Posts Tagged With: health

Remember The Hunger Games? Well, the Future Doesn’t Look Anything Like That!

 

Katrina Smith Johnson with face mask

Katrina Smith-Johnson at Walmart with Mask April 2020

So do you remember when The Hunger Games came out in theaters and everyone was impressed with its colorful images of the future? The bold hair colors and clothes that were on fire but didn’t burn you. The different districts that were so very strange and unique. Yea, well the future doesn’t look like that at all.

 

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Peeta and Katniss members of district 12 male and female volunteers and tributes for the Hunger Games. 

 

The future is people wearing homemade cotton face masks with little pink and purple flowers made from the material your mother made a dress from last summer or maybe a bedspread. The color of your hair is likely faded, graying and might be growing out. Your beards are not trimmed but full, wavey and unkempt from a month of growth with no wear to go. You certainly are not wearing a fancy hat with your mask. You need to be able to change or replace that mask without touching your hair or face.

Hand holding is forbidden. Katniss from the Huger Games would never think of slipping her hand into a man’s hand these days. It’s no secret we are not allowing touching or even hugs. We talk through clear plastic shields or glass windows at stores and nursing homes. We see nurses flip up their splash shields only when the room has been cleared. We wear gloves everywhere and toss them out every chance we get. Sometimes they even cover our raw skin from scrubbing and sanitizing too much.

 

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tributes and volunteers  for the Hunger Games

 

 

We have no volunteers to fight this battle, we find no tributes to call on. We only have the highly trained staff of doctors and nurses that are willing to fight. We have Fireman, Policeman, and EMTs who are choosing weapons, but they look nothing like a gun or bow.

Our list of the dead doesn’t show in the sky projected over the wilderness so everyone can keep track. Instead, we follow the accounts of the death toll in the large cities on the TV. We are glued to every report. In this futuristic drama, the woods are your safe haven and at times the only escape from the overcrowding and spreading germs of the huge cities.

It seems everyone has enough to eat. Although, I have found myself wondering if we would kill each other over toilet paper and paper towels. I know I would have been willing to stand in a line to get hand sanitizer and bleach.

But the biggest difference of all is we are at home. We are warm, with fresh running water, with wifi and TV. We are not shipping off to some foreign land to fight for our lives. The war will be won at home watching, praying, washing and scrubbing to save our lives.

This pandemic seems to be won by West Virginia, (681 cases at our peak of infection) and we are doing the winning by living the life we enjoy. We have always loved being at home, living in small towns, playing outdoors and working outside. It seems that being a mountaineer has its advantages in these trying times.

Who knew that a small mining state that struggles with money issues is the winner of the Corna-19 games. That men and women that hunt and fish are actually the best suited to take care of their state and people. For today my state is better off than Hollywood, New York City and many people know it.

Such strange times for me and my family…..as we continue to pray, wash and scrub our way into a new future.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, childhood memories, Country life, Covid-19, family health, fishing, health, Hunger Games, Hunting, rural life, sickness, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

WV The Last Man Standing during Coronavirus Outbreak

Many of us West Virginia Mountaineers shared in a joke or two this last week about why our state was the last to have the Coronavirus reported in our state. But many of us wonder about the underlying truth about why we are just now seeing reported cases. I suspect that we are behind in testing and the lack of a state lab that could process the test is also a factor. I think this should be a wake-up call to many of our government officials. It may sound great to be the last one to identify cases of the Coronavirus but is that actually an indicator of how poorly prepared our state is for future crises.

I don’t want to overlook the fact that my state has advantages for fighting an epidemic. Being rural and with less population-dense communities makes transmission harder. Giving us a huge advantage over large cities like New York City or Washington D.C. Generally we do not live or work in large crowded buildings where people come into close contact with one another. A lot of our labor force works outside and will have fewer exposer situations. We have less gathering places like large theaters, event arenas, or huge shopping malls. We also have less public transportation, restaurants, and smaller schools. We also may spend more time at home than the average American. Overall we have a lot of advantages, so if we also keep cleaning and sanitizing our rate of exposure and contacting the virus could be lower.  But are we prepared for an event like this?

My overall concern is not with just Corona but with a system that was behind in all areas of testing. Last week even our Senator Joe Manchin complained about the lack of available tests. At one point there were only 500 tests in the state… for a population of 1.8 million residents.

