Who I am

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I fall under a lot of different labels.  Professionally, I am referred to as a Specialist in Neuro-Rehabilitation – and I am especially interested in neuroplasticity, which is how the brain changes and recovers from injury.  My labels include physical therapist, neurophysiologist, mom, wife, sister, friend, costume creator, elementary school tutor, pickle ball player, trail builder, gardener, skier, hiker and a whole bunch more.

I just published a book:  Highs, Lows, and Plateaus: a path to recovery from stroke.  To learn more about my professional self – read this book.  Thing is, my professional self kind of sums up my personal self.  I love to learn and I love to share what I learn with others!  I really do believe in the power of self and personal resilience.

As a mom, I have tried to help my daughters bloom and as a wife I have tried to be a best friend to this really fun, smart guy.  One of my daughters has Ulcerative Colitis.  She was diagnosed at age 13 and we are determined to beat it.  She also just wrote a book – so proud of her.  Very inspiring story called,   I’mpossible: my personal journey of living with Ulcerative Colitis. 

When I am not working or being a mom, I love helping out at our local schools.  For the middle school – which is a performing arts charter – I sew costumes for the spring musical put on by the 7th and 8th graders.  This is really rewarding because at the start of the rehearsals, the kids are shy and walk with rounded shoulders – many of them hiding behind their own selves.  But by the time the curtains are drawn on opening night those kids have transformed into proud, confident young people!

At our local elementary school, I tutor kids who have difficulty learning to read and write.  I use all of the brain games I know from my professional work and that has been really successful!  The kids learn to read and write and their lives are changed.  That is cool.

To blow off steam, I love to garden and work on a long trail that I have built (with help from a neighbor I hired). The trail weaves from our house to a creek at the bottom of the canyon. Using a weed whacker, shovel, and pick-ax are great not only for the body but also for the mind.  I also love to hike with my dogs, ski, play pickle ball, and host parties at our house.

I am so fortunate that my days are spent doing what I love.

 

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My inspiration for writing “Highs, Lows, and Plateaus”!

The brain is amazing and the strength and resilience of the human psyche is equally as amazing.  In writing this book, I hoped to provide a framework for understanding the stages and process of recovery to inspire stroke survivors and their families to move along the path of recovery. There will be highs, lows and plateaus.  It is a long path, but the resilience of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me.

It is not at all uncommon to hear a doctor or other health care provider tell families that most recovery takes place in the first six months.  That is true, but most of the swelling and irritation of the brain decreases allowing the brain to recover some function.  Also, in the first few months, patients tend to have the most intensive rehab.

Unfortunately, too many survivors are told that they have reached a “plateau” in their recovery. Often it sounds like a bad word – like something terrible has happened. Nobody wants to hear that they have “plateaued”!

This can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy: “Since improvement is not expected, let’s not work toward more improvement.”

To this I say, BUNK!!  Our knowledge base has increased, the tools available for rehabilitation have proliferated, and our society has come to expect more.

A plateau is not a bad thing. A plateau is a point in the recovery when the nervous system has reached a stable state.  The nervous system is consolidating its’ learning and preparing for the next stage of recovery.

This book summarizes a series of lectures that I have presented for many years to health care professionals.  I have found that they listen with great intent but then do not share the information with the people who need it the most – stroke survivors and their families.  So, with in writing this book, I wanted to help people to understand the process of recovery and to provide them with resources to direct their own recovery. I wanted to engage the reader in a conversation, to empower them with information, and to provide hope and inspiration.