July 21, 2017

Giving In and Giving Up, IS NOT AN OPTION!

give up 3 There are times in life when all you want to do is give in or even worse give up. I think I know this feeling better than most, unfortunately. There were many of times in my teen years that I wanted to just give in…give in to peer pressure, give in to being the best daughter possible, give in to friendships/relationships that were not healthy. Then I hit 18 and wow, did all that change!

Yes, at the early age of 18, I learned how NOT to give in or give up. What was acceptable to put up with and what was not. How a person should be treated and how you should treat others.

Are you wondering HOW I learned all this so young? Easy, almost die and battle way your back from the grave for almost 2 years and you learn a lot! 

nightmare

After my car accident on Christmas Eve back in 1993, my life changed forever, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. How could it not! But there was a fork in the road. The fork was, do I get bitter and negative about what the accident did to me and my life or do I look at it as a blessing and become positive. I battled with this for about 6 months, 6 months of doing the bitter and negative road. 6 months of being mad at God, being mad at my doctors/nurses/physical therapists, being mad at parents/family/friends…just all around being an angry person. Being stuck in a hospital bed will do that to you and not just stuck there, but being unable to move your entire body except your head and arms. Just watching people WALK in to my room pissed me off. The worst phrases said to me were “Just stay positive”, “It could be worse”, “at least you are still alive” or the infamous question “how are you?”… how are you

REALLY, do you want me to seriously answer that question truthfully!? Could you even handle the blunt honest truth of that answer?!

 

Then Kevin happened! No Kevin was not a new boyfriend; he was not of any love interest of that kind. But I did love him and besides my parents, I owe him a lot! Kevin became my night nurse. I barely ever slept and since I was the youngest on the floor (literally by like 60 years), he spent a lot of time in my room in the middle of the night just sitting with me and talking. Not telling me how I should feel or telling me to stay positive, but just being there. We talked about everything; we even talked about my accident. Something I never did. You see, I couldn’t remember much about it, but what I did remember were things I wish I could forget. Those memories are forever seared into my brain, my life. But here is where I owe Kevin a lot. One morning after a night shift and an extremely painful night for me (physically), I woke up to find only one thing written on my white board in my hospital room. Typically that white board had my instructions for the day, what tests I had scheduled, what time my physical therapy appointments were, my day nurses name and phone number, etc. But not that day…that day I woke to find just this:

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Now go kill it! Signed….Kevin

I had no clue Kevin was a Christian, I had no clue that he knew The Bible, I had no clue that when I did sleep he prayed over me.

I also woke to my dad sitting in a hospital chair right beside me; Kevin called him and told him I would really need him today. He was right!

This is when I decided to barrel down the side of the road of bitterness and negativity to the road that led to something greater…the road of my new life!! It literally was like a switch flipped and this new person appeared. I was no longer this weak fragile shell of a body in a hospital bed. I was determined, I was positive and most importantly…I was filled with life again!

That is when progress happened. My board never was wiped clean and nothing new was ever put on it. My days were filled with physical therapy, even when I was told to slow down, I didn’t. I had a goal! What was it? To walk again! I didn’t care if it meant with assistance, with crutches, a walker…I didn’t care. I was not being labeled by society and deemed an outcast because of this new life I was embarking on. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, that there would be many difficult days ahead of me, but I was ready to hit them all head on and be the one standing at the end.

Here is where I lost a lot of people in my life. Remember in the beginning I said how giving up and giving in is not an option. Here is where I tell you it is.

Confused yet?

Let me explain. It is NEVER ok for you to give in or give up when it comes to YOU, but it is absolutely ok to give in or give up on someone or something that is making you doubt your abilities and yourself. I have learned that life is too precious to care about hurting someone who is already hurting you. To worry that if you don’t give in to the way people want you to be, you will be alone. That if you aren’t doing, saying, being that perfect person at the perfect time, no one will love you.

Guess what!!!

Whether you do all of that or not…it will never matter. People will still come to their own reason or rationality on why they either like you or don’t, or if they choose to love you or not or if they even want to be a part of your life through the good and the bad. But here is where you get to have your say…you get to choose if they like you or don’t, if they will love you or not or if they stay or if they go. It’s all up to you. No one else holds the reigns in your life. The path you take is up to you. The decisions to be made are yours to make.

So it all comes down to this…

Never give in or give up on you…but it’s ok to walk away from the ones who have given up on you.

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All thanks goes to my Doctors and Simon, on this one!

who am iYou are probably sitting there pondering why would I write a blog about the childhood game from our past. Well, easy, it became a vital part of my future.

