February 2018 Newsletter

Feb. HeartsA splendid way to communicate love is by sharing your time and heartfelt care with others. Understanding one another is easiest when you share similar circumstances. Since I’m a caregiver to a brain injury survivor who also has epilepsy, I’ve gathered information on this month’s support groups and therapy services offered in the Salt Lake Valley for those affected by these two health issues. If you live outside of this region, or are affected by another kind of condition, I encourage you to look for support groups near you. Fill your heart with friends who understand your situation and share the love by encouraging and learning from one another. Every life that you touch is a reward for yourself.

In case it’s impossible for you to get out, or you don’t live in this area, I’ve also included links to useful and inspiring websites.

If you have an activity, announcements or other information you’d like shared in this newsletter, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com


February1FREE SUPPORT GROUPS AVAILABLE IN THE SALT LAKE VALLEY

February 13, 2018 – Brain Injury Alliance Support Group for Adults, 6-8 p.m. Meets every 2nd Tuesday monthly at Sanderson Community Deaf Center, 5709 South 1500 West, SLC, UT 84123. This social group is for all caregivers and survivors. All are welcomed to share a main dish together and a craft.  Bring a side dish or dessert to share if you’d like. Call Jennifer (801) 386-2195, or Beth (801) 585-5511 for more information.

February 15, 2018 – IMC Caregivers and Survivors Education Groups, 7-8 p.m. Meets every 3rd Thursday monthly at IMC Cottonwood Medical Tower (TOSH Campus) 181 E. Medical Tower Drive, Murray, Utah. Caregivers meet on the 1st floor conference room and the Survivors meet on the 2nd floor conference room.

Caregivers topic: Caregivers Resources – by Kathy Nelson, Utah State Representative. She will share with us resources available through the State.

Survivors topic: Finding Your Voice – by Natalie Caldwell, MS, CCC-SLP. She will give ways for helping others understand your injury.

February 27, 2018 – University of Utah Brain Injury Support Group 7-8 p.m. Meets every 4th Tuesday monthly at Sugarhouse Health Center, 1138 E. Wilmington Avenue, SLC, UT 84106. This month’s topic: Trails Adaptive Sports & Recreation by Tanja Kari. Come learn what options are available. Please call Ryan Pello at (801) 581-2221 for questions.


February-clip-art-2FREE WEEKLY GROUPS INTERMOUNTAIN HEALTH CARE NEURO THERAPY 

Aphasia Talking Practice Group – Meets every Tuesday, Noon-1 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Meditation Group – Meets every Wednesday, 3 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East Cafeteria Conference Room

Parkinson’s Talking Loud Group – Meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month-3:00pm at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Cognitive Skills Group – Meets every Thursday Noon-1 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Contact: Dr. Russo at antonietta.russo@imail.org


FebruaryFREE EPILEPSY GROUPS FOR THOSE EFFECTED BY SEIZURES

Together we share coping strategies, provide encouragement, comfort and advice from people with common experiences. For more information contact Margo at (801)455-6089 or Utah@efa.org

February 1, 2018 – Epilepsy Group for Parents, 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. Meets every 1st Thursday of the month at the Riverton Library Auditorium, 12877 S. 1830 W.

February 8, 2018 – Epilepsy Group for All Effected by Seizures, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Meets every 2nd Thursday of the month. New 2018 Murray location is at the Doty Education Center – Intermountain Medical Center, 5171 S. Cottonwood St., Bldg. 6, 1st floor – CR2.

newEPILEPSY SUPPORT GROUP in Utah County! It begins on February 15th from 7:00 to 8:15 pm. From March on the meeting will be on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Provo City Library – 555 N. University Ave.

February 21, 2018 – Epilepsy Group for All Effected by Seizures, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month at the SLC Main Library 200 E. 400 S., SLC, UT (3rd floor conference room).

February 28, 2018 – Epilepsy Group for Teens, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Meets the 4th Wednesday monthly at the West Jordan Library, 8030 S. 1825 W., West Jordan, UT. There are two teachers overseeing this group. Come to enjoy an activity and meet other teens with epilepsy.


