Patience Is A Virtue

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Patience  Patience by Debi Hubbs

Friends.  I touched on this subject in a blog a number of months ago (The True Meaning of Friendship April 30 2014).  One of the points I omitted to mention was specific events in life, you know, those hard times that push you to your limits.  This is when you rely on your friends and family to support you, love you and walk alongside you while you stumble, cry, fall, get up, and take a few steps forward then a few back finally deciding that actually you don’t want to move at all.  The offers of advice, wisdom and friendship come flooding in.  They really get to see you in all your glory.  No make-up, or if there is (for the ladies), it’ll be a mascara streaked face with your hair looking like you’ve just put your finger in a socket with a decent helping of grease to boot.  None of that matters because they love you, period.  That is the point at which the true colors emitting from your friendship network shine through.

For me this is a situation that is currently present in my life but that hasn’t always been the case.

I remember an occasion when I was at my first high school when I met what was a really good friend.  You know when you meet someone and you just click but you’re not sure why?  Well, that was us.  We both had health issues me with epilepsy and she had alopecia so we were quite the pair!  Our friendship increasingly got stronger and we were always together; sleep overs, visiting town at the weekends, dinner after school, the list was endless.  Even when I changed schools to major in dance at the performing arts school, she too had applied to the school and was accepted to major in media studies.  Sadly, this friendship ended suddenly.

Meeting up one weekend we were discussing our health conditions. I’d been having a few problems at the time with seizures but was feeling upbeat.  Knowing me I was probably articulating how grateful I was to have working legs or some such thing!  I remember her spitefully telling me I couldn’t possibly be happy and positive all the time as life doesn’t work like that.  I apparently also needed to take my rose tinted glasses off.   That told me!!  I guess that’s when I learned that as productive as positivity is not everyone views it in the same light.

So to return to the present.  From that above mentioned blog, I also wrote about how difficult it has been to meet people but since posting, I’ve continued to meet more truly special people.  Over the last couple of months they have shown just what goodness they have within.  Offers of help as well as to stay with me post-surgery, making meals and bringing me get well cards and gifts.  Some traveled all the way from Vancouver to offer care, others worked their schedules so that they could stop by to say hello for which I can say both I and my beau are so very grateful.

Prior to moving to Vancouver I had seen the movie, ‘Eat, Love, Pray’ which evoked a great deal of inspiration (I have yet to read the book).  Feeling moved by the character of Ketut and deciding I wanted to find my very own Ketut, I went on a search to learn more about that spiritual part of life.  I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed as I was hoping Vancouver would be ‘the place’ where it would all happen.  Unsurprisingly guru’s don’t tend to fall out of trees and certainly not the ones in Vancouver, so patience was required.

Inner Peace

Since moving to Seattle I had the good fortune of meeting someone who has become an immensely dear friend.  She moved from India and is one of the wisest people I know.  I discovered this through our spending increasing amounts of time together.  Sharing many of the same previous life events and interests, spirituality included, we immediately hit it off.  Her knowledge of spirituality is immense.  It is not just a singular entity there are so many different sub sections which intertwine that I had never considered.  I’m sure if you asked her she would be very modest and probably not agree but I think due to the culture it is simply a second nature.

She was there for me continuously throughout my recovery despite my frequent grumbling.  There are certain people who support you unconditionally and she is one of those treasures whose beauty and true colors radiate.  I secretly think of her as my guru (not so secret anymore!).  She has shown me that despite the trials of relocating and beginning these new adventures, friends (and guru’s) materialize but it is simply that patience is a virtue.

 

 

 

The Ice Bucket Challenge!

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Epilepsy isn’t the only condition which is under funded and misunderstood.  There are many which aren’t in the limelight, a factor that is essential in order to raise awareness and generate the funds which will enable the vital research to take place. ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is one of those conditions.

I first heard of this disease when I was recommended to read Tuesdays with Morrie.  It was an incredibly inspiring book about a man who had touched the lives of many and who was slowly disintegrating from this awful disease.  The meetings once a week between him and his former pupil are heartwarming and full of wisdom all the way to the end.

The ice bucket challenge on Facebook has raised an enormous $41.8 million for ALS since July 29, providing positivity and hope for other conditions’ fundraising.  This particular challenge is for ALS but it just goes to show there are creative ways to raise money, it’s just a matter of finding them.

So, it’s Friday morning, I had just got out of bed and decided to undertake my nominated challenge, what a way to wake myself up!

