Please Don’t…

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I have been on the receiving end of the dirty looks knowing what they are thinking. I have heard the not so soft whispers of, “She doesn’t need a wheelchair. Look at her, she’s perfectly fine. She just doesn’t want to stand in line.” or “She’s totally faking it and just wants to board first. She looks perfectly fine.”

Yes, it’s true. I LOOK perfectly fine. I look like your typical healthy, vibrant, full of life 38 year old. And the truth is, I AM ALL OF THAT PLUS some…plus a brain tumor (and now possibly two) with a minimum of 14 symptoms I struggle with daily. From the outside I look “fine” but the inside is a very different story.

One of my symptoms is leg pain. Extreme leg pain. Somedays it’s difficult to walk. Standing for long periods of time most days is pretty much impossible without bursting into tears. So, unfortunately, with the long lines in customs, security, check in, boarding etc… during traveling, I often need a wheelchair. The days I don’t need one, I don’t take one. Walking is not a problem but the physical act of standing typically is. Not to mention that stress adds to it and I find traveling adds more stress so therefor, typically, my symptoms enhance and more medicine is needed.

Imagine being in my shoes. 38 and needing a wheelchair at times. It’s humiliating and hard to feel like an adequate wife and mom when it’s needed. It’s embarrassing enough without all of the looks and thoughts and words. Words that enter my ears and pierce my heart forever haunting my thoughts.

When you see someone who ‘needs’ a wheelchair, like a broken leg or foot, elderly, etc… those same thoughts and words are not expressed and many do what they can to assist. But when the person doesn’t ‘look’ like they need one I find people tend to go out of their way to NOT assist. I ask this: “PLEASE DON”T judge! The next time you see someone in a wheelchair and they don’t ‘look’ like they need one, understand that what they have going on is probably very severe. They probably are battling something you could never dream of and pray to never get. That the person who doesn’t ‘look’ like they need a wheelchair, probably needs it most.”

As a person who needs one from time to time, I assure you it’s not because of laziness. It eats a little at the core of my strength. It’s a sad reality and reminder of how strong I’m NOT anymore. It’s the wake-up that I am sick. It’s a reminder that many of dreams of growing old and healthy are going to be much harder to achieve and I pray for miracles daily.

The last thing I ask is: “PLEASE DON”T get mad at the person in the wheelchair when the porter decides to cut you in line. I assure you it’s not the person in the wheelchair who asks them to do so. Understand that they have a job and need to get back to another plane to help someone else who needs a little help.”

I, along with most others, would love to be able to stand in those tedious long lines with you. I would love to be able to hold my husbands hand, spending those few moments in time just being there with him and talking instead of holding the side of the wheelchair trying to mentally explain everyone’s doubts away. I would love to make casual conversation with the people in front of me or behind me instead of trying to avoid eye contact with everyone who thinks’I’m budding in line.’

The next time you see someone in a wheelchair and you don’t think they need one, try to be extra helpful. Smile at them. I assure you that most of the time, that person needs your smile. They need your prayers. They need your help. They need your assurance. They need your understanding. If you can’t see the reason, the reason is usually bigger and worse than you could possibly imagine.

Walking Alone

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The days where you’re on death’s bed, faking your smile, crying every minute on the inside for some type of relief just wishing you had a broken foot.

I’ll never forget the day after my husband told me about what the doctors said, “We are very afraid of where she’ll be in two months if she’s even with us.” Odd it’s the day after but let me explain. I worked on the 3rd floor of a local mall and to get to my car I had to take the elevator to the first level. 4 other co-workers walked with me. As we walked we had to pass by many clothing stores, a dollar store and by the exit doors was the food court. This was like any other day, only according to the doctors I only had about 59 more of them left to live.

I walked as I usually did, with my friends. When we neared the exit door there was a young woman with a broken foot in front of us, walking lightly on her casted foot, alone. There were 2 men, I would say in their 40s, sitting at a near by table. They saw the young woman in front of us and jumped up to help open the door. In the process they kind of shoved me to the side, giving all of us a dirty look. Almost to say, “Can’t you see this young lady needs help!” They opened the door for her, smiled, and told her to have a great day. They then pushed the door closed so I had to open it myself and they went and sat down.

I wondered, if they actually knew would it have been the other way? Would the men at the table have jumped up and opened the door for me, giving the same dirty look and shove to the young girl with the broken foot? 