Bright IdeasHELPFUL WEBSITES:

http://www.caregiver.org (online webinars for caregivers)

http://www.tbicommunity.org (online educational programs)

http://www.braininjury.com (medical, legal, information resource)

http://www.abta.org (brain tumor education and information)

http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi (brain injury facts, programs, education)

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/all-disorders (education for brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders)

February-heart

http://www.msktc.org/tbi (TBI Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center) national leaders in TBI research and patient care.

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Resources-Support (resource for those with MS)

http://www.epilepsy.com/utah and/or http://www.epilepsy.com (seizure education and support by state or national)

https://biau.org (resource for those with brain injury)

http://www.brainline.org (preventing, treating and living with TBI)


February5ACTIVITIES TO DO WEBSITES:

https://store.usgs.gov/access-pass (free pass to National Parks & Federal Land Agency areas)

https://wildlife.utah.gov/watchable-wildlife-for-disabled.html (watchable wildlife for disabled persons)

http://slco.org/adaptive/plus-one-pass (Salt Lake County Disability Plus One Pass)

https://twilightinsight.wordpress.com/hobbies/hobbies-for-healing-the-brain/tbi-and-selecting-a-hobby (select a hobby – ideas especially for TBI survivors)

Uniquely abled

http://www.discovernac.org (National Ability Center)

http://wanderookie.com/blog/2015/07/27/12-beautiful-wheelchair-accessible-trails-in-utah
(wheelchair accessible trails in Utah)

https://www.visitutah.com/Media/Default/One%20Sheeters/Accessible_Utah_web.pdf (list of accessible resources)

wasatchadaptivesports.org (Wasatch Adaptive Sports)

http://www.discovernac.org (National Ability Center)

https://www.meetup.com (meet up groups)


LaptopsSHARING WEBSITES:

Laptops http://www.brainline.org/abbymaslin (blog about loving and learning after TBI)

di6XA59i9

http://www.unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com (caregivers sharing stories, tips and thoughts)

http://www.facebook.com/UTteensupportgroup (social interaction and the exchange useful resources)


newsletterThank you for reading. I hope you found the information helpful and will follow this website via email to receive notifications of every new post. The “Follow” button is located at the beginning of the newsletter. However, if you want to subscribe only to a monthly newsletter, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com. I will add you to the newsletter email list and send you the link monthly.

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Let it Snow!

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As far as I can see, our world is draped in white. Everything looks so fresh and clean.  The trees, bushes, and homes along our street look beautiful in their new bleached attire. I’ve enjoyed the sun and not needing a coat outside, but It seems very strange for January. The anticipation of this cold outburst made me appreciate it all the more! I was a little sad when the snowplow made its way down our street this morning. The covered streets looked peaceful, void of cars, and I imagined the quiet morning the storm provided each family by the appearance of being snowed in.

The last few snowflakes dropping calmly from the sky were not in a hurry to make a landing. They appeared to be enjoying their slow, belated trip with graceful twirls that made for a fun dance to watch, reminding me of the value in embracing the journey. They performed with a peaceful solitude, without care they didn’t make it with the crowd of snowflakes earlier. It is a reminder of the calm I feel when I’m not comparing my life to another and the time it takes to complete a goal. I’m happiest when I’m not in competition and applaud others for their accomplishments.

After the snowplow awakened our street, I watched the neighborhood kids outside making a slide for their sleds. My mind drifted back to the fond memories of my childhood, sledding down many hills. Then I recalled my children making forts, snowmen and a snow hill on the slide Mark built on their swing set for a fun winter inner-tube slide.

yellowstone-snowmobiling-bison-wildlife-1280x853In my youth, my parents bought snowmobiles and Yellowstone during the Christmas school break became our annual vacation spot. To me the ride was more thrilling than any in Disneyland, with beauty unlike anywhere else. The bubbling hot pots and geysers were colorful and stood out on the white canvas. The intense heat from nature’s tubs kept the snow melted around them, making an easy place for the wildlife to graze. These beautiful pictures are forever etched in my brain. Fortunately, this tradition lasted into the first few years of our marriage, so Mark was able to enjoy this winter wonderland with us.

