Sunday, August 21, 2016

Brenda's Brain and Trevor's Tale...

Hi, it's Trevor here with our monthly tale. This one is going to be unique. It will be broken down in two parts. I will share first and then Brenda will finish. The title for this particular post, came from a co-worker. Brenda thought it was a great time to use it.

Brenda started this blog in 2009, almost one year, after having her brain tumor removed, or the correct name for this procedure, a craniotomy. One of the gifts she received from this whole experience, was being able to write. The original title for this blog was; Brenda's Brainstorm: (A Inspiration Out of the Blue).

As you know, Brenda has been a brain tumor survivor, for almost eight years. She had a right frontal lobe meningioma which was found on an MRI on August 26, 2008. It turned out to be non-malignant. She no longer refers to it as benign, as the connotation is confusing. Benign doesn't necessarily mean harmless. Even though 90% of these types of brain tumors are benign, they are still many things that can go wrong. She has a friend, who had to learn to walk all over again, from a harmless meningioma.

Brenda still experiences a lot of motion issues at times and nausea. Imagine, dealing with that pretty much every day. It is hard to deal with and you still have to go on with your activities. Brenda continues to work full-time. She also lives with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), so try to imagine that on top of dealing with motion issues.

Along with the brain tumor experience came another gift, Frontal Lobe Syndrome. It is real folks, and was very scary in the early stages, because Brenda did not know what was going on. She thought she was possibly going bonkers, as she would cry for no reason. It turns out that the location of her brain tumor or the right frontal lobe, is the high functioning level of the brain. It can cause a person to react quickly with anger or tears.

This has also caused Brenda to possess more empathy for others and even herself. She has met some wonderful people, in person and online, during this journey.

She has been writing about this more. She joined a wonderful group of writers, last November and has been enjoying this experience, immensely. It's the Grief Diaries, where all the writers share their journeys. Their motto is; "Healing hearts by sharing journeys" Here is the link for that wonderful site.

Brenda has connected with some wonderful people. She has contributed to two books in the series; Grief Diaries: Loss of Health and Grief Diaries: How to Help the Newly Bereaved. She is a co-author of another book, Grief Diaries: Living with a Brain Injury, which is due for release soon. I'm a dog so I don't know what soon means, but I cannot wait for it to come out. Brenda has been working hard this winter with writing. She loves to write and I couldn't be happier for her. Brenda will now share the second part of this blog.
This is Trevor, my storyteller. He has been on board since 2011. I thought it would be kind of interesting to have stories told, with a golden retriever's point of view. It was originally, Trevor's Tales as he was Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog. It has since been changed to Brenda's Brainstorm & Trevor, because by now, you all know who he is. He began telling tales of my mother's journey in the nursing home and leading up to her passing. We have used the word *Tale* in every title, since he joined me in February of 2011. His dog collar was made by my mother, just before she became ill and had to go into the nursing home. It is special because the purple ribbon was my from my sister Bev's sewing kit, that my mother received, after her passing from colon cancer in 2003. It is purple, because that is the awareness color for meningiomas. It has two dog bone charms and TT for Trevor's Tales. This is also the photo that was used in my first published blog post in 2012. It was titled; A Tale of 21 Years, sharing my journey of living with RA. This blog is all about awareness and hope. We thought it would be fun to give you a dog's eye view (see what I did there?)
I know many of you enjoy Trevor, and for the longest time, you even thought he was real. We had quite a conversation about this with my friend, Rick Franzo, during his show; Brain Tumor Talk: Worldwide Radio Show, when I was a guest via telephone. I was however, able to share about my brain tumor and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) journeys. That was pretty cool!
Trevor is my helper in so many ways. He has been featured in several 'Tumors Suck' videos and also offers encouragement with his tales. We have really tried to make them once a month and so far this year, we have succeeded. We hope you have enjoyed this. Now you know the whole story behind our blog. It all started with a brainstorm and ended with a tale.
We wish you all good health and happiness, until next time.
Brenda & Trevor

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Tale of Frustration

Hi, it's Trevor once again, sharing our monthly tale. This time is going to be a bit different. We warn our readers, that it may be a bit raw, as honesty can sometimes cause some people to become uncomfortable. That's okay, because we all need to be awakened at times.

