Tag Archives: falling

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.

Refrain

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

Words by: Elisha A. Hoffman

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Carried in Love

“It happens every time,” I say in tears with a mouthful of a Fiber One bar. I take a drink of my re-heated coffee, then continue, “I do so well; then the week before my doctor appointments, I just don’t!” Of course, I also state in frustration that I think it’s a conspiracy. I am not sure what the case is (definitely not a conspiracy), but this situation does seem to happen most often around doctor appointments. ¬†Maybe it’s just ironic.

This morning was like any other Sunday: a rush getting ready, downing a small breakfast amid hoping to leave on time, but still needing to put on my socks and boots. In my hurriedness coming out of my room, carrying my winter coat and boots, my right leg locks at the knee as I round the corner in which throws me off-balance. I tumble-down backwards, dropping everything and hit my head on the floor. My parents were still here, and within a minute of falling, Dad came to the hallway and assisted in picking me up off the floor.

Just a few days earlier, I spent a whole day conquering my file box! (Also termed: The Twilight Zone!) After hours of organizing and sorting, the results are rewarding. All that was left to accomplish was shredding a stack of old bank statements. Dad un-jammed my shredder and I started happily shredding away! As it starts to fill, the shredder gets a slower speed and makes noises (unknown to me.) Dad comes in and tries to tell me this, but I defend my shredder saying it is able to shred up to so many pages and that it is just full. Not really implying that I need help emptying the bin, Dad makes his way to help me anyway. Sitting on a stool, I start to stand to get out of his way, but result in slipping…knocking the stool over, I too stumble backwards. It was like a crash-landing. I have never hit the floor backwards so hard ever before, and in a moment, I was in the worst pain and instant tears. But Dad was there, and helped pick me up.

As he helped me get comfortable on the couch, I started to feel bad for bickering in justification the few minutes before the fall. Seemed so silly; and Dad finished shredding my papers. This morning, after finally getting my boots on, I realize that I probably shouldn’t drive in the snow that was piling down. I text Dad and tell him I am just going to stay put, safe and sound. “After all that,” I mumble as I go ahead and just brew a new pot of coffee. But I am glad I stayed. My morning readings brought me to ponder God’s unfailing Love, as I thought about my Dad having been by my side after each fall. Truth: Dad won’t always be there, but God is ever-present in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Missy [his daughter] could fall down and hurt herself, even if I’m walking right there beside her. That doesn’t mean that I allowed it to happen. She knows, as far as unconditional love, I’ll pick her up and I’ll carry her. I’ll try to heal her. I’ll cry when she cries. And I’ll rejoice when she is well. In all the moments of my life, God has been right there beside me. The truth of God’s love is not that he allows bad things to happen. It’s His promise that he’ll be there with us when they do.

–Clark’s response to Marty’s question: Why does God allows bad things to happen to decent people?

Love Comes Softly. 2003. Based on the book by Janette Oke.

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Looking Upward

Over the weekend, I finally accomplished putting into chronological order and placing my college to present pictures in photo albums. It brought back many great memories. As I sorted, I found these pictures that made me laugh at the memory of the evening:

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During my years living in the Denver area, I lived in a neighborhood called Bel¬†Mar. On the corner of Wadsworth and Alameda, this was the rising place for living and shopping. The Target¬†I was employed at was about¬†fifteen minutes from Bel¬†Mar…connected to a flat mall that had an indoor mile track that ran its course around the stores. I enjoyed a mile walk on my lunch breaks. I think every mall should be modeled after that one.

Even though there were a few Target stores in the area, Bel Mar also built one a few months before¬†I moved. It was one of the “new city” model styles where the parking garage was underneath on the “first floor,” making the actual retail store on the second floor, all of course equipped with escalators, a stairway, and an elevator. I opted for the escalators.

Mom came to Denver¬†every other week to help me on my chemo weekends. After the grand opening of Target (we had watched¬†it being built over time),¬†I wanted to show her the¬†inside of the new Target. Up until this point, I had only been in a few times, because it was more convenient for me just to get my needs and groceries from my Super Target rather than stop at another one on the way home. But with Mom, we had grabbed a few groceries and as we left, I made a discovery: they even had an escalator for your carts!!! I was laughing so hard, Mom was afraid I would fall down our own escalator. ūüôā

Currently, I have recently developed a phobia of walking down the stairs.¬†Going up the stairs is not a problem; just coming down.¬†Too many falls in the past few months has triggered this phobia, but I can’t say that¬†I had really classified it as a fear up until a few weeks ago when I mentioned it to a friend.¬†Now¬†I am not even sure if it is just the stairs I fear falling–I¬†think it is¬†falling in general.

