Monday, December 29, 2014

Things my Nephew Says

My oldest nephew is three and he keeps me laughing. I've often posted things on my personal Facebook page, but I thought all of you could use a laugh also.


Some things he's said recently are:

"I love this wed(red) pillow.
I don't like the purple one."

This was news to me because he usually requests the purple pi-yo (pillow) anytime he climbs up to watch movies on the computer with me.

I said, "You do?"
He said, "Uh huh. It's soft." He then lays back on the pillow, puts his hands behind his head, and says, "Ah." So precious!

Today, I told him I had been walking some. He said, "Du(You) get bigger and bigger."

I said, "Really?"

"Yeah. Du are a giant in Gram's big house!"

Okay, then. I guess I am a giant. Haha!

One night, I was playing with Mason and all of a sudden, he said, "Du(You) busted du face!"

Curious as to what he meant, I asked him where. Right dere (there), he said. My mom was standing nearby, and we both just started laughing. He was talking about some acne on my face! I guess it did look like I had gotten hit. 

Kids have such a unique perspective!

Monday, December 22, 2014

You Don't Understand

Man with a megaphone 2 Bartek Ambrozik via freeimages.com

I understand. It's a phrase that I hear quite often. As someone who has to take it day by day, you don't understand. You don't understand what I go through.

You don't understand what it's like to be fine in the morning and be zapped of all energy by mid-afternoon.

You don't understand what it's like to be woken up out of a somewhat good night's sleep by waves of nausea that come and go.

You don't understand what it's like to feel tingling and aches sometimes all throughout the day.

You don't understand what it's like to say you're coming to an event and then have to postpone it indefinitely because you just can't go.

You don't understand what it's like not being able to play certain things with my nephews.

You don't understand what it's like to not be able to pick up my nephews.

Now, some people DO understand. Those who have helped care for someone with a chronic illness know what I am talking about to a certain extent. The majority of people don't understand, and it is incredibly frustrating to try and explain things to them.  

I am not a negative person, and I never have been. In spite of all of life's curveballs, I have made a choice to be positive. I choose joy regardless of what my body does. I don't talk about how I feel. I praise God and sing songs even when my body is screaming in protest of whatever I am trying to do. It's called fighting the good fight of faith. No one ever said life would be easy, but I do have control over how I react to things.

This is not a pity party. I just need to vent.  Unless you are in my body, you have no clue what I go through on a daily basis. Maybe instead of saying, "I understand," please think before you say this because you never will. And the thing is, I don't expect anyone to. I just expect people to be respectful and not just say things to be saying it. If you want to say something, be encouraging. I can always use that. And if you can't be encouraging, just don't say anything.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

More Journals and Lip Balms for CHOA

journals

Today, I took a second donation to CHOA - Scottish Rite. In all, I took 238 journals and 60 lip balms! The beige and pink journals in the bottom right of the box came courtesy of Hammerpress Letter Press & Design Studio. They were so kind to send 50 journals.

organic lip balms
The lip balms were donated by EcoLips, an organic and natural lip balm company.

 NightOwl Paper Goods located in Birmingham, Alabama donated ten of these cute journals. I love the animals!
 Ex Libris Anonymous donated fifteen of their super cool journals made from old textbooks and books. What a great way to reuse books!
small leather journals
 In Blue Handmade was gracious enough to donate five of their small, handmade leather journals. I got to pick out the stamps for each one, so that was a lot of fun!
handmade leather journals
 Sitara Collections sent six of their exquisite handmade leather journals made by women in India. These were stunning! They are not lined.




Thistle Farms totally floored me with their response to my email. Penny Hall and Tonya Sneed took time out of their busy schedules to make 90 - yes, 90 journals for this donation. How awesome is that?! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, ladies!

colorful journals
Lastly, my friends Tanya Hudson, Chanel Cobb, and Sarah Parker's MCG Bible Study group sent these journals. I cannot thank everyone enough! It is my hope that the teens at CHOA have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

You might be wondering what my next stop is. The next donation will be going to Greenville Memorial Hospital. I spent several months in the NICU there as premature twin and two major hip surgeries as a teen.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Still Fighting

This was written several weeks ago, but everything rings truer with each passing day.


Journey to Myself © Peter Hostermann via freeimages.com

I am still fighting. At this stage in my recovery, it is all about bypassing how I feel and what I see. Since my foot responded so well to the surgery, I don't need physical therapy.

Dr. B said, "There is no need to have someone forcing it into positions when it is already there." That was a shock because I just assumed I would need physical therapy. It was a fantastic yet frightening feeling. Fantastic in the sense that we wouldn't have to do extra traveling, frightening because I had to get used to moving it again.

My foot was fixed, but I have to deal with the mental side. This time there would be no Dustin, no appointments. It seemed like I was being thrown into the water with no life preserve. On the way home, I told Mama, "Well, the only thing I know is to jump right in." I was tearful and emotional because there is no textbook that says do this on week one, week two, and week twelve.

