…for better or for worse…

I was so excited to get back into my routine of weekly blogs… but sometimes I forget that I have a brain injury.  Now that’s kinda funny!  When other things come up in life… I forget that the way my brain handles stuff is often a sort of prehistoric method. So one insult to injury… becomes two and two become four…  

Bottom line… it is really tricky for me to hold onto my weekly goal of sending out a blog. Frustrating as that may be, a dear friend reminded me, “You aren’t writing for a cooking show that needs a weekly recipe… this is a blog for injured people… they all get it, right? TBI in the works!”

So… I try to write ahead, get things edited in advance, and schedule the website posts weeks ahead… as if I didn’t have a brain injury. However, I do forget to allow a brain-injury-cushion when life just happens! And in my case, this time, I just had a double eye surgery and thought for sure I had enough posts ready… but yeah… you guessed it… I couldn’t even see well enough to hit ‘post’! So, as my vision slowly comes and goes over the next couple of months, I need to set my sights on the famous words of Mr. Incredible as he responds to his impatient children, “We’ll get there when we get there!”

Fellow TBI friends… remember we are all in this together. I keep thinking this is new territory, but many of you have pioneered this way of life before me and can either totally relate… or are getting a good giggle at my crazy expectations for my post-injury life.

“Love is patient and kind…” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Thanks for your patience and kindness with me! I appreciate your comments and likes (my husband and dear editing friend can read… so I have seen some of your notes but am waiting to respond until I can see well enough to do so). BUT, the BEST part about hearing from you is knowing that I am not alone! Remember that you are not alone either, in your invisible illness or injury!

 

P.S. The eye surgery (corneal cross-linking) that I had done has nothing to do with my TBI… to my former colleagues who thought I was overdoing it using colored paper, Sharpies and colored pens… remember this is why! 🙂 However, this eye surgery is a new development in a procedure to help people with a rare eye disease called keratoconus. Here is a video that you should pass along if you know someone with this eye disease…

new FDA approved keratoconus procedure

*This document is the sole property of L. Marie Drake -assisted by M. K. © 2017.  Permission granted for printing copies of this page on the basis that they are not used for personal profit or any financial gain. Thank you.*

part XII… no babies, just maybes

…a continuation of my story from August 23, 2017 … part XI… pregnant??

November 2011

As I boarded the plane to fly halfway across the continent, I looked forward to a week-long seminar that my trainer had worked so hard for a few of us to attend. No babies, so maybe a week independent of family routines, household projects, bills to pay, classroom lesson plans, parent phone calls, testing, etc…. maybe having a week with one central focus would do me good? Maybe this might be a little bonus time for me to figure out what was truly going on with me. Maybe. All I had to do was attend classes all day, do a bit of homework in the evening and relax, right? Maybe I would have enough energy and no nausea and I could even exercise each day? Maybe?!

Day one… the shock of fatigue railroaded me. Day two… I could barely keep my head up at an early dinner with my colleagues. I bowed out before the meal was over and dove directly into bed. Days three and four put me alone for the entire evening after training ended at 4:00. Lying in bed, I struggled to get a snack for dinner and clawed through the homework as if I were dangling off a building holding on by my fingernails.

I really couldn’t understand what was happening to me. My chiropractor insisted that this was part of the residual effects of my concussion. But can a concussion make you feel this way eight months after the initial hit? Can a person truly feel nauseous, fatigued, dizzy and confused off and on for all this time? All the general doctors I had seen for this had only screened me for mood swings… linking these weird symptoms to my concussion only led them to say: “Aren’t you over that concussion yet?”

Well,  that sort of thinking sends a person like me on a path of challenge mixed with spoonfuls of denial! If I am ‘supposed to get over this’ then what is my problem??? I need to buck up and fight. I need to rise above the storm – tackle this head on – overcome this adversity…

“O LORD, you have searched me and known me!   You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”  

Psalm 139:1-6

Lord, only you know… how can I know?

As I fought my way through the final day of training, an endless day of taxis, planes and a bus… I needed to make a decision if I was going to follow through on next week’s four hour neurological exam. My hope was to cancel it and move past Dr. Jennifer’s noticings. Maybe there was something major wrong with me? Maybe I had cancer? Maybe I was anemic? Maybe that old liver issue had flared back up? Maybe … okay maybe… maybe the concussion did do some lasting damage?

