June 12th, 2003 & 2016

June is the month I celebrate my dog.  (Love you Gus!)  And Dog spelled backwards is God.  So June is a month to connect with my goddog and that is always a good thing.

June, Goddog Tawpic for today!  Discuss…


Nancy, my Buddhist Reiki Master angel, taught me “if you really touch the pain, it disappears.”  The pain loses all power.  You stop carrying it with you, every step of the day, and move beyond it. And I believe her.  I believe because I have practiced and it is true, for me. My stroke taught me that I am not here to be miserable or tortured by things that have happened in the past.  I know that I am meant to be happy, every day.  I know that I am here, because I am meant to do something for others. When my goddog thinks I am ready, and strong enough to handle something, then I do.  Opportunities to heal present themselves to me.

I got through my stroke.  I survived.  It was hard and there was a lot of pain.  But I did it.  I was scared every second of every year for years.  But I fought hard and I made it. Before I worked with Nancy, I believed that if I just pushed hard enough for long enough, I would make it through anything, and come out the other side.  And I did.  But the pain came with me to the other side.  Some days it didn’t hurt and I didn’t even know it was there.  But there were always, “things in my past that I didn’t want to talk about.”  There were so many topics that I avoided with the words, “you don’t want to go there.”

But I guess I did want to go there. I wanted to make room for new gifts in my life, but there was no space inside me.  The pain would have to go,  I had no idea how to do that. I didn’t believe it was possible to live without suffering.  And I couldn’t ask anyone for help.  My greatest teacher and gift, my stroke of luck, taught me that I don’t have to live with pain everyday.  But I can’t do it alone.  I can only be rid of the pain, when I am truly ready to feel it and let it go.

My Goddog tells me when I am ready. I rely on a higher power to direct me on these things.  I kind of listen for the word from Gus, so to speak. Good friends and my husband let me know too.   It is so great not think that I can or should do this all by myself.  I mean, I got through my stroke. Yes.  But I didn’t get through the pain then.  I was consumed by the pain and fueled by it.  The same is true for fear.  I was so busy surviving, there was no room for healing.  I held on to the fear and pain because I had to to, they were keeping me alive.

My life now is greater than that.  I have room for love because I have truly touched a lot of the pain.  With Nancy I learned how to feel some of the pain from my stroke and then release it.   I have worked on other pains too, when the time was right and I was ready.

I want to be happy and healthy.  When I am given the nudge to do some work,   I have to cooperate. The pain is blocking me from good things in life. And I did NOT survive my stroke to wallow in pain.  Pain, for me, has to be fed and tended too.  I have to give energy to this beast to keep it going.  When I realize that the PAIN beast is stopping me from being free in my life, it gots to go!!!  I cooperate with the goddog by stopping feeding the pain. I can do that.  And then I have to be open to really touching the pain.  Nancy taught me, and I mean, REALLY touching the pain.  That is my part.  It is not easy and it is a definite “Ouchie.” But when I really do it…POOF, it’s gone.  The relief is immense. Love does flood in and heals.  Thank you Goddog for giving me the loving nudge.


June 12th 2003

Coumadin levels are alternating between 12.5mg and 10mg per day.  I have a swallow study today at Radiology in my hospital.  They have to give me the test to see how I am doing.  I saw Carole two times this week and now I have the swallow study and that is it for the week. I am so scared.  I don’t want my progress to slow.  But without the work with my people at my hospital, what will I do?  I try to keep up with the exercises that they give me at home.  But I don’t know if I am doing it great and I don’t know what else I could do.  I am no expert.  And I really don’t like being alone so much.  I kind of like all the noise and smiles at my hospital.  I have always disliked cheerleaders, but I feel like everyone at my hospital is my cheerleader.  And I hate to admit it, but it helps me do better.

I don’t have physical therapy and I don’t have any more speech sessions this week.  The swallow study will show, Carole assures me that I need to continue with the speech sessions.  I know that and she knows that. I am not sure that they will be approved however by my insurance.  Every day I get more letters asking for more money and offering less approved therapies.  And school wants paperwork and updates too to show how I am doing and to prove that I really am as sick and unable to work as I am.  I was making so much progress.  But now, I am not doing so well.

I worry all the time at home.  That is the bottom line.  I look at my pupils more and more in the mirror and check with the light for reactivity.  I worry about the next stroke. I heard from my doctor that stress is bad for me right now.  So I am trying to be calm.  But I am so scared.  Why can’t I just blink and have it be April 2nd and I can not be scared, for just one more day.

