Monday, April 30, 2012

LAST ONE! HAWMC #Day 30 Word Cloud

HAWMC Day #30: Word Cloud. 
Make a word cloud or tree with a list of words that come to mind when you think about your blog, health, or interests. Use a thesaurus to make the branches of your “tree” extend further.

This is the Last Challenge of the month long Heath Activist Daily Blogging Challenge. Tomorrow will be a little bit of a windup of the month. How do you like my word web? I think it looks great! I used key words from my blog and got a visual display all about my effort at
 "Leading a Healthy Life"

word coud

HAWMC Day 29 Six Sentence Story

Six Sentence Story. 
In this day of micro-blogging – brevity is a skill worth honing. Can you tell a story and make it short and sweet? What can you say in six sentences. Check out some here:    

I was trying to shop at the grocery store about a year after my stroke with my cane and my groceries in the cart and me gripping the handles of the shopping cart as if it was a walker.  I was trying to be independent and do something that normal, average people can do every day. I reached up with my good hand for the whipping cream on a higher shelf. The ever-present vertigo and dizziness won out and I fell awkwardly into the dairy section cooler. I was hurt and couldn’t get up. A small child came toward me and her mom screamed at her to stay away from that nasty drunk lady.  I knew without a doubt that my life was not normal or average anymore.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

HAWMC Day 27 The First Time I...

The First Time I… 
Write a post about the first time you did something. What is it? What was it like? What did you learn from it?

This topic was probably intended to let us reflect on the feelings and fears one encounters in new situations and what it takes to overcome challenges and accomplish achievements. What is it ike to face your fears? Challenges or my achievements were not the first thing that came to my mind .when I read today's prompt.

My health crisis began 3 days before Mothers day in 2008. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where they determined I had multiple pulmonary emboli (life threatening blood clots in my lungs). They were able to get me stabilized and I got to go home to spend Mothers Day with my family. I was so grateful to be with my family. I have 4 children  and at the time I had one little two year old grandson  and my son and his wife were expecting another child. I wanted to be with them all.

Over that first three months my husband was told three different times that I might not make it through the night. I cried and was convinced that I would never see that unborn grandchild.

Four months later I was still here and I got to see our new baby girl. They took me to the hospital to meet her the day she was born.  I was set up in the arm chair in their room and they put a bunch of pillows under my non-functioning left arm to support it and then placed my darling grand-daughter into my arms for the very first time. I knew how truly blessed I was.

Linda and grand-daughter

HAWMC Day 27 The Good and the Bad

 5 Challenges & 5 Small Victories. 
Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

Hi! My name is Alicia and I am guest blogging for my mom today. I am a 27-year-old woman with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder).  I was officially diagnosed as a six year old when I started grade one, but we did know I had ADHD before that.  I wanted to write on this particular prompt because many of the challenges with ADHD can also be positives. It really depends on what my mood is at the time or how I choose to look at a situation. Something that may be very good in some circumstances, like being aware of everything around me, can really help me at work and in emergency situations. At the same time it makes it very hard whenever I am asked to concentrate on some kinds of work or even pay attention while trying to have a conversation with a friend in a busy restaurant.

Good Things
  1.  I am aware of lots of things at the same time. ADHD makes me very close to being a multi-tasker.
  2. Sometimes I can hyper focus and give all of my attention to a single item of interest.  Give me a math challenge or a game and I have an advantage.
  3. I have lots of energy and I am always on the go.
  4. I learned at a young age to be an advocate for my own needs as a earning disabled girl and once I laws able to advocate for myself I began advocating for others and has turned into something I am very passionate about.
  5. Learning about ADHD helped me learn about brain function, which in turn helped with learning Psychology and Human Development courses in university.

  1.  I am constantly aware of so many distractions that it is hard to function. I even needed to take exams in an isolated room to eliminate distractions
  2. When I am over focused I really am not aware of what is going on around me and I do things like walk into traffic while daydreaming.
  3. I am constantly fidgeting and the fidgeting annoys other people. I am constantly picking things up in my hands and I am not even aware that I am handing them.
  4. Attention Deficit Disorder is an invisible disorder and people sometimes think I am just being weird, rude or stupid. They pick up that something is wrong but don’t automatically assume it is a disability. Even if I decide to tell someone I have ADHD I get reaction such as “No you can’t possibly have that”,  “but you are too smart to have that”,  “ADHD? What is that?”  or “I thought that was just something kids have not adults”.
  5. Schools are not set up for people with ADHD. You spend so much time stuck sitting down and having to pay attention for long periods of time, not to mention test taking. The expectation is that we will all learn something the same way at the same way and my brain developed in a different way than the average student. I wasn’t ready at the same time as other students and teachers did not acknowledge my earning differences. There has not been enough progress in the 21 years since I was officially diagnosed.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

HAWMC Day 26 Creating a tagline

 Health tagline. 
Give yourself, your blog, your condition, or some aspect of your health a tagline. Make sure it’s catchy!

