Monday, December 31, 2012

TFT: Top Ten Blogs of 2012

My friend, who's also a fellow blogger told me the blogging folks are doing a look at their most-popular stories from 2012...who am I to be outdone?

Not that I didn't just do a really rad slideshow for you guys.

But I like this idea. It will give me some time to reflect on the year beyond just looking at pictures.

Here we gooooo!

10) I Now Know What An HDMI Cable Is...
(January 2012) This was me trying to figure out all the stuff Jimmy used to do. Like anything with cables, cords and electronics. I really, really miss him being able to deal with that crap. I recently had to tackle the spaghetti wires that are behind the living room entertainment center. Gahhhhh. I threw a tantrum at least 1-2 times. But, I learned a lot (with his verbal instruction, of course) about it and even understood it enough to be able to get back there and organize that mess.





9) September 22nd
(September 2012) This is me explaining how horribly difficult it was for us to decide not to go to Jimmy's best friend's wedding in Massachusetts. So, so sucky. But, they understood because they are decent people. Julie and Aaron, in lieu of wedding favors, donated to The Shepherd Center in Jimmy's name. Truly amazing.


8) A Letter to My Father-in-Law
(November 2012) Going home to NC with Jimmy for his father's funeral during Thanksgiving was emotional. I saw the love that family had for James, Sr.  It inspired me to write a letter to honor his spirit. This one put a smile on Jimmy's face.




7) Call Me Cake
(February 2012) I bought myself some flowers and a cake for Valentine's Day in an effort to not be so sad on holidays, post-injury. It worked!

(January 2012) One of the first times I made myself fit into Jimmy's twin-sized bed for some husband cuddles. I snapped a picture.

(October 2012) I had a moment here where I was thinking back to the day of Jimmy's accident and his condition. On this particular October evening, I realized just how easily I could have been without Jimmy. I needed to write about how lucky I felt that he was alive.

4) Six Months
(February 2012) Somehow we had made it six months in a state like this. How? It had gone by in a blink of an eye. I wrote here about some of the stuff we had experienced over the last few months and how proud I was of my Jimmy.

3) 8,772 Hours Later...
(June 2012) Our one year wedding anniversary. I wrote about how many stupid, materialistic things were going through my head before and during our wedding. Like, were people having a good time, liking the food? One year later, I felt so much older and wiser. Perspective = changed. I never could have imagined a first year of marriage quite like this.

(December 2012) I got my first tattoo. It was part of Jimmy's Christmas present. It's a wheelchair heart and two love birds. I wanted him to know I was in this with him. I'm sure he knew already, but it a wave of courage that came over me, so I went with it. I got all inked up.





... and my most-viewed blog of 2012 (and ever) is...

1) My Love Letter
(August 2012) One year since Jimmy's crash. I didn't know how I felt about this piece as I was writing it. I wasn't sure how people would respond. I wanted to be honest, real yet hopeful. I think I covered all of that in my love letter to Jimmy on this sort of somber occasion. Within the first five minutes of posting, someone had shared it and written a paragraph about what I had written. Then, all kinds of feedback. I was overwhelmed... in a good way.  I love that people love our love. 

*Side Note:

I've made some wonderful connections through this blog. Readers have pointed me in the direction of other blogs that have changed my entire way of thinking.  I've learned other people are going through this as well. If not this, another something that is tough -- and it helps to know there is a community. People that get it.

But some people are just damn good listeners even if they aren't going through a tough time.

They can read between my lines and tell when I need some love when I'm still too proud to ask for help.

It's hard to explain why writing helps me. It just does. I have this place to just be me. Others can choose to read it or not. But this is my place and I can always come here. 

In fact, some people have painted what I do in a negative light. There are so many more who love to follow us on our journey and see how we live this new life. Maybe it helps them like other blogs help me.

Thanks for reading and supporting and letting me be me. This is my healing place.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in Photos

Today I prepare to say goodbye to another year. A whole year. 2012 was mine and Jimmy's first full year living with a Spinal Cord Injury.

We were certainly better off this year and a little -- a little -- more prepared for things we encountered over the past 365 days.

We made some memories, took some risks, faced lots of challenges and even managed to suprise ourselves at times.  

