Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sensory inventory III




The skin is collectively considered the largest organ of the human body. Human skin reaches the extremes of sensitivity at locations such as the fingertips, and sensitivity to certain hairs of the skin can be exquisitely fine, unto detecting the most delicate whisper of breath passing over.

One of the early effects of first stroke that I did not recognize was a loss of feeling in certain areas where I was formerly accustomed to some sensory input. Particularly in my lower legs.

At the time we were cutting heavy pieces of firewood, I was dropping the occasional piece and barking my shins and lower legs. It didn't hurt at all, so I ignored the incidents. Gradually, my legs became a mass of bloody abrasions and blackened bruises that even I could no longer shrug off.

On reflection, I realize now that I felt no pain because my nerves are no longer signalling properly to my brain. I used to hear the saying, "No brain, no pain". Now I get a first-hand lesson every day.

Or perhaps should I say, first leg?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Snow fun



Patricia's comments remind me that I can still have some fun in the snow, amidst all the serious and somber business.

I am busy getting the little snow plow stuck in the snow drifts and windrows at various locations throughout the valley. Although I cannot safely range too far, I can venture out a ways. Plunging through deep snow is always a thrill -- even from the back of this mechanical camel.

Preparation for being comfortable in colder weather is as much a frame of mind as it is a set of clothing. I have been with scout kids that had a terrific time in spite of their poor dress -- just because they were so thrilled by the incredible environment that they forgot to get cold. Make no mistake. There is no substitute for proper garments, when dressing for the cold. But I have seen energy and enthusiasm make up for a lot.

Winter acclimation also helps one adapt. The sense of discomfort diminishes gradually. Greater comfort with a certain level of exposure can gradually be tolerated, until the body adapts to a relative comfort level.

It is always surprising to realize this, up close and personal, when visiting someplace like San Diego during the winter. The residents are shivering in their down jackets, while the snow people are sweating in tee shirts.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ever More!


Lots more snow in Snail Hollow over the Christmas holiday. Almost a foot fell in the last storm, but most of it blew away in gusty winds. It was very windy overnight.

We are stuck with big piles of snow all around the driveway. Running out of places to push it where it will be out of the way.

Then there is the path to the kennel.

The dog, Copper, is consigned to lockup after he was caught proudly dragging home the neighbor's dead chicken. We need to maintain the path to access his kennel now, to bring food and water. The snow is very deep. It is a problem that I am not quite ready to deal with, because I am too clumsy to slog through the deep snow without falling. And it is far too difficult for my old mother to handle. Oh well. We'll figure out something.

I missed my PT session Wednesday because we got stuck in Christmas traffic in Provo. The place is a madhouse -- I'm glad we don't go there too often. The clinic is closed today for the holiday. Will resume workouts next week.

Darkness


It gets very dark here when the electricity goes off. Everyone was searching in their kitchen drawers for candles and matches.

I can't stand up very well in the darkness. I keep a flashlight handy at all times. My frequent night trips to the bathroom are made a bit more of an adventure by the dark and the cold, not to mention the fact that water becomes a limited commodity when there is no electricity to power the jet pump in the deep well. So, we make do with what we have.

My bedroom is heated with electricity, so I moved into the house this morning, where there is a wood burning stove. We kept warm, and listened to Handel's Messiah while the batteries lasted on my notebook. The electric service was restored at about 10 this morning, after around twelve hours of blackness.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

White Christmas!


Lots of new snow falling in this locale.

Mammoth-Cottonwood is the nearest official measuring station, near the top of Fairview Canyon. It reflects about how much snow is on the ground now at Snail Hollow, although I believe our drifted accumulation is a bit more.

I have had plenty of work clearing off driveways and walkways. The new ATV mounted plow has had a pretty good trial, and passed with flying colors.

I can manage most of the functions of operating the ATV pretty well. I have trouble with the transmission shifter at times, but can manhandle it with both hands, when needed. Sometimes the plow blade is difficult to swivel, but I have managed to minimize that operation, after encountering some bit of trouble with it. All in all, a very satisfying operation that went quite smoothly. I was even able to help extricate a stuck vehicle, after some bit of work.

Let it snow!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sensory inventory II

I am still in the process of discovery with this curious roadmap that is the somewhat impaired sensory input from different parts of my body.

I noted earlier that regions of my belly seemed rather insensitive to the injections they were giving me at the hospital. I am sure it spoiled the fun for some of the nurses. In any case, I was noticing odd lack of feeling there this morning in the shower too. I had opportunity to explore my new tactile sense, or lack thereof. I note that my stomach has the sensation of a leather jacket. I can feel pressure when I touch the skin with some object, such as my bar of soap. But it feels insular, detached in some strange way. I have determined that my skin is no longer sensitive to direct touch, but still has some deeper nerves that are functioning. So It is very much like wearing a leather shirt. I can still feel pressure, but rather indirectly.

This is a curious effect.

I have noted in this cold weather that many parts of my body which used to grow increasingly uncomfortable with prolonged exposure are not sensitive to very cold temperature any more. I suppose this might be an advantage or disadvantage. On the one hand, I count on the comfort level to sense whether exposure is leaving my body with lower reserves. With less of a sense, I think the cold may present more of an unperceived hazard. On the other hand, I don't need to fret as much about discomfort from the cold weather.

Now all I need is to get myself fit enough to get out in the snow and enjoy it!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Migraine weirdness



I have been having a weird migraine day

All day, feeling strange. Bright colored spots dart across my field of vision, then quickly disappear. Tonight most of my vision is obscured by a blind spot, but am typing around the edges.

It is outlined with sparkling colors rotating in a wheel, sorta like the picture above. It is blocking off most of my central field of vision, but I can still see around the sides of it.

I don't seem to have a headache with this 'aura' anymore, but my stomach feels queasy, and I feel very uneasy. I don't like noise or lights. Best thing has been to go to sleep, if I can. It usually passes while I am asleep.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rehab progress 30

Physical therapy turns out to be just plain hard work.

I don't know that I expect anything different. I have been through it all once before. But I guess the reality of it all is always a bit discouraging, especially to know that I am covering the same ground again.

Today I pedalled the bike for more than two miles in ten minutes, and I was able to run the treadmill for more than a half-mile. This is about halfway toward the mark I was setting for myself before the last stroke.

If I can sustain a pace of constant and consistent improvement in performance, I may be up to par again before the winter is over. I'm not sure I can build up enough stamina in time to get out on the snowshoes while there is still some deep snow on the skyline, but it is something to work for.

Tomorrow is another day.

Bell's palsy


I had an episode with Bell's palsy a number of years ago, but I do not believe it has any connection with stroke. I just mention it to illustrate what weird afflictions i have suffered in the past.

Bell's palsy is a partial paralysis of one side of the face, characterized by loss of motor control of one side of the mouth, and one eye lid. Swelling and inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve, where it passes through a small aperture in the face of the skull, is thought to cause this paralysis. The restriction due to swelling where the nerve passes through the small opening results in impaired circulation, which causes paralysis of the nerves which connect these facial muscles. The overall effect is a face that is droopy and flaccid on one side. The most serious and painful consequence for me was loss of control over my left eye. I could not move the eye lid, except by manually opening or closing it with my fingers. Lack of ability to blink also left the eyeball dry and irritated much of the time. I resorted to wearing a sinister-looking eye patch.