The following text is quoted from https://www.wvpublic.org/post/coronavirus-testing-limited-wva-its-population-high-risk-thats-why-we-should-distance

It’s not just testing supplies that are the problem – it’s that the labs don’t have the technology necessary to test. West Virginia’s state lab wasn’t set up until Saturday, March 7th (tests were sent instead to the CDC in Atlanta) and commercial labs didn’t get going until this week. Some hospitals are also hoping to be able to run their own tests soon but for now are having to send them off to external agencies.

So if we are also a state of the elderly, the poor and the sick (ranking number 44 in Nation Health Rankings) what will a poorly reported and tested community experience in the near future?

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Our Communities are generally at high risk and our state is poorly prepared for the situation. Is it likely that we will be hit hard by the Coronavirus? I think it would be unwise to think we were ready for what is about to come to the Mountain State. We have just watched two hospitals close in the last 6 months, hospitals that could be preparing for the future pandemic that we are facing. We have a need for skilled nurses and our rural hospitals are small and under-equipped for a large outbreak. Let us hope that being last will be an advantage for preparation and treatments. Let us hope that our natural lifestyle choices will help to slow the wave just by our love of solitude.

In closing, West Virginia needs a better-prepared system moving forward. We have not even begun to see the darkest days of this outbreak and already we are failing our people. These mistakes are a very hard lesson to learn so late.

Ultimately, I have faith that God hears the Mountaineer on the ridgetop when he calls out to him. I have faith that our mountains and valleys protect us and that we will survive just like all the Mountaineers before us. I have faith that this too will pass.

man in hoodie jacket standing by the cliff

Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

Categories: About me, Coronavirus, Faith, family health, health, old age, Uncategorized, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Different Presective on Life: Macular Degeneration.

wildflowers Monongahela National Forest Elkins WV

Yellow Flowers at Stuarts Park near Elkins WV

So about two weeks ago I was told that the inherited eye disease that my family carries is beginning to do damage to my eyes too.The usual end result is legal blindness, although they say I may still be able to see some at the edges of my vision field. I am not sure if we ever knew what blinded my Grandmother but we are positive that my mother has battled “wet”  Macular Degeneration for about 20 years. She began to notice the changes in her sight in her late 60’s with a very quick loss of vision over about three or four years. In my case I have a type of “dry” macular degeneration or Age Related Macular Degeneration. The outcome is almost always the same with either disease,  although the my condition is a chronic slow loss of vision and my mother had a very acute fast-moving loss of vision, we both will end up blind at one point or another.

So far there is no real treatment for this type of vision loss and they can not predict when or if I will go completely blind at any point. So I am faced with the most challenging obstacle in my life. A unknown cloud  will slowly yet steadily take away one of the things I have enjoyed most in my life and make even everyday tasks become almost impossible to do on my own. This new challenge has changed my perspective on things that I can hardly explain here.

How do you quantify the value of your sight, or hearing, or the ability to touch taste or smell??? How do I explain the feeling of loss that is trying to drag me into the darkness without even allowing me to try to fight back. There is no recovery,  rehabilitation, cure or corrective device for this progressive loss of sight. So how do I learn to keep my balance in life when I am not even given something to fight against. I am left with trying to make peace with my situation…. and if you know me at all, making peace is not my best quality, by nature I am at my best when the fight is on.

The Dr. suggest that I change my diet to lower my blood pressure and lower the sugars in my diet to at least slow the progression of my loss. Diabetes and high blood pressure cause all kinds of damage to our vision. If  I can reduce my risks for other complications I may reduce the chances of going blind faster. Strange that I am hoping to just slow down something I can’t control in the slightest.

So you may see posts from time to time about my new situation and how it changes my perspective on things in both a literal way and a figurative way. I have a new pair of glasses which I hate… and can’t hardly use comfortably. I now have to see my eye Dr’s every year with other visits if I discover any changes. I was lucky I went for an annual exam when they discovered the changes were more drastic than I thought or could have imagined.

