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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


First, Congratulations to Teresa in the Middle Side of Life
I think one of the things that makes a good song is that it can be interpreted different ways for different people in different circumstances. The Killers' "Human" is one of those songs. Here's my daugher, Brooke's, acoustic version - no video, just audio, but oh-so-beautiful:
Here's what I get from this song:
We've all got the ability to think, consider, and decide on the course of our lives. We are not just dancers on a stage blindly following the choreographer's directions and being just one of the group. We each have our own beautiful dance called life - and as we get on our knees we can receive direction, then move forward with confidence.
So the question is:
Are we human, or are we dancer?
My answer:
We are both.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I picked up a charming, inspirational book that is short enough to be read in one sitting, yet inspirational enough to take it slowly and read over a long period of time.
by Christine Hall made me smile and brought peaceful thoughts. Check out her book on Amazon ... it's the perfect little gift book as well! Looks as nice as it reads!
Now this is neat:
I had the pleasure to meet the author on one of my recent business trips and got her to autograph my personal copy. (yay for me!) And I also talked with her about "Silver Strands". Chris told me about a great concept she learned from her Moonflower and I captured this conversation on my iPhone. Here it is for you:
Additionally, she agreed to a giveaway for you very cool blog readers!
Want a personally autographed copy of
Just be a follower of this blog and leave a comment.
Winner will be drawn and announced on Monday.
For additional entries blog, facebook, or twitter about this. Visit and watch a :30-second time lapse of a moonflower blooming for an extra 3 entries.

I'm all about inspiration and sharing the inspirations I find with you. You won't be disappointed with this one ... please check it out!

teaser: I'm visiting Cedar Fort Publishing next month to learn about the publishing of this and other inspirational books - my post after that visit promises to be lots of fun and even exciting for you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


On Sunday I attended a class discussion about charity. I learned a couple of really important things: charity is a gift. We know that, but I think that sometimes we believe (at least, I do) that we can develop charity just by practicing it. But it is truly a gift - a gift bestowed on us even though we are undeserving. I think often we think that having charity is a gift we give to others ... But in reality, even though charity on our part helps others, charity is something that heals us, protects us, purifies us. A very wise comment was made and it went something like this: there are people in this world that are just plain mean. Honestly mean. When we are treated poorly by a person like that, but are able to bind our tongues and even feel peace in our hearts, that is a gift from a loving Heavenly Father - a gift that can be bestowed by our asking for it in prayer.

This was great food for thought for me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, March 18, 2011

Holy Halibut!

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
~ Mark Twain
Several years ago, while living in Southeast Alaska, I was invited by a couple of grizzled old fishermen to join their ranks for subsistence halibut fishing for the season. These guys owned a nice little fishing boat, and just a year or so earlier locals were permitted to obtain a subsistence permit allowing us to longline for halibut like the commercial fishermen. This is different than just dropping a pole because there are 20 or 30 hooks on each line, and the potential for a lot of fish is greater.

I love halibut. I love salmon too ... but halibut! oh- so-yummy!! My husband is the one with sea legs, but his job made him unavailable for this, so I sucked up my courage, obtained my license and "jumped in with both feet". My presence (and my license) gave these guys an extra line - so in a way I was helping them - but, really, this was a gift for me. That summer we filled our freezer with halibut steaks and our pantry with canned halibut, thanks to this adventure. Food was not the only gift I got that summer. I learned that the price we pay for fish is fair - this kind of fishing is hard work! I learned that skills really can be developed without possessing any natural talent in the area. I learned more clearly than I knew before, that a rough exterior is often covering up a very soft, sweet inside. I learned how to fillet a halibut; and that although dead, the nervous system still works and to try to not jab the spinal cord because while stradling the huge monster, bending over with a knife in it's back, it's tail will flip up and slap me in the rear. I learned that although we can do some things alone, real success in any venture comes from teaming up. A big thank you to Glenn, Jim and Glen for my summer of halibut fishing.