Fortunately, Bell's palsy proved to be a short-lived temporary condition. After a frenzied trip to the emergency room with complaints about the paralysis, the doctor laughed at my rueful expression and diagnosed "droopy face". He gave a prescription for anti-inflammatory steroids, and sent me home. The paralysis cleared up and symptoms gradually disappeared over a few weeks.

I only wish the current affliction was so ephemeral.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sensory inventory



I have related something about compromised sensing of balance and equilibrium. I wobble when I walk.

Other body senses also seem less active than only a short time ago. I have noticed, in this colder weather, that my sense of temperatures at the skin is somewhat diminished for certain parts of my body. My legs, especially. I can stand out in the cold wind, freezing my hands and ears and my face, but my legs fell no chill. In the shower, I sense the heat deeper within my body apparently, but have less sense of the heat directly on my skin. This is a curious effect, with consequences unforeseen, as yet.

Yesterday, at the neurologist, my dad asked him about this sensory deficit, and if I am likely to regain some of this functionality, or if it is gone forever, like his peripheral neuropathy effects. The neurologist shrugged and replied, he did not know.

That seems to be the nature of so much about this little adventure. I am charting a lot of unmapped and unknown territory. Who can say what there is to discover? Who knows what is possible, and what is not?

I will find out for myself.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rehab progress 29


It is with the greatest relief that I note the passage of two headache-free days, for the first time since July. Finally, something that seems to work at stopping the awful pain.

After my doctors told me I was risking potential adverse side-effects from other pain relievers, I declined to use NSAIDs any longer. I was taking dangerously large overdoses seeking to get rid of headaches, and it wasn't working anyway. The neurologist finally prescribed a drug that was developed for migraine relief. It seems to do the job. I am very pleased. The medical community finally comes through with something that actually works for me!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Walking notes



Just the simple act of standing up and walking has assumed a somewhat tentative, dubious nature for me. After the most recent stroke, I notice a deficit of natural balance, standing and walking.

Walking doesn't quite seem so spontaneous. I am noting that the beginning motion basically consists of falling, just slightly forward or back. This shifts the center of gravity, and starts a natural rhythm of alternating the feet in sequence to keep on balance.

Well, I am not performing this little dance quite as spontaneously as I would like it to be, these days. The biggest problem I encounter seems to result from a diminished sense of orientation. I cannot tell when my body is inclined to start falling forward, or back, until I actually start moving. It doesn't feel like anything. But I can see when things start to move. (With my eyes shut, I am helplessly lost, and I fall almost immediately, even trying to stay stationary.)

So, often my first step moves my feet, but my upper body is not leaning the right way in anticipation, and I start to fall. Most often, I tip over backwards.

I have usually been able to recover quickly. I guess I have had enough practice, by now. But it is with an uneasy lack of confidence that I navigate, now, carefully. And with excruciating slow pace.

My associates with the Forest Service were often impatient with me because they thought I hiked too slow. They ought to see me now!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rehab progress 28


Back to the treadmill today. Nothing remarkable, except that I tire so quickly, and can only go half the distance I was making easily a few weeks ago.

More slow progress ahead.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Frustration

I cannot communicate with doctors. The frustration is driving me nuts. No, wait -- I was already nuts.

Oh, yeah, I remember now. Maybe my history with pshrinks hurts my credibility a bit.

Oh, ya think?

Anyway, after a very nice visit, the doctor suggested that I need to be doped up with drugs, to help me cope. He wrote me a band-aid prescription for anti-depressants. Oh, joy. How absolutely pleasant.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Never Give Up


I have always laughed at this silly poster. I have been seeing it for years. Isn't it great?

I don't want to give a wrong impression, to any readers. I will never give up, when there is any hope, or anything left.

Never give up.

Rethinking Unhappiness



I was wrong.

I stated something that was wrong, and I'm sorry.

I can see that others share some of my unhappiness. That makes me feel worse about it all.

I wish there was some way I could stop it from happening. But it looks almost like a natural consequence now, like a storm, or the changing tide, or something like that.

If I could say, don't worry, and mean it, I would. But it probably doesn't matter much any more. The course is set. What will come. will come. If that makes people unhappy, I apologize, but that changes nothing.

I don't know any more answers to all the troubling questions. Seems like I just get more confused.

Finding the way, best I can...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Failure


There must be easier ways to fail.

Keep trying...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Visiting my Doctor

Isn't that just a marvelous logo? It seems to promise such wonderful, blessed relief, from all that ails us. Just imagine -- "Healing for life".

Now I apologize in advance. Both for the laboriousness and length of this missive, as well as the quality of the content. Cannot be helped.

Of all recent events memorable, the one thing I seem to find to be exclusively a deplorable experience is the doctor visits. I cannot put my finger on exactly the explanation for these bad experiences -- I am certain that it is my own sad deficiency, and no fault of the doctor. In any case, it has been years since I had an active confrontation with any doctors. The men I have dealt with lately are of mild temperament and pleasant personality. My only specific gripe has been over several personal clashes with members of the attending nursing staff, but that is another long tale, one that I have detailed in other posts.

I have in mind to inventory some specific details about what currently is bothering, from my own perspective. Doctors seldom take the time to get this story, and they always seem in a rush for the next appointment. As a result, when I finish a visit, I often find myself standing there with another half-finished thought on my tongue while I am watching the back of the doctor walking away. This is particularly frustrating to me right now, as I struggle to speak at anything like a normal pace, trying to articulate something that I understand so poorly in the first place.

The first event I would like to describe in detail is my initial stroke experience. I was swinging a heavy wood maul at the moment, in spite of getting up from bed feeling ill. I remember thinking at the time that I might feel better if I just did some kind of work. Then, within a moment's time, I felt something that seemed like mounting tremendous pressure inside my head, accompanied by a loud rushing noise, like waves crashing on the seashore, sounding in my ears. The pain and pressure I might have found comparable to instances where I incurred a very solid blow on the head from an overhanging tree branch, but it was obviously coming from inside my head. The noise in my ears was obviously not a sound coming from the environment around me, but to me, sounded as loud as the nearby roar of jet engine exhaust, or some other loud blasting noise, resounding in my ears. The sensation and the noise reached a crescendo together, then diminished suddenly, but left a loud ringing in my ears. At that moment I was struck by sudden weakness and instability, and felt that I was fainting. I had gray spots beginning to obscure my peripheral vision. Although I was no longer thinking very clearly, it came to me that I wanted to sit down in the shade, and rest. As I dropped the implement I was holding, I tried to make my way across the driveway to the house, where my dad was sitting on the porch. I wobbled precariously like a drunk, and as I sat down on the porch, tried to explain to my dad that I "felt like my legs came all unhinged", but I don't think my mumblings were very coherent. After resting in the shade for several minutes, I felt somewhat recovered, and noticed no severe persisting ill effects. We went to dinner in Mount Pleasant a short time thereafter, and though I continued with a generally unsettled feeling, I noted no pronounced weakness or other physical impairments at the time.

