476. Ed’s 84th Birthday

Hello! I’m back. But just for today – here is an update:

Ed has had a smashing time during this vacation. We went to visit Boo Boo!! This is her driving.

 17016504949_29ea0ebb07_z

And when we arrived Josh immediately ran upstairs to get his little friend for a reunion.

16582465403_fd29b638e7_z

Coach R went away for a couple weeks to train some athletes in another country so he let Ed use his office to start a new business. Conveniently, the Trainer Coach R shares his space with was out sick on the day I brought my supplies so I redecorated and helped Ed set up shop without disrupting the flow of work too badly.

17016493819_7e61820e19_z

When Coach R came home Ed spent a few more days bossing him around and left this note:

16582419323_8a1345e9bd_z

On Ed’s birthday (April 7 – Ed’s 84th! – The 4th Anniversary of my Injury) we celebrated by going shopping. We were alone in public for about an hour – a HUGE accomplishment in my world. (PS it wasn’t intentional – there was a scheduling hiccup, but it worked out great.) We went to Trader Joe’s – the same one where that nice guy offered to help me cross the street and I was surprised bc I was like, ummm…..I thought I looked pretty good today. I emailed Gen and was like, It’s Ed’s Birthday, so he gets to go EVERYWHERE!! I strapped him under my crossbody purse and we walked around like, I dare ANYONE to say ANYTHING about this.

 17202066171_bca1c937c3_z

A couple weeks earlier I had told Mommy, Hey, Mommy – since I have PTSD I think Ed should get to go  out in public more often. She laughed in a tone that meant “no,” but on Ed’s birthday we got to have some fun.

After the supermarket Ed I went to look at clothes. I crossed the street by myself. Okay, it wasn’t a street; it was a little crosswalk within a shopping center. But hey – I did it by myself – see, Mommy?

16580217084_a169e37f2e_z

We had a great time but the end result was that my right forearm was SO painful for the following week bc I carried my cane. I have really avoided using Leo the Cane for a while now since my tendons have gotten aggravated from my hair implement (we broke up permanently – it now lives with Ruth), and the build up of my cane usage (Gen: I SEE you gripping that thing.), typing, piano playing, etc. I went to the arm/hand ortho, and I’m supposed to go to another physiatrist next.

 16582616603_0e11c91c44_z

In the meantime, I’m trying to get my arms to feel better (the left one acts up, too), so I need some more time off.  Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so.  Animal Muppet banished me from The Gym last Friday.  Not permanently, just periodically – he is refusing to Train me every 6-7 weeks.  He announced this decision after secretly calculating the timing of my next physical downturn based on my pain reporting and having the gratification of seeing his theory confirmed.  I had barely gotten the sentence out of my mouth about having trouble eating again before he sailed in triumphantly.  Sheesh. I didn’t know he was keeping score. :/ I was going to go see Coach R and complain about the whole thing but the problem is he’ll probably agree.  It’s a conspiracy.  Actually, it’s not.  Trainer D is vocal enough to need no back up from anyone else.  Booo.  He must’ve learned from me.

Also, I’m supposed to tell Coach R stuff today that I don’t want to tell him, but I’ve been informed that I need to tell people stuff so there is a protocol locked in and ready to go in case anything happens (e.g. I have a flashback and lose my balance etc.)  There have been a couple of incidents but I didn’t say anything about them not bc I’m intentionally withholding information but because I’m THAT GOOD at pretending everything is fine and dandy that I fool myself with my own game face.  I also immediately came up with a strong line of reasoning regarding why this sort of conversation is superfluous – all my people are informed and watchful – but I understand now that even though no one’s gonna die from these stress-driven physical things that crop up, suboptimal things could still occur so it’s my duty to inform my providers regarding specifics.  Fine.  I’ll do it.  I should bring my “air sickness” bag just in case.  Don’t worry, though – this is like when I did Vision Therapy – “It gets worse before it gets better”.  Things start moving bc everything needs to be destabilized before it can be rebuilt in a healthy way.   I’ll see you Monday, May 4!