So, for those of you interested, here's what the fishing was like:
* Wake up and don my xtra-tuff rubber boots and my float coat (I know - as if I didn't feel BIG enough already - this thing comes padded with floatationg devices!)
* Head to the harbor and climb on board
* Start to separate the hooks hanging on the barrel while the men ready the boat
* Hang on, and face forward for a few minutes as we get underway
* Grab the salmon heads and salmon tails and have them ready to bait the hooks
* Be grateful I didn't throw up as we make it to our fishing destination
* Speed baiting: bait the hook and hand it to the guy who hooks it to the line as it drops
* Take off, chew ginger mints and try to develop those sea legs as we head to the next destination
* Take up the line dropped a few days ago: My job was either to unbait the hooks that weren't touched or to coil the rope as it came up on the hydrolic lift. Unbaiting was gross - you just pull off the half eaten head or tail and throw it into the ocean, then hang the hook. But you have to be fast, because the line really zips. That is, until a fish comes up on one of the hooks. This is the exciting part. Most of the time we'd pull up a 10-80 lb halibut. Glenn would gaff it as it neared the side of the boat, pull it inside and toss it into the fish tub (I say it like it was easy - like tossing a ball. But sheesh! these guys are STRONG!) Another guy would then quickly bleed the fish and then go back to his other job. Several times, it would get really exciting as a big fish would come up. That picture is the biggest we caught: about 300 lbs! When a huge one like that would come up, it wouldn't fit in the holding tub, so the guys would have to shoot it (that's right - with a gun!) then it would take all 3 of them to lift it in to the boat where they would tie the mouth to the tail so it wouldn't flop around. After the big catch was over, we'd head back towards shore, the whole while feverishly working to filet and clean up. After a few times out with these guys they thought it was time for me to learn this skill. A fun time for them, as the fish really did flip up and slap me in the rear ... I was so shocked that the gigantic filet knife went flying and I screamed like a little girl. But I learned the skill. Anyway, then we'd get back to the harbor, divide up the fish, clean the boat (killer with all that fish yuck) and part ways until our next outing.

After this summer, "grizzled old fisherman" became the best compliment I could pay a person!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

leap into the dark

"We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success."
Henry David Thoreau
In following with this week's theme of living life to the fullest, taking chances, risks ...
here you go:

It took us a bit of time to get through our college years, but boy! was it ever a wonderful journey! Brad graduated with a degree in Jazz Music Composition then spent the summer SCUBA diving. In Utah. I know – hard to wrap your mind around that, isn’t it … diving in Utah. He got certification upon certification and by the end of the summer was a legit, PADI Dive Instructor. Trevor had just turned 5 and Halloween night after trick-or-treating we gathered as a family of 3 and made the decision to accept the job offer on Guam. I was due to deliver our 2nd child in December and we committed to be in Guam the first of January. I’m a pretty protective mom, so Brooke was 10 months old before I agreed to leave the kids with a sitter. This first date with Brad in nearly a year was on a warm, tropical night – on board the Sea Odyssey. Brad had worked for the company as a dive guide and Japanese-speaking dive instructor and was excited to take me out for the company dive party. Problem was – I didn’t dive. I never understood the draw. I stuck on a mask and regulator at a lake in Utah once, poked my head in and saw pretty much nothing. So there was never a burning desire to dive for me. But we did spend a few afternoons as a family on the beach once we were on Guam and I donned a mask and snorkel and saw that there really is a whole new world under the sea. It was gorgeous. Yes! I could learn to love visits under the water! So this night out, Brad asked me if I would please dive with him. Everyone would be diving, and it would be good for him with the company if I dove too. Plus, he had been trying to talk me into diving since we arrived in the tropics. It was a typically warm, muggy night – made comfortable by the ocean breeze. Everyone but the captain was in the water and Brad was helping me climb into the gear. Strapping my tank onto the BC, Brad went over the steps again: “Use your right hand to cover your mask and regulator, and cover your weight belt with your left hand. I’ve checked your tank and the air is turned all the way on. Now when you do the giant stride off the boat, look straight ahead and really make it a giant stride. It’s safer that way, I’ll be right there. You won’t go too far down before floating back up to the top. I’ll be right there – and we’ll go down together.” I understood what he was saying, but it was dark. And deep. And did I say it was dark? One big splash and Brad was in the water – I stood alone on the deck, just 3 feet above the surface. I knew I couldn’t make Brad beg to get me to jump in – the captain was the owner of the company and it just wouldn’t look good. So I scooched to the edge of the deck, focused straight ahead on nothing, covered my mask and regulator with my right hand and my weight belt with my left, thought “Brad wouldn’t ask me to do anything that would make me die”, then stretched my leg straight out in a perfect giant stride, held my breath, and plunged. Deep. Well, it felt deep. I think I even closed my eyes. So I wasn’t sure that I had even surfaced when I heard Brad trying to get my attention. “I’m going to let the air out of your BC and we’ll go down together. Keep your eyes on me as we go down and give me the ok sign whenever I ask you for it. If you absolutely have to come up, don’t shoot to the top – just give me the signal and we’ll go up. Ready?” I don’t remember telling him I was ready, but I do remember breathing out of my regulator and feeling relief that he really did turn on the air. Down we went, and I focused on Brad’s eyes and popping my ears and tried to ignore the vast blackness around me. Brad held my hand through the entire dive – his other hand holding the flashlight. He would aim the flashlight in different directions, but I just focused on Brad. We were only minutes into the dive when I motioned for us to go up. Wordlessly Brad communicated that I was ok and that we should continue. I kept thinking that as long as Brad had my hand, I was fine. He would keep me safe. Eventually I was so insistent that Brad took me to the surface. Brad has always been so in tune with directions and distance. He knew if we surfaced there we would have quite a swim back to the boat, but he acquiesced anyway. When we broke through the surface he inflated my BC and had me lie on my back. As Brad towed me back to the boat he talked about all the magnificent things “we” saw. Fish of all kinds, eels, shellfish that only come out at night, and on and on. I wondered where he had been! I didn’t see a thing – only Brad’s eyes and the blackness all around me.

