Sunday, December 6, 2009

The “Merry Christmas” Plan

Original Written:   Dec. 6, 2009
Vol. 1, Issue 10

Hello Everyone and Merry Christmas to You All! 

I wanted to share something special with you. It was something that I did with my boys one Christmas. We called it "The Plan" and it gave us so much joy and taught our kids a valuable lesson about giving selflessly. I'm telling you this now because I thought maybe you would be able to do the same with your kids and get the same joy in return! 

There have been times in my life's journey when God sent people in my path to help my family and me.  Sometimes this was in the form of financial support, prayer, friendship or some other special way.  It always happened just when I was at the end of my rope and needed God's help. Sometimes they were people I never knew.  But, it was clear to me that whatever assistance was being given; the timing was unmistakably God's hand moving people to where they needed to be so He could help me in His divine way.

One year when we were blessed to have a little extra money.  I was working at a place where I knew of a family who was going to have an extremely slim Christmas.  The family consisted of a single mom who was the victim of a traumatic injury and was raising a child on her own.  Something about this family touched my heart and I wanted to do something special for them.  I also wanted to teach my sons about doing things for others without expecting anything in return.  We got together and devised "The Plan." 

Now there were a few rules to follow in accomplishing “The Plan.”  I'm technically breaking one of those rules now, but after all these years, I think the boys understood the lesson.  My motivation is to pass on what we learned, not to pat myself on the back in any way. Perhaps my story will inspire someone else who reads this. So here is the story that I lovingly refer to as: 

†  THE PLAN  †

† Step #1                  For the plan to work, the boys would have to agree to tell NO ONE what we did. Not even their friends at school. It was not to leave our family. If they did, then that meant the secret would be out and all of a sudden what we did for someone else became more about us and less about the family in need.

† Step #2          We took ourselves to the store and spent what we could afford. We purchased a few gifts for the child, some clothing, and much needed cash for the single mom, along with a card that we carefully selected.  The card was filled with encouragement and scripture of God's promise to care for us in times of trouble.  We signed the card "May God Watch Over You! Merry Christmas from A Family Who Cares"

† Step #3     I instructed the boys that to deliver the gifts, we would need to park in the street next door to the "target" house. It was only the mom and son at home. I couldn't take the chance of being recognized, so my two older boys (who were about nine and ten at the time) would be making the delivery. So we drove to our target. During that drive we spoke of the joys of giving to others who were less fortunate and also we spoke about Matthew 6 vs. 3-4a "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your charitable deed may be done in secret...". In other words, let our good works be done in secret before the Lord.  Not to bring glory to ourselves, but to bring glory to the Lord.  I wanted them to learn early on that giving to others in need is the same as giving an offering to the Lord.  We don't glorify ourselves or boast about it.  By not allowing them to tell anyone, including their friends, they would always have that knowledge in their hearts.

† Step #4          When we arrived, we positioned the car so I could see them, but whoever answered the door wouldn't be able to see the car as we made our "getaway". The boys then took the gifts and the card with the cash, rang the bell and handed it to the little boy who answered the door.  They hollered "Merry Christmas" and took off running back to me and we left before they could see who we really were. 

To this day I will never forget the smiles on the faces of MY children!  They were grinning from ear to ear!  The family had no idea who we might be, where we came from or how we heard about their situation.  They still don't to this day, I'm most certain of it. But they have blessed my boys and me richly. 

Every year at about this time, I remember what we did together that Christmas.  It was such a blessing to my children and me.  It was our little secret to keep!  So now our secret is out to share with you in hopes that perhaps you may be inspired somehow to do something similar with your child or children this season.  It doesn't have to be big, elaborate, or fancy.  But making “The Plan” anonymous, and keeping all glory and focus on the Lord in turn blessed us in ways that we did not expect. 

My blessing was the joy in my heart that my children had learned the gift of giving to others without the need of personal recognition. Knowing that the Lord had given us more than we needed that year was another blessing.  We were even more grateful to be able to share what He had given to us with others.

So as people scurry around this year and fulfill their Christmas shopping lists, let's not forget the greatest gift of all. The small Babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manager. Jesus Christ, God's greatest gift for ALL of mankind.

Merry Christmas to you all and may you be blessed this holiday season!


© Robynn “Bobbie” Dinse / Bobbie’s World Blogs
Please note that this short story is copyrighted and should not be reprinted in any form without permission from the author
Feel free to link to "Bobbie's World Blogs"
Thank you!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dealing With Spammers Who Claim To Have The Cure For FMS

Original Written: Dec. 2, 2009
Vol. 1, Issue 9

I hope that you all had a very blessed Thanksgiving holiday and this finds you all doing well and preparing for Christmas! Today I want to touch on a subject that has been a big debate as of late on the FMS support groups on Facebook™. I'm sure other groups on other venues are not immune either, but this still applies. I want to discuss the issue of people who come on to FMS support boards for the purpose of selling, or "spamming," products that they claim will "cure" Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I would like to share my thoughts on the subject.

As an infant, I was placed for adoption with two wonderful but very special parents. Both my mother and my father had something happen to them in their teenage years that placed them in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives. So as a child, parents from wheelchairs raised me. Now over the years, we encountered more "faith healers" then I care to remember. We are a Christian family and are very dedicated to the LORD, but we don't believe that Mom and Dad were punished. While we believed that the LORD could reach down from heaven and miraculously reconnect dad's spinal cord, or reverse the damage polio did to the nerves in my mother's body, we did not waste precious energy expecting that to happen. Instead, we went on with life and adapted the best way we could. We focused on what we had and did not worry about things that were out of our control.

