Category Archives: Health

My 68-Year-Old Brain

yeah write editor pick #217

 

As a writer, one of your most valuable possessions is the wealth of knowledge that you have accumulated through the years and locked away inside your brain. It is there at your fingertips, ready to be accessed at a moment’s notice, whenever you decide to open those memory files and put them into use.

While I was growing up, I was always an A student, excelling in English grammar with a knack for writing. I enjoyed writing and it wasn’t long before I was writing on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, writing was so important to me that nothing stopped me from doing what I loved most – not even being bedridden for several years, the many hospitalizations and surgeries I had to undergo, nor the fact that I was pretty much literally on handfuls of pills every day.

But then five years ago I began to notice that I was having a difficult time writing. I was forgetting words. I’d be ready to write a word, have it right at the tip of my tongue, but then I’d forget it. I couldn’t remember what I wanted to write.

This scenario began to occur more.

I wondered what was happening to me. Was it just because of all the medication I was on? Was I going crazy? Was I going senile? Or even worse – did I have Alzheimer’s? I was only 58! On the other hand, I knew of people getting early onset Alzheimer’s. But I didn’t dare mention any of this to my husband because the prospect was just too frightening. So I kept my worries to myself.

Then one weekend my husband went on a camping trip with his buddies. As for myself, I was all set for a weekend of writing and watching movies. The last thing I remember is talking on the phone to my sister Friday evening. I woke up on the living room floor 24 hours later.

Two days later I was standing with my husband in our spare bedroom having a chat. I remember that I fell forward to my knees, and as my husband helped me up, he said: Are you okay?” When I asked him what happened, he told me that I had passed out.

This is when he brought me to the clinic. Although my doctor believed I’d lost consciousness due to dehydration from kidney problems, he wanted me to see a neurologist.

At first the neurologist thought my lost weekend was caused by a seizure. I know – scary, right? So they did an EEG, which was normal, although it was quite a pleasant experience – I even fell asleep during that test, much to my surprise.

Then the neurologist determined that an MRI of my brain was in order. I’ve had plenty of MRI’s done before – mostly of my spine, but also of my brain. I thought: They’re not going to find anything wrong with my brain – the EEG was normal – surely the MRI is going to be just fine, too, because it’s always been fine before.

But then the results came back. First the neurologist said that my loss of consciousness was in all probability due to dehydration, just as my family practitioner had diagnosed. And then there was something else.

I was told that I have spots on my brain. While everyone acquires these spots as they grow older, I have many more than I should.

“As a matter of fact,” said the neurologist, “even though you’re only a 58-year-old woman, you have the brain of a 68-year-old woman.”

Then the light bulb went on in my 68-year-old brain. I asked: “Is this the reason that I have difficulty remembering words?”

He told me that it was. And that it was probably a result of my chronic illnesses. Not my fault. But that didn’t make it any easier. He also said that I might start to have problems remembering events or dates.

My 68-year-old brain knows these things: I cannot reverse this process. I cannot remove the spots on my brain. As much as I want a lifeline, the neurologist cannot offer one. All I have is one more pill for my list, an aspirin every day. This may slow the spots down, but it won’t stop them.

And so I continue to write. Every day it is a struggle to hunt down my words, gather them up, and pin them down on paper. Sometimes it takes hours to write just one paragraph, sometimes days to write just one blog post, perhaps a week or more to write just one story, because the words are so elusive. But the struggle is worth it.

We all have our challenges. This is mine. But I will never give up. Never.

Because I am a writer. And I will find a way.

 

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Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter 3There is nothing that I enjoy more than a good laugh.  And it’s even better if it’s the kind of laugh that makes me laugh so hard and so long that my sides begin to hurt and I have tears stream down my cheeks. Now that’s what I call a good laugh. That kind of laughter makes me feel good. It’s actually a kind of a release of emotions and perhaps even a release of tension or stress that you’ve been holding on to, and that’s always a good thing. But did you know that laughing is actually good for you? Health-wise, that is. That’s right. Here are a few ways in which laughter is good for you, and since I’m a retired registered nurse, I simply cannot write this entry without telling you what they are!

