Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Paper Back Writer

The Beatle's sang about their desire to write paperback novels.  I echo that desire.  Somehow being able to create a place, time, people, and then link it to history, places, time, and people makes me ever so happy! 

I am an Independent Writer.  That means that I am also my own Accountant, Publicist, Assistant, and Editor.  I sincerely do NOT want to perform any of these tasks...I merely wish to write, write, write! 

I have set myself a very steep goal this year.  I plan on self-publishing three novels.  THREE novels, and I only have two months left to achieve this goal.  YIKES!  I still have quite a way to go on all three books.

That means that as much as I adore blogging, I have to go from 3 or 4 posts a week to maybe one a week.  I'm certain that anyone reading this will not hold their heart sigh, then sob, "NO, NO, SHE CAN'T DO THIS TO US!"  hee hee  If anyone is doing that, thanks ever so much for your attention, but perhaps you need to find something IN ADDITION to reading my blogs in your life!  :)  Perhaps an adorable little dog or kitty?

Please do NOT think that I am denigrating any possible fan that might enjoy reading my work.  Quite the contrary.  I am grateful for each and anyone of you that find enjoyment in reading my writing.

So, I will end this blog with a totally unrelated section.  It is October.  Have you looked outside?  In front of me is a tree that seems to be leaning to the ground it is so laden with the action of Fall.  The lush vibrant leaves are glorious gold, to gracious green.  The lawn in the back looks as though it has been visited by King Midas with his magical golden touch.

Please get yourself some outdoor time today.  Breath the air so redolent with the seasonal change.  Look at the plethora of color that reaches out to you from each tree.  Listen to the crunch of dried leaves under your feet.  Make a hot cocoa, or a hot apple cider, and put your feet up.  Just be still for a moment or two and think of all the wonderful Autumn's that you have experienced...or the not so wonderful ones from the context of what they taught you.  Even if they only taught you to hold on harder when times are rough.

Thanks to each and everyone of you that reads what I write.  Please keep posted for release times of two more books from my series, Angela, Women of the Drifting Ranch, and Celeste, Women of the Drifting Anchor Ranch.  My series is not being written in any sort of chronological order right now.  Some day in the future I may number the books but probably not.  Each book is a stand alone novel.  However, if you read all of the novels it will give you a broader perspective of the place, time and people involved.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How Big is the Foot in your Mouth?

I am pretty much certain that every human being who has ever lived has at some point put their foot squarely in their mouth.  That is a phrase that refers to saying something embarrassing.  So, if you looked back at your life what embarrassments have you suffered?

Of course, since this is my post I feel it appropriate to start with an embarrassing moment in MY life. (There have been far too many to put in a post on blogspot).   I was 7 or 8 years old.  My Grandpa and Grandma had come to visit us.  Grandpa gave me a chocolate to eat.  I was thrilled!  I was allergic to chocolate at that point in my life.  My mama caught me AFTER I had put the chocolate in my mouth and was rejoicing in that creamy rush of heaven.  Mama said, "No, spit it out!"  Now one would honestly assume that I would spit it out in my OWN hand.  Grandpa still had his hand out from giving me the chocolate and I spit it in his outstretched hand.  To my dying day I will see Grandpa's confused, and just plain grossed out, look.  I looked down and realized that I had done something horrifying.  Nobody said anything.  Grandpa just wiped his hand off with handkerchief and we moved on.  That moment is still framed in my mind.  Grandpa's look of horror, Mom's look of embarrasment, and my longing to have the earth open up and swallow me whole.

OK...Now it's your turn.  Don't think too long.  Just go with the first moment that hits your mind.  I appreciate your sharing.  Just think of it as "Cleansing your palate," (think of how cool it must have been to come up with that gourmet eating and cooking term) or in this case cleansing  your mind and heart.

There will be no judging, this is an attempt to help us all realize that we are NOT alone on this bumpy, rough edged path called life.  As usual thanks for your help!


I would love to get some participation in this little experiment.  I'm going to ask some questions, and I will be really excited to hear answers to these questions.  Keep it clean please.

