Tag Archives: health

Thank You For Your Service

Today is a day for remembering our veterans. Yet we often exclude and even look with shame on those who take their own live. The following is a different take, a brief story which can save our own lives and that of our loved-ones.

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He was my cousin. He was my friend. He was a quiet and kind man, with an offbeat sense of humour.

He spoke with subdued meanness about the father he never knew. Perhaps that was a clue. Perhaps that was the beginning.

suicide

The last time I saw him, he had returned home from fighting America’s war In the land of Iraq. I asked him, “what are you going to do now that you are home”

He replied, “I want to go back and blow some brains out”

“You’re not serious,” I questioned, wondering if this was an ugly example of his warped sense of humour.  He didn’t respond. I don’t think he smiled.

In search of a more loving mood, I change the conversation. But I could not find his smile. I could not find his love.

The day I heard of his fate, I realized I had been speaking to a ghost; for the cousin and friend I once knew never returned from Iraq.

With his wife and son away from home, he took a gun pointed it to his head and like he had spoken, blew his own brains out.

Now I say tearful thanks to him for bringing greater attention to the mental illness that comes from the many wars of our lives.

His broken life sheds light on the millions of mentally ill living with sicknesses our eyes cannot see, struggling to cope with the ravages of life.

As mental illness spreads like a virus, we urgently see the need to learn how to love and how to save another mind, another lost loved-one.

To all desolate war veterans driven to take their own life, thank you for your service. Thank God for your life.

Say a Prayer for Cecilia

ceciliaCecilia has been fighting for her life for the last couple weeks, as a result of a horrible hit and run accident.

Anyone who has had a disability as well as constant health challenges, yet at the same time is an uplifting beacon of love and friendship for others, deserves a great blessing. Cecilia, a gifted young lady who is visually impaired and a brain cancer survivor, is such a person.

I met Cecilia at the gym about 5 years ago. She was an arts and crafts volunteer, working with children at the gym where I workout. I admired her general love for my daughter and other children, including her gift for making creative little paper toys to put smiles on people’s faces (as shown above) . We became good friends, and shared about our personal health challenges. I admired the fact that she never used this as an excuse to complain or stop contributing to life.

We had been sending a text to each other every Saturday morning, just before we met up at the gym. If either of us couldn’t be there, we’d let the other know. So two weeks ago when she didn’t respond to my text and I didn’t see her at the gym, I was a bit concerned. The same thing happened the week after. I was so concerned that I tried to contact her this past Monday. No success. I knew something was wrong. I feared it was a return of her brain cancer.

On Tuesday I got the call from her dad. He told me about the horrible car accident, and the search for the driver who caused the accident and ran away from the scene. Cecilia was so badly hurt that she was on life support and in a coma for a while.  She just recently came out of the coma, and though she is unable to communicate with me, she told her dad to call me and tell me what happened.

Though she is pretty broken up, I thank God that she is alive and is stable now. She is still facing a great battle. Her dad is asking for much prayers.

I have no idea what God has planned for Cecilia or any of us. I can only hope and pray that His plans includes a healing miracle for this inspiring young lady. Please pray with me.

Are you mentally healthy?

Depression, anxiety, suicide, bi-polar disorders, substance abuse, and so on – did you know the world in a mental health crisis?

Some 20% of Canadians and Americans and 25% of British people reported mental health/illness concerns. The correct figure is probably far higher than that – I for one, would never have reported a mental health issue. I didn’t know I was seriously depressed; and even if I did, fear of the stigma of mental illness would have stopped me from admitting it.

What about you? Take a look at the following chart, do you see yourself on one side or the other. Why?

Mental Health-1

What Everyone Ought to Know About Rising Up

Zumba demonstration
Zumba demonstration

There was a time when I would be in front of an aerobics or dance exercise class, proudly matching the instructor with my high-level, high-energy moves. Now, as my stroke-altered body try to follow a Zumba class, I feel like a rhythm-challenged individual; moving in ways I once arrogantly found so humorous.

Instead of doing a whole lot of praying, and hoping for the day when I can again be the dancer I used to be, I had to let my body thrive where it is, and find its own awkward rhythm. Often times my right foot is so heavy, I can barely pick it up off the ground. During these times, I have learned to firmly plant my feet on the ground and joyfully move my uninhibited hips and upper body to the beat of the thumping music.

It took being knocked down to awaken my spirit, and experience what it truly means to rise above the limitations of the body and experience joy. We all have to love ourselves at whatever place we are, in order to rise up and live life now!

The Day I Crumbled

I read the prologue of my book to a group of writers. They felt that taking people through the experience of having a stroke was riveting. Read it below and tell me what do you think?

It was early Saturday morning, April 28, 2007, two weeks before my 46th birthday. I was a vegetarian and continued to go to the gym five times per week. I was healthy and as fit as an athlete, physically anyway. I believed I was in better shape than many thirty-year-olds.