So, why am I am telling you all of this and what does it have to do with spammers and scammers? Well, my parents were fiercely independent people. They both drove cars, graduated from college, Dad got a great job and bought our house. Mom stayed home and raised my sister and I. They did all of the cleaning, cooking, shopping, and all the normal everyday errands that everyone else has to do. So, we were in public with our parents a lot and encountered a lot of people who wanted to "cure" them. Specifically, being in the Bible belt of America, we encountered a lot of "faith healers". I'll never forget the time my dad was approached by a man who said, "If you just pray hard enough and come to my church, give an offering to the Lord and let me lay my hands upon you, you will be HEALED." To which my dad said, "What makes you think I want to be healed? I'm doing just fine, thanks, now my meat is spoiling I need to drive myself home and put away my groceries." He didn't get angry. Dad hardly ever raised his voice.

People who attempt to make money by sneaking into support forums on the internet have no tact and are no better than "ambulance chasers" to quote a friend of mine. If what they have really cures FMS, they wouldn't be in our support groups. They would be sitting in their mansion or flying to Paris on their private jet because they had made billions of dollars from having cured millions of people of a disease that is, at the moment, officially classified as incurable. I have far more respect for those people who have had success in managing their symptoms, create their own groups and are upfront and honest about what they are offering. They give you a choice, to join or not join. The choice is yours.

Now, just like my Dad, we all have brains. We have a choice. Rather, we have an OBLIGATION, to use our brain when we cross paths with people who try to take advantage of us. Perhaps they just want our money, or need to boost failing egos, or for whatever reason feel some need to cross our personal boundaries and interfere in our care. Whatever their motives may be, if we focus on just a few basic facts then it will all be just fine. Our money will stay in our pockets and our dignity will remain intact.

So let's break this down. If you encounter someone wanting to sell you miracle supplements, or get you into some type of marketing pyramid program with promises of a cure, remember the following:

1. We have FMS, not brain damage.

2. We have choices. It's your body, you have a right as to what happens to it. You have an obligation to take care of it to the best of your ability.

3. Do your OWN research. Never just take someone else's word for it, especially over the internet! For example, I could create a fake profile right now and make myself a PhD, MD, Homeopathic Super Scientist, a Life Coach with a double Masters, or whatever else I wanted to be. But, for all you would know I could be some sleezy little man, sitting in a room with multiple computers, scamming multiple people for millions of dollars. At the same time I might be cutting splinters out of my desk and selling them on eBay as relics from the REAL cross of Jesus! Never blindly give anyone authority over you or your body. There are very few people that get my respect when it comes to my body and my health.

4. If you are on ANY prescription medications, don't start any supplement without clearing it with your doctor first. Doctors spend a lot of time and money in school and take examinations to obtain their license to practice medicine for a reason. Your doctor is working for you and there should be an excellent line of communication with him/her. Unless approved by the FDA, you have no idea exactly what is contained in that supplement you are getting and neither will your doctor. This means the possible interactions are unknown.

5. There is a big difference between controlling your symptoms and a cure. About the end of July every year I start to wonder if maybe they diagnosed me incorrectly, then the weather changes and I realize that I am wrong. I still have FMS, my symptoms are just not as bad in the heat of summer.

6. Remember, living healthy is different from "cured". "Healthy choices" means something different to everyone. So listen (or read) carefully when someone is talking to you about healthy choices regarding your FMS. Just because they are offering healthy choices, that does not necessarily mean they are after your money or trying to scam or cure you. Sometimes you can learn something new that will help you to feel better or gain more control over your symptoms without giving up a dime. We can only read actions we don't know hearts. Would you like to be attacked and criticized unjustly? Of course not, so just be careful not to jump the gun by throwing the baby out with the bath water. No one can hurt you if you are using your brain and are aware of what to watch for. You might be angry, that's okay. It's what you DO with that anger that is either going to make you look like a raving lunatic, or someone with strength and dignity.

So I choose to be SMART, be KIND, be RESPECTFUL. Will you join me? Even to the people who come into our world trying to sell us products or services to cure our FMS. t is my opinion that they do so at the expense of their reputations. The truth will come out eventually and by knowing what to look for and doing your research, you will protect your health and your wallet.

Blessings and good health!


© Robynn “Bobbie” Dinse / Bobbie’s World Blogs
Please note that this short story is copyrighted and should not be reprinted in any form without permission from the author
Feel free to link to “"Bobbie's World Blogs"
Thank you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dave Ryan - Think Before You Speak

Originally Written:  Oct. 20, 2009
Vol. 1, Issue 8

Dear Friends,

Earlier this month [Oct. 2009] an on air radio personality, Dave Ryan, Twittered a comment that "People With Fibromyalgia Should be Shot". I would like to stress that he has since apologized; however, I have developed an unexpected resolve to bringing awareness to FMS and other invisible illnesses. I hope to help educate the healthy world how these diseases can impact a person’s life. So, in this blog I have included a copy of my email response to him, as well as two links, one is to Jen Reynolds' video response to Dave Ryan and Clear Channel Communications, as well as a link to my video, which exposes my story to the world.

Let's just hope that more people are compassionate and understanding and I don't find myself shot the next time I leave a plane! My last flight was horrific and I had to be helped down the skyway.

On a side note - Dave, thank you for the apology. I should also thank you for bringing attention to a disease that is so commonly misunderstood. Perhaps now people will think twice when they hear the word Fibromyalgia, and instead of scoffing, they will stop and be thankful for their blessings of good health.

In that regard, here are the links to the videos:
(Jen's video)

(my video response)

Finally, this is my personal email to Dave Ryan.

