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The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

through a loving story of a friendship between a newly wounded soldier

and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

blog during my first year in bed after my incident. With much

encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

on the About page to learn for the Soldier & Rocky are changing children's

lives.

 

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Friday
May182018

Wounds of Santa Fe - A Mother’s Reflection on Fear 

As the mother of a high school student advocate for change in safety standards within our schools with nerves of steel and complete and total refusal to be restricted by the ire bullies bring,  I sit today wrestling with unbridled heartbreak at the 22nd school shooting to occur in our country this year alone, and vulnerably ask other mothers - has this excruciating wave caused you to consider home schooling?  Is this a weakness we may bend to, or is this a brave and empowering option? We homeschool our youngest as this practice is necessary to fit her learning style, with the intention of her returning to public school once she is able. But at this point, my maternal instincts are tearing me apart as to what could or should be a decision or response relative to the threat? 

 

As a 70’s child, I feel physically ill, that our children will never know that feeling of freedom and safety. 

 

I often wonder if the internet and social media has truly been gasoline on the proverbial fire that has historically threaded the high school experience. Gun control is one thing, Mental Illness is another, at times they combine. These Mixed with social toxicity is the perfect storm it seems we find ourselves watching while in denial that embers travel. 

 

To what degree is our fear vindicated by refusing to disturb the status quo? Keeping our children in a fishbowl at the carnival so a roque can claim his prize. 

 

Upon my return from NYC in April with our youngest for her 13th birthday, a ritual we have celebrated with each of our four children through the years (this one being our last) a lovely flight attendant, who lives near our town, and I struck a confidence and bonded over the current state of our schools and our children’s safety, my daughter Cassie’s part (14 at the time) in charging forward with her peers in leading a movement for change. Only upon decent did she share quietly that the pilot of our flight lost his 14 year old daughter to Parkland. As we landed, the father, no longer a pilot in my eyes you traditionally want to thank for a safe arrival, exited the cockpit. This was the first time in my life that loss was larger than any life, and the life that was his was gone. A beautiful human being vacant in grief, a ghost wandering to find his soul. Because that is what our children become. Our soul.  I wanted to scream for him, dig into the freshly layered soil above his self so oxygen could reach his lungs. Then he was gone. The wounds so freshly carved left a trail my site could not contain. 

 

With 22 shootings this year alone, 12 dead today and 10 injured in Santa Fe, TX today, who is to say our fears are invalid or incomparable to the possibility ours could be next? Golden Valley, Valencia High and others have already received numerous investigated threats. 

 

In looking at the beautiful young lives, each a perfect reflection of who could easily be mistaken for our now 15 year old and her friends; The long hair and porcelain faces of a generation of girls aching to recreate the aesthetic of a gentler time with voices launching to thread the canvas of a status quo. These images strike with the unbridled optimism and confidence of a generation so acutely aware of the crosshairs painted in invisible ink. The ones adults too often refuse to see in the dark. Because then they would be real. 

 

I think I have finally seen them. The crosshairs. Because I’m just so tired of aging the light to where we are expected to focus. It is this that frightened me most of all. 

 

 

Sunday
Apr292018

Tips for Traveling After Spine Surgery

Tips for Traveling after Spine Surgery!

 

A friend just asked for some advice as she will be traveling to Hawaii with her family after a spine surgery. These are my thoughts after having lived & learned!

 

🌺Call the airline prior to departure and let them know you’ll need early boarding due to your condition. 

 

🌺If you have a long layover somewhere, request access (may need to purchase entry) to the airline’s lounge so you can lay down if needed. 

 

🌺You can request that an airline employee meet you at check-in with a wheelchair to escort you to the gate and on-board so you don’t have to walk. I’d suggest an aisle seat closer to the lavatory so you can more easily access the restroom when needed. 

 

🌺Let the airline also know prior - to that in case of an emergency you may need assistance exiting the plane. Be sure to let them know if you can manage a flight of 8-10 stairs without assistance. If not, they will need to know to have a wheelchair and lift ready for you upon arrival. Especially in Hawaii as many exit the plane via a stairway. 

