It’s almost Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and I wanted to give you a progress report. The past year has been great. I started Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, cupping etc., “TCM”) in January and have had a dramatic reduction in pain as well as a significant increase in mobility. This allowed me to pursue Recovery more aggressively at land and pool physical therapy at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in D.C., and by exercising more systematically at home. I started TCM since I had nothing to lose – I saw several doctors and had a battery of tests all yielding the same results – my left hip (the main problem) is sound but I continued to experience the same deficiencies and pain. I am sure that TCM has positively impacted my recovery because when I stopped treatment for a couple of months while I stayed with Tim and Ai Ai this summer, my physical condition regressed and the pain was excruciating (although I had a great time with them). I am happy to be back in TCM treatment about once a week.
Other areas of thanksgiving include:
1. Successful transition to Medicare: I received Medicare through my Social Security Disability coverage and have enrolled with Kaiser and met all my new providers.
2. Improvement in Vocal Health: I was diagnosed with a nodule on one vocal cord and weakness in the other in June, and was referred to a vocal surgeon. I saw another ENT in October, and my weaker cord is better. I’m currently in speech therapy to see if we can improve the situation before pursuing invasive intervention.
3. Improvement in Mobility: I can now walk around in the house without a cane.
4. It’s easier to read: I still can’t read normally, but 9 months of Vision Therapy improved how I use my eyes in general and boosted my visual confidence. I kept my eyes closed whenever I could when I first woke up, but now I want to read. After my eye doctor asked me to choose a visual goal for myself I decided that I was ready to read music well enough to occasionally play the piano at church. (Seeing is only half the battle – having enough motor skill control to hit the right keys is another issue.)
5. Increased Stamina for Life: I have been ingesting a lot of murky-looking herbal tonics my acupuncture doctor has prescribed. I think, after several months, that they are working. I feel the need to nap less and have the energy I need to do things like learn how to cook again (safety-modified, of course) and how to do things around the house in general. I still need to plan breaks every 10-20 minutes to rest my eyes and my back etc. but I can do more than I used to.
These are only some of the things I am thankful for. I’m sure more will be forthcoming. I know so many of you prayed hard for me when my brain bled and I was in obvious, urgent need. Thank you! My request now is that you continue to pray for my fuller recovery. My insurance transition to Medicare signifies that I am in this for the long haul. Disability has become my way of life.
Specifically, please pray for these items:
1. Learning How… Books etc. on sale Dec. 10:
We are continuing to iron out the logistics, but I’ve targeted Tuesday, Dec. 10 for the launch date for my “Memoirs” and all of the other collateral I’ve produced. They will be available at Amazon.com and/or via digital download. All proceeds will go to “Learning How” – a nonprofit corporation.
This exercise is admittedly self-serving in that it has been great typing-practice and an emotional aid in getting this out of my system. My intention is that my readers will reap encouragement, humor, and hope. Given the subject matter I necessarily talk about some heavy stuff, but the emphasis (I hope you can tell from my blog) is on how to procure and maintain a happy heart.
Speaking of my blog
, if you haven’t been there yet, please stop by! I have spent the last year+ posting everything from recipes to How to’s (e.g. laugh when you really feel like crying, do hospital visitation, launch a business, prepare a child for Kindergarten). Thankfully, I have a knowledgeable friend-base to help me write these things, so don’t worry, I don’t always just make stuff up. Yes, everything I write happens with RecoveryLand as the backdrop, but I write on a huge variety of topics. The point of my writing is that I had the opportunity to be angry and bitter for life, but God saved me from that, so everything I write in book or blog form is aimed at forwarding this notion. Anyone who doesn’t wish to read about the how and why of the facts that a) I lived and b) I live joyfully, will find many other things to grab their attention, and pretty much everyone I know likes to laugh, so people all over the world
have stopped by my blog. I do, however, need your help in spreading the word, so please read and share!
2. Long-Term Recovery: As I get further away from the date of my injury (4.7.11) I always remember the medical consensus that the biggest gains come in your first year of recovery, and then it slows down and is rather uneventful. Now that I have transitioned to Medicare I have also started to set up the infrastructure for my self-directed recovery. I just showed up at my first outpatient hospital because my therapy team in Oregon arranged it. Now my insurance coverage is more limited in scope and I decided to go to acupuncture and found a personal trainer because I want to. I try to do more things around the house and am trying to make progress in the direction of independent living. I have been informed that I will never hold down a job like my old one (too much reading and computer use), and there is no projected date for when I might be able to work at any job at all. I am focused, however, on the business of living, although it would also be nice to earn a living, too. Please pray for my continued recovery, and especially for my dear parents as they care for me. I am informed that the part of my brain that was most affected and surgically removed primarily controls motor functions. Most of my deficits are physical, but although I am considered to be cognitively intact the damage was not isolated and the effects (although often not obvious) are far-reaching. Also, please pray for a continued improvement in vocal health. My preference is to avoid invasive intervention. You can find a running list of my prayer requests on the updates page of my website.
Thanks so much.
Psalm 34.4-5 “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.”
Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you so much for reading these updates, praying, and helping my family and me in so many ways since my brain bled in April 2011. Thank you, too, to Dad – if he hadn’t written those updates I would have no insight into what happened while I was asleep. I can’t believe that soon it will be 2 years that have gone by. When I marked the first anniversary of my injury I was quite torn up over the fact that I still couldn’t write all of the Thank You cards I wanted to. This is like a wedding. The conventionally acceptable time allowance for sending Thank You’s has expired, and I’m still unable to acknowledge you individually for all the cards, flowers, baskets etc. you’ve sent my way since this happened so please just accept my heartfelt thanks. I lieu of a note I made you all a video. I made it with your kids in mind but I hope you like it too. It’s called Ed Goes to DC and here’s the link: Ed Goes to DC on Youtube
Who is Ed, you ask? Ed is the head of my entourage and has sometimes been called my Recovery Buddy. You can read more about him at www.annninglearninghow.com. In case you’re wondering why I’m producing all this stuff – it’s because I’m cognitively intact but physically disabled. Typing etc. is good practice for me. Among the new things I’m learning are Facebook and Twitter. Please go find me if you like. For many of you this is the first time that I’m imposing myself on your inbox, and for all of you, this is the last time I will do so. If you’re wondering what’s going on with me in the future please refer to my website and I will post updates there. If you’re in a rush there will be a summary there so you can take the most important points in quickly. If you’re looking for a few laughs, my blog is also on the “updates” tab. I’m working on my “Memoirs” (date TBD) and they promise to be wildly entertaining, so check back on my website for more information. In the meantime, please enjoy Ed Goes to DC and know that I can never thank you enough for your support.
Ann | Ning
(+ Dad, Mom, Ernie, Ruth, Tim & Ai Ai)