Category: Emotions

Letting the Light In

For the past two and a half months, I’ve been looking back at the Facebook Live videos I did when I first went on bed rest.  Knowing they would start in early September, I was dreading seeing them because it was a reminder of how long I had been out of commission.

But when the Facebook Memories began to pop up, I ultimately had a different reaction.  Rather than lamenting how long I had been laid up, I saw how far I had come in my healing journey.

At first, looking at the videos was painful.  I had let myself go for so many years … decades, really.  I had allowed myself to get caught in such a huge spiral of shame over how unhealthy I was that I just continued to let myself go.  The memories of the shame and my behavior make me cringe:

  • I was dishonest about what I was eating and how much.
  • I looked in the mirror as little as possible.
  • When I had a physical, there was no scale in my doctor’s office that I could use, so I gave an approximation of my weight, knowing in my heart that I weighed more than I said I did.
  • It was horrible when I had to go up another clothes size.  I stayed in 10s for as long as I could until buttons and zippers popped.  Then I had to buy 12s.  When I was finally topping out at 14s and 16s, I could no longer stand to go clothes shopping with anyone else.  I went alone and did it as quickly as possible.  I even put off shopping until my clothes had noticeable holes in them and I had to go.  I let my clothes look as lousy as I felt about myself.

The ultimate shame was letting my health get so bad that it took an extra hole in my behind to wake me up and make the changes that would get me healthy.  Why did I let things get so bad?  That’s a question I am still working on answering.  I’m not there yet, but I’ll get there.  So you’ll probably see more blog posts on this topic and I hope my insights are helpful.  I hope all the entries in this blog are helping you, InspiraGang.

For now, here’s what’s changed following the switch to healthy habits and the subsequent weight loss:

  • After not wearing dresses for years, I was given a dress on my 51st birthday last June.  I couldn’t wait to try it on and now I can’t wait to get another one.  I am looking forward to clothes shopping again.
  • I am now getting weighed on a regular basis to make sure I stay on track.  I actually look forward to it.  True story:  It was a challenge to find a scale to get weighed on until my friend Lisa suggested Bernardsville Animal Hospital.  There is a scale for the animals right in the reception area and I all I have to do is wheel onto it and push a button.
  • I knew before the last time I got on the scale that I had gained a little something.  It turned out to be one pound.  I am amazed that I am so in tune with my body that I can feel the difference of just one pound.  Another switch:  I felt no shame in that.  I just realized that I have to stay disciplined so that a one-pound weight gain doesn’t turn into five, 10, 20, etc.

I am healthier than I have ever been, not in spite of my wound, but because of it.  Like the Rumi quote above, the wound let the light in and I saw it, accepted it and it helped heal me.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

Yours in Health,
InspiraGirl

Rising to the Challenge

As I have mentioned in a previous blog post (The “New Normal”, September 8, 2018), the plastic surgeon advised me that, once my wound healed and I started sitting up, ultimately, I should only sit for eight to ten hours a day, with butt breaks throughout the day, for the rest of my life.  This is to guard against getting another pressure wound. I am still not sure if that is a guideline or a hard and fast rule, and part of me thinks it’s a CYA move (cover your ass…pun intended) on the part of the doctor.  But I am going to stick to it in the immediate future, because I want to stay healthy, of course.

As a result of this guideline, I value my time much more now than I did before my wound diagnosis.

I started my sitting protocol this week: thirty minutes twice a day to start.  On most days, I will probably use that time to have lunch and dinner at the kitchen table with my family since I have missed doing that.  There are also special occasions, like this past Tuesday when I used one of my two 30-minute time periods to vote and a special event this Thursday which I may write about in a future blog post and will certainly mention on Facebook.

Back in March, when the plastic surgeon advised me of this new normal, it really pissed me off.  But now, while I don’t think I can say I enjoy the challenge just yet, I can tell you that rising to it is clearly healthier than staying bitter about it.  Bitterness just eats you up inside, whereas rising to a challenge empowers you.

It certainly gives me a lot to think about as to how I spend my time going forward.  In fact, to put a positive spin on it from my perspective, it will probably will make me more efficient with my work and in day-to-day life.

It might be frustrating for my colleagues, friends and family because I can no longer be as flexible.  For health reasons, I may have to shorten or reschedule meetings when someone calls to say they are running late. But I will cross that bridge when I come to it.  Who knows?  My need to be as efficient as possible with my time may help others do the same.  I hope so, anyway.

There are other challenges I will face as I get back to my usual daily life, like getting in and out of the bathtub and the driver’s seat of my van without hurting my derrière.  As I talk about these upcoming challenges with loved ones, they sometimes seem more overwhelmed by them than I do.  Since I have been figuring out alternative ways of doing things for my whole life, I have grown used to it.  I take one challenge at a time so it doesn’t overwhelm me.  Also, going back to the empowerment factor I mentioned above, with each challenge you handle successfully, the more empowered you will feel.

