Dying for Chocolate — My Valentine’s Day Not-So-Near Death Experience

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Yesterday, on February 14, I woke up to a sweet surprise. Propped on the night table next to my side of the bed was an envelope containing a Valentine’s Day card. The front of the card says: ‘You Are My Favorite Thing in the Universe.’ The inside printed part reads: ‘How lucky the world is to have you in it! Happy Valentine’s Day.’

But the best part is what my husband of almost 16 years wrote on the card. ‘You are the most wonderful caring loving person I know.’ Awwwwww!!!! Love is blind, right! πŸ˜‰ I love my best friend husband so much.

My hubby and I did not meet until we were both in our fifties. We met at work, and quickly discovered that we had practically everything in common. Finding each other when we did was something of a miracle. However, because we had both been diagnosed with PTSD, we had a very rocky first couple of years. Between dealing with our multiple trauma triggers, on top of our respective histories of failed relationships — PTSD can be hard on relationships, for multiple reasons — it looked for awhile like we weren’t going to make it. But thanks to our shared faith in the Lord Jesus and to a lot of good, healing, Christ-centered therapy, today we are doing great.

I thank God for my husband. This is the happiest and healthiest that my life has ever been. We may be “over the hill,” age-wise. But instead of going downhill, I feel like this is just the beginning of the best part of life.

Yesterday, though, for several scary minutes, I thought I might not live to see another day!

You see, I am a chocolate addict, and my husband knows this. He knows to buy me chocolate for Valentine’s Day, but he also knows not to buy too much, like a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates, because I have a tendency to keep eating chocolates until I make myself sick. A small box of only about five or six pieces of candy works best for me.

Yesterday morning, after I found my lovely card, I looked around for a small box of chocolates, but there were no chocolates to be found. The only chocolate related thing I saw was the book that’s pictured at the top of this post: Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson. This book was lying on our dining room table beside my husband’s placemat, where he had left it after he finished reading it the night before.

“Dying for Chocolate,” I said to myself. “How ironic that he would be reading a book by that title, when here it is Valentine’s Day and I was expecting chocolate, but there isn’t any. He must have hidden my chocolate somewhere.”

I am an early bird and my hubby is a night owl, one of the few things we don’t have in common. So I had to wait several hours until he finally woke up, to get my chocolate. He had hidden it behind his rye bread, another thing we don’t have in common. Behind his bread, tucked in the back of the breadbox, was a small bag of chocolate covered pecans, one of my favorites.

They may not come in a heart-shaped box, but I couldn’t have been happier as I tore open the familiar dark brown bag, grabbed a fist full of the rich chocolatey nuts, and started munching away.

I chewed, I swallowed, I grabbed another handful, chewed, swallowed, grabbed another handful . . . and that’s when I first noticed that, underneath the familiar, deliciously sweet chocolate taste, the pecans tasted different.

The bag was lying face down on the table. I picked it up, turned it over, and discovered that I wasn’t eating chocolate covered pecans — I was eating chocolate covered peanuts. And I am allergic to peanuts!!!!!

Well, obviously, I did not die yesterday. My husband gave me a Benadryl antihistamine. We had an epipen handy. And, we prayed! Me: God, please don’t let me die, my husband would be so mad at himself!Β  Husband: Please don’t let Linda die, I would never forgive myself!

Not only didn’t I die, I didn’t even have the slightest allergic reaction! The last time I ate something with peanuts in it, about 22 years ago, my lips and tongue swelled up and I had to go to the emergency room. But not this time!

So, how could such a mistake have been made? Was my loving husband trying to kill me? Lol, no. What happened was that he had bought two bags of what he thought were chocolate covered pecans. The bags were hanging together on a hook in the store. The bag in front, the one he saw, was, indeed, chocolate covered pecans. But the bag behind it was chocolate covered peanuts. The two bags are identical in color, size, and shape. Of course, the pictures and wording on the front of the bags are different. But neither one of us had bothered to look at the front of the second bag, until after I had scarfed down almost half of the contents. Duh! I don’t expect that we will ever make that mistake again.

But here’s the really amazing thing: I did not have a panic attack yesterday, not even after I realized that I had scarfed down half a bag of peanuts. I have had several life-threatening anaphylactic shock reactions to various allergens in the past, and I knew that I could very well have such a reaction to the peanuts I had just consumed. But — I did not panic, not even a little bit. Seventeen years ago, I was diagnosed with severe PTSD. I used to have panic attacks All The Time. But I did not panic yesterday, even though I had every reason to. And neither did my husband, despite his PTSD!

You know what this means? We were truly trusting God to do His will. We were trusting that His will is best. I knew in my heart that I was ready to go to heaven, if God wanted to take me right then and there. And I also knew God wasn’t going to let me die, if He didn’t want to take me just yet.

Not only that, but the Neurofeedback Treatments that I had in 2017, and the EMDR and EFT treatments my husband is currently undergoing, have made a huge difference in our PTSD symptoms. We had every reason to panic, but we didn’t panic! Praise the Lord!