Dear Dave,

I would like to share a little about myself with you. I've heard a lot about you and thought maybe you should learn a little about me.

I'm presently a member of an all ladies drill team. Well, to be more specific, I'm a small part of a 2 time/back to back National Championship Drill team. My son is a member of their Advanced Youth team, which also won the Youth National Championship this last June in Tyler, TX. 

Since I cannot ride hard on back-to-back days because of my health, in fairness to the team I have chosen to provide ground support at large competitions and I ride with the team in parades to help raise money for the trips to competitions. I'm always there in the background, providing support to all the ladies who have accomplished what no other drill team has EVER done.

Three weeks ago, my son and I rode a 16 mile trail ride fundraiser called "Hooves for the Cure" to raise funds for breast cancer research. There would be two different groups, a two hour ride and a five hour ride. We took the long ride. We were told to go 16 miles in 5 hours we would have to "trot" a little. Well, that was an understatement. We had to flat out lope and gallop a large portion of the ride. We started out with 38, many dropped out in the middle, but not me, not my son. We stayed and rode the whole 16 miles, walk, trot or gallop. I was going to finish it for the memory of a former drill team member, in fact the horse I ride once belonged to her before she died from cancer the year I joined. Also, we rode for a former co-worker who survived breast cancer twice and now is 10 years down the road and still cancer free. We rode fast and hard, the greatest way to ride! I loved every moment of it and let myself feel the freedom of riding across the countryside with the wind in my hair. At the moment I felt truly alive, free, and perhaps pure joy.

All the while on this trail ride, I was thinking wouldn't it be nice if something like this was done for research of FMS/CFS/Lupus? All the invisible illnesses that we still don't know how to cure?
You need to know even more about me. I am a survivor as well. Not of breast cancer, but I have survived a serious car accident that took everything away from me in 2002. I had a severe neck injury and now I have a plate fused in my neck. I thought once I was done with that surgery I could get back to living, but that wasn’t the case. There was this disease that I had no knowledge of. Two years later, I developed FMS as a result of that devastating auto wreck. I lost almost everything, my career, my health, my friendships at that time.
I rebuilt a new life in it's place. That's when I first met the Rangerettes and began to pursue my passion for horses. If you see me on a plane, you won't know I have FMS. But if you want to say 'hi" or exchange a smile or kind word, you can recognize me by my western boots and the Championship belt buckle I may be wearing. The buckle was given to me by my teammates out of appreciation for my hard work and support at the competition. Even they did not know I have FMS until this year.

I'm not going to slam you for your comments. I just wanted to put a face on the disorder. We all say things in the heat of the moment without thinking.
Were you thinking? Will you think now? Please, please help us turn this into something positive for the millions of FMS survivors who are NOT as fortunate as me. Who did not get the care they need or are lost and don't know where to turn. We need to raise awareness in a positive way. Can you help us with that?

Would you care to?
Please think of me often. I'll be the one riding the big black horse, knowing that tomorrow I'll pay for it, but living life in that moment.
Thanks, Dave.

R. Dinse

To all my readers, I hope that this finds you well and looking forward to a blessed holiday season. If you take anything away from this blog, please let it be empathy and compassion for others. We can't know someone's circumstances unless we are walking in their shoes.

Blessings to you all!

© Robynn “Bobbie” Dinse / Bobbie’s World Blogs
Please note that this short story is copyrighted and should not be reprinted in any form without permission from the author.  
Feel free to link to "Bobbie's World Blogs"
Thank you!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Horses, Friends, Teammates and Dedication. Our USEDC Success Story

Originally Written:  July 22, 2009
Vol. 1, Issue 7

Welcome back, Everyone! 

I hope you are all well and enjoying your summer!  I’ve been away from my writing lately as I’ve been out of town and recovering from our exciting trip to the United States Equestrian Drill Competition - the National Championships held near Lindale, Texas.

Since the beginning of February, our team members have braved freezing temps, walked through pastures to catch horses in sub-freezing wind chills, loaded them before we changed our minds, then headed to some nearby arena, (hopefully indoors) to get to drill practices so we would be “up to speed” for Nationals. Eventually, Old Man Winter would say his goodbyes and the cold wind would give way to high heat, humidity and sunburn.  Our ever-faithful horses performed like troopers.  They probably adjusted faster to the changes and the physical demands with far less complaints than we did.

Cold temperatures are my worst enemy since my diagnoses with FMS.  There were some practices that all I could do was sit in the chair with a blanket and pray that when I got back up, my muscles would actually do what I told them to do.  Riding in those temperatures for me was out of the question.  Those times were strictly for Peyton and done out of love for him.  I would watch my son ride from the sidelines.  On these cold practice days, I would pay dearly the next day.  The knowledge of hot temperatures just around the corner kept my hope alive and I persevered.

Why do I put my body through this?  Well that’s easy.  I love my son dearly and I would do anything I could for him.  I have a deep passion for horses and have all of my life.  Truth be told, I love this team.  Some of the members are so dear to my heart I couldn’t even begin to tell them how I feel.  I just don’t have the words.   So I keep that inside, like a safe treasure only for me to hold.  Many of the veterans of this team I consider mentors, not just to me, but true examples for new riders of all ages.

This year there was a lot of excitement, new friendships were made and great times were had.  While there have been groundbreaking changes and thrilling successes, it hasn’t been an easy year by any means.  It has been hard for many of the people on the team.  Some members have been overworked, some are riding with injuries, and all of us were struggling with our children's church programs, school schedules and conflicts with performance schedules.  There were times when tempers were short, but the teams pulled together as always, to do what they do best, ride the drill.

