with as many treats, toppings, fruit, fixings, etc as our hearts desired. :) What a blast! If you are in the West Jordan area by the new Oquirrah Hills Temple, you have to go visit and have yourself a treat!
A great weekend and a great week so far! Thanks to everyone for their continued love...and surprises!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I had a post all planned for today, but sometimes things just don't come out the way we plan. Instead, I am shocked, saddened and still in disbelief over the news that a friend of mine passed away unexpectedly last night. We heard the ambulances, my kids saw the police cars, fire engines and ambulances, and I had no idea they were going to claim my friend.

After all that I have been through in the last year, I am not afraid of death, for me or anyone. But, I am still shocked that I am still here and my friend, Heidi Rogerson, is not. I met Heidi when I was "assigned" to visit her for church about 3 1/2 years ago. She hasn't come to church in years and was not in favor of a church visitor coming by every month. So, I stopped coming by because I was assigned, and decided just to get to know her and become a friend.

Just 2 weeks ago, I showed up on her doorstep, for what would be our last visit, and we embraced in a hug that told me that we truly had become dear friends. We had a connection that grew over time and became cemented by the trials of life. I will be forever grateful for that last special embrace, that last visit, the last words of love and friendship.

I love you, Heidi. Go find my Grandma B and give her a hug for me, please. I know she will love you like a daughter.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Seeing and Believing

Today has been a great day so far. I had an appointment with my eye doctor in Salt Lake this morning. My wonderful father-in-law, Larry, drove me (as usual) to SLC. This time, we had my two youngest boys with us, which was a whole new adventure. :) We brought Casen's remote control car and a bag of cookies, so the boys were set for the long wait in the lobby. Tolan met us there and the two of us went into meet with the doctor while Grandpa Brown stayed with the little boys.

The boys had a great time in the waiting room. They ran the car under chairs, down hallways and almost through the legs of some patients (oops). When we came out, they had chocolate on their faces and had no signs of being bored or upset by the wait. I will have to remember this for next time. :)

The doctor looked at my eye again, and told us both the good and bad news.

Good: My cornea is nearly completely recovered from all the damage it received in the early months of my paralysis! I have learned how to manage and take care of my eye (ie. I wear my patch) so it has allowed time for healing and prevented further damage. Hooray!

More Good: My lower eyelid is finally settling into place, with the collagen implant now resting up against my eye (as opposed to hanging out, which it was doing until a few weeks ago). Yeah!

Bad: My eyesight and depth perception are still off because of my inability to blink. The blinking motion is quite complex. Apparently, the blink (when watched in slow motion) occurs from the outside of the eye, into the inner part of the eye, next to the nose. This motion acts as a "squeegee" and it pushes fluids (ie. tears, goop) and gets it to the drainage "pipes" that rest underneath our inner eyes. Since I can't blink, the fluid continues to build up and rest in the center of my eye. You can actually see the liquid build up pooled on my lower lid. So, I am constantly looking through liquid, which is why my eyesight and perception are off.

Sadly, we can't do anything about this but give my eye time for the nerves to regenerate and hopefully start up the blinking motion again.

More Good News: However, there are products on the market to help people in my situation. There are sun glasses that come with "Moisture Chambers" built in, meaning, they actually create a little "seal" against your face, so the wind, debris, etc. cannot get into your eye. So, even though the eye doesn't blink, it is protected and kept moist, thus alleviating a few of the problems from not blinking.

A little trip to the Optical Center, and $120 later, I have new glasses that I can wear while I am driving or outside and they will protect my eye! (This isn't 100% foolproof, but much better than using just the eye patch all the time. The patches will still be used indoors when minimal protection is needed.)

So, my face may still be crooked (though Tolan thought the glasses were crooked :), but at least the glasses fit me and protect my eye. Tolan says I won't be setting any fashion or style trends, but I can go out and face "the elements" and that is awesome! Check them out!

As for my other good news, we have been working with the U Hospital and the insurance to get our bills figured out and paid. We have had one bill left, for $7,500 that has been disputed over and over again. The hopsital was ready to turn it over to collections. Our insurance told us not to pay it, but the hospital said to pay it. Ugh. Today, I got a wonderful call from the hospital rep and she told me they are going to waive this final bill!! We don't have to pay it, and neither does our insurance! In looking at our file, she doesn't know why we received a mysterious "discount" on our bill, but since it is there, she was able to waive this and count it as part of the discount...the discount we shouldn't have gotten, but is somehow there! So, they dropped a total of $30,000 (incluing the $7,500) from bill! WOW! Blessings and miracles!