Thanks for helping us along the way.

Thanks for all of the constant support.

Music for slideshow: "We Come Running" by Youngblood Hawke

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spasm Curiosity

Nick and Jimmy
Fellow Patriots Fans
They both have man crushes on Tom Brady
 
My little brother called me on the phone yesterday. He's like 25 so that's kind of rare.  And also, we just saw him. 
I didn't expect to hear from him so soon.

He made a bunch of small talk and then told me he had something to ask me.

He explained how he saw Jimmy's legs moving on Christmas Eve. I saw his face when it happened but thought:

A) He knew what was happening
2) He saw it, and would move on even though he totally didn't get what was happening.

He waited a few days to ask.

Ya see, Jimmy's legs and arms move a lot involuntarily. They are simply muscle spasms. It really means nothing.

When people see his legs or arms moving they assume I'm not telling them something. Like, "Oh yeah... Jimmy started to regain movement again."

Trust in me dear people that when Jimmy moves anything on his own, via his own brain, I will scream from the rooftops.  Like the highest of high ones.

However, to be fair, the first time I witnessed a muscle spasm I videoed it. We were still at Shepherd and had a lot to learn. I told the doctor all about it and had the video to prove it.  He rained on my parade real quick with his lacklustery reaction. 

Muscle spasms are common with Spinal Cord Injuries although medical officials can't seem to explain why.

Some folks have spasms so bad it's unsafe. Spasms can throw people out of bed or out of their chair. Luckily, Jimmy never had spasms that bad.

He has an arm spasm that I call "The Chicken Wing" where his left elbow just random jumps once in awhile, but in a series.  Like 20 times in a row, once every three hours. Random.

His legs will also jump around a little.

Sometimes his legs float in the air.  It freaks people out. Eyes get real big.  But I have to point out even to Jimmy that it's happening.  He doesn't even know it if he's tilted a certain way and can't see it.

Nick was funny after I explained the spasms. He equated the whole thing to computers, as he's likely to do because he's a cute little techie nerd.

He said something along the lines of, "Yeah, I can see that. It's kind of like when a networking blah blah disconnects from a [another computer term] blah. The blah blah can still work even if it's disconnected from the networking blah blah. You just don't have control over it."

Exactly. And flux capacitor, and stuff.

But he got it.

I love that he was interested enough to try and understand it in his own terms.  Means a lot.  (Mush!)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Scenery

Every morning while on vacation at the beach, Jimmy would roll up to our patio and sit in the sun to warm up.

He'd take his little afternoon nap there.

Of course it was frickin' freezing so I could only crack the door -- just enough to absorb the atmosphere.

The numerous challenges that we dealt with on this latest trip were worth it. It was a nice change of scenery.

But man we're happy to be back home.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Eve

Jimmy and I downsized this year in terms of gifting to each other. But, I think we both did really well. I sure am pleased.

He got me a few things I need, and a few things I wanted.

Meanwhile, he's incredibly tough to shop for so I'm kind of on my own. I think I did alright.

After a really rocky evening/overnight/early morning with one or two meltdowns and an emotional talk early today, I'm happy to report we've had a good Christmas Eve.

Mission accomplished.

We both made sacrifices as we've realized that's what we're gonna have to do now. That's what married couples do anyways, right?

I'm sitting on the patio of our 16th-story room bundled up in a blanket but willing to take in the cold ocean air tonight.

Thankful for today. (Also, incredibly thankful for two very special people who supplied us with some tools today that will help make our lives easier... more on that to come.)

Off to bed.

Santa is on his way...

Hope he got my email that we're not in Atlanta.

Santa probably has an iPhone 5, so we're good.

Who asks for a new Brita water filter for Christmas because its the new "vintage" model and it's teal?
This girl.  


His pile. Not too shabby.
I showed my little cousin my tattoo tonight and asked her if she knew what it was.
She said, "Jimmy!"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Arm Higher

Around 8 this morning I climbed in bed with Jimmy. It's exciting to take advantage of having a bigger bed, if only for a short time. We napped the rest of the morning together.

Jimmy's vent alarm kept sounding all night, waking the both of us up.

This morning he is tired, but is still managing to joke around with his nurses. That leads me to believe it could be an okay day for him.  I'm tired too, but hoping this coffee will work.

