Friday, January 31, 2014

Let Me Check My Notes

Written by Uncle George:  May 3, 1907
Decided to go to Carthage with Elders Rassmussen and Ralphs.  Brother Charles took us over in a surrey. Cloudy and cold.  Visited the jail where the Prophet Joseph Smith and Patriarch Hyrum Smith were killed. Saw the hole in the door made by the bullet, the window from which the prophet jumped.  Such a cold, stormy day that we did not remain long.  It was after 9:00 pm when we reached Nauvoo and thankful to get shelter from the cold. Much of the time I had to hold an umbrella in front to keep the snow from our faces. We kept our spirits by singing the songs of Zion.

Val:  May 3, 2013

"He talked fancy to me.  I got confused."
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That, my dear Uncle George, is my answer to everything.

Why I dress bad.

Why I haven't showered in two days.

Why I eat too many dark chocolate truffles.

Why I drive the Mini too fast.

Why I feel snarky about an employee at the KMart.

Why I listen to hip hop, affectionately otherwise known as gangsta, music.

And why I have five cats.

That said, as I continue my "all fun, all the time" stay in Nauvoo, I KNOW that I read some church talks on the fancy new IPOD.  I even wrote it down on what the kids now-a-days call "old school"--paper and pen.
( Speaking of "old school," share random, completely unrelated story here:)

This is a little shout out to the young worker at the Kmart from two years ago.  I went to the store to find a an atlas so The Girl, Carol and I could haul our cookies to the Deep South for a three week girl trip.  We ate snacks.  We saw stuff like plantations and basket weavers on the side of the road.  And of course (insert your jealous eyes here)---attended the Star Wars Convention.

This is not the droid you are looking for

Drats, I hate it when we accidentally wear the same thing to a party

Look at my awesome Sound of Music/Admiral Akbar shirt!

See my little blond girly in the red in the front of the buddies?

In case you wanted to see me in my movie star pose 
(the secret is the crossed legs) as an action figure

Getting a little "ink" at the Celebration
(that is slang for tattoo for my LDS buddies who read this)

SOOO, that snotty KMart girl obviously did not understand the severity for my need for a road atlas because this delicious Star Wars experience was on the other end of the road.  

When I searched through the store with no success, I asked her to show me where they were at.  Her reply went something like this...."Uh, yeah, my IQ is average but my manners and respect to a store customer and my elder is that of about 24....uh, yeah...I am not really sure what an atlas is....I mean, it is soooo old school. Can't you just use your phone?"  

Uh, yeah, I could use my phone.  To call your mother and explain to her that she needs to have a conversation with you when you finish your shift, after you stop at the Hot Topic to pick up your t-shirt with Gumby on it that says something profound like "I don't have manners."  Yeah, I can use my phone.

The moral of that story is that the KMart does not carry atlases.  And that I am obviously "that mom" because I took my kid to a Star Wars Convention.  Yeah, it's how I roll.

Back to the mission.  Shutting down random rambling.
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So, I used my IPOD in Nauvoo to read my scriptures.  I thoroughly enjoyed a talk that I would love to share with you, but I seemed to have had some sort of brain disconnect.  Not only are the scriptures I have written down not correct, neither is the cited author or the name of the talk.  So while it apparently was so great that I took notes, I apparently couldn't be bothered to write down the correct reference.  

I know what you are thinking, Helper.  Look it up, Val.  Yeah, got it. 

What notes I do have include the following phrases:  littleness of soul, the greatest good, pray in heart and vocally, promote His glory, and do the greatest good among our fellow beings.  There was something about a woman named Deborah, the window makers wife.

And that is all I got.  I feel like that Jerry Seinfeld episode where he writes down some sort of joke and spends his day trying to figure it out.  

The bottom line is that the IPOD talked fancy to me.  And I got confused.

In all seriousness, today was a very lovely day.  You don't usually hear that phrase when visiting a jail in a freezing, pouring rainstorm (as you know) but today you do.







There is something to me that has always stood out about the stairs in the jail.  Of all the places I have visited to this point, this is the only building that I know Joseph Smith had been in.  The stairs connect me to him.  Somewhere that we have both been.

And you know, it isn't about him.  It is about the respect that I have for someone who gave everything, even his own life, for the cause he felt to be just.  God had prophets in ancient times.  The scriptures say that He is unchanging.  So it makes sense to me, anyway, that He would have prophets in our day.  Why not?











Back in Nauvoo (in which I did not need an umbrella in the car to keep the snow from my face...and I doubt that I was singing any songs of Zion....I was in my Maroon 5 place at that time) I got to see the Joseph Smith movie at the visitor's center.  And according to my notes, I went to the temple.  And that the paintings of a garden were "most amazing, with Calla lilies."  


Apparently my note taking for the entire day was pretty jacked up (hello broken Sea Horse) because I can't tell you where I heard it, but I liked the phrase someone somewhere said "While we were building the building, we were building us."  I am pretty sure it is in reference to the building of the Nauvoo Temple....yeah, that's the ticket.

