My Top 10 List: Tools of the Trade

Top 10 List

I had a supervisor one time that said, “you are only as good as your tools.”  She was referring to the splinting supplies in the occupational therapy clinic that included state-of-the-art warming trays.  Thermoplastics used in making upper extremity splints must be heated to the correct temperature or they become gummy; they also might burn your patient’s forearm when it gets too hot!  They had a thermometer on the splinting cart which was a luxury in those days.  Now with so many choices of materials from which to choose at a variety of temperature specs, having the right tools is standard practice.

Splinting never was my forte but the advice stuck with me.  My words came back to me when the men in my life would often repeat this phrase when faced with a decision of whether or not to add to the man cave “tool box!”  Yeah, it was usually o.k. with me.  Usually a new kitchen gadget jumped into the shopping cart too.  🙂  These days my tools relate more to gardening and my own health care.  Here’s a new spin on the latter:  your recovery is only as good as the tools you employ for recovery.  This post is an addendum to an earlier blog entitled, Keeping Sane While Recovering from Serious Illness.  With some tools that are tongue-in-cheek and not necessarily in this order, here goes:

1)  Treatment journal, online or in a notebook.  Keeping track of medications, supplements, medical appointments, changes in treatment plan, etc. is critical to success.  Who wants to make the same mistake twice?  My hand-written journal entries are more truncated these days since I’ve got my routine stuff down better and more social supports in place.  I do go back to earlier postings and am grateful for some progress.  Even if I am not doing better in other areas, I know that I am coping better overall; thank you Lord!

2)  Smart phone.  When stuck in bed I can still stay connected to the outside world via my social media favs, email, and text.  The Bible App is awesome and keeps me in the Word on a daily basis with its Bible-in-a-Year reading program.  On my mobile I can also look up what the heck is going on in my body and boost my lame brain with reminders of this or that on my calendar.  I was a late-adapter to the world of 4G+ and cannot see going back to a flip phone anytime soon!

3)  Fingertip less gloves.  My hands and extremities get chilled in the evening.  It’s a battle trying to do a few things when I am awake and feeling better in the middle of the night but feel like I’m freezing!  The drop in body temp can trigger noxious symptoms so I needed to find a strategy for keeping my hands warm.  I was Christmas shopping at Macy’s this past year and there they were in a colorful display:  a table filled with mittens that had removable mitts so you could expose your fingertips.  Your hands stay warm from the middle knuckles through the wrists.  Success!  These even come in handy when taking frozen foods out of the freezer or grocery shopping.  Grocery stores give me the chills year round.  Know what I mean?

4)  A really warm fleece jacket with pockets.  For the reasons noted above, I finally have something to keep me warm when roaming about the house later in the evening.  The softness of the fabric is comforting too.  What did we ever do before Polartec?  Or maybe for you it is a handheld fan?

5)  Fuzzy socks!  Yes they are warm.  It’s the cute designs and fun colors that make me smile a little when my feet are cold.  My cow socks (which were a gift from when my Aunt Patty lived in Vermont) are my favorite.  The thicker the better, over the ankle, and loose-fitting too.  Such a simple pleasure.

6)  Breakfast from a traditional lunch bag.  Mornings are the hardest for me.  Most days I awaken in elevated pain with noxious symptoms that make it difficult to use the bathroom let alone make breakfast.  Finally the Lord led me to a solution of making my breakfast the night before much like I used to make my lunch to take to work each day.  The freezer pack keeps it cold until morning.  Many times I am eating food cold that others might microwave/heat up before mealtime but that is not a requirement for me anymore.  I just gotta get food in my belly to feel better so a chunk of meatloaf for breakfast it is sometimes!

7)  Making the effort to cook or purchase special snack foods that fit within my restricted diet.  For example, I think I’ve finally mastered coconut flour pumpkin (or squash) muffins to comply with my Candida/mold-free/low oxalate diet.  Pulling a little essence of home-baked goodness out of my breakfast bag in the morning with Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread, I no longer feel deprived!  The recipe is a bit challenging so I double it and freeze them for yummy goodness each morning.

