If you like to kayak then my River Bear has just the right kayak for you! With new layups, two-tone color combinations, and options there is something here for every paddler.
My first surf ski (open cockpit where you sit on top of the cockpit instead of inside) was the predecessor to the Stellar SR that you see in this photo. (See the About Page for a picture of me during my third time out in the SR.) This one is way cooler for sure! Having started in a wide and heavy plastic Sirocco sea kayak, you could say that my hubby has succeeded in helping me to make my way across the water with style. These days I actually prefer a solo outrigger canoe with a single-bladed canoe paddle until my balance skills get back up to par. Lord willing I’ll be back into an SR next year!
Until then and for persons in the Midwest of the United States, feel free to contact River Bear Racing to see a Stellar recreational or racing kayak. You’re only as good as your gear ya know, eh? JJ
The concept of negative numbers to me is as mind-boggling as that of anti-matter. If something can be measured on an integer scale then I suppose the values could go up just as easily as they could go down. But when they go below zero, which is nothing, how can anything be less than nothing?
Perhaps the answer depends upon to what subject the scale is being applied. Ha! I would love for my personal scale of symptoms to be at zero. I would love for the intangibles wreaking havoc in my life to be less than nothing as well. But that is just not how it is. This past Fall was very bad, indeed.
More days this past Fall than any other time since I got sick over 4 years ago, did I write “Sick Day” on my calendar as the activity that characterized the entire day. That means that over 8 daytime hours were spent in bed due to an inability to perform any goal-directed activity: about 3 days each week. That stinks. I had three trips to the emergency room when exasperated with noxious symptoms, more variety in the traumatic nature of seizure attack episodes, an increase in triggers of episodes (which were unclear more of the time), and less ability to perform my activities of daily living. Steve had to physically care for me (from toileting to feeding) about four times each week. This year was the first time that I was unable to complete both my Spring and Fall clean-up chores for our gardens. An occasional meal out with Steve has ceased. There even was a blow-up with my Doc in which he suggested I might work with someone else. He admitted that he doesn’t know what to do. Fine. But who else would that be?
So here is my status:
Results of blood tests and stool tests are now pending to identify microbes that may be keeping me from getting well. Flare of systemic Candida is one possibility.
Chronic Lyme disease is back on my radar as a possibility so for these first two items I have started to take an anti-microbial supplement every day.
Mercury burden is significantly reduced yet its role in ongoing illness is still unclear.
Dehydration is a daily battle regardless of how many fluids I ingest or receive via IV.
Continuous daily seizure attacks total 2 to 5 hours every weekday and often increase to 8 hours at least one day per week.
Social isolation continues to be a problem. I am grateful for a weekly Skype Bible/prayer time with fellow bloggers and may add a telephone support group soon.
An extremely restricted diet (sugar/sweetener-free, dairy/mold/gluten-free, low oxalate/copper/meat) only becomes more restrictive as time goes on than more permissive. There are often episodes after eating and I do not know why.
Physical therapy has generally helped to reduce neck and other pain yet the 30-minute convulsive episode at the end of nearly every visit is burdensome. I bring my own sheets and graciously they avoid fragrances around me. They are saints!
Generally I am only able to leave the house for medical appointments, grocery shopping, etc. twice per week, remaining homebound the other days. Recent exceptions: two wakes!
Physical exercises and activities, including my P.T. home exercise program, are rare due the likelihood of triggering episodes.
Travelling, even with our super clean travel trailer, increases sickness too much to bother for awhile. Setting it up takes me 3 weeks and cleaning it afterwards takes 3 weeks as well! Oy vey.
So now my pity party is over and I have nothing left to say. I am praying constantly for the Lord to keep my heart from bitterness yet I fear that I am losing the battle. Crying comes forcefully during the setbacks and I am concerned that it is more a manifestation of illness progressed to my brain than true grief. My husband Steve carries the burden of all of this in his own way. He is a saint and my hero. Thankfully he has a great support network at church and work, his athletic activities, and lots of social outlets to keep him going. Steve is an amazing man surely one after the Lord’s own heart.
I am hopeful that the anti-microbial treatment will help me; sometimes it even stops the episodes. Yeah God. However I am very stressed about the upcoming holidays. Maybe there will be a “Christmas miracle” at our house too? Lord willing, the numbers in my life will improve in a positive direction. In the meantime I will be hanging tough. It’s the best I can do. JJ
We were heading south along a remote section of a newly created road when six deer, one by one, carefully stepped across the road in front of my truck. My husband was driving and proclaimed that he was glad that he saw them just in time to slow down! My proclamation was the awe of the gentle animals crossing our path on a night when the witness of God’s creation in the dark was the last thing from my mind . . .
