Be Kind—You Have Time!

Today you have extra time… what are you going to do with it? 

That is not pressure or guilt, that is an invitation to go through this day (and every day) being aware of the precious gift that time is.

Time = the unit of measure we use to document our lives by. Everyone gets the same amount each cycle the sun and moon go through, but we don’t know how many cycles we each have.

Though it feels like we are getting extra time today, we really aren’t. But today we use a unit of  measure (leap year) that we only use every four years, which keeps our calendars in sync with the cycles of the sun and moon. (I’m so glad there are people much smarter than me that figure that stuff out) 

Since almost dying in an accident, I’ve been fascinated with time and have started collecting clocks. Above is some of my collection.

After realizing that I almost ran out of time, I began to value it more. I want to savor the time that I pass through. I didn’t want to drift through it unawares, rush through it franticly or be anxious about time as it passes.

Time will pass, the next month/year will come… yet each month/year how many times do we say or hear, “I can’t believe it is (insert month/year) already!”

My aim (not always successful) is to live each day well. I find when I do that, I appreciate it more and I’m not sad as time passes, because I’ve made the most of it.

Living well does not mean cramming everything possible into my day… that would be abusing the time I have. Living well means being aware of what makes life meaningful to me and then pursuing that.

  • Taking care of myself… my body, mind and spirit
  • Being kind to myself
  • Being kind to family and friends
  • Being kind to strangers

We are each unique and what makes life meaningful for me will probably be different than what makes life meaningful for you. I had to learn to know me.

And then I had to learn how to be kind to myself. 

Being kind to myself means realizing that while I love people and I get energy when I’m with people, I also love/need time alone.

Being kind to myself means that with the beat-up body I have, now and in future years, I will thank myself if I take care of it. Which requires that I pay attention to what I feed my body and how I take care of it.

Being kind to myself means that I’m willing to take risks, to push myself a little, to reach for the stars… because I realize those are the times when I feel truly alive.

Today you have extra time.. what are you going to do with it? 

No pressure to do more or get more done. Instead take some time to be still, to mediate, to be kind to yourself and to think about how you handle this precious gift of time you have.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts about time and what this leap-day means to you.
Also, being kind to yourself means… ?

 

A Welcome Home Parade for Me?!

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m posting excerpts from Because I Can.
This is from Chapter 6: Flying Home

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Our landing was uneventful and after a reverse transfer I was back in my wheelchair and ready to face Pennsylvania. I was hit with a rush of humid, warm summer air as Jerry wheeled me up the skyway. I liked the familiar feel. Then my heart skipped a beat as I caught a glimpse of my boys waiting at the end of the corridor. I wanted to get up and run to them! I wished Jerry would wheel me faster. Finally we reached them.

Hugs while in a wheelchair are clumsy at best and even worse when trying to hug three people at once.

After a few rounds of hugs, we moved through the airport to the van my parents had waiting for us. Another strapping in process that I didn’t like. At least in this van, the passenger seat was missing to make a spot for my wheelchair, so I was up front, rather than in the back.

It was a two-hour drive home. The first half hour wasn’t too bad, but after that, my pain reached a torturous level. In the airplane, I reclined all the time, but my wheelchair didn’t recline, so I was sitting upright. This put pressure on both my pelvis and leg wounds.

One pleasant diversion during the ride was a delicious egg salad wrap from Cafe 110. A friend had thoughtfully provided a cooler full of food and sent it with my parents for us. The cafe’s food is always good, but that day the egg salad wrap tasted like heaven. I think that memory is so vivid because it was a positive thing in the middle of too much pain.

As we got closer to our hometown of Morgantown, I heard Jerry and my mom in the seat behind me making a phone call or two and talking in whispers. I assumed they were relaying information about how I was doing.

As we drove through the toll booth of the turnpike at our exit, I saw a police car with the lights on sitting beside the ramp we’d take. I wondered if there was a problem on the road below. I was confused as my dad pulled our van up behind the officer’s car and got out to talk to him. “What is he doing?” I wondered why he felt the need to talk with an officer when I wanted to find a bed.

