wow. the summer that was, 2017.

Oh man. I have been so dang busy having fun that there’s been no time at all to blog. Between awesome times at camp, driving back and forth because I insist on loving places and people not near me {as well as some near me, don’t worry guys!}, spending time with fabulous people, enjoying the last rays of summer with a book in my hammock, and trying to learn how to adult again, I have had very little time to blog. So I’ll try to back up and summarize a very full, amazing, surprising summer.

Sadly my time in the lovely Calgary with amazing friends did have to come to an end. So I got into Fiara and we headed back East. Conveniently, I got to stop in Strathmore for a lovely walk with two ladies from Bible School! They were both in my dorm hall, and one was actually my mentor when I was there {and after!}. It had been a while since seeing them, so it was great to reconnect!! I made a bunch more stops than I usually would, and for longer, and eventually made it to crash at my favorite Brandon B&B {aka the Longstaff residence}. It was not the best drive, but it was less painful / uncomfortable than it might’ve been. So thanks for that, God, and thanks everyone for your prayers!! Sunday I got to go to church with my Longstaffs, and duck out a little early to start driving again to Camp Cedarwood!

{with my mentor Ashey and friend Wi-Ow [there was this song about NoeLs…] in Strathmore; and then a stop at a lovely lookout I always see driving through Saskatchewan and never stop at, until I needed to move and stretch for my back…}

That place is so crazy-different than any camp I’ve ever been to or worked at {worked at is up to a total of four}. But it’s great. I enjoy it so much! I was curious about how many staff I’d know, and how many would be new this year. Turns out I did know a bunch of them, which is always nice! It was great to feel less awkward and more a part of the staff group. Actually, I was just there for Fall Retreat last weekend, and I was even included and put on the assignment to help with skills and for where to help supervise free time {which ended up being watching The Princess Bride with campers. heck yeah!}.

{in case you were curious about the Cedarwood schedule… and with my “best friend” Teagan who I was having a great time bugging…}

Campers arrived {back to summer} and I knew lots of them too!! Some of them remembered paintballing with me last year, and when I joined them on Tuesday one said “I’m scared of Carmel.”. Ha. Love it. I had so much fun with them. It was a really safe week, heaps of fun, and the entire reason for being there: a bunch of kids came to know Christ!!! WOOHOOOOO!!!! Angels were having quite the party!! I pray that they continue in their relationship with God and come to know Him more and more. Otherwise there wasn’t anything in particular to report, though it was still tough not to participate in the games very much.

Saturday after camp I had a fantastic beach floating sister date, followed by a wonderful family day at home on Sunday and getting to see my niece! As well, of course, as doing laundry and re-packing my stuff. Had a quick sleepover at my favorite Brandon B&B again and headed back to Dallas Valley for Week 6, my first week of the summer at Conestoga! {teens only, and nursing for both Conestoga and Xtreme campers.} The drive was not bad at all on my back, just super boring. I got there and was worried it was going to be a rather lame week because the staff there that week weren’t ones I really knew. I called my sister to pray about my attitude together while I moved my stuff in. And then I also realized I was getting hangry because I’d been too late for lunch and really just snacked in the car… So I got myself some food and a Coke Zero, decided to enjoy getting to know kids and staff, and got ready for registration. The kids [campers]. Were. Amazing. Hilarious. Such fun. Two of them, during the first evening’s wide game, decided to name me Quinnifer. I honestly have no idea how they came to that conclusion. They informed me their names were Kaylafer and Laylafer, and eventually their cabin became “the Fer Family”. Their cabin leader was pretty much the only staff member I’d interacted with before, but not a ton. I was pretty much a member of their cabin by the end of the second day, joining them for meals, chapel, skills, devos once, etc. It was really amazing getting to know those crazies and getting to know Alice [their cabin leader] better {she’s cool, and I get to hang out with her and her sister Abby sometimes as they’re students at the University of Manitoba}. I was super duper sad for the week to end and for them to leave.

As I felt better throughout the summer, I tried doing more things that my back might not like… I decided to start trying jogging again in Calgary after playing with and carrying the boys and going to Stampede turned out to be okay. I did some weights workouts while at Cedarwood, and that felt okay. I continued jogging a few times a week, gradually increasing my distance {though my endurance and speed [not that I was ever fast] had taken a HUGE hit with my months of nothing…}, and it wasn’t causing pain! In fact, the more I did, the better I felt, and the more I could do. Generally. So I started doing things that may have seemed like a bad idea to spectators who knew how much time I’d had to spend lying down during week 1…

I have an inflatable unicorn raft named Marco. He’s 7 feet from head to tail, and can support almost 500 pounds. Turns out, Marco LOVES the slip’n’slide. As do I, riding him. And a whole ton of campers that had a blast going down the slide on him into the dugout. In fact, I even got Nolan, an 18 year old staff who usually teaches riflery and likes to pretend he’s cool, to ride Marco down with me. {I totally didn’t think he would!} He was pretty surprised at how quickly Marco likes to fly down! It was A. May. Zing. Definitely a highlight. And it didn’t hurt. Even going back up the hill for another round. Awesome. Praise the Lord!!

