The Week In Review: July 6, 2013

Summer Salad | Ann Ning Learning How

We had this for lunch midweek and just threw together whatever was on hand.  It turned out to be a colorful and delicious summer salad!  The greens included spinach and arugula, and  we tossed it all in Ai Ai’s citrus vinaigrette.  Try it!

The Week in Review: July 6, 2013,  Ann Ning Learning How

Monday:  Cilantro Lime Cauli Rice

Tuesday:  The Growing Up Lovely Checklist ( I Corinthians 13)

Wednesday:  Food For Thought (Series Part 2) When Launching a Business –
Who are your competitors and why is your product/service superior?

Thursdday:  How to Make No-Strain Dairy Free Milk
Happy 4th of July!

Friday:  Peanut Butter (PB2) Moose Cups

175. Becoming a Supple Leopard

Becoming a Supple Leopard || Ann Ning Learning How

I could TOTALLY do that.  (back cover of Outside June 2013)

Yesterday I mentioned “The Truth about Paleo”  by Nick Heil in Outside (June 2013).  I laughed often while reading, but what made me laugh loudest was when he mentioned the book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, by Kelly Starrett.  Heil named this book in the context of “new training modes that emphasize mobility over muscularity.”    Starrett is an athlete and Physical Therapist in California.  I laughed because the title is just really funny to me.  I think my candidacy for becoming a “supple leopard” has been compromised.  I’m more in the “stray cat” category.  It also reminded me of a particularly charged career session at B-School when our entire class was exhorted to have “the eye of the tiger.” The student body was unable to suppress the titter that rolled through our ranks.

Well, I was intrigued by the mobility over muscularity idea, so I kept on reading and I looked Becoming a Supple Leopard up online.  First of all, Kelly is male.  FYI.  Second of all, the idea of supple leopard-ness is funny to me, but it appears that this method of training is no laughing matter.

Amazon’s review summary =  5 stars.  And the videos online indicate that this business is not for the faint-hearted.  I clicked on one that was about how to manage if your job involves lots of sitting.  I was like, Ooooh – like if you have to sit in a wheelchair.  Yeah, no.  The video is done by a black hawk pilot who shows us how he has altered his sitting stance to be good to his spine but reach all the controls.  Oh well, I thought – that doesn’t really apply.  To make doubly sure I clicked on another video that promised a recovery model for working with injured patients.  I didn’t get what KS was saying – it sounded smart, and I’m sure he’s seen good results, but I probably needed to have read the book, done more research, and/or sustained a different type of injury for it to have resonated with me.  Entertainingly, though, it’s dinnertime at StarrettHouse, and you can glimpse Mrs. S preparing dinner in the kitchen (right next to KS’s chalkboard), and their two little girls are playing in the family room, waiting for their meal and assiduously ignoring dad as he educates the rest of us and uses what looks like sidewalk chalk to illustrate the concepts.

So another dream, albeit a brief one, has died.  I will likely not be becoming a supple leopard.  If you had asked me 18 months ago (when I was still doing my first outpatient therapy stint at The Place) I would have probably opined that yes, I WILL become a supple leopard very soon indeed, and I DARE you to think differently.  That would have been a couple months after I learned to walk, I had not experienced any material physical setbacks, and I hadn’t quite accepted that this had happened to me.

I mean, I knew what had happened, but even now it’s hard to manage my own expectations since there was very little time lapse in my mind when I got sick, and I figured I must have dreamed about my head hurting during that meeting with my manager, and the subsequent “melting” in the Ladies’ Room.  When I woke up, I was like, C’mon, people – use your noggins!  I figured if I was going to hold someone captive in the hospital I could’ve come up with a MUCH better story than this ridiculous brain thing.

So I was extremely obstinate about my physical abilities when I woke up – I was galled by everything I couldn’t do (e.g. walking, playing the piano, eating not like an animal), but regaining a skill was not celebrated by me since I was just regaining what I thought was rightfully mine.  News Flash:  None of this is rightfully mine.  It’s a privilege to walk, eat, play the piano, etc.  Knowing this helps me deal with the pain of setbacks.

