Crazy Busy October

Physical and Occupational Therapy

The past couple of weeks have been packed with appointments. This week is another very full week, but I wanted to try to get in at least a blog post. A word of warning, it will be a longer post.

One of those appointments was for Ben with the University of Michigan. They’ve started him on a new medication, which causes drowsiness. Ben’s primary doctor also started him on some new meds. His health has continued to change over the last few months. We’ve gotten a few answers, but those answers have led to more confusion, questions and concerns than anything. At some point he will be going to have a nerve biopsy to hopefully find more answers, but we are not sure when.

In physical therapy, I’ve continued to do the independent sessions. Occupational therapy is really about the day to day things I do, such as laundry, pouring liquids from one dish to another, and gripping things with my hand. I have weights and strengthening equipment at home I use sometimes as well to help strengthen my hands.

With surgery coming up, I’m hoping I won’t lose much strength during the time I can’t do much. I am trying to build as much strength as I can before the operation in November, but my left side is still pretty weak. I have a come a long way since the accident, but I still notice differences in what I can do, especially when it comes to swinging or lifting my left leg or trying to turn my left wrist over. I am able to compensate in many ways, such as using my hands to move my left leg when I need to swing it over a chair, or using my arm to turn my wrist when I need to pour something, or squeeze a sauce out of a bottle such as ketchup or barbecue sauce. It feels strange to turn most of my arm over just to get some ketchup for a meal, or use my hands to move my leg over a chair, but it allows me to be more independent.

With the upcoming surgery, I will be limited on what I can lift for at least 2 to 6 weeks. I am hoping this won’t be a setback for strengthening my left side. As I mentioned before, this surgery is to fix some of the internal damage caused by the accident. I am hoping it will be a fast recovery, but a lot depends on whether they can do robotic surgery or have to do more in-depth surgery.

Recharging

As an introvert, I’ve always needed alone time to recharge. It has been really hard to get that time with so many appointments, and I often find myself feeling exhausted and run down when we have so much back to back. We’ve really tried to make it a point to schedule down time. I know that may not make sense to some people, but for me, scheduling down time allows me much needed time to relax and recharge. Without it, my schedule gets so packed, I barely have a moment to breath.

The past couple of weeks, it has been really hard to get much down time in. Some days, we have had three, four or even five appointments on the same day, all back to back with very little time in between, so it’s been go-go-go. This has meant almost no hiking or walks for me, and only brief stops to parks to try to breath a little and take some time to get photos.

We are hoping this will change soon schedule-wise, but are also working on adding some down-time specifically into the schedule to help provide time to rest and recharge. Ben and I both really time to process everything that has happened this year, and you can’t really do that when it’s constant businesses. Everyone processes trauma differently, and for the two of us, we need time away from the craziness of life to try to deal with everything that this year has brought to us.

A few photos from our yard and brief stops at parks:

Photos from the only couple of hikes I’ve been able to do in the last couple of weeks: Grass River Natural Area, and Hartwick Pines

Books I’m reading or recently read

I’ve always been an avid reader, and sometimes people ask me what’s on my reading list, so I’m going to try adding in this section at least once or twice a month. I tend to read multiple books at once, reading parts of one then going to another before I’ve finished that one, and back to the first until it’s done.

  • Atomic Habits, by James Clear
  • Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers
  • Mistaken Identity, by Don Van Ryn , Susie Van Ryn , Colleen Cerak , Whitney Cerak , Newell Cerak
  • Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: 5 Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Toxic Thinking, by Dr. Caroline Leaf
  • Captivating, by Stasi Eldredge

Cooking

I’ve never enjoyed cooking very much. In our family, Ben does the most of the cooking, including making the dogs food. One of our dogs has a lot of allergies, so we started making their food a few months ago. Occupational therapy has encouraged me to do more cooking, in part because when you cook, you use your hands a lot and this will help strengthen and increase the mobility of my hands. I tried cooking the dogs food for the first time over the last couple of weeks, and they enjoyed it so much, one of them came to get me the next time Ben cooked it for them. In the past when I would cook, they would sit by the stove and whine and paw at me because I have a tendency to burn things and mess up recipes, so it made me feel good to know they actually liked what I made this time.

