Tag Archives: Misfortune

A Life Altering Experience – Part 1

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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.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

My Fall From Grace: A Loss of Balance

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MY FALL FROM GRACE: A Loss Of Balance – Dr. Sandy Nelson

 

Is there any way for a woman to take a nose dive gracefully?

As if that was the plan all along? Like you meant to do it?

If it were into a swimming pool, maybe. But skimming a rock border on your way down into a bed of hostasIMG_3012

In the front yard?

Mortifying.

If only I was a few decades younger, I could have pulled something out of my hat and made the tumble look like this cartwheel. Ta-Da! But I’m at the age where I’m all cart and no wheel. If only I had taken yoga more seriously, it could have looked like I was in the flying pigeon pose.

Nope. I went down head first, slid like a seal trying to steal third base. It was ugly, not graceful.

 

images (73)Walking to my front porch, I tripped on nothing but the sidewalk (this is a talent of mine), veered right at what felt like 30 mph, and my legs landed on the rock edging of my bed of hostas where the rest of me ended up, eventually. Like I need another reason to hate gravity.

 

Brain to body: “Damage control, come in, report!”

Body to brain: “Whaaaa? Wait, what? What happened? Hey, we’re stuck.”

I could not get up. Thank goodness I wasn’t home alone. I called out for my husband who was grilling our dinner in the backyard.

Nothing.

I yelled for my husband with a little more intensity.

Nothing.

I screamed for my husband.

No f-ing response.

Seriously?

I wondered how long it would take him to realize I wouldn’t be at the dinner table. Ten minutes? A day?

But the god of Weebles Turn And Tumble took pity on me, and two young, good-looking men from across the street heard my cries. Yep. Two young, good-looking men…wait…do I have makeup on?

FullSizeRender (2)One of the kind rescuer’s retrieved my husband from his Weber Grill, and he tried to pull me up by my one free arm with the same determination he uses to yank a weed. No, no, no, that’s not going to work. So the new hero’s, one on each side of my body, lifted me up to my feet–like that slow motion sequence in The Horse Whisperer where the horse Pilgrim rises from the ground with Grace on his back. Yes, Grace!

I glided to my feet and felt I was okay. Sore, but okay. Embarrassed, but okay. Nothing felt broken (thank you calcium supplements).

The hostas, however, are flatten to the ground. But they should bounce back. I’ll be busy practicing a Weeble posture.FullSizeRender (1)

Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

Ditch That Godawful Attitude Here – Dr. Sandy Nelson

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Beyond your heart beat, and everything, how do you know if you’re alive? Is there any excitement or interests in your life? Any passion?

Vernon Howard was a man on a mission. In his books and lectures, it was clear that each day he aspired everyone to experience an emotional awareness of being alive. He was probably one of the first trailblazers for mindfulness in the 1950’s with this statement Try to see what attitudes rule your day, then ask yourself what kind of a day you usually have.IMG_2308

What kind of days have you been having lately? Are you sick of the same crap? If the past week has been bleak and negative, or filled with resentment and criticism, chances are high that your attitude on those days has not been working well for you. The bold truth is that if you latch on to a negative outlook you’re experiences in life are going to be negative which then prompts a negative outlook, and so on.

Instead of waiting for life to treat you better before changing a negative attitude, change your attitude first. Focus on the good in your life, find it, accept “what is” in everyday situations, be thankful for what hasn’t gone wrong, and then expect the positive. With that outlook, you’re bound for a good day which then prompts a good attitude!

IMG_2327Joan Baez reminds all of us that: You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live.

Most of us are guilty at some time or another of taking life for granted. We’re blinded with the eluding belief that there’s always tomorrow, and next week. In taking life for granted we become immune to the treasures found in each day and instead complain about this or that unfairness. We’re indifferent with other people. Instead of filled with kindness and gratitude, we’re filled with indifference and resentment.

Each dawn is to be a celebration because it’s a gift.  If tomorrow’s arrival was up in the air, how would you live today?

FullSizeRender (7)

Dr. Sandy Nelson

Think about it.

 

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

Still Surprised by Disappointment? – Dr. Sandy Nelson

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In the acclaimed 1936 novel Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell writes: Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect. We take what we get and are thankful it’s no worse than it is.

Everyone knows that life is unfair, yet it’s incredible how we still appear panic4surprised by disappointment and unwanted events. If we really believed that life is unfair, we would expect disappointment and injustice, and be pleasantly stunned when a day passed without it. We would be enormously grateful for whatever we received that day, and view ourselves as fortunate because it wasn’t less. And it really could be a lot less and a lot worse.

