448. Called Out

448.  Called Out

Isn’t this a pretty photo? My friend, KAR took it at her pretty house, at the pretty Christmas Tea, where lots of pretty ladies gathered on Saturday. It went very well, thanks! I was so glad to be there, and to spend time with so many friends I’ve known since birth, and set the record straight about how this situation has impacted me since it’s become clear that many people have been concerned, to say the least.

It was especially wonderful to see my friend Je there with her brand new little babydoll!! And it was absolutely fantastic to finally meet Trainer D’s lovely wife, formerly known as Mrs. Miyagi, but we decided her new name would be Smurfette! She has been Team Tanimal’s dietician for most of 2014 after an email consultation early in my Training career, but her welcome package got lost in translation and I was so glad to give her (another) bracelet of her own so she doesn’t have to borrow D’s.

Speaking of Trainer D, he totally called me out last Friday. The problem: that man has too much data. Now I’m keeping an exercise journal for him, and he does this nerdy thing (one of many) where he tracks my pain levels based on unrelated emails. He’s been reading the signs for months now, but apparently I can no longer argue with him about it or hide it.

Things came to a head last week. CMD was in fine form when we were reunited on Wednesday although she gave me The Eye when I told her I was having trouble eating from the stress etc.  Dr. Jayme was also concerned, plus she had an agenda she pursued relentlessly that included working on my scapulae, since they are misaligned with my hips big time.  Coach R extracted more information from me regarding the nature of my ailments and has been warily watching me decline for a while, now.  And then on Friday Trainer D got up in my grill about my breathing, we did an utterly hysterical version of Trust Falls while he was trying to teach me a new neuromuscular lunge technique (Nerd Alert!) and strongly suggested I consult with Smurfette regarding my diet. He listed four dangers related to not nourishing your body appropriately, and they were interesting and insightful, but sorry, I can’t tell them to you bc I forgot them already. I was mainly concentrating on the fact that he is clearly ignoring my proposal about having Silent Training Time periodically. But seriously, I’m grateful bc that is why I keep him around. It’s the purpose of Team Tanimal in general, actually.

To clarify, his concern is the quantity, not the quality of my food. I might not be eating enough to sustain my higher level of activity. I have been stressed as we approach year-end. It’s been building since September, really, and although I’ve blocked out many things, I’ve been remembering a lot of sad and harrowing details from our Oregon trip and the early onset of my illness.

I’ve made some incredible physical and emotional gains this year, but I understand now that the emotional gains come at a very real physical cost. The emotional gains I’ve made have been critical to my Recovery, but I’ve taken some real physical hits as a result. That said, I told Coach R a while ago, when I look back on this year, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. And overall my physical condition is directionally correct – i.e. if it were a graph, the line would be pointing up.

Before we went back to Oregon I was unraveling. I had a heartbreaking conversation with Coach R that went like this:

My scans are clean. I don’t expect anything to happen, but in case it does, what are the procedures in place to take care of it?

Poor Coach R.  I was torturing him unintentionally for at least the first 6 months of Training. But really, I wanted to know bc I didn’t see a crash cart anywhere and I was concerned that I might expire at any moment. I didn’t need to ask Trainer D since we’d already covered that ground conversationally.

The stress has been building for a while now, even though I’ve got nothing like Oregon looming on the horizon. For the past week or so I’ve been uneasy – I know something is wrong.  But let me really clear about this: Ain’t no one gonna die, least of all me. Before Oregon I was very concerned about the dying thing, hence that convo with Coach R. But now I know that my symptoms might act up to the point that I am caught by surprise and flinch in pain or stumble bc I lose my balance badly, but all of this falls into the category of Annoying, not Sign of Imminent Mortal Danger.

The manifestations that come to mind are some tripping incidents at thy gym(s), the need for modifications to the regimens, needing to “run” less intensely, taking unscheduled “rest” days, and loss of appetite and nausea. Oh yeah, and the eyes, dizziness, and body parts in general are getting increasingly uncooperative.

Trainer D actually put two fingers in front of his eyes on Friday and then pointed them to me like, Yeah, I SEE YOU. MM hmm. Animal Muppet’s powers of observation are not to be underestimated.