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{I love the terror on her face. She totally loved it and rode Marco a bunch of times!}

This week wasn’t so painless for everyone though. I sent a record-breaking [for me] three kids for X-Rays [I almost never send kids in. I have to be pretty convinced of a big problem.] All of them came back with left arm in a sling because it was broken. One also with a sprained ankle, and one with the inside of their elbow broken. I believe all had to see a surgeon, but none needed surgery and all came back finished the week of camp still enjoying themselves. Sam, the first one to get broken {first skill, first full day of camp} said at the end of the week that something she had learned was to accept help. Ha, I can relate to that! Another cool thing was that when I called the second camper’s mom to let her know that he was okay but I was sending him for an X-Ray, I let Cade have the phone for a bit and I overheard his mama praying for him. Wow. I love when that is the first response. I can’t say it always is for me, but what an excellent reminder!! She was a super encouraging mama.

 

{I sometimes gave my “sling things” [what they called themselves] rides on my nurse Gator since they couldn’t do a lot of things. But they had to help Marco ride to and from the dugout.}

Well I think that’s enough for one post. It seems that this long-winded and rabbit-trailing blogger will need to write another summer post to fit it all in. Cuz it really was a great summer, though different in a lot of ways than previous ones for me. Thank-you heaps and heaps to everyone who prays for me, for my pain as well as about the ways I get to serve God. It’s so vital, and I appreciate it soooo much! I’m down to 1/4 of the dose of my biggest nerve pain medication, and though definitely regularly sore and able to tell when it’s “pill o’clock”, I’m okay. I’m able to work full-time as an education facilitator {I now have two groups of students, 3-4 8 and 12 hour shifts each week} and be active, with only occasional manageable soreness. I even went for a little trail ride with my dad today, and saddled my own horse. God is so GOOD!!! 

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and here we are.

Well. It’s September 2017. Yikes. Almost a year since my weird leg pain started happening, and about eight months since it got crazy-ridiculously bad. I am sooooooo grateful for all of your prayers, and for God’s grace and healing through this process. It has pretty much never felt quick, but I do know many people struggle for years with back pain, and I am doing my best not to complain about what I’ve dealt with. And I’m overjoyed to report: I’m feeling SOOOOOOOOO MUCH BETTER!!!

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{my favorite old lady and I are pretty stoked about it!}

I saw my spine doctor last week, and he has rejected me as a patient. {quick plug, I’ve really really appreciated Dr. Sommer. I hope your spines all stay fantastic forever, but if you’re in the Winnipeg area with back issues, I recommend trying to see him. And doing aquasize, wherever you are.} My reflexes, sensation, and movement are back and he no longer needs to see me. I was a little concerned I might get in big trouble about my jogging… {oh yeah. I decided in July to try jogging again. I mean, he had told me to walk more… It’s really the same, just at a quicker pace, right? I’m now able to do four miles straight again, and working on getting my pace down.} Anyway, he was pleased that I can do it. He asked what I was doing for my abs, and I did get in trouble because {now I know} crunches and V-sits are harmful for my back. Unfortunately, I’ve been sternly advised to do push-ups and planks {ugh. ew. barf. gross.} [but I’m doing them…]. He also told me I can go back to work {yay?}.

But the most horrendous news I’ve probably gotten all month: I have to wean off of my glorious meds. [max doses of everything I could possibly take, meaning 15-17 pills each day; 18-20 when I was on antibiotics for my infected toe…] {insert terrified face, in agony, sobbing. it’s not pretty, I know. that’s why there’s no photo.} As I write this {nine days later} I’m down to half my previous dose of the first med he told me to taper off of. I know he’s right and I can’t be on it forever, and long term use does cause damage [especially at the max dose I was on], but I definitely feel the difference. So I’m gonna sit at this dose another day or two before going down I think. I mean, it’s possibly also related to my four-mile interval jog in the park today, but that dang nerve is angry right now.

