Saturday, June 29, 2013

Follow-Up on Mike Patterson

Last week I made this blog post about Mike Patterson, a good Samaritan who broke his neck after diving in a river to save a four-year-old girl from drowning. Mike broke his neck in three places, severing his spinal cord, and became paralyzed from the chest down as a result of the trauma.

A few days after the accident Mike was conscious and doing well enough to be taken off of the ventilator that was breathing for him, but then experienced setbacks when he developed pneumonia and some other complications. I'm saddened to say that Mike passed away early yesterday morning. My heart goes out to his family, especially his nine-year-old son.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dessert Night

This year when I was deciding what I wanted to do to celebrate my birthday I opted to have a dessert night instead of having a get-together/game night with my friends like I usually do (which worked out well since they were planning a surprise party for me).  On Sunday evening I invited a few people from church over to eat dessert and socialize. Everyone brought something to eat and there were lots of yummy desserts to choose from. My mom made two frozen desserts (ice cream sandwich dessert and toffee crunch pie) that she could just make in advance and stick in the freezer. 
It's always fun to socialize with friends, especially when yummy food is involved!

Jilly's Cupcakes

One of my sister's friends bought me six cupcakes for my birthday last week, which I thought was really sweet since he's never met me. The cupcakes came from Jilly's Cupcake Bar, which is a place in St. Louis that sells amazing cupcakes. They're all filled with some sort of filling and come in fun flavors.

The day after Chandra brought them home I ate a light dinner of yogurt and fruit so that I could try all of the cupcakes. After dinner my mom brought in the container of cupcakes and two forks. We dug in and tried all of them. They were all really good, but the two chocolate ones were my favorites. Mom and I each took two bites of each cupcake and then decided we should call it quits. We saved what was left of the cupcakes for Chandra since she was working at the time.

Chandra and I have said how fun we think it would be to go to a bakery and do a cake testing, like some couples do when they're trying to decide what kind of wedding cake to have. Sampling all of these cupcakes was kind of like our own little cake testing.

Here are the cupcakes:
Here's what was left after we tasted them. (These cupcakes are huge. Each one is probably the equivalent of three regular-sized cupcakes.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"World War Z"

When I first heard about the movie World War Z a few months ago, I wondered, "What does the 'Z' stand for?" I later found out that the Z stood for zombie. I'm definitely not into the whole zombie craze, but the trailers for World War Z looked good and I'd heard good things about it, so I decided it would be worth watching. So last Saturday afternoon Chandra and I went to see it (along with our surprise guest Nate).
The movie was basically nonstop action from beginning to end. It was very suspenseful and a real nailbiter. I was a bit skeptical of the movie because of the zombie plot, but it was actually really good and I really enjoyed it. Heather's rating: 9/10 stars

Big Surprise!

The absolute best part of my birthday was a surprise visit from my dear friend Nate. We met in 2008 when he came to St. Louis for orthodontic training. He moved to Tucson in December 2010 after he finished school and has been working there ever since. We Skype a few times a month, and while I'm very thankful for modern technology that allows us to keep in touch, there's just something to be said for face-to-face contact!

Nate Skyped me on my birthday and he asked me how I'd spent my day. I filled him in on the details and told him how Chandra and I went to the move to see Man of Steel. I told him that she and I were going to be going to the movies again on Saturday to see World War Z. I said that I wasn't sure how I would like it since I'm not really a fan of zombie movies, but that I would email him and let him know how it was.

On Saturday morning my mom and Chandra got me ready for the day and Chandra took me out to the garage when it was time to leave for the movies. She pushed me up the ramp into the van and my dear friend was sitting inside. I was absolutely shocked! Even though it probably only took a second for my brain to realize what was going on, it felt like it took a lot longer! Chandra said that she wished she could've seen my face (but she was behind me pushing me into the van). I said that I wished that I could've seen my stunned reaction, too!

The three of us went to the movies together and it felt just like old times. When we got home from the movie I had another surprise in store for me. A bunch of my friends had come over for a surprise party. I've never had any sort of surprise party before, so that was fun. Truth be told, I'm usually not a fan of surprises, but the surprises on Saturday were okay because I was presentable. (Part of the reason why I'm a little leery when it comes to surprises is because a) I don't like to be the center of attention, and b) I don't like to be taken by surprise when I don't feel like I look presentable.) My mom and Chandra know this, so they made sure I had my hair fixed and makeup on.
My mom made a Butterfinger cake which was really good. We put two candles in the cake; one for me and one for my friend Ben whose birthday is two days after mine.
It was a wonderful day. I appreciate the work that my friends went to in order to surprise me and make me feel loved. I especially appreciate Nate taking time out of his busy schedule to fly into town to be a part of it. Being surprised by Nate will surely be one of my favorite birthday memories of all time. Feel free to come back and surprise me anytime! ;)

Monday, June 24, 2013

"Man of Steel"

Chandra and I went to see Man of Steel last Wednesday afternoon on my birthday. I've been eagerly anticipating this movie since I first heard they were making it two years ago. At the time 2013 seemed so far away, but here we are… June 2013!

Since I knew I would be seeing Man of Steel, I prepared to see it by recently watching Superman, the 1978 movie that starred Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman. The movie was made 35 years ago, so it's quite dated. I always find watching old movies humorous because it's fun to see a glimpse of what the world was like at that particular time, especially in regards to fashion trends and technology.

Man of Steel and Superman have a completely different feel from each other, even though they are about the same characters. Superman was comical and it was funny watching the smooth, confident Superman hide in plain sight as the awkward, bumbling Clark Kent.
Man of Steel was much more serious, and the storyline of Clark Kent working at the Daily Planet didn't even come into play until the last two minutes of the movie. I won't say too much so that I don't spoil anything for anyone, but the end of the movie left the door wide open for a sequel, so I look forward to seeing that whenever it comes out. Heather's rating: 8.5/10 stars
I thought that Henry Cavill was a perfect Superman. He is very visually pleasing and just looks the part of Superman.

My (First) 29th Birthday

It seems like 29 is the age that so many women like to stop aging at and they jokingly tell people that they're 29 when asked how old they are. Well, I'm actually 29, so I guess I have a whole year to truthfully be 29. After that, we'll see if I continue to age or if I choose to hold steady at 29!

I had a wonderful birthday. When my mom asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate I didn't have any big ideas; I just wanted to spend time with family and friends. The day before my birthday I had my friend Sienna over and we visited for several hours. On my birthday Chandra and I made a quick trip to the mall, and then we went to the movies in the afternoon. I absolutely love watching movies, so seeing something new was at the top of my birthday "to do" list.

After the movie I came home and had dinner with my mom, Chandra and my friend Hillare. I recently found a recipe on Pinterest for cake mix waffles. I love waffles and I love chocolate cake, so I thought they would be fun to try. They were really easy. All you do is make a cake mix and then fry the batter in a waffle iron. This was definitely dinner and dessert in one! We topped the waffles with vanilla ice cream and my mom's homemade hot fudge. They were really yummy and fun to try.
I didn't get many pictures of myself, but here's one, as well as some of the fun things that I got for my birthday. It was a nice, low-key day, which is just the way I wanted to spend my birthday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mike Patterson: A Humble Hero

One of my blog followers and Facebook friends sent me the link to a wonderful article a few days ago about Michael Patterson, a 43-year-old man who was in an accident on Saturday, June 8. Mike was spending some father-son time with his nine-year-old son when he noticed a four-year-old girl drowning in the river. Mike was a strong swimmer, so he wasted no time and jumped into the river. He swam over to the girl and managed to save her, but minutes later bystanders noticed Mike floating face down in the river. Mike's mother said, "He was somehow able to push the little girl out of the river. Then he drowned." Paramedics were called and they rushed Mike to the hospital. Mike's mother said that he mumbled the words, "I don't want to die. I want to live," from his hospital bed.
Mike and his son
When Mike jumped into the river he was only thinking of the little girl in peril and obviously gave no thought to himself, or how shallow the water in the river was. He dove in, breaking his neck in three places and severing his spinal cord. Miraculously, Mike was still able to save the little girl. Surely there were unseen angels helping to pull the girl to safety. As of now Mike's paralyzed from the chest down, although with therapy he could possibly regain some of the movement in his arms. Of course nothing's certain, and with God anything is possible.
Last Tuesday Mike was taken off of the ventilator that had been breathing for him and was successfully breathing on his own, which was a good sign, but then he took a turn for the worse on Wednesday when he developed pneumonia as a result of the bacteria filled water that had gotten in his lungs. He was put back on the ventilator and put in a drug-induced coma. He's been battling a high fever, but that's to be expected when you have pneumonia.

In an interview, Mike's mom said that she wasn't surprised to see her son risk his life for someone else since helping others is a habit of his. Just a few weeks ago he witnessed a tractor-trailer T-bone an SUV and immediately rushed to the aid of the injured driver, pulling him to safety from the flames of his 18-wheeler. Mike's mom said, "It scared me to death." She said, "Son, your heart is bigger than your body; you helping like this is going to get you killed." How ironic that just a few weeks later Mike putting the little girl's well-being before himself nearly did cost him his life.

Mike, who lives in Georgia, and his family members are hoping he can be transferred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta as soon as he's well enough to make the trip. [Shepherd Center is a non-profit rehab facility, and is actually the hospital that I went to for rehab after my accident.] I hope things work out so Mike CAN be transferred to Shepherd because getting good rehab is absolutely imperative when you've sustained a spinal cord injury since paralysis affects every aspect of your life. It's in the patient's best interest to be cared for in a facility that really knows the ins and outs of spinal cord injuries so that the patient and their family can acquire the knowledge of HOW to live with a SCI so that they can have the best life possible.

A lot of people have been asking what they can do to help Mike. At times like this you feel so powerless since there really isn't anything you can do as far as the victim's physical situation, but you can help alleviate their financial burden by contributing to their cause if you're able. As it turns out, Mike started a new job two weeks ago, but the job unfortunately doesn't provide medical insurance.  Mike's family is struggling to scrape funds together to cover his expenses. As a disabled person, I can vouch for the fact that being disabled is extremely expensive, especially if you don't have medical insurance.

Mike's family started a Facebook page "Friends of Mike Patterson" to give updates on his status, and is a place to provide moral support for Mike and raise funds for his mounting medical expenses.  If we all  give a little it will add up to a lot! I cannot think of a more fitting quote for this situation than this: "God does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another mortal that He meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other." 
Whenever I hear about people being involved in a terrible accident (like Mike) or being diagnosed with some serious illness, it just reaffirms the fact that life is fragile and we are not invincible creatures. In a split second Mike's life went from being average and ordinary, to being in jeopardy. he Mike's road to recovery is a long one, that's going to be filled with highs and lows. I know that with his family, friends and the positive vibes from all of his "fans" around the world, he'll still be able to live a productive life. If I could tell Mike and his family one thing right now, it would be that things WILL get better, even though they seem bleak right now and not to lose hope.

[Click here for a follow-up on Mike.]

Friday, June 14, 2013

Plan B Follow-Up

I like writing about all sorts of things on my blog, including current events that I think are interesting. I guess I opened a can of worms on Tuesday when I expressed my thoughts on the recent ruling regarding Plan B, the emergency contraceptive, or "morning-after pill," and how it's now available to females of any age, no questions asked, no parental consent needed.
What I said in the post was how alarming I thought it was to think about the 12 and 13-year-old girls in my Sunday school class, or my 12-year-old nieces now being able to obtain Plan B without their parents knowing about it. I also said that it's my opinion that Plan B should be more of a "last resort." I definitely think Plan B has its place, especially in the case of rape, for example, to protect a female from an unwanted pregnancy. But it's the thought of young girls taking Plan B without the guidance of a parent or responsible adult that I think is really scary. Teenagers don't have a fully developed brain until their mid 20's and aren't capable foreseeing the consequences of their decisions. I know that there are hundreds of different scenarios where you could make exceptions for this or that. I just think there need to be stricter guidelines in the case of young teenagers and their ability to obtain Plan B without the knowledge of their parents/guardians. (I think an adult woman choosing to take Plan B is completely different than  a young teenager taking Plan B, by the way.)

A bunch of comments were left after I published my post, which was wonderful since I love getting comments, especially now that a friend helped me figure out what my blog settings need to be so that I can actually reply to the comments people leave. :) However, things started to get a bit tense, so I decided to remove what I said about Plan B from Tuesday's post and make this post clarifying my thoughts. It seemed like things were getting taken out of context and some of the comments being made were based more on other comments instead of the original post and there were lots of different tangents going off in all sorts of directions and we were veering off course! I love comments, but when people start debating an issue like this via comments on a blog, pretty soon there's just a jumbled spider's web of comments. I enjoy hearing people share their different opinions, but I don't want my blog to be the place where this discussion takes place getting mean-spirited or volatile. I do apologize, though, if what I said sounded judgmental or offensive, because I didn't intend it to.

This is one of those "hot-button" issues that has the ability to cause people to become heated quickly since it's something that people have strong feelings about (feelings that are tied to their experiences in life, as well as their religious/political/moral views, etc.) Last week I heard someone say, "Opinions are like butts… everyone has one." (I'd never heard opinions defined in these terms before, and I thought it was hilariously true!) Everyone does have an opinion, which they are entitled to, whether it's similar to or different than yours. Whatever your opinion, the important thing to remember is to be kind and respectful of everyone's right to have their own opinion. :)

Recently these pictures of teenage boys that look pregnant were printed in a magazine. They really do get your attention, which is what they were designed to do. I obviously don't have all the answers, but one thing that kids need is education when it comes to the topics of sex and how to prevent pregnancy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

99¢ Store Diet/Bunnies

On the news this morning I heard a story about Joe Aviance, or "Papa Joe" as he's referred to, and how he managed to lose more than half his body weight in 18 months, going from 450 pounds to 200 pounds. That's an incredible feat since losing weight is incredibly difficult. How'd he do it? By getting the majority of his groceries at the 99¢ store, of course! When I first heard that, I was like, "How in the world could anybody not only survive off of food bought at a dollar store, but actually drop weight since what dollar stores sell is basically junk?!" Then I learned that the 99¢ stores in the West are much different than the dollar stores I'm familiar with that sell cheap toys, holiday decorations and gift bags (gift bags; that's what I love the dollar store for!). The 99¢ stores in the West sell actual groceries, including eggs, milk, yogurt and fresh produce. Papa Joe said that he calls shopping at the 99¢ store "shopping HCWB" (healthy choices within a budget). Good for you, Papa Joe! 

Also, I love watching the rabbits/bunnies that come to munch on the clover in my front yard and frolic around in the evenings after dinner. Chandra was around tonight, so I had her grab the camera when I saw this adorable baby hanging out right outside my window. He's so tiny (although I think he looks bigger in the pictures than he does in real life). He was just chilllaxing in the grass, acting like he owns joint, which is okay with me since the three of us all have fun watching the bunnies and rabbits (just as long as they stay away from my mom's Cyclamen, now that it's warmer and back out on the front porch!). 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Special Delivery

On Monday, Trish Staine thought the aches and pains she was experiencing were due to training to run a half marathon. Come to find out, her soreness was a sign that she was in LABOR! A day after completing a two-hour run on a hilly road, Staine was admitted to the hospital with severe pain in her back. The doctor in the emergency room surprised her by telling her that she wasn't injured; she was about to have a baby!

Staine said, "They found a fetal heartbeat and I was like, 'No, that's not possible.'" She was rushed upstairs and gave birth within five minutes of getting to her room. Although the baby was born five weeks early, she weighed a healthy 6 lbs. 6 oz. Staine said that she and her husband were shocked that she was pregnant since she hadn't missed any periods or gained any weight."

What a wonderful surprise! Staine named her baby Mira, short for Miracle.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Package Deal

I heard an inspiring story on the news this morning that I just had to share, since it's a nice change from the steady stream of depressing news stories that seem to bombard us on a daily basis. 22-year-old Collin Smith recently graduated from college. This takes hard work and is an accomplishment for any student, especially for Collin since he's a quadriplegic. He was in a car accident eight years ago when he was 14 and has been paralyzed from the chest down ever since.

Ernest Greene, who is now 72, had just retired as an engineer when Collin had his accident. Although he'd never met Collin, he felt "a calling" to reach out to Collin after he heard about his situation through a prayer request at the church they belonged to. Greene called Collin's family, talked to his overwhelmed, working parents and offered his services. [I love how Greene saw a need and stepped in without anyone having to say anything.]

Through four years of high school, Greene drove Collin to and from school every day, attending every class with him, taking notes for him and assisting him with whatever he needed help with. When Collin went to college, Greene went with him. He put in long days, leaving his home before dawn to get to Collin's house by 6 AM. He would then get Collin out of bed, ready for school and then make the 45-minute drive to campus. He'd put in a full day at school, including pushing Collin 3 miles (or more) each day. [As a fellow quadriplegic, I can vouch for how much work/planning goes into going out. It wasn't just going to class with Collin, it was that in addition to all of the hours of physical care day after day that makes this amazing story even more inspiring.]

Despite major obstacles, Collin graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in communications and minor in sports management. When it was time for Collin to accept his diploma, it was Greene who pushed him across the stage. "I'd been pushing him around campus for four years," Green said. "I wanted to push him up to get his diploma." The real surprise came when Greene was given his own honorary diploma.

Collin and Ernest came to be known around campus as a "package deal," and have remarked that they have a unique relationship that's hard to describe. Collin said, "You just can't describe what we mean to each other." [I love how they came to be known as a "package deal." I can relate, because my mom and I are also a package deal. If anyone ever comes along that's interested in either of us, they better realize that they're getting both of us, because we're sticking together!]

"Proof of Heaven" / ICU Psycosjs

My mom and I finished reading a fascinating book last weekend called Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife written by Dr. Eben Alexander. Here is a synopsis of the book:
A SCIENTIST'S CASE FOR THE AFTERLIFE Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under stress.

Then, Dr. Alexander's own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion – and in essence makes us human – shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma.  Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander's eyes popped open. He had come back.

Alexander's recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.

Alexander's story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.

This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.

I really enjoyed this book a lot. I definitely know there is an afterlife and that God is real, so I enjoy reading accounts of near-death experiences. I especially found Dr. Alexander's experience interesting since he'd never been able to reconcile his scientific knowledge with any sort of spiritual knowledge. Sometimes I think that people's intelligence or education can really and be a handicap to them if it hampers their spiritual knowledge. I've known people who refuse to believe in God since it's not easy to scientifically explain Him. In cases like this I think these individuals are too smart for their own good. I think that was true of Dr. Alexander before his near-death experience.

While I've never had a near-death experience where I remember being in heaven or having supernatural visions, I have been close to death twice before. I don't remember taking a journey to heaven, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I didn't, either. There's a chance I did, but that I just don't remember the time I spent there.

In the book Dr. Alexander talked about hospital psychosis, or ICU psychosis, which is a real condition that patients sometimes experience while being hospitalized. Since I had my own experience with ICU psychosis in 2008, I especially enjoyed reading Dr. Alexander's experience so that I could "compare notes" with him.

Here's an excerpt from the book where Dr. Alexander is comparing his ultra-realistic visit to heaven to the fantasy-like quality of the dreams he experienced resulting from the ICU psychosis:

I was in fact going through something called “ICU psychosis.” It’s normal, even expected, for patients whose brains are coming back online after being inactive for a long period. I’d seen it many a time, but never from the inside. And from the inside it was very, very different indeed.