Upon arriving home, all I wanted to do was plant tulips with my daughters and play outside in the extra warm November we had been graced with. But I couldn’t. My pillow was my only warmth and I played and planted in my dreams… another weekend disjointed from my family… missing out on their conversations and not tending to their needs. Survival. That was my only thought… if I can just survive this a little bit longer… maybe then it will go away?

photo-20

 

 

On a delightful note… my daughters planted tulips without me, and as I lay sleeping, they sent me this sweet picture of assurance. The next spring, tulips popped up all over the yard rather than in the gardens… the random placement of these bulbs continues to bring me a giggle and a smile each spring… it’s all going to be okay!

 

 

 

*This document is the sole property of L. Marie Drake © 2017.  Permission granted for printing copies of this page on the basis that they are not used for personal profit or any financial gain. Thank you.*

…rare opportunities…

One thing that transpired during my hiatus from this blog, was a rare opportunity to publicly share my summary of this whole ‘concussion adventure’ with my church family. It was a relief to be able to explain myself to those who have watched me go through this… yet maybe not really understand what was happening as I slowly drifted away from church services, Bible classes, social gatherings, volunteering opportunities, etc.  Hey!  I didn’t really know what was happening either… so how could they know?!

In addition, it was a privilege to be able to share God’s goodness in the midst of one of life’s trials. Below, you can read the testimony I gave or watch it read on YouTube….

 

6 ½ years ago, pretty much everything about my core being changed, except my Salvation in Christ.  

On our tiny, local, ski hill …one wrong turn, no helmet, and my own lack of good vision – found me in the ER with a subdural hematoma, otherwise known as concussion or  TBI or traumatic brain injury. If it weren’t for that gift of salvation being the rock in which I stand on and the fortress which shelters me from the storm… this story may have been very faith-less and much shorter. But I stand before the Lord today and proclaim this journey, as a continuous walk of faith…

Many of you knew me before I survived this concussion. Many of you knew me as a very different person pre-February 2011… I did too. This injury has taken me on a 180 degree turn in my life as I knew it for 44 years prior. At first, and often still, I don’t really know how to act as the ‘new-me.’  In fact, I am constantly reverting to the person I was before… but God has had other plans. The most prevalent thread I have noticed along this journey… is His call to be still and know that HE is GOD.”

Psalm 46:10 arrived in my life shortly after the accident …since then it has been proving to me over and over again, just how faithful God is. This stillness stared me in the face as I walked into this injury a very typical woman of our era…

The old-me wanted to excel at my career and possibly invent the next, best reading intervention to save kids from illiteracy. As deacon-at-large, I wanted to help our church be the best in any area I was called to. I wanted to be a mom that didn’t have to go through the terrible twos or the terror of the teen years… because she had it all prayed thru and all figured out. I wanted to be the wife who didn’t grow old, or weathered with injuries or broken down with sadness. I wanted to be the adult daughter who never needed her parents… but they instead would need me.

The new-me… hasn’t invented anything; has served our church just like anyone else; has been a mom who already has scars from both the twos and the teen years and we are only at ages 19 and 15. The new me has been the wife who NEEDS her husband more than He needs her- has more often lost her beauty and has aged twice as fast as normal (a typical TBI symptom); and … I have been the adult daughter who has needed her parents more than ever before.

As caring friends and family have watched this enormous transition in my life… they will kindly say to me:

~I am praying for your healing.

~We trust in the Lord’s healing for you.

~I still believe that you can be healed from this crazy concussion.

Since about year two into this injury… I began to think…

…what if I am healed… but I just don’t recognize it?

…what if His answer …to what healing looks like ….is very different than mine?

…what if I am healed & instead of waiting for the blessing… I am missing it?

Now, please know that I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior, my Redeemer and my Healer.    He CAN DO the impossible…               …but what if… just what if…  my current condition is a healing from my old condition…         the regular old-me??

What if the Lord could see all…?  🙂   and know all…? 🙂 and He could see that my way of life as an injured, concussed-brain person; disabled employee; a more sedentary wife; a calmer mom; a quieter daughter; a backseat volunteer…     were all a better option for HIS GLORY than the old, un-injured me?