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

475. A Formal Diagnosis

16708253642_6571ed4b8e_z

Last week I mentioned that I hit a speed bump. It’s been building for quite a while now and culminated when Trainer D called me out on December 5. That’s when I really knew something was wrong. I had been struggling with wash out feelings for a while and knew that certain events in 2014 had left me reeling. But they were major gains and even though I took some huge physical hits, as I told Coach R, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Still, I was sitting there wondering…if I am cognitively intact and everyone keeps on saying (wanting to encourage me) that “Your brain works just fine,” then why I am I struggling with XYZ kind of thoughts? Oh dear. The implication for me was A) I am weak, or B) I am a bad person (stated in my parlance, I have a particularly grievous sin problem).  That’s not what people meant, but that’s what I felt.  I applied my powers of logic to this situation but I felt like while my logic was sound from every angle I knew deep down that it wasn’t accounting for all of the nuances of human behavior we spend a lifetime picking up on that I have been trying desperately to relearn post brain injury.

When things get that bad people do one of two things: 1) Shut down or 2) Ask for help. I felt myself shutting down – that’s what I mean when I refer to the instinctive desire to retreat. But it’s too late for that and I knew that retreating was not an optimal solution, anyway. So I asked for help.

I officially have a fabulous new Mental Health Professional (MHP). I have had 4 Neuro-Psychs in the past. It was kind of standard issue when I was an inpatient and when I became an outpatient we focused on cognitive evaluation and pain management. Now I knew I needed someone to talk to.

The Place tried to get me to see someone early on but I was adamant that I would do no such thing.   Energy is like capital, I explained, I only have a fixed amount and I have to budget it. Right now getting ready to go anywhere is like an Olympic Sport and I have enough appointments. I DO NOT want to talk about this. I want to learn how to walk.

So I did.

Now that I know how to walk and my physical condition is improving to the point that although I still have a very heavy Recovery Schedule I am very grateful that I have the energy capacity to seek help and fill another time slot on my calendar. I live at a very high level of introspection and talk about it in my writing so I was essentially ready to talk and ask for the specific kind of help I need.

So now it’s official: I have Delayed Onset PTSD.

436.  Ed Goes to DC

436. Ed Goes to DC

I have been reading the symptoms for a long time now, but I have managed and coped however I could – it was probably helped by the fact that I moved away from OR so I didn’t have to deal with any of that except in the manner in which I chose. All that fell to pieces a year ago when we went back to OR to dispose of my belongings. I was unraveling and getting so stressed I stopped eating food on February 17, 2014 when E&R and Co came to visit.

345.  Lunchtime Life Tutorial

345. Lunchtime Life Tutorial

I was down to two protein shakes a day and some attempt at solid food at lunch to appease my father. I got away with it because I had gained so much weight after my injury from the mobility change and the drugs, and because I was clearly becoming so unhinged the goal was just for me not to pass out from stress.

One day I was walking down the hall and Mommy came from another direction and whistled a greeting. I jumped. I cannot jump spontaneously. As it is I need Coach R to jump at all, and that is a recent development. So I jumped and hit the wall really hard.

That night Mommy came to talk to me but I didn’t hear her over the sound of my faucet and teeth-brushing routine. She knocked and called out but when she appeared I screamed incredibly loud and she took me by the shoulders and told me that This is not okay and she was going to send me to Boo Boo’s so I wouldn’t shrivel up and die from stress.

The eating thing was up and down for the rest of the year with a decided downturn in Q4. As soon as Trainer D put his foot down and I knew Smurfette was watching my calories in My Fitness Pal I saw with my own eyes that I had been undereating for several months. All of this makes so much sense given my PTSD diagnosis – how I’ve felt, the eating issues…everything.

But as soon as I started eating enough to not get flagged by MFP I started shedding weight since my body was getting out of the long-term effects of having to cannibalize itself. I was able to start Training harder with both Trainer D and Coach R, Gen put my body parts back in place when things got loose, and CMD oversaw my progress with her ever watchful gaze.

Then I found out I had PTSD for real and I got nauseous again. And the pain was triggered in my shoulder and both hips.   It has been B-A-D. But overall I am happier. Frankly, I am relieved that there is a name for my distress and it is treatable. I have avoided talking about PTSD even though I had a hunch I had it bc it is a condition that many Veterans deal with and I have a lot of respect for that and didn’t want to talk about it without being formally diagnosed.

But now I really wanted to talk about this bc so often we don’t. There can be cultural and social stigmas associated with mental health issues. Thankfully, since I was so distressed in Q4 I was forced into more open communication with my family, and they (predictably) have been super supportive of my getting professional help.

