When you get knocked down seven times, get back up eight

Peace and light, friends,

So, a couple of weeks ago, the dogs and I went outside to let them “take care of their business”. After a few minutes, I turned around to come back inside. I didn’t have far to walk as I was standing a foot or two away from the door. I was just about to open the door when…

my left leg buckled out from under me and saw that I was falling. I looked behind be to make sure that I wasn’t about to hit concrete, and then I frantically tried to grab the door handle, hoping it would hold me up until I got straight again. Well, missed the handle. I saw that I was falling to my left where there was a small patch of grass awaiting my imminent arrival. And, down I went. I was embarrassed, at first, thinking that the neighbors saw me. Then I thought about the fire ants in the ground below, and I panicked. I jumped right up and got out of the grass! I went inside and sat down to process what had just happened. One minute I was just standing still in solid ground, and the next minute, I was on the ground! How did that happen? Why did that happen? Was that going to happen again? I’ve read about people with epilepsy having those experiences, but never thought about it happening to me. It puts things into perspective for you; it could happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. I knew then that I had to be careful.So, now the question remains: I never lost consciousness nor did I have an altered state of consciousness. I was alert the entire time. Should I tell my neurologist or not? I do not want to put myself or anyone else I danger by driving too soon ( I’m already restricted for two more months), but I’m afraid that if I say anything, the clock will go back to day one. Again, I don’t want to injure anyone, but I would like to drive as soon as I’m allowed.

With that being said, I will most likely say something. It’s the right thing to do, even if it means I will be someone’s passenger a little longer.

Making Adjustments

Peace and light, friends,

Since I last posted, I’ve had a lot to learn. I have had to accept and adjust to my generalized epilepsy – the hardest part so far.  I’ve had to come to terms with who to tell about the diagnosis, and when, and how. I’ve dealt with learning about what my triggers are and I’m still trying to figure them out. That seems to be “on-the-job training, in a sense; you don’t know until you know. I’ve had a visit to a nutritionist, who has really opened my eyes to plant-based, organic, non-processed eating. I’m already a vegetarian with a serious carb addiction, and having to make some changes was another adjustment. It’s surprising and shocking at just how much food in the grocery store is processed in some way, and when your first assignment is to go shopping under new guidelines, you stand in the store like a deer in the headlights asking yourself, “Now what? Besides the produce section, where else do I go?”

And then, there are the follow-up appointments with the neurologist to check on how you are doing with seizure activity, medications and any questions, symptoms or side effects you may have experienced in the past 30 days. Well, at my last appointment, I learned that some of my “experiences” were due to side effects to the medication, and some were descriptions of seizure activity. So, I’m on medication and I’m still having breakthrough seizures? I thought the meds were supposed to control them? It’s a matter of trial and error. If at first you don’t succeed…

On top of all of that, I’ve had my first anxiety attack while on my way to work one day, and was scared to tell my neurologist. I wasn’t sure if I would make it to work. I kept thinking that something bad would happen (like an accident) and don’t get on the freeway. I thought I could handle it and got on anyway. I didn’t have an accident, but I did go into panic mode. I literally had to talk my way through the commute, exit ramp by exit ramp. I kept telling myself to hurry and get off, but at the same time telling myself that I can make it, just keep going. By the time I parked the car, all I could do was sit there and cry. It was so emotionally wrecking until I felt I had no strength left.

At my follow-up appointment, I told some of my symptoms/experiences (not the anxiety attack) to my doctor.  She was attentive and compassionate. Then she told me what I did not want to hear – that I had to stop driving, temporarily. For three months, I couldn’t be behind the wheel. “What!!!! But I have to drive! How will I get to work? How will I get around? How will I get my son to school?”, I thought to myself. Once again, quietly, I panicked. I sat there, mind reeling, car in the neurologist’s parking lot, and on my way to work. Now what? I carefully go on to work, and go directly to HR (Human Resources). I explained my situation, and asked many questions, in between sobs. They were very sympathetic and and took the time to help me process the information, and gave me my options.  I knew then that it was time to speak with my boss about it, and ask if my work schedule could be changed to accommodate whoever would be my driver. It all worked out. My husband had offered to get me to all of my future appointments until I can drive again. My daughter has been taking me to work and picking me up since she works close by. We have used this opportunity to spend time together and talk about our day, which is nice.

I’ve had mixed emotions about not driving –  from shock, to embarrassment, to dependency, to gratitude. And I am dealing with all of it, in my own way.