The girl wth the broken foot would be ‘normal’ and back to her every day life as usual in weeks. I was running out of those weeks. But the truth is, we all do it. If we see a physical ailment, we often bend over backwards to help those people, to make their life just that much easier even if just for a moment. But what about those that you didn’t hold the door open for and today is there last day? Would you have changed your interaction with them?

It’s simply so much easier to have an ailment that everyone can see than to live with brain tumors, pain, and so much more. I would rather wobble alone down a dirty mall hall to an exit door in so much pain because I have a broken foot, then to walk perfectly fine (most days) with a group of friends, a fake smile on my face, not knowing if I have a tomorrow.

Many times, even alongside many, I feel like I’m walking alone. But as life has different plans for me, I walk no matter what. Alone or not.

Humanitarian Aid

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Recently parts of Costa Rica were hit hard with Tropical Storm Nate (which later became an official hurricane). This storm devastated many areas, and unfortunately the areas that were devastated were where the majority of the poor lived. People who didn’t have much to begin with were now literally left with nothing. Some have lost their houses completely as the walls simply washed away. Many of the houses were roof line in water. Once the water receded, what these families were left with was what seemed to be a daunting task. They had anywhere from 3 to 6 feet of mud. Mud that was so heavy and black it was hard to clean. Adding water to it made it harder and almost like a clay substance.

The day after the storm I saw all of the posts on FB about needing help and needing drivers. I own a truck and volunteered. I couldn’t have prepared myself for what was next. Looking into the eyes of a mother who almost lost her disabled child while holding her other 2 small children in her arms, left with absolutely nothing, not even clothes or diapers. Elderly who were found in the mud, now in hospital, and all but 3 of their 15 animals passed away and all over their property and in their house. I cried many times throughout each day. I had no idea that for the next 11 days, 12-15 hours per day, would these people be changing my life as well. The hearts of most of these people are incredible and one by one we helped.

We shoveled mud, we cleaned, we gave them food, clothes, water, kitchen supplies, cook tops, mattresses, hygienic supplies and so much more. We loved them and they loved us back. We were welcomed and greeted with big smiles and hugs.

11 days later each house in the fincas and areas that our teams personally worked with were all clean and everyone had everything they needed except something to cook on but that is being delivered in a few days. We will also be helping to build 2 houses that were completely lost.

The hearts of the people I came across, the people who donated day in and day out, who gave everything they could, who either bought things or went through their houses, the people who donated their time and shoveled mud and cleaned and the people who made hot meals so the affected people could have a hot meal, blew me away. There are simply no words to describe these people. They brought me to tears on several occasions because they genuinely cared and did not help for anything other reason than to just help. So incredible! I can never thank these people enough.

Through all of this I have been lost for words and it still continues. So to anyone who helped, in any small way, THANK YOU! If you have ever helped in any part of any storm or hurricane area, THANK YOU! It’s because of your hard work, determination, kindness and amazing hearts that anyone can recover and start to live somewhat of a normal life again.

Loosing a Loved One

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“There isn’t much time. She’s going downhill pretty fast. You should come.” The words none ever wants to hear. That call came in this morning about my grandmother. I unfortunately do not live within driving distance. I don’t even live in the same country or the neighboring one. But as I am far away I feel her.

My grandmother and I were really close all of my life. I used to spend the summers at her house. She would teach me to paint, make wicker furniture, play croquet and play card games with me. She would make popcorn from scratch almost every night and put the best butter on it. We would sit together and watch a show before bed.

She is 90 years old and in 3 months would have been 91. She has lived a full life and for that I am so grateful. My children got to know her which was important to me too.

Who knows what “going downhill fast” means and how much time she actually has but even once she passes, I know she will always be with me. She can feel me there now.

If this is you today, be grateful for the moments you had. No regrets! Smile and feel them close. Know that there time is special for them and should be for us too. It’s always harder on the living. Feel them around you and know they know you loved them.

Love you grandma. Til I see you again! You were the best grandma I could have ever asked for. Enjoy your next adventure. Love and laugh all the way.

Perfection

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What does it mean to be perfect? To never make a mistake? To never feel a negative emotion? To never hurt anyone or be hurt? To never tell that little white lie and speak only of truth? To never be sick? To never fail and always succeed at everything you do and to never question your abilities? What does it mean to be perfect?

Perhaps being perfect is being the exact opposite of all of this. It’s making mistakes and feeling the negative emotion that goes with it. Maybe it’s being hurt and puristically hurting others. Maybe being perfect is telling little white lies, being ill, and failing every day. Perhaps it’s doubting yourself but proving yourself wrong.

