Taking Her For “Granite”

February 14, 2011

Early 1992

It wasn’t long after acquiring my BA in English from BYU that I noticed I’d become something of a stickler about the proper use of the English Language.  Hearing people say that a point was “mute” instead of “moot”, that they were doing “good” instead of “well”, or that they’d taken a person for “granite” instead of “granted” about drove me up a wall.

I’ve gotten better about it in the past nearly twenty years, but from time to time, I still end up finding myself correcting others.  Not that I don’t think they should learn the proper way to use their native tongue, I’m just not sure they should have to learn that lesson while they’re waiting for their table at Chilis.

Earlier this year, sitting somewhere hoping that Kolette could get better faster, heal more quickly, and get out of the hospital, I heard someone talk about how they’d taken their loved one for Granite.  As I worked to suppress the desire to correct them, I thought aboutt what they were saying  and learned that I felt the same way.

When you take a person for granted, your assuming that they are just always going to be there, and that since you believe they’ll always be around, you don’t nurture or take care of them.

Now there’s no doubt that I take Kolette for granted–I try not to, but I know that I do, and that I probably have in some form or another since the middle of October 1991 when we went on our first date.

But, I do believe I take her for “granite” too.  Granite is one of the hardest rocks in the world.  People build on and with the stuff all over the world, because it’s strong, sturdy and beautiful to boot.  This last year, when Kolette was so sick, and there was talk about her not making it, I was scared to death because I began to realize how much of my life was built on her indomitable strength.  Those who know her, in person or through the net, know what I’m talking about.  What’s more, is she has a way of sharing that strength, so that just by knowing her you find yourself stronger than you ever thought you could be.

She’s also the definition of sturdy.  She’s confident.  She know who she is, and isn’t afraid to let you know. That kind of courage is difficult to find.  And Kolette has a way of making those around her feel more confident and sturdy about who they are as well.  That sturdiness also translates to a dedication that’s unparalled. When Ko decides she’s going to something, you’d better get on board, or get out of the way.

But, as strong, and sturdy as Kolette is, she’s even more beautiful.  Both inside and out she is simply the most beautiful person i’ve ever know.  I love to be around her.  I can truly say, that I have never been in a place, or experienced a day that wasn’t more beautiful because she was in it.

I love her, and that’s the truth.  In fact, even with my BA in English I still don’t have the words to describe how much.

And on this Valentines Day, I’m going to try not to take her for “granted” and enjoy her strength, be grateful for her sturdiness, and revel in her strength instead.

In short, I’m going to take her for “granite”

I love you Ko,

Jason

 


Grateful for Good Timing

November 27, 2010

The Thanksgiving week forever changed for me in 1997. For, on November 21st of that year, I was driving down the interstate when my front left tire blew sending my van careening across all three lanes of traffic heading my direction, through the median, and into the oncoming traffic. I hit a car, a car hit me, and it about killed me.  The doctors told my family there was no chance that I’d ever make it

I spent the next 13 consecutive months hospitalized, and really the majority of ever year after that in hospitals across the country throughout the next ten years. 2008 was the first year I didn’t stay at least two consecutive months in a hospital bed.

In many ways, this second accident has been more difficult than when I broke my neck. Some may think it impossible to have a paralyzing diving accident surpassed, but where the first accident had an instant totality; the second has had a persistent longevity.

In large part, two years after my diving accident I knew what my life was going to be like. I was back at school full time, driving, with the stamina of my peers. I knew those limitations, and other than a few bladder infections there was a baseline I could count on.

The second time around has been the complete opposite. It’d probably be easier for me to name the bones I didn’t break, than to list the ones I did. It brought with it a chronic pain that for much of the time kept me in a narcotic fog or debilitating pain. It’s been anything but dull though. Oftimes it’s felt as though just as one issue is resolved, another rears its ugly head.

Now, make no mistake, there’s been more joy and happiness in the days since November 21, 1997 than doom and gloom. We even celebrate the day of my accident. It’s an anniversary after all, and anniversaries are made for celebrating. (for more on the second accident and the anniversary tradition, click here.)