"And they threw the rule book out when I was made," I said.


But, I don't get off easy! I am having to move around, sit up, and put weight on my feet. Yesterday, everything within me was screaming. I didn't sit up yesterday, but I did walk some to stretch out my sore muscles. Being sore is a common thing lately, but I am determined to not go back. My focus is straight ahead and nothing else.

I started out standing up for two minutes, and when that got too easy, I bumped it up to three. I am holding steady at three minutes. I had ambitious plans to do this every day, but that hasn't happened.

Between walking a few steps to the shower and back, that has sufficed. Most people don't understand what it is like for aches to set in after a shower. It seems like such a simple task after all.

As I said in a previous post, I had some cortisone shots put in my left foot at the beginning of the month. They have helped tremendously. 

(When I wrote this, this was my progress) I've sat up for an hour this morning, read part of a memoir, and have plans for a shower this afternoon. That means I will have sat up around two hours!

________________________________________________________

Throughout the past few days I have wondered, "When did I become such a wuss?" When did I allow the pain to seep into my thoughts? I have a choice. It is time to refocus. I will win this battle. And in the process, my mind changes. I see things clearly and pursue with a relentless tenacity. The greatest battle you will ever face isn't with others; it is with yourself.

So, today I say, "Madison, you are more than this. You are more than what you feel. Victory is already yours. Don't give up."

Comments are disabled for this post. If you want to post something encouraging in a message or on Facebook, that is fine. I am just being honest. Today is one of those days I have to encourage myself. 


Friday, November 07, 2014

Hart County High Gives Back to CHOA

donation jar

My alma mater, Hart County High School, has gotten in on donating journals to CHOA! After an email to a teacher approval from the principal, the ball was rolling full speed ahead. I was just asking to see if any of the clubs wanted to donate, but some classes actually wanted to help. 

Mrs. Pratt's  freshman STEM class raised $140 in THREE DAYS!!! Do you know what this means?! I can buy five cases of journals in addition to what I already have! This is fantastic and yet another reason my small town is special! 

They made this jar. The whole group met my mom today, which was a surprise. I hated I missed it, but I wasn't feeling well. We had some pictures of the class, but mostly everyone wasn't looking. So, I am not going to post unflattering pictures. No worries, I will get my mom to take more on a different day!

HCHS, YOU ROCK! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Behind the Scenes

Curtain in front of lighted window © domiwo via freeimages.com


You put one foot in front of the other.
You dutifully do your work behind closed doors.
Pressing on, day after day.

No one sees behind the scenes.
No ones knows what's behind the smile.
You wonder if it's even worth it, should you try at all?

Your mind has drifted, feet are well past the tired stage.
The ache seems to seep from your pores

Can anyone see?

Does anyone care?

Anyone? Anywhere?


All at once behind the scenes, someone peels back the curtain
Daring to get a glimpse inside

Longing to know the person 
Let them know they see

Without so much as a word, only a smile
The room brightens

The weight lifted
Finally! Someone saw behind the scenes
Someone saw the real me

I am finally free

Free from thoughts
Free from fear
No more facade, I choose to be real

Because in front of me is someone willing to bear the burden with me
I slip my arm out from underneath the baggage
Knowing that I don't have to carry it

The light grows dim
That's my signal to go

And I take one last look
There in the corner are the boulders, piled high

I feel light
Strong as the wind

I let go
The pain didn't win

You may not know my story
You may not care

But today, I leave all the baggage behind the scenes
Choosing to embrace me

Branching out, breaking forth
No longer crushed 
Despite what you think

YOU ARE ENOUGH
You are loved.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Climb

mount mitchell


My mom has already written about our trip to the mountains on her blog, but I wanted to add my perspective of going up to Mount Mitchell.

Going up the paved road wasn't all that hard - for me. My mom pushed and we took breaks as the path got steeper. A kind lady offered to help us a little further up, and we accepted.

We made it to the top and took in the beautiful scenery. I wheeled around to look at the various signs that told which mountains were on which sides. Then, it was time to go.

Mama said, "Okay, don't panic." Looking down at the path, I did panic at first. My arms were getting sore from being so tense from having them at my side and pressing into my wheelchair cushion.

Mama said, "You are going to have to chill out." She was right. I had to stay calm. 

She was pushing, and I tried to do just that. I was wearing sunglasses, so I couldn't see the path that well. I blocked out almost everyone coming up. A few people stopped and said, "I hope you have power brakes on that thing!"

Mama's response was: "She does. Me." We kept going.

The ride was surprisingly smooth. I began to relax a little. The woman who helped us on the way up was helping us on the way down.

When we got to a more curvier part, Mama told me, "I want you to put the brakes on a little. Not so much that it scrubs, but just a little as a precaution." I did as she asked.

So neither of them got tired, mom and the other lady switched sides. A little time passed and mom asked the other lady, "Is your arm sore?"