This is one of my own quotes I keep on coming back to:

If you are already a believer and are depressed, the very last thing you want to hear is someone telling you that you feel like you do bc you are not praying enough, reading enough, trusting enough, etc. I get that. The implication (intentional or not) that I’m the way I am due to lack of effort on my part makes my hair stand on end. But as a person who has teetered on the edge of internal chaos for more than a decade (that’s right – I was totally like this BEFORE I got sick, too! I found God’s grace to be the only viable way for me to function so I loved talking about Him then. So much more has happened so I’m even more enthusiastic now! ) let me just say to you in love: There are definitely physical aspects to mental health that must be addressed. There is also a place for professional help (remember to pour everything you hear through the filter of scripture). However, you are responsible for exploring the limits of your mental capacity for wielding the Sword of the Spirit and communing with God through prayer. You will not know how much you can handle of these undiluted power sources unless you try. Take baby steps.

268.  Prayer Detox for Beginners

268. Prayer Detox for Beginners

The thing is that I think I found the limit. I made a good faith effort to ask the Lord for a solution, and He provided it in the form of professional help. I am very grateful for His leading in this matter, and when I’ve told Daddy about the help I’ve received so far his response is simply, Praise the Lord.

One of my problems is that I spent so much time pretending to be “with it” I fooled everyone into thinking that everything is fine and dandy. But then the flashbacks started and I began remembering things from our trip to OR and, horrifyingly, the early onset of my illness.

People can have a similar problem when they recover physically well enough to resume their Old Life and often want to do so before they are mentally 100% ready. They “look” okay so other people assume they are okay and forget to make allowances for brain injury/other medical trauma and that person is stuck thinking – This is what I wanted (to get back to my life)…but why am I so uncomfortable?

So if you’re thinking of asking for help, I’d say, go for it. Just spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of it. I wanted to start of with the “jumpiness” or “heightened flight or fight reflex” thing I have going on. I do this thing where if I think you’re good I’ll test you without telling you about it just to check. But I didn’t have to test my MHP at all. She sailed right in during my intake appointment with a technique similar to what I have been taught for pain management. Essentially, it’s if X happens, you do Y. That kind of information was exactly what I was looking for. So I came home and thanked God for bringing me to the right place.

The thing is that technique is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more to talk about and we will. And apparently I’ve got a lot to learn. Example – this morning – “Define ‘be kind to yourself.’ What are the behavioral characteristics of that sort of thing?” Let me just say again, although I hit a speed bump I am happier in general. That’s why I posted Overflowing last week – it was important to me to go on the record without having any overt change in circumstances. I can’t explain it – it’s like Decision Day itself. God does not speak in an audible voice, but He teaches me things in other ways.

474.  Overflowing|Kpop's T-shirt for a school vocab project

474. Overflowing|Kpop’s T-shirt for a school vocab project

So right now, although I am happier, I am exhausted. All this talking about feelings makes me want to go to sleep! Plus I’ve been going to see lots of docs so I’ve been even busier than usual. In fact, I’ve had such a hard time sorting through all of this and pulling myself together it appears that it’s time for me to retreat for a while. The difference is that this is not a retreat for lack of options. It’s an intentional rest so I can attend to some important things. So I’m taking a break. After all, someone’s got to plan Ed’s next birthday party. I’ll be back on April 20th. :) bye.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

Beautiful

This is what Monday was like:

Bossy Smurf Works Out with Animal Muppet

We hadn’t started doing anything yet, I was just walking around to get in position.

Trainer D:  Your breathing is ALL wrong.

Me:  Seriously?!?!?  Get away from me.

Trainer D:  NO chest breathing.

 Later, in Coach R’s Neighborhood

Coach R:  How was your weekend?

Me: Other than the excruciating pain?

Coach R:  (chuckle)

Me:  GREAT.

A couple weeks ago, at home:

Me:  (taking my blood pressure bc it’s been too high lately and my PCP wanted a log)

Dad:  How is it?

Me:  [mumble mumble]

Dad:  See, if you just sit there and breathe deeply from your diaphragm, it will go down when you take it again.

Me and Mommy:  Ummmm….I don’t think you’re supposed to do it that way.

(Daddy just keeps on breathing deeply and taking his BP until he gets a number he likes)

I <3 Recovery.  Seriously, I do – I’m not being facetious.  It’s often a complete riot, and I am fully cognizant of the fact that it’s a privilege to get better.