I now  live and look at things with a more studious eye. Drinking in the colors and textures of the things I love as if I may not every see them again. I will continue to read as long as I can. I will read all of your wonderful blogs and drink in the words as deeply as my heart allows. I have made it a point to enjoy more books too. Real books with paper pages and smells of old books stores with torn edges that I can annotate and dog ear. I will reread and re-watch my favorite books and movies until I know them and they become a part of me. I will create this blog until the time comes when I can not see the words on the page but only get to hear them read back to me with a computer voice. I will learn to work with it, around it  and through it and move forward into what ever wonderful things that God still has for me.

In a decade they guess I will no longer drive or clean my house. So I must have something wonderful to do some other way…. Maybe I will become Agatha Christy who dictated every one of her books and had a wonderful editor who transcribed them for her? Who knows maybe I am to be a painter of impressionistic flowers that tour the world as “works of the blind”?? Or  Maybe a Philosopher who spends too much time alone thinking about the meaning in life and discovers the “One Thing” that explains life as we know it.

So my perspective is changing on many things, but mostly on what beauty is and how we express it; What is Art and how do we enjoy it and what is Joy and how to find it.

 

 

Categories: About me, blindness, blogging, family health, health, Love, wellness | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Three in A Row; Spring Surgery 2017

Keeping a good out look on life is what I do,it is who I am. Tomorrow is my 3rd surgery in nine months for a verity of things that all need to be taken care of but are not at this point life threatening.It has been exhausting and I am thankful for all the recovery time that has been given to me as part of the planning.

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JoLynn kissing Christopher on top of Bald Knob in Cass WV fall 2017

My first surgery was last spring in May. I needed to have my appendix removed in addition to a ovarian cyst that they removed at the same time. The surgery went well  and recovery was normal for the first few months until I coughed. Yea, I coughed deep, like you do when you have a cold and that was all it took to tear the internal stitches open. I knew I had done something wrong,but had work to do, and forgot about the pain as soon as it passed. The problem is that the small tear has become a hernia.So,for the last two months I have noticed a large hard spot in my addendum. My digestion has changed, I now have pain, gas and bloating that I have never had before. I returned to my surgeon for an exam and was told I needed another surgery. This kind of incision hernia is pretty common in woman and could be life threatening but is normally  just unpleasant. So,another trip to the hospital and another few weeks off work as I recover.

I feel as if I have just been holding my breath for the past year as I have gone from Dr to Dr. Waiting to finally get time to rest,heal and move forward with my life. I plan to do some writing  as I recover. Then later in the year I plan to take a vacation. To see family and friends and take my son to see his grandmother. I plan to see everyone that I have missed for the last few years and take time to be thankful that I am still here with them.

So wish me luck as I take the next step needed to be fully healed, yours always JoLynn.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Change, Healing, health, Hernia, Home, wellness | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Halloween visit to the haunted Lunatic Asylum

Visiting the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is my favorite place to explore as an artist and photographer.So when a friend explained a desire to see the huge building in person this Halloween, I was over joyed to share my love with them. So Oct 29th we spent the day exploring and learning about one of West Virginia’s most unusual places. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, constructed between 1858 and 1881, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and is purportedly the second largest in the world, next to the Kremlin. With the VIP tour tickets in hand, we spent our morning learning about the treatment and care of our mentally ill and how it has changed over the last 140 years. We also took this unique opportunity to photograph something that is in various stages of restoration and decay. The TALA was closed in 1994 due to the deterioration of the facility and changes in the laws about care of those who suffer from mental illness. At that time the State of West Virginia had no plan for the future of the building  and the 300 acres of farm land that they now had owned in the center of a sleepy farm town.cropped-fall-afternoon-on-the-lawn-of-the-trans-allegheny-lunatic-asylum-west-wv-2016.jpg

The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum fell into deep disrepair over the next 9 years leaving the community of Weston, West Virginia to wonder what the future would hold for their Georgian style monument. Would the building be sold off one huge block at a time, would a developer take control  of the land and building and turn it into something that would help the small town or would the TALA just fall apart from neglect. In 2003 Lewis County got its answer as  Morgantown asbestos demolition contractor  Joe Jordan bought the nationally listed historic building for 1.5 million dollars. It was the start of a new beginning for the building and the town.

As a local resident for many years, I have always heard the ghost stories told about the Asylum. I always wanted to get inside to see for myself if it was as spooky and mysterious as reported. Over the years I have been inside some of the buildings, but this trip I was astounded at the amount of work that the Jordan family has committed to doing. Here is just a sample of  images that show what kind of shape the building was in 2007 and in some cases still is today.