We also do canning every year. We have a few of our own grapes, but thanks to Ben’s mom, we were able to get some more and canned some grape juice. Thanks to my mom, we were also able to get some carrots canned up as well. We also found a reusable microwavable popcorn bag at one of the local Farmer’s Markets. A few pictures from our cooking and canning adventures:

Scripture and Quotes from the last couple of weeks:

Songs on Repeat:

Goodness of God- Bethel Music

My Life Be Like- Grits

Rescue, Lauren Daigle

Closing Thoughts:

The past couple of weeks have been so packed. I hope to get some time to hike in the next week or two, before I go in for surgery. Life has brought us a lot to deal with this year. But our faith has helped us greatly, and been strengthened through this process. We’ve also been on the receiving in of so much love and care from family and friends. I wanted to share a photo of this beautiful quilt a friend made for me. It is pretty amazing!

Life isn’t always easy, but as Romans 8:28 says, God is working all things together for our good, and we trust Him, even in the hard times.

Until next time,

Cindy

Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

Physical and Occupational Therapy:

This week, I was able to get up to 2 miles in about eleven minutes on the indoor bike. To my athlete friends, this may not seem like much, but it was a new record for me since the accident and something to celebrate. I haven’t added more weight since last week (I’m still at 40-75 lbs) but am trying to do more repetitions with each machine I use.

I have been trying to walk at least a mile a day. This week, I made it out to Hartwick Pines after an appointment, as well as a marina in Petoskey and Deadman’s Hill. I’ve really made it a goal to hike somewhere after every appointment I have, and most of the time, I do. This week was packed with appointments, but I managed to squeeze in a few hikes.

Surgery Update:

It looks like I will be having surgery in early November to repair some of the internal damage from the accident. My abdominal wall was nearly destroyed in the accident, and my liver and colon had to be stitched, so there is still some work to do. Hopefully the surgery will go well, and recovery should be about 2 to 3 weeks.

Adventures This Week:

A gallery of some of the photos from this week, taken at Hartwick Pines, Deadman’s Hill, a Marina near Petoskey, and a few other places in North-West Lower Michigan:

Fall is in the air!

When I took photos this past week, we weren’t in full color yet but getting close. I love this time of year! The colors are so bright and cheery! A gallery of color:

Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

I try hard to keep a positive attitude about things, but this doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. This was a week with several days where I was late for appointments because it was just one thing after another. I overslept one day, got stuck behind a construction vehicle another day, and stepped in dog poop a couple of times on my way to places. I always leave extra time, but it just wasn’t enough some days.

I also discovered I can’t use a video-teller or drive-up ATM machine, at least not with my left wrist. It just won’t turn over enough. I have a hard time in drive-throughs too, such as at fast food places. I have moments when I get really frustrated, but I try to allow myself to feel the frustration and work through it. I’m learning to live with a new normal. Hopefully I will get more and more of my left side back , but there are no guarantees, and when you’ve lived certain ways most of your life, it takes time to adjust to something different.

We also spent part of an afternoon in the emergency room again for Ben. He has a toe with what the doctor says is a blood blister. It looks very much like it did the last time it developed an infection, so we are keeping a close eye on it. With Ben’s Peripheral Neuropathy, he checks his feet regularly anyways as he has no feeling in them.

Today (October 10) is also the birthday of my sister-in-law, Morgan who passed away several years ago. I wrote about that loss, as well as several others here:

Today is both a sad and happy day, bittersweet. Sad that we have had all of this time without her, but happy that she is living her forever in Heaven. Happy Birthday in Heaven Morgan!

If I’ve learned anything in my lifetime so far, it’s this; even in loss and in pain, there is happiness and joy. Even in the darkest of moments, there is light. My faith plays a big roll in getting me through all of the things I’ve been through. It’s knowing that I will see loved ones again, knowing that anything that happens to me here on earth is just a blink of an eye, that helps me get through even the toughest of days. Philippians 4:13 has stood out to me time and time again during this journey, and is something I keep going back to when life gets really tough.

