Personal

End of Summer

  1. It’s a little surreal to realize that in a few weeks it will be 1 year since our 100 foot tall Oak tree split in half and fell on our house. Last year, we had no idea how long or stressful the process of recovery would be. This picture was taken a few days after, when a crew with a crane took it off our house and then felled the remaining half. That was just the beginning of water damage and structural issues with the house. Long story short: we froze our way through the snowiest winter in a long time with a partially tarped roof; we moved out for months, living in one place after another; our house got a new roof and new windows; and 7 or 8 or 9 rooms got new floors, walls and ceilings. Construction pretty much took over the first half of this year and settling back in has taken months. I’m only just finishing cleaning the construction dust out of the last remaining closet. And then there are still a couple boxes to unpack.
  2. A proper summer recap will be happening soon. I spotted this glorious bloom on Wednesday. One joy this summer has been our roses. They must like upheaval and construction dust.
  3. A woodpecker was a fun sighting on a walk earlier this week.
  4. Peach Pie on Thursday with friends. The best peach pie I’ve ever had. And yes, I made it. And yes, I enjoyed it tremendously. I use Rose Barenbaum’s recipe for the filling and Alan’s Pastry for the Crust.
  5. And last but not least, I have a man in my life. I can’t imagine him not being in my life. Or how I lasted this long without him. We both like to dance and went to Bridgetown Swing last weekend. We also both really like eclipses. Seeing the eclipse with him this summer was probably my favorite thing ever.

Also, you know my last blog post? In January? That was the weekend he asked me to be his friend on Facebook and pretty soon after we started dating (we had met a month earlier). Apparently I can either date or blog.

Gardening, a slow re-introduction 

Today it was gorgeously sunny and blue skies and this was the best picture I got. I spent a few minutes organizing the garden shed and thought I’d take a less than artistic photo…

One of my goals the past month or so was to try to spend a little time outside each day gardening. While most days I fail in getting outside as Homework! Dinner! Cleaning! all yell with more urgent voices, I have managed to slowly mulch almost all of the flower beds around the house. Most days I just do one wheelbarrow load of mulch, which considering our mulch pile is ironically and stupidly at the complete opposite end of our two acre “yard” than the house and said flower beds. And did I mention that it is also down hill? This means a steep walk pushing a full wheelbarrow up, up and up to the house. It also means that I get a good workout. When I first started this about a month ago, half a wheelbarrow load left me panting and sore. Today I pushed up not one, but two FULL wheelbarrow loads and was barely out of breath.

I used to love to garden before my concussions, but ever since my inner ear issues began, it has always been a fight to get my brain to go out there. And while I still hear my brain pushing back and fighting against so much movement, today I felt like the voice was a little less loud.

 

Post-Traumatic Growth

This morning I listened to this podcast from the always amazing Underground Wellness, which opened up a whole new fascinating world for me. The podcast was an interview of the author of UPSIDE: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth. I had never heard of the concept of post traumatic growth, and it sounds like it’s been recently re-discovered.

So what is Post Traumatic Growth? Well, it is personal growth (not physical growth!) that occurs during traumatic situations. It came into awareness when the majority of the survivors of Vietnamese POW camps said that the experience had been good for them.

And yeah, wow, that hit a chord.

Having gone through my own little version of trauma (5 months bed bound with dizziness from having two concussions) this podcast felt so personal! I’ve had various other health related trials in the past, but nothing that I would have considered traumatic like those nightmarish 5 months.

And, yes, looking back, I definitely grew from the experience! And it was good for me. I changed it ways I never would have expected or sought.

The author mentioned something along the lines of, that instead of maturing from one level to another at an even pace, it was as if the people he interviewed had skipped levels, or moved through them more quickly than before. And yes, once again I could relate. It’s not like I feel so much more mature than the people around me, but I feel like I have a much deeper sense of suffering and understand life differently than most of my peers. I often feel like I can recognize that same sense in my friends who have gone through trauma themselves.

