I am “friends” on social media with many stroke related groups. In the past 5 or so years, their inspirational posts have been a great daily boost to my days. The encouragement is always needed. The positivity is affirming. The posts remind me that I am not alone. I am part of a community. I matter. I make a difference. So today I want to start a new part of each blog entry. I am going to share one of the AHA/ASA posts with you. Here is the first one. Right now I am picturing that old SNL sketch “Coffee Talk.” Here is a “topic.” “Discuss.”
My thoughts on the post: I immediately zoned into the word “unplug.” I was literally plugged into machines for survival. And now I choose to be plugged in to technology. And so often, my answer to a problem with the techno world, is to unplug, count 10 and then it actually does just work again. And me, so often I need to unplug my head, (get my head out of my backside) and just be in the moment. Unplugging is a reset for me. But back then I had to trust the machines worked best for me, plugged in.
April 26th 2003
I have been home, from the “home” for a week now. And it is M.O.T.S.. My favorite Boston weatherman of all times, Dick Albert, coined this term. (At least I give him credit for it.) It stands for More Of The Same. And that is how it goes for me. I am still getting the visiting nurses for all therapies. I really haven’t left the house, except to take care of my Lola’s duties. On Monday, I will head back to my hospital to see Carole. Thank Goodness. I cannot drive yet, maybe in a week. So Mom offered to drive me. Thank Goodness. I know it is a pain in the arse to schlep me around, but I know my hospital will help me.
I have zilch energy combined with massive terrors. Great combination as I look like a pile of day old pudding on the outside, but feel like a tornadic volcano of fear on the inside. I take care of my babies and my Kangaroo responsibilities. I try not to look in the mirror at a face I don’t recognize with half of it looking like a pancake slipping down off the plate and the other half bloated, ghostly pale, but otherwise relatively normal. I try not to talk to much and hear a voice as slow as a snail where just a few weeks ago I was a Speed Talker, that slurs and drools. I doze and nap with the TV in the bedroom. I check my pupils. (I am looking for different reactivity and sizes in the pupils. That is an indicator of the next stroke. I check a lot. It is sinking into me that I HAD A STROKE. ME! )
My one break in this routine was changing me sheets this morning. I figured that out of the 168 hours in the past week, I had probably spent about 150 hours in that bed. So I thought a change of sheets was in order. I disconnected from the Kangaroo so I could maneuver better. I was near my suction. And I can walk around three sides of the bed, so I could easily do the corners. I thought it was going to be a cinch. To quote Casablanca, “what right do I have to think.” 30 minutes. It took half an hour to make the bed! I am 30 years old and have been making my bed since I was in the single digits, regularly. And today it took 30 bloody minutes and afterwards, I was beyond pooped. Really? I was saved for this?
April 26th 2016
April vacation is over. “My unplugged time” was invaluable as I can be better for my students after a break. And I need to be better, as The Testing marathon begins today. My students are very good testers. They are able to buckle down, sit super quiet and give their best for the testing periods. I am so surprised that the vast majority of my students really take this testing seriously. (On a regular spring school day, 6th graders are cuckoo bananas, and rightly hormonally so.) But these students rise to the occasion and I do my part to help them succeed. What do I do? Bake, of course and push sugar. I bake Monkey Ball Bread every year for the Testing breakfast. Years ago, my rockin mentor teacher who showed me the ropes of teaching 6th grade and was rated “V. Cool” by all, made a school wide cookbook as a fundraiser. Students and staff submitted recipes. I bought the cookbook and was introduced to Monkey Balls. Yup, that was the name she gave the recipe. I love food. I love making sweets, eating sweets and sharing sweets. I love that rockin mentor. I love giggling. This dish combines all the above. It is definitely good medicine.
And when I followed suit with a cookbook, I made sure the recipe lived on. Since 2001, I have made Monkey Balls for all in countless varieties, savory or sweet, fruity or chocolatey. (You can Google: Monkey Bread for hundreds of varieties. There is even Gorilla Bread out there. Don’t even smile over that name.)
The truth is, I am still always nervous around people, especially people who don’t know my story. I worry that everyone thinks I am drunk and stupid cuz I still talk slow at times. I never know how to make small talk. I worry that you think I am a super freak show. And yet I want, NO need, to be in relationship and community with people. That is how I am a happy human. Being with folks (2 or 4 legged) is how Rachel knows she is alive and human! I have to find a way to stick my neck out and be social, darn it! But it terrifies me when I get strange looks from people or if they whisper and stare. I am way too sensitive, I know. I am working on that too.
And so I lead with my goodies, my baked goodies that is. I find out what you definitely like or decide what I think you might like. And I bake. And I offer the goodie with all my heart. And I can respond with ease to the look on your face. I am happiest when you even lap up the crumbs. I do get resentments when there are leftovers. I am working on that too. I don’t need necessarily to talk to you. I just consistently show up with my basket of goodies. You smile when you see the bag, knowing that something yummy for you is inside. It is so simple. I am happy. You are happy.
What better way to bless the student warriors as they face The TEST than with a warm treat that makes ‘em all giggle the pre-testing jitters right away. Here is the recipe.
And here are today’s Monkey Balls. The smell in my kitchen is off the hook, yummy. There is no better way for me to get ready for Testing than with this tried and true Henry Sugarhouse tradition. We’ll see how my students this year react to the delicacy. We’ll see how Tim and Jason react when I tell them there isn’t a single Monkey Ball for them to eat. We’ll see what the day brings.