Update – TBI survivor – Moving On

I wanted to let all of you know that I am working again.  I will never again teach as the need to handle multiple things happening at the same time is not possible.  Also, handling multiple conversations is impossible for me. I could no longer handle groups working, helping a kid with work, and answering a call from a parent simultaneously.   I find myself going to a quiet area more and more. I cannot handle noise and sudden sounds like I used to.

So what am I doing? I am a cook at a local home for those in need.  I have explained to the residents there that I am unable to remember all of their names and what they like in their coffee, tea etc.  They are quite understanding and remind me of how many sugars etc. as I take the coffee cart around.  I am doing well with remembering the recipes and cook at breakfast most days I work.  Knowing how to cook and wash dishes was in my memory bank from years and years of having done so therefore I am able to do most tasks as required.

As far as my fatigue I monitor myself and rest as needed.  There are still days where I sleep 10-12 hours to be rested.  I am working on losing the weight I had gained when sedentary ways filled my days following the accident. I am over feeling sorry for myself and need to be as healthy as I can.

In retrospect I look back and see that I tried everything I could to get back to my old profession, but it was impossible to do so.  It took a while for me to accept that.  The disability hearings and paperwork were impossible at this time in history. There are no tests to prove one cannot handle multiple tasks.  I only took tests done one on one or alone.  Distractions were not in the room and so I passed them. They need to come up with a more diverse set of tests to as not discriminate against those of us with a TBI.  I pray that happens in the future but as for me it is too late to get the funds I thought were there for me.  Do not rely on the system. It failed me.

I have learned that life can throw you a curve ball.  Curve balls happen. Some hit you in the face and leave you forever changed.  The old me is gone. She is not coming back.

I used to feel sorry for myself because of that fact. Now, I see that God allowed me to be able to do other things with the set of skills I maintained.  I am now meeting new people who understand me. I am not the only one out there who has lost the old me.  Lives change due to many factors; wars, blindness, diabetes, accidents, fires, mental illnesses, and more.  I see that in the eyes of the people I work to serve daily.  Some of them are still caught in the quagmire of feeling sorry for themselves. A few are asking for help even though they do not really need it, perhaps due to doctors and professionals telling them that they will never be able to do something they loved again. But, for the most part the people I see each day as I take around the coffee cart are like me. They speak of the days when they used to be in a profession they can no longer work in. They speak of lost friendships and how their lives were and how they are now. I glean from them tidbits of growth each day.  I see those who go out and celebrate life in their new form.  I watch as they laugh and play cards and savor life.  It is no longer about the nine to five job or the keeping up with the family next door as it is for some. It is about surviving something from their past and moving on. It is about discovering who we all are now and living joyously as each day is a gift.

If you are a TBI survivor or someone who cares for a survivor know that I admire you.  I look back on the last few years and see that I wasted a lot of time fighting to hold on to who I was and did not explore who I could be.  As a new school year approaches I fight off the temptations to look for an online teaching job as the desire to go back to who I was is there still. But then I brush it off and put on my scrubs and go to work. Bringing joy to those who I cook for is my new goal in life. To bring them a bit of joy makes me happy.  I understand them more than they may know and it seems that most of them understand me.

Friends, stay the course and be thankful for each day.  God bless each and every one of  you.  HUGZ 2 all   Pam

 

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A Wedding is More than A Ceremony

via Daily Prompt: Ceremony

If asked what ceremony you think of most often, it might be a wedding.  This formal religious ceremony has become one of many varied approaches. It has changed from whence I was a child.

Then – Weddings I attended were all held in a church. There was at least one Bible reading and a lesson from the officiate of the wedding. Vows were stated as noted in the church guidelines and did not contain personalization.  Many services I attended distributed communion to those in attendance. Receptions were generally small with the couple opening their gifts as to be able to thank those who brought them. Cake was eaten as was some food. The reception lasted a short period of time and ended when everyone saw the couple off in their car as they ventured into their future.