When I was laying with him, I had my arm across his chest. He said, "put your arm higher."

Just so he could feel it.

I die.

This Trip, So Far...

We're in South Carolina for the Christmas holiday.

The trip so far is off to a rough start.

The ride here was one of the most trying we've had. Jimmy was tired, weak and also needed to be suctioned a lot. That requires stopping to find a power outlet.

At one gas station, we tried like about 6 different outlets and couldn't get our equipment to work. I panicked and called our respiratory supply guy in Georgia to have him start the process of overnighting a new one to the SC.

Believe me when I tell you this machine is the most valuable piece of equipment we have when it comes to Jimmy's medical well-being.

Even more so than the ventilator.

When the nurses are rough with the bag this thing travels in I want to punch them in the face. I realize that's frowned upon.

After taking everything out of the damn vehicle myself (we have to travel with entire car full of supplies) to get to our back-up extension cord, I realized our metal portable ramp fell against the van only to put a gross gash in our shiny black paint job.

Our back-up, manual method of suctioning is pretty worthless but I had the nurse working on that with Jimmy while we were trying to figure out the other thing.

As Jimmy was coughing and gagging, we ran frantically around trying to be sure it was our equipment that was failing and not their outlets.

We tried a half a dozen outlets in the service garage portion of this gas station. Surely, that meant it was us not them, RIGHT?

Then, I ran inside the convenience store and tried an outlet in there.

It freaking worked.

HOW THE HELL DID NONE OF THE 18 SERVICEMEN STANDING AROUND WATCHING US NOT KNOW THIS?

We got Jimmy out of the car and had him wheel into this mini-mart to a working outlet. The guy behind the counter had the nerve to tell us Jimmy was blocking an aisle.

Oh, we're just trying to clean out my husband's lungs, you know, TO KEEP HIM ALIVE.

God forbid us block anyone from getting their Monster energy drink and cajun boiled peanuts.

Back in the car we go. After a long day traveling, stopping, going another five miles and then having to stop again -- we made it just as the sun was setting.

We decided to get a smaller room hotel this time to save money which means the nurses are really up close and personal and all up in our business.

Because of my pure exhaustion last night and the language barrier factor with our two nurses, I couldn't understand something they were trying to tell me and got really upset and yelled a whole lot. That in turn, made Jimmy upset. It wasn't pretty.

It's always hard bringing two nurses with us on vacation. Medically, they save my butt (let the record show I acknowledge this). Emotionally, it's friggin' hell.

I want them to go away. Because of the professional relationship I wish to keep with them, they are very much strangers in our private space meeting our closest family and friends. They get to see me with my guard slightly let down. I don't like it one bit. It feels very personal.

I'm clearly still working on the acceptance with this part of our life.

Jimmy has been really, really tired lately. Like to the point of me saying something to him and him being too tired to respond with actual words.

He's it for me. He's what gets me through. And, when he's not feeling like himself, it's extremely difficult for me. Especially if I'm weak and mentally drained. When at least one of us isn't on our A game -- it's trouble town.

Jimmy's fatigue is an ongoing battle. We have been working hard to get to the bottom of it -- take this, not this, sleep on the vent, sleep off the vent, take a nap during the day, don't sleep too much -- it sucks.

Because of all the shock from the crash, it's near impossible to pinpoint what it is. We know his metabolic system is off. He's got too much growth hormone but not enough testosterone. His blood glucose levels are high but his weight is down.

It's hard not to get heartbroken (again) when my husband, with his big brown eyes, looks and says, "I'm tired of being tired."

Yeah. Really tough.

So, here's hoping to a good night's sleep and just a little more energy for his tomorrow.

Here's hoping taking in the goodness of being with family continues to sooth the soul.

Oh, and of course (while we're banking on hope) for a smooth ride home after Christmas.

Thank youuuuu.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tree Down

 
I'm sorry Christmas Tree, we had to part ways already. I didn't want to take you down today. But we had to. I promise we had to. Like, I'm not just saying it. We're getting new flooring over the holidays. 

You provided a nice, warm Christmas glow. You did good work. We had some good quality time today with our friends Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and some Rosemary Clooney.