Songs on Repeat:

I’ve always loved music. Throughout the week, I often find myself playing certain songs on repeat. This varies by week, although I have a few that I tend to play often. This week’s songs include:

Goodness of God- Bethel Music

Graves Into Gardens- Brandon Lake/ Elevation Worship

The Stand- Hillsong

Say I Won’t – MercyMe

Life has this way of throwing unexpected curves at us. Sometimes those curves take us to unexpected places. Sometimes we find ourselves in the most amazing moments, and in the next breath, in the most horrific moments. Life may not be all sunshine and rainbows. But it is still good.

Until next time,

Cindy

Fall Life

Physical and Occupational Therapies:

Independent Physical therapy feels like the same routine each week, but it is helping me to get stronger and I try to mix up which machine I’m using when to keep it from getting boring. I’m still at 40-75 lbs. It took me quite awhile to get up to even 30-50 lbs, so I expect it will take a bit to be able to lift more weight. Before the accident, I hadn’t done weight lifting with my legs and back for a while, so it’s hard to say how much I’ve improved. But with my arms, I could lift at least 50 pounds when it came to everyday life activities like lifting apple crates and dog food bags. Right now, I’m lifting about 40 lbs, so I’m getting back to where I was. It just takes time. My left side is still weaker, and I have a hard time using my wrist fully because it doesn’t turn all the way and it’s painful to grip some things.

I don’t really have a specific goal in mind to be able to lift. We don’t know if my left side will ever work fully the way it didn’t before the accident. It likely won’t, but I’m learning to compensate and find ways around it so I can still do as much as possible like I did before. I’m trying to walk at least a mile every day. This is still a ways from the 3-4 miles I was walking before the accident, but I’m trying to slowly increase this over time. I have to remind myself sometimes a mile is a lot further than the few steps I was able to take when I started walking again back in February. I may not be exactly where I want to be, but when you have injuries to the extent I did, it takes awhile to come back from it. Up to two years is the general timeline I’ve been given from most of my doctors before I will be mostly healed and as back to normal as possible. I’ve always been one to set goals and strive to reach them, so I have to remind myself of this when I am wanting to be back to normal faster than my body is ready.

I’m noticing less and less discomfort when I walk. Standing is still tough. Over time, I’ve been able to increase how long I can stand. I couldn’t stand for more than a few seconds starting out, then increased it to a few minutes, and now I can stand for at least 15-20 minutes before the pain really starts to set in. I thought that most of the weakness in my legs was gone, until my husband and I took part of a day to get some canning done, and I found being on my legs off and on for several hours brought the weakness back. My legs were shaking and felt as though they weren’t going to hold me, something I hadn’t experienced since I’ve built my stamina for standing longer. By last night, I had nerve pain in my hip and legs, something else I hadn’t had in awhile. It was a reminder that I’ve come a long way, but physically I still have more limits than I did before.

Canning

My husband and I always try to can at least a little bit each year. We often have help from family members too; many hands make light work! This weekend, Ben and I tackled tomatoes. I am used to standing for most of the time it takes to can something, but my body just won’t allow it anymore. We have a red stool that I’m able to sit on for at least part of canning, so that helped a little bit.

Our black lab supervised and our Catahoula did cleanup duty, waiting for any scraps that would fall off the table or stove on to the floor. He LOVES tomatoes, really almost any fruit or veggie, but doesn’t get tomatoes normally because dogs aren’t supposed to have them. From everything we researched, the very small amount he got shouldn’t hurt him.

A few photos from our weekend project:

Birthday Celebrations

We also celebrated my birthday this week. Every year, I try to bring in my birthday with the sunrise and end my birthday with the sunset. I wasn’t able to get the greatest photos of the sunrise, but the sunset was pretty cool. My ankle has been swelling some, so rather than trying to hike on my birthday, we went on a drive. Photos are below.