I had plunged into the dark. And with that plunge I broke through my fears: My fear of leaving the kids, my fear of darkness, my fear of being blanketed in water. And what a blessing that plunge into the darkness was! Just 2 days later I left the kids with a friend and spent the day on the water with Brad and diving tourists.

I explored the underwater world during the day, in water so clear that I could see for miles. At 70 or 80 feet below the surface I looked up and it was so clear it looked like I could reach up and touch the bottom of the boat. An entire new world was opened up for me. Through our years on Guam I found shells, swam with sharks, explored coral, fed eels. Diving became my passion.
I learned that the beautiful creation we call the Earth was much more than rainforests and mountains. Besides the beauty under the ocean, the weightlessness, the ease of movement, the freedom in water – those were entirely new sensations that have made my life more complete. I would never have known that peaceful excitement had I not taken my original deep, dark plunge.

"Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary-line and adding to one's liberty."
Henri Frederic Amiel

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Risks & Rewards

This week's posts will be all about taking chances in life.
For a long time, jumping out of an airplane has been on my bucket list.
I have flying dreams all the time and have been so excited to really do it! So although I sort of "fell" out of the plane rather than jumping, it was still a great adventure. I won't lie to you: I had a split second of fright at the beginning of the fall ... but only a split second.
The rest was total thrill. TOTAL.
"Do one thing every day that scares you."
Eleanor Roosevelt

What risk will you take this week?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MS ... Trial and triumph, part 5

Well, time ticked by. Wednesday nights and Thursdays, though dreaded, became routine. Brooke grew up way too quickly, but excelled at motherhood although just barely in high school. The younger kids got used to everything and we all continued to function. About 8 months into it all, I was preparing for my injection when all of a sudden I broke into a sweat. I had a major mental block that froze me solid. Holding the needle over my leg, I counted down: 3, 2, 1 .... Go. C'mon ... I can do this ... Go! But I just couldn't. 20 minutes later I convinced my 9-year old to do the dirty work for me. The older ones were all gone, and it had to be done. Sierra became the shot giver from then on. Everyone morphed into their roles, and although a little out of the ordinary, we were a functional family.
Time passed, Trevor returned home from his mission, left for college, met the girl of his dreams and became engaged.
Brad excelled at his job, was a leader at church, and continued to take the boys on Alaskan adventures. (he would take the girls too - but none of us were too keen on sleeping in snow caves and such).
I saw my neurologist in Seattle 4 times a year - going for an overnight stay in the hospital each time (as required by my catastrophic insurance).

Shortly after I was diagnosed, my sister-in-law took up running. I've never understood the draw to this painful form of exercise, so I asked her what possessed her. She told me that when I found out I couldn't run, she decided to start running because she could. She did it out of gratitude. What a lesson for me! I told her that when the day came that I could run again, my first order of business would be to get in shape and run a 5k with her. (I had no idea, really, that I was committing myself to being a runner sooner rather than later!) Summer of 2005 as we prepared for Trevor and Caci's wedding, my MS symptoms were pretty much gone and the side effects of the weekly injections started to get worse again. I told Brad that I figured that I was clean of MS and the side effects were bad because I really didn't need the medicine. I decided to see if I could run. I could. So I did. I began with once around the track, called my sister in law to tell her, and bit by bit worked my way up to 3+ miles.