  • Laughter has been shown to lower or balance blood pressure and increase vascular blood flow.
  • Research has shown that when you laugh, the levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine which can suppress the immune system, tend to decrease. This helps to decrease stress and improve the immune functions of the body.
  • Laughter can offer a burst of aerobic exercise. According to researchers, laughing 100 times is equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on the stationary bicycle. Besides the spurt of internal energy, laughter can momentarily clear the respiratory system. Just like with exercise, people tend to take deep breaths in and out during heavy laughter, which helps unclog airways and enhances inhalation and oxygen intake.
  • Laughing may positively affect blood glucose (sugar) levels. Researchers believe that laughter may impact the neuroendocrine system and restrain blood sugar levels from spiking, or it may cause the acceleration of glucose use by muscle motion.
  • Laughter may be one of the best natural pain relievers around. Also, it may increase our tolerance for pain by releasing endorphins (peptides that offer a feeling of well-being and help with pain management).
  • Laughter boosts our social skills by allowing us to connect with each other, bond, and communicate with each other.
  • Laughter helps coping skills. It’s a wonderful way to deal with stress, to release tension. When life’s problems seem to just weigh us down, laughter can sometimes help the situation look just a little better.
  • Laughter reduces aggression.
  • Laughter energizes organs. It is even believed to aid in digestion. Your body experiences a boost of aerobic activity each time you laugh.

I do remember the last time I had a hearty, “ooh, my sides hurt because I laughed so hard” kind of laugh, and it was only last week, as a matter of fact. My daughter sent me a YouTube video clip entitled “First Moon Party.” I’ve included the clip below. I’ll let you watch it first and then I’ll tell you why it was so funny to me, but chances are that you’ll laugh just watching it, anyway:

 

 

 

 

This clip really caused the tears to stream down my cheeks because I was laughing so hard. If you watched it, you have to admit that the girl who played the part of the young teenager who just “became a woman,” so to speak, did an excellent job of portraying the role. And if you’re the mother of a daughter who has gone through this stage of adolescence, then you know the trials and tribulations of this period (pardon the pun) of life. I have two daughters whom I had to guide into “womanhood” and believe me, it was not an easy transition. As a matter of fact, one of them didn’t want to have anything to do with it. As for me, I couldn’t blame her. Not one bit. It’s rather a sad thing – having to give up your childhood, knowing that the carefree days of being innocent, having all your decisions made for you, having no responsibilities whatsoever, and being free to do whatever you wanted to do were almost over. But what I really loved about this video was the fact that my daughter sent it to me. Apparently she has not forgotten the day she “became a woman.” Maybe it wasn’t such a bad memory after all.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:   “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” ~ e. e. cummings

Dearest Mother-in-Law

 

Last month was the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s loss with her battle to breast cancer twenty years ago. She was one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever known, and I’m grateful that I was privileged to have her as part of my life.  I dedicate this poem to her.

 

My dearest Mother-in-Law,

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 I’ll always remember the day that we met,

When you welcomed me at the very outset.

Your loving ways and kind heart always came through

In each word and each action that you would do.

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Because of these things you were easy to love.

You were a mother-in-law that I was proud of.

All the family adored you; you were a treasure,

And being with you was indeed such a pleasure.

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We were all so happy until we heard one fateful day,

“I have breast cancer,” were the only words you could say.

Then you gathered your composure, looked at us and said,

“Now let’s not be sad – why not be hopeful instead?”

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You faced each day bravely with a smile on your face,

And you endured every procedure with dignity and grace.

You never said a word on the magnitude of your pain,

Although I’m sure it was difficult not to complain.

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Then we received news that the cancer had spread,

And we were all filled with a feeling of dread.

Why was this happening to someone so good?

“It is God’s will,” you said – yes – you understood.

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“Let’s not waste the days full of sadness and despair,

Let’s fill them with memories and good times we can share.”

Those were your wishes and so we complied.

We played games and talked, sitting at your bedside.

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We watched as you weakened with each passing day,

And we knew all we could do at that point was pray.

We dreaded the moment when you’d have to leave.

We dreaded the moment when we’d have to grieve.

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At last the day arrived when God called you home to rest,

Saddened to see you leave, we knew it was for the best.

Your struggle was finally over; you’d have pain no more.

But best of all, you’d be with God, Whom you’d come to adore.

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When you breathed your last, together we all cried,

For the beautiful woman who had just died.

Suddenly we realized it was another special day:

It was Mother’s Day when God called you home to stay.

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I thank God for bringing you into my life;

For allowing me to be my husband’s wife.

And in the not too-far distant future away,

I know that I will see you again one day.

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Your loving Daughter-in-Law,

Cindy

Live Life to the Fullest

Have you ever thought that you were going to die? I have, and that was the most terrifying moment of my life.

