Good Vibes

Due to my brain injury noise has become a huge problem for me. This isn’t easy being in a small house with lots of sounds coming from kids and pets but the worst part of my auditory struggles has been my husband’s new beloved hobby: opera. I feel crazy whenever he plays those screaming meemies and seriously want to break something. Like in the children’s book Harry and the Lady Next Door, in which Harry wants to bite and be bad due to the lady’s cringy decibles. He bites the leg of the piano instead of her but I can commiserate 100% with that poor little black and white pooch.

Here is my life saving remedy: VIBES!!!

Vibes has been a game changer for me! Going to church or public places that were noisy used to be excruciating for my ear sensitivity, resulting in over stimulation and nervous system overload. A few months ago my dear friend Michelle from jumbledbrain sent these ear plugs to me and wow, have they changed my life! My old ear plugs were just cheap yellow things that stuck out of my head like a squash and never fit well or really helped. However, Vibes come in three different sizes and are completely clear, making them barely detectable! I can wear them for hours without even realizing anything is stuck in my ears! Vibes filter out unwanted sounds and work with your brain to help you hear noises you want to hear! It’s awesome how they are designed to make auditory issues so much better. I love them. Now that I’ve tried them out, I will never go back!

As a result of having a TBI, the muscles in my head get very tense if I am around loud noises. These tense muscles result in pain, dizziness, and nervous system overload. Now having the vibes I can listen to music at levels both my husband and I agree on (although I stilI hate opera), occasionally attend church, be in crowds, and the pain doesn’t come! My kids can turn up the volume of their favorite song and I can enjoy listening instead of running away to hide. The Vibes come in a small pouch I can fit in my purse or pocket and I will not leave home without them.

Here’s the link: http://www.discovervibes.com/

Please enter the voucher code jumbledbrain at checkout to receive a discount. Michelle at jumbled brain is an affiliate and today we want to offer this bonus to my readers!

I would not give such a strong recommendation if I didn’t deeply believe these could help you. No one is paying me to write this, I just so much want to help if you have the same issues with noise I’ve suffered from. For months my ear nerves were so shattered my poor kids had to remain as quiet as church mice. It was a frightening experience if I was faced with a sudden boom or holler. The pain was so intense that I actually have a touch of hearing loss in my left ear. Maybe if I had Vibes a couple years ago life would have been easier, but I’ve got them now, and I’m so thankful I do.

Much love,

Viv 💚

The Accident That Took Home My Friend Herm.

On March 7, 2010, my friend, mentor, and neighbor of eight years, Hermione Joy Wommack, was killed by a drunk driver slamming into her SUV head-on at 80 miles per hour. Reports say his blood alcohol levels were 2x over the legal limit and he was driving without a license.

Let me take you back to that day.

On March 6, 2010, I gave birth to my youngest daughter and final baby. I telephoned Herm later that day to tell her the good news and see if she could come take a peek at my new bundle of joy at the hospital. I was greatly looking forward to her visit because she and I had both recently moved miles apart and hadn’t seen each other in months. She told me she could visit the next day since it was Sunday and a bit less hectic for her. I was due to return home Monday, so I assured her Sunday was perfect and couldn’t wait to see her again.

Herm, an Argentinean high school Spanish teacher, had always been a precious friend and neighbor to me. Going through difficult times in the early days of marriage and job loss was made easier by her wisdom, counsel, and prayers. There wasn’t much I didn’t tell Herm and her presence in my life was constant.

There would be times when I would open up my front door to find bags of gifts awaiting me that she cleverly sneaked there. Generosity was always nothing but second nature to Herm.

I vividly remember watching my oldest daughter, who was three at that time, putting on the gorgeous Sunday dress Herm had given her and walking next door to show it off to Herm before church. I can still see Herm’s smile as she knelt down to admire the dress, and my daughter trotting proudly back across the lawn towards me.

Sunday evening March 7, 2010 at around dinner time, Herm came into my hospital room, and immediately took my newest baby in her arms. It was so good to see her again. She and I caught up a bit and I promised her I would come visit her at her new farm they had just bought in the country. I grabbed my digital camera and asked for a picture. She said she looked awful since her grandkids had been with her all day and they’d been gardening together. I assured her she looked great as always and began snapping away.