 

🌺 At the hotel, request a room closer to the elevator to prevent unnecessary walking. (Exercise is one thing, Pain is another!)

 

🌺If you’re post-op, you may not be able or willing to go to lunches/dinners as easily if you’re having a tough time. I always request a mini fridge when traveling and stock it w milk, vino 😉 and food. Plus it saves a ton of money when the kids want cereal at midnight! 

 

🌺Sitting for long periods is going to be difficult. I bring at least 2 squishy pillows (not a brand, just pillows that are firm yet squishy. Not really feather pillows, more of mashable tempurpedic typ so it can contort and still support)  with me so I can adjust positions to make myself comfortable in the airplane seat and during travel in general, even in the car! You can curl your knees up and cushion the armrest for them, or pad the window area etc. One for your head, or neck, lumbar and or knees. 

 

🌺Prescription Lidoderm Patches help a lot in distributing subdermal lidocaine to help anesthetize the area. 

 

🌺Drink a TON of water. Your spine depends on being hydrated to heal and traveling sucks it right out of you. 

 

🌺Make sure any lounge chairs you use lean back at least 45 degrees and beware of the classic long chairs with hinged recline! These put an extreme amount of pressure on your spine. This is when the pillows come in! I keep a squishy type pillow with me everywhere I go. No shame here! It can also be a great lumbar support even at dinner!

 

🌺When laying on your side (the beach or in bed) place a folded pillow under your waist to lift it from the bed / ground to align your properly releasing pressure, and one between your knees. At night use at least 2-3 pillows under your head when sleeping. This will again level your spine while releasing pressure on the cervical spine’s nerves exiting to your arms. Note to self, you may never want to sleep another way again 😉 

 

🌺When site seeing in a car, always keep a folding beach chair that reclines with you at all times with a pillow and blanket or towel). This way you can Stop no matter where you are and participate but also take care of your spine and your pain levels. Reclining with lumbar support is key. 

 

🌺Pack a heating pad with you and have a pack of frozen peas available for use at night if possible. 

 

🌺Through trial and error I finally found the perfect sneaker with best arch support ever that even made a massive difference in easing my gate in physical therapy, the Nike Pegasus. (Dang wish I could get paid for this endorsement!🤓). When traveling, shoes are more important than anything else you could possibly wear when recovering from spine surgery. 

 

🌺 Wear a Velcro based back brace at all times (unless you’re just wantin’ to be sexy). This makes a world of difference that you’ll notice as soon as you take it off. The most important part of the body in charge of spine support is your core!!!! I don’t have enough exclamation points! When learning to walk again, it’s my stomach muscles that hurt so much afterward, more than my legs! Anything you can do to strengthen, tighten this region is IT!

 

🌺On the health end of things, here’s the deal. 90% of pain is INFLAMMATION. Sugar and alcohol are like pouring gasoline on a fire. Think about this when traveling. It’s so easy to want to embibe, just be aware of the cost when post-op or otherwise. 

 

🌺But most of all, don’t be a hero or a martyr. Us Moms are the worst! We don’t want to get in the way of our kids’ fun etc on a vacation, but remember you just had MAJOR surgery. I don’t care what they say, anytime they go into our spine, which is literally connected to every other part of our body, it’s a huge deal and recovery can be a beast. Like they say, oxygen goes to Mommy first! Think of your spine as another child. She’s scared and timid and in pain so taking care of it is being a good Mama! The more You accept that it’s ok to comfort yourself during this time, the faster you’ll heal and decrease the chances of hurting yourself further along the way. Even just sitting on your tailbone the wrong way for too long can send you into spasm.  