So long Christmas tree of 2012.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mary Tyler Moore

You're gonna make it, after all..
I've been quite addicted to Mary Tyler Moore re-runs these days. I blame The Hallmark Channel for ruining my nighttime routine of Fraiser and Skinnypop. Haven't found a food yet that goes well with Mary Tyler Moore...

Maybe it's the newsroom setting, but I also love the wholesomeness you get out of her. Although, I've always seen myself as more of a Rhoda. Either way, I adore their friendship. It's so cute.

Don't get me started on Mr. Grant. He's the perfect amount of grouchy that makes it all a little more realistic. Sometimes grouchy people make me feel normal.

Lately, I've flown through seasons 2 & 3 and noticed how freaking fashionable MTM was. Like, I'd wear 90% of that stuff now. Or, know a really stick-skinny person that could (Rebekah, Amy). Lets face it: Rhoda's sweats and scrubs are more my style.

Anywho, I've been documenting some of my favorite Mary Richards ensembles (I need a hobby). The 70s. Who doesn't love 70s fashion?  I'm pretty sure, though, if my mom would've saved some of her old stuff from that decade it wouldn't fit my curvy, Rhodaesque figure anyways.

That's okay. The GAP makes some killer curvy, wide-legged jeans.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Urgent! (Not really...)

Never mind the book that I'm sure will be the funniest book I've ever read in my entire lifetime... LOOK how skinny my thighs are in this picture.

And they're NOT.

Almost didn't recognize myself. I'm never getting rid of these jeans. Like, ever, ever, ever... (Taylor Swift style)

Ellen. You flatter me.

Like is said: Urgent, people.

Walk Home

My walk home from tennis last night actually didn't suck.

I have to walk across the giant Piedmont Park, at night. It's usually scary as hell -- espesh after Daylight Saving.

Lately, there's been a cool glowy thing happening in the sky making the cold, quiet walk a little less frightening.

Also, a random horse-drawn carriage can't hurt, either.

I didn't do any fancy filter on this as to see the glowy skies...


Nothing says nostaglia like a sweet horse-drawn carriage... with hipster, neon lights...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Card 2012

Simply having a wonderful Christmastime...
Happy holidays, everyone!
Love,
Jaimie and Jimmy

Via picaboo.com
 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekend

My insides hurt.

I'm not sure if it's from:

1) All the crap I ate this past weekend
2) The fact that my body is screaming for exercise
3) Maaaaaybe I overdid it at a Christmas party last night
4) Loneliness after my visiting friend drove away
5) Getting inked up
6) All of the above

This is one tired girl. I need sleep. Like the really good kind.

But not before I share a few pictures from the Christmas party we went to last night.


You can probably see it in Jimmy's face how tired he was. We both barrelled through a few obstacles this past weekend to get to this party. 

Jimmy had a very tough day, yesterday. He told me it was the worst he has ever felt. And yet, he let me put on his cute Calvin Klein shoes so we could go to the party.

I had gotten a new dress and new ink after all.


Jimmy had a good time, I know he did. Even on the darkest of physical days he still feeds off being social and interacting.  It's a recent goal of mine to get him to call someone different each day. He actually likes the telephone. Weird.

At the end of the night he could barely hold his own head up. In fact, on the ride home I put my hand on the side of the his head in case he wanted to lean on it. He totally did. He probably didn't even know it.

I wish we could pick and choose which days he was okay or a little more tired, but we can't. We just gotta deal.

I'd say Jimmy dealt pretty well with feeling completely crummy yesterday.  He went. We went.  That matters because Jimmy easily could have stayed home yesterday. 

He had a pass and he didn't use it.

I love him for that.

I'm so thankful I had a good friend here to help my moody blues and to chip at some of the other obstacles we faced. She was a welcome distraction.

I got really sad when she left.

It's a downside to living away from most of our family and friends. They have to go back to where they came from.

Sometimes it just sucks butt.  

But, happiness was had.  Worth it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Merry Christmas My Love

I guess I could have waited until Christmas to give Jimmy his gift.

Clearly, I have problems waiting for stuff...

I got my first tattoo today!

It f*ing hurt and made me all sweaty, but so worth it.