The following morning, I woke up to discover partial paralysis on my right side, both in my arm, and leg. A stroke was immediately the suspicion. My leg was still sufficiently mobile that I could move myself, albeit with some difficulty, and my dad and mom ushered me into the car and drove me to the hospital.

In the second incident, I was injured falling down in my bathroom, getting out of the shower. Suffice it to mention that I suffered a broken coccyx, which continues to provide an uncomfortable and sometimes painful reminder of my precarious lack of balance and equilibrium.

In the third incident, I was again injured in a falling accident, this time resulting in some strained ligaments in my rib cage. The occasional discomfort from this injury has eased somewhat.

Fourth, I have experienced almost continuously since the July stroke, a low-grade headache, with some accompanying migraine-like phenomena. I have experienced occasional migraines throughout my life, since earliest memory. At about the age of thirty-five or forty, I quit experiencing the shatteringly severe headaches, but still had irregular bouts with characteristic migraine aura -- scintillating scotoma, paresthesia in mouth, lips, hands, arms, legs, and feet. And other weirdness I associated with the migraine experience. I grew somewhat accustomed to these experiences, enough so that I seldom mentioned them or complained about them, but worked out my own methods for coping.

Anyway, I have suffered from something very similar to this migraine experience, continually, since July. It is not the same thing as migraine, since that always seemed to be a fairly short-term experience, but this condition seems to be chronic. The aura-like experience comes and goes. The headache with accompanying nausea vary greatly in intensity, but never quite go away completely. Ringing ears of varying degrees of volume also accompany the headaches.

I complained to everyone who asked about how I was feeling since last July, but doctors and therapists generally offered no specific response, or recommended over-the-counter NSAIDs like Tylenol for managing the pain. Nothing has been effective at all for diminishing the headaches. Though the Tylenol was sometimes a relief from the other discomforts.

I also resorted to my mom's Tramadol prescription, from time to time. Although I could not discern that it did anything to diminish the intensity of severe headache pain, it did put me to sleep. I would generally note that the headache pain persisted on awakening.

The doctors at the rehab center seemed absolutely horrified when I told them I had been routinely self-medicating with huge quantities of extra-strength Tylenol. I said it mattered little to me, only to escape from the immediate pain, but admitted that the drugs were not providing any significant relief anyway. In concession to his concern about the drugs I was taking, I told Dr. Fyans to forget about administering any pain relievers, and concentrate exclusively on blood pressure control. I already had arrangements to visit a neurologist, so I supposed this was reasonable.

Anyway, the migraine-like symptoms continue, getting better or worse from day to day, but never completely disappearing. This in spite of the drug prescribed by the neurologist. He said the stuff takes some time to take effect. We'll see.

Let's see, a couple of other things to explain. The next is TIA. Transient Ischemic Attack. In the vernacular, a mini-stroke.

I have experienced many episodes similar to that which I first detailed, but varying in intensity and seemingly in severity.

These episodes do not seem typical for most stroke victims. Some of the nursing staff that I described these experiences to characterized them as "freaky". I only know what I experienced.

In one event while I was in the rehab center, my blood pressure was monitored while I experienced a series of what I interpreted as TIAs. Blood pressure readings of well over the 200/180 mark, for some time. A series of repeated episodes where the pounding pressure mounted to seemingly explosive levels. Unbelievable headache pain, well beyond anything I ever experienced before. Accompanied by the loud rushing noise sounding in my ears. During this series of events, I complained of feeling very nauseous, and felt like I was going to faint. The nurse attending was apparently somewhat alarmed, because he kept yelling at me to tell him if I remembered where I was, and what my name was, and such. I think this went on for several minutes with me in semi-lucid state. I remember thinking that there seemed to be a lot of people running around me, making a big fuss, but I was viewing it all from such a haze of pain that I didn't feel much concern -- I just wanted my head to stop hurting, and knew these guys had nothing to help that.

Anyway, that particular event subsided. I remember starting to weep and cry, it hurt so bad, and I told them I just wanted to stop hurting. Eventally I regained some relative lucidity, and my blood pressure dropped and stabilized. The headache pain gradually relented, but not as quickly as the blood pressure event.

I have become sensitized to these TIA events, and have been noting when they occur now. Periodically, I will experience a whole series of them in fairly close sequence, something on the order of one every five to fifteen manutes. This can go on for a number of hours throughout the day. The duration and severity vary widely, as does the frequency.

I cannot think of anything else to say in describing these events, except that nobody else seemed to have ever heard of such a thing. Perhaps I am just hallucinating. But this is what I am experiencing.

One other matter. I need medical attention for the skin growth on the center of my back. It is beyond my ability to see easily, but I know it feels irritated when I turn in the bed now, so it appears not to be healing properly.

Next installment:  My Hospital Experience

Deer in the Headlights





















An apt phrase comes to mind, "Deer in the Headlights". Suggested by musing reflection on Patricia, commenting in passing about the hazards of traveling to Cortez.

The deer abiding peacefully along roadsides give evidence that they have little respect for highway traffic, or any awareness of the potential mayhem it portends, for any unfortunate beast that blunders into the flow of traffic. Of course. we may not ever see those creatures who have been properly schooled, and keep their distance. Those who failed to learn are often enough seen at the roadside, searching for that most dangerous bit of browse -- or whatever it is that motivates them to gravitate toward roadside areas and crossings.

I pause to consider this phrase, and how aptly it characterizes one who suddenly realizes, too late, how very short the future may be. As the headlight beam so suddenly casts its shockingly bright light on the moment of looming crises, the unsuspecting creature raises his head in alarm. In that harsh glare of the moment, no time to react. Not enough warning. Yet, all indications of the impending doom were there beforehand, clearly evidenced, and in plain sight. All that was needed was some wisdom in just exercising a bit of foresight to avert certain disaster and destruction. Just a simple bit of action, at the proper moment, and all would have been well. Instead, all warning signs were overlooked or ignored. And we probably will get another messy roadkill. Yuck!

I was reflecting on my own circumstances the other day, in conversation with one who was discussing the implications of the church's official and practical stance toward same-sex marriage, and the perceived degree of antipathy toward that erstwhile practice. My thoughts were that I felt rather like the disposition that the Mormon prophet-warrior described in his troops, when he discerned that they realized that they were facing inevitable defeat and destruction. Mormon described the fighting men as being filled with remorse that they were defeated, sorrowful for their loss, but not repenting of the mistakes that brought them down. In other words, there was nothing productive or particularly of any benefit about such angst -- it came too late to do anything about it, except grit teeth and prepare for a very rude shock.

So it seems, in my case. I am only holding on to a dim hope that I might survive this lesson long enough to get a bit of practical use from it, before the speeding car slams me down.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Credit Union hijinks








Yesterday, pursuant to my recent resolution to change financial institutions that I do business with, I went to the small branch of the credit union, in the Springville Walmart store, to make a very large cash withdrawal. To my embarrassment, they indicated that all my funds are "on hold" for two weeks. The clerk gave me permission to withdraw up to $100. I was requesting many times that amount, covered by cash deposits that I had assumed were immediately available for my access. Somewhat chagrined, I walked away, shaking my head. Apparently, the credit union has free use of these funds, to do with as they see fit, for up to two weeks. In the mean time, I am locked out from using the money.