{we did a color-flying 5km run for mental health awareness. and we are velociraptors.}

SO. Other than {obviously} pushing it while jogging, taking less drugs, doing push-ups, and planking; what am I doing now?? Well, let me tell you. [Or stop reading. Totally up to you. I know I’m rambly and rather cray…]

For September I’ve been working two days a week at the University of Manitoba College of Nursing, operating a high-fidelity maternity simulation mannequin. All of the fourth-year students go through maternity simulation days. Partly to prepare them for clinical practice, but also because not all of them will actually have maternity clinical experience, as it is {now} given only to students who request it. So I set up the doll {Lucina} for the situation {sometimes laboring and delivering her baby [for reals. I make it cry from my computer once it’s born!], sometimes having different complications…}, run her from a computer in another room, watch the students interact with Lucina through a camera, and am her voice back to them over a microphone. It’s pretty neat. Though doing the same thing six times in a day does get tiresome…

Next month I start working as a Clinical Education Facilitator [CEF], still for the University of Manitoba. For nine weeks {still mostly two days a week} I will take students into the hospital [HSC] for labor & delivery and postpartum clinical experience. Basically, I make sure they don’t kill anyone, help educate them, and evaluate them. I did this for a year a few years ago, but this is the first class to go through the new program. I’m really excited about the bigger skill set these students will have {it used to be in second year, either their first or second rotation, so they couldn’t do a ton of hands-on stuff}. Anyway, that’s my work for now. I want to get some shifts on the short-stay pre/post operative unit I have worked on before at St. Boniface, but they might be difficult to come by.

I’m booked with Mercy Ships again for February 2018 to the beginning of June. I’m just a tiny little bit SOOOO EXCITED!!!!! I’m working on blogging about the rest of my super amazing awesome summer, but there’s lots to say and I’ve just been really busy having fun and also doing work-type things… If you would like to know how to financially support me alongside of your prayer support for Mercy Ships, please let me know. I’d love to show you how to get a tax-deductible receipt for helping me go work for free!

If you’d like to hang out sometime, please also let me know about that. I think it’d be fun.

partying in Calgary again, July 2017

So I finally made it to Calgary. So fun! The boys are so big!! I was just here in December and they were so much smaller. Yikes!! {I always stay with my friends Karla & Dustin, and their two little boys.} Anyway, I love being AUNTIE!! They were shy and timid for an hour or so. Then, as I’d convinced their Mama, we took them to the Stampede PARADE!!! Ask Kaeden what we did: train. Just train. We rode the C-train to and from, and he loved it. And after getting off, we had to watch the crossing arms go down and back up for a few trains and listen to the dinging, telling pedestrians to “GET OFF THE TRACKS!!!!” {Kaeden’s words} That kid cracks me up. Macklin, however, {just hardly ONE!!} LOVED the parade! That kid was trying to leap out of my arms he was flailing so hard in excitement! Awesome. So much fun with them. And Karla thought it would be a disaster…

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Let me just start with this: HUGE PROPS TO ALL THE MAMAS OUT THERE. Seriously. I don’t know how you guys do it. Kids are super fun and awesome, and sooooo exhausting!! Do they ever work on your patience!! {yeah, I know. I don’t have much to begin with…} but for reals guys. WAY. TO. GO. You are awesome. I helped Karla babysit an extra three kids one day, and was totally wiped. A five year old, two three year olds, and two barely one year olds. I had heaps of fun with those cuties and looooved being called “auntie” all day, but I couldn’t do it all the time! I also took care of my hosts’ three and one year old boys for two days while their parents worked, and just wow. I love those boys, and it’s not even like they were bad. We had nice days. I just was soooo done with repeating myself a thousand times to someone who isn’t even paying attention. Patience is not my strength, and sometimes God likes to make me work on it… ew. But we had fun. And I still love them! [their little hugs are the absolute BEST. Especially unsolicited.] Anyway, I know you mamas are always ridiculously critical and hard on yourselves. And it’s not like I know anything about being one, but you are doing a good job. Just love on those kiddos, like I know you do, and stop picking yourself apart. God gave those babes to you on purpose. He loves them, and you, and is taking care of you.

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{going from the splash park to the car with 5 kids. Karla said “everyone grab an auntie’s hand!” [they call both of us auntie]. the fifth child was in her carrying backpack. she did push the stroller full of towels and snacks…}

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Somehow the only days of Stampede I did not attend were both Saturdays. Weird. Anyway, the rodeo was EPIC. Big surprise. I got to see a new arena record set in barrel racing {16.99 seconds!!!}, Kelly Sutherland’s retirement races [two of the week], JB Mauney win {and get his autograph and a photo taken!!!}, JB Mauney win again but hit the ground hard and be taken out on a spine board and stretcher {he’s okay. Dislocated shoulder that was put back in on the grounds. Surprisingly though, he didn’t compete on Showdown Sunday for a hundred grand}, the third person ever win their Stampede event three years in a row {and at the age of 23 plus one day… yeesh.}, JR Viera compete, a Manitoba boy {Orin Larsen; what a weird name.} do super well on broncs and end up taking second on Showdown Sunday, the chuckwagon races and evening show twice, and just so much amazingly impressive rodeo competition. SO. GOOD.