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Drop cloth on the floor of the plaster repair shop TALA.

 

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Sunlight on a solitary confinement room at the TALA.

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Washing sink in the kitchen food prep area of the hospital. This seems to be one of the first sinks in this area the newer ones are stainless steel.

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Creepy reflections appear in a widow at the medication dispensary area of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

The woman on the left is a lady as part of our tour group… the older woman on the right without a body remains a mystery. I also have several photos with orbs in them and some believe that the orbs are images of spirits that are in the room.

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Lilly’s room at the TALA where at times ghostly things happen with the toys offered to her.

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Single desk in a common area of the TALA with bared windows and chipping paint.

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Metal bed frame imprinted into the tile floor of one of the patient rooms.

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Sunlight streams through a cobweb covered window looking out on another portion of the TALA.

 

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Doors and windows and grotesque faces on the back of the civil war section of the building of the TALA.

Our tour took us up the three  floors of the main building and from the civil war era to almost modern times with in the building. Each tour that Greg gives is slightly different and geared for the group he leads.Some portions of the main building have been restored had wonderful time period furnishings and made visitors understand what the buildings intended purpose was in the 1800’s.

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Tour guide Greg showing off some of the furniture that is original to the TALA.

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What a room at the TALA could look like for those who were well-behaved.

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Common room area niche with “tea time” table setting on first floor wing

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The first item to be restored was the clock tower and clocks the color that was chosen for the trim of the tower is a color match from the 1800’s.

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My friend Alex Smits in the reflection of a mantel mirror in the restored administrators office at the TALA.

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Second floor nurses quarters unmarried nurses were allowed to live at the TALA and these are were they would have visited and relaxed in the common areas.

The VIP tour lasts around 90 to 95 minutes and covers every area inside the large stone building from the entry area to the scary electro-shock therapy rooms and solitary confinement rooms. It showed what the building was meant to be and also showed visitors what really happened in the days of over crowding when a one person room would have three or four living in small 10 x 10 cells that reminded me of prison cells rather than recovery rooms.

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Observation window in the wall of the shock therapy room.

Alex and I both felt a mixture of fascination and horror while on the tour when we found out the many ways Dr.’s tried to “help” the people who found themselves committed here. I have often been disappointed in our fellow-man but when a person realizes the reasons that were used to place people in facilities like this one… if makes the hair stand up on the back of you neck.

REASONS FOR ADMISSION
WEST VIRGINIA HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE (WESTON)
OCTOBER 22, 1864 to DECEMBER 12, 1889Amenorrhea
Asthma
Bad company
Bad habits & political excitement
Bad whiskey
Bite of a rattle snake
Bloody flux
Brain fever
Business nerves
Carbonic acid gas
Carbuncle
Cerebral softening
Cold
Congetion of brain
Constitutional
Crime
Death of sons in the war
Decoyed into the army
Deranged masturbation
Desertion by husband
Diptheria
Disappointed affection
Disappointed love
Disappointment
Dissipation of nervesDissolute habits
Dog bite
Domestic affliction
Domestic trouble
Douby about mother’s ancestors
Dropsy
Effusion on the brain
Egotism
Epileptic fits
Excessive sexual abuse
Excitement as officer
Explosion of shell nearby
Exposure & hereditary
Exposure & quackery
Exposure in army
Fall from horse
False confinement
Feebleness of intellect
Fell from horse
Female disease
Fever
Fever & loss of law suit
Fever & nerved
Fighting fire
Fits & desertion of husband

Gastritis
Gathering in the head
Greediness
Grief
Gunshot wound
Hard study
Hereditary predisposition
Ill treatment by husband
Imaginary female trouble
Immoral life
Imprisonment
Indigestion
Intemperance
Interferance
Jealousy
Jealousy & religion
Kick of horse
Kicked in the head by a horse
Laziness
Liver and social disease
Loss of arm
Marriage of son
Masturbation & syphillis
Masturbation for 30 years
Medicine to prevent conception

Menstrual deranged
Mental excitement
Milk fever
Moral sanity
Novel reading
Nymphomania
Opium habit
Over action on the mind
Over heat
Over study of religion
Over taxing mental powers.
Parents were cousins
Pecuniary losses: worms
Periodical fits
Political excitement
Politics
Puerperal
Religious enthusiasm
Religious excitement
Remorse
Rumor of husband’s murder or desertion
Salvation army
Scarlatina
Seduction
Seduction & dissappointment

