About Me

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Denver, Colorado, United States

Sunday, November 25, 2012

You Go Girl!

"It is important that you recognize your progress and take pride in your accomplishments. Share your achievements with others. Brag a little. The recognition and support of those around you is nurturing.”---Rosemarie Rossetti

A friend of mine pointed out, that while she liked my "One Year Later" blog post, that I focused too much on how my life has changed and what I can't do and not on what I had accomplished.  Sure she was wrong (because I'm usually such a positive person), I went back and read the post.  She was right!!! 
She even began listing some things that I should mention and be proud of!!!!  "Thank you Amy...I intend to fix that now."

"Wow, where do I begin..." 

I guess the first accomplishment was returning to work 2 weeks after having my arm amputated.  That was pretty big.  I had asked the surgeon when I could return to work...figuring he'd say the customary 6-8 weeks.  He asked "what do you do?"  I replied "loan officer".  He said "two weeks" (seeing the shock on my face he followed with) "I'll write you a note for whatever you want but the sooner you go back the better you'll be".  I hesitated but agreed...I had no vacation or sick time and couldn't afford to be out of work anyhow. 

Next accomplishment...driving.  I was pretty traumatized after the accident and not very eager to get back behind the wheel.  I kept having mini flashbacks of going off the road.  My first 3 days of work, friends drove me...but being the independent control freak I am...3 days was about all I could handle.  On the 4th day I rented a car.  Looking back it was pretty funny.  When the rental agent got the information from my auto insurance company (who was paying for the rental) he gave me this sad look and asked if I would like the additional rental coverage (sure that he had me)...I declined..."Nah, already made my deductible", I smiled.  I acted all confident while I was there but drove about 10-15 miles under the speed limit for about a month.  I was scared but determined.

Next big step for me was dating again...good thing I don't get discouraged too easily.  The first date never called again and the second stood me up on New Years Eve.  I wouldn't have been so ticked about the second if he would have had the decency to just cancel.  I drove 60 miles round trip in snow and ice to meet him half way (still scared to death of driving) to get stood up...ass!  Lol.  The third person I went out with (technically second since real second was a no-show) restored my faith in men.  He was a gentleman.  No kiss until the 3rd date, flowers at work, a weekend getaway, met his family, and drove me to and from the airport when I went to Chicago for work. (When I returned home I was greeted by him standing in the airport holding a sign with my name on it, lol, dork!) It was a great couple of months, ultimately the timing was off, but at the time we were both what the other needed.  He also gave me the confidence to continue and, for that, I will always be grateful.

When I moved to Wyoming, 3 weeks before my accident, the plan was to live at my friend's ranch, have a home built on my land, and move out the following spring.  The accident, a disorganized builder, and finances finally put the house on hold.  I was welcome to stay at the ranch but I was itching to get back out on my own.  I needed to prove to myself that I could do it without any help.  I looked at it as "if I can't do it on my own, living in a small house, in town...how the hell did I think I could do it on my own, on 40 acres, in the middle of nowhere".  I'm proud to say it's been almost 7 months, I have a beautiful little house, I'm happy, the dogs are happy, and we're all still alive :)  It's not the ranch but it's a wonderful stop-over...and now I'll be much better equipped to handle whatever the ranch throws my way when that time comes.

That brings me to my final two, ranch related, accomplishments (I'm sure there are more but these are the biggies). 

The first one was buying a sturdy, wooden, 10' x 12' shed to put out on the property.  I was looking for a "base camp" for the time I spent out there.  I hate using the term "shed" because it brings to mind a flimsy, unattractive, catch all, used for storage.  I chose a 10' x 12' because it was the largest I could have without getting a building permit.   "Little House", as I call it, has 2 working windows with screens and flower boxes, a shingled roof, and high ceilings.  At first I just outfitted it with a card table, an air mattress, and a barbeque grill.  I'm in the process, now, of refinishing a real bed to put out there, a cafe table, a fire pit and patio for more upscale camping.  I spent two nights out there this past summer and loved it!!!!  I can't wait until spring when it's all finished.  Building may be on hold for a while but I can still enjoy the ranch while I'm waiting. 

My final accomplishment was finishing a cookbook I planned to do a year ago.  Why now?  I needed to feel like the financial setbacks with the ranch could be turned around.  I also felt the need for another creative outlet (this blog is a HUGE one for me) that could earn me extra money.  Before, I had made soaps, bath products and went to craft shows.  The soaps and bath fizzies are a little hard to make one handed but typing, writing, and taking photographs I can do.  I returned to the cookbook idea in July.  The problem?  I needed everything done by the end of August in order to have the completed books, in hand, and in time for the ever important holiday sales and craft shows.  We did it , and it has been a bigger success than I imagined.  So much so, that I'm considering another one for next year.  I've only done one craft show so far but have 2 more planned.  I wasn't sure how a cookbook would go over at a craft show but was pleasantly surprised.  I noticed there were two types of people that came up to my booth.

