Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

A Dose of Unhealthy Perspective

Well now… hasn’t this been quite the week?

Last Sunday my husband and I sat down to discuss the upcoming week’s schedule. We usually do this in passing or in the car- not a designated moment. I think it was foreshadowing.

Monday my 5yr old and I took a “girl’s road trip” to see the Ear Nose Throat specialist. The roads after that morning’s winter storm were less than stellar for our 130mile drive there but we made it safely. We were graced with the vocals of Kelsea Ballerini ON REPEAT for the duration of our drive. She received the CD for Christmas.

Long story short, baby girl will lose those nasty tonsils and adenoids at the beginning of February. No more tonsillitis, strep, sleep apnea or chainsaw snoring. Pray for us. Anxious Mom.

Tuesday was a fantastic normal day. Kids at school. Full day of work.

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Wednesday my mother finally decided to visit the clinic. Influenza knocked my dad down for 12 days after the New Year. Then my mother caught it. Both have previously had pneumonia and tend to stretch it out a little too long at home without medical care- honest opinion of their three daughters.

I was already in town running errands for work so I strategically placed myself at the grocery store at the same time I knew she’d be there before her dr appointment down the street. “Strategically” meaning that my younger sister and I discussed who was going to drag her to the hospital if she was- in fact- at that point again. Fortunately, no pneumonia but yes she did need medical support- steroids, codeine, and antibiotics for the secondary developments that can come following influenza.

Thursday it was my turn for the ENT then to rush back for work. My sisters call me a unicorn because similarly with my MS diagnosis, my body is strange. If it is a normal side effect, I won’t have it. What risk factors? Never have any of them. Strap on that horn because the specialist confirmed a small amount of hearing loss- likely nerve damage- and very unusual in an otherwise completely healthy stable 35yr old. Neigh….

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Apparently on Thursday I must have touched something unsavory because Friday was one of those absolutely horrid days- yes, stomach flu. The kind where you are sure your intestines are trying to expose themselves. Exorcist style. The most comfortable places in the world are all on the floor- cold bathroom floor or shower floor- always fetal position.

Meanwhile, work was nuts and my husband was a solo act in the office. My father-in-law took the kids because there was no school. He was flipping out because my 7 yr old was sick and coughing, also making him projectile multiple times. Bless him- he had just read about all the people going septic and dying from the flu- cue the freaking out. And all I could do was lay flat on my back and point towards where we keep the cough medicine for him.

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Excuse the language, but it was a literal sh*t show.

The beauty of Saturday was proof that after the storm comes the rainbow. Warm temperatures, sunny skies and no wind. I kept fluids down. My son is improving. Windows were open to air the funk out.

I’m not sure I’m ready to be thankful for days like Friday even though it definitely helped put the joy of every single day that isn’t like that into perspective. I’m also not sure I’ll ever eat fried pickles again…

Happy Sunday! Hoping you and your’s enjoy health today!

 

Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

I am thankful for MS because _____

“I am thankful for MS because ___________.”

This was a prompt on a MS focused social media feed I follow. It took me a moment to hone in my feelings on this open ended statement.

Before answering, I scrolled down through the many responses. They ranged from angry and bitter to grateful and inspiring. To each his/ her own on personal feelings, this chronic condition is as unique to the individual as freckles on a face.

My post was short. It has given me “perspective.” On both good days and rough, foggy brained and clear, fatigued and energetic, this condition has given me a different perspective on how to approach life in general.

Three years ago, I was going strong (albeit with a numbed right arm). I was training for my first half marathon, signing up before my diagnosis. I was pushing hard. Full of determination and pride for what I was working towards. Pride is so hollow.

The diagnosis was devastating to my family. Honestly, after researching my odd-ball symptoms, I was pretty sure that was what we were going to hear.

Fast forward three and a half years…. we’ve juggled and jumped the paperwork and financial hoops (doctors, insurance, medications). Adjusting accordingly to temperatures and fatigue levels is a daily occurrence. I’ve ran three half marathons and approximately 1300 miles. Some days are easy. Some days drag.

Perspective: My husband and kids get my energy and effort first. It’s ok to say no. My Best Yes might be to say no to outside activities, social gatherings, or work projects. What I choose to say “yes” to is done with more thought.

Perspective: It is more important than ever to make sweet lemonade from life’s lemons. Anger and bitterness multiply if I let it in. And  let’s be honest, it doesn’t fix anything.

Perspective: Compassion, a listening ear, and empathy are three of the greatest tools. I don’t know what’s going on with other people, but I can guarantee that listening without preconceived  judgement goes a long way. Not assuming that I know how someone feels or what they are capable of has been a humbling lesson to learn with MS.

Perspective: mobility- can you run? Can you walk? Can you use both hands? Can you feel with all your fingers? Don’t take it for granted.

Perspective: Humility. I am breakable. I am broken. I thank God for what I’ve learned, who I am, and what He is using me for.

Perspective: the gift of time.

I’m thankful for each and every day- good, bad, apathetic or productive.

MS is not a gift I’d wish for anyone, but the perspective it’s given me is.

Much love this Christmas season– Jen

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Family · Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

Goodbye

Tough tough week.

Amongst the normal chaos of trying to be places on time with stacked meetings and schedules, there was also projectile vomiting, water spraying a basement wall, and having to say goodbye to our cat.