I also got to watch some sweet concerts, including Neal McCoy, a band I had to look up and decided I love called Endless Summer {which I would also love}, Jess Moskaluke, and BROOKS & DUNN {brought my friend Karla along to her first stadium concert!}!!! A. MAY. ZING. I love concerts. I think it’s the insanely loud music, amped up atmosphere, and just enjoying live music. So that was heaps of happiness. A friend came with me a few times and we danced it up after I taught him to two-step. Crazy much fun.

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{JB MAUNEY AFTER HIS FIRST DAY WIN!!!}

My friend works for one of the rodeo’s corporate sponsors and one day texted to tell me he’d just been given passes for rodeo, evening show & chucks, a lounge with free buffet, and entry to the chuckwagon barns. And asked if I’d like to join him. I immediately declared that he was my new best friend {sorry Crystal… you understand… plus you’ll get your title back soon I’m sure!} and would love to use up that extra pass, once Karla was home from work and leaving would not be child neglect. So we walked over the chuckwagon track, and then under it on the other side to get there. Super cool already {I’m a dork, I know. Don’t care.}. We got to the barns and while I was freaking out about how cool it was, we weren’t sure if we could just go in and wander, or what the protocol was. We asked people chilling by their horses if we could do that and they said yep. SO. FREAKING. COOL. Jeff even loved it, though he has no real interest in horses, and said he’d never pet that many before. He kindly listened and acted interested while I babbled about how awesome it was and gave him equine trivia to use at future dinner parties [likely not quite accurately, lol]. We checked out at petted all the horses and as it got closer to harnessing time, we were told the ones that were tied in their stall would be racing and not to touch them. I told Jeff that I wasn’t sure what title would be above “new best friend”, but that he would attain it if he found Kelly Sutherland’s area of the barns {“The King” of chuckwagon racing, retiring after this year}. Entirely by accident, but he did!!! I haven’t figured out his new title, and I don’t think he cares. Dustin suggested “best friend with sparkles”, and my sister said that “sister” is above it but she’s already the owner of that one. I’ll accept suggestions for a while longer, and then likely forget about the whole title thing entirely…

{even found a horse named Bob, so I clearly had to get a pic with him for my sister; in case that doesn’t make sense, she is Bob or Bobby.}

Biggest surprise and possibly most exciting thing: I could do all of those things!! Heaps of walking around, standing, taking trains, dancing, stairs, picking up and carrying children, etc… And I really was either totally fine or in only slight pain around pill o’clock!!! {and believe me, I kept my mini pharmacy in my pocket.} YAY!! PRIASE THE LORD!!! AWE. SOME. I’m starting to do more, push it, and see what I can do. I’m trying to be smart about it, but we all know how good I am at moderation and taking it easy…

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{GIRAFFE!!! And me and Macklin}

I got to finish out the week playing with the boys and chilling with their parents. We went to the zoo {the giraffes and hippos are definitely still my favorite part. First, the hippos were just napping with their butts to us in the sunshine. When we came back, one was doing flips and rolls right at the kids in front of the tank. It was awesome. And the biggest giraffe was right at the fence, eating the trees above us!! Super awesome.}, to Calaway Park {kids amusement park. Kaeden mostly rode the same ride a million times, but we got him on a few others. I rode the coaster I was too scared to do by myself when I was 13. Surprisingly not that scary…}, shopping with Tiger, and lots of just playing and chilling. It’s always awesome getting to hang out with this family. I’m trying to figure out when I can get back here before next summer…

Today it’s back into Fiara for a long trek to Camp Cedarwood in Manitoba for a week. Now that I know four hours at a time is about my max, I’ll have to take longer to drive than my usual “straight through with minimal stops” and cut it up a bunch. So that’ll be different… I’m hoping to stop and see people along the way. It is never fun leaving here, but I’m really excited for Camp Cedarwood!! And Karla and the boys will be in Regina [visiting her fam] when I’m back at Dallas Valley, so they’ve promised to come see me!

Thanks for the prayers. My nerve and I are feeling them. I’d so appreciate continued ones for my healing, safety and low pain driving, and as always for safety and awesomeness for camps!! Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve been entertained. Now go enjoy some sunshine!!

for Adameeeeeee

My buddy Adam[eeeeeee] {twin, if you will recall from my last post; we’re 21, and have the same eyes…} is speaking at a few camps this summer and asked for people to share their stories with him in order to share with others. I’ve chatted with him about life and such before, and he’s such an encouragement. Just the other day he was encouraging me after I prayed for him and his first speaking engagement. Anyway, I thought I’d share my answers to his 3 questions. Maybe it can encourage someone else, remind you of something you already knew, remind you to pray for Adam as he speaks this summer…. I have no idea. Just thought I’d throw this out there.