My new choice for a tagline will be:

Leading a Healthy Life:

Moving Toward Wellness in our Community

My blog initially developed in an effort to journal about my own recovery from a brain injury and it has reflected many of my experiences and responses. I have a lot to share on many other topics and I hope to take my blog in new directions with time.

I have dealt with a lot of health conditions in my own life, and that of my family, so I want to leave my blog open to discuss a variety of issues related to wellness and available community events and resources.  I want to talk about weight issues, ADHD, allergies, heart and stroke, brain injury, and mental heath to only name a few of the issues that touch my life and that of my friends. I believe we should be supporting all people in their search for experiences and information related to health and wellness.


I also thought about what I could title a blog as a Health Activist with a blog dedicated to my main health focus.

Stroke and Brain Injury:

Working on Recovery with Determination and Dignity

 I am amazed at the way so many survivors rise to the new challenges ahead of them.  I am inspired by the strength of character and resilience that can be seen in so many brave individuals who find themselves facing extraordinary challenges while living out their daily lives.

Play Review and HAWMC Day 25 Challenge

 Today has been a difficult day. It had it's good moments and some nice visits with friends, but really, I am very tired today and not managing too well. I will get a good nights sleep. Tomorrow will be a wonderful day.

We went out this evening to a play called Next to Normal and it was very very good but not exactly uplifting.  It is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning musical drama that centers around a woman with bipolar disorder and her family.  This was not a feel good show and they did it all singing. 

It had a lot of effective lighting including strobe lights, haze and loud music that really affected my sense of equiibrium and I had to cover my eyes and sometimes my ears to keep from becoming dizzy and nauseated.

Here is a clip from youTube  It nails a bunch of the more negative emotions pretty exactly. The song "Catch Me I'm Falling" could have been an option for my theme song during the past 4 years in terms of many of the statements but also the physical reality of my balance issues. Life has improved for me, both emotionally and physically, but my heath issues have taken a huge toll on me and on my family.

Since I am exhausted  I did a shorter prompt today from a list of extra choices. This prompt seemed to fit the mood of my day. Sometimes I am more cheerful than others. You don't always need to be happy.  You can embrace the sad part of you and then hopefully move on.  Someday I will revisit this poem and write about all the positive things that have come my way with time because there are many of those too.

I used to be ...  but not anymore
Write a 10 line poem where each line is the phrase. What did you fill in the blank?

I used to be  naive  … but not anymore.
I used to be  carefree … but not anymore.
I used to be  agile … but not anymore.
I used to be  strong … but not anymore.
I used to be  sure of myself … but not anymore.
I used to be decisive …but not anymore
I used to be  steady … but not anymore.
I used to be full of energy …but not anymore
I used to be spontaneous … but not anymore
I used to be  a source of strength … but not anymore.

I used to be healthy ….

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My mascot is a Sea Turtle!

Day 24 of the HAWMC Challenge.

Health Mascot.
 Give yourself, your condition, or your health focus a mascot. Is it a real person? Fictional? Mythical being? Describe them. Bonus points if you provide a visual!

Sea Turtles resting at Black Sand Beach, The Island of Hawaii
 If you had asked me six months ago I might have come out with something very different as my choice for mascot, but now I have no doubt about what it is.
This prairie girl’s mascot is a  SEA TURTLE!

 I went on a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii last November.  I have always wanted to go there and I was not going to let anything stop me from having a good time and seeing and doing everything I possibly could.

We made arrangements to go on a snorkeling boat trip. I have only snorkeled with cheap toys a few times in my life but going snorkeling seems like the thing to do in Hawaii and besides, I wanted to see all the pretty fish.
Our snorkeling boat and our Captain and Guide

The boat was great, the guide fantastic, the weather, well it was Hawaii! There were about a dozen people on the trip and we chatted as we motored out into the ocean. We were barely out on the water when we stopped to watch a bunch of Spinner Dolphins jumping and twisting. It was so exciting to us. A little further along we spotted Bottlenose Dolphins and they started jumping and jumping along side of the boat.  As we watched I thought I saw a fat fish jumping too. It was a tiny baby dolphin! The tour leader even got excited and  guessed the baby was only a couple weeks old at the most.

We arrived at the beautiful spot where Captain Cook landed in Hawaii. It was also the spectacular place that was filmed to use when creating the drop off to the deep in the movie Finding Nemo.  I did as I was told and put on the snorkel gear and with much maneuvering I slid off the edge of the boat into the clear water.  It was not that hard adjusting to the breathing and temperature and then I got on with watching the fish and the coral. It was an amazing experience; it was so exciting and peaceful all at the same time.  We swam around in the sheltered bay for half an hour until it was time to get back in the boat. That was the hard part. I was anything but graceful getting out of the boat but that was nothing compared to the effort required to get on the ladder and back into the boat.

We had a cold drink and fresh fruit for a snack and then moved on our way to a second swimming/snorkeling location. It was in the water by the National Park:  Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau. It was an ancient sacred space where people could be granted refuge.

The Puuhonua.

My picture from Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau.