Still, I will say that the past several days have been rough . So today you get to look at this beautiful picture.  It lifts my spirits :)

16699752555_2e01d47991_z

 

 

 

224. Classic

 

Isn't this picture SUCH a riot?

Isn’t this picture SUCH a riot?

Originally posted 8.139406735177_2b2b3b0cb1

A month ago Ernie, Ruth & Co. came to visit for the 4th of July!  We enjoyed a whole week of Tan Family Funfest, Southern Style.  There was a lot of food consumption (we are Tans, after all – and those we have happily welcomed into our family via marriage totally get the Tan family philosophy of eating), laughing, and mayhem in general.  It was fabulous.

Ai Ai snapped the photo above of Josh and Karine as they walked into church that Sunday. These two have grown up together, and although they live in different states now instead of just a street away from each other, the old bond remains strong.  To review:

70.  Contingency Plans

70. Contingency Plans

72.  Role Reversal

72. Role Reversal

2 Things...

2 Things…

50x2.  A Cup of Water

50×2. A Cup of Water

Their friendship is classic and never goes out of style.  I love the classics.  I read the same books over and over, which is good since I don’t rely on my eyes as much anymore, but I can still recall all of those obscure Austen references.  I also love classic clothing silhouettes – but I am somewhat limited now in that I require soft “rehab” pants and ankle weights and shorts/skirts are NOT a cute look.

But classic friendships have been among my chief enjoyments as my recovery has panned out.  I’ve had the opportunity to make many new friends, (YAY!) but it was the friends I had already made who gathered at the hospital to pray for me, who flew from Maryland to Oregon to see me, and wrote me letters that brightened my days as an inpatient.

As time has passed and I have suddenly appeared online (e.g. on Facebook for the first time in the history of mankind), I’ve come to understand that the crucial period of my initial illness has long past and while many people dropped everything to pray for me, the urgent matters of life have taken priority as I’ve moved from the “critical” to the “recovery” phase of illness.  This is in no way a value judgment – I “get” that this is the perfectly natural progression of events.

That’s why I have been so thankful for the old friends who have stuck with me and made the effort to become part of my life again.  This would have been a perfect time for people to fade out of my life – it’s natural that friends come into your life for a season, and then the relationship might wane.  I understood this in theory before I got sick.  When I understood that I had lost almost everything when my brain bled I assumed this meant friends, too.  Not in an “I’m not going to be your friend anymore,” sort of way, but in a “Life goes on” sort of way.  The problem is that my life didn’t go on, the time lapse in my head was minimal, and the relatively recent realization that everyone else’s world has kept on turning and I no longer have a part in the action has been another heartbreaking thing about this situation.

I wrote an email to a friend a few months ago with the subject line:  For a Rainy Day.  I remember a moment of lucidity at RIO (3rd Hospital) – I was in my wheelchair brushing my teeth (thanks, OT!) and I looked at Mommy in the mirror and asked, “Does P know?”  I think Ai Ai contacted her when I got home. Soon an Eeyore necklace arrived in our mailbox bc “Eeyore” was the nickname she had given me when we worked together.  The purpose of that email was just to thank her for being a good friend – I said I understood now that she didn’t have to make an effort at cultivating our friendship, but she did, and I will always remember that.

Some of my staunchest friends are the ones I grew up with, or who grew up similar to how I did.  Some of them come from vastly different backgrounds than I do.  The point is that something big happened to me, and I’m grateful for those who remembered what I was like before I got sick and stuck around to find out what I’d be like after I got sick.  Thanks <3.

P.S.  I’m largely the same person.  I checked with Hannah.

 

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

474. Overflowing

Kpop's T-shirt for a school vocab project

Kpop’s T-shirt for a school vocab project

I was in a lot of pain last weekend. It was stress-induced, I think – not helped by my strength training regimen, but mostly sympathy pains bc Coach R is having some shoulder issues he’s ignoring. I told him I should do the Vulcan Death Grip on him and put us both out of our misery. Problem is I don’t know how to do the VDG. Maybe Gen can teach me.

So I suffered all weekend and felt better enough in the morning to take it out on Trainer D first thing on Monday, after which I tried to play it cool with Coach R, but then was so annoyed at my lack of “running” stamina I relieved my feelings by sending him one of my hilariously passive aggressive emails and hoped that it would make me feel better.

It did.

