Looking for answers to life's questions

Archive for the ‘Bells Palsy’ Category

In Search of Stability

Has it been two weeks already? Where does the time go? Life has a way of setting its own time table and agenda.

My good friend made this calendar with all photos she took.

My good friend made this calendar with all photos she took.

As I’ve said for the last couple of months, my son was planning on moving up to the Portland area with us as soon as his house sold. When he lost this last job he knew it was time to make a major change. Over the last 25 years, the companies he has worked for have been sold off, taken over, or just folded. This last company has started outsourcing their work. Those that pay for their services no longer care about quality of work, only bottom line costs. My son made the decision that the career he wandered into when his father died, had lost its charm and is looking in a new direction.

Much in both pods was removed and left behind before pickup. They were overweight

Much in both pods was removed and left behind before pickup. They were overweight

The contents of a 5 bdrm house and 2 car garage are inside 2 small pods.

The contents of a 5 bdrm house and 2 car garage are inside 2 small pods.

So much for the illusion of stability. What he kept from his home is going into storage until he re-establishes himself. Much was given away or sold along with the house. The rest is in pods on their way here. He arrived safe and sound Tuesday evening, the loan for the buyers funded on Thursday afternoon. He is free and clear of the weight of making house payments without employment. Yes, we did a happy dance and celebrated with orange juice in a brandy snifter.

I have been busy clearing out his (guest) room of my sewing stash and finding other places to store (hide) it. I managed to get more sewing done this last week than I have in several months. I shipped off a package to Tasmania on Tuesday afternoon.

Organized chaos in the sewing room. Both machines working at the same time while I addressed cards.

Organized chaos in the sewing room. Both machines working at the same time while I addressed cards.

Leaving my quilt group early for a post office run, I sat in the parking lot chatting on my cellphone with my sister-in-law. I saw this happy face staring at me. He was so adorable and his mom kindly leaned over the seat so he could have a better look at me and I could photograph him more clearly. This fella was not camera-shy.

He saw me looking at him.

He saw me looking at him.

Take my picture please

Take my picture please

Quilt group is always fun because I learn something new each time. I’m a novice at this so there are lots to learn. I managed to finish a foster kid quilt that had been waiting and turned it in to them for distribution. This next year we will focus on providing quilts to the Safe House in our area. I’ve had so much going on that my sewing room looks like a tornado went through. Projects are stacked up and I must get down to work.

I just finished making the sandwich

I just finished making the sandwich


I used tissue paper to help the batting slide across feed dogs. Works like a charm

I used tissue paper to help the batting slide across feed dogs. Works like a charm

back of foster quilt

back of foster quilt

I spent some time in the last two weeks checking out storage facilities for my son. I still have one for my overflow of stuff that will eventually find its way here or out. My sister has a lot of her things here too. Walking in to the office of one closer to my home, I was met by a sweet, little lab mix. I knew this was going to be the place we would rent from. The manager and dog’s servant, mentioned he had Bells Palsy and it has plagued him for the last three years. He told me it presented just like a stroke would and they had to confirm by MRI that it wasn’t. He also had it present in February, a cold February just like mine. Fortunately for him, he wasn’t hit with the dizziness. That is the first person I’m met or talked to that had a similar experience with Bells. He can walk and drive quite easily. So my son and I will share a storage unit for a time. I know, I know. We shouldn’t need one. But sometimes when you are making so many major changes, you need time to review what the next chapter in your life will look like.

Mine feels like shifting sand under my feet and I think that’s true for so many people. Our stuff keeps us grounded till we feel stable again. My son watched episodes of hoarders while packing. It helped him let go of so much.

I think we have stuff to keep us stable when we don’t have roots. We take what’s familiar with us, especially if we are making changes alone.

What helps you feel stable?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the Handbasket

The week has been quite busy for me doing not very creative things. Just more of the same old stuff like cooking, laundry, holding boards, and packing. The buyers are having some difficulty but we aren’t giving up yet. Either way, the work still needed to be done. My feet are giving up though. They announced their retirement at 5:30 yesterday and said enough. If I had a nickel for every time we have gone up and down those stairs, I could take us out to dinner. I never want to see stairs again.

The tiny shrubs I planted 2 years ago are big but gangly.

The tiny shrubs I planted 2 years ago are big but gangly.

We have no TV channels here at my son’s house and don’t have the time to watch anyway. At the end of the day, the computer takes care of business and I don’t want to look at bad news anyway. You’ve heard many people say over and over in different ways for many generations that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Well, I’m wondering what their handbasket looks like. From where I sit here in front of my laptop, I see substantial evidence of a different world and a different handbasket.

