Illness – Encephalitis

A Clue to a Time I’ll Never Forget

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I bet most of you have a certain time in your life that you will never forget. I want to share the most important thing that happened to me. Why now? It took place in August of 1985, thirty-two years ago. Why share? Because of one not so simple fact: It changed my life.

To show how important it is, I must first have you read one of my older posts. I want to refresh your memory with what it was like for me with my brain affecting illness called encephalitis that took place a few years after this special occasion took place.

Three reasons why I want you to read this first.

1) I have quite a few more followers now who perhaps do not know what I went through. 

2) To show how important this certain time was because, well…I REMEMBER IT ! It’s only those extra special happening before my brain injury hit I can still ponder on. Heck, I can even still picture it! So much that took place years ago I can not recall. Sure, people say “I don’t remember stuff either that happened years ago.” I know that, but for me it’s much tougher.  I can’t find in my events-from-the-past safety box as easily as most others can. In many cases, it’s impossible for me to even find that key to unlock.

3) This last reason? Just for fun. See how good you are with clues.

So, before I share that extra special event next week, click to read this past post called…  How Sadness Showed Me God’s Presence.

Okay, I’ll give you a clue within a clue: WHERE to find that clue: Pay extra attention toward the end. (Aren’t YOU curious)

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Feel free to jot down / reply what you think my next week’s post will reveal.

Encephalitis Awareness – Sign Petition

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I have shared bit’s and pieces about my brain injury call Encephalitis I endured years ago and will, Lord willing, have it all in book form is some near future. But right now, I want to encourage you to sign a petition that will raise encephalitis awareness. This petition has been put together from the organization called Encephalitis Global. This organization I shared in a past post and how it was the best source for me ! (1*) I was no longer by myself being I finally found people who understood what I was going through along with reading much needed advice and information.

The president from Encephalitis Global describes it this way  (parts from website)

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“Once home from the hospital, encephalitis survivors and caregivers search for information and support.  When they search the website of their local Brain Injury alliance, association, network or society they usually come up empty-handed!

Encephalitis can be an invisible disability as a survivor appears healthy but is struggling with serious neurological issues.   Often, encephalitis survivors do not realize that many of the issues they struggle with following their acquired brain injury are parallel (if not identical in many cases) to the issues dealt with by survivors of all types of brain injury.  If encephalitis could be recognized by every Brain Injury alliance, association, network and society in North America, survivors and their families would have an excellent local information resource.

Encephalitis is a genuine and serious brain injury. We ask that a link to Encephalitis Global be offered at the website of every Brain Injury alliance, association, network and society in North America. In this way, encephalitis survivors and caregivers would swiftly find information and support.

Please take a moment to sign our Petition to raise encephalitis awareness… Click here for Petition Information and please share it with others!!

In this way, encephalitis survivors and caregivers would swiftly find information and support. 

On behalf of the people we help every day, we salute you and we thank you. 

Encephalitis Global is an excellent starting point for people seeking further information resources on specific types of encephalitis.”

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So please, if you have a few minutes, sign this petition. I know if this was available when I was hit with ‘E’ my husband and I could have gone down a much smoother road with valuable information, much needed support and . . .

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… I wouldn’t have felt so alone.

Here again is that information.

Thank you. 

The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded Up – part 3

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Did you ever predict you would learn something but didn’t know what the lesson might be? That was me a few years back. After a few tougher-than-normal trials had taken place, I grasped the fact that I would learn something from them, but just wasn’t sure what. Here, let me explain.

As my last two posts shared, (1*2*) two somewhat life-changing ordeals had my thoughts of thankfulness all folded up and tossed in the back pocket of my jeans. (Pictorially speaking, of course.) But God guided me to understand that He was writing the story and had bigger plans I couldn’t yet see.

As years went by, I took a few verses to heart: Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

So, I waited…and waited…and yes, waited, as our family of four turned into a family of six. I had shared my unplanned pregnancy and illness story with many by this time. As each year passed, comments of “You should let others know about what God did for you” kept popping up. Slowly but surely, the question of why I’m thankful for these trials was beginning to get answered.

First, my pregnancy. An older post shares how different comments and requests to share my pregnancy were God’s way to get that story in writing; thus my book, God and My Pillow. (3*) Helping others going through that same ordeal is now a must, knowing God’s been encouraging me from the start.

In another older post (4*) I shared about connecting with that encephalitic support website, meeting others who had gone through the same type of illness. Being it was years after I was hit with encephalitis, having experienced for some time how that illness can affect your life, I wound up encouraging others who were recently hit with similar brain damage. Phone calls and skyping I began using.  They needed to hear from one who had experienced what they were, at the time, dealing with. A book is now in the making to cover that, in hopes of encouraging those, showing how God held me and how He can hold them as well.

Hearing others tell me how helpful these efforts have been has caused me, in a way, to be almost thankful for these two events. I appreciate so much more now, knowing that if you never experienced pain, sorrow, and hurt, you would never recognize good health, the simple joys in life, and just how precious having Christ by your side can be.  Most people have had their share of hard times and I’m certain they are far from over. But instead of being sad, frustrated, and/or angry about them, I hope my stories help others pull that little piece of paper with the word ‘thankful’ on it out of their back pockets too. 