I walked on Cliff the Treadmill for the first time since getting sick this morning.  As I did so I remembered how sad I was last summer when my left leg went crazy and I lost all of the ground I had gained after I learned to walk again.  My treadmill speed went from 2.2 to 1.7 to 1.5, to 1, to .5, to 0.  I knew I had to stop when, at .5, I just limped along and cried, and since I need both hands to hold on there is no free hand to wipe my face, so I couldn’t walk anymore.

So I’m not as stubborn about this as I used to be.  I know that the recovery process is fluid and goes in both directions.  And although I pray for the best (and ask you to pray with me) and am fully confident that God can heal me instantaneously I also want to acknowledge that His answer might be “no.”   Upon reflection, I didn’t really mean it when I told A (6) “It’s okay if the answer is ‘no’…”   I was just adding a prologue I though might make us both feel better.  I needn’t have worried.  He would have told me the truth regardless.  I took in what he said, but I cried in the parking lot.  And it took several more months for it to really be “okay if the answer is ‘no’.”  Now I’m convinced that this is NOT a matter of positive thinking, or having enough faith to move mountains – this is just me acknowledging that although I believe “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” this does not apply to things that are not His will.

While I pray for gains, though, I keep trying for them within my situation’s boundaries.  It’s kind of confusing since the boundaries keep on getting re-drawn.  Deciding what to eat, how much to walk, if I should use an alarm clock, the merits of naptime, and how to manage joint/back pain are a moving puzzle to be solved daily.  What works today might not be good tomorrowCaution:  This is a work zoneIf my gains were driven by self-motivation I’d be running marathons by now.  But they’re not.  That was one of the things that was most non-intuitive and frustrating for me.  I’m just glad to be able to acknowledge without ire that while “becoming a supple leopard” is too lofty a goal for me at this point, the idea of greater mobility is a good one.

PS.  I got approved for 12 more sessions of PT +Pool!  I’ll likely do some over the next month, go on Summer vacay at my sister’s house, and re-start in September.  I’m so pleased.  Thanks for praying :).

173. “I’m Getting Healthy” Smoothies


I should probably be lying down.  But I don’t want to, so THERE. Mwa hahahahaha (maniacal laughter)!  This is the story of my recovery – there are so many things I want to do (mostly exercising and writing) but I can’t because I keep falling asleep.  I’ve tried the “I’m just gonna muscle through this” attitude, but it doesn’t work for me.  I used to be able to do it pre-AVM, but now I pay for it either immediately (e.g. by falling) or later (e.g. a 20 minute nap that morphs into a 3-hour siesta).  So I’ve got all kinds of ideas running around in my head, lots of healthy ingredients for my recipe experiments and several pieces of exercise equipment that I desperately want to take action on, but I can’t – I have to go take a nap now.  Boo hoo.  Poor me, poor me.  This is the part when I stop complaining and am thankful that I have the time and place to nap when I need to.

Okay, I’m all done complaining.  And I really will lie down after this, I promise.  But I’m just going to share a recipe before I go back to bed (It’s Saturday afternoon, but this will post Monday).  I am on antibiotics for the infection that’s got me down lately, and Tanpo has reminded me to make sure I eat some yogurt.  So it’s “I have a cold” smoothie time!!

I had a couple of serious infections as an inpatient (I was only awake for one of them), and a kind friend (a doctor, or nutritionist) emailed Dad to make sure I was ingesting yogurt while on my course of high-octane antibiotics.  My parents checked and yogurt was already being fed into my food tube (and later served on my tray).  I think this is the reasoning:  You eat yogurt to replenish the good bacteria in your intestine that might have gotten squashed (along with the bad bacteria that’s making you sick) by your antibiotics.