For more information on ALS visit the ALS Association http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html

Advocate, Educate & Inspire

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It was last week when it came to my attention that Finding Freedom with Epilepsy has been active for six months.

Upon reflection, I can’t believe how much I’ve packed in!  It’s been a fascinating, educational and rewarding journey.  Circumstances dictate what you can do based on both your thought processes and weighing up feasibility.  Back in February I was lucky enough to be in a position where I could really get this project off the ground.  There is still so much to achieve, but with each step a difference is made. Optimistically, it makes me hope that with all the advocacy currently being undertaken it will create the ‘butterfly effect’.

The last couple of weeks have seen FFWE take a bit of a back seat with my writing being somewhat sporadic.  However, this time has allowed me to step back, look at the concept objectively and decide what direction I want to guide it in over the forthcoming six months.

FFWE was conceived by having been exposed to the reality of how the world sees epilepsy as well as becoming aware of negative treatments that have been experienced by individuals in my local community.  It became all too clear that something had to be done to ‘advocate, educate and inspire’.  My objective was, in various mediums, to provide people who don’t know about epilepsy the basics as well as providing both generic and less discussed information to those who are connected to epilepsy.

Over 65,000,000 people worldwide live with epilepsy.  This number is greater than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s combined, yet there is more money spent on those conditions than epilepsy.  Of course this doesn’t lessen the importance of fund raising for those illnesses, but it does put into perspective just how much work still needs to be done in raising awareness for epilepsy.

Overwhelmed with the prospect of how to even begin going about this huge task, I had the invaluable wisdom of my career advisor Amanda Johnson at Career Solutions Plus.  Ironically, she is a fellow Brit who, when in England, shared the same stomping ground as me which was a great foundation for our working together.  She broke down the idea and advised me of the process which enabled me to build up each segment, strengthen it through extensive research and put it together as one.

With the original concept I knew where I wanted to take it but over the months it has changed in a way that I didn’t think it would.  Initially, I had the notion that it would be practical by providing information solely about epilepsy, facts, myths, options etc.  While I had this aspect covered and every blog somehow had a link to epilepsy, I digressed more to documenting my life on a day to day basis.  This now enhances the blog in a very positive way.  It demonstrates to those reading that everyday achievements and activities are possible despite limitations.  Granted, this doesn’t include being a fighter pilot for example, (let’s be realistic!), but things like leaving the house and catching a bus, being able to study and for some living alone and being able to make dinner, so it’s the simple things.

Through research I have learned much about the extensive differences as well as similarities that epilepsy sufferers have.  I have attended lectures providing detailed information in a variety of areas including anti-epileptic drugs.  In particular, the education about the positive effects of medicinal marijuana has been extremely valuable as it was a completely new concept to me.  All of these factors I have felt necessary to share through my blog just in case it could make a difference to one person.  As I am making more connections I have been overjoyed to see increasing numbers of people advocating in their own way for this cause.  I have teamed up with people, exchanged information and we have often promoted each other’s events.  I have been passed on to contacts that are able to help if I arrive at the door of someone who isn’t directly able to.

So to conclude, it’s been an immensely satisfying and worthwhile six months.  One of the aspects coming from this project is that it has allowed me to discover just how much I love writing.  Not only do I love writing but what makes it even more gratifying is that so many people from all walks of life are interested in reading the content.  The feedback from my readers is overwhelming and reinforces the purpose of my continuing with this.  The positive comments and emails asking questions about my own experience and whether there is any advice that I can offer them with their situation is something I treasure.  This venture wouldn’t be possible without the support of my readers so most importantly this blog today is dedicated to you as I say an enormous thank you to you.

 

 

 

‘Mr Messy’s House’

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As I begin to heal and strengthen, I was elated when I booked a flight back to England (my original home) to visit my precious family and beloved best friend. After my purchase and to my surprise, there was an influx of childhood memories.  As I was lying in bed attempting to fall asleep my head was swimming with images and events that had been lying dormant in the corners of my brain. Somehow, last night, a breath of life revived them and they became brand new and shiny again.

I have referred previously in many blogs that epilepsy was the epicenter of my childhood. However, all the recollections which presented themselves weren’t related and reminded me that as a child, life contained a great deal of happiness.