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1. Why do I follow Jesus?

That’s an excellent question. I’m so thankful to have grown up in a home with parents who love God and taught me about Him. It really is all I’ve ever known. But that’s not why I still follow Him. I made that choice for myself. Every day, really. I think it boils down to what 1 John 4:19 says: “We love him, because he first loved us.” [yes, I had to search for the reference…] I know His love for real in my life. I couldn’t do life without God and I honestly don’t know how people make it through hard things on their own. Jesus is amazing. He carries me through the hard times, celebrates the good things with me, and loves loving me.

 

2. What would Jesus be teaching if I were listening in ancient Israel?

LOVE GOD. LOVE OTHERS.

He loves you. YOU. Just as you are.

 

3. Most influential Scripture in my life:

In the past years, it has definitely been Isaiah 43:1-5. A friend gave it to me to cling to after my husband left me. I knew God wasn’t about to leave me too, but I felt so deceived, unloved, rejected, and abandoned. This got me through a lot of nights {and let’s be serious, other times of the days} that I just sat and cried out of loneliness and abandonment. It says:

But now thus says the Lord,

he who created you, O Jacob,

    he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

    and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,

    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I give Egypt as your ransom,

    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

Because you are precious in my eyes,

    and honored, and I love you,

I give men in return for you,

    peoples in exchange for your life.

Fear not, for I am with you;

    I will bring your offspring from the east,

    and from the west I will gather you.

From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah+43&version=ESV>  {emphasis mine. and yes, I’ve shared this passage a bunch of times before. I’m not likely going to stop…}

Woah. HE KNOWS MY NAME, AND I AM HIS. Garbage times will come, that’s a promise, but I will not be overwhelmed, burned, or consumed. God will trade nations, countries, riches… for ME. HE. LOVES. ME. He will take care of me. Carry me. IS. WITH. ME. He has redeemed me. ME. God loves everyone, yes. But also, God loves MEEEE!!!!!!

More recently, I was struck with a back injury just before I was supposed to go to Africa for a few months to serve God on a hospital ship. I doubt I’ll ever know exactly why God allowed that to happen, but I do know He is still good. And He still loves me and is taking care of me. He did use that time flat on my back to teach me. And my slow healing process is, I think, I hope, continuing to teach me and helping me grow closer to God.

The Bible does not promise an easy life. Over and over, it promises that there will actually be really hard times. But along with that, it promises that God will take care of us and never ever leave us. This is what this passage reminds me of, over and over again. Through every rough time that comes. GOD CARRIES ME. BECAUSE HE LOVES ME.

{mic drop}

 

UPDATE: after reading my little post, Adam said nice things about me again! and I promise I have never paid him! But much much much infinitely more exciting, he texted and told me he had gotten to see NINE BOYS GIVE THEIR LIVES TO JESUS!!!!! YAHOO!!!! that heavenly party is so much better than the wicked awesome rodeo I got to witness today. PRAISE JESUS!!! I’m so grateful He uses broken people like us to share His awesome love. God is so good. Please keep praying for Adam as he speaks at camps, me when I get back to camp nursing [next week], and all the fabulous camp staff members. It takes a lot of energy from a lot of people. But most of all, GOD. eeeeeee!!!! SO. EXCITING. ❤

test, test, testing…

First things first. Please check out this wicked-awesome swimming cap my Mommy found for me!! I’d purchased a boring white one to keep the chlorine and my pink hair dye separate, and she came home with this one day! Unfortunately it ripped while I was putting it on, and since it’s made for kids it slid farther and farther back during aquasize. So it was retired after that one class. But I was done with wearing one anyway. Thanks for being so much fun Mom! {if you wonder where we get our fun and crazy from, you have not met our Mom, and definitely didn’t know her Mommy.}

SO, I’m slowly getting better. I made it through my CPR re-cert class {with permission from my Dr. He even said I should be walking more, trying to do more…} in the middle of June, and decided to give camp nursing a test run. I’d warned the camps I was signed up for about my injury and that I might need to bail on my commitment. My main concern by mid May was that I wouldn’t be able to move quickly in the event of an emergency. That, and of course, that my pain level would be higher again. I also checked with my doc on whether increased pain after doing more {as I’d already started, a little, mostly by accident when I felt okay…} meant that I was doing further damage, or just pain. He said it’s just pain, and I wasn’t making the injury worse. So I decided to try it out for the first week, which only ran Thursday to Sunday.