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The Word ‘Thankful’ All Folded Up – part 2

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In my last post, (1*) I wrote about the word ‘thankful’ and how that word didn’t fit too well inside my heart as I underwent my two extremely tough afflictions. (2* & 3*) No one found me relaxed on a recliner, smiling ear to ear while thinking, “I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so thankful God is having me go through this incredibly tough time.” Nope. Thankfulness was tightly folded up and hiding in the back pocket of my jeans.

After each ordeal took place, however, my mind knew God was in charge. I began realizing more and more that as things were getting better, I was actually thinking of pulling that Thankful sign out of my jeans and putting it on the table, but of course still folded up. As more positive things began to appear through each ordeal, I actually unfolded that paper. Sensing God’s help via family, friends, doctors, and the like, I finally decided to unfold the paper and read it each time I walked by. More thankful thoughts were growing in size and frequency. I finally got a magnet and —drumroll, please— stuck that Thankful sign up on my refrigerator!

I wasn’t becoming thankful I was pregnant, or for my month-long stay at a hospital. Not yet anyway. Thankfulness was there for feeling Christ was supporting me, caring for me, and letting me know He wasn’t just King, but my Father.

I was growing in the understanding that God is the One who puts us through what comes our way, good or bad. I was on the road that was planned by Him, whether smooth and serene, or unpaved, or one filled with countless sinkholes. I still felt a bit shattered and broken, not able to do what I had planned in life, but finally understanding that God’s plans are perfect, and that He was going to use me somehow, some way sure helped. 

Peace was growing inside as each year went by, and a few verses began to stand out.

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Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 

Attached is a song – The Very Next Thing – by Casting Crowns, which shares how I had began to slowly feel as time went by, using words such as…

– With my very next step – be on the road that was planned by you

– Lord, wherever you’re leading me – that’s where I want to be

Even though I did not know which direction that path was going, thankfulness, tied with peace, permanently got pinned to my heart and I was eager to see how He might use what He put me through to serve Him.

Finally, doors were opening and I began to see what His plans were. 

– to be continued.

The Word ‘Thankful’ All folded Up -Part 1

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Think of an extra-tough time you’ve gone through. Okay, maybe not the most joy-filled request.

Now, look at the definition of thankful: 

1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful – grateful and appreciative

2. of, relating to, or expressing thanks – a thankful feeling – thankful words

Curious why I’m asking you to think of an extra-tough time, as well as defining what thankful means? It’s to help you understand what got me—as years went by—to be closer to actually being thankful for these two, somewhat life-changing hardships I’d gone through.   (1*) (2*)  

Thankfulness. Do I want you to think that from day one I was filled with thankfulness when my teenage pregnancy soap opera started? Or, do I want you to think I was overflowing with thanks shortly after my brain-damaging encephalitis hit, that had me unable to even understand who God was TO thank? Am I saying that that one question, ‘Why, God?’ was nowhere to be found during both of those times? Of course not. As a matter of fact, if it could have been visible, “Why, God?” would have been bubbled over my head more hours of the day than not. I bet all of you reading this have had that bubble at least once, and that it seemed, at the time, impossible to pop.

God, having saved me when I was eighteen years old, was who I gave so many thanks to, as most things went by pretty smoothly that first year before these two time periods began. This verse fit perfectly:

Ephesians 5:2 – Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

But bang, things changed. I was so young in my Christian walk when I was hit with the first of these two trials. There had only been one year of God’s word and guidance before that larger-than-life trial occurred, followed by the next one only a few years later.

Being thankful for trials, along with understanding what God’s providence even meant, were both still hard to fully understand. It was hard to even find a little drip-drip-drip of thankfulness for either. Yes, I did sense God’s Fatherly care in both, but thankfulness that He decided to have me need that care sure wasn’t standing out. The word ‘thankful’ was folded up as many times as possible, put in the back pocket of those jeans I never wore.

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I knew God was holding me, but the fact that He had reasons for it all was hard to find as those early years went by.

Hearing those common words, ‘God has reasons,’ caused me to think ‘But what ARE they?’ That question was glued in my thoughts as every day, week, and month I was pregnant went by, and especially after every day, week, and month after my illness went by.

As time did go by, however, I—how shall I say it—started wearing those jeans I seldom wore, sensing something going on in that back pocket. Something was unfolding.

James 1:12 slowly began making sense.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

To be continued.

1* First trial –  Unplanned pregnancy

2* Second trial   – Brain Injury 

June 12th- One Special Day

heartsToday, Monday, the day I put up my new posts. But that’s not all. It’s also the perfect day to bring up what took place on June 12th, twenty-nine years ago. What am I talking about? Find out by reading my journal  from 1988. 