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard though. It doesn’t mean that, try as I might, I don’t find myself wondering what might have been. It doesn’t mean I don’t get tired, down, frustrated and depressed. There are days when it takes everything I’ve got to keep on smilin’.

But every time that week in November rolls around, the 21st hits and it gets as difficult as it is at any time in the year, I get a blessing most don’t—Thanksgiving—a day when all you do all day long is think about your blessings. I know a lot about adversity, and there is nothing you can do to light up depression’s darkness than shine bright gratitude upon it. A thankful heart is the antidote to depression’s deadly venomous sting.

For some reason, this 21st was harder than most. I’m not exactly sure why, but my spirits were way down, and my chin was far from up. Things were hard leading up to the day, and for some reason I really got thinking about “Could have been’s,” and, “Why me’s?” (and we all know those don’t ever do anyone any good) and the fact that I wasn’t as vigilant about celebrating my “anniversary” didn’t help at all (see what comes from getting lazy!)

But then, just when things started getting their bleakest, four days later my annual blessing—Thanksgiving.  And ironically, in a year when this day was the most difficult in recent memory, I had more to be thankful about in recent memory.

Here are a few of the gratitudes that topped my list:

My Faith: In a year where I’ve been pushed to the brink, I know that I would have gone over the edge without my faith in God. His words, His Spirit, and His love have helped me get through those un-get-through-able days, and allowed me to find peace in a world swirling all about me. I know God lives and there is nothing in my life I have to be more grateful for than that.

 

My Girl: You don’t have to be around me long, or read much of what I’ve written to expect this one on this list. But this year is different. On the first of June, Ko was hospitalized with acute gall-stone pancreatitis, and on the third at 3:00 am I almost lost her. Just writing those words makes my eyes well up. But, as I think of the courage she’s shown and the valiant way she’s fought every day from that first day to this very day, makes me weep. She’s my best friend, my love, my hero and my inspiration—my everything. I am so grateful she’s still alive, and am blessed to have witnessed and continue to witness her strength and courage.

My Wingman: He’s been with me through it all this year. I don’t know what it is, but he has wisdom beyond his years. He always seems to know the right thing to say, the way to make me smile, or just the right look to lift my heart. I’m never alone with Coleman around. I am grateful for the light he’s been in my life. Just hearing him bust through the door screaming, “Dad!” brings light to my darkest day.

The Chorus:  A chorus by definition is a group of voices that come together. There’s no soloist, in fact, the reason great choruses sound so beautiful is that everyone contributes equally with everything they’ve got. I wouldn’t have made it any day of any year since 1997 without my chorus. But it hasn’t been shown as clearly or exhibited as perfectly in any year since ’97 than this one. The people who have pitched in to help me and mine make it through the hardest days than the support my chorus has provided this year. Many of the faces are ones you’d recognize. Parents (on both sides), brothers and sisters from the same, cousins, friends, and neighbors—they’ve all been there. In hospital rooms, bringing meals, watching Coleman, sharing a kind word, a compliment in person or on the blog have lifted my spirits more than anyone will ever know. I am lucky and grateful to have such people blessing my life.

These big gratitudes have lifted me, obviously through the whole year—but especially through the last few days. One of the things I love about gratitude is that it always makes me feel rich.

With things like this to be grateful for, I dare you to show me a wealthier man in all the world. I’m blessed—In so many ways. Not the least of which is that Thanksgiving is so close to the 21st of November.

I encourage you to partake of some of this “good medicine” for yourselves. Take a moment to leave a comment about something you’re thankful for. Doesn’t have to be a big act or blessing, it’s amazing how sometimes the littlest things bring the most mercy. The more of us that share—the more we each get to think about the great and wonderful in our lives. And the more that attitude of gratitude spreads the more the doom and gloom, the frustration and consternation are chased from our souls letting the light of hope shine bright.

I am grateful for the power of gratitude.