In old Hawaii, if you had broken a law, the penalty was death.  Perhaps you had entered into an area that was reserved for only the chiefs, or had eaten forbidden foods.  Laws, or kapu, governed every aspect of Hawaiian society.  The penalty for breaking these laws was certain death.  Your only option for survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest puuhonua, or place of refuge. 
As you enter, the great wall rises up before you marking the boundaries between the royal grounds and the sanctuary. Many ki'i (carved wooden images) surround the Hale o Keawe, housing the bones of the chiefs that infuse the area with their power or mana.  If you reached this sacred place, you would be saved. 
Today, you may visit Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, and still feel the spirit of peace and forgiveness that continues to surround and bless this special place.
The Pu'uhonua is still considered a scared site.


This snorkeling location was going to be a bit different because it was a little more open and had bottom formations of lava outcroppings and fewer coral areas. I was tired and thought seriously about staying on the boat but everyone else was jumping in enthusiastically and I was afraid I was going to miss something. I am not fond of being left behind.  The boat is unable to anchor so it was moving away and the lady said jump and I slid in. I got a mouthful, and worse than that, a nose full of salt water. That was a nasty surprise to this freshwater lake girl. My eyes were watering and I could barely see but I realized I was nowhere near the other people and the boat was now out of reach.

I decided to focus on the bottom trying to look at the fish and the lava formations but continue to move toward the other people. I was pretty tired and stressed so my left leg and arm were not working well.  I looked up to find I was even farther away from everyone. I was getting increasingly panicky once I realized that no one seemed to know I was even missing. My tears were mixing with the leftover drops of water in the goggles.

Exhaustion was beginning to overcome me. I put my face back down into the water and looked down and made an effort to get a bit closer into shore and I finally realized that I was caught in some kind of undercurrent that was pulling me toward the open ocean.

Sea turtle slipped into the water at Black Sands Beach.
A big brown flipper suddenly wacked me hard in my goggles. I saw a face and then to my shock this head reached over to the side of my pool noodle and grabbed hard and shook it, like a puppy trying to get a bone away from it’s owner. I hung on to my floatation device for all I was worth.

 I still didn’t realize what was going on so I stuck my head up and found myself staring eye to eye with a giant sea turtle.  His nose was within a foot of my nose! He went back under the water and I put my head back in too. Before I knew what to expect this amazing creature brushed down underneath me and rubbed it’s back against me from my chest to my abdomen and then dropped to about four feet below me. He turned deliberately  and started swimming slowly and gracefully then he did a deliberate u-turn below me and continued on.

I did not want to let him out of my sight yet so I followed him without doing too much thinking.  After quite a while the turtle dropped lower to the ocean floor, did another little turn and went out of sight under some rocks. I pulled myself upright again and realized I was now much further out from shore but actually closer to the boat and the pull of water I was fighting against was gone. I think the turtle realized that “my flippers“ were not functioning normally and he tried to save me from my pool noodle. He then led me out of the current to a place where I would be safe. I was the last one back on the boat and basically I got a little scolding for taking so long. I told my story and the staff said that it was not uncommon for the turtles to swim in the same area  but she, and others I have talked to never heard of a turtle initiating contact like that or rubbing against a snorkeler.

I truly think that turtle may have saved my life.

As a person with a physical disability, I am slow and awkward on land but in the water I am a little more graceful when supported by the water. We saw the turtles sunning at the black sand beach. They looked like large lumps most of the time but when they dragged themselves to the waters edge they slid smoothly into the water and showed the magnificent, graceful creatures that they truly are.
The sea turtle is now my mascot and my hero.

My three daughters at Back Sand Beach with sea turtles behind.

We visited Black Sand Beach and had an opportunity to photograph the turtles and learn more about them during the 5 days our daughters were able to join us in Hawaii.  Black Sand Beach is a volcanic sand shore area that is a government protected area. The Sea Turtles lay their eggs and bask in the sun and feed in on the seaweed in the shallows. These ancient turtles are now a threatened species because of human consumption and in danger due to nets and human pollution. They are not mature until they are over 35 years old and can weigh in at as much as 400 pounds!

All photographs are originals copyright Bob Cooper 2011 Please do not use.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bucket List- Choir singing

HAWMC -Day 23 It is a free day to write about whatever I want!

This has been a long month working on this daily blogging challenge and there is still one more week to go! I feel like I am getting a lot out of this process both in terms of learning to be a better writer and in terms of looking at some of my issues in a different way. It has also been interesting to read blogs on the similar topics written by a variety of people with different health concerns.
Anyway... It's a day off from my "homework"!

Yesterday I got to have a mini item from my bucket list come true.

I sang in high school choirs oh so many years ago. I even watch Glee with moments of déjà vu. I (blush) love choirs.

Last year I joined the Scandinavian Choir in my city. I was involved with the Scandinavian Cultural Center years ago when my kids were little and we went to a few events and were involved with the Children’s Dance group, but I personally did not do any performing. Almost 2 years ago I bumped into an old friend from the kids dance group and she invited me to join the choir. It seemed like a good idea, I had just started learning guitar and trying to read music again and this seemed like something else that would be good for me. Bob and I showed up and joined the choir.