I was due for a doctor visit about the time we would be traveling to the lower 48 for the wedding, so on our way down, during a layover at SeaTac, Brooke once again stepped up to the plate and played "mother" in the airport while Brad and I zipped to see the doctor. I had gotten so used to the insane pounding and screeching of MRIs that this last one didn't even phase me. In fact ... I actually fell asleep during it. (I know! Miracles come in all forms!) We were brought in the office to wait for the doctor and were discussing the upcoming wedding when Dr. Roberts walked in, turned on the computer, brought up my MRI for us to look at together. Through the years I had learned to read my MRIs quite well, so I knew exactly what he was going to say when the picture came up on the screen. "There are not only no lesions at all on here, but there is no sign of you ever having had MS. I am honored to have been your doctor, but a Higher Power is responsible for this."

We continued our trip down to Utah for the wedding and for me to participate in my first 5k ever. My sister in law organized a race just for me: Sun Up Run Down. We had t shirts and everything! I didn't finish first, but I did finish. As I was training for this 5-k I would keep myself going by singing songs in my head. Invariably a special hymn would always pop up:

1 I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me! Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

2 I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,That he should extend his great love unto such as I, Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me! Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

3 I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt! Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat, Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me! Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

As I ran I would imagine kneeling at His feet ... I would report to Him on what I had done with the body that He paid such a high price for me to have. I determined, during my running, that It doesn't matter what infirmities come my way, I will do everything I can to treat my body as a temple and to be able to report that although the cost was high, I was grateful my entire life for my body - my body that never looked like a super model's, and never won races. My body that housed my ransomed spirit. My body that through this life of trials and triumphs continued to function.

It is wonderful to me.

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MS ... Trial and triumph, part 4

(continued from: part 1, part 2, part 3)

disclaimer: no pictures this post - hope you'll read anyway :)

I need to say that this whole experience was MUCH harder on my family than it was on me. I think it's always worse for loved ones standing helplessly by.

Our doctor, John Roberts, MD ... A gifted physician, an amazing, kind individual, didn't hurry his visit with us. He sat in our hospital room, armed with brochures and prepared to take all the time needed to answer our multitude of questions. "MS is a potentially debilitating disease with no cure. However, there are steps we can take to slow the progression and to lighten the severity of relapses. We will start you on Avonex, an interferon, which you will inject weekly. Starting now with this medication will help slow the progression of MS in your body." But we wanted more information - what caused this? what if we change diet, increase exercise, sleep more, work less? if we can figure out why I got it, we could surely get rid of it ... These were more Brad's thoughts than mine. I wanted to distance myself from anything about MS. It was an ugly word, an ugly disease. I didn't want to think about it, read about it, or talk about it. But that night in the hospital room, I opened up my scriptures and was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants - modern day scripture, Section 89 which is about the Word of Wisdom, the Lord's law of health. Near the end of that section is a promise: "And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint." I had always understood this symbolically .. That is, I had always believed this meant that by following this law of health and living the best we know how that we would have the energy to do important, worthwhile things in this life. But that night in a hospital bed, as I read the words, "run and not be weary" I was struck deep in my soul with the knowledge that this was a literal promise for me, personally. I knew then that if I made it my quest to search and more clearly understand the Word of Wisdom, then implement it in my life - I would be able to run. And I would no longer be weary. It was pure inspiration, personal revelation to me. I had such a deep burning inside that testified to me this was a course of action I should pursue.

