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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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Thursday
Feb202014

The Special

We all have that moment when you read an update on Facebook that incites a response. You feel charged to leave a comment. Commenting is for moments of brilliance. But you stop - because you begin to scroll down the Comment box and realize how not-special your comment would seem. A littered trail of avatars have not only expressed your exact thought, they have expressed it with a wit reminiscent of David Sedaris.

Your feathers fall and you retreat to the newsfeed crawl wondering if you should ever be so bold as to comment again, feeling that your 'brilliance' was maybe not so brilliant at all. You begin to question how unique you really are.

When I was seven years old, my mother sat me down in my room and gave me 'the talk'. Not about birds and bees. But more about peacocks and hummingbirds.
She told me I was I special. I was going to do amazing, magical things in this lifetime. I had a purpose. There was a reason for my existence. She couldn't wait to see what it would be. She said I was, special.

So I waited.

And waited.

For the special.

Then I had children of my own and it hit me. My mother loved her children so much that she couldn't help but assume that the rest of the world would too. How could they not see what she saw?

Life has been a journey with roads turned onto themselves, at times crushing my soul like freeways collapsed into a white meat sandwich. Let's just say the only special I've felt is the fact I have survived it at all.

I was promised gold, I just didn't know I'd have to dig for it. To find how I just might leave some kind of mark on this world. Some type of proof that I was here. That I mattered.

This is difficult to do when you grow up and realize that every person on this planet is attempting to discover the exact same thing. It is as though we are all in a race we never signed up for. It's the amazing race for the equally amazing.

I tried everything to find my sweet spot in life. From studying the Bible to dating a healer. Practicing Indian spirituality to following rabbits down little black holes. But my special still evaded my search.

Then came my accident. The surgeries. The wheelchair. My body is broken. I am no longer able to force a life down my throat. Yet here is where I have begun to sense that meaning cannot be manufactured. Purpose cannot be planned. And that these can only be realized in a light so pure they could only have been sent by God.

The mistake I made, was assuming I would discover my special by actively seeking it out. When all I had to do was be stripped to the barest of bone to see the answer lived right inside of me. The key is not to worry about whether we shine in the eyes of others, but that we live each moment for only God to see.

Monday
Feb172014

The Change

Three hours of sleep. A throat wrecked by hacking coughs of chiseled lung. Hot eyes with tears unlike the ones I've shed for fourteen days. This is the one time in my life when bronchitis is refreshing.

The last two weeks have been a blur. The loss of a sister-friend will do that to you; it is an amputation of the soul. It is losing a part of yourself that defined who you were and who you wished you could become.

I am beginning to feel the calm between the heaves. When heartache succumbs to the amnesia of time. There are actually moments now and then when I forget that life is not complete. One of my children will cry or or the dogs will bark. The randomness of life shuffles death to the side where it lurks in wait for me to glance at her picture on my shelf. Or for when I search for earrings and come across the necklace she made for me with tiny beads. In a morse code it says, 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' I reflect on how she was the change this world needed to see. And how I need to focus on becoming the friend she was, that made me feel complete.


Friday
Feb142014

Daskalos Who?

"Fame is a trap in our spiritual path." Daskalos

During my health challenge, one of my tools for managing the enormity of my life transition has been to reconnect with my connection to God. What do I truly believe? What is faith to me, really? How is does faith correlate to healing? Is my disability truly a predestined arrangement for my spiritual growth and why?

With the death of my dearest friend Lou last week, came the plunge into the spiritual teachings of Daskalos. Lou and I have been infused in each others lives for twenty years. But never more so than the past five. With Lou's cancer and chemo, and my accident and surgeries, we exchanged patient-caretaker modes like girls exchange thoughts. It was a given. An unspoken absolute that no other sister could fill that place in our lives. Of holding the others head above the toilet. Changing bandages and wiping tears.

One of the ways we differed, was Lou would read to me about her spiritual journey. She had recently discovered Daskalos and her excitement was overflowing. She rocked in the chair beside my bed and read for an hour at a time from various books by Markides on this incredible philosophy mixture of Christianity and Indian spirituality. But in my haze of pain and medication, it was her voice that soothed me more than the words that seemed to blur together in the air before they landed on my cheek.