"I'm good," she said. "I'm not really doing that much."

I didn't say anything, but I knew enough to know that if she wasn't doing much, Mama was.

At two points during our descent, I felt the wheelchair start to pick up speed. It veered ever so slightly from the steady path we were on. Earlier, when Mama had asked me to put the brakes on, she also wanted my hands lightly on the wheels. So, I felt the pull. The other lady helping was oblivious.

"You've just got to trust me," Mama said. Truer words had never been spoken. I knew if she stopped pulling back on the wheelchair, I would go tumbling down that path and would likely take out a few bodies on the way down.

Mama was guiding that wheelchair. Since my ride was so smooth, I knew she was pulling back HARD.

"Watch out for those rocks," the lady said. I saw those tiny pebbles wedged in the pathway.

Mama said, "I'm not worried about the rocks. I am more concerned about the sand." Sand?! I thought to myself. No one said anything about sand! I didn't even see any sand!

As I thought about this adventure,  it reminded me of my Heavenly Father. Many times we can't see what is in front of us. And if we do get a glimpse, we panic. All the while, He is bearing the load, making our journey easy and light. 

Psalms 55:22 says, "Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall."


I don't know what you are going through today, but trust Him. Sit back and enjoy the journey. Don't be so uptight. God's got you! He is guiding you through the twists and turns of life with expert ease and grace. I didn't know how much my mom had done on the trip down the mountain until the end. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Writing for The Celebration Blog

Some of you may not know, but I write once a month for The Celebration blog. It is an extension of my church's website. My latest article is up on the blog today. 


Here's a snippet: "Thursday night, something happened. I prayed for someone and was sincere about it. Did you know that it is possible to pray for someone or something and not actually mean it? We’ve all done it if we are being honest."
Be sure to check out "Matters of the Heart."

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Giving Back to CHOA

giving back to CHOA


Today after a doctor's appointment with Dr. Brosky, I dropped off a donation of journals and lip balms to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta(commonly known as CHOA) - Scottish Rite campus. As of right now, there were 97 journals and 100 lip balms donated!

Lauren, the hospital volunteer in the picture, said, "Thank you! This is such a kind and generous gift. The little kids always get stuff, but we rarely get things for the teenagers." 

She also said, "Journals are such a nice gift!" She was elated over the lip balms, too!

Thank you to all who gave! We have made a difference!

It all started on June 25, 2014. I was getting ready for my foot surgery, and I decided to do something good for others instead of focusing on my pain. 

Here's what I posted to my personal friends on Facebook and friends of my blog's Facebook page: 

"Okay, since I feel better when I am doing something, I've decided to tackle something that has been on my bucket list for at least four years. Longtime readers will know that for my 21st birthday, I wrote a blog post called "21 Wishes." Oneof those things was to give back to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta(CHOA), a hospital I have been a patient at a various times in my life. During one of those hospital stays, I won a journal playing bingo. 

Ever since then, it has been my goal to give back to kids who are considered adolescents because they are often forgot about when it comes to donations. I chose journals because I want to provide them with the materials to spark their creativity and expand their horizons beyond the hospital walls. Dreams start as thoughts in our heads, then go to words on a page, and eventually become reality. 

I am going to buy the first case, which will contain 24 journals in various colors, suitable for young men and women. If anyone else would like to buy a case and give to something bigger than yourself, please let me know. I am only one person, but together we can ALL make a difference in the lives of these children. A case is $24. (If purchased separately they are $1, not including tax). If you still want to help, but can't contribute that much, let me know. You can mail a check for any amount and I will buy the journals for you and add them to the box. This is not about me. I have already arranged to meet a volunteer at CHOA when I bring the donations."

I emailed eleven companies, only two donated. One donated without me asking. Sally, of Heavenly Homemade, gave of her time to make her all-natural lip balms in various flavors that kids would like. Two friends also gave. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

So, blogging friends, if YOU want to help make a difference, just click the contact link and send me an email. Any color or design is acceptable, just no composition notebooks. Most people have been giving 4x6, 5x7, or 5x8 journals. You can buy hard cover, soft cover, leather, etc. I will gladly give you my home address in a message so you can ship them to me. I plan on making a second trip in November. Writing friends, feel free to share this on your blog or website as well. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How a Toddler Left Me Speechless




Two weeks ago, I was getting ready to go eat at my Memaw's. I came into the living room ready to go. All of a sudden, my oldest nephew, Mason said, "Aun-dee, hold this." He had some frozen yogurt in an ice cream cone.

I said, "Okay, baby." 

He said, "I want to push du."

Then, he did something that left me speechless. And that doesn't happen very often. He pushed me a short distance, and then said, "Now, I am going to back you up."

He backed me up so I would be close to the door when my mom came to get me out of the house. 