I want to sustain my higher level of activity bc it is extremely helpful mentally, so it’s time to go on vacation early and get this thing sorted out. So although I had planned this week already I’m signing off today to concentrate on the game plan for this new phase of Recovery. It’s time to recalibrate. 2012 was the beginning of my hemiparesis and when I first realized that my body works very differently now and there were physical consequences to deal with even though learning how to walk was such a blessing. 2013 was when I met CMD, M37 put me through my paces, I started to exercise more and concentrated on learning how to cook and clean. 2014 was a blur – we went to Oregon, Mommy sent me to Boo Boo’s so I wouldn’t die of stress, I transitioned to the Full Disclosure Model with my Trainers, met Gen, made serious gains, took significant hits, and now it’s time to figure out what needs to happen next.

Bye for now!  See you in 2015 :) ann|ning

447. Life or Death


Ezra at OHSU 4/11

Ezra at OHSU 4/11

A few weeks ago I tried to do a mental retrospective of he Top 10 Funniest Conversations I’ve had with Trainer D. I couldn’t do it. There are so many hilarious things that happen I had to give up.

Example: The day he made me get on the assisted chin up machine I didn’t fuss because it had never occurred to me that he would ever make me do such a thing. I just looked warily at the contraption while he was talking and said, I don’t think this is a good idea.

439.  Thanks.  PS this is YOUR fault.

439. Thanks. PS this is YOUR fault.

Evidently he was enjoying himself immensely and just said, I want you to get used to the idea of hanging. Now whatever you do, don’t let go. I can’t help you if you let go. I can do a whole lot of nothin’ besides watch you crumpled up on the floor.

Yeah, I think this is a really bad idea, I reiterated. But I climbed up anyway. It’s been over a year. I know how this gig works.

I was hanging obediently like a monkey when he said, Okay, don’t hold on so tight.

Ummm….I was like, How in the world can you see my white knuckles from that angle? PS. I said, I thought you said you couldn’t help me!

I lied, he responded simply. Of course I’ve gotcha.

My suspicions were confirmed. He was hugging himself delightedly bc he just likes to watch me squirm.

He gradually decreased the level of assistance the machine was giving me until I pulled more than I used to weigh before my injury. It was crazy. I haven’t done a pull up or a chin up since 1994. I kid you not. Side note: I have never worn this much spandex since 1994, either.

Trainer D explained his rationale during a break: He trains all of his clients to do a chin up. The way he thinks about it is if it were a life or death situation, would he be strong enough to pull himself out of a wreck? Or would he have enough back integrity to squeeze out of a window?

The man rides a ridiculous Harley, but that’s another kettle of fish. :/

394.  Spectacle

394. Spectacle

When I got sick I was in the middle of a desperate attempt to renew my mind through the washing of the Word of God. I walked around the office with a pack of index cards in my back pocket with verses on them I studied as I walked between buildings to different meetings. I had a clear shower curtain so I taped passages of scripture I was trying to memorize on the outside so I could do my memory work while sudsing up. I was not playing around. My need has always been great, and I decided that I had better get this sorted out sooner rather than later.

268.  Prayer Detox for Beginners

268. Prayer Detox for Beginners

I cannot tell you who grateful I am that the Lord led me to do this prior to my AVM Rupture. At 5.30 am one morning at RIO (3rd Hospital) I asked the nurse to bring me a cup of coffee since I was intent on having my usual prayer and reading time. It did not occur to me that I could not read or write then, I was just clinging to the familiar. Yeah, that didn’t work out so great.

My brain works differently now, but in God’s grace, He brought to mind the verses I kept in my back pocket and scribbled in my little scripture notebook from Je while I closed the books at work when my brain bled and I started to wake up over a month later, scared and so confused. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been preparing for a life or death situation.

Trainer D’s physical example is a good one. If the need arises, you’ll need to be strong enough to pull yourself out of a tight spot. The question in my mind has always been, How badly do you want this? My answer, even before I got sick, was very badly indeed. I studied those verses because I didn’t want to live stressed out, scared, constantly cowering in a permanent flinch, waiting for some kind of punishment when the truth is that my status in Jesus Christ means that I have an all-loving and all-powerful Father.

So now I tell people, don’t wait for the crisis of your life to arise. Prepare now by getting into the Word for real, because you might not be in crisis mode currently, but it’s a-comin’. Be ready.

On the flip side, if you are already in a crisis, do not be alarmed. It is not too late – you have the advantage of great need on your side. I have found that when a specific need adds urgency to your reading you just can’t get enough of the Word of God.

Either way, think of this as a life or death situation. Arming yourself with Words of Life is the only way to a sure victory.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!



446. Reception


I was downstairs a couple Sundays ago swallowing my snack when I realized most people were upstairs already.

Hey, your Daddy’s speaking this morning, I hissed to A and JLSS. We gotta get up there!