Brenda has been going through some tough struggles as of late. As you know she has lived with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for over twenty-five years and is almost an eight-year brain tumor survivor. That is a lot to deal with. Imagine, dealing with most of that on your own? Brenda does and it is difficult at times. We are not saying anything here to make anyone feel bad. We are simply bringing out some facts here.

Brenda has not been feeling that great. Our weather has been hot this week. Her fingers are so swollen and she pretty much has been hurting all over. She continues to do her walking to and from work, all five days. I am so proud of her. Yes, she walks in that hot weather too.

Her fatigue is out of control. Last evening she was in bed before seven o'clock. On a Friday night, that is crazy. Her work week is over and she should be doing something fun, not heading for bed, because of exhaustion, but she was.

Her blood pressure is finally at the point, where she thinks this new medication is working. Her hypothyroidism has changed in that she needed to be put on a higher dose. She doesn't just deal with RA and her BT issues. There is a lot more behind the scenes. I am sure it is that way with many people who live with chronic diseases.

Brenda somehow, does not feel like she belongs in that realm with others. It's more like a country club and you only belong, if you share every aspect of living with your chronic illness. Brenda does not want to do that. It's not healthy and there is more to life and ourselves, than what we struggle with every day.

Brenda wants to be included in fun activities. She went to a rock concert this summer, which she enjoyed so much. Yes, she got up and danced. She ended up paying for it, later in the week, but she needed to get out and have some fun. At the time, she wasn't thinking about what would happen in the next couple of days. She was living in the moment and having the time of her life. Isn't that the title of a song? BOL

Brenda will not be going anywhere as far as a vacation is concerned. She has managed to take a few days off, or have mini staycations. She can no longer travel in an airplane, as they cannot seem to get to the bottom of her vertigo issues. This is frustrating for Brenda, as many other things are.

She has been working on writing projects and doing much more journaling, as of late. Writing is a coping mechanism for Brenda. Even though it bothers her fingers at times, she feels it is paramount to keep doing it, to help with exercising them.

Brenda has been doing some decorating in her apartment. The living room was first and now she has four pillows with golden retrieves and poetry on each one. Why am I not surprised that she picked that particular breed? BOL The poetry has a special place in her heart. Her mother, who I had the great honor of getting to know, wrote poetry. Neither of us knew this, until after her passing. She did however, make me a dog collar, right before she became ill. I still wear it and treasure it.

Brenda has been missing her mother so much. She has so many things going on and she could always talk to her. She would really like to be able to share all of the wonderful things that have been going on. It seems like nobody wants to hear about it. It comes across as bragging to some. I am so doggone proud that Brenda is going to have a book published where she is a co-author. That is huge in my doggie book. I hear that good old Trevor here, is even mentioned. That warms my golden heart. BOL

Life is full of challenges, but it can be great at times too. So much sadness in our world today. We need to be able to escape and find what fulfills us. Dwelling on our problems all of the time, is not the answer.

Brenda enjoys her walks so much. That is one thing that she can continue to do, to help keep her joints strong and flexible. With RA is it important that you keep moving, even a little bit. If you can only walk down the street or around the block, that is okay. You are doing something. If you can only exercise while sitting in a chair and cannot get down on the floor, that is okay. I will let you all in on a little secret. Brenda cannot get down on the floor to exercise. She lives alone and to chance that and not being able to get up, would not be good.

You find what works for you. She can exercise with lying on her bed and doing full range of motion. She has done this, pretty much every day for the years, she has lived with RA. It is something. Don't beat yourself up, for not being able to do it all. Brenda becomes frustrated, but she keeps telling herself that she is doing something and that is okay.

When you live with a chronic illness, it is sometimes hard to feel like you fit in. You are fatigued and you hurt all over. You want to get home and crash. It's frustrating, because Brenda wants to be able to do fun things and not always having to decline invites.

She had plans to possibly go to the mall today and work on her project for another room. She was too tired and hurting so much, to even consider it. She ended up taking another nap after lunch, as she couldn't even stay awake while watching a little TV.

She had an invite to dinner with her girlfriend this evening and had to decline, as she is in so much pain. She understood, but Brenda would really like to have gone. You have to be smart and not push yourself, when you are hurting. She has been moving around the apartment, but not much else today.

