Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Life is a Rollercoaster

Life is such a rollercoaster, isn't it? It's been a long, scary, and discouraging week and a half as I digressed so far that I couldn't walk at all. I had shifted way out of alignment so the bones got all inflamed again. A lot of rest, medicine, and prayers, and today I'm doing much better. I'm so grateful. We still have a very long road ahead before we know if I'll ever recover all the way. We'll continue consulting with specialists and surgeons to get as much information as possible, but a lot of it is just going to be a patience game. But for now, I'm strong enough to care for my kids, and that's all that really matters :) I just want to thank everyone for the love and encouragement... I'm so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family!

A friend of mine shared with me something she had read about trials in life. It said that if a group of people stood in a circle and put their hardships in the middle, and could then draw out from the pile, everyone would end up choosing their own. I realized the truth of that as I pondered on it. I have to believe that God has tailored our individual experiences in this life for each of us, based on what we can handle, what we need to learn, and what we're meant to contribute to the world. My heart is heavy for many people I know who are suffering greatly at this time. As I've prayed for them to be comforted, and also prayed for the strength to face my own trials, I've received a strong, yet simple, impression: Be Brave. Maybe one of the biggest challenges of life is to look for the sunshine when the clouds are heavy. But we must remember that the sunshine is there. And it can't be fully appreciated without the contrast from the storm.

I'm so grateful every day for my husband and little boys. They are my biggest rays of sunshine! So even when life takes its giant twists and turns, going up and down faster than my emotions can keep up, they are there. And God is there. He has given me a way to enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grateful for the Journey

Most people outside of my family don't know the full extent of my condition. It's been a difficult and scary 6 months, not knowing if I'll ever fully recover from this ailment; not knowing if I'll ever be able to walk well again. I've been bracing myself. I braced myself for the idea that I would never run with my children. That I'd never take them hiking or for a bike ride. That anything active we did as a family, I'd be cheering on the sidelines. And you know what, it would be okay. If I never got any better than I am right now, we could still have a wonderful, happy life. Above the things I can't do, there are SO many things that I can, and would, do with my family. We would have fun and we would be happy. And hey, it would sure be character building for my kids to grow up with their mom in a wheelchair! They would learn early on to be helpful and patient. ;)

So I accepted it. And as soon as I stopped looking at this as a trial to overcome, and started looking at it as just the way life is right now, I was able to be happy. The ups and downs, the unknowns of the future, the pain that I felt daily, had all been wearing on me. I was so scared and so impatient, waiting for life to get better. And that's when I realized I was going about it all wrong. I can't view this as a trial to overcome; that life will be better when I walk again. I felt like these precious young months with my babies were just passing me by. How silly of me. What a blessing that I was able to be home with my babies, snuggling with them, spending every waking moment with them because there was literally nothing else I was able to do on my own. These precious months were not passing me by, they were given to me to be enjoyed to the fullest extent. Sure, I couldn't run around with my Carson, but I could read to him, and cheer him on, and smile and laugh with him, and snuggle with him, all while holding my Gordon close, hangin' out in the wheelchair. I was unable to be busy in life, so I was able to give everything to my kids. How fortunate I am!

And then I looked at all the lessons I've learned along this journey. I appreciate so many things on so many new levels, and I have a much deeper understanding of what's important in life. My husband and I have a deeper appreciation and respect for one another, as we've had to watch each other bear this unique load that we've been given.

A few years ago, I had a real struggle with anxiety. I went to counseling for 6 months, and with that was able to stop my anxiety attacks and be gentler with myself. Had I never gone through that, I think this current trial would have been extremely more emotionally challenging. My old yearning to be constantly on the move would have probably plunged me into depression when I lost my ability to walk and take care of the house. I would have sat there shaming myself for being lazy, even if the "laziness" was out of my control. But, that's not how it was. I had already learned how to treat myself more kindly and that it's okay to have limits. I had to exercise great patience and humility as I watched other people play with my children and clean my house. But instead of beating myself up for it, I figured out how to accept it as an exercise that the Lord wanted me to practice.

I learned that I am not unbreakable. I had always had pride in thinking I could do anything I set my mind to. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." What I didn't realize about that scriptural quote is that we have to take God's plan into account. We can do all things that God wants us to do, but we can't do all things we want to do. This is a very significant difference, and I had to come to terms with it. But in the grand scheme of things, the only thing that matters is what God wants me to do. He sees the whole picture, so I need to trust that he knows what I need much better than I know.