Since the car accident, which rendered Mark wheelchair dependent, we usually stay indoors during the winter months unless I’m shoveling the driveway or driving to a destination. It’s been many years since I’ve played in the snow. Maybe it’s time to take advantage of the fun it can provide.

I sent Katie and Eldin a text. “Would you like to build a snowman in the back yard? Hot chocolate, dinner and a movie are also possibilities.” To my delight, our 33-year-old daughter accepted my invitation. The snow was powdery and nearly impossible to pack and we are seriously out of practice in how to build a snowman. Katie came up with a brilliant idea of making an igloo instead. I thought about her Barbie and Ken dolls I have in storage and how fun it would be to put them inside the igloo. It was getting cold and this would take more time to dig out. We opted for the Fisher Price family instead.

Life is about memories. Sometimes I’m so wrapped up in my caregiving responsibilities I forget to enjoy the journey. There are experiences I know I’m missing out on and under our circumstances are impossible for me to do. I’m grateful for slow, peaceful snowflakes after our first winter storm, which reminded me to embrace my life without comparing or being in competition with anyone other than myself. An igloo isn’t the snowman we set out to create, but the event of being together was still fulfilling and made for an amusing memory.

Yes, snowmen are cute and I still hope to build one sometime this winter. For now, I’ll enjoy the ones that adorn the inside of our home. I love snow for its beauty and the possibilities it creates for play. The memories of winters past and present are cherished. I appreciate snow from indoors too. With the fire burning and the quiet, peaceful feeling of being home bound, I’m provided with the perfect opportunity to write. So tonight, inside our warm, cozy home I’m singing, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

January 2018 Newsletter

January Bring OnHappy New Year! I hope this newsletter finds you well and satisfied with the closing of another year. A fresh start brings renewed hope for improvement. Associating with others in similar circumstances motivates progress as we learn from each other. For this reason I’ve gathered information on the upcoming month’s support groups and therapy services offered in the Salt Lake Valley. If you live outside of this region, I encourage you to look for support groups near you. Also included are links to useful and inspiring websites. If you have an activity, announcements or other information you’d like shared in this newsletter, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com.


January4

FREE SUPPORT GROUPS AVAILABLE IN THE SALT LAKE VALLEY

January 5, 2018 – Full Circle Yoga and Therapy, 4-5:30 p.m. located at 1719 S. Main, SLC. Brain injury survivors and caregivers are invited to attend the support group followed by an adaptive gentle Alignment Yoga practice led by Carla Anderson. Both the support group and yoga practice are free to attend.

January 9, 2018 – Brain Injury Alliance Support Group for Adults, 6-8 p.m. Meets every 2nd Tuesday monthly at Sanderson Community Deaf Center, 5709 South 1500 West, SLC, UT 84123. This social group is for all caregivers and survivors. All are welcomed to share meatball subs and games together.  Bring a side dish or dessert to share if you’d like. Call Jennifer (801) 386-2195, or Beth (801) 585-5511 for more information.

January 18, 2018 – IMC Caregivers and Survivors Education Groups, 7-8 p.m. Meets every 3rd Thursday monthly at a new location starting this month:

New-Location1

IMC Cottonwood Medical Tower (TOSH Campus) 181 E. Medical Tower Drive, Murray, Utah. Caregivers will meet on the 1st floor conference room and the Survivors will meet on the 2nd floor conference room.

Caregivers topic: Getting to Know You – A fun evening planned as we spotlight caregivers and give each one a Welcome Packet with helpful tips and inspirational thoughts plus this years meeting topic schedule.