When I say that me having MS was harder on my family than on me, it is absolutely true. It haunted Brad. It hurt him to see me unable to live like I had been living. As we walked together through the hospital halls and half way down the hallway my thighs burned as if I'd been pressing hundreds of pounds of weights - and my energy was exhausted to the point of needing to sit down immediately - concern and worry etched deep lines in Brad's face. My parents were on their way west for a family reunion and took a detour to visit me in the hospital. Their tears and concern were more than mine. It was so hard for them to see their little girl in this shape. Back home the family readied for our return. I found out years later the divine wisdom of Trevor having a couple of months with us before leaving on his mission ... Brooke was 13 at the time. She was soon to be thrust into an adult role. Brooke has told me how Trevor would come home from work and find her in her room ... He would take her in his arms and hold her as she wept painful tears. Brooke never had to explain anything to Trevor ... He knew how she felt and he bore her burdens whenever he could. I cry even now when I think about the premature growing up that took place in our home. The first couple of months I spent a lot of time sleeping. My sister lived nearby and was a tremendous help to the family - but Brooke felt the responsibility to mother everyone. She did so beautifully. Dinners were made, kids readied for school, house kept clean ... All under the competent supervision of my grown up 13-year-old. The weight had to be more than I can imagine. Brooke has never talked a lot about it - but every now and then she tells me that it was the hardest time of her life. She tells me how Trevor saved her.

God's laws are eternal and apply to everyone. This I know. And there are blessings attached to each law. One such law is tithing. When we give the Lord one-tenth of our income, we are blessed. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. " (Old Testament, Malachi 3:10). I've witnessed fulfillment of that blessing many times - during the beginning of our MS battle was one of those times. The hospital worked to get us set up having Avonex delivered for my weekly injections. The problem was, insurance wouldn't cover this medication and the cost was about $1200 a month. Brad made a good living that supported our family, but there was not $1200 or anything near that, as discretionary income. Through a series of little miracles, it was worked out for 3-months supply to be FedEx'd to our home regularly. This was a testimony builder for our family. I know that as we consistently pay our tithing that we are blessed both spiritually AND temporally.

Another of God's laws is His law of health. You don't have to be a Mormon or a Christian, or a believer of any kind to benefit from following God's laws. It's black and white - just like the law of gravity. You don't have to believe you won't float away - you can believe anything you want. But if you're on this earth and not in an anti-gravity room, gravity will hold you down. That's just the way it is. If we obey any of God's laws, we will receive the blessing attached. So Brad and I began an in-depth study of the Word of Wisdom. Many people know that Mormons don't smoke or drink. What is often neglected, even by members of the Church, is that there are not just "Don'ts" but also a whole lot of "Do's". Our prayerful study of this section of the Doctrine and Covenants led us to study words of our prophets and apostles. It also led us to research in other ways. I consulted with a holistic healer, Brad read up on what other people with MS were doing, etc. We know that through following our inspiration to study this that we were led to change habits and incorporate things into our daily lives that had a direct impact on my health. Here are some of the things we did:
Eat organic as much as possible
Eat as close to the whole food as possible (that is, we got a grinder and began to grind our own wheat, flake our own oats for oatmeal, buy fruit and veggies in season and as much as possible directly from a farm, etc)
Cut out animal fat
Increase consumption of wild fish, especially salmon
Avoid preservatives
Eat more "live foods" (not cooked - salads & stuff)
Additionally, we re-examined our busy schedules and prayerfully re-prioritized. I learned how to say "no". That was not easy. That may actually have been the hardest habit to change. We let go of a lot of things that we used to say we HAD to do, realizing that we had put that demand on ourselves. In short, we simplified our lives. Instead of trying to do it all, we kept strong emphasis on family time and little (sometimes no) emphasis on other things.

My weekly injections knocked me down and put for 1-2 days each week. Arbitrarily we picked Wednesday night for my injections. An hour before the shot I'd take 2 Tylenol PM and 10 mg of prednisone. We would have dinner and go through our night time routine, do my shot, then I'd crash in the bedroom where I would stay till the kids got home from school the next day. My injection would cause a high fever and give me flu-like symptoms. My skin, my joints, my whole body would hurt and I was unfunctional for a lot of hours. At first it would take two days before I could be up and moving again ... Before long, I could get up the afternoon of the first day after, then by the second day I would be pretty much back to normal. The kids, to this day, HATE Thursdays. I was conspicuously absent one day a week for those three years. This was hard on the family. But lots of wonderful things happened during this time ... My sister would make Thursdays bearable for all of us. She started a family tradition of "Brave Girl Gifts". I got a present every single Thursday for 3 years. And it wasn't like a pack of gum or something like that - I'm talking real presents! Often Camielle (my sister) would leave work and come get the kids to have them hang out at her house and watch TV and eat M&Ms. Camielle became everyone's favorite relative. She served as friend, therapist, and candyman. I watched my family's burden absorbed and lifted as Camielle stepped in. Friends would take over if anything needed attention on Thursdays. Everyone knew it was my PJ day - so people would just take over ... No phone calls or knocks on the door ... The just stepped up and served. I saw the goodness of people - love shown through acts of service.