My mom said, “He’s checking to see if we can go through town now?”

“What?” I was confused. “Why do we need permission to drive through Morgantown? Is something wrong?”

“It’s okay,” Jerry said. “We need to make sure they’re ready.”

As I turned to question him, I saw they all had big smiles. That was my first glimpse into the surprise planned for me. 

With the police car escort, complete with lights and sirens, and the traffic stopped in both directions, we drove down Main Street in Morgantown. I was surprised to see family, friends and people from the community line both sides of the street. Slowly my drug-induced brain comprehended that this was a parade. For me.

Welcome Home Parade — Morgantown, PA

A parade for me!

I’m an extrovert and I get energy from people, so I forgot about my pain and discomfort as I absorbed the moment. Within a few seconds, I was doing the best parade-wave I could. I couldn’t believe the hundreds of people I was seeing. I was able to say hi to some, smile at most, shake hands with a few and wave to all.

I grew up in Morgantown and except for a year in my twenties, I lived there thirty-eight years of my life. Plus, Jerry and I had our garden center in Morgantown for years, so I knew many people in the community. People that I knew well, people I didn’t know well and some I had only meet once or twice, all came out to welcome me home.

I would have loved to drive back and forth on Main Street all night seeing and reconnecting with everyone. I didn’t want it to end. But I needed to get out of that wheelchair and into a bed, so we finished our slow drive down main street and then drove to our temporary apartment.

Friends put together a video of the parade… 

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Have you ever been surprised at the love and support of your family, friends and/or community?
 
Other excerpts from Because I Can:
The Prologue
Chapter 1: The Accident
Chapter 2: 50% Chance of Death
Chapter 3: Waking Up
Chapter 4: Paranoid and Anxious
Chapter 5: Questions 
 
Chapter 7: Back on my Feet
Chapter 8: Walk On
Chapter 9: California Again
Chapter 10: A Hurricane and My Obituary
Chapter 11: Mentors and Counselors
Chapter 12: Educating this Mennonite Girl from Small Town America
Chapter 13: Quitting God 
Chapter 14: Surgery Again
Chapter 15: Doubts about Miracles and Prayers
Chapter 16: Embracing Life Again
Chapter 17: Running Again
Epilogue: One Step at a Time… Because I Can!
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Disney Princess Half-Marathon Recap

Here’s a picture recap of my Disney Princess Half-Marathon Experience. A written post or two will follow in the next few days.

The Princess Half was my 4th half in the past 10 months, my body feels great so I’m thinking about doing a full marathon in May. (yikes!)

Arriving at the Princess Half-Marathon Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports

The day before the race, my friends and I went to the expo to pick up our race numbers and to check out all the latest and greatest running gear.

Cool earrings I got at the Princess Half Expo

I’ve been looking for runner earrings and was thrilled to find these!

3:30 freakin' AM - Ready for the Princess Half-marathon at Disney.... a group of fun, feisty women to run with! Rose, Betty, Deborah, Bev, Tabatha and Kim

The race is run before the Disney parks open, so it starts at 5:45AM And the inefficient way they organize the race start requires runners to be on the shuttle buses at the hotel at 4AM.

Waiting, walking, waiting, walking... to the Princess Half-Marathon start

For those of you who have never seen 4AM… this is what it looks like: No sun. It’s dark.

My friend Deb and I

It’s because of Deb that we all did this race. She has cool story that I’m going to share with you in the next week or so. It was her first half-marathon and she did great. Deb wears pink tutus… I do not, but I love her anyhow!

Finally! The starting line of the Princess Half-Marathon

Over three hours after we woke up, we finally approached the starting line. The standing and waiting before the race caused my leg to hurt and swell, but after a slow start of walking, then a slow jog and finally running, it felt better and I soon settled into a comfortable routine of running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute.

The Castle in the Magic Kingdom at about mile 6 of the Princess Half

I didn’t stop to take pictures with the Disney characters along the way, but I did pause to take a picture of the castle before I ran through it.