{L: my previous bedtime handful; R: my current bedtime handful! some of the change is different tablets though the same dose, but still nicer to swallow. and now that my pain is generally under control and doesn’t wake me up at night, I don’t need to add the melatonin! If you want to laugh, ask me how many pills I take every day.}

I was worried it would be hard to not do the fun things, to not be the fun nurse. It’s who I am. What I do. I play the games. Sometimes well, even! I belay kids on the high ropes course. I mountain board. I ride my buddy Bubba Gump {he’s the horse they always give me to ride at DVRC}. I Robin Hood. I do as many and as much of the things with the kiddos as possible. I didn’t want to be the lame nurse that chills in her cabin, like during winter retreat at Cedarwood when I’d consistently need to lie flat on the floor or my bed. [though it does make me easier for kids to find…]

I also worried that bumping around on the Gator would be painful. But it was actually pretty fine! I’ve actually noticed that when I’m the one in control of the vehicle {SUV/Gator}, I don’t feel the bumps as much. I don’t know if it’s because I can see and anticipate them, or what it is. I’m not really thinking about the bumps any more either way, and I generally don’t even need to brace for them anymore!

So alright, I’ll try the short week. Because it was right after school was out, there were fewer kids. And thankfully, not many meds to dispense.

The first full day, I was tuckered out after cabin checks after breakfast. With the gator. And a bunch of cabins to skip. Yeesh. God is reminding me to REST. To rest in Him and to trust Him. I was challenged on the first day to find my strength and energy in God, not in trying my best. I can’t do it on my own, even taking 15 pills a day {yeah, actually.}. I will PRAISE Him for the healing He has given. I’m able to walk and do stairs almost like a normal person, almost all of the time. However I do have to remember to take it easy and not do all the things, which is hard for me.  It was super duper tough to watch the kids play my favorite wide game [which is my favorite part of the day] and not be able to join in and help the girls team. Especially since the girls were being particularly wimpy…. But that meant my nurse duties were in high demand and I would hardly have been able to join in anyway. Interestingly, a few staff and campers who didn’t know me before that week said they thought I’d be super good at that game if I could play {yeah, I’m pretty decent… shoulder brush…}. Oh well. I was actually pretty sore right then, probably God making sure I didn’t try, haha. So I consoled little girls and handed out ice packs. [I realize that sounds rather rude to my gender, but it’s just the truth of that evening. And to be honest, camp nursing in general.]

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{my sentiment when asked if I’m having a nice rest. or nap. or if I’m cozy. um, NO. I’m lying down because it’s physically required. due to agony.}

I was able to get in the pool each day to get moving without putting weight on my leg. The second day I got our PD Sarah to lead aqua size in the pool, which the kids and other staff had a heap of fun doing too.

On Saturday my buddy Adameeeee visited me!! With an iced chai and bacon/caramel Canada Day donut. It was going to be twin supper, so we decided to be twins! And co-nurses, of course. He chauffeured me on my gator and grabbed kids who needed supper meds but forgot to come see me. We did manage to convince some of the kids we were twins for reals, cuz apparently we have the same eyes.

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And against my better judgment, I climbed a 40 foot ladder, rappelled the wall back down {with a favorite camper of mine who was scared to do it herself; she even did it again in the same skill!!}, climbed about 20 foot up a ladder and did a high ropes element to get same kid’s sweater, and led the tootsie wootsie {my most favoritest silly song} before chapel!!!! And felt okay! Wow. God is good. Usually when I push it a little too hard it hurts later instead of right then, so I did expect to be more sore in the evening. But I wasn’t!!! WOOHOO!!! So awesome. Possibly partly because of the aquasize earlier in the day.

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{this munchkin refusing to smile in the front convinced me to rappel with her. love these girls.}

Praise the Lord, we had so much safety at camp! {and while I was driving!} I did have to jump out of the shower once [okay, finish quickly] because a kid had been kicked by a horse. When I got to the barn, I couldn’t even figure out which kid it was. Big props to Markita for helping, encouraging, and distracting that kiddo. She’s a jr. staff who I’ve known as a camper and helper for years, and she’s awesome. So excited that she gets to be staff this summer!

After camp I got to have supper with friends and their kids, and a sleepover with another friend before heading to see some of my favorite old people [and some of their family, all of whom I LOVE!!] in Saskatoon. It was amazing getting to see them again. A yardwork project had been planned, and it was so weird not being able to do as much as usual. Or help outside in the slightest. Even feeling better, I knew better than to try shoveling or lifting or any of the things that were going on. So I made sure we had sandwich fixings, took orders, made sandwiches, cleaned up, picked up a tool with my aunt, returned it after with my cousin, picked up blizzards for everyone, and ordered pizza for supper! I was glad to be able to at least help somehow instead of needing to just lie down {like in February. And March. And most of April.}. I did also get myself to aquasize twice in Saskatoon, which was nice for my legs. It was wonderful seeing everyone and getting to hang out.