Jh-

PS: in an effort to show my gratitude for your sharing, one person leaving a comment will win a set of my motivational cards,  one of my autographed DVD’s (both seen here) and a $15.00 gift card from Walmart for munchies. ‘Cause what DVD’s not better with a little treat to go with! —Right?

And spread this one around; let’s see how many gratitudes we can come up with. Comments must be entered by Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm PST.


Superman vs. The Lemmings

November 10, 2010

As a kid, I read comics whenever I could get my hands on them, but I didn’t start collecting comics until after my car accident.  I had been in the hospital for going on 6 months and I was growing tired of Judge Judy.  Unfortunately, TV was my only real companion.  My arms were simply too weak to hold a book.

Then, one day sitting in a 7-Eleven, I saw a copy of Batman.  It was small and light and I thought it might be a nice distraction to Mrs. Sheindlin.  I took it back to my hospital, and read it.  It was easy to hold and provided me the entertainment I sought.  The only problem was the book wasn’t one contained story–it was part of a serial.  In order to find out what had happened and what was going to happen, I had to buy other comics.

I was hooked.  My room slowly filled with issues of The Dark Knight, Superman, Captain America and the rest.  The more I collected the more I learned about the culture. There were issues that had variant (special) covers, issues that had been so popular they had done multiple printings–which made first printings all the more valuable.

Like everything else, the more rare a comic was, the more valuable it became.  This pursuit lasted years and more money that I care to admit.  But as I made my trips from the hospital to the comic book shop (which sometime took everything I had–to see what I’m talking about, read here) I noticed that the comics available in stacks were passed by, while the unique ones were clamored over.

Watching this, I realized that people are a lot like comics.  It’s the unique ones with variant covers that people want in their lives.  They’re the ones people are seeking out, the stories people want to know. At the same time, it’s the ordinary ones, the ones just trying to be like the rest that are a dime a dozen, and the ones that sit in stacks.

The difference is that everyone is unique and special—you just have to choose to put that on your cover.  You just have to show others the real “one of a kind” you.  And, for some reason, it seems like people today have a hard time doing this.  Some of it’s fear, some of it is insecurity, but it’s rampant and everywhere.  People trying to look or act like someone on TV.  It’s like we’re back in Jr. High and trying to be the cool kid.

There’s too many lemmings today—people willing to follow at any cost.

Being rare is harder than it sounds.  It takes courage.  There are lots of people who just don’t believe that they have all that much uniqueness to give.  But, there’s only one you—only one person that sees things the way you do.  Only one person with the gifts and talents you have.  Have confidence in yourself.  Find ways to let your own spirit shine.

There are only a few copies of the first Superman comic left and they are worth Millions.  But, that’s nothing compared to the worth of the one and only you!

Jh-


The Other Side Of The Bed

October 14, 2010

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, but to say that things have been a little crazy around the Hall Home is an understatement to say the least.

For those who don’t know, on May 1st Kolette was admitted to the hospital with Gall-Stone Pancreatitis.  When she was admitted, the doctors in the ER told us that this illness was one of the most painful they ever see.

 

Kolette in the ICU

 

Over the last six months we’ve learned that they were right.  She’s had multiple procedures, one major operation (where they removed 80% of her necrotic pancreas), and has spent nearly two months in the hospital (about a week of which was in the Intensive Care Unit).  In addition, she’s been on high doses of pain medicine, fed though an IV, had her stomach swell to the point where one doc assumed her to be 10 months pregnant, and nearly lost her life.

Without hyperbole, I can say Kolette has been pushed to her ultimate limit—and the whole ordeal is far from over. (Who knew one little gallstone could cause so much grief…right?)  She still fights tremendous pain, and struggles everyday to have the energy to take care of our 20-month-old Cole.  She has to go to the hospital multiple times a week for things like physical therapy, dressing changes, and infusions, and spends nearly all her effort working to be able to eat again without dire consequences–C’mon sing along…”Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Upset Stomach, Diarrhea.” (click on the link if you can’t recall the tune)

 

Kolette's swollen belly

 

The truth is, it’s been difficult on everyone.  Coleman’s had to learn how to live out of a suitcase. Our little rock star has been on a whirlwind tour that’s taken him all over the state with frequent stops at Aunt Kara’s, Aunt Carolie’s, and his all-time favorite—Grandma’s.

