Category Archives: Limitations

A Life Altering Experience – Part 1


A Life Altering Experience

When my husband, Ron, had his first stroke in 2009, he had just turned 58. How is that possible?

It happened before my eyes. It was Saturday, September 26th around noon. Isn’t it remarkable how we remember small details of a life altering experience?

Ron was standing in front of me; we were chatting about his pinched nerve. Just a week before, Ron became dizzy at work, and his employer insisted that Ron go to the emergency room. A co-worker took him to the closest hospital, and an ER doctor suspected that Ron had a pinched nerve that was causing his dizziness. The doctor referred Ron to a chiropractor.

He had just arrived home from treatment with the chiropractor when it hit.

While standing in front of me, in an instant, the left side of his face from his forehead to his jaw drooped down, and his words became a little slurred. He could walk and move both arms. He had no tingling anywhere or dizziness. Was it a stroke? He’s only 58. Was I overreacting? Did he fit the criteria or warnings of a stroke? I had that debate in my head for about 30 seconds and then took charge.

I told him to get in the car; that I was taking him to the emergency room. Like most men, he argued, but he couldn’t see what I was seeing. Hospital personnel approached my car as it came to a roaring stop in front of the ER entrance. I shouted to him that my husband was a “stroke alert.”

A stroke alert upgrades the time frame and service for medical attention, like upgrading to Firsthospital3 Class from Coach. A page overhead was heard throughout the hospital: Stroke Alert, Emergency Room. The page was repeated two more times. Unwillingly, I began to take this all in. Ron was seen immediately by a slew of doctors and nurses. He started having some paralysis on the left side of his body. Alas, the tingling symptom arrived at the party. And he had a headache now. Ron had IVs inserted, and wires slapped on, and beeping in under five minutes. The doctors asked me a lot of questions. They were glad I got him there when I did. I started trembling, realizing, praying. Everyone had solemn facial expressions and serious voices. They believe Ron was suffering a stroke.

The color drained from my face and fear flooded my body. I looked for a chair and sat down, frozen. Ron went for a priority MRI. I waited. Alone for the first time since this nightmare started, I called our son and totally lost it. He couldn’t understand what I was saying. You know how garbled your words are when you’re hysterical and try to talk? That was me. I finally got out some English—”dad,” “stroke.” Our son was on the next plane home. He also had the good sense to call family, but I didn’t know that until they appeared in the ER. I had some support now. And we all waited. Waited to hear how badly the brain was compromised. My mind drifted.

DSC00239We were living comfortably, at the time, in our empty nest. Ron played softball in a league during the summer and coached basketball during the winter. He was very active and fit. We were both working with great jobs that allowed us to have security in our retirement. Ever since childhood, a dream of mine was to live in the country on horse property. We started looking at small farms nearby.

Our son was happy. He had moved to New York City to pursue his second Masters Degree, plus his girlfriend (now wife) lived there. It was a win-win for him.

Life was good.

Then the MRI results were back. The neurosurgeon approached me. He said Ron was being moved to ICU. They found a blood clot in his brain. The plan was to go in and try to remove it. Surgery was scheduled for the next day, first thing. I swear I can hear this conversation like it was yesterday.

Ron handled the surgery fine but because of the location of the clot, it could not be removed hospital4without making matters worse, like killing Ron. It would have to remain in his brain. The hope was the brain would construct pathways around the blockage. So after a week in ICU, two weeks in rehab, and three months of outpatient psychical therapy twice a week, Ron could walk again and use his left arm. His speech improved. But cognitively, the damage was permanent. Ron would not be able to work again.

The medical bills were staggering. And I mean staggering. Ron sold his 79 Roadrunner, his motorcycle, and his Mercedes. And we still owed over $100,000.

But we were just at the beginning of our crisis. A life altering experience for us wasn’t over.

Tune in tomorrow for A Life Altering Experience – Part 2.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson,  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted




Are you at war with yourself?


In Becoming Human, Jean Vanier writes: “If we deny our weakness—if we want to be powerful and strong always, we deny a part of our being, we live an illusion. To be human is to accept who we are, this mixture of strength and weakness.”

The feeling of inner happiness is so much easier when you cease fire with yourself. When you can openly acknowledge your limitations and recognize your weaknesses instead of trying to bluff your way through life, a healthy self-worth appears.

IMG_0906 - Copy - Copy - CopyI have several limitations and weaknesses: I’m bad at math, lack mechanical know-how, and have restricted airspace in my brain sometimes. My cooking ability is basic as is my sewing stitch. I prefer to watch other people be athletic; I hate to exercise. I can’t wrap my brain around financial planning, computers, or what all those little lines in a ruler mean. There’s a lot I don’t know and more that I don’t know how to do. My downfalls don’t devastate me; however, because they’re balanced with positive traits.