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{with the wonderful Tammie and Cheryl; I mean that they’re both wonderful.}

Driving to Calgary from Saskatoon in one shot turned out to be too much for my decrepit [huh. Always thought that ended with a d…] back. So I pushed it farther than I likely should’ve and wandered around Drumheller for a bit to stretch everything out. That was fun. We had heaps of fun there on a family road trip when I was 13, so I was remembering that and sending everyone pictures. Then I eventually made it to Calgary. It’s been awesome being here. SO. MUCH. FUN. {also, so much kids screaming. But luckily they’re also very cute and give me hugs and call me Auntie. So all is forgiven.}

But that’s enough for now! I’m praising God for this healing, all in His good time instead of mine. I’m far from my previous self, but being off the couch and able to drive and do things is amazing. So I’m just pretty grateful. Thanks again for all your prayers and well wishes. I really appreciate them. Just not being asked if I’m napping/cozy…

Ps. I almost never swagger anymore, or need to take stairs like a toddler!!!!! YAY!!!!

the current situation

Howdy. Well, it’s that time again. Another blog post. And praise the Lord, I have good news: I am feeling SO much better. Oh man, who knew getting off the couch is so ridiculously exciting?!!?! A. MAY. ZAZING. For the past couple of weeks, even!

I must first share this pic though, because it’s too happy not to! Before I was up to doing much or driving, my parents dropped me off to visit a friend who was also pretty bed-bound recovering from surgery. It was sooo lovely to just chat, and see her adorable twins! They enjoyed us for a few minutes, then screamed because I held them back [by their ankles] from leaping off the bed. So their daddy came and got them…

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And for anyone wondering what the heck a herniated disc is, here’s a pic that I think explains it well. And to the people who tell me “at least it’s not ruptured”, that’s the same thing. But even as a nurse, I didn’t have an excellent understanding of the term until I was told it was the cause of my pain and I researched it. Mine, of course, is herniated to the right.

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At one of my appointments, my doctor asked if I’d been exercising [lately]. My response: “not even a little bit”. I’d been under the impression that I was supposed to mainly be resting, since not resting had not helped before… I do have to admit that he had previously told me I was supposed to be doing some walking. However, at that time and still, I could hardly swagger to the bathroom and then kitchen for sustenance. I had to think and group trips, not only to and from the kitchen but within it! No going back and forth and back and forth from the counter to the fridge and pantry [maybe four feet, it’s not that big…]. I needed to do and get everything in one trip, then swagger back to the couch immediately. Because it hurt so dang bad. I’d sit up long enough to eat, usually, and then be down for the count. Anyway, my lovely doc did not like my response. He wanted me moving. “Do you have access to a pool?”, he asked. “Not really…” “Well, try to get to a pool and walk in there. The water takes your weight off the leg.”

Fine. I’ll try. Our closest pool is 40 minutes away, and I could hardly stand a car ride, never mind drive myself. My parents work in town, but that meant getting up early [worst time of day for me, pain and otherwise] and hanging out at my mom’s work [55+] or figuring something out… So on Easter Monday [almost a week after my second injection, which did help some] my Mommy didn’t have to work, and she took me to public swim. She hot tubbed and checked on me way too often while I walked back and forth in the deep end, and even went past where I could walk and treaded water for a while. And though walking back and forth by myself was pretty boring, I had NO PAIN!!! WHAT?! That’s right. Once I was in water up to my waist, no pain. We even walked around in the lazy river, both with and against the current, and it didn’t hurt. I took unreasonably long to use the ladder getting out, but being in the water was amazing. And pretty exciting to move again.

So I looked at the pool schedule again, trying to figure out how to best get to water. Possibly over-ambitious as usual, I noticed that they offered deep and shallow water aquasize classes. Since walking back and forth alone during public swim was painfully boring, I decided I should try aquasize. The deep water class would obviously be less impact for my leg, so I figured I’d try that. My lovely mom dropped me off at the pool before work [the deep class is also the earliest one, which is more convenient for being dropped off] and my friend was supposed to pick me up after. I gingerly got myself into the water {with my lovely floaty belt on and aquasize “weights”}, and started moving around. Guess what? It didn’t hurt!