What if one day… when I’m in Heaven… He sits me down and says:  “Lisa, Your traumatic brain injury was a gift. I tried to help you see the blessings that could surround it… yet you spent so much time trying to get rid of it… that you missed my blessings within it.”  

“THIS IS the DAY that the LORD has made… let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  Doesn’t Psalm 118 say that HE MADE TODAY….???  NO MATTER what it looks like… HE MADE it!  He even made it with ME in mind …and content in it!!  So before the sun rose, on this very day … He knew about this injury and all the struggles that have come with it… And… me, as a sinner in this world who is saved ….by GRACE ALONE…. He knew that If I were to keep my eyes on HIM & lean not on my own understanding… He would make my paths straight… and then this day… today6 years post-concussion today… would get the ‘okay’ stamp of approval from HIM … for ME ….for today!

WOW!  So if I wallow in my condition & suffer all its losses… I just might miss His gift  for me today.

1 Corinthians 7:17 is constantly reminding me… “only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”

What if… just what if… He has called the new-me, brain injury to boot… to no longer do the things that for 44 years before the injury… were me?

  • What if He doesn’t want me to be ambitious about teaching kids & their teachers how to grow in literacy skills?
  • What if He doesn’t want me to attend my daughter’s volleyball games….? Maybe He is opening up a door for my husband to be the primary attendee?
  • What if He prefers our family’s lifestyle working around my husband’s career rather than mine… and that’s why the doctors forced me to quit my job?
  • What if He wants me to need my aging parents … rather than them needing me, as I would prefer?
  • What if He wants me to have time to invest in friendships that had been going un-nourished due to being too busy with my career?
  • What if He wants me to be home and be present for my family rather than working 50+ hours a week; or giving and volunteering elsewhere?

Now… as I list this out… you… just like me.. might be thinking… but those all seem like fairly positive things. In fact, all those ways are ways I want to be and I worked hard to be and I felt blessed to be….

Maybe this new-me…. is a new season in life and the time for that old-me is not what is needed right now? It doesn’t mean that those things were horrible or that they were strictly self-gratifying. Many of the old-me ways did glorify Him.

But what if… the Lord saw… planned… created a NEW way for me to live?  Hey… mid-40’s… most people go thru some sort of mid-life crisis and for sure a career change.  So maybe this is the Lord’s plan for my next ‘career’… being a ‘new-me’… trying to live life 180 degrees in the opposite direction from the old-me?!?!?

Now… just because I have  GREAT hope in how the Lord is healing me… doesn’t mean that tomorrow won’t find me in bed… with nausea, sadness & the walls spinning.  By no means have I escaped an injury that prevents me from being overwhelmed by echoing noises, multiple conversations, bright lights or repetitive motions…. hiding behind sunglasses, a hat and ear plugs… or just plain avoidance therapy by staying home!?!?   Neither does this HOPE in healing mean that my life is my own and that I can joyfully attend a work gathering or a wedding by my husband’s side. Nor does it mean that I will like it when my daughter comes home upset – needing to talk & I am doing everything I can to compassionately listen to her all the while my brain is in “ping-pong” mode. Nor does it mean I will be able to be there for a friend or my parents as they attend a funeral of a lost loved one.

And this HOPE in HIS answer to my healing… doesn’t even mean I will be grateful for it all the time!

However, I do have FAITH that God knows the plans he has for me – “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give me a future and a hope.”  I have FAITH that He has created me… and allowed me to be ‘in this Traumatic Brain Injury condition’ in hopes of glorifying Him.

One of my favorite verses comes from Philippians 4… Paul reminds us  “do not be anxious about today… rather with prayer and supplication and ….with THANKSGIVING let Him know my requests.”    I firmly believe this verse is reminding ME to pour out my heart to HIM… not wondering IF HE will heal my brain injury… rather praying in FAITH … in fact with so much FAITH …that I can already start giving THANKS to Him for HEALING my brain injury… before I can even comprehend HIS ANSWER!

So, I move forward in FAITH that God will bless me, my family, and others BECAUSE of this injury/healing.  And I THANK HIM for all He has done and will do with this injury to glorify Him.

I move forward in FAITH that I am healed just the way HE wants me to be healed for now… because He says:  “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made PERFECT in weakness.”