Then, he took his little hand and opened the screen door. He was going to try and get me out of the house himself. We have a small ramp over the threshold of the door that I have a hard time getting over without help.

I said, "Wait. You've got to wait on Gram to come help hold the door." I couldn't help him back up and hold the door too.

"Gram, gram!" he said, undeterred from his mission. "Come hold da door." 

My mouth was wide open. I said, "Gram, you will never guess what your grandson wanted to do!" She was getting everything put in the car, so she didn't realize what had happened. 

I just have to say, he did all of this unprompted. I guess he has watched me back up and wait by the door. He just has the most caring heart and excellent memory. Mason never ceases to amaze me. I am so proud to be his Aun-dee! 

(Yes, my name is Auntie. When Mason was little, he called me Aun-ie. Now that he's older, he's learning to pronounce things better. I guess I will be Aun-dee for awhile.)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Melted

Screaming © ralaenin via freeimages.com

This is the story of my first shower since surgery. It happened several weeks ago. After having stitches burst open in one of my previous surgeries, I did NOT want that to happen again. To say I was a bundle of nerves was a complete understatement. 

Here's how it went: After getting the wheelchair as close to the bathroom door as possible, I used my walker to get in the rest of the way. We didn't foresee me ending up in a wheelchair, so that door frame wasn't made wide enough. After sitting down, I knew I could get the left foot in with no problem. It was just the right foot I was worried about. I kept telling Mama, "I don't know HOW I am going to get this foot in here! It just feels so tight!" I literally felt as if I could not move it. 

For those who don't know, your leg is really weak after being in a cast. I continued, "This seat isn't right! I think it needs to be catty-cornered to give me more room."

Mama moved the chair as I said.

"This STILL is NOT going to work!" I yelled, panicking more by the second.

"It will be okay," Mama said

"I don't know. I just don't know! I don't want the stitches to burst! I don't want the stitches to burst!" I said through tears.

Mama said, "It will be fine. Nothing will happen to your foot. The quicker you get it in there, the better it will feel because the pressure won't be on the heel anymore."

Logically, I knew what she was saying, but I was in full-blown panic mode.

We finally got the foot in the shower, but I was still going at it, talking to myself.

"This stupid chair doesn't give me enough room! My foot feels weird. And it hurts!

"I need medicine." Clearly, I thought my mom was taking too long, so from the shower I yelled, "Codeine!" 

Mama came with medicine and a drink in hand. Maybe I would live through this. Maybe.

After swallowing the pill, the plastic shower curtain became my enemy. "The stupid shower curtain won't stay shut!" I was still crying and breathing heavily and talking to myself. If I was going to get through this, I had to calm down.

So, every time my foot would hurt, I said, "Help me, Jesus! Please help my foot to stop hurting! Help me, Jesus! And I didn't whisper either, this was almost a wail. Who am I kidding? It was a wail at times.

A little bit of time passed, and I was washing off. Okay, this was not so bad.

Then, I remembered my foot, "God, PLEASE don't let the stitches come out!"

I heard His reassuring voice, "I am protecting your foot. It's not like other surgeries. I've got you."

Ah. What a sobering thought. Through my panic attack, I was so busy screaming, I forgot God had me.

Mama was able to come in and help me quickly wash my hair. And the first shower was over.

Friday, August 22, 2014

It's Time to Move

Tightrope Walker © Kristin Smith via freeimages.com



I've been in and around physical therapy long enough to know when it's time to move. And now is that time for me. Today marks five weeks since my surgery, and my body is telling me to get up. So, for the past week or so I have been slowly getting up more and more. The first few days I lasted only thirty minutes. Then, I sit up an hour. A couple of days ago, I sat up in my lift chair for an hour and a half.

All of this may seem like nothing to most of you, but it is a major thing for me to be able to sit up again. I know when my muscles get sore and tight, so I have to do something about it. It hasn't been easy. In fact, some days my knees would just ache. At night, it seems like sometimes, everything from my hips down hurt. A lot. But, I know enough to know this won't last forever. This pain is just pain from the surgery. It's not like the constant pain I had from the muscles in my foot constantly pulling the wrong way. Every day, I have to keep reminding myself of that. Pain is a necessary part of growth and change.

I go back to the doctor in two weeks, and he will determine whether or not I am ready for physical therapy. It usually takes me longer to recover, so if I am not quite ready, I am okay with that. 

In the meantime, I have set a goal for myself to sit up at least two hours a day. I started yesterday. To ease myself into it, I am going to do an hour in the morning, come back and lay down for a few hours, and then do an hour at night. I am doing this because the drive to physical therapy will be at least an hour there and back in addition to the actual therapy time. I am putting myself through the paces at home now, so the transition won't be such a shock to my body whenever I do start.

The picture I have chosen for this post perfectly encapsulates where I am at right now. Everything is a balance. I pull back when needed and gently push a little more as I can tolerate it. I am proud of myself for being able to go back to church this Wednesday. In total it was just a little over two hours, and I did it!

