cerebral palsy, Limits, Powerlifting

I Need A Hand.

Goose says this looks like a chicken’s leg. She’s supportive like that.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer ~Romans 12:22

As many of you know, this year has proven to be an explosion of unforeseen events. Well, to rock my world again, I had to have surgery on my hand on February 6th.

In January I broke my left hand walking upstairs. The otherwise routine break was complicated when my hand muscles spasmed while in the cast and pulled my pinky bone out of place.  As a result, the break didn’t  heal correctly. When the cast was removed,  my eyes bugged out of my head! My pinky had rotated outward and was laying on my ring finger. My doctor, a hand  specialist  from Munich, Germany, said,  “Well that s not good!”  It’s a good thing he is cute and has an accent because at that moment  I was in no mood.

He preceded to tell me I needed surgery to re-break my hand and put on a plate with four screws. I looked at him like a deer in headlights and preceded to ball my eyes out.  The first thing I questioned after I processed the information was, will I be able to lift again?  I was  assured  that I will be able to, but it would be a long, hard road.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9

I will be in a splint for four months, but  I can take it off to shower and do my physical therapy. I began physical therapy about a week ago. I endure an hour of excruciating exercises twice a day that makes my wrist and hand throb for hours after. A few days ago I made a loose fist for the first time.  The swelling won’t be down until months from now.  I worked so hard to get to where I was strength-wise, not only on my left side but my entire body, and now it’s gone. I’m way worse than before  I broke my hand.   I know that sounds pitiful,  but although  I am depressed and angry, I am not a quitter and won’t stop until I get back to competition shape. It’s going to be a long time though.

My arm from elbow to finger is stiff and weak, but there is nothing I can do about it beyond having patience and applying myself to my physical therapy.  Maybe that’s the lesson in all of this. Be patient—which I definitely am not—and don’t quit. I will never give up, and give all the glory to my Lord and Savior.

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#life

Well This Is A Stellar Start….

Happy New Year everyone! The start of 2018  has been quite the exciting one.

Since the first of the year I broke my left hand by falling upstairs, a feat only I could manage; I fell into the grips of the most evil, nasty, vial stomach virus ever to trudged the face of the earth; and most recently, one of my neighbors who I dearly loved died unexpectedly.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven ~James 5: 14-15

As far as my broken hand, it happened while Anaia and I were her friend’s birthday party in an old community playhouse. The bathroom was downstairs. Anaia was crying because she slammed her fingers in the stall door. I went to comfort her and on the way upstairs my foot didn’t clear the step and I fell forward. All my weight landed on my hand. I knew straight away that it was broken, but I kept telling myself with ice it would be fine.

We stayed to the end of the party and while the children enjoyed cake and fruit punch and sang happy birthday, my hand began to swell and blacken. The next morning I went to the ER. They did an x-ray and confirmed that it was, indeed, broken. They put it in a splint and gave me the name of a local orthopedist to call the following morning. I called, but he wouldn’t look at me. I think because my hand is somewhat deformed. He sent me to a hand specialist and the specialist put a cast on it. I have to go back every ten days to x-ray it and put a new cast on. I will probably have a cast on for a month. The upside is that I get to choose the color of my cast every time! A most interesting fact in all this is that the bone I broke is the exact type of bone and in the exact spot as the one I broke in my foot just before my wedding.

The next Sunday I found myself back in the ER with a severe case of dehydration due to the aforementioned stomach virus. Two days of vomiting, bouts of diarrhea and extreme exhaustion…  It took almost two weeks before I felt better. In those two weeks I had my first seizure in almost ten years. Probably due to the illness…

I just began to feel right when we got a phone call that our beloved neighbor died in her 60s. When I was 15  babysat her two young boys. I continued to work for her and her husband until I went to college. When I came back to Warwick live, we got together every now and then and saw each other at neighborhood parties. I just laughed and talked with her on the first of January at the neighborhood New Year’s party! It’s a complete shock to everyone. She and her husband were at dinner and she felt fine. Her husband went to volunteer at bingo night at the Elks Club, and when he got home he found her on the floor. She had suffered a massive stroke. The only thing to do is to care and love on her husband and to remember her ever-smiling face.

So if the first month of the year has any indication of how this year is going to play out, I’m in for a most exciting adventure!

cerebral palsy, Powerlifting

Local New York Paper Picks Up Powerlifter’s Story

Thrilled to step in here to say that Linda’s story and blog has been picked up and shared by a local New York newspaper. Such a great article to help spread the word about what determination and belief in God can do to transform a life. ~Jennifer Deschanel

http://www.wvdispatch.com/news/powerlifter-with-cerebral-palsy-is-an-inspiration-to-others/

 …My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.~John 4:34

Motherhood

Motherhood and CP… a guessing game of scientific proportions!

