Monday, April 29, 2013


My last post was not done on a good day. I am sorry, it is not my intention to complain. It's true that I have bad days (don't we all) and I just needed to vent.
The same night as my last post, Robert and I let the kids play in the other room while we talked. He listened while I talked and cried and then I listened while he talked and got a bit tearful, too. He reiterated to me how happy our children are. He reminded me of their relationships with me before the stroke and that we were super close! Then, one morning, I was just gone. Roberts parents suddenly moved in to care for them, their sister was taken away, and they only got to see daddy right before bed each night. When Robert would tuck them in at nights, Aleq would often break down sobbing and want things to be normal again.
And after a while, I came back to them! I remember the first day I was alone all day with them. It was like a dream! We were all so happy!! It has gotten better and we have all grown stronger with each passing day. I am reminded of the day just last week, when Tommy, out of nowhere, said, "I'm glad you didn't die."
I am blessed to have this time with my family. I have struggles, yes, but my life rocks!
I am allowed to have bad days, though.
Then on Saturday, we were outside chatting with our friends, the Stallings, on the little stone path between our houses. Robert had to help me up to the path because it is impossible for me to walk on it. After a few minutes he and Scott left to look at sprinklers. I stood there for a few seconds and then turned to Karen and said, "I'm stuck." We both burst out laughing and agreed that the men were really cruel for leaving. Karen, who weighs about 100 lbs after a big meal, had to help me off the path.
I realize that my life not only rocks but is quite comical too!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Go Red For Women

I was honored to be asked to attend The American heart/Stroke associations Go Red For Women Luncheon today. My sister, Wendy, who just recently had a hole in her heart fixed, was asked to go with me. There was a health fair where we got our BP and cholesterol checked, a silent auction (I am still paying the hospital directly so I figure I'm funding research that way. ;)), vendors, good food, and fun and inspiring speakers. And I have never seen so much red in one room!
I sat at the survivors table and met a girl and her mom. The girl, Emma, had a stroke when she was 13. Yes, 13! They are still unsure what the exact cause of the stroke was but have since found a genetic clotting disorder and numerous holes in her heart. She had over a year in therapy and had to learn to walk and swallow again (hey, sounds familiar!) but she is now 16 and doing wonderfully. She recently made varsity cheerleader at Juan Diego High School!! Her mom talked about that the doctors thought she was just dehydrated and even sent her home. 13 is too young for a stroke. But after becoming unresponsive, she was rushed to the hospital and then life flighted to Primary Children's Hospital. She is lucky to be alive!
It made me frustrated that, once again, a stroke went undiagnosed because the age wasn't just right. ARGHHHH! Emma and I are proof that a person can be young, have low BP and cholesterol, be mostly healthy and STILL have a stroke. Education, education, education!
After sitting and chatting with Emma, I am ashamed of my reaction. I am truly happy for her and love that she has come so far but I am a bit jealous. I wish that I had been able to come as far as she has. In my head I know that I was 20 years older when I had my stroke, it was a totally different situation, the stroke hit totally different parts of my brain, etc. BUT I WANT TO BE ALL BETTER!! 
I understand some of the wonderful lessons that my family, friends, and I have been able to learn from all this, my testimony is nowhere near where it was before and I am sooo thankful for its continued growth, I would not trade all the lessons and experiences for anything. But somewhere inside me something still screams I WANT TO BE ALL BETTER!!

Monday, April 22, 2013


Yesterday I was asked to speak in another church meeting. I am asked quite often to share my story and I am afraid if getting struck by lightening if I say no. I am actually quite shy so getting up in front of a crowd is not my favorite thing. But I have been singing and speaking on different subjects for many years and I have learned that the bigger the group, the easier it is to get up. It's less personal. I much prefer a few hundred people to a group of 10 or 15. And Heaven help me if I am one on one.