In my last accident in December 2008, I also suffered from a TBI, traumatic brain injury. Though only a moderate TBI, it was to the front temporal lobe of my brain.

front temporal lobe

Let me give you a little medical background to this first, so then you can understand the rest of this. The front temporal lobe is a component of the cerebral system, which basically directs our behavior. It is the part of the brain that deciphers between good and bad choices, along with recognizing the consequences of those choices. It also triggers irritability, mood swings and an inability to regulate behavior. Another common impairment is memory, both long and short term. An injury to this area of the brain can lead to deficits in anticipation, goal selection, planning, initiation, sequencing, detecting errors and self-correction.  

Now with all that being said, why Simon?

That long lost childhood memory game became my saving grace! Literally!

You see my TBI went unnoticed for over 6 months. It wasn’t until my dad asked one of my doctors “When am I going to get my daughter back?” My doctor looked at him strangely, especially since I was sitting RIGHT NEXT to my dad when he said this. You see, what my dad meant was, the daughter he knew before the accident, is not in the woman sitting next to him. Things are different, a little off, or the easy way to put it “She is not Sue.”

Let me explain the meaning behind my dad’s words. Before my accident, I was always on my toes, I could calculate things in my head, I remembered EVERYTHING (which sucks at times), I never had to write things down, I laughed (a lot), I was a social butterfly. You get the picture. The daughter sitting next to him now was a roller coaster of emotions, couldn’t remember to take medications, let alone remember simple everyday tasks, like flushing a toilet or to brush my teeth. Forget counting money, running errands or going grocery shopping! Can you say NIGHTMARE!?!  I also lost a section of my memory, from about 2001 to 2005. There are a lot of just dead spaces that I just can’t recall. The worst is meeting someone again that I haven’t seen since then and NOT remembering how we met, but knowing I know them. FRUSTRATING!!

So this led my doctor to order some tests, one being an MRI of my brain. Can you believe they never did that the night of my accident after having trauma to my head? Well three days later, my dad received his answer, I had a TBI that has been left untreated, so it was still causing damage. My doctor stated that it would be reversible, but he’s wasn’t sure by how much and it would take me longer, now that I was already delayed in getting diagnosed. So it began, my venture into Cognitive Rehab. I never felt so frustrated and alone than I did during this process.  I had rehab 3 days a week, along with homework I had to do at home, it was just like physical therapy, but only with my brain. The things I was doing, were things children were learning in kindergarten. I felt extremely stupid, in a part of my brain, I knew the answers, but I couldn’t get them out. I was known for my attention to detail, remembering the smallest of facts and details to a case, but now I couldn’t even remember 3 items (written and picture) on a shopping list. This went on for weeks and weeks. This is also when I purchased my first smartphone, talk about a complete lifesaver it turned out to be. I would sit down every morning and set my alarms to go off for every medication (remember at this time I was taking 9 different ones, 24 pills in all for just one day) I had to take and which one I needed to take at that time along with the dosage. Then if I had errands to run, I literally mapped it out and did a task where I could check off as I went. Now why did I have to map it out, well because even though lived in the same city for over 30 years, I couldn’t pin point where locations were anymore, sad but true.

Then I was told by my doctor to download apps and get memory inducing games, like Simon. Well, wouldn’t you know it, once a master at Simon as a child, I failed at miserably now. To the point I chucked the game across my room several times and screamed that it lied!

Simon

Well, now let’s jump ahead one year from that point…I have almost all my short term memory function back, I still am missing gaps of memory throughout that block of years, my emotions have finally even keeled themselves to the point of where I can recognize when I go from one quick extreme to the other and I stop it. Was all this frustrating, hell yeah it was, you feel like you are standing outside your body looking in and wondering where the hell you went to. It’s even more frustrating trying to explain it to people when you couldn’t even understand it yourself. I lost a ton of “so-called” friends throughout this phase in my recovery from my accident, but I also had some amazing ones who would sit with me and try to help me get my memories back of the times I had forgotten about.

You truly never appreciate a part of your body until that part is injured or taken away from you. I am blessed that my TBI was not as severe as it could have been and that I have about 90% of what I damaged, healed. So in the end…yeah, I’ll take it!!! 

I Was Told NEVER

Never

How many times have you heard it?

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have heard it spoken to me, whether by a loved one, a friend, a doctor or even strangers. I even heard it said  in so many different ways!

You will NEVER walk again.

You will NEVER have children.

You will NEVER play sports again.

You will NEVER amount to anything.

You will NEVER make me happy.

You will NEVER know what true love is.

You will NEVER graduate.

You will NEVER get married.

You will NEVER lose weight.

You will NEVER….BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!!!!

And the list goes on and on.

So why am I writing this? Why am I blogging about this ONE WORD? Why do I feel so strong about this?

I am writing about the word NEVER because as much as it can be a absolutely HUGE negative in someone’s life, you can also make it a pretty massive positive, it all depends how you react to the individual spewing the negative NEVER.