If all of my words were a blur… please just listen to this song… Be Still. Take in its words and enjoy my journey of faith… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWN9xIogFPI

 

*This document is the sole property of L. Marie Drake © 2017.  Permission granted for printing copies of this page on the basis that they are not used for personal profit or any financial gain. Thank you.*

part XI… pregnant??

September 2011:
Two months back at work and strange things started to happen. Around noon each Thursday I would get super nauseated, beyond tired, often needing to go home sick – sometimes having to spend the next 3 days in bed. Work had begun to make me ridiculously tired – my Tuesday nights began to feel suspiciously similar to Friday nights after a 60 hour week. And then the nausea became more frequent.

PregnantSEMD

Lucie ~ 1998

I took a pregnancy test… because I most definitely had experienced these symptoms twice before in my life!
There is absolutely no way I’m pregnant. I’m 44 years old – I’m pretty sure I’m pre-menopausal for crying out loud! Well it can’t be, I mean, my tubes were tied right after Zella was born. And not just tied, but tied in double knots (if Eddie was finally able to convince the doctor to do it). It’s just not possible, is it? But they say God does have a sense of humor? So…?
Results in. Nope. Not pregnant. Great! But what’s with the pregnant-like symptoms? Hmmm…?
October:
By now my weeks had settled into a consistent pattern:
Monday – exhausted. In bed early.
Tuesday – super exhausted. In bed super early.
Wednesday – whatever’s worse than super exhausted. In bed instantly upon arriving home, then up again and off to church for Wednesday night activities.
Thursday – a little dizzy in the morning… kinda like day 1 concussion back in March… but not that bad… then by noon my body would just sort of shut down. Nausea, Vertigo, Fatigue and Confusion… the Fab Four, all at the same time.
Friday thru Sunday – sick. In and out of bed.

 

PregnantZRD

Lydia ~ 2002

I decided to take pregnancy test #2.  What was that Sherlock Holmes quote… “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains…” something like that?   Yup… I’ll take the home pregnancy test again, just to eliminate that impossibility once and for all.
Results in. Nope. Definitely not pregnant, and definitely at a loss as to what was making me feel this way.

 

Early November:
Sick and tired and desperate for some kind of answer, I took pregnancy test #3.
Oh what the heck. I’ve been taking pregnancy tests for almost three months now, what’s the harm in another? It’s silly. I know that. By this time, if I was actually pregnant (which of course I could not be) I would have had plenty of other evidence of it. But if I’m not pregnant, why do I keep feeling pregnant?
Results in. I’m not pregnant. Of course not. Yay? I guess..?
But my symptoms were getting worse and work was becoming more difficult. And it seemed that I still wasn’t any closer to finding a reason for them. It was getting harder and harder to just shrug the nausea and fatigue off. After finally ruling out pregnancy, and after doctor visits that ruled out any sickness that might have been causing me to feel that way, my thoughts began to turn back to my concussion. Yet all of the doctors had cleared me, hadn’t they? They had shined lights in my eyes and had me follow their fingers multiple times and told me “You’re good to go. Time to get back in the saddle and leave that brain injury behind you. Go get ‘em tiger!” or something to that effect, which was certainly exactly what I wanted to hear.

 

Actually, it wasn’t all of the doctors that said that. Dr Jennifer, my reliable and knowledgeable chiropractor, hadn’t truly given me the green light to resume my life. I had started going to her on a monthly basis about 5 years prior to my head injury, so she knew me very well. After my accident, when I saw her on my previously scheduled appointments, she started asking me entirely different questions than the other doctors had. She noticed subtle differences in me that neither I nor anyone else had noticed. For example, at my very first visit after the concussion, she asked me if I’d noticed that my speech had slowed. She had an insight into my concussion that was so far beyond my grasp… that I kinda didn’t pay attention to her. When I told her of my failed pregnancy tests and the symptoms that prompted me to take them … and I laughed at how silly I’d been, she didn’t laugh. She looked concerned and quickly ordered a thorough exam of neurological testing in Minneapolis.


“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  Colossians 1:17

In hindsight, I was “sort of” pregnant at that point. Not realizing it at the time, I was awkwardly in the process of unknowingly giving birth to a new era in my life. And like it slowly tipped my world upside down when I had my babies, my life was changing dramatically. As time went on, it was only in him that I was holding together.