Finished! The Princess-Half Marathon at Walt Disney in Orlando, FL

Finished!
I run slightly slower than my normal pace because I wanted to enjoy the race and it worked perfectly… I felt great! The miles flew by and before I knew it … I was finished! And I now have a tiara (the medal) even though I usually make fun of them, I’m thrilled to have this one.

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Have you ever done a Disney Run? What did you think of it?
Posted in Because I Can

Sick of Hospital Gowns and Questions about God

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m posting excerpts from Because I Can.
This is from Chapter 5: Questions

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How many days can one wear only a blue-with-gray or a gray-with-blue hospital gown?

I was tired of my limited clothing choices. I asked about wearing my own clothes again. The therapist said it would be hard to maneuver my legs into pants or shorts, but I might be able to wear them soon.

I took that for a yes and asked Jerry where my clothes were.

That’s when I heard the story of Jerry and my dad going to the wrecked motorhome to collect our things during the first week after the accident. My condition was still unpredictable then and Jerry couldn’t focus on the task. They only got the boys’ clothes and a few other items.

When I realized my clothes were still in the motorhome, I began asking about other things. The schoolbooks. My books. My journal. Jerry also realized how many things he didn’t get.

After a few calls, Jerry located the motorhome at a junkyard. He was thankful that his brother and my brother-in-law were visiting at the time and could help collect our belongings. When they finished collecting our books, supplies, tools, games and lawn chairs they had two pallets full of boxes, along with our bikes. They stacked everything in a storage unit until it could be transferred to Pennsylvania.

When they came back to the hospital, I was disappointed to hear that some of the drawers that held my clothes were jammed and couldn’t be opened. I tried to avoid the rest of the conversations about the condition of the motorhome. But I overheard one of them say that other than the front passenger corner, you wouldn’t know that it was wrecked — the rest of it looked okay.

Looks okay? What the…! How can any of it be okay when none of me is okay?!

That evening it was time for our visiting family’s cross-country flight back home. I was worried about both their long flight and Jerry driving to the airport and back. After they left, I tried to pray. In reality, I spent most of the time trying to remember all the statistics that say flying is safe.

It took Jerry about two hours to do the airport run. I called a few times (okay, often) and he could tell I needed him, so even though it was after 10PM he stopped at the hospital before he went to his house. He sat on the edge of the bed and held me (as much as that was possible) until I calmed down and was able to sleep.

Being paranoid, wondering about brain damage, missing normalcy and concerns for the future occupied my mind more frequently. I had another reduction in meds, which meant I had more mental clarity. Some nights, after Jerry left the hospital, exhaustion won and I slept. But other times, the whirl of activity in my mind overwhelmed me as I was forced to look at my new reality.

In vain I tried to wrap my brain around the changes that happened.

For the previous six months, I told Jerry to point the motorhome in a new direction each week. Now I was forced to stay in the same place day after day. I went from sleeping late most days, to being awakened by a voice at 5AM saying, “Hi, I’m from the blood lab and I’m here to draw blood.”

Instead of trying different types of food from a new neighborhood each week, I had cans of Boost the hospital’s caring dietitian gave me because she was concerned I wasn’t eating enough. I went from running and skiing to transferring my body with my hands. I’d been living in less than three hundred square feet with my boys, now I was three thousand miles away from them. I went from thanking God to having questions for God.

That is — if God was even real. Old doubts and questions resurfaced. Religion and God had been a part of life from the day I was born, but not always in a good way. As a child I was scared of God, due to my stern ruled-based upbringing in a strict traditional Mennonite home with many rules—only certain clothes could be worn, no jewelry, no radio and no TV. While some of this simplified way of life was good, too much of it focused on following rules.

All those rules didn’t work for me, an inquisitive child that constantly asked “why?” 

I rebelled during my teen years when my questions became actions and I pushed the boundaries. I not only rebelled against the rules of my parents and their church, but also against God. Some portions of the Bible talked about God being love, but I only saw him as harsh and judgmental. So this conflict caused me to wonder if God really existed … and if he did, what was he like?

So as I lay in the hospital trying to grasp my new reality, some of my old questions about God existing (or not) came back.

………………….

