Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter From Our Home to Yours



We had a wonderful, wonderful Easter.  It is a lovely Spring day here in Oregon, and we have spent the day outside enjoying the sunshine, great food, and our wonderful family.

My husband is doing extremely well since his stroke on Wednesday. His stroke was an extremely unusual one. He lives a healthy and well balanced life so it was quite unusual to have this happen especially the way that it did in just one one of the four spinal arteries at the back of the neck and one of the even rarer occurrences where the blockage occurred in the in left vertebral artery, encased in the spine and not in any of the others.

It is a permanent blockage of unknown cause, with no known treatment at this time.The blockage is permanent as is the damage to the brain cells that artery fed. But we are hopeful that there will be collateral improvement in all ways as the ability of the body, mind, and spirit to heal itself has been proven over and over again in our lives.

Because of this unusual kind of stroke, he has no dietary or medical restrictions as it was neither caused by high blood pressure,  nor by high cholesterol, and not influenced by diabetes, smoking, or any of the usual risk factors.

Things happen, we deal with them, and we continue on.  We expect the speech to slowly improve as well as the slight weakness on the right side. Meanwhile he is medically released to resume normal home and work activities.  It is one of those unusual events that is so atypical, that the doctors have not been able to determine a cause, nor any treatment, or even any preventive actions for this kind of stroke. None of the usual risk factors created it, and none of the usual precautions would alter another one from potentially happening again. We just think positively, and hope for the best.

He had a significant number of  hospital tests, including all of the usual medical ones (CT scans, MIR, Echo-cardiogram, multiple blood screens etc. etc, as well as physical, occupational, and speech testing and suggestions for therapy at the hospital and was released to continue to practice on his own.

So, we have physical, social, home, and outside activities in place (by ourselves)  that increase the use of the muscles that need strengthening, with lots of talking both in person, and on the phone to increase articulation etc.

He is doing amazingly well and we feel very, very fortunate to have had such a good outcome from what might have been a devastating event.

We are grateful for so many blessings this holiday season, and hope that all of you know just how much all of your kind messages, positive prayers, thoughts, and energies meant to us.

Happy Easter and many blessings from our home to yours!

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Life's Unexpected Challenges




There is nothing that happens in my life, and the lives of those that I love, that ever fails to convince me that this is not a world of illusion. A world where there are so many synchronistic events, and often endless challenges that just further teach us to rise above those challenges, to call forth our deep and 'true' nature, and to remain as centered as one can be.... when life turns upside down in a blink of an all see-ing eye.

Yesterday, at about 7 a.m. my husband had a stroke.
 
It began as a relatively normal morning. The kind where I am chattering too much as I've already been up for hours and hours by the time my husband gets up at 5 a.m. Where he tries to do his daily Sodoku inspite of the background commentary that I like to provide on the sunrise, the weather, the cats, the chickens, the extended family, or what terrible tragedies happened in the world while he was still sleeping, and I was not.

He seemed perfectly normal, and he left for work by 6:30 a.m....stopping at our son's house (they build super energy efficient homes together) for their daily carpooling commute.

By the time, our son had come out to get in the car, my husband knew that his face felt odd. He tried to say that he probably shouldn't drive and they should trade places. But the words came out completely garbled and unrecognizable.

They switched places and drove straight to the ER, calling me on the way (speakerphone paired). I told them he was probably having a stroke, to find an aspirin in the glove box to give him, and I would meet them there. 

Long story short, my husband was, indeed, having the first symptoms, and did indeed have, a stroke.

And strangely enough, it was a good thing they couldn't find the aspirin bottle in the car. He didn't get his first hospital aspirin to thin his blood for another 8 or 9  hours when he was finally sent up to a hospital room in neurology.

It turns out that in some cases, you don't want to thin your blood by taking an aspirin yet for fear of other things happening and he was one of those cases. Go figure. Again, things seem to happen for a reason and sometimes not happen for a reason.