Where’s my lighter? I quipped.

We made it upstairs and Mr. S|P was talking about Luke 7, when the Lord Jesus has dinner at Simon the Pharisee’s house, and the “Sinful” woman anointed His feet.

This woman had a far-reaching reputation for being the “kind” of woman polite society should not receive. But when she learned that the Lord Jesus was nearby she took a huge risk – breaking her way into the dining room full of men who would judge her, washing his feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair, and anointing them with the contents of her alabaster box.

What was she crying about? I bet she cried over remembering everything that had happened, the choices she had made, the mistakes she never intended to make, the rejection that had given her no option but to continue down that path, and fear that she might be rejected again.

I think this is what that woman was remembering because I imagine I have a similar tightness around my heart. Sometimes it’s like there’s a hand squeezing the living daylights out of me as I undergo this painful but necessary reentry into the Land of the Living. Think I’m overstating it? I’m not. I know I didn’t do anything wrong – it’s just that sometimes I still miss The Valley, that’s all.

Simon, the host, saw this woman, and knowing her by reputation thought to himself, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner” (Luke 7.39).

But the Lord Jesus did know all about the woman’s background. He knew the extent of her shame and heartbreak, and the desperate sort of courage that had driven her to such a demonstrative and public act.

In describing this lady’s thought process, Mr. S|P just said, She had heard that Jesus received people like her.

At that point I wanted to burst into tears.

He had a reputation, too.


So she took a monumental risk, opening herself to yet more shame and ridicule – but what did she find? Relief.

“Thy sins are forgiven,” the Lord Jesus told her. “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke 7.48 & 50).

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!






445. Rejoice! [A final word from Dan Uncle]

Yes, that's me - I'm hanging out with Candy Dog

Yes, that’s me – I’m hanging out with Candy Dog

This is a very difficult post to write. But writing this is the only thing that’s going to make me feel better so here goes. “Uncle” Dan went home to be with the Lord on Thanksgiving Day – last Thursday, November 28.

Although we are not related by blood, we have been family for as long as I can remember. When Mom and Dad went on a long trip when I was 5 they left the three of us in the care of Aunty K and Dan Uncle for 2 weeks. Poor Boo Boo had to go through “dog desensitization training” so she would get used to Candy, the family pooch. Aunty K let me play with the egg beater in her kitchen, covered my eyes during all the scary parts in Star Wars and Dan Uncle would crack the door open at night to tell Boo Boo and me to stop whispering under the covers and go to sleep.

When all of us grew up and I said I wanted to go to Africa I met with the Elders at my chapel. It was hysterical – Daddy sat in the corner pretending not to see me so as not to muddy the waters with his paternal concern. Dan Uncle sat there, smiling tight-lipped and shaking his head – wearing the same exact expression he had three years earlier when he had come to sit with Mommy in the waiting room when Daddy went to the doctor one day and was carted straight to the Hospital for a triple bypass. (Side note: he tried to get out of it, but they wouldn’t let him. True story.)

When I got sick I was desperately looking for safe places to go in The Valley and I dreamed I was in Aunty K’s kitchen again and she had prepared a wonderful Indian repast, as is her custom. I even dreamed about packing leftovers in her tiffin carrier – I know, this level of detail is a little weird, but what can I say – I have good memories of her cooking.

When I was just starting to wake up my parents would play me the video KAR had made with friends from the chapel sitting down in front of the computer and sending me messages of love and encouragement. When it was Dan Uncle and Aunty K’s turn Dan Uncle very solemnly and ceremoniously extended his right hand and mimed the motions of our “secret upside-down U” handshake. We started doing this handshake as soon as I had the requisite motor skills as a child, although we took a break when I was extremely cane dependent and could not risk switching Leo to my left hand. Daddy wrote in an update that when I saw Dan Uncle do the handshake I smiled for the first time.

My friends used to carry my wheelchair and me upstairs before I could walk. As soon as I could I brought my walker along and once I was in the upstairs foyer Mommy unfolded it and I shuffled in to the auditorium. The first week that happened Dan Uncle gave the “Welcome” at the beginning of the Lord’s Supper. At the end he said, Ning walked in today, and his voice broke because he was happy. 3 years later I sent Willow the rollator and Jack the transport chair to his house to help him get around as he did chemo, etc.

325.  Make them carry you!

325. Make them carry you!

We were in Oregon, waiting for Dr. Dogan at OHSU when Daddy got the email that Dan Uncle’s surgery had been stopped bc once they got in there and looked around they saw that his cancer had advanced to the point that operating was inadvisable. That was not what we wanted to hear.