 

Now- Weddings are in many varied venues. I have attended weddings out-of doors, once at a zoo, another time on a farm near a barn. Many of them do not have any reference to the Bible or the meaning of the vows or God’s message about marriage.  Vows are at times from the Bible, but most contain private words from the heart. Communion is distributed at some but not all. Receptions last hours with music, dancing, drinking, and gifts from the couple. Gifts to the couple are no longer opened at the reception and it is becoming more common to not receive a thank you or a card for the gifts given to the couple. Couples are rarely seen off to on their way to their new lives as many leave after most of the guests have come and gone.

 

Ceremonies are a part of the rituals of life. It is inevitable that they will change.  In some ways I like some of the newer traditions. But in so many ways I miss the simplistic ways of my childhood.  Most missed is the religious aspect of the marriage and the meaning of the vows. To me, the most important guest was always God. I’m not so sure that is the case anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Colored Glasses

Oh, those rose colored glasses – tinted with that blend of colors that darkens the suns and tints even the faces of my grandchildren. Those glasses that I wear that allow me to see into a world that I had not planned on being in. A world always tinted that shade of pink with a hue of brown allows me to work and function in the world of bright fluorescent lighting and sunshine. Without them a torrid of symptoms erupt and can cause migraines and eye fatigue.

Oh, those rose colored glasses are so different from the ones I had heard of long ago. Those glasses that people seem to think help you see the world in a positive light. A light that makes all look well and promising. How untrue, how simplistic a view that so many have.  Yet, for me it is a varied type of reality that my rose colored glasses bring. It is the reality of living with a TBI.

Four years ago I was in a rollover. We had just left my grandson’s baseball game and were headed home when we were t-boned. The details of the accident do not matter much, but the changes in the my life do.  That person in that car is no more. Or maybe, I should say that she does exist and is alive, yet the essence of her being is modified.  Back then I lived a life filled with teaching and traveling when I desired via car or plane.  Driving was a joy even in the busy streets of a city as long as I was bound to a site that I’d enjoy the day.  I loved being able to drive to distant places and relish in the cultures and levities of the locale. Now, I am to drive within a twenty minute from home range as to avoid fatigue etcetera.  I am learning to enjoy the local flavor of life. I have found a few places that I did not know of before, but mostly, I miss being able to go on an adventure to the local state parks and sites that I had grown to love. The one I miss the most is being able to go see my grandchildren.  To be there for their ball games, their concerts, and all that life envelops pains me.  I love seeing the photos on Facebook and being able to live through the pictures but it is not the same.  I have wished for one of those self driving cars. I could travel once again as I had to see the animals at the zoo in Cleveland or the Chihuly glass exhibit in a nearby city.  I could go to the markets and venues of Cleveland and maybe even see a professional ball game with the kids.  I miss being able to travel where I wish. I cannot even fly to locations like I used to as I cannot get to the airport without having a driver.  Those rose colored glasses help but they are not an answer.

Oh, those rose colored glasses that once helped me to believe in the system that would be there for me if I needed them are gone. Those glasses filled my mind with illusions that I would one day be taken care of by my retirement system, The process would not be hard and I would get from the system I had paid into what was due. But now that my new rose colored glasses are from whence I see the world I see that the system does not always work.  For those of us with  TBI the proof of our disability is almost impossible.  Then on top of that to find a doctor that will fill out the paperwork is another task indeed. What you think will be there for you might just be an illusion from that old rose colored mentality. Not all is greener on the other side of the fence. True, I know get the standard retirement I would have. I am thankful for the approximately four tenths I made while working. But you need to also see that gone are the days of a full income. Gone are the days of saving for retirement, but more than that gone are the days of living my dream job.  Gone are the days of building up the increments I will be paid. I am here by happenstance not by choice. In addition to the retirement system the settlement from the car insurance company barely covered my medical bills. There is no big pay off in the books for me. It may be possible for some, but my advice is to NEVER rely on it.