 

 

 

January 2, 1988 — Why begin, how to begin, why now to begin? What am I beginning anyway? Being almost a month into my marriage engagement to THE most wonderful man alive,  I’ve realized that being engaged is something very special. Our courting/dating is over, but our marriage is not yet underway. Praying that this will be the only time I will be in the engaged part of my life, I want to cherish this time and enjoy every part of it. I guess the reasons for starting a new journal, that only covers the remaining five months, will be to look back on my feelings about all the planning and emotions involved. But the most important reason is to see how God is bringing Chris and me closer together, and closer to Him.

I assume you have a good clue what this post is about. Just incase you still don’t know, here is the last clue from that last page of my special journal.  (Notice the date)

June 12, 1988 — Thirty minutes or so to go until I say ‘I do’. I’m all dressed and have enough time to collect my frame of mind, being I am now the only one in this room. It’s been stressful yet so worth it. It’s nice to know that God is in control of all things – even spark plug problems.   (don’t ask. You’ll just have to read my memoir to learn what that last sentence is all about.)  I’m all ready, and I hope Chris is surprised.


I’m sure I would have written more but, as soon as those last words were written, I saw my father outside the door waving his arm, telling me it was time to walk his youngest child down the isle. That was my last journal writing as Marianne Houstoun.

I’ll assume most of you have figured out by now with these clues, that twenty-nine years ago my husband and I said ‘I do’ and that today is our twenty-ninth anniversary.

These two writings are the first and last of thirty-one times I had put my heart of paper. Some were only a few sentences long while others were a few pages. It’s a gem looking back at how Chris and I decided on what type invitation to order, how him and I found our first apartment, to the joy we had blowing up all these balloons the day before our wedding.

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What was most often shared on those good old pieces of paper wasn’t so much what took place in those five months, but how thankful I was to God for the man He had brought my way.

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It’s always on our anniversary that one of my favorite verses come to mind.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (like your ‘love at first sight’, and man of your dreams) shall be added to you.

 

Unforgettable Forgettable Pictures

There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.

—Marie Antoinette

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Memories. Memories can be tough sometimes. Sure, everyone has things here and there they don’t remember. But for me, I only had things here and there I DID remember when I walked into that new hospital to help me recuperate after being hit with encephalitis. (*1)

My stay at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, Washington, was much different than the first one I had stayed in close to three weeks before. Different types of therapists had well-structured class times in different rooms, covering different subjects, day after day. Much of my time was still spent in my room resting, because the more I had to work so hard to think caused me to get worn out. Believe me, I really appreciated my room.

Here’s a sample of what one of my many classes was like.

“Marianne, for starters, I’m going to hold up little pictures of things that are very common to most people,” my speech therapist said while holding up a photo taken from newspaper ads. “Let’s see if you can tell me what it’s called.” 

Looks easy, right? Wrong.

Of course, I don’t remember that exact first picture I was shown, but I’ll never forget how I felt: dumb.

Here’s one of my common responses. 

“I think I know what it is, but I’m not sure. What’s it called?”

The first time seeing each card was almost impossible. Usually, though, after being told what it was called, along with what it was for, it would finally click! I remembered the name…for a few seconds, anyway. I’d say it a few times over and over. Next, a new card. Once again, she told me the name and explained what it’s for. Then, oh, darn it, that first one again. Great. Back to square one.

“Don’t worry, Marianne,” she said, “This is very normal. Trust me, it will get better.”

Slowly but surely, as minutes went by, I remembered the names of the items. Then she added a third picture. Then a fourth. Not too hard anymore to swiftly see one, say its name, do the next, and then the next. 

I felt so much better at the end of that first class.

Don’t get your hopes up like I did, because the next day I came close to starting from scratch. I remember how sad I felt after seeing that first picture. But thankfully, that day I got them all down a lot faster, even adding more. It put the day before to shame, making me one happy camper.

“Soon you’ll have no problem remembering what it’s called the first time you see it!”

YIPPIE!

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These are actually a few of those original pictures I was given to take home. They probably assumed that years later I’d like to reminisce on how sweet and simple my thinking was. Why the names of each with the photo? Days later, once it had become easy for me to say the name of each, then the hard part – writing down what they were called. Not fun.

But my speech therapist  wasn’t done, and continued. “I do need to warn you that often, as soon as you try to say some words out loud in a sentence, that word may suddenly seem to disappear,” She told me that is an effect because of what happened to my brain. Thankfully, she then taught me how to describe things in such a way that would hide my new problem.

As an example, she showed me a picture of a dog. Now, in 2017, I can say dog without any thought, but back then, dream on. (Just don’t ask me now what KIND of dog.)

“So instead of telling your friend ‘I love your new… oh, sorry, I can’t remember what that type of animal is called,’ say something like ‘I love your adorable new family member.’ Does that make sense?”

“You mean, I can still sound like I know what I’m talking about even though I don’t know the right word?”

I never forgot how relieved I felt. There was hope. That was the best advice I think I got the entire two weeks I was there. Seriously, at least once a day, I still hide the fact I can’t pop that word out I had just thought. I am proud to say, I have mastered that skill. 😉
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I saved this one picture for last being I still have to think about this here batch of cool threads often used for knitting.

1* Click here to read how all this started