Yes, we were on the way to the Emergency Room again. After the third night in a row where convulsive episodes escalated with the setting of the sun coupled with unusual right, lower abdominal pain, we decided that our threshold had been reached. The decision to drive off to the ER is never and easy one. Am I really that bad? If I am not dying should I just wait and see a little longer? Now that our sixth trip in four years has come and gone we both agree that having an evaluation in the middle of the night is no worse than the alternative. This trip was unusually unpleasant, however.
We waited almost 2 hours before being escorted back to exam room 22. During that time we witnessed the collapse of a young woman in a wheelchair whose urine bag tube dangled over the edge of the leg rest and two family members looked on with worry. We prayed for them. Moments later one of the several children in the expansive waiting area spontaneously vomited all over her mother and the floor (about 15 feet away from us). The mother and a nurse-type staff person whipped into action including spraying everything with a sure-to-be-aromatic cleaner. In my heart I prayed and in the moment we moved to another section of the ER as I donned my mask so as to avoid the fumes and vomitus aerosols from further exacerbating the convulsive episodes. In the distant section in which we landed was a double-wide chair that made a makeshift bed for my own weakened frame. We later discovered that by the end of our tenure at the hospital there would be EIGHTEEN car accident victims that would filter through the emergency department that night. Lord have mercy!
My own challenge was significant yet still I was filled with gratitude that it was not as bad as those around me. Much later and somewhere after the halfway mark of the IV infusion of sodium chloride, the convulsive episodes subsided. Yeah God! Then came the abdominal CT scan and pelvic ultrasounds. Each were laden with their own versions of torture just for me. I guess I’m just “sensitive,” right? (If I hear that phrase one more time I’m going to scream!) No matter, the noxious symptoms accompanying these tests mixed with tears and additional pain were bonuses upon which I had not planned that night. For example, I had planned ahead and brought my warmest fleece jacket for covering up in between procedures. It just wasn’t enough to counter the cold life-size tongue depressor gurney of the refrigerated CT scanner! Another episode added to the collection. And for me, pelvic ultrasounds are very painful. I was there for abdominal pain, right? Oh yeah. “Just breathe deeply honey. You’re doing great . . . ”
Sometime later the nurse assigned to me returned. She had already navigated through the comfort and pain medication options that I could tolerate then brought the latter in the wrong form for a person whose stomach was empty. I declined. Pain management Plan B never arrived. Later I was sobbing after the ultrasound (US). The US technician activated my call light requiring me to ask for my own pain medication to which a nursing assistant responded. Someone beyond the closed glass doors and pulled curtain decided that a relaxant for the gut would be a good choice for me. Perhaps that was indicated? But the nurse appeared with an 8-inch long syringe including a 4-inch needle that was bigger than those I had become acquainted in my lifetime! I thought surely she would administer it into the IV line. Nope. She started to pull up the sleeve of my hospital gown. With horror I wondered how so many cc’s of fluid from that big of a needle would ever penetrate my deconditioned arms. “It has to be given intramuscularly,” she instructed. “How about my hip?” I replied. And as I turned to reveal the warmth of my skin buried beneath 2 blankets and a flimsy gown I began to freak out.
“No.” “I don’t think the pain is bad enough to endure the pain of an injection like this,” was all I could blurt out. She said “fine” and some trained nursing replies as she discarded the second drug that I wondered if or not would be added to our massive bill that night. She left the room. And then I began to cry and cry and cry. I just couldn’t take the whole ordeal anymore. I wept some more.
Within the hour we were making our way to the all-night cafeteria in that large Regional Medical Center. My beloved, Steve, and I scarfed down more food than we had in a long time! French fries are a great comfort food at 2:30 in the morning! The salads were reasonable too. At last my brain and personhood began to revive.
Steve drove us home into the dark and near-drizzly night. Perhaps he was a bit cautious as we went, knowing the numerous auto accident victims that were our unseen neighbors in their own suites at the hospital. “How bad were they injured?” I wondered. Oh my Lord, please comfort them too. My mind drifted to the half-dozen deer that welcomed us before the bright red lights of the “EMERGENCY” entrance had illuminated our path 4 1/2 hours earlier. I felt so much peace when I had seen them. It was like the Lord was showing me that things were going to be alright. Then again, their crossing was followed by the stench of a skunk! What on earth could that mean? Who knows?