I was at Boo Boo’s house when Dan Uncle and Aunty K moved to the West Coast to continue treatment near their daughter’s house, and to welcome the arrival of their new grandson.   I have been heartbroken not to see him again, but I am also selfishly relieved to have been spared the goodbye. I’m not great at goodbyes now. But this way I will always remember him as he was.

I always enjoyed playing the piano when he was the song-leader. Dan Uncle never failed to come to me afterwards and encourage me in my music. So this song is for him. It’s Silent Night, Away in a Manger, and Holy Holy Holy. I chose Silent Night bc it’s fitting for the quiet nights we waited and prayed for the S family, knowing that D Uncle would be going home soon. Away in a Manger is a perennial Nursery Class favorite, and I always think of sweet little babies when I hear it. I’m ending with Holy, Holy, Holy bc it has always signified strength to me.

I’ve been practicing for a week – but this attempt at playing the piano has shown that although I’m much stronger, stress and sadness still impact me heavily. I’ve been losing sleep and my back and hip are very grumpy indeed. As I played (somewhat desperately) this morning you can hear my brain flopping around as I remember c’mon – strong core! And I resisted the temptation to rest my back against the chair bc I already have enough trouble reaching all the keys when not seated on a piano bench. I ended up supine for 5 minute breaks between takes, and then abandoned it altogether for the Ceragem bed. This was as good as it’s going to get, I figured, and I needed to cut my losses before things got any worse. I want to look really healthy bc CMD is coming back on Wednesday, and I need to be ready for Christmas Tea on Saturday. The S family will be flying here this week so I’m going to get the sad out of my system and Rejoice! per Dan Uncle’s instructions.

The day the email went out saying that the biopsy results showed cancer I was terribly sad. I emailed Dan Uncle right away, and he shot back this response:


In my late twenties I had thyroid cancer: it was caught on time and taken out.

The Lord has provided me forty years after that, and I am glad.

We ought to be glad for our HOPE…


Dan Uncle.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

444. Status Update: Vocal Health

Ed at the ENT Nov 2014

Last Wednesday I did my duty and presented myself to the ENT so she could look at my vocal cords. Gen has already put me on notice that she will be all up in my grill regarding this matter, and we were happily reunited last week, so I figured I’d better get this thing over with.

At the last minute Daddy came downstairs and said he was going to drive me bc it had started to precipitate. I was glad bc midway to Kaiser it started to snow hard. We almost had an issue, though, when Daddy dropped me off and told me to leave Ed Blueberry in the car. [GASP!] I was like, Oh, no, Daddy – that’s not how this works.

Once he saw the fear in my eyes he let me take Ed and met me upstairs after parking. I had emailed K (ST) about my appointment since she has been at my last three exams and I was wondering if she’d want to see this one, too, But, I posited, It’s gonna be really boring bc there ain’t nothin’ to see.

She said she was going to be on vacation, anyway, but shot back, There BETTER be nothin’ to see!!

Even though I did my very best authoritative Coach R impression and explained to my new doctor (she is ENT #8, including the Doc in Oregon who was present for my craniotomy even though I didn’t technically “meet” him) that I am very well indeed and we should dispense with the formalities and I no longer need to be monitored, apparently there is still something worth looking at down my throat. She opines that it’s not a nodule, it looks more like a cyst to her, and cysts don’t go away.

Remember how I said in my Thanksgiving Update that no one’s talking about surgical intervention anymore? Well, I was wrong – she talked about it. But happily, it’s an entirely elective surgery since my voice is a quality of life thing. I’m happy with my voice as it is right now, so there is no reason for me to ask anyone to get in there and cut that thing out.

I’ve had lots of feedback, especially since ORFR began in earnest and I went to Oregon, that I’m using my voice completely differently. I carry myself and breathe so much better – I can feel it. Even the receptionist who checked me in said my voice has come a long way. (Side note: not the topic but she was wearing a fabulous pair of tall leopard rain boots.)

So we settled on, okay, I’ll keep being monitored. So I just have to go back in 6-8 months.