Still, I’ve avoided writing this post, bc it’s pretty bold – like 395. Well Suited. After I wrote it and transitioned to the Full Disclosure Model with my peeps I took a major physical hit.

395.  Well Suited

395. Well Suited

Well, although I’ve been feeling GREAT lately I’ve acknowledged that the physical situation is deteriorating rapidly (speed bump! I’ll tell you about it next week) so I figure I might as well go all the way and write this, although I fondly hope the physical situation will right itself ASAP.

So here we go: When this happened to me I lost a lot of things. I owned pretty things – not super high-end stuff, but things I liked well enough to still miss. When I saw which way the wind was blowing, the things I still had a fingertip hold on I decided to lay down and pretend like that was my intention all along.

Example 1: for 3 years I pawed through my belongings mentally and thought, When I get this back…. But at a certain point in Oregon last year I threw a “souvenir” back in the box and said, I don’t need any of this. I dismissed entire boxes that were still sealed with packing tape.

358.  "I don't need any of this."

358. “I don’t need any of this.”

After we went to OR I landed at Boo Boo’s house and actually thought about what happened. One morning I came to the kitchen and cried on Mommy’s shoulder: Boo hooo!! My pretty things. Poor Boo Boo  relieved her feelings by banging some pots around on the stove.

She told me later, You did it smart, Ning – you made a clean break.

It wasn’t what I had wanted, but I agree – ultimately it was a smart move.

Example 2: My name. Are you confused by the Ann|Ning thing (FAQ)? An old friend from B school contacted me via my website and called me “Ann.” He was relieved when I told him to please keep calling me “Ning” even though I thought it was really sweet of him to use “Ann” since he thought I might prefer it. Please – it’s totally cool for you to call me what you’ve always called me, or you can choose the name you’re most comfortable with. It’s fine. The thing is that Shady Grove “The Place” was the first hospital I arrived at awake. I wasn’t used to people talking to me directly and lacked the vocal strength to tell them, My name is Ning.

So they called me “Ann.” It is my actual name, after all, and I like it – it’s just that I never used it until now. So my name was something I laid down intentionally, too. I’ve embraced the usage of “Ann” – it’s kind of my Medical Alter Ego now. I embraced it to the point where I told myself, It doesn’t matter. It’s not important.

But it kind of does matter.

Sniff.

Yesterday I told you I’ve had a hard time believing that the Land of the Living is for me. That’s one of the reasons I insist on being identified with the Disabled Community – they were the first ones to make me feel welcome here and to tell me that there are workarounds to get stuff done even if you’re living with XYZ and things aren’t like they used to be. It’s a function of my time in The Valley and the strange waking up process.

The last couple of times I spoke publicly about How I Found Grace in The Valley I emphasized at the end that This Disabled Life is not all drudgery. There is stuff that has happened that is so good that I can’t talk about all of it still bc it makes my teeth hurt and I’m afraid they might fall out of my head entirely. I joke that the Lord had to do something SO drastic to keep me out of Africa bc I am so thick-headed about these things that I probably wouldn’t get the memo unless He did something as serious as putting me in a wheelchair (even so, it took me another 6-8+ months to concede the point post injury).

In the same way, I’m super thick-headed about good stuff, too. But God, in His mercy, persists in giving me extremely kind and obvious “post it notes” to remind me along the way that even though this is crazy, it’s okay because He’s taking care of me. These circumstances, like my injury, are way too pointed to be considered coincidence.

359.  Running With Myself

359. Running With Myself

This summer when I was still feeling great I was in the Gym’s café buying some “Brain Juice” (EPA/DHA) and told Trainer D as we stood in line, I didn’t know this [feeling of wellness] was for me.

A minute later I said, My chi is so strong right now, you have no idea.

I can feel it, he contradicted.

As I walked to the lobby I told him, I’ve decided that we’re calling this “healthy,” so I need you pony up and play along.

There have been lots of ups and downs since we had that conversation, but the main thing I’ve clung to is my statement, I didn’t think this was for me. “This” = The Land of The Living.

As soon as Decision Day hit and I decided that Jesus Christ is in fact who He says He is I knew what I’d have to do. God gave me some extreme circumstances, but His grace has been so vast and surprising there’s no way for me not to be “all in” and respond in kind with an extreme sort of lifestyle even though the expectation was that I might just lie in bed and watch Netflix for the duration. Even back then I knew a Public Recovery would occasionally be brutal, but again, I chose this lifestyle with my eyes open because this message is so critical. But although I’ve found my calling this isn’t all “work.”