My landlord just sold my house to the young couple upstairs.  What will happen to me?  Where will I go?  I am not strong enough to move? Does the school system understand how big of a stroke I had?  How do I show them how much I have improved, how hard I am working, and that I still am nowhere near ready to work, but still want to keep my job?

Zoe is barfing so much.  Nothing works.  I know I have to let her go soon.  But when?  I don’t want to?  I am not sleeping well at all this week.  But I am trying.  I lie quietly in bed with the babies.  I have some warm milk before bed.  I bundle up and watch funny old sitcoms.  I lie there.  I lie there.  I lie there.  I try to rest so I can heal.  And I am so tired every afternoon. When I take Lola out for a walk and I come back upstairs, I have to stop on the landing halfway up and breathe for a minute.  I can’t even get up the stairs all at once.  In the morning I can. But as the day goes on, I get worse.  Lola even sits down and waits for me, with me. I hate it.  I hate me.   Even without my speech or physical therapy session to tire me out, I am so tired.  Why am I so tired?  Am I getting worse?  What can I do to feel better? Why can’t I fall asleep and just wake up and be all better? Why can’t anyone just fix me? No one gets what I go through. Why do I have to go through this?  What did I do to deserve this stroke? Why did I have to have a stroke? Why me?


June 12th 2016

I didn’t sleep very good, again.  The last day of school is June 14th and I know it is weighing on my mind.  I am doing what needs to be done, listwise to be ready for the end of the year.  But my kids are under my skin, in my heart and always on my mind, right now.  I know I have to let them go.  But it is hard and it hurts.  In August I meet my class and over days and weeks, they burrow their way into me.  I think about them and care about them and do for them and with them for 9 months. We are a team. And I am a strong adult that they can count on.  I got it.  I’m good.  I got the grey hairs to prove it.  All throughout the year, they are with me.  And I am proud to be strong for them.  But at the end of the school year, they leave. Just like that. My heart hurts. THIS Mother Hen gets wack-a-doodle every year when the empty nest is imminent. I know I have to let them go and make room for a summer where I get to focus on Jason and Tim. Once I am in the summer, I am good.  But this June thing, before school is over, is tough.

So I didn’t sleep well.  Rondo was trying to climb the blinds at dawn, which is 4:45am these days.  So after a bit of toss n’ turn, I got up.  I pounded the 3 mugs of water and took my vitamins and morning pills.  I turned on the coffee and jumped in the shower, well I didn’t really jump, but you get my drift.  There is a window in our shower.  And at this time of year, it is warm enough to leave the window open a bit.  I love looking out at sun and hearing the birds during the shower.  A cool gust comes in and hits me on one side while the hot water comes down from above.  I love it. Showering first thing today was a good idea.

The first cup of coffee was heaven, as always.  Never disappoints.  I dried my hair. And still no one, man, boy or beast was awake except me.  The on-going quiet was bringing my June-schoolish-antsiness back a bit.

I was also getting a bit freaky thinking about writing today.  Writing this blog is such a gift, but there are some parts of my story that I haven’t touched yet.  They are raw and the pain is right there. As I look through my big binder from that year and my day planner, the feelings come.  They don’t come back, they come.  I didn’t really feel the feelings then.  I got through.  I didn’t feel.  I couldn’t.  I wasn’t strong enough.  Now I can, but it hurts.

I have the binder in the study with the computer and, near my vanity.  It was Gramma Harriet’s vanity that was in my bedroom at her house down the Cape.  She had no use for a vanity.  But it was pretty and displayed things nicely.  In my house full of men, I got out the vanity a few years ago, for some girly power.  I put my makeup in it and every morning, I sit in front of it, and put on something to take the shine and pastiness off my face.  Today, after powdering, I turned and looked at my Stroke Stuff and thought of the dark dark days of June 2003.  The papers, notes, bills, and cards from then are so sad.  I kept everything in that binder.  I documented all.  And looking at it all, I hurt.  I cry.  My throat aches with burning tears and tightness at what happened then.  Let’s be real Rachel, YOU HURT BECAUSE THAT WAS YOU. AND IT WAS A VERY HARD TIME. You are not there now, but you are feeling it all now.  And you hurt. I know I want to write about this part of my journey.  I know I am ready.  But it hurts and it is hard and I am already in that June-School cuckoo time.  Emotions are running high and I guess I kind of want to run too.

