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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Day 3 of Stem Cell Transplant - I'm In

July 1, 2017

I woke up to the post op pain this morning but something seemed to be lifting. On Day Two, merely breathing on my wounds, being the incision as well as the four inch circumference around them - otherwise known as my entire torso- would cause a breath so sharp it stung. Ironically, the protocol is to wear a pressure garment for the first few days to a week. You'd think this would be torture, but once it's on and secured it's not so bad, dare I say it might even be comfortable as it seems to hold the injured tissue and muscles in place. They originally placed me in a type girdle looking garment, like a 1920's lady of the night. It is comprised of a thigh length Spanx reaching up to my ribs with shoulder straps and a convenient hole for ladies to do what they do. Although some of those do's are not doable do's at all. The mere thought of my husband's suggestive stare sends me to a catatonic state. Showering is allowed, but bathing or submerging the body is not until the incisions are fully healed - approximately two weeks. Neither are mountain climbing, Ninja competitions or Hot Dog Eating contests. Or anti-inflammatory medications. 

Undressing to shower meant removing this garment of the night. Removing meant unleashing the wrath of restrained muscles and skin tucked in so tightly I swore I'd snap in two. The key was to treat each section I exposed like a baby entering a bath. Slowly, carefully, let it get used to the temperature surrounding its skin. Once the garment is off, I felt as though several sections of my thorax were cordoned off from the others. Each wound (I had twelve) is from a literal liposuction procedure in order to procure the cells. A wand inserts then probes the circumference of a small fruit, shoving muscles around and sucking fat from your planes. I thought about the post op instructions suggesting a slight bout of pain after surgery that Tylenol should quell if you opt not to take the prescribed medicine. I wanted to corner the author of this text and gather his skin together, all of it, even his secret folds, and tie it up in a rubber band. That's all. Just tie him up. Them offer him an aspirin. For his heart attack. Because the pain shouldn't be too bad. 

After the shower I switched to my Velcro back support, a wide elastic band that covers from Rib to hip.  The tighter I was able to pull it (again slowly and carefully) the easier it was to endure the pain. The anomaly I am still trying to grasp is the void I sense around my lower spine. I'm three days out and have yet to curl into my daily ball of retreat from the burning of bone. The pain I woke with every day that kept me from rising til noon. I have not once bolussed (pushed additional medication through) my intrathecal catheter of my pain pump, or operate my spinal stimulator in any way. The only pain I have experienced has been operative and is one I embrace as temporary, logical and of purpose. This absence brings tears to my eyes from a place so deep they sting. 


My energy is returning, but find myself recovering from a short bout of sadness from last night. A momentary depression that made me analyze my self. Why was I sad? Similar to the baby blues when something so monumental occurs that it's the following silence that's blinding. My husband is here, my children all loving me and all the support in the world. But yet I felt somewhat alone. It's just me inside, but if anyone understands, I do. And this is what brings me calm. The knowing that although no one around me may comprehend how I feel to be shattered then born, that is not what I need to become something new. All I truly need to know is they believe this is something I can do.  

We packed up our hotel rooms and prepared for the long drive home. 

I stopped midstream when I transferred myself into the passenger seat. Something caught my attention. There was an odd fluidity of motion in my legs. My left leg specifically, the one that had given up. With my body in and feet still touching the pavement, I then transition to Stage Two - a twist to the right and a scoop of my arms under my knees to settle them under the glove compartment before my seat. A deadened weight usually follows with the shift, my toes kissing the doorframe as they enter. This time it was as though they cut in line, an antsy child not wanting to wait outside in the heat sneaking into the car hoping no one would notice. My transfer of calculated logistics suddenly became an afterthought, because it could. I looked around as though I'd forgotten something. My keys. Did my iPhone slip behind the cushion of my wheelchair? What did I miss? Then I noticed the puzzle piece in place. One I lost six years before. A bridge had opened from my brain, a message connecting in silence as though it had sat in anticipation for the road block to clear. My legs that always relied on arms for passage had slung in momentum without pause. An event so small yet it stopped my world in place. The tussling of kids and dogs, my husband's breath, coated the air around me as I considered what just occurred. Everyone in? I nodded, looked to my husband and he knew something had taken my breath. I am in my love. I am in.  

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