My artist was really good. It took him 20 minutes to knock this out. I knew this place was alright after I met a guy in the lobby who flew in from Wisconsin just to come to this parlour.

My tattoo is of the 3E Wheelchair Heart that symbolizes to embrace, empower and educate.  I also added a little of myself and threw in some cutesy little love birds.  

This ink was my teeny way of letting my husband know that I'm right there with him. He's got his wheelchair, and I've got mine.

I could have gotten this hidden -- I went back and forth on the placement.  But, I feel like this is a tattoo meant to be seen. Why hide it?

I have this vision of me walking by his side, as I do. People from behind can see his wheels... and also mine. That's what's up.

Jimmy was happy and flattered, I think.  He was all smiles and not a lot of words, which is normal.  

Just a little tribute to my "roll model."
When I was leaving the house, I told Jimmy, "I'll see you later. Gotta get my ink in before the weekend."
Totally just made that up...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

7%

I joined a few new Facebook groups recently -- both aimed at helping spouses/caretakers through a SCI or through another debilitating disease.

Reading other people's stories continue to put our life into perspective.

"My husband had a stroke... emotional support is a one way street... I grieve for the person he was before the strokes... "

"I am so tired of training caregivers... I am so very tired of all of this.."

Some of it is hard to read, knowing caretakers are so miserable and finding no piece of mind.

Some of it is comforting, knowing that others are dealing with a lot of the same daily issues and challenges that we do.

I can't imagine trying to do Jimmy's routine all on my own. I'd be broken. I'd do it -- of course I'd do it -- but I'd be wary and ill-tempered. More so than usual...

People we continue to run into at Shepherd tell me stories of not having nurses. 

Surprisingly for me, a tough scenario to see is a mother at therapy, day after day with her kid. There were a few people who went through with us who were high school and college-aged.

I haven't felt the feelings a mother feels, but I know what's there. And I know how a mom hurts for their kiddos. 

My life as a wife has certainly changed. 

Thankfully, I'm not completely broken -- only slightly.  But it seems to be fixable. I continue to grieve. Memories still sneak up on me and shake me. 

But it's happening less and less.

It's funny. This week, I had a really good talk with my therapist. I hadn't seen her in weeks because of so much happening. I told her how I cry less when I go to bed alone every night (that's when I really tend to miss our old normal).

And, I told her that being not as sad -- is sad.  It means I'm getting used to things... slowly.  I realize what's happening and I think I don't want to get used to things. I still want it all to go back.

It won't. I know. But, it's a battle between the ole brain vs. heart. 

(Brain) I know it won't go back, so deal with it and move on. Live. You still have a perfectly good life to live.  (Heart) But I really want it all to just go back. Can we just go back and do one thing differently so the outcome maybe would change?

My brain has since figured out that our new life brings suffering and sacrifices. It just does. I will have to handle how to suffer and still live with happiness. I have to do both.

I know now the suffering, grieving and healing will be around for a long, long time -- if even in a small capacity. But here's the interesting flip side to this: I have learned that finding tiny joys are key, because getting large leaps in Jimmy's healing just ain't happening.

Finding tiny joys in our new life is like a freakin' scavenger hunt. It's like, okay, there's still life here somewhere but we have to find it on our own.

Luckily, my bud and I are good at that.

We always made a good team.

We're like 7% through this thing, but it's a good, solid 7%. 

The shaky, gravel road isn't as unbearable as it used to be.

Doesn't mean I'm not death-gripping the steering wheel with the radio turned down and my headlights on -- even if it's daylight.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Craig T. Nelson

The Family Stone is on.

It's hard to describe why I love this flick so much, but I do.

I especially cherish my own personal copy.

Several years ago, Jimmy worked a celebrity golf tournament in Myrtle Beach.

Jimmy told me who was going to be there.

I got excited.

Would Jimmy do it?

Would Jimmy actually take my green sharpie and my copy of The Family Stone and have Craig T. Nelson -- the calming, yet stern Patriarch Kelly Stone -- sign it?

Jimmy did it. Gah, I love him.

He came back and told me how CTN laughed because he doesn't normally get asked to sign that. He does sign a heck of a lot of copies of Coach, apparently.

Hells yeah.

Would your boyfriend do that?

Better than a diamond.