Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Piecing life back together after it has been blown apart.... 

 Book Review: "In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing" by Lee and Bob Woodruff

In 2006, Bob Woodruff was on top of the world of television journalism. He had just been named co-anchor of ABC's "World News Tonight" following the death of broadcasting legend Peter Jennings. Woodruff had a loving wife and four children and was renowned for his foreign correspondence. But on January 29, while working on a report from Iraq, the tank he was riding in was struck by a roadside bomb, and his life and everyone's around him was forever changed.

Woodruff sustained nearly-fatal wounds, including a traumatic brain injury, and was comatose for over a month. He had damage to the parts of his brain that governed speech and language; it was initially unclear whether he would ever be able to talk or write again, let alone return to broadcast news. But his recovery stunned everyone, including himself.

Bob's wife, Lee, a freelance writer, is the co-author of "In an Instant". She and her husband each provide short segments from their own point of view, describing their courtship and marriage, their careers, their children, their years abroad as well as in various U.S. cities, and the details leading up to and following Bob's injury. Bob's reporter instincts guide his mostly factual accounts, while Lee fills in the emotional response to these facts. Between the two, we get a well-rounded inside view of the hardships and the joys of their lives as well as interesting perspective on some of the biggest news events of the past 25 years. We also get a firsthand account of what it is like to survive a traumatic brain injury, along with what the spouse and other caregivers go through.

Bob's first career was not journalism, but law. He and Lee attended the same college but didn't start dating until they ran into each other in New York in 1986.  Lee was a successful marketing executive by the time they married in 1988, but she agreed to move to China with Bob so he could begin teaching American law to Bejing students. They had no way of knowing that they would be present during the revolution in Tiananmen Square, and that this would be Bob's introduction to journalism.

While the upside of being a foreign correspondent is the excitement of being where news is happening and bringing an exclusive to viewers, the downside is limited time with spouse and family. Lee recounts the challenge of being married to a man who might be called upon at any time to go anyplace in the world, the difficulties they had conceiving children, feeling at times like a single parent after the kids were born, having to move to new cities frequently to accommodate Bob's career while still trying to maintain her own. But she also describes her adoration of the man with a brilliant mind and passion for living whose humor and love for their children matches her own.

It is ironic that Bob Woodruff was hurt in a war zone because it happened to be the very place most equipped to treat the wounds he sustained. Had he been stateside, he would not have been near medical personnel familiar with this type of traumatic brain injury who could have acted fast enough to save him. Doctors had to remove a large portion of his skull to accommodate the swelling of his brain. But because he was fairly young, age 44, physically fit and quite intelligent, he stood a better chance of recovery than someone who was not these things prior to being injured.

The book is not divided into chapters, just segments with a location, a date and either Bob's or Lee's name depending on who narrates the segment. The timeline jumps around quite a bit, like a movie featuring flashbacks. I have cognitive issues of my own, so I found it a bit disconcerting that it wasn't in chronological order, but with some effort, I was able to keep events straight in my mind.

While most of us will not experience a traumatic brain injury firsthand, there is one message we can all relate to: appreciate what you have right now, because you never know what changes lie ahead. Lee and Bob have suffered and overcome much, with humor and affection and hope. They demonstrate that strength comes in many forms and that we possess much more of it than we realize.

Title: In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing
Author: Lee and Bob Woodruff
Publisher: Random House
IBSN: 978-1-4000-6667-4

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Uh, oh, now I'm craving macaroons.... 

I may have posted this already, but if so, a repeat wouldn't hurt. Some of these recipes look pretty tasty:

Hundreds of Gluten-free Recipes Using Coconut!

I started cooking with organic extra virgin coconut oil a few weeks ago. I had been using organic peanut oil. The coconut oil comes in solid form, which makes it a bit of a hassle to measure and to get into the skillet or saucepan, but it melts as soon as it heats, and you need less of it than other oils. I like the scent of it, but it doesn't seem to change the flavor of the food any. I will keep using it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

More confirmation of what so many of us already know.... 

One more from a fibromyalgia Facebook page that has been hanging around on my browser. It's too bad there are still a lot of doctors who don't pay attention to studies like this:

Researchers Say People With Fibromyalgia Have Abnormalities of Blood Flow in the Brain

What I found interesting, and what I haven't read in other articles about the study, is that these abnormalities were completely unrelated to depression. While the two can occur together, they don't have to. I haven't had a major depressive episode in almost eight years, yet my fibromyalgia has not improved significantly during that time. But in the study, the severity of fibromyalgia DID correspond with the amount of irregularity of blood flow in the brain. I am hoping that it's just a matter of time until this is used as a diagnostic tool.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What's that tingle in your toes? 