Still… isn’t it ironic that my husband had just finished reading Dying for Chocolate! πŸ˜€

Thanks to Neurofeedback, I’m not just getting older, I’m getting happier and healthier!

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The lyrics to an old Beatles song have been dancing around in my head lately:
– – –
When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
– – –

Sixty-four! That sounds OLD, doesn’t it? Especially for someone whose generational mantra was “Never trust anyone over thirty”!

Like everyone else on this planet, I started out as a very young person. I was little, and I could not wait to be big. The years passed slowly by, and I slowly grew, and then YAY!! I was all grown up, a bona fide adult. I had finally ARRIVED!!

But the years did not stop going by. Indeed, they started going by faster, and faster, and faster still, until sometimes I feel like I’m in a speeding truck, careening down a mountainside with no brakes.

Now, my sixty-fourth birthday is just around the corner. And I’m thinking: “Huh? How did this happen?” I really did not expect to get this old, this fast!

On the inside, I don’t feel any older than I felt when I was in my twenties. Wiser, for sure, and definitely a lot more experienced, but not older. And yet, I have a granddaughter who recently turned twenty-five. (I text-chatted with her recently, and she is doing very well in her Harvard graduate program. Hey, it’s a grandmother’s right to brag, lol!)

For me, the good news about being almost sixty-four is that I am the happiest and the most peaceful that I have ever been in my entire life. This is largely due to the neurofeedback therapy I have been undergoing twice a week for the past three months, as treatment for my PTSD. (Neurofeedback is AMAZING.)

We are all getting older, every single one of us, one day at a time. But regardless of how old we become, as long as we exist, we have choices. We have hope. Today, more than ever before, there are avenues of healing: healing for our minds, healing for our spirits, and healing for our physical bodies. We don’t have to stay stuck in our old, sick paradigms. The key is to never give up on yourself. Keep seeking, and eventually you will find the answers that you need.

Considering how very badly broken I was, both mentally and physically, by multiple extreme traumas that began in my early childhood and continued through my early adulthood — if I can be happy, healthy, and thriving now, at the age of (almost) sixty-four — there isn’t anyone alive who is hopeless!

I stopped a homeless man on the street a few days ago. He was walking along the sidewalk, ranting and shouting to himself. I offered him food and water, but he did not want anything. Then I offered to pray for him. I told him: “Many years ago, when I was a teenager, I had schizophrenia, but God healed me.”

The man stopped his verbal rant then, and really looked at me. “Was it bad?” he asked.

“It was very bad,” I told him. “I spent almost two years in a mental institution.”

Then the man carefully and gingerly reached across the sidewalk, and lightly touched my hand with the tip of his finger. I understood that for him, just making that tiny, very brief human contact, was huge.

Schizophrenia is considered one of the worst mental illnesses, and it is widely believed to be incurable. I have had many physicians and therapists tell me over the years that I must have been badly misdiagnosed when I was fourteen, because there is nothing schizophrenic about me.

But I know that for two years, beginning half a century ago, I did, indeed, have all the symptoms of schizophrenia. My mind had been completely shattered by the horror of extreme trauma, and I was no less broken than the homeless man I prayed for on Easter Sunday.

But by the time I was sixteen, my symptoms of schizophrenia were completely gone, and I was taken off of all psychotropic medications. Since then, I have had three children, worked for a major TV ministry for several years, graduated from nursing school as class president, written and published a novel (under a different pen name), and in May 2000 I was on the Oprah Winfrey Show, featured in one of her inspirational “Remembering Your Spirit” segments.

Now I am (almost) sixty-four years old, and I am the happiest and healthiest that I have ever been in my entire life!

I know how badly broken I was, and I know how far I have come. This is why I believe, with all of my heart, that absolutely no one is hopeless. “Seek, and you shall find.” Our Creator God is real, and He loves us, and He really does answer prayer! I am living proof that this is true.

Kathy Boecher wrote a post earlier today about how getting older does not mean that we have to stop being productive. She is a few years older than me, and her perspective is very inspiring. I hope you will give her post a read: Leap of Faith

Thank you for stopping by, and God bless! Here is a big great-grandmother’s ((HUG)) if you want one. At the advice of my neurofeedback therapist, I am keeping comments closed for now. Plus I still have a memoir to finish… Lord willing. πŸ™‚

PS: My neurofeedback therapist agrees that I do not have any degree of schizophrenia. However, on my baseline eeg, he found plenty of evidence of developmental trauma, plus evidence of head injuries. He was exactly right: I have been knocked unconscious four times in my life, three of which were due to abuse. But neurofeedback is “rewiring” my abused, traumatized, “elderly” brain!

Neurofeedback is effective for all kinds of brain issues. The therapist told me that he has treated four diagnosed schizophrenics so far, with neurofeedback therapy. “They don’t have schizophrenia any more,” he said.