One handbasket coming up.

One handbasket coming up.

I was reading The Contented Crafter latest post on her blog and once again am totally enthralled by her ability to take little bits of this, that and nothing much GIFTED to her by fellow bloggers from all over the world and turn it into an amazing work of art. Even if you are not a blogger, you should pop by and see some of the wonders of her mind. Her stories of Siddy and Orlando (fuzzy family) leave me giggling for hours.

If this is what a world going to hell in a handbasket looks like, sign me up for one of my own. I see things I could not have ever imagined before I started reading blogs. Who knew what wonders lurked out there? Sweet, kind and caring Gardening Nirvana introduced me to the world of Fairy Gardens that are just delightful. I want one of those baskets too. Add that to her introduction to Little Free Libraries and I was all in.

I shared with you already the delights I received from the hysterically funny and creative Boomdeeadda. When you drop by you will see her magical creations from little else other than paper!

The handbasket I’m carrying these days is filled with a collection of blogging friends who fill my day with mirth, entertainment and motivation when my spirits are lagging.

Lavender is huge but refreshes the soul. Grabbing a handful for my basket

Lavender is huge but refreshes the soul. Grabbing a handful for my basket

My friend at To Breathe is to Write writes stories that make me laugh or get my mystery fix satisfied. She can spin a yarn or tell it like it is. When I find someone’s blog I like, I check out the people who leave comments or follow her or him. That leads to a lot of great blogs and enlarges my community. This list could go on and on, so maybe I need a larger handbasket?

It's still not big enough for all the kindness I've seen lately

It’s still not big enough for all the kindness I’ve seen lately

Bells Palsy normally only lasts a few weeks or months for most, just like Shingles. Same virus, different expression. I’m heading into the 5th year with this.  I was under extreme stress when I got it and it expressed itself very much like a stroke. Balance is a continuing issue as well as the visual disturbance it caused. Huh, what did you say? I don’t hear as well either. No one knows why it won’t go away or how to fix it. It really doesn’t matter anymore. I now have a life full of friends in town and online that are constantly motivating me. When I see their creativity and thoughtfulness, there is no time to wallow. I just roll up my sleeves and get busy.

Roses, like good friends are treasures.

Roses, like good friends are treasures.

 

You can’t tell me the world is all bad. It’s like picking flowers to put in your basket from the yard. Which flowers do you want in that basket? I’ve found the flowers with the kindest energy out there. My basket is filled with beautiful blooms.

What are you putting in your handbasket? It’s always your choice.

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the States.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

In Search of My Dream Reader

One of the first assignments from Blogging 101 was to write a blog to our dream reader. At the time I was unable to define that idea. Who was my dream reader? Heck, I was happy to have anyone read anything I wrote.

This blog was originated to find help or someone else on the planet who had Bells Palsy as long as I’d had it or possibly someone who could help me get rid of it. That was almost three years ago and I’d already had Bells almost two years. It will be five years in February. I wanted contact with the outside world since I was at the time virtually housebound, unable to drive anymore or walk without a cane since my balance had become impaired by the illness.

My dream reader in no longer someone who can help me but more someone to whom I can forward the help and inspiration I’ve received here. Now, I want to share what I’ve learned from this very weird illness and the spiritual growth that has come out of it. My daughter said it was to teach me “don’t just do something, sit there” which is the complete opposite of who I am and how we were raised. Doing something takes more effort than ever. Before I was ill, my dog never laid on my lap. The lap never stayed put. Once Bells started running my life, I had more lap time. Not as much anymore but that’s why I write with a lap-top. So I will sit there and do nothing (but write).

When I read Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life I looked up the illness of Bells Palsy. Under probable cause for the illness it said “extreme control over anger. Unwillingness to express feelings.” I have 3 copies of that book and was a walking, talking example of that probable cause. I was a very ANGRY person and no one knew. The anger is now gone and I’m quicker to express my true feelings, gently.

There are many books that have helped me along the way but none have been as helpful at restoring my health as my readers and fellow bloggers. At one time I felt alone in the world without support. This gypsy who never had roots has them in the blogging community now. Out of 160 followers, probable only a dozen actually read my posts and that is who I write for. They cheer me on and we wish each other well. We have kindness, empathy and a desire to connect in common. We learn from one another and teach our little bits of wisdom. You know who you are. You are my dream readers. My heart is filled with gratitude for you.

gratitude heart

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of My Word

Words are interesting. Our language gives us so many words for the same idea. Being a “wanna be” writer and a heavy reader, I love words. They are especially precious when you almost lose them. Many of mine wandered off when the Bells Palsy hit. Writing helps me find them again. Now I better understand how stroke survivors feel.