All in all, a great day so far! Now, with my new, fancy glasses, I am going to go outside and work in my garden! Thanks for all the prayers. I have no doubt the prayers have created the blessings and miracles!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Corporate Kindness, Needed Naps & the Power of Prayer

They said it wouldn't happen. They said it couldn't be done. But, they were wrong, all wrong. I attempted the impossible and tried to get a refund on our Delta nonrefundable tickets to Hawaii, from the trip we didn't get to take in June :( We thought about rebooking, but for that, we were going to be charged $150 a ticket (times 6) for the change fee. Yikes. We can't afford that right now, so I decided to go another route. It was not the behemouth task I was prepared for. It took one phone call, one fax and a letter from my doctor. That's it! Within 7 days, my FULL refund was being processed and in another 3 days, the credit showed up on my card. WOW!!

This may sound silly, but right now, to me, that is a huge blessing. Knowing that some companies still allow employees to have feelings and help those in need makes a big difference. Corporate Kindess is alive and well in the United States! So, next time you get frustrated from a negative experience, perhaps take a step back, look at it another way and try a different approach and perhaps, you, too will have a better than expected outcome! Thanks, Delta Airlines!

We would still LOVE to go to Hawaii to see my family, we are hoping for Christmas, but the tickets at that time of the year from Salt Lake are triple the amount we paid to leave in June (from Los Angeles - long story). So, we will have to see what happens. If anyone knows of a good deal, has suggestions or connections, please let me know!

So, yesterday I had a busy day, out all morning at an appointment, with the kids all afternoon, and well, my body just couldn't take it. By the time the kids got out of school, I was shot. So, I did the nearly impossible and took a nap! (This is hard to do with a 2-year old and a 4-year old in the home...you don't know what kind of disaster you could wake up to!) But, the timing was just right and I got to take a much-needed rest. I wish I could do this every day, because my body still really needs it, but I am grateful I got one yesterday.

I am saddened by the health struggles of some people I love dearly. Please pray for Carol and her family (especially her daughter Jackie and her son Taylor). Jackie is a young ,vibrant college student who is suffering immensely from a rare disease. Her blog is http://jackiedillard06.blogspot.com/ . It hasn't been updated in about 2 weeks, because Jackie has just spent the last 10 days in the hospital. Prayers please! Also, keeping praying for Jason Reynolds, Jodi Carlson, and Doug Peterson! Thanks so much...I truly believe in the Power of Prayer!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Windy Days & Wonderful Watchers

Yesterday the season started to turn, you could feel it in the air. The warmth gave way to dark skies, wind and even a thunderstorm last night. Today it is warm outside, but not hot, and it is very windy. You can sense the changes...fall is finally coming to Utah.

Normally windy days are not good for me. When you have an eye that can't blink, wind is about the worst thing you can experience (short of a dust storm or sand storm). But, today, I went outside anyway, to play with my boys. We filled the bird feeder with seed, so we can be flocked by the hundreds of birds that come to our backyard for a snack and a drink. :) We also checked on our garden, saw the progress of our pumpkins and picked some tomatoes and peppers. The kids caught a grasshopper last week and put him in a little outdoor mesh cage. So, we gathered more grass, water, bugs and sticks for his home. It was one of the wonderful moments I get to experience being a mom. And who cares about the wind? With my one good eye, I saw hundreds of little moments with my kids, now forever frozen in time in my mind. :)

My dad called me this weekend and told me that he heard from several friends who are still following the blog, silently watching, but never commenting. I hear about you all the time. So, to you wonderful watchers, I say thank you. This blog is for me, but it is also for you. We can all strengthen each other, and you have strengthened me, just because I know you are there! I count on you for your prayers, your faith and your good vibes. I hope you can count on me, too, to be honest, open and hopefully upbeat about life (most of the time). You all inspire me and I hope that once in a while, I can inspire you, just a bit. :)

Love and thanks to all. Have a wonderful week, and if you are in Utah, a happy, windy day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11

My American flag is flying just outside my window this morning, as a reminder of this important day and a tribute to those who died. No challenge you or I face each day is too big or too challenging, especially when we take the time to remember what the whole country was going through 8 years ago today. I remember where I was...do you?

Now, after all the documentaries, movies, talk shows and memorials, it is still hard to see the footage of that day and know that it really happened, right here on American ground. I continue to be grateful to God that we live in a free country where I can fly my flag and remember daily the sacrifices of the millions of people who have given their lives to keep us free.