In 2004 I had a herniated disc in my cervical spine (neck) at the level of C5-6 and therefore needed to have surgery to repair it with a plate and screws. Then in 2005 I had another herniated disc at the level of C4-5 and needed another surgery. In 2006 I developed bone spurs from the surgeries which were very painful, and my surgeon recommended that I have cortisone injections to relieve my pain. This is when all the trouble began.

The first injection proceeded smoothly, although I must say that it was quite uncomfortable. I was worried about an allergic reaction, but no such event occurred, and I was scheduled to return for a second procedure a week later.

The next week came, and for some reason I was feeling very apprehensive about the second appointment. I did not want to go to have the procedure done again, but my husband kept telling me that I must go. I changed the time of the second appointment to an earlier time, although I didn’t have a good reason to do so, but I did it anyway; something told me to do so. At that time, our daughters were in junior high school and needed to be picked up after school by me.

I also had my husband, Mike, accompany me, even though the doctor had told me after the first time that he didn’t need to come with me. For some reason I really wanted him to be with me and insisted that he take off work, and he did so, reluctantly.

We arrived at the office, and when it was my turn, the nurse brought me into an empty room and told me that the room in which I would be receiving the injection was not quite ready yet and that she would return in about ten minutes for me.  As soon as she left the room, I heard this voice say to me, “Pray.” I was shocked, to say the least. Then the voice urged me again, a little bit louder this time, “Pray.” So I began to pray. I prayed the entire time until the nurse came back for me.

She brought me into the procedure room and positioned me on my stomach on the narrow table.Then she washed off the back of my neck. This procedure is carried out under x-ray, to be sure they are shooting the injection into the correct spot. It has to be very exact. It was at this moment when the doctor entered the room and greeted me. I could hear him put on his sterile gloves and talk to the nurse about the medication. Being a registered nurse myself, I could understand what they were talking about. Soon he came over to me and was ready to proceed with the injection.This time I knew what to expect, having had the procedure only a week before. So I braced myself for the discomfort I was about to undergo. Only this time I was pleasantly surprised. The injection was not as uncomfortable as it had been the week before, but I still had a feeling that something was not quite right. He finished the injection, told me to make another appointment, said goodbye to me, and left the room.

Then the nurse began to wash off the back of my neck, but all of a sudden I began to feel hot inside and dizzy. I remember saying to the nurse, “I feel dizzy. . . ,” and then everything went black. The next thing I knew, I woke up and was lying on my back. I had a blood pressure cuff on my arm and an oxygen mask on my face. There were three nurses buzzing around me, and the doctor was standing anxiously over me.

I didn’t feel very good at all as I asked, “What happened?”

The doctor took my hand as he looked at me and said, “You had an allergic reaction. You were unconscious and stopped breathing. We had to resuscitate you. The paramedics are on the way.”

Just as he finished saying this, the paramedics came rushing into the room. The next thing I knew, they were transferring me onto the stretcher. After this, everything went black again. As I became conscious again, I noticed that I had an IV started in my arm and EKG leads on my chest. Apparently I had been resuscitated for a second time.

“I want my husband,” I said.

As I was waiting for my husband to be brought in, I noticed that I couldn’t feel my legs, nor could I move them. I thought for sure they were paralyzed from the injection I had.

“I can’t move my legs,” I said, panicked.

“It’s okay,” said the paramedic. “It’s from the epinephrine we’ve been giving you. That’s normal. Don’t worry about it.

Then my husband arrived. All of a sudden I had difficulty talking. My tongue was swollen, as were my eyelids, my arms and my legs. It was at this moment that I felt terrified. I felt as though I was going to die. After all, I had passed out twice and stopped breathing twice. Who was to say what would happen next to me? My throat was swollen. They were talking about putting in a breathing tube; I was finding it difficult to breathe. As I looked at my husband, I could see a worried expression on his face.

“Are you scared?” I mumbled anxiously as he held my hand.

“No. Don’t worry, Honey, you’ll be alright,” he said as he tried to reassure me.

The next thing I knew, the paramedics were wheeling me out of the procedure room and through the waiting room. I’ll never forget the looks on the faces of the people sitting in the chairs waiting to have their procedures done. I’m sure they were terrified, wondering if something like this would happen to them. The paramedics wheeled me outside and put me into the ambulance. My husband told them he would follow behind in our car. I remember him saying at some point that he was glad that he had taken off work to be with me. I guess my premonition had paid off after all.

The ride in the ambulance was a scary one. The sirens were blaring and I had never before been in a vehicle that was moving so fast. We zoomed down the freeway as I was jostled from side to side. This frightened me even more, although the paramedic, who was a female, kept reassuring me, telling me that everything was going to be all right, but I was still worried.