As we know, Carmel pretty much only does things all out. It’s been very difficult to “take it easy” and rest. And to work up to things gently… But I told myself that’s what I was going to do with aquasize. I mean, I hadn’t exercised in months and was excited to get moving again. So I started off nice and easy. And it felt fine. Then I thought “well, there’s nothing wrong with my arms. They can work hard”. But have you ever tried to keep one beat with your arms and another with your legs? Let me tell you, it is very difficult [well, for me at least!] to take it easy with your legs and try to push hard with your arms at the same time. But I aimed for that, and I think sometimes it happened. Mostly though, I ended up moving my legs more/harder than I anticipated. And it felt fine. There was some soreness involved, but that was expected after such a long break from movement, and it wasn’t just where my injury is. Eventually [ok, probably after a week] I decided to try giving it my best effort. I went as hard as I could and as fast as I could for each exercise. And it felt fine!! [mostly. sometimes I’d have to modify or tone it back a little, but pretty rarely.]

My mobility has improved SO MUCH with doing aquasize. Everyone comments on how I’m walking better, hardly ever swaggering, and even doing the stairs like a big girl {sometimes two or three times in one day!!!}. {ps. I totally love being told how well I can walk, or do stairs. eye roll. I’m not 2. But I do know it’s just people caring and being excited for my improvement. So I’ll try to contain myself. And as I write this, I know that whoever reads this and sees me is only going to comment more…} My doctor was very happy with my progress: absent reflexes and strength returning on my right side, though still not equal to my left. Oh, and now I can drive myself around again!!! Which also means I can get out a little more and do stuff, like see some of my youth kids in their school play!! I did have to purchase a SUV since Stella [my orange car] is so low to the ground {difficult/painful to get into and out of} and a rough ride. While not quite official, I’m leaning toward calling my new white beauty Fiara, which my mom found on google translate and is Malagasy for car. 🙂 I LOVE that she takes me to youth and I get to hang out with those awesome kiddos again!! They also make me laugh, which no longer hurts my hip/leg {how unreasonable is it that laughing made my leg hurt???!!!?!}, and makes my heart so full and happy.

Another perk of aquasize: socializing and new friends!! Obviously, I chitchat with everyone. The seniors enjoying deep water aquasize with me are no exception! I must say, though, that there are about three others intermittently there under fifty. One of whom is Sheila, who has been suffering and recovering from a herniated disc herself for the past three years. I met and chatted with her after getting into her car when my friend wasn’t able to pick me up the first day… we’re not strangers anymore! 🙂 Then there’s the couple I recognized from being involved at camp when I was little, the lady my mom knows from work [and whose daughter is my new manager at St. Boniface where I casual when I’m around and not broken], another gentleman who volunteers where my mom works, an old friend from camp’s mom, and all the others I’ve gotten to know a little bit. Wilma told me my smile encourages her. 😀 The instructor, Sarah, makes me laugh a lot. I told her that I can’t exercise when I’m laughing! She asked me one day during the warm-up how much sass she was going to get that day… I mean, it’s hard to give an exact amount, but we all know the answer to that is never going to be “low”.

Yesterday I got to enjoy the first rodeo of the year!!! A few friends from church joined my mom and me, and it was lovely! Great weather, and fun explaining everything to them.

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{with my FBF [Fake Best Friend, obviously] Robyn}

Now, for the biggest and most adorable excitement of the past month: I’M AN AUNTIE!!! My favorite sister-in-law Jenny had Lux Mira on May 6 [my brother was there too]!! I was soooooo excited that I was feeling well enough to meet her the next day, and that they let me do her first bath!!! We are all pretty smitten, and I’m loving all the snuggles I can get!

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{this one’s my fave I think. thanks Mom!}

{she loved it.}

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{she really loves her aunties}

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Well, I think that’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for caring.

sneak peek!

National Geographic has made an 8-part series documenting Mercy Ships. I get to share episode 1 with you before it’s released in Canada! Come for an exciting show [~45 min] and get an idea of this ministry that I love! You can also ask me questions if you have them. Everyone is welcome, share with your friends!

WARNING: It’s about a surgical ship, so there will be scenes of operations. There are also physical conditions that may be shocking and disturbing to some.

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I will be showing it at both of my home churches. This Sunday, May 7, it will be played during Sunday School at 0945 in Stuartburn Gospel Chapel. And in my Winnipeg church in the evening May 28. 7pm at Nassau Street Church [near Confusion Corner].

I will provide snacks and drinks at each showing, though I think the am one is a little early for popcorn…

If you cannot make it to either but would like to watch it with me, please send me a message.
Here’s the trailer. I’m so excited to watch it with you!!
https://vimeo.com/207050695

We don’t know when it will be shown on Canadian television yet, but when it is I’ll let everyone know! On facebook you can like ‘The Surgery Ship’ for updates and information. It’s airing in Australia right now.

IMG_4329IMG_4328This is “my” [yes, I like to take ownership of things I love and am invested in] OR, #2, where we did obstetrical fistula repairs in Madagascar. If you want to know what that means, you should probably ask me instead of Google. 🙂