Survivors topic: New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy Lifestyle presented by Stephanie Obrabovich (PT)

January 23, 2018 – University of Utah Brain Injury Support Group 7-8 p.m. Meets every 4th Tuesday monthly at Sugarhouse Health Center, 1138 E. Wilmington Avenue, SLC, UT 84106. This month’s topic: Trails Adaptive Sports & Recreation presented by Tanja Kari. Come learn what options are available. Please call Ryan Pello at (801) 581-2221 for questions.


January

FREE WEEKLY GROUPS INTERMOUNTAIN HEALTH CARE NEURO THERAPY 

Aphasia Talking Practice Group – Meets every Tuesday, Noon-1 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Meditation Group – Meets every Wednesday, 3 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East Cafeteria Conference Room

Cognitive Skills Group – Meets every Thursday Noon-1 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Contact: Dr. Russo at antonietta.russo@imail.org


January1

FREE EPILEPSY GROUPS FOR THOSE EFFECTED BY SEIZURES

Together we share coping strategies, provide encouragement, comfort and advice from people with common experiences. For more information contact Margo at (801)455-6089 or Utah@efa.org

January 4, 2017 – Epilepsy Group for Parents, 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. Meets every 1st Thursday of the month at the Riverton Library Auditorium, 12877 S. 1830 W., Riverton, UT.

New-Location

January 11, 2017 – Epilepsy Group for All Effected by Seizures, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Meets every 2nd Thursday of the month.

New location starting this month at theDoty Education Center – Intermountain Medical Center, 5171 S. Cottonwood St., Bldg. 6, 1st floor – CR2 , Murray, UT.

January 17, 2017 – Epilepsy Group for All Effected by Seizures, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month at the SLC Main Library 200 E. 400 S., SLC, UT (2nd floor conference room).

January 24, 2017 – Epilepsy Group for Teens, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Meets the 4th Wednesday monthly at the West Jordan Library, 8030 S. 1825 W., West Jordan, UT. There are two teachers overseeing this group. Come to enjoy an activity and meet other teens with epilepsy.

Coming Soon

 

NEW EPILEPSY SUPPORT GROUP in Utah County! It begins on February 15th and will then meet on the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 7:00 to 8:15 pm, at the Provo City Library – 555 N. University Ave.

 


Bright IdeasHELPFUL WEBSITES:

http://www.caregiver.org (online webinars for caregivers)

http://www.tbicommunity.org (online educational programs)

http://www.braininjury.com (medical, legal, information resource)

http://www.abta.org (brain tumor education and information)

http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi (brain injury facts, programs, education)

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/all-disorders (education for brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders)

http://www.msktc.org/tbi (TBI Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center) national leaders in TBI research and patient care.

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Resources-Support (resource for those with MS)

http://www.epilepsy.com/utah and/or http://www.epilepsy.com (seizure education and support by state or national)

https://biau.org (resource for those with brain injury)

http://www.brainline.org (preventing, treating and living with TBI)


Uniquely abledACTIVITIES TO DO WEBSITES:

https://store.usgs.gov/access-pass (free pass to National Parks & Federal Land Agency areas)

https://wildlife.utah.gov/watchable-wildlife-for-disabled.html (watchable wildlife for disabled persons)

http://slco.org/adaptive/plus-one-pass (Salt Lake County Disability Plus One Pass)

https://twilightinsight.wordpress.com/hobbies/hobbies-for-healing-the-brain/tbi-and-selecting-a-hobby (select a hobby – ideas especially for TBI survivors)

http://www.discovernac.org (National Ability Center)

http://wanderookie.com/blog/2015/07/27/12-beautiful-wheelchair-accessible-trails-in-utah
(wheelchair accessible trails in Utah)

https://www.visitutah.com/Media/Default/One%20Sheeters/Accessible_Utah_web.pdf (list of accessible resources)

wasatchadaptivesports.org (Wasatch Adaptive Sports)

http://www.discovernac.org (National Ability Center)

https://www.meetup.com (meet up groups)


LaptopsSHARING WEBSITES:

Laptops http://www.brainline.org/abbymaslin (blog about loving and learning after TBI)

http://www.unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com (caregivers sharing stories, tips and thoughts)

http://www.facebook.com/UTteensupportgroup (social interaction and the exchange useful resources)


newsletterThank you for reading. I hope you found the information helpful and will follow this website via email to receive notifications of every new post. The “Follow” button is located at the beginning of the newsletter. However, if you want to subscribe only to a monthly newsletter, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com. I will add you to the newsletter email list and send you the link monthly.