We made it to the hospital in no time flat. The hospital was about fifteen miles away from the office but I think we arrived there in about seven minutes. I was relieved that I couldn’t see out the windows while we were driving. I’m sure I would have lost my breakfast if I had. As they wheeled me into the emergency room, my husband had not arrived yet.

The hospital had called a Code Red ahead of time when they knew I was coming, which meant that they needed to be prepared in case I would need to have a breathing tube placed. There must have been ten to twelve  people in the room to take care of me — doctors, nurses, anesthetists, x-ray techs, lab techs, and then finally my husband arrived. After taking x-rays and blood work, and right before they were going to put in a breathing tube to help me breathe, the medication began to work, and my breathing became easier. I didn’t have to have the breathing tube after all.

After a long while, they finally sent me up to ICU to spend a few days. After I arrived in ICU, I remembered that the girls needed to be picked up from school, and Michael was able to arrive there just in time — only because I had changed the time of my appointment. If I had kept the original time, he would never have arrived there on time and the girls would have been waiting at school for a few hours, wondering where we were. So you see, there was a reason for me changing the appointment time, even though I didn’t know what had prompted me to do so.

As I laid in ICU that night, I thought over the events of the day, and I marveled at how good God had been to me. First, He moved me to change the appointment time so that Mike could pick up the girls on time. Then He had me insist that Mike come with me. Next, He had sent an angel to tell me to pray.

Then I thought about how important my family was to me and how I needed to spend more time with them. I knew that before long my children would be gone to be on their own and that I needed to enjoy them while I could. I also thought about how I needed to show my husband how much I loved him because I thought sometimes he didn’t really know. I also thought about all the things that I wanted to do and that I shouldn’t put off because the events of the day proved that you never know what tomorrow will bring.

But most of all, I thought about enjoying today and not worrying so much about tomorrow because tomorrow might never come.

“Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.”  ~Horace ~

 

A Return to What I Love

Hello dear readers,

The last couple weeks have passed by in a blur for me. As I told you in my last post, I’ve begun a new venture as a freelance writer. Actually, I’ve been doing this on and off for sometime now, but I’ve now been writing full-time, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. It’s great to be able to do what you love and actually get paid for it! Now I just have to find more time to work on the two books that I’ve been writing the past couple years. As time goes on, I’ll keep you updated on those, too. I figure that if I do, then I’ll have something to keep me focused on them. Actually, it’s not really that I’m not focused on them–it’s more of a matter of finding time to write for them now that I’m writing other things. But I know that I’ll find my pace sooner or later.

Today marks a special day on my calendar, and I’m so excited about it that I just have to tell my readers. There’s only one other thing that I love to do even more than writing, and that’s singing. I have been singing ever since I can remember. Singing has always come naturally to me, as naturally as breathing. It has always given me so much pleasure to use the gift of singing that God gave me in order to give pleasure to others. My favorite quotation has to do with my gift of singing and goes like this: “The talent you have is God’s gift to you. What you do with that talent is your gift to God.”

I was a member of our church choir for twenty-five years, and as a choir member, I was also one of the soloists. Wednesday evening became my favorite evening of the week because it meant that my husband and I could attend choir rehearsal together. Not only did it mean spending time with my husband, because he was also in the choir, but it also meant spending time with wonderful friends.

Then about five years ago I underwent two anterior cervical fusions on my neck for ruptured herniated discs in my spine. One of the risks of this surgery is the possibility of severing the recurrent laryngeal nerve. This, unfortunately, was one of the complications from my surgery, and because of it, my left vocal cord became paralyzed. Over a period of several months, my right vocal cord gradually moved over to meet my left vocal cord so that I could speak fairly normally. But alas, the singing voice I once had disappeared. I thought I would never be able to sing again.

Now, five years later, I am rejoicing because my singing voice is almost back to the way it was before the surgery. It’s not quite as before, but it’s good enough that I can join the choir again. And guess where I’m going tonight? Choir practice! Yes, that’s right. For the first time in five years, I’m returning to doing what I love, to being among the friends I adore, and to sharing that special time with my husband once again! I’m so happy, I could . . . SING!

And come Sunday morning, you will find me in the choir once again, singing my praises to God, and thanking Him for giving back to me His precious gift.