As proof that I’m getting better, though, and that all this Training has a serious end-goal, I’m speaking at the Ladies’ Christmas Tea on Saturday December 6. I’m super excited since although I’ve spoken in a few other contexts this is the first opportunity I’ve had to address the home crowd since 2 weeks before my injury. I had just gotten home from Africa and Aunty K asked me to speak at a Ladies Meeting. The better I get the more I understand that most people (many of whom know my very well) have been extremely concerned about how this situation has impacted me spiritually. So this is my chance to set the record straight.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

443. Thanksgiving 2014 Update

343.  Strength & Honor

343. Strength & Honor

Can you believe 2014 is almost over??  The days when my parents would come home from the hospital and Dad would stay up late typing Updates are passed.  I only send updates like this once a year, but I blog  5x/week and I’d love it if you came along for the ride (fasten your seatbelt).  Here is a sampling of 2014‘s Greatest Hits. When we went to OR earlier this year a friend greeted me as my wheelchair and I arrived at church  that Sunday with, The unfiltered version of You is the funniest thing I’ve ever read.  She was a faithful visitor while I was an inpatient and keeps up with my adventures in RecoveryLand via my blog.  Apparently the contrast in my pre- and post-AVM demeanors is visible in my writing.  PS.  I’m more fun now.  Ask around.  

Last Thanksgiving I told you I was transitioning to Medicare.  I was discharged from Therapy/Rehabilitation in October but I’m still working hard in the gym under professional supervision.  One of the benefits of getting stronger is that my vocal health has improved and there is no longer any talk of surgical intervention :)  The Infrastructure building portion of my Long-Term/Self-Directed Recovery is complete, and the extraordinarily skilled professionals (“Team Tanimal“) I see daily are living proof of God’s care and provision for me.

When I grappled with the notion of returning to Oregon to dispose of my things I actually said out loud to God, “I can’t, and I won’t.”  Unsurprisingly, the Lord’s grace turned those statements into ICAN and I DID.  I had previously vowed never to return to any of my hospitals, but I visited all three and reconnected with many of the wonderful people who took such good care of me in the beginning.

I’m so glad I went and so grateful to the friends who made the trip as logistically easy as possible, but it still took a lot out of me.  I am physically improving but perhaps the biggest gain I’ve had this year is that I finally admitted that prior to my brain bleed when I wanted to become a missionary I asked God not for a career change, but for a life’s work.  Well, I got one.  It just turned out to be bigger than I had anticipated.  And for the first time I’ve verbalized it, e.g. to Team Tanimal.  It is such a blessing to be operating from the same information base and to be in agreement that I don’t just have a general wish to “get better” – I have specific lifestyle goals in mind.

It was part of God’s plan to keep me cognitively intact enough to communicate about this effectively and package it appropriately for public consumption.  God has made it very clear that I will not be getting what I thought I wanted but I’m confident I will be getting exactly what I was made for.  It is my privilege and joy to meet people all over the place and tell them How I Found Grace in the Valley.  In addition to  blogging I have also published 3 short books (Learning How…on Amazon) – as always, everything is completely non profit.

I write and maintain my online presence within the parameters of my physical limitations.  I am getting better and stronger, but I still feel the gnawing deficits, pain, and fatigue regularly.  I’ve had to take more time “off” from my blog etc. than I liked this year, but that’s the beauty of how this works – if my symptoms act up I can shut everything down as needed.

But I’d love to feel the weight of these limitations less and less as time progresses.  Thank you so much for your prayers and support throughout this process.  Please keep on praying – I need it more than ever!

Happy Thanksgiving.  Love, Ann|Ning


356.  I decided

356. I decided

Return to Oregon

  • Went back to OR for the first time in 3 years to empty out my storage garage.
  • Decided “I don’t need any of this” and my friends made things so easy by taking care of everything – thank you!!
  • Visited my 3 hospitals and thanked many kind medical professionals; saw my Intel friends – I was so glad to be with you again!
  • Saw Dr. Dogan, the surgeon who saved my life – he was pleased with my progress
  • Reunited with M, (“Molly” in my book) a patient at RIO (3rd Hospital) with me.  We conversed while lucid for the first time and apparently we’re cut from the same cloth.  God saw my need from afar off so he gave me a true friend in the unlikeliest of circumstances.
359.  Running With Myself

359. Running With Myself


  • ORFR = Operation Run, Forrest, Run
  • Before I went back to Oregon I tried to run like I was being chased.  Now I run simply because I can
  • After more than a year I’m running longer, steeper, faster, and stronger
  • Among the benefits:  Stamina, vocal improvement, better breathing and core usage, stronger digestion (I’m eating meat after a veggie-only year); Side note re. non-cardio Strength Training: building muscle protects my joints (which are not moving in the way they were intended to), and helps compensate for the neurological deficits and fatigue
  • When I say “run” I am still dependent on a machine to help me – (I use an AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, pictured).  It’s impossible to fall out.  Trust me – if it were I would’ve done it already.
Decision Day 2014