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MS ... Trial and triumph, part 3

I hadn't seen Brad in 3 weeks ... And I hadn't traveled out of state for SO long.

(photo from Alaska Marine Highway System)
To leave Sitka one must either ferry or fly ... It's pricey, so was an exciting, major event for our family for any of us to leave. So the night before I left, my kids all had a blast picking out clothes for me. I remember being so happy that they found something to be excited about, but so incredibly fatigued that if I had to try on even one more thing I thought I might just collapse. Really, truly. Brad and I met up at baggage claim in Seattle and went directly to the Neurology Offices adjoining the hospital.

(photo from Virginia Mason Medical Center)
The verbal assessment was similar to what occurred in Sitka - I found it funny that they asked, at both places, "are you tired?" ... My response: "of course I'm tired, I'm a mother of 5".

(picture from google images)
I honestly thought that every mother experienced fatigue the way I had. When I look back on that now and remember that very unique tiredness, I am surprised that in itself didn't send me to the doctor. It is an indescribable fatigue. Anyway, even in the amount of time I was sitting in the doctor's office, my symptoms increased. He admitted me to the hospital with plans for further testing the next day. I felt such relief when I climbed into the hospital bed and could at last rest!

I don't know how Brad slept that night, but I was too tired to be scared. When the doc came in for a morning visit and to let us know of the schedule for the day, we quizzed him about what the possibilities were. A tumor on my spine, MS, some other nerve disorder ... I don't know why, but I suspected it was a tumor and all I would need was a day of surgery. Blood tests, neurological tests, strength tests - then finally an MRI. If you've never had an MRI, but find yourself needing one, don't be fooled when they say "it might be a little noisy". OH MY WORD ... I'm not easily frightened, but the noise scared the tar out of me! One moment it sounds like you're in a war zone, the next it sounds like you're at the wrong end of a jack hammer ... It is AWFUL. So when they offer you head phones with your choice of music, take it - but don't expect to really hear the music.

(photo from

That afternoon the doctor came in, sat down, and said "you have lesions on your brain and on your spine consistent with Multiple Sclerosis" ... And thus our journey began.

(part 4 coming tomorrow)

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

MS ... trial and triumph, part 2

(continued from part 1)

Mid-July Trevor’s mission call came. He would be serving in the Russia Samara mission and was scheduled to enter the Mission Training Center in October. The timing was perfect – he would be able to finish out tour season as a kayaking guide and save enough money to support himself for the next two years.

Just a couple of days after Trevor’s mission call came, I woke up with the outside of my right leg completely numb. Not being able to stomp it out, it was something that concerned us slightly. I’d had my veins stripped in my left leg after our last child was born – and if it would have been that leg that was numb, we would have been truly worried. But after a quick phone call to the ER, we decided we’d just go see the chiropractor. Probably a pinched nerve, our chiropractor worked on me a couple of times that week. He also suggested I go to a gym and hang on an anti-gravity machine to see if we could free up that pinched nerve. Within a day or so everything escalated. The numbness spread to both legs and started to rise. After a few days it was up my back and belly and still rising.
image from

Brad was away on a boat delivery on July 24th. That morning a friend was over and her 2-year-old little girl started following after a dog near our yard. I stood up from the lawn chair to run after her and my legs refused my orders. They wouldn’t run. That night there was a big potluck party at our church. Always the kid, I climbed into a potato sack with the intent of showing those kids a thing or two. Again, my legs refused my orders and as the crowd cheered and kids hopped along, I climbed out of the sack, now truly concerned.

(Brad took this picture of the church from the top of a nearby mountain. The building is made entirely out of cedar ... it's not only beautiful, but it smells just like stepping into a cedar closet. It's so neat!)