I do not understand why I keep running into problems such as this. It makes me feel like giving up any relations with financial institutions altogether.

Note that a bit later, the teller phoned me at my home to inform me that she had negotiated clearing the hold on my funds. It was too late for me to do anything about it -- I have to depend on others to provide transportation for me now, at their convenience, and I had already departed from that locale, to my home more than 30 miles away. In her defense, the teller knew nothing about this -- she was just doing her job.

I do appreciate the effort. It just turns out to be a useless gesture. If the credit union administration could have worked this glitch out with a bit more alacrity, it would have spared me substantial angst and mental anguish.

Oh, well. I guess that's what life's all about. *SIGH*

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Rehab progress 27


I visited the rehab center in Mount Pleasant again today.

Starting over.

It was rather a bleak experience.

With the physical therapist, I reviewed the program and planned out our rehab efforts for the future. While we were discussing it, Ben, the therapist, mentioned that he'd heard on the news about the passing of Elder Wirthlin the night before. He suggested that Elder Wirthlin's recent conference address would make a good theme for my efforts, "Come What May, and Love It".

In spite of some serious misgivings, I went through the therapy workout. I can't say I have as good an attitude as Elder Wirthlin had about life, but I am trying.

I proved that I have some new challenges to work on. Ben said his evaluation indicates I could benefit from more upper-body development, so that dimension is added to the workout regimen. In addition, I renewed my general complaint about mileage on the treadmill, but I can't walk across the room without the threat of falling down. More true than ever.

All in all, lots of work faces me. Easier to give in to the brain damage and depression. I'm determined to get out of the bed, and do the work. As Elder Wirthlin counseled, I will keep trying to look forward to "Come What May, and Love It".

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

Home Sweet Home



















It's just silly sentimentality. But I can't remember ever being happier to see home again.

Thank God.

Thanks to God for such a great many things...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stroke II: brain stem damage




















This little bit of brain tissue is the focus of the problem. Apparently, small pieces of plaque material are being carried through my blood circulation through my heart and deep into the tissues of my brain, where they become lodged and block the vessels of the brain from receiving vital oxygen through the bloodstream. The oxygen-starved cells in that region of the brain quickly die, and the functions they once governed in my body suddenly lapse into uncontrolled chaos.

The brain stem controls operations such as motor locomotion and sensory awareness. In particular, my most recent stroke caused damage to brain centers that control muscles, sleeping, tactile awareness, and other senses to some degree. I find my body somewhat desensitized now as far as sensing what is touching me, and I might hurt myself without any sensation of pain. This also has some intriguing benefits, I have found. For example, the hospital has found it expedient to turn me into a human pincushion during my short stay, but I find most of my body to be insensate to the needle pricks. I can feel some pressure, but sense no pain. How convenient, that they can sink needles deep into my body, and I feel so little discomfort. (I suspect it spoils the desired effect somewhat for some of them, but I don't really mind spoiling their fun.)

Some other brain stem functions include regulation of things like heartbeat and breathing. Thank heaven, these things seem to be functioning without any compromise, else I suspect I would be suddenly and most decidedly dead.

Sooner or later, this seems to be the reality that faces me. In the mean time, I will do my best to put my time to good use.

Next instalment:  Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Rehab progress 26

I am leaving the rehab center at Utah Valley today. With no misgivings about the promise of the future.

I am fairly certain to encounter a fatal stroke in the near future. I just can't tell when it will strike. Maybe today, tomorrow, next week, next month. Certainly likely within the next year. Probably inevitable within the next five.

The open question facing me now is, what shall I do with this time? In a sense, I have been granted a gift denied to most. I know with some certainty that the future is short, and now I have a chance to prepare.

I am resolved to abide by the aphorism, "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst". It might be a corny way to express this idea, but what I feel is that I need to put my affairs in order now. Nevertheless, I see no need to dig a grave and sit in it prematurely. I am going to use my remaining time for good purpose.

Starting first thing, that means continuing rehab workouts on a regular basis. Whatever it is worth, I will continue to invest time and effort into regaining what has been lost or compromised by stroke.

Today will be day one of the new project.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rehab progress 25



On Sunday, I decided to do something entirely different. Actually, my dad decided for me, since I was mostly delirious. Dad and Ricky coaxed me into the car, nonetheless. Though I was wildly opposed to hospitals, they carried me to Mountaiview in Payson.

I had another fairly dramatic stroke, a second attack.

For a time, as artery after artery blocked off from circulation, my blood pressure rose and soared to levels I never knew a human could even produce, let alone sustain. Blood pressure rose as the heart muscle continued to attempt to supply blood to the blocked and dying brain cells.

The medical team saved my life. They were finally able to control the runaway blood pressure. But at what terrible cost. New brain damage, even now some of the consequences reveal themselves.

Thank God the thinking part of my mind was mostly spared from the carnage. I can still think.

But tonight I sit at a workstation in the rehab center at Utah Valley hospital.

Starting all over again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rehab progress 24



I have developed some troubling problems over the past week. In addition to nagging aches and various pains, I have new balance and equilibrium problem when attempting to walk independently, and I have developed a low-grade but irritating headache that waxes and wanes in severity, but never seems to disappear completely. The headache isn't bad, except for occasional spikes of throbbing pain, but it persists and adds to the distracting noise.

On a more positive note, my physical endurance is building back up, slowly but surely. I can easily clock more than a mile on the treadmill. I would have no problem passing the fire department stress test that requires covering a three mile course in 45 minutes, carrying a 45-pound burden.

All things considered, I am encountering and dealing with the daily challenge. Just a bit more progress, and considering my own limitations, I am optimistic that recovery is a reachable goal, if I just keep working at it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rehab progress 23


I had an entirely disheartening time of it over the last few days. I have felt ill nearly all the time -- not sick enough to need medical assistance, but enough to make me feel miserable almost all the time. Without some handy painkiller drugs, I would be almost completely nonfunctional. Fortunate for me that tylenol serves well enough.

The driving license folks for the State of Utah officially -- and officiously -- added to my personal misery. They required me to take yet another driving test -- which I passed, quite easily, at least in my opinion. Problem was, the examiner lady had apparently determined before she even saw my face that she was going to flunk me. So she falsified her test results, then reported to her boss that I drove in some vaguely unsafe manner. All that really happened was that she was in a really sour mood, because of missing her breakfast, or PMS, or some unknown combination of personal problems that had nothing to do with me. Anyway, for some undetermined reason, she decided that I was worthy of her unfavorable judgement. I got the brunt of her wholly unjustified displeasure, with the result being that she and her superior very generously agreed to compromise and issue me a restricted license. At least, they acted like it was a magnanimous gesture.