A day or two later as I slept after being discouraged from an exhausting medial procedure… Jerry remembered my wish for something other than the fashionable hospital gowns to wear and he took this time to go shopping. (Smart man)

Real clothes! About 5 weeks post-accident

I woke up to see sport shorts and a tee shirt on the chair beside my bed. It was an odd touch of normalcy—shorts and tees were familiar, but Jerry buying them for me was not. Jerry’s plan worked, it cheered me up to see them. I was almost giddy as I began changing into them, but it was more of a challenge than I thought it would be. Jerry had to help me maneuver my legs into the shorts, but it felt good to wear something other than a gown.

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What is the longest that you’ve had to wear the same clothes? 
Have you every questioned whether or not God is real? 

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Other excerpts from Because I Can:
The Prologue
Chapter 1: The Accident
Chapter 2: 50% Chance of Death
Chapter 3: Waking Up
Chapter 4: Paranoid and Anxious
 
Chapter 6: Flying Home
Chapter 7: Back on my Feet
Chapter 8: Walk On
Chapter 9: California Again
Chapter 10: A Hurricane and My Obituary
Chapter 11: Mentors and Counselors
Chapter 12: Educating this Mennonite Girl from Small Town America
Chapter 13: Quitting God 
Chapter 14: Surgery Again
Chapter 15: Doubts about Miracles and Prayers
Chapter 16: Embracing Life Again
Chapter 17: Running Again
Epilogue: One Step at a Time… Because I Can!
 
Posted in Because I Can

Paranoid and Anxious

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m posting excerpts from Because I Can.
This is from Chapter 4: Paranoid and Anxious

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Thankfully, I had a reduction in meds and some information that was a blur before started to find a home. One day when the door of my room opened, I was happy to see a familiar face. “Dr. Tran.” I recognized the surgeon who preformed the 10-hour limb-saving surgery on my left calf. I’d seen him a few times since surgery when he came in to check my progress.

“Hi Janet, you’re awake today. Good. It’s time to change your dressing again,” he said. “We’ll do it tomorrow.”

“What time will I go to the OR?” I asked, knowing that his previous dressing changes were done there and thinking about my new best friend—the black mask.

“No OR this time. We’ll do it right here,” He responded.

My small room suddenly felt even smaller and the walls threatened to fall on me. I didn’t have a clear idea about the size or the look of my wound, but I knew enough by conversations I overheard and the large dressing that it was huge, always bleeding and would not be pleasant looking.

As politely as I could in my apprehensive state of mind, I asked him to please take me to the OR to do it.

“You’ll be fine,” He reassured me. “We’ll give you extra painkillers through IV and a sedative to relax you.”

“It’s not just the pain I’m worried about. I don’t want to see the wound on my leg.” I told him. “I don’t think I can handle it.”

Dr. Tran, an excellent surgeon and forthright gentleman from Vietnam, informed me, “It’s your leg. You have to see it sometime. It’s reality. Why not now?”

I respected him as a surgeon, but not as a gentle counselor and I had no desire to see any part of that wound with the dressing off. When Chaplain Margery came in later, she found me in tears. She prayed for me and promised to come back in the morning before the procedure.

It was a long night and yet it wasn’t long enough. I didn’t want morning to come. It meant facing a reality I had been trying to avoid.

Morning came. And with it the dreaded procedure. A few nurses bustled in and out of the room making sure they had the ton of fresh dressing materials that were needed. Seeing all the supplies made me shudder. I want a black mask!

Thankfully my nurse came in before Dr. Tran and gave me the meds. Oh beautiful meds, I love you!

The pillow fortress was put in place a second after this picture was taken

Jerry agreed with me that I shouldn’t look at the wound. I lowered my bed so I was lying flat and he securely planted a big pillow across my upper body. I tried to relax and think of other things, which was impossible, but I tried.

When Dr. Tran came in, he chuckled at my pillow, “Guess you were serious. You really don’t want to see it.”

“That’s right.” I said from behind my pillow fortress.

Jerry stood next to me holding my hand and cautiously watched the process. Watching his face cycle through concern, shock and distress as the dressings came off, I knew that pillow wasn’t going to be moved an inch.