So now, it is my mission, to learn all she wanted me to hear. Before she passed, the one thing I did catch, was that the teachings of Daskalos absolutely prepared her for the afterlife. That was all I needed to hear.

Daskalos is not really his name. It is a commonly used term in Greece for schoolmaster or teacher. And when you hear of Strovolos in relation to him, this is the area he lived in in Cyprus. For instance, the book I am starting with is called The Magus of Strovolos by Kyriacos C. Markides. Magus means priest or teacher, of Strovolos.

Daskalos said, "Our mission in life is to be of service to our fellow man. The harvest is bountiful, but few are the harvesters." It was his hope that his teachings (he actually never took credit for his teachings but attributed them to Jesus's disciple John) would be used to create 'a beautiful world in which man could live in peace and harmony. The teachings are based on a combination of Christian beliefs and Indian philosophies. He saw so much savagery and injustice in the world and the collapse of morality.

The first discussion Markides had with Daskalos was about out-of-body experiences. Their first discussions also ventured into reincarnation. He learned that when Daskalos and his student went out-of-body, it was always to 'be of service' to mankind in one way or another.

There is no nationality, religion or race attached to the service intended by Daskalos in his teachings and service to others. But how does one experience out-of-body? Daskalos explains that we don't just have one body, but rather three bodies. (Now that's a deal.) We have our 'gross material body' which is our flesh and bone, a 'psychic body', which is the body of sentiments, and a 'noetic body' which expresses our mental state. A further explanation left my brain in knots. But suffice it to say, we have three consciousnesses (that's a lot of esses).

You still with me?

When one leaves his body, it leaves the 'gross material' body behind and ventures out with its 'psycho-noetic' body, which is why they can return to their physical being aware of where they had been and what they did when they were out-of-body.

The real kicker is, there is an energy force that connects all three of these bodies together. It is called the 'etheric double'. Somewhere in this is the energy that is affected and used that results in ritualistic healings. Some say it is energy absorbed by the body through our chakras, and is the energy scientists have yet to discover.

Out-of-body experiences, reincarnation, etc., are things people rarely spoke of in public until the last thirty years or so. With this spiritual awakening in the western world, minds are more open and largely less likely to judge these concepts right away. People are more curious than ever before, with an aching to discover new truths.

One of the most influential followers of Daskalos is/was (not sure if he's passed, will have to Google that one) Kyriacos Markides. He's a sociologist who returned to his homeland of Cyprus in the 1980's where Daskalos (in his sixties) lived in Strovolos and began to study his teachings to write a book. Markides knew the only way to truly learn and absorb this new spiritual reality would be to submerge himself completely as a disciple.

This is just the beginning of my studies of Daskalos and the writings of Markides. There is so much to his teachings, this was just a dipping of my toe into the waters. Wish me luck! And please if you'd like to follow me on this journey and comment, discussion is always fruitful.


Thursday
Feb132014

The Music Box

I stood in front of my grandfather's dresser. Grabbing the corners of its top, I hung my head low. I could not let go of the image of Cabernet snow with fixed hair still clinging to shattered bone. The outline of my grandfather' body still pressed into the white like an abandoned crime scene.

My grandfather lived too many lives for one man. He was a man's man with a lumberjack build. Vermont ran through his veins like syrup from a tree. There had been talk that the farm was too big for him to manage alone any longer. With my grandmother's stroke and living in a facility, forty acres of gentlemen's land and a house he built with his hands, it was all too much. At eighty-four, the thought of his life chipped away to one room with Bingo at 5 o' clock was too much for him to bare. So, went out on his own terms outside his office door where the screen slammed against its frame for one final time.

My oldest daughter was six months old. My only reprieve from grief was into her breath. The rest of the hours were spent going through my grandparents' belongings and reminisce. But the one thought that stalked my mind was whether or not Grandpa was ok. Was he finally at peace?

Growing up Catholic leaves one with many concerns. One of the greatest sins in the church is to take your own life. It only results in purgatory or an eternity in damnation.

I had never lost someone I loved. My grandfather was a father to me as my brother and I spent every summer on their farm.