Two months after bringing Anaia home my mother left. Cue panic attack…

“I won’t grow up, I won’t grow up… I don’t wanna wear a tie…..”

While Ryan was working twelve-hour days, I was home alone with this truly amazing, but equally intimidating little being. My physical limitation aside, the biggest obstacle was extreme sleep deprivation. Although Ryan was working he’d help during the night. He was completely and totally in love with the new little lady in his life. I used to get out of bed and hide out of sight so I could listen to him sing “Anaia Grace with the beautiful face, Anaia Grace, Anaia Grace.”

One night, after hearing him standing there singing, there was a moment of absolute silence followed by a loud thud then a baby crying. I ran into the room to see Ryan and Anaia on the floor! He’d sung both of them to sleep. Don’t worry, Anaia was fine….

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ~Romans 12:2

For me, sleep deprivation can be very dangerous and can trigger a seizure. Although I never had a one during that time (I’ve been seizure free for over eight years), I had auras, which is the feeling of a seizure coming on. Another issue was getting the right dosage of my medication to prevent seizure from occurring. Just as when I gained weight while pregnant and I had to increase the dosage, when I lost weight after giving birth I had to decrease the dose.

Here’s when my doctor almost had a heart attack…

“I’m forever blowing bubbles! Pretty bubbles in the air…..”

After giving birth I lost 40 pounds in one week! How or why did I lose that much weight in a week? I didn’t try to. Those 40 pounds were the result of how much extra amniotic fluid I was making coupled with losing weight of Anaia, who was six pounds at birth. While I was happy about this weight loss, because I was 186 at 5’1″, my doctor was a bit frazzled. I was losing weight too fast for her to keep up with the adjustments. Keeping me stable was going to be an act of God and I believe it was by His grace I never went into a full-blown seizure.

Neurologically speaking, I was a complete mess. Ryan probably should have taken me out in the back yard and put me out of my misery. God no doubt had his hand upon me. It took almost a full year after Anaia’s birth to feel “normal ” again. I found the best thing for me to do was to nap when Anaia was napping and not worry about so much about cleaning up and doing chores. I had to learn how to take care of myself first, so I could take care of my daughter.

As time went on I became less anxious and more comfortable with the daily routine of motherhood. I figured out how to do things is such a way that worked for me. I had feeding, dressing and diapering a baby with one hand down to a science. Anaia was incredibly patient with me slowly fumbling my way through all the baby/mommy tasks at hand. Thank God!

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.~2 Corinthians 4:8-9

But new obstacles would show up daily making every day a lesson on scientific hypotheses….

There are stairs at every main entrance to my house. It’s not handicapped accessible and my CP causes me to have balance issues. The basement door leading to the garage has steep stairs… a nightmare in the making for someone with CP, balance issues, and one normal arm to carry a baby to the car. The door leading to the back yard has no stairs, but I didn’t feel like carrying my baby through the backyard in two feet of snow to get to my car. So what I did if I had to go out is…

  1. Go down the basement stairs to the garage stairs without Anaia. Get to the garage open the car door, leave it open, and get the car seat ready.
  2. Go back up all the stairs and bundle up my baby.
  3. Pick the baby up and put her on my right shoulder.
  4. Go to the basement stairs and sit down.
  5. Scoot down the stairs on my butt while hold while holding Anaia.
  6. Stand up and put Anaia on my left shoulder while opening the door leading to the garage.
  7. Switch my daughter to my right side scoot down the garage stairs this time.
  8. Lift her up and into the car seat.
  9. Wipe the sweat that was dripping down my forehead.

I told you it was a science! When we got back home I would do it all over again only in the opposite direction.

Why do this? Because I’m not comfortable going down stairs without holding on because of balance issues, and life doesn’t stop for a mother who has CP. It was the safest option. Life consisted of scientific step-by-step solutions for every day happenings. I wouldn’t change anything. Every difficult thing I faced meant I was overcoming an obstacle and, in turn, finding out of what I was capable. Anaia wasn’t suffering or neglected. She was happy, healthy and growing like any other baby. Life wasn’t any different for her, nor was her mother different… every day things were just done differently.

“I’ve a piece of wood with some wheels on it…”

As she got older, I taught her not to be a “cookie cutter kid.” I taught her to think outside of the box and to be an individual. She’s a rough and tumble Tom-boy of a girl who loves Peter Pan and skate boarding, but will inform her father that he is going on a date with her and insists he go put on a suit and tie while she changes into a party dress. They have to look nice at the Italian restaurant.