Can't remember which Facebook page I got this from, but it may have been a disability-related one. This article provides a straight-forward description of one type of neuropathy:

Small Fiber Sensory Neuropathy

I know many people who have this. For some of them, the tingle in their toes was their first symptom of diabetes. Neuropathy also occurs in autoimmune disorders like lupus and Sjogren's. I have what is probably a mild case of this, but it doesn't feel mild when I am having a flareup. It feels more like someone is trying to remove the top of my big toe with a can opener. Or that I am being struck by lightning. Or my feet just go to sleep, usually while I am using the Gazelle glider, and hurt like a son of a gun when they wake back up.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sometimes I look like a dog with fleas.... 

Got this one from a Facebook friend. Contains some useful info:

Skin Rashes and Fibromyalgia Syndrome

I feel like the queen of the itch response much of the time. Between the skin dryness of Sjogren's and the extreme skin sensitivity of fibromyalgia, I get pretty uncomfortable. My most recent rash flareup HAD cleared, but just this afternoon I felt the itching returning. Don't know if it is connected with a new cream I tried yesterday or just the fact that I haven't used my prescription steroid treatment in a week. All I know is that I don't want another episode like the last one.

If you only take one supplement, consider this one.... 

Still pulling articles off my browser. From one of the fibromyalgia Facebook pages:

Magnesium's Impact on Epigenetic Expression & Health Far Greater Than Previously Imagined

My main source of magnesium is a powdered form which becomes ionized when you mix it with water. It comes in flavors; I like the raspberry lemon best. I have some in a glass on my desk right now.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The hazards of over-sharing.... 

Have had this sitting on my browser for awhile. Got it from one of the fibromyalgia Facebook pages:

Talking to Your Partner about Symptoms: Where Do You Draw the Line?

Perhaps I'm lucky that I've been sick so long that I finding talking to my husband about it constantly to be a boring exercise. I generally mention it when I am feeling worse than usual and/or when he asks me about it. I also say something if a symptom I experiencing is going to interfere with something we are planning to do, because it would be rude not to. Fortunately, Dan can usually tell just by looking at me that I am too exhausted to continue with something, so when we are out in public, he knows if it's time to take me home.

I must also say something in favor of online support groups. You don't have to risk your health or energy levels to participate, and you can blather away about every little symptom to your heart's content because that's what they are there for (although it is also nice if you offer support in return). By having outlets besides your significant other, you are still fulfilling your need to be heard and be taken seriously without overwhelming those you love.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why we all could use a good laugh.... 

 Most of this material has been around for several years, but it bears a repeat. Courtesy of ye old fibromyalgia Facebook page:

The Healing Power of Humor

Without my sense of humor, I'm pretty sure I would no longer be alive. And I would be no fun to be around if I were.

The psychological equivalent of kicking a hornet's nest.... 

I cannot remember if I posted this earlier, but even if I did, it bears a repeat. From Toni Bernhard's column:

Physical Illnesses May Soon Be Labeled “Mental Disorders”

Hoo, boy, it's difficult to adequately describe how angry this makes me. We already have a major scam run by private long-term disability insurance companies in which they suspend benefits by re-classifying physical ailments as mental ones (most don't cover mental illness long-term). This happened to me, and even though I hired one of the best lawyers in the business to recover my benefits, it did me no good whatsoever. I was out of luck.

I fear that we will end up with a situation where medical insurance companies will limit testing for physical ailments if a quick diagnosis is not forthcoming, concluding that the problem must be mental. Lazy MDs with "difficult" (as in persistent about finding out what's wrong) patients may shuffle them off to shrinks without a second thought. I'm not saying no person with a physical ailment ever needs a shrink, but they should also be able to get treatment for the underlying physical cause.

The worst-case scenario would be that people with life-threatening illnesses might never know it because they are stuck in cognitive behavioral therapy trying to figure out why they are sad that they don't feel well. My mother had lung cancer that spread to her brain; her doctor never bothered with proper testing but instead put her on anti-depressants. By the time a different doctor realized she had a serious physical illness, it was too late to save her life.

If this classification becomes a reality, I might as well check myself in to the psych ward immediately because I will meet their bogus criteria 100 percent.

Friday, January 11, 2013

CVS isn't always a pharmacy.... 

Thought this article was quite informative. Got it from my friend Jen:

What is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and Tips on How to Stop It

I had no idea others experienced this. I've had to cut wayyyy back on my computer use because of the headaches and nausea. Maybe I should try not looking at the screen while typing my blog entries from now on to give my eyes and brain a break?

Rave of the Day for January 11, 2013: 

Most of the following are re-runs, but good for some giggles anyway. From an e-mail I received from Joan today, these come from the "Maxine" comic:

Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety-one?

Why do croutons come in airtight packages? Aren't they just stale bread to begin with?

If people from Poland are called Poles, then why aren't people from Holland called Holes?