Maybe the deer were “skunked” before they crossed the road. Hunting season has begun dontcha know? Maybe Steve and I we were somehow skunked too. We made our best decision and ventured out to the hospital instead of what most couples do on a Saturday night. And through it all, my beloved Steve was a champ the entire time. He always is, dontcha know?
Some of you know that in about a month the number of years that I have been sick will exceed the number of years that I have been well during my marriage to Steve. When presented with this observation Steve never flinches and repeats his vow of promise to love me forever on either side of the road of life. Sigh.
Oh my Stevers. YOU my love are such a precious dear! JJ
A long time ago I made a decision to use the word “love” a little more freely. That decision came with another which was to not let concerns of what others would think of that get in the way of expressing that love. For example, if it was a female friend then she would get that the “love” was within the context of loving a fellow believer in Jesus Christ, love like a sister that I never had, and possibly a bond that simply comes with walking through many years of life’s ups and downs together. The transition would be instant, from “Take Care” at the end of an email to “Love, Julie” if we had just endured a crisis together. When one heart is hurting, there is no other word that will suffice. Love covers things well.
Born again believers know the author of love as God himself. The scriptures instruct us that:
19 We love because he first loved us.20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4
The Lord is the perfect reflection and expression of what love looks like. I do believe that those who are not in Christ have a sense of what love is like too. That is why I feel comfortable including a video in which 1) two women are kissing and 2) there is a man dressed as a woman embracing another man. If the relationships were real, they must have a sense of connectedness to express their love outwardly. I am not condoning homosexuality. I just might understand it a little more since my late Uncle Fred lived and died within the context of “the gay lifestyle.” I still loved him despite this decision. Oh how I wish he and others knew the deeper spiritual connectedness that comes in a God-fearing and God-honoring relationship! The Lord blesses those Who love him first! (Hebrews 11:5-7) But that is not my focus here today.
My focus is the importance of expressing love everyday to those you care about. It’s not weird! I am reminded of this today in the middle of 8 days in which my husband and I will attend two funerals. I had only met his Uncle Don one time and was more “acquainted” with Dave than knowing he and his wife Jane more “personally.” It didn’t and does not matter. As fellow believers in Christ, their character and lives had impacted my life with that level of connection. Uncle Don warmly accepted my marriage to Steve that had come at a time when most of Steve’s children still could not. Since I knew without a doubt that the Lord was blessing our marriage, it was refreshing to feel loved by his family. I thank the Lord for this.
Also when Steve and I married and started to attend his church home, he pointed out couples with strong marriages that he wanted to model our relationship after. Dave and Jane was one of them. They had been married for decades by then yet still had a sense of fun, a spark, and a deep love for one another that was palpable. They worked separate jobs outside of their home yet were usually together at church and other important events. Dave served the body of believers, his community, his employer, and his family with equal enthusiasm. Thank you for pointing out this great example of a Godly man, Steve. And yes, you are much like him for sure!
Today I am unable to attend Dave’s funeral service due to complications of a serious, ongoing illness. Last night was particularly wretched. I had a sense that it would be risky to go to the funeral home and be around so many people and potential exposures that trigger convulsive episodes. I went anyways. I am also in the middle of re-shuffling my treatment plan and have no idea what made things so much worse. The only good part about that hellish 2 hours was the toning of my abdominal muscles from flexion posturing, writhing, seizing, moaning, and more. Oy vey. In the middle of it I asked for the Lord to remove this hell. I begged for His mercy. It must have come since at some point I passed out and woke up about 7 hours later . . .
Today I am beat up from all that has transpired in the past day. Somehow I am still alive! Though my heart is heavy with grief on many fronts, I do not regret pouring out the strength that I had to be with friends in their time of need. I got to be out with my beloved husband and do one of the important things of this life. Going to the wake reminded me of the truth told a gazillion times before: there is no day like today. There is nothing like love between two people, magnified and blessed when they are one in Christ. And lest it be forgotten or unknown, it is important to express that love out loud and often. For me this includes the love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For just as it says in the song,
I die without You!
Talk about perfect love! Oh Gentle Reader, won’t you join me in sharing a little love today?