You Don’t Look Sick

Has this been said to you? Those of us chronically ill or injured have probably been given this all too common line, “You don’t look sick.” Or how about this one, “Well, you look good!”*

If we look sick, we are sick, if we don’t look sick we aren’t. Right? No!

Most people have five senses; taste, touch, see, smell, and hear. Now, we can mistakenly use our sense of sight to judge someone’s sense of touch.

An injured brain can not be seen. The brain is enclosed by the skull and a protective water layer called dura matter (both of which are damaged on me). Injured brains are felt.

Fatigue can not be seen, it’s felt.

We can’t judge a person’s sense of feeling based on our sense of sight.

This is why invisible illness is so misjudged ending up with the ill feeling very much alone.

I met a lady in my brain injury group whose teenage son suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after being struck by a car and then run over by a second car which dragged his body underneath it before stopping. When she arrived at the hospital she told me he looked to her like an alien. His brain was actually visible and he was so beyond recognition, she could only identify him based on the fact that he bit his nails which was the only recogizable part of him. This is probably the worst case of TBI I have ever heard of, and by some miracle, her son survived his brain injury but with many many deficits.

Yet, this is not the norm. TBI is typically an invisible malady. It effects all of life in so many various aspects most of which go unseen to onlookers. TBI is felt. Chronic fatigue is felt. Autoimmune diseases are felt.

We want to be well. We don’t want to wake up every day wondering what we have to do to just barely get by. We don’t want to tell our best friend we can’t receive her visit because we are too weak. We hate missing church. We want to get up, feet hit the ground running and get everything done while having strength and energy to play with our kids and make chocolate cake for dessert.

Not all ilnesses are visible, rather, they are hidden inside the intricate workings of our very fragile bodies that can easily become disfunctional living in this fallen world. While we may not look sick, believe me when I say we are bravely fighting every day and never, ever giving up….. and are courageously smiling and enduring through the pain.

Much love,

Viv 😍

*This post was written a long time ago. I’m no longer frustrated over the way people respond to invisible illness, but I still feel this post holds a few valuable insights worth sharing with others. ~Viv

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Fun and Frugal

What does a person with limited funds, and energy do to get both her and her family ready for her beloved nephew’s wedding?

I’ve been scratching my head as to how to get a dress for my daughter and myself along with pants and a dress shirt for my growing 13.75 year old man-child. My hubby and youngest two were all set but as the wedding gets closer, I have been stressing over what to wear.

I’ve gained a bit of weight since I can’t exercise anymore the way I used to (Turbo Jam videos) but, when I tried on the only suitable dress I had for a wedding, it made me look as a marshmallow…….toasted marshmallow since the dress is brown. 😭

So, my family and I set out to our local thrift store with so much HOPE to find what we need and fast.

My beautiful daughter found a gorgeous pink A line dress with flowers that suits her well while my son found black Jockers slacks (do people still say that?) and a nice white button down dress shirt with a vibrant blue tie.

Thankfully, after trying on a handful of dresses and feeling a bit discouraged, I found a dark indigo blue sleeveless dress with some shimmery bling on the front from Kohls with the tags still on. The tag read $50 but I got it for $5! Ta da!! God provided as always and now I can feel less panicked about the fast approaching wedding and good about the clothes we were able to find.

As for a much much needed hair cut, I watched a few YouTube videos and taught myself how to cut and layer my own hair. I have cut my hair in the past and cut my entire family’s hair out of necessity. It saves a ton. Sometimes we get poor results but I think we are managing and it’s one less task on my over-worked (and underpaid) hubby.

The wedding is August 3rd and thankfully only about half an hour from my house. We are really excited about it…..my niece-to-be is darling and I loved her the minute we met. She and I also share the same birthday which I’m so delighted about and makes her even more special to me.

I’m so thankful God gave me the energy to clothing shop with my kids! It was the first time shopping together in years and felt so wonderful to be able to handle and enjoy it.

I’m getting stronger friends!! Praise God for today and also praise Him for the bad days because without them, the good days wouldn’t be so marvelous!

Much love,

Viv 🥂💗

Lovely Little Rascal

It took time but I was able to capture a sweet little hummingbird feeding at our feeder today. This may be a female. She’s such a clever quick little beauty isn’t she? I hope you can see her even though the big white play arrow is smack dab in the middle of it.