Self abuse
Severe labor
Sexual abuse and stimulants
Sexual derangement
Shooting of daughter
Smallpox
Snuff
Snuff eating for two years
Softening of the brain
Spinal irritation
Sun stroke
Sunstroke
Superstition
Supressed masturbation
Supression of menses
Tabacco & masturbation: hysteria
The war
Time of life
Trouble
Uterine derangement
Venerial excesses
Vicious vices in early life
Women
Women trouble
Young lady & fear

Sources: http://www.trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com/main/history3.html

In most cases we would all be committed and institutionalized for the rest of our lives here if they still fallowed these reasons. Thank goodness we have modern medications and treatments.Yet, our tour guide repeatedly told us that several patients at the Asylum cried and became distraught when they closed down the building and had to be move. Some patients had lived inside the gates of the TALA their whole lives and were not stable enough to understand why they had to leave.

No matter how you feel about the TALA it is an interesting tour and a very educational one. I left the building with mixed feelings, I felt shame and heart-break for the people who lived here, fascination for the history and architecture, scared in some of the rooms and by the detailed information given about procedures and treatments. I felt sadness while looking at the art of the patients. I did not include many of my photos because the drawings and painting evoke such strong emotions that I felt as if I was sharing something very personal and did not have the right to.

In the end I had a great time, I got spend time with someone I really enjoy, and got to take photos of a historic old creepy building.. what a wonderful Halloween I had.

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Civil War, Halloween, Lewis County, museums, Photos, sickness, Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Travel, wellness | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

DIY, Roaster Chicken Stock, Bone Broth

Thanks to a meeting at work and the 35 people who attended I was able to make roster chicken stock. I normally only make stock from beef or deer bones because I rarely have more than a few bones at a time when we eat chicken. But with the remains of 5 roaster chickens it was time for a winter’s worth of chicken broth.

Everyone who cooks knows that we should all make our own Bone Broth or Chicken Stock and the benefits that come from taking the time to do it. Not only does simple homemade chicken stock make cooking easier, having only to thaw it to make a delicious sauce or  base for soups it  also gives the body a nutrient rich base to draw from.

I personally make my stock not only with bones but left over meat and vegetables.I kind of clean out the refrigerator when doing this kind of cooking… knowing that everything I put into the stock will add flavor and nutrition. In this case I had 6 small carrots, 1 large onion, 6 stalks celery, and about a half of a head of cabbage and 5 carcases of roster chickens. I added enough water to the chicken bones to cover and topped then with 3 more inches of water. I put the vegetables in and added 3 tablespoons salt, 4 bay leaves and 3 teaspoons Rosemary  and simmered the mixture for 3 hours.Bone Broth is usually cooked for up to 12 hours to the point where the bones are brittle.

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Chicken stock.. with celery, onion, carrots and cabbage.

After letting the stock cool for over an hour I began the long process of straining the stock. I first pulled out the vegetables. I have a ladle style strainer for this kind of work. Then poured the remaining broth through a strainer into several bowls. This help removes the rosemary and bay leaves and the smaller bones and random meat chucks. I covered the stock and placed three bowls of stock in my refrigerator to finish cooling and letting the chick fat that raised to the top. Around 24 hours later I took the stock out and removed the chicken fat that had raised to the top and hardened. Leaving the gelatin that forms from boiling the bones in the stock… this is the natural collagen that is so good for our health and healing.  Then warmed the stock and mixed the jelly back into the broth and when just warm poured into freezer containers.

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30 cups of homemade chicken stock from 5 roster chicken carcasses.

I ended up with 6 containers of stock with each container holding 5 cups of broth. The broth will remain fresh for up to 6 months. The first time the weather cools I am sure Christopher and I will be making chicken soup or chicken gravy made with this homemade broth.Knowing that we are eating food that not only tastes good but is good for you.