The most interesting thing about this session of nightmares and paranoid fantasies, in retrospect, is that all of it was indeed that: a fantasy. Portions of it—in particular the extended South Florida ninja nightmare—was extremely intense, and even outright terrifying while happening. But in retrospect—indeed, almost immediately after this period ended—it all became clearly recognizable as what it was: something cooked up by my very beleaguered brain as it was trying to recover its bearings. Some of the dreams I had during this period were stunningly and frighteningly vivid. But in the end they served only to underline how very, very dissimilar my dream state had been compared with the ultra-reality deep in coma.

Here's a brief recap of how I came to experience this psychosis in 2008. I had a huge kidney stone and I underwent surgery to remove it. The surgery didn't go well, and I developed a lot of complications as a result. I was delirious and completely out of it for the next 10 days. Going into the surgery was the last "real" thing I remembered until I snapped out of it and came back "online," as Dr. Alexander phrased it.

To understand what I was going through, I'll give you a brief overview of what hospital/ICU psychosis is, what causes it and what some of the common tale-tell signs that someone's experiencing it are. The hospital is a stressful place. It feels foreign and it's noisy. Different/unfamiliar people come and go at all times of the day and night which makes it very difficult to get restful sleep. Some other causes include:
  • Constant light from machines/noisy machines, or rooms with no windows
  • Stress from being ill, away from home and loss of control of normal life
  • Limited contact with family members, being away from loved ones or usual caregiver
  • Pain, metabolic disturbances and dehydration
  • Disorientation to time, day and what is going on in the world
Some of the common symptoms of hospital/ICU psychosis are:
  • Extreme excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Nightmares
  • Hearing voices
  • Clouding of consciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation
  • Delusions
  • Fluctuating level of consciousness, which include aggressive or passive behavior (patients will sometimes pull out there IVs, catheters or other tubes out)
I experienced many of these symptoms. I was definitely agitated and not myself. I was OUT OF IT!  I would chant, "Leave me alone, leave me alone!" over and over to anyone that came near me, including my own mother, family, friends and hospital staff. Even when no one was near me I would still mouth the words "Leave me alone" over and over. [Mom, Chandra and I now joke about this and will sometimes say, "Leave me alone," in that same way I would say it when I was trapped in my delirium. But even though we laugh about it now, there was nothing funny about it at the time. I was acting in a way that was so unlike my usual calm, cheerful demeanor that it was really alarming for my mom, especially since there was really no explanation for why I wasn't coming around.]

During the ICU psychosis I hallucinated and would sometimes be staring at the corner of the room having a conversation with some unseen person. I was also restless and I remember never knowing what time it was, or if it was day or night. My room was dim, which also made it feel like nighttime, in addition to the fact that I also felt alone. Any time I'm in the hospital my mom is always there with me during the day, and then she goes home to sleep at night. Since I felt alone, I just assumed it was night. 

I wasn't aware of the reality of what was going on at that time, and the only memories I have are the dreams I was having. I know I was partially aware of what was actually going on around me, because certain elements of reality would be a part of my dreams. I knew I was in the hospital, that I was sick and that I was experiencing pain, etc., because those were "themes" in my dreams. Specific friends that came to visit me or doctors that came to check on me would also make appearances in my dreams (just not in the realistic way that was true to what was actually happening).

Most of my dreams were actually horrible nightmares that I couldn't escape from. I would go from one frightening scenario to the next. The dreams seemed so real at the time and it was absolutely terrifying. I wish I could explain the dreams so that people could actually understand what I was going through, but I know I would never be able to do the dreams justice. They weren't your typical dreams. Each one was like a long, multiple act play, complete with a cast of characters and a complex plot. I think most people would agree that dreams are really difficult to explain to others. It's impossible to adequately explain them, especially since they're often so odd/unrealistic. They make perfect sense to you when you're in the dream, but then after you wake up you realize just how bizarre the dream was. 

I'll try to explain one of the more frightening dreams I had. I was in a fight for my eternal salvation between God and the devil. Satan was trying to convince me it would be better for me (and everyone else in my life) if I just gave up on life. What he was saying was so convincing and I felt myself getting further and further away from God and everyone I loved. Someone said, "Heather needs prayers," and people here on earth and in heaven were praying for me. The individuals in heaven that were praying for me were literally "pulling" for me, holding onto ropes, pulling with all their might to keep me with them and to prevent me from giving up my fight. 

