Coping with Devastation.

We live in an uncertain world, like our ancestors before us, but we are bombarded with devasting news more than ever. I mean, cavemen and cavewomen did not know what drama was happening with the Vikings, nor did the Vikings know what Native American’s were up to. (Yes, I know that is not historically accurate, play along please).

With the development of technology and new forms of media, something is always scrolling across the computer screen, interrupting a show, binging on smartwatches; ultimately creating a world of stressed humans. Some generations are becoming numb from tragic natural and manmade events. (For more on this, please read one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Sellers, and her thoughts on this subject).

Devastation

How do you define devastation? Is it the recent hurricanes that ravaged Texas, Flordia, and the Caribbean? A loved one suffering? Women and men coming forward about sexual harassment in the workplace? Deception from someone you thought you could trust? Terrorists? Hate crimes? The Opioid Crisis? Our government? Mass shootings? Disease? A fight with a lover? A country threatening nuclear war? Whatever YOUR devastation is, whatever complexity you need to overcome each day, here are some of my thoughts on how to conquer some of those demons.

Acknowledge It. Pain, frustration, sadness, anger. They are all real, raw emotions. Allow yourself to feel them, identify them, and ultimately remind yourself, they are just feelings. (And sometimes I need a stern suggestion to feel these and to not distract myself by making to-do lists or work…or be called on my mind over matter bullshit straight out over the phone) Cry. Run. Punch a pillow. Scream into the woods. Listen to sad music (might I suggest Linkin Park’s “One More Light?”). Then, tell yourself over and over, until you believe it, that frustration will not help, no matter what the situation.

Talk About It. That same technology that informs of every scary and terrible thing in the world – use it for good. Facetime your friends who cannot come and hug you. Text your loved ones. Call family and friends. Find a chat room related to the subject and let your hands rip on the keyboard. Call and see a therapist or psychiatrist (or both), if the event or situation has you feeling broken.  Talk about the situation and your feelings. Do not let them bottle up. I tend to use dry, sarcastic humor the most when I begin to open up about things, but as my tribe listens, I shed those tears and allow my vulnerabilities to be exposed, shared, and listened to. Talk to your support, your tribe, your squad!

Ask For Help. Do not be proud. It is amazing what humans can do for one another. It may be moving someone’s belongings, it could be raising money for a charity, or even just visits to check in on you. Think about what you need and never hesitate to ask.

Treat Yourself. It does feel good to indulge when you feel so down. Now, be careful to not allow this to become your new mantra —  but an ice cream sundae, buying a pair of new shoes, letting others set up meals for you, etc. can help temporarily.

 

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Please do yourself a favor and watch Parks and Rec. If you don’t feel like a Netflix and Bingeeeee week, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsABTmT1_M0

 

Focus on What You Can Do. Just like the men and women who may be helping you, think about what you can do to stop, prevent, provide aid to whatever may be upsetting you. It is simple and helpful to donate money (no matter the amount) to a reputable non-profit during times a crisis. If someone you know is suffering, think about how to get them help. Can you start a drive to provide necessities to humans in need? Sit and think about your situation. Do you want to start a campaign for awareness about a disease that took your loved one? Can you join groups that support you and what you are going through? When you are ready, take the time to think and focus on what you can do. As you delve into that project, allow yourself to feel emotions, let yourself breathe deep, and be proud that you are helping not only yourself but others.

Learn. In recent years, when I worked for a non-profit that worked on radical transparency, many times we were asked what did we learn (after events, if we made a mistake, at the end of a meeting). Hands down, this is THE best lesson I have applied to my life, during great moments and during times of pain. As you travel down the path of devastation, you must ask yourself, “what is this moment teaching me?” “what did I take away from this experience?” “how did this help me grow?” It will NOT be the first day you feel ruined, it will not be during the first week as you grieve, be filled with anger, or shake in fear. When you are ready and further away from the moment, question yourself. Talk with other people involved if you can and ask them. Life is a journey and we learn many lessons along the way.  Taking away a lesson from something horrible is constructive and teaches you more about life.

Pain, anger, devastation, it cannot be stopped. But, the way you cope can change how you heal from agony.

How do you help yourself in times of devastation?

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How to Pack for the Hospital

I do not claim to be an expert in too many things, but with all of the time I spend in hospitals (and the medical bills to pay for this area of distinguished education), I proclaim myself as having a Ph.D. in packing for lengthy hospital stays. If I could legitimately add this to my resume, I would.  My knowledge is too grand to not share, so alas, here we are.

Below is my list for a five-day stay at your local hospital explained in detail for you below.

