How long does it take to stop missing your previous life?

I can hear the sound my heels would make as I walked briskly down the hall to get some class papers from the photocopy room. I can look in my closet and still pick out what I will wear to work tomorrow. The first day of school still brings to mind the need to organize my binder and pencil case. Seeing a pen or pencil on the ground makes me want to pick it up so I have spares for students.

I still regularly check the school calendar to see when the exams and picture day will be. I don’t have to think to hard to remember the smells coming from the carpentry or autobody classes. I can almost feel the groves of my lock gliding under my fingers as I opened my locker in the morning to gather my tools of the trade. A blue binder neatly organized into subjects complete with class lists, notes taken for missing students and future assignment due dates. A large zipper pencil case with a few pens in all the needed colours, red, blue and black; hand lotion, chap stick and 2 calculators. Students could loan a calculator for a small fee. Say a cell phone, debit card, shoe or anything else they would not forget to come back and trade for at the end of class.

I knew which teachers gave me credit for being more than a warm body in the room; who respected me as an equal. Those teachers helped shape my career as an Educational Assistant and I am so thankful for their affirmation. I enjoyed hearing stories from their children and celebrated their life events as well. My workplace was an amazing community of people who worked together for the common good of teaching students. Some who were a bit resistant to the process and others who greedily sucked up every bit of knowledge that was given to them.

It’s been just over 5 years since I worked as an Educational Assistant. It was my career for 15 years and I can honestly say that I enjoyed nearly every day of it. I was good at it, I was smart and I loved it. Time spent with colleagues over lunch created some lasting friendships and some of these continue still. Time with students was sometimes frustrating as I so badly wanted them to see what I saw in them. I believed in them and knew that they could make something profound and great out of their lives if they would just put some effort in. A few of these students are still ‘my girls’. One of them calls me momma p and I love that.

One particular student had a nasty mouth on her and didn’t mind using her sailor’s mouth on me. This caused us to have quite a love/hate relationship. She would mouth off at me and call me names which got her suspended. We would start over the next week and eventually the times between suspensions grew longer and our relationship changed. She dropped out of schoolbefore she finished her grade 11. This was a very sad day for me as I knew she was super intelligent and strong. Fast forward a few years and I am standing at her graduation ceremony. This beautiful, smart woman went to RRCC and got her grade 12 and invited me to see her graduate. I bawled my eyes out and was as proud of her as any momma would be of her child. Investing in people is sometimes painful, often frustrating but always rewarding if you stick around long enough.

Is it wrong to keep missing something you know you can’t have or does it push you towards trying harder to achieve it again? Missing something so badly means that it had tremendous worth. It means it was fulfilling and rewarding. I hope these memories never fade away, that I can always remember who I was and what I did. We never know when life will change us or our circumstances.

Will Sunny Days be Scary Too?

My time in the dark place is over and I have had lots of time to reflect, ponder and contemplate what life in a ‘sunny’ place would be like again. Hard times change us. I could run off a bunch of ‘encouraging’ phrases about how we get stronger from challenges but I think we all know that is not always the case. One thing I do know for sure is that hard times change us. At least they have changed me.

If I was a colour I would be yellow. Yellow is happy, optimistic, warm, free of pain. When I was in a dark place I think I was beige. I hate beige! What a terrible colour. It’s really not a colour is it. I felt like a muted shade/version of myself. Anyone who truly knows me understands that I am seldom muted.

Lately I am pondering what being completely and fully yellow would be like. Would I be able to enjoy being yellow or would I live in fear that the pain would resurface and turn me beige again? I think these thoughts because I am finally having less pain. I have added yet another med to my reqime and I am cautiously optimistic that it is helping.

I hate putting toxins into my body. I garden organically and eat almost no processed foods. I try to stay healthy by exercising when I am able and be aware of what my body needs. But, the meds help me. In some warped way they keep me healthy by allowing me to cope with the pain. They of course have some side effects but overall I can function better with reduce or minimal pain. So on a good day I can almost talk myself out of having TN. I contemplate going off my meds. Seems a ridiculous thoughts when it is the meds that are making me feel better. I suspect anyone who takes medication for any chronic condition has these thoughts.

If I was pain free and my TN truly was in remission could I embrace that and enjoy life or would I live in fear of the next flare or attack? Could I go to a gig with Curt and enjoy the music and the pulse of the bass? Could I drive down a bumpy road and be hardly aware of the vibrations coursing thru my body? Could I hug a friend and not consider if the pain would linger all evening and into the night? Could I have the air conditioning on and let it blow against my face and cool my middle aged misery? Could I do these and about a million other things without having the fear of returning pain keep me from truly embracing and enjoying it?

Life after an intense experience does change us. It does change how we view the future and I think that’s pretty normal. I pray when the chance comes to experience life without pain I will be brave enough to fully engage in each moment with reckless abandon and delight. I say when because I am hoping for a cure for my disease. Thanks to you all for your support in prayers, hugs and purchasing bracelets and t-shirts for tn research. Till the next time, keep on the sunny side my friends.

Dark Places

It has been quite a while since I last posted on my blog. Truth be told, I forgot I had started a blog. Typical for me. I forget many things. I am often surprised at how much ‘blows’ by me on any given day.