Ultimately, I decided to give up, and as soon as I did, I regretted it. Those hundreds of ropes that had been tying me to heaven immediately disappeared and it was like the door to heaven closed, leaving me alone. That "alone" feeling was the worst feeling I'd ever experienced. It's hard to describe what it was really like, but I felt so empty and hopeless, like I'd let everyone down. I felt like all of my chances for lasting happiness were gone. The loneliness was overwhelming. I don't really know what happened after that, except that the dream seemed finished. I can't be sure, but I think this is when I emerged from the delerium and came back to reality. It wasn't like a gradual return to consciousness, but an instantaneous return, like all of a sudden I was back. I was so relieved when I realized that dream wasn't real and that I was still alive and hadn't actually given up. That dream felt so real, and that it was truely life changing. It had such an impact on me and has made me want to always be good so that I never have to experience that lonely, hopeless absence of joy.

This experience with ICU psychosis was a tense, scary time for everyone involved, especially for my mom. There just didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for why I wasn't coming around, and mom hated seeing me in such an altered state. Fortunately, I pulled through; all's well that ends well! I'm actually glad that I had this experience so that I'm aware of what ICU psychosis is for future times that I'm hospitalized. Proof of Heaven is a really interesting book that gets my recommendation.

Monday, June 3, 2013

"A Step of Faith"

Last Thursday I finished listening to A Step of Faith, the  fourth book in The Walk series by Richard Paul Evans. The gist of this series is that the main character, Alan Christofferson, decides to walk from his home in Seattle to Key West, Florida, after his wife dies. He meets lots of different people on his walk and has some interesting encounters, but I have to admit that I'm not terribly impressed with this series.

[I usually only make blog posts about books that I like and would recommend to others, but that being said, there was a neat part in the book that made me want to write a post about it. But first I'll mention some of my complaints with the book.]

The long story short is that this book series is just 'fair.' I know a lot of people love this series, but I think the author's writing style leaves something to be desired. I'm not hard to please when it comes to books, but the one thing I AM a stickler on is dialogue. If the conversations between the characters sound contrived and unnatural, then it just spoils the book, even if the story is good.

Another thing that I haven't liked about this series is that the author is just dragging the story out a little too long. I keep thinking, "Surely the story will conclude at the end of the book," but I just finished the fourth book and the story still isn't over. My humble opinion is that it would've been better to make this story into one, longer book, instead of lots of shorter books. I also don't like how the author fills the book with unnecessary details. The book is crammed full of things like what the character ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or what kind of snacks/supplies he bought at the store. Enough with the food, already!

Another complaint I have is how if it's not one thing, it's another (meaning that anything that could go wrong has gone wrong. It's just too much! This guy has to be the unluckiest soul to have ever lived, and is always getting involved in far-fetched, unrealistic situations. I don't want to spoil this book for anyone that might want to read it, but there's a scenario at the end of this book that was so out there that I just had to laugh and say, "Really?!?!"

The thing I DID like about this book was that the main character came through my neck of the woods on his travels. I live in the tiny, hole in the wall town of Barnhart, Missouri, and it was fun to read about the character's fictional journey through my my stomping grounds! Alan Christofferson came to St. Louis in the story, and then worked his way south to Arnold (a town about 10 minutes north of where I live) and then briefly passed through Barnhart. From there he traveled through Pevely, Herculaneum, Festus, St. Genevieve, Perryville, Cape Girardeau and Sikeston (all towns in Missouri that I've been to and am very familiar with). There really isn't anything great about Barnhart (apart from the fact that live there), so the fact that it was mentioned in this book was fun and definitely the highlight of the book.

After Alan passed through Arnold, he stopped for lunch at Bob's Drive-In (a real place that's actually owned by my friend's parents). It was fun reading about Alan stopping there for lunch since I worked there part-time the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. Small world!
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