Fall

Just three photos for this section. I know the old wives tale says these caterpillars predict winter. I’m not really sure what this one says about winter, but we’ve heard a lot of people saying it is going to be a rough one, and some of the nature signs are pointing to this as well. Winter is one of my favorite seasons. I do have some anxiety about driving in the snow after the accident, but am hoping that will get better with practice once the snow actually does come.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and the Christmas season has always been very special to me. Last year, we celebrated Christmas in the hospital. It was a very special Christmas that I wrote about here: https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2021/01/01/a-christmas-to-remember/ One thing I really missed though was the traditions we have at home for celebrating. We never got to finish decorating our Christmas tree. Ben had the idea of putting it up slowly, adding ornaments as we counted down the days until Christmas to extend the special day and the excitement of decorations, so we never finished getting everything up.

We celebrated Christmas in March, and took awhile putting our tree down. There was a sadness with it, a reminder of what had been lost even with all that had been gained. When we finally got everything off the tree (it’s artificial) there was again sadness and it felt so empty. We had noticed Fall lights and decorations in the store, and decided to try this instead. We decorated our tree for fall, and will redecorate it at Christmas time. It is a reminder that even when things are really hard and dark, there is still light, brightness, and good in the world.

-I’m going to skip quotes and songs for this week. This is getting pretty long. Until next time

Cindy

And yet….

Physical and Occupational Therapy

This is going to be a longer post this week, so I’ll try to keep this section brief. This week, I continued with Independent Physical Therapy. I’ve up to 75 pounds with parts of the exercises I do, and 40 pounds minimum for most things. This is a long way from the 1 pound limit I had with my wrists after the accident! I continue to work on building strength, especially in my left side.

I was also able to attend a class at Grass River Natural Area. We did a short walk, and learned how to collect seeds from Native plants. It was a great class, and I learned a lot. My left side was sore afterwards, but it was worth it, and very nice to be able to take another class.

Most days I am able to walk close to a mile. My goal is to get up to at least 3-4 miles a day. Right now, pain and weakness stops me from going further but it gets better each week.

Another loss

This week, we lost my Aunt Esther, my mom’s sister. Loss seems to be so very much a part of life. C.S. Lewis in ‘The Four Loves’ says:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” 

C.S. Lewis ‘The Four Loves’

Between 2003 and 2010, there were at least 11 family and friends that passed away. We also lost my dog Cora and my brothers’ dog Bear within a couple of weeks of each other. Losing a dog may not seem like much of a big deal if you’ve never owned one, but they become family and those who have owned dogs or other pets will likely understand that loss. From 2013-2017, we lost at least 11 more family members and another dog we’d loved for many years. Since 2020, we have had at least six family and friends pass away, my husband and I were in a serious car accident, and we’ve dealt with everything the pandemic has brought about.

I say all of this not because I want people to feel sorry for us. I don’t. In fact, I hesitate to even say anything when someone I know passes away anymore or something bad happens because it feels so surreal, so unbelievable. I need to process all of this, and one of the best ways I can do that is to write it out. I could go back further, where there were more losses as well, but right now, I’m processing the past 18 years or so. So very much has happened. Some positive, but a lot of really hard difficult things too.

My mom comes from a family of 14 kids, the oldest died shortly after birth. Most of her siblings had children and many of them have children so it’s a big family. My dad comes from a smaller family, but the cousins on his side of the family are close, so we have relationships with family we might not have had otherwise. With that comes loving and dying. The more people you know, the more you have a chance of losing someone you love and care about. Death is as much of a part of life as living is. Loss is a part of the world we live in, like it or not.

When you’ve lost as much as I have, when you’ve been through one thing after another, it becomes normal, even if it’s not. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for the next loss to happen, for the next bad thing to take place. I’m not just talking about all the death, I’m talking about the loss of our “normal” lives with the pandemic, the loss of the use of my left side as I “normally” would, and the loss of a year of my life that I will never get back.

And yet. I feel as though two simple words hang in the air despite everything we’ve been through. They give us hope. And yet, we will see many of our loved ones again. And yet, there is hope for the future. And yet, despite everything we’ve been through, all of the loss and pain, there is still so much good in the world. And yet, despite our hearts breaking over and over again, there is joy. And yet, when it seemed as though all the world was ending, Jesus came to save it. And yet.