God Bless America, Today and Always.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Eyes and The Size of Your Sighs

Throughout the last week, I have noticed that my right eye feels worse now than in quite some time. This is strange, because nearly everyone who sees me tells me it looks better. I can see that it looks better, but I am having the same (if not increased) problems with it. Now, this may not be my eye itself, it may be the way I am treating my eye...meaning that I am trying to do all my "normal" things again as though I didn't have any problems. But, it is because I feel I have no choice. :) I have kids in 2 schools, 3 soccer teams, 1 dance team, 1 scout pack, 1 piano lesson, plus all the running around of normal families. So, between the grocery store visits, all the lessons and activities, I think I am overdoing it, but I don't really know how NOT to. I am not doing anything "extra" or for myself, so it is hard to know how to slow down.

I go back to the eye doc next week, but I doubt I will receive any revelations there. It is what it is...I have an eye that just doesn't work. Most of the time I can still see well enough to drive short distances, but today I could hardly see at all, so it was good that I didn't go more than a mile from home! So, I all I can do is sigh and look forward to better days. :)

In the last several months, I have experienced many "sighs" as I have lived daily life. Think back over your last several months and see how many of these sighs you have exeprienced, too. (Then think about what each sigh sounds like, as they are all quite different!)

Sighs of relief
Sighs of amazement
Sighs or frustration
Sighs of love
Sighs of sadness
Sighs of gratitude
Sighs of exasperation
Sighs of joy

And, next time you experience "sighs", think about the "size of your sighs". How much joy? How much pain? How much love? I am grateful that despite my challenges, my good sighs are always the biggest!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Living, Learning and Ladders

I feel very conflicted right now. So much of my life is so very good, but I am also hurting for so many people I love. Right now it feels like I live in a bubble. I am constantly surrounded by people who are helping me, concerned for me, and there for me. Yet, just outside my little bubble are so many people who are suffering and in pain.

Many that I see suffer from health issues, which, like my tumor, are no fault of their own. These are hard to watch because there are some things in this life we don't get to choose, yet they can impact us every day. However, even more difficult to witness are those who are suffering because of the choices they make. My heart aches for the many people I love who struggle because of decisions they have made. All decisions have consequences, but some are long-term consequences that NEVER go away! I want to reach out to those who are hurting, give them a hug, tell them I love them, and remind them that God and Jesus love them, too. Would that help?? If they really understood that they are children of God with inifinite worth and divine potential, would it help them to avoid temptation?

Deep breath...I guess all I can do now is pray for them and be a listening ear.

I do feel blessed to live in my bubble and have such wonderful friends and neighbors. Tonight I was at church doing an activity with the young women. They did a human ladder and I had to walk across it, holding on to them as I went. With a bad eye, so-so balance and not-so-good depth perception, it was harder for me than I thought. But these wonderful young ladies helped me through it and cheered when I jumped down on the other side. Glad my bubble is filled with amazing people, including the girls I love so much, who teach me about life every day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Age of Enlightenment

Yesterday we returned from another quick trip to Hebgan Lake, Montana. In case you didn't catch it, this was our 3rd trip in 7 weeks. Clearly, I am trying to get my summer back, after spending the first half of the summer in the hospital and in bed! As usual, it was a wonderful time, truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

As I was sitting on the dock, overlooking the lake, and reading a book called, "The China Study", I had an epiphany of sorts. I read the book and knew I needed to make some changes in my life (in this case, in my health and "diet"). The realization that occurred to me, however, was about much more than a lifetyle or health change. I felt enlightened and suddenly KNEW that the Lord is using the experience of my tumor/hospitalization/recovery to teach me truths and change my life. This is my own personal Age of Enlightenment! A time of learning, growth, change and transitioning to an Enlightened state of mind.

In this age of time, the world was changed from the "Dark Ages" to a state of constant innovation, improvement and enlightenment...about ideas, agriculture and technology. Perhaps only now that I have seen my own personal "dark" times, and hit the very bottom, can I now truly appreciate, understand and implement into my life the many truths and ideas that the Lord really has in store, for me and for each of us.