We are hoping tomorrow will be better and perhaps, she can do what she had planned for today. You always need hope, that it will get better with time. Brenda tries not to beat herself up, when she has to change her plans or decline invites. You need to be flexible and have common sense, when it comes to living with a chronic illness. Those who care, will truly understand this. She has encountered the opposite of those who take it personally, when she has had to decline. If she went out, even when she did not want to or felt she couldn't, then she was accused of being crabby, if she ended up sharing, that she was not feeling well.

Now you tell me, if you had a headache or did not feel well, would you be happy to be forced to come along, just to not hurt the other person's feelings? I think you might be a bit crabby as well. Stop and think what that person might be going through. They are not living with a chronic illness, to spite you. Brenda fights every day. There are things that you can't even begin to imagine what she goes through on a daily basis. She has listened to woes and complaints from others, but when the tables were turned, some turned a deaf ear.

They are no longer a part of her life. Friendships need to be a two-way street. There is a saying, "In order to have a friend, you need to be a friend." It goes both ways.

Isolation is a big part of living with a chronic illness. It seems like Brenda experiences that more and more. When you are constantly barraged with being ignored, when everyone else is greeted. Yes, it has happened. It hurts and if those other people were really your friends or had your back, wouldn't they do something about it? No, they let it happen day after day. It has even happened in settings where people are all dealing with chronic illnesses. She has been completely ignored.

When you live with a chronic illness, you definitely possess less energy. If you go to all of the trouble of doing something for someone, only to have them say, "I don't need this information now." Why did you ask for it, in the first place? Energy is not something that just magically appears. There are times you may have plenty and then there are other times, where you can hardly wait to crawl into bed.

Brenda no longer apologizes if she cannot handle a task or do everything. Realistically, no one can do everything. Brenda is involved with one source of social media. That is Facebook. She realizes, that she might get more exposure when it comes to advocacy, if she would participate more, but she simply cannot handle the rest. She works forty hours a week and that is about all that she can handle. She is grateful that she can go to work early, as that is when she is at her best.

Brenda didn't ask for any of this to happen. There are people out there that actually believe that we create our own chronic illnesses. If that were true, shouldn't we be able to cure ourselves also? BOL

Brenda works hard every day to fight. If that means a day of rest, she is still fighting. Common sense comes along with that as well. You need to know when to rest and what you can handle. You learn that as the years go by. Twenty-five years is a long time to be living with a chronic illness and Brenda has done the best she can.

Her barometer head has been something else this week. Yes, there is such a thing. Anyone who lives with arthritis knows, when the weather is going to change. It's that way with brain tumor survivors as well. Barometric pressure and humidity, have a lot to do, with how Brenda may be doing, on any given day.

It's been a frustrating summer for Brenda. We have had some wacky weather and each time, she has paid for it. She has been in a lot more pain. Just because you take something every week, does not mean it automatically goes away. The pain is still there. Pain has many forms. It does not have to be just with living with a chronic illness. It can also be the isolation of having to deal with all of this alone.

Fatigue has been a big factor with Brenda. She is hoping in time that the medication for her hypothyroidism will level off and she will start to gain a bit more energy.

Long range planning is not really ideal for Brenda. She never knows how she will be feeling that day. You take it day by day, and moment by moment and hope for the best.

Until next time, this is Trevor, signing off.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Tale of Jury Duty

Hi, it's Trevor to bring you another tale of Brenda's life. This time, is going to be about her recent experience as a juror.

She was summoned to report to her county district courthouse on June 2, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. She had to call in the night before, to make sure that the trial was still scheduled. She found out that it was and where she would need to report the following morning.

So on the morning of June 2, 2016, she arrived at the courthouse in plenty of time, as she did not want to be late. This was a new experience for Brenda. She had been summoned for jury duty before, but the cases had always settled out of court. She was a bit apprehensive, as this was completely out of her realm of comfort.

When she arrived, the first thing she had to do was to have her purse scanned. No buzzers went off, so she was free to go upstairs to the 3rd floor. Brenda told me that one of the great things about this was, that the weather was perfect, as she walked the mile to the courthouse and then during the day, climbed those stairs several times. It was great exercise for her rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and also was great stimulation for her brain.