Twenty-five or so of us meet at the Cultural Center on Monday nights under the guidance of a professional choral director and we are accompanied by a very fine pianist. We sing English and Scandinavian songs for an hour and a half and then we socialize and have coffee for another half hour. I get to work on my music reading, learning a few words in different languages and I really work hard on my memory skills. I work on singing better and I chat and visit and make new friends.

There is an extraordinary choir in our city called the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir and they planned a performance based on the Theme From the Baltic to the Northern Lights.
Our little coffee drinking group was invited to come and sing along for one song.

I fussed around looking for a costume because we were to dress up "Scandinavian". Most of the rest of the choir members have done many little events and have costumes already and if I am going to keep doing this I will have to work out some kind of better outfit for the future but for the moment I just made it work.

Yesterday was concert day! It is a fairly short song that we have already worked on for our year-end concert. My alto part doesn't have too many Norwegian words and has a lot of oooos and aaaas, so after we had two rehearsals with the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir I was good to go.
Their choir director had a guest conductor working with him for this concert so we had the privilege of being directed by Evgeny Guryev, Dean of the Choral Conducting Department of the Petrozavodsk (Russia) State Conservatory.

The Phil Choir did several pieces and then the time came and we filed up as a new row in front of the choir. I was slow getting to the front of the performance space and I was not happy about singing while standing on a step, but it was all okay.

We were very warmly applauded, but I suspect it had less to do with our performance and was more of a high five for an amateur group having the guts to get up on stage with such a great choir and -- to do it in funny tradition costumes.

Bucket List Item ---
Sing in a really great choir.
I think singing with a really great choir counts.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

HAWMC -Day 22 Things We Forget

The Things We Forget.
Visit and make your own version of a short memo reminder. Where would you post it?

There are so many things I really do forget that post it notes truly are a Godsend for me. They are on my books, on my fridges, on the mirror on the bathroom, They are on the big family calender and inside my date book. Most of them are all about specific things ... wake up at 7 am Thursday, remember your keys, take some money with you. The one on this page is what I really need to remember. I tend to worry too much, and over think things and then procrastinate until I am in real trouble.

How I look at sticky notes changed once I saw a video by comedian John Kawie who is also a stroke survivor. I really got a lot out of his video preview and his monthly short articles in the Stroke Connection Magazine, the publication of the American Stroke Association. I bought a copy of his DVD.

I have shared the preview below. I hope you watch the whole thing but please take a look at the bit starting at 3:20 minutes in for his comedy bit-- "post-its are my life". So funny and so true for many of us survivors of stroke and brain injury.

I used to make the graphic. Fun!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

HAWMC -Day 21 Health Madlib Poem

Health Madlib Poem. 
Go to : and fill in the parts of speech and the site will generate a poem for you. Feel free to post the Madlib or edit it to make it better.

Sunny Day's Sunny Day

      fast i have never grow, boldly beyond
  any bird, your music have their bright:
  in your most green grass are things which run me,
  or which i cannot learn  because they are too quickly

    your worried look patiently will unadmire me
  though i have organize myself as flowers,
  you participate always path by path myself as branch memorize
  (embraceing resentfully, appropriately) her tall bush

    or if your pond be to experience me, i and
  my fish will smell very deliberately, happily,
  as when the books of this bird plant
  the cane gratefully everywhere walking;

    nothing which we are to climb in this lunch carry
  the chair of your forgetful shoes: whose sandwich
  play me with the milk of its toaster,
  enjoying bread and hand with each exciting

    (i do not guide what it is about you that sit
  and hop; only something in me laugh
  the finger of your music is heavy than all branch)
  sweet, not even the tree, has such stylish park

  - Linda and e.e. cummings      

Create Your Own Madlib on

Today is not a heath focus kind of day-- it is a "leading a healthy, happy life" kind of day.
Today is a Grandkid kind of day, and  I just explained verbs and nouns to a kindergarten child since he was helping me.  There is no time for editing today, because we have lots of other fun things to do.  I did find this an interesting tool and the page listed has a lot of "literary" fun to try out some other time.

Friday, April 20, 2012

HAWMC -Day 20 Miracle Cure

 Miracle Cure. 
Write a news-style article on a miracle cure. What’s the cure? How do you get the cure? Be sure to include a disclaimer ;)

I am not wild about this topic. I admit it.
Miracles Cures too often turn out to be anything but.

I went to an event with other Stroke Survivors a couple years ago and there were  guest speakers who it turned out sold "healthy products". They were promoting a particular Asian dehydrated tea and food source that was said to have miraculous curative powers, especially for people with brain issues like stroke or Alzheimer. One of the guest speakers claimed to have been able to get off their normal medications completely and was able to get rid of her wheelchair after only a month with this Dr's health food secrets.

This vulnerable group of people placed large orders and paid hundreds of dollars for products that evening, and many of them were giving up a large amount of a very limited incomes.  They were all set to stop taking their blood thinners and blood pressure medications as soon as their dehydrated foods arrived in the mail.  I was shocked at how quickly and easily the listeners were ready to jump on board with this sales pitch but it just reflects the desperation of people faced with devastating illness.