If you are feeling stuck in your life, relationship, marriage, job, or whatever, set a goal for yourself. That way, you are more focused on your progress than the uncomfortable feeling. You can overcome any situation! Tell yourself that. That's what I do. Little by little, you start to move out of that dark place to something better. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Some Days

Helping hands © John Evans via freeimages.com


Written on August 5th

It's been almost three weeks post-op. I need to write. In some ways, I feel stronger. Since my one-week visit, Dr. Brosky said it was okay for me to put some weight on my right foot. I did that with his and my mom's help in the office, but at home, it wasn't so easy. I got up and put all of my weight on my left foot and then transferred it to my right as Dr. Brosky instructed. I had pivoted with ease with my walker many, many times so I thought it would be a piece of cake. Boy, was I wrong.

My right foot was moving, but my left foot would not move. I mean, it was as if it was glued to the floor. I was so frustrated. After a few seconds, I said to my mom, "I CAN'T do this!" I didn't like to admit that, but I didn't want to hurt my right foot. She moved the wheelchair back and I sat down in a heap, sobbing uncontrollably. I just wanted my independence back to be able to get out of the bed and go to my bedside commode when I wanted to. 

Later that night, I told my mom, I felt like a complete failure. I thought my body would just go back to doing what it had done. I mean, my left foot has healed, and it could move. It just didn't.

I was heartbroken. Then, I remembered Dr. Brosky's words, "Take it easy. You are doing great!" I didn't feel like I was doing great, but it had been just a week. I am not a super hero. So, I had to go back to transferring using my arms and the wheelchair, putting some weight on my right foot. 

I have been sore, but I am able to get up by myself now. I am just not using the walker again right now. I know it will come eventually. I admit that I am too hard on myself. Some days, I am frustrated at myself for not working on my book. The cast on my leg is a reminder that I just had surgery. Hello,  Madison! It is okay to not work on anything right now. My days consist of sleeping when I can, sometimes for several hours in the day. Sometimes I watch TV. Other days, it gives me a headache. 

Some days, I post on Facebook. Some days I don't. My days are spent doing whatever I am comfortable doing.

Even if I wanted to work on my book, I know now isn't a good time because sometimes I don't remember what I have said to my mom, thoughts aren't complete, and words are misspelled. 

The days seem long, but I know I am blessed to be able to see the rain fall outside of my window, to hear my nephews laugh, to have a lift chair to sit in. Not everyone has those things. Not everyone has a supportive family. I do. Every day is a day of getting stronger, even if I can't feel it or see it. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Miracles Come in More Ways than One

Dr. Brosky, foot and ankle surgeon, Oakwood, GA

I am catching up with details about my surgery, and don't want to forget this one. On July 24th, I went back to Dr. Brosky for my first follow-up since my surgery on July 18th. 

My doctor said, "Everything looks great." He went on to explain that as soon as he snapped the post tibial tendon, my foot straightened up. No one but God, my mom, myself, and my doctor knew just how bad the contracture in my foot was. It was getting worse with every visit, and I was in so much pain that I couldn't do much except stay in the bed because my knees would swell after a short car ride. My foot turned inwards so much that walking was impossible.

My doctor asked for prayers the night before the surgery, and I said, "We always do." What I didn't know was just how bad my foot was. Today, he told us, "If the tendon had not released when I snapped it, you would have been looking at bone surgery. That means the bone wouldn't move, and your foot would be like a peg."

He continued, saying, "But someone was looking out for us up there." Yes, yes He was! I cannot tell you how overjoyed I am at today's news! Although I have a ways to go before I fully recover, this was just what I needed to hear. I expected a good report, but this was a GREAT report. Only God could have done this. Humans can only do so much. Humans only know so much. Then, God shows up and shows out! 

Dr. Brosky also said, "I know you are going to walk, and I look forward to the day when you send me a video of you walking." Through tears, I said, "Me too." If you are going through a rough time full of uncertainties, hang in there! I have been through so many setbacks and struggles that only God has kept me. Only God has given me the strength and determination to keep pressing forward. Trust me when I say I have bad days and cry out of frustration and pain. I get frustrated that things aren't moving as fast as I'd like them to. Only God knows.

Before I end this note, I want to say something to Dr. Brosky. I know doctors are trained to leave their emotions at the door, but I just have to say this. After my most favorite doctor in the world retired in his 80s, after seeing me since I was eleven years old, and giving me the honor of being his last operation, I was heartbroken. I even told Mama, "I don't think I will ever find another doctor like Dr. Griffin." She said, "Don't worry. There are others like him."  

After many bad ones, a period of no insurance, and doctors who weren't capable of handling all of my issues, I was referred to Dr. Thomas Brosky. I just didn't know what a blessing that would be.  