Feeling sleep in my bones, I rolled my body to the edge of my bed, dangled my feet over and slowly sat up. I dropped my bare feet onto the hardwood floor, allowing my legs to drunkenly carry my body to the bathroom. Yet, once inside the toilet, my body wouldn’t do the functions it always did every single morning.   Even after sitting for maybe five minutes, nothing happened!  Pulled to the mirror by my subconscious or some other unseen force, I slowly raised my body up, shuffled a few steps forward, and gazed into the mirror. I can’t describe my reflection, but my right eye looked troubled.  This could have gotten my full attention, if it weren’t for the tiredness that seemed to be weighing my body down like a heavy load.

“Go back to your bed,” said a silent voice inside me.

I instantly turned around and allowed my head to carry my increasingly droopy body back into the bedroom. As I tried to hoist myself up the 25 or so inches onto the surface of my bed, my arms, legs and every other part of me came sliding down to the ground. It was like an unstoppable avalanche!

I was suddenly like a helpless baby, totally unable to pick myself up off the floor. I thought, maybe hoped, I was dreaming.

Frightfully confused, I crawled on my belly like a senseless, headless chicken, from the bedroom to the bathroom, and then turned right towards the kitchen. It was as if some kind of horrifying madness had taken me over.

I probably would have panicked to death, if Shani, my then five-year-old daughter, had not appeared. I knew then that I didn’t just have to worry about what was erasing me, I had to take care of her.

I somehow told Shani, who I imagine must have been freaking out, to get the phone. Desperately, I tried several times to dial my mother; but each time, after the 3rd or 4th number, everything became so mixed-up in my mind that I was unable to recognize or see even a single number.

A voice inside me said “Dial 911!” It was only 3 numbers.  I could do that.

Knowing the ambulance was on the way reduced the pandemonium that was itching to break loose from inside me. For a merciful moment, the reduced stress enabled my brain to somehow find itself. I correctly dialed my mother’s number, the hardest 9 digits my brain ever had to hold on to.

I did not hear my mother say hello. I have no recollection of Shani taking the phone. I can only remember her quiet fear-stricken voice.  “Grandma, there’s something wrong with Mommy! Who’s going to take care of me?”

My heart felt like it crumbled into miniscule peaces as I heard those words. I could not really see Shani’s face or the frightful tears, which must have hidden behind her desperate eyes; yet I knew she was scared to death.

Soon the Paramedics rushed in, a man and a woman. Working hurriedly outside the kitchen of my two bedroom apartment, they were doing doctor things to me and asking doctor questions, which I was too senseless to know or remember.

Then two firefighters rushed in. They assessed the situation and veered toward Shani, peering silently from the adjoining living room.  My eyes fixed on the two handsome firefighters as they played doll with my daughter, saying comforting little-girl things. I had no doubt they would care for and protect her until my mother came. Even for but a moment, my body relaxed with a feeling of tremendous gratitude.

I cannot recall much about leaving my apartment or travelling down the elevator. Yet I remember feeling some sort of pity for myself, as I noticed the rental agents peering through the window of their ground floor office, and as the Paramedics held adjoining ends of the stretcher and rushed me out the apartment entrance and into the ambulance.

 

The Hardest Story I Ever Had To Tell

apts-b1-cv4God is good, all the time. But He’s not always nice!

Nice gives us our happy times. However, most of us also need access to the ugly, mean, and painful stuff of life in order to discover and realize the very best of ourselves. At least, I did!

In 1971 my little girl self, stepped off the plane, and into the new world of Canada. Since then, I have been fighting against an emergence of cold, mean and painful forces at home, in the classroom and in the office. It was a battle I thought I could win, until I realized. I was fighting me!

At the age of 46, I had a massive stroke. The doctors said they could find no cause!

My life was stopped, like a swatted mosquito, for no reason! I felt as though I was dying without ever having lived, without giving the world the very best of me……..

Click here to read the entire short introduction. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Training for Life!

It was a cold winter day in Ottawa and I was in my early 20’s. I was in the gym, ferociously running on the treadmill, as though I was in an elite fitness competition.

After watching me, for over 30 minutes and witnessing my seemingly insatiable appetite for physical punishment, a young man walked up to me and asked. “What are you training for?!” I smiled as God filled my heart with a strange truth. “Life,” I answered! The young man was slightly mystified. He quizzically looked at me, smiled and walked away. To tell you the truth, for a time, I really didn’t know what I meant.

Some 30 years later, when people hear of my stroke and see my obvious disability, they often wonder why I am so positive, so optimistic. The truth is, I am exalted, as I embrace this life, for which I have been training for so many years. This training and this life have enabled me to rediscover so many heart-warming truths about myself and those with whom I am blessed to share this journey. Because of this training and this life, I am so much stronger, so much spiritually fitter than I have ever been.