*This document is the sole property of L. Marie Drake © 2017.  Permission granted for printing copies of this page on the basis that they are not used for personal profit or any financial gain. Thank you.*

part X… clueless

The blessing of not selling our home to go bigger and better, was 6 years from being fully realized. As I look back on many phases and decisions in my life, I am frequently reminded of blessings that, at the time, seemed like regular old occurrences. When the Lord tells us, “…He will never leave you, nor forsake you.”  (Deuteronomy 31:6) He truly means it. His ability to patiently bless us beyond our present vision… frankly… astounds me.

By the end of March, I ‘passed’ a follow-up MRI with flying colors. So, per the doctor’s orders, all systems were set on “go” to continue my life as it was, pre-injury.

Lucie’s 13th birthday party welcomed in April. We successfully surprised her and let her and her friends stay up ALL night (a persistent request of hers since age 9). It was a great party with nonsense and noise and even a dance party in our garage with me instigating new and crazy moves to the increasingly louder music.

That was Thursday of Easter weekend. By the time Monday rolled around, I found myself unusually tired and having periods of 3-4 hours/day of blurred vision. Very strange.

Shortly after that, it began to occur to me that attending our church services nearly made me pass out. When I sang I got light-headed. Weird. I wondered why and quit singing.

The next Sunday, halfway through the service, it dawned on me that I had just about no idea what our pastor had been preaching about. Instead of concentrating on the teaching from the pulpit (something I looked forward to every week), my eyes wandered all over the place, taking my brain with them. Zero focus. Just random thoughts about whatever and whomever my eyes landed on:

  • “When did the church get ceiling fans? It’s not hot today. Why are they on and why are they spinning so fast?
  • “Oh, there’s Colleen, I need to ask her about getting the kids together on Saturday.
  • “Is that Lani? Is Rich with her? I have to remember to ask them if they can sub for us next week and lead our Bible study.
  • “Why don’t they turn Pastor Fred’s mic down. It’s so loud.
  • “Sara’s got a new haircut. Very cute. What did I need to tell her? Oh, that’s right. I can’t bring Gabe to AWANA Wednesday night, can she?
  • “When did we get all of these ceiling fans!?
  • “There are the Pedersons. Shoot! … I was supposed to bring our girls’ outgrown snowpants for their kids”.

When church ended and I’d talked to the people I remembered to talk to after the service, I would find myself in a surreal sort of daze, wandering to the car. After arriving back home, I went straight to bed for the rest of the day due to sudden and extreme fatigue and nausea, clueless as to the cause.

  • At school (my workplace), I found myself making odd new requests of my students: “Kids, while I read this story, could you do your best to sit super still?”
    • “Why, Mrs. Drake?”
  • “Well, today I feel a little bit like I’m on a boat all the time, and when you move, it’s like the water moves.”
    • “Oh, we understand that, Mrs. Drake! One time when I was fishing…”
    • “My mom and dad said they felt like that on a plane one time…”
    • “My grandpa took me canoeing when it was windy once and…”
    • Etc…. 

(One of the things I love most about children is their willingness to accept you as you are when you are open and honest with them. It’s like one, big, compassionate and endless hug. I miss those hugs).

It was while I was at work, busy writing reports, emails and other notes for the adult literacy coaching portion of my day, that I discovered that I’d begun to frequently leave off the last letters of the words I was writing. Often entire words were missing. Also very weird.

In early May, after an all-school assembly, I found myself feeling like I was floating. A week later at another assembly, I could feel a wave of nausea slowly creep from my stomach to my head, followed by a feeling of guilt for having to ask my colleague, Sue, to take over my class of 28 kids in addition to her 29 while I rushed out the nearest exit to throw-up. Both occasions left me feeling dizzy, unable to function, in need of a driver to get me home, and in need of 24 hours in bed to recover… with me still clueless as to why.

I found myself in a variety of similarly bizarre situations throughout the remainder of the year. As the 2010-11 school year came to a close I was exhausted and perplexed and looking forward to the relief of summer break more than I ever had before. And thanks to the combined efforts of my mom and my hubby, it was actually going to be a summer off, with none of the usual teacher training seminars and tutoring that I typically filled my “time off” with.