She entered the courtroom, and was completely surprised. It reminded her of a church, as there were benches where she would be seated, along with the other perspective jurors, that reminded her of pews.

Very ornate architecture. It reminded her, of when she toured Mayo Clinic, back in 1988, as it was the same, in some ways. So there were a few people there already. I guess they didn't want to be later either.

Brenda had to take off work for this. It is required by law, that your employer lets you perform this duty, if you are selected. In Brenda's case, it would be two days. More on that later.

When they got ready to start, they all had to rise, in respect to the judge, who had entered the room. They were then, asked to be seated. It was beginning now. Brenda was in awe of this whole experience, but never in her wildest dreams, did she imagine that she would be called to the jury box, be interviewed and then selected as a juror, but she was.

To backtrack a bit, the Defense Attorney and Assistant State's Attorney, introduced themselves. The defendant was also in the courtroom. Sorry, I got a little off course there. BOL

If you were called to the jury box, the first thing you did was state your name and tell a little about your background. In Brenda's case, it was her name, how long she's been living in her present city, where she was employed and for how long, and that she was single. The judge proceeded to ask her, what she did at her present job.

She was then interviewed by both the Defense Attorney and the Assistant State's Attorney. One of the first questions was if she was going to be bothered by the nature of this case? She said no. She figured she had gotten this far, she was going to go full steam ahead. When the Defense Attorney questioned her, she felt like she was being cross examined. She stuck to her guns and said before, she would be able to make a decision on whether the defendant would be guilty or not guilty, she would have to weigh all the evidence. Apparently, that was the right thing to say. She and some of the other jurors were told that they were selected and to go back to the room, where they would end up deliberating after the trial had ended.

This room had a large table and chairs all around. It was really quite nice. There were all kinds of snacks on the table. They were even told they could help themselves, to coffee, bottled water or pop, that was stored in the fridge.

One of the first things that they were told, was that they could contact anyone, if they needed to do so. Brenda had to call two people. She was to be filling in for another department during the noon hour, but it was obvious, that this was not going to happen. She also called her department to let them know, that she would not be back until Monday, as it was going to be a two day trial.

So the rest of the jurors were selected, including an alternate, in the event that one of them would not be able to come the next day, for one reason or another. Being there was an alternate, they were told that one of them, would probably not be deliberating with the others, as there are only 12 on a jury. They had no idea who that would be, but it had already been decided.

So when all the jurors were selected, they all came back to the jury box to begin the trial. Opening statements were given, by both the Assistant States Attorney and Defense Attorney, to give them some background, as to how this case was going to go. They recessed for lunch, were told not to talk to anyone about this case and not to loiter in the courthouse, but to come straight back to their room, before they would reconvene in the afternoon.

I can only imagine, how much fun this would have been, especially with all the objections, sustained and overruled that Brenda would get to hear. Yes, I love my lawyer programs. She told me, that it was nothing like Law and Order. BOL

So the afternoon court was now in session. This is when it began to really get intense. They listened to several testimonies. One was from a detective working on the case. Another one was an expert witness and this is where they had to look at many exhibits. It was pretty close to 4:00 p.m. when the judge said, that this was obviously going to take another day. So the jurors decided on the time and they were adjourned.

Brenda was pretty tired by the end of that day, but she managed to walk that mile home again. They were not to form any opinions or talk with anyone about this case, or even search the Internet, regarding details from this case.

The next morning she walked to the courthouse again and had her purse scanned. She knew where to go this time, as she told the person, when she came in, that she was one of the jurors from a trial that began yesterday.

Court began and it was at that time, that the alternate juror was announced and thanked for their service, and told that they could remain for the rest of the trial. It was the last juror who was selected. The only thing they were not able to do was to deliberate and help the others form their verdict.

So the next phase was to go on. There were no more witnesses, so it was time to hear the closing arguments from the Assistant States Attorney and then the Defense Attorney.

After the jurors heard both of those, they were instructed to go to the room to deliberate and to come back with a verdict.

All the evidence had now been given, so it was just a matter of looking at some of it again and coming to a conclusion, on how this was all going to play out.