C.S. Lewis wrote a beautiful metaphor about trusting God's plan for us: "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."

I read that, and I believed it. I thought of the scripture, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow." We need to stop worrying about our needs, and instead worry about doing the Lord's work. He'll take care of our needs, and just like the lilies, we'll grow the way HE wants us to grow. So I submitted myself to God. I understand that he has a plan, and I trust him. Build my palace.

A couple of weeks ago, my immediate and extended family held a family fast for me. I was to the point where the specialists were at a loss, and they were easing me into the idea that I might not recover. My mobility was slowly improving, but my pain was not, and, I was scared. So I asked my family to fast and pray with me. And we did.

Now there wasn't an instant recovery (clearly, as I'm still in a wheelchair, haha). However, I did notice an instant, and significant, decrease in my pain. I've been cautious to get too optimistic about it, because I've had good days and bad days throughout this whole process. But ever since that family fast... my walking has continued improving little by little, and my pain levels have astounded me- in a good way. I used to just lie on the couch and ache. I was never not in pain. That isn't the case anymore. I still feel pain, but it's low and very bearable. I'm at a point where, even if this is as good as I get, I could live with this. I was scared of being in pain for the rest of my life. But take the pain out of the picture, and, I can handle a wheelchair!

But then I went to physical therapy yesterday. My therapist was absolutely thrilled with how much I've improved. She really honestly thinks I'll recover. It looks like it will simply be like this: as hard as I work, is as good as I'll get. I'll be able to walk as far as I can strengthen my muscles to go. So there probably won't be a day where, "Ta-Da!" I'm better, but, I'll just have to always work to keep my muscles strong, and my abilities will improve with that. Pretty good motivation to exercise and stay in shape, right?!

So anyway, the bottom line is, I'm feeling good. I'm excited about the prospect of getting better and being able to walk. I'm thrilled that my pain levels have been under control. I'm grateful for all of the many lessons I've learned on this journey. I'm motivated to press forward and to use any improved mobility to do good and serve the Lord. I have faith that the Lord is forming me into who he wants me to be. I have a renewed testimony of faith and fasting, and I firmly believe that it helped me. Even if I never get all the way better, I know that life will be great. Hard, but also happy. Brock always says, "Carson, Gordon, and I love you! We are your three biggest cheerleaders!" I am the most blessed girl in the world.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recovery is a long road.

Sometimes I think I try too hard to live up to the happy, bubbly personality so many people know in me. Like there's something glorified in being unchangeably happy, no matter the circumstance. But the truth is, sometimes life is hard. And it's okay to be sad; humans are created to feel all kinds of emotion. We're supposed to. It's easy to be optimistic when things are going well. But is that the point? I think that maybe character happens when the ugly of life is staring you in the face... and you have to find a way to still see the beautiful.

The specialists think I'm making slow progress, but I'm still in a wheelchair for now. They're hoping I recover by Christmas... But it's still a little bit up in the air. We're figuring things out and we're getting through. Only time will tell. I'm clinging to my faith that it will all be okay, and I'm counting my blessings as we keep moving forward.

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."
                     - Gordon B Hinckley

Sunday, July 6, 2014

SPD: Own it.

This is me, 24 years old, mommy of 2. And this is my new walking cane.

I have two beautiful, sweet little boys that I love more than anything in the whole wide world. They are 17 months apart. They have my heart. I will forever be grateful for the enormous blessing it is to be their mother.

Pregnancy gave me a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, aka Pelvic Girdle Pain. Google it if you're interested. It was very mild when I was pregnant with Carson. I actually didn't feel any effects of it until right after he was born, and it healed very quickly. This last pregnancy was a different story.

When I was 32 weeks along, I was walking down the hall when I suddenly fell to the floor in pain. I sat there for a while, thinking it must have been a weird fluke. I got up and walked toward Brock, and it happened again. He caught me, and I started to cry. He helped me to my bed, where I began to explain everything to him. I had felt a mild pain in that area for a few weeks prior... enough to bother me, but not enough for me to make a stink about it. I brushed it off as some weird pregnancy pain (there are lots of those), and didn't think much of it. But this was different. This was real pain. I stayed in bed the rest of that day, hoping rest would fix the problem.

The next morning was a Sunday, and I had a lesson planned for my little Primary class. When my toddler woke up, I got out of bed and carried him to the kitchen to make him a bottle. Standard morning routine. By the time the bottle was made, the pain was back in full swing. I gave my baby a blanket and limped into the bedroom to wake my husband. I started to cry again as the fear sank in- what if this pain doesn't go away? I said to Brock, "I can't just go two months without being able to walk. I have a toddler to take care of, for goodness' sake!"