 

Celebrating an Annual Close

New YearI hear noisy fireworks outside, the sign of people celebrating the close of another year. I needed the reminder that there is always something to celebrate when we finish a year.

I always suffer with melancholy at the end of the year. As a child, it was because the Christmas season and break was coming to an end. As an adult it’s because I’m haunted by the goals and resolutions I didn’t achieve. My unfulfilled expectations discourage me. I’m plagued with wondering how I can better plan for the New Year and actually complete my goals. Instead of progressing each month, it feels like I’ve been regressing.

The antidote to my despair is hopefulness in the things I have accomplished, and gratitude for the people in my life who make it possible. A change of heart occurs when I reflect on the blessing of family, friends and experiences of the past year with a grateful heart. When I’m thankful I find peace with my life and my relationships.

When something good happens I like to write about it in detail. When I’m feeling down, I’m lifted when I read it. I’m finding it hard to write lately, partly because I’m out of practice so it takes more time, and secondly it’s difficult to make the time. Fortunately, I’ve taken time to at least capture some of the good times with pictures.

These pictures help me remember the joy I’ve experienced this year. Maybe I achieved more than I originally thought.

Forgive yourself

This month I didn’t accomplished near the things I traditionally do in December. It’s the first year I didn’t hang Christmas lights outside, or send out Christmas cards. I didn’t bake sweet bread like I wanted to for my neighbors and friends. Luckily the world didn’t come to an end and my neighbors and friends are still good to me. I hear them outside with joyous fireworks. They are finding reasons to celebrate tonight. I think I will close this article and go join them.

 

Give ThanksI thank you for being a part of my life’s journey.

 

What 2017 accomplishments are you celebrating tonight?

December 2017 Newsletter

December HelloSeason Greetings! I hope this newsletter finds you enjoying the holidays and not feeling overwhelmed or alone.  Associating with others in similar circumstances can brighten the celebration. For this reason I’ve gathered information on this month’s support groups and therapy services offered in the Salt Lake Valley. Also included are links to useful websites. If you have an activity, announcements or other information you’d like shared in this newsletter, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com.


FREE SUPPORT GROUPS AVAILABLE IN THE SALT LAKE VALLEY

Holiday dinnerDecember 12, 2017– Brain Injury Alliance Support Group for Adults, 6-8 p.m. Meets every 2nd Tuesday monthly at Sanderson Community Deaf Center, 5709 South 1500 West, SLC, UT 84123. This social group is for all caregivers and survivors. A holiday dinner including turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, rolls and pie will be provided. Please bring your own drink. Call Jennifer (801) 386-2195, or Beth (801) 585-5511 for more information.

December

December 19, 2017 – University of Utah Brain Injury Support Group 6:30 – 7:30p.m. Normally meets every 4th Tuesday monthly at Sugarhouse Health Center, 1138 E. Wilmington Avenue, SLC, UT 84106. This month’s has been changed to the 3rd Tuesday for a holiday dinner. Soup will be provided. Please bring a side dish to share. Call Ryan Pello at (801) 581-2221 for questions.

December WreathDecember 21, 2017 – IMC Caregivers and Survivors Education Groups, 7-8 p.m. Meets every 3rd Thursday monthly at Intermountain Medical Center, 5171 S., Cottonwood St., Bldg. 1 Murray, UT 84107. This month the caregivers and survivors will meet together in the conference room on the 9th Floor for a holiday party. Refreshments and entertainment from the Highland High School Choir will be provided.