Dr. Tran pointed out areas of the wound to Jerry. “See, here is the muscle we took from her back. This is the skin from her thigh, here is the ….” That conversation wasn’t working for me and I tried to block it out.

When he was finished, I was exhausted from the process and the additional meds. I promptly fell asleep and slept for hours. My room was empty when I woke up. I had a nauseous feeling of dread. I felt like I was slipping into that dark unknown hole I had been avoiding. I shuddered as I remembered Jerry’s face. That wound must be nasty!

Between the two of us, Jerry is more of a nurse than I am. I don’t faint when I see blood, but I don’t like it either. When our boys were little, they knew to go to ‘Dr. Jerry’ when they got hurt. He would gently clean and bandage their injuries.

So I knew by the look on his face that wound was beyond anything he’d seen before or even imagined. I peeped into that dark hole. What if it doesn’t heal? What if I can’t walk?!

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Other excerpts from Because I Can:
The Prologue
Chapter 1: The Accident
Chapter 2: 50% Chance of Death
Chapter 3: Waking Up
 
Chapter 5: Questions 
Chapter 6: Flying Home
Chapter 7: Back on my Feet
Chapter 8: Walk On
Chapter 9: California Again
Chapter 10: A Hurricane and My Obituary
Chapter 11: Mentors and Counselors
Chapter 12: Educating this Mennonite Girl from Small Town America
Chapter 13: Quitting God 
Chapter 14: Surgery Again
Chapter 15: Doubts about Miracles and Prayers
Chapter 16: Embracing Life Again
Chapter 17: Running Again
Epilogue: One Step at a Time… Because I Can!
 
Posted in Because I Can

Waking Up after Two Weeks = Confusion

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m posting excerpts from Because I Can.
This is from Chapter 3:
Waking Up 

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 Jerry came in as I talked with the nurse. “Good morning sweetie,” he said with a big smile.

“Hi. Why are you so happy?”  I wondered.

He seemed surprised at my question,
“Because you’re doing so well. You’re awake and talking.”

First day out of my hospital bed – Henry Mayo Hospital – Valencia, CA

This baffled me. “I’ve been talking since I was two. Why is that a big deal?”

“I missed hearing you talk when you were out of it.” He kissed my cheek.

“Out of it? What do you mean?” I knew I slept all the time, but I didn’t know what he meant by out of it.

“You’ve been out of it since the accident—almost two weeks,” he said.

“ Two weeks? Are you sure?” I looked at the nurse, thinking she’d correct him.

She nodded, “Yes, it’s been that long since your accident.”

“And you’ve been out of it ever since,” Jerry said.

“Out of it,” I repeated. “Why? Why didn’t I wake up before?”

The nurse finished her work and gave Jerry advice on her way out. “She’s awake enough now. You can answer her questions.”

I didn’t understand why she said that to him, but I ignored it and went back to my question. “Why was I out of it for so long?”

“You didn’t wake up before because they had to keep you in a medical coma,” he began.

“Why didn’t they want me awake?” I interrupted. It felt like I was held against my will. 

“So your body could handle the trauma and all the injuries. But you’re getting better. You’re awake and talking,” he smiled again.

“So I was out of it for a long time?” I repeated that confusing thought like a toddler would do.

Yes, you were. And I was so scared when they didn’t know if you would live.”

“What? Not live?” My brain whirled.

“Yes, you almost died and …” he realized this was news to me. “But you didn’t and you’re doing so much better now.”

“Died?” I was baffled. “I almost died? Are you sure?”

He nodded slowly, realizing he might have given me more information than I was ready for. He switched back to happy thoughts. “But now you’re improving and doing better.”

To find out I almost died was so foreign I didn’t know what to do with it. It felt like we were talking about someone else. My brain was sluggish, so I had a hard time following, much less believing, what he said. But I needed to know. I forced my fuzzy thoughts into words, “Why did I almost die? What happened?”

He studied me a little.

“What happened?” I repeated.

“We were in an accident with five trucks and you have many injuries,” he pointed to my legs, “and you lost blood—almost too much blood.”