 

 

Categories: chicken, health, soup, soup, wellness | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Emotionally Drained and Ready for Change

The Month of November has really hit my family hard. It has brought us through a whirl wind of emotions and challenges and changes. The days have blown by with funeral activities and children’s parties. With our time spent comforting grieving family and friends,followed by happy school children in costumes, and a sick body fighting a cold. I spent my 47 birthday watching the episode of Barnwood builders that I helped to create holding my breath. Trying not to cry at the wrinkles and lines on my face and the heavy body that I still have not dealt with after my foot surgery. I have felt the deepest most satisfying happiness and the most painful sadness, all in a matter of days…and I am tired.

Christopher and Paige Halloween 2015

Christopher and Paige Halloween 2015

Most of you already know that over  a year ago I quit my outside job and went home to take care of Grandma Powers around July of last year. I then followed that with a foot surgery to remove a bone that would not heal after 13 months in a cast. We then moved over Christmas and started a remodel project in the end of April and spent days filming with the Barnwood builders. Then we also got the news that Grandma’s cancer was back and things looked bleak for the future. We finished our remodel and the filming of our show in Aug of this year and watched as grandma’s health began to fail, knowing that we would only have a few months with her. Then as Nov came and went we lost Grandma… I was supposed to celebrate Halloween ( my favorite holiday) With little Christopher at his school with a party and Saturday night take him trick or treating…I just could not do it. With a cold and broken heart I just wanted the comfort of my home and time with Tom. We  handed out candy and enjoyed the beautiful night air on the porch. My faithful son Cody took his little brother out for Halloween tricks and treats and made memories of their own. Then my birthday and the show airing. I was so thankful to have family and friends celebrate with me. Yet… I worried, so nervous, that somehow I would look like a fool on national TV. I would some how not be “Me”. In the end it was good. It was more “Me” then I care to admit, I look my age and I love these mountains and it shows right there on national TV. So I laughed along with the boys at the end of the night. I really might be just a Hillbilly at heart.

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

I know I have had more adventures in the last two years then some have in a life time. I have felt more in those two years then I ever thought was possible. I have laughed,cried, felt peace and the hand of God working in my life. I have hugged my children harder and been blessed more than my imagination would let me believe.I have sacrificed my time and money to be a caregiver and a mother. I have worked for no one, but for everyone, and not received a penny and it was all worth it in the end.

Grandma Wanda Powers Mowery, Paige and Christopher Powers, Dec 12 2014

Grandma Wanda Powers Mowery, Paige and Christopher Powers, Dec 12 2014

Some people think riches come in the form of a paycheck or money stored, but it doesn’t. Riches are experiences… and memories…… and dreams shared. They are the only thing that is left in the end. Money can not be taken to the other side… only love can. I have spent the last few years of my life making memories that I will never forget and shared love that I can never get back. I have forgotten about the “Me” and focused on the “We” and have reaped what I have sown in heaping amounts. These years have not hardened, but softened me, softened my heart towards God, my Family and My Friends and even my body. It has been a wonderful time of learning and growing as a person, a woman and mother. 

I am tired now, I will rest a few days, maybe a month, the days will slowly be filled again with work and school and children. I will let life lead me for now, to a new career, to new schooling, or who knows where, but I am ready for a change. That will start me on a new adventure with new memories and more love.

people who love us dont see our disablities just our ablity to love

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love

Categories: About me, Barnwood Builders, Death, family memories, Friendship, Halloween, Holidays, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Fighting All My Fears with Karate.

It may seem a little odd for ( to quote my son) ” for an earth muffin hippy wanna be” to go find my health both mentally and physically in the art of Shotokan Karate. I know that on the surface my  lifestyle seems to have no connections to my current studies of Marital Arts. Well lets just talk about all this for a minute. If you have been following along for any length of time you should know that I had foot surgery last year and quit my physically active job when my beloved mother in law came to stay with us after her surgery and radiation treatment for throat cancer.

Well after the 13 months in an air cast and 6 months at home I had lost a lot of physical strength,tone and balance.  I gained a lot of weight somewhere in the area of 40 pounds. I hear that this is totally normal for some one who has to sit down and rest as part of the recovery process. But I was not going to go back to work any time soon and my foot was now with out a bone. That little bone meant that I was not running. jumping or doing aerobics any time in the future. But the Dr did say that I could do exercise that was less stressful to my feet like walking, bike riding, swimming, yoga and most of the Marital Arts. The key here is “Most”, Shotokan is not really on the list of gentle activities. So after getting back on my treadmill and not really loving it, I was lucky to met Larry a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan. After a very long talk and a beautiful smile Larry said that I was perfect for Karate and that my age (46 is a little old to start Karate) and foot would not be a problem at all. The conversation in my head argued with him for a while with everything we always say to our selves,”I am to old, I am in terrible shape, I may get hurt, I am not good at this”. Then after a few minutes, I thought to myself with a deep breath “so who are you going to trust in this life a 68-year-old black belt who does this every week or your Fear. I put my hope and trust in Larry and started a new journey that following week.