The bottom line is that it was a great day.  To be in sacred places is always so good for the soul.  Typing it even now makes my heart feel full of peace.  

One more thing:

It is good thing I found an atlas at a gas station before I came to Illinois because given my epic note-taking fail today, I might not have even remembered where I was.  

And because uh, yeah...I had no cell service in Nauvoo, KMart girl.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My "Sea Monster" Is Broken

Dear Uncle George,

I have been meaning to talk to you about this.  But I forgot.

I don't speak of it in public often.  Those who are close to me know that I still battle it, regularly, but overall, you would not know.  But since this is part of my story that impacts my life, you should know it, too.
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I have epilepsy.  And it sucks.

I was not born with a seizure disorder.  It showed up when I was 38.  At first, it was passing out.  Then it was passing out with elevation changes (getting out of an elevator).  I had three concussions in 9 months.

I saw 8 neurologists in the city.  I took at 5 day seizure test.  The results of that test is that the neurologist who administered it to me said that I was essentially nuts.  He was an ass--and there is worse names for him I am sure, but I am a good Mormon girl and I don't know them.  :)


It took almost two years to figure out but  I have Catamenial Epilepsy.  It is hormonal imbalance which for me, impacts my cerebral cortex....which controls my speech.  My movement.  And to add insult to injury, those hundreds of seizures has impacted my hippo campus-- (Latin for sea monster.)

Freaky likeness, huh?!

The worse part of my brain problems is now the way my short-term memory works.

Better yet, doesn't work.

I used to have a pretty stellar memory.  At one period in my life, I could remember the goings on and calendar of 8 different peoples lives.  Without a calendar.

Now, I am unable to recall most things in my short term memory.  Especially conversations.  My family is so sick of me repeating things, not remembering talking points, forgetting daily life, that I am sure they ready to put me out to pasture (Missouri talk).  They are never going to be as sick of it as I am.

The bad thing about losing my memory skills is that I haven't lost enough to not know I am losing it.  And it makes me sad.  It brings commotion to my brain and my heart, for sure.

I have never been a super great speller, but now...especially at night, when I am tired, it is horrible.=.  As the years go on, my ability to spell and punctuate correctly is getting noticeably worse.  To the point where it is not just "Oh, she's a bad speller" anymore.  I just can't remember how to spell words.   Even little words.  It makes me feel dumb.  Inferior.

I have a university degree, for pete's sake, that I paid a butt load of money for.  And I feel like a second class citizen in my heart.

The physical symptoms are not only scary to see I am sure, but scarier to be in them.  I have had 8 grand mals (one about a month ago that lasted 40 minutes).  I have had hundreds of petites.


When I have a seizure, it begins with a tingling in the back of my head, inside my brain.  It travels up to the top.  Then I can feel myself start to clench my jaws.  I feel like my vision is narrowing and I feel like my body is melting into the earth into a puddle.  I stiffen and I cannot look at you or speak.  I have to put my head down...I think it is some sort of subconscious embarrassment to be looked at.  I feel as though I am trapped in my body and I cannot escape.

But most importantly, for my peace of mind,  I have to hold someone's hand.


Nothing says "Happy Birthday Val"
like a seizure and bag on your face...
who took this picture, anyway?

When I am in seizure, I can hear everything and am conscious the whole time.  I can recall everything that is said around me.  Strange, since I can barely tell you what I did yesterday.  Even though I know and can hear that everyone knows I am having a seizure, I am afraid.

I am afraid that I will not come back from "that one."  That I will be trapped, permanently.  But by holding someone's hand, it tells me that they know where I am and that will not forgot to get me help if I do get trapped.  It makes no sense in my sea monster brain, but it makes sense in my heart.

Metallica, several years ago, made a music video called "One."  It is based off a movie from 1971 about a man who blows up in a war from a land mine.  He loses basically everything of his body, except his mind.  He suffers from what is called Locked-In Syndrome, where the brain is functional but the body is not or cannot be.  While this syndrome is used to define a permanent disability, I feel like when I am seizing, I am living it momentarily, as well.

My brother loves Metallica.
This is when James, on the right, got his hair cut.  
They are family men now.

As we used to say in the art museum I was a tour guide for, what is the "so what" of all this?  Why am I choosing to share this with you, here?

Because I am happy.  I know that I have taken advantage of some pretty amazing opportunities that have come my way in this life.   And I have had the health to do them.  

I am happy because despite how much I may sound like an idiot on what can be any given day, my family and those close to me still try to exercise patience for the changes that have come to me.

I am happy because I am loved.  By some really great people on this planet.

I know I tend to write light-hearted and fun.  But in all seriousness, I want to testify that there is a loving Heavenly Father who truly has sustained me.  I know that some may feel that if He were really loving, I would not have an illness at all.  Or I would be miraculously healed.

Life is hard.  Things break.  

So in my mind, it is just some broken chemistry.  Literally.  :)  

Lvoe, (just kidding)
Valsy