Tag Archives: balance

Cute Shoes

If you recall, I have this knack for cute shoes. I think it could be partially genetic–a family trait that naturally flows throughout my genes, much like my love of coffee and good reads. The artistic eye for cute shoes is also a key conversation starter with strangers. “Cute shoes!” I say honestly and enthusiastically while waiting in long, slow lines at the store. Time suddenly seems to quicken its pace and before you know it, your engaged conversation is ending.

Even though this intrigue of fashion is still very much part of how I complete my wardrobe for the day, it is not as much of an importance of appearance anymore as it is sturdy convenience–although at this point in time, I can argue the fact that it doesn’t matter what is on my feet…I am still prone to ankle twists, bad balance and falling: thus, I still own a pair of cute slip-on shoes that I save for special occasions, just like my bag of make-up. (Secret! ūüėČ )

Because I realize that my walking is declining and my bones are fragile (it is a miracle that I am even walking, let alone have not broken any bones during my falling episodes), I am trying to take the appropriate steps in safety by wearing regular shoes–except that I can’t physically tie shoes due to my hand conditions. My physical therapist had mentioned last Fall during one of my PT sessions that there was a¬†shoe and leather repair store,¬†in which she recommended to her patients. This store specializes in shoe adjustments as well as repairs. My adjustments would be removing the shoe laces and getting Velcro straps.

“Sounds old-timer fashion,” my first thoughts concluded. (No offense meant to my elderly readers.) But when I received my pair of tennis shoes back, I actually think that they are kind of cute. ūüôā



Remember how exciting it was as a kid when you first learned how to tie your own shoes? My Velcro straps enabled me to re-experience that simple childhood joy.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:19, NLT


Filed under Adjusting to NF2

What I Lean On

“Help me. Help me.” I blurt out in a semi-panic but soft-toned voice. I knew my sister, Melissa, was behind me with my walker and bag. I had just taken my first step down the stairs leading to the garage; I felt my body starting to lean backwards in off-balance mode. The last thing I wanted was to take another tumble, thus, my cry for help. Melissa helped me rebalance and I slowly descended. At the bottom, my walker is reopened and I place my bag in the middle compartment. Now holding to the handles, I stand and wait for my ride to church.

I haven’t used my walker in the house since around Thanksgiving. Even my cane I have left in the garage and have only used these two walking assistants when going outside the house to town, church, errands or meeting friends and social gatherings. That is until this past weekend. I first started with my cane. I noted at the beginning of last week that getting up to use the bathroom in the early mornings could sometimes have me feeling off-balance. I never used my cane, but just had it resting against my bedside for “just in case.”

Then I fell. Friday afternoon–I was setting up my painting area for a Saturday morning, “Coffee, brunch and painting,” time with ¬†a friend. I don’t even know technically how it happened, because I don’t remember twisting my ankle, but my tumble forced me to my knees. If I had “snapped forward,” I would have just landed harder on my hands. But my fall sent me on backward whiplash; my legs being folded under me, I crunch down on my crooked feet. As I regain composure, but in pain, I try to shift my feet out from under me but find myself underneath the table (that is the part in which I don’t understand!) I knew I was going to have to have assistance getting up off the floor, and since no one came downstairs yet to check on me, I pushed my Lifeline button. ūüôā

Friday’s fall resulted in a very sore left leg: a torn ligament in the knee. It is really the last thing I wanted at this time. I already am struggling with increasing frustration at my right hand and just the mental processing of being slow. Now I use my walker more regular in the house–discussion today also mentioned that it might be time to restart my AFO braces (at least the right foot while my left leg slowly heals.) That decision alone will be something to pray for peace about–my choice to end wearing them, and PT sessions, in the Fall was primarily to live without them until I needed them to walk. I can still walk, but it is only by God’s divine power that I still can.

I see myself weakening and I want to be strong; I force myself to persevere, but need strength to lean on.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Words by: Elisha A. Hoffman


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Uncategorized


The Olympics are always a fascinating two-week¬†event to watch (Even more so, the Paralympics that come a few weeks after!!) Although I enjoy watching the¬†ice skating, curling, and speed skating competitions, my favorite of the two seasons (winter/summer) is the Summer Games.¬†Last summer, the Olympics were held in London–which I found fabulous as Britain/UK is on the top of my own “Mel’s World Travels” sort of wish list. I had been reading several books on the reigns¬†of¬†the different¬†kings/queens and through some church history already, so when CBS would air the “interesting things of London” segments, I felt like a school kid.

At that time, I worked early morning shifts and¬†would be home by lunch for the rest of the day.¬†This¬†meant that I¬†had the chance to watch the afternoon events that you don’t normally see in the evening time as they get crowded out from¬†the more popular ones.¬†I got to see¬†sailing, archery, table tennis, equestrian,¬†judo,¬†fencing, taekwondo and I watched some weight lifting. It was all very interesting.