Anaia is very outgoing and accepting of others. She is also very independent. I found out having a mother with CP wasn’t all that bad for her.

 

Motherhood

Adventures in diapering with cerebral palsy

I still can’t look at a chicken leg quite the same way….

The night we got to bring Anaia home after a week of being  without her was amazingly wonderful. She was in the NICU after she stopped breathing several times during her first 24 hours here on earth. As you remember from “Adventures in CP Motherhood,” the doctors thought it was because she was going through withdrawal from my epilepsy medication. Praise God, after only a week, she was released from the hospital and could finally come home.

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? ~ Psalm 118:6

While that is a great bible verse, I didn’t have a ‘mere mortal’. I had a newborn. Totally different, completely intimidating beast! I was incredibly happy and terrified. Both emotions mixed together with excitement and joy. I was going to be the main person to take care of this five pound beautiful creation; the gift from God who couldn’t do anything for herself. (Anaia, by the way, means gift from God).  It was so overwhelming and different than the week before. In the hospital, as I held her while she slept and fed her, nurses were hovering at the ready. As nervous as I was about coming home, I think my husband, Ryan, was more so.

It was raining the night we took her home, and that didn’t help. Ryan drove our Buick le Saber (aka The Boat) two miles per hour all the way home. With a hospital 45 minutes away on a good day, you can imagine how long that took.

We made the trip home in silence because Ryan had to concentrate and our voices, according to him, would make him veer off the road. Honestly, a part of me believed him. Thankfully we made it home without the car coming to life and killing us all.

My Mom and Anaia

I felt certain I was going to break my newborn.  Rest assured, Anaia is still in one piece to this day. I have to thank my mother for staying with us for two months.  That night, Ryan and I got a taste of what life was going to be like with a baby in the house. My mother, Ryan and I, were up every two hours feeding and changing the little being that now ruled the house. My mother was in awe of modern day diapers with the self-sticking tape closure on the sides.

I guess she used something called safety pins on my cloth diapers…

She showed Ryan and I how to take off the dirty diaper, wipe clean our amazingly dirty daughter, put on diaper cream, and secure the new diaper on the never-ceasing-to-stop-wiggling baby.

Ryan was a fast learner. He was very aware of the whole wiping front to back thing. He made a point to remind me of just that when it was my turn to change her. Speaking about me changing diapers… I’m sure it was a sight to behold. I was constantly dead on my feet from being sleep deprived which made me even more uncoordinated than I already felt.  I was afraid I was going to pull an arm or a leg off my baby, or worse, one of each! There I was, looking down at my baby, who was in desperate need of a new diaper, and me with images of a chicken leg in my hand.

I wasn’t physically able to change her diaper the way my mother showed me, so the lessons were out the window. Most of the time I asked her to do it for me. That is until the faithful day that God said, “Linda, for the love of me, she’s your baby, you change her diaper!”

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Ryan was at work and my mother was out grocery shopping. Nobody was at home except me and a newborn with a blowout poop of a diaper! My first thought was, Sweet Jesus! My second thought was, where, for the love of God, is my mother? I mean, it doesn’t take that long to get groceries. It was probably only an hour, if that. So, I did what any grown woman would have done….

I called my Mommy in a panic.

“Mom, you gotta come home now! Anaia pooped and it’s everywhere!”

My mother (trying to be supportive but yet fighting back  fit of laughter) said, “I’ll be home as soon as I can”

As soon as she can? Not good enough! Now! Come home now!

The famous diaper pail sausage. I’ve ruined sausage for many people this way…

Panicked thoughts turned into, Ok Linda what are you going to do? Your newborn needs you.  Umm… maybe I can wait until Mom gets home? Sniffing the air quickly told me that was not an option.  Talking out loud, I said, “Ok, little one, here we go. If I pull off your arms or legs, Mommy didn’t mean to.” I put Anaia on the changing table and unzipped her onesie. By the way, onesies were my best friend. They didn’t go over the head; less of a chance for me to turn my daughter into KFC. Such made it easy for me to get her clothing on and off, and when she started to crawl I could reach down and pick her up in the middle of the back by the onesie.

But back to changing diapers…

I unzipped her onesie, burned it, and took off the dirty diaper wondering how breast milk and all natural formula could ever have that kind of  effect on a baby’s stomach. I used at least a half a pack of wipes to clean her (making sure I wiped in the proper direction, thank-you Ryan) and, in the process of wiping, I filled up the diaper pail making a diaper pail “sausage.” I then got a new diaper, laid it open, picked up a clean, naked baby and put her butt on the diaper. While taping that diaper onto her and finding a clean onesie, my heart was pounding like mad…until I looked at my baby.