When your world changes, when your routine changes, when your sense of what “normal” is changes, you change.

What happens now?

Peace and light, friends,

So, the doctor says it’s generalized epilepsy. What does that mean? How do I prepare for the next seizure? Is it inevitable, or can I actually prevent them? How does that affect my life? How does that affect my loved ones? These are the questions that I, and thousands of the newly diagnosed, now have to answer, minute by minute, day by day. As I adjust to my new normal, I find that it helps if I get to know it a little better. That’s an even exchange; I get to know epilepsy, and epilepsy gets to know ME.

A New Normal

Peace and light, friends,

My family and I have been busy over the past few months – busy with work during the winter and now that Spring has arrived, busy with traveling. We were so excited to finally go on our cruise to Belize, Honduras and Cozumel, Mexico. We try to take one cruise every year, if we can. It is such a nice way to get out, visit different parts of the world, and just get out of your everyday routine. Sometimes, you get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing the same way, and this is a nice way to change things up a little.

This vacation was a little unusual for me, though. Before I left, I had just visited my neurologist after reporting some strange symptoms. I have known for a while that something was not right, and had experienced unfamiliar symptoms off-and-on for a few years. This, however, was quite different. My right side of my face and my left leg were numb at the same time, intermittently for the course of a few weeks. I called my GP, who reported it and advised me to contact my neurologist right away. I called my neurologist as soon as I could, and they scheduled me to come in within the next 48 hours.

Once there, they asked questions, made a report, and felt that I needed to be tested right away with an EEG exam. Within a few minutes, my head was swiped and soon covered with a couple dozen electrical cords, which would then record brainwave activity as they occurred during the exam. It didn’t hurt, but I got the sense that the symptoms that I was feeling sent off a huge “red flag” which needed to be investigated ASAP. After the test, I was told I would be contacted as to what the results were. I explained that I was leaving for a cruise the very next day.

About an hour later, the results were in; the test came back abnormal, and they need to do an MRI, stat. I reminded them that I was packing for for a cruise and I would be traveling before dawn the very next morning. Of course, they had to get approval to delay the MRI. Another call came in with doctor’s orders that if I could not do the MRI that night, that I needed to pick up and take my prescription that evening and twice a day thereafter or I could not travel.

WHAT???

What’s going on? What did they find? What does the test show? Clearly, I’m nervous, as they would not give any other information, but I’m determined that after waiting an entire year for this cruise, I was going no matter what. So, I filled the prescription and took it.

I had a great time on the cruise and tried not to think about the test results. While in Mexico, however, I had another episode of symptoms. As I lounged on the beach chair under a tree, I got extremely over heated. My head and neck felt like it was boiling over, despite wearing a big floppy hat. If I didn’t cool off super quick I thought I would pass out. I started to panic, as I clearly getting hotter by the minute, but needed to calm down and act fast. I’m not a swimmer, so I put my feet in the pool. Not enough. I needed to get a towel and cool off my head and neck, which helped some. I was miles away from the ship, and I didn’t want to alert my family and spoil their fun. Dumb, I know, but I thought the feeling would soon pass, as long as I stayed calm.Eventually, we got onboard ship, I took my medication, rested and felt better after a while.

Arriving back in the US, I immediately took my MRI exam. A few days later, the results came back abnormal. So, now I have two abnormal tests? What’s up, doc? After meeting again with the neurologist, I am informed of my new normal – generalized epilepsy. Wow, really? I have no family history of epilepsy, I’ve never had it as a child, and no previous head trauma. Where did this come from at 49 years of age? How does this just show up in mid-life? Apparently, the doctor said it does happen to some adults. But now the questions come: where do I go from here? What’s next? How will I know when to expect the next seizure? So is my bend in the road, new life’s journey. I’ll find out as I go along.

As you can see in the picture, it’s raining in beautiful Belize. But, the scenery if stunning – the trees are a beautiful shade of green (the picture does not do them justice) and despite the rain, life goes on. So, i take this bend in my life journey, I get a little rain. But despite the rain, beauty still shows up, still is present. It’s God’s reminder to me to be present in my life, no matter what comes. I’m equipped to handle it, learn from it and move on.

Stripped

Peace and light, friends,

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope it is treating you well.

I feel, for me, that this year will be very different from years past. I feel an energy of change, and rebirth and new beginnings in this new year. I can’t really explain why or how, but I feel it in the air.