So I dutifully blended up an “I have a cold” smoothie this morning and informed Tanpo it had ½ c yogurt, carrots and strawberries in it.  He declined to sample my creation, although I also informed him that carrots and strawberries are good for you.  That is the extent of the health claims I am making for my smoothie.  This is not a magical healing elixir.  It just has yogurt in it bc I’m on antibiotics, and the healthfulness of carrots and strawberries is (I think) undebated.   Side note:  I know I’ve told you I ❤ my Vitamix before, but let me tell you again that it was so worth it.  Yes, it was an $ investment, but it allows me to do a lot of things in the kitchen since its so powerful and does a lot of work for me.  I can clean it (just add water and soap and blend) most of the time by myself, and it makes smoothies effortless.  And smoothies are just the beginning.  So I’m thankful I took the plunge and got one – if you’re thinking, “Should I buy a Vitamix?”, save your pennies and do it!  [End of personal endorsement.  I promise I am not affiliated with the company in any way – I’m just a happy consumer.]

“I have a cold” Smoothie

5 strawberries

½ c frozen carrots

¾ c milk of choice (I like unsweetened vanilla almond)

½ c plain Greek yogurt

splash of vanilla

Blend it up and enjoy!  This makes a big smoothie – I used my BIG smoothie cup.  I’m not sure how many ounces it contains but I purposely put the tissue box in the picture so you could gauge the size.  Sometimes I like really big smoothies, and now is one of those times.  I don’t have much of an appetite presently, but the strawberries and carrots were refreshing and easy to sip.

P.S. The strawberry flavor is dominant – I didn’t really notice the carrots.

P.P.S. I need a place to park my other “I’m getting healthy” smoothie recipes, so I’m going to do that here.   My smoothies thus far do NOT contain protein powder – I’ve preferred not to buy another product and just relied on the plain Greek yogurt we get from Costco (11-12 g Protein per ½ cup).  Although I love GY, it does add bulk, and sometimes I don’t want a HUGE smoothie.  (Sometimes I do, though, but not all the time).  I’ve tried protein powder in the past and I’ll try it again and see what happens.  Note that I’m calling these “I’m getting healthy” smoothies, not just “healthy smoothies.”  You generally generate more interest by making bold claims for your food, e.g. “Best ever!”  “Extreme Weight Loss!”  but I’m not into that at the moment.  I generally look at my food and ask myself if I’d be willing to put those ingredients singly in my body.  If the answer is “yes,” the recipe passes the test.

Find me and my smoothies on Pinterest

I'm Getting Healthy Smoothies for Pinterest || Ann Ning Learning How

The Protein Powder smoothies are from Dashing Dish.  The rest are mine.  When my protein powder arrives from Amazon I’ll park new recipes here.

more smoothie fun:

Apple Pie Smoothie || Ann Ning Learning How

Peach Carrot Smoothie || Ann Ning Learning How

Strawberry Coconut Smoothie || Ann Ning Learning How

169. The Treatment of Women [Why did people like *Kate and Leopold*?]

"Edamame?" image from - powerandpotential

image from – powerandpotential

Blogging is unchartered territory for me (as is RecoveryLand in general).   I just started typing on my computer bc it’s good motor skill practice and I wanted to remember the funny things that happen at home and at Rehab.  Eventually, the lists and journal I started turned into my “Memoirs” and when stuff kept on falling out of my head and onto my hard drive, it turned into this blog.  I have recently learned about “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization).  I’d like to do it, and do try to do what I can to make my online presence easy to find and attractive to search engines, but the thing is that the search engine referrals I do get are on topics so varied in nature that I’m not sure what I’m trying to “optimize.”  An AVM rupture impacts only a tiny subsectionof the population, so few people search for What is an AVM?” and find me.  If they do search for AVM information, they are actually more likely to be directed to the Stroke Association or

But if you want to know about parting the wild horse’s mane in tai chi, or the Jackie Chan and the fiery cup thing in the Karate Kid, apparently Google thinks I’m your girl.  It’s funny, actually, since I write about what interests me, and it’s vindicating to see that other people wonder about the same things.  So today I’m going to write about another  random movie thing and we’ll see if I get any resulting search engine hits.

