“What’s with the elephant?”

Where on earth has the time gone?  It seems like it was Veteran’s Day and I had a bunch of ladies over to my apartment to bake cookies for our service members overseas, and the next thing I know; I have found myself in the month of March.  To say I have been busy doesn’t really express what has been going on in my life, and many of you have been asking for an update.  Rather than writing individual emails, I am choosing to write this update on my blog.  This is the perfect forum for me to share how any of you can help with the troops I am supporting, or share what is going on with me personally.  Then again, truth be told – I am a humanitarian to the core – so you may catch me sharing opportunities to volunteer or ways I have found to make an impact on the world, as the opportunities arise.  🙂


The reason for this post is to give you all an update on “Throb”.  Some of you have walked this journey with me the past 46 months (can you believe it has almost been four years??) and others have recently come into my life through social media or mutual friends.  For those of you who have told me you have spent countless hours looking for a diagnosis titled “Throb” on the internet ~ I do have to apologize.  You see, I tend to make up words, or have a very descriptive manner in expressing myself.  Let me attempt to make this as short and concise as possible for anyone reading, and hopefully provide you with current information as well.  😉



“Where Throb resides …”


On 10 May 2011 I woke up with what I thought was a migraine headache.  The pain literally was that of an elephant sitting on my head.  After a few weeks of various doctors and hospitals; along with a plethora of tests, a friend of mine jokingly referred to the elephant as “Throb”.  And that is the name that took on the form of being a noun and a verb for me.  Many of my close friends and family members have asked me to write a book.  At this point I could probably write several, and many different topics.  But if I ever do write a book, the title will be “Lessons Learned from Throb”.  You see, this pesky elephant has taught me many, many lessons.


One is that he is as stubborn as they come.  He is relentless in teaching me what my limitations are, and does not give in to my negotiations.  If he were a real person, I would say he would be a perfect hostage negotiator – because he just doesn’t give in.  As long as I remain aware of his existence, I am not caught off guard by his tactics or the consequences of not listening to the “signs” sooner.  If you have known me for a long period of time, you know this journey with “Throb” has not been an easy one.  When he first arrived into my life, he pulled the carpet right out from under my feet.  Almost every medical professional I went to had no answers, and in their inability to diagnose me, they just wanted to shove prescription drugs down my throat.  Since I am allergic to 98% of prescription medications on the planet – I had to seek alternative practices in order to find any relief from the pain.



Because I could not be by myself for the first 2 1/2 months of having Throb in my life, I stayed with family and friends on the west coast ~  (Again trying to make a long story short here) and ultimately moved back to the area I grew up in Sept 2011.  There is no way I could have predicted that medical professionals would have me in tears and completely worn down over time.  I have sat in offices with prominent physicians, who said “there is no hope for you”, “you will live in this debilitating pain the remainder of your life”, “you are a lost cause” and in sheer frustration asked them if they would want ANYONE to speak to their husband/wife/or child in that manner.  I have refused to pay those doctors for their time and ironically, never received a single bill from some of them.  In my mission to find relief, the one thing that remained steadfast was my faith.  Without it, I really am nothing.  With it, I have endured what I thought was impossible at times, and found myself in the process.

Tigger pillow to comfort me during GunnIMS

Tigger pillow to comfort me during GunnIMS


After two full years of no real improvement (other than when I was going to Montreal for treatments), I found a neurologist here in the Seattle area.  She is from the Czech Republic and has a very strong personality.  I will never forget the first time we met.  My attitude sucked because I had “had it” with doctors telling me there was no hope.  I was sick of filling out paperwork with every new doctor, and I absolutely refused to take medications that could have possibly been prescribed.  (Did I mention in the summer of 2011 that I was on 18 different medications in a day?  Or that I felt like a walking zombie?)  But this doctor put me in my place. She asked “do you think crying in my office is going to get you anywhere”?  She insisted that I had not done everything possible to get well.  I was furious.  I had changed my complete way of life in order to get better.  I was volunteering every week like the doctors wanted, in order to keep my mind from sinking into horrible depression.  I completely changed the foods I was consuming.  Yet I wasn’t getting better.  I was just hanging on by a thread.  That thread for me was faith.  Deep inside was a burning desire to prove everyone wrong and go back to work as a flight attendant.  Dr. Murinova diagnosed me with a Traumatic Brain Injury that very first visit.  (from a fall that occurred in 2010 where I hit the back of my head and don’t have any idea how long I was unconscious).  Every other doctor had told me “it can’t have anything to do with that fall”.  But apparently they were wrong, and someone may not have symptoms for 4 months to five years after harming their head.  (No wonder so many of our Veteran’s are not getting the proper care after being involved with IED blasts – something I am a huge advocate for now).

My job as a flight attendant does not define me as an individual; but it is a vessel for me to be the person I believe God intends for me to be.  It provides an outlet for me to make a difference for people on every flight, on my layovers, and in circumstances others may never have the opportunity.  I take none of that for granted.  And oh how I longed to have my identity back, because so much had been taken away from me the day Throb arrived.  With my new neurologists guidance (even though she really did make me soooo mad at that first visit.  hahaha), I was sent to another physician at the University of Washington Center for Pain Relief.  Dr. Heather Tick started doing a treatment called “GunnIMS”.  (see photo above).  You can look up the treatment and testimonials at www.istop.org .  Where I once was only able to have a few needles pushed into my skin, I got to the point I am now, where I basically ask her to do as many as she possibly can.  You see, there is no medication in those needles.

