Struggles Develop Strengths

Strength`

Looking forward to the next segment of Laura’s Story on Wednesday. This quote reminded me of her and her family who supported and cared for her. We don’t know how strong we are until we go through hardships.

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The Land of Well

“How was it going back to church today,” my daughter, Katie, asked last Sunday just after I finished my article, There’s No Place Like Home.

Being in the mindset of the Wizard of Oz I said, “It seemed a bit strange to be in the Land of Well around a large group of people without apparent physical challenges.”

She seemed surprised by my response so I explained, “I was so involved with health problems I forgot there are many more people who are physically fit. Seeing people with all their limbs intact and joints which appear to be working without any thought can seem strange after being around many who struggle.”

Most people don’t realize how fortunate they are for their good health. After being around others with limitations and struggles, I promise myself I will appreciate my body more. However, it doesn’t take long after being in the “Land of Well” for me to fall back into that category of people taking for granted a body that works with ease.

I’ve recommitted to take better care of my own body. I vacillate back and forth from weight loss to weight gain, from being energetic to feeling sluggish. It’s a quirk of mine I want to change. I admire those who stay steadily motivated to eat right and exercise. I enjoy being physically active, but you wouldn’t know it to look at me. I weigh more than ever, missing a summer of walks, biking, hiking and gardening. It’s difficult to find the time with all the other responsibilities. For me it’s an issue of finding balance and making priorities. When my diet is good and my weight down I feel dynamic, full of life. During which time I can’t imagine falling back into my old habits. However, the patterns and routines creep back into my life at such a slow pace I don’t realize it’s happening until I find myself back or even further behind the place I vowed to never go to again.

What can be more important than taking care of my body? I know the answer, but find it difficult to put it first, before the other stresses and responsibilities of life. It takes time and planning to prepare nutritious meals and exercise—time that my relentless habits tell me I don’t have. I may have fallen off the band wagon again, but I can pick myself up, dust those bad habits off and start again.

Land of WellIn January of 2014 I wrote For Health’s Sake—Make a Date. I’m going to do it again, for I know my body needs to be appreciated by taking the best care of it I can. I’ve learned so much from people with physical limitations and realize their spirits make up for what their bodies can’t do. They remind me of the importance of appreciating what I have and taking care of it to the best of my ability. I enjoy the Land of Well and want to be there for as long as I can. I’m taking the leap, how about you?

20 Things to Know About Grief

lifegoesonIn the journey of life I suppose everyone has felt like they’ve come to a screeching halt at some time or another. It’s part of the grieving process. In my article Life Must Go On, I recalled three common, everyday events which after the accident became tough to do. I felt awkward and strange, even around family and friends. Despite my shattered life, I could see that life was going on. It seemed odd that most people were unaware of my grief and pain. I knew I had to move forward regardless of my sorrow and the best reason to do so was for my children.

Can anyone prepare for grief? I don’t know, but I sure wasn’t prepared for it. What I do know is that it will come in all of our lives and sometimes when we least expect it. I found this list of things to know about grief very accurate to what I experienced. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone.

  1. Your grief will take longer than most people think.
  2. Your grief will take more energy than you would have ever imagined.
  3. Your grief will involve many changes.
  4. Your grief will show itself in all parts of your life: physical, social, and emotional.
  5. You will grieve the loss of many things, not just the death or change alone.
  6. You will grieve for what you have lost in the present and for what you have lost for the future.
  7. Your grief will involve mourning not only for the actual person, but also for all the hopes, dreams and unfulfilled expectations you had for/and with that person, along with needs that will go unmet because of the death or change.
  8. Your grief will involve a wide variety and combination of feelings and reactions such as anger, sadness, loneliness, irritability, frustration, annoyance, or intolerance.
  9. Your loss will bring out old issues, feelings and unresolved conflicts from the past.
  10. You will have a sense of loss of identity as the result of this major loss and you will experience reactions and feelings that are new and different for you.
  11. You may feel anger and/or guilt, or some variation of these emotions.
  12. You may have a lack of self-concern or interest in things going on around you.
  13. You may experience a grief burst, a sudden burst of feeling that hits you without warning.
  14. You may have trouble thinking, concentrating, and/or making decisions.
  15. You may feel like you are going crazy.
  16. You may search for meaning for why this happened.
  17. You may question your religion and or definition of life.
  18. You may find yourself acting socially in ways that are different from before.
  19. Society will have unrealistic expectations about your grief journey and may respond inappropriately to you.
  20. Certain experiences later in life may temporarily bring back your grief such as certain dates, events, sounds, smells, sights, and/or memories that remind you of your loss.

http://www.unitypoint.org/homecare/filesimages/THINGS%20YOU%20SHOULD%20KNOW%20ABOUT%20GRIEF.pdf

Life Must Go On

As I came to terms with my own grief, I learned this – life must and will go on, with or without you. Choose to be apart of it. Each day is precious and relationships need to be treasured. If you’re grieving, keep moving forward one step at a time. You can and will move out of the dark and will see a colorful life again.