Listen for the words you use every day. Are they self-degrading? Are they judgmental phrases? Sarcastic tones? Or encouraging expressions? Caring speech? Your words reflect your self-respect and character. Your words reflect what you believe about yourself. How can you have self-confidence and self-degradation at the same time? Where you are today can be attributed to the words you tell yourself. Stay aware of the words you choose to verbalize. Be sure they match the character you want to role model to others.

Make a list today of your limitations and weaknesses. Practice stating them to others. People will respect your admission, because they have limitations and weaknesses, too. Once you recognize your positive traits and abilities, you will be able to accept your limitations and weaknesses without feeling inferior; and the war within that bombs you with self-degrading comments ends.

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson,

Why appear perfect?

This epitaph adorns the grave of Ellen Shannon, 26, of Girard, Pennsylvania: Who was fatally burned March 21, 1870 by the explosion of a lamp filled with “R. E. Danforth’s Non-Explosive Burning Fluid.
IMG_0560(2)Apparently, R. E. Danforth thought his non-explosive burning fluid would not explode. Most mistakes are not fatal like Danforth’s product, but merely inconveniences and disappointments. A mistake is an unwanted outcome, not necessarily a reflection of adequacy. Mistakes are messages that more information or knowledge is needed to create the outcomes you want.
I have heard that an eagle misses 70 percent of its strikes. Why should I expect to do better?¹ Our thoughts are delusional if we think life can unfold without mistakes. In fact, the more we’re compelled to present ourselves as error-free, the more it indicates delusional thinking. You and I are going to make mistakes the rest of our lives. We’re imperfect, with flaws, weaknesses, and limitations. There are things we do not have knowledge of; things we do not know how to do.
If you didn’t focus energy on appearing error-free today, where else would you focus that energy? Today, view any mistake as an unwanted outcome and instead of beating yourself up for it, admit the mistake and seek a different solution. –Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson,

¹Sophy Burnham, American author

Do you fear making decisions?


Abraham Lincoln once said, “We have all heard the story of the animal standing in doubt between two stacks of hay and starving to death.”¹ Well, I never heard that story, but it creates a good image of what the fear of decision making can produce. The dread of making the wrong failure3choice can keep us immobile as we watch opportunity go by.

Does the possibility of making a mistake paralyze you? It shouldn’t. Your worth and significance isn’t dependent on your lack of errors. Making mistakes doesn’t indicate there’s some abnormal level of inadequacy within you.

People are respected and valued because of their character, not their lack of mistakes. This is an imperfect world with imperfect people. Strive for excellence but don’t be surprised when mistakes happen. Errors provide insight into what needs improvement or change, but errors never indicate your inadequacy as a person. –Dr. Sandy

¹From Politics, Lincoln’s Wit by Abraham Lincoln

Can you name one fault you possess that you find difficult to admit to other people?


Gandhi often made his faults known. In The Life of Mohatma Gandhi he wrote, “I am painfully conscious of my imperfections, and therein lies all the strength I possess, because it is a rare thing for a man to know his own limitations.”

IMG_0637Gandhi did not fear the disapproval or disrespect of other people because of his limitations or weaknesses. On the contrary, the acknowledgement of his faults resulted in him receiving the respect and admiration.

You may spend time denying or hiding imperfections from others thinking that will assure your receipt of acceptance, respect, and approval. In reality, it annoys people and pushes them away from you. Who wants to be with someone who acts perfect? Who wants to know someone who thinks he or she has all the answers? We connect with people through our weaknesses. We respect people who can admit their limitations.

Today, admit a weakness… acknowledge an imperfection… announce a limitation! Make a connection. -Dr. Sandy

Do you know a know-it-all?


In the July 6, 1970 edition of Newsweek, Daniel J. Boorstin wrote, “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” But some people act like they have nothing more to learn—that’s right, they know it all. They have all the answers. Not only do know-it-all’s know everything there is about anything, they’re eager to point out how much you and I don’t know squat. You would think there would be lines of people waiting to talk to know-it-all’s. Just to have an opportunity to speak with someone with all the answers would be right up there with the ultimate spiritual experience.

IMG_0587(2)On the contrary, that has not been my experience with these types of individuals. How about you? People seem to not respect others who will not admit limitations, and appear to have all the answers. Earning the respect and admiration of others has little to do with proclaimed knowledge and more to do with a willingness to admit weaknesses and mistakes.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was respected as one of the most outstanding justices in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was popular as the Great Dissenter because he disagreed with what the other judges claimed to know and changed the vision of law. Holmes sat on the Supreme Court until he was 91. Two years later, President Roosevelt visited him and found him reading Plato “to remain improving my mind” Holmes said. 

There’s the kind of humble knowledge worth standing in line for. Today, earn the respect of others and acknowledge what you do not know. –Dr. Sandy