Herm holding my youngest just moments before her death.

I’m so glad I did. Those were the last pictures ever taken of Herm, for only an hour later she was taken to heaven.

She was on the phone counseling another friend when the drunk driver, a man named Mark Elliot, slammed his vehicle into her Honda SUV.

Her husband later told me she had the presence of mind to tell the police officer his phone number and he arrived at the scene to be with her in her final moments.

The news of Herm’s death hit me very hard. One friend tried to comfort me by telling me that Herm could have been killed before she saw me and then I would have never seen her, visited, and gotten photos of her. For years I felt guilty for asking her to visit me and experienced severe grief and remorse. Knowing Herm, she would have told me to stop.

“STOP CHICA” is what she would have said. Herm never let me wallow!

Whenever I start missing her and feeling remorse, I’m reminded that God is still in control, even in this crazy out-of-control world. He was with Herm in her final moments comforting and ministering to her. He came to her that night with His hands outstretched towards her saying, “Come Home Child”. She was driving along Leesville road that night journeying towards her true Home in heaven.

She was never alone in death. Knowing Herm, she was praying hard as her body breathed it’s last and God answered by giving her peace and everlasting happiness in heaven with Jesus her Lord.

1 Corinthians 2:9 King James Version (KJV)

9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

This verse gives me comfort knowing that right now Herm is experiencing delights unimaginable in heaven that await those who love Him.

Several years before her death, Herm shared this scripture verse with me from 2 Samuel 15:26. ‘But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.’ I’ve highlighted that verse in my bible with her name marked beside it. It encourages me to surrender to God’s will for my life and to hand over everything to Him saying, ‘here I am’. Whatever seems good to God is what’s best for me. It may not always look like it at the time but I’m trusting, as my Herm did, that He always knows what’s best. Always.

So many have been killed or severely disabled by drunk drivers. Although my brain injury is not from drunk driving, I’m still heartbroken when I find other TBI survivors (there are many) robbed of their happy lives by the carelessness and selfishness of others. It needs to STOP.

In honor of my friend Herm, please share this post with others.

Herm and my two oldest making Christmas cookies together Christmas 2008.

The article that explains the accident and sentencing of Mark Elliot.

http://www.newsadvance.com/go_dan_river/news/man-pleads-guilty-in-wreck-that-killed-campbell-county-teacher/article_818e9b0a-2f8d-5be4-9dde-d98c7886015e.html

Everyone’s Broken

Last spring when things got hard with my TBI journey, I was crying to my best friend saying, “I feel so broken!” Her response to me was, “Everyone’s broken.”

It’s amazing how God can use the honest words of a friend to wake us up.

Yet, it was not the response I was hoping for just then. I yearned for words of comfort, instead I felt like my brain injury was being undermined. Of course she didn’t mean to hurt me, it was my emotional state of brokenness at that time.

Then God did something in my thought process and heart that only He can do. He showed me that even though what she said to me came at a difficult time in my life, those two words are 100% true and I needed to hear them.

The problem with chronic pain, illness, or severe bodily injuries is that they can make a person extremely self absorbed. It’s impossible to not be so fully caught up in the pain and suffering that scream for our attention 24/7. We can’t help but forget that others we love have issues of brokenness in their lives and are just as broken. They may not be broken physically, yet in some way they’re broken emotionally or spiritually. Everyone’s broken.

In Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, she writes on how Jesus was broken first, so that we can be healed by His brokenness. She writes, ‘Could all brokenness meet in the mystery of Christ’s brokenness and givenness and become a miracle of abundance?’ I’ve often dwelled upon these beautiful words. Everyone’s broken, yet Jesus meets us in our pain and since He overcame all brokenness we are made whole by His broken body on the cross.

I’m so blessed to have a wonderful friend and sister in Christ who understands the big picture here. Her words have stayed with me and kept me from throwing myself a huge pity party or turning into “Debbie Downer” on tougher days of dizziness, nausea, pain, fatigue etc. and staying there. I still struggle with negative thinking, but those two words keep reminding me, that even though there’s a big, sad world of suffering, there’s a bigger God who meets us in our suffering and brokenness and gives us hope to keep fighting.

Keep smiling

“Why can’t I smile?” This is the question I asked my doctor late last year thinking she would have a medical explanation. I supposed that the reason was just facial muscles or something.