The first type, picked up the book, looked at the cover, said "how much?" , set it down, and walked away. 

The second type, looked inside, saw Sara's picture, read "The Dream", looked at the layout and the pictures, some teared up, said "how much?", and "I'll take three!"

Many thanks to the second type!  :)

The last year has flown by and, to be honest, it hasn't all been easy and I've gone to bed EXHAUSTED almost every night but most nights before I fall asleep...I take a moment and "I recognise my progress and take pride in my accomplishments." 

Thank you again, Amy, for reminding me to brag about it more often!  :)

                                  OK, just pretend that lady only has one arm ;)

Monday, November 19, 2012

One Year Later

"If you learn from your suffering, and really come to understand the lesson you were taught, you might be able to help someone else who's now in the phase you may have just completed. Maybe that's what it's all about after all..."---Unknown

November 19, 2012.  It's been one year since this cowgirl took a tumble and lost her left arm.  I've learned many lessons over the last year...some good, some bad, but all valuable.  I'd like to share them with you and hopefully you'll find at least one lesson of your own to take away from this.  Just like the quote above says, "Maybe that's what it's all about after all..."

The questions I get most often (besides how it happened) are about my physical limitations.   "How do you tie your shoes?"  "Can you still drive?"  AND...the ever popular..."How do you get your bra on?"  To be honest, there isn't really much I can't do.  Are things more difficult?  Yes.  Do they take longer? Definately!  For the most part, however, I have either adapted or found tools to help me get things done or just avoided doing things that aren't as important. (Like tying my shoes...slip on sneakers, zip up or pull on boots)

Right after the accident it took me at least an hour to shower, put on makeup, and get dressed.  Washing your hair isn't as easy with one hand...especially the opposite side of your head. Same goes for washing on my right side.  Next time you shower try to wash your right arm with your right arm...fun huh? Now try shaving your underarm.  Hardest part of brushing your teeth and putting on makeup?  Opening all those tubes and bottles with twist off caps.  The bra?  Hook it, step into it, shimmy it up and over your butt without getting it all twisted and bursting into tears...that took a good 10 minutes. (Got a solution/tool now for that. I'll show you in a minute since I know you're dying to find out how I do it, lol)  Getting dressed is OK as long as there are no tiny buttons.  Biggest dressing pain?  Straightening out pockets on my left side with my right hand.  It's taken some adjusting and practice but I'm proud to say I can get ready in about 40 minutes now.  Largely due to my bra angel...yes you heard me right...here's the most valuable tool I've found so far.

LOL.  Now you know.

I could go on and on about the physical adjustments I've had to make...the list is endless.  Here are just a few.  Try cutting something when you can't cut it and hold it still at the same time.  Lifting anything heavy is out...unless it has a handle.  Try signing a reciept with one hand (and try to avoid decking the cashier who just watches you fumble with it).  Try pushing a shopping cart with one hand without running into anything.  Try crawling seductively up to your partner on hand (singular) and knees...not so sexy anymore...seriously try it.  LOL.

Which brings me to the hardest adjustment for me and my biggest fear.  Appearance.  I know it's sounds shallow and I've been told over and over again "if they're a good person it won't matter".  To be honest, it hasn't been a big issue like I thought it would be.  I've been on more dates in the year since my accident than I was in the year prior.  The adjustment needed isn't with the attitude of others as much as it is with my attitude towards myself.  I am super aware that I'm missing something, and no matter how good I think I look, when I look in the mirror my focus shifts to my arm and it knocks my confidence down a notch.  I'm terrified that the sight of my bare shoulder will cause someone I care about to run for the hills.  Again, I've not found this to be true...but when a relationship doesn't work out I can't help but think to myself  "they probably found a 'whole woman' they like better."  I might be right, but more likely it's a problem within myself...I need to listen to what others tell me "you are amazing and beautiful" and BELIEVE IT. 

I'll keep working on that one.

OK, that part was hard to write...had a few tears...but I got it out.  Sometimes that's what you need to do in order to move on to happier things. 

That's what I'll end with. 

So far this post has been about what I've struggled with.  I want to end with the good that's come out of it.
I've realized, yet again, (the first time was when Sara was going through treatments and passed away) how truly blessed I am to have a wonderfully supportive family and amazing friends.  I have been through a lot over the last several years and I'm sure I would not have made it this far without you all.  I've learned there is nothing you can't accomplish if you truly have passion and believe in what you're doing.  I've learned that some of the simplest things can hold onto a large part of your heart (Coming home from the hospital and having my dogs run up to welcome me home).  I've learned that there is good in everyone even though it's usually hidden away under a protective coating (Some of the toughest cookies were my kindest supporters).  Finally, I was reminded of something I've known all along...when something like this happens to you...you need to share it.  There may be someone out there who is feeling the exact same thing but unwilling or unable to express themselves like I do.  If I can help one person by telling my story, in the end,  it will all be worth it. 

