Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sobering Reality

(Written February 24, 2012 @ 5 am) - Saturday is the 2nd Anniversary of Brain Surgery

You know the thing about a near death experience is it really puts your life in perspective. I've realized it doesn't do this for just you, it affects those around you too. But, you have a choice in it that no one else does, you have a choice to make it positive or negative for YOU. I'm not saying that it doesn't affect those around you, cause it does, often time just as drastically, but only you can change you! They're responsible for them and if they change as an effect of experiencing this event so be it, I only hope it's for the positive. But YOU can make a decision to look for the good within or focus on the bad.

As I look over my day, I have 'normal' stuff on my agenda. I know that probably sounds weird for you, you might even say, yeah everyone does, but if you've been striving to be 'normal' again then this statement might give you a little insight into my here and now. For two years, I've struggled to return to 100% since a life altering experience. In reality, I really wasn't 100% before this event. In fact, the last time I remember 'normal' is the day before Halloween 2009. I don't like to ruminate on my old 100%, its too painful at times. I'm not sure if that reaction is acceptance or avoidance. I'll hope it's acceptance, but if I'm honest with myself, it's probably both. My new 100% (which I think is still improving) is OK with me. If I linger on my perceived 'deficits', I lose the opportunity to heal and the miracle that is in that. I in essence shoot myself in the foot, I hinder myself from seeing what truly has happened, what God has done. I'm confident God is and will use me as I am, in my new state. Thankfully all He asks of me is my willingness to serve Him!

As I write this it's 5 am and I'm pedaling away at the gym, listening to the news, and having a conversation with my workout buddy (Hi Dad). Here's for multitasking. If I stop and just look at where I am, I realize how far I've come. Enter side note: I'm not sure I will ever grasp truly how far I've come (because I don't remember what I looked like those first days), but I remember how I felt and I know I've come a long way and I'm thankful for that.

Two years ago, it all could have turned out much differently. In honesty, I have a hard time thinking about that. I don't like to think about the could have's, especially when it comes to my husband & precious boys. I've so enjoyed watching my boys continue to grown & change these last two years. I haven't always enjoyed the power struggles I have with them, but I suspect it's not only normal, but just the start, regardless I love the way they make me laugh and smile. To hear Zach give my painful arm a 'blessing' (prayer) without me requesting it or the way he says Mom and runs to me after an absence. To Kadin's scream of Mom in delight when I walk into his room in the morning or after nap or how he is so loving as he crawls up into my lap just to be with me. As I write this, I have to stop myself and be grateful. I remember those days in the hospital when nothing I saw was the horrible deficits and repeatedly asking, "will they still love me?" One of the best gifts were the visits the boys made to me in the hospital. To Kadin having to come in a closed isolette to my ICU room to prevent him from catching the 'yuckiness' going around to Zach crawling in my bed to test all the controls. It was really physically and emotionally taxing on me every time these visits occurred because I so desperately feared their rejection. Instead, they just loved their Momma. My family did a great job of preparing Zach for what had happened and at the end he was just focused on when I was coming home and what kind of sucker he could have during his visit. Kadin was content letting me feed him, burp him and snuggle him when I was finally strong enough to. What memories, good and bad!

Despite it all, I'm THANKFUL it happened as it did. I have learned so much and have experienced so much. I am still saddened by parts of it that may remain forever, but I'm happy by how it's impacted my life.

Thank you to my Husband, Children, Parents, Siblings, In-laws, other family and friends. Thank you so much for the encouragement, support, love, and prayers you've showered on me. It has been a blessing and I'm forever grateful for your sacrifice.

Thank you to the Doctors. Nurses, Therapists, health care aides. I appreciate your assistance in making my recovery as good as it could be. Thank you for the encouragement, support and sometimes swift kick in the butt. I am blessed to have met you and I'm grateful for your care and concern.

Thank you most importantly to God! You have rescued me and I'll never be the same. Thank you for each person you placed in my life during this experience. Thank you for loving me and using me exactly where I was. I am so grateful and thankful for what has happened. May YOU be glorified!

One song that I was listening to on the way to the gym this morning seemed to summarize how I feel.... you can find a youtube video at

Below are the lyrics....

