Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

How Great Thou Art

“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed”

Several Weeks ago I was sitting on my porch watching a storm roll through.  It was the night before John-John’s anniversary and I was feeling a little sad.  Totally understandable, and I just let the feelings be felt so that I can move past them.

IMG_2518

Michael & Suz

Then I got a text.  It was my younger brother Michael.  He wanted to know if I was in good standing with the Catholic Church.  Looking around, I was convinced that someone was watching me enjoy a bottle of Pinot Noir by myself on my porch. It’s an Irish thing…

Yep.  I Do.

Yep. I Do.

Realizing that there were no spies, I responded – Sure, I was.  Why?  He responded good, since his daughter, Christine Claire (or CC as I call her), wants to know if I would be her godmother. I sat on my porch and tears welled in my eyes.  Just when you feel a little down, something unexpected comes along and lifts you right back up.

It was the quickest YES I had ever given.  I went to bed feeling very full of love.

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about what I can do to impart my vast depths of life experiences on CC as she gets older.  Well, maybe not all of my experiences.  I’ll save the good stories when we can enjoy a glass of wine together 🙂

Lindsay & Suz

Lindsay & Suz

I think about all of the struggles, heartbreak and happiness that have been in my life. I think about all of the people that have come, and gone.  Some stayed a while, others only a short visit.  I think about all of the times when I was afraid.  The times when I was fearless.  The times when I was a klutz or just a ditz.  So many experiences.

As I sit here getting ready to stand up before God and my family to vow to always protect, love and care for this sweet child, I also wanted to share with this beautiful little being a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

So True.

So True.

  1. Smile.  It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown.  So not only is it easier, it just makes you and everyone else around you FEEL better.   And, it will show off your dimples 🙂  Regardless of how I felt when I was sick, I promised myself that I would always smile.  And if you ever need inspiration, turn on Tony Bennett.
  2. Surround yourself Friends from all walks of life.  If your friends are unique, they will challenge you to be the best version of yourself.  I rely on different friends for different things, but I need every single one of them.
  3. Nap- As you know, Aunt Suzy is a BIG fan of naps.  If you are tired, it’s okay to rest.  Rest your mind.  Rest your body.  Rest your soul.  Everything will still be where you left it when you wake it.  And if it’s not, oh well.
  4. Ask for Help- As the strong, independent woman you are going to be when you grow up, remember that it’s okay to ask for help.  It doesn’t make you weak, rather, it shows your strength when you acknowledge that you can’t do it all.  This was my toughest lesson as I was recovering.  What I realized is that it’s okay to depend on other people.  The good ones won’t let you down.
  5. Accessorize- An outfit is never, ever complete without a great pair of shoes.  And, buy lots of them.  We’ll discuss this in more detail when you get your allowance.
  6. Buy yourself flowers.  I bought myself a dozen orange roses yesterday (my favs) because they just make me happy.  I received dozens of flower deliveries in the hospital, and they brightened up my room, my day, my recovery.  Now, I make it a point to buy them- all the time.
  7. Remember how BLESSED you are.  Everyone has bad days, weeks or months.  Get up every day and fight.  Someone always has it worse than you, so keep your chin up.   If Aunt Suzy can kick GBS’s butt, you can get through anything.
  8. Keep your heart open.  You never know where you are going to find love.  So, if you have an open heart, love will find you.

Christine Claire & Suz

Christine Claire & Suz

Christine Claire!

Christine Claire!

It’s amazing that in just 5 shorts months, I have learned to love CC as if I have known her my entire life.  I know that she is loved, by extension, by all of you who love me.  So, on this day of her Baptism, please keep Christine Claire and me in your prayers.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee.  How great thou art! How great thou art!

Off to Church I go.

Thank you for joining me on my journey,

CC’s Godmother (AKA Suz)

My Toughest Day

Me and John John down the Shore

Me and John John down the Shore

I was sitting on my porch last night after a long month. I do that now.  I sit outside, weather permitting, and I think about my day, my week, my month.  I typically open up a bottle of red, open all the windows, and put on music that helps me unwind.

A little Kenny Chesney, mixed in with some Daughtry and a little Kip Moore.  This time alone gives me time to reflect on where I am in my life. It’s my quiet time that I relish that helps me recalibrate my expectations and dreams. Continue reading

The Beginning.