I have been looking for words in my native German to describe my new home to a 92-year-old friend living in Germany. When I’m on the phone with her, the words come harder because I have to think about them. The flow is long gone and many words I just don’t know. When using an online translator, I often end up with the English word because the computer can’t find the word I’m trying to use. How hard can the word “front porch” be to translate? It took a while, but an appropriate word finally appeared, I hope.

Ich habe einen neuen Ort, um zu sitzen!

I printed this picture to go with the phrase.

I printed this picture to go with the phrase.

Another way we use words is to describe ourselves and others. Have you ever been asked to describe yourself in one word? Hard to do since we are multifaceted humans. Mine used to be the word ‘kind’ or ‘caring’ or ‘compassionate’. Those are good words. I could have also used ‘pushover’, ‘amiable’, or even ‘gullible’ on occasion. Guess you could say I’m well rounded if nothing else.

My path, like my life, wobbles a bit. There will be readjustments along the way.

My path, like my life, wobbles a bit. There will be readjustments along the way.

Now I have a new word I use to describe myself. This house has taught me that in spite of life’s many challenges, the word ‘tenacious’, is the word that says it all where I’m concerned. Life hasn’t been easy, but I kept working to make it better. This house is a bit like my life. Good bones but there is a lot more work than expected. So do I throw in the towel before I’ve explored every possible option to make it better? Not going to happen. Like a dog with a bone, I will hang in there until there is no bone left. Even my sister asked me if I ever give up and sit down. I may sit awhile, usually for contemplation. That’s what I’m doing now. Thinking about which way to go next. There are so many choices.

Dug out the Camellia bush and 4 sweet neighbor boys leveraged this boulder into it's spot. There were roses behind the Camellia! Very tenacious boys too.

Dug out the Camellia bush and 4 sweet neighbor boys leveraged this boulder into its spot. There were roses behind the Camellia! Very tenacious boys too.


Weeds are tenacious too. We pulled a truckload of them and they will come back faster than those pounds on the scale unless I put something in their place. You’ve heard the phrase “Nature abhors a vacuum.” That’s why weeds do so well. So I’ve purchased some varieties of ground cover to plant around the stepping stone path. I’ll probably need a few more stepping-stones because my stride is shorter than my daughter’s.

There are real flowers and plants in there. Can you find them among the weeds?

There are real flowers and plants in there. Can you find them among the weeds?

We rented a stump grinder to clear out any remnants of the tree that once was and pulled all the roots that were growing under the house and driveway as well as carefully removing them from the water lines. That was one tenacious tree. I could fill the page with the work I’ve been doing but don’t want to bore you. Let’s just say, I’m bone tired most nights and falling asleep is not a problem.

This was challenging but fun. The roots went under the house, driveway and the entire front yard. All gone.

This was challenging but fun. The roots went under the house, driveway and the entire front yard. All gone.

It looked like so much fun, my sister had to give it a try. It was her truck so I had to let her.

It looked like so much fun, my sister had to give it a try. It was her truck so I had to let her.

My son has a similar word for himself. He uses ‘relentless’. Sounds tenacious to me.
Do you have a single word that describes you? Have you ever thought of it?

“Patience and tenacity of purpose are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.”
~ Thomas Henry Huxley

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Pink Snow?

Spring has sprung in our little corner of the world. Winter tried to keep its grasp teasing us while we tried to decide whether a coat or a light jacket were in order. Layers are the operative word of this month. Pile it on so you can take it off. Ok, get your minds out of the rain-soaked gutters.

I’ve been a busy girl on some days. Other days I have done next to nothing. The nothing days were for observation; my favorite kind of day. Last week was my second physical therapy appointment. Wet and gray the day was not lending itself to anything cheery. I kept my head down to keep my glasses dry except to cross the street. I found out I cannot do parking structures anymore with my vision difficulties. I’m nauseous before I’m parked so I get to walk a bit more. When I looked out across the sea of cars I noticed the ground look as though covered with snow. I walked faster. Hmmm. The closer I got the deeper it looked. Oh my word, did I miss something? When I finally got a good look, the snow was…pink Yes, lots and lots of pink…blossoms. They covered every inch of ground blown or rained off the trees above. Too bad I only get to therapy once a month. I missed them on the trees. Darn!