This was potentially a deadly decision for some of these people. I am sure the product would not normally be dangerous to consume, but the encouragement to do away with their medication was very serious and there was also the possibility that the unknown foods could interact  with the medications they were taking. Heck.. if you are on certain blood thinners you can get in trouble by eating too much broccoli!

I do know the real idea for today's prompt is to write about what that wonderful day will be like when a true cure is announced, but I personally think we have to avoid or survive the miracle cures and charletons that are out there first. The days of snake oil salesmen are not gone.

images found at

Thursday, April 19, 2012

HAWMC -Day 19 Dinner Guests

5 Dinner Guests
Who are 5 people you’d love to have dinner with (living or deceased) and why?


I wrote this post once already. Honest. Then I though I needed to add a formatting space. Gone! All GONE! It was a good one too … interesting famous people, pictures, quotes. 
Sigh. I really don't have it in me to do it all over again. I am just going to say who I really want to see.

This rewrite is being done in a writing program and being saved to my hard drive every two minutes!!  I learned my lesson.
Dinner party huh? My husband and I have lost all our parents and we miss them. I would love to have my mom and dad and my husbands parents here to see my now adult kids and my grand kids. 
My Mom's favourite chocolate chiffon cake and my mother-in-law's cream pie would be shared. 
The grandpas would talk like they used to 15 years ago.  
Maybe our grandparents could come for dinner too?

Here is one of our wedding pictures
Bob's dad, Bob's mom, Bob, Me, My dad


My mom passed away from cancer when I was only 20, so she never got to see me graduate university or get married and she wasn't here when my babies were born. 

This is a picture of my grandmother, my mother and me.
Two weeks ago, I took two of my grandchildren to look at plants in the same park conservatory.

What a gift one more evening would be!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

HAWMC -Day 18 Open a Book

Open a Book. 
 Choose a book and open it to a random page and point to a phrase. Use that phrase to get you writing today. Free write for 15-20 without stopping.

The first part of this challenge was choosing the book.

One of my very best friends, Susan Rocan, is an author of young adult books and I really wanted to share some of her work, but at first I worried that it might not be the easiest place to randomly find a phrase to work with.

 I opened Susan's book.. Spirit Quest,  poked the page, and  I immediately knew that this was the book I was meant to open and write about.

First I should tell you that Spirit Quest is a time travel story where the teenage heroine travels back in time to 1846 in an effort to change history by learning traditional ways and bringing them back to her people in the future. Susan did a great deal of research and used accurate information about her characters rich First Nation heritage. The book is filled with  informative details about this historic period in the settlement of our local area and is now being used in schools' curriculum.

I attempted to speak, but my voice wavered uncontrollably, so I gripped the pipe tightly as I spoke.
"I pray for continued strength so that I can accomplish all the tasks that Owl will ask me to do. ..... I pray for my family, so far in the future. I pray that I will return to them so I can share my experiences, that they can learn from them, too."

This quote is just what the HAWMC Challenge and health related communities and blogging are really all about for me.
  • I started off blogging at a time when my voice was indeed physically shaky and uncertain in real life and I had to hunt for words.  My writing voice was uncertain too, but I knew without a doubt that I needed to share my story. 
  • I pray for strength to accomplish all that is asked of me and I have had so many tasks to accomplish!  There are so many challenges and milestones. There had been learning to walk, to read and count,  There was driving and leading a group and yes there is even singing. Learning to work at a job and improving my writing skill and organization and communication abilities are current tasks I try to work on. 
  • I pray for my family who have supported me so lovingly, and who face their own challenges.  I pray also for my friends and all the people in my community who daily face so many struggles. 
  • I hope that I can share my experiences and all that I have learned on this journey.  Perhaps through sharing I can assist others in learning where to find support and to  help them find hope and strength within themselves.

HAWMC -Day 17 Learning the Hard Way

Learned the Hard Way. 
What’s a lesson you learned the hard way? Write about it for 15 today.

I have the timer on.. 15 minutes eh?

One of the things that I have been learning the hard way is that we can't really control absolutely everything, no matter how badly we want to. I would like to fix the world. I would like to help the people around me do well, and I would like to be successful in all of my endeavors, but life just doesn't work that way.

I have kind of believed that lists and determination just might be the  answer to life's problems.  The fact is that sometimes you have to just let go and trust that the world is going in the direction it is meant to go.  No amount of struggle and wishing are going to change the past. What you have to do is look to the future and support those around you in their decisions and you should do your best with your own efforts. Sometime you have to decide things are good enough and then relax and get on with enjoying the fruits of your labour.

 I have had several rather pitiful guitar lessons in the past few weeks. My progress is going very slowly and I feel like my playing is actually getting worse so I have been considering quitting. I reminded myself today that this was supposed to be enjoyable and it is an activity of my own choosing so just go have fun! My teacher, Rob, is a nice tolerant guy, so I decided to just keep playing today and to quit stopping when I make mistakes and to stop worrying about getting it perfect.