Instead, some people expect life to unfold without a hitch and according to plan, and when it doesn’t they’re blindsided. It’s reasonable that some time might be needed to deal with the letdown from setbacks. But then it’s time to regroup and get back to living.

panic3How do you handle the unfair and difficult times in your life? Can you be found in a pouting slump; complaining about how you’re a victim of life? Or, can you be found facing trials with a determination to endure?

Helen Keller wrote: Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

I don’t know any happy and successful individuals who view themselves as complainers or see themselves as victims when adversity arrives. Those individuals who are determined to face difficulties and accept trials are the ones who become successful and have joy.

There is no doubt that throughout life you will come face-to-face with many trials and hardships. And, there’s no doubt that today, it’s how you handle those trials and hardships that will determine your success or failure; your happiness or misery.

As you go about your activities today, notice what could be worse, but isn’t instead of what’s going wrong that shouldn’t be.

Think about it.

 

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

Dealing With Loss

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photo-camera-219958_150In the past decade, Americans have endured such ruin and bereavement that it compares to the years of the Great Depression under the failed policies of Hoover¹. People have lost their jobs, their savings, their homes, their cars, plus in many cases, their self-confidence. And there’s still an additional one in three Americans on the verge of financial ruin.²

American author and Social Worker Virginia Satir wrote: Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is.

Well, unless you’re rich, the way it is sucks. It’s a good thing that we’re Americans because there are days that it’s only that spirit that has kept us going. It’s that tenacity found in our heritage that stirs the fight to endure. That and are own guts.

Psychologist and Business Consultant Dr. Kathryn D. Cramer says: People who suffer a loss must reinvent their lives.

Really? You think?

That reinvention isn’t a choice, it’s survival. It’s motivated by a resentment that isn’t often able to let go of the whys, the regrets, the anger, and the pressing sadness.

No one wants to grieve this crap. No one looks forward to Friday because they plan on grieving over the weekend. Grieving involves sadness, regret, heartbreak, weeping, suffering, and pain. Who wants to experience all that, at the same time, for a period of time?

It’s not only loss that requires change, it’s reality. It’s not optional. Something 793c70f5-805c-4b35-8655-785a91de8436-mediumisn’t the way it used to be and will never exist again. Something isn’t the way it should be and never will be again. The purpose of grieving is to adjust to the change in life that reality demands. It’s to bring us to the point of making necessary changes so we can adjust in healthy ways, even if we resent having to do so.

Think about it.

¹http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/12/bush200712

²http://www.marketwatch.com/story/1-in-3-americans-on-verge-of-financial-ruin-2015-02-23

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

What do you need to have to be happy?

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“There was a period when I believed stuff meant something. I thought that if you had matching side chairs and a sofa that harmonized and some beautiful lamps to light them you would have a home, that elegance signaled happiness.” ― Anna Quindlen

Does your happiness depend on the belongings and possessions that surround you? Does money really buy happiness?

wealth4I think that the more stuff we need to have to experience a sense of happiness and self-worth, the more dependent we are on the objects of this world for cheerfulness. This can be a very flighty way of life. To withhold our meeting with happiness until we attain a list of stuff to possess—certain cars, boats, a specific house, neighborhood, attire, vacations, furnishings, income, and lifestyle—is an unnecessary delay of joy. Sure, those items may be welcomed, but since reality indicates that only five percent of the world’s population can protract such a life, it is all the more valid reason to not define happiness on possessions.

An unfortunate amount of people look back over their life in a series of wealth2possessions. They view life by what they have pursued and acquired, not by what they have lived, learned, and experienced. “Well I got the boat in ’92, the VP job in ’97, the Hawaii condo in ’98, the Porshe in ’01, the yacht in ’03, and the ten acre estate in ’05.” Life is a series of moments in relationships, not a collection of possessions.

The impression that happiness requires lots of possessions is a lie. The notion that wealth will make you happy is a lie. The opinion that success is determined by possessions is a lie. Many people chose to focus on what they lack, what is wealth3unfair, what they should have; and are blind to the good fortune already bestowed to them.

To live consciously in the moment with gratitude is easier said than done. It seems more common to harp on the events of the past and cite its hardships as the reasons for why the present is lacking the desired possessionswhy the present isn’t what it should be. This conclusion can destroy any possibility for happiness and success right now.

Today, remain determined to dwell on the good fortune already given to you. Notice if you are allowing any negative conclusions to influence your happiness and success today.

Tell me what you think! Leave a reply!

Thanks for your time and comments. In caring, Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Do you know the cancer of emotions?