The stimulus that educed this reminiscence was passing a rather bedraggled blackberry bush. I love blackberry bushes.  In the house we lived in there was an L shaped piece of land attached. There was a rectangular garden with a garage at the end and then past the garage to the left was the driveway. Just past the garage was also a dilapidated fence with a hole small enough for me to squeeze through into next door’s garden. In the summer I would collect a large plastic container from the kitchen, pull on my wellies for protection, find my scissors and scurry up to the back of the garage. Before diving into next door’s garden, (affectionately known as Mr. Messy’s garden) I would assess the prickles and devise a strategy that would prevent the least amount of bloodshed! Preparation included reaching through and cutting the thick stems, (it was always surprising to me how much children’s scissors could withstand as mine never broke) to give me ample space to move.  Additionally, I clearly wasn’t aware of the damage I was doing to the plant, as I scandalously chopped and trod on it leaving an open path in my wake.

Upon readiness, I would gingerly climb through and begin possibly one of my very favorite activities. I’d seek out the blackberries, pick them, pop them into my container as well as a few in my mouth for good measure; I had to ensure they were up to standard for eating you’ll understand. Cutting the brambles as I went I’d pray that my next door neighbor wouldn’t see me, not that he picked the blackberries nor did he take care of his garden for that matter but technically, I was trespassing.

I would be out there for hours by myself or sometimes with friends. When they were there it was a race for who could get the most.  Sometimes we’d argue and try to steal from someone else’s pot if we felt we didn’t have enough.  It was pretty intense this blackberry business! It was also terribly cathartic and one of the activities that evoked more joy than any other.

Once I had stripped the brambles bare, I’d skip down the garden and show my mum the fruits of my labor (quite literally). She would always without fail be as excited as I giving me all the options that could be created with those lovely little juicy black berries. My favorite was always a blackberry and apple pie which she made perfectly. We would more often have it after Sunday lunch and sometimes as a treat we’d buy cream which would make it taste even MORE divine if that was possible.

I loved it. I loved being part of that process right from the very beginning. From the pleasure and love which went into the picking, to the washing and cleaning of the fruit. I’d hand it over to mum and she would sometimes have me help during various stages of the improvised recipe which I thought was even more special!  It was being able to create something so delicious out of my hard work which gave the family pleasure and always made to feel so proud. Little old me contributing to lunch!

I remember the sad day when the Council came and tidied up the garden next door. For the friends that I would play with of an evening and weekend, to our dismay they put up a new fence preventing the public and us, from entering. I guess it was to stop anyone breaking into the house which was just as un-kept as the garden which in essence made sense. However, to us we had lost the place we loved to play.  In the fall it gave us an unlimited supply of conkers from the enormous Horse Chestnut tree and in the summer blackberries which ended up as pie filling or simply a snack. However, as time went by I discovered another hole which appeared in that fence, and I’ll be jiggered if I know how it got there…

Narcotics & Epilepsy – A Valuable Lesson Learned

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Due to a non-related epilepsy matter I was recently prescribed Vicodin.

Ahhhhh, when I took it for the first time I’d forgotten what living a pain free life felt like!  For the two months before hand I was a groggy, sleep deprived, stooped pain filled grumpy pants.  I also find a distinct lack of care about my appearance goes hand in hand with illness or discomfort so jogging bottoms have been my bosom buddy for goodness knows how long now.

With the dust in our apartment accumulating to the point of my being able to write words in it, my beau has been nothing short of a gem as he’s not minded.  He’s taken time off from work to attend appointments completely lightening the mood making the doctors love him!  Sorry ladies, I don’t mean to brag but he’s brought home dinner, checks in to see if I need anything and of course doesn’t even mention that the apartment looks like something from the T.V show ‘Hoarders’.  Should I pass you a bucket?! In all seriousness, it’s times like these that make you realize what love really is.

Moving on, it was one Friday night when we had friends visiting.  Unfortunately for me, it turned out to be my worst night yet.  I’d been debating whether it was a good idea to have them come down at all as I’d had to take it so easy.  I decided that it would be ideal as the visit would create happiness and laughter which they say is the best medicine, plus it would be a perfect distraction.  Unfortunately for me in this case laughter was not the best medicine!  Despite having a high pain threshold even I had to call the out of hour’s doctor at 2am.  Having been prescribed a narcotic which entered the ‘hard core’ territory, I hopped (a little optimistic perhaps!) into a cab at 3:30am.  Having pulled up ‘taxi cabs’ on Google I realized even they were against me as a black city car pulled up instead of the yellow cab I had anticipated.  All I could do was roll my eyes as I had no energy to do much else.  On the up side, at least I was traveling to Bartells in style.