I actually did have a fun lesson because I was ready to not take it too seriously. I think I am actually at some kind of technical crossroad in what and how I am learning. Fingering that seemed impossible with my "reluctant left hand" in January actually worked today and I got very excited.  Rob, talked happily about real classical guitar songs that are just ahead of me. It is not about perfection, but it is indeed about progress.

I told my daughter about my theme for this post and she reminded me of some Rolling Stones lyrics.

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

Rock On!

Monday, April 16, 2012

HAWMC -Day 16 Pinboard


Create a pinterest board for your health focus. Pin 3 things. What did you pin? Share the images in a post and explain why you chose them.

Oh my goodness!

Today's prompt exposes one of my obsessions and biggest time wasters. I LOVE Pinterest. I would love to have you visit my pinterest boards!

One of my disability issues is difficulty with my short term memory. I forget things-- A LOT, but am left with a horrible nagging feeling and  I usually remember the basic category and have a sense of whether it was something I saw in the past few days, weeks or if it was years and years ago. I went through 2 years of Occupational Therapy to work on these cognative skills and one of the things we found is that I remember things I see much better than things I hear, and I remember images much better than words I read.

When I really need to remember anything I work really hard to paint a picture in my mind of the story or object or person. The more detailed the picture and the more crazy the ideas the better I will remember it. Pinterest is one of the tools in my arsenal for dealing with this part of my disability. Pinterest functions like an external computer hard drive for me. I use it to save information that catches my attention and store it somewhere other than my brain.  I can turn it on when I need to and then rapidly search topics by images.

The HAWMC April writing challenge is part of redefining myself and working on my word and writing skills. I do not think of myself as a writer. I think of myself as a crafts person, a cook, a photographer maybe even a bit of a designer but ....writer ? I am all about the visuals now.

Okay back to the original prompt.

I have bits and pieces of useful stroke related images through several of my boards. I have a fitness board, I have a quotes board, I even have a board of sewing projects useful for my stroke associations auxiliary fundraisers.
Today I started a new Pinterest board for this challenge called STROKE AND BRAIN INJURY.
Now that I have started it I realize that this is a very good idea because I can get some of my resources and book marks all in one nice clickable spot.

I can post quotes and images to inspire or entertain me.


 I can put links to my favorite supportive organizations


 I can post links to sites I use everyday to help in my rehab like these brain boosting puzzles and healthy recipes on  the Canadian Alzheimer site.

I can post links to helpful ideas like this rice bag that could support my weak left arm when typing.




Yes... I really do LOVE Pinterest.

HAWMC -Day 15 Writing with Style

Writing with Style. 
What’s your writing style? Do words just flow from your mind to your fingertips? Do you like handwriting first? Do you plan your posts? Title first or last? Where do you write best?

Do I have a style? I never really thought about this. Any comments for me or gentle suggestions?

I usually use this blog to share different events and activities that I participate in or find of value. It is kind of my personal road map for recovery and --- well--- leading a healthy life!

a nice red apple sitting on an apple computer
My "Apple Computer" at the Lake
I normally try to sit down with my laptop about once a week, during those rare moments when it is quiet in the house. I pick a highlight of the week and try and share some of my experiences and a bit of information. It is a very happy bonus if something I post might be helpful to others. If there is anything exciting going on I will post more often in order to keep people up to date.  I need to edit a lot so I go over my posts again and again until I decide enough is enough and hit that post button. I think that I write a lot like I talk, and all this editing makes me question my speaking style too!

Writing the blog was originally a way for me to reflect on what was happening, and in part a way to remember my experiences. It was also an effort to gently keep up the web development  skills that I had enjoyed before I got sick. As time has gone by I have made friends with other bloggers, and now I want to participate in blogging in order to discuss our shared experiences. I am hoping that by participating in this 30 day blogging challenge I will improve my writing and blogging skills and perhaps make some new friends.

The photograph is just me being silly with my computer. (copy-written Linda Cooper 2010). I like the contrast of the high tech computer and the beat up old rocking chair.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

HAWMC -Day 14 My Dream Day

 HAWMC Day 14: My Dream Day
 Describe your ideal day. How would you spend your time? Who would you spend it with? Have you had this day? If not – how could you make it happen? 

The weather is starting to improve around here at long last and lately my dreams are centered around getting out to our summer cottage on our tiny north-woods island.

 My outpatient hospital therapy sent me to sessions of Mindful Meditation Trainings. Occasionally we were asked to picture someplace where we felt at peace and happy and the same image always came to my mind-- the screened porch of our cottage..... so that is the home base for my perfect day.

I love basking in the sunlight and the lake is just outside the window.
My day would begin with waking up slowly to the song birds chirping. (My dream day would include some improved indoor plumbing because things are pretty darn primitive at my cottage)  Next, how about some coffee with husband Bob while we sit on adarondac chairs just outside the back door?