I always kind of scoffed at the idea that a pet could bring out such deep feelings of grief. I lost a lot of cats and dogs growing up on the farm. As my sister pointed out, having a pet for 15 years- daily feeding, brushing, petting, snuggling, interacting at every point for 1.5 decades- makes that animal more than a pet. It makes him family.

He was stress relief for my husband after a long day and late night company after the kids and I had cashed it in for the evening. He was wordless comfort when my  husband experienced the loss of loved ones.

He was always on the floor or furniture right next to the kids. In the middle of our Candyland board game, sticking his head over the edge of their infant/toddler chairs when they were little, being ‘accessorized’ by my little girl- tolerant and engaged. Touching them with his nose to check on them. Licking their hand or forehead to say “you are my kids.”

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He was my early morning reading partner. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the indoor cat idea, I grew protective and wanted him safe from the plethora of outdoor threats.

He never had enough fight in him to keep him alive outside. 13 years ago, my father-in-law found him half dead in the yard with a nacho Doritos chip bag stuck on his head. Presumably, he was trying to get the last cheesy crumb. Tugging the end of his tail softly brought him down and he’d just lay there looking peeved.

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He was adamant about his small feedings three to four times a day. Voicing his frustration if we missed one, he would expect a bonus feeding later to make it up.

All the way to the very end he was social and loving. After his initial trip to the vet for his diagnosis and return home, his first instinct was to go find the kids. He searched their bedrooms for them and then assumed his place in the sun until they walked in the door from school.

We spent our last evening and morning gently and genuinely loving on him. It was clear that he wouldn’t have much more time before we needed to take him back in to the vet. He had quickly dehydrated (complete kidney failure). I’m grateful we were able to say our goodbyes and provide him that pain-free care.

Rest easy. We miss you.

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I didn’t mean to make this a long post, nor a sad one. This is part of life. It is a blessing to be able to love a person or a pet. It is a gift to love and be loved.

Much love this week-  Jen

Creativity · Perspective · Uncategorized

New on Friday- Top 10’s

Friday Top 10’s. A bit cliche with the number 10, but I’m going with it.

The month of November is all about what people are grateful for.  To me, being grateful is all inclusive and not just what creates happiness.

Focusing in a bit, I’m going to start posting on Fridays my top 10’s. Generally, these will be things, events or people that make me happy, bring joy, or just otherwise lift me up.

Today I’m focusing on smells. The vast majority of people have a sense of smell. I grew up with a friend that did not. It is a very rare condition called anosmia. She has never smelled anything- good or bad. Makes me think- what would my life be like without smell?

Better when next to the person with a gastrointestinal issue… Worse if I’d miss out on all the things in my list.

Jen’s Top Ten Smells
(not in any particular order, just as I thought of them)

  1. Rain
  2. Earth or dirt after a rain
  3. A warm alfalfa or prairie hay field
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  4. Blooming lilac bushes (not the fake lotion/ candle smell – BIG difference!)
  5. My sleepy kids when I’m snuggling them at night. Is it just me or do sleepy kids smell better?
  6. Fresh baked bread
  7. Coffee  (I actually like the smell more than the taste!)
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  8. Cedar trees or a cedar chest
  9. My husband
  10. Freshly cut grass

 

Perspective

Educate Life.

I am sitting at a crossroads. To teach again someday or not to? To renew my license or let it go?

This is a decision I’ve been kicking down the road for at least two years. Do I take the Master’s hours to renew my teaching license or just let it expire at the end of 2018? I haven’t been in the classroom other than a long-term sub since I turned down a new contract in 2009.

My quitting was complicated, but in retrospect, the correct choice for my physical and mental health. I was offered a contract for the following year. I was promised more administrative disciplinary support for a small, challenging portion of the population I was serving. He said I could have another prep and it would be ok to back off on the clubs and sports I was sponsoring and coaching.

“If you send them to the office, we won’t send them back during that same class period.”

And yet, I still told them no. I was done at the end of the school year.

I had another opportunity with health insurance, less mileage, more flexibility, and less stress. I took it.

So why is this decision to let my license go so difficult? Why not just cut the cord? Does this mean that all that money and time I spent in college is null and void?

I think this is a decision that many people face when they change careers. Does a change of this proportion negate any type of impact I made previously?

Last Friday, a young man stood at the elementary school with his family. I walked up to him and his wife and started a conversation. In the spring, I visited with another young man at a wedding reception. My son’s kindergarten teacher. The cashier at our local store. The marketing director at a local dealership. The guys who fix tires and do re-alignments.

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These examples speak to me. Successful, intelligent, caring people who I had the privilege to work with. Although I stepped out of the education field after only a few years, I cherish the students I worked with – the successful ones and those who caused me anxiety. Stress not for myself, but that I wasn’t able to reach deep enough in them for their future success as human beings.

What would that look like? Not monetary success as that is fleeting. I wanted them to have contentment, drive, passion, and mercy. To withstand criticism and turn around to use it constructively. To observe life outside the local societal box. To approach people willing to look at the other side of the coin. To forgive and move on.

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You might think “Wow. That’s a lot for a secondary science credit!” My job was to teach physics and freshman science. My mission was to teach life.

To renew or not? I just don’t know. Will I ever go back to education? I guess only time will tell.

Education Quote credits to http://quotesvana.com/quotes-about-education/