Hopefully, I’ll be getting the book at some point! I can’t wait to read more about the ways people noticed they benefited from the traumatic experiences. I suppose I will start making my own list. 😉

Weekend Links & Updates

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Links: 

No links since I was on vacation!

Updates:

  • We got back from Phoenix late Monday night. I spent the last afternoon wandering around Siegfried and Roy’s dolphin and tiger garden. It’s my favorite memory from Las Vegas. It was so uncrowded, the food was reasonably priced and you could get so close to the lions and dolphins! Plus the trainers work with the dolphins every 15 minutes or so, so there was always something interesting to see. And for the last 15 minutes we were there, there were trainers in with the lions! Eeks. That was something I had never seen.
  • The rest of the week has been really quiet. Mostly just doctors appointments. I saw the functional neurologist on Tuesday so that felt good.
  • My brain’s felt pretty dead/empty/low grade fuzzy since going to Sacral Occipital on Wednesday. The doctor spent a long time fixing everything that got knocked out of place when I hit heads with a brother on the trip. I think it just needs time to recover.
  • Tonight, I’m hopefully going to the fair and rodeo with a  friend! I haven’t been to the rodeo since my second concussion, but I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully it won’t get smoked out. We’re having crazy wildfires due to having such a dry year.

Vacationing in the Southwest

As you may remember from the previous weekend’s Link and Updates (I completely forgot to do last weekends, oops!), I was on vacation with some of my family. We had a grand time. We took 10 days to travel through Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam and ended up in Las Vegas. We just got back on Monday, so I’m still in recovery mode.

So far, getting ready for trips is still proving to be really stressful. This was the second time I’ve flown since getting MdDS and Hydrops and that seems to be consistently more stressful than driving. Both times that I’ve flown I’ve dealt with dizziness/MdDS/Hydrops the day before, which doesn’t help at all. With the pressure of getting ready, my body seems to slip easily into the sympathetic nervous system, so I feel light headed and my breathing stays shallow as much as I fight it.

But it does seem to be slowly getting less extreme, so hopefully that trend will continue.

The rest of the trip, besides conking heads with a brother (ouch!), was very encouraging. I was able to do more than I thought!

It also probably helped tremendously that I was able to continue with my MdDS exercises for most of the trip.

In Phoenix my huge accomplishment was swimming some laps for the first time in almost two years! It felt surprisingly good.

In Sedona, I hiked/climbed up Bell Rock. It was a little scary getting up there, but my brothers were able to help me the few times I needed it and I made it mostly to the top of the hike. But eventually, I could tell I was getting light headed and that I was done. So I laid down and enjoyed the view. The way down was actually much better than I expected because on the smooth rocks I could simply slide down. Thank God I was wearing sturdy jean shorts!

At the Grand Canyon, I did tons of walking. We did a 3 mile rim hike and the my brothers and I hiked a mile and a half in and out of the canyon. All this at an elevation of 7,000 feet!

Probably the hardest moment of the trip was when we descended from Flagstaff to the Hoover Dam. We went from 7,000 feet to 1,000 feet in just a few hours and my ears did not like it! I spent the first hour of touring Hoover Dam feeling dizzy, but eventually they adjusted.

Another interesting time was our first night in Las Vegas was a Saturday night and we ventured out to see the Bellagio fountains. It was more than a little crazy. I had never been in such a large group of people. It was disorientating to say the least, but I made it through and didn’t fall down!

And last but not least, the greatest accomplishment/answer to prayer was that I was able to ride in the middle seats of our rental minivan! For the last two years, I’ve had to ride in the front seats or I would get dizzy. I’ve noticed it getting better, but I was really praying that it wouldn’t be a problem this trip. And it wasn’t. I still did a lot of the driving, but it was a relief to know that if I needed to I could relax in the back. It did get less and less comfortable as the week went on, but hey, it was a huge improvement!

Well, that’s all the highlights I can think of for the moment. Hopefully I’ll get some pictures edited and inserted in later this evening!