Spring popping out through the pink snow

Spring popping out through the pink snow

it was an awesome view for me.

it was an awesome view for me.

Spring may be short this year. So many places miss it almost entirely. I knew it was here because the ducks were ducking. Quacking all over the place. Did you know ducks will eat the cat food left in the dishes on porches? No wonder they like going from apartment to apartment. On my walk back from the market the other day, I spotted these baby ducks scampering around. Mom was trying desperately to take a nap but there was so much interference. I worried about the chicks so close to the road. They did seem content to stay within beaks reach of mom.

You know how it is when you need a nap and the kids won't leave you alone.

You know how it is when you need a nap and the kids won’t leave you alone.

They are just too cute!

They are just too cute!

Looking for a dry spot

Looking for a dry spot

Now getting to the days I did do something; well here you go. I finished this quilt top I bought 5 or 6 years ago before I got Bells and could still sew. It was a kit and hadn’t realized it was so expensive but was too embarrassed to admit it was over my budget. I’m not a pink and blue kind of girl but loved the tea cups. Peach and blue are more my style but now I’m happy to have this part done with only the back, batting and quilting together to complete before binding. That will take longer than the top. What do I do with it when it’s finished? Maybe put it up for sale.

Love the teacups and satiny fabric, just not the colors

Love the teacups and satiny fabric, just not the colors

The next project was just a test of my endurance with the embroidery machine. This little number took at least 8 hours to complete the stitching. I tend to run the machine a bit slower in case of, well all kinds of problems. Especially if it’s the first time I’ve stitched out the design. The second time will be easier because I’ll know where the hiccups are. I’m still trying to decide how I will use this. Pillow, apron top or will it be a wall hanging?

Hoping the second time looks better but I loved the design

Hoping the second time looks better but I loved the design

Anyone want to put in their two cents worth? I’m open to suggestions. Have you found pink snow in your neighborhood?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Better Balance

Have you noticed my posts getting farther and farther apart? I’ve been feeling quite badly about it but can’t afford to stress even a little. I mentioned a few posts back that I had taken on a bit more these days than previously. As the winter weather let go its icy grip, signs of life showed up in my apartment in a big way.

Note at mailboxes said "Can’t get myself down the stairs but the first one than can will get to take me home from #2048." It worked.

Note at mailboxes said “Can’t get myself down the stairs but the first one than can will get to take me home from #2048.” It worked.

My daughter helped me pull out several large boxes of craft materials from the far reaches of my garage. I rent a garage to store things so as not to be too cluttered up here. Riiight! One of the boxes was from a new toilet if that gives you any idea of the size. When I moved out of my home 4 years ago, we pretty much tossed stuff in boxes and hoped for the best. I wasn’t in the best of shape then. The other box was almost that large and I have found several boxes of old photos as well. Have you ever started looking at photos and been able to stop? I spent a whole week going through, sorting a bit and tossing a lot of duplicates.

No more tea cups for this cabinet. Still hunting paints and glue gun. Have glue!!!

No more tea cups for this cabinet. Still hunting paints and glue gun. Have glue!!!

With all the joining I have done to make friends in my new home, I’ve overloaded myself a bit with classes and projects. I’ll have some photos of the finished work shortly. Little by little, I’m starting to find how much I can do and what needs to be eased off from. Setting limits is something new for me.

This replaced the recliner in my bedroom. Put it together myself but took a few adjustments. Still WIP here.

This replaced the recliner in my bedroom. Put it together myself but took a few adjustments. Still WIP here.

But the kind of balance I’m talking about here has more to do with my Bells Palsy than my creative endeavors. Since acquiring health insurance this year, I have the opportunity to get some medical assistance for the balance. A new acquaintance at the quilting group let me know my HMO had vestibular integration therapy available. The first job was to get a different primary care doctor. The last one was quite dismissive. That done, I requested some therapy to get my eyes working together again which in turn, helps with my standing balance. If I’m in a dark room, I start to tip over and closing my eyes, well let’s just say that’s a dangerous move when standing.

After a trip to a neurologist, (the third one in four years) I was allowed to get physical therapy for my balance. I have exercises to do twice a day. Some are standing holding onto my kitchen counter for support. (I don’t have a chair) The rest are sitting and turning my head and looking up and to the side that is unaffected. I’ve found I must do these when I don’t have to drive anywhere. Oddly, they add to the dizziness but I’m going to do whatever I can to get well.
Even after four years, I am noticing movement in some parts of my face that was flaccid and I can almost make a complete smile. Still a bit odd-looking but hey, I’m happy with any improvement.