Yesterdays group was around 30 so it was small enough to feel intimate but big enough that I could avoid eye contact much of the time ; )

I am always amazed at the comments and stories I hear from others. People are often teary and tell me that they needed to hear my story. I am thankful for the opportunity to share, however, when they tell me a bit of their struggles I am often humbled to be in their presence. I might not always feel this way but right now I wouldn't trade my situation for theirs for anything! Divorce, death, troubled or sick children, and many, many others sad things. At times I feel almost lucky that, for now, my main struggle is physical. Just think of the strength they posses and the trust that our Heavenly Father has in them. My hardships are often visible but some people suffer quietly and we are never aware of their heartbreaks OR their greatness.

After hearing from others, I come home and hug my family a little tighter.

Last night I was naughty and carried a glass of milk into my room. Robert hates it when I carry glass but he was tucking the boys in bed and I really wanted it. All went well until I had my first drink. My swallow is still not great and part of the milk went down and some would not. I coughed and choked and milk was coming out of my nose and mouth and going all over the sheets. I was trying to grab a napkin but my eyes were watery, I was shaking and sweating, and it was quite a few minutes before I could calm down and breathe normally. By then I was too exhausted to even move.

When Robert finally came upstairs, he took one look at me and knew something had happened. After making sure I was okay he sat me on a chair, took the sheets off the bed, cleaned them up, put the new ones on, and did it all while  making really funny jokes (eye roll) and managing not to lecture me about how childish I had been.

There is something sexy about a man making hospital corners.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I'm the mommy

On Sunday evening the two youngest were watching a movie with daddy and Aleq was "helping" me make cookies. He is a talker! He went from one topic to the next like a hummingbird to flowers. We covered why my cookies were so soft and chewie, St. Valentine, Martin Luther, Martin Harris, Martin Luther King Jr., legends, the Holy Grail, our chance for eternal life through Christ, Christ's death and Resurrection, Christ's visit to the American continent, and finally that we must follow the "rules" for eating cookies and always dip them in milk. It seems that only eating kept him from talking.

I know that to some this may not seem like a big deal. It may even sound annoying. And yes, it made me realize how much history I should brush up on. But getting to have this conversation with my boy is what my recovery is all about.

I almost didn't get this chance. I almost didn't get a lot of chances. Interacting with my children, holding them, making cookies for them, listening to them read, drying their tears, etc. mean everything to me.

I know they would have been cared for if I had died. They would have been loved. A lot. Robert would have found another girl and (hopefully) she would have loved them with all her heart.

But I'm their mommy. They are mine.

I'm selfish on this one. I don't want anybody to get to do "mom" stuff with my kids. I understand that we are a forever family and that I will get to be their mom for eternity but I want to be their mom here. Now.

I'm not going to lie. There are times when I answer "uhu" or just nod a lot when they are talking and there are a lot of times when I take a mommy time out. We have our bad moments/days.

Just last night before bed, Aleq told me, "I love you forever and don't you forget it." And when I hugged Tommy he asked, "You call that a hug?" and squeezed me tighter. And just now Jain flashed the sign "I love you" as she ran past my door.

That's what I love and I thank Heavenly Father, every day, that I get to be here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Excuse Me