I would go climbing around in the bush and rocks to find sweet wild raspberries and Saskatoon berries, sampling as I go. Some of my kids or grandkids would wake up to the smell of my waffles cooking  and join us on my porch for a breakfast of the waffes, fresh berries and  some maple syrup. Yummmmmy!

Maybe we will do some crafts or perhaps work in the yard. I might read a book or I might go take some pictures. Mid-afternoon we could go for a power boat ride to get some ice-cream with the grandchildren or maybe I will hop into the canoe and paddle to the other side of the island to look for the baby ducks.

A BBQ dinner and then we would sit on the dock afterward. I would not even wish away the mosqitoes because I love the dragonflies and birds and bats that are feeding on them.

It gets darker and we can see the milky way across the sky and, if it is one of those magical nights, we might even lie on the dock wrapped in blankets and watch the northern lights dancing above us. My son might take his little preschoolers down to the water edge with a pail of water and a net and a flashlight to catch some crayfish for the kids to look at,  just like I used to take him not so long ago.

We would cuddle down in our bed and fall asleep to the sound  of waves lapping gently on the shore.

I really do have a lot of summer days that are very much like this, but the climbing is now limited, naps are needed and someone else needs to help me somehow get into that canoe and paddle it. I am fortunate that I have people who care about me enough to make this all still possible. I keep working on doing more on my own and I keep getting stronger. 

I am working on getting that  plumbing improved too.

I look so happy, but poor Bob is paddling his heart out to make up for me dragging my paddle. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

HAWMC -Day 13 About 10 Things

HAWMC Day 13: 10 Things You Couldn’t Live Without
Write a list of the 10 things you need (or love) most…

In Girl Guides we have a challenge story activity we use with the kids. They are to pretend that they are stranded on an island and can only take 10 things with them in order to survive.

The result comes out one of two ways when we do it with kids. 
  • Some kids will choose to list what they need to stay alive. They start peppering us with questions about the conditions on that fictitious island. Does it have a coconut tree? Might a polar bear swim up to it? Is it in a fresh water lake or is it surrounded by salty ocean wate
  • Other kids will respond with some desperation about needing their favorite book or iPhone and how they need to bring along the pet turtle so that it is taken care of properly. The choices a child makes are very telling.
The next important move comes for my young teen group when we get them to repeat the exercise and work together to decide as a unit what they need to bring. That starts with some friction, heated discussions and in the long run it leads to a group that can work together in real situations. It is usually a group with someone practical wanting to bring a hatchet to build a shelter, someone who will want their iPod with music and extra batteries to keep everyone cheered up, and that little turtle nurturer will make sure everyone is taken care of.  It is nice to have a team you can depend on.

The real strength of the list is not the items on it. It is the decision-making and awareness of your personal values.

10 things that make me happy:
  1. My family 
  2. My friends 
  3. My camera 
  4. My family photos 
  5. My computer 
  6. My music 
  7. My books, including the bible 
  8. My house with its apple tree 
  9. My summer cottage on the little island 
  10. Flowers and birds and bugs

10 things I take with to my island cottage, (besides food and water and the keys):
  1. Medications 
  2. Cane 
  3. Computer 
  4. Camera 
  5. Phone 
  6. Magazines/Books 
  7. Guitar 
  8. Craft materials 
  9. DVD to watch 
  10. Bathing suit

HAWMC -Day 12 Stream of Consciousness

HAWMC Day 12

Stream of Consciousness Day. Start with the sentence “______”just write, don’t stop, don’t edit Post!

So we challenge you, start with this phrase: “Today I looked in the mirror and…”  

 This turned out to be a very powerful exercise for me. 

I have never actually shared on-line what happened to me to cause my heath crisis, or for that matter what my heath issues are. I use phrases like "when I got sick".

I also have never publicly discussed my serious weight issues. I guess all it takes is 30 days of writing challenges to get me to open up and someone to tell me to just let it flow and don't edit. If I had stopped to edit you would never be reading my story.

Today I looked in the mirror…. and I can't believe I am really sharing this but.. I am looking a lot better than I did before I got sick almost 4 years ago. I was extremely overweight .. oh heck …yes .. morbidly obese, Biggest Looser big.  I tried not to look in the mirror back then.

I developed a critical series of heath issues at the age of 50. Eventually it was shown that my weight probably had very little to do with my illnesses, however one look at me led the health care professionals to jump to wrong conclusions and diagnosis and treatment went horribly wrong.  Yes, my weight put me in grave danger, but mainly because of prejudices based on my appearance, and my own embarrassment and reluctance to stand up for myself. 

 I almost died of a pulmonary embolism and the cause of the blood clots in my lungs was most likely related to a massive undiagnosed uterine tumour. The blood thinners to treat the lung clots caused the tumour to haemorrhage. My blood pressure was dropping and the treatment they chose was to give me medications that rapidly elevated my blood pressure resulting in a stroke according to the MRI results, As well  many, many tiny areas of damage occurred  in my brain because of oxygen deprivation due to extremely low blood volume. Several blood transfusions later I was stabilized, but so much damage was already done.  I was then declared unfit for any form of surgery and it was more than a year of agressive treatment for the tumour before it began to shrink and I was reassured that I would indeed survive.