I joined our drill team in 2005 when I was invited to ride in a parade late in the season. I loved it so much that the next year I purchased my horse and continued riding with the team in parades when I could.  It was that next season that Peyton also fell in love with my horse Filly and with a little encouragement he joined the youth drill team.  It only took one practice and he was hooked, just like his mom.

Since I rode in that first parade, there have been many changes in our club.  I have watched a team that was struggling to get enough people to win parades, loose a few teammates, and then come back strong the next season with 10, then 12 drill riders, and as of now we have 16 official riders, with several riders lined up eager to fill backup positions in a moments notice.  We have had to turn people away because there just has not been the room. 

We have also had fabulous blessings.  This team was the first ever to win two back-to-back National Championships.  In addition, the team won three consecutive Rodeo Division 1st Place Titles, and two consecutive Ride of Champions, quest for the SuperCup wins!   We have come a long way in those five years.  A team once severed almost in two, pulled together and came back stronger than ever.   Why?  I think it’s love and respect.  Love for the horses, love for the drill.  Respect for each other.  I believe that is the secret to the success of this team.  They rise and fall TOGETHER!

We added a youth team last year so our kids could ride instead of sit and watch their mothers and grandmothers compete.  They did well that first year with 8 members at Nationals and 10 at Regionals.  All along there would be sacrifices.  Equipment is expensive, uniforms and hats are costly, gas was almost $4.50 a gallon and pulling a trailer full of horses all over the country doesn’t get you the best gas mileage.  There were hotel rooms to pay for, stall fees, shavings and in some cases you had to pay just to get in to the event you were riding.  Meals on the road add up and take a chunk out of your pocket book.  But, every child deserves something to pursue.  I loved every moment I spent with my family as we drove to events and watched performances.  I did a little riding myself.  Last year I carried the team flag during grand entry at a local rodeo and had the time of my life.

This season [2009], we have been blessed with so many eager young children that we were able to put together a youth novice team of 8 and a youth advanced team of 12.  These children are the future of drill.  They will be the ones who keep the sport alive when we are too old and broken to perform at such a demanding level.

Our Novice team came in an impressive 3rd place at Nationals.  The Advanced Youth team captured the Advanced Youth Division Championship that eluded them last year by only a few points.  There were tears of joy, exhaustion and pride from both parents and children.  This is a family sport and by the time you get this far into competition, well, you become somewhat of a family.  I’ll never forget the smiles on the little faces of the 7 year old girls as they proudly carried their ribbons to mom and dad.  I still tear up when I see the three ribbons won by my son’s team, and I think of all the other teams that worked just as hard and are just as deserving of that respect.

While I would have loved to ride with these wonderful ladies on the adult team, I know that my disease will not be conducive to this sport.   That is okay with me.   It was in the beginning and it still is okay.  It’s okay for the same reasons.  Love.  Love for the horses and the sport.  I’m perfectly content to ride my horse on my own and enjoy the parades. I cheer the team on from the sidelines, just as the rest of the families do, and I love it just as much.  I also get tremendous joy out of assisting the team as part of their ground crew.  From water, to holding horses, to switching out tack, you name it I’m there to help out!  I want these teams to succeed!  If I can help in some small part, it is my honor for these wonderful families.

It is my hope that someday my disease will somehow be put in check so I can compete and enjoy that same thrill and excitement of success.  But, until that time comes, there is enough love in my heart to go around and be thrilled for all those out there giving their best and leaving their heart and soul out there in the arena dirt!

See you all next year!


[Writer’s note:  As of June 2011, the ladies team has won the Ride of Champions three out of the four years it has been in existence.   They hold three Division 1 National Titles and 3 Rodeo Division Championships.  The youth team returned to capture the Advanced Youth Division 6 Championship again in 2010.   The new youth team, a mixture of a few advanced and a few very young riders received ribbons and placed very well considering the age and experience they have had.]

© Robynn “Bobbie” Dinse / Bobbie’s World Blogs
Please note that this short story is copyrighted and should not be reprinted in any form without permission from the author.   
Feel free to link to “"Bobbie's World Blogs"
Thank you!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Father's Day Tribute, A Daughter Remembers

Originally Written:  June 21, 2009
Vol 1, Issue 6

Happy Father's Day, Everyone!

I hope you all had a restful and enjoyable week. I've been thinking a lot about my Dad, it’s only normal. Who wouldn't be thinking of their dad on Father's Day? I recently lost my father. We all knew he was in his last years, but it was sudden and very unexpected. I gain comfort knowing he is in heaven with Christ Jesus and I will see him again someday. I still miss him terribly, as does my step mom, Diane. To him, she was a gift that he had waited for all his life. It was mutual, they brought out the best in each other and his death has left an empty hole in her life and all those close to him. The 16 years they shared together were precious and their love touched all of us, their family, friends and co-workers alike.

He was an amazing man and lived well into his 60's, which given his circumstances was a miracle in itself.

If you have been reading my stories, you know that my Mom and Dad were both confined to wheelchairs in their teenage years. As a small girl, I recall my mom was the one to explained things to us about their physical circumstances. You know all the little questions we had like "How? What? Where?" and of course, "Why?" Dad's answers were never clear to us, at least not at that time. He would always say things like, "So what? Why not?" or "What does it matter?

One beautiful Saturday afternoon, while riding horses at my uncle’s place (I was about 8 or 9 years old), Dad asked if I wanted him to ride with me. I quickly responded with "But, you can't." Whoops! Dad asked me "Why not?" He was persistent...he repeated that question at least ten times until I started opening my mind to the possibility. Then I asked him the right question: "How could we do that?" He then gave me his ideas of how it could be done. I think he could have done it, too. No doubt in my mind. Let’s just say it involved a pulley system to get him up there, ropes to help keep his legs in place and some very imaginative ideas!