Death isn’t the end. No matter how much death and loss we experience in our lifetime, no matter how much loss I experience myself, it is not the end. Praise be to God for this! And yet, death does not win. Even in great loss, we have this hope.

Ben and our Pup

Ben continues to deal with his peripheral neuropathy and all the issues it brings with it. His feet have been swollen and painful a lot this month, and it has spread up to his legs and into his hands. He has also had some problems with blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the last month or so, which he hasn’t had before. We are working with his primary doctor and the team at the University of Michigan to try to figure everything out.

We’ve also been dealing with our dog Wesley having an ear infection. He’s had one for well over a year, off and on getting worse. We’ve been to the vet many times, changed his diet, had him tested for allergies, and tried lots of medication, including sending a sample to Michigan State to get a specialty made antibiotic for him, but his ear infection just doesn’t want to give it up.

We are trying several medications at once this time, in the hopes we can knock it out. Otherwise it will be a trip to a specialist for him.

Road Trip

This week, I took a little drive with our two dogs. I needed to clear my head. I needed to process everything that has happened as much as I could. I headed out to Lake Michigan, where the waves were supposed to be somewhat high. We weren’t disappointed. There were people taking pictures and videos, someone windsurfing, and someone collecting rocks. It was chilly, with the wind blowing hard, but a beautiful day. The sound of the waves was so peaceful and relaxing, and I returned from our trip feeling at least a little more clear. Life can be tough. And yet…..

And yet there is still so much to be thankful for. We are dealing with a lot. Some days are really tough. And yet there are days like this, when the world is as it should be….

Quotes and Scripture from this week:

Songs on Repeat this Week:

Life is full of trials and difficulty. And yet….

Until next time…

Cindy

Slow and Steady Progress

Physical and Occupational Therapies

This week, I continued independent physical therapy at the local hospital’s rehab outpatient center. I’ve continued to increase the amount of weight I’m lifting. Depending on the machine, and what part of my body I’m using to lift weights, I’m now lifting between 32 and 70 pounds. Instead of walking the track at the outpatient center, I’ve been trying to get in walks at local nature places or in our yard. This allows me to have more of a variety. This week, on a trip to Grass River Natural Area with one of my nieces, we were able to walk about a mile, and I got as many steps in as I do on a low day when I’m teaching. It felt really good to be able to go a little longer this time! Last week’s walk was about 1/2 mile, for a reference. We also stopped to rest a few times during our walk, but I’m slowly building my endurance back. I still have pain when I walk, and numbness in my left leg from all the surgeries. Some of this may be permanent. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so usually I can go awhile before I have to stop because of pain, but I’ve learned to not push it too much or my pain level will greatly increase later. I also have twinges from the internal injuries still. We are hoping the surgery coming up this fall will fix this, but time will tell.

I can now get my left foot almost up to my knee on my right leg. I still need a sock aid to get a sock on, but this is progress.

For Occupational therapy, I do exercises the therapists taught me, and do everyday tasks such as laundry and vacuuming. I also draw, color and write to build endurance in my hands. When I first started, I couldn’t go more than 15 minutes without pain. Now I can usually go for at least an hour. Sometimes progress feels very slow, but it has been steady and looking back, it feels like it comes in leaps and bounds.

Art at Grass River Natural Area

Grass River is the local nature center, and they offer art classes throughout the summer. This summer, between appointments and my limited mobility, I wasn’t able to make most of the classes but I did make it to two. One a couple of weeks ago on clay, and one this week on watercolor drawings.

I’ve never been much of an artist, but I enjoy drawing. I could really tell the difference in my wrists though, as it was hard to hold a pencil and shade the drawings compared to before the accident, but it was good to work the wrists that way. There was some pain, but not a lot.

When I was in the hospital, I set a goal for myself to one day walk the boardwalk trail at Grass River. This week, we did part of it. It felt so good!!!! As always, I took a lot of photos. Here are some of them.:

Summer Beauty

Besides appointments, and walking at nature places between appointments, I spent a lot of my time at home. We were able to visit with a niece and two of our nephews this weekend. They helped us plant native plants in our yard earlier this summer, and we’ve gotten some really pretty flowers in our yard from them! The birds also planted a little sunflower garden for us from the birdseed. It’s also a busy time of year for Ben, with harvest season beginning. My mom was able to come up and can some green beans for us, that Ben’s mom gave us. Both the beans and the canning were greatly appreciated!