I continue to feel so blessed that I have gone through so much. I am grateful that my Dark Ages is over and now I am in my Age of Enlightenment, where I can learn, grow and become closer to God. I know many are still struggling through the darkness, be it health problems, spiritual problems, family or otherwise. Please join me in praying for those who are suffering. Please also pray that my friend, Jason (http://jasonslifeisgood.blogspot.com), will be blessed with increased health and enjoy a respite from the many medical problems that make his daily journey difficult to travel. Thanks and love to all!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Humbled to Tears

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak publicly (to about 200 people) about my tumor experience for the first time. I was nervous about how it would go, what to say, and how the audience would react. It was a very short address, only about 10 minutes total, but in that time, I was able to tell a brief version of the last year of my life, followed by the challenge for each member of the audience to be grateful for the fact that they are all on the "giving" end of life right now.

For most of my life, I have been well enough to be on the giving end, I was in a position to be able to help others, rather than being in need of help myself. Of course, all of that changed with the tumor. For the last 6 months, I have been alsmost totally reliant on others to take care of my life, including taking care of my children, fixing meals, cleaning my house, etc. In the hospital, I was in the hands of doctors, nurses, CNAs and others who cared for me, performed procedures on me and even bathed me. It is very different to be on the receiving end of life. I ended my "speech" with this little challenge, to be grateful for where they are and to take the opportunity to really give and help others, because none of us know when life will change in an instant.

As I nervously finished, the room erupted in applause, and within moments, the entire group was on their feet in a standing ovation. It was truly one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I tearfully thanked the audience and took my seat.

As people came up to me afterwards, to share their stories, thank and congratulate me, or even just give me a hug, I struggled to come to terms with what they were saying. "You are my hero" and "you are so amazing"...this just seems strange to hear. I am no different than any other person with challenges, but mine are certainly more public and pronounced right now. What I realized is something that my Uncle Joel Orgill told me before I went into the hospital. He told me, as we have all heard before, that attitude is everything and a positive attitude would help me get better and change others lives. This is what people are feeling, is the positive outcomes I experienced, the miracles I had, as a result of attitude, and lots of prayers and fasting.

I continue to be grateful for my experiences, and can honestly say I would not take this challenge away, even if it meant I could hear, see, smile, drive, eat and talk normally again, and never have another headache in my life. Life is full of challenges, and it is through these challenges that we grow stronger and come to know God and His son, Jesus Christ. Sounds like I am the lucky one...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Love, Losing ang Lip Syncing


On Sunday at church, a newly returned missionary encouraged us to look for the Lord's hand in our lives each day. This really got me thinking about my life. While I was in the hospital, it was easy to see His hand in my life. I felt blessed and enriched each day, despite the terrible pain and trials. I never felt alone, and truly, I never was. Now I see that I am still touched by His hand each day, but in different ways. Most of the time, it is through some form of LOVE.

Monday evening we had a neighborhood block party and about 50 people were gathered in our front yard and cul-de-sac for a wonderful gathering of friends. It is the love we have for each other that brought us together, and their love and concern for me that strengthened me on difficult days. I think we all feel closer now, having stretched beyond being just neighbors, and becoming friends whoe love and pray for each other.

Yesterday it was being touched by yet another friend and feeling grateful for listening ears and warm hearts. My dear neighbor Cami H. has only lived here a little over a year, but she has taught me much about friendship, sacrifice and love.

A touching email from my virtual friend, Jason Reynolds, also showed me the Lord's hand is in my life. Jason demonstrates unconditional, selfless love in his daily battle to survive and be a husband and father. His influence mean more than he will ever know.

Today, it is my little ones that surrounded me with love. Sweet little Daven and I read stories and played while all the other kids were at school. His love is pure, simple and real. Casen and I cheered for Daven when he went on the big boy "potty" and we all smiled smiles of excitement and love for the "little" moments that really count.


Love is far more important than "losing", but I cannot deny it anymore, my hair really is falling out. How much I will lose is still to be determined (it depends on the amount of trauma the brain has experienced, says my doc), so my status is TBD. This morning my shower, hands and brush were all full of hair. Everyone tells me it is not noticeable, but I can't keep losing this much everyday and not have it show sometime.


This morning I was enjoying the time at home with my little boys. I was cleaning the kitchen and decided to crank up "My Favorites" list on my iPod. Before I knew it, I was lip syncing, singing along and dancing my heart out to U2, Linkin Park, Simple Plan, and even Neil Diamond. It was great, so normal, and so wonderful. Casen kept looking at me and said over and over again, "stop dancing like a rock star, Mom". I think he was stunned at my "crazy" behavior, but I loved it. Music is so powerful - it can be fun, bring back memories, make me cry, make me laugh...but today it made me dance and enjoy life! What is not to LOVE about that?

How has the Lord touched your life today?? I'd love to hear!