1.  What is the first thing you do every morning after you wake up?

2.  Seasons, name your favorite one.  Tell us why it's your favorite season.

3.  Who is your Hero?  Who is your Shero?  You know, hero, SHEro.  (I will not use the term "heroine" who thought it was cool to give us a name that sounds just like a drug?)

4.  Why is that person your hero or shero?

5.  How much do you HATE stupid questionaires and why?  (Again, keep it civil please.)

6.  What is your favorite food?  Please describe WHY that food is your favorite.  (No you can't give an answer with TWO foods as your favorite.  You know favorite...something that is your....FAVORITE?  jk

7.  Would you rather watch the news, dance to Just Dance 2014, or catch up on the sports channel?  Or do something else (and please tell what that something else is).

8.  Last but definitely NOT least, what type of book tempts you to read...cries out, YOU MUST READ ME....NOW!

Thanks folks for your kindness in responding.  I'm always trying to listen and hear what kinds of things people want to read, listen to, or eat.  Your participation is greatly appreciated!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Finding Answers to Medical Questions

Today is a grand time to live for many, many reasons.  Just a few of them are:

1.  More knowledge about our bodies and the thousands of things that they need to do to produce health.

2.  Better medications and treatments for most diseases.

3.  Access to a plethora of information at the touch of a computer keystroke.

4.  Better ability to meet and greet beloved friends that otherwise tend to fall by the way side in the activities of life.

I want to rant today about the medical world.  Our oldest daughter was below average in size as a child.  She wasn't small, but slightly smaller than average in height, and weight.  Then the hormones began to kick in that turned her from child into woman.

It was startling when she began to gain large amounts of weight.  She was NOT eating any more than usual, and she was always a very active kid, loving dance, dance, dance!  Yet the pounds just kept creeping on.  I was not concerned at first thinking that it was simply a part of the heritage of her father's family.  They are mostly large boned Danish descended folks.

Soon it became apparent to me that something was wrong.  It simply did not make sense that she was gaining so much weight when nothing had changed.  She was just as active, and did not eat any more than usual.

So I took her to the family clinician.  I explained my concerns.  The good doctor (she really was a kind well educated woman) tested her thyroid gland.  Since it was normal that was the end of testing.  Here is where my rant begins.  So, they knew one thing that it WASN'T?  What WAS IT!  Why didn't they keep testing until they found the answer?

My concerns continued, and so did her weight gain.  At the age of 12 she attended a magnet program for the arts.  She danced 5 days a week for an hour each day.  When she came home she would ride her bike, or go for walks with her family.  Still the weight kept creeping on.

In her Senior year in high school she gained another 25 pounds, and now she was dancing an hour and 45 minutes 5 days a week.  At her age, dancing around 2 hours a day I could eat anything, ANYTHING and not gain an ounce.

I took her to the doctor many times from the time she was 10 to the time that she was 17 and off she went to college.  Again, we were told what it WASN'T, but not what it WAS!

She was 22 and in college when a doctor finally gave her a diagnosis.  One of the first symptoms of the disease was weight gain, and difficulty losing weight.  WHY, WHY, WHY, didn't one of the clinicians that we visited for so many years care enough to keep working or referring to other clinicians until we found the reason?! 

I do understand that sometimes there really isn't a clinical answer to some of the things our bodies do.  In this case it wasn't even that difficult to find a diagnosis, and treatment that has helped a bit.  It would have been ever so much better if the diagnosis had come earlier on BEFORE she gained the weight!

I was trying to balance the drive to get her proper diagnosis and treatment with the need to not turn her into a hypochondriac.  On the other hand I have learned NOT TO JUST SIT STILL AND IGNORE ACTUAL SYMPTOMS.  I don't wish to run to a clinic for every sneeze, and sniffle, but when there is a more serious issue going on...I will not stop until I get a medical answer.  It's never good to hear that you have a disease but if you already have the symptoms it's ever so affirming to find out the reason for them.