This past weekend reminded me of my beginnings.  Beginnings are your start.  They are your genesis.  They are the foundation of who you are, and who you will become.  My beginnings always bring me back to King’s.  From the day I stepped out of my parents station wagon on Main Street in Wilkes Barre, unpacking my bags for East Hall, my future began.

The weekend started with the girls arriving at my new home in Conshy.  Bags were rolled in.  Wine was unpacked.  Snacks were spread.  After just 5 minutes of niceties, the comfort level set in.  Do you have friends that you can go an entire year without seeing, then spend 5 minutes together and feel as if only a few days have past?  I have those friends.

I am so LUCKY to have those friends.  When you are sick, these are the friends that are always there by your side, whether physically, or in spirit, they are there.  They are there to cheer you on. Sing your songs.  Celebrate your achievements.

I had my closest friends from King’s College in town this weekend for our annual girls weekend.  It usually starts with a few bottles of wine.  Then comes the looking through the yearbooks.  Then, the stories begin. Remember when so-and-so had one too many and….  Remember when we thought the campus at King’s was sooo big and we couldn’t quite make it to class on a snowy day?  Remember when we thought going to a party on North Street at Murder House was just WAY too far for a good time?  Keep in mind, King’s campus was about 2 blocks by 2 blocks.  Damn. We were a lazy group of girls!

We drank some wine and Summer Shandies.  We laughed and laughed.  We got all dolled up for a night out.  We made our way to the best BYO in town, and proceeded to sit outside and sweat. There was a heat wave in Conshy, but it went relatively unnoticed since the only thing that matter was our being together.  After an amazing homemade italian dinner, many more laughs, we made our way back home.  A few bottles later, we were all nestled in bed.

The next morning, I work early to start cooking breakfast for my favorite friends.  Some greasy eggs, hashbrowns and lots of coffee for my very weathered and hungover friends.  I looked around at them having breakfast and thought to myself– what makes a happy home?  Friends around the table with good food and silly conversation.  As I stood there watching the joy and happiness in my home, it got me thinking to my beginnings.  I clenched my fists and crinkled my toes to really make sure I could feel everything. And I did.  This reminds me of where my GBS journey began.

My beginning.

It all started with a tingle.  Very subtle.  Pretty insignificant.  My toes were known to fall asleep, especially after a long day of wearing one of my many favorite pair of heels.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I had just landed in Philly from Vegas, and presumably I was very, very tired.  Too much partying.  WAY Too much tequila with my favorite NY office mates. Not enough sleep.  Makes sense. My body is clearly not firing on all cylinders.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I was working that day, standing at a cubicle talking to a few colleagues.  And I fell.  Luckily I was standing by the corner of the cube, so I could grab on with my hand before I made a scene.  I laughed outloud and said my body is still punishing me for last week.  HA!  My leg felt fine, so I walked back to my office.  Didn’t think anything of it.  I am a very clumsy girl.  Just ask my family.  I have been known to play Dizzy Bat and wind up flinging myself into Heart Lake.  So, this was nothing out of the ordinary.  Went to bed that night forgetting altogether that it happened.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I worked all day tuesday, still tired, but then again, it’s Vegas baby.  Went to Lithe class that night, and was planning on dropping a bag off at David’s house in the city, so I knew it would be another long day.  Couldn’t shake the fatigue, but went to class anyway.  It was one of my favorites- Thigh High.  The class is all barefoot, working with a dowel stick for 60 minutes.

Lots of balance and core work, and a class that I happened to be particularly good at.  I was doing the squat sequence, where you squat all the way down to the floor, while holding the stick vertical, and pressing into the ground.  When I got to the floor, I couldn’t get back up.  I couldn’t feel my legs at all.  Nothing.  Nada. I had to use my arms to push me up off the floor back to standing.

Annoyed now more than ever at how old I was getting and realizing that I clearly can’t party like I used to, I tried it again.  It’s a series of 30 squats.  Once again, I could get down, but not back up.  When I stood this time, my entire left leg was numb.  So I slapped it a few times to “wake it up”, and it was better.  After the unsuccessful squats, it was time for pushups.  Now, I will say that pushups have never been my strength, but I could get through almost all 30 of them, with a few stops in between.  However, tonight, I couldn’t lower myself down from plank to even do one.

I laid on the floor, so upset internally that I couldn’t do it.  I should have drank more water. I was obviously dehydrated, and my body was in a revolt.  I should have gone to bed earlier when I was away because I’m too old for this.  Thanks tequila.  Clearly, I enjoyed you too much in Vegas.  Kicking myself mentally, I did a few pushups the girly-way, and just laid on the floor.  I managed to get thru bits and pieces of the rest of class, but I left resigned.  Disappointed.  Irritated.  Once I get some sleep tonight, my body will reset, and all will be right again.

