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Posts tagged ‘stress’

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

In Search of Less Stress

It’s been an odd couple of weeks for me. It was raining babies the end of April. That has kept me so busy I haven’t had time to start on my homework for writing class or get this blog written on time. If I didn’t hurry, the babies will be in kindergarten before I had the gifts finished. There is nothing like adding a little pressure to an already self-created overload.

Here is a picture of the blanket I made with two pieces of high quality flannel and I embroidered the name and birthdate. The last name is edited as a protective measure. I’ve made many of them. These last two are different as they started with a printed panel.

A front panel that was in my stash

A front panel that was in my stash

I've edited out the last name that is in the blank space in the middle.

I’ve edited out the last name that is in the blank space in the middle.

One of the babies was the great-grandson of my ex-husband. His granddaughter lives in the area but I have not heard from her since we divorced. He called to say they were all coming to see me after the baby arrived. My ex’s oldest daughter was his driver. We are civil but there is obviously underlying hostility on her part. My dizziness from the stress of an encounter magnified but I didn’t want to create a problem if there was none. So I prepared for the visit and waited. The baby didn’t arrive until the day before he and his daughter had to leave and there was no time to come to my house. That resulted in instant stress relief. I did have my daughter drive us to the hospital to pay a visit to his granddaughter and the new baby.

I glued a flannel print from the panel to the card

I glued a flannel print from the panel to the card

I’m hoping that soon, things like this no longer create tension for me. It’s a process to learn how to let fear go. Now I still have my assignments for writing class to do and packages to get in the mail tomorrow but I know I can accomplish those tasks. My family wonders why I would make all the effort of creating these blankets along with a hand crafted card when they most likely will never be appreciated. My only answer is that it’s the right thing to do and even though it takes more time and energy than before I became ill, I enjoy doing it and do it for my own satisfaction.

Editing didn't work as well but the embroidery on such a small piece worked well

Editing didn’t work as well but the embroidery on such a small piece worked well

My daughter and I found another way to reduce a little stress. We were making a trip to see my niece this weekend. One of her daughters was having a birthday so we stopped in for a couple of hours then headed back to the city. It’s an hour drive on the interstate which is usually bumper to bumper. We took a chance and found an old highway that would avoid most of the interstate. It took us a bit longer but it was so worth it. We saw places we would otherwise never see and it was so green and peaceful.

I could go on and on about what stress does to the body. Most of us already know all about that. What most of us have a hard time with, is finding ways to reduce it while continuing to do our daily life. What do you do to relieve stress?

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
~ William James

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of That Leap of Faith

My sister retired from her job last week. She drove a bus throughout the city and suburbs of Portland, Oregon for 15 years. On my very best day, it’s not a job I could or would do. Driving a city bus is akin to living in a house on a main street with no lock on the doors. You never know who will walk through.

She really liked most of her passengers but each day brought its own special challenge. The threat of violence from a passenger that was asked to pay for their ride or move their feet off a seat to make room for another was a daily reality. She has enough stories to write her own book. The problem is, the stress has left her with the inability to remember an appointment time made just as she tries to write it down.

Her family and friends that care are grateful she is making this leap of faith. We know she will find other work to sustain her, but right now, she needs to rest and recreate. Jobs and life choices that leave a person so seriously drained will inflict damage to the body and the mind. My sister and children have been there to encourage me through my own leap of faith and now we will be there to encourage hers.

So we celebrated last Saturday evening with a surprise party put together by her girlfriend. We met at her favorite East Indian restaurant in downtown Portland. I have never eaten East Indian food. We were brought up on very bland food and I have not ventured very far from those staples. I will never be a foodie, but my education was about to begin.

My sister treated my daughter to a new ethnic restaurant experience each year on my daughter’s birthday for the last 7 years of living in this area. So her education was well ahead of mine. I let my daughter order for me and she did very well. I really enjoyed my spicy food. A cocktail before dinner helped me be more adventurous. I usually pick a German restaurant for my birthday but I think I will learn from my daughter and continue to try new things. We are all taking leaps of faith in one way or another.

A co-worker gifted my sister a journal. Perfect since she is writing her way through this complete change of lifestyle.

Now she can write a book

My children and I together bought her a pocket watch since she is trying not to look at her wrist ever minute to make sure she is on time. It’s a hard habit to break. The inscription read, “It’s time to work at living”. I now have to change the ring tone on my phone for her. It was from that song that goes, “I’m in a hurry to get things done. I rush and rush until life’s no fun.” I’m just not sure what her new ring tone will be. It will be interesting to see where the adventure leads.

It’s time to work at living

You can see the workings from both sides of the watch

Have you ever made a leap of faith and what brought it on? For me, Bells Palsy was the wakeup call. I’d love to hear how you figured out that change was necessary and how you leaped into your adventure.

From my heart to yours,