I yelled at my kids the other night. I mean I really let them have it. I’d been home from my extended stay in the hospital for a little over a week to find that my children had suddenly forgotten how to put their toys, clothes, shoes… well anything in general, away where it belonged. I’ll admit that one of my greatest faults is that when I feel out of control of the major circumstances in my life, like say my health, I tend to turn into a raging (and I mean RAGING) control freak. I mean I really become the freakiest of control freaks. The more I’ve been forced to face the nature of this latest health crisis, the more out of control I’ve felt and I’m ashamed to admit that my kids took the brunt of it. I feel sick. I truly do, what right do I have to make them the victims of the rage that has been bubbling under the surface for days, no, weeks now? I know, I know… you were expecting another of my “I can do this, I feel so positive” posts. Not tonight, or this morning, or whenever I get this posted.
Right now, in this moment at just after midnight, I feel a deep and all-consuming sadness. I can’t help it. It is just there. It was bound to happen. I mean, think about it. For the past month I’ve discovered that my body has once again failed me, let me down, disappointed me and generally been misbehaving. Both hips have dead and dying bone so we sliced open my legs, drilled into my thigh bones and through to the femoral heads. To add insult to injury they attempted to harvest bone marrow from one site which was painful enough but no, once again my body wouldn’t play nice and they couldn’t find enough in not one, not two, but three sites. Count them, three sites where they pierced my skin with a needle big enough to leave a ¼ inch mark on each iliac crest (the top, front of my hip bone) to inject these stem cells into the holes they drilled in an attempt to convince my body to grow some bone for crying out loud! And let me tell you, they warned me that the marrow extraction sites would hurt just as much as the incisions if not worse, they weren’t a kiddin’.
To top it off I get sent to a rehab hospital for two and half weeks during which time I had a birthday where I had to cut my own party short because I was too tired to entertain my own family after an hour. I miss my baby’s first day of kindergarten. I get a migraine and have an adverse reaction to the injection they give me for the pain and end up with a slew of meds on board to counter-act the reaction then spend almost an entire evening with my whole body rigid as a board with periodic spasms in which I cannot control my own motor function. Then I come home and have to face the fact that I feel as if I can barely care for myself. I cried for 5 minutes after I showered myself for the first time at home because it really sunk in how extremely difficult this recovery is going to be.
Most people think that it will slowly get better. Let me make this perfectly clear. Until November 19th , which will be exactly three months out from my surgery date, I will be using either a wheelchair, a walker, or crutches and cannot walk without putting most of my weight through the latter of the two devices mentioned. In order to brush my teeth, wash my hands, do my hair and makeup, or generally do anything, I must be seated. I can’t cook, I can’t feed my kids, help them get dressed and ready for the day, I can’t even take care of my dogs for Pete’s sake. Not only that, but until that time I will not even be having any x-rays to determine whether or not the surgery was a success. Really you ask? Yes, really. Apparently having x-rays before then would reveal nothing of any value. So, after all of this torture I may get to the end of the journey only to discover that all of this was in vain and I will need to have my hips replaced after all. This would mean starting all over again from scratch. I think if that happens you will find me in a padded cell listlessly drooling over a bib that states “This woman’s body hates her, don’t judge!”
PHEHW!!! Did you all survive that rant? I barely did, I’m sobbing as I type. I can’t help it. I can’t sleep. I’m sick with worry over what this is doing to my children. Will they remember a fun mom who loved them more than life itself or will they be haunted by the memory of a mother too sick to care for them properly. I hate to sound morbid, but I must admit it is getting exceedingly more and more difficult to even imagine myself there at my oldest son’s high school graduation. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be there, I want to experience that with my boys but… I AM JUST SO TIRED OF SUFFERING. I know, you are probably thinking, “Buck up sister, your life can’t be that bad.” And, in truth, it isn’t. I have so very much to be grateful for. It is just hard to see it when all I do is hurt and then hurt some more.
