Monday, October 26, 2015

Things my kids say


Me: Would you want to go to the wedding when Marcus and Jeff get married?
Ashlyn: Will there be Skittles? Then yes.

Ashlyn is cutting up a cantaloupe in the kitchen. 
Ashlyn: Ah! I finally get why they call it a cantaloupe. 
Me: Really? Why?Ashlyn: Because when you turn it like this it looks like an armadillo.


Conner: Hey mom. I like the way you've mixed colors in that outfit. It really makes your fat blend in with your clothes.

Conner was acting as my masseur for the evening. There were a lot of knots and a lot of pain. And I kept grimacing greatly. Conner said he'd help me out by offering entertainment while he massaged. "How about a joke," he quips."What do you get when you cross a Conner with an Ashlyn." Ashlyn pipes in "I don't know. But it probably involves punching."

I stood outside my own door, my clothes soaking wet. At 10:30 at night. I had just gone to firmly rap on the window of my son, and call to him to not be afraid but to please wake up and go open the door since he had been the one to engage the lock to which I did not have a key. As he opened the door and looked at my state where I stood on the mat he stated "Why did you wake me up mom! I was asleep! And why are you wet? Is it raining?"
"No Conner. I had to run through the sprinklers to get to your window BECAUSE YOU LOCKED ME OUT!!!"*pause*"I think it would be best for me to go back to bed."

Me: Conner, you can;t eat breakfast in your underwear.
Conner: It's not a big deal mom. I'm a free man. Me: Really? You're grounded from Minecraft for the day for being gross at breakfast. How free do you feel now?


Me and Maryn in the store (I'm driving one of those carts). 
Me: If you love me you would get me marshmallow fluff. 
Maryn: It's because I love you that I'm not getting you marshmallow fluff. 
Me: Haven't we had this conversation the other way?
Maryn: That's why I'm mental air quoting

Maryn trying on smoothing undergarments for choir concert. "It's so tight! I can't breath." Me: "It's supposed to feel like that." Maryn: "It's supposed feel like death in the flesh!?"

Maryn's choir teacher recommended they find something smoothing for under their dresses for tonight concert. I stepped in to help with this quest. Me: "This is exactly when a girl needs her mother most." Maryn: "For fat roll management?"

My dad was tickling Maryn's knee while she was wearing her monkey pajamas. 
Maryn: Stop it! Carl does not approve.
Grandpa: Who's Carl?
Maryn: The monkey. *pause* I really have no idea why you are confused.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

To Give and Receive Service

This is an essay written by Maryn about our experiences as a family over the past few weeks;

So, I was originally planning on running a sock drive for my project, and had all my plans set up to do so over fall break. But as life sometimes happens, a small tragedy occurred, when I came home from school last Tuesday to find out my mom had been urgently driven to the hospital. With my dad having passed away when I was five, and tow younger siblings I was sort of thrown into a pit of chaos, and realized that I was the one left to make big decisions for my family. As the break went on, school became one of my lesser worries, and I remembered about this project Sunday night knowing there was no way I could pull together my original plan for the assignment. So, I decided to briefly explain my experiences over the last week, and in all honestly the last ten years of my life.

After I heard the news I took a moment to myself, and began to make a plan as to where my brother and sister would go for the break. And as I was sitting at my table trying to figure out what to do, my grandma and cousin came and sat by me and began to help facilitate everything. Suddenly, a huge weight was lifted as I took time to make a plan for myself, and began brainstorming what I would do when my mom returned home, for I knew she would not be fully recovered for at least 2 months. When some plan had been made, I packed up my siblings a bag and my grandma took them to my aunt;s house, while I had been allowed to have the house to myself for the whole night. By then several people had heard about my mom, and i received literally 20 text messages from people who were worried about ME. Who wanted to help ME in every way they could. I graciously told them I was fine (whether or not I really was is debatable), but I managed to find peace in these seemingly small gestures, as I went to bed early that night drowning in exhaustion. And when I woke up the next morning I had several texts asking again if I was okay, or if there was anything I needed. I began to feel a little guilty that people were taking time out of their own busy days to check on e and my family. And I began to fell guilty that I wasn't taking care of my siblings, considering it felt as if I had just made them become someone else's problem. But when I had gone to stay at one of my older friends' house that night, we went on a drive where I kind of just let out all my sadness, frustration and guilt out. And after I had told her all these things the only things she said to me was "Maryn, if you aren't honest and don't allow others to help you in times of need, how will they ever be able to serve you and have opportunities to be good, especially if you/re the one always doing that/" I felt the need to ignore her, but I did know she was right. So, I decided to try harder at being more willing to let others help me, and once I did I was able to accomplish a lot of thing. You know I was able to completely deep clean my house, do all my laundry, and plan dinners. As I said, this is just a brief segment of what has happened over the last week. But all of the service I've been able to give, and more importantly received from all those who wanted to do good has truly been a blessing in my life. 