Flowers from my new friends garden. Made me feel better immediately.

Flowers from my new friends garden. Made me feel better immediately.

Funny how much I took for granted before Bells hit like a hammer. Unfortunately, healing of any nature still requires lots of rest. I’m not a fan. Moving and doing have been how I lived in the world, now I rest a whole darn bunch. Hang in there with me a bit longer. We shall see how effective these exercises are.

Have you ever taken your health for granted and wound up with a major wakeup call? Do you believe your health is connected to your emotions and what’s going on in life or just something that happens?

A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.
~
Hippocrates

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the Last Anniversary

Have you seen those t-shirts or coffee mugs that say “I have one nerve left and you’re on it?” When people ask me what brought on my Bells Palsy, I refer to that quote. On a stress scale of 1-10, I was at a 15. What happened? We had an accumulated 6 feet of snow that brought down our second canopy. I had tried to talk my husband out of buying another. It was supposed to hold a 40 pound snow load. It collapsed onto the truck, Jeep, tractor and boat along with 6 tanks of propane. That I could handle. What brought me to the last nerve and off the chart stress was when he wanted to file another insurance claim. It would be his fifth in that house, even though we had collected on only one other. I begged and pleaded not to call them. Yup, they paid, which made him happy, then they cancelled our policy. Cancelled homeowners is a big deal and scared the heck out of me. I lost it and within a week, I had what the doctors thought might be Shingles. No visible signs of shingles on my scalp, just the other symptoms. I got something so much grander.

My reward for not managing my stress.

My reward for not managing my stress.

Today marks the four year anniversary of my bout with Bells Palsy. Every day I wake up wondering if it will be the day it’s gone. Do I feel sorry for myself? Absolutely not! I’m so grateful because it pointed out so many things that were broken. Six months later I moved out with the help of family. I couldn’t drive anymore and it took all my energy to pack one box. But each day, I packed and slept then packed some more. My husband brought me boxes. They were stacked everywhere for those six months. Do I have stress in my life now? Yes, real life stress that is usually under the scale of five. I’m pretty easy going so to get me ruffled, takes a whole load of bad stuff. I will never willingly allow that kind of stress in my life again. Yes, stuff happens. Most, with common sense is easy to manage. The kind that makes you sick, is usually a long time in the making.

You've seen this before but I look so much better than when this started.

You’ve seen this before but I look so much better than when this started.

The toughest part of this whole illness has not been my inability to drink ANYTHING without a straw or the fact that my kisser doesn’t work. No pecks on your cheek from me. You have to put up with a hug. I don’t mind that my daughter orders for me so the wait staff can understand what I want, or my smile isn’t as endearing as it once was.

For me, the toughest part has been the constant dizziness that interferes with my ability to walk and drive safely. But I am getting well enough to drive more and more. It’s not quite like vertigo. It feels like my brain is sitting in a bowl of Jello and sloshing around. I can promise you, it’s a weird feeling. I keep telling everyone I meet, that Bells Palsy and Shingles come from the same Zoster virus. If you are over 60, get your shingles shot. You don’t want shingles either. Please watch your stress levels. If you are that stressed, something needs to change or your body will do it for you.

Last year’s anniversary blog was a bit more upbeat. I think it may be that this year, I haven’t been out of the house in 7 days. Our steps were covered in ice and snow as were the sidewalks and street. A large portion of the country is dealing with the same thing. Cabin fever due to weather. I have always tried to venture out once a week at least. No one was going anywhere last week.

It wasn't much and so pretty, but brought this city to it's knees.

It wasn’t much and so pretty, but brought this city to it’s knees.

Today the snow has melted, the temps have climbed high enough to melt the ice, and I will be heading to the post office to mail cards that may need hand stamping and a small box of fabric and patterns to my sister-in-law for her to make up for her granddaughter. Lightening my load and realizing my limits is a good way to celebrate this day. I really want this to be the very last anniversary I have with Bells Palsy. Here’s where I would wink and smile at you but you’ll just have to imagine it with me.

The black plastic bag was to keep it dry on the way to mailing. Small but heavy.

The black plastic bag was to keep it dry on the way to mailing. Small but heavy.

Are you struggling with cabin fever or just enjoying the coziness of winter’s cocoon? Or like me, having a bit of both?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself