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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Communication is important

A post on Facebook just popped up that got my attention. It was about how sad it is when family members do not communicate with each other. The children are the ones who suffer because of the wounded egos of the adults. I have personal experience along these lines and there isn't anything I can do but accept the situation. It reminded me of a life story from my E-book, Spirits of Cibola County, which I would like to share with my readers. It is titled Mother and Child.

To make life simple, close your eyes and pretend you are a child. What if eye contact was the major means of communicating with your child? Because of a tragic accident, that is basically how Jan reaches her son Dustin.

Eleven years ago when he was sixteen he survived a freak hang glider accident. The accident caused a severe closed head injury to his brain stem, leaving him with extremely limited motor skills. While still holding on to the hang glider Dustin was carried thirty feet down Mt. Taylor.

He was eventually flown to University of New Mexico Hospital where doctors informed his mother he had a one in ten million chance of living through the night. The prognosis was that he would be a vegetable if he survived at all. He has spent time in several facilities that didn't work out because he wasn't making suitable progress. Since February 1990 Dustin has been a resident of Grants Good Samaritan Center in Grants, New Mexico. 

To watch his mother one would not suspect she has such a tremendous challenge in her life. Her positive spirit is reflected in her smile her manner and the joyful music she plays on the activity room piano. Jan and her husband make three trips a week to visit and help care for their son. From day one Jan has believed God will heal her son.

Some people think she is in denial and won't accept what has happened, or that she is just plain crazy. She doesn't know how or when only that he will be healed. Jan gives her son an enormous amount of credit for his positive outlook and sense of humor. When given a choice between mom, Mickey Mouse or Godzilla, Dustin blinked Godzilla is his hero.

This is not the only stressful situation Jan has lived through. The year 1994 was not great, as her son's father died of a massive heart attack and she faced a second bout of cancer alone. She went to work nine days after surgery instead of the two weeks suggested by her doctor because she had to eat. Jan met her current husband at the nursing home when he came to visit his mother who was also a resident. The couple have been married for five years.

Dustin's room is quite unique. On the ceiling above his bed is a large picture of Tyra Banks with a small amount of clothes on. It was a birthday gift from his young nephew. Thanks to the New Mexico Hang Gliding Association his room also sports a special wheelchair and an even more special Eye Gave System Computer made by LC Technology of Fairfax, Virginia.

The $20,000 computer lets Dustin use his eyes to manipulate the keys, which allows him to talk to his family and the staff. He is able to tell them what hurts and how he is doing. The machine also gives Dustin some recreation with programmed games. His mother thinks he cheats a lot.

He could actually write his own story if he had a volunteer to assist him. Someone has to get him in the proper position and set up the machine. In a typed message Dustin old me I am a genius. When I disagreed, he insisted.

Jan made it quite clear that she gets upset with people who think her son is stupid. He is bright, funny and hears and understands everything that is said to him. When she visits she tells him what she has been doing. His friends visited for awhile but didn't know what to say to him. Jan wants people to realize that those who have trouble communicating, for whatever reason, still have a need to be recognized.

When dealing with a facility run by a corporation simple things are not always simple. Even though a volunteer to help Dustin run his computer was found it did not happen because of strings which needed to be pulled to make it a reality.

It is difficult to separate the spirit of this mother and child. They both have strength beyond measure. Children can sometimes be a pain in the neck, as well as other places. Perhaps next time your children annoy you because they are making too much noise, you will think of this mother and child and simply be grateful that they can.

Author's note:
This story was written with full permission from Jan and Dustin. At the time I worked for the facility as the Resource Development Coordinator and was told by the administrator that it was against the facility rules to write it. I did it anyway and it was published in my Cibola Beacon newspaper column, Who We Are. I left a copy on the administrator's desk, he read it and said, "it is very good". Sadly Dustin is now deceased.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I have many things to be grateful for as Thanksgiving and my 80th birthday approach. One can't live that long without looking around and taking inventory. A so called friend once said I was poor and I looked at her and laughed. I may not have a lot of possessions or money, but I actually have more than I need. I once heard an expression that went, "if you have anything left over at the end of the day you have abundance".

 I am mostly grateful for those people who gave me a hard time and stuck to their guns so to speak. They didn't let me get my way or provide help when they knew I could do it myself with a little more effort on my part. Those are the souls who forced me to grow and believe in myself and my talents.

In the almost 80 years I have lived on this planet called earth, this time around, the most important thing I have learned from a friend is to look beyond the surface and try to find the person inside of others. That would be the soul of the person striving to meet the challenges this world offers.

I believe we all have a divine purpose and sometimes it takes a lifetime to figure out what that is. Another friend once told me that if I find my passion I would know my purpose. Well I did that and it is why I choose to write my blog. I write what my soul mind pushes me to write through intuition.

So two days before Thanksgiving and twelve days before my birthday I am most grateful for all those souls/friends who cared enough to push me to grow. You know who you are and I truly thank you!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

James Amos War hero

In recognition of Veterans Day I am sharing a story from my book, Spirits of Cibola County. It was my pleasure to interview James Amos when the Vietnam Moving Wall came to Grants, New Mexico several years ago. This is his story.

James knows firsthand that following and trusting an all-knowing entity greater than ourselves will lead us to extraordinary experiences. He was the most talked about veteran during the recent viewing of the Vietnam Moving Wall in Grants. I am honored that he trusted me to tell his story.

James is a member of the Sioux tribe and was born in South Dakota. There were eighteen children in the family and fourteen lived to be adults. Both his father and grandfather were Presbyterian ministers. James remembers prejudice, almost hatred, between the Sioux and the white man.

Because the Bureau of Indian Affairs could not pronounce tribal names they were changed to biblical ones. His father's name, Fights the Bear (because he was mauled by a bear) was changed to David. His mother, Morning Dove became Mary.

With such a large family, James said, "I had to work to buy my own clothes and learned early that if I wanted something I would have to work for it." He stared working on a cattle ranch when he was eleven. After being shamed by a boy for wearing a second hand shirt he had purchased he vowed he would always have money to buy new clothes.

In school James was interested in sports. He was a runner, played baseball and basketball and participated in track. Even though he was the only Native American in his high school he does not recall prejudice touching him. He joined the Marine Corps in 1957, shortly after graduation.

Among other assignments James volunteered for several tours of duty in Vietnam. His most harrowing experience occurred in 1969 as a Staff Sergeant in charge of seven men on a special operations mission.James recalled, "We were given the wrong maps and dropped off in the wrong location.We were not lost we were confused." Their confusion lasted two months.

James trusted his training and his spirit guide. He said their daily goal was to find a way out. Their biggest concerns were ambush and heat stroke. The temperatures rose to 120 degrees during the day, causing them to consume salt tablets like popcorn. They traveled mostly at night because it was cooler, moving less than a mile each night.

James said, "We survived off of Mother Nature. We made water from leaves and ate snakes and lizards."

As time went on the parents of the men were informed they were missing in action and presumed dead or prisoners of war. James finally led his men to a place he knew, ironically called Indian country. It took another month for the military to officially inform families that the men were not dead.

James was not honored for getting his men out alive. He was actually reprimanded for getting them lost, even though it was not his fault. This might have caused an ordinary man to become angry and give up, but James rose above the injustice of the experience and moved on.

During an ambush in 1971 James fell behind a termite mound and was bitten by a cobra snake. He said, "I was in such intense pain I walked toward the battle field hoping to get a bullet in my head or heart. Then my Indian guide took over and I forgot about my pain."

One by one he helped six fellow Marines to safety. Eventually others noticed the seriousness of his leg wound and he was given needed medical care. James was recommended for the Navy Cross and awarded the Silver Star. He still has mixed feelings about the award.

In 1972 James was wounded during a medical evacuation and lost his right kidney. He fought three medical boards to stay in the service. He has had one failed kidney transplant and has been on dialysis for sixteen years. He also suffered a stroke in 1986 due to the snake bite James retired in 1979 with the rank of First Sergeant E-8.