Attitude Is Everything

“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”  ~ William James ~

Do I believe that what William James said in the above quote about how changing your attitude can change your life? Absolutely. Because that’s exactly what I did. Let me tell you how.I was a smoker for twenty-six years, ever since I had been sixteen years of age. The funny thing was, I began smoking the night my father died, having finally succumbed to the effects of metastatic lung cancer. Life does have its ironies.I grew up in a family of smokers. Both my mother, my father, almost all my aunts and uncles, and just about every adult relative that we ever came into contact with smoked. My six siblings and Iwere used to the smell of cigarette smoke, and it never bothered me, not in the least, not even after my father died. My mother didn’t even quit smoking after my father died.I enjoyed smoking. As a matter of fact, I felt that smoking helped me with my stress. Isn’t that what all smokers say? But it’s true; it’s exactly how I felt. Every time I was in the middle of a stressful situation or I had a difficult decision to make, it seemed that smoking a cigarette always made me feel better. Cigarettes were like my friends. It seemed that all I had to do was light up and I immediately felt better. Then I met my husband. He didn’t smoke, nor did he approve of smoking. Neither one of his parents smoked, nor did any of his siblings. It just was not done in his family, and he made it very clear to me how he felt about me smoking the first time we met. He absolutely hated the fact that I smoked, so much so that I didn’t smoke in front of him. I was known as a “closet smoker,” at least at home. When he wasn’t at home, I smoked freely, but when he was there, never did I light up, not even once. I knew that even though I smoked, and I knew that my husband knew I that smoked, he still would love me, no matter what. This is the one thing that remained true.I mostly saved my smoking for while I was at work during break time or when I was with a friend or with one of my sisters. It was at those times when I smoked like a fiend. I am sure that ifIhad been allowed to smoke freely, I probably would have been a two-pack per day smoker, easily. But at the rate I was smoking, I was only a one-pack per day smoker, which was bad enough.However, smoking was quickly becoming “not the cool thing” to do anymore. As a matter of fact, there was practically a stigma attached to the whole habit of smoking. Soon smokingwas outlawed in workplaces and restaurants, and before you knew it, we smokers were not considered very good role models. But I didn’t care. I continued to smoke, believing it was my right to do as I pleased, and nothing anyone else said was going to keep me from doing what I enjoyed. Besides, I figured there was no way they could ever stop me from smoking on the premises at work, as long as I was outside, in the smoking area just like everyone else. At the time, I didn’t realize that eventually there would no longer be outside smoking areas.Enter our children. We have three beautiful children, a son and two daughters. Our son had been begging me to quit smoking for years, ever since he was a little boy. He would come home from school with information about all the bad effects of smoking and all the statistics about cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and shortened life expectancy from smoking. He would burst into tears, begging me to quit, pleading with me that he didn’t want me to die. I didn’t listen to him. The same thing happened with our two daughters. I didn’t listen to them, either. I figured it was just a phase they were going through and that they would get over it soon enough. And they did.

Then our children became teenagers. One Saturday night, after my husband and I had been to bed for an hour or so, for some reason I woke up from a sound sleep. The smell of cigarette smoke was very strong as it came wafting into our bedroom. With my husband still asleep, I arose from our bed and donned my bathrobe and slippers. After I closed the bedroom door behind me, I quietly crept down the hallway towards the living room where I knew our son was sitting, watching late night television.As I drew nearer to the living room, one of the hallway floorboards creaked, alerting my sixteen-year-old son that someone was coming down the hallway towards where he was. Then I heard the dull sound of glass in the living room as it made contact with the wood floor boards in the living room. When I entered the living room, the first thing I noticed was a wreath of smoke circling the air above my son’s head where he was sitting on the recliner. He had a guilty look on his face. There, beside him on the floor towards the wall where he thought it was hidden so I could not see, was a glass ashtray, with a still-smoking butt of a cigarette.I looked at him in shock, dismay, and disappointment. I never thought I would ever see my son smoking. He was always the one who had lectured so vehemently against it — ever since he was a little boy. What had happened?”Are you kidding me? Here, in the house? When your Dad and I are sleeping?” I asked in disbelief.”So! You do it all the time!” my son shot back at me, accusingly.My son’s accusation rang through the air. That was the moment when I knew. It was time for me to finally quit, once and for all. I needed to adjust my attitude, and I needed to adjust it fast. If I didn’t quit smoking, I couldn’t very well tell my teenager not to smoke. That would be like preaching to the choir.So I changed my attitude, constantly reminding myself of all the reasons for quitting smoking that outweighed my reasons to continue smoking. I changed my attitude by reminding myself that if I did not set a good example for my children that they, too, would soon be chain smokers. I changed my attitude by reminding myself that since I quit smoking, I was slowly beginning to breathe easier. I changed my attitude by reminding myself that since I quit smoking, food began to taste much better and I could smell things I had never smelled before. I changed my attitude by reminding myself that since I quit smoking, my clothes and hair didn’t smell like stale cigarettes anymore. I changed my attitude by reminding myself that if I did not quit smoking, I would die at a young age, just as my father had before me. I changed my attitude, reminding myself that I wanted to live to see my grandchildren. I changed my attitude, reminding myself that I really was not ready to die.