Another example.  I went to the ER because I was in so much pain that I kept passing out.  I was taking pain medication already for degenerative disc disease, and it didn't even touch this other pain.

So at the ER (which was far too busy), they took a couple of tests came back and said, "It isn't this, and it isn't that, so we are sending you home."  WHAT?  You still don't know what is wrong with me, but you're sending me home?

It took two more trips to the ER before I finally got the diagnosis.  I had an 8 millimeter kidney stone.  It had climbed down into my ureter (much too large to be in a tiny little kidney tube).  I could have died from the complications that can be caused by a blocked ureter.  In fact the stone could have actually caused the kidney tube to rupture which could easily have killed me. 

I know that Emergency Rooms are far too busy.  Their job is basically to keep you from bleeding to death, or dying of a heart attack.  Otherwise they just want you to get through the night and then go to your Primary Clinician.  What if your Primary Clinician just looks at the ER's NOT ANSWERS, and sends you home? 

I remember with affection the family doc of my youth.  He genuinely cared about his patients.  I had severe allergy asthma, and a compromised immune system.  Instead of just treating me with antibiotics when I had an acute case of bronchitis he searched and found a research program for asthma.  It was in England but somehow he found a way to get me included.  That medication changed my life.  I went from crappy health, and no ability to plan ahead in life (if I had an attack, or an infection I could not fulfill any plans that came during that time).  Now I could look ahead knowing that my asthma was under much better control!

He did NOT say, well there is nothing I can do.  I'm not certain what your problem is but I know it's NOT this, or that.  He hung on until he could find something truly helpful for me. 

Please, by the raise of hands let's see how many can say that.  Can say, "My clinician genuinely cares about my well being.  He or she will follow through any tests, or issues until a reasonable result is achieved. 

Now they advertise medication on television, and magazines.  So instead of going to the doctor and saying, "These are my symptoms doc," and expecting the good doc to test, and diagnose and then choose appropriate medication we go in and say, "I think that I have this, and I heard about this medication for that condition advertised that I would really like to try."  I would imagine that would easily frustrate any and all clinicians.

Next issue.  In my childhood and youth clinicians prescribed the medication that they felt best suited your condition, knowing of the history of any and all conditions.  Now every single clinician says, "Your insurance WILL cover this medication or WON'T cover this medication."  Medicine by insurance.  Do you go to the very best clinic or clinician you can find?  NOPE...you go to the clinician or clinic that accepts your insurance. 

Phew...I feel so much better having vented this rant into the cyber world.  I will now take a deep breathe.....IN 1,2,3,4,5....and OUT  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and release.  I let go of those frustrations.  It's a beautiful fall day, and I felt well enough to take my small doggy for a walk!  Thanks for letting me vent!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


So, if you are NOT an animal lover, specifically cats you may wish to skip this post.  On the other hand if you can see that love...as a power, as a positive force of change that connects us to other humans, or to animals, (in whatever form brings you love and joy whether it's rats, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, pot bellied pigs, dogs, cats, snakes, and etc.) there may be a common thread of love that can connect even those who do NOT enjoy animals as pets.

Katty was teeny, tiny, a young kitten, about 5 or 6 months old.  My Mama fed all the stray cats in the neighborhood.  She didn't invite the cats into her home but fed them twice a day on her back porch every day.

Katty was dying, it was obvious.  She couldn't stand up.  She dragged herself around the back porch to get water and food, and then just stayed on that concrete porch.  I was visiting Mama.  My Papa had passed away and she was trying to learn a "New normal."  I had our two beautiful daughters with me.

My husband was an animal rescuer.  Somehow they would ALWAYS find him, and he couldn't just let them go away, he had to care for them.  Fortunately, I also loved and still love animals...even if I'm allergic to them.  I refuse to let my body determine what I will and won't love in this life (except for guinea pigs, or other rodents.  I'm REALLY allergic to them, and I'm not crazy about them, so sorry any of you who love them).