There are many reasons why this could be happening. I am at that magical age when weird things happen in the body. Temperatures fluctuate, skin itches, urges wane and memory lapses. Sounds like great fun doesn’t it? As if that wasn’t enough, I have the added bonus of medication and a brain injury to contribute to the foggy mind.

Most days I can keep a pretty good sense of humour about my mental status but every once in a while I find myself in a very dark place pondering life with my specific issues. I wish I had my ‘old’ life back. I wish I was smart again. I wish I could be in a busy place and not feel dizzy. I wish I was independent and could drive. Wishing so does not make it happen though.

Being in a dark place is new to me. If I was a colour I would be yellow, I am the eternal optimist as a rule. Nothing can get me down and there is always a silver lining. At least until now. So, where do I go from here, how do I get out of this rabbit hole? Is there anything wrong with being in a dark place for a while?

Society would tell us that dark places are bad and we need to get out asap. We are offered a variety of medications to lull us into an altered state of happiness. Sometimes these meds are needed and useful but sometimes I think we just need to slog our way thru the dark, feel the painful stuff and find our way back to the sunshine.

I am finding this is not so easy some days but I still believe there is huge value in acknowledging the shitty stuff that makes me feel dark and then processing it. How it’s processed varies from day to day. Some days working in the garden is sufficient while other days require girlfriend time at the beach or a conversation around the fire pit. On especially dark days a glass of wine and a good cry in the tub might help. So far these methods have been acceptable but I hope if the day arises that other supports are needed I will be wise enough to know.

Living with a chronic condition and brain injury are trickier than you might imagine. Since my condition is invisible, people at times doubt that I suffer. I feel the constant need to justify this life I live. At times I feel guilty for ‘having a good day’ because ‘good days’ seems to nullify the existence of my TN. At least for some folks it seems. I have gone out and had folks say to me “I guess you are better now.” or “You look normal.” If I looked like the HunchBack of Notre Dame it would be easier for people to see my disability. I so often say that if you see me out and about it means I am having an ok day. Thankfully I have friends and family who understand me and do not judge.

Somethings will never change for me. I will always have suffered a brain injury. I will always have vestibular issues. I will always doubt my choices and abilities. Chances are I will continue to say things  out of turn or off topic. Hopefully I will always have wonderful people around me to love, support and laugh with me.

A Happy Place that doesn’t need a passport

This past March I was finally given the all clear by my neurologist to travel again. Typically Curt and I spend a few weeks in the winter in our most favourite of Happy Places called Yelapa. Since being diagnosed with a blood clot in my brain I have needed to stick a bit closer to home. Now that the clot is stable I can fly again. It is a good thing that not all my Happy Places require flying to reach them. One of my most Happy Places is my garden and with the weather being so great this spring I have been able to spend quite a few hours puttering about in it already.

Working in the garden is great therapy for me. It always has been. I love the feeling of sun warmed dirt under my bare feet. Digging around with my ungloved hands in the soil gives me such pleasure. My soul is fed when I am in my garden. In my garden I do not have a disability. My plants do not care if I repeat myself while giving them instruction on just how I want them to grow. The old iron head board gladly let’s me lean on it when a dizzy spell comes along and the birds pass no judgement when I trip on the cobble stone path on my way to the compost bin. It is a safe place where I can be myself.

Since TN came to stay in April of 2012 I have discovered that there are not many safe and Happy Places for a person with a disability. The places which were once safe are now frought with danger and judgement. Places which have too much noise or too much stimulation are no longer Happy Places for me. This means I am needing to rediscover old Happy Places and invent new ones. Bottom line is that the garden continues to be Happy Place. If you come by sometime and no one answers the door, please come around back; you’ll find in me my Happy Place.

Hello, it’s nice to meet you.

I am a virgin blogger. Well maybe not a virgin blogger exactly. I do subscribe and read several blogs but I have never really created a blog before. Lucky you; you get to watch me try. How lucky you are will depend on how successful I am.

I am a woman who is suffering with a chronic cranial nerve disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia. It invaded my life on April 17, 2012 @ 12:21pm. Pretty weird how I know the exact time isn’t it. I suspect you would also remember the details of when your life changed. But before we get too hung up on the disease let me tell you why I am starting this blog.

I have no intentions of turning this into a pity party or trying to create awareness of how it is to have a chronic condition. I am wanting to focus on the silver linings of my life. I want to become more aware of just what I all have left rather than what was taken from me. It could be a bit convoluted at times as the medicated mind can be fickle but I am going to give it a whirl.

The use of the word whirl likely gave you the idea that I was ‘old’. I prefer the word retro to old. I am old enough that creating a blog is a challenge but I am young enough to think I can do it. I am old enough to worry about my retirement goals but young enough to enjoy career goals and enjoy my colleagues. I am old enough to remember simpler and easier times and young enough to marvel at what can all be done. I am old enough to know better and young enough to do it again. I am old enough to have a wide variety of aches and pains but young enough to be able to Google and access information as to why I have them and how to help myself.

So, I am actually at the perfect stage of life it would seem.