 

I hope this helps anyone heading out on a fantastic journey! Enjoy! 🦋

 

#accessibletravel #ada #ontgeroadsgain #postoptravel #backpain #spinesurgery #spinerecovery Spine-health DISC Sports & Spine Center

Wednesday
Mar212018

STEM CELL TRANSPLANT RECOVERY Month 8

A funny thing happens during the 6th-8th month of this rollercoaster that is a Stem Cell Transplant recovery, and having spoken to others I am discovering I am not alone. The last two months became kind of a black hole, a padded room, an island without communication to the outside world. Ok, not quite, but something happened where all of a sudden my recovery became so intense, the labor of physical therapy so exhausting and the status of my progress progressing yet uncertain, that my mind could not wrap around updating something I couldn’t understand myself. Sound crazy? Sure felt that way. A span of incredible days where I was Wonder Woman flipped on its head to excruciating setbacks where I wondered if I had messed it all up for good. Going from a sense of fierce independence to treading on eggshells and knocking on wood at every flash of accomplishment. Finally, at 8 1/2 months (knock on wood) I have reached a tipping point, finally leaning into a life and possibilities I could have only dreamed of before. My first steps teetering on legs firing on cylinders renewed via some extended warranty. I step with rusty, wobbling joints with muscles a mix of roast beef and jello, together in a union for a common goal. My knees finally lifting my toes off the floor but with what feels like bags of cement tied to my toes, a stuttering scenario but so beautiful I ache in disbelief. It is happening. I am learning to walk all over again. I can stand at my sink and take some steps on my own. Our goal is to continue to stretch the amount of time my spine can manage the pressures and challenges of this new mobility, mechanical issues that will take time to see if walking full time can be possible again.  But to stand up and hug my husband, our children, my mother on Christmas Day, I look back on how much I took for granted in a hug. The mere ability to feel another heartbeat and never want to let go again. 

So here is this journey so far, ongoing but at the most beautiful place atop a mountain where for the first time I can see both sides and each face of all that was and that this can be. This video is the planting of a flag to say, I was here, one for others to know it’s a place anyone could be. 

Dr. Todd Malan, Stem Cell Therapyy #arachnoiditisArachnoiditissArachnoiditis SocietyyArachnoiditis USAALife With ArachnoiditissCRPSS #crps 

 

(I have never been compensated for mentioning doctors. If you ever see ‘Sponsored’ on any post it is due to a Boost increasing awareness of topics covered on our journey).

 

Background Info:

I am 47, a wife of a rock and mother of four two-legged people and three four-legged people. I was initially injured in a accident in my driveway when the corner of the electric tailgate of my car lodged itself in the temple of my skull as I stood up quickly when unloading groceries. This inverted my cervical spine also causing CRPS of the spine as well as Arachnoiditis (two of the most painful conditions in the world above childbirth and phantom limb). My accident resulted in over 20+ surgeries and procedures, a wheelchair, and 6 years in bed 80-90% of the time. Flares of spinal contractions lasting from weeks to months occurred every 15-20 minutes around the clock(Bring in those tiny violins!) 

 

As of June 28, 2017 I underwent a unique Stem Cell Transplant trial and am in that recovery phase, one that has saved my life and offered me whole new one.

 

 Our type of injury is like suffering the death of who we were and what we knew in our hearts our life would become. It's a long process as we know and are finding out. I appreciate your acceptance and look forward to growing along with everyone here. If I discuss SCT, it will never be to try to convince anyone, only that it is a part of my personal Recovery and a multi-disciplinary approach is essential to any protocol we endure.

Sunday
Dec242017

The Untouchability of a Stranger Thing

The Untouchability of a Stranger Things

 

If you are of the “tween” set, or parents-of, you would have to have lived under a rock not to have heard of the NETFLIX hit, Stranger Things. One of its young breakthrough stars from its ensemble is Finn Wolfhard, a dark haired fresh-faced newly knighted prince of today’s emerging Hollywood royalty.

 

Our daughter is the bullseye of Finn’s target market. She is 12 years old and has watched both seasons of Stranger Things to the point of lip syncing both seasons and figured out its theme song on the piano - a repetitive flurry of fingers each time she passes its keyboard. Many of her Christmas presents this year are Finn-themed and her greatest hope is to meet him in person someday. Or, at least breathe the same air.  Of all things Finn, the biggest draw for our girl was discovering that he actually had a band named Calpurnia. A friend of hers heard something about a Los Angeles performance.  

 

Our girl is not alone. Millions of young people seem to have contracted this sort of Finn-itis, a gradual inflammation of the heart caused by the mere site or mention of Finn’s name. Our home just happens to feel as though we could very possibly be, ground zero. As this ever-expanding patient population grows, millions more parents watch helplessly as their children wish upon this star to somehow, some way, point in their direction, and even more parents are trying anything they can to make this happen.  