And now I know that this not what was expected for this project, but I came to the realization that good people would never have their chance if there were never people like me in times of need. Sometimes I think we forget that, and as I said before, because I have let others serve and take care of my needs, I now have the capacity to do so for others. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Rocking the Boat with Guillan Barre

I love the title and the idea of the blog. Because seriously, life is absolutely a shipwreck.
Tuesday ended up being a stormy day.With quite a few rocks. 

In retrospect, the storm had been building for a few days. I thought I was crazy. Turns out it was legitimately not well.

I had felt some exhaustion over the weekend, with headaches and nausea. Sunday night my friend Andrea Bishop came. Monday we ran around Temple Square and had lunch at the Garden. I had a hard time keeping up. My legs ached, my head hurt, my lungs burned.  I prayed and took pills and went to bed, hoping to wake feeling better. I did okay in the morning, but quickly got worse. I sat through meetings and couldn't keep thoughts straight. I soon found I could hardly stand... and then I could barely walk. I felt like such a wuss. I wanted to go home and sleep. But I didn't want to overreact. So I called the Teledoc. I outlined my symptoms and that I had AND that I had received a flu shot the week previous. He told me to go to the ER immediately. Anna and Boo took me.

Since I couldn't move, they for me right in. Anna stayed with me. And I started a battery of tests; a CT scan, MRI, Spinal puncture, blood tests, chest xray, urine testing, EKG and minor neural testing. There were doctors and interns and residents and neurologists and nurses and techs. A stream and parade of experts each evaluating the piece they knew best. And they made a decision; I had Guilaan Barre. A very RARE side effect of the flu shot. Like a 1 in 2 million rare. They had to report me to the CDC. 

The disease is basically where the myelin sheath, or the insulation, around the peripheral nerves is attacked by your own body and it disintegrates. Hence the weakness and loss of control in the legs and arms. Mostly legs, but arms too. The treatment was 5 days of intravenous immunoglobulins. I spent 4 of the days in ICU. 

It was scary. And it actually could have been much scarier. I think because I was at work, because I had people around me who noticed and cared, that I got there before it became worse. about 25% of people with the disease have their airways compromised as part of it, which is why they kept a close eye on things. 

Acknowledging that it was so much better than it could have been leads to a good point; the other part of my blog... singing in the lifeboat amid the shipwreck.

And there were so many blessings!

  • Boo and Anna took me.
  • Anna stayed with me
  • Boo gave me a wonderful blessing when I was admitted.
  • So many visitors; Bryndel (twice), Marcus (twice), Kay and her daughter, Minerva, Boo, Juan, Anna, Bill. Chris Bray, Debbie (several times), Ashante, Stefyn, Disa, Colby, Greg, Erin, Anna McCarty, Grandma Thacker, Gary, Pam...
  • Support at home for my monkey posse:Megan, Tara, Grandma, Becky, Lexi Day, Bishop Robinson, Jessica Reynolds, Bryant and Adrienne, Stefyn (again)
  • Prayers, thoughts, healing vibes, everything else, flowers, magazines, chocolates and offers of support and prayers from coworkers and ward family and family from afar.
  • Really great view from my room!

I am so, SO blessed. 

As Tolerated...

So there is this thing that has been on my mind over the past few days while I'm hanging out in the hospital. I've had lots of time for thinking.  

This "thing" is this concept my doctors have reviewed with me a few times as we talk about my recovery; the idea that I need to be aware of the wear and tear everyday physical, emotional and mental activity takes on my body. That I ought not to push past the level of my mind and body's ability to cope. That I should only immerse myself in life to the level that such activity can be tolerated. 

Hmmm... what is this "activity as tolerated"?

Well first of all, it's a concept I have always, ALWAYS struggled with. Mostly because for me that line of toleration is so... blurry. Now if you think of mental, physical and emotional activity on a continuum, there's that beginning part where everything is really within manageable levels. Nothing really feels like its pushing you too far or too hard. But even if you keep doing the same small things over and over again... you start to feel a little tired. Just past the land of "A Little Tired" is the country of "And Now You're Done." It's the place where you have reached your actual reasonable limits. 