Yes, his speech (lips, tongue, facial muscles that control those) has been affected by the stroke, but he was very, very fortunate. It was a surface level blood clot in the vessels of the brain that broke free to create the stroke and not a deep tissue clot ...or it could have been disastrously worse.

He had the full work up of CT scans, MRI, bloodwork, and countless repeated memory and various stroke tests to judge the extent of the damage. And get this, one test, the neurologist removed a simple, ordinary safety pin from the lapel of his white drs. coat to poke my husbands, arms, legs, face, hands etc. etc.

He has no paralysis or limb involvement, just facial,tongue, lips so brushing his teeth was a challenge, but he did find his mouth (and not the eye) with the food and later a toothbrush and he will be o.k. in a bit of time with some speech and physical therapy.

All three of our grown children were able to join us and lend their help and support and we ended up with a lot of family by the end of the day. He has a nice big room in the Neurology ward on the seventh floor of the hospital....with a view of our State Capitol building and its famous gold statue of a pioneer man.

We were voted the nicest family in the ER's entire day...they liked us so much that they kept us for  8 hours in two different ER rooms.  Read the ER room sign in the collage above and imagine just how some people must behave (we were voted the nicest family of the day) Hard to believe but true.... some families need to be asked to leave the hospital because they lack common sense and apparently there is no cure for that, yet.

As I told a friend, you never know "what shoe" will drop next. Even when you get dressed in a hurry to drive to the ER to meet your husband and son and don't notice you are wearing two different styles and colors of shoes. And you get to wear them all day and evening long. Turns out all of the nurses loved them, laughing at me raised everyone's spirits, and reminded me that sometimes, you have to take yourself, and everything else light-ly or life will just plain, pull you down with the seemingly endless challenges.

You do your best to not let it be a bigger challenge than you can deal with by making the very best of it that you can. You have to laugh as the silly things, be grateful for the good ones, and know you can handle the not so good ones a lot better than you think you can.

Think good thoughts that any remaining clots will naturally dissolve and that he will not have any more 'follow-up- strokes,  and that things will just get better and better.

Gosh, this is a strange and interesting, albeit challenging life! But oh, am I, for one, learning and learning, growing and growing, and getting stronger, and stronger, and stronger!

Now, to pick out a clean outfit for a new day, drive back to the hospital, and try not to wear the other set of the mis-matched pair to complete today's ensemble!

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gratitude



I am feeling so very grateful for the beauty of Spring flowers, the sound of early morning bird song, the playful antics of dozens of little squirrels as they perform their high wire acts from limb to limb. I am grateful for the budding of new leaves on trees, the buzzing of bees, and the sweet hum of humming birds as they flit back and forth from our many feeders to fresh blooms in the yard.

Grateful that my youngest sister-in-law, Shelley, with advanced cancer is holding her own, after her 7th chemotherapy treatment. She and my brother fly from Juneau to Seattle every three weeks for another round of treatment, so while it might seem discouraging that they she is now on 'maintenance' levels, that is actually a good thing. She is holding her own and still striving to live until her second grandchild is born in May.


Grateful that my brother in Eagle River who battles one round of pneumonia, and one medically induced coma after another, is now feeling well enough to have some physical therapy to get his strength back. And his wife, with end-stage kidney disease, who crashed and burned with severe high blood pressure and fluid filled lungs, is now back to holding her own against the increasing odds of finally being "sick enough" to make her way up on the kidney transplant list.

Life if filled with so many challenges, but we focus on the good, the daily gratitudes of health, happiness, and the ability to bear whatever pains we might feel that day.

As someone who was told in 1981 to prepare myself for a life in a wheelchair, I know better than anyone that doctors can be proved wrong, time is fluid, and so are all of our choices.  You just take it day by day, week by week, year by year with gratitude for what one has that is good and filled with meaning.  For everything that is taken away or given up, so much more is given that others do not have nor will ever be able to experience.