Characteristics important to James are honesty and respect. Even though he is retired he is still a dedicated Marine who believes in God, country and duty- in that order. He knows that any material award pales in comparison to knowing deep inside that he does his best every single day to trust and follow his spirit guide. He is a real life hero we can all learn from.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A closer look

My stress test results are back and it does appear that I have an artery problem. I was informed the test is 85% correct. So next I am scheduled for a cardiac catherization on November 29th.

The test doesn't scare me but knowing a portion of my heart is not working properly and having to wait for the procedure is freaking me out a bit. Staying calm is not something I do well.

On the good side the procedure will be done at a new Presbyterian hospital in Albuquerque and I now believe I have a very good cardiologist.  Depending on what is done to fix the problem I may or may not  have to stay overnight. I like those kind of hospital stays!

At least I now know what is going on with my fluctuating blood pressure and pulse and we are looking at a path to fix the cause. It is really nice to know it is not all in my mind.

I will be awake during the procedure and can look at the monitors to also get a closer look at what is going on inside.The medical progress that has occurred in recent years is amazing.

Friday, November 3, 2017

A second look

Yesterday I had a second look at my new cardiologist as he helped perform an echo stress test. I didn't like him on my initial appointment three weeks ago. As I have said before the first thing I noticed on that visit as he walked through the door was that he was black. It surprised me because in this small town that is very unusual. I don't consider myself prejudice, but I did notice.

I was not very impressed with his manner because he didn't look at me when he was talking to me and appeared to be very nervous. I considered this rather odd for someone of his stature and obvious training. I wasn't really looking forward to yesterday's stress test.

The technicians were great and I began to relax, and then the cardiologist joined us. I was actually pleasantry surprised to find he had a sense of humor. He even looked at me when communicating. Is this the same man I wondered?  Perhaps someone told him I didn't like his attitude.

The test went well and we then sat in a little office so he could talk to me. My attitude about him brightened as he even shared his own story of changes in his blood pressure as he got older. As I thought about our little talk I realized that my attitude had changed with a second look.  Perhaps he was just having a bad day on my initial visit.

As I was driving home I also realized that I hadn't even noticed the color of his skin. 


Friday, October 27, 2017

All is well that ends well

My patience with the cardiologist I was sent to was wearing very thin so I took matters into my own hands.

Yesterday was three weeks since my initial appointment with this doctor. First I waited for his notes from that visit to be transcribed. That shouldn't have taken two weeks, but it did. Is there no communication between the doctor and the transcriber I wondered?

Tuesday I was told we were just waiting for the doctor to sign the order for the tests he wanted, to make sure there was nothing wrong with my heart. Signing your name to a piece of paper shouldn't take two days. Yesterday marked three weeks since my visit. I had endured enough crap. I really don't care if he is a cardiologist or a general practitioner this is unacceptable! So I called my PA's nurse so see if she could find out when my tests are scheduled at our local hospital.

Within an hour I had a call from the radiation department at the hospital to set up the tests for next week. It's a good thing I don't expect anything earth shaking to show up in the results, but this waiting is making my blood pressure rise unnecessarily. I will have an echo cardiogram on Monday and a stress test on Thursday.

Since the tests have taken three weeks to get scheduled it has given me time to check in at the Future Foundations fitness room and use the treadmill as well as the other machines that are offered in preparation for the stress test. I don't anticipate any problems- I hope!

At least by next week it will all be in the past and I will continue to use my one year membership in the fitness room because I can already see the difference in body parts that needed to remember to move.

All is well that ends well. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ready to donate

Recently a very generous person donated a very large bag of baby yarn to Cibola General Hospital. I got a call from the OB Director who said  I could do anything I wanted to with it. I had been donating baby beanies for some time so the gift was very welcome.

Today I completed  my latest donation. I made four new born baby blankets each with their own matching beanie. I am suggesting that they give one to each of the first born babies at Cibola Hospital during the months of November, December, January and February.

It won't leave out the rest of the babies because they still have beanies left from my previous donations.I'm done for awhile!