The previous few days had been a rolling tide of tears. Then calm would set in, and we would laugh at a thought that passed too quickly through the air. At times we all swore we felt my grandfather in the room. A thickening of the air. I found myself lost, wandering from room to room. Then I stopped in front of the glass cabinet where Grammy had kept her china. Next to the plates was a music box. I slid the glass and gently held the box in my hands. It wasn't actually a box. It was solid wood with a rounded base painted in blue with white stars around its side. On top was a table that turned when it played. A Christmas tree stood in the middle, with little wooden angels dancing around the edge. I fell in love it and asked my mother if she would mind if I brought it home for my children. She said of course, and that it was the most meaningful gift Grammy had ever received. It was from dear friends who had gone to Germany and brought it home for her. But it was broken. It had been broken for over thirty years. But Grammy loved it so much that she kept it in the china cabinet for all to see.

I set the music box on top of my grandfather's tall dresser in his room where my mother and I were sleeping. I closed my eyes with hands wrapped around the base of the box and prayed with all of my heart to my grandfather to please, please let me know he was ok. To please make this music box play, because it was so broken, there could be no other possible explanation other than it was him. I even tried the crank and all it did was clunk. I prayed so deeply tears welled in my eyes and my face filled with the pressure of will. But nothing happened.

---

The casket was closed at the wake. Loved ones filled the parlor, but the only one I could talk to was God. A slit of light peeked through a door to a vacant room where I sat in numb isolation, confronting Him. My pleas to accept my grandfather through the gates of Heaven fell into tissues stained with regret; That I hadn't called enough. That my life as a new mother on the west coast took precedent over communicating with this beautiful man who taught me so much about life. I asked for a sign. Just something, anything, just to let me know my grandfather was ok.

We arrived home with dragging spirits and crawled into our beds. My mother slept on Grandpa's side and I laid where my Grammy would fall asleep to Johnny Carson and her tiny black and white television on her dresser next to perfume bottles and bobby pins untouched by time. We slept.

At one in the morning I awoke to the most wondrous sound. Startled. I jolted up in bed. The music box was playing the most beautiful music I had ever heard. It was him. Grandpa was there. He was making it play. I shook my mother to wake. We heard it. We cried. We knew.

The music played its song two complete times all the way through. Every chime was perfect, as though orchestrated by angels. Every note filled the room. As I stared into the darkness, a silhouette of a crowd of people walking toward a light played before me like a film. The air was so alive the cells in my body raged with belief, with faith, and the knowing that I will never question again if life goes on.

The family's priest came to visit the next day. We shared Grandpa's visit with him. In my humming of the tune it played, he told us the song was a sacred hymn sung in honor of the blessed mother Mary. We hung our heads and prayed.

The music box is tucked away. It has not played a single note since. Not that I haven't tried, or turned the crank only to be answered by a clunk. But one thing is for sure, the music box was truly the most meaningful gift to ever be received.

Listen to 'The Music Box' http://www.cdbaby.com/m/cd/micaelabensko2

Tuesday
Feb112014

The Hummingbirds Are Born

Our children befriended a wild hummingbird. Over time, she laid two tiny eggs that eventually hatched. Here is our street's little miracle.

Lola Has Her Babies from Micaela Bensko on Vimeo.

Monday
Feb102014

Exerpt From 'That's A Wrap' By Lou Gideon

My best friend, Lou Gideon, passed away last week after a battle with breast cancer. In processing this loss, I have found myself searching through old emails, grasping with all of my heart for lost moments with the sister I never had, who has now become the angel I will never know - until it's my turn to reach the sky.
Lou wrote a wonderful book she produced independently with how-to's regarding exquisite head-wraps with beautiful fabrics. But the best part of the book was when she simply wrote from her heart about the very human experience of battling cancer.

Here is a small taste of the Lou that altered everyone's life she touched. She was Jesus in a skirt. Our friend Marla coined the phrase WWLD. What would Lou do? I ask myself this question too many times a day.

Excerpt from That's A Wrap, complete with almond milk recipe ;0):

I’ll admit it: before I developed cancer, I was always concerned with trying to lose a few pounds. Always. I once read that Dolly Parton said she could “go into a restaurant skinny and come out fat.” That was me—one meal away from Tubsville, with a waistline that could expand faster than a bag of Orville Redenbacher in a whirring microwave.