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Someone very wise once said, “No matter what the problem—relationship conflicts, addictions, work struggles, illness—handling anger and resentments in healthy ways is a key to its solution.”
IMG_0901 - CopyIn the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. But what happened that day was anything but routine. The Orioles’ John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third baseman. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl. The warfare quickly spread to the grandstands. Among the fans the conflict went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground. Not only that, but the fire spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well.
Reactive anger that’s almost always conveyed by ranting insults, threats, and angerintimidation; and often physical abuse, is the cancer of emotions. It’s at the root of almost every emotional and physical problem. Resentment has been called the chief destroyer of the mind and the leading cause of misery, depression, disease, accidents, broken relationships, and criminal acts. Anger that is expressed in a rage, murders. It kills happiness, peace, love, fulfillment, respect, success, and dreams It shortens lifespans.
One of Rome’s most well-loved emperors, Marcus Aurelius, ruled with this wisdom: The most complete revenge is not to imitate the aggressor. Why would not attacking back be the sweetest form of revenge? After all, if you remain calm while the other person continues in a tantrum of yelling criticisms, how would that look? It would look like one of you is behaving like an adult and the other one like a two-year old. Hmm.
Spend today aware of how you convey anger. If it’s common that you “lose your temper,” please understand what your actions do to people around you. This is an agonizing way to live and completely unnecessary for them and you. Behave like an adult.
Thanks for your time and comments. – Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Are life’s unknowns knocking on your door?

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One summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you stay with me all night?” Smiling, the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, “I can’t dear. I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.” A long silence followed. At last it was broken by the boy’s shaky voice saying, “The big sissy!”
IMG_0926Fears of the unknown can cause total havoc in life. As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.¹ We have a need to know; a need to be prepared–a need to control. But reality tells us that we also have a need to learn to live with uncertainty. When life is sunny, we do not worry if we will be able to handle the happiness or get through the joyful experience. There are few frets when life unfolds as we planned. We feel in control of our lives.
Likewise, when the storms of life occur we need to believe that we will handle the havoc and get through the unplanned. We can not see what tomorrow will bring. In fact, there are oodles of things we can not see or have future knowledge of despite the control of details in the present.
Remind yourself that whether today is sunny or stormy, you will and can handle whatever knocks on your door and survive it.
If you have found this post helpful, please pass it on! -Dr. Sandy

¹ Julius Caesar, Roman General and Statesman, 100-4 B.C.

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Do you use what happens to you?

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“The art of life isn’t controlling what happens, which is impossible; it’s using what happens.”¹ 

The events in our lives change us.  They’re supposed to. They’re intended to make us stronger, better and wiser; but I can personally attest that there’s a journey one takes into the fifth ring of hell before arriving at that point of view. 

IMG_0354It’s a journey through hurt, disappointment, confusion, loss, and injury that takes some people a long time to travel through, and some individuals get stuck on the way.  I was one of those individuals.  It was effortless to allow the unfairness of life to engulf me with no comfort.  Somehow, it appeared rational that I was entitled to moan awhile and be excused from life because of the loss and pain, both physically and emotionally, I had endured. I started to believe that the God of life had overlooked me and I was destined to be crippled and unworthy. There is no happiness to be found on the Injured Reserve list in life; only persistent defeat and depression. The more I sat on the sidelines, the more pessimistic, blaming, and self-righteous I became. 

Believe me, whatever painful event that happened to me or you isn’t anything special. Pain is universal. It’s global. It’s everywhere. But what you do after getting marred in life can be special. When you rise above the hardship instead of allowing yourself to be pulled down into an abyss of despair, then you’re in a position to see the happiness that is waiting for you. Today, don’t cry “Why Me?” Instead, use what happened to you to become stronger, better, and wiser. Press on! –Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

¹Moving Beyond Words: Essays on Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles by Gloria Steinem

What situation in your life are you attempting to avoid?

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I have to admit that when a problem pops up I tend to blop down–as if sitting with a sigh is going to summon my Fairy Godmother and her magic wand to make it all better. I just want to pretend for a minute (okay, maybe longer than a minute) that everything is okay. There are problems in life that can bring us to our knees. But the truth is avoiding a problem seems to imagesCA96EYD2just cause more misery.

In his best-selling book The Road Less Traveled, psychiatrist Dr. Scott Peck wrote, “This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness.”

That’s quite a claim. Facing difficulties requires intellect and reasoning ability to seek out solutions. Sometimes we’re too emotional to be rational and need some time to process painful feelings before we can think clearly.

If we accept that life is difficult, it will no longer surprise us that it often is. We will expect struggles. We will anticipate problems and hardships. And we will be more prepared to problem-solve where needed. We can seek support and guidance, instead of avoidance. –Dr. Sandy