I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe in Priesthood blessings. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (you might better know us as Mormons) We believe the Priesthood is the power to act in the name of God, and that holders of the Priesthood can bestow blessings of healing from God on anyone who requests this – members and non-members alike. I asked my son and the local missionaries if they would give me a blessing while we were at the church. We entered a classroom, which became a sacred place as hands were placed on my head and the blessing pronounced. The blessing offered comfort as well as advice. Among other things, I was told that this illness was temporary; that through this experience of mine, other people’s faith would grow; that I would be able to know that Heavenly Father is in charge; that I should share my experience and through sharing it, faith would grow; that I would be able to see this not as a stumbling block, but as an opportunity for growth and learning. One thing that really stood out was that even though I was suffering, this was not all about me. In retrospect, I cannot tell you how many times I reflected on those words and found comfort in them, as well as the ability to be joyful through the experience. For some reason, it seems that the things life throws us are easier to deal with when we know we’re doing it for someone else. It was this Priesthood blessing that sustained me through the next few days of diagnosis, the next few weeks of increasing symptoms, and the next three years of pain and hardship.

I arranged for rides home for the kids and drove myself over to the community hospital. I love Sitka. It’s a town of just under 9,000 and is just like a gigantic family.

I walked into the ER, waving to friends in each department as I passed. After spending 3 hours in the hospital, seeing every visiting physician – one after another – and having my blood drawn multiple times, the ward clerk set me up with an appointment in the neurology department at a hospital in Seattle for the following week. They couldn’t accurately diagnose me with anything in Sitka, and the fact that the numbness was exponentially spreading and mobility was decreasing caused even the doctors great concern. I got home, called Brad on the east coast and asked him to change his return flights to meet me in Seattle.
(photo from

... to be continued ~ part 3 tomorrow ...

MS ... trial & triumph, part 1

School was out and the weather was beautiful. Early summer in Sitka, Alaska usually brought plenty of rain with only scattered sunshine.
But this year was different. The fact that Trevor was home from Arizona for the summer before leaving for his 2-year mission seemed to make the whole world shine. Sitka is located on Baranof Island and boasts the wilderness as everyone’s backyard.
The town is just a strip along the seaside and from end to end is only 14 miles.
With all the great weather, after Brad would go to work early each morning to boat tourists all through Sitka Sound and the inlets and bays,
I would get the family up and moving, then take off on my hour of solitude – walking the 3 ½ miles to pick up our mini van from Brad’s work.
That hour alone each morning was my meditation time. I loved it! That’s when I would write my next article in my head, plan the next family trip, create our menu for the week. Even with the sun shining, the temperature rarely rose above 60 degrees, so I could walk briskly and stay comfortable. I noticed just a month or so into summer that by the time I’d arrive at the van my legs would be “buzzing”. It felt as if all the blood had rushed to the surface and was jumping around trying to get out. This would last for less than an hour and I’d soon be busy enough with the day to forget that I had even felt anything.

Three years earlier our family got into local television.

We had a great magazine-style show, “Discovery Southeast” which I got to host and the rest of the family put a great many hours into behind the scenes. Summer was a busy time for everyone, so the editing of these weekly shows became my responsibility by default. Editing is time intensive and I really didn’t want to take time away from family – so I’d often stay up late into the night to get this less than enjoyable job completed in time for the show to air that week. Additionally, this was the summer that the company Brad worked for was making and delivering ferry boats to New York – Brad was the delivery captain which meant I was both mom & dad when he was traveling. I was “burning the candle at both ends”.
One of the great things about living in Alaska was that friends and family would visit each summer.
That year, mid-summer, some family friends came to celebrate their anniversary. We spent time acting as tour guides and enjoying their company. I remember on their last night they invited Brad and me to visit the “Lighthouse” where they were staying. I was so fatigued that I just couldn’t summon up the energy. It was a fatigue unlike anything I had ever before experienced. The thought of driving to the harbor, getting in a skiff, then actually having to climb out – just thinking about it made me tired. So tired I felt I couldn't even move....

(to be continued ... come back tomorrow)

Friday, March 4, 2011


I used to have Multiple Sclerosis.
I know, I know ... there's no cure - it's a life time disease.
But it's true.
2002 with lesions covering my spine and my brain, I was diagnosed.
2005 - a completely clean MRI.
Next week's posts will tell the story, so please join me.
For now, I'm really excited about April 9th in Las Vegas ... I'll be participating in the big WALK and am inviting all who wish, to join Team Denalee.
Don't live in the area but want to help out? Donations can be made on the same link.
I'm excited to share my MS trial and triumph with you next week.
Until then, my blog-friends: Have a wonderful weekend!