But, Dad didn't really want to ride that day. I was afraid to ride bareback and after galloping back across the pasture, I had asked for the saddle. He was trying to teach me something more important. In less than ideal situations, I need to look for other ways of overcoming challenges and doing things. Not assume that I can't do it because it might be hard or frightening. I needed to challenge myself.

Why not? So what? What does it matter?

You could sum up Dad's level of determination by those few short questions.

Dad never talked of his accident. What little detail of Dad's auto accident that I can recall (as it was told to me by mom) is that he fell asleep while driving his car (or truck...I never knew) on the rural highways that wind through far Northern Montana. He was apparently traveling into town when this happened and drove off the road and down into a steep ravine. I'm not sure if he remembered it, but he was trapped in his car for hours, upside down, with a broken back. He would never walk again and lost all feeling from the waist down. Dad never spoke of this experience with me. The one time he came close, he instead spoke of my grandmother, his stepmother, the woman he considered lovingly, Mom.

I recall Dad saying that if it wasn't for her, he would have given up and never done anything more with his life. She was the one that kept pushing him forward. She never allowed dad to say he wanted to die, although he felt like it at times. She said he had a future. She said, "There is nothing you can do about it now, it can't be changed, so don't waste your time worrying over it."

She was so right. No amount of worry or regret can change yesterday. We have precious little control over what happens next.

Like Grandma, Dad didn't give up either. He didn't stop living and waste away as a recluse inside the same log cabin in which he was born. He spent well over a year rehabilitating. A lot of that time was spent far away from home, away from the large family and the ranch life he was comfortable with. He eventually learned to accept the life that had been given to him. After rehabilitating and getting his High School Diploma, he went onto college and received his degree in accounting and business management. He wasn't going to sit by and take disability and never do more with his life. That wasn't good enough. He wanted to LIVE his life, not have it handed out to him or decided for him. So as his life began to unfold, when challenges arose, it was clear why he carried the mindset of "Why not?"

He eventually married my mom and together they purchased their first home. Now we had some unusual things in our home to assist in keeping mom and dad independent. We had what we named "reachers", nothing more than an oversized pair of salad tongs to reach the things on the top shelf of the cabinet. We had ramps in the front of the house, the garage and out the back porch. My dad's car (yes, he was a licensed driver) was lovingly named the "Green Lizard". A 1969 green two door Ford Fairlaine. I loved that car, hated the black leather interior in the summer, but we took many family vacations and road trips together in that car. Now dad had to make the normal and necessary changes. He built a sheet metal ramp to help get his chair in and out of the back seat. The ramp made it easier to pull the chair out so it wouldn't get stuck in the foot well. My sister and I fought over who sat on what side. If you got the driver’s side, you sit with your legs crossed during the entire trip. If you get the passenger side, you can get your feet on the floorboard. It worked well until we started getting to big and then it was time to make a change. We then graduated to a family van, which of course had to be modified to allow dad to keep as much independence as possible.

Now to modify the van in those days meant taking an empty cargo van, moving the seats into the back for the kids, attaching hand controls, an extended steering wheel and wheelchair locks. Our neighbors backed the van into the front yard, my parents wheeled into the back of the van from off the front porch, transferred into the van seats that were factory equipped, we loaded up the wheelchairs and headed for St. Louis, the closest place at that time where we could have a wheelchair lift and the rest of the modifications installed. At that time, we were talking about a six-hour trip in the hottest part of the summer. Dad was convinced everything was in order, all would be well and we would stay in a nice hotel off the Mississippi River while the modifications were made to the van. Modifications would be a cable supported lift off the side of the van, allowing my parents to ride up and down into the van with ease. From now on, there would be no need to transfer from their chairs to the car seat. Back then they did not have the motorized chairs they do today. They would be able to ride and drive from their chairs. Ah yes, Dad's ultimate machine would allow him even more independence! He named it the “Copper Coupe” because of it’s brown copper color. Dad named all of his cars, I never found out why.

There were a few "concerns" the neighbors had before we ever left the house. First of all, dad and mom would be stuck in that van until they reached their destination. Dad reassured our good neighbors that we had people waiting for us to arrive and they were supposed to help them get out of the van, check us into our hotel and then take the van to the shop for modification. No sweat, right? We had a brand new van, new tires, and a CB radio if heaven forbid something did go wrong. That way we could call for help. He reassured them that we would be fine and off we went. Fully armed with lunches, snacks, water jugs and Dixie cups. We were ready for the adventure!

Sounds like a piece of cake, right? WRONG.

Everything that could have gone wrong on that trip did.

Problem No. 1: Well, we hit St. Louis at high rush hour. I remember sitting in one place on the highway for what felt like hours. It had to be 100 degrees outside and at least 110 in the back of that van. We were late getting to our destination. Hours late. This meant that the shop closed before reached our destination. And it was closed for the weekend. So Dad decided the best course of action was to go to the hotel and see if we could check in and find someone kind enough to help with our problem.

Problem No. 2: Well, on arrival at the hotel, my sister and I were tasked with going to the front desk for a manager to come out and speak with our dad. The hotel had lost our reservation and they were booked. So we then had to find new accommodations and fast. Remember, this was back before cell phones, or even roadside phones that you could use while still in your vehicle. I started wondering myself how dad was going to get us out of this one! We drove around and found a nearby hotel. Dad caught the attention of a passerby who went into the hotel and asked if they had rooms available, he returned with the good news that yes; they could put our family in a room. So we had a place to stay, but this brought up the next problem.