It’s been a rainy month in August, and this has led to some awesome cloud cover. We’ve had a few clear nights too.

Quotes from this week:

Until next time,

Cindy

Birdwatching Photos

This week, I have a lot of photos to share from birdwatching this summer, so I’m doing an extra post to make it a little shorter. As part of occupational and physical therapies, we’ve worked in my personal interests, as you are more likely to stick with something if you enjoy it. So photography, writing, birdwatching, art projects and hiking have all become a part of my daily and weekly routines. Over the summer, I’ve tried to get in a small amount of birdwatching between appointments. I have yet to hike very far, but you can see a lot from a car too. Some photos are better than others. I’ve been having some problems with my camera, and I also struggled to hold the camera at first with the weakness in my wrists. As it gets easier to hold the camera, I’ve been able to take better photos as long as the camera isn’t acting up. I also put in a couple of photos of other critters, like a chipmunk that likes to visit our backyard and our black lab, who LOVES to birdwatch with me.

Photos:

See You Later

Physical and Occupational Therapy:

This was an off week for us. I will talk about this further in more of the blog, but I really didn’t get much physical or occupational therapy in this week, aside from a little bit of walking. I hope to be back at it this coming week.

See You Later

We started off this week with a message from my mom that my Uncle Bill had passed away. Uncle Bill was married to my Aunt Ruth, my dad’s sister for many years before her passing in 2003. He was 77 years old at the time of his death. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends!

I was able to attend his funeral on Thursday. It was really good to see a lot of family members I haven’t seen in quite awhile.

Sometimes it seems like life is getting through one struggle only to move on to the next. Sometimes it’s dealing with multiple struggles at once, trying to move through each one until something else comes along. Death often seems like it is so much a part of life. Love anything at all, and eventually you’ll lose it. You’ll hurt, you’ll grieve, and you’ll miss the person, animal or thing you loved. Yet when it comes to people and animals, especially people, it’s so very worth it in the end. Collateral beauty. Beauty even with great pain. I wrote about this in another post, which you can find here:

Collateral Beauty Post

I am reminded of a quote from C.S. Lewis:

After we lost my my sister-in-law many years ago, I wrote something that has stood out many times when others have died too.

“One day soon, we will all see Morgan again. And though it is hard to understand now, we know that there is hope and a future. Though our hearts are heavy, we are happy for Morgan. Morgan is living her Happy-Ever-After. She is with the King of All Kings, and her battle is won. Though we must continue our journey without her, the same King who took her home is holding us in His arms and carrying us all through as we grieve her loss from this earth. The life she lived, the impact she had, will forever be with us. She touched so many. Every time I see a field of winter wheat, I will remember both her and Grandma, and remember that even when it seems like we have no impact, even when what happens seems pointless and meaningless, it’s not. There is a purpose for everything, and Morgan impacted as many (or more) people as you can see golden grains in a wheat field.

And so for now, we grieve and are happy all at the same time. We continue on with both sadness and hope, knowing that there is still work to be done, that God still has a purpose for all of us who are left on this earth. So we hope, we trust in our King, we keep the faith, and though it is not easy, we travel on, for there is so much yet to be done. And we look to the future with anticipation. After all, today brings us that much close to the home we all long for. And who knows? …home may just around the next bend.”

Even now, these words are still so very true. As a Christian, I know I will see those who have gone before me again. I know some would argue I have no way of knowing this for sure, but I believe we can know things in our hearts even if there is no evidence in front of our eyes. This year, home almost was just around a bend for me, but God has a plan and He wanted me here longer. This week, He called my Uncle Bill home. And though I long for the day when I will be reunited with so many loved ones who have gone before me, I also know there is still a purpose and a plan for us here. Life is never easy, but even when times are tough, we have the hope of a better tomorrow and a glorious home around the next bend. Death is not goodbye. It’s “See you later.”