But, we were sure that wouldn't be the case. We were sure another day of resting would fix it and I'd be just fine.

Another day went by and I was not getting better. Time to do research. Time to talk to the doctor. Time to fix it. Well, we found out what it was. Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, or, Pelvic Girdle Pain. The best advice anyone had was Tylenol, a maternity support belt, and waiting till baby was born. None of that was very helpful for the time being, but at least this pain had an expiration date. I would have my beautiful baby, and I would get better. Everything I read, everyone I talked to, said it would go away when the baby was born. That was my ray of hope. I could make it. I counted down every day. I wasn't allowed to lift my child. I couldn't walk. I was confined to the couch. And I would hobble painfully around the house to get to the bathroom or get food for Carson and myself. People were so generous, and we were taken care of. Counting down till baby was born. We would make it through.

And we did! We made it! Sweet, perfect little Gordon was born, 1 1/2 weeks early. All the pain was so worth it- none of it mattered. I had my beautiful baby in my arms, and I was finally going to get better. And I did! A couple weeks after giving birth, I was walking again. It was such a wonderful, freeing feeling. I was SO happy. I was able to lift both of my children. I took them on walks every day. Life was great.

When Gordon was 4 weeks old, I was out on a walk with my boys, and the pain started to come back. I knew I needed to get back home and rest. I was so scared. I made it back, and I was okay, but I started to be more careful. I stopped going on walks, and then I was capable of doing everything else just fine.

At my 6 week follow up appointment, I told my doctor everything. I told him I was significantly better, but that the pain still came if I walked or cleaned the house too much. He told me I needed to rest more. I needed more time to heal.

Now I dare you to stay home with two babies and rest your pelvis. Especially when you're feeling, for the most part, just fine. Well, I didn't rest. I pushed my limits every day. When I got sore, I'd sit down. I wasn't that stupid. But, pushing it to the point of soreness every day was not going to let it heal. No one knew I was still having struggles. I didn't want anyone to know. I thought I could pretend to be fine and eventually it would be true, and no one would need to feel sorry for me. I was frustrated that the pain didn't go away like it was supposed to. I was frustrated watching other women have babies and then be working out, getting in shape, and taking their kids to the park. I wanted that so bad. So I tested my limits every day, hoping each day was the day the pain wouldn't come back. And I did think it was getting better, slowly.

But, over this past weekend, I pushed it too far. I was cleaning the kitchen, and my body fought back. I leaned against the counter in disbelief. I couldn't walk. I couldn't take one step. I fought against my pride, and finally called out to Brock. He helped me to the bedroom. Then came the anxiety attack. A real one, like I hadn't had in years. Anger, frustration, fear, and PAIN. No. NO. Why?!?!  I stayed in bed the rest of the day, trying to find the emotional strength to be positive. Failing.

The next day was Gordon's blessing day. It was a marvelous day. Our family was there and so wonderful. I couldn't walk. It was time people knew that I did not, in fact, heal. Like I was supposed to. Like I pretended I did. People were so loving. It's time to swallow my pride. My doctor referred me to a physiatrist, and I've got an appointment tomorrow. They said it's treatable, and with some intense therapy, I'll get better. In the mean time, rest is helping, and, here is my cane! I hobble around my house, taking care of my babies, and resting the best I can.

I've learned a new level of compassion for others, because you never know when someone is going through something. I've learned that we all have to have a turn needing help. I've learned that we're never alone. And I've learned that it's okay to lower your expectations for yourself in order to be content with what you're able to do. I guess it's my turn to be tried, humbled, and taught patience. And I'm okay with it, because I have also been bounteously blessed. I have two beautiful, healthy little boys, and they are so beyond worth it.

The Lord has blessed me with the strength I need to take care of my little ones. As long as I'm able to do that, I'm okay. I can be happy. They are little angels and they bring me so much joy. The Lord has also blessed me with an amazing husband who is my saving grace. He picks up my slack around the house. He's the most incredible person I know. So this is me, giving up my pride. Owning my condition instead of hiding it. Trusting the Lord that one day I'll be able to walk well, and play with my little boys. In the mean time, I will do my best to stay happy. For my boys, for my husband, and for myself. After all, why are we here except to conquer trials, grow stronger, and find happiness? So I'm gonna do that. Cane and all. Watch me conquer! :)