When doing tests on me early in the process, she discovered I was not able to properly raise my eyebrows due to cranial nerves that control my forehead being impaired. I’d try to raise them but they wouldn’t go up, just kind of flickered up and down like a person doing google eyes at someone. It was one of the first indications she had that there was a problem…..a big problem.

Months into my challenging journey, I literally couldn’t smile. I looked like an exhausted four-year-old at Disneyland who’s had enough of pictures and is just smiling with their teeth and not their whole face. I couldn’t smile because…

A smile comes from within. It’s not something intense suffering produces. I couldn’t! Yes, I could show my teeth but my eyes stayed hollow and the sparkle was gone.

I thought maybe, just maybe my smile muscles weren’t working and my doctor needed to know this but really it was my emotional muscles that were broken. Not physical.

On some of my most difficult TBI days, my beautiful daughter would walk through the room and flash me her dazzling smile, lighting up my soul with rays of hope.

She said nothing.

But she smiled!

Her smile cheered me on. It was her way of saying “I love you mom, keep fighting, you’re doing good!”

Those smiles cost nothing but were everything to me.

They reflected God’s love.

I knew then, I was indeed going to be okay. I could feel His smile through her.

In a world of frowns…we as believers in Jesus can smile. It’s a powerful way of witnessing as to where our joy comes from. Our joy comes not from outward circumstances but from knowing His love, hope and peace.

A few months ago, I told the receptionist at my doctor’s office how much I appreciate her sweet smile every time I’m being checked in. It gives me something to look forward to and she has such a sweetness in her face that makes me smile back and fills my day with hopeful gladness.

Every time I see a stranger I give them a smile…and you know what? They always smile back and then the room fills with an atmosphere of light, love and happiness.

I don’t remember when I didn’t feel pain in my head and it’s not easy to keep smiling, but I still force myself to smile, through the pain. I smile so my family feels happier. I smile because God is so good. I smile because I’m grateful and learning to find happiness in the little things. I smile because I’m happy!

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing today, smile and spread the light, joy and happiness of God to everyone you meet. It just may happen to be the only smile they receive today. It could be they needed that smile more than you can ever possibly know.

My beautiful girl flashing her sweet smile

Meeting goals

A year and a half ago, I stopped taking showers. Now I know that sounds terrible, but let me assure you I do bathe, just in the form of baths, not showers.

The reason being, my nervous system has gone into a parasympathetic state and the stimulation of shower spray on my head and body has been unbearable.

I’m reminded of the verse, “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14a) I understand fully what the “fearfully made” statement means now with regards to the nervous system. Once that goes kaput things do get a bit fearful.

God has recently brought a new friend into my life named Emily, who is a survivor of a massive stroke causing severe brain injury. She has been such a huge supporter and we share our goals and dreams together as TBI warriors. I’m truly thankful for her courage and faith in facing the battles of daily life we face regularly.

The other week I related to her my goal of wanting to try taking showers again and she wholeheartedly encouraged me to give it a try and to not be afraid. It was a goal I had set and I was determined to at least try. Just telling her my goal and knowing she was behind me, gave me more courage and incentive to go for it.

But the biggest battle I was facing was my own fear. The fear of “what if”. What if I slip from my balance issues. What if I have a anxiety attack. What if I shatter my poor nerves again and on and on.

Fear is an anchor. It weighs down and keeps us still; it cements us, keeping our feet grounded and unable to move forward.

I decided to give it to God and carefully proceed forward with caution of course.

That morning after I got everything ready, and turned on the shower, I felt my courage rise up as I slowly got going and faced this challenge straight on. I let the water gradually spray my hands, then my arms and finally, slowly I put my full body in letting the warm water rush over my spine.

It wasn’t so bad. Yes, it was different and my spine felt the weird motor feeling I feel in it (sorry, I don’t know how else to describe this) but I allowed my body to slowly get used to the new sensation. I didn’t put my head under the spray yet but that will come and even though it was a small step, the giant leap was facing my fears and challenging myself to try things that were once common but now feel like a lifetime ago and uncertain.