Oh, I never really had a period in my life where I was anywhere near what a doctor would label “obese.” But does a doctor’s opinion really hold any weight (pardon the pun) when it comes to looking good in a pair of skinny-jeans? I ask this because, from my experience, it seems to me that doctors actually prefer that we tip the scales at about five to ten pounds heavier than “sexy.” You know what I’m talking about; those few extra pounds that constantly tempt us to ask our mates, “Do I look fat in this?” which usually elicits either the all-too casually tossed “no,” or even worse, the ever-dreaded “you look fine.” Translation – “Gad, your butt is enormous,” because anything less than the equivalent of “hot dang, woman!” makes us feel downright frumpy. Am I right?

So in my ongoing quest for svelte, I often chose foods that valued “thin” over “healthy.” Diet Dr. Pepper? Bring it on! That third cup of coffee? Let’s see – lots of energy for only a few calories... pour away! A fat-reduced frozen entrée for lunch? It’s got little clumps of broccoli underneath the orangey-looking cheese on the cover-photo. Go for it!

It naturally follows, then, that when I was diagnosed with cancer, the thought occurred to me—and I’m really revealing my “shallow factor” here—that at least I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to lose those “freshman ten” anymore (which, over time, had morphed into the menopause ten, but the first one sounds so much zippier, don’t you think?), because women with cancer were thin, right? At least, they were in the movies.

So just imagine my shock when I asked my oncology nurse how much weight the average chemo-patient loses, and she murmured, “Oh, I’d say it’s a ten to twenty pound change. But it’s normally a weight gain. Not a loss.”

What? A gain? But what about all those Lifetime stories where the heroine might be bald and whose dark circles would rival the black anti-reflective patches worn by any Dallas Cowboy on game-day, but hey—her silhouette looked runway-ready! What about her?

Oh, now, don’t judge me here, as I was only hoping to find a silver lining in the rapidly approaching chemo-clouds. But instead, what I got was an extra-harsh jolt of turbulence. Now I could look forward to both cancer and to packing-on the pounds. This was really beginning to suck eggs.

And all to soon, I found that she was right. With the vast amount of chemicals causing radical changes to my body, along with growing fatigue, emotional stress and the fact that my taste buds were so skewed they only found foods either terribly sweet or carb-laden to be acceptable, it was indeed, a challenge to maintain my normal weight during my four months of chemo.

But surprisingly enough, as I emerged from that turbulence, battered and bruised, I found myself looking at what soon proved to be the silverest of linings; a subtle change in my attitude, in that I now valued “health” over “thin.” It sounds like a small change, doesn’t it? It was. But what a surprise for me, when I realized that this little “adjustment” has freed me, completely, from ever worrying about my weight again.

And it feels so good – so energizing to live this way that I want to share the diet-styles I’ve learned along my journey through anti-cancer-land with you. You don’t have to have gone through a health-challenge to enjoy them. You only have to own a body and have the desire to feel your best!

So we’re going to start out with something that I begin my day with every day – nut milk! It’s a simple, easy change that carries a powerful punch, as it replaces your dairy with something that’s actually really, really good for you!

FUN FACT: Do you know that over 40 million Americans are lactose intolerant? And even for those who aren’t, they’re very likely drinking milk laden with hormones and other nasty stuff!

Now some of you, I know, are already drinking store-bought brands of soy, almond, rice, or a variety of other kinds of alternative milks. I was, too, for a while and I thought I was being soooooo healthy doing this. But then I found out that there are sugars, preservatives and all sorts of creepy additives that they put into those products. Rule of thumb: If it’s on a shelf in a box or a carton, it’s probably not the best thing for your body, okay?

But when you make your own nut milk—which takes about five-minutes and can keep for up to five days—you’re getting all of the good and none of the bad. And it’s absolutely delicious!

I like to make mine with walnuts (which are an amazing brain-booster as well as an anti-aging food because of all the Omega-3’s. Check it out on Google!) even though I don’t really care to eat walnuts whole, as I find them a bit bitter. But the nut milk is great! Go figure. And speaking of figure, I drink about a cup per day of this stuff, and I haven’t ever found it to make me feel the least bit “fluffy!”