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  1. Hairbrush and hair elastics – Feel free to leave the elastics at home if your hair isn’t long enough 😉 After an operation, your hair looks a little worse for the wear. Being able to have a caregiver gently comb it for you is one of the first nice things you can feel and appreciate. You feel ever so slightly better when you know you do not look a total mess. By the way, the doctors and nurses have seen EVERYTHING, so be creative with those hair bands or elastics, when you are ready.
  2. Hat – Sometimes there is too much pain, fatigue, or I don’t give a damn to do my hair. Hats are fun, show off your interests or personality, and are a great conversation starter to learn more about your care team! Another plus, they keep your dome warm (I always freeze in hospitals!)
  3.  Toiletries – Some hospitals provide your basics (nice!) but there isn’t anything better than to be able to you use your preferred hygiene brands and to be surrounded by your comforting routine smells. *This is not an ad, just my personal preferences.* I start by filling my toiletry bag with a snazzy colored toothbrush and some refreshing Colgate Toothpaste. Then, I plop in my sexy deodorant; don’t judge, it smells delicious and lasts for a long time – helpful when the pain meds or anesthesia has you confused. Rather than packing my whole face routine, I pack gentle face wipes. The hospital is a pretty harsh environment, filled with germs and cool, dry air, so these are perfect for a few nights. Gentle is the key! I make sure to use a moisturizer when I can and slather on Aquaphor on my lips, hands, and feet. Well, usually someone who loves me does my feet. I always pack a nail file – nothing like a hangnail snagging in the bed sheets to really annoy you!
  4. Insulated, Reusable Water Bottle – I drink like a woman who has been stranded in the desert after surgery.  I hear water is also amazing for your body, especially after trauma. I pack a stainless steel water thermos to keep ice and water in and bring my favorite YETI Tumbler for the minute to minute drinking. I also pack a reusable stainless steel straw (I won’t be able to move my neck to drink, etc.)
  5. Important Documents – While not super comforting, I always bring a file with me and let my family hold it while I am staying at the hospital. It includes my current prescription list, my allergy list, my driver’s license, insurance card, and will. While not fun to think too much about, it is all necessary and pertinent information someone from my healthcare team may need.
  6. Comforts from Home – Now, for extreme comfort, I make sure to pack some of coziest clothes from home to keep me snug and warm. Loose fitting cotton pieces, flannels, and fleeces seem to do the trick. I pack my own feather pillow and a supportive travel pillow so I can get a few hours of pain-free, sleep in comfort. The feathers support my bionic neck in the right away and the travel pillow reminds me no whipping my hair back and forth while I sleep. I will pack a cotton robe (because sometimes I do just want to be in my gown but with a little more class) and my cozy slippers. which are more supportive than the gray hospital socks!
  7. Technology – Don’t forget your phone and charger! You can FaceTime or Skype with loved ones, play games, check the news, social media it up, and when you’re ready to text people.
  8. Entertainment – More often than often I have found sleeping, following doctor’s orders and having visitors is pretty exhausting, but I do pack one book. A piece of fiction and a killer pair of headphones so I can mentally escape the hospital!
  9. Notebook & Pen – Keep this right by your bed! Anytime you need to write something down, like a question to ask the doctor on his rounds, jot it down.
  10. Your Dignity, Flexibility, and a Sense of Humor – Healthcare professionals have seen everything – embrace it. I don’t suggest streaking but don’t worry about your body being seen.  Everything may not go as you and the doctors and nurses plan. Be open to new options and roll with the punches. Definitely, pack your sense of humor! Laugh at whatever you can. It is great medicine.

#yellowitsme #positivity #progress #mindset #growthmindset #blog #wordpress #cervicalspine #ehlerdanlos #cervicalspinalfusion #pack #hospital #hospitalstay #raredisease #packforhospital #pain #chronicpain #positivethinking #recovery #grit #persistance #determination

Learning to Fly

 

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A Robin fledgling, a baby bird who has left the nest without much experience to survive. Credit: Google Images

 

Dusk’s magical lighting fell over the manicured grounds, so at first, I thought it was a baby bat. It was on the pavement, so close to the lush lawn where its home was, but about ten feet away, struggling to fly.

I squinted, focused, and recognized the little animal as a tiny Robin, old enough to be away from the nest, full of its blue egg remnants, but small and young enough to fumble in flight.

My heart sank as I watched. It kept jumping up, launching straight up like a rocket, and then would peacefully fall back down to the ground. It would barely gain any distance towards the inviting trees and gardens, where its community was waiting and chirping for the bird.

With each attempt toward the sky, I stopped breathing, until the bird safely landed. Inch by inch, it flew up, fluttered back down. I prayed the wind would come along and help carry it over. Should I help it?  What if a car does not see it? I began the dangerous thought pattern of “what-ifs.”

As it launched itself again, I rooted for its flight to become more fruitful, for it to gain distance and length. Little by little, the determined bird made its way; up and over, up and over, up and over, to the green grass. It’s dainty legs hit the grass and like a proud mother, I teared up when it leveraged itself once more, and finally, hitting his fledgling stride, soared home.

 

The synchronicity of this little bird and his struggle overwhelmed me, but I trust the universe and look for signs when practicing mindfulness. I believe the bird was there for me, from a power higher than I can imagine, showing me I too will soar with persistence, grit, and determination. That wobbly, unstable flight represents the trauma of the past three weeks. Each flight attempt up symbolizes my struggles for the days, the hours, or the minutes that I conquered.

It was dusk for me at many of those moments; the pain, the panic, medical threats to my life and well being. With my loved ones encouraging me, chirping in and reminding me there was a beautiful spot for me to land, I endured my wobbly flight of recovery.

I can enjoy this fumbling flight now that I know soon I will be able to soar.

#yellowitsme #positivity #progress #mindset #growthmindset #blog #wordpress #cervicalspine #ehlerdanlos #cervicalspinalfusion #grateful #gratitiude #pain #chronicpain #positivethinking #recovery #grit #persistance #determination #synchronicity #learningtofly