 

Coleman on a rare visit to the hospital

 

As for yours truly, on one hand, I’ve had to step up to a whole new level of independence. I’ve had to learn how to take care of myself in ways I never imagined that I could. Part of that has meant making sacrifices—I mean sometimes you realize meals like breakfast, lunch, and dinner are way overrated. On the other hand I’ve had to accept more help. When you’re a C5-6 quadriplegic, you feel like it’s impossible to accept more help (Heck, if I listed the things I needed help with before all this, we be here for a month.) But, I’ve learned to humble myself and have been grateful for the people in my church and my neighborhood that has stepped up and helped with anything I required.

I’ve learned so much through this whole experience. However, of all the things I’ve learned, I think the most powerful has been the understanding of what it’s like on what I call, “The Other Side of the Bed.”

Throughout my life I’ve always been the one in the family who’s been ill. Just look at my record…Broken neck—check, multiple surgeries—check, infection and hospitalization—check, life-threatening car wreck—check, and so on. It was my role in the family, and I played it well if I do say so myself. I was the person in bed, sick and with his life on the line.  To this point I’d never been asked to be, “on the other side of the bed” watching the one you love suffer.

Then, on the 1st of May, things changed.  Ko now was fighting for her life, and all I could do was watch.

It is by far the most helpless I have ever felt in my life (and this coming from a guy who can’t move 7/8 of his body.) There was absolutely nothing I could do but sit in Ko’s room and tell again and again how I loved her, and how proud I was to witness her courage and fortitude.

I know some might wonder how much control a person really has lying in the bed after a major accident or illness. Yet, for me regardless of how much control I had over my physical situation, I had control over my attitude. I could be happy. I could be determined. I could make a sad situation less gloomy for those who visited, and all of this would give me a sense of control.

“On the other side of the bed,” you have absolutely no sense of control at all. In fact, to the contrary, you feel totally completely out of control. You watch, and wait, hoping your love and support is enough, but in the end it’s all up to the person in the bed.

People always tell me how amazed they are that I’ve been able to endure the challenges of my life. These past months have taught me an invaluable lesson. The amazing ones are those who’ve spent hours and hours at my bedside. I’m sure they’ve felt as helpless and out of control as I did, and yet they stayed still.

This experience has also reminded me that a little understanding goes a long way. Trading places with Kolette has helped me understand her point of view. It’s allowed me to understand how she felt in those dark days after my accident, and helped me to realize why she was motivated to push hard when I felt she’d already pushed too much. This understanding helps me appreciate and love her all the more.

Similarly, the prejudice and judgment that exists in the world today can be as easily removed if people will simply try to see things from “other sides.” When we look at others and don’t understand why they seemingly get all the breaks, have all the chances, or get to live a life that we perceive is free of difficulty and strife, we have to try and see things from their point of view. The more we see their side, the more we will understand. That understanding will breed love and remove hate. It will spread humility and alleviate pride. It will bring compassion and eschew cruelty.

At the end of the day this experience has taught me that two things are true. First, I am truly blessed to have people like my sweet wife and wonderful mother who have spent hours at my bedside to show their support and let me know that I was loved. Second, even though it’s often hard, I like my life. I’m lucky and blessed. I want to try and concentrate on how wonderful my side of this existence is and quit worrying about everybody else. I want to fill my heart with gratitude and rid it of judgment.

For, when it’s all said and done, I’ll stay on my side of the bed thank you. For the “other sides” out there are simply far more difficult than advertised.

Jh-


Laughin’ With The Pancreas

May 24, 2010

Every week I try to post something to help give the people that stop by my blog a little laugh.  I call the posts, “A Little Laughter.” Even when I don’t have the time or energy to publish other posts, I try to get a little video, song or story up that will bring a smile to my reader’s faces.