But I am not running.  So what will help me this morning in this quiet weekend house. Baking might help. Baking always helps. I thought of the week ahead.  We don’t have any muffins left for breakfast this week.  And muffins for breakfast today would be good and it looked like all would sleep til the muffins were ready.  Gramma Harriet’s Bran Muffins were the comfort calling to me.  I didn’t have any bran cereal like the original recipe called for.  But I had an unopened box of Trader Joe’s Mango O’s, toasted oat cereal with mango puree and pieces.  The store is having a summer Mango Frenzy. I think I have bought about half of the hundred new products they have with mangoes in them.  All are yummy.  And today I would go to try to load up on the rest of the new products and try them out.  So I made a double batch of

My Bran Muffins, as Gramma Harriet called them

Mango Coconut Muffins, I call em today

  1. Preheat the oven to 385 degrees.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I can take a deep breathe with the sound of the oven igniting.

  1. In a big bowl, put one cup of wheat germ and 2 cups of Mango O’s.  Add 3 cups of milk and let it sit to soften the cereal a bit.
  2. Melt/liquefy 2/3 cup coconut oil in the microwave.  Mix in 2 eggs and whisk a bit.
  3. Add oil and egg to the milk and cereal mixture.  Mix.
  4. Add 4 cups of spelt flour. (Spelt is the ancient grain that hasn’t been messed with.  Good stuff.) Add 2 TBSP’s baking powder and 1 cup of sugar.  Mix well.
  5. Spray 18 muffin holders with coconut spray.  Fill with the batter.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


The smell of the baking muffins made me relax and smile a bit as I washed up the dishes.  The mens got up, ate the muffins and the day moved on a bit sweeter than it started.

We would go to Trader Joe’s like usual and maybe I would wait and write on Wednesday after school got out.  Maybe today would be about other things.  That would be alright.  We would see.  Jason and I called the Cuzzin in the car on the way to the store.  We call every Sunday and here her news.  She is going to go kayaking today.  That is great.  We have two kayaks here at the house. This summer, we need to take them out. Jason remembered to bring his joke book in the car and so he could tell Cuzzin some good ones this week. We got to the store long before we were done chatting.  The sunroof was open on our parked car.  Jason read a few jokes and stood sticking out the sunroof for a bit while the Cuzzin and I chatted some more.  With the sun rising higher and bellies starting to get hungry again, we said Goodbye to the Cuzzin and headed into Trader Joe’s.  Sure enough, they had more droolworthy Mango products that I just HAD to try.  I HAD to try the licorice type Mango bites, yum.  I HAD to get stuff for my cauliflower, tastes like potato, salad that I would make today.  I HAD to get treats for Wednesday in Wessyfoo after school gets out.  And I HAD to get hotdogs for Gus’s birthday on Tuesday.

At the checkout register, I got busy bagging all our goodies.  I love looking at the food again and seeing what I really get to bring home and eat.  Yum.  Jason was sitting on the window ledge with the cheese curls he picked out for the ride home.  He always picks out a snack to eat at school and one to eat in the car ride home.  I was busy bagging and chatting with the man working the register.  He remarked on my t-shirt.  I guess I had my stroke on my mind today and I was working with it when I got dressed today.  I put on my FAST t-shirt that Tim designed and had made for the Heart Walk.  (Maybe it would help me touch some of that pain that was coming up these days. Maybe, I thought) It has the logo I designed on the front: “spot a STROKE, F.A.S.T.”

The man said he didn’t hear what I had just said because he was focused on my shirt.  He had a childhood friend that he was so close to. (I stopped packing the food.)  He said that his friend had a bad cut on his leg and when it was healing, a clot broke loose in his leg and traveled to his brain.  His friend had a big stroke.  He was paralyzed on the bottom half of his body.  He remained paralyzed until he died. He died young, too young. (I put down the food back onto the counter.)  He said his friend would have been in his early 30’s when he had the stroke.  I listened as he told me how hard it was when he would go home to visit his friend.  His friend was funny and told jokes and still had a sense of humor.  He said his friend couldn’t speak but he had an adaptive thing that would write down or speak for him. (I choked back tears in my throat at how lucky I was today.  I burned with how brutal strokes are.) Stories about fishing, his friend wrote them after his stroke.  They had done a lot of fishing together in their childhood.  The stories written were funny. He would go to visit his friend a lot at first, but less as time went on.  It was hard.  But the stories were still online and he still read them. He stopped scanning my goodies and let the words come out.  This man’s eyes were sad and smiling as he told me his friend’s story. (I listened.  I was witness to his story.  He could tell me and he knew I understood.  I could bear it.  I got to hear this man’s story of stroke and knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  A real moment of healing was happening for him and for me. I had sort of created it.  I was definitely grateful for it. This was what I was meant to do today.  I looked at my eyes in the rear view mirror on the way home.  My eyes were not sad anymore and my smile was getting bigger.)



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