It’s being imperfect that makes you perfect. It shows you have personality, courage, smarts, belief and values. It shows you have character. It’s being imperfect gracefully. It’s showing remorse, saying you’re sorry, having compassion and admitting when you’ve messed up or lied. It’s being angry at someone but telling them you love them still. It’s arguing and apologizing, it’s crying and laughing, screaming and yelling.

I am perfect. I live my life imperfectly. Are you living your life imperfectly? Are you perfect?

That Rumor

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As I sit and think about everything that has been going on lately in my life it seems as though it has taken an awkward turn, that perhaps for most people would be difficult to move about through life in their same sense of happiness. Not only is it within my life, but friends and clients as well. And it all seems to be stemming from one thing. That not so great rumor that people like to spread.

But here’s the truth. Rumor’s are NOT truth. If someone is willing to believe it then they aren’t worth stressing over in the first place because they were never and could never be a friend. And have you ever noticed that the person who started the rumor and the people who believe the rumor, their lives are so turned upside down at the moment that stress is eating them alive? It’s typically at their breaking point that they find someone to point the finger at and blame and sometimes you find yourself at the end of that finger. For many times, for no reason at all.

BUT, if you are a person who knows you did right. It’s not about being right but doing right. If you know that you have truly done everything, you have done right, and the rumor is simply unfounded and not true, then don’t worry. Don’t get angry. Don’t get upset. Don’t loose sleep over it. Walk with your head held higher than ever before. Simply sit back, smile and let the universe take over.

The ones who know you know better than to believe. The ones who are worth building a relationship upon will know there are always two sides to every story and ask you. The ones who believe the rumor are the ones you don’t need in your life anyways. Rumor’s have a way of filtering out the negative in your life so you don’t have to.

Treatment

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For anyone who has ever been sick and has or will have some form of “treatment.” The mere word is vague and can be quite scary to someone who has never had to have any form of. I have had treatments for many things for many years. But 1 1/2 years ago I decided to try a different type of treatment. A treatment where I was hoping to not just mask the symptoms but to truly and honestly cure me. See, most treatments are done to “hopefully” cure you but at the very least, mask your symptoms so you don’t feel the pain, or the fatigue or you can go about your day. I have never been interested in treatments that mask.

In any case, I found this “treatment” from a naturopath here in Costa Rica. My husband and I had in-depth conversations with him as to how is actually cures and with no true guarantees (but what is in life anyway) we decided to go for it. It involves needles and injections and I.V’s and the whole process for each treatment is well over 4 hours. And if I’m being honest, it is the most painful thing I have ever endured. With more than 40 injections into my head, another 10 or so in my neck and shoulders, some in my forehead, down my stomach, along my back and across my chest I’m sure I cry with every one. Some hurt more than others. Some stimulate aspects of my brain and give me strong sensations of many different feelings. Sometimes the affect lasts for hours and other times the sensation is gone in minutes. When my treatment is over, I’m ready to pass out. I feel very weak. My husband typically helps me to the car, takes me home, tucks me in to bed and allows me to sleep while he takes care of the kids and makes dinner. I tend to spend the rest of the night either laying in bed with the family or reclined in the recliner in the living room watching a movie, typically while I dose in and out.

The truth is, I would encourage anyone to endure this as the treatments are working. It is an all natural treatment that is kicking the butt of many things wrong in my body. The ultimate goal is to get rid of my tumor and I’m sure it will happen. I will be cured one day and this will all be a story in my past because of this treatment. I know people who have been diagnosed with MS who slept all day and could barely function who now live a normal healthy life where you would know nothing was ever wrong with them in the past. I have met people enduring the same treatments I am enduring who were given months to live with cancer and are completely cancer free and have been for years. And although there is never a guarantee with anything, I am a living testimony that this treatment works. Sometimes it’s about putting all preconceived notions aside and jumping in with two feet hoping to land on solid ground and simply follow your gut…and also knowing that you’ll be ok if that ground you land on isn’t so solid.

So, as I brace myself and mentally prepare myself for my next treatment in 2 days time, I can smile. Although I know it will be excruciating and exhausting, I know it is helping me keep my Hero Within. With every injection I get to be the mom I want to be to my kids. With every painful injection I get to be a wife. With every prick and tear, I get to love more and be loved. Grateful to be in so much pain for such a short period of time.

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