Have a lovely day everyone!

Much love,

Viv ❤

The Reading Road To Recovery

There are times when the body and mind are so weak and weary we need to soothe our hearts with light easy reads. Nothing heavy, nothing super intellectual, or challenging. Just simple goodness wrapped up in a favorite book with a puppy nearby and some lavendar tea. Sounds pretty good, huh?

When I was in phase two of my recovery, and no longer bedridden, but chair ridden, I stumbled upon my set of Mitford series that I hadn’t read in years.

As I traversed the pages of the delightful story of an Episcopalian Priest who lived for God and helping others through service, something magical happened. My mind shifted focus from the hard experience I was living in to the everday life of the small town folk of Mitford. I had light, happy, interesting things to entertain me, yet not too heavy for my struggling brain to process. It was a sunny little resort from the hard and broken to a mind more at ease and peace.

Sometimes light, simple, beautiful, peaceful thoughts are very healing to the mind and can bring healing especially with chronic illness or injury.

In Phillipians 4:8-9 God tells us what to think on, what to dwell on, and what to fill our minds with.

Philippians 4:8-9 King James Version

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.


Filling my mind with peaceful, happy and restful thoughts has been a step in my healing process. Reading the Mitford books, looking at art, beauty, birds, flowers, and dwelling on thoughts of God are so very healing to my mind, body and spirit.

Here’s a glimpse of the fun, typical Mitford bantor from Jan Karon’s Mitford book called Light From Heaven:

“Three,” said Willie Mullis.

Willie stood at the kitchen door, bareheaded and mournful, holding forth a battered fedora containing the day’s egg inventory.

“Three’s all we need,” said Father Tim, reaching into the hat. “We thank you. Think the laying will pick up come spring?”

“Yessir.”

“Good! Think we’ll be having any more snow?”

“Nossir.”

“Your arthritis coming along a little better?”

“Yessir.”

“Looks like a nice, warm day. The temperature could soar into the high sixties, don’t you think?”

“Yessir.”

“Need any help at the barn?”

“Nossir.”

“If you do, just give me a call.”

“Yessir.”

He (Father Tim) put the brown eggs into a bowl on the table, observing them with satisfaction. With a little grated cheese, a tot of cream, a smidgen of onion. . .

“Was that Willie?” asked his wife, coming into the kitchen.

“Three eggs,” he said, pointing. “The laying will, of course, pick up come spring; we won’t be having any more snow; the temperature will probably be in the high sixties today; and his arthritis is improving.”

“My goodness,” she said, “I never get that sort of information from Willie. He’s a perfect chatterbox with you.”


Having read this delightfully fun book series was a great way to heal for me. My fifteen-year-old also enjoyed reading the books recently. She devoured all 13 books in 9 days (we don’t yet own the 14th)! I highly recommend finding the series if you haven’t already or maybe re-reading them again like I did. They are fun, light, and full of Biblical truths that actually run deep. And they, as my daughter would say, are “awesome!”

Reading scripture verses, and journaling has also become quite healing, as well as writing with a pen which heals my motor skills by working my right hand left brain connection.

Setting our thoughts on what is pure, lovely, noble, and true is an active exercise in and of itself to battle off negativity, anger, and other emotions which only stifle our joy and bring sorrow.

It’s amazing because in verse 9 of Phillipians 4, God says it will bring peace. How lovely! Just think, God whispers to us in His word, “think on THESE things.”

Mindfulness is a struggle for me. Fighting off all those negative thoughts that plague my broken brain is a battle. Yet, God is fighting, helping and working alongside to help guard my heart, mind and thoughts. He wants me to think on Him, His blessings, His truth and rest in His endless love.

His beauty is a wonderful thought to set my mind on each and every day.

Much love,

Viv 🤗🌼


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March: Brain Injury Awareness Month

Check out these few facts that can help make us all more aware of just how prevalent brain injury is in the U.S.

Here are a few statistics I find very interesting regarding brain injury:

1) A TBI is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.

2) Falls are the leading causes of TBI in America.

3) Men are twice as likely to sustain a TBI than women.

4) 90 % percent of concussions do not involve loss of consciousness.