You can also make it with almonds, but you don’t get near the nutrition because so many of the raw almonds in the states are now pasteurized. Cashews are another choice, but they are quite fattening…so just keep that in mind when you’re spooning it over your oatmeal or into your morning beverage. (BTW, cashews are the only item on my menu these days that I even have to give a second thought to, calorie-wise.)

Okay, back to the walnut milk (or whatever kind of nut’s you’ve chosen. It’s all the same in how you make it). I purchase my nuts in bulk, as they’re so much less expensive that way.

Take out one cup of walnuts, cover with water and set aside to soak from one to twelve hours. (I’ve made milk without soaking, but since soaking removes some of the tannins, it makes them blend more smoothly)
Drain, rinse and then combine with three cups of (filtered) water in the carafe of a blender and blend for at least two minutes. It makes it really creamy!
Pour through a strainer, which you can purchase online for $7.50 at Vermont Fiddle Heads: http://www.vtfiddle.com/rawfood/nut_milk_bags_sprouting_bags.php
or even through a mesh coffee filter, but I find the strainer is the best way to go as it’s easy and the strainer lasts practically forever.


You can add a little stevia or agave, perhaps some almond or vanilla extract if you like, pour it into a Mason jar and you’re done! I promise you that once you’ve done this a couple of times, you won’t think twice about making it, it’s so easy and delicious.

Simple change – simply marvelous results!

Purchase That's A Wrap at http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0099787ZK

Saturday
Feb082014

What Is 11:11

My dearest friend Lou recently passed away after a battle with breast cancer. We are all convinced she was part angel. Although she seemed to be in remission, her health was compromised these last few months. Testing showed the cancer had spread to her spine and liver. She checked into the hospital last week for tests and was to begin chemo, but God had other plans and took his angel at 11:11am Monday morning. Lou's favorite spiritual numbers were 11:11. She and her husband Walt were married on 11:11:11. at 11:11am and 11 seconds. Every time she was in the car, and 11:11 came on the clock, she would stop the world and say a prayer or make a wish. She will be missed by so many, it's easy to believe she is being carried to heaven on a loft of everyone's prayers.

Here is 11:11 explained:

by Gregg Prescott, M.S.
www.in5d.com
www.HolisticCancerResearch.com

What is the meaning of 11 11?

There is a global 11 11 phenomenon that is perplexing many individuals in regard to numerical synchronicities and in particular, the number and the meaning behind 11:11. From teenagers to senior citizens, these synchronistic numbers seem to appear on a daily basis. What does 1111 mean?

For example, you might be putting gas in your car and when you’re done, you’ll notice that you put exactly 11.11 gallons in your car. Or you might be at the checkout line in a store and the cashier gives you $11.11 in change. As you’re going home, you might notice a license plate with the numbers 1111 on it.

This happens most often when looking at the clock. We’ve all seemingly had this experience: You just happen to look at the clock and it’s 11:11 am or pm. It’s not like you are constantly waiting for this magical number to appear, it just does.

From an esoteric standpoint, 11:11 appears to be somethingthat is genetically coded within our “junk” DNA as a cue to spiritually awaken.

What does 11:11 mean?

11:11 is subjective to the interpreter and to the interpretation. In other words, YOUR interpretation is the only interpretation that matters! Here are the many interpretations of 11:11.

11:11 Awareness: The first thing you should pay attention to when you see a synchronistic number is what you’re either doing or thinking at that particular moment. You should also be cognizant of your surroundings, such as the song that you’re currently listening to or even something as simple as the rays of sunshine coming in through your window.

11:11 Gateway or Portal: 11:11 is the doorway between two worlds – between the 3rd dimensional and the 5th dimensional worlds.

Angelic Humans: According to George Barnard, 11:11 is “the calling card for beings that are half angels and half humans”.

Angels and Spirit Guides: Your guardian angel or spirit guide is trying to connect with you.

Balance: Your life is either gaining or becoming more in balance when you see 11:11. This might also be an affirmation that your life is in complete balance as well.

Binary DNA Code: The brain is like a computer, which relies on binary codes (1’s and 0’s). In this premise, 11:11 is the binary code that awakens your dormant (junk) DNA.