It really is difficult to explain how the procedure works.  It is different than acupuncture, because the needles are much longer. And they are going into muscles all over my body.  The base of my skull where I say “it feels like a butcher knife stuck in the back of my neck”.  In the crook of my shoulder where the bone is (I call it my chicken bone, because of the way it sticks up when I put my arm behind my back) there are muscles underneath.  And those muscles are connected to my shoulder muscles.  And that is where I carry a whole lot of stress.  Sometimes when I see Dr. Tick, we talk about my care packages for the troops, or my progress.  Before I get side tracked, I do want to say that after only four treatments (keep in mind, I had already been out of work for two years) – we started talking about what it would take for me to return to work.  And in September 2013, I beat the odds and returned to the job I love, under the realm of “pain manageable”.

Pretty in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

Pretty in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness


Which means there has not been one single day since May 2011 that I have not had a headache.  Some days are worse than others, today being one of them.  Literally I spent most of my day (and night) laying on my bathroom floor because I was afraid I would not get to the bathroom fast enough.  Plus when the pain is so severe, there is nothing better than a cold, dark, quiet place to rest.  Sure beats being in the hospital with an IV drip that just masks the symptoms.  (I am not discounting the fact that sometimes one has do what needs to be done, in order to get past the pain cycle).  Thankfully I have been able to avoid being rushed to the ER this time around, and am able to rest so that I can get back up and fly again (hopefully sooner, rather than later).

Probably the greatest lessons I have learned from Throb, was to make myself a priority. There are these words that I had to learn the definition “balance” and “boundaries” that I then had to put into action.  I had to learn to be my own project and take care of myself, because no one else is going to do it for me.  Thankfully I have a variety of treatments that help to keep the pain “manageable” so I can continue to do the job I love. (and TRULY, I thank God for that fact in my life!!!)  Unfortunately no one else can control my weight either, and I have to constantly be in check with what I am consuming to make sure none of that is exacerbating my pain.  That being said, I just finished Day 9 of my 21 day detox and cleanse.  Additionally, I have given up coffee and alcohol for Lent.  Not because I am a Catholic, but because I feel it is important to remember the sacrifices that were made for me; and it falls right into alignment with my belief system for Easter.

Many people in the world have “something” they need encouragement with.  Maybe it is the loss of a loved one, job, relationship gone bad, friendship that ended, or they cannot forgive themselves because the people they asked forgiveness from; has shunned them and left them feeling inadequate or unlovable.  My words of advice:  #BeKind .  Live every single day with gratitude, regardless of your circumstances.  Know you make a difference.  #BeIntentional in your words, actions, and time with your Creator.  Spend time outdoors.  Reconnect with the beauty around you.  Whether it is cold and snowy outside, or a beautiful and sunny day.  #HuntForTheGood every single day.  Allow yourself to learn from yourself and others.  Surround yourself with people you want to be like.  #Laugh. # Volunteer. And remember my motto for 2015 to #LoveEveryDay.

I absolutely know I am a walking miracle.  For that I am grateful.  Because I am able to look at my adversities and see my own strength.  Additionally, I am able to ask for help now (where I used to just do everything on my own and people expected me to be able to take care of the world) and accept that I have my own limitations.  Which is why I now ask for help with care packages in a monetary and physical form.  I cannot do it all on my own anymore.  It just got too big (much like the snowball that starts rolling and keeps growing) for me to handle on my own.  And for those of you who have donated or continue to help in ANY WAY, from the bottom of my heart – thank you.


USO Five Star Gala; where I was completely surprised by one of my heroes and the Director of the USO!!!

USO Five Star Gala; where I was completely surprised by one of my heroes and the Director of the USO!!!


For the service members who have allowed me to be a part of your lives since I started sending care packages so long ago – thank you.  You may not ever realize that I have gained strength through your examples of tenacity, courage, and honor, over the years.  For those of you reading this: whether you have known me my entire life, cheered me along for years, months, or days – thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, I am forever thankful for each act of kindness toward me.  Thank you for realizing that I had to learn the word “no” and implement it, in order to take care of myself.  Thank you for loving me exactly as I am and allowing me to touch your lives with my unconditional love.  May you know you are important, you are valued, and you are loved.




“The Sky Angel”


PS.  Stay tuned, in the midst of this time of transition and continued healing – I will do my best to write more often and share ways you can help me to change the world.  One smile at a time.  🙂  (and if I didn’t mention it above, please join me in a happy dance when you see me next … I am finally based in Seattle permanently as of Feb 2015.  It only took sixteen  years!!!)  Huge relief and makes my life so much easier!!!  🙂


PO Box 16796

Seattle, WA 98116





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One Response to ““What’s with the elephant?””

  1. Dawn Pletcher says:

    Dear Robin,
    I’m so happy to hear that you are able to function and back on track apparently in your flight position.
    You’re indeed a testament to THE POWER OF PRAYER and have had you in my prayers for these long years.
    We at Goodies For Our Troops have now finished 9 years + 8 months of shipping year-round care packages to our heroes, as well as supporting 2 shelters for homeless veterans, the Armed Forces Retirement Center in Gulfport MS, veterans at 2 NY VA nursing homes, and our military families with monthly manufacturers’ coupons they can use at PX/BX/commissaries. The Good Lord has provided, and although the first couple months, I didn’t have the sense to tell Him that He gave me the mission so since I can’t do it myself, I was giving it back to Him, about the 3rd month, that I did, and He has provided way beyond anything I could have imagined.
    We’ve had our own place for almost 3 years now in downtown Wellsboro PA, and generous folks around the world keep supporting our mission.
    Thank you for your blog about Throb. I have a young lady friend who is an Iraq veteran and suffers from TBI. I’m going to pass it on to her. It may be helpful to her.
    Thank you for all you do for our heroes and others. Keeping you on my prayer list.
    God bless ~

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