Problem No. 3: How to get mom and dad out of this van. With our help we brought dad’s wheelchair out of the side door of the van and around to the driver’s door. Remember, this was a 70’s model full size cargo van. It was a LONG way to the ground. To my mother's horror, he jumped from up on high, down into his wheelchair. Hit his target, no harm, no foul, no problem. He was quite pleased with himself! Then it struck mom, she would have to do the same. In tears she cried out that no way was she going to do that. NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN. The next twenty minutes were filled with a lot of words I'm not supposed to use and was told to cover my ears. I could still hear what was going on and let's just say she let my dad know that she was displeased with him and sick of all his adventures and ideas. In between the "I hate you for doing this to me" and the "I'm not doing it, I'm not!" My sister and I sat on our suitcases thinking about how much fun the pool would be and how hungry we were! Then my dad had enough and finally said calmly, "You don't have any other options, you will be fine, the kids are here, now get your ass out of the van." She gave him one last cussing and then landed square on her backside in her chair. After catching her breath and getting settled, she didn't talk to him for the rest of that night. But for the rest of us, it has made for an entertaining story and a fond memory that I will share with others for years to come. Ah yes…my dad and his determination to be independent, his idea of comfortably “normal”.

We spent the rest of the week at the hotel, watching the boats on the river from our 12th floor balcony, swimming every day and spending time as a family. It was a really great vacation. Filled with the type of relaxing moments that you hope you can have with your children, once you have grown up enough to look back and realize just how good you had it as a kid.

This is just one of many examples of how my dad took the every day normal tools of our life and modified them to work for his life. So he could have that same freedom of choice that all able bodied people are entitled to have. I have mentioned that dad had many gadgets to accomplish this. One of my favorites was his lawn mower.

Now, there were so many things that Dad did that you just would not expect a paraplegic to attempt. It would be too hard, take so much more work...just pay someone and save your energy, right? Nope, no hired hands for my dad. Yard work and mowing the lawn was one of those things. My dad had a green riding lawn mower that yes, he modified. He ripped off the seat and replaced it with a regular bucket seat from a car. Never mind the bucket car seat was bright burgundy leather/vinyl material, it worked for him. He took off the steering wheel and replaced it with bicycle handlebars, carefully welded to the shape he needed to reach. He added foot rests for his legs, designed a "stop and go" bar that attached to the throttle so he could control this function by hand. It was the most ugly lawn mower known to man, but it worked. Every Saturday he was out in the yard, without fail.

We had a system when Dad mowed. Take water out to dad often and listen for the mower to stop. If it stopped anywhere but in the garage, time to go rescue dad. It did break down and often, but he would doctor it back up and get it through another season. Mowing the lawn wasn't the end of the job. Dad would then rake and bag his entire front and back yard. Why? When for a small amount of money someone could do it for him? Well, he wanted to be independent. Just like everyone else. It was his perception of "normal" that he could be happy with and accept. A well tended yard, complete with the trimming, done by his hand. What a sense of satisfaction he must have had at the end of the day!

Eventually my parents divorced, Dad moved away, eventually landing in Denver many years later. Dad and Diane purchased a nice home together and gave the yard work over to a young boy down the street. But, Dad’s green thumb prevailed so he also hired someone to build an elevated garden complete with irrigation systems, so he could grow his tomatoes, carrots, green beans, squash, you name it. His garden was his pride and joy and each time we visited him we loved going out to see what veggies were ready for picking. He had a gift for gardening and grew some of the sweetest baby carrots I've ever eaten. It had become part of our trips to Denver that we all looked forward to.

Finally, I want to share one of my fondest memories that I have of my Father. It was dancing with him at his wedding reception after marrying Diane. Yes, DANCING! He would get out there with his chair and "get down" for lack of a better adjective. Now, I'm a horrible dancer, but that night at the club he said to me; "Please honey, I want to dance with my daughter on my wedding day." How could I refuse? I had the time of my life. Once our dance was over and the slow dances began, Diane took her place on his lap. They shared a very special moments on the dance floor that night, and all the people in the club took notice that there was something different and very special about him, about both of them. Not having legs that worked did not mean anything to him or her. He showed the world that his disability wouldn't stop him from having the life he dreamed of. I cried tears of joy for my father. I was both incredibly proud and happy for him that he had found his place in this world and found someone equally as special to share it with.

The last years of his life I think were some of his happiest. He and Diane shared such a wonderful relationship. Together they shared many experiences that he may not have had if they never met. They went hot air ballooning, snowmobiling in the moonlight and took many more trips across this great country. The last time I saw him was when he came to visit for my oldest son's high school graduation. Their van had broken down and needed to stay at the shop for repairs. Problem? How were we going to transport my dad two miles from the dealership to the hotel, without a wheelchair accessible van. Not to fear, Dad had a plan. He told me on the phone, "No problem, I have a ride, I'll meet you at the hotel." Okay. My family hoped in the car and headed toward the hotel. All of a sudden, in the dark I see this image on the back of a flatbed truck. Just behind the cab, holding onto the light railing, was proudly perched my Dad, in his wheelchair, happy as a clam. He was waving to people, there were people honking and waving back, he was having the time of his life! He said the breeze was great and the view was even better! We got him to the hotel and unloaded Dad the one man parade and then I laughed all the way home. It was typical Dad. No fear, ever. Just go with the flow. There is nothing you can't overcome by God’s Grace and a set mind!

What an inspirational human being he was. I was the luckiest daughter in the world, because I was able to share his life!