Update on Ben:

Ben’s toe has been slowly healing. We finally had a week with no ER visits, and the meds he is on seem to be working. Hopefully he is on the road to recovery!

Photos from this Week:

I still had several appointments this week, and managed to get a few photos in between.

Quotes From This Week:

Until next time,

Cindy

Long-Awaited Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve given an update. I’ve been super busy with therapies, and started outpatient therapy several weeks ago. I go several days a week to physical and occupational therapy, and also get medical massage and trauma massage therapies. Between these appointments and everything else, it keeps me busy!

I have continued to make progress, and am now sometimes able to walk without a cane. I have to be careful I don’t lose my balance, but I’m gaining more strength and mobility each day. I am also making progress with my wrists. The right one is stronger, and almost back to “normal.” The left is still pretty weak, and we are working on getting a better rotation with it.

As part of my physical therapy, I walk 8-10 times or more a day. Often, I head to our backyard and have been able to see quite a few birds this season so far. My current list includes:

  1. Mourning Dove
  2. Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male)
  3. American Redstart (female)
  4. American Robin
  5. Common Grackle
  6. Common Raven
  7. American Crow
  8. Killdeer
  9. Black-capped Chickadee
  10. Downy Woodpecker
  11. Northern Flicker
  12. Northern Catbird
  13. Blue jay
  14. Ring-billed gull
  15. American Goldfinch
  16. Baltimore Oriole
  17. Chipping Sparrow
  18. House Sparrow
  19. Swallow (Couldn’t identify which type)
  20. Warbler (Couldn’t identify which one, but it was mostly yellow)

I know there are some I am missing, but we are getting quite a variety this year. Ben also found something that many people like to think of as a bird, but it’s really a mammal. See the photos below.

I have a fear of bats, but at the same time, we know they are really good for the environment, so as long as they are living outside. They get a bad rap for carrying diseases and more, but they are really important to the eco system so I’m glad Ben was able to save this one.

I will do my best to keep this blog updated better. Facebook has not been wanting to allow me to share nature photos and posts lately anyways. Apparently nature goes against community standards. So, I will be using other media to share photos and updates more frequently.

Collateral Beauty and Finding Joy in Pain

First the updates on physical therapy and occupuational therapy:

Occupational Therapy:

I have continued to make improvements. Sometimes it feels very small, but they add up and my left wrist has come so very far!

February 26th
Today

Physical Therapy:

Today I got the all clear to begin walking with a cane. As I transition from the walker to a cane, I will be going back and forth between the two, depending on my pain and energy level that day. I have made a lot of progress in a short time, but I’m also listening to my body, and some days, I just need to take a break.

Songs:

From my mom….

Others to focus on…

Bible Verses:

From my mom…

Others to focus on…

On Collateral Beauty and Joy

I came across a #speaklife post on TobyMac’s Facebook page today that really stood out to me. You can find it here:

https://www.facebook.com/tobymac/photos/a.241173571178/10157853493436179/

This quote really stood out to me. In December, my life changed forever. Certainly, I never would have thought I’d be facing so many injuries and challenges in the days ahead so quickly. But this is the story I’m in. This is what I’ve living day to day. Yet there is much joy among these challenges, even among the pain.

I’ve been thinking about the movie Collateral Beauty. It came out in 2016, staring Will Smith and Keira Knightley. Ben and I saw it in the theater. One thing that really stood out to me in this movie is the idea that even in great pain, there is beauty. The movie refers to this as “Collateral Beauty.” Collateral has several definitions, but one of them is defined as additional but subordinate; secondary. Secondary beauty. Beauty that wasn’t first choice, or something you even wanted to have happen, but beauty nonetheless.

Near the end of the movie, one of the characters says “Just make sure you notice the Collateral Beauty.” Since watching this movie, I’ve thought about the phrase ‘Collateral Beauty’ often. Collateral beauty involves the little things people do and say in the really tough times, like sending care packages and kind messages. It’s a butterfly flittering across the grass and into the sky the day after a storm has come through, and a neighbor helping someone clean up their yard when a tree falls. Sure, we might prefer that the accident never happen, the storm never come or the tree never fall, but there is so much beauty, so much good that can come of it.