Decision Day 2014

Team Tanimal

  • Discharged from Rehab in October
  • Trainer D” – my Personal Trainer whose knowledge of brain/gait mechanics got me kicked out of rehab
  • Coach R” – Athletic Trainer to teams of pros and Olympians; he knows he’s supposed to be the grown up here and reins me in as needed
  • Gen” – my Massage Therapist; an Ortho Surgeon working pro bono; an extraordinary individual and the funniest person I’ve ever met.
  • CMD” – my Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor; wonderfully compassionate and frighteningly skilled, she’s the reason I was able to start exercising more
  • PS.  If you’re wondering what I’m wearing in this pic yes, I do shop for workout wear in the boy’s section now.


Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

These are my 3 Books on Amazon:  eligible for Prime and Super Saver Shipping.  Everything is nonprofit!

  1. Learning How…vol 1 - an easy, non threatening way to introduce people to the Gospel of Christ, and a great way to encourage believers.  Ch. 10 is when I decide the Gospel is true.  
  2. Ed Goes to DC – introduces the ideas of illness, hospitalization, friendship, and cheerfulness to kids; plus it’s just a really sweet story.  (Here’s the YouTube version)
  3. Learning How to Hope - a collection of my favorite posts from my blog.  I published this specifically for my African friends.  All of my writing is nonprofit but sales from this book in particular go straight to Burundi. (Also in Kindle format)


442. Without Faith

Hebrews 11.6 | Ann Ning Learning How


A dear friend visited me soon after my injury – I was conversant but I would not classify myself as “awake.” I have no recollection of this visit. She told me about it when she came to visit me a couple years later (when she saw me for the first time).

In that visit in the hospital she asked me what she could pray about for me.

Me: That nothing would happen to me when I’m alone.

My friend: Ning, you know you’re never alone.

Me (scornfully): Pshaw.

She told me the story with a great imitation of my scoffing sound – it was like I was rolling my eyes saying, Yeah – that worked out really great the first time, didn’t it?

It was impossible not to laugh the way she told it, but it was also chilling in that my rawest thoughts came out when I had zero control over my faculties, and they were afraid and angry.

Later during the visit in Maryland (over 2 years? later) my friend asked me another question. I think it was so kind and sensitive that she sought an opportunity to ask me quietly in private,

Are you tempted to think that God is punishing you?

Wow. That is a million dollar question. It’s the kind of inquiry that makes you stop in your tracks, that takes a special person to have the right of experience and a history of love to ask, and that skips the formalities and goes straight to the bottom line. It’s up there with how JCJ’s mom asked me, Is it okay that you lived?

I was surprised. This person knows me very well. But when I thought about it and reconnected with more friends from my Old Life I learned that many people were extremely concerned about how this situation would impact me spiritually.

I had the immensely gratifying experience of reassuring my friend that I already decided what I thought the fact that this happened meant about everything I believed about God, but I’ve refrained from telling this extremely personal story until a new friend messaged me a couple of weeks ago and our conversation about “76.  You didn’t do anything wrong” made me think about it.

76.  You Didn't Do Anything Wrong

76. You Didn’t Do Anything Wrong

I’ve thought about it a lot recently bc I’ve needed to remind myself why I do this more often than usual. You’ve seen it unfold here on my blog, but let me just spell it out for you: It’s been a rough 2.5 months. As Mommy would point out, It’s been a rough 3.5 years. PS. We’re not done yet.

I know it’s been rough bc the word that appears most often in my Exercise Journal is “nauseous.” There’s also been the pain etc., but it all gets exacerbated by stressors. I asked Gen about her evaluation of my gait once (e.g. True or False: “My gait is ataxic.”) and she replied, Your gait changes depending on what you’ve been through that week.

Happily, though, my gait felt better over the last couple days (at least in the morning). We’re still sorting through everything else that’s acting up, e.g. the vision (I have to buckle down and do more home exercises with that Wretched Hart Chart like Daddy asked me to) and the crazy scary dreams.

My Nemesis (This is a Hart Chart)

My Nemesis (This is a Hart Chart)

But you know what? Thanksgiving is next week – so it’s the perfect time to start changing channels mentally.