My rose colored glasses have helped me to see so many things. There are many who live in this world who may not have on the physical glasses but see the world in a new way. They are like me in that they had one life, had to let it go, and have moved on.  I am blessed to work in a place (part time) where I see these folks daily.  I now cook part time in a county facility where those who need respite care etcetera come to live. Each day when I serve them I see the faces of those who have put aside the life they once had. Some were engineers, soldiers, professors, and laborers for the good of the people. Yet, now for varied reasons they are a new person. A person who lives a life perhaps not by choice, but by the result of a card they were dealt in their lives; vehicle accidents, illnesses, fires that destroyed their homes and took all of their belongings and more.  Those moments that you see on the movies or in the news that seem out of reach for you. Those things are what effects others, not you. Until they do. Then and there the rose colored glasses begin to take on a new shade and color of their own.

I ask today that you take a look at how you see the world. Are you wearing those optimistic, it will never happen to me glasses or are you wearing the type that I have? Seeing the world through a new hue isn’t a bad thing. It can shape you and mold you to be a new person that has strengths and weaknesses like everyone else.  Change is inevitable.  It will happen. I just pray that the way you see the world is not out of a magical belief that all will be the way you plan it.  Life happens, card are dealt. Rose colored glasses are broken.  I pray you will never wear the glasses that I do. But, if you do know that you are not alone.

 

 

 

 

Daily Prompt: Winsome?

via Daily Prompt: Winsome

Winsome – as defined it means attractive or appealing in appearance or character. It is a synonym for charming, sweet, cute, fetching, lovely and more. If we were to ask a child who is winsome –  in their eyes we may get an answer such as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. An older person may name a movie star that they enjoy watching or a person they admire from a sports team.  Who we find as winsome depends on our cultural lifestyle and our interests.  For me, I honestly cannot pick someone I find winsome. I suppose in a dream world that I would like to be able to answer our President.   But, as most know, most of our leaders are no where near the definition of charming or lovely.  To me, in fact, they seem to be the complete opposite. I am not sure if it is because I grew up in the Vietnam Era or just that our culture seems to not like politicians. No matter who is in office there always seems to be a group of people who complain. We dwell on the negatives and exacerbate the things that seem to belittle our political leaders. I am not talking about anyone specifically, it does not matter their party or their gender.  It’s just I wonder if the outcome of any election ever in history has had an outcome wherein the people looked at our leader as a winsome person.  Perhaps, Lincoln? No, not even Lincoln. I would welcome feedback from anyone who knows of anyone ever in our history who has been revered in their own time as a caring leader.  I am thinking there are none. Not within their own time in history.

Daily Prompt: Viable

Daily Prompt: Viable

To be viable means to be capable of surviving or living successfully in a particular environment.  If we consider a plant, the concept is easy to decipher as to whether they need a desert, a forest, or the sea. But, as for people it is a bit more difficult to discern where they are viable or not in varied settings.  I must say that I am most viable in a peaceful environment wherein I feel safe. Being one with PTSD the world can startle me in many ways. It is then that I pull back into my cocoon and attempt to block it all out. For example, one day I had traveled to a little town to look at a dog I was considering to adopt. A large truck turned the corner near me and as it did it hit a light pole and broke it in half. The pole must have impacted the tire as an explosion ensued. I was not far from where this took place and it brought about a reaction from my gut. I sat there in my car trembling unable to focus on what I needed to do. As cars behind me began to blow their horns I had to regain my composure and move on.  Other examples are not as extreme. People who are aggressive and accusatory scare me as well.  The emotion that comes with such behavior impacts me more than most people. If I see someone engage in an argument or accuse someone of something that they may or may not have done I pull back into my shell and retreat. I do not tolerate that environment well.  I do not flourish in any unloving scene. I retreat and want to leave it as soon as possible. Most recently I find myself pulling out of society for the most part. I am happier alone where I know what to expect. I don’t even like to answer the phone depending on who is calling.  If I feel that they might be negative or want to gossip I don’t answer. I seem to want to manipulate my environment in the hopes of being able to grow, survive, be me.  PTSD has changed me in how I live. I now dread certain places I need to go and people who are mean just simply infuriate me. I can barely tolerate them.  In order for me to be viable in this society I need to force myself out of my shell I have built and get out there. I will not be successful if I don’t.  I need to take baby steps and go where I feel safe. Church is one of those places. Being with certain family members is another. Crafting is peaceful and I flourish in my own little zone doing that. I am one when planted in certain areas I shrivel up and would surely die without the proper feeding of love and being given the waters of life.  Viability I have found is not just about plants.  It is about humans as well. I think that many who withdraw cannot tolerate the negativity that is rampant in our society. The media is made up mostly of negative gossip and hatred. Even our t.v. shows upset me and I have to turn them off. I do not flourish in society much anymore. I need a viable setting in which I can live.  I live in my little world and try to keep out the boogie men. I just want to survive in this world.  But it is getting harder every day.