My only summer commitment was a no-pressure, fun commitment. Lucie, Lydia and I all tried out for parts at the local community college’s production of Annie.  And to one degree or another (little Lydia was a stage hand) we all got parts!  Lucie had a growing interest in acting and I thought it might be a great stress reliever for me, so why not? What better way to keep my body and brain active and be a kid alongside my girls?

Funny though, with a cast of about 25, it soon became obvious that I was the one getting yelled at most often by the director… even more than the 15 rambunctious kids playing the parts of the naughty New York orphans! Why? What did he have against me?

One day at practice, Lucie figured it out and came gently to my rescue. It seemed that I was not following the script. I knew my lines but I did not know when and where to deliver them … which was odd, because all my life I have been blessed with a deadbolt lock on my ability to hold things into memory and retrieve them as needed. Now, (this increasingly unrecognizable NOW) though my memory seemed fairly normal, the retrieval process was becoming an obvious mess.

Lucie, Lydia and I proceeded to make four maps and posted them at my four different stage entry points. Each map had explicit instructions – for me alone – as to when, where and what I was responsible for. The director’s voice no longer rang in my ears.

At the end of July the play was over. I felt that the past months’ experiences had left me refreshed and recharged and ready for the 2011-12 school year. On August 1st the lights turned green and my school year began. As usual, it was 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds – engine screaming and tires smoking.

I felt good. I felt in control again. All went so well at the beginning that I felt like the old me was back! I was confident and moving forward fast as a 50% classroom literacy teacher and 50% literacy coach for teachers. The strange symptoms that came with singing or shouting or talking and laughing with friends; the symptoms that came with listening to the wonderful sounds of a classroom; all of those stormy, seasick symptoms… they all seemed to subside. Whatever all those weird reactions to normal, everyday things were, they must have all been just ‘in my head’.

I was ready to roll…

 

*This document is the sole property of L. Marie Drake © 2017.  Permission granted for printing copies of this page on the basis that they are not used for personal profit or any financial gain. Thank you.*

part VIII… home and whole

As the days passed, I spent more time sleeping and not moving than I had since I was about 5 years old and had pneumonia. It didn’t yet bother me that I couldn’t move crossBESTILL.jpg without the walls moving with me. I was more than grateful to no longer be vomiting or worrying about the escalating danger. All had been resolved, to my knowledge.  And, I had yet to be frustrated by all that I couldn’t do or say. I was just too strangely exhausted to even know the losses that were coming.

Blessing #3… Family and friends came and went with food, flowers and house cleaning (wish I could have booked that for a lifetime!). It’s funny… when you cannot see an illness, no one (including yourself) believes it is truly there. So, I gradually felt like anything that seemed ‘off’ about my day, was just a figment of my imagination. When people came and went, I felt a bit awkward telling them my story… as I didn’t look too different.

After about a week of obedient ‘resting’, I figured it was time to get back in the game. Although, I still couldn’t function normally – couldn’t drive, couldn’t walk a straight line, couldn’t hold a long conversation, etc. – my fear was that these stagnant behaviors would be my ruin. So, in an effort to CONQUER these weird new post-concussion actions of mine… I kept going… harder.

Yup… just as I had dreamed of in the ER… I purchased my first Sudoku book and tracked my progress in learning for my own proof that I was not losing my cognitive abilities. The girls and I tried out for a play through our local community theater – believing that should cover my summer respite (normally my job required me to be in training or training others all of June and August… but my mom and hubby put the kabosh on that). We continued prepping the house to get it on the market. We returned to our busy family schedule of sports, activities and church life. Planning for Lucie’s 13th surprise birthday party went from my hospital bed head to emails and action. Week two, I went back to work part-time. Week three, I went back to work full-time. Week four, back to work full-time-plus.

Blessing #4… Did I need a severe concussion to find my true identity even though I thought my heart was in the right place? The miracle was… I began to see His heart desires for my life.

“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—”  “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?”  That’s a good question, God! I died to the world’s way the minute I submitted my sins to Your forgiveness and my path thereafter to Your will. So why do I want a better house? Why do I need to work more than is required of me? Why do I desire to fit into the merry-go-round of American expectations? “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” So, Lisa, why do you think you always have to do more?  You need to make enough money to have all that our family needs and wants. You need to be involved in volunteering, donating, church activities, etc. You need to be a good mom, wife, daughter, friend… but why?  (Bible verses –Colossians 2:20-23)

Am I living life for what I need and want, creating a self-made religion? Or am I truly living life for what God has planned for me? Are my actions too self-driven from pride or are my actions a result of waiting upon the Lord’s design and being filled with a sincere passion for Him?