With my balance continuing to worsen, I have now restarted Physical Therapy, but it takes place here at my house. Due to the decline of function in my hands (especially the right hand), I will also be starting soon some sessions of Occupational Therapy.¬†The reason for having the sessions here at home is to¬†help me with my everyday living. For example, because¬†I¬†started¬†my first¬†PT session last week, we did a huge overview of my¬†current conditions and¬†discussed the areas¬†in which I need assistance. Most of my current frustrations¬†deal¬†in the realm of¬†OT, but balance was a major issue for me in PT. She gave me a suggestion for going down the stairs sideways, but to be honest, it doesn’t make me feel any better about the decline. As for right now we are mainly focusing on extra balancing exercises to accompany the PT strengthening exercises I have been doing already.

To access¬†my current conditions, my therapist had me¬†perform some “strength and mobility” tests. I can only stand on one foot for a¬†mere one or¬†two seconds…and standing¬†with one foot in front of the other depends on which foot is¬†placed first.¬†Considering I have had two¬†blood clots¬†in my left¬†leg, don’t be surprised to hear that it is my stronger leg. I¬†think it always has been¬†to be honest. When we lived in Colorado, I did get the chance to learn how to snowboard before¬†my balance would no longer permit the activity.¬†My Dad insisted that my sister and I take a half day of lessons before we just went out on our own.¬†At the rental shop, when¬†deciphering which foot you will put forward on the board, the rental personal did a little test. He had me turn around and gave me a slight nudge. I put my left foot forward first. He said, “You’re a regular foot.” (A right foot is called a goofy foot.) I think if anyone gave me a little nudge today, I would just fall over.

I am seeing the reality that my balance and falling will worsen. I have no control over it. There are days when I am to the¬†point of tears at my balance. Other days, I find humor in it. I think it parallels the balance of life: days when strength is strong¬†and days when strength is weak…in both I need to keep looking¬†upwards, knowing when I fall, He still stands.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121: 1-2 ESV

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Thursday’s Terrible Tumble

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I wouldn’t call it ironic, but yes, I did read this passage of Scripture in the early morning hours with my cup of coffee.

The day seemed to start so typical in routine. Awake by 7am-ish, make¬†a cup of coffee, feed Muffy breakfast, watch¬†a deer eat the farmer’s soy beans, eat my own breakfast and morning readings. This morning, my intent was to get to the gym for an exercise before coming home to finish a few lingering projects. I should stop planning my days.

I leave a note for my sister that I headed to the gym with a salutation, “Be back soon, xo.” I had used the bike yesterday, so today I wanted to walk two miles in preparation for Sunday’s NF Walk in Cincinnati in corporation with raising¬†awareness and funds for research with¬†the Children’s Tumor Foundation. We have known about this for months, but I was not fully interested in taking part of the event until I participated in the Miami Valley Women’s Center, “Walk 4 Life,” in May. Shortly after this, I emailed my¬†family to see if they were interested still in the idea, as I would only be I interested if someone walked with me.¬†I would not walk again by myself. Although my parents would be out-of-town that day, my sisters committed to the walk.

So, taking my momentum of excitement to the gym, I decide I can walk the two miles better in a straight line than 16 times in a circle around the indoor track. I go for a treadmill. My thoughts betrayed me.

I was doing just fine. I actually have no idea what went wrong. I¬†am a symmetric person (the accountant in me to balance like an¬†equation), and when I exercise it¬†is no different. I warm up for five minutes then do a faster walk for ten or twenty minutes then cool down for five minutes. I was walking slower than an average person’s stride for the first five minutes, clutching the handle with both hands. I barely notch up the speed to get my legs moving and I don’t even think it was but a few minutes later that¬†I just came down.

It was slow motion: my nose planted in the middle of the handle bar and I try to pick myself up and regain balance but then my feet just buckle from underneath me and down I go…hitting my mouth on the way while belly flopping on the moving tack. I very ungracefully glide off and somehow landed on the floor sitting up cross-legged. I had lost my glasses on the way down so¬†I can’t see and hold my nose and say, “Ow. That hurt.” Then I realize I am bleeding from my nose and considering my fall plus blood thinner pills–well, the equation was very messy and did not balance.

Within seconds I had at least from what I remember, four people at my side. One gave me towels for my nose, another had my glasses and two finally helped me to my feet when I was ready. The lady there helped me to the bathroom to wash my hands and arms and then when I was a bit clean (still bloody nose), I sat out at the tables and they did paperwork. They were very concerned and helped me call my sister (we woke her up) and she came to pick me up.

The rest of the day goes from there…while I sit on the couch with ice on my already¬†blackish-blue nose, Marcia is making¬†all the necessary¬†phone calls¬†in order to figure out what to¬†do next. My doctors at Children’s wanted a CAT scan of the nose and neck to ensure nothing was broken but most¬†importantly the¬†bleeding factor, even though I was not showing¬†any¬†signs of something drastic. We¬†ended up leaving¬†twenty minutes¬†later for the ER and spent the next¬†few hours there. Thankfully, my nose is not broken¬†and nothing wrong otherwise but a low INR count.

The point of my story is not necessarily my poor decision to decide to walk on a treadmill with weak legs and ankles (and not attaching the safety stop clip to myself either), but that I would have not made it through the day without the kindness and help from those around me or those on the other end of the phone with my sister. Even if I did not have NF2, I still believe that after a tumble like that, I would have required a helping hand.