The amusing thing about the whole episode was that they were both so ignorant about a place they both live, they acted like it was a generous concession to restrict me from driving on any road with a speed limit of over fifty miles per hour. I protested that I would basically be in violation if I travelled anywhere beyond my own driveway, since the neighborhood is rural, and the only access to the rest of the world is to travel along US Highway 89. It was ludicrous, to have such ignorant self-righteous folks presuming to lecture me about "public safety". I wondered if they had ever been outside of Ephraim -- a one-horse town, with a fairly skewed perspective on the realities of the world. Responding to my arguing, they decided to change the restriction to only driving within fifteen miles of my home, supposedly somehow serving the interest of "public safety". I told them that was just as ridiculous, but they both insisted, I must be restricted somehow. I finally said go ahead and issue whatever license restrictions made them feel like they were doing something meaningful, but had every intention to ignore it at my good pleasure, relying on the same measure of judgement that has served me and "public safety" for many decades and more than a million miles of safe driving experience. The supervisor said I needed a doctor's order to get the restriction removed, but I scoffed at that, and responded that my doctor will likely do whatever I ask him, within limits of reason, and unlike those I was arguing with. Ironically, he acted like the assertion set him back, as though I could never hope to have just as much good-ol'boy influence as needed to easily circumvent their misguided intentions. At least a doctor can make a reasonable objective evaluation of reaction speed capacity, with some hope for clinical accuracy and reasonable judgement. The woman who flunked me made some comments about my supposedly diminished capacity to react, but she did nothing to test such qualities in any objective manner, and was not even remotely qualified to make such a judgement. If they would restrict their own actions to jobs they are qualified for, it would be appropriate. Medical standards are needed for regulation of driving licensing, but cannot be properly imposed by employees of the driving license division, and certainly not by a grumpy woman with no background in the metrics required to make objective evaluation of a medical condition.

The whole episode was a laughable demonstration of typical public employees wagging the dog, too overly impressed with their own self-importance to listen to reason from any mere person. Their stated job is guarding "public safety" which they fulfil by imposing meaningless restrictions with absolutely no objective basis, meanwhile doing virtually nothing that serves the public interest whatsoever. I hold the suspicion that the backslapping good ol' boys, any of their personal friends, get a wink and a pass, even if they show up so drunk they can barely stand. Any teenage driver giving the same test performance would have been passed without remark. Even the old man who could barely stand was tested before I was, and apparently was passed without comment.

Anyway, the issue that offended me was that the woman who supposedly evaluated my driving skills. I suppose she entered false test results in the record. That a person in public trust is able to so falsify government records because of her having a personal bad-hair day is an affront to me. That she did so with overinflated egotistical feelings about her own self-righteousness I have little doubt. She made some interesting remarks to me about her lengthy standing in the driving license division, as if she could impress me with such credentials. I think she needs remove herself from any such position of responsibility in the future. She apparently cannot handle such routine duties without being unduly influenced by totally unrelated subjective factors. Nevertheless, I feel certain that I will continue to encounter such ridiculous problems, probably a return match with this same cadre of public employees.

I have had similar experiences with driving license division encounters, sufficient to remove all confidence in their competence, or any expectation that public employees might feel some personal obligation to perform their jobs in a professional manner. On the occasion of renewing my driving license some years ago, I filled out the request form properly, but the incompetent person who transcribed the record misspelled my last name. I did not notice this until some time later, then reported it to one of the clerks at the drivers license bureau. His reaction was that I had obviously misspelled my own last name, and that they could reissue the corrected license, but I would have to pay the fee for license renewal. Well, to make a long story short, it turns out that a facsimile copy of the application was saved on file. On cursory examination, it was obvious that my form was clearly printed, correctly spelled, and that someone who was inept or careless had transcribed it improperly. The fault was theirs, but I got no offer of apology from the drivers license clerk for their mistake, or for the blustery bullying demeanor with which he originally accused me of making the mistake, and misspelling my own name. Not even any sign of being embarrassment about such obviously incompetent and unprofessional conduct. He probably was too full of his own self to recognize such a sloppy job. I suppose such mistakes are routine, for these guys. They are apparently accountable to no one.





In addition to the latest driving license fiasco, I was recently denied a bank loan for a new car by someone who read on my credit report that I owed child support. Never mind that the record showed a judgement against someone from the court in Weber County, in 2003, neither of which were appropriate to my circumstances. It was easy to see that the information was completely wrong. The woman who processed my loan application apparently prefered to believe the erroneous credit report, over my assurance that I owed nothing. She insisted that I must obtain a note from the Utah Office of Recovery Services, exonerating my deadbeat reputation before they would release the funds. I told her the judgement was not mine, but my protests fell on deaf ears. She would not accept my word.

I started doing business with the credit union more than thirty years ago. Probably before that particular woman who rejected my loan application was out of diapers. She had no way of knowing that nothing could offend me in a worse way than to raise the child support issue to cast a shadow of doubt on my personal integrity. I wrote a derogatory note to the credit union to that effect, and will take my business elsewhere in the future.

If you travel anywhere around Utah Valley, you will see the smiling faces shining down from this credit union's advertisments. They have grown at the same frantic pace as everything else in the locale. Apparently they have also grown out of affording to trust their customers. I suppose honesty is a lost virtue in the world of financial affairs. In any case, it seems sadly absent in these circustances. I am sure that the credit union now has such a customer base that they needn't concern themselves about losing me as a customer. But I have done all kinds of business with them in the past, many transactions passing simply with my word of honor and promise to pay my debts. Passing sad, that we can do business on such a basis no longer.

One more loss of faith in my reliance on good character. It apparently doesn't count for much, in today's world, if it ever did.

In addition to overcoming my own disability, I also face such challenges every day. Betrayed by my own body, I also stand falsely accused of being suspect in my observance of moral obligation, not taken at my honest word, and no longer competent to drive my own automobile -- so judged by people that are so apparently sadly lacking in moral integrity themselves.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Be Prepared



This is the boy scout's motto.

Be mentally prepared by having disciplined yourself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.

Be physically prepared by making yourself strong and active, able to do the right thing at the right moment, without hesitating.

Be morally prepared by learning correct principles, and not deviating.

Follow the straight and narrow course, laid out according to long-standing tradition that is based on correct principles. This leverages our future off from the wisdom of those that have gone before. It prepares us for that which is to come.

Not that this kind of preparation necessarily enables us to anticipate the future. We cannot know what lies ahead with any great certainty. And the future holds many things in store that must come unforeseen.

What preparation does is gift us with the increased ability to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves to us along the way. It may not fit with the plan we have crafted for the future, but we will be made more ready to accommodate that opportunity and make use of it, as it comes before us. This is the purpose for being prepared. It helps us maintain balance under difficult and challenging situations.

Be prepared.

Maxwell: Meeting the Challenges




In discussion about issues raised in the recent election, and always making for heated debate in the Bloggernacle, I submit the following excerpts from Elder Maxwell. Neal A. Maxwell was a President of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this devotional address was given at Brigham Young University on 10 October 1978.

The declarations are about principles, not people, and causes, not candidates. On occasions, at other levels in the Church, a few have not been so discreet, so wise, or so inspired.

But make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions...