Happy Holidays1FREE WEEKLY GROUPS

INTERMOUNTAIN HEALTH CARE NEURO THERAPY 

Aphasia Talking Practice Group – Meets every Tuesday, Noon-1 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Meditation Group – Meets every Wednesday, 3 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East Cafeteria Conference Room

Cognitive Skills Group – Meets every Thursday Noon-1 p.m. at 5770 South 250 East #G50

Contact: Dr. Russo at antonietta.russo@imail.org


December Tree

FREE EPILEPSY GROUPS FOR THOSE EFFECTED BY SEIZURES

Together we share coping strategies, provide encouragement, comfort and advice from people with common experiences. For more information contact Margo at (801)455-6089 or Utah@efa.org

December 7, 2017 – Epilepsy Group for Parents, 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. Meets every 1st Thursday of the month at the Riverton Library Auditorium, 12877 S. 1830 W., Riverton, UT.

December 14, 2017 – Epilepsy Group for All Effected by Seizures, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Meets every 2nd Thursday of the month at the Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) 5171 S. Cottonwood St., Bldg. 1, Ninth Floor, Murray, UT.

December 20, 2017 – Epilepsy Group for All Effected by Seizures, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month at the SLC Main Library 200 E. 400 S., SLC, UT (2nd floor conference room).

December 27, 2017 – Epilepsy Group for Teens, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Meets the 4th Wednesday monthly at the West Jordan Library, 8030 S. 1825 W., West Jordan, UT. There are two teachers overseeing this group. Come to enjoy an activity and meet other teens with epilepsy.


InCaseYouMissedItLinks to November meeting notes in case you missed it.

November 16, 2017 – IMC Caregivers and Survivors Education Groupsguest speaker, Chad Hymas.

November 28, 2017 – University of Utah Brain Injury Support Group, Managing Holiday Stresspresented by Michelle Thornell.


Bright Ideas

HELPFUL WEBSITES:

http://www.caregiver.org (online webinars for caregivers)

http://www.tbicommunity.org (online educational programs)

http://www.braininjury.com (medical, legal, information resource)

http://www.abta.org (brain tumor education and information)

http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi (brain injury facts, programs, education)

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/all-disorders (education for brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders)

http://www.msktc.org/tbi (TBI Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center) national leaders in TBI research and patient care.

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Resources-Support (resource for those with MS)

http://www.epilepsy.com/utah and/or http://www.epilepsy.com (seizure education and support by state or national)

https://biau.org (resource for those with brain injury)

http://www.brainline.org (preventing, treating and living with TBI)


Uniquely abledACTIVITIES TO DO WEBSITES:

https://store.usgs.gov/access-pass (free pass to National Parks & Federal Land Agency areas)

https://wildlife.utah.gov/watchable-wildlife-for-disabled.html (watchable wildlife for disabled persons)

http://slco.org/adaptive/plus-one-pass (Salt Lake County Disability Plus One Pass)

https://twilightinsight.wordpress.com/hobbies/hobbies-for-healing-the-brain/tbi-and-selecting-a-hobby (select a hobby – ideas especially for TBI survivors)

http://www.discovernac.org (National Ability Center)

http://wanderookie.com/blog/2015/07/27/12-beautiful-wheelchair-accessible-trails-in-utah
(wheelchair accessible trails in Utah)

https://www.visitutah.com/Media/Default/One%20Sheeters/Accessible_Utah_web.pdf (list of accessible resources)

wasatchadaptivesports.org (Wasatch Adaptive Sports)

http://www.discovernac.org (National Ability Center)

https://www.meetup.com (meet up groups)


LaptopsSHARING WEBSITES:

Laptops http://www.brainline.org/abbymaslin (blog about loving and learning after TBI)

http://www.unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com (caregivers sharing stories, tips and thoughts)

http://www.facebook.com/UTteensupportgroup (social interaction and the exchange useful resources)


newsletterThank you for reading. I hope you found the information helpful and will follow this website via email to receive notifications of every new post. The “Follow” button is located at the beginning of the newsletter. However, if you want to subscribe only to a monthly newsletter, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com. I will add you to the newsletter email list and send you the link monthly.

