Thursday, August 21, 2014

A No Brainer.

Awhile ago I received an email from Jeff Goins. In it I read:
[What’s] your story. If you have one — and we all do — I want to hear it.
Especially if it's about how your world has been turned upside down.
Mercedes-Benz Ad  Created by Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive

A world upside down would have been preferable to the implosion of my life. I was a dying star that collapsed on itself, becoming a black hole. I lost myself. 

Left from right? No brainer.
Up from down? No brainer.
The ABC song? No brainer. 
(Now it's running through you head!)

I’ve come to learn how the simple acts typically called “no brainers” are anything but. In the hospital on my son’s first Thanksgiving I learned the hardest lesson of my life. One I struggle with daily. Ask for help. I am a fiercely stubborn person. My husband says I could give mules a lesson or two. I learned from the priest beside my hospital bed that I cannot do it alone. 

I truly thought I was dying. 

Nurses would check my vital signs every three hours. Draw blood for test they didn’t even understand, day or night at the doctors’ orders. Getting an epidural during child birth was less painful than a spinal tap. Hours were spent in MRI machines. Cat scans where I felt like I was peeing on the slab I was lying on from the contrast they pumped through my veins. Test where they stuck electrodes to my head and told me to sleep. Right. I played piano in my head instead, twitching my fingers as though the keys were on the examination tables. A simple act for me before my life changed. 

Music used to be a no brainer.

When MRI results came back, orderlies, nurses and doctors alike marveled at how I could walk to the bathroom. Albeit not gracefully. I was given a mattress alarm that would go off anytime I got up without asking for help. Help going to the bathroom. So degrading

The lesions that covered my brain were so deep and sever that they made rings. Neurologists fought for my case because “it is a once in a career kind of case”. Many I met said, “your brain is fascinating”. They were giddy with my files on their desks.

I wasn’t. 

Being socially polite was a strain and a struggle. I had lost my filter. Anything I thought came out. I had only sworn once in my life before. (It had been at directed Kinko’s who had botched my final project for Graphic Design IV and the due date was in an hour.) Suddenly I found I talked like my sister, a sailor. The sanctity of inner monologue was violated. 

Writing instead of using my mouth was a challenge. Drawing out my thoughts an impossibility. I am a trained designer, artist and writer. No longer able to know how to use a pencil brought despair. 

Signing my name to hospital papers should have been a no brainer.

I could go on about the negative things. How there was a two year sex drought in my relationship with my husband. There was just no drive, desire or motivation. Depression and despair clung like the dark shadow in my vision. It was the priest words from my bedside, “ask for help” that became the formula for feeling better about my life. 

Rediscovering the good things in life meant I had to humble myself to find myself.
I had to admit the hardest thing, “I cannot do this alone.”

Three years later, I finally had my answer. An acute and aggressive case of Multiple Sclerosis. 

Many things have permanently changed. I now have to eat a gluten, dairy and soy free diet. A self-injection used to be administered every other day, but now thanks to modern medicine it is a pill twice a day. And once every six months I have to lie perfectly still for five hours in an MRI machine as an extensive look of my brain is recorded.

This is not the life I had planned, but it takes the hard times to appreciate the good things in life.
I no longer run my own business, or work for top design firms. That’s okay. I am happy.

The black spider has left me now. As I teach my son to play the piano, I get to relearn too. For my husband and me the drought is over. There was even a monsoon season. My artistic skills were requested by the local library. All the hours in an MRI machine gave me the time to mentally write three novels. My third book, Drowned by Fear is scheduled to be released next month.

From the beginning there have been three constants in my life; pulling me from the gravitational force of the black hole that appeared as a large spider in my vision for years: my husband, coffee and God. With their support I no longer take the simple, “no brainer”, things in life for granted. 

I hope my story inspires you to take a moment to sip a cup of coffee and reflect on all the things you take for granted that are really quite remarkable. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box below or by emailing me (

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