This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ.
I have read some convincing arguments in the Bloggernacle for advocating certain actions. I find it difficult to offer anything reasonable to refute them. But the church spoke out in support of these measures. Therefore, they have my backing, without any further question or pause, without any further doubts, no further questions needed.

I made a covenant to follow the counsel of inspired leaders many years ago. In spite of so many other doubts and questions I cannot answer, in a world fraught with so many uncertainties, I do not question that commitment.

It was the right thing to do.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Snow



We are getting our first major snowstorm of the winter in Sanpete County. I expect it will warm up intermittently, and melt off before too long, but the long cold winter has unmistakenly begun.

The land takes on a different character, covered with a blanket of new snow. It often reminds me of the kind of renewal we get from repentance. We are cleansed and become new again, in a process that invigorates and enlivens the soul. We can start from this point with a clean record, every thing old and dirty is gone. Covered over by the fresh clean blanket of new snow.

Monday, November 03, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Come to Zion



Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
extended an invitation to the Saints to "Come to Zion".
The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory.  (Joseph Smith)

Zion is both a place and a people, teaches Elder Christofferson.

The Lord called Enoch's people Zion "because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them" (Moses 7:18). Elsewhere He said, "For this is Zion—the pure in heart" (Doctrine and Covenants 97:21).

Babylon is the antitheses of Zion.

It is with this backdrop that the Lord called for a gathering of members of His Church, commencing an effort that continues in full vigor today.

Zion uplifts the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens. If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes, we must rise to this standard:

(1) unified in one heart and one mind.
(2) a holy people.
(3) care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us

We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen. Zion will come only as they happen.

We should ask ourselves if we have overcome jarrings, contentions, envyings, and strifes (see Doctrine and Covenants 101:6). Are we united? I think not.

Forgiveness of one another is essential to this unity.

We will become of one heart and one mind as we individually place the Savior at the center of our lives and follow those He has commissioned to lead us.

Much of the work to be done in establishing Zion consists in our individual efforts to become pure in heart. "Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom,” said the Lord, “otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself" (Doctrine and Covenants 105:5). The law of the celestial kingdom is the gospel law and covenants, which include our constant remembrance of the Savior and our pledge of obedience, sacrifice, consecration, and fidelity. Latter-day Saints who have been endowed in the temple recognize these points of the law.

To come to Zion, it is not enough for you or me to be somewhat less wicked than others. We are to become not only good but holy men and women.

...Let us once and for all establish our residence in Zion and give up the summer cottage in Babylon.

We might ask ourselves, living as many of us do in societies that worship possessions and pleasures, whether we are remaining aloof from covetousness and the lust to acquire more and more of this world's goods. Materialism is just one more manifestation of the idolatry and pride that characterize Babylon. Perhaps we can learn to be content with what is sufficient for our needs.

Let us seek to build up Zion through unity, godliness, and charity, preparing for that great day when Zion, the New Jerusalem, will arise.

We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen. Zion will come only as they happen.

As we are true to our covenants, we become a Zion people, and the places we gather become Zion-like.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Some Assembly Required

ATV Snowplow

We assembled one of these snowplows on my ATV the other day. My dad and I are the most inept of mechanics, but we persisted.

It mounts hanging from an ATV winch, which my machine was not equipped with yet. So I struggled to install one first. I finally succeeded with that project, which had its own challenges. Minor disassembly of the ATV was required, and the instructions were not exactly illuminating.

Some of the suggestions for installation were diabolical in feigned innocence. For example, we were supposed to install backing nuts and washers in strategic locations in order to strengthen the assembly. Problem being, the spots were nearly inaccessible. I needed to borrow Mack from next door to put on a couple of the parts. He is a young boy, with much smaller and more adept hands. He was able to succeed where I failed, and the thing was done.

After the winch struggle was over, I was facing a pile of snowplow parts scattered across the driveway. It would have looked daunting to a whole man - I was trying this virtually one-handed. It occurred to me to anticipate that these parts would be quite heavy, but I wasn't prepared well enough! Some of the pieces weigh a ton, and it was all I could do just to lift them off the ground.

Well, my dad and I decided to put it together in anticipation of impending snowstorms. So we wrestled with it until it looks more or less like the pictures. I assembled and disassembled the latching mechanism for the plow sweep at least four times. I am convinced that I discovered some innovative new ways to put it together wrong. After discovering several ways to assemble the parts in a non-functional manner, we finally discovered the right assembly. It is now ready to challenge the first big snowstorm.

My dad and I also discovered an inadvertent talent for comedy. Just give us a job that requires any mechanical handiness. It is simply hilarious.

My brother's saying used to be, "Hire the handicapped -- they don't get much work done, but they're so much fun to watch!" We proved that aphorism, several times over.

My brother-in-law, Carl, is an engineering professor at BYU. He said he would be glad to help us, and he loves putting gadgets together, but we had already muddled through most of the job when he phoned.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Revisiting Counsel: To Be Healed

Richard G. Scott

I do so desperately wish for healing. The Lord has not granted a quick miracle, but I had high hopes...

This long recovery is very disheartening. I have worked as hard as I can, but the improvements in my physical condition have been very slow in coming. I have sought for things I can do to accelerate the process, but am frustrated in every effort. It makes me wonder if life is worth continuing the struggle, but I read good counsel advising me to keep on. There are always alternatives, but the best choice is outlined by many of our inspired leaders.

One of the sources I rely on is inspired counsel from Apostle Richard G. Scott. Elder Scott often counsels about troubling issues, and gives sincere advice that is honestly delivered from his heart. In this 1994 General Conference address, Elder Scott offers counsel about what to do when healing is needed, and depending on the help of the Lord seems to be the only answer.

Elder Scott explains that help from the Lord always follows eternal law. He asserts that the better we understand that law, the easier it is to receive His help. He presents some of the principles upon which His healing is predicated. Several things can be intended when we discuss healing. It can mean being cured, or having your burdens eased, or even coming to realize that it is worth it to endure to the end patiently.

Elder Scott says some challenges in life will not be resolved here on earth. For example, the Apostle Paul pled thrice that “a thorn in the flesh” be removed. The Lord simply answered, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” He gave Paul strength to compensate so he could live a most meaningful life. The Lord also wants you to learn how to be cured when that is His will, and how to obtain strength to live with your challenge when He intends it to be an instrument for growth. In either case the Redeemer will support you. That is why He said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Elder Scott recommends that when we encounter the feeling that we can do no more, temporarily lay your challenges at His feet. Consult the scriptures learn how. For example, when the oppressed people of Alma “did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts,” the Lord blessed them, saying:

I will … ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that … you cannot feel them, … that ye may know … that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

And … the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord
.


The Lord will give relief with divine power when you seek deliverance in humility and faith in Jesus Christ.

We should not expect gains without effort. Our personal growth requires that. Don’t look for a life virtually free from discomfort, pain, pressure, challenge, or grief, for those are the tools a loving Father uses to stimulate our personal growth and understanding. As the scriptures repeatedly affirm, you will be helped as you exercise faith in Jesus Christ.