“Why did I lose so much blood?”

“From all your injuries—your pelvis is shattered, your left leg has two big injuries and they had to put a rod in your right femur and …”

I stopped listening and wanted to scream, I have all those injuries—what? And what do you mean a rod in my leg? How could they do that to me without my permission?!”

My mind tried to make sense of this odd conversation. I felt like I was being forced to look into an unknown dark hole. I had vaguely sensed this hole existed, but until then I had avoided looking into it. This dark hole was filled with information and things I didn’t want to know. My mind scrambled, looking for something to get me out of that moment. I want to go back to the motorhome and our trip!

Seeing my confused face, Jerry tried to reassure me, “It’s okay. You survived. You’re doing good. You handled the surgeries well and are recovering better than the doctors thought you might.”

“Surgeries? I had surgeries. How many?” I closed my eyes before he could answer. I really didn’t want to know. I had already heard more than I could handle. I was glad he answered my questions, but I was also thankful he knew when enough was enough.

As I drifted into an exhausted sleep, I realized that our trip around the country definitely was over, but a very different journey was beginning. Somewhere within me I whispered, “I want to become better, not bitter during this journey.”

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Have you ever heard any news that was too hard for you to comprehend at first?

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Other excerpts from Because I Can:
 
The Prologue
Chapter 1: The Accident
Chapter 2: 50% Chance of Death
 
Chapter 4: Paranoid and Anxious
Chapter 5: Questions 
Chapter 6: Flying Home
Chapter 7: Back on my Feet
Chapter 8: Walk On
Chapter 9: California Again
Chapter 10: A Hurricane and My Obituary
Chapter 11: Mentors and Counselors
Chapter 12: Educating this Mennonite Girl from Small Town America
Chapter 13: Quitting God 
Chapter 14: Surgery Again
Chapter 15: Doubts about Miracles and Prayers
Chapter 16: Embracing Life Again
Chapter 17: Running Again
.
 
Posted in Because I Can

50% Chance of Death

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m posting excerpts from Because I Can.
This is from Chapter 2: 50% Chance of Death 

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“I’m sorry I don’t have better news.” Dr. Hinika’s voice interrupted Jerry’s panicked thoughts.

Jerry’s mind was swirling. He couldn’t believe he was in an ICU waiting room hearing this devastating news about me. “Will … will she live?”

Dr. Hinika placed his hand on Jerry’s shoulder.  “I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see. I’m sorry.”

Jerry tried to breathe.

“We are doing all we can.” Dr. Hinika continued. “If you want to, you can see her now.”

“Yes, I want to,” Jerry almost shouted.

hospital coma accident

Medical Coma … May 20 to May 31, 2004

“She doesn’t look like herself. She’s lying there motionless with her eyes closed. She’s in a medically-induced coma. She has a breathing tube in her mouth and other tubes and wires all over. Are you sure you want to see her like that?”

“Yes I want to see her.” Jerry was sure that he needed to see me. “I’ll be okay.”

Jerry was escorted to my room. He tried to look beyond the tubes and wires that filled his vision to see my face. He thought he prepared himself for what I might look like, but he had failed.

Janet, that’s Janet? He didn’t even recognize me. The tape holding the breathing tube covered my mouth and surrounding area. The rest of my face was swollen beyond recognition. He wished my eyes would open, maybe then he’d recognize me. But I didn’t move at all, not even an eyelid. He was glad he had not brought the boys in.

He watched my chest fall and rise. She’s breathing, she’s alive. Well, at least with the ventilator, she’s alive. He looked at my face again, still baffled at the unfamiliar look.

The nurse nearby checked a beeping monitor.

“Why does she look so different?” he asked.

“The fluids we give her cause her face and her whole body to swell. Also, though she has no facial or head trauma, the severe trauma to the rest of her body causes inflammation everywhere.”

“Does she know anything? Can she hear?” Jerry wanted a connection with this woman that he was trying to convince himself was me.

“You can talk to her. She will probably hear you, but she won’t respond. The medications keep her sedated and calm, which is important right now, with all her injuries.”