Tommy started swimming lessons again this week. Only one more session after this and we may consider the swim team. He absolutely loves it! LOVES IT!
Monday, I happened to see my PT, Libby. I think the last time she saw me I was still in my wheelchair so I was all proud. It was a bit like seeing your teacher outside of school. I know my therapists have real lives but they only exist for me in the therapy gym. It was so good to see her and see that we have more than a patient/therapist relationship and that I am not defined by my stroke. We are both just moms with kids in lessons.
On Wednesday, as we were leaving, I had Tommy push the automatic door opener for the handicapped door and slowly started to walk through them. Three very small boys ran past me. Their dad, afraid they might run into the parking lot, came up behind me, said excuse me, and tried to push past me. It was obvious that he wanted me to move out of his way. I can't move out of his way. I can't move quickly. Moving quickly=falling.
Rest assured that if the boys had been remotely close to the parking lot I would have taken a dive if I needed to. Their safety would come first. But they were nowhere near there. I could tell the father was understandably annoyed with me.
But I was using the handicapped door. I am visibly handicapped.  I can't help but feel that he wouldn't have been annoyed with me if I were in my wheelchair.
My PT, Tim once suggested that I use my cane even if I don't really need it. It is a visual sign to others that I need extra space and time. This is probably a good idea but I have enough to carry and worry about. I have 3 kids. It is a dilemma for me and I will have to give some thought to it.
On a lighter note, I had a little tummy bug the other night and Jain was convinced it was because I had eaten sugar earlier that day. If that were the case I would be sick nearly every day. Tommy disagreed and told her that sometimes you get a liiitle too healthy and you just need to get some of that healthy out. That sure made me feel better!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Code Blue

On the day of my stroke I went to the ER, then to a room, and eventually to the ICU. While I was there, Wendy was in the room and Robert was sitting by my side holding my hand. Josh was there by the room ready to give me a Priesthood Blessing. They came in and told Robert that I was going to be flown to the University of Utah.  Robert recalls that most people then left the room and maybe one nurse remained.
Moments later I started signing something. Wendy (fluent in ASL) said that I was signing "hurry". Within seconds I started seizing and a Code Blue was called. Robert says about 15 people ran in the room and told Wendy, "Ma'am, you have to leave." She just started crying and walked out. Josh was told to leave as well and he said a lot of people came running past him. Robert does not think they told him to leave but it wouldn't have mattered, he was going to stay put. He honestly thought I was dying. He remembers a lot of action and a blue bag helping me breathe.
My family was just outside the doors to the ICU and heard the Code called over the speaker and could see everybody running to my room. My mom immediately sat on the floor and Matt was right with her. Josh said he began yelling at the doctors. Apparently the chaos was not only in my room.
After about 5 or so minutes things began to calm down and Robert understood that they had stabilized me. They then began to prepare me for the flight to the U. Robert remembers that I was wrapped in something, like I was strapped down, and there was padding or air bags around me so I wouldn't bump around in the air.
They allowed him just a moment to hold my hand and tell me goodbye before they took me away. He said most of my family had already left for the U but Josh was there and tried to convince Robert to ride with him. Josh even took Roberts keys at one point. But Robert was persistent about wanting to be alone and eventually won the argument. I agree with Josh on this one but I had no say.
By the time Robert reached the U, only my mom  was with me as my family needed to wait in another area. They were preparing me for an Angiogram and waiting for Dr. Skalabrin to arrive.
For that moment, all was like the calm of the eye of a tornado.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What we look for...

Last night in Family Home Evening, we were talking about the resurrection of Christ. We talked about that because of this gift, we will be able to have our bodies restored to us and they will be perfected.
The kids lit up and both Aleq and Ana Jain exclaimed, "Mama won't be strokey anymore!"
I love that Christ gave us this gift. I am very grateful. I love knowing that this body with all its limitations, is only temporary. One day I will walk without fear, talk with my real voice, kiss my husband without concentrating on making my lips pucker and although they will be past it, I will be able to help my kids learn to ride their bikes.
That will happen one day, but I have so much to be thankful for today. In the past ten minutes my boys cleaned their bathroom, my daughter came in and gave me a kiss while I was typing, and Robert brushed out my wet hair while I sat at the computer (he has never done that before! Maybe he was terrified of my looks).
I love the saying that what we look for, we find. Looking for and finding things to be thankful for does not come naturally to me. I have to make a conscious decision every single day that I won't give in to the grief. Some days it's really hard. A lot of days it's really hard. But so many people have asked me what good does negative thinking do? None. So every day as I slowly get out of bed, I make the decision to look for happiness. Every day I tell myself that I tomorrow is the day for staying in bed and wallowing, not today. Then tomorrow comes and I tell myself that again.