A couple weeks ago I was having a (serious and edifying, I’m sure) conversation with a dear friend and then I interrupted with, Okay – I’ve been wanting to talk to you about this for like, 10 years.  What do you think of Kate & Leopold [the movie]?  K&L was released in 2001 and starred Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman – remember?  I’ve been mulling over it for more than a decade since I was so struck by the storyline:  Modern career woman Kate falls for late 19th c Duke Leopold and gives up everything to travel back in time to marry him and live happily ever after.

Let’s ignore the time travel concept at present and just assume it works.  What gripped me was Kate’s words to Leopold when they’re having an argument before she decides to take a leap of faith and join him in 1876.  I’m tired, she says, and I need a rest.  She spits out those words with incredible force, to the point that we see just how much work it has taken to reach the level of success she has attained, and be on the cusp of another promotion.

When I finally remembered to consult my friend on why our culture made K&L a marketable film when the premise is that the only “rest” the modern career woman could find was to turn her back on her hard won success and don a corset instead, I believed her reasoning as soon as she verbalized it.

“I think the answer is in how women are treated,” she told me.  My eyes got big with understanding because at that moment I remembered the icky character played by Bradley Whitford (Josh from the West Wing) – not her ex boyfriend, Liev Schreiber, but her boss – let’s call him “Josh” bc I can’t remember his name, just that he is icky in that movie.  So the movie essentially sets up two romantic alternatives for Kate:  Icky Josh, or Gentlemanly Leopold.  Let me assure you – Josh is very icky indeed – I don’t recall details, just that he keeps a dish of soy beans on his desk, and during a meeting with Kate he pushes them over to her saying silkily, “Edamame?”  Ugh.  It was enough to make me never want to eat edamame again.  Except I do.  A lot.  The choice is clear – although being with Leopold comes with a huge step backward regarding Kate’s independence etc., the film never addresses this – and people enjoyed the escapism of it and just let the story take them in.

I think this is probably one of the reasons I’ve always liked Jane Austen – I’ve been fascinated by what she wrote about women who had very few options for independence.  E.g. Miss Bates in Emma is a woman who never married and has fallen on hard times.  Given that she has no source of income, she will only sink deeper into poverty as her life progresses.  And in the film version of Sense and Sensibility Elinor points out to Edward, “You will inherit your fortune.  We [her mother and sisters] cannot even earn ours.”

Having no options is pretty awful.  For Kate, option A (Icky Josh), was so repellant that we all supported her moving to another century and forgoing a life of independence to be with Gentlemanly Leopold. I’ve been mulling over what my friend said about  “how women are treated” made all the difference.  She didn’t even have to say anything else – I instinctively recognized her statement as true.  No justifying argument was necessary – the lack of a viable alternative made the value of Kate’s choice self-evident.

The Lord’s interactions with women during His earthly ministry are all interesting, but the one I kept coming back to as I thought about “how women are treated,” was the lady with the 12 year issue of blood who just hoped to touch the hem of His garment to be healed.  Talk about lack of options!  And if anyone could say she was tired and needed a rest, it was her.  This poor woman was excluded from the community’s ceremonial life because of her illness, it was the sort of condition you couldn’t talk about (women’s issues!) and she had been to every doctor she could think of to no avail.  She must have been desperate as she elbowed her way through the crowd, got on her knees and touched the hem of His robe.

In an instant there was elation – she was healed!  She could tell.  And then there was horror – it was her worst nightmare come to life.  All eyes were on her as the Savior stopped traffic to call her to account.  She explained what she had done, and then He said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Luke 8.48).

She approached Him in a way that would not require Him to touch or even acknowledge her – no one would ever know she had touched his garment and she would not risk making him ceremonially unclean.  But He knew that power had gone out from Him and the moment is captured forever in scripture.  She was out of options and reached out in pure desperation.  He could have passed on quietly, keeping her secret – part of me wishes He had done so, letting her fade into oblivion now that she was healed.  But no, His way was ultimately better– she verbalized her reasoning and the source of her shame, and then the Lord silenced any controversy that might have stemmed from this incident by making it 100% clear to everyone present and all future generations that she had done well, believed with a true heart, received healing at the feet of the Master, and was being sent forth to go enjoy her new life.

