Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pamela's bananas

"Just four," she requested; "the others can go back."

The first thing I noticed was her blonde hair neatly tucked in a green bandanna.  ("Maybe a biker," I thought, only to later scold myself for prejudging her).

I was feeling self-conscious as we exchanged brief words with a mound of bananas between us, wondering whether she'd noticed my physical challenges.  

"These don't look so good," said the woman I'd guess was in her youthful 50's.

As with numerous decisions throughout any day, I was giving intentional thought about my banana selection. I would need to pull apart and separate a bunch unless I happened upon a small, good looking group.

After carefully selecting four, I proceeded towards my next item though quickly halted by a glimpse from my peripheral vision. This angle revealed something completely unexpected: the blonde stranger I'd just talked to was immensely struggling to separate her bunch of bananas through an overall arm and hand effort, lacking ability and movement of her right fingers.

Indeed; Pamela's swollen, reddish/purple-colored arm, hand and fingers was quite a familiar sight. I immediately empathized and redirected my cart towards her.

What a blessing it was to us both that she accepted my offer to help.  Her look was one of combined gratitude and surprise as I extended my right hand, explaining my understanding.  And, together, we conquered her bananas!

"What happened?", we both wanted to know from each other.

Someone who can personally relate is priceless! Talking to Pamela at greater length, I learned her speech was impaired along with her right arm and hand - the cost of removing a tumor from her brain.

"Just four," she requested; "the others can go back."

Even though "the others" were badly battered, stems torn and exposed insides, I instead exchanged the four in my cart with the battered leftovers. It was something I chose to do, valuing these because I knew personally the effort that had gone into Pamela's bananas (and that they would need to be used soon!).

I left the store that day thanking God for allowing Pamela and I to meet and counting it my privilege to be used to help another - as I have received so much help from others.

This reminds me of Jesus' precious and priceless concern and care for every single person on this earth.  Oh, how he wants to be our Help!  The Bible uses numerous descriptive names for Him, including the Comforter. He knows everything about us, he understands everything we face - every hurt, every longing, every need.

Jesus cares about Pamela's struggles, as well as mine and your's. He left perfect peace in heaven and came down to troubled earth, though he did not have to; he suffered brutally to pay the penalty for all mankind's sin though he did not have to.  He did so in His immeasurable compassion and love.  He did so for YOU an ME.

I realized Pamela might reject my offer to help her, and I was so glad that she didn't.

....May I ask you, friend; how have you responded to Jesus free offer to help you? He wants so much for you to accept His help, for it is the only way of forgiveness and salvation. 

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

For whosoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

So long, soleus!

We continue to be encouraged!  God is so gracious to continue granting my right side further progress...

At my recent Botox appointment, we were tremendously encouraged to learn my soleus calf muscle would be eliminated from receiving injections as it no longer exhibits the need!!  (AKA, the soleus muscle is no longer spastic, thus evidencing that my brain has reconnected & retrained this muscle properly!!!).  There are two other leg muscles and several forearm muscles that are still receiving injections.

8 degrees
As well, the many, many repetitions of physical therapy exercises are being blessed as my ankle's range of motion continues to make gains.  Despite the immense tightness (spasticity / tone) which I work against daily by other leg muscles, another 8 degrees of improvement was measured today ~ Praise God!

Let go, gastroc!
Please pray God would heal the similar tightness in my gastroc calf muscle so that I could gain full range of motion in my ankle, ultimately, for correct walking and possibly running.  We are holding off on surgery (mentioned in 2/15/13 post, "Fully Functioning Foot?"), as natural progress is continuing.

Your life & mine
I believe God is able to do anything in any of our lives.  His means and ways are different than our's, but let's not stop believing, let's not stop seeking Him, and let's not stop applying ourselves for the task(s) He's given each of us.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3

Monday, March 25, 2013


Written July 2011, with recovering right hand.

Congratulations, Ziploc; you've made it to my recovery resume!  I am more than delighted to announce (at last) I'm regularly conquering one of my greatest, fine-tune, finger challenges: opening Ziploc baggies.....Hoooooooray!!!

To my Occupational Therapists, Michelle, John, and Mei: Much gratitude to each of you for your time and expertise to learn my needs, customize a game plan and attack it together with me.  Thank you for pushing me beyond what I could envision and being willing to wait for the returns you've invested in my recovery.  I appreciate you more than I'm able to express to you!