What challenges have you risen to or do you need to rise to?  Share your comments below.

See you back here next Wednesday, InspiraGang!

Yours truly,
InspiraGirl

 

Let’s Connect!

Mia Famiglia

My uncle passed away eight days ago.  He was 88 and in declining health.  While it was sad, it was not unexpected and I am relieved he is no longer suffering.

Last Friday, everyone kindly gathered at our house after the funeral since I am still on bed rest.  There are no words for how great it felt to reconnect with family members I had not seen in a ridiculously long time.

We exchanged phone numbers and I have reached out to people and am getting together for lunch with a cousin and a mutual friend.  I am so looking forward to that.  I also have a cousin in Florida who I have been talking with on a regular basis and a cousin in California who has invited me to visit once I am sitting up more full-time.

Why do we let life get in the way of connecting with our loved ones?  We were not built to be solitary beings. Connecting feels so wonderful that it is actually beneficial to our health, so why not do it more often?

One of the blessings of this healing journey has been and continues to be connecting with so many people— sometimes on line at first, but that often led to meeting in person.  While there have been moments of loneliness in the past 14 moments, the times of feeling deeply connected to some amazing souls have far outweighed the feelings of isolation.  I know those connections were an essential part of my healing.

Is there a loved one you have not reached out to because it’s been an embarrassingly long time since you last saw each other?  Suck it up and do it.  I’ll bet you’ll be glad you did.

If you have a story about reconnecting with a loved one, please share it in the comments below.

Yours truly,
InspiraGirl

 

Managing the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee

Stress has been weighing me down this week.

On Monday morning, two unfortunate events occurred within 10 minutes of each other.  First, a tree came down across our driveway.  Then, my laptop conked out.  So, I turned on my cell phone, logged onto Facebook and reached out to you, InspiraGang, and you helped tremendously.

First, my friend and colleague Chuck Hendershot, owner of Feel @Home Realty, came over and chopped up the tree and he called Pablo Chica, owner of Sunflower Landscaping, to take away the cut logs.  Problem solved.

For the laptop, I posted on two Facebook group pages, asking for recommendations for a reputable, reasonably priced, local IT person.  Knowledgeable and kind Chris D’Amato showed up on my doorstep on Tuesday evening and transferred my files to my mom’s laptop until I can get a new laptop.  If you need an IT person, I can put you in touch with him.

It was stressful not being able to get computer work done for a couple of days, but I managed by filling up the time knitting, crocheting and cleaning up a lot of paper work.  I hate that last task, but it did feel good to get it done.

Now, I am back on-line, but the stress continued.

Earlier this year, I entered into an agreement to barter services with a colleague.  This morning, he welched on the agreement and sent me a bill.  Now, I am faced with initiating an uncomfortable conversation.  If someone is going to dishonor you and your business agreement and you can’t resolve the issue, it’s probably best to break ties.  While I will speak up for what is ethically right, it’s still upsetting that the business relationship may end.

In addition to the bill from my colleague, I also received a rather large medical bill in error.  So, tomorrow I have to call the billing department at the physician’s office and the insurance company to resolve the issue.

There is an expression that my friend Kathy uses for the worrisome thoughts that takes up space in one’s brain:  The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee.  This week, my IBSC was working overtime to stress me out.

Enter my friend and yoga/meditation teacher, Linda Metcalfe.  Linda is one of the deacons at my church.  She began visiting me  when I went on bed rest last year and she started teaching me yoga at our first meeting.  It was wonderful.  We have been having regular yoga and meditation sessions ever since and she and they have been vital to my healing.  The breathing exercises alone have gotten me through nerve-wracking wound check-ups.

I could not wait until Linda’s visit today because I knew it would help and it did.  Minutes into the session, I was gifted with clarity on how to handle the erroneous medical bill and the difficult conversation with my colleague.

While I can practice yoga and meditation on my own, there’s nothing like practicing with a trusted and caring friend.  It helps me think through problems with amazing clarity and it’s one of the best ways I know to manage stress and maintain one’s peace.

If you want to learn yoga and meditation with a certified, experienced instructor, I highly recommend Linda Metcalfe.  She can be reached at lntmecalfe@gmail.com or (908)256-6879.

How do you manage your stress?  Please share in the comments below.

Namaste, InspiraGang,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

 

I AM HEALING: Part Deux

At this past Monday’s wound healing check-up, the doctor declared my wound healed … again.  When he declared it healed a few weeks ago, he stopped the stem cell treatment after the seventh application with three more available treatments to go. I was uneasy about that decision—so much so that when I shared the news on social media, I called it a “cautious celebration.”  My mind-body-spirit connection kicked in and, even though I wanted to celebrate, I knew down deep that the wound was not yet healed.