Matthew 11.28  Come to me all who  labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  

155. So Simple: Candle Wrap

So Simple || Candle Wrap || Ann Ning Learning How - template included

I decided to do a series.  I have long been sad about not seeing my apartment or the majority of my belongings again.  We went to the Container store today and I spent an inordinately long time holding a magnetic spice box (the circular kind you stick on your fridge) since I had a set of those on the side of my fridge in OR and it was the first time I had thought about them.  I used to buy little bags of spices from Winco’s bulk section to refill my containers – peppercorns, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger – simple stuff.

Anyway, it will be nice to be in a position to buy things like that again, but in the meantime I’m tired of waiting and am going to start crafting because my friends pin all these interesting DIY craft projects and I wanna play!  So I’m calling this series “So Simple” and about once a week I’ll post a craft or a recipe I found online that I was able to do.  I have no idea how long this series will last – especially since I tire easily. The point is that if I, the girl who is all kinds of disabled, can do this, so can you – so don’t be intimidated, just dive in!

First up:  a simple candle wrap from Crafted in Carhartt.  I own no Carhartt clothing.  In fact, I had to Google them to find out that they are a manufacturer of work clothing – although I must point out that a lot of their stuff is lookin’ awfully cute for work wear.  They recently featured a DIY Paper Lantern that looked feasible for me, so I tried to make my own.  We didn’t have any vellum in the house, so I used parchment paper and it worked well.  I also used a flameless candle since I don’t think I’m supposed to be using matches, and since I was using parchment paper, it helped to wrap the paper around the pillar, otherwise the paper wouldn’t have been stiff enough.  The majority of the pillar is illuminated, which makes a nice effect – not sure if this is standard for flameless candles, but it helped that we had one like this in the house already.  I “borrowed” it from a table in the hallway.

Finally, I decided that I am not overly enthused by my handwriting right now.  It has improved vastly since I woke up, but I am still happier using my computer to do things like this for me.  So I printed my own candle wrap on pretty scrapbooking paper I found in the desk drawer and used free fonts from Kevin & Amanda – Fonts for Peas. Note:  if you like your handwriting, you can just write or draw your own like the CinC original.  If you do this you don’t have to fire up any technology, which might be your preference.  Plus if you handwrite everything it’s very personal and nice.

Candle Wrap Template || Ann Ning Learning How

If you’d like to print one, I made you a convenient template (linked above).  Sorry, I forgot to measure my candle.  But the template is 6 x 9 – I didn’t know if this would work.  I just eyeballed it and it did!  But if you’d like to make your own…

1)    In Word, adjust margins to X x X

2)    Add a border if you like – top and bottom only

3)    Add your quote

4)    Add emphasis in a contrasting font to important words

5)    Print on light colored, perhaps tonal, scrapbook paper

6)    Use a colored pencil to emphasize even more words (e.g. I drew a heart over the word “heart.”)

7)    Cut it out and tape it to your candle, using the border to help you get it straight.

8)    Trim with ribbon if you like

Look – it’s Rosie the Riveter!

To the Authors of any Crafts/Recipes I reference on this blog:  I’ve tried to properly cite and link as appropriate – my intention is to definitely give credit where credit is due.  If I’ve made significant changes I’ll list the instructions/recipe, otherwise, I’ll link directly to you.  If, however, you have any concerns with how I’ve used your ideas, kindly contact me at  and I will address the issue immediately, no questions asked.  Thank you for the inspiration!  

138. How to Laugh when you Really Feel Like Crying

How to Laugh when you Really Feel Like Crying (dealing with long term illness)

I learned this skill out of necessity.  One night, near Thanksgiving ’11 (relatively early in my recovery), I thought I was ready to read some of Tanpo’s old emails so I started in on one that had flickered across the iPad’s screen.  It detailed the visit of DnA to RIO (when I refused to eat anything in front of them bc, “I don’t want anyone to see me like this,”) and at the end Dad wrote how A asked if I had any prayer requests.  “Courage and stamina,” I replied.

When I read those two words I burst into tears.  I had forgotten that part of the visit but hearing my own concerns reminded me just how scared and tired I had been.