Digital Time Code: This theory encapsulates several theories within the same premise. 11:11 unlocks your DNA and opens the subconscious mind through physically seeing these digital numbers and re-remembering why your brain was coded to remember the importance of 11:11.

DNA Activation: The number 11 represents twin strands of DNA, so for some people, this is a sign of a DNA activation or upgrade.

Edgar Cayce: As I mentioned in a previous article, Edgar Cayce was quoted as saying, “The first lesson for six months should be One-One-One- One; Oneness of God, oneness of man's relation, oneness of force, oneness of time, oneness of purpose, Oneness in every effort-Oneness- Oneness!” Edgar may have meant, “The first lesson for six months should be 11:11.”

Fibonacci Sequence: The first two numbers of the Fibonacci Sequence are 1,1. The Fibonacci Sequence is basically tied into Sacred Geometry and the Golden Ratio of Creation, so this number would represent an end to physical reality as we know it.

Global Consciousness: When you see 11:11, you feel connected with the Universe and everyone else who is currently experiencing this phenomenon. You completely understand what “we are all one” means.

Make a Wish: Many teens are playing the 11:11pm game without really even knowing the significance behind 11:11. If they notice that it’s 11:11pm, they make a wish. Is it possible that these children are indigos and 11:11 represents an awakening code for them?

Numerology: The number 11 is a Master Number and represents impractical idealism, visionary, refinement of ideals, intuition, revelation, artistic and inventive genius, avant-garde, androgynous, film, fame, refinement fulfilled when working with a practical partner.

Spiritual Purpose: 11:11 presents you an opportunity to reflect on your spiritual purpose for being here.

Synchronicity: Your life has become total balance and the lesson you need to learn will appear before you. “When the pupil is ready, the master appears”.

Wake Up Call: 11:11 signifies your spiritual awakening, as this number seems to be predominantly noticed by those who have begun their spiritual journeys. It may also be seen as a code to unlock your subconscious mind.

Most likely, you are reading this article because you have also experienced the 11:11 phenomena. If you haven’t experienced 11:11, then chances are, you will in the near future. What is it really about? “Time “ will tell.

----Than you to www.in5d.com. The new portal to dig into with a plethora of up-to-date spiritual awakening to follow my journey in life in life. And maybe, if I'm really, really lucky, I could possibly turn out just a little bit more like Lou.


Wednesday
Feb052014

Featured on CBS News


WATCH: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/02/04/theres-no-cure-for-complex-regional-pain-syndrome-but-doctors-say-treatment-offers-hope/

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Micaela Bensko says she began suffering from a mysterious pain so unbearable that the active, working mother became bedridden and practically unable to move.

“My neck and spine were on fire…There is no way to even describe it. It’s the kind of pain you can’t see yourself having for 40 more years. I had 40 more years to live,” Bensko said.

She suffers from a chronic illness called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). It can potentially strike anyone at any time.

“There would be times I crumbled on the stairs and my kids had to hold my head up,” Bensko said.

Sharon Glasper, of Compton, knows the pain all too well.

“The pain started in my hands, then like radiating, like knives cutting me…like someone stabbing me,” said Glasper, whose hands are delicately cupped in her lap. “I can barely touch you.”

One day, 74-year-old Elaine Holiday, from Mar Vista, woke up with pain, swelling and an intense heat in her right foot. It’s been eight years of agony and she still can’t stand even having a sheet touch her foot.

“Do I feel lucky that I have it just below my ankle? I guess so,” Holiday said.

CRPS is difficult to diagnose because it has no clear cause. Doctors do know that it’s a disorder of the nervous system, causing nerves to send constant pain signals to the brain.

“We really don’t know why one person gets it and another person doesn’t,” said Dr. Joshua Prager, a pain management specialist at University California, Los Angeles.

Prager says a quarter of his patients get CRPS spontaneously, like Holiday, and for no reason at all. Other patients reported feeling CRPS after enduring a trauma, and that could be anything from a car accident to something as simple as a bump or a bruise. It soon turns into debilitating pain that doesn’t easily respond to treatment.

Anyone can fall victim to CRPS but most patients tend to be women between 20 and 40 years old. Most go from doctor to doctor, misdiagnosed and, in some cases, being told it’s all in their head.