Just to be sure, I texted Katherine, BFF Nurse Manager, to assure me that I was fine.

6:30 pm Tuesday, August 9,

Me:  I’m having right leg weakness and muscle spasms.  I barely made it thru my class because I had that tingling sensation you get when your leg is asleep.  Will more water help this?

Katherine- Probably not.  I would go see your MD.  U may have a pinched nerve.  Is it in your right arm too?

Me- Nope. Right arm is fine. Just really weak leg.

Katherine- I would go to the MD as soon as you can.  And be careful driving!

Me- Sounds good!

I drove to meet David.  Jumped out of the car.  Gave him his bag and a hug, and I was on my way back home.  Long Drive Home indeed.

And that’s how my Tuesday ended.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Woke up on Wednesday feeling much better. Got a good night’s sleep, and was ready for the day.  Went out to lunch with a good friend Meg.  As we were sitting in the booth at California Pizza Kitchen, I looked at her and said “Meg, I can’t feel my left leg at all.”

I shook it off.  A few minutes later I said “Meg, I can’t feel anything from my waist down”.  This got me a little worried because I hadn’t crossed my legs at all, we were literally just sitting in a nice comfy booth.  I ran through the events of the night before, and she immediately reminded me that I hadn’t called the doctor yet.  We left lunch a bit early, drove back to the office, and I was on the phone with my primary doctor.

They could see me tonight.   I felt immediate relief.  It was probably just a virus that was coming, and now I could nip it in the bud.  My leg was back to normal.  Probably just dehydration again. I cancelled Lithe for the night, and decided I needed another good night’s sleep after I finished up at the doctor.

I drove to the doctor’s office, and saw a doctor who was previously with Rothmann Institute.  If it wasn’t the flu, then it was probably sturctural. Pinched Nerve, something like that.  So I was in good hands.  I went through all of my symptoms, which were so benign, with her.  After my long, tedious ramblings, about my medical history, family history, my migraine history, my neurology history, etc. she gave me a range of what it could be-  A pinched nerve or MS.

I looked at her, and said “Uh, could you narrow that down a bit.  Because I will be all over WebMD tonight and you know I’ll just freak myself out”.  She said, “don’t read anything.  I may want to run some tests but I”ll let you know.”  I told her that I see a neurologist regularly at Bryn Mawr for my migraines and should he be consulted at all?  Should I schedule an appointment with him too?  She said “I’ll call him in the morning to discuss your case, and we’ll go from there.  He has your MRI and CAT scans from last year, so we’ll review your file together.  Go home, get some rest. I’ll call you when we make a decision on next steps.”

So, I went home and got some “rest”.

Who knew that it’d be the last time I’d be able to sleep in my own bed for 8 weeks.  And that my life would be forever changed….

Angel

I am humbled.  Every year that this date arrives on the calendar, I stop.  I ignore the noise that is constantly creeping into my life.  I push aside any frustrations about my day.  I remember to be grateful.

Continue reading

Closer to Fine.

369.

That’s how many days have passed since my diagnosis with Guillain Barre Syndrome.

August 11, 2011.  I’ll never forget that day.  When my entire world imploded with six words- “You are going to be paralyzed”.  That frightening moment began my journey with GBS.

I spent my 1-Year diagnosis anniversary quietly on my own this past Saturday.  There was no party. There was no celebration. There was no hoopla.  And that was exactly the way I wanted it.

It was a quiet day of introspection.  I thought a lot on Saturday about where I was before GBS, where I was while recovering from GBS, and where I am today.  I had so many mixed emotions.

…Exultation because I never thought I’d be independent again.

…Sadness because I remember the fear that I felt when I was paralyzed.

…Relief because my doctors really were right when they said I’d walk again.

…Anger since I still have no idea why I was given this disease.

…Pride because I did the work and I am now reaping the benefits.

I had a quiet weekend, alone with my thoughts and my own personal celebration.

Bright and early Monday morning, I headed to Lithe.  After my 6am workout, I showered and headed to work.  On my way home, I was driving on the Schuylkill Expressway, stuck in traffic and was flipping through radio stations. I do that now, since my iPod has become so predictable.  Turned on “90s on 9” which is always good for a pump-me-up kind of song.