Okay, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, I told Mommy, who had come over.  I wiped my tears and then said, I know what to do – I need to look at my babies.  And I immediately touched the “Photos” button and laughed at the pictures I saw there.  The one that cracked me up the most is above.

Since then, I’ve employed the same strategy often.  I know my nieces and nephews make me laugh so I keep a catalog of stories in my head to bring out when  I need to focus my attention on something cheerful.  The catalog has expanded to include the antics of my friends’ children and other random kids I meet (e.g. “Pirate!”).

Laughing when I feel like crying is another reason I keep Ed around.  He does not like crybabies, but sometimes he feels kind of sad himself since he’s a widower and he misses his dearly departed wife.  His cooking was actually an outgrowth of his grief and I threatened to send him to food rehab.  Ed has since toned the cooking down a bit, and what he does cook I enjoy in my fictional epicurean adventures.

So here’s a summary of how to laugh when you really feel like crying:

1)   Don’t look back.
Uncle KC gave me this pointer.  He and Aunty M have been friends of our family forever and he had a stroke several years ago.  When I saw him for the first time post-AVM I was pleased to find that he immediately understood what I was saying when I was explaining my attempts to walk and how I’d be stepping but my left leg would be “back there” (pointing behind me).  I forgot until a couple of weeks ago that I had seen Uncle KC and Aunty M very soon before my bleed – I had just come home from Africa and they stopped by for a visit.  The contrast in my situation then and now is a little heartbreaking, but I think the advice to not look back is good.  It’s okay to remember, of course, but there’s no need to relive the horror of days gone by.  E.g. sometimes I still get anxious when I see a public bathroom stall since that was the last thing I saw before I got sick.  I try not to turn the scene over and over in my mind. It occurred to me that the Ladies’ Room at work was the beginning of a lot of Divine intervention in my life – starting with the ladies who helped me

2)   Keep a mental list of funnies.
For me, this means keeping pictures of “my children” handy – on electronic devices or hard copies scattered throughout the house.  I also keep the stories about them that make me laugh at the top of my mind  so fishing them out is easy.  No wonder I remember funny things about kids that their parents have no recollection of.

3)  Assume responsibility for changing the subject.
If I have a sad moment, Mommy will often chat with me and then when I’m trying to cheer myself up I’ll either ask her to tell me a favorite story or I’ll bring up Ed.  Talking about Ed (e.g. Ed is allergic to marshmallows, Ed is hosting a disco party tonight and you’re invited) makes me laugh and will make Mommy laugh, too, because of its sheer ridiculousness.  Practicing the art of deflection (by changing the subject), and making someone laugh is very empowering.  I didn’t decide to get sick, but I can decide when and how I’m going to talk about it.  And PS I am still amusing.  (Or maybe Mommy is just a very obliging audience.  I don’t talk about Ed as much with Tanpo since the fact that Ed is my Recovery Buddy is still a little “out there” for him.)

Pssst!  Read this, too:

Anyone hungry?

Howdy – my back is giving me a hard time so I’m taking Friday off.  Meanwhile, congratulations on making it to the end of another week!  I started writing a post like usual, but I’m going to jump ship and give you some food pics instead.


Clockwise from upper left:  (1) Green juice (green apple, kale, celery, 1/2 banana, a few grapes) and my left-handed alphabet puzzle, (2) Almond latte (decaf espresso, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, almond extract, stevia), (3) Char siew bao, (4) Bubor Cha cha with Ed

Sharing is Caring

8548865023_87da0de580_cThank you so much for helping me spread the word about my online projects after I asked for your assistance last week.  Here’s the list of flags before and after (above).  % Traffic is 🙂 but overall Readership # is :(.  So please continue to share !  Thanks again.

Update 3.18.13:  Hi, again – I should clarify that the pictures above are screenshots from my WordPress Stats page.  I don’t know how to download and sort the data, and I think they automatically list the flags ranked by readership size or something.  But the new countries above (I think – my eyes aren’t great and I didn’t ask anyone to double-check) are Germany, Vietnam and Turkey.  And there has been one more since I posted this – Heyyyyy, Lebanon!