Who am I?

Deep down… truly… who am I?

 

**When I list blessings… I know that there were, and still are, many that I have taken for granted, and as a result, have gone unnoticed. My God is too great for me to be able to list all of His provisions and blessings that have decorated my life so abundantly!  As I cite them, I feel negligent in not capturing them all… but then again, I feel blessed. The fact that He would continue to bless me, in spite of my ingratitudes or ignorance, reminds me that He loves me more than I can even imagine.

*This document is the sole property of L. Marie Drake © 2017.  Permission granted for printing copies of this page on the basis that they are not used for personal profit or any financial gain. Thank you.*

part VI… the last ski

Pause… Stop… Rewind…

As you know by now, on February 28, 2011, I suffered a fairly decent “concussion.”  It was identified as a subdural hematoma.  Despite the injury, I did have fun getting it!  My husband, two daughters and I were night skiing at a local, ski slope, trying to get one more ski in before our house projects dominated and the spring melt began (it was also an attempt for me to be done working for the day…10 hours on a Monday!?).  It would glamorize my story if I told you that we were downhill skiing in the Swiss Alps or even the Rocky Mountains.  But no, our ski hill is just a minor hiccup on the surface of the beautiful Minnesota terrain.

My husband, who could sell a single, dirty, sock to anyone… can truly make anything fun (as he edited this for me, he actually tried to think of how he would sell that sock!).  So, with the snow on its last attempts of providing a decent ski-run, we dutifully ventured to the top of each slope.  Not expecting the sophistication of light powder of the mountains on our frozen packed snow, my husband managed to create a sort of ‘follow the leader’ game to make it more fun on the icy runs.  The challenge was for each of us to take turns trying to lead the others on a new, adventurous path to ski down the hill.

Eddie was the leader this time. We all followed him to a hidden path… or what we thought was a path.  Lydia was in front of me and stopped to get her bearings and find the exit where Eddie and Lucie were heading. I took the opportunity to race ahead around them in an effort to up the challenge of the game. Instead, I went onto a direction of the path that truly didn’t exist. Because of poor eyesight, poor lighting and a broken down barrier, I unexpectedly flew forward off a 12 foot drop. In a nutshell, I did the coolest and craziest ski-stunt of my life with no one watching… not one part of my body touched the ground, until the back of my head did.  No broken bones, no bruises, no helmet… just one nice brain-bleed.  

theskihillwithbillyr

Our friend “modeling” the icy cliff… he is a little over 6′. I flew from about 3′ above him to 5′ in front of him.  I told you…. BEST ski stunt of my life!  🙂   Where was the trail-cam when I needed it?

Now we all grew up experiencing a concussion or two, right? As I laid there on the icy snow, I felt this sort of electrical zing travel from my head to my toes; from my head to my fingertips; from my head

What seemed like long minutes later, I felt my girls standing near me… somewhere… I heard their voices. The first thing I saw was my husband’s face. He looked mad (which is how he looks when he’s concerned and he can’t fix things). That is also my internal cue to secretly smooth things over (remember my past?). So deep inside my snow gear, I quickly wiggled my extremities making sure they worked. I then tried to get up from a locked back-bend (my ski boots held me in a permanent position trapped in my ski bindings)… to show my family that I was alright.

Sweet, little arms helped me up as I began realizing what just happened. Normally, I would have fought the woozy sensations and incessant tingling and caught the next chair lift up to a new slope… just to prove to myself that I was fine. But something was different… my husband’s face told me that. We told the girls that I needed to be done for the night… that I probably had a little concussion… and it was almost closing time anyway. We had had a great time. We actually did something fun during the week… so let’s just go home.

Home. Bed… quickly. Family prayers. Lights out.

4:00a… our eldest, Lucie, was calling me from her bedroom downstairs. In a bit of a frantic shuffle, I jumped out of bed and started down the stairs… but they were moving… everywhere. I slinked to my belly and crawled down the remaining stairs and to her room. It was quiet. She was soundly sleeping… but her room was like being in a snow-globe. What was happening?  “Lucie! Can you get your dad? I’m not sure I can walk.”  Still no response. Was I not really saying anything? I thought for sure I was yelling that at the top of my lungs from the floor right by her bed?!  Why couldn’t she hear me?