I have a powerful belief in the power of laughter.  To my very core I know that, when it comes to having a positive attitude and dealing with adversity, there are few things that help like humor.  Throughout the most difficult times of my life I have been a witness to the influence a moment of joy can have in determining the altitude of our attitudes and our ability to overcome.

However, just like most things, it’s easy to talk about adding humor to your life and a different thing altogether to implement laughter daily—especially in times of adversity.

I can safely say that the past weeks have tested my belief and dedication to the importance of the funny.

On May 1st, Kolette was diagnosed with Gall Stone Pancreatitis.  It has caused her to be as sick as she has ever been, put her in more pain than most can imagine, and almost taken her life.  She was in the hospital for a week and a half, four days of which were spent in the ICU.

Of all the days in the hospital, those she spent in Intensive Care were the most harrowing.  Every night I would leave her room sure that things couldn’t get any worse, only to show up the next morning to find her at a new low.  She was hardly breathing, with her blood pressure through the floor, and over 65lbs. of water collecting around her liver, kidneys, lungs and abdomen.

Watching her pain had to be the worst.   I have truly never felt more helpless in my entire life. (Kolette and I really traded places on this one.  I’m used to be the one fighting for his life, not the one standing idly by—I prefer my normal position, thank you).

When she was admitted, the doctors told her there were few conditions as painful as pancreatitis.  In fact, at one point in the ER, as Kolette asked over and over for more pain medicine, the doc said, “I could give you enough pain medicine to stop your heart and you’d still be in pain.”

On that first day, I knew that if I were going to keep a positive attitude of any kind through this ordeal, I’d have to have a regular dose of humor.  I knew that my minutes of laughter were as critical to our survival as Kolette’s milligrams of medicine.

So, in an effort to get out in front of the issue, I change the Kolette’s ringtone on my phone to the song below.  Whenever the people in her room, nurses on staff, and Kolette (when she could) used the phone to get a hold of me I’d hear the song “Pancreas” by “Weird Al” Yankovic that’s posted below.  The phone was used enough that, a number of times throughout the day, I’d get a little 20 second listen of the song.  Being a lifelong “Weird Al” fan, I felt it would do the trick—and luckily for me, I was right.

Every time I heard the song, no matter how bad the day, inevitably the ends of my mouth would curl and I’d let out a little chuckle. Instantly, things were a little better, and all at once everything that was heavy would get a little lighter.

Now, I know that everyone won’t think he song is funny.  Most will probably just think that it’s weird.  But it was perfect for me. It gave my heart the little lift that it needed and helped me have the strength to carry on, and if I was passionate about the power of humor before, that passion has only intensified now.

Kolette is home now, still in a great deal of pain, with a long road and the chance of multiple surgeries ahead.  But, as I ask for your prayers and good thoughts for her speedy and successful recovery, I also ask that if this song doesn’t make you chuckle or chortle, find something that does.  Then, when you do listen, watch, or read it, and witness as your attitude improves and the white-hot heat of that positive attitude warms your life.

For, I know that regardless of whether times are good or bad, or if things in your life are easy or hard, we all are better after a little laughter.

Jh-

Thanks Al


A Little Laughter – The Evolution of Dance

April 26, 2010

No matter when you were born, or what kind of music you like, this has a little something to make everyone laugh.

Enjoy!

Jh-


A Little Laughter – Don’t Buy Stuff

April 19, 2010

At a meeting I recently attended, they showed a video clip from Saturday Night Live that involved Steve Martin and the book pictured above.  I laughed and laughed. The clip was both funny and timely.

I couldn’t get the video to post in my blog, but follow the link by clicking HERE, and you’ll be on your way to a big ol’ belly laugh.  I promise it’ll be worth 2 minutes and 28 seconds of your life.

Enjoy!

Jh-

PS The sad part is I actually know a lot of people who REALLY need this little book.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.