If you keep pushing past that space on the continuum, you rather quickly reach a space where all of your energy has been diverted to just surviving and coping. I call it "The Exhaustion Zone". There are usually signs that you've reached that particular place, if you know what you're looking for AND if you're paying attention. 

It's like that sign in the scary forest in the Wizard of Oz. You know the part.  When they're headed toward the witches castle. And there's this ominous wooden warning;  "I'd turn back if I were you!". The lion wisely (I believe) agrees and tries to flee to avoid further problems, but his companions urge him forward. Now it appears that they are moving toward a loftier goal, something far more important than the desire to turn back now.

I live in that space on the continuum most of the time. That scary forest with the sign where I know for sure trouble is coming. And I largely ignore the sign. Because I have loftier goals. 

And in all seriousness, it's a huge problem.

Especially now, since the recovery from this disease demands that I turn back before the point of no return. It demands not only a level of self awareness and mindfulness I am unaccustomed to, but the willingness, nay... the courage... to let myself off of the freaking hook when I turn back when I see the sign. 

Bear in mind that this is a learning curve for me; to be aware of where that line of "as tolerated" actually is and then to know what to do when I've reached that line. And most importantly, how to be okay with turning back. 

It's a path I'm vastly unfamiliar with. And I feel a little nervous that I will get lost as I start the journey. Fortunately, there are breadcrumbs in the forest. 

Interesting, thought provoking little breadcrumbs.

First, when I first got to the hospital, Boo grabbed his brother and they gave me a blessing. There were a few things that stood out to me during that blessing. Boo gently told me that I needed to remember the eternal significance of things that happen now; that what I experience in the moment has meaning beyond the moment. Secondly, he told me to LISTEN to the doctors, and to to UNDERSTAND what they are telling me so that I can heal. And to be patient. 

I really hate being being patient. 

My physical therapist has become a bit of a Confucius figure for me. She was showing me some lifts and exercises to help increase strength in my legs. "Now I just want you to do 5. That's your goal. Ideally you'll want to do 20. But that's not the goal right now. Because I know all you can do is 5. This way, when you do 6, you'll feel like you've accomplished something. Instead of feeling frustrated you weren't ideal. A half marathon is better for your heart than a full marathon, even though it seems like more of an accomplishment." 
My nurse this evening, who is recovering from Gray's Syndrome, had some good thoughts about this as well. She, like me, has a hard time with the signs and the lines. But her body demanded the respite so she could recover. She said that she learned it was okay to not do everything, and to celebrate the things she did do instead of focus on the things she didn't. And she found time to create a space of peace where she journals her thoughts and feelings as well as taking the time to think of the things that are positive in her life; the things she is thankful for. 

I also stumbled across this scripture, Doctrine and Covenants 5:34:
"Yeah, for this cause I have said, Stop and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayst accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee."

If I ponder these crumbs, this is where I feel the path ends up:

  1. Don't expect more than what you are capable of; and be brutally realistic. Set the bar low and be okay with it, even if you think if should be higher. And then stop comparing your bar to someone else's bar. 
  2. Celebrate when you do more; let go of frustration when you do less. 
  3. Be patient when you do less. No one day is a measure of your forever. It's just the measure for that day.
  4. Create space and time for stillness and peace. Think about and process your thoughts and feelings. Write it down. 
  5. Be consciously grateful.
  6. Trust that the Lord will fill in the gaps. Allow him to do so by being willing to acknowledge you don't know everything...but He does. 

I can do this. I can discover the line of "as tolerated". And I will recover. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Yellowstone Part 3 - Pools and Pots

So Yellowstone is a lot of driving, and walking. And driving. And walking.
I think we walked 10 miles in 3 days. At least. We walked to thermal features. and then around thermal features.
Here are some of our favorites!

Grand Prismatic
It was so chilly and there was so much steam, it was hard to get a good pic because the wind was blowing the steam everywhere. It made everyone warm, but our glasses got super foggy.

Dragon's Mouth. It roars as the steamy hot water rolls around inside the cave from whence it flows.

Sapphire Spring. This pic doesn't do the blue justice. It was amazing.

A buffalo friend also wanted to be near the hot springs
Better view of the clear blue pool

Paint pots (gloopy, ploopy mud) are fun to watch.

A larger mud spring, not quote so ploppy but super stinky. 

Fall in the Mountains on a Cloudy Day

I can take as many pictures as I want, but I wish I could capture the smell! The fresh rain, low clouds and crisp, cool, fragrant air made for a gorgeous fall drive. 

And our souls felt refreshed.

Except for the part where Conner declared he felt sure we were going to die. He is vehemently opposed to mountain drives.