Hearing the nurse mention my injuries, Jerry’s eyes moved to my legs, especially the left one. A sheet covered me, so he couldn’t see anything unusual about the left leg. But he was surprised to see a metal apparatus on my right thigh.

“What is that?”

“Her femur is shattered and they use that to hold it in place temporarily until they determine how to best stabilize it.”

Jerry studied my face again — willing the woman on the bed to move or do something.

Nothing.

There was no movement. Monitors beeped. Blood dripped into me. The ventilator hummed. Something clicked rhythmically. Nurses worked around him. Feet shuffled in the hallway.

 

Because I Can – Table of Contents

 
Other excerpts from Because I Can:
The Prologue
Chapter 1: The Accident
 
 
Chapter 3: Waking Up
Chapter 4: Paranoid and Anxious
Chapter 5: Questions 
Chapter 6: Flying Home
Chapter 7: Back on my Feet
Chapter 8: Walk On
Chapter 9: California Again
Chapter 10: A Hurricane and My Obituary
Chapter 11: Mentors and Counselors
Chapter 12: Educating this Mennonite Girl from Small Town America
Chapter 13: Quitting God 
Chapter 14: Surgery Again
Chapter 15: Doubts about Miracles and Prayers
Chapter 16: Embracing Life Again
Chapter 17: Running Again
.
 
Posted in Because I Can

The Accident

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m posting excerpts from Because I Can.
This is from Chapter 1: The Accident 

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My vitals told them I was losing blood fast — too fast. Pressing lightly on my abdomen and feeling the resistance, Jose knew I was bleeding internally. He started another IV to give me more saline. The volume of liquid in my body had to stay high enough, so that my heart had something to pump or I was in danger of going into heart failure. Jose squeezed the bag of saline to force it into me faster. Seeing that, Jerry ducked under the dangling ceiling panel and took the bag of saline from Jose, freeing him to focus more directly on me.

Jerry was glad to be doing something to directly help me, but seeing my skin color fade and watching the rising concern of the paramedics was almost more than he could take.

“What’s your name?” Jose asked again.

This time there was no answer from me.

Jerry’s heart fell.

Outside, the paramedics were using a Jaws of Life tool and a saw to cut away debris. They determined the easiest way to remove me was to cut a hole in the motorhome under the window where I was sitting.

May 20, 2004… On Route 5, north of Los Angeles

During the thirty-five minutes since impact, my vitals had gone from bad to worse. My breathing faltered more. My skin paled drastically.

Jose saw that I was nearing heart failure.

“We need to get her out of here! NOW!”

They removed the final pieces of debris pinning my legs. Jose gasped when he saw the mangled mess, especially my left leg. He wondered if there was any way to save it. They placed me into the waiting helicopter, while Jose did all he could to stabilize my condition. But with my weak vitals, he assumed I wouldn’t arrive at the hospital alive.

As I had I slipped into unconsciousness during the extraction, Jerry began to realize the severity of my injuries. As the boys watched me disappear into the sky via the helicopter, Jerry found the cell phone. He climbed down the ladder and ran to the back of the motorhome to unhook the Jeep. To his dismay, it was also wrecked. The jar of the impact bent one of the tow bars, causing the Jeep to run into the back of the motorhome.

Jerry ran over to a police officer. “I need to go to the hospital now!”

“In a minute,” the officer replied.

“What do you mean, in a minute? I want to go now!” Jerry couldn’t believe what he heard.

“I have a few questions for you.” The officer calmly began asking Jerry facts about the accident. “What was your speed? Which lane were you in?”

Jerry took a deep breath, realizing that the faster he answered, the sooner they would leave. When finished, the officer said that he needed to complete his report before he could leave. Jerry and the boys had no choice but to sit on the side of the road and wait.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the officer was ready to go. Any hope Jerry had of my situation not being serious was quickly dashed in the police car when the officer took a phone call.

“He’s with me. We’re on our way.”

Jerry strained to hear the officer’s conversation.

“Yes, the boys are also with me. I’ll get them there as soon as I can.”

Jerry hardly allowed himself to think about why they wanted him and the boys there immediately.