What I found out by keeping my Exercise Journal is that I am indeed excruciatingly tired. But it’s not from Training. It’s from living This Disabled Life. I asked Coach R recently if he thought I was wearing my body parts out. He said no, but he thinks that I have to work harder than other people and it takes me more time to recover. I would agree with his observations, although he was talking about physicality. I’m also referring to the amount of mental energy I’m exerting.

So what’s the solution here?   Prayer Detox. I’m telling you it’s the Best Thing Ever that I write this stuff down bc I need it the most. And it’s time for some vacation – I will be out until Monday, December 1, although I’ll probably post my Thanksgiving Update next week.

Before I got sick I hit a really rough patch at work. I was SO stressed out it was awful. One night I just sobbed on the phone to Mommy, I just want to know I’m doing something right.

268.  Prayer Detox for Beginners

268. Prayer Detox for Beginners

Mommy put that question to bed by going straight to scripture: …without faith it is impossible to please [God]. Hebrews 11.6


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441. Ugly Juice and GH 2014

Greatest Hits 2014

My new homework for The Gym is to keep an Exercise Journal. At first I thought this would be even worse than the time Trainer D made me keep that food diary for J (his wife, the dietician). But it’s actually turning out to be a useful log for myself so I can track how my body is feeling. I think he was expecting a handwritten journal but I told him I’d send it to him later bc it’s a combination of Word and Excel documents I had PDF’d. At this point he was laughing riotously at my nerdiness, but it takes one to know one. Mm hmm.

This was the note I included at the beginning of my first 2-week log:

Sorry, I forgot to include “mindset” – this is too much talking about feelings anyway. If it’s really important remind me of the difference again and I’ll do it. :)

 Apparently it’s important to him. So I’m supposed to write down stuff like 1) Mood, 2) Mindset, 3) Goal for the day, 4)How I feel – 3 different times in the same entry. See what I’m saying about too much talking about feelings, and how I can’t remember the difference?!?!? But really, there is a lot of room here for creativity, and hey – he’s asking for this information, so I’m going to write it down.

The Exercise Journal also requires me to disclose what I have for breakfast. Yesterday, I had Ugly Juice. I call it “Ugly” bc of the unattractive color. That’s what happens when you just gather up odds and ends from the produce drawers and throw them into the Vitamix. It included celery, cucumber, ½ a honeycrisp apple, a tired yellow kiwi, carrots, lime juice, hemp seeds, and mulberry/iron tea. Good stuff. I also had an egg, and then I talked to Boo Boo on the phone :).


On Monday Trainer D had 6-7 eggs scrambled with spinach for (1st) breakfast. (He is like a hobbit and eats 1st and 2nd Breakfast, followed by Elevenses.) The idea of 6-7 eggs makes me nauseous – but I’ve known for a while (based on one of the tests they do at The Gym) that the man requires an appalling number of calories to simply exist.

Last week I discussed pancakes with Coach R in the context of what one should do when a slower morning at home arises. Since the donut discussion I have identified this as an area of development for him and told him so. I also made sure he knew about how 1 ripe banana + 2 eggs = pancake batter. He is not grain free, but this is a widely accepted grain free breakfast practice. Plus it’s super easy to prepare!

I have another cup of Ugly Juice to enjoy tomorrow morning. It’s slower bc I have a day off. It’s one of my Trainer D-prescribed “Rest” days so I’m really quite pleased. I have big plans: Filing Frenzy Friday is being pulled in to Wednesday. :). It’s the triumph of the mundane.

I’m also gearing up to send my Thanksgiving Update to Daddy’s old email list. I had previously intended never to send another mass email again when I started blogging, but it turns out that many people actually like the individual email, so I’ve been experimenting with a new, super-easy format that’s pretty to look at and easy to unsubscribe to if you like.

In it, I link to my favorite posts (also your favorite posts) from 2014. The compilation is geared to the friends who don’t read my blog regularly. I say, if you read anything at Learning How, read these – they’re arranged topically so you can choose what interest you.

Before I went back to Oregon:

348. What’s this going to look like?
308. No Sign of Weakness


356. I decided
359. Running with myself

It is what it is:

394. Spectacle
395. Well Suited
420. I Said It


367. The Fellowship of His Sufferings
374. Arms of Love
399. Resonance
417. I hear your voice
421. Validation
431. When the Journey is too Great for You

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440. I’m Busy

I'm Busy - Peter Karate

I saw Trainer D for the first time after he was out for a week and he took one look at me and demanded, Is that a brace?!?!?

NO.” I said defensively in a tone of deep offense.