Emily and I both cried tears of joy as I shared my small victory with her that day. While I further related my victory to others in our brain injury group, I received a overwhelming positive response while learning of others who have had the same shower issues like myself. One man said he needed occupational therapy before being able to shower again with ease.

It’s such a gift from God to get support especially when to the average person taking a shower’s no big deal. God has been so kind in leading me to others who can cheer me on especially when I need a good cheering.

Making goals and aiming for them can be a huge accomplishment no matter how big or small. Everyone needs goals because it’s setting goals that help us persevere, grow and stretch. Even if we fail or come short, not setting goals or trying is the bigger failure and we can’t give up.

I do think God sets goals too. He sees us the way He wants us to grow and mature in Him and puts us into circumstances that shape us more like Himself for His kingdom and for our good. From the beginning of time, His biggest goal was overcoming sin by sending Jesus to die in our place so we can have everlasting life. I’m tremendously glad Jesus met that goal! Jesus met every goal he faced because God the Father was with him every step of the way.

He’s with us too. God gave me strength last week to turn on the shower and get in. He’s given countless others with brain injury or health problems strength and courage to get up out of the bed to face what comes, and by His grace to set goals, face obstacles, and overcome challenges each and every day.

What are your goals? I’d love to hear them. If you wish, leave me a comment and I will gladly pray for you to meet your goals.~

A Time To Heal

About one year ago, I went to an eye specialist because of the extreme light sensitivity and pressure in my eyes. After examining my eyes and conducting numerous tests he concluded they were healthy but I was in need of special lenses for the glare and light sensitivities. He also told me from his experience with brain injury that it would take a “long time” for my brain to heal. He said this with big eyes to add emphasis to his words.

I could only think at that moment, “I hope he’s wrong!” I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it.

Who has time to heal nowadays? I certainly don’t. There’s too much to do with four kids, a home to run, and every day life with all it’s constant demands. Having an impatient nature and a type A personality wasn’t helping matters either. Yet….

The brain heals slowly.

I’ve dedicated hours of researching and reading information about brain injury and the time required for it to heal. Most doctors say 12-24 months but did my brain get that memo? Some may take years upon years to heal like Jennifer Barrick who is still healing 10 years after her horrible car wreck. She has made huge progress but still requires lots of TLC and therapy for her injury. Also, Michelle Munt from the UK who is still healing three years after her accident that required airlifting to the Royal London Hospital in England, with a serious injury most people don’t recover from. She still suffers from many symptoms daily.

No two brain injuries are like. Because of the complexity of the human brain and the fine tuning required for the neurons to heal, some will heal faster than others.

It’s seems to me in our fast paced society that we AREN’T accustomed to allowing our bodies time to heal. We want bandaids and quick shots of this or that.

The beauty of God’s word says there is a season and a TIME for every purpose under the sun….later it says A Time To Heal. God wants us to know that He has created us fearfully and wonderfully in His own image. We are His works of art, and His masterpiece. Our bodies are beautifully designed to heal. Healing is a gift to us. God says in His word, there IS a time to heal. Sadly, we don’t want to take the time to heal because we don’t want healing to take time.

Some brain inuries may take decades to heal or even a lifetime. Some may only heal to a point.

I struggle with thoughts like, “Am I going to heal? Will I be back to my old self again? I will never be the same.”

I have to give it over to God constantly. It’s too hard to try to glimpse into my perceived scenarios of the future. I must take one day at a time. When I give my worries over to the Lord, it gives me a sense of peace. I can envision a cardboard sign with each and every fear I feel written on it, sitting at the foot of the cross where Jesus calls me to cast my burdens.

Trusting in God’s perfect timing is my hope.

Psalm 31:15 says; My times are in thy hand..

That verse is so freeing to me because my healing and the time my body needs to heal aren’t up to me, but to God. There are plenty of things I can do to enhance my healing but really, it’s in His hands. He wants me to work at eating right, rest, get loads of sunshine, take my supplements, keep my appointments, etc. But actually, He is the one blessing those means which my body is using to recover. He wants me to trust Him and rest in His perfect timing for my brain to heal.

Will my family and friends be around after I’m healed? Some will. Some have already drifted away. Yet Jesus will be here because He will stay by my side during the process and be faithful to complete in me the good work He’s already begun. I’m trusting as far as timing goes that my times and healing are all in His magnificent and wonderful hands.