The rain had cleared.  The sun had just come out.  I cranked up the radio, and was transported back to college…

We called them the Twinners.  Not a very original nickname for friends of ours who were, you guessed it, twins that were part of our inner circle at King’s College.  They were notorious for singing.  Standing in the middle of a party at Margarita.  Late Night, as they call it, with just close friends after a very long night out apartment hopping, and spending some time in Helen’s.  We’d be standing around, laughing, drinking, dancing.

They were known for belting out songs at the most random times, and always in harmony with each other.  As if they had always planned to serenade us, and had been practicing all week.

Gina and I would try to keep up, pretending we could sing.  Alli, Greenie, Hahn, Lisa and Hanlon and the rest of us would giggle, while joining in their latest rendition of some song that would have sounded so much better if we had just kept our traps shut and let the Twinners do their thing.

So, naturally, when the radio starting playing their most famous performance tune, I laughed and clapped, then rolled down the windows, opened the sunroof and gave the Schuylkill Expressway my best Twinners impression— harmony and all….

I was instantly inspired, and renewed.  I pulled out my notepad, right there in rush hour traffic, and started writing down things that I wanted to say to all of you.

This song has so much meaning,  besides the obvious of reminding me of a time when I could do keg stands, and stay up all night and still somehow make it to class. This song is about forgiving yourself for not having a plan, taking a winding path to get to where you are going, and being okay with that.   You need to accept that your plans may not work out as you expected, and be grateful for the new plan that this divergent path has created for you.

It’s about being confused, looking for answers, but knowing, at the end, you’re going to be alright.  At every turn, and every intersection, you are getting Closer to Fine.

This song was true back in college, when we were all kids trying to figure out what and who we wanted to be when we grew up. I think it’s even more true for me today, as I continue to recovery from GBS.

I’m trying to tell you something about my life, maybe give me insight between black and white.  And the best thing you’ve ever done for me is to help me take my life less seriously.  It’s only life after all.

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  I know that.  And, honestly, I’ve been struggling with what I wanted to say.  Life hasn’t been easy these past 3 months, but it sure has had its milestones for me.

I am so busy.  This is a good thing– my schedule at work is back to full-time and I’m working on some very important and strategic projects at the office. I feel energized, productive, and valued.  It took a while to full-time again, and it feels really good to be back!

I’m Lithing 5 days a week.  In lieu of my physical therapy, Lithe has helped me take my GBS ridden body and get my weak areas strengthened.  If you recall, my core, my hip adductors and abductors and my calf muscles all healed the slowest.  I had very little muscle tone in my legs, and little sensation for months in my core area.  I had to really focus in my therapy as these weaknesses were impeding my stability.

I am proud to say that while I know I still have a ways to go, my strength is at an all time high since diagnosis!  I can stand for longer periods of time without getting dizzy.  I can run up and down steps without holding on.

And most importantly, I can wear heels again!  Not every day, and not all day long, but I’ve been able to open the other side of my closet and enjoy all of my many shoes that I have so desperately missed.  Oh, how I’ve missed you Strappy Sandals. Hello my Open-Toed Espadrilles!

And to top that off, as if wearing my amazing heel collection wasn’t reward enough, I finally have definition back in my calves!  I never thought I’d be more excited to see a calf muscle.   My Lithe instructor actually pointed it out to me in class– I was so proud!

There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line, and the less I seek my source for some definitive, the Closer I am to Fine.

There are big changes ahead for me.  More milestones to achieve, and happiness to find.  Some of it I have planned. Some of it will just happen.  But either way, I know that I am heading toward a more beautiful tomorrow.  I just know it.

So, how am I doing?  I’ll tell you what.  Each day, I am getting Closer and Closer to Fine.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Suz

3W44, Abington Hospital

Abington Neuro Wing. Round Two. Day One.

Everything felt different this time.

There were no flowers. There were no gift baskets.  There were no streams of well-wishers flowing in and out of my room.

It was just me, in the Neuro wing at Abington Hospital, wondering if this was the start of the rest of my life dealing with GBS. Continue reading

Somebody Like You.

Suzy and Bobby- 1985

Bobby and I have always been close.  Since he was a little boy, I always felt a certain connection to him.  It could be because we had just lost John-John, and I felt a strong pull to be not only a big sister, but a big brother to my siblings.  Bobby had memories of John-John, even only being 5 years old, so I felt that this was a role that needed filling. Continue reading