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Other excerpts from Because I Can:
The Prologue

Chapter 2: 50% Chance of Death
Chapter 3: Waking Up
Chapter 4: Paranoid and Anxious
Chapter 5: Questions 
Chapter 6: Flying Home
Chapter 7: Back on my Feet
Chapter 8: Walk On
Chapter 9: California Again
Chapter 10: A Hurricane and My Obituary
Chapter 11: Mentors and Counselors
Chapter 12: Educating this Mennonite Girl from Small Town America
Chapter 13: Quitting God 
Chapter 14: Surgery Again
Chapter 15: Doubts about Miracles and Prayers
Chapter 16: Embracing Life Again
Chapter 17: Running Again

 

Posted in Because I Can

The Year I Started Running

For the next few weeks… every Tuesday and Thursday, I’m going to post excerpts from Because I Can, beginning with this excerpt from the prologue. 

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From the Prologue…
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I’ve always seen New Year’s Day as a day to wipe the slate clean and start over. That year was no different, so I went for a walk to process my life. Sometime during that walk, I decided I would try running for one year. I knew myself well enough to know that I’m great at starting things, but not always good at completing them, so I set some goals.

I had read a few running magazines, so I knew if I ran regularly, I should be able to increase my running distance by one mile each month. Looking up at the dreary, cold, gray sky, I made a promise that I would try my best to be able to run ten miles in one year — New Year’s Day 1995.

I was both thrilled and scared as I walked back into the house. Would I be able to do it?

Slowly over the next few weeks, I went on walks whenever I could. I occasionally tried running for a short distance. Doing that convinced me I was not a runner — it was too hard. But despite that something kept me going out the door a few times a week.

In February, on a long, gradual downhill, I ran half a mile for the first time. Yes, I ran down, not up — I wasn’t into making it harder than it already was. While running, I felt a sense of peace and purpose like I’d not felt before. That feeling pulled me out the door every few days for a run.

By June, I was running three or four miles at a time, but then my knee started hurting and I couldn’t run for a time. I walked instead of ran for a few weeks until it felt better, then slowly increased my running again.

By the time fall blew in, I was enjoying running. I even started calling myself a runner. It was vital part of my life and I realized running was much more than physical exercise for me. It was also therapy for my mind and spirit.

Early December found me completing a nine-mile run. I don’t like cold weather, but the anticipation of reaching my goal pulled me out the door regularly even as the weather turned colder. After checking the forecast for New Year’s Day, I decided to do the ten-mile run on December 31st as I had no desire to run in the rain and sleet predicted for January 1st.

It was a Saturday, so Jerry was home and after the boys were settled in for their afternoon naps, I headed out the door. It was an overcast, dreary day with the temperate around freezing. It was an uneventful run, one step at a time.

An hour and a half later, I was back home. Jerry had decided he needed a nap with the boys, so I came home to a quiet house. The sense of accomplishment was very fulfilling — though I could have used a cheering crowd, ribbons and confetti.

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If you are a runner, when and how did you start running?
If not a runner, tell us about a starting point for something else that is important to you.

Other excerpts from Because I Can:
Chapter 1: The Accident
Chapter 2: 50% Chance of Death
Chapter 3: Waking Up
Chapter 4: Paranoid and Anxious
Chapter 5: Questions 
Chapter 6: Flying Home
Chapter 7: Back on my Feet
Chapter 8: Walk On
Chapter 9: California Again
Chapter 10: A Hurricane and My Obituary
Chapter 11: Mentors and Counselors
Chapter 12: Educating this Mennonite Girl from Small Town America
Chapter 13: Quitting God 
Chapter 14: Surgery Again
Chapter 15: Doubts about Miracles and Prayers
Chapter 16: Embracing Life Again
Chapter 17: Running Again
Posted in Guest Post

One of the Best TED Talks I’ve Seen

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One of the ways I educate myself, while also learning how to improve my speaking skills, is by watching TED talks. I’ve seen many excellent ones… but I think this one is the best.

I love both the message and the presentations skills of Shawn Achor.
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Enjoy … and try not to laugh too much as you watch this..