Weekend Links & Updates

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Links:

Updates:

  • My grandparents were visiting this week. On Monday I took them to the Portland Rose garden for a picnic lunch. The unusually warm weather that Portland has been having this summer has made for a spectacular display of roses.
  • My grandparents are avid bridge fans and have taught their grandchildren how to play. It was a good challenge for me to re-learn how to strategize. I know the last time I played I needed help figuring out my strategy.
  • We also spent time listening to my grandparents talking about their World War II experience. We got most of it on video so that was a definite highlight of the trip.
  • On Wednesday we took them and some friends to the river for the afternoon. My grandmother (at age 89) even got in and floated around on some pool noodles. Love their spirit of adventure!

Weekend Links & Updates

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Laura, Katie and I. We’ve known each other since we were 10, 11, and 12.

 

Links:

Updates:

  • I spent last weekend visiting with friends in Astoria. One friend lives there, the other friend (they’re sisters) lives overseas but is back for the summer, so we made it a point to hang out together. It was wonderful. I did the driving (it’s about a 2+ hour drive) and didn’t feel exhausted afterwards which might be a first. Even though I automatically feel better when driving, it has still at times been exhausting stimulus, but I think I might be over that now. I feel that I could actually manage a road trip now.
  • This week has been fairly quiet. I ate too much sugar in Astoria so my brains been a little fuzzy all week. My grandparents are visiting and they saw their first great-grandchild this week (my nephew Eddie) so that was a fun milestone.
  • Today we are having a mini family reunion since my grandparents are visiting. A cousin and girlfriend are coming to spend the day with us, and then my dad’s cousin and family will be joining us for dinner. Plus, a brother and I have a wedding to go to in the evening. It’s going to be a full day!

Weekend Links & Updates

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No links this week!

Updates:

  • This week was a full one! On Sunday we helped throw a surprise party for my brother. Friends left that had been visiting from California. Celebrated a friends birthday. Helped paint at a brother’s new house. Went to a wedding. And today it’s fourth of July! So hopefully another party and some fireworks!
  • In the midst of all of the social happenings, I had several exciting medical appointments. I got cleared to stop Physical Therapy! My neck has been doing really well, and last weekend when my MdDS was flared up from swimming in the river, my neck didn’t hurt at all, which was a first.
  • I also had appointments with both my MD and the functional neurologist to talk about transition off of the prescription diuretic for my hydrops and getting on a Chinese Medicine supplement. I’m really hoping I can get off of the prescription medicine as I think I take two other supplements just to counter the effect that is has. Here’s to less pills!

 

Weekend Links & Updates

  
Links:

  • After reading this post about artist Johane Roy who deals with MdDS, I fell in love with her paintings.
  • A nice summary about why we should be eating a rainbow variety of vegetables

Updates:

  • I ran two times this week. At one point, I was able to run for about half a mile!
  • Went to the beach one day with friends visiting from California. I did some long stretches of driving and it went well. On the way home, I drove the two hours home and I could tell my MdDS flared up but it quickly subsided as I rested afterwards. So grateful.
  • I also managed to ride for about a minute in the back seat of a car yesterday. First time in almost two years that I haven’t gotten seriously disoriented and panicky sitting in the back seat! Baby steps!
  • And last but not least, I went swimming for a few minutes in the river. It was wonderful, but it definitely pushed me to the edge…

Weekend Links & Updates

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Links:

Updates:

  • I went out for drinks with a friend Thursday night. I’m always really careful drinking because with hydrops it can easily lead to an attack. I drink very slowly, with lots of water in between sips and often don’t even finish my drink or I split it with someone.
  • My homemade sauerkraut and fermented radishes turned out great! I also have started making coconut milk yogurt to put in my morning smoothies.
  • Remember this book about learning disabilities? Well, my brother who’s 14 has struggled through home school with various learning challenges and this fall will be starting a program created by the author. His interview this week went really well and he’s really excited!