Monday, January 14, 2013

Snow - How to Find a New Perspective on an Old Problem.

Snowy Elstree, UK by Sara E via FB
I want to introduce you to my friend Jo who lives in England. Jo's husband is in his 70s and has had trigeminal neuralgia* for 7 years.  Jo and I 'met' when she stumbled upon my blog. We have emailed back and forth and I have certainly gained strength, insight and tremendous support from my new pen pal and our growing virtual friendship. 

One of the things we have discussed a number of times,
is how we cope with the unpredictability of chronic illness in general and trigeminal neuralgia in particular. How it has played havoc with the fabric of our lives and how we have found ways as caregivers to take a breath, take a break and take a pause from it even on those occasions when our spouses can't.
Snowy Jerusalem via  David K on FB

Last week I was marveling at the pictures of 4 inches of  snow in Jerusalem for the first time in 15 years. This week snow has hit almost all of England. Here in Maryland annual snowfall is unpredictable, but the kids regularly wear their pajamas inside out, if there is a chance of snow, in the hope that their actions will initiate a flurry and a snow day. ( I think some teachers do too.)

There is something about snow that is particularly magical. It is like white-out ( tip-ex) on the landscape, erasing flaws in buildings and on roads and reflecting sprinkled light on tree trunks and window sills.
Via Lisa B on FB

And if there is enough snow, bringing the covered city to a halt, the time also seems to allow everyone affected to take......

 .........a long exhale.

A pause from everyday life and work, 

A chance to find their inner child. 


an opportunity to look at their surroundings from a different perspective.

Taken by Gil Eliyahu via Kara T on FB
Young and old,  all bundled up, play, build and create  in light hearted, carefree ways. Whether it is a snow man or  igloo creation, snowball fights or family togetherness-all of these seem to come easily in the snow.

And for others, a snow day offers up the chance to stay home curled up with their children, or alone  reading  a great  book with  a steaming cup of hot chocolate. This response  seems  obvious and deliciously comforting.

And yet, nothing has really changed. Our  homes and cars and walkways are the same, as they were before the storm. When the snow melts and the magic  of the  white cotton-candy (candy floss) blanket has turned to grey sludge, are things just as we perceived them before?

Snow doesn't change anything that was there before it arrived. But it does help open our eyes to what has always been in front of us and nudges us to view it differently. 

Often the problems we are dealing with we cannot change, anymore than a snow storm can turn your car in to a horse drawn carriage.

But snow, particularly in places where it is rare, acts like a deep breath. It helps us pause, change our routines, and take child like pleasure in its beauty. Snow alters our view of the familiar and helps us see it in a different light.

By Jo Buonaguidi
CanCan by Jo Buonaguidi

And Jo has found a way to take snow days in her life even when there is no snow on the ground. This time allows her to take a break and alter her perspective. 

Jo is an artist and when trigeminal neuralgia raises its ugly head and as she says "acts like a powerful triffid with tentacles that invade the whole house," Jo takes a 'snow-day' in her studio. She plugs in her "earphones and listens to great music whilst painting parties."

Her pictures are full of humor and movement and color. They are a wonderful contrast to the  pain, paralysing and dulling effects of living with a chronic illness. 

They are a balm to the trigeminal neuralgia triffid.

By Jo Buonaguidi

And I take 'snow time' by walking in beautiful gardens,  closing the door to my office, looking at the wall of pictures I have taken of tulips and writing my blog.  

We all need moments when we are almost "forced' to take a break from routine. We need to take time to take stock of what is in front of us.  Perhaps we will gain a new perspective on it by looking at it through a snow covered lens, doing something creative or by letting our inner child play with our actual ones.

So next time it snows, take a breath, drink in the beauty and consider the snow day as an unexpected gift to yourself. Look at how, what you know, covered in snow,  has changed, even for a day and appreciate its altered beauty and your altered perspective on it.

How do you take a deep breath or a pause from your life?  What would your ideal snow day consist of? Let me know below or by email. Many thanks.

Have a wonderful week.


You can see more of Jo's delightful paintings on her Facebook page.

You may also like to read:

It's Time To Take care of yourself- Here's How.

The Jigsaw Puzzle Of Life

Many thanks to my Facebook friends who have been posting fantastic snow pictures they have seen or taken. Enjoy!!

*Taken from The Johns Hopkins Website

"Trigeminal Neuralgia is an extremely painful condition usually involving one side of the face. It usually occurs spontaneously. It has a characteristic feeling of “shock-like” pain which travels through the face in a matter of seconds, but can occur in a repetitive fashion. Sometimes it is triggered by specific things ,mostly it starts and stops for no reason and an episode can last from minutes to hours at any one time.
The intensity of the pain is exceptional, and it is felt to be more severe than experiencing a heart attack, passing a kidney stone, or even having a baby. There is no other pain quite like this.

Trigeminal neuralgia can be very active for a time, and then seem to disappear, sometimes for long periods, but always recurs later, often with more intensity. We also know that the most commonly accepted theory of what causes trigeminal neuralgia is vascular compression. There are blood vessels that travel with the nerve, and if they cause pressure on the nerve or irritate it, pain can occur.
For more information  visit The Facial Pain Association website or Living With Trigeminal Neuralgia site They are excellent resources for anyone wanting to find out more about this horrendous condition.
 Please email me at or leave a comment on this post below. I'd love to have your feedback. 
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  1. Sounds like a horrendous illness. Did surgery solve the problem for Jonny or is it a temporary fix?

    1. Hi Richard,
      Jonny had the surgery that brings the most permanent results. Thank goodness it completely eliminated the electric shock like pain he was having, which was completely out of control. Any residual pain he has, is well controlled with medication. As a caregiver I am always on hyper alert to the slightest twinges etc, which I think he copes with much better, than I do. Aspects of trigeminal neuralgia can be chronic , and those you live with.


  2. What a beautiful perspective you have Gilly. BTW, your friend is a very talented artist.

    1. Carole, thank you! Since we have lived in MD we have had lots of experience with snow days and we love them. I will pass on your feedback to Jo. Thank you for taking time to comment here.

  3. I love Jo's pictures. I also didn't realize that there was a chronic aspect to tn.

  4. Yes Jo's paintings are wonderful. I keep meaning to ask her how large they are. it's hard to tell from some of the FB photos.

    TN can be chronic. There is more than one type of TN and not every type responds well to any procedures and needs to be managed with heavy doses of medication. Some have more than one type of TN. Many sufferers cannot have the procedures or brain surgery to give relief. Most of these procedures temporarily numb the nerve and the side of the face in the process. Brain surgery can give the most permanent relief. However it does not work for everyone and age is one factor in determining whether a patient is a suitable candidate. The skill and experience of the neurosurgeon doing any of these surgeries is also critical to success and unfortunately some people have nerve damage from the surgeries.

    Despite all of this, there are many success stories and doing a lot of research to find the best procedure with the most experienced surgeon for a patient's particular set of circumstances will yield the best results. Aren't you glad you commented about this?!!!


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