Karate image used with permission

Karate image used with permission

I am not usually a fearful person, I am not shy and I am alright with making a fool of myself. So no need for fear as the new student in class but I was and still am on some days. I have in the past been physically assaulted, I have been a victim of  domestic violence ( not from my current husband but my first) and intimidation. I do not like men to touch me and I certainly do not like the thought of fighting them. The class is full of large male strangers and strange men mean that I get a little unsettled. To become a Karate student I would at some point have to face all of these men in an active aggressive way and fight with them. This was harder than just showing up for a work out. This was training for my mental strength and my emotional strength too.  Facing them in sparing is still unnerving and will be for a long time. I have not totally fallen apart yet but I am sure at some point I will. The best part is that it is a safe place to fall apart, I have nothing but support in my Dojo.

Most people generally understand the amount of time and energy getting physical fit takes, it is a part of a process. Some people want to lose weight to look good for the appeal from the outside world and that is fine. Some want to get fit for the health benefits (me included). But Karate is about strength, not so much about fitness. Strength of mind, body and spirit. Fitness is a huge part of the training but it not the end result that we trying to achieve. It is a place to push your limitations to the edge and find that the limitation has moved and you are stronger and have new limitations. Some things in this life I can not change, my age for example, or my sex or some physical limitations, but just about every other thing is under my control to change. If I am fat I can eat less, if I am sad I can doing something to make myself feel better, If I am weak I can work out to gain more strength. If I am frightened  I can discover what it is that is making me scared and face it. This is my journey to strengthen everything about myself… my body, my mind and my spirit.

sprititual practice image used with permission

spiritual practice image used with permission

I hope that with the help of my new training I will be better able to face what is coming in the future of our families life. That as the sun is setting on one life that I will be better prepared to face the future of my life with out my best friend and mother in law. That in the future I am tempered by fire, hardened and strong when I need it most. That my Karate student life will continue and I will be able to have another year of breaking my own barriers.

In the immortal words of band the Eagles from the song: Already Gone…

Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down,

Heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free,

So often it happens that we live our lives in chains,

and we never even know we have the keys,

:chorus:

And I am already gone,

And I am feeling strong,

I will sing this victory song… Whooo.hoo,hoo, whoo,hoo,hoo!

Jolynn Powers with Gi top 1st Kata

Jolynn Powers with Gi top 1st Kata

Categories: Buckhannon West Virginia, foot surgery, friends, Healing, health, hobbies, Karate, wellness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Beginning and the End

As the truth of the news sets in I fill with a choking pain. I do not know what to say and I have no idea what is going to happen in our families future. They don’t give instructions on how to deal with the cancer process. The results from Grandma chemo are the worst you can get. The Dr.’s see no improvement from the 6 Chemo treatments that she has received. There is nothing left that they can do.

As we hear this my husband and I look at each other with eyes that are wide open. The future was never a proven fact, only a glimmering hope on the horizon and try as we (the whole family) might the fact is that we had one good year and maybe a few more months before the cancer starts to change our lives again. I got word from the Dr that we would see the cancer return in about a year and we would be lucky to have Grandma here with us at the three-year mark. That seems all seem like a dream now as the tumors have doubled in a matter of 6 weeks. The first year is already gone and we are now looking at maybe having months with her not years.

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

She has gone and made her funeral plans and picked out the casket and song that need played. Her plot has been saved and the final paper work is almost in order. The fact is that she is going about this transition in the most honorable way possible. She is thanking everyone and saying the words that need said to make everything “Right” before it is too late.  It is an important time for my family and I hope all of you understand that in the coming months I may or may not write my weekly post. I will try to share things I love when I can and when the mood strikes but not unless it feels right.