Please share your tips on grieving or what kept you going during your time of grief.

The Receiving End of Caregiving, Part 2

Thank you, Ann, for sharing the rest of your rewarding experience of being on the receiving end of caregiving, which is good reminder for the professionals, as well as friends and family, on what is important to the ones receiving care.

Written by, Ann McDougall

Ann & Liam in bed

I knew I was in the best place while I was in the hospital. It was where I needed to be at the time and that’s just how it needed to be. I accepted my situation and felt at peace with it. I was lucky enough to have an end in sight because a lot of people with health problems do not.  Every now and then I allowed myself to have a hard day, a down moment, or a good cry (in the bathroom so no one would walk in and see me).  Sometimes I’d feel angry, but then I’d to go back to having a good attitude, because a bad one wouldn’t get me far. I chose how I reacted to my situation. Yes, it was difficult at times, but I knew it didn’t help me to think miserable thoughts.

I had some wonderful nurses in the hospital. They did their best to make sure I felt at home by allowing me to have many comforts, like my own pillow and pictures of my family. My son, niece and nephews would often color pictures and tape them all over my walls and the nurses would comment when they saw a new one.  I appreciated the nurses who took the time to talk to me about my personal life and share a bit about their own instead of just asking the usual medical questions. One nurse, Michelle, sat with me on Pioneer Day and watched fireworks from my window because my family was not able to be there with me.  I loved it when nurses would come into my room just to say hi to me even if I wasn’t their patient that shift. It made me feel important and not forgotten. They were considerate of our family time. My husband, David and son, Liam would usually come to visit in the evenings and if a nurse came in to take my vitals, they always asked if they should come back later. Their kindness made me feel like a person, not just another patient. They celebrated with me each day I stayed pregnant because every day was a big accomplishment. I had a white board across from my bed where we kept track of how far along I was and each morning as we’d change the number, they would congratulate me on making it another day. They called our baby, Ariana by name when checking her heart beat twice a day. They made me feel like I was carrying a precious little one; it wasn’t just another pregnancy.

Meeting others in a similar situation helped me cope. There were a few other ladies who were on hospital bed rest and we were able to meet for lunch once a week to visit with each other in our rooms. It was therapeutic to talk with each other about our struggles and situations. They could empathize with the hardship of being stuck in a hospital bed, leaving our husbands and children at home without us, afraid for our unborn child’s life.

 

Most people like to be busy doing something productive, to feel like they have a purpose. It’s hard to feel productive and purposeful when you are completely relying on others to take care of you. I found it important to find something to focus on, some little thing to do to keep busy. While in the hospital I learned how to crochet. I made many things for our baby, our son and other people, which helped me feel important and needed. It gave my mind a distraction and my hands busy when I couldn’t do many other things I wanted to do.

Ann & LiamI had a lot of time for thought and reflection. I feel like I came home from the hospital ready to be a better parent. I have more patience with my son. I appreciate my husband more than ever. He has always been a great dad, but he showed me how extra ordinary he is by being an even better one. He took care of our house, did the grocery shopping, paid the bills, and took care of the pets while working full time. I was worried about how he would do it all, but he did just fine. He was so thoughtful and loving to me. On occasion he would stop by before work to say hi and surprise me. He did his very best to visit every single day and made sure our son came just as often. We were even able to arrange for our son to sleep over with someone else so that my husband could sleep at the hospital with me every now and then. The time together was important for our relationship.

Ann's kidsI have been blessed by seeing how many people were willing to serve my family. I was able to focus on the pregnancy and not worry so much about if things at home were being taken care of. I was humbled by how much my family was there for me. I knew they loved me, but they showed just how much by all the things they did for me. I loved it when my dad would stop by on his lunch breaks or my sister-in-law would bring her kids by to see me. They all came on Father’s Day and had dinner with me. I’m sure they would have rather been home, but it meant so much they brought the party to me. I have learned I can rely on my family and I hope they know how much I appreciate and love them.