I’ve realized that I don’t constantly have to grit my teeth and brace for impact. Yes, my feelings have been hurt beyond the scope of “normal” human interaction as a byproduct of this lifestyle, but it pales in comparison to the goodness I’ve received from the gentle care of the Good Shepherd (who, btw, knows and cares about my hurts). It’s just that part of my Recovery has been to learn to be willing to receive. This is still a process, and I’m at the very beginning – but I want to state for the record: my cup runneth over (Psalm 23.5).

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

 

473. Out of the Mouths of Babes

Karine reciting Psalm 23 to me at OHSU 4.29.11 (the white things are my knees)

Karine reciting Psalm 23 to me at OHSU 4.29.11 (the white things are my knees)

 When I was rewarded with a couple months of R&R at Boo Boo and Timmy’s house last year after we went to Oregon I got to hang out at the End of Year school activities with my children. Best. Vacation. Ever.

One day we went to a “Speech Meet” where my “son” proceeded to wow the crowd with his animated rendition of an old fable. I could barely contain myself bc I was so proud. But I tried not to embarrass him like how I tried to exercise restraint at H’s Spanish play the week after.

But when a classmate of his stepped up to the microphone and recited Psalm 23 with the deliberate enunciation of a good speech therapy student (I haven’t mastered that, BTW), I lost it. He was on, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me – thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. And I fought hard to swallow the tears bubbling up from my tummy.

The terrifying confusion that marked my inpatient days is long over but I still feel the echo of fear bc its sound was so deafening the first time. One night in the 2nd or 3rd Hospital (I was still too loopy to know where I was) my friend A came to see me with her little boy, M. He had drawn me a picture of a shepherd guiding his little lambs across some hills and A told him, Sing Psalm 23 for Miss Ning.

Even though I can’t remember where we were I do remember preparing myself mentally to hear the sweet strains of The Lord is My Shepherd – you know, the one from the commonly used hymnal affectionately known simply as the Red Book. But M is the son of two talented musicians and has grown up with the Praise & Worship genre as the soundtrack of his life. He has been well trained and blessed hereditarily so he unhesitatingly launched into a rousing chorus of Matt Redman’s “Never Let Go.”

I was startled at first because I had been expecting the gentle melody of the familiar old hymn, but even then my mind shifted gears rapidly and I enjoyed M’s spirited rendition of this favorite praise song.

These are the lines that lead up to the chorus:

and I will fear no evil

For my God is with me

And if my God is with me

Whom then shall I fear?

These were words I needed to hear desperately. But lately it’s the opening lyrics that have really captured me:

 Even though I walk through the valley

Of the shadow of death

Your perfect love

Is casting out fear…

 

I wrote this in July 2014:

One of the hardest things I realized before I went to Oregon was that death had been very near to me on that day. (I had largely blocked it out.) I refer to that period (when I was asleep) as “The Valley” and when I heard this verse of the song it actually made me wistful for it. The Valley was absolutely terrifying but I was able-bodied in it. I walked normally etc. and I actually began to miss it bc it was the last thing that “happened” before I woke up and found myself in this situation.

From 388. Vespers

388.  Vespers

388. Vespers

 

It’s taken another 6 months but I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of The Valley, and even with the idea that I actually miss it. I’ve had a hard time believing that The Land of the Living is for me and my time in the Valley is why. But I’m done skating around it. It happened. I walked through The Valley, and I learned to walk after I woke up, too. And I was never alone.

Matthew 21.16 …out of the mouths of babes…thou hast perfected praise…

Psalm 8.2 Out of the mouth of babes…hast thou ordained strength…

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

472. Thy Rod and Thy Staff

Dec 2013.  Tanpo and I at the bank getting LHC set up.  I like to take selfies when he's not looking and send them to Mommy.

Dec 2013. Tanpo and I at the bank getting LHC set up. I like to take selfies when he’s not looking and send them to Mommy.

One of my favorite posts ever is the one when I explain how naughty I was when I woke up and would say anything to delay my parents’ departure for the night. One time I was like, Daddy, tell me that thing again about ‘Emmanuel, God with us.’”