We are about finished with the remodel just in time for all of this to happen. The Barn Wood Builders are coming back to finish up the filming of the house the 28th of Aug so we have time to get all the details done by then. At some point around that time I will be getting Grandmas room ready and she will move back in with us at some point in the future. I am ready and willing to make her last days as comfortable as possible with Gods help.

So as Grandma always tells us this is really not an Ending but only the Beginning. That death is not the worst part,it  is being trapped in a broken body that is terrible, that the spirit is free at death and can finally return to the unending love of our creator. She is so wise in all of her 78 years that I must believe that what she says is true. That death will only be a better beginning for all of us. That her freedom from pain and suffering will also release the rest of us from our suffering also. That somewhere in the future I will be able to breathe freely again but this time it will be for her.

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virigina  The old and the new

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virgina The old and the new

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Death, family health, grandma, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

The Results are In and I am Not Sure How to Write About It.

As some of you already my Mother In Law was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer last year at this very same time. I was a long road for her with surgery, radiation, and months of recovery time over the summer and fall of last year. Things were looking great back in Nov. She was free from any Cancer and ready to get back to her normal life at her home and enjoying the holidays even if she still was not eating well. This spring things were still looking bright when she just kept telling me she was so tired and run down after a move to a new apartment.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I think we all just thought that the move had worn her 77-year-old body down and that she would rebound. She was not sleeping well and seemed to have some sort of UTI infection that would not go away. Finally we talked about when she was going to see her Ears, Nose and Throat Specialist again. The appointment was in about ten days and she did not want togo any sooner than need be. So we waited until the appointed date to get her check up and what did they find but that a tumor had returned. Holy Crap! NO NO NO ! Seated there in the chair across from the monitor of her scope, I watched as the scope slowly went through the nose to the throat to the voice box. Their on the wall of her throat,just above her voice box sat a lumpy mass of almost white speckled tissue shaped like a Lima bean. The Dr looked me in the eye and said “This does not look good” and I knew then and their the situation of her recovery was over.

The Dr went on to let us know that we needed to plan for a CT scan of her neck and a biopsy of the tumor. As we sat in the office getting those appointment made a nursed asked if she would like to just get the pre-operation testing done this day and not have to drive the 1:30 back the following day. She agreed and we spent a few more hours getting blood drawn, a chest x-ray and EKG done to make sure all was well for her Biopsy.

Well the results showed a spot on her lungs, and the CT scan was then cancelled as they now wanted to get a full PET scan with the Biopsy. Her Daughter and Son spent two days with her while all the tests got finished, a long couple of days of driving and waiting for everyone.

Well the results are in and it is not what anyone every wanted to hear, the Cancer is back, it has also moved to the lungs. Disappointment fills my heart to over flowing. The families hopes are devastated. The dreaded cancer is back and now spreading. With Wanda reaching her life time limit of radiation treatments it looks as though the main treatment now will be Chemo Therapy. What kind and if their will be surgery to combat the lung issue is still up of discussion. The next couple of months will be more trips to seem more Dr’s  and Surgeons. Then a trip to see a panel of Doctors who review her treatment plan. Then a time for prayer….and reflections for Grandma.

At 77 she has total control of her mind and body and this comes as a major set back for her. She has expressed that she is ready to met her “Lord and Savor”, “that it is His plan that we all fallow” and that she will need time to pray about her future choices.

Many times while driving Grandma to do weekly chores, I have witnessed her strength, courage and love. She never complains, she never shy’s away from the pain she experiences. She never blames God for the situation. She instead glorifies what she believes by witnessing to everyone around her. Grandma says to every person she talks to that “This is not the end, but only the beginning.” ” That life here on earth is really the hard part, that death is finally freedom from pain and suffering”. She glows with knowing that her freedom is real and that she has time to remind people that death is only a simple transition from body to spirit and nothing more.

It is in my saddest moments that I think of what she has allowed me to share in. Much like the movie ” Driving Miss Daisy” I am not the real person in charge in our relationship, she is. I am a humble driver, medication giver, house keeper, that is her friend and family. I would not say that I am in any way  religious, I have to many misgivings about any group doctrine. But I am a deeply spiritual person, that knows what she says is true. With her kind and loving wisdom she has brought comfort to hundreds of people across our area. She reminds them to “Trust in a power greater than ourselves and know that we are not alone”. That statement gives me and hundreds of others the comfort we need to get through another day with Cancer.

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Family, grandma, health | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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