Joyfully I picked up my ‘new life’ with what was a slight bounce in my step.  Arriving at my apartment I got payback for my earlier mistake.  Grudgingly I handed over $25 dollars for what was a fifteen minute journey there and back.  However, it was of no significance at this stage. Swallowing my ‘magical pill’ I figured it would kick in within thirty minutes.  An hour later saw me pacing my front room in a bid to get into the comfiest position possible. At that stage I was so desperately tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open and lay down on the floor.  Not realizing I’d fallen asleep, when I woke I thankfully found myself out of pain. However, had anyone witnessed this strange sight they would have expected to see a chalk outline around my body like in the old movies due to my sleeping position!

The days went by looking up significantly.  I was sleeping through the night and could do things during the day.  As I reached for my last pill I figured as it was Sunday night I would call through and pick them up in the morning, normal protocol for my AED’s.  As they say, never assume because it makes an ass out of you and me which in this instance was true as I was told it would take up to three days before I could pick them up.

So after three days and many phone calls later (!), when I eventually collected them, they omitted to tell me that stopping narcotics quickly would INCREASE seizure activity.  To me this was a pretty major error.  I went through the next day in a haze with numerous absence clusters and myoclonic jerks both day and night. Naturally, I was concerned.

I called the Epilepsy Centre to get advice and it was only then that I learned about the reaction to the narcotic drugs.  Now, I appreciate that pharmacists can’t know every possible side effect but this was a serious oversight.  Lucky for me the repercussions weren’t very serious; however, for others it could have been a lot more severe.

I remain meticulous about double checking that drugs won’t mix negatively with my AED’s, but this was a valuable lesson learned. So the moral of this blog is check and DOUBLE CHECK for all side effects of any additional medication you need to take as honestly, for some, it could be a matter of life or death.

Perfection – Are We Chasing An Empty Target?

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So today I am unfortunately writing from a place of frustration.

Not one to dwell on this I try and think of as many positive elements in my life as possible.  One of these positive points is that it has given me my idea for today’s blog plus it is a prime example of how life isn’t perfect all the time.

Perfection is unachievable.  It doesn’t matter how much we try we will never be able to attain it.  However, perhaps a more pressing question is do we really want to?  Life would be fantastic all the time but we would never have the opportunity to grow and learn from our mistakes.  In fact I’m not sure if I like the word ‘mistake’, in my book I view them as learning curves.  How then can they be mistakes if they become valuable opportunities for learning, as those situations are when our self-development occurs?

However, positivity rather than perfection is far more realistic.  It’s one of those silent fundamentals.  For example, if I equate it to a theatre production, positivity remains behind the scenes.  It has an essential contribution to the show and let’s say it represents the lighting department.  So even without lighting, technically the show could still go ahead but it would take place in the dark.  Similarly, life can still continue but it’s missing the component to really bring it to life and enhance it. Another show necessity is a blackout to allow scene changes to take place.  During those changes the stage crew need to find their way to ensure the staging is put in the correct place to create the appropriate environment to make sense of the next scene.  The blackout represents those occasions when a lack of positivity is necessary and the stage crew are the equivalent to utilizing your abilities to find a way to maintain it.  Hopefully that makes sense!

There is also a degree of acceptance required.  It is easy to dwell and lose yourself in sadness and depression which can last days, weeks, months.  Although there may be deeper issues causing a need for assistance with this, I am referring not to those but to the lighter every day dilemmas.  One of the things that I find helpful is to allow myself a day or two, depending on the origin of the problem, to just think about it and at times let it consume me if need be.  After that time frame is up, I let it go and move forward.  That way I’m not being too hard on myself, I’m allowing myself to process emotions, be miserable, cry (which is actually very healing in respect of dealing with problems) and think about it whatever it may be.

To attain constant positivity is a life-long undertaking.  When the goings good it’s great!  You think you’ve conquered it and have it down to a fine art.  It’s when things aren’t going so well that the test to obtain and maintain it is presented to us.  That’s when it’s most important to try and keep a hold of it because that’s what will see us through.  A silver lining is spoken of to every grey cloud and it’s over many years that I have fallen down, picked myself up and carried on to learn this.  I am able to take a step back and look at a situation objectively (to a degree, it’s still not easy!!) and try to find the lesson or ‘silver lining’ in the situation.  A wonderful and appropriate Jewish quote that I discovered many years ago is;

‘I walk, I fall down, I get up. Meanwhile I keep dancing.’