 I found myself facing a lot of weight related problems while in the hospital. Larger blood pressure cuffs were not available. I needed the MRI and they withheld testing me for a while because they thought I might not be an appropriate size for their equipment. I was subjected to a humiliating set of measurements and it turned out I was not even close to the kind of numbers that would have been an issue and they should never have delayed testing. One nurse said that she didn't have time to go looking for an extra large hospital gown so they left me with only a blanket to cover myself. They kept testing me for disorders common to obese people and did not listen to me as I described my symptoms as acute changes and not chronic conditions.

I am still so angry at some of the medical professionals that dealt with me. I am angry with a heath care system that is not prepared to deal with larger people. Mainly I am still angry at myself for getting so overweight in the first place, and even more disgusted with myself for not being a better advocate for myself.

 I have spent most of the the past 4 years with impaired balance. I am dizzy and nauseated. Guess what?  All that nausea and vomiting and some of the serious medication side effects caused me to loose weight. I was still pretty heavy, but nothing compared to before. Person after person who saw me  told me how I had never looked so good. I had trouble talking, reading and making decisions. I was using a walker. The left side of my face was hanging and my left arm and leg were not functioning properly -- but yes, my weight was down so I looked just great to everyone.

My weight is currently up from that low weight.  I am back to leading a life of monitoring what goes in my mouth and chastising myself for consuming chocolate Easter Eggs when I am  upset. I still have issues as an emotional overeater, but now I know that I have the will and strength to overcome great difficulties.

When I look in the mirror now…  yes I see a thiner woman... but mainly I see a strong brave woman.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

HAWMC - Day 11 My Theme Song

HAWMC Day #11: Theme song.

Imagine your health focus or blog is getting its own theme song. What would the lyrics be? What type of music would it be played to?

Today's prompt sounded simple but it was remarkably hard!!! I really like music and respond strongly to certain music and so I have already chosen to share on this blog many of the songs that inspire me. Some brave souls are no doubt writing original music or lyrics and some even are performing their songs and uploading them onto YouTube to share with us.

Someday, in the far distant future, you might check into this blog and see me play my guitar because apparently I am almost ready to start grade one music! lol. I am actually very proud of that accomplishment because 3 years ago I could barely open and close my hand, and when I started lessons a year ago I was having trouble physically holding onto the guitar. Yes, someday you might see me playing Blackbird and I will be thinking about it's lines.. "Take these broken wings and learn to fly...You were only waiting for this moment to arise."

My blog has been changing over the past few years and I think that my choice of songs is also changing from year to year as my heath and recovery focus shifts.

When I started making my first web pages years and years ago I learned to put background music on my pages and one of my best pages about my life at the time used the song Here Comes the Sun -- by the Beatles. Where I live is actually pretty sunny but we sure do have long cold lonely winters and I enthusiastically welcomed spring thaw. I was a mom with four kids so I also liked singing that phrase "Little Darlings the smiles returning to the faces".

Maybe "Here Come the Sun" is still a good theme for me in this "season" of my health journey.  My health has certainly improved and frankly so has my attitude.
  • It has been a very long cold lonely "winter" and I was not at all sure that I would come through it and I was pretty darn sure I would not like the life ahead of me.
  • I feel that ice is slowly melting. Oh yes, it sure has been a slow process and an unbelievable amount of work but I am getting there, wherever and whatever there might be.
Like the song says - It's all right.

The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun Lyrics

Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
It's all right

HAWMC - Day 10 Dear Younger Me

Dear 16-year-old-me. Write a letter to yourself at age 16. What would you tell yourself? What would you make your younger self aware of?

Dear 16 year old Me,

What should I tell you?
Will you listen to me and make any different decisions? 
If you did know the future, what would you choose to change? What would you gain and what would you loose because of those choices?

What if I told you that you would have a series of health crisis that will result in brain damage? That you will have trouble walking and talking and making decisions? That you will have to start all over again learning about numbers and reading? What if I told you that pushing for health care, instead of ignoring your problems might have prevented so much suffering.

If you know all these things you should also know that,  you are not alone. That boy you are dating, and your children, and many friends will be there for you. There is help in the community,  there are friends to be made and grandchildren to be born. You should know that you will become a strong woman.

Maybe you should NOT know any of this at age 16.  Maybe you should meet the challenges as they come to you, one day at a time.


What I really do want you to know is that you are of value and worth taking very good care of.  You have the strength and wisdom to take on all that stands ahead of you. You should also trust your instincts and ask for help when you feel things are not right. Ask the questions and get help for your family, help for your friends, and yes - even help for yourself.

With many Hugs,
A much older Linda

Wego Health stated in their notes about this writing prompt for today that  “This post was inspired by the “Dear 16-year-old Me” YouTube campaign video by The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund” I want to include that excellent video here.

I have a close friend who is going through this right now. She is wise and knew to seek help early.  I can’t do too much for her right now, but maybe seeing this video will help someone else.

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