Our daughters came to me with tears in their eyes.  Mommy, we'll give you our vacation money if you take the kitty to the vet."  This was money they had worked hard to earn over several months.  They had earned the money by doing household chores.  The money was supposed to be for them to buy whatever they wanted on our trip.

I could simply not turn down their loving offer and feel good about being a Mom.  So...we kenneled the little kitty, and took her off to the vet.  Kenneling a wild cat is usually a task that could cause death as an end result.  Feral cats are not fond of being picked up, let alone stuffed into a cage.  It was obvious how sick this kitten was.  She didn't offer any resistance to the whole procedure.

The vet explained that this little kitten had been in a terrible fight.  She had developed an abcess in her front right leg.  The abcess had spread infection into her entire tiny little body.  He gave me antibiotics in liquid form to administer to this tiny feline form.

I persuaded my Mom to let me keep the kitten in her bathroom.  So we made a bed for her out of a cardboard box and an old towel, and a litter box with a trash liner.  I couldn't leave her outside because after she started to feel better she'd take off.  I couldn't catch her to give the medicine then she'd wind up sick or sicker again.

The first night I had to use the restroom about 3 a.m.  This was the house where I had lived for years as a teenager.  I knew the rooms, furniture, everything was familiar.  It was a cozy, small, house and I did not want to wake up my Mom or our Daughters.  I walked into the bathroom in the dark, completely forgetting that there was a cat in there.  Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by the sound of intense, musical purring.  May I just explain that feral felines do NOT purr when around humans...EVER!  Every single human that used that restroom was greeted by the same amazing purr!

The other amazing thing is that she would let me give her the antibiotics with no resistance.  She would simply suck it down like it was something delicious.  She never scratched me, or bit me, not once.  Somehow it felt as though she knew that we were trying to help her.

We were flying home, and we couldn't afford to pay the fee to fly Katty home with us.  Fortunately, my sister came to visit the following week and brought Katty Kaliko (name given the kitty by our girls) with her.  Katty joined our family which included 4 human beings, and 2 cats.  She was never fond of other cats but she was immediately in love with my husband.

The one issue with Katty was inappropriate urination.  She could and often was an "emotional urinator."  The human part of our family went on a trip for 2 weeks at one point.  When we came home Katty jumped up on the bed.  Looking us straight in the face she urinated...right there...on our bed.  Oh the attitude came through so clearly, "Leave me for two weeks?  That's is NOT OK!"  We had someone coming in every other day, feeding, watering, and cleaning their litter box.  That was still not ok with Katty!

Katty usually sleeps close to my head.  When I awaken in the night, with a headache, or a bad dream, I reach over and scratch Katty.  This has been especially important since the death of my sweetheart husband.  Her purr is instantaneous, and there is a musical quality to the sound.  The only sound I've ever heard that comes close to Katty's miraculous purr was the Tribbles on Star Trek.  Honestly, if Tribble's were actual creatures I would think that Katty was born of a cat, Persian Mama, and a Tribble Father.

Katty is 16 now.  That is equivalent to about 80 to 90 years old for a human.  I fear she may have had a small stroke.  Her front end and her back end walk in different patterns.  She still gets herself up my high bed (I try to help her and she gets really mad at me), and up and down the stairs.  She still purrs like a Tribble whenever I pet her (she especially loves to have her chin scratched).

The point of this post is this.  Katty has been a whole lot of work for me.  I've fed, groomed, watered, and cleaned up after this tiny creature for 16 years.  (She weighs about 3 pounds, but since she's part Persian she looks bigger).  There have been times when I wanted to give her away....to anyone that would take her please!  Remember that whole inappropriate urination thing? That never went away, no matter what behavioral actions I took with her.

Yet, how do I decide...which is more important?  The joys of having Katty Kaliko, her beautiful purr and comfort in the night, against her needs as a vulnerable creature, feeding, cleaning, watering, cleaning the cat box, and cleaning up after her when she urinates in the wrong place.