Hillsong United

"Search My Heart"

[Verse 1:]
Search my heart
And search my soul
There is nothing else
That I want more

[Verse 2:]
Shine Your light
And show Your face
In my life
Lord have Your way

[Verse 3:]
Hear my cry
And hear my prayer
Draw me close
I know your near

[Verse 4:]
Give me strength
And give me grace
To walk with You
Lord, all my days

[Chorus 1:]
So with all my heart and all my soul
With all I am, Lord, I will follow You

[Chorus 2:]
You took the cross, You took my shame
Restored my life, now I live to worship You

Without You I am nothing
Without You I am nothing
Without You I am nothing


Friday, February 17, 2012

For Rondy

One thing that's always fun about Anchorage in February is Fur Rondy. I remember going downtown when I was younger and watching the start of the dog sled races. I remember how good the hot chocolate tasted on those chilly days. I remember the excitement in the air especially in the barks and yelps of the dogs. I hope to take my boys to that in the coming years so they too can experience the excitement of dog sled races & Fur Rondy. I remember as a teenager decorating my Fridge box with my teen group to make it qualify for the Outhouse Race. I think we competed in one of the first races. I don't remember how we fared, but I remember we had fun. Then I didn't pay much attention to Fur Rondy for years, but I remember it in 2010. I remember a day or so before Fur Rondy occurred, Nurse Shamise insisted that I switch ICU rooms, because she wanted me to have a view. I remember thinking at the time how crazy that was. I was sure I was dying and the thought of enjoying my view was downright stupid sounding to me. The excitement of Fur Rondy still made it up to my room. As I lay in my bed, unable to move much and struggling desperately to breath, my family was delivered the joy of having a great view of the sled dogs pulling their mushers out of town. I wanted to see it, to not be trapped in a hospital bed fighting for my life, I wanted to be normal. Thank you Shamise for this small gift to my family. Although I didn't realize it then, I do know, it allowed my family a bit of normalcy in such a scattered time. I remember where I was during Fur Rondy 2011 too. I was with Darren and my boys. One night we made it down by the small boat harbor to watch the fireworks. So much had changed and I had so much to be thankful for. It was exactly where I wanted to be, and I plan to do the same this year and many more to come. Thank you Lord!



Throughout this journey, I've celebrated little and big changes, just as I was told to do by my physical therapist. Almost two years later, I'm still noticing changes. Some of these changes are only noticeable to me and maybe the well trained eye of a Therapist, while others are more visible to all. One thing that's been interesting to pay awareness to is 'typical' neurological responses like sneezing, hiccuping, whistling, yawning. I lost them all as a result of my surgery, but I remember the times I regained them. I remember constant hiccups that plagued me while I was in ICU. Nothing I tried helped. Slowly they tapered off, but the most uncomfortable they made me was their appearance after I had my feeding tube placed. Talk about pain, it was off the charts. My sneeze returned when I was in Rehab talking with my Dad. When it happened, we were both startled in delight. I finally was able to whistle a few months ago. It's still weak & short, but it shows me I'm still healing. The final response, the yawn, returned this week. I remember thinking every so often for the past years, I'm so tired, but I never yawn. The other night as I laid there waiting to fall asleep, I remember stretching my mouth open wide and thinking, WOW, this is finally happening, I'm finally yawning.

I love those gentle reminders from God. I don't know if it's unrealistic, my stubborn nature, or embracing reality & the future, but I'm not willing to embrace finality & what it has to offer. I'm confident God is still changing me. Praise be to Him!

Thanks for the continued love, support, encouragement, support & prayers, it has meant so much to me.


Sunday, February 12, 2012


Recently, I've had numerous moments that have been quite sobering and have taken my breath away. Each of them has been a powerful reminder that God is in charge!

I attend the memorial service for Mr. Glenn this past weekend and it still seems surreal that he's gone. I was struck with a number of thoughts:

- I hope I'm remembered so positively when it's my time. I hope that I've lived a life that serves the Lord and gives me the opportunity to serve others. I hope I'm remembered as a loving & caring wife, mother, friend, sister & daughter. I hope I make an impact on those lives I come in contact with. I hope I use my brain tumor to always give glory to God and convey the message of His goodness.

- like the Kirk Franklin song says, "it could of been me". This has hit me in subtitle ways the past few weeks. My two year anniversary is soon (February 25) and I can't help but think how close it all came for me. I'm not sure I will ever fully grasp with how close I really was. God spared my life when I had Kadin, the days following that until surgery, and following surgery. Those last few days of February 2010 were tough, but I'm still here and for a purpose.

-the final message that really stood out was DON'T WAIT. Live your life with purpose & meaning. Tell those that you love, how special they are. If you have goals and dreams, strive for them, make them come true. Make the most of what you have, as Americans, we always want more, we want better, but, we are so blessed and we need to accept what we have and are and use that to make this world better. Don't worry, I'm talking to myself too.

The other big moment was as I stood at my kitchen sink this Thursday morning, cleaning strawberries for my boys, I heard and saw an ambulance race up the hill by our house. I glanced at my watch and noticed the time. Almost two years ago, a similar scene played out, only that ambulance was coming for me. Little did I know that my life was about to dramatically change. What a simple yet mind blowing experience of how quickly time changes.