This is why I am excited to be part of the NF Walk on Sunday–because I can be a helping hand in bringing hope to others just as others have done for me.

We can’t do everything, but can we do anything more valuable than invest ourselves in another? Elisabeth Elliot

For more information:

My team, “We walk with Mel!”:

https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1044487&supId=373310036

NF Walk in Cincinnati: http://ctf.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1044487&lis=1&kntae1044487=AC40628269E94A3193B4E32ACD2CA733

The Children’s Tumor Foundation: http://www.ctf.org/

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A Day Like Today

Today ended up being my last¬†session of Physical Therapy. I was not anticipating this at all since I was scheduled two more sessions next week. I feel¬†as if¬†I “graduated,” and now I get to go forth and onward in life taking the new stretches and exercises I learned and hope to maintain what I have started to build in terms of healthier muscles. I think my eight sessions of PT also caused me to be more aware of the little daily tasks in life that I have come to¬†see cause neck pain or bad posture.

For example, I don’t wear much make-up; but after starting PT, I noticed that bending over the counter to apply my eye liner, shadow, and mascara¬†caused pain to¬†appear in my neck from the position¬†of bending in¬†and straining forward to be close to the mirror. I ventured to Target one afternoon and found myself a nice square mirror with a handle on the top and brought it home. I already have an over-the-door hook for my¬†bathrobe, so¬†I moved my robe to a different hook and placed my mirror over the door instead.¬†Brilliant. Best five dollars spent in the month of March!¬†One side note though, the hook is not that low, so when I¬†apply my eye make-up…my¬†nose is what¬†I first see in the mirror.¬†Good thing it is not¬†any higher or I would need a stepping stool!

Since¬†this morning brought unexpected good news, I–in excitement–decided to celebrate in the best way possible. I grabbed Taco Bell for lunch then headed to Wal Mart to buy an exercise mat so my twice-a-day¬†PT routines can be more enjoyable rather than just the hard floor. I wish I had a mat down the other morning as I took a “trust fall” to the ground.

“Trust fall.” I am sure you have heard of the term. It was the part of church camp obstacle courses I did not like. It was not in part of trusting the person behind me…it was trusting myself just to fly backwards. I just never could with grace or ease until Tuesday morning as I tripped over my own feet and pajama bottoms as I got out of bed. It sent me flying backwards, trust fall fashion, until my head snapped off the ground and I just lay flat. Not the best way to start your day, but all I suffered was a minor headache during the day.

Until yesterday. I woke up thinking to myself, “I have the worst swollen glands!”¬†It took a few morning hours at the coffee¬†shop to¬†realize that it¬†was not swollen glands. My¬†entire bottom neck by my collar-bone¬†just throbbed; I finally¬†figured that it was major whiplash from my fall–it is more like a pulled muscle. I was fine during the day for the most part; but towards the early afternoon and evening, the bad posture and sticking out my neck due to the throbbing front portion of my neck caused the intense pain to start in the back of my neck. Of course, I could have done a bit more relaxing during the day, but I had this drive to organize my file box. After a few loads of paper trash, three times emptying my shredder and¬†frequent “lay down on the bed to give my neck some relief” times–my file box had a complete make-over. It felt grand.

I got in bed for the night and placed my heating pack on my neck. I started to think of what to say to my PTA about my Tuesday’s fall; I already had to tell her two weeks ago about another fall I took on the wood floor in the hallway–note to self: Mel wears shoes in the house at all times…not sock feet!! Or just now, I go in my room and miss the light switch, take a step forward in the dark and fall into my closet–note to self: Mel leaves a small lamp on in her room once it gets dark outside. PT has trained my mind to become more aware of these problems; it is just that I do not think of these problems or solutions until they occur. ūüėČ

Anyway, it did not take me long to fall asleep last night and before you know it, I was up an hour before my alarm was set to go off. I decided to use the extra time to read. I love morning readings. My mind seems so open, though my left eye would not stop twitching today. I¬†am currently reading¬†David Crowder’s book, Praise Habits: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi. This morning I was reading his chapter on Psalm 8, in¬†which he¬†rewrites the Psalm in his own words¬†in form¬†of worship.¬†This paragraph seemed to gratify my thoughts:

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,

your handmade sky-jewelry,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,

Why do you bother with us?

Why take a second look our way?*

I fell asleep last night after a day of what I consider macroscopic pain! I woke up this morning with only the usual morning stiffness that went away after I started moving around and getting breakfast. Yesterday I did not do any of my PT exercises or stretches; today I did them all (minus a few neck routines.) I went all day with no pain like yesterday.

I feel microscopic; I examine my thoughts and stand in wonder (awe) that God would heal this pain so quickly–that today was not a day of pain, but of celebration and fellowship.¬†It leaves me singing¬†as the Psalmist, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (8:1)

*Crowder, David. Praise Habits: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004. Pg. 49.

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