Ending a Thanksgiving Month

This month has been hard, harder than usual. So another fitting title came to mind, Grateful This Month is Over. However, the word thanksgiving makes me smile, so it quickly became my preference.

Sammy

Sammy at 22 years old.

The first two days in November were uneventful, like the calm before the storm.  The cliché is most fitting due to the unseasonably nice and warm weather we were enjoying. On the third day, my month fell apart when our twenty-two-year-old cat, Sammy, disappeared. He seemed anxious that day, meowing and pacing the house. The weatherman predicted a storm coming and I assumed Sammy sensed it too and wanted to go outside to enjoy the nice weather while he could. I let him outside and took advantage of the empty house by vacuuming. When I finished, I opened the back door, but he wasn’t there. At this point I wasn’t too worried and thought he just ventured farther than usual. I went back inside to complete a few more chores. The wind started to howl and it was dark. He wasn’t there on my second check. I earnestly searched all his favorite outdoor spots to curl up, exploring every possible place in our yard and garage. When he wasn’t there I got in our van and searched the streets. No Sammy. Did he run away to die? For the past year I’ve joked he was in hospice care because last November I brought our outdoor cat inside, due to wounds he received in a cat fight.  I really didn’t expect he’d survive then, but wanted to make his last days comfortable and happy even though he often triggered my asthma. He was my irrigation buddy and kept me company every time I worked out in the yard. He was there for us when our children grew up and moved away. A portion of our garage became his apartment, which he could freely go in and out of during the day, but closed in at night. He was there for me every time I came home, which I appreciated, especially during the times Mark was hospitalized. We’ve put a cat down before and I wasn’t ready to do it again despite his old age. I hoped Sammy could pass naturally in our home with us by his side.

It’s hard not knowing what happened to Sammy. I feel cheated I didn’t get to give him a proper goodbye for all those years we’ve enjoyed his companionship. But I’m grateful for the memories made and I especially appreciate this past bonus year we’ve had with him.

Dad & Sammy

Dad with Sammy, Dec. 2016

Six days later, after I’d raked most of the leaves in our yard and moved every storage box in the garage looking for Sammy with no closure made, my dad had a heart attack. Heart disease is unfortunately prevalent in my family. Dad’s first heart procedure was in 1985 – a triple bypass surgery. Then he was only 57 years old. In 1995 he had an heart attack and they put a stent in to correct the blokage. For the past year I’ve been going with Dad to his cardiologist appointments treating his heart murmur, a-fib and congested heart failure. I worried his heart was a ticking time bomb and I fretted about the when and how it would go off. Luckily it was a mild heart attack and not the massive one I feared. Over the next 6 days he had many tests and two procedures to create the best treatment plan for his heart problems. A heart valve replacement and a pacemaker were the remedies given and he made it through the surgeries with only one complication. His heart rhythm was off, so they had to give him a shock treatment which corrected that problem. We were relieved and expected to bring him home in a few days. On discharge day his heart went out of rhythm again and despite medication, they couldn’t get his heart to slow down.

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Taking time to celebrate with my mom and my super siblings. I sure love this crazy bunch! We were missing Dad, so we took the cake and ice-cream to the hospital conference room to have with him. Nov. 2017

After two days another shock procedure became necessary. It did the trick and now we pray he can stay in rhythm. He is a miracle and we’re grateful for so many prayers which aided his recovery. Close calls like this make me realize how fortunate I am to have my parents. It renews my appreciation for their influence in my life and the foundation they set in building a strong family. I have wonderful siblings and collectively we support and unite, especially when one of us is in need. I’m blessed to go through life with them.

As if the above wasn’t enough stress, Mark’s severe bladder infection and elevated PSA level led to more tests, which found a lesion in his bladder and an enlarge prostate.  Surgery to fix both problems is scheduled the first week in December.

An unfortunate side effect of Mark’s traumatic brain injury is seizures and they are more numerous when he has any other health issue. This month the seizures have come abundantly.