In life at least in my life I have often run up against that idea...animals, peoples, or life experiences that had both the good AND the bad involved in them.  It's ever so different when it's a vulnerable creature that depends on you.  Having a dog or cat is pretty much like having a two year old that NEVER becomes an adult...and that in and of itself is both good and bad.

I always thought I'd be kind of relieved when Katty finally graduated to the next realm.  I mean Hello...did I mention that whole inappropriate urination thing?  Yet I find as she starts to slide into immortality that I'm more sad than relieved.  Katty gave me far more than I gave her.  Here's hoping that she does what she has done all of her fuzzy little life, and beats the odds.  She could live to 20...I hope!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Clinical Depression and Other "Mental" Illnesses

It may seem odd to write posts about mental health issues in a blog that is all about the positive side of life.  I guess I need to re-define why I write this blog and what I write about.  I DO discuss some of the negative issues of our world.  Yet, I approach them from the vantage point of, we CAN do something about them...we CAN join together and make this old world a better place to be!

I love so many things about our world today.  I adore that we are learning more and more about conditions that we have long called "mental health."  I believe that now we are more realistic in calling them physical health conditions, with mental manifestations.  Yes, that's right...clinical depression, schzoid disorder, anxiety disorder, so many, many other conditions are NOT something that is imaginary, or the result of a weak character or personality.  They are every bit as "physical" as Diabetes, Cancer, or Fibromyalgia.  We now know that sometimes the neurotransmitters for our brain become depleted, or damaged, usually after another type of physical illness or trauma either physical or emotional. 

So...you are diagnosed with Diabetes or some other medical condition after quantifiable testing.  You are given medication to counteract the effects of the disease on your body.  This has long been the pattern in America of medical treatment.   

In the case of mental manifestations the therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist talks and listens to the afflicted individual.  They do NOT use any type of quantifiable test for this diagnosis.  Usually there isn't even an x-ray of the brain to see if something has changed.  A brain tumor either malignant or benign can cause mental manifestations.  So, the good therapist prescribes certain medications with no quantifiable tests, merely according to his/her subjective results.  They use both medication and behavioral therapy to relieve the symptoms.  (Please do not misunderstand and think that I am negative towards mental health practitioners.  I believe that they do their job the best that they can with the model that has been around for the last century).

There is a clinician in the United States who is very different from the rest of the mental health world.  His name is Daniel Amen.  He is the first clinician to use a PET scan of the brain to help in the diagnosis of mental manifestation.  This is an ACTIVE scan of the brain.  Or rather a scan during the activity of the brain.  The other scans used for this type of diagnosis show the brain while inactive.

This PET scan shows actual areas that are not receiving the correct chemical compounds that are needed for your emotions to work normally.  He can detect areas that would cause Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder, and other mental manifestations.  His contention is that you DO need a physical diagnosis before you begin to prescribe medication.  What a novel concept to think that there is a way to receive quantifiable, empirical evidence about the why's and wherefores of mental manifestation health issues.

I am ever so excited that huge new ideas are being developed to help those that face these awful experiences.  If someone in your world is facing these types of illnesses PLEASE, I beg you do not make the mistake of thinking it's "All in their head" or simply an imagine experience.  This experience is all too real.

If you think about it for a minute there are a lot of conditions that ARE all in your head.  Migraine headaches are NOT considered a manifestation of a weak personality.  Neither is a brain tumor.  Yet they are definitely in your head.  There ARE MANY conditions that technically are ALL IN YOUR HEAD.  A lot of the all in your head conditions actually begin somewhere else, your pancreas, your kidneys, your heart, all of these physical conditions can cause mental manifestations.

Now that we know that mental manifestations are very, very real let us never treat a person with these conditions in a less than, type of way.  Speaking from my own experience clinical depression is very, very real.  While you are battling this condition it narrows your life down from one breath to the next.  It doesn't matter if every circumstance in your life is terrific.  (Think Marilyn Monroe) It's not a circumstantial condition although it CAN be worsened by bad circumstances.

 I'm not referring to discouragement which is completely circumstance driven.  Discouragement is a temporary condition.  It is NOT the same thing as Clinicial Depression which again is a physical illness that causes mental manifestations.