120. Parting the wild horse’s mane

That pink thing on the floor is a brush. Ezra was grooming Ed. Then Ed had to go take a nap.

That pink thing on the floor is a brush. Ezra was grooming Ed. Then Ed had to go take a nap.

I used to do (really bad) Tai Chi in my old life.  I started doing it one summer when I was doing a project with Tanpo.  I was just running the numbers since I knew Excel (kind of) and I was unemployed at the time and lived in Mom and Dad’s house, so I was a likely candidate.  I got some DVDs from the library and started doing Tai Chi to help me relax and breathe calmly so I would be in a state of mind conducive to working in close quarters with someone I’m very tight with.  You should have seen us editing my B-school essays – if you observed us for 5 minutes you’d understand why I started doing Tai Chi.

I did a little Tai Chi here and there as I went through school and then moved to OR.  The DVD I bought after test-driving a few from the library is now in storage in my old apartment complex.  I couldn’t do it now, anyway.  P(38) sometimes has me do Tai Chi-like hand movements in the pool, and she told me about “chair” Tai Chi – a branch of the discipline that you perform while seated.  I was immediately drawn to the idea given my former interest in Tai Chi, and lost no time in ordering an Amazon Instant download.

It’s a good idea for me to do chair Tai Chi, not only for the general movement and breathing benefits, but because I need to use my left arm more.  I had hoped my left arm was almost normal looking, but my CMD (Chinese Medicine Doctor) told me she can tell that I’m holding my arm strangely close to my body (doing the handbag) when I walk.  She has had a lot of experience in seeing patients with deficits like mine, so she can spot an impairment a mile away.  She puts needles in my left shoulder to try and open the area up.  I talked to Mommy about it, and it turns out that she has noticed the handbag stance of my left arm for a long time, but just didn’t say anything about it (like the sideways walking).  Even if I sit in a chair, she says, I unconsciously cradle it.  I think of it as my little chicken wing.  I read of another AVMer whose personal trainer refers to her left arm as her “Nemo fin.”  So it is good that I practice the vast, smooth movements of Tai Chi.

I have also resurrected the practice of eating with my left hand.  I have done this on and off since I got home.  I saw some videos of my eating in the hospital and my right hand used to travel and shake like my left hand does now.  It kind of hurts, though, since I noticed I grip the fork so hard in my left hand that it leaves indentations on my left middle finger.  I think I’m trying really hard to control it so I unconsciously grip harder than necessary – like how I used to always get busted when using my walker since my shoulders were noticeably tense.  Oh, well.  I’m still refining my technique and I hope my grip eases up – the left-handed eating will last longer if it does.

I just did my hair and gave thanks for my spring-loaded curling iron.  I actually have one that Mommy got me (it’s an alternative attachment to my flat iron) but it’s the kind that’s like a skinny cone and it’s your job to wrap your hair around it.  I recently saw a one of Tanpo’s videos and in it I’m clapping after we sing (actually, everyone else sang) Happy Birthday to Mommy and I basically keep my left hand still and hit it with my right, so I have instinctively known that trying the cone-shaped iron would be a bad idea for me.  So I got a cheap 1.5 or 2” iron, and it’s currently my hair implement of choice.

The Tai Chi move that always makes me laugh is “Parting the wild horse’s mane.”  It made me laugh when I was well because I just felt so silly trying to do it, but it still amuses me now that I do Chair Tai Chi since it’s a blast from the past that surprised me and carries new connotations.  There’s Ed, my “wild horse,” and the idea of parting hair, which gave me a lot of anxiety in the hospital.