If I had a choice in all of this, I would have chosen to not be in a wreck in the first place. That would have been best case scenario in my mind at least, to be whole and not broken from a wreck. But if this was the case, I wouldn’t have had all the good things in between, the kind words, the care packages, meals, and so many other ways people have helped out. Honestly, there has been more “Collateral Beauty” in all of this, than there ever would have been beauty had I been able to choose not to be in an accident. I think the more difficult the experience, the more beauty can be found. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t mean any of this has been easy or that I don’t have days that are rough. But even in that, there is beauty.

With finding that beauty, comes joy. Joy isn’t just about being happy. It is both a verb and a noun, so while it means ‘a feeling of great pleasure and happiness,’ it is also a verb meaning ‘rejoice.’ Looking for collateral beauty in our darkest moments can help us to find joy. We can rejoice, or show great delight even in tough situations because we see the beauty that is there too.

My faith helps me a lot in this. As a Christian, I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that God can and will work all things together for our good, even the bad things. The good isn’t always easy to see though. In dark moments, when the world seems so unfair and so very tough, it’s hard to look for the good. It’s hard to find joy in the Collateral Beauty around us. Our world wasn’t meant to be this way. It isn’t how it was created to be, isn’t how things were supposed to be and we know it. Collateral Beauty is second beauty precisely because it isn’t how the world was created to be. It’s beauty despite what has gone wrong, joy even in the darkest of moments.

When God works things together for our good, sometimes we don’t see right away. Sometimes it’s years down the road that we realize how He took a situation and turned it for our good. Other times, we can see right away, but I think more often than not, especially in very difficult situations, it’s not until years down the line, or perhaps not even this side of Heaven that we understand how God worked things together for our good. But we don’t always need to understand something to see the beauty in it. Joy is all around us, even in the toughest of times. It’s a gift, this collateral beauty that surrounds even the darkest of times. Sometimes we just have to look for it, but the light that comes from joy and collateral beauty will always outshine the darkness.

Journey to a New normal

My first day of home occupational therapy was yesterday,  and first day of home physical therapy was today.   My left side is so weak,  and we have a lot of work to do.  I have moments when I feel a little overwhelmed,  and wonder if life will ever be the same again.   I know it won’t be.   It can’t be,  with so much that has happened.

  At the same time,  I also know this doesn’t mean I’ll never walk right again,  or that I’ll never use my left wrist.   It just means I have to learn to do it again,  and maybe differently.  It’s a new normal, like so many other things in life have been.

Looking through my timeline and old photos, I see photos I’ve taken from journeys I’ve taken before, and it leaves me with a longing for more adventures. Adventures that right now, I’m not able to take yet, but in so many ways, my journey is an adventure all its own.

I look forward to the day when I can go out for a hike in the woods again,  snowshoe, take photos of nature around me.   I desperately wanted to write again,  without using voice to text,  and stand on the shores of Lake Michigan as the waves roll on.   I’ll get there.   It just takes time.

For now, I’m just trying to enjoy this journey as much as it can be enjoyed, and to photograph the adventures along the way. It’s the little things I want to remember, like Wesley moving his dog bed closer to me just so he can watch me sleep, Chewbacca trying very hard to stay close without hurting me, and my sweet husband taking the time to make sure my legs are propped just right.

This verse stood out to me during my hospital and rehab stay,  and became something I quoted to myself during tough times.   It was also in a coloring book a family friend gave me,  and I realized yesterday that it’s on a plaque in our living room too.   It’s the perfect reminder of where my strength comes from.  My journey is far from over with,  but I’ve come such a long way. 

This journey isn’t one I would have chosen, and it’s not an easy one, but one day, maybe not too far off, I’ll stand of the shores of Lake Michigan again, and watch the waves roll in. I’ll hike through a forest and listen to the sound of birds in the trees, and I’ll finish the books I’ve been writing. And when I do, it will mean all that much more because I’ll know just how far I had to go to get there.