The following week, the wound opened up slightly.  So, I insisted on following through with the last three applications.

The tenth treatment was applied this past Monday and, based on how well the treatments are working so far, the wound should look even better at next Monday’s check-up.  Then, the doctor will probably advise me to stay on bed rest for another three weeks after the treatments are complete to ensure the wound stays healed.

Always thinking ahead, I asked the rep from the company that provided the stem cell treatment if additional applications can be made available, just in case.  He said we can “re-evaluate”, if necessary.  It’s good to keep your options open.

I chose to heal as naturally as possible and I want this treatment to stick.  There is no reason to doubt that it will.  Yet, sometimes the doubts creep into my brain.

Even when it looks looks like we will experience a positive outcome, why do we often fixate on that one negative thought?  As Julia Roberts’ Vivian says in Pretty Woman, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.”  While that can feel true it doesn’t have to be true.

Whenever I feel myself going negative, I focus on the positive in many ways:

  • I journal, starting with daily prayers and affirmations.
  • I exercise, including weights, stretchy bands and yoga.
  • I meditate.
  • I knit and crochet, which is another form of meditation to me.  Anyone want a handmade item from InspiraWear? 😉
  • I engage with the people around me, often looking for who I can help and inspire.  You would be amazed how quickly negativity dissolves when you focus on helping others.
  • I connect with you, my InspiraGang, on social media. (I am about to do a Facebook Live after I post this latest blog entry.)

When I started writing this blog entry, I was feeling the fear and the non-healing negative thoughts permeate my brain. But I knew that confronting those feelings by blogging about them would dissolve the fear and chase the negativity away, AND IT DID!

I hope that this blog is helping you as much as it is helping me.  Please comment below to let me know.

Enjoy the gorgeous autumn weather!

Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda … Yada, Yada, Yada

Yesterday was 9/11. I also had a wound check-up scheduled.  On the way to the appointment, we passed Heartworks House, where the memorial ceremony was taking place.  Knowing that I had to take care of my health, I still didn’t want to be going to the doctor.  On this day of all days, I wanted to be at that memorial supporting my friends.  Thankfully, I had the Heartworks meeting to look forward to last night (via Skype) and it did my soul a world of good because …

My check-up did not go well and I was bummed.  Last week, the doctor declared the wound healed and stopped the stem cell treatment, even though I have the availability of three more applications of the treatment.  I had an uneasy feeling from that moment on and it would not go away.  I should feel so much happier hearing that the wound was healed.  Why didn’t I feel like shouting the news from the rooftops and celebrating?  Well, now I know.  The wound is not fully healed … NOT YET.  In the past week, the wound opened up slightly–those pesky .2 centimeters (2 millimeters)–a minuscule amount, but distressing nonetheless.  So, I started “shoulding” all over myself.

I should have listened to my intuition.

I should have known this thing wasn’t healed yet.

I should have insisted on continuing the treatment.

I didn’t and I was pissed off at myself.

Was all hope lost?  No.  We are resuming the treatment next Monday, and I have faith that it will work and the wound will heal completely.  Still, the nagging questions and negative thoughts linger in my worn-out brain.

What if I this thing doesn’t heal?

What if I did have the surgery?  Would it have worked and would I be up and about by now?

What if I wasted this whole year?

Then, it hit me…  I was wasting time on “should haves” and “what ifs.”  It’s a huge waste of friggin’ time, my friends, and it doesn’t do any good.  It’s counterproductive and it just makes you feel worse.  You can’t change the past, but you can make changes in the present that positively affect your future.

What I can do going forward is:

Regain my positive outlook.

Keep saying and writing my positive affirmations, especially “I am healthy.”, “I make healthy decisions.” and “My derrière continues to heal.”

Continue to reach out to you, my InspiraGang, when I need a boost of encouragement.

Please keep the prayers, positive vibes, cards, letters and visits coming.  In fact, I would love it if you would post some positive thoughts in the comments below.

Oh, and please share the link to this blog with your friends, family and colleagues.

Thank you for being there for me, InspiraGang.  You heal me and I am eternally grateful.

Until next week,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

The “New Normal”

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 was a memorable day.

It was the day I received the news that my pressure wound healed.  It was also one year ago to the day that I broke the news of my wound diagnosis on Facebook.  Fifty excess pounds ago as well, I realized as I watched the video.

I knew when I shared the healing news that some might think this journey was complete, that I would immediately be sitting up and that my life would resume as it had before the wound interrupted it.  I also knew that would not be the case.  A “new normal” is now staring me in the face.

When the doctor told me the wound had healed, he also said that I was to continue on bed rest and come in for weekly check-ups for three more weeks to ensure that my derrière stays healed.  If it does, then I can start what is being called a sitting protocol.  This is where I sit for perhaps a half-hour a day for a time, then an hour, then two hours, and so on, until I reach this “new normal”, which is supposedly sitting only eight to 10 hours a day for the rest of my life.