18.  Dad, Tell me that thing again...

18. Dad, Tell me that thing again…

Heh heh. That’s right. I totally leveraged poor Daddy’s devotional thoughts as a stalling technique.

But I wasn’t always stalling.   Sometimes I had honest questions or requests, like when I asked him to read Mark 4 to me.

123.  Don't You Care?  | This was the first time I heard myself play the piano (I’m still sitting at the keyboard) and I heard what I sounded like.

123. Don’t You Care? | This was the first time I heard myself play the piano (I’m still sitting at the keyboard) and I heard what I sounded like.

I continued asking things when I came home and was trying to decide whether or not I could still believe the Gospel. For a while I thought of difficult theological questions and would ask Dad about them just to see what he’d say.

Side note: A friend pointed out to me recently that the fact that I have a Dad who is in a position to answer hard questions and, in fact, welcomes them, is something to be truly thankful for. And I am.

It was the non-theological questions that I stopped bringing to him. In the hospital when I was going through my “quiz” reality-testing phase I’d ask people all sorts of things about the logistics of the past month+ (when I had supposedly been asleep), things like, Hey, Mommy – what was in my fridge/cupboard? What kind of shower curtain do I have? Hmmmm?

So one day I said, Daddy, how did you get into my apartment?

Poor Tanpo looked immediately stressed out and said feebly, Mommy?

I saw his distress and was immediately like, Don’t worry, Daddy, never mind. And I subjected only Mommy to quiz time after that. I gave Daddy a hard time in other ways.

But one night in Vibra (the 2nd hospital) I didn’t ask any questions. But Daddy saw that I was scared so he pulled a chair up to my bedside and talked to me about Psalm 23. …Thy rod and thy staff – they comfort me…he quoted.

I had just begun to wake up and was terrified and uncomfortable. Dad told me, The shepherd’s rod and staff signify the Lord’s power and authority…Don’t be afraid, Sweetie.

Sniff.

That night I was so terribly cold but unable to use my voice to tell anyone and lacked the motor skills to find and click the call button for help. So I would just lie there in my bed and try to use the pillow that had been wedged under my weird left shoulder to try and get warm. But I wasn’t truly comfortable until I had a dream that I was snuggled up under a blanket knit with Psalm 23 on it.

As the weather has been so cold lately I have remembered this instinctive desire to curl up under my fluffy comforter and be warm. It’s also my instinct to retreat from the world as my Recovery becomes more and more public. But it’s too late for that – I chose this lifestyle with my eyes open, and I love it even though sometimes I still get scared. When I do, the Comforter, who brings all things to remembrance, assures me that His power and authority rule everything – so I’m going to be just fine.

But the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

 John 14.26

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

Psalm 23

16595282792_55c3fb30d5_z

March 11, 2011 – Burundi, Africa

Psalm 23 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

12B. Codebreaker

Originally published October 2012.  Don’t worry – the Tans are not going through Medical angst/uncertainty right now.  It’s business as usual.  I just really like this post :)

One of the little known side effects of my illness is that I was required to be a codebreaker as soon as I woke up.  This happened when people had to say “no” to me but felt really bad about it so they framed it in nice words and I had to read between the lines.

One of my favorite examples is when I started to wake up in the 2nd Hospital and wanted some fruit so badly, but the sign on the wall said “NPO” and told everyone that both food and liquid were contraband items in my world.  This did not stop me, however, from hitting up passers by for some ice chips or fruit.  I though a lot about that part in Pride & Prejudice (ch. 55, I think, for you Austenites out there) when Georgiana plays the reluctant hostess at Pemberly and does her duty by serving pyramids of fresh peaches, grapes, nectarines etc. to Lizzy and other guests.  I wanted some fruit in the worst way and asked Mommy for some.  It pained her to have to deny me something that I wanted so much, and Mom said some very loving and sad words that I mercifully don’t recall.  I only remember the moment when I summarized, “So…‘no’ to the fruit.”

Now that I’m better, I’m the one who speaks in code.  Here is a sampling for my family’s reference:

  • Ed is baking cookies. = I need baked goods NOW.
  • Ed thinks you’re the cat’s pajamas, Mommy. = I love you, Mom.
  • Ed and I are going to go tell Tanpo a joke. = I’m going to go bother Dad.
  • Ed is sitting on the sofa with Tanpo while he “watches” (naps during) the PBS Newshour. = I really, really, really don’t want Dad to be sick.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!