Let me explain~

Ever since I can remember I have always had someone telling me “never” and for the longest time…I believed that word for my life. I don’t think people truly know the depths of a wound that one word can make in someone’s life. One of the hardest things I had to overcome was my own mind and what I let others do to it. I remember laying in my hospital bed at age 18, after being told on Christmas Day, that  would never walk again or have children. Merry Christmas to me! NOT! And here is the kicker, I BELIEVED HIM! Why? Because I was 18 and he was a Doctor…well I learned very quickly that just because someone has a doctorate, doesn’t mean they get to decided the outcome of the rest of your life. Imagine if I listen to him and all the other doctors that spoke that word into my life.

TractionI look at this way, my doctors might have told me that I would NEVER walk again (at 3 different times in my life), but that didn’t mean that I had to stop using my legs. In all of us we have the spirit to fight, to buck against the system saying this is HOW IT IS. Yes, they are doctors and they specialize in the trauma that was done to my body, not once but three separate occasions, but that doesn’t mean they know EVERYTHING. Why? Because a doctor is only a person who PRACTICES medicine. (I say this strongly because my sister is an ER doctor and she iss one of my BIGGEST supporters and cheerleaders and told me NOT to listen to ANY Dr that says that word)! There are so many deciding factors on all the “what COULD be” for me! How does a doctor, let alone anyone for that matter, know what YOU are capable of. No two people are the same. So you can have 10 people, all with the exact same injuries, in one room and have 10 absolutely different outcomes of their recovery.

Let me put it this way, just because a doctor told me I would never walk again, didn’t mean I wasn’t going to keep trying to stand and take a step. Just like when I was told I would never have children, would that stop me from getting into serious relationship and staying abstinent for the rest of my life because of what a doctor said!  HECK NO!! Imagine if I did…almost 4 years  to the date of my first accident, I became pregnant and I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl.

Over time I learned to use someone’s NEVER and make it be the driving force to prove that NEVER wrong. Now, I will admit, I might have not walked again, but I would have found a way to walk, it might just have looked different than what people are use too. I might not have gotten pregnant, but that wouldn’t have meant I would have not been a mom. I might have not played sports again, but that wouldn’t have meant that I wouldn’t have found a new sport to fit my life.

I look at life this way…every scar, every battle wound…INSIDE and OUT…make me who I am today…the good, the bad and the ugly…I could have just gave up. Trust me, I get that statement all the time “Sue, if I went through half of what you have, I would have just let myself die”. And they are right, I could have. I could have not fought to regain my life. I could have died on the scenes of my accidents, I could have died in the helicopter or  ambulances, I could have died on the multiple OR tables I have laid upon. But I chose life…as hard as it may be sometimes…I chose ME!!

I am not saying that your life will look like the way society makes you think normal should be…but what I am saying is that you get to decide what your life looks like and you get to FULLY control which way you want your life to go. YOU DECIDE YOUR NORMAL! And I think that is kinda awesome!!

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HIIT, LISS, FASTED….WHAT THE CARDIO!?

what is HIIT With the ENDLESS amount of information out there regarding this topic, it can be quite confusing to newbies of the fitness lifestyle and actually very daunting to figure out. So I decided to help you out!

HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short is basically getting you in and out of the gym quicker and with the MOST bang for your buck (so to speak)! It involves alternating between periods of low or moderate intensity and periods of extremely high intensity, and you can do it in a fraction of the time of a normal cardio workout.

On top of losing fat, HIIT routines have a tons of things that it does better than regular cardio:
~ It increases your V02 max much more than steady-state cardio. This means it increases the amount of oxygen your body can take in during exercise.
~ It doesn’t cause you to lose precious muscle mass like traditional steady-state cardio does. When you engage in long, slow cardio sessions, your body can enter a catabolic (or muscle wasting) state. This means your body literally starts to consume its own muscle for energy. This won’t happen during a HIIT training routine.
~ When combined with a slight increase in calories above your maintenance level, HIIT workouts can actually be anabolic, meaning they’ll help you gain muscle. This is certainly something you can’t get from normal cardio.

HIIT can be done with any form of cardio ~ running, biking, elliptical, rower, etc. and/or with any method of exercise, including strength training.

LISS

Low Intensity Steady State cardio! Steady state cardio simply means maintaining the heart rate (HR) at a steady, continuous pace over a long period of time (usually a walk or slow jog). LISS is when you jog, bike, speed walk, etc for 30-45 min at around 65% of your maximum heart rate (a low enough intensity that you should still be able to hold a conversation).

LISS

FASTED

Fasted is just what it states…meaning on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Don’t get in the comfort zone of ALWAYS doing steady state or low intensity cardio workouts. Why? Since you’re doing the same workout over and over again, research shows your body can adapt to the same repetitive stimulus after only 6-8 weeks. So let HIITs be your main source of cardio with LISSs thrown in every once in a while.