I’ve tried praying for relief, I’ve tried praying for the pain to stop. I’ve even tried praying that I’ll be healed. The answer to all of these is, of course, no. Oddly, this doesn’t make me angry with God, you’d think after that big long sob fest I just typed out, it would. But it doesn’t. No… Really… It truly doesn’t. I realize that the only way I can grow and learn is to be tested and tried. I also realize that there are others with much more horrific life challenges and stories. My heart breaks for them and I am in awe of those who come out of it with a soul more beautiful than the one they started with. I think, “If they can do it, so can I. Right?!?” Right… So, how do I make sure that my boys remember a mother who loved them, the mom that was fun and funny, and a woman who would sacrifice all she had if she could to ensure their happiness? How do I make sure that, if I don’t make it to see their adulthood, they can look back on me with love and tenderness instead of the control freak that made an unfortunate appearance the other evening?
I pray for patience. It’s as simple as that. I pray for the courage to feel the sadness and despair that is stifling my heart right now. To move through it, no matter how painful, and come out on the other side with a cleansed soul. I pray for persistence in enduring the trials and suffering ahead. I pray for forgiveness for the times when I let the veneer slip and my family takes the brunt of it. I pray for forbearance in the face of each new struggle that comes of a tired and hurting body. I pray for fortitude when living in this body feels like a prison that holds me in a cell so suffocating I may never breathe again. I pray that my eyes will be opened to see my Savior as he carries me through the worst of it and holds my family to his bosom when I can no longer be there to do it myself. I pray that my Heavenly Father can see and witness my quiet, yet determined love for him.
For several months now I have felt the need to put my life in order, both temporally and spiritually. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not giving up. I hope to be here for some time yet. However, I have been feeling very strong promptings to fortify my relationships with family and friends, put my household in order, and, most importantly, I’ve been sensing an urgency in facing my worst qualities and making a concerted effort to change for the better. Often I feel that these latest struggles are providing the perfect opportunity to do just that, look into the looking glass, face down my worst demons, and truly endeavor to replace those demons with a better me. Several months ago as my little family and I were on a long drive I remember the distinct impression from the spirit that things were about to become more and more difficult in regards to my life experiences. I wasn’t sure at the time whether that meant my health, my husband’s circumstances, or something to do specifically with my children. Actually, in a way, all three have played a major role; with my health at the forefront and presenting the most difficult to endure. In that quiet moment of reflection in the car I remember feeling an overpowering sense of loyalty to my Father in Heaven. I remember saying a silent prayer, “Father, no matter what comes I will not turn from thee. I. WILL. NOT. TURN. FROM. THEE.” I grit my teeth as I told the adversary to leave me be, that nothing he could do, no temptation in the face of trial could make me turn from my faith. I begged the Father, “Help me to come out of this trial a more beautiful soul than the one I began with.”
I hope that I can do that. I am really trying. Some days I feel I do better than others. I have often heard it said that people admire those who suffer in silence. I used to agree but, more and more lately, I wonder why. Why is it more courageous to suffer in a bubble, to fold in on oneself and deny others the opportunity to serve? Why is it that we admire those who don’t ask for help when true courage comes when we humble ourselves and admit that it cannot be done alone? Some mountains are meant to be climbed with help whether it be divine or otherwise. Although, I suspect, that all help is ultimately of a divine nature. I would humbly like to submit that I have had a change of opinion. I don’t believe that it shows more bravery to suffer in silence, trapped in the microcosm of our own minds. Instead I would say that true fearlessness comes when we let our boundaries fall and allow others in to help lift and succor. After all, are we not here to learn to rely on the help of a Savior who suffered all, that we might return to live with our Father in Heaven again? Does suffering in silence mean that those people don’t turn to their Savior? Not necessarily, however; the Savior uses the angels who live among us to do for us what he is unable to do himself. In this way both the person serving and the recipient of that service are blessed.
I used to be one who suffered in silence. I would remain stuck within my own, self-made, prison in which I thought no one cared because I gave them no opportunity to show their love. This trial, in particular, has humbled me in such a way that I cannot