That faith is demonstrated by a willingness to trust His promises given through His prophets and in His scriptures, which contain His own words. You may not fully understand how to do this yet, but trust that He will help you use your agency to open the doors for His healing to occur. Faith in Christ means we trust Him; we trust His teachings. That leads to hope, and hope brings charity, the pure love of Christ. We sense that peaceful feeling that comes when we sense His concern, His love, and His capacity to cure us or to ease our burdens with His healing power.

Is there a potentially destructive pattern in your life? When discouraged do you feel overwhelmed and in desperation seek for others to solve your problems, overlooking your own capacity to make much improvement? Do you understand the necessity to do what you can so that the Lord can do what He will to help you?


Elder Scott teaches that our access to the Savior’s help comes in different ways. The most direct and often the most powerful way is through humble, trusting prayers to Father in Heaven, which are answered through the Holy Ghost to our spirit. Yet this help is sometimes difficult to initiate and hard to recognize when you are learning how to pray with faith.

If so, Elder Scott counsels us to begin elsewhere. Trust someone near to you; then as you learn, that trust will extend to God and His healing. He says we should begin with a friend or bishop who understands the teachings of the Savior. Often they have personally obtained healing through application of truth with faith in the Redeemer. Or start by reading, pondering, and applying the teachings of the scriptures. They are a very powerful source of assistance. While examples and anecdotes will help to understand principle, you will find that power comes from scriptural doctrine.

Elder Scott cites several scriptural references:

•“I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.

• “Come unto me with full purpose of heart.

• “Return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you.”

• “Turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, [and] if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”

Elder Scott points out that priesthood leaders cannot fill this need, even if they had the time and inclination. He instructs that priesthood blessings depend upon our faith, purity, and obedience and that of the priesthood holder. These have great effect on the pronouncement and realization of the blessing. Healing can occur in the act, yet more often it occurs over a period of time determined by the faith and obedience of the individual and the will of the Lord.

I learned that Elder Scott believes that the pace of healing is generally set by the individual, not by the Lord. He expects you to use other resources available, including competent professional help when indicated; then He provides the balance needed according to His will.

Elder Scott asserts that the power of love is a potent healer. He warns that Satan would separate you from the power of the love of God, kindred, and friends, who want to help. Satan would lead you to feel that the walls are pressing in around you and there is no escape or relief. He wants you to believe you lack the capacity to help yourself and that no one else is really interested. If he succeeds, you will be driven to further despair and heartache. His strategy is to have you think you are not appreciated, loved, or wanted so that you in despair will turn to self-criticism, and in the extreme even to despising yourself and feeling evil when you are not. This counsel particularly hits home, and reminds me to remember that discouragement is a tool that the adversary will use against us.

As a remedy to these feelings, Elder Scott counsels us to remember that the wisdom of the Lord is greater than the cunning of the devil. If you have such bleak and dark thoughts, break through those helpless feelings by reaching out in love to another in need. That may sound cruel and unfeeling when you long so much for healing, but it is based upon truth. Paul taught, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

We need to look outside of our own concerns to find healing love. You become an instrument through which the Lord can bless another. The Spirit will let you feel the Savior’s concern and interest, then the warmth and strength of His love. President Kimball said: “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.”

When you are worthy, a challenge becomes a contribution to growth, not a barrier to it. Yet no matter what the source of difficulty and no matter how you begin to obtain relief—through a qualified professional therapist, doctor, priesthood leader, friend, concerned parent, or loved one—no matter how you begin, those solutions will never provide a complete answer. The final healing comes through faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and obedience to His commandments. That is why human reaction to challenge in life that engenders hatred, despondency, distrust, anger, or revenge must be supplanted by the tender mercies of a loving Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son.

Elder Scott wisely advises us that though anguish in our life sometimes comes from evil acts of others, the offended is not the one to initiate punishment or retribution. We should leave it to others who have that responsibility. Learn to forgive; though terribly hard, it will release you and open the way to a newness of life. This is such a beautiful concept -- the world would be a much nicer place, if more of us believed in it.

Elder Scott summarizes,
...do what you can do a step at a time. Seek to understand the principles of healing from the scriptures and through prayer. Help others. Forgive. “Submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” Above all, exercise faith in Jesus Christ.


Elder Scott concludes,

If you are caught on a plateau of spiritual healing and don’t seem to be making progress, if you seem to be constantly dependent on another mortal for support, look up in faith to Jesus Christ. I know that the Master loves you and will heal you according to your faith in Him.


I do not know how many others find such counsel to be an invaluable guide. I personally have chosen to continue, striving to overcome the health obstacles and challenges in my life, partly in response to such counsel.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Marriage Controversy No Problem

Samuel the Lamanite proclaims truth

I may not be a rocket scientist, but even I can read the signs. There is a great deal of needless confusion about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

Church leaders have counselled us sufficiently on the subject. There is no confusion regarding the doctrine of the church, nor any mystery about the source of confusing messages. In the June 2006 issue of the Ensign, Elder David A.Bednar gave the following instruction.

Lucifer relentlessly assails and distorts the doctrines that matter most to us individually, to our families, and to the world. Where is the adversary focusing his most direct and diabolical attacks? Satan works unremittingly to confuse understanding about gender, to promote the premature and unrighteous use of procreative power, and to hinder righteous marriage precisely because marriage is ordained of God and the family is central to the plan of happiness. The adversary’s attacks upon eternal marriage will continue to increase in intensity, frequency, and sophistication.

According to Elder Bednar, advocates of gender confusion are promoting Lucifer's attack on the Savior's plan of happiness. We need not suffer from any confusion about the source of questions and casting doubt on the issues. It is one of the tactics of our adversary to cloud every issue with doubt.

We learn more about Satan's tactics in the message of the Book of Mormon. Elder Bednar asserts...
Because today we are engaged in a war for the welfare of marriage and the home, in my latest reading of the Book of Mormon I paid particular attention to the ways the Nephites prepared for their battles against the Lamanites. I noted that the people of Nephi “were aware of the intent of [their enemy], and therefore they did prepare to meet them” (Alma 2:12; italics added). As I read and studied, I learned that understanding the intent of an enemy is a key prerequisite to effective preparation. We likewise should consider the intent of our enemy in this latter-day war.

Thus we understand that those who spread confusion and advocate radical change in the law of the land are minions of the adversary, whether wittingly or not. Those who are confused by the tumult deserve our reassurance that Heavenly Father is over all, and he will prosper the cause.
The Father’s plan is designed to provide direction for His children, to help them become happy, and to bring them safely home to Him. Lucifer’s attacks on the plan are intended to make the sons and daughters of God confused and unhappy and to halt their eternal progression. The overarching intent of the father of lies is that all of us would become “miserable like unto himself” (2 Ne. 2:27), and he works to warp the elements of the Father’s plan he hates the most. Satan does not have a body, he cannot marry, and he will not have a family. And he persistently strives to confuse the divinely appointed purposes of gender, marriage, and family. Throughout the world, we see growing evidence of the effectiveness of Satan’s efforts.