First they elected a foreman or spokesperson, who would hand the verdict to the bailiff, when they again, entered the jury box. They next went through the checklist and they all agreed that everything was there. Next was to decide on a piece of evidence, that would help them make their decision on whether this defendant was guilty or innocent. It was an unanimous decision and the defendant was found guilty by all of the jurors. They went around the table, each giving their response.

They then entered the jury box and the verdict was handed to the bailiff, who in turn, handed it to the judge. A verdict of guilty was read. The Defense Attorney wanted a poll from each juror, so the judge asked each of the jurors, if this was their true verdict. They all responded again, with YES.

This was a difficult case in many aspects for Brenda, but at the same time, very rewarding as well. They even got to speak with the Assistant States Attorney after and were able to ask questions and now they were able to speak freely, so it turned out to be a great dialogue.

Brenda enjoyed this experience as a whole and has gained a new appreciation for the judicial system and how the whole process works.

This is Trevor until next time, This court is now adjourned! BOL

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Tale of Longing...

Hi, Trevor here once again, to bring you our monthly blog post. It has been a busy month for Brenda, as she has been spreading awareness for arthritis and brain tumors.

It has now been twenty-five years, since she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). but she believes she has lived with it much longer.

She is almost an eight-year brain tumor survivor. She is already making plans for her next Craniversary, a word that is used instead of anniversary, as she had a craniotomy. I think if I would have had one of those, I would celebrate too. BOL

Arthritis is the #1 cause of disability in the United States. Brenda has defied the odds, as she is still working full time after twenty-five years. She will be celebrating twenty-eight years of being employed with the clinic, next Thursday. That is pretty pawsome in my book. BOL

She has been writing a great deal, as she has contributed to two books in the Grief Diaries Anthology Series. I don't like to brag, but she is also working on a book, where she will be a co-author. It's titled: "Living with a Brain Injury" and it's due for release this summer. Imagine, being able to share your own brain tumor journey with others and making a difference. Brenda certainly is.

I am so dog gone proud of Brenda and all that she is doing to spread awareness. She longs to be included in the chronic illness community. Something she feels very strongly about, hence the title for this tale.

Brenda choses to live her life with positivity. That seems to put some people off. She is in pain pretty much twenty-four seven, but you will not hear her complain about it all of the time. What is the point? Is it really going to help you feel better? No!

Brenda has to spend a lot of time alone. We are talking holidays too. Think that is easy? No! She makes the best out of all that is thrown at her. Lately, that has been a lot. She recently had her annual physical and some changes have taken place. If it were not enough to already deal with RA and the constant motion issues, then to have more things thrown at you.

She has had a stressful year and I guess it has finally caught up with her. She is back on blood pressure medication, as it has been high in the past few months. Brenda was sure, that was mentioned at the beginning of her visit. It is working, because on her next visit, it was taken and it was back to normal again. She is adjusting and at times, not feeling the greatest. She realizes it will take some time to get used to something new in her body.

They talked about it and some of it, could be the fact that she has gone through menopause and some other changes have taken place. She exercises, but weight is not as easy to take off. It's frustrating and something that she does not talk about much. What's the point really? She is exhausted so much of the time. Her fatigue issues have gotten much worse.

She had come to the conclusion, that she can only handle one thing to do, when she goes out. If that is shopping, so be it. If it is going out for coffee and maybe doing a little walking. No more of running around to several places, it just tires her out so.

If you don't live with chronic pain, then you truly do not understand what it is like. She describes it, as walking around dragging a ball and chain. We may have mentioned it before, but it certainly won't hurt, if we share it again.

Brenda does as much, if not more at times in spreading awareness. It seems that it does not get acknowledged or even something she has sent in, to even get shared. When you have limited energy already, this gets old pretty quick.

She knows where she is appreciated and therefore, some changes are going to be made, in where she will continue to share her support. That includes financial support as well.

She always hears this saying; "You are not alone." Not true, because so many times, she is.

That is where the longing comes in. We left it as something, for you to think about. Where would you like to belong and truly make a difference?

Brenda already knows, but would also like to be given a real chance at it.

We leave you with this; We all go through different struggles in life, so why can't we all come together and support one another, no matter what that might be? In joy or in pain, let's be there for one another.