I began slithering back upstairs… calling for my husband. He woke and found me… and was again mad (24 years of marriage have taught me that this is his emotion for fear and/or lack of control). Again, I tried to smooth it over… “Well, now we know it truly was a concussion. Maybe I shouldn’t drive to school (work) today. Can you wake me in a couple hours … then drive me there?”

Sleep again. Lights out.

6:00a… I cannot wake up. Cannot. But I have to. Fine… I’ll write some substitute lesson plans if Eddie can just set me up at the computer. I start typing… everything is moving again… dang… I run to the bathroom… throw-up #1. Now what was I doing again? Eddie guides me back to bed… with a bucket this time instead of my computer. No work today. Ugh… there was so much to do in the next 4 days of work – teaching, testing, training, report cards, meeting planning/leading, parent/teacher conferences – I couldn’t miss today. I just couldn’t.

From the other room, I could hear Eddie rearranging the day’s events for the girls, Lydia (8) and Lucie (12). Throw-ups #2, 3, 4 and 5. Then back to sleep.

9:00a… I woke up ready to throw up again… but I couldn’t find the bucket? I could hear the girls giggling in the room next door and was mad that Eddie had left them home with me. I didn’t feel up to being a mom today… much less a mom who cared how they spent their day not attending school!  “Lucie!”  Three more shouts and finally she came to my room. “Please find the bucket… I think I am going to throw-up again.”

“Mom, it’s right there. Right by your bed.”

“Where?”  I started throwing up and the bed started spinning, finding the bucket was hopeless because it too was spinning.

“I got it, Mom. Hold still.” She realized that something wasn’t right as I tried to move to the magical ‘moving’ bucket. Throw-up #6.   Yuck!    Poor kid… trying to understand the chaos that was gradually driving the course of our day.

10:00a… the phone was ringing. Had I fallen asleep? It was Eddie. He was checking in on me and trying to make sense of what Lucie had called and explained to him. “You really should call a doctor, Lisa. You should at least talk to a nurse at the clinic and see what you should do.”  Seriously, what I should do…???  I am glued to my bed for fear of the swiftly moving carpet that lies below.  “I’m not going anywhere!”  I hung up on him.

“Lucie!  Bucket!”  Throw-ups #7 and 8… barely made it in the bucket… it’s constantly moving faster now.  Without Lucie holding it and now Lydia holding my body still… it would have been a mess.

11:30a… woke up… kinda. The girls were in my room asking me something, but I couldn’t stay awake. “Mom…”  Asleep again.

12:00 noon… Eddie’s call woke me up. “What did the doctor say?”

“What doctor?”

“Didn’t you call the clinic yet, Lisa?”

“Seriously, would you quit calling me? I am so tired. You keep waking me and I just need everyone to leave me…. (throw-up #9)… alone.”  I hung up on him again. What an idiot, he makes me so mad!

12:30… Eddie woke me up again with a call!!!  “Ed, can you just leave me alone!?!  Why did you leave me home with the girls?”

“Lisa, did you call the clinic?? Some friends at work are telling me that this could be pretty serious. Someone just died from something like this… but it happened slowly over a couple days…”    LIGHT BULB!     He realized what he was saying… I continued to throw-up while he was on speaker phone. As the girls helped me with our new ‘team effort’ of regurgitation, they told their dad the gory details of our morning. They could also see that my belligerent attitude towards him was very unusual… in fact my entire personality was off. Together they decided to make plans to get me to the ER. “I’m calling an ambulance, girls, don’t worry, just stay with your mama. I’ll meet the ambulance at the house” I heard my husband saying.

“No ambulance!” I quickly joined the dreamy conversation they were all having around me. “I’m NOT riding at the mercy of some ambulance… it will make me sick. I don’t want to vomit anymore! Ed, if you want me to go so badly, why don’t you come take me yourself so I can tell you how to drive?!”

I snapped at him one more time and that was it. He was on his way home.

Throw-up #11? or 12? or 13? Whatever, I’m just going to sleep…   everybody   just   leave   me   alone!

Fear… confusion… Just remember, Lisa, “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”    Deuteronomy 31:8

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