 

Ice – Growth Frozen in Time

via Photo Challenge: Growth

As a child I was blessed to live near a pond where we would ice skate. As I passed time there with friends we always seemed to search for life frozen in the ice. We found fish, plants, and more. The ice seemed to perfectly hold in time the item it had captured.  Along the edges of the lake the ice crystals formed on leaves, sticks, and whatever nature provided for us to view. Back then, I did not have a camera to capture the beauty of what we saw.  So, a few years ago I took a day and walked along a local reservoir and again witnessed the ice sculptures formed along the edges. 6641icer2goThe beauty was something that I had not witnessed for such a long time and I was taken back in time while listening to the sounds of the lake moaning and groaning as I walked along the edge.  Back to when if we heard that sound we would hurriedly get off of the ice. It was possibly moaning as it was about to crack.  As I walked along taking photos of all I could a young man came along and showed me how to skip a rock on the ice. It made the most marvelous sound as it jumped along. We stood there skipping rocks and listening to the symphonic orchestration of ice meeting stone. IMG_6775A small dog came up and I knelt to pet it. His warmth was welcome on my cold hands that had been exposed to the elements. I moved along after a while and found an area where the ice was reaching up toward heaven like they were yearning to see God. I was in awe and took far too many pictures.  I have to say that I never did find any fish frozen in the ice that day. In many ways I was glad for that. Yet, I did find God in the frozen IMG_6713crystalline structures created by wind and water. In those moments I grew spiritually and am still in awe of the things I witnessed that day. Growth frozen in time became a vehicle for me to grow. I am now ever closer to the one who created all and am glad of it.

A New Commitment in 2018

As 2017 came to a close I was drawn to pray for a teacher who was up against the board of education at her school. Her having prayed for her students was the reason behind the meeting and the possibility of losing her job was amiss. As I read of the circumstances she was within I began to feel her pain. I too, had been a teacher who prayed for the children in my classroom. I knew it was not legal to do so but did it anyway knowing all of the while I was risking my career.  I was blessed in that the district I worked in did not complain when I had a small picture of Jesus near my desk nor did they call me out when I walked the hallways blessing each room prior to the commencement of each school year. I kept my praying low key. I never initiated it aloud.  I would pray in silence and often leave the lunch room to avoid the gossip and be where I could find solace. I find that now I am home more and unable to work I am drawn to prayer more and more each day. As I watch things on television and see the news etc. I hear so much negativity in all areas.  One part of what we all witness is the violence in our schools.  I never dreamt when I became a teacher that we would have secured entranceways and hear of shootings in the buildings. But even more so than that I never dreamt I would have to experience the negativity of life in the buildings.  I did, teachers are human and it happens, Yet, in addition I was so blessed to work with teachers who were people of faith. In fact for a while we even had a morning prayer group once a week in a classroom prior to the commencement of our day. We prayed for one another. We lifted up those in need. But, more than that we were the light of God in our building. We brought his light and his love into that building and loved all children no matter their walk of life. For they, are born in his image and all perfect in his eyes.

As we enter a new year I had made a commitment to God to begin a new prayer group on Facebook to pray for our schools.  God Bless our Schools will be a venue through which we can lift up our concerns and pray for those in our schools. Why the schools? Because they encase the future of our nation. Those young people are the ones who will one day be the adults that lead our nation. I dedicate myself to posting scripture on the site and ask that you join us in our endeavor. Pray daily, or as often as you can. Light a candle or sing praises to God. The more light we cast into the world the better it will be. Today, I pledge as a part of 2018 I will pray daily for our schools. Feel free to join me. God is looking for those who will serve him.  It might just be you.