To fellow stroke survivors and those recoverying from a brain injury: It's never too late to TRY.  Remember how many attempts many inventors failed at before ever reaching a successful product. Your brain, and entire body, is a marvelous creation of God's.  

To my prayer warriors:  Your time, perseverance and love to continue praying for my recovery blesses my heart.  There are so many with such an array of needs; we all need one another!  Your support means so much and encourages me to keep pushing onward.

God bless each of you.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  Psalms 139:14, 16, 17

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Wonder of Winter

wonder [wuhn-der] 
(noun) - A cause of astonishment or admiration. Something surprising. A feeling of puzzled interest. The reverse of what might be expected. Remarkable phenomenon.

(verb) - To be filled with admiration, awe, amazement, marvel. To think or speculate curiously, or be curious about.

Winter 2012-2013 in our new home is proving most delightful.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the splendor of each season we've been here and getting acquainted with our property as it transitions in the changes each season brings.  

At the brink of fall's end and winter's onset, a friend made a thought-provoking, while completely genuine comment.  She said something like, "I just love when the leaves are all down from the trees".  I had to inquire her reasoning; I had never heard a statement like this from anyone.  Everyone I've heard LOVES the colors of the fall, wishes the season was actually prolonged, including the trees' holding onto their colorful beauty. But what about all that raking!)

It was after this friend's statement that I began to see the splendor of the many trees in our area....yes, even in winter!  My eyes were opened to their individual character, most pronounced in their season of barrenness.  Some boast their leanness, while others are stocky and thick; many are knotty and inconsistent; few are straight, many lean; each is individually unique in its trunk, roots and branches' features.

Then, I noticed the VIEWS allotted us out the four sides our home - all different but all fresh through the barrenness of the surrounding trees!  Rolling hills and backdrops of mountains can now be seen by the depleted foliage.

During the snowfalls (including today), I love eyeing the lacing our evergreens receive (note, here in the valley we get lacings; a drive up the mountain displays the abundant draping upon evergreens!).  As well, the strength of the deeply rooted oak with its far, stretching branches that edges between our property and the farm field behind us.

For the first time, I've seen with my own eyes this winter evidence of many active birds - especially cardinals - and thus now understand why they are used so often in winter settings' decor!  

I cannot help myself from pausing as the birds fluttering out our many windows catches my attention, as they dart to and fro between the branches. They are most evident and most delightful to watch with a snowy, white backdrop.  I've found myself on numerous occasions pausing to watch them, grinning as I take in their splendor and sometimes even chuckle at their humorous mannerisms.  That they don't even know they're being watched is the best part!  (Along with getting to watch them from the comforts of the cozy, warm indoors :-).

We are blessed by the variety God has brought to our little piece of property, including during the wonder of snow-laden ground!  Oh, the stories it holds of its own; we can only guess of its tales evidenced by prints here and trails there.  The details of just what and just when our property's been visited that is usually held secret becomes hinted by through the snow-laden ground.

We heard a pair of owls hooting back and forth one snowy evening. Then, my hubby spotted a pair of trotting animals in the farm field, highlighted in the moonlight against the snowy ground.  Deer, or perhaps cyotes? And just after Thanksgiving, a wild turkey crunched through the fall leaves in our woods' property.  More often than we realize, we're visited by the common "neighborhood" felines, we've learned.

Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter. Psalms 74:17

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalms 136:4

Oh that men would praise the  Lord  for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  Psalms 107:21

Friday, March 1, 2013

Not now...

This post serves to follow up regarding my ankle/foot from two recent posts, January 24, 2013's "Bright Hope" (second prayer request towards end of post), as well as February 15, 2013's "Fully Functioning Foot? (Appt Update)".

After an appointment this week with my Rehab Doctor (who oversees my recovery and administers my Botox injections), the Lord has made it very clear: WAIT on surgery.

The resolve:  I will continue in therapy as my physical progress continues pressing onward.  This is a great blessing as it's nearly 22 months beyond my brain injury that induced these physical changes and challenges.

With God's power in the midst of all my weakness, we have seen much progress over the past 22 months.  Though slow and gradual, every gain gives further hope for limitless possibilities.  And, this long range, ever-gradual process is such a persistent PATIENCE & FAITH-BUILDER!! :-).

With yet more prayer, more perseverance and more wisdom from the professional expertise God has placed in my path, may there be yet more progress to come.