This is Trevor, signing off. BOL

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Tale of Isolation

Hi, it's Trevor once again, bringing you another tale. We have really tried to share one a month and so far this year, it has happened.

This time is going to be about something that Brenda struggles with and that is isolation. When you live with a chronic illness or in Brenda's case, more than one challenge, it can be especially hard for some to understand.

Brenda wants to be social and have fun. There are some things that limit her activities. One is the fact that she struggles with benign positional vertigo (BPV) attacks, of which she never knows when one may occur. She hasn't been in an airplane in over five years, as her last experience is when the plane started to take off, her head began to feel funny and she became very sick. It was so bad that they wanted her to go to the ER, but Brenda fought it and rested. It gets better after she has had a chance to rest. Not everyone gets this and it is tiring for her to have to explain it over and over.

She would love to travel, but has come to the conclusion, that it probably is not in the cards to get into anymore airplanes. If only they could figure out what causes these attacks. It is very distressing for Brenda, because the medication that she takes can cause her to become irregular. She has tried going to a balance clinic, but she could not complete the tests, because she became so sick.

Not being able to get together with others, because of this, is hard for Brenda. She feels isolated, as it is. I am here, but that simply is not enough. You need people in your life to survive. She lives alone and that is something that has not been a choice, at this stage in her life. She simply has not met that one person or companion, that she could do activities with, or even go out for coffee or a drink.

Brenda tries so hard to remain positive and that seems to put some people off. It's on them. I encourage her to keep doing what does. She is helping more people, than she realizes. She has received messages asking for advice, so she knows, that others depend on her.

Brenda has limited energy, because of the fact that she lives with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and is a brain tumor survivor. She has a lot she has to get through every day. She fights and I am so proud of how she continues to walk to and from work. She enjoys it so much.

She just completed another 5k walk the other evening. She even managed to break her record and did it in 50 minutes. That might not seem like a lot to you, but to her, this is one way to kick RA's butt and it is very satisfying for Brenda, to do so.

What we want to bring out in this tale, is even though it looks like Brenda has it all together, make no mistake, that she does become lonely at times. She is trying so hard to get involved and meet others, even if it is only online or a monthly conference call. It is interacting and that means so much to her.

She doesn't feel like she fits in with the chronic illness group, as they are always doing their own thing, and feels excluded.

She advocates for so many, but who really has her back? We are not trying to play the woe is me card here, by any means. We are being honest here with some heavy feelings. That is something that Brenda has experienced, since her brain surgery. Her feelings or emotions are much sharper. It's a brain thing and only those of you who have gone through this, would truly understand.

Even in the brain tumor community she feels isolated at times. Her procedure was not as long and as serious as some of her other fellow brain tumor survivors. She dislikes comparing, because after all, aren't we all on the same team or side?  I would certainly think so.

Tomorrow, starts the month of Arthritis and Brain Tumor Awareness. There are going to be a lot of campaigns out there for walks, contacting our legislators, which is all great. She will do her level best to participate in what she can handle.

Brenda feels like she has to do so much by herself, because no one around here, gets what she struggles with every day. She is thankful for social media and the friends she has made. She would like to be able to make some friends in the real world too, that she could lean on for support.

We are going to leave this time, with a question. How could you help someone, so that they don't feel so isolated, when dealing with a chronic illness? Brenda would really appreciate knowing, how you feel about this.

This is Trevor, barking off. BOL

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tale of Struggling

Hi, it's Trevor here again, sharing another tale. This time is going to be a bit different. Brenda has been going through some real rough or in my world, ruff challenges, BOL as of late.

Brenda is just recovering from yet another bout of shingles. This makes her fourth time. If you are not aware what shingles are, here is a little information for you. If you had chickenpox as a child, as Brenda did, the shingles virus is already inside of you. It lies dormant for years and usually when you become an adult, 1 in 3 persons, will be attacked by this virus. As we have shared with you before, her first time was the worst. She now knows what to watch for. It still doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

They can really get on your nerves, so has a lot of other things with Brenda lately. She has been isolating herself, except to go to her job or other errands that may have to be attended to. She really has had less energy, since this all occurred. It's hard enough living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and also the other challenges, she has to deal with. There were actually others who were not aware, that she has been dealing with this. Brenda is not one to go around and tell every person, whenever she has a problem. She keeps a lot to herself and I encourage her, by having her tell me what she is dealing with, so we can share it here, with our readers. If it can help someone else, that is all that matters.