- Rabbi Hillel

One of the other outlets I use to channel negative emotions is to write.  How and what you write is of no significance.  Whatever comes into your head write it down and let it out.  I often found if I was frustrated with someone it would be in the form of a letter which I never sent, if not I would just write it all down and then take the piece of paper outside to burn it.  By burning it, you release all of the negative energy which has been extracted and is now contained in that piece of paper.

This is a very therapeutic method particularly for those with seizures/epilepsy who don’t have control over it.  Having an outlet like writing can be very cathartic.  Being able to let feelings out is essential so it doesn’t manifest itself into an increased form of ill health.

So having forced myself out of my apartment and found a café to sit down and have my rooibos tea in, from the mood I was in when I began writing to the mood I am in now, it will prove to be a very enjoyable evening!

 

Do You Need To Be Forced To Slow Down?

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Why, why, WHY is it so difficult to not do anything?!  You’d think when there’s a need to stop rushing around for your own wellbeing you would jump at the chance of doing absolutely nothing. Well, I say nothing but that ‘nothing’ means sleeping, taking to the sofa, reading or catching up on T.V plus anything else that falls into that category. That category is anything that doesn’t use vast amounts of energy that should be directed towards healing.   Nothing = not me!

Ultimately, it’s for my own health and if I don’t adhere to this I will have to accept the consequences.  I know I shouldn’t be doing anything strenuous but let’s be honest, the chores won’t do themselves.  I think it must be genetic as my mum and sister are exactly the same.  There is always something that needs to be done and if not we will find something to eliminate the ‘ants in our pants’ feeling!

Once I eventually succumb to sitting down to watch an episode of Orange is the New Black, it’s as if all the little pieces of dust and dirt become magnified in the carpet. They look at me and start to wave making their presence very clearly known soI can think of little else.  This has just increased the torture till I can no longer concentrate on my program and have to get up, walk around and at least empty or fill the dishwasher to alleviate my feelings of laziness.

I love writing and it’s an absolute blessing that I can sit down and be creative, it’s a perfect distraction.  It takes my mind off the magnified dust particles rising from the depths of what was once a foot friendly carpet.  It gives me pleasure as it’s productive because I churn out another blog post or undertake research.  So, in essence, I am being productive just not in the way that I want to be!

As I continued my research I came across this poignant article about stress. Unsurprisingly, we all know stress is detrimental to our bodies for prolonged periods of time, but this contained some facts that I wasn’t aware of:

http://www.healthline.com/health-news/mental-eight-ways-stress-harms-your-health-082713

Similarly, like Louise Hay’s sound belief in metaphysics, this article ties in with the theory that vital warning signs are presented to us.  They demonstrate the need to slow down, stop, or at least take a break.  Our bodies although breathtakingly intricate, can only withstand so much. If these warnings are not adhered to, the body will reach a point where it is unable to continue at the level that it was previously functioning at.

One of the more basic situations that force people to stop are back injuries.  So often I hear, “But I wasn’t doing anything particularly strenuous, I just bent over to pick something up” or words to that effect.  Once your back is ‘out’ you can barely  do anything other than lie down.  There is the underlying purpose, similar to the ideals of Louise Hay, that a revision of lifestyle is required.  It means looking far deeper into yourself rather than just surface to figure out what this is telling you.  It means using true honesty knowing there will be challenges ahead, but the bullet is required to be bitten to achieve that.

Lucky for me synchronicity offered me my opportunity to rethink my lifestyle.  The move to Vancouver was my saving grace.  It offered me the time to stop and smell the roses.  My tightly wound self had slowly been twisted over the years by anxiety, worry, concern of what others thought of me and lack of confidence in my job.  Most significantly it was a lack of confidence in myself.

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The unwinding process, never as fast as the former, began with the help of yoga, meditation, looking up rather than being so preoccupied with life that I was face down, an awareness of what was around me and remembering who I actually was.  I’d forgotten the most important thing in my life, me.  This had crept up before I knew it as I had been roughly carried away on the rip tide of life.

I am always left wondering what would have happened if I had continued living with the stress levels I had.  The decrease in seizures was an obvious indication that I had made the right choice.  However, it was extremely difficult to let go having been so tightly wound.  I didn’t know what to do with my new found freedom, it just didn’t seem right to me.

For the importance that our jobs and lifestyles are, a healthy balance is needed.  Don’t be afraid to make the crucial changes that will preserve your health.  As my nanny wisely used to say, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything’.