Yup.  The wind was knocked out of me with that news this past February.  I have not shared it widely until now because I have been absorbing this gut punch.

More accurately, I have been trying to figure out how I can buck the system, or at least modify it to fit my lifestyle, because I couldn’t imagine how I was going to do all the things I wanted to do with this restriction.

Despite my handicap, or perhaps because of it, I lead a very active life … out and about on a regular basis facilitating my inspirational workshops, networking, spending time in my favorite virtual offices writing new inspirational material, creating websites and social media profiles, meeting with clients, socializing, etc.  As long as I had access to a wheelchair-friendly restroom, I could move about my day easily and with few restrictions.

But now … Hey Universe, Is this really the “new normal?”  Are you telling me I am sentenced to sitting only eight to 10 hours a day for the rest of my life?  How the frack am I going to do that and still maintain an active lifestyle?  Un-freaking-imaginable, not to mention, un-bleeping-acceptable.

Is this punishment for my already embarrassing weight gain that supposedly contributed to the pressure wound in the first place? (Shaking my fist at the sky)

Believe me when I tell you that bitching about one of life’s crappy curve balls becomes counterproductive very quickly.  I have to move on and figure out things like:

  • How to get in a bathtub (Sitting on a hard surface, even for a short bath, will probably be a no-no.)
  • How to drive ( I cannot drag my butt over the wheel of my wheelchair to get in my driver’s seat like I used to do.)
  • How to travel by car or by plane for long trips  (Wouldn’t a tour bus be awesome?!)

Have I figured any of this out yet?  Nope, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I have tons of logisitics to figure out.  As Marie Forleo says, “Everything is figureoutable.”  Well, let me tell you, InspiraGang, I am up to the challenges.  I can do this.  I know I can.

More to come on this topic in future blog posts.

When you were faced with a “new normal”, how did you deal with it?  Please share your experience in the comments below.

Your never-normal InspiraGirl (and thank God for that!),
Andrea

I Can “Go Negative” Very Quickly

When I started Operation INSPIRATION in 2005, I also committed myself to ongoing self-improvement so that I could “walk my talk.”  With nearly 16 years in the corporate jungle under my belt, one of the realizations I came to was how easily and quickly my mood shifted when pessimism, bad moods, anger or any unfavorable situation came my way.  Looking back, I am shocked at how negative I was and sometimes amazed that I survived in that environment for so long.

Even after years of working to strengthen this aspect of my personality, with the ups and downs of my healing journey, I have allowed myself to “go negative” a number of times in the past year and it scared me.  For example, each time I had a wound check-up, I was extremely anxious because I did not know what I was going to face.

Would the wound be smaller or would the measurements remain the same? Plateaus are hell on the morale.

Would the doctors mention surgery again?  We are have opposing views about that point.  While I am in favor of waiting it out and letting my body heal naturally, (Thankfully, my family backed me up on this.), the doctors–somewhat understandably, I suppose–wanted to see me heal more quickly.  So they have pushed surgery more and more often, especially in the past few months.  During one check-up last June, I felt so bullied that I said,

“Congratulations.  You’ve broken me.  Let’s just do the surgery.”

That was on a Friday.  When I got home, I felt so down that I decided to take the weekend to gather myself.  It took more than a day to boost my emotional strength back up.  But, by Sunday I was thinking clearly again.  I had made an emotional decision in that exam room, rather than a well-thought out decision.  So I called the doctor’s office the following Monday to let them know that I was taking the time I needed to make a an informed decision that was right for me.

That was a difficult phone call to make.  But once I did it, I felt empowered.  While I wouldn’t wish these experiences on anyone, it was a reminder of some valuable lessons:

  • While the doctors can make their recommendations and preferences knows for a course of treatment, it’s ultimately my decision to either have surgery or allow my body heal naturally.
  • Self-care is not just about the physical. Full self-care also includes psychological, spiritual and emotional care, and it’s alright to take the time to tend to my psychlogical, spiritual and emotional well-being and clear my head.
  • I am human and there is no need to feel badly about feeling overwhelmed.  Everyone gets overwhelmed.
  • To me this is the one of the most empowering lessons:  I am a sensitive person and I often feel like I have to apologize for that.  But I don’t.  It’s part of who I am.

Right now, it looks as if my wound is very close to healing… .2 cm in length, width and depth as of this writing.  So, even though I am maintaining an open mind in the event that there are no other options and surgery becomes necessary, I remain positive and strong in my resolve to close up this pressure wound by as natural means as possible.  And so, the healing journey continues…

I would love to hear your experiences with negativity and how you deal with it.  Please comment below, InspiraGang.

All the Best to You,

Andrea
aka InspiraGirl