What we CAN NOT DO is lose one more soul to suicide.  There seems to be almost a contagion to suicide.  It seems as though if one person in a group (college years, friends in a city, groupings of any type) kills themselves, there will be multiple suicides.

We need ALL OF US in this busy, crazy, wonderful, world.  We need to find ways to help those that languish in the sorrow and suffering of mental manifestation disorder.

The other very real thing is that again, often the mental manifestation is happening as a result of some physical illness, or trauma (either physical, or emotional).  So...if you are diagnosed with a physical disorder, do not be horrified or surprised if severe depression follows.  My doctor tried for years to convince me to take medicine for my clinical depression condition.  I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and fibromyalgia.  Depression just rode along on the coattails of those two conditions.  Twenty-three years later, I'm still here, I haven't killed myself, (although I did contemplate it multiple times as I learned how to face and live with clinical) thanks to the wonders of modern medicine.

There IS hope!  "Feelings are not facts!"  You can find help.  It may take several tries to find the right clinician, the right kind of help, but please, oh please do NOT listen to the liar of mental manifestation that tells you your family, the world would be better off without you.  We need you!  Only you can make this world better by your contributions.

Are you a Superhero/shero?

Hero/Shero....I refuse to call women HEROINE...that is the name of a drug.  I mean, really he/she...so why not hero/shero.  I can't wait to write my own dictionary and start adding my favorite made up American words...lol  Move over Merriam Webster!

I saw on Facebook today my favorite nephew and my favorite niece (OK...I actually have about SIXTY-FIVE favorite nieces and nephews...and I haven't even STARTED counting my favorite GREAT nieces and nephews...and I even have one GREAT-GREAT NIECE, with another one soon to come.  YUP, each and every one of them are my favorites...in their own way.)  Well, phew, that was certainly a long aside!  lol  These particular nephew and niece (actually niece-in law if I'm going to be particular) posted a a profile picture of them in Superhero costumes.  May I just add that each of them in their very own ways ARE Superhero/sheroes!  My nephew is going to college to become a Counselor/Therapist.  He has an amazing gift to make people laugh, and to help them heal with laughter.  My niece, is the Mother of three brilliant, beautiful children (and I AM very objective).  she is a talented writer, and has great capability to love others.  Can you imagine the influence that those three children will have in this world?

So...I read a story about the builders of the grand cathedrals in Europe.  The names of all the workers are gone, lost to history.  The architects, the designers of grandness, we remember them.  Those that were "down in the trenches," day in, day out, some that even died in their work, their names are gone.  Yet each and every time someone visits, worships there, their work is noticed.

It is extremely easy to liken those unsung heroes (and their wives who would have preferred having them home a lot more) to the unsung heroes and sheroes in our day to day world.  The women who repeatedly go through pregnancy, labor, and birth, and then stick around to raise their children, helping them to grow up into decent human beings who make the world a better place. Or the women who work at a job, and then come home and try to cram a 24 hour job into the 12 that she isn't working. The other unsung heroes are the Papa's, the men who go to work every single day (in my Papa's case it was 25 years at a job he loathed, but it supported his family), and then come home and are the best husband's and Papa's they can be.

We hear far too much of the negative news in our world.  I would LOVE IT, if we heard, two stories a night about a "regular" family, and the things that they are accomplishing.  I have lived long enough now to have the perspective of understanding what a huge gift it is in our world when hard working good people just live life the best way that they know.  Why don't we hear more about that, and less about the murders, rapes, and crimes.  I would ADORE hearing a count daily of all the airplanes that DIDN'T crash!

So...this post is a tribute to all the unsung heroes, and sheroes, that go about their seemingly simple lives day to day...getting up, showering, going to work, feeding their kids, organizing all the myriad activities that our children need to participate in, carpooling, and taking care of those we love that are in our world, Mom's, Dad's, Aunt's, Uncles, etc. etc. and don't think for a minute about how wonderful they are.  There are ever so many "Cathedral Builders," in this world.  How I would LOVE to hear more about that, and less about negative news.  So, I intend to search out great stories...stories that make you feel warm inside, and happy to have read that story. 