8)  Emergency remedies on hand at all times.  For me this includes high CBD hemp oil and a charcoal-filter face mask that have arrested an oncoming seizure attack when in a public place more than once.  We need to be proactive in managing the crises of our health condition where possible, saving the real emergencies for situations beyond our control, eh?

9)  Slip-on shoes and slippers.  Who wants to bend over and risk falling on one’s head when weak from illness and needing to cover one’s feet?  Yeah, not me either.

10)  Something or someone warm and fuzzy.  Yes, this can include the stuffed kind or your man with generous amounts of chest hair to comfort us when needed.  (O.k. maybe your lady in soft flannel pajamas would apply here instead!)  When my beloved is not home our German Shepherd pup gets a little extra massaging.  Who knew that a big, protective dog breed would love to cuddle?  Elle, you rock.

Well there you have it:  my top 10 list of recovery tools.  Have some of your own?  I’d love to hear about them!  Please feel free to add your comments below.

Keeping Calm

Jesus Calms the Storm

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”  (Luke 8)

This is such a great story isn’t it?  The newbie disciples did not know that there was no way that they could drown with the God of the universe in the boat with them!  And further, the story illustrates the omnipotence of God, that even the raging seas obey Him.  This story also reminds me of a message from Pastor David Jeremiah in which he taught the truth that a person in the middle of God’s will cannot perish until the Lord’s work is completed in him or her.  “Cannot perish!”  Wow.  Sure makes my fears and worries worthless.  If I could just remind myself of these truths in the midst of my own storms then surely I would be a better instrument for the Lord . . .

I might have made some progress last night.  Allow me to explain.  When reeling from 1 1/2 hours of relentless seizure attacks, I eeked out to my husband, “I need help.”  Within moments were on our way to the emergency room of a local hospital.  All I could think about was, “thank you” to Steve and, “I’m going to get help.”

Getting that help took a long time.  First there’s the registration, then the review of the bazillion supplements, compounded medications, and meds, and the $100 emergency room co-payment.  The ER Doc asked a few questions, called my family doctor, and a nurse started an IV.  200cc of fluids and some pain meds began to flow through the sore IV line in my frail forearms.  And amazingly within about 20 minutes, the seizing stopped.  Praise the Lord!  I actually started to feel sort of normal.  Even the neck headache from the thrashing of my head went away.  Wow.

What I did not expect was the diagnosis.  While I am not going to go into the details here, I will say that I was shocked.  Both Steve and I did not agree about what was written on the page.  Sensing the anger rise up within me, gratefully, I started to pray instead:  Lord, help me to handle this as you would.

I asked to speak to the ER Doc and expressed my concerns.  He said that to change the diagnosis would be fraud.  I believe that I respectfully disagreed and stated that as a licensed healthcare professional myself, I understand both the responsibility of medical documentation:  to get it right and to respect the future implications for the patient.  I thanked him for the treatment that stopped the seizures.  Later I chose to “qualify” my signature on the discharge instructions in a way that indicated that while I received the discharge paperwork, I did not agree with its contents.  Then we left.

It is now 28 hours later and I have not had another seizure-like episode!  Praise the Lord!  The “seas” remain calm and I was able to get some restorative sleep; I even caught up on a few errands this evening with my pup in tow.  I have begun some online research related to my experience of the past day and started pounding electrolyte replacements to keep myself hydrated.  My Lord is the only one who knows what the next day holds for me . . . will I make it to an unrelated doctor appointment tomorrow or even a quick outdoor outing with my hubby mid-day?  Or will the attacks return as I lie on the bed a few minutes from now?  The latter has been my life for virtually all of the past 1 1/2 years . . .

Keep calm.  Keeping calm.  Trusting that the Lord who calms the seas can not only get me from this evening to the morning, He can get me through all of the stormy days of my life.  Oh Lord, care for my beloved Stevers as well and restore Him from the stress of riding things out in the rocky boat with me.  May we both keep our eyes fixed on you with amazement for all that you have done and all that you have yet to do in our lives.  Thank you for the help.  I will entrust you with the details as I lay them at Your throne of grace.

Goodnight all,  Just Julie

Psalm 121

psalm 121 3