Dr. Brosky, thank you for never backing down from a challenge. Thank you for your unwavering support. Thank you for seeing me as more than a chart number or paycheck. Thank you for your compassion. I thought that was long gone from the medical community, but you are one of the good ones. Thank you for believing in me and seeing me whole again. Instead of dreading appointments, a smile creeps across my face every time I have to come see you, even though you are an hour away. 

Also, thank you to all of my faithful friends and family members near and far who pray for me. I am proof that prayer changes things!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Making my Hometown More Accessible


Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook have already seen this. The blogging community is so vast, it made perfect sense to post it here. This article appeared in my hometown newspaper, The Hartwell Sun, on July 10th. It is a result of a letter to the editor I wrote about accessibility issues concerning our post office and other downtown areas. I am so proud to be raising awareness for something that is often not even thought about. This has been in the works for quite awhile, and it is a little overwhelming to see it in print! Even if you don't have mobility issues, you will be aware of areas that are not easy to get to when you get older. 

I have done more research, but I am a bit limited since I am still recovering. Right now, I just have a list of improvements that need to be made with some other relevant information.

If you would like to read it, just click on the photo and then zoom in. I am posting this because I have readers from all over the world, which will help me in coming up with more ideas for helping my community. Please leave a comment with your ideas or email me. Your input is invaluable. My readers are so awesome, so I have no doubt that you will have some ideas. Aside from the things I already mentioned in the article, what would YOU do to make a town better for people in wheelchairs, parents with babies in strollers, or the elderly? 

Ready, set, write!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Achilles and Post Tibial Tendon Lengthening Surgery



My nephews and I
Just have to share this: My sister-in-law, Brittany, told my mom that my three-year-old nephew, Mason, asked the people at Bible school to "pray for Aun-ie". He knows I have had surgery, but I haven't said anything to him about praying for me.

The next night, he asked to pray for my mom, who we call Gram.

I had surgery on my right foot to lengthen the right Achilles tendon and post tibial tendon on July 18th. I just haven't felt like writing, mostly sleeping. No one but my mom knows how hard these past few days have been.  My right foot had gotten so bad that it turned all the way over anytime I tried to get up, including getting in the car. During the last month, both knees would swell up after a short car ride If you are new here, you can read about the surgery and recovery of my left foot here, herehere, and here.

This surgery didn't fuse any bones, so this recovery hasn't been as intense as far as post-surgical pain goes. But, the transferring has been much, much harder. After my last surgery, I could rely on my right foot to bear weight while I transferred. With this one, I can't bear any weight on the right side because it has to heal. I could bear weight on my left side, but that is pretty much impossible because it is not as strong as it needs to be. So, I am using my arms and upper body A LOT. Talk about sore. I feel like a monkey in a jungle. The first few nights of constantly having to get up to go the bathroom were brutal for my mom and I. I also told her I felt like the tin man with no oil because my shoulders, fingers, and back were popping.

Some other funny things that have happened:
On Saturday night, I had to go to the bathroom. The conversation went like this:

Mason: I got her arm. I'm gonna help her up.
Gram: Okay, c'mon
Me: I think you need to help Gram hold my leg up.
Mason: I got du arm. Pulls and says, "C'mon, girl! Ugh!" Pulls really hard
Me: (laughing) Go help Gram hold my leg.
Gram: Yeah, Auntie has to have her arm to get up
Mason comes to hold my leg up
Mason: Okay, one, two, three! He's heard Gram say this to me.

I had a little trouble getting up.
So, Mason encouraged me saying, C'mon, girl!

Then, I got in the wheelchair, ready to go to my bedside commode,
Mason to Gram: Hold my choc choc(this is what he calls chocolate milk)
Mason to me: I will push you
Me: Okay!
Mason: Dere (There) du (you) doe!
Me: Thank you, darlin'!

Hope all of you are doing well. This Georgia heat is something else!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Webucator Asks: Most Marketable Skill is Communication


People Series © ilker via freeimages.com

When asked in an email from the community manager of a website called Webucator what I feel is the most marketable skill, the answer was an easy one.

Communication is the most marketable skill. Employers are actively searching for people who can explain things orally and written. I see my peers struggle to form a coherent thought, often talking like they text or worse.

I majored in Communication in college learning the reasons for it, how to do it, and practiced it. I had papers, projects, discussion posts, and speeches that tested my ability to think critically about something and then effectively communicate that to my audience. 

I had to take an entire course on Multimedia Communication, which taught me to integrate technology and powerpoint seamlessly into speeches.

But I didn't just learn this skill in the classroom. I did two internships while in college. One was with a magazine and the other was at a publishing company. Both jobs required me to use the communication skills I had been taught. 

I also honed my communication skills when working in teams at my church. Working with others will reveal how good you are at communicating, for sure!

Communication is so valuable and necessary in the workforce because you have to be able to communicate or you won't succeed at any job. You can be armed with knowledge about teaching, photography, math, or social work. But if you can't work together with those around you - yes, even those with hot-headed tempers- you are in trouble. The ability to communicate is sorely lacking in today's society, which is why I think everyone should take an introductory communication course.