When I do speak about my greatest concerns in our world, sexual slavery, and human trafficking, I will do my best to approach it from a positive vantage point of, we CAN do something about it.  It may be, simply watching over our children, to prevent them from harm.  It may be participating in a "Neighborhood Watch," program.  There are as many ways to help, as there are people with ideas.

I have an assignment for all that read this today.  I wish you to stand in front of the mirror and focus on your potential.  Forget about your weaknesses (they will still be there even if you DON'T place your focus on them), focus on your strengths.  Make this exercise as simple as, What one thing can I do today to make the world a better place?  An example is, Take a good book to somebody who is sick, with maybe something yummy for them to eat with it?  Visit someone whose health doesn't allow them to get out very often.  Here's a great one for all of us, do NOT say anything negative about one single soul today.  I find that when I am negative about others it's because I'm feeling rotten about myself, and somehow pulling others into my quicksand makes me feel marginally better, until I realize what I'm doing and feel awful!

Think about YOUR personal Hero or Shero...write them a note telling them WHY their contributions have touched your life.  There is ALWAYS good waiting to be done in this world.  Let's focus on that, OK?

THANKS, to all of my personal Sheroes and Heroes.  I have written stories about many of them, and I will keep writing and sharing their stories.


Monday, October 7, 2013


This small word, inspired, means many things to many people.  To me it means my beloved husband, Nyle Brent Smith.  When I met him I had no idea the struggles and juggles that he had already faced in his life.  He looked like your average, ordinary, every day giant, with your average, ordinary, every day handsome face, and your average, ordinary, every day blue, gray, green, purple, mood eyes.  (Our foreign exchange student called them magic eyes, and I would agree).

The first thing that drew me to Nyle was his unique sense of humor.  I also felt drawn to him because he laughed at my jokes.  I later learned that some of the laughter was "pity laughter," but I'll take what I can get, right?  lol (The lol is NOT pity laughing).

After we were married he decided to go back and get his Bachelor's Degree.  We were a great team.  I was one of the BYU Switchboard Supervisors and he got free tuition.  We worked together for that degree.  I would read to him from text books.  I would quiz him, type or proof his papers.  Yup, we were a great team.

Next he went to Law School.  Ordinary things to do, right?  Except for the extraordinary challenges that he faced in achieving these goals.  He had a colostomy, for those who have no idea what that means, it means that his colon ruptured, spewing poison throughout his abdomen and he almost died.  When he awakened it was to the knowledge that now his body expelled his feces through a hole in his side.  A hole awkwardly positioned just below his belt line.  This meant that he had no control over anything having to do with that part of the digestive system.  There was paste to hold the bag to his skin.  The paste often made his skin incredibly raw and sore.  On the other hand if the paste become saturated with perspiration it would collapse, and then he would have raw sewage everywhere to deal with.

That ONE challenge is enough, enough to change a life, and possible turn a person into a recluse.  Not Nyle.  He always thought creatively.  With his creativity he figured out ways and means to maintain his life as "normally" as possible.  Including dancing and performing on stage.

He didn't have very long to heal from the colostomy before the next blow to his health happened.  Going to visit a friend the apartment complex had let the sprinklers run so long that the water had flowed down concrete steps.  It was night, poor lighting, Nyle was in flip flops, and his leg skated out from under him causing him to land with his full weight on his left knee.  He described the sound as if a light bulb had shattered.  He had surgery to put his kneecap back together, and then he fell down another flight of stairs and they had to remove most of his kneecap.  This left the nerves in that knee exposed.  A light bump and he would be sent shuddering into excruciating pain.