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Nov. 2017 Mark and I

Mark is blessed with a great sense of humor and he uses it constantly to cope and to put others at ease with laughter. The other night after a seizure, I asked him how his head felt. He said, “Full of wisdom.”

“I’m not sure how that feels, but I assume it would feel pretty good,” I replied as my worries were lifted.

In the urologist’s office, after the doctor explained the upcoming procedure, he looked at Mark and asked him if he had any questions. Mark rubbed the top of his bald head and said, “How do you keep your hair?”

The doctor laughed and replied, “I have a hair Goddess. She blesses me with hair so I can cut it and donate it for wigs. Then she blesses me again.”

I‘m fortunate to have a man that works through hardships with comedy. He’s a joy to be with and knows just how to lessen my concerns.

I can’t blame Sammy for taking off. There have been days this month I wish I could crawl under a bush somewhere and not be found. I wonder if he sensed a different kind of turmoil than the weather storm that was brewing the night he left. I speculate he thought he’d do me a favor by leaving and give me one less thing to tend to.  If this was he thought, he didn’t realize the hole in my heart he’d leave.

The month of November encourages me to have a gratitude attitude. This month I’m thankful that despite the hardships and worries experienced, I still have a lot to appreciate!

Managing Holiday Stress

holidaystress.Last night Mark and I enjoyed a class taught by Michelle Thornell at the University of Utah Sugarhouse Health Center. Michelle gave us strategies to keep us from feeling exhausted, out of balance and susceptible to winter colds and flu. She provided nine tips to increase our enjoyment during this special time of year, which I thought were worth sharing in summary with you.

  • Simplify and commit to less. Choose to participate only in those holiday activities that hold meaning and joy for you and your loved ones.
  • Do one thing at a time. Give yourself the joy of focused attention.
  • Communicate consciously. Before you speak, think. Ask yourself, is what I’m about to say true, helpful, important, necessary and kind.
  • Maintain a restful sleep routine. You’ll feel better and be able to accomplish more as you cultivate a sleep routine. When you find yourself pushing too hard, or overdoing any activity, stop and rest.
  • Besides sleep, the best rest is the deep relaxation provided by meditation.
  • Eat warm, soothing foods. When the weather is cold, limit your intake of dry and raw items such as nuts, chips, and uncooked vegetables, which all tend to aggravate the body’s nervous system and digestion.
  • Don’t skip meals while holiday shopping. Skipping meals aggravates the body and mind, so stick with regular mealtimes.
  • Exhale your stress. In stressful situations we have an unconscious tendency to breathe shallowly, which only increases anxiety in our mind and body. Diaphragmatic breathing utilizes deep relaxing breaths to release stress and toxins from the body.
  • Nurture your senses with aromatherapy and essentials oils. In your home or office, use soothing scents such as orange, lavender, sandalwood, vanilla, orange, basil, or clove.

“Stress and other impurities hamper the free flow of energy and information through your physiology, whereas meditation helps remove them by releasing stress and eliminating toxins from your body. Rest is nature’s way of healing and rebalancing your body. Research has shown that the rest associated with meditation has been found to be much deeper than the rest gained in sleep.”

Michelle gave us eleven meditation exercises and taught us diaphragmatic breathing. We practice by placing one hand on our belly and the other on our chest making sure that our hand on our belly was the one moving.

“Diaphragmatic breathing is the act of breathing done by expanding one’s belly and thereby allowing the diaphragm to move down, creating more room for the lungs to expand. Practice this several times each day and you will then have it available in a stressful situation. This simple technique can slow and even stop the fight–or-flight response.” Reference:  http://www.ChopraTeachers.com/ZenSoldier.

Michelle is a U.S. Amy Major, meditation instructor and stroke survivor. She teaches a free weekly class every Wednesday at 3pm through the Intermountain Healthcare, Cottonwood Medical Clinic, Main level 1. To learn more about Michelle visit, http://meditatewithmichelle.com/

This timely information is a great reminder of how to destress and enjoy the holiday season.