Communication teaches you how to best reach audiences of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities with ease. In my opinion, it is the most marketable skill because it gives you the tools to succeed in any environment. You might be doubting me, but if you can communicate, you won't have a problem finding a job. 

As a side note, Webucator is offering continual self-paced courses on Microsoft Word 2013. Go to this link.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Review: Set Free by Stephen Owens



My mom bought a book at the grocery store called Set Free several months ago. Of all the topics it could have been about, it was about forgiveness – specifically a son’s journey to forgive his mother for hiring someone to kill his dad. His mother was the ideal mother, providing for her kids and making sure they were in church. So what on earth motivated her to go to such drastic measures? This is a true story told from the son's perspective detailing all of the highs and lows of what it took to forgive his mother. 

I guess the biggest reason I decided to pick it back up is because my mom got another awesome book, entitled Unthinkable. I knew I couldn't read that book until I finished this one because I really don’t like to start a lot of books at once. I prefer to finish one and move onto another. I had to stop because Owen’s words were pricking my heart, causing tears to fall so I could no longer read. The phrase “Guilty, but forgiven” really resonated with me. I couldn't get away from it. Now, deeply enthralled in the story and interested to see how Owens wrote his mother, what he said in the letters, and how he realized that he had to forgive himself if he truly wanted to forgive his mother and escape his own emotional prison. I kept reading. 

I am not going to give away any surprises, but I highly recommend it everyone reading this blog. Because it we were all honest with ourselves, we struggle with forgiveness in some area of our lives. This book will be one of the most important steps you'll take in becoming set free. Seriously, stop what you're doing and buy this book. The author doesn't know me, and I didn't receive anything in return for this review. It was just so powerful, inspiring, and challenging me on the deepest levels. I am still processing everything I read and absorbed, even months after finishing it. I have even written eight pages worth of thoughts that have come up since reading this book. I've read other books on forgiveness, but this one is at the TOP of my list!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Day I Decided to do Something


After times of pain and fatigue, I've retreated to one place I love. That is writing. As I was talking with God this morning, I knew I needed to write. 

Even on days that I stay in bed much more than I would like, I have decided I won't quit. I won't give in and let circumstances or a medical diagnosis dictate my attitude. Mind you, it hasn't and isn't always this way. There are days I get angry that I can't wear shoes right now. Frustrated that time isn't moving faster. I get weary in watching the clock, wondering if I can wait just a little bit longer to take my medicine. 

But today isn't one of those days. Even though I had to take a pain pill at 11:30 last night to help me sleep, and then wake up for around a hour while having to do something, only to roll over and sleep until 1:05 p.m., I am sitting up typing these words. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but usually I do all of my writing from bed. 

I decided today I am going to write and sit up in my living room for at least 30 to 45 minutes, no matter what I feel like. Why?

Because a wise man once said, "God can't do something with nothing." While not grammatically correct, it is true. I decided today to do SOMETHING.

That something required getting out of my room and coming into the living room where the sunshine is streaming through the windows and birds are chirping. Anything to take my mind off of pain is a good thing. As I was talking to God, I said, "I will never know what it's like to be spat on just for being who I am. I will never know what it's like to have a crown of thorns placed upon my head. I will never know the agony and grief you felt in the days, weeks, and months leading up to - and the day of the crucifixion. I'll never know what it's like to be beaten beyond recognition."

And I am SO grateful that I don't. God has faithfully kept His promise to me that says, "I'll never leave or forsake you."

I'm so glad I can cling to verses like Jeremiah 29:11.

In our conversation, I also said, "In ALL of my years, nothing I have experienced compares to what You went through."

If Jesus can endure, so can I. If He didn't quit, I won't either. Today is one of those days when I am neither high nor low. I'm in between. This morning I was a bit groggy from the pain medicine, but I am hanging in there. 

Friends, I don't know what you are going through today. But I want to encourage you to hang in there. Tomorrow is a new day full of promises. I rest in the fact that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And you can, too. 

You may not know it, but He is right there in the when your kid is throwing a temper tantrum. 

He is right there when your boss didn't give you the raise you were hoping for. 

He's right there when you just want to throw back the covers and hide from the rest of the world.

Do something today that you have quit doing. Little steps add up to big victories!

Monday, June 02, 2014

Am I Making a Difference?

Think...Think...Think 1 © Dennis Stamatoiu via freeimages.com


Sunday night, I was listening to a podcast on my church’s website. Apostle David asked, “When you die, will you have made an impact on anyone’s life?”

I immediately started crying because I don’t know the answer. I mean, I do write a blog that tells about my life, the highs and lows and living with cerebral palsy and my family. But, am I really making a difference? Is what I write really helping people?

I don’t know. I don’t want to spend my life doing stuff to make a name for myself. I want to leave this world a better place than I found it.