When you deal with something like shingles, anything can get on your nerves. Take living with chronic diseases for instance. All this talk about people putting notes on people's windshields who use a handicap hang tag in their car, just because they happen to think they don't need it. How would they even know for certain? Not all disabilities are noticeable. Brenda's handicap hang tag is for life, as her doctor at the time, felt that is what she needed. She only uses it when she needs it and no, it is not used just so they can have a convenient parking place.

So the next time you get that look from someone who doesn't think you need this kind of help, take a good look at them. Are they perhaps wearing glasses or even a hearing aid device? All of these things are for the sole purpose of helping out someone with a challenge. Brenda wears glasses and has since the first grade. She knows people who wear hearing aids and wouldn't have the audacity to even question, if they needed them or not. What is the difference? We all struggle in one way or another.

Some of what we struggle with, is not shown from the outside. Even behind our smiles, there is sadness.

If Brenda had to go back, to using her cane again, she would. She wore an air cast for six weeks, back in 2011 and not one person gave her grief. Yes, she was teased at the nursing home and called Hopalong Cassidy, but it was all in fun.

We realize that there are some individuals out there, that take advantage of the system and get these handicap hang tags only for convenience. There are those who pass off their dogs as Therapy and Service Dogs, also, but that is another story. You get, where I am digging here though? BOL

There are circumstances that are troubling to Brenda. One is when someone uses a handicap hang tag, when the person who it was issued to was not in the car. It has happened. Brenda and her mother had an experience one time, where they forgot to hang the tag up and lo and behold, there was a ticket on the windshield when they came out of the store. Brenda felt terrible and would of course pay the fine, no questions asked. Her mother did end up calling and explained that her daughter had a handicap hang tag issued to her. Want to know the proof folks? There is a number that is assigned on each hang tag, which identifies that it was legit. She did not end up having to pay the fine, which was a relief and also a lesson learned. We know you can get these hang tags off of the Internet, but all they display is a symbol of a wheelchair and the word Handicap. Anyone can get those. Brenda had to fill out an application form and have it signed by her physician. Funny thing about these cards, you used to have to pay for them, which turned out, there being a Class Action Suit and she was actually reimbursed, for almost double of what she had originally paid. She now gets them free, as they should be.

Think of any assisting device, there are many. Towel bars, chairs or anything to help you get around safely in your home. Brenda uses a chair in the shower, as she can no longer get into a tub, without assistance. She lives alone, so it is one of those things, you learn to adjust to. Is someone going to come into her living space and tell her that she does not need this chair? No!

It is estimated that 300,000 children in the United States, live with some form of arthritis. There are over 100 kinds, so it is hard to diagnose at times. Many of these children are in wheelchairs, have to uses braces and go through more than a child should ever have to endure. One thing they do not need, is your judgment. Many children are bullied, not teased. We live in a different world today. It is heartbreaking, to hear all of the stories, that these children have to go through. Some of these children are taken out of schools and homeschooled. Imagine the burden on the parents, to not only have to care for their child, but to have to be responsible for their education, because some made it impossible for their children to attend public schools. She has read and heard of stories where the teachers treat these children, as if they are faking. It makes Brenda's blood boil. Brenda dealt with an injury in third grade, where she tore some ligaments in her left knee. She was encouraged to help her strengthen it, by participating on walking on a plank. At the time, Brenda did not like this, but she has realized after all of these years, they were there to help. Never in her wildest dreams, did she think that she would be diagnosed with RA at the age of 31. She was told that she would probably develop arthritis in that knee, when she became older. It's been giving her problems again, since this whole saga of shingles. You see, she would could not take her biologic while there was any sort of an outbreak, so her RA has taken off with a vengeance.

We appreciate all the kind words and messages received, during this difficult time. Brenda is going to need some time to heal. She is not feeling very social right now, so please we ask, that you do not take it personal.