Oh, did I mention excruciating pain?  In the middle of these two health challenges it was discovered that his spinal canal was malformed (birth defect).  His lower back was caving in on itself.  The sciatic nerve was pinched, and the nerves going into his legs were malformed as well.  If you have ever experienced sciatic nerve pain it feels as though lightning is periodically shooting through your lower back, into your hips, into your legs, into your feet.  When the pain got bad enough his legs would stop working.  There were many times that at the end of a college day his legs would give out.  So he would lie down on the ground and drag himself by the arms to his car.  When I queried, "Don't people offer to help?"  He said, "No, mostly they just give me odd pitying looks."

He was in a reclining wheelchair most of the time to keep him from falling when his legs gave out.  You can not push yourself in a reclining wheelchair so he had to walk around campus.  We didn't have enough money to purchase a motorized wheelchair (which he needed), or to get a van that had a ramp for him to be able to put his wheelchair in.  Yet he produced a movie from our home and in his wheelchair.  Even when he was attending college full-time he found jobs to help support our family.  He had his own graphic design business, he acted, sang, danced, and wrote.

Each time that he left his wheelchair to perform, walk, do anything physical he paid a high price.  Usually he would be in bed for as long as he could to recover.  He had to plan for that recovery time.  It was rough because often his needs for activity exceeded his bodies ability to perform.

One year after we were married it was discovered that he had diabetes.  We both grieved, felt picked on for awhile, and then worked through it and moved on.  Moving on involved adding testing his blood sugar before each meal and then administering an insulin injection according to his blood sugars, learning ways and means to help control his blood sugars through diet.  Exercise?  How do you exercise with all the problems with his back and left knee?  He bought a bicycle and rode it, in spite of the pain that caused.

One day he said to me, "My body is not working well but my mind is still sharp," (That was a huge understatement, Nyle was a genius), I need to find a way to support our family with my brain."  DRUMROLL....Nyle and I went to Law School.

This involved moving our two children, ourselves, three cats, and a household of furniture, etc. two states away to Portland, Oregon.  Fear, trepidation, concern?  I was one giant while knuckle.  We didn't even know if Nyle could get financial aid because his previous health crisis had left him in the hole for his educational loans.

Nyle told me that his motivation to go to Law School came from a quote he heard at school.  It was a class for young men and women studying business.  The speaker said, "If you have everything risk nothing.  If you have nothing risk everything."  Nyle and I were blessed to be a team, and to have our beautiful children.  As a bonus we had our adorable kitties!

I got a job and Nyle began Law School.  The stress of learning an entirely new way to reason, to write, and to study would cause his blood sugar to rise beyond high, and then randomly drop low, low, low.  We didn't know until years later that his uncontrolled pain was also hiking his blood sugar high.  He refused to take any type of pain medications because it dulled his great brain.

So far this post has been ridiculously grim.  I know there are those that read this that may think that I'm making this all up so that people will feel sorry for him, for me.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Yes our lives during that time could be extremely grim.  Nyle believed that circumstance should not control your ability to find happiness.  He believed that happiness was a conscious choice that sometimes had to be made multiple times a day.  "Happy not crappy," was his simple mantra.  Those three words meant that we all had the power to be happy, IN SPITE OF....whatever life throws in our path.

Nyle set the bar of how to live with challenge impossibly high.  While all of this medical stuff was happening we both worked, created two beautiful female human beings, and shared an eternal love.  We had friends, family, and goals that we moved towards even in the midst of so much drama and trauma.

A beloved friend said to Nyle one day, "I'm so inspired by you and how you face your health problems."  Nyle said, "Thanks.  I appreciate that, and please don't take this the wrong way, I would prefer that you were inspired by me for some other reason then because I have miserable health."

Just so you know Nyle we weren't inspired by your crappy health, we were inspired by you.  Not many students finish a Doctoral education while facing all of Nyle's challenges.  How many people do you know that make you laugh and enjoy life while they are in great quantities of physical pain.  No, it wasn't that we were inspired by your miserable health.  We ARE inspired by the greatness of your soul which was forever reaching up, up towards light, truth, and knowledge.  We ARE inspired by the warming love of your personality.  I miss you Nyle.  I hope that somebody reading this will take inspiration from our story to improve their lives.