“I just knew something was wrong. I mean, I would have thought I was a hypochondriac if I looked at the list of everything I had done, but not a thing was showing that anything was wrong,” Bensko said.

“Medical schools don’t teach about it so physicians don’t know to look for it,” Prager said.

Although there’s no cure, doctors can help patients manage the condition with an integrated approach that can include physical therapy, medication and implanting devices to dull the pain.

“I’m not going to let this win,” Glasper said to CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Lisa Sigell. She leaned in to give Sigell a hug, a difficult task given the pain in her hands: “I’m going to give you a hug. Thank you for telling people about this.”

And after all the pain Bensko has endured, the determined mother has undergone intensive physical therapy and a surgical implant so that she can walk again.

“We have taught her to walk twice now,” her father said.

While Bensko still struggles to walk, she considers every day a blessing.

“It’s being able to wrap your brain around a diagnosis, understanding life is different — Ok, let’s have a good cry — still, you pick yourself up and keep moving forward,” Bensko said. “I hate that I had to go through this but it’s made me realize the meaning of life. There are two sides of the coin when it comes to pain, there’s a side that takes everything away and there’s a side that gives it all back.”

The avid photographer blogs about her life so that her experience may give hope to others dealing with this mysterious condition.

To read more about Micaela Bensko’s experience with CRPS and her treatment visit her blog at www.moanavida.com.
For more information on CRPS and how it’s diagnosed go to National Institutes of Health online.
More information on Dr. Joshua Prager can be found at www.californiapainmedicinecenter.com.

Tuesday
Feb042014

Grief

Grief is when the world goes dark because a bit of its magic is gone. It is the obsession of what once was, and what will never be. It is pity for one's self because who we loved is gone. I should be relieved God's hand stretched out for her and took away her pain. But grief is too selfish for that. I need the dark to shed my tears and relive the moments of our lives. Images flicker on a screen in my mind. A sea of calm gets wrecked by waves of thought. A scent, a word, a song reminds me of her. I wonder if she is here. Watching me long for that chance to say goodbye.
The skin around my eyes is raw. Streaks stain my cheeks, stripping away the person I was before this changed my life. Because only in her death has God unveiled her magnificence - A truth known by all who loved her, now shared with the world.

Monday
Feb032014

Living The Game

During pre-game programming yesterday were stories of people who had written letters to win tickets to the Super Bowl. A gal who fell in love with football because The Patriots gave her renewed confidence in herself. Their stories were moving; Similar to the abandoned animal commercial with the Sara McLaughlin song. But was I moved, or was I jealous? I was! I was jealous! Because good people with touching stories won four thousand dollar tickets and a trip to New York for the Super Bowl. (It wouldn't sound so great if they had won a trip to New Jersey.)

In the midst of endless surgeries and procedures last year, I spent countless hours watching TV. Reality shows began forming abscessed blisters in my brain. I needed something new. Something interesting.

It happened on Thanksgiving weekend. The Alabama/Auburn game. When Auburn perform a miracle. Although I knew very little about football, it was clear as day I had just witnessed the magic that comes with the game. In one last second, when no one thought they could possibly win. When fans were packing up to head home, the play that rocked their world, rocked mine too. I was hooked.

These last two years have made me question many things in life. Why did I lose the use of my legs for a year? Will my spine ever be free from pain? Will I ever walk normally again? Who am I now that I'm not myself? Are others packing up to head home?

I realized that those Auburn players didn't show up expecting a miracle. But they showed up. They went to practice, built their strength. Listened to their coach who believed in them. And kept moving forward. It was the consistency of preparation and commitment that made the miracle possible for them to be ready for that moment when the Earth stood still. When one second transformed their lives, and affected memories of fans around the country.

I am no longer asking for a miracle. Instead I watch football like I listen to our pastor; Focussing on the nuance of every play and how it could affect the game.

I am no longer envious of those who won tickets to the Super Bowl. Someday I too will sit in those stands and sip $11 hot chocolate and $15 beer. Not together of course. But until then, Life is the game. It's a game to be lived and breathed no matter what it may look like to others, or what its outcome might be.

The season ends for now. Maybe next year I will write a letter and some other mother of four with wheels under her legs will be jealous of me, for simply living her dream.

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