For my senior project, I did an inspirational magazine about people with disabilities from Northeast GA? Did it raise awareness? Did it make people think, or did it just get thrown in the trash?

I wanted to interview people with disabilities and put it on YouTube, but no one was interested. Some paralympic athletes and their director in Chicago said they would contact me, but no one ever did.

All I know is, hopefully, I am making a difference by the way I live. Hopefully, I am giving people the courage to stand up for themselves. Hopefully, people see that it’s okay to be different. I am not talking about having a disability, either. The different I am talking about is not doing what everyone is else is doing. Not dressing like everyone else your age is dressing.

I said years ago, I would shut the blog down if it became fluff, just something else to do. My time is too important to let that happen. God has me here for a purpose, and I don’t want to fill my time doing “good stuff” just because it gives me something to do. I want everything I do to serve a bigger purpose. Longtime readers will know that I’ve said it’s not about me. My life is not my own. God laid his life down for me¸ so I get to make that choice.

I love this blog. I started it as a personal journal, and it still is. Has this blog become about me? Is it bringing people closer to God? Is it encouraging people to study the Bible for themselves? Is it giving hope to people with disabled family members? Is it still making people think?

I don’t know.  I just don’t want to spend my energy on something that isn’t fruitful.  

Before I make any decisions about this blog, I will wait. I will wait on Him. Right now, I am in limbo. I’ve already changed some things in my life and repented for others. When you know better, it’s up to you to do better.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Experience

Old Toolbox © Jean Scheijen via freeimages.com


A post has been brewing in my mind for some time about experience. So, I decided to write about it this week.

I try to look at the positive side of things, so I believe everything I go through prepares me in some way for something else in life. Imagine this: You've just gone through a really hard situation that tested your patience. You doubted yourself and you were mad. You couldn't put your finger on exactly
what you were mad at, but you had to vent to anyone who would listen.

Throughout this time though, people have come into your life. They have encouraged you when you were depressed. You also got a lot closer to God in the midst of your trial. You didn't come to God with a long wish list of things you need Him to do. You learned that wasn't the best way to go about things. So, you are alone with God with your thoughts. "God, I don't even know what to say. All I know is I'm lost right now, and I'm desperate for you to show me the way," you cry out.

The Lord replies, "You may not know it, but you have everything you need to get through this situation."

"What?" you say incredulously. How can I have everything that I need?

"My child, when you lost your job and I provided for you, that built your faith.

Then, I sent a friend when you didn't have anyone to truly share your heart and vision with. That built trust... and patience," He adds with a laugh.

Use everything that you have gained from past experiences to help you now. Don't just store up these things and never use them!

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Disability is NOT a Blessing

A disability is NOT a blessing! I have heard this throughout my life, but hearing someone else say it recently brought this gross misunderstanding back to my mind. A lady told my mom, "My daughter has been blessed with two diseases."

I looked up the definition of blessing. It means "to bestow good of any kind upon." A disability is not good. It causes indescribable pain and torment for people. I am in the process of writing a book about my life, detailing what I have went through. It has NOT been good. I would not wish cerebral palsy on my worst enemy.

Having to get four shots around my ankle last week was not a blessing.

Driving almost two hours both ways to Augusta every six months to get pain medicine is not a blessing.

Sleepless nights are not a blessing.

Being cut on and having extensive recoveries from surgeries is not a blessing.

 What is even more disturbing is a well-known woman with a disability says, "I am suffering for Jesus." I have news for everyone reading this blog. I am NOT suffering for Jesus! He went to the Cross 2,000 years ago and took every pain and disease known to man upon Himself so that we wouldn't have to bear them. You may be asking, "Well, if Jesus took all diseases for us, why are there so many disabilities like Lou Gehring's Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, MS, and narcolepsy? I will tell you.

 John 10:10 has the answer. "The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)." Amplified Bible The devil is the one who puts all sickness and disease on humans. He wants to stop you from fulfilling God's plan for your life. God did not "bless" anyone with diseases or disabilities. And He didn't put sickness or a disability on you or a loved one to "teach you something." He certainly didn't make me this way. Saying that is just like saying, "Oh, God sat up in Heaven one day and said, "I'll give her cerebral palsy." That's just not who He is.

Diseases and everything bad came as a result of what Adam did in the Garden of Eden. Up until that point, everything was perfect. Adam didn't know anything about pain. 

Similarly, I am not suffering for Jesus. While the Bible speaks of suffering, God is not talking about physical suffering. It's a lie that many people have believed in order to feel better about what they are going through. Most don't say it out loud, but they think, "This is for God's glory! God's got something great for me to do because He gave me this disability!" Friends, God had a wonderful plan for your life before your parent's ever even thought about you. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Study the Word and ask God to show you the truth. If you really desire to know the truth, He will reveal it to you. A disability does change your perspective, but it is not a blessing. I will never be one of those people who say it is.