If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a racecar is not called a racist?

If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, then doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?

Do Lipton Tea employees take 'coffee breaks?'

What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?

I thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks, so I wondered what do Chinese mothers use? Toothpicks?

Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen can look for them while they deliver the mail?

Is it true that you never really learn to swear until you learn to drive?

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?

Whatever happened to Preparations A through G ?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How acceptance can be part of becoming emotionally stronger.... 

From yet another fibromyalgia Facebook page. There are some good suggestions and philosophies here:

Living with Pain: You Can Learn to be Resilient

I like that this article doesn't push the "Law of Attraction" or "The Secret" at you, because with them you can fall into the trap that if negative things happen to you, you must be doing something wrong. I believe it is far better to realize that life will throw you curve balls, and when it does, you do have control over your reaction to them. Acknowledge the negative and then get right to work figuring out what if anything you can do about the situation. If you are already doing everything you can, try to derive satisfaction from that. One thing the article doesn't mention that I would add: the gift of time. When chronic pain first arrives, it is difficult to imagine you will survive it, particularly when it is severe enough to become life-changing. But time gives you the proof that pain is indeed survivable, and it allows you the luxury of developing coping skills.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

New prescription: pet a pup! 

Got this from a fibromyalgia Facebook page. I'm glad someone is looking into this:

Pet Therapy Reduces Fibromyalgia Pain

The cool part is that you don't have to actually own a pet to benefit. You can just be in the same room with one for a little while. What I wouldn't give to be required to hug a dog on a regular basis.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Do we get better? Yes and no.... 

This has been hanging around on my browser for a couple of months (I should really make more of an effort to post these in a timely fashion). It probably came from a fibromyalgia Facebook page:

ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia: What is the Meaning of 'Recovery'?

If I look objectively at my symptoms, I have deteriorated overall in the past 15 years. But if I look at factors within my control, such as lifestyle habits and mental health, then I have excelled. So, yes, I am still quite sick, but I have learned to cope with it quite well.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Saving a stranded deer.... 

Itching: a shortcut to insanity? 

Ah, the joys of ultra-sensitive skin. Educational visit to the dermatologist: found out that I have two kinds of rash going on, and that I am allergic to the lotion that I had been prescribed to treat the rashes! The result is spots, redness like sunburn and extremely intense itching on my arms, legs and trunk. Was prescribed a stronger steroid cream to clear things up and a different kind of lotion to discourage further flare-ups; I hope these work quickly because at the moment, I'd almost sell my soul to quit itching. It's agony just to have clothing touching my skin.

One my chronic skin problems has a weird name: Grover disease. It mostly occurs in men, but anyone with autoimmune conditions that affect the skin can get it, especially if you have chronic dermatitis. I found a few links about it:

Am reallllly dragging right now, but am sort of afraid to try to sleep because that's when I start scratching. Maybe I should put socks on my hands like they do with kids who have chicken pox? My life can be truly ironic.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Should I resolve not to resolve? 

Toni Bernhard's latest article for Psychology Today. Made me smile:

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions Nobody Will Keep

I didn't make an official list this year. There is only one item that wasn't fully addressed last year that I wish to carry over into this one: I still want to get the credit cards paid off. I had hoped this would happen by now, but medical bills and car repairs got in the way. I do have three of five cards paid off, which is real progress, but the balance on the one I use to pay for my prescriptions is very high. At the most optimistic, I could pay it off by summer, IF there are no more financial emergencies. As that is not something I can promise myself, my strategy is this: make the biggest payments I can before summer. Right now, I just have small co-pays for most of my medications, but I will hit the doughnut hole probably in May, and that's when our finances get strained. As with any resolution, it is preferable to do your best than to expect to be perfect.

Inspiration of the Day, January 4, 2013: 

And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast,
And been bow'd to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass'd
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury -
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
... The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.

~  Thomas Hood

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Inspiration of the Day, January 2, 2013: 

Ring out the false, ring in the new.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease.
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand.
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the time that is to be.

- Alfred Lord Tennyson

Misspellings have never been so funny! 

Got this from my friend Greg a while back. Warning: while I thought this was hysterically amusing, some could find it offensive:

The 25 Funniest AutoCorrects of 2012

I may be making a foray into the current decade: I received a portable electronic device for Christmas, my first. It's a very fancy e-reader. I can't use it until I get a wireless modem and/or a USB power adapter to charge it. I have no idea how any of this stuff works; I can just barely manage my 11-year-old Mac desktop computer, so learning how to use a non-Mac should be a challenge.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Inspiration for the Day, January 1, 2013: 

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes,...Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” 

- Neil Gaiman

What a fantastic tribute! 

Jason Bonham is on drums with Ann and Nancy Wilson....

Best wishes for a fantastic 2013! 


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