The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

through a loving story of a friendship between a newly wounded soldier

and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

blog during my first year in bed after my incident. With much

encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

on the About page to learn for the Soldier & Rocky are changing children's






Glorious Rejoice Dots Glitter





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The Carry On

I finally met up with angry. My pain therapist was waiting for him to arrive. I swore I hadn't met him before. I could honestly say I had no anger toward my situation. All I could see was my blessings. Until I had to whittle my belongings down to one small suitcase.

The good news is, the ketamine infusions have taken away my tremors completely. I had developed a system at my hotel that works for me. And now, after a day of intensive infusions, my family stood around my room doing their best to unravel my system to pack it away. And it hit me. I needed my system. My oversized suitcase. All of these things everyone else thought trivial- were my lifeline.

Angry sneaks up on you. I don't know the phases of loss. But I know I have been in denial. I have suffered grief. But anger had not really entered the spectrum of emotions until now.

It all started at my hotel with a suitcase. We were getting everything out of my hotel room ketamine infusions ended, and we would be checking out of my hotel and heading straight home after my very last infusion.

Infusions have left me completely wasted. There is nothing left of me. I am barely able to speak or untie my tongue until eight in the evening. Ketamine is a powerful super-agent that turns your world inside-out and leaves nothing left of your nervous system but an other-worldly peace. It is as though God sets back the hands of time in your body to the days of the dinosaurs. There are no highways except for the arcs left by doves in the sky. Your new nervous system has no where to go but up. It re-boots your system; Up to your brain and back down to your limbs in a way originally designed by God.

Ketamine infusions are not for sissies. So I guess I should take it as a compliment. I have been through ten days of it. Which is why there was nothing left of me when it came to - the suitcase.

My suitcase was too large to fit in the trunk. I had so many things I had brought with me to try to make my stay feel like home. I had one last night in the hotel, and everything had to return home early except for bare essentials, as we had to drive home directly from my last appointment. My electric scooter had to go with the rest of the items. The one item them offers me independence in my hotel that has carpeted floors that make it impossible to use my manual chair. Everything had to leave tonight except for one small bag that held my basic essentials. And I just could not bare the thought. It was like leaping off a ledge unsure of how my parachute was packed.

When your life is shattered, you develop a system to keep you functioning and alive. My system was being dismantled right before my eyes. To make room for my new life by sending home early- my over-sized suitcase.

My life was a blur. So much talk about next week's schedule and how I would make every appointment with loved ones giving of their time. I felt helpless the more they spoke. My world as I knew it packed up into my over-sized suitcase. It was up to me to select just the things I would need between them and tomorrow. This sounds so simple. Until routine - is your life.

This is where angry came in. Like a tempest in heat. My body separated from reality. It wasn't about the suitcase anymore. Or the packing of the suitcase. It was the fact I needed these things at all. It wasn't about the needing of help to my doctor appointments or the wheel chair. It was about the needing of these things.

Anger sneaks in when you least expect it because you swear you're fine. Until you're not. It begins in your gut and wells up into your chest and aches through into your throat until you can no longer hold it back. And you are not angry at the suitcase. Or the scooter. Or the charging cords for everything else you need to be pain free. It's the fact you need these things at all.To survive. And these things fill up - the suitcase.

I broke down on April 25. I broke down again On October tenth. I became angry. Angry that I was dependent on so many items. Dependent on a system to make life work. So I cried. I cried so hard because I was overwhelmed that handing over my suitcase to others so I had a simple overnight case - an overnight case was like moving mountains. And I cried. I cried not because of having to change suitcases to a travel-on, or having to pull together items to keep for overnight or disassemble my electric scooter that I could only use to maneuver on carpet. I cried because I needed these things at all.
I cried for the loss of independence and of who I used to be. I became angry. Every ounce of my being whaled with an anger of why I could not simply do life as I did before. On my own. Without a chair or others to drive me to my appointments. I was angry to have lost my independence.Anger had finally set in. And now all I could do was to accept it. But how? Angry doesn't get you very far.

So I have to make a decision. Do I live with the big or little suitcase? Do I carry around every little thing that makes my life easier, or do I just embrace the basics and adapt to my surroundings?

The latter is a hard pill to swallow. Because in a way it means to me that I have lost a battle. The world won. I must conform. And that brings with it the reality that my new normal is not something that fits neatly into this world.

My ketamine infusions have given me great hope. That my new normal just may fit in a carry-on. My tremors have all but diminished. I am regaining little bits of movement in my fingers than I had before. These are celebrations I guardedly applaud as there is still a long road ahead in discovering what my new normal will be.

Until then, I will learn to embrace my smaller suitcase. Learn to live with the things that I need. The next time I pack for my treatments, I will pack my spine stimulator charger, batteries for its remote, heating pad, topical cream, pain medications, one wheelchair, my walker, my motorized scooter for motorizing on carpeted areas, my basic wardrobe for basic living, and yes, my lipgloss. Otherwise, it's simply extra baggage that gets in the way. Things that I hold onto to make my life easier like the extra three outfits - in case I change my mind. The shoes that look cute, but are they comfortable? The knick knacks from home, the two extra books in case I have down-time. These are all things that can wait - until I'm through this next level of healing.

I am take a few days off between the end of infusions and my pain program. I could not move forward yet. My body - although showing signs of healing- broke down over a suitcase too large for my new normal to fit. I just need a few more days to whittle it down to necessities, and hopefully that will be enough for the new me.

It must sound silly, the thought of over-packing for a local hotel stay. It was my wish to keep everything with me- as though I was holding on to every little item that made up the old me in this change. When all I really needed was a small carry-on with essentials to get me through each day.

I am home now until Tuesday when I return for my pain program. I will bring my smaller bag. With smaller bags comes freedom from things that just might be holding me back. I might cry again. Like a child who simply wanted to reach for something to make the sundae a little bit sweeter, but the shelf was just too high. So maybe next time I'll just bring my own toppings. As long as they happen to fit neatly in a carry-on meant for only me.

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