Every sport has an attribute in which I feel they put more attention to¬†more than another sport would focus on…for example: soccer: kicks and feet motions; synchronized¬†diving: timing of the downward movements; equestrian: pose and maintaining your horse; rowing: upper body strength; and my favorite, because I¬†have none–gymnastics: BALANCE!

I should correct myself: I don’t have much balance, but anymore these days even my “much” balance does not account for much. ūüėČ I could venture to say that I somewhat¬†occasionally perform floor exercises like a gymnast, but less graceful in the air, more flapping of arm movements and I never land on my feet (quite the opposite.) However, the balance issue is currently being worked on during these past few PT sessions and ones yet to come. My rehabilitation doctor at Children’s prescribed for me to get ankle braces. These aren’t just any ankle brace–they are AFO¬†braces. (I like the abbreviation–it stands for Ankle-foot Orthotic.) They look like this:

ankle-foot-orthosis-afo-80454-3202943 medicalexpo.com

What you see is what it is–huge, feels like hard plastic, from knee past the toes bondage for your feet. So far the only fun part has been my display of cool designed knee-high¬†socks, which I actually only get to wear on the right leg as the neutral colored compression stocking takes the left leg. But with jeans on, nobody notices anyway. Otherwise, these AFO’s are hard work! I feel I am training for the Olympics, except in my case, I am “re-training” my brain to use the muscles that have weakened after¬†years of atrophy.¬†Also, these braces¬†are helping my right ankle to stay straight when I walk (but¬†I feel it trying to twist) and in time, I hope the added weight my left leg gains from the weak right side will balance out too.

The exercises so far have been small but aiming at balance. It is unbelievable how¬†it can make your legs feel like Jello within a few minutes! We took another strength-goals test today to see how I¬†am progressing…even though it has had two DVTs, my left leg is the strong leg!¬†But that doesn’t surprise me. Usually by the end of my session, I am ready for the braces to come off, but today I went an hour longer¬†after my PT left and¬†did normal routine things…then¬†I was¬†ready to take them off!¬†The walker proved to be a useful resource¬†in stability as I walked around¬†the house just¬†fine today; best part was when I needed a break, I locked the wheels and sat for a minute¬†to catch my breath.

This is only the beginning. Change will not happen over night…it is going to take time, effort, and a lot of sore muscles. In the end,¬†I should¬†(and hope) be able to wear the braces regularly in a day; I anticipate less falling, but that may just be inevitable.

I am ready for the challenge: it makes me feel like an Olympian.


The Olympic Stadium. Athens, Greece.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. Job 23:10 ESV


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Hospital Trips

Living in a Fast Paced World

At Tuesday’s doctor appointments, we discussed transferring me to a neuro rehab clinic¬†for my¬†Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.¬†This is still in the future¬†plans, but because I currently have a driving restriction until¬†I take a driver’s mobility test (based off the way I am currently walking, just to ensure safety on my reaction times)–it could be up to three weeks¬†until I get the test¬†completed¬†even though I am on the current waiting list. Because of this, I am not able to get¬†myself over to the rehab¬†facilities and since I have already¬†started with Home Health, the plan for now¬†is to let them finish¬†their sessions and then¬†I go¬†on from¬†that point. I have been pleased with my PT sessions¬†so far.

My first session of PT was last week and I start OT¬†next week, which I am anticipating, because today in getting ready my hands lost grip of my makeup bag–momentary sadness¬†to shatter a perfectly good bronzer. Anyway, while last week’s PT session was mostly talk and the “see where you’re at” balance, strength and mobility tests, this week was a full 45 minute workout. I have had PT twice already: one after my first blood clot to strengthen my left leg¬†and¬†the second session this past Spring to strengthen my neck and upper back muscles.

I have never experienced a singe¬†PT session that would literally leave me¬†so exhausted that I had to take a nap in the afternoon. To demonstrate how weak my muscles are–picture me on my knees, lifting the exercise ball over my head (repeat 4 times). By the last, my arms were beat. We also did a lot of balance exercises where I lift¬†one knee while on the other and then rolling the exercise ball back and forth while maintaining balance.¬†To the average person, these may seem so easy, but to a person such as myself, it was difficult. To be honest, today I felt like a toddler…learning to balance and lift things, freely falling over and struggling to get up. But the strength and retraining my mind to use the muscles does not happen over night..it is baby steps. ūüôā

Of course, I overdid myself this morning after my session. I went downstairs and painted a¬†canvas that will be¬†on display next week at a pizza¬†parlor in Yellow Springs. (more to come on that!) I finished¬†but had some extra paint and don’t like to waste¬†it,¬†so I¬†set out to¬†finish a small abstract one as well. No joke, the last few seconds of¬†“finishing touches”¬†on the painting and the table topples over!! Thankfully, the painting was¬†not ruined, but for the cleanup process,¬†I was back on my knees like my PT session and struggling to get everything picked up¬†without making a bigger mess. By the end of my painting session, I looked like a painting. ūüėČ