 

I Google for fan conventions or celebrity appearances for the cast of Stranger Things. We live in Los Angeles, who knows, right? Nothing comes up. It is Christmas, I remind myself. The schedules for next year’s Comicon etc. probably aren’t even finalized. Then I remember Finn’s band. A few more Googles leads me to its name I had mistakingly remembered as Cornucopia. Calpurnia, evidently, was the name of Julius Caesar’s third wife as well as a genus for ‘a noble family’.  Thank you, Internet. 

 

Again, my search results in nothing. Trying another zip code, the idealism of a few hours of driving with my daughter strikes a tone. We could bond, she will tell me secrets and we will laugh.  That is why we do these things, right? Moms, we try.  We try so hard to create that memory, that moment our child will forever hold as the time I met my mom. 

 

I see it. Calpurnia is playing in New York. Three thousand miles away, the fantasy of being the type of people who could whisk their child across the country for one special night quickly clicks to reality as the right column fills the screen. As if the inability to buy plane tickets wasn’t enough, 

the cost per-ticket for a General Admission is $600. 

 

I understand ticket pricing is traditionally based upon supply and demand - there is but one Finn Wolfhard, and millions in demand. For a talented young man at what may be his peak, with a management team most likely accounting for the uncertainty of the industry regarding a young actor’s longevity, I can understand wanting to strike while the iron’s hot. But as a mother of four, it is yet another reminder of how out of reach our children’s idols of the day can make seem especially during a time when families are struggling and the future uncertain, even in our dreams. 

 

Even if we lived in New York, the cost for us to take our daughter and a friend to see Finn’s band would be more than half the equivalent of her teacher’s net monthly income. 

 

 

I am not exactly sure why I decided to put down, type up and post the gymnastics of my mind. Perhaps it is simply venting, or most likely just me being a mom at Christmastime wondering how the world keeps seeming to slip its roots. How did something that should be accessible for such a young fan base become this untouchable implausibility? For now, I will wrap for her the art-poster from Etsy with Finn and his friends on their bikes, an ironic image of relatability in this world of ever stranger things.

Monday
Sep042017

DAY 66 Stem Cell Transplant Recovery Learning to Stand

This video includes physical therapy exercises essential for strengthening the specific muscles necessary for standing. It also includes the first time I have been able to stand since being in a wheelchair. I hope this is helpful to anyone in my situation, but please remember, I am not a physician and was prescribed this treatment protocol by my doctor. Never attempt without clearance from your physician, and do not attempt Standing without a second person present to hold your waistband and support with their arm around your waist. I have reached this point by building my muscles with isometric exercises every day to reach this point. Do not rush your progress. This is not a sprint, it's a marathon as the wise woman said🤓 Thank you for taking the time to watch. Please feel free to share!🤸🏼‍♀️ 

Sunday
Aug202017

DAY 54 Stem Cell Transplant Recovery - Back to the Gym

DAY 54 Stem Cell Transplant Recovery - Blue Belle and I Went 'Back' to the Gym!

 

I am not a physician and attend PT under an official Physical Therapist. This is an exercise pre-approved and one I take very slowly and carefully. I purposefully did not state how long I stayed on the machine because every body is relative and the only thing that matters is that we all move forward at our own pace while carefully monitoring our personal well-being. Pain is not progress! Thanks for watching!

 

Feel free to share! 

 

Love,

 

Mic & Blue

 

#stemcells #stemcelltransplantrecovery #stemcellrecovery #exerciseafterstemcells Dr. Todd Malan, Stem Cell Therapy

 

 

Tuesday
Aug082017

Day 41 Stem Cell Transplant Recovery - Ozone Infusion

Tuesday
Aug082017

Day 39 Stem Cell Transplant Recovery - Travel Crash & Burn

Tuesday
Aug012017

DAY 34 Stem Cell Transplant Recovery - Cleaning House

Tuesday
Aug012017

DAY 30 Stem Cell Transplant Recovery- The Beach