This is Trevor, until next time, barking off. BOL

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tale of Manners

Hi, it's Trevor here on National Love Your Pet Day, sharing another tale with you. This time, we are going to explore manners. What are they exactly? In a nutshell, please and thank you, being the pivotal ones. We want to share, that there is a lot more than meets the eye, when it comes to manners.

Brenda wants to bring out that how we conduct ourselves is as important, than what we tell others. Actions speak louder than words.

Brenda has encountered some situations that are distressing at best. We know that sometimes, we are never going to receive that thank you, for something we did. In the case of an all expense paid weekend, I would have certainly got down on all four paws and thanked her. BOL

Brenda realizes that ship has sailed or sunk, however you want to look at it. She has chosen to move forward. We do want to share though, that you are never too old to possess manners.

When Brenda was a child and she would receive a gift from her maternal grandfather and aunts, she was prompted to sit down and write a thank-you note. That is what you did. Don't you write thank-you notes for graduations, weddings, or baby showers? Why should anything else be different?

Please and thank you, are two of the most important ways of showing your appreciation. Using please will work a lot better with the other party involved, rather than being demanding. I love the reference that we are going to use from our friend Christine Schwab about being a "Gentle Bulldog." That means that you approach what you want or need with kindness and not anger.

Brenda recently went through that with her insurance company. She will no longer be able to have her biologic dispensed at the same pharmacy that she has used for years. She wasn't even sure she wanted to share with them, because she felt so bad. You see, they have been so good to Brenda. She is glad though that she did. They even tried to go to bat for her, and they will continue to. She has a good relationship with them and she kept her cool, while she was explaining what a huge hardship this is going to be, to have to walk several more blocks each month, to pick up her biologic.

As our readers know who follow this blog, Brenda has lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) for almost twenty-five years. Shouldn't you be making things easier for those who struggle with walking at times, not harder? She shared this also as a patient advocate for 50 State Network with one of the people she works with. She is truly frustrated. There again, she remained the "Gentle Bulldog."

We kind of like this reference, because Brenda's father was often referred to as a bulldog and that he would not give up on something. Brenda is like that in a lot of ways. I think that is what keeps her from giving up so easily and fighting for her rights.

She recently took a company to task online and we are happy to report, that the claim was ruled in her favor. Again, she remained the "Gentle Bulldog." Being a dog myself, I think that reference is pawsome. BOL

Brenda walks to and from work many days. She has made friends with a cyclist who always yells "Good Morning and have a great day!" Brenda always tells him to be careful, as some of those days the roads were quite icy. She didn't see him so much this week, as maybe their schedules were different, as Brenda had to allow more time to walk with her ice treads.

She had an experience coming back from walking to her bank this week. She made it there in one piece, but she was quite shaken by the time she arrived, as it was so icy. What was she thinking? She started out toward walking back to her place of employment, and this nice lady offered her a ride. She didn't hesitate, because she was in an area that was safe and it wasn't that far. She had a nice conversation with this lady and turns out, that she knew her husband. When she dropped her off, Brenda turned to her and said, "Thank you and Bless You." She was amazed how well this all turned out. She got her business done and also ended up meeting this nice lady.

Brenda realizes that even in advocacy that we all need to work together. She takes nothing for granted and if someone does something for her, she thanks them for it. That is what you do.

If she has a conflict with someone or needs to get something ironed out, she prefers to have a conversation with that person, to try to get things worked out. It is very hard to work with someone, when you feel that you or your ideas are not valued. Sometimes it can be a misunderstanding or that something needed a bit more of an explanation.

You see, Brenda is also a brain tumor survivor, and sometimes gets details mixed up. It also takes her longer to grasp certain things. Please be patient. Notice I said, please. BOL

I am so proud of Brenda. She has been writing a lot lately and really enjoys it. I try and do my part by sharing my tales here and giving her a break. BOL

I have been her storyteller and helper for over five years. How can that be possible? I enjoy putting these tales together and we make a great team. I am one lucky dog and she is so good to me.

This is my way of thanking her for all that she does, by trying my hardest to share with all of you, that Brenda is only human.

So the next time somebody does something nice for you, don't forget to thank them and while you are at it, give them a big smile.

This is Trevor, saying please be kind and thank you, for letting us indulge you, with this tale.