I¬†had been to Michaels¬†a few weeks ago to pick up paints and a¬†pack of 8×10 canvases.¬†At the check out isle¬†there were some extra-large reusable bags and on an impulse decision, I bought one in order to carry my paintings around when they go on display in Beans-n-Cream or anywhere else.¬†Artistically decorated, the front says the classic line, “Stop and smell the roses.” I thought of The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Growing up, Ferdinand was different. While his peers were shaping up to be the best for bull fighting, Ferdinand just wants to smell flowers. Only when he sits on a bee does anyone take notice of him. At the bull arena, he is adorned with roses…everyone expects him to put in a good show, and he just wants to smell the flowers. ūüôā

Too often I try to rush forward in my physical body, even though it is no longer capable of the word “hurry.” I forget to stop, breath in, smell the¬†roses (sweetness of God’s mercy and grace)¬†and realize that I don’t have to feel pressure to keep up with the fast paced world. God can use me just as I am…like a child.

They say that I can move the mountains
And send them crashing into the sea
They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe
with faith like a child

Jars of Clay. “Like a Child.” Self-titled debut album. 1995.


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Paintings

Accommodations For Normal Living

I did something yesterday that I have not done in a while years! I ordered to go…DRIVE THRU!! A big deal considering every time¬†I want to grab and go–I have to park, walk in, order, wait, then go. When I am with family, things are pretty normal (minus a missed ordered fries or no sauce); or if I am driving and my sister is in the passenger¬†seat, she yells¬†past me and then I just pay and pick up at the window.¬†But me alone…ordering drive thru most often is like talking on the telephone (even with my internet captel)–lots of communication problems.¬†I think most people would say ordering drive thru¬†is hard for anyone,¬†but it makes it even harder with profound hearing loss. Thankfully, most now have big screens so you can see your order.

The most common misconception I have about my hearing loss is that I cannot hear anything. True…when I have no hearing aids in.¬†My new hearing aids give me a lot more power and range to¬†pick up on sound, but even still I think my hearing is¬†slightly decreasing. I have a hearing¬†test next week¬†with my MRI/doctor appointments to¬†see how things are going. ¬†People at work ask me if I hear voices. I do, but if I am not reading lips, then I have no idea what¬†you are saying.¬†SO,¬†I have to give credit…it was like a “cheat sheet” drive thru. I got off work around noon, aka, lunch hour. I was exhausted but had a coupon for a free Chic-fil-A hand spun¬†milkshake. They seemed to have a really busy noon hour and since I could not find a parking spot, I ventured in the drive-thru lane. They had long lines so they had set different workers at certain points to take your order and punch it in, so by the time you got to the window, you had already paid and just got your order. Brilliant! ūüôā But I still count it as official drive thru…because I never left my car!

Friday, I had an appointment to discuss different options for my phone upgrade. I am not interested in an iPhone or anything big with touch screens, because it is hard for me to hold and text. In discussing my needs, we are focusing on phones for seniors. Most common are flip phones with big T9¬†text keys. There are also ones that have ICE buttons on the top of the key pads, which for safety factor might not be a bad idea. We still have a bit of research to do with different things, but I think that type of phone is what I will possibly get. With my fingers getting so numb and loosing function…I am not looking for anything fancy but that covers my need. We also talked about getting a captel landline phone. That was a big factor for me in my apartment. My phone service was not always the best, and if I had an emergency, I just can’t call people. I have to turn on my computer, start my internet, load the address, log on, set my phone numbers, then hope the website runs smoothly and does not cut off my conversations (which seems to happen on my most important calls). It takes a lot of time. With the landline, I just have to pick up the phone and dial out. I think that might be an important investment–especially when I want to call grandparents. ūüôā

We also discussed a lot of different options for helping me maintain my independence. It is my hopes to get into an apartment of my own again soon. It was a big shift going from living with roommates at all times to living on my own. I saw concerns that could have been problematic. Thankfully, my apartment accommodated for a lot of them, such as a strobe light on the fire alarm. But I think there are more concerns than just my hearing. I also fall a lot. I fell out of the shower a few times in college and in the apartments in Denver. Not that it will happen again, but I also think of when the blood clot hit. I was also in the shower. That event was actually very scary for me. It leaves me with doubts of being able to safely live on my own again. And that is why the appointment Friday was such a huge encouragement for me to understand that there are resources, accommodations and technologies that help make independent living (for as long as I am able) a safer experience. I am so thankful for that.

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2

“All I want is to be in the Light.”