I thank God for my tremendous prayer warriors and my awesome team of medical professionals. 

To mention a few specific gains over the past months: 
  • picking up small glass plates & transferring them from / to the dishwasher & cabinets,
  • pulling the dishwasher door down for loading,
  • controlling my thumb to move over top my fingers while grasping,
  • after grasping & pulling open a resistive door, being able to release & swing my right arm in  (instead of using my left to hold it open while bringing my right in),
  • greater range of motion in my ankle,
  • increased strength in my hip and hamstring, and thus greater stability in my gait (walk).

Wait on the  Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalms 27:14

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalms 46:10

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fully Functioning Foot? (Appt Update)

After completing the four pages of first-time patient paperwork, I made a cup of waiting room coffee for my dedicated husband and a cup of plain, black hot tea for myself.  Sitting back into my chair, I sighed taking in the Pittsburgh view afforded us from the waiting room at the orthopedic surgeon's office yesterday.  

"Valentine's Eve" the night before had brought us the most beautiful snowfall I've ever personally witnessed, and was the perfect backdrop to starting our Valentine's morning together.  (There were enormous snowflakes that formed "winter cotton" on all of the trees and grounds, accumulating to three or so inches.  The only thing that could have made it more enjoyable would have been MORE of it!)

Sitting back, my eyes found an unexpected encouragement to the current circumstances of seeking orthopaedic recommendations for my right foot due to the changes incurred from my 2011 brain injury. (Commonly referred as "foot drop" or "drop foot", though I've not heard this as my official diagnosis).

The unexpected encouragement: a plaque just above my husband's head which read, "God bless you and your team of "miracle workers" who turn bad ankles into full functioning joints of joy. I love my fused ankle!! :-)." ....a previous patient's way of thanking and honoring this medical team's expertise and the effects of that expertise in her life.

A round of X-rays soon followed along with a "fancy" foam shoe.  My ever-witty Darrell naturally asked if they came as a pair (uh, no thanks! :-).  We soon were in an exam room for a thorough, hands-on evaluation with a cordial, resident female doctor. 

The short story is I will likely benefit from some surgical corrections to my foot, and the timing of just when is ultimately mine and Darrell's decision.  This Dr. said he recommends waiting until we think I've progressed as far as possible before having anything done.

A praise includes that one of the possible corrections mentioned to us last August is no longer needed; the additional physical therapy I recently received in the Fall 2012 - Winter 2013 seems to have addressed it, and, this orthopedic surgeon's opinion is if I can progress more, it is possible even less will be needed surgically.

We continue to ask for prayers for God's wisdom.  My recovery will involve 12 weeks in a hard cast (yikes!), requiring me to mostly be in a wheel chair with minimal weight bearing (praise the Lord we have a wheel chair from 2011's journey, already the perfect fit for me :-).  This would be followed by 4-6 weeks of a walking brace and physical therapy.

We are optimistic for the long term benefits, though still a bit of a challenge to consider when is the "best time" for this....we have numerous aspects of consideration.  As you think of us, keep praying we'll stay sweetly submitted to our loving Heavenly Father's hand.  We KNOW he has plans for us that are for His ultimate good, and we love, trust and thank him for continuing to refine us through His Word in our life's journey.

Thank you, friends!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the  Lord , thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  

Romans 8:28

Monday, February 11, 2013

February air

Raleigh and I headed down to the mailbox today after she'd sunbathed several hours on the front porch.  

The sunshine of the past several days has been a very welcome change to our recent snowy, winterland here in Western Pennsylvania!  With today's added warmth, my favorite dachshund spent most of the day outside.

You should have seen how she not just skipped, but nearly "flew" down our driveway when she realized we were going for a walk this afternoon.  Even though she has weak legs, she doesn't hesitate to go when she wants to.  She inspires me :-).  Needless to say, I could barely keep her waiting for me to catch up, let alone tell her no to her desire to keep walking.  So, we continued on to to our favorite place - the small lake at the end of our street.  

It was super windy today; I put my hood up on my wind jacket and enjoyed the longer strides in such a walk.  Ahhh, an unusual February day to enjoy God's glorious creation outdoors. Thank you for the fresh air today, Lord!  

This month is also very special, hosting my sweet grandmother's 85th Birthday!

Happy February, all :-).

And he said unto them,  It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. Acts 1:7

And he (God) changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: Daniel 2:21