Then I remembered that he could actually see it even though I was wearing black and was hoping the black brace would just blend in with the rest of my knee.

Yes,” I admitted in a grudging whisper.

I settled on a sullen, non-committal “Maybe,” in the end, leaving him to draw his own conclusion.

It took me a couple more visits to tell him that things had been going south with my leg while we were on a hiatus. I didn’t want him to be like, I turn around for one second, and look what happened.

My leg is getting better, thank you, and although I’m on hiatus from Gen and CMD right now (SNIFF) Coach R and Trainer D (now that he’s back and fully informed) have been taking care of things. Coach R had to rein me in (again) a couple weeks ago. He told me to “calm down” on the incline because it was aggravating all the stuff going on with the left leg. (It’s been dragging, the knee is a little compromised, and I’ve got weird adhesions growing.) His strategy is “containment” so it doesn’t get too out of hand. One day he was doing his usual inspection and said wonderingly, “Are those my fingerprints?” Ummm, yeah, R, those are yours. I hadn’t seen anyone else yet that week so that was the one and only time it was all Coach R’s fault.

When I finally told Trainer D about it he immediately pinched me, putting his thumb on top of a particularly painful spot on my left shin. He was determined to work the adhesion out and then there was a lot of stretching and muscular intervention and the end story is that my left leg ended up feeling a lot lighter like when he did that crazy Mr. Miyagi thing during my first session.

That was a year ago – and I remember lying on that table, wondering if this was a good idea but glad Daddy was 3 feet away, “reading” a big book. Trainer D did something to my hip and said, Get up and walk around. I was thinking, That’s pretty brassy there, new kid, but whatever. I humored him by sliding off the table and walking a bit. My mouth fell open when I realized my leg felt different, like it had when I first started acupuncture and cupping.

We’ve been rolling merrily along ever since, and 3 months later I went in search of an AlterG, and lo and behold, Coach R was there. When I first started trying to move again after the hemiparesis surfaced I could only do a few minutes of slow paces on the Polly the Warehouse Cat (my elliptical). I worked my way from 500 paces to 1000, counting each step. I might have started at 100, I forget. I increased my goal by 50 paces until I reached 1000, and then I started counting in minutes.

82.  Polly the Warehouse Cat

82. Polly the Warehouse Cat

The day I met Coach R I couldn’t run myself – he had to reach over the AlterG’s console and push some buttons so I broke into a slow trot. Now I’ve been having too much fun and he had to tell me to “calm down.” :)

359.  Running With Myself

359. Running With Myself

On Mondays I just “run” but on Thursdays it’s a full workout: I “run” and then we do Training. At first I was nervous about tiring myself out on the AlterG and then having to do squats etc. I only did 12 minutes before Training in the early days. Once I came home from Boo Boo’s house, with successful AlterG experience under my belt thanks to the Southern Gym, I was running faster and longer. I started going twice a week and extended my Thursday run to 30 minutes at a much faster pace (still doing intervals) and have enough energy for Training afterwards. On my first day back (after Oregon and Ai Ai’s house) I told Coach R, “Raging chi, R. Right here [pointing to myself], RAGING.”

The raging chi quip is oftentimes me “hoping,” not a factual statement, but hey, I’m doing what I can over here. If I’m really tired, or if I just don’t want to do something I stand still mid-exercise and say to Trainer D, I’m busy. Subtext: Watcha gonna do about that, D?

He just laughs and waits for me to rally, or he’ll break down the movement more so I can handle it in pieces.

It’s true, though, I AM busy. It’s like what the physiatrist told me – I’m pushing it. But keeping busy is a coping strategy – the more you do the less you have to think. Well, I’ve had more time lately since I’m having a hiatus from Gen and CMD (I say again: SNIFF), and it turns out I’ve needed the rest. RecoveryLand isn’t a walk in the park, and the ride gets pretty rough sometimes.

But since I’ve had more time to reflect I realized that I’ve definitely built some muscle over the past year. These guys’ goal is not to build muscle for muscle’s sake, though. I just do as I’m told, but apparently they’ve got it all worked out in terms of the mechanics of movement, functional application, etc. But the most obvious and immediate payoff for me is that it protects my joints (which aren’t functioning normally anyway, so they need protection), and helps me move better.

In the not too distant past I couldn’t make it past 6pm without severe pain and lying on the Ceragem (massage) bed. My core is so much stronger now, and I know how to manage myself more effectively – yes, fatigue and pain are still problems, but I’ve made huge progress. Maybe 2014 wasn’t such a wash out after all.

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