brain surgery

Heidi joins OM & the Denver Meetup Group

Heidi is a new Outdoor Mindset member, who recently joined the Denver meetup group. We're super excited that Heidi is part of the OM Community and appreciate her sharing this blog post:

I don’t even know where to begin – this I know for sure:  I know I am a typical Colorado native.  I love the great outdoors; skiing, camping, hiking, you name it…………………. .oh, and of course The Broncos!

I was an educator. I love learning and had taught children for 17 years.  I love people, cultures, and travel. I traveled to Croatia, Germany, and Switzerland, studied in Italy, taught in Mexico and explored the US too.  Backpacking the Grand Canyon was incredible. My 5 yr. old niece and I are going to “The Big Hole” when she’s 12. I possess the independent spirit that accompanies all of this.     
Well, I suppose I don’t know where to begin because I also know that I am beginning a new life.

Although the desire that beats the heart of all of these “known’s”, these “loves”, essentially the pieces of my identity, still exists, my ability to live them altered.  I must fulfill my identity differently because who I am is not going away and nor are the challenges that brought on by epilepsy.  How do I marry these two?  That is what carving this new life is all about.

I began having seizures four years ago.  The seizures increased in severity and occurrence over these years until I was only safe under supervision or just within the walls of my small condo.  Often my bits of solitude merely came on the heels of persistent insistence.  My independent spirit was wearing on me and my dear loving and supportive family.  However, it usually produced our only refuge.  I had taken every medicine, suffered extreme side effects, and withstood countless tests and hospital stays. 

My family had been stretched immeasurably.  I was completely dependent, a bus ride let alone a drive were out of the question.  It had been four years of an incomprehensible whirlwind.  My mind could not begin to process the changes my life was going through at even half the pace with which they were happening.

This complete redefinition of life, health, and future led me to a decision that, as difficult as some may find, was rather obvious to me.  Three months ago I decided to have brain surgery.  I couldn’t be more grateful; language is inadequate to express this. The world has supported in ways I didn’t know were possible…friends, family, doctors, acquaintances, and beyond.                                                                                     

I have now experienced three months without a seizure and have even begun to dip my toe back into the outside world. I have gotten out on my own, ridden the bus, taken walks, and even met friends for lunch.  Okay, I won’t be hitting the back bowls or even jumping on a bike.  What do they say about, “Running before you can walk.” ? 

I am taking it very easy and so glad that through my struggles I have met Lisa Avram, a leader in the Outdoor Mindset Denver Group.  I met Lisa, and a really moving group of people who also struggle with epilepsy, through an art therapy group.  Our continued gatherings regularly provide me with a unique strength.  Through their support and my experiences I have learned the importance of listening to my limits vs. what our culture expects of us.  I am enjoying things I never believed I would.  A bus ride is quite an adventure, a joy all its own and one to celebrate!  Sure, not the south rim nor Yellowstone but a gift nonetheless.

As I get out again at the pace that my health dictates, I am grateful for the resource of Outdoor Mindset.  Yoga is wonderful, I look forward to walks around Cheesman and eventually there is hope for much more.  What I appreciate is the spectrum of challenges I can choose from through OM. I believe I have found a tool to help me marry who I am and the challenges in this new life. 

I look forward to it all and am so grateful - bus rides to mountaintops!   

 - Heidi

Staying Centered

Tonight we have another chapter from Julie during her marathon training. This entry sheds a lot of light on the challenges and importance of being a Supporter of someone with a neurological challenge. At Outdoor Mindset, we understand this important role, which is why our Membership and programs are also for Supporters. Take is away, Julie:

Week of August 20, 2012 

Last night I went out for a run after my husband got home from work. It was a beautiful night and this is the most unbelievable place to run. This little town of Djursholm. By spring and summer there are running paths by the ocean, to the golf course, around town and by winter they are cross country skiing paths.

I saw a fellow trainer wearing the I'm Running for the Stockholm Marathon shirt. I felt cool, like I was in a club and she and I for a brief second knew we were in it together as we were running on the same path deep in the wood while seeing the water peeking out from between the trees. I was running as the sun was starting its descent. I felt like the animals were watching and guiding and helping me along. Does that sound weird? I feel weird having said it, but it's the truth. Maybe Outdoor Mindset is making me more outdoorsie after all. They are, after all, the guru's in helping all those people living with neurological diseases get out there and feel life, feel the elements, feel that they are not alone. The breeze, the smells of the dirt and leaves, the little chirping and scuttling of birds and other unidentified animals were all there talking to each other guiding me and my runner friend in those woods for that one stretch of path over 5 minutes or so. I'm not so outdoorsie but I was hoping for the rain to come. That would've rounded out my experience somehow. I talk to my mom out there, in my head of course. Not out loud. I don't listen to music, I like hearing the sounds around me and then I can also think a lot more and talk to Mom. Again, weird I know, but somehow it's comforting.

If only it was as easy as the push of a button...

I remember when she was sick I would go to the gym all the time. It was the way I let out energy and kept centered throughout her illness.  So, several years later, when I found Outdoor Mindset, I realized that they were in the process of creating something important; a community of people encouraging each other to use exercise to cope with the stress and the grief of caring for a friend or a loved one with a neurological disorder.  I saw immediately that OM was so aligned with my belief in exercise as an important coping tool; that their programs could be valuable tools for those fighting neurological disorders as well as those working through their grief.  So I decided to contact them and they matched me with a partner (across the globe, but close in life experience), encouraged me to find an outlet that was the most aligned with my needs (raising awareness and funding for ALS research) and continue to support me as I work towards my goals.

So, I run another day for you Mom, for me, for our family.  I run for all those living with a neurological disorder.  I'm thankful that Outdoor Mindset is out there with the hope of helping all of you affected by a neurological something.

Until next time,