We don't have to let the devil win this fight unopposed. There are sufficient resources, and enough advocates for the truth to rally in support of this campaign.
More recently the devil has attempted to combine and legally validate confusion about gender and marriage. As we look beyond mortality and into eternity, it is easy to discern that the counterfeit alternatives the adversary advocates can never lead to the completeness that is made possible through the sealing together of a man and a woman, to the happiness of righteous marriage, to the joy of posterity, or to the blessing of eternal progression.

Elder Bednar offers this encouragement to us all.
Given what we know about our enemy’s intent, each of us should be especially vigilant in seeking personal inspiration as to how we can protect and safeguard our own marriages—and how we can learn and teach correct principles in the home and in our Church assignments about the eternal significance of gender and of the role of marriage in the Father’s plan.

In short, there is no reason to feel any further doubt about this controversy. Do not be taken in by the sophisticated arguments of opponents to traditional marriage. They are on the wrong side, and their cause will fail. They will never find the happiness they seek, which the Lord has promised to the ever-faithful.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Climbing: Freedom of the Hills








A powerful longing afflicts my heart these days. Today we went up into the mountains to cut firewood for winter. I realized while I was there that I love being there, but I am not free in my heart as I once felt in the forest. I cannot climb the hills freely as I once did without question or thinking. It is a terrible, compromising transformation. Whereas I once roamed unrestrained by anything but my strength, I now find myself fettered at every step.



It makes me unutterably saddened and weary beyond measure. I long for the naive and innocent freedom I used to find such joy in. I seek the untouched purity of the highest heights.



An elusive object to pursue, I have the feeling that I will continue this quest to the end of my days.

 Teton Sunset, from Jackson Hole

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament



Elder Dallin H. Oaks instructed us in his conference address concerning practices involving our administration and partaking of the sacrament.
By participating weekly and appropriately in the ordinance of the sacrament we qualify for the promise that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77). That Spirit is the foundation of our testimony. It testifies of the Father and the Son, brings all things to our remembrance, and leads us into truth. It is the compass to guide us on our path. This gift of the Holy Ghost, President Wilford Woodruff taught, “is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man” (Deseret Weekly, Apr. 6, 1889, 451).
Elder Oaks expressed concern that some do not approach the sacrament with the proper attitude of worship and reverence. He reiterates counsel intended to help us maintain that attitude. First, prepare ourselves to partake of the sacrament in quiet reverence. Elder Oaks reminds us that the sacrament was instituted to replace the blood sacrifice of live animals.

Instead, “ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20).  That commandment, repeated in the modern revelation directing us to partake of the sacrament each week, tells us how we should prepare.

Our partaking is in remembrance of the Savior's atoning sacrifice, and we should remind ourselves of that.

Our manner of dress is an important part of preparation for the sacrament, and it reflects how well we understand the importance of this sacred ordinance.

During sacrament meeting, we should avoid pursuits that would detract in any way from our reflecting on the Savior's atonement.
During sacrament meeting—and especially during the sacrament service—we should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others. Even a person who slips into quiet slumber does not interfere with others. Sacrament meeting is not a time for reading books or magazines. Young people, it is not a time for whispered conversations on cell phones or for texting persons at other locations. When we partake of the sacrament, we make a sacred covenant that we will always remember the Savior. How sad to see persons obviously violating that covenant in the very meeting where they are making it.
 The music accompanying the preparation for the ordinance should be selected as a reminder of the purposes for partaking of the sacrament.

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “This is an occasion when the gospel should be presented, when we should be called upon to exercise faith, and to reflect on the mission of our Redeemer, and to spend time in the consideration of the saving principles of the gospel, and not for other purposes. Amusement, laughter, light-mindedness, are all out of place in the sacrament meetings of the Latter-day Saints. We should assemble in the spirit of prayer, of meekness, with devotion in our hearts” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:342).


The sacrament is the ordinance that replaced the blood sacrifices and burnt offerings of the Mosaic law, and with it came the Savior’s promise: “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 9:20).

Elder Oaks addressed concerns specific to those who administer the ordinances.

Young men who officiate in the ordinance of the sacrament should be worthy. The Lord has said: “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:42). The scriptural warning about partaking of the sacrament unworthily (see 1 Corinthians 11:29; 3 Nephi 18:29) surely applies also to those who officiate in that ordinance. In administering discipline to Church members who have committed serious sins, a bishop can temporarily withdraw the privilege of partaking of the sacrament. That same authority is surely available to withdraw the privilege of officiating in that sacred ordinance.

Elder Oaks made it clear that long-standing counsel about how the young men should dress is still applicable.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a valuable teaching on this subject in general conference 13 years ago. Since most of our current deacons were not even born when these words were last spoken here, I repeat them for their benefit and that of their parents and teachers: “May I suggest that wherever possible a white shirt be worn by the deacons, teachers, and priests who handle the sacrament. For sacred ordinances in the Church we often use ceremonial clothing, and a white shirt could be seen as a gentle reminder of the white clothing you wore in the baptismal font and an anticipation of the white shirt you will soon wear into the temple and onto your missions” (This Do in Remembrance of Me).

Elder Oaks makes the closing point that those who officiate at the sacrament table, prepare the sacrament, or pass it to the congregation should be designated by one who holds or exercises the keys of this ordinance. They must be authorized to administer this ordinance by one who holds the keys -- either bishop or branch president.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Go Ye Therefore


Sister Sylvia Allred teaches about how to be prepared for missionary work:

* If you have children at home, help prepare them for missionary service.
* Prepare yourself for missionary service.
* Invite family and friends to listen to the missionaries or to attend our Church meetings and activities.
* Accompany the missionaries to investigators’ homes, or invite the missionaries to teach nonmembers in your home.
* Invite people to a family home evening in your home.
* Invite people to a family history center, or help them do family history research.
* Give referrals to the missionaries. Members can be the greatest and best source of referrals.
* Share your beliefs and testimony with nonmember friends and family.
* Seek for opportunities to reach out to others.
* Extend friendship to investigators and new converts.
* Give your best efforts to finding those who are seeking the truth.
* If you have family members or friends on missions, send them letters of love and encouragement, and pray for them.

We can all participate in missionary work. This is the Lord’s work, and He will help us do it. His gospel has to go to every nation, and we can be instruments in His hands to bless the lives of others by sharing with them His truth. We will be greatly blessed in the process.

Rehab progress 22

I have every evidence that rehabilitation is progressing normally, albiet very slowly. It is a challenging difficulty to continue in the exercises and routine, though I would dearly love to say that I am recovered. Too many problems yet remain.

I am encouraged that my balance and dizzyness seem to have improved so dramatically over the past few days. I was making the complaint to my physical therapist, Ben Robinson, that I can walk for long distances over an extended time period, when I have something to hang onto when I threaten to fall, but I cannot successfully walk across the room. That problem seems to have gotten much better this week. Although I still teeter and weave like a drunk man, I have a lot less to complain about. I told Ben that I think he worked some kind of voodoo spell on me, so abrupt were the changes. Maybe it is mostly imagined, but it seems I have a lot better time navigating. We went to the forest on Monday afternoon to collect more firewood for the winter, and I was able to work without being tripped up or falling down. The improvement was enough that I cannot deny, things are looking good. I only wish a few of the other problems I am having would respond so quickly and positively.