"Maybe that's what it's all about after all...."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Help Wanted

"A healthy way of thinking and acting is to allow yourself to receive the help and love you need.  You weren't designed to live alone.  You have limitations on your strength and abilities"."---Michael Barbarulo

"My name is Christine and I refuse to ask for help." 

They should have a 12 Step Program for people like me.  I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one who could benefit from it. I hate asking for help and will try everything possible to avoid it.  For me, asking for help is a sign of weakness.  I'm afraid others will think "poor girl, she can't do it herself" or the famous "I just wish she'd meet a nice guy to take care of her".  They probably don't think that at all but that's the kind of stuff that goes on in my head. I tend to over think things a little.

Most of my inability to ask for help is due to pride.  I was so proud of bringing up Sara on my own, especially during her five years of treatment.  I was on top of it all...work, doctors appointments, hospital stays, scans, providing non-hospital food and being there for her when she needed me.  I was taking care of all that with little, or no, help and I was extremely proud of that! 

It's a big adjustment for me now as I realize the things I physically can't do myself anymore (tie my shoes, believe me, I've tried)...or that I can do but it takes me three times longer (like laundry).  For the most part I've adjusted and can do almost everything...it just takes longer and probably isn't as safe as it was before.  Climbing a ladder, for example, I can do it but I can't hold on and grab what I need.  Not to mention that my balance is thrown off a bit by uneven body weight...thanks to the hospital for pointing that out...never would have though of that. 

There are times I've tried to do something without help and most of the time I am successful.  Other times, however, no matter how hard I try I just can't do it.  It's usually followed by a mini temper tantrum and then the meltdown and crying.  It never lasts long but is the best reliever of frustration without resorting to drinking and yet another 12 Step Program.  I try to deal with my frustration naturally :) 

I first started thinking about accepting help, when offered, a few months ago when I got a new bed frame and mattress delivered to my house.  It was left on my doorstep, while I was at work, and I managed to get it into the house.  The box was sitting there unopened when I had a friend over.  He offered to help me set it up and I declined the first time but when he insisted, I said "OK".  We had it set up within minutes, and to be honest I was thankful, I could have done it myself but it would have taken much longer and there might have been some tears involved. 

Later, when we were talking about that night, he made me think about accepting and asking for help in a different way.  It's not all about me and what I can or can't do...it's about someone who cares and wants to help.  They wouldn't offer if they didn't want to help and they wouldn't accept a request for help if they didn't want to.  By not accepting a sincere offer I was, in essence, saying "I don't need you."  Hmmm, I'd never thought of it that way before...but I do now. 

It still takes some getting used to and I have to keep reminding myself but I am getting better at it.  Just last weekend, when leaving from work on Friday night, a friend offered to help me set up for the craft show the next morning and I declined.  "I'll be fine" I said.  Later that night I was posting about the craft show the next morning and she offered again...and again, I declined.  This time, however, I thought about it for a minute.  She offered twice...if she really didn't want to help she would have thought to herself  "Oh, thank God, I was just being nice...dodged the bullet on that one" and that would have been the end of it.  I turned back around and said "You know what? Yes...please".  The next morning she and her family were there waiting for me.  What would have taken me at least 30 minutes was done in 10.  Thank you Fay, I really appreciated your help and persistence. 

One day I'll learn.

***Oh, and by the way...whoever wants to help...I need someone to climb a ladder and get my Christmas decorations down from the loft in the garage.  Promised Mom & Dad I wouldn't try to do it myself :)


Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Veterans Day Thank You

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." ---Jose Narosky
"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." ---Cynthia Ozick

Tonight I'm snuggled safe in my bed making plans for my three day weekend...and I get to thinking about why I'm off on Monday...Veterans Day.  To be honest, unless it's Thanksgiving or Christmas, I don't really think much about the meaning behind the holiday...I'm just happy to have a day off work.  Tonight's a little different.

I believe what made me stop to think about it was a question I've been asked a couple of times in the last few months.  I've had customers at work ask if I was a veteran (because of my missing arm).  What amazed me, when they asked, was I felt honored that they would think that I was a veteran (and that they thought I could have actually made it through boot camp, lol). 

I can't really imagine what it would have been like to have served.  The only thing I could compare the feeling to is that of an extremely loving, protective, and proud parent. 

There is one person I would have layed my life down to protect, my daughter.
To the veteran that is their country.

She may not have always showed me respect...but I loved and protected her anyway.
A veteran does this every day...protect a country that often turns it's back on them.

My only wish was that she grew up to be an amazing woman that I could be proud to call my own.
The veterans wish is to return home to the country that makes him proud to have served.

They deserve our respect, admiration, and thanks for protecting all of us, our families, and all we hold dear.

"Thank you"