5) Each year, about 2.8 million people are treated for TBI in a United States ER.

6) A concussion is a mild brain injury. The consequences of multiple concussions can be far more dangerous than those of a first time TBI.

7) The area most often injured are the frontal lobes that control thinking and emotional regulation.

8) A blow to one part of the brain can cause damage throughout the whole brain.

9) Blasts are the most common cause of TBIs for veterans fighting in war zones.

Resources: brainline.org, traumaticbraininjury.net

The above statement is an excellent summary of how a brain injury effects the body long term. It also sums up the personal battles I face with TBI daily.

I sketched this picture of the parts of the brain. X marks the spot of my compression in between the frontal and temporal lobes on the left side.

Thanks so much for taking a moment to read this. God bless you and much love.

Viv 💚

Mold

It’s really bad for your health

A toxin I am told

Those black specks staring on my wall

That stinky black mold

We have had so much rain

It makes me want to bark

I wonder if I should take a hint

And build a wooden ark

Growing up on ceilings, walls,

Every window sill

I need to rid our home from this

It’s making us all ill!!

I’ve tried a number of sprays

Investing in what kills

But those awful black spots

I’ll send them to the hills!

We really don’t want to bleach

It hurts my head you see

Which toxin is worse

Bleach or mold?

Both make me feel woosey

I’ve tried so many natural sprays

They have not worked the best

I really wish that silly mold

Would up and leave as guest

I’m sorry for this woeful poem

But pray I rid this from my home!

If any of you have a idea

Please comment below

And I will see ya!

~Vivian Joy, 2019

PTSD: By Any Other Name

In World War 1, it was called ‘shell shock’. In World War 2 it was known as ‘battle fatigue’. Finally during Vietnam it got it’s current name, ‘post- traumatic stress disorder’.

What exactly is this?

Here’s the definition:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Sadly, the nervous system is stuck in a flight or fright mode that leaves people with PTSD in a chronic state of nervous ups and downs, which can be debilitating.

In January of 2017, I was told by my doctor that my brain injury had also given me PTSD secondary to the injury. It was a result of the changes going on in my skull as the cranial adjustments were being performed.

My brain’s amygdala sounded an alarm that flooded my body with stress hormones, resulting in quite a bit of emotional and physical distress.

It’s gotten better lately, the anxiety isn’t as much, nightmares are improving, and I’ve noticed as I get physically stronger, I’m able to work through it more efficiently.

Some experts believe PTSD is actually a psychological injury and not a mental health illness.

Fascinating.

Living in a fallen world means that there will be times when our minds will be greatly effected by the current circumstances we experience. It’s part of being human and it’s part of life.

There are plenty of ways to help someone we love work through PTSD, but I do believe seeking a good counselor is key.

Here are six helps we can do for ourselves or someone we love with PTSD;

1) Listen to them. Don’t bring it up unless they first initiate the subject of the traumatic event(s) and want to talk about it. A recap may bring on full blown panic attack.

2) Don’t take their emotional ups and downs personally. If they are cranky or moody, give them grace–it should pass and they will feel more secure around you than if you lectured them or told them to “get over it.”

3) Gently encourage them to do the things they love, like art, peaceful exercise (walking, yoga, swimming), gardening, meditating upon scripture, reading a novel, or watching a favorite old film.

4) GET A PET!!! I truly believe this a must for everyone with PTSD. There have been days when all I could do was sit out on my deck with my grey tabby and let her purr as I rubbed her furry little head. My five-year-old Maltipoo ( heading photo) has also brought such comfort to me, never leaving my side. Medical studies have proven that pets reduce high blood pressure and calm anxiety in owners. Plus, they’re super cute!

She purrs away as we cuddle

5) Try some juniper berry essential oil before bed. Doterra is the best. In fact, even war veterans have been cured from night terrors and nightmares while using it, and it’s certainly helped me.

6) Lastly, the blessing of praise music. Please see my link Songs of Hope. These songs got me through the toughest days and nights of fear and anxiety. I highly recommend listening to them or quiet, restful piano music.

I hope you can find a small ray of encouragement through this little blog post knowing that you are not alone. I’m still learning how to cope most days and would LOVE to hear your ideas or input.

Have a wonderful day and remember, He is holding us. 🤗❤