Before I was able to brush my own hair, people did it for me.  Side note:  I was informed about the hairbrush-throwing incident at Vibra, and I apologize.  When I was well enough to look in the mirror when I used the sink in my room at Therapy Boot Camp, I always noticed that my hair was parted in different ways.  Doing my hair was something my OTs taught me to do.  One morning, C (2) was helping me get ready for the day and I was sitting in my wheelchair in front of the sink.  I made an attempt to brush and tie my hair in a ponytail but was dissatisfied with the results.  “Will you please help me with the hair situation?” I asked, gesturing vaguely in the direction of my head.  “The what?” C asked.  “The hair situation,” I said again, in what I hoped was a clearer voice.  C is around my age, probably younger, actually, and I think she was probably unused to hearing the expressions I was using at the hospital since I was a departure from the usual patient demographic.

On the day I flew home (YAY!) M (3) recruited another OT to come and French braid my hair.  I wasn’t her patient, but A was the resident braider on staff, so she walked down the hall from where she was assisting another patient and put my hair in a nice tight braid that lasted another 16 hours and a cross-country flight. I remember thinking that I should learn how to braid – it would come in handy now – but I don’t think my left hand has the skill for it.

S and B (6 and 8) made sure I could use a flatiron safely before I left The Place, although S was like, I don’t understand – your hair is already straight.  But B told me she understood and we went to the practice bathroom so I could pretend to iron my hair.  These days, however, I prefer to wear my hair curly since it’s a bit of a pain to keep doing/undoing my ponytail when I get in the car and go anywhere.  I’ve also always had an aversion to ponytail “bumps” left by the hair elastic,  and they are less noticeable if I go curly, besides which, going curly also lets my hair “stick” better when I combine the ponytail with a hair claw to get it completely out of the way when I go to the pool.  Also, my niece Hannah once asked me why I liked having curly hair.  I bypassed all the logistical reasons and got to the meat of the matter.  “I like the distraction,” I told her.  What I meant is that I feel like bigger hair distracts from the rest of me.  Maybe it’s just mental, but play along, okay?

I rarely wore curls in my old life, but now I wear them most of the time.  A lot of things have changed for me, including my hair, but now that I can do it myself, the part is always in the same place.

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117. AVM Metrics

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 10.57.26 PM

All hands on deck!

I need help.


Do you see your country’s flag in this picture?  This is the image of flags/countries in my “Stats” page that have looked at my blog since the dawn of time (okay, I launched about a month ago).   I have enjoyed watching new flags pop up on my screen as the sun crawls around the globe.  But I’d love to see more countries represented and more importantly, an increase in views/country.  The reason is twofold:  1) I’d like to reach as many people as possible but haven’t done a fabulous job so far, which is why I need your help. 2) The daily list of flags reminds me to pray for the countries as they appear on screen – and praying for countries by name is a good thing.  So please share my stuff if you’re led.  There are easy sharing buttons under every post, and you can also share my Thank You.  The “Thank You” applies to you, first and foremost.  ❤

*Note:  While I was loading this post, another flag popped up but it’s not pictured.  Sorry, Germany!  And thank you (in every country) for reading!

Now…on to today’s post:


AVM Metrics


Metrics are my friend.  So many things in life are subjective so it’s great to be able to say (esp. if you’re recommending a course of action at work), “The numbers say…” The first question I asked when I signed up for Vision Therapy was, “How do you measure, and how often do you measure improvement?”  Answer:  They have all sorts of tests and equipment to measure how your eyes are working, and the generally accepted time frame is to do an evaluaton after every 24 hours of treatment.  My first eval, however, was after only 12 hours since we all wanted to know if VT was having any effect on me.  I had braced myself for disappointment that day but was overjoyed to be informed that the numbers indicated that my left eye (after 30+ years of neglect) is indeed waking up.  YAY!

I used to measure my recovery by the number of Cheerios I spilled on the floor of my hospital room when I was at Therapy Boot Camp.  But I soon discarded that metric since I was discouraged by the multitude of little “o’s” that stared up at me from the floor every morning.  Here are some alternative metrics/illustrations related to my injury and how I’m getting better:

What is an AVM?


Likelihood of Rupture as you Age


  • The probability of having an AVM:  there is debate, but it’s probably around 0.2% (
  • AVMs that do not cause symptoms by the time people reach their late 40s or early 50s are more likely to remain stable and rarely cause symptoms.

The Pain Scale


My Walking Scale


Qi – Meter



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