Also, another mistake I see is people doing their cardio BEFORE strength training.

DON’T!!!

When you lift weights, you are emptying your glycogen (stored carbohydrates), which sets up the body for maximum fat burning during your cardio training. Also, if you complete your cardio training before weights you’re going to be weaker as your blood pH drops, thus you’ll hinder your body’s ability to recruit your high threshold muscle fibers which are needed for an intense workout!

Want to speed up the time in the gym even more…COMBINE your strength training with your cardio and make it ONE!!  This is also known as circuit training.
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From NEVER to ALWAYS…Meet Kirsten!

Kirstens Running Journey

From day one, Kirsten, was a fighter, being born 12 weeks premature, she literally was fighting just to stay alive! That was 39 years ago and back then we didn’t have medical advancements we have now. Her first helicopter ride was the one in which to save her life, since all her doctors didn’t believe she would make it.

Kirsten has spent every day since her birth more determined than the average person. Why? Because she wants to prove people wrong and do things she was told she would NEVER be able to do! And that is exactly what she has been doing….until she was 25!

Yet again, Kirsten was fighting for her life; she was in a severe car accident, where she had to be extracted via the Jaws of Life and took her second helicopter ride to the local trauma hospital. There, she slipped into a coma and her mother was told that she might not wake up from it. But again Kirsten showed her fighter’s strength, she awoke! Kirsten’s photographic memory became sporadic recall. She has no recollection of the accident, just only knows what people have told her and what she has read. She has seen pictures of her car, but she doesn’t remember actually seeing it in person because her memories of that time during recovery/rehab are blurry. The one thing Kirsten does remember is being in a wheelchair, being told she would never walk again! And from what she remembers, this is also when she first attempted to stand up for the first time!! Pure anger and determination had her propelling medicine balls across the rehab room. Not only was Kirsten dealing with not walking, but she couldn’t even do some of the simplest things, that we take for granted on a daily basis! The one that sticks out for her was having to do basic subtraction. Before her accident she could write a computer program to do this, now she couldn’t get her mind to subtract 36 – 17!

cantRehab for Kirsten was a very lonely journey, as it feels for most who have suffered traumatic injuries. Though Kirsten admits, most of it was all in her head. She knows her own mind was and still is her biggest obstacle. She uses laughter to try and brush some things off, but to Kirsten, on the inside, NOTHING was funny about any of it. In Kirsten’s own words, “Knowing you can do something, but not being able to is a poignant mindfuck.”

She realized she needed to get out and by this she meant going for walks. And she did just that. Whenever she could find the time, she walked! You see, Kirsten at this time was also a single mom to a young son, so her walks became things she looked forward to.

Now onto yet another chapter of Kirsten’s life…marrying her husband and the birth of her second son. You see, he was sick from day one. Doctors were constantly poking and prodding him, taking drop after drop of his blood trying to figure out why he was so sick. They came to her with wanting to do blood transfusions and liver transplants. The most renowned specialist at the top-notch hospitals came up with very interesting diagnosis’ that had too many syllables for Kirsten to remember what they were.

Kirsten is not against doctors or medicine, but she would rather be as natural and holistic as possible, she has always been this way. Even through her accident and rehab, she refused pain meds. Kirsten is so thankful she didn’t listen to most of the experts, because what her son has is treatable without any meds or any procedures. Her son has Celiac Disease. This started the beginning of Kirsten learning all about food. She thought she was already one up because she didn’t drink soda and her pantry wasn’t filled with crap. The more she read and learned, the more she realized she had A LOT to learn and change. She began researching the way food is manufactured, started cooking more and buying differently. Now, they are completely gluten free, eating mostly clean and Kirsten is leaning toward vegetarian.

Now to how did walking turn into running, and where is Kirsten running?

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Well Kirsten reconnect with a friend on Facebook, who just happen to post she was running the Army Ten Miler, well the status was how the person she was running with bailed and she needed a partner in order to do it. Well, at first Kirsten told herself, “Ten miles, NO WAY!’ But then she was at the finish line…she DID IT and she became instantly addicted!!

Kirsten said what hooked her was the feeling she received from 10,000 strangers. You see, to her, it felt like a lifetime of praise came down to this…thousands of strangers cheering and clapping for JUST her as she came across that line. Kirsten knew from that point on she was signing up for everything she could, that was 2009…and she has done just that over the last 3 years! Her first goal is to run a “100 miler” (so far she has completed a “50 miler” race), another goal is to do her first triathlon this coming August and after that her next goal…yep you guessed it…is to do an IronMan!

Kirsten doesn’t talk about TBI (traumatic brain injury) and subsequent MRIs riddled with migraine scars or her sensitivity to light or even her random pain.

Kirsten is who she is and she embraces it every day!!

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