Mindfulness – Its Like Being in Oz with the Lollipop Guild!

So, throughout this 2 year adventure has been a roller coaster- much like everyone's life I imagine – ones own roller coaster where you are looking for the attendant to get the hell off.

Being an Apple Whore and loving all things Apple – I was shocked that a while ago that they introduced an app called "Breathe". While this normally wouldn't bother me, during this phase of roller coaster hell – my watch which recently hasn't left my wrist much to monitor my heart rate as I was recently diagnosed with tachycardia due to panic attacks and anxiety. But I swear every time I saw it remind me to breathe I wanted to chuck it into the wall and tell it to go breathe where the sun don't shine and I'm putting that nicely.

Luckily to my good fortune, my therapist introduced me to the app Calm. And I've been downloading guided meditations up the wazoo from Apple Music and it really has one size fits all type of feel – which is ok, but that's like saying we are all genetically identical – it just doesn't work that way – what may be good for the goose may not be good for the gander.

I have to say it has had a way better calming effect than a stupid reminder to breathe like that other reminder you have on your calendar at work to do your time entry on every single thing you do — so your hours are billed to whatever project or activity you were working on – most of you IT folks will totally know what I'm talking about. It's like that aggravating reminder that everything has to be in 15-30 increments and you're trying to decide where to fit in your trip to the bathroom or the user that stopped you to ask you a question – also known in the IT world as being hijacked.

Anyway, back to the story. So I actually have to say I was impressed at the customization that allows for a very soothing and relaxing experience – and If you were looking for something to help you disconnect from our electronic society
, this would be my recommendation – that would even helps my 13 year olds anxiety and maybe ADHD if he would do anything other than Pokémon on his phone…Yeah I'll choose not to pick that battle, this will require some ninja stealthiness mom style.

While I still understand that my process is a long road, I also know most of my friends are professionals with crazy hectic schedules – and if we all took 10 minutes to do the "Daily Calm" it may even make for a little bit kinder world. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a person who recommends much other than "you go better see a doctor for that", so if that makes it have a bit more weight… check it out on your App Store! Come with me and follow the breath to the yellow brick road where the monkeys fly, the witches melt, and a kid can sign your death certificate!

Insomnia Really Is A Pain In The Neck!

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, its learning to dance in the rain”

One of the more annoying symptoms I have on a regular basis is insomnia.  The annoying part is if I can’t sleep because of pain then as the length of insomnia increases…. so will the pain and then I’m left to be an unwilling participant on this vicious merry-go-round.  On the positive side, I saw this quote and thought it would be perfect for this tidbit. 

Oddly enough I don’t ever remember suffering from insomnia.  Sure, when my ex husband and I became parents to a preemie who was constantly in and out of several doctor offices for the first 4 years – then I’m certain we both felt like we were going to die of sleep deprivation, at least at some points in that roller coaster.   But I’m chalking that up as normal for NICU parents.

So safely ruling that out I don’t believe the insomnia started until well after  I woke up with a kink in my neck that never went away.  It probably didn’t help matters that the following year my emotional well-being would be tested in ways I never could predicted.  I will say I’ve thought about some of the what ifs like if I wasn’t going through a divorce with a small child at that time, would my neck pains have been caught early enough that I wouldn’t stand here with a scar on my throat, the huge titanium plate inside of my neck (that cost more than my new car!), and the myelopathy that has plagued me since it lit up the MRI and my pain was finally given a name.  Or was it all part of some master plan?  (I’m still looking for the complaints department to demand a refund!) 😊

I think it’s perfectly normal to play the what if game.  Maybe this is a touch of the bargaining game of grief.  But something deep inside me thinks this happened to me for a reason – that it would be the biggest test of my life thus far: to accept that I never will have a pain free day ever again.

That’s a tall order, even for someone like me.  Up until I was given the news of the severity of the situation and that I would require immediate surgery, I had a lot of storms pass through my short life; and I always came out a better person because of the experience – no matter what the cost was to me emotionally or spiritually.

So why is it hard to comprehend that this storm is the black rain cloud that will follow my every move?  I’m not even remotely sure that I have the answer this early, but at least I know to put rain boots on my proverbial shopping list and keep coaching myself on the mantra:  Progress – Not Perfection!

Rikki 🌙

“Silence Is A Girls Loudest Scream”

I stumbled upon this quote and completely had an “A-ha” moment. For the last 18 months, I seem like I’ve gone to the depths of places unknown to me and have finally turned around to see the light that was behind me as I started down the rabbit hole. This was exactly what I needed!
When I was diagnosed with myelopathy in my neck, I fell into disbelief. How can this happen when I just woke up one morning in 2009 with a kink in my neck that never went away!?! Shortly after that fateful morning, I blamed the pain on stress. In the first 2 years of that neck pain I was certain it was stress related. In the first 18 months of the neck pain, my first marriage collapsed, went through the divorce process which is never pleasant especially when small children are involved and to top it off – 4 family members died in 6 months. No sooner than after I buried my uncle who helped raise me, I came back to a pink slip – right in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. I literatelly thought I had the worst luck in the world. 

 So looking back on it, maybe I shouldn’t have been so shocked at the surprise diagnosis. In true Rikki fashion (I’m convinced I have the worst luck) – by the time I got promoted to IT architecture, I hadn’t even been in my new position for 2 full weeks when I learned that I would need immediate surgery.
I ventured down the rabbit hole thinking positive thoughts – No big deal; I’ll be fine; those types of ideaologies which were great for the actual surgery and slow recovery. Within 3 months I made it back to work and back to my life, at least I thought I was back.

 Then I came to a point in my recovery where things became stagnant. At that point the rabbit hole started to swallow me up emotionally – and yet i barely said a word. Typical replies when people would ask how I was – tired and in pain. I was constantly in pain.  My body ballooned up to where I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror. I had incredible support from friends and family – but I still wasn’t grateful. I wasn’t grateful I was still alive let alone still had the use of my limbs.

 There were times I absolutely loathed God – hadn’t I suffered enough? Surely the amount of loss I had experienced in my life was more than enough for one person! I didn’t want to live in pain everyday. The idea of being released from this hell to be with some of the people I miss the most was far more appealing. Even though there’s a side of me that could never take my own life, there was a side of me that didn’t wish to wake up.
That’s when the quiet came in. I became a recluse, didn’t want to venture out since it was hard enough on me physically, not even taking the emotional into consideration which in itself was its own 2 ton elephant. 

 Inside my emotions where all over the board. Medical appointments were a temporary distraction, but i ultimately sit in silence day after day wondering where did this all go wrong.
When I wasn’t wallowing in self pity I became very angry. I was angry that it didn’t get caught sooner so I’d at least have a chance at reversing the damage, I was angry at my ex for taking the best years of my life away, I was angry at myself for no longer being the active parent I used to be, I was angry that my husband got the short end of the stick in my diagnosis because I thought he deserved better than what I could give him, I got angry at the kids for no real reason, I got angry at passed loved ones that should have been here to help but weren’t, and the list dragged on.

 Thankfully the anger stage only lasted a couple of weeks – bad news is in the span on Christmas Eve into New Years I soaked bedsheets with my tears and ripped into everyone who crossed my path – and I didn’t discriminate.
So once again I’ve turned a corner in the stages of grief and have entered bargaining – hence the goals for the year. I’m absolutely dreading the Depression stage and secretly hoping to skip that one but luck is not a friend of mine.

Lesson Learned: Don’t Stew In Silence