Another gentle reminder that keeps replaying throughout my life is my regained ability in multitasking. An example of this is the fear I previously generated, worrying, about how I'd manage dropping Zach off at school with Kadin in tow. I managed this and then it snowed. I managed this task and then Kadin got a bit older & a bit more independent waiting during pick up. I've mastered that and last week, we stepped it up another notch. With both boys in tow, school bag loaded with snow stuff, snowy parking lot, I added a bag of donated stuff for the local Rescue Mission. The day before, I walked through it all in my head, planning as much of it as I could. I couldn't help but feel exhilarated when Kadin & I strolled out of the school after dropping Zach, his snow gear, and our donation off. Wowie! Still changing! Praise God!

I'm sure as my two year anniversary approaches, I'll be doing some more introspective processing and hopefully I'll gain some nuggets of wisdom.


Friday, February 03, 2012

Until we meet again

Throughout this journey, I've been BLESSED with the opportunity to meet, encourage, support, pray, and show love to others who've come upon difficult times. Because of what I've experienced, I've gained a unique perspective into recovery. Even though our stories have been vastly different, some things remain the same: we all need love, support, encouragement & prayers to get through this trial we are going through; the human spirit is strong & resilient; with God we can do all things (Philippians 4:13) - *side note to that - sometimes it's just tweaking what we thought we were capable of or what the possible outcome might be; KEEP PUSHING - you just might be surprised where you'll end up; talk & share about your experience - the people surrounding you, probably can't relate, but they want to 'be there' for you - you just have to let them; don't play victim - BE STRONG!

I hope & pray that God continues to use my journey as a tool for supporting others. I would be honored to share what I've learned with others, no matter what the situation.

Mr. Glenn Norris - Taken at his youngest daughter's wedding in 2009.

How do you say goodbye? I've yet to figure this out, so I'm no help... sorry!
This posting is in honor of a friend's Dad that just went to be with our Lord. A little over 6 months ago, I heard Mr. Glenn was having Neurological difficulties. I asked who his providers were & gave references where I could. I cheered when he went to Seattle & had neck surgery, hoping that a slipped disc was to blame, quietly putting the possible ALS diagnosis out of my mind. I rejoiced with his family as he did physical therapy following his surgery and took his first steps in a few weeks. Instantly, I was morphed back to my own experience with those 'first steps' (mine are just shy of two years out - Praise the Lord! I anxiously waited his return to the state, hoping that all we'd hear was continued good news, but that didn't seem to happen. Quite rapidly it all began to unravel for Mr. Glenn. A hospital bed was being delivered,permanent bi-pap assistance was needed, 24 hour care was necessary. It was this time, the beginning of December, that I got to go see Mr. Glenn & bring him & Miss Toni dinner, in fact it was Mr. Glenn's birthday (December 7th). I was able to stand by his bed, holding his hand, talking for a few hours. It was both hard & humbling. It was incredible! We laughed, cried, reminisced & rejoiced about God's goodness. During that visit, I remember Mr. Glenn saying that God was gonna give him full healing, and I was touched by that. It's not as if I didn't think God was capable of that and it wasn't whether or not I believed Mr. Glenn deserved it, I was just touched by the confidence & how awesome that was to see in his current state. I don't know if he meant for that total healing to happen here on earth or if he knew God would call him home, but I do know with CONFIDENCE, he has his total healing now. He is with our Lord, renewed & restored. Although it's been difficult to watch him endure the last few weeks, I find comfort in the fact he is now at peace. I didn't think watching what he's endured these last few weeks would be so hard, but it was. Instantly, after hearing an update, I would be back in my recollections of my own experience. As he struggled, I was reminded of the sights, sounds, experiences I had and instantly my heart ached for him. I wanted to take it all away, but I couldn't. Those that surrounded him 24/7 were so inventive in coming up with methods to enable him. I am in AWE of his wife, Miss Toni. What a strong, strong woman. Please pray for Toni & the entire family as they do their best to come to grips with this new reality. Thank you Lord for people like Mr. Glenn! You made such a tender & loving man in him. The bear hugs he gave were the best. Always so kind & generous. I know his passing will leave a giant loss for this incredible family, but I know you'll walk beside them, guiding their steps & supporting their every move.

Mr. Glenn - THANK YOU for being such a model of grace. You dealt with this crisis with grace, love, peace, strength, and dignity. You were a REMARKABLE man! Thank you for the touch you had in my life. Sending Big Bear Hugs heaven bound, I look forward to the day I can have one again.