Daylight Saving Time. Did you miss it? Don’t worry about raising your hand if you did, because I would not see it anyway. ūüôā Last night, I watched just a tad of National Treasure to relax. It was on TV, so I could tell where they cut lines out (not as cool as the real deal movie), so I did not watch anymore past the part where they go to Independence Hall for the “retro specs.” ūüôā In the movie, Riley tells Ben and Abigail about Daylight Saving Time. This made me curious, so I decided to look it up and see when it first started. Of course, National Treasure quotes that Benjamin Franklin was the first to propose Daylight Saving Time– and it’s true (I figured it would be, but just had to be certain.)

I found the official website for Daylight Saving Time:¬†http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving. I started clicking around and found some information about Benjamin Franklin.¬†Franklin was in Paris at the time–I assume most likely when he was serving as the U.S. ambassador. He was very sick and getting older in years, so much time was spent at his house. Franklin had attended a demonstration about a new oil lamp and went home thinking. Soon after, he noted the sun rising earlier (well, he had noted this for quite a while and had been writing it down in a record journal). Thus, he wrote an article, called An Economical Project, which was “a discourse on the thrift of natural versus artificial lighting,” (http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/franklin.html, 2008 by IDEA). I think that Benjamin Franklin was a very wise, practical, and resourceful man. Of course, Daylight Saving Time did not get put into full effect until WWI, but I think that Franklin’s intent on saving energy is no different from today. We do not use oil lamps, but we pay light and gas bills, so it is relatively the same context of using daylight hours to save energy and resources. I am no “early to bed, early to rise” person, so I cannot point any fingers at people wasting energy. ūüėÄ Anyway, the whole history and topic is quite interesting! If you want some more great links from the website, I found these fascinating:




*MUST READ!! ūüėĬ†http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/franklin3.html

Aside from Daylight Saving Time, I must say that I do not like the dark. Nope. Not at all! Not so much that it scares me, more the fact that I have the worst balance in the dark and I cannot read people’s lips in the dark. Car rides are extremely frustrating for me when they are in the dark! My family turns on the small car light so I can read lips, or the favorite–using their cell phone to light up their face–but I still miss a lot of conversation.

My balance problems are a result of my hearing loss. Back when I was a kid, I struggled with weak ankles, but totally could play games like Kick the Can out in the dark with my sisters and friends. Have you ever played Kick the Can? What a game!!! We lived in the country, so no street lights were around our area which made the night a deep pitch-black dark. I liked this most in the moments on clear nights with no moon. We would take out blankets and gaze at the stars and talk. We could see part of the Milky Way from our yard…just being lost in the gaze of stars made me realize how small I really am compared to the universe.

Anyway, back to Kick the Can–you play in pitch darkness! You want to even wear black or dark clothes, because the whole point of the game is like Hide and Seek with a few twists. Someone is selected to be the “it” person (You know, “You’re it.”) ūüôā They count to say a hundred somewhere while everyone hides. The point of this game is to hide so that you cannot be found. If the “it” person finds you, they have to say, “Bang ______”. That blank is your name. If they say the correct name then that person goes to jail, but if the name is incorrect, they do not move until either the correct name is said or they just go on searching for others. If you get in jail, then you start yelling for people to come get you out. You do no want the “it” person to get everyone in jail, because then whoever was put first in jail is now the new “it” person. Make sense so far? Good. ūüėÄ

Now, the fun part begins when someone gets in jail. The can has already been placed in the yard at a specific spot where everyone knows, usually close to the set jail area (our jail was the back patio). When the person(s) in jail start yelling for help, you have the option to help them by attempting to literally kick the can without being caught. If the “Bang ____” is said before you kick the can, then you go to jail with the others. If not, then you yell out, “HOME FREE!!!!!” Thus, resulting in all jail inmates running back into hiding while the “it” person has to find the can and place it back into the designated spot in the yard. This is such a fun game!! We loved playing with friends or cousins when they came to visit.

One last thing before I close for the day–it is, of course, something related to music. ūüôā I grew up on oldies and I loved it!! Anyway, I am sure you have never heard of Charlie Peacock. If you have, applause to you!! Don’t feel guilty if you have not, but then maybe you have heard of dc Talk?? Ah yes!!! Classic times in the contemporary Christian music industry when they were a band! dc Talk sang a song, called “In the Light”, on their Jesus Freak album.

If you are wondering the connection between Charlie Peacock, dc Talk and “In the Light”, well, Charlie Peacock wrote it for his Love Life album (1991).

Yes this is extremely old, but serious, a really good cd!! (My Dad will be proud of me saying so). Anyway, dc Talk sings his song and it is my favorite version. The song is about God’s Light and the desire to be IN His Light and salvation. One of my favorite songs ever!!!

I found a YouTube video of dc Talk singing the song during a concert. I encourage you to listen to the song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWq1XYxtlRs

Enjoy an extra hour of sunshine!! More to come…


Filed under Family Times, Funny Stories, Random