“I didn’t rip off any of your limbs!” I exclaimed.

When my mother got home Miss Anaia was happy, clean and in one piece.

The moral here? Don’t be afraid to live your dreams. Every problem has a solution. Your children don’t need you to be perfect, or fearless, they just need your love and guidance.

I promise you won’t break them.

Motherhood

Adventures in CP Motherhood

I always wanted to fall in love, get married, and have children.  I feel so blessed that God gave me my dream.  The falling in love and getting married part was relatively easy compared to the having children part…

linda-pregnant-3
A rare moment where I wasn’t puking.

First of all, I was scared to death.  I was asking myself the very same question people were asking me: How are you going to care for a baby? I had one additional question to ask. Once I got pregnant, could I carry to term? And if I did, what would going through labor be like?

Those are questions for any new mom, but having epilepsy threw a whole new wrench into the mix. Doctors told me I couldn’t take my meds during labor.  What?! I have to take my meds! My doctor said he wasn’t sure what to do about that fact; he’d have to “think” about alternatives. How comforting is that?!

I was very nervous about being able to carry to term because having CP, epilepsy, and being in my late 30’s made me a high-risk pregnancy.  On top of all that I already had two miscarriages with my ex husband, a sadness which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Ryan and I miscarried once before the force known as Anaia Grace entered our lives.

There wasn’t a day that went by during my pregnancy with Anaia that I wasn’t grateful for one more day with her growing inside me. Being a high-risk pregnancy isn’t fun or easy for anyone involved. Even if I didn’t have CP or epilepsy, I’d still have to drive over an hour to West Chester hospital every other week for a sonogram to check if she was developing normally. Which she was besides the fact I was making too much amniotic fluid. You see, I thought it would be fun to add a couple neurological and physical issues  on top of being  older just  to spice  things  up a bit.

Philippians 4:6 ~Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

When you are medicated for epilepsy, you have to increase your dosage as you gain weight as the baby grows. The medication I’m on has awful side effects: dizziness, exhaustion, and extreme nausea. Now, imagine those side effects on top of the hormonal swings, morning sickness, and drop-on-your-knees-exhaustion of growing a human. It was nine months of hell. But I would not have changed a thing because I have my perfect Anaia.

I was sick from day one until delivery. Over the course of the pregnancy, my neurologist ended up overdosing me on my medication. I don’t hold anything against her; it’s a guessing game after all. I had to be admitted to NYU for detox. I was hooked up to an EEG to see if I was about to go into a seizure for three or four days while doctors weaned me off my meds. They waited until all the meds were out of my system before slowly reintroducing a new medication to my body. Oh… and in between that, and all throughout my pregnancy, I went to the local hospital almost every week for dehydration.

heat-meiser
The true face of heart-burn

I couldn’t lay down and had to sleep sitting up. Every time I tried to lie down I threw up, or stomach acid burned my throat.  It felt like a volcano was erupting in my throat and Heat Miser was taking up residency in my gut.

I drank Maalox by the bottle!

So for most of my pregnancy I slept in my Father’s recliner and Ryan slept on the couch a few feet away.  I told him he didn’t have to, but he didn’t want to leave me alone. The night Anaia came into the world I was very glad Ryan was nearby! Looking back, that was a comical night. Let what I’m about to tell you play like a movie in your mind….

It started in the wee hours of November 6th, 2008. I was in the recliner and Ryan stretched out on the too-small-for-his 6’3″-frame-couch. I woke and had to go to the bathroom. As I tried to get up, the room spun in more directions than I could count. Extremely dizzy, I called for Ryan. He helped me to the bathroom where I got even dizzier, and therefore, was completely out of it. I was dehydrated once again.  As Ryan helped me pull my PJ pants up (don’t even ask me who pulled them down) I began to feel extremely sick to my stomach.  Then… it happened. As Ryan bent over to pull up my PJ’s I thanked him by unloading my cookies on the back of his neck.

That… my friends is true love.

With vomit sliding chunks down his chin, he stood there like a trooper and got my pants up. I was so proud of him. So proud, in fact, I began throwing up all over the front my poor husband, who now had puke dripping down  his chest as well as his spine.

At this point he had called the doctor.  Because I was so disoriented I didn’t realize I was setting a new record for continuous vomiting as Ryan was trying to get me to the hospital. He began walking me to the front door, trying to hold me up because I couldn’t stand on my own. Standing was no easy task for a pregnant woman who already has no normal center of gravity, but I was dizzy,  put-spin-art-to-shame-with-my-vomit kind of pregnant woman.  As I’m continuing to puke all over the front of Ryan and his bare feet, making the kitchen floor he was navigating across slick as an ice-arena, one of my dogs decides to help clean up by licking the floor…

Vomit. Dog slobber. Ryan in his bare feet.