My little burlap prayer flags were made with remnants from the 14 burlap table runners that I cut and fringed for my youngest daughter's wedding last August. I bought 36 yards of that burlap, and combined with the making of 6 burlap wedding bags, 6 burlap Christmas stockings, and countless prayer flags, I've used that fabric well! Combined with bits of osnaburg from the 90 home made fringed table napkins and lots of bits and pieces from the tiniest of leftover cuttings from fabric used this past year for the making of charitable donation quilts and  pillowcases, nothing and I do mean, nothing!, goes to waste in this house :-)

As the second prayer flag says:  "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier." ..Mother Theresa

Such simple little flags, but made with love and intention. Light enough to still flutter in the winds of time and spread their message of gratitude and love everywhere.

 It feels so good to be outside and working in the yard, seeing all of the new growth, and delighting in those little blossoms brave enough to face the possibility of late frost. We lost so many rhododendron, hydrangea, and peonies in our suddenly severe winter, but have the blessings of 5 new peonies hand delivered by the grateful owners of  Pookie, the precious little dog who got lost during the fire works of New Years Eve in Brooks, Oregon and somehow found his way over farmland to our home in Salem.


http://www.with-heart-and-hands.com/2014/01/pookie.html


It was a miracle he survived the more than 5 mile journey and a blessing that he found us as we never gave up trying to locate his owners without benefit of a tag or identification of any kind.

Now, we hear that sweet little Pookie has a new collar with tags securely attached, but also a microchip, as well. And his young college age owner was so grateful she made her parents promise to get these peonies to us, before spring for planting! So, her wonderful parents,  who just happened to own Brooks Garden came by with a fabulous gift of five lovely peonies ....and they didn't even know that we had lost ours in the severe winter freeze! Oh, I do so love peonies..one of my favorite of all, flowers!

So, joys abound. The Universe balances out the challenges with the blessings, bit by bit, day by day. I hang new prayer flags, one by one, and I am grateful


And don't miss this...a wonderful opportunity for a rare event a total lunar eclipse which turns the moon a rusty red. Known as the Blood Moon the sunlight will stream around the Earth and throws the moon into Earth's shadow.

http://aaqi-quilting.blogspot.com/

Beginning tonight/early tomorrow, on Tuesday April 15 ( how filled with portents is this? ) at about 1:20a.m. on the East Coast, and lasting for about 78 minutes, we will witness a full lunar eclipse, Blood Moon.   At first this full moon will appear to be a little darker than normal, but eventually it will move across the face of the moon with the distinct reddish-brown or "Blood Moon' color. This is a the first of a rare event of a sequence of four total lunar eclipses expected over the next two years. Wow! I cannot wait. I love astronomical events of all kinds. I head out into the moo light with open arms and hands and sing out to the Universe "fill me up, fill me up" following in the footsteps of a long line of wise woman and their way of asking for blessings and abundance. And my way (tonight) of saying. a tax refund will certainly be nice ;-)

Shown, above #15,000 - And The Greatest Of These Is Love (sold for $105.00) : One of my 75 small format art quilts donated to the  Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative (2007-2013). 

And....I am still grateful to have sold all 75 of these tiny little 9"x12" or smaller art quilts and have earned  $4,516.88 for Alzheimer's Disease Research Funding. The little moon is as close to a 'blood moon' as I could find among my art work and I did so love this little quilt. It makes me happy just looking at this photo and knowing it must have gone to a very good home :-) 

And last, but never, ever least....I am so very and truthfully, grateful for all of you. Nearing almost 6 million views now, I wonder "how in the world did my love of writing and sharing lead to me being a blogger? But again, the Universe had a different plan in store for me, and I just do my best to oblige in any way that I can. So, thank you, those who comment and those who do not..I am still grateful!


Join Us in Visual Prayer

 The Prayer Flag Project 
Such a lovely way to remember to be grateful, to create blessings, and share with others.


Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!