Even if you don't have a disabling disease, Dad's life lessons were far reaching into all areas of life. We just didn't know it as young kids. Every person who met him, liked him, respected him or loved him. He was always outgoing and full of humor.

On a personal note: Dad, I miss you terribly, but you have left me with so many positive memories and examples of courage and strength. Sometimes when I'm down with my own disease, I wonder how you managed. It’s then I remember that I have to keep going and I CAN keep going. I have choices. I need to make them and go forward, even if it's just a little bit everyday. Although I miss our long talks, I'll never be without all those wonderful memories that you have given to me and your grandchildren. I know we will be together again someday and I want you to be proud of what I have accomplished, too. I won't give up; I'll fight this disease every day and get my life back in balance.

To my readers, I hope that you will gain strength from what I've shared of my father. There is so much more to tell. I could write for hours. Even in his death, he never lost his sense of humor or his practicality. He wanted his ashes spread on the ranch in Montana, under the same tree that Grandpa and Grandma asked for their ashes to be spread. At his memorial brunch, held in his home last spring [April 2009], Diane took my hand and walked me to the pretty oak box containing his ashes. It was engraved with the following: "Now wasn't that cost effective?"

Save me a dance in heaven, Dad. I'll be there in God's time.

Your Loving Daughter

© Robynn “Bobbie” Dinse / Bobbie’s World Blogs
Please note that this short story is copyrighted and should not be reprinted in any form without permission from the author
Feel free to link to "Bobbie's World Blogs"
Thank you!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Revealing Your Fibromyalgia....Blessing or Consequence?

Originally Written:  June 13, 2009
Issue 1, Volume 5

Thank the Lord the weekend is here! I am so ready for it!

This week I've had in your face, up front experience with our blog topic today. It has to be one of the most debatable questions out there. Not only for those of us with Fibromyalgia, but for everyone who has any type of serious "invisible" illness. 

Our government has destroyed many forests with HIPPA paperwork to help protect and ensure our rights to privacy. ADA laws protect us (or try to protect us) from discrimination from employers, insurance companies and Joe Bob next door. It is our right to keep our health and the condition of our bodies private from those whom we don’t wish to have such information! What about a trusted friend? Do we share our struggles with them? Can we be sure we will be protected from emotional injury or rejection? Sad to say, the answer is unknown. Until you take that leap of faith, you will never know how deep that friendship runs.

When I was still working, it was no big deal to tell my boss I had to turn off the lights and stretch out on the couch for 45 minutes, or leave work because I had a migraine. After my car accident, it got a little harder to ask for two afternoons a week to go for physical therapy. It was yet even harder to ask for three months time off so I could have surgery and recover from the neck injury caused by the auto accident. I actually continued working for 5 months after my accident with a ruptured disc, in severe pain. Why did I wait so long? Pride? Or was it because of fear that I might lose my job? Both? 
Why did I feel such a powerful need to hide my weaknesses?

The Lord made us all vastly different in every way possible, including our upbringing. The Bible tells us; "we are wonderfully made." As an adopted child, two parents who always did their best brought me up in a loving Christian home. Now, as a parent of 3, I often wonder how they did it all; especially considering they had been confined to wheelchairs since their teen years.

Dad was a victim of a car accident at 15 and broke his back. This left him a paraplegic. Mom was a victim of polio and over the years she grew weaker and found it easier to function from her chair than on crutches and leg braces. The funny thing about it was I never thought they were any different from anybody else's mom and dad. It wasn't until I got a little older that I noticed the looks we would get when going to the grocery store or shopping for school clothes. What a sight we must have been, two adults in wheelchairs packing two little girls along with them. My parents didn't ask for help, what assistance we did need came from Grandpa. Like changing the light bulbs, painting the eaves, or cleaning out the gutters. Dad was college educated and while we were far from rich, we had our own house and a big backyard to grow up in. Their physical weakness was obvious, but they were far from weak people.
Do I keep my condition hidden out of a fear that people will look at me as weak? Maybe. 

My father hated pity. I remember that he constantly had to turn away well-meaning people who wanted to carry his groceries, or help him into his car. Dad had a system for everything and these people actually got in his way, slowed him down, or by helping created an obstacle for him later. I could fill pages with the little tricks and gadgets I grew up around so my dad could live just like everybody else. I promise, I'll write a blog filled with entertaining stories on that very subject soon
You see, we all want to fit in. No body wants to be the last kid picked in the schoolyard dodge ball game. So, we all strive to achieve whatever level of "normal" that satisfies and makes us happy. Women need to feel good about their relationships with other women and to do this we need to feel respected, perhaps you could even say "equal."

When I stopped working I fought tooth and nail to be the best stay at home mother I could be. But I was failing. My health was getting worse and I didn't know why. It wasn't like it was before. There was no energy for play dates. The girlfriends I had planned to discover in our new neighborhood did not surround me. I couldn't keep up with the boys and take them swimming, play baseball anymore, or take them and play at the park. I found myself fighting to keep food in the house and the laundry off the floor. The rest of the time I spent horizontal, hoping when I woke up I would discover it was all just a horrible nightmare. But it wasn't, I had FMS and it would get a lot worse before it got better. Unfortunately "better" was nowhere near what I once considered "normal" or "equal".

My outward appearance had not changed much. On bad days I was bedridden. On good days I was stiff and walked with a slight limp. I barely left the house. That eventually improved as I entered pain management and found all the other illnesses that came with FMS. One by one they were treated, not cured, but I reached the point where I would not get much better physically.