There are a couple of things that have been staying on my heart and mind that I wish to share with you, and I hope you can take them and use them in some way in your life, and watch here to see how they will be implemented in mine. First, is my new greeting, Peace and Light. It spoke to me louder than any other greeting because it says much more than “Hello”; it is a prayer, a wish from one person to another, from one energy to another energy. It is a wish for the receiver to have peace – of mind, body and soul – through whatever the day brings their way. The other part of that greeting is “Light”; light so that the receiver may see everything and everyone that is around them for what it TRULY IS – no pretense, no fluff, no silk screen, no rose-colored glasses. In an amazing way, light brings us truth, and when we operate in a place of truth, we can find peace. So, that is my prayer for you, may you walk in that everywhere you go.

The other thing is today’s title – “Stripped”. On January 1, I was taking a road trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, with my family when we drove over Lake Pontchartrain. It had been a long time since I made this trip, and I was excited. As we drove over the lake, I couldn’t help but notice the many trees sticking out – barren, stripped of branches, leaves, and bark. They had been beaten by hurricane winds, pellets of rain and possibly some debris along the way. Even through all of that, these trees still stand, reminding passersby of all they have gone through. This image resonated with me because it reminded me of change; transitioning from one year into a new one. How many of us feel like the last year left us completely stripped, bare, exposed and vulnerable, open to the elements? Yes, that’s one way to look at it, but how about another perspective: 2017 may have left you feeling stripped of everything you perceived as comfortable, but now you find yourself stuck in murky waters with nothing to protect you from what come next. However, 2018 presents to you now a new beginning, a chance to start fresh, write a new chapter in your life. Even though you are in the lake, like the trees of Lake Pontchartrain, you’re still standing. You withstood the storm. Unlike those trees, you are stripped because you have shed away what no longer serves you. You now have a new opportunity to rebuild yourself, to grow new leaves and to flourish. Unlike those trees, you can pull your roots up and replant them anywhere you wish. Take advantage of the opportunity that is in front of you; you can stay in the lake and experience more of the same, or you can pull up your roots and move on. The choice is yours.

So, for this new year, friends, I truly wish for you peace and light. As you travel through it, don’t forget to honor yourself as you well as you do others. Maybe even a little bit better….

Insomnia – revisited (part 2)

Hello again, friends,

I had to cut short my previous post because, as luck or fate would have it, I got inspired to write the first part just minutes before my workshop was to begin, and so I had to leave quickly. Now that I have a moment or two to go into detail, I can tell you more about the retreat that I am on.

The name of the center is Siddhayatan; a Jain-Hindu spiritual center that has visitors from around the world. People come here for many reasons, and, no, you do not have to be of the same faith to participate, nor do they try to convert anyone to their faith. In fact, people of all faiths are welcome here. It is a place for personal and spiritual growth and enlightenment. As long as you come with the spirit of openness, you can choose to stay as long as you wish and participate in any programs you wish, or none at all. The philosophy is strictly non-violent, all vegetarian/vegan, and the accommodations are simple ashram-style living quarters. It is not a hotel; you will not have a television or a radio. What you will have instead is peace and serenity and quiet, an opportunity to reflect on your life and what it means to you and what you want out of it. It offers you the opportunity to clear the fog in your mind, body and spirit, so you may see things more clearly. Depending on your situation in life, it offers you the spirit of discernment, so you can see what it is you need and rid yourself of what no longer serves you.

This time in particular, I came to this place with physical tension (suffering from frequent migraines, spasticity, back pain and bursitis, to name a few). Along with those things, I also packed uncertainty about my path in life thus far. I just celebrated 49 years of life a few days ago, and although I feel good about that, I also feel compelled to change direction somehow. I’m not really sure what that means, but there is a strong, compelling feeling that something will be different on my life path; that I am to do something differently, and it will somehow involve writing. Maybe this blog is the beginning of that path, maybe it’s something else. Right now, it is still unknown. I think I am here to find clarity. Will I find it in three days? Maybe. Maybe not.

Another thing I packed with me is three weeks worth of insomnia. It started because of the pain; I would awaken at night with neck, shoulder, back and/or hip pain, sometimes all of it, and it would keep me up at night. Then, of course, I’m exhausted the next day. That has not changed here. I still have the aches and pains, still tossing and turning, still waking in the middle of the night. It is absolutely quiet and peaceful here, and that helps, but I hope that soon I will manage to get a good night’s sleep so that whatever path I am on, I can keep my train moving.

Have you ever reached a place in your life journey where you had to stop and check in, recalculate, re-evaluate the path you were on? If so, how did you do it? What was the result?