Did it work? Did changing my attitude change my life? Yes it did. I am now proud to say that I have been an ex-smoker since December 20, 1999, a date which I celebrate every single year.  I thank my son for forcing me to kick that deadly habit. And who knows? God willing, I may be able to see those grandchildren after all! Yes, attitude is everything!

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”  ~ Winston Churchhill ~

A Fresh Start

Today marks the first day of May, and although March 20th, the spring equinox, was the official first day of spring, here in Minnesota, the first of May feels like the first day of spring more often than not.

At least in my back yard this statement is true. The leaf buds on the trees are beginning to open. As a matter of fact, we have an apple tree that hangs over our deck, and the apple blossoms are starting to bloom. The birds are in full voice as they chatter and sing well before the break of dawn—loud enough so that my husband will wake with them, complaining, “Why can’t they be just a little bit quieter?” The tulips and daffodils are blooming, adding a dash of color to my garden; and even the lilies have pushed their way up through the earth, reaching toward the sun, waiting for their time to open later in the summer. It seems that most living things experience a new beginning around this time, and this year I can rejoice because my sister Janice has had a new beginning, too.

Jan is the youngest of the seven children in our family. Being the baby of the family, we’ve often thought that she’s had the easiest life. You know how it goes: it seems the older children in the family always “pave the way” for the younger children, and therefore the younger children don’t always have to work as hard to earn the same privileges. However true this may or may not be, I believe that Jan has more than paid her dues for this in later life.

You see, Jan has been suffering from severe and intractable chronic pain caused by both partial and total bowel obstructions for more years than I can count. She’s had innumerable hospitalizations and surgeries to correct those medical conditions and their subsequent complications, but to no avail. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to comfort her as she shed tears over the agonizing pain she was suffering. Then there were the times when she would call me, sobbing because she’d been to the emergency room to get some relief from her pain, only to have an emergency room physician accuse her of being a drug addict.

Besides the constant, never-ending, and sometimes unbearable pain that she’s had to endure, her medical conditions have caused her stress, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, nausea, loss of employment, loss of self-esteem, problems with family relationships, and depression, among other debilitating symptoms.

Chronic pain is very different from acute pain. Acute pain happens at the time of injury, and goes away when the injury heals. Chronic pain sticks around longer than it should, offering little to no relief. If you’ve never had chronic pain, it will probably be difficult for you to understand it.

I understand because I’m a chronic pain sufferer myself. Ever since I ruptured a herniated disc in my cervical spine several years ago, I’ve had one medical condition after another present itself, including that of fibromyalgia.  So I’m no stranger to what it feels like to go through this kind of disruption in your life.

But I’m glad to say that there’s hope for people like my sister Jan. A few weeks ago she had a spinal cord stimulator implant placed during surgery. This is a device that is used to exert pulsed electrical signals to the spinal cord to control chronic pain.

After going through a successful trial with the device four to six weeks ago, a permanent device was then implanted.  I am now overjoyed to say that my baby sister is happy and pain-free at long last.

No longer will I receive those tearful phone calls with her being in the depths of despair and feeling like there will never be any hope for herself. No longer will she dread waking up in the morning to face another day filled with constant and oftentimes agonizing pain. No longer will she miss family functions because she’s being hospitalized for pain control management. No longer will she need to shed those precious tears.

Thanks to modern medicine, she can actually look forward to each day instead of wondering when her next trip to the emergency room will be. Thanks to modern medicine, she can make plans for the future and not have to worry about how being in pain might impact that same future. Thanks to modern medicine she can spend more time with her family instead of trying to find ways to cope with her pain. Thanks to modern medicine, she can be the person she was always meant to be.

My sister Janice

So you see—there are so many reasons why I think that this first day in May is truly the first day of spring for my sister Jan; and as a matter of fact, it may indeed be the first true day of spring that she’s had in many years. Now that’s something that our entire family can rejoice in.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, happiness would not be so welcome.”  ~ Anne Broadstreet ~