I learned quickly how to hide my condition. I didn't tell a soul outside of my family. I lived in isolation. That way I had no commitments to miss, no people to let down when I couldn't show up last minute, no uncomfortable conversations or explanations. We all know that can't last long, and it didn't. After all, I am my father's daughter, a very social outgoing person.
I have had a passion for horses since my Grandfather put me in the saddle on his sorrel ranch horse at the age of 3. From then on I listened to every horse story my dad ever talked about. When we returned home from Montana, Dad bought me Thunder. The "big girl" size of the galloping plastic horse on springs found in the toy department of T.G. & Y. Thunder and I rode together in my room until the springs broke. Dad would smile and order new ones until one day he said, "I think you are just too big for Thunder, you just can't ride him anymore." So, I cried awhile then took him off his broken springs and lovingly placed him in the corner with my stuffed animals. There he wouldn't be lonely and I could still pet him and daydream of what it would be like to ride free. I read every book about horses I could get my hands on. To this day I have a huge Breyer horse collection on display that would envy some collectors out there.
A friend of my husband had owned horses her entire life and was willing to help me with the hands on learning to add to what I had learned from the books. With her generosity, she helped me start down the road to fulfilling my dream: to own my own horse and ride free with the wind in my face. Owning a horse is a huge responsibility. Every day I have to feed, water, groom and pick hooves. The laws of nature say what goes in comes out, then you got to pick up the nature. Buckets full of it every week. To keep them in shape, they have to be ridden often. Be it scorching sun, fierce wind, or blowing snow, or come riding season you could have a wild thing on your hands. 
Since getting my beloved Filly I've learned to deal with dental problems, cuts, colic, parasites and a close call with founder. I've been thrown three times, just twice by Filly, stepped on, kicked at and bit. We've spent hours driving in a truck with broken AC to parades and rodeos. Some parades we saddled up and sat waiting for 2 hours in the saddle, long sleeves, leather chaps and wool hats, just to walk a five-minute parade route in 100-degree temps. Yes my dream had come true and I loved every minute of it!

As my skills and knowledge grew, my FMS was increasingly challenged. It was easy to hide in the beginning, I wasn't a good enough drill rider and my horse is too slow for this team. I would miss an occasional practice for a migraine, but it was no big deal because no one was counting on me. It was safe. I was content to ride the parades and if I felt up to it, I would follow along to the rodeo. If it was a really good day, I would ride grand entry then stay and watch the drill team perform! I'll never forget the first time I carried the team flag through Grand Entry. I was on cloud nine. I was “normal” again! Or so I thought.

Then the unthinkable happened. My son fell in love with horses as much as his mother. He was riding as I was learning; I should have seen it coming. Then the team decided to put together a youth team for all of our kids and let them compete at Nationals instead of watching from the side. I suddenly found myself committed and I was sure to be exposed.

My husband was my saving grace that first season. When I was ill, he would take Peyton to practice. On drill days I made sure I had plenty of time to rest, did things in stages and prayed for a good health day. It was crucial in not getting caught with a flare or a migraine away from home. I eventually got to visit with other parents and teammates and confided in them. I decided it was time I quit hiding it. I have no reason to be ashamed and nothing to fear, right? Do I?

Well, the sky did not fall, there were no doves and music, it just “was.” So, Bobbie has FMS. That's why she can ride one week, but the next week it takes her breath away just to mount her horse. She will say she is going to ride today and shows up and never get on a horse. She will move fast at one practice and next week sit in her truck and drink water for 15 minutes before getting out. Most of the time she will be just fine. Every now and again she will be too weak of body. But never mistake her for being weak of character. She will always strive to be respectful of others. She asks for nothing but the same in return.
Now, that was easy, right? It was done. It was out there and I felt a sense of relief. I didn't have to hide it anymore. But the relationships would be tested. Some people would pass. Some would say a kind word when she was down because she couldn't reach her goal that day. Some would tell her they were proud of how far she had come. Some would find her sitting alone in tears and lend a little comfort. Others would fail. Miserably. Some would talk about her behind her back and call her a liar. Some would be harsh. Some would say she shouldn't be here. She would be accused of using her illness as a crutch one minute, and then she would be told it's too much for her body to take the next. She would have wonderful achievements and breakthroughs, followed by horrible setbacks. Things would be said and done that made her question her decision to follow her dream at all. People she once held in high esteem would be changed in her eyes forever. That is the risk you take by exposing your FMS.
It is this way because it is the nature of the beast; FMS will pop up and blindside us like a speeding train. It will ruin my schedule, plans, dinners, vacations and special days. I'm going to tell you I will be there and get sick halfway there. I may not show up or I may show up late and sick. I might be there and be fine, then stop in the middle of everything and go home. I'm going to say I will do something and not get it done. I may show up and throw up in your driveway. I'm going to be okay with it even if you aren't. Finally, if you aren't okay with how FMS affects my life, we won't have a problem anymore because you won't be in it.
What I have learned on my journey thus far is that instead of trying to be someone else's normal, I need to be my normal. I need to be happy within myself and not give a care in the world about what someone else thinks of me. 
I have dreams. My dreams involve horses and no one is going to tell me when to stop trying. I have high standards of character passed down and learned from my father. He was told after his accident that he might live 5 years as a paraplegic. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 65. 
Regardless, if I never take the risk, that success will just go to someone else.

My Lord says He has "plans" for me. "Plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). So, until the Lord takes the last breathe from this body, I will never let go of my dreams.

Dream on dear friends,


© Robynn “Bobbie” Dinse / Bobbie’s World Blogs
Please note that this short story is copyrighted and should not be reprinted in any form without permission from the author
Feel free to link to “"Bobbie's World Blogs"
Thank you!