Ryan is now trying to hold me up while slipping and sliding in puke and dog slobber, which we all know has a supernaturally slick consistency. I finally stop barfing for a minute, which gives Ryan the liberty to find his footing and get me out the front door. Dripping in puke and in still in bare feet, he leaves the front door open (he couldn’t close it because  he was holding  me up) and sits me down on the porch  bench. As he’s helping me sit down, two dogs shoot out of the house hopped on a fresh meal of post-consumption left-overs and run out of the house…at 3:30am.

Did I mention the deer they chased and the barking all over the neighborhood?

My non-vomit covered hero.
My non-vomit covered hero.

Ryan, the vomit covered, bare footed, dog-wrangler extraordinaire, eventually gets the dogs back in the house.  He gets the car, pulls around to the front of the house, and helps me down the front lawn and into the car. At last, we are off to the hospital, which is five minutes away.

When we get there Ryan goes and gets a ER nurse. I can just imagine what she thought when she saw him. Still covered in puke and bare footed in November.  I was admitted, hooked up to a baby monitor, and given fluids. After a while I felt much better…

Ryan, however, didn’t smell any better.

The doctor didn’t like how Anaia’s heartbeat was, so after a few hours of being monitored he decided to, in his words, “go get her.” On November 6th,  2008 Anaia Grace Denerley was born by c-section 3 weeks early at 7:20am. She was beautiful!

But… there was a ripple in the happy ending.

A few hours after being born, Anaia stopped breathing.  The nurses were able to get her breathing again but Anaia continued to stop breathing several times throughout her first 24 hours on earth. It was heartbreaking. I was in one hospital while my new born baby was rushed to the NICU in different hospital 45 minutes away.

After a week Ryan and  I got to bring our baby home. I have to say, the doctors and nurses involved in every way were fantastic.  We were definitely blessed. The doctors said they weren’t sure why Anaia stopped breathing out of nowhere. Most likely she having withdrawal symptoms coming off my epilepsy meds.  Today she’s a very healthy, rough and tumble 8 year old in the third grade.

Tune in to the next blog to see how I figured out diapered a baby one-handed!

Self-Esteem

When Life Gives You Potatoes…

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”~ Psalm 139:14

I’ve thought long and hard about what my first blog should be. I’m going to tell you something I wish I’d discovered long ago: accept the fact that there are potatoes you’re never going to be able to peel.

russet-potatoes-cut
The villain of our story. Nasty little suckers.

More importantly, don’t let the fear of other people make you feel self-conscious of the fact that you can’t peel a potato. For a few years I went to private school until third grade when I started public education.  When I got home from my first day my mother asked me how it went. I told her great, I met some really nice kids and they seem to like me a lot. Her reply? She said, “They only like you because they feel sorry for you.”

Now, please don’t think I’m bashing my mother. Both my parents did all they could to help me. My prognosis as a baby wasn’t very promising. When I was adopted, doctors said I’d never walk or talk. They told my parents to enjoy me at home, and when I got too big to handle to put me in a home. After numerous different doctors came and went, my parents finally found one who put me on a 14 hour a day, six day a week physical and mental therapy program. Thanks to my parents and their devotion to finding me quality care, I’m walking, talking, have two college degrees and a family of my own.

The point I’m making is I’ve a very loving mother; she was just fearful that kids would make fun of me. She didn’t realize what she said out of her own fear was damaging to me. From that point on I had major trust issues and was embarrassed of who I was. Embarrassed of the way I talked and of my afflicted left side. Up to that point in time, the first six years of my life was surrounded by volunteers coming and going all helping me to become a better person and all of whom thought I was the best thing since sliced bread.

That first day of third grade changed me forever…  until recently.

Powerlifting shows me I have a power within me power that some people are afraid to tap into. Power that shows the world I’m not to be pitied. I love my mother with all my heart, but wish she’d have put her fear of what could happen to me aside and focused on teaching me how uniquely wonderful I was, and how much I had to offer.

Today I am getting over my trust issues because I’ve found something within that gives me self confidence. I’m ok that I will never be able to peel a potato.  My husband, Ryan, is  a  wonderful  peeler.

smashed-potato
Every problem has a solution made better with garlic and butter.

So I the lesson of the day is first, don’t let the fears your loved have shape how you feel and see yourself and, second, accept the fact you can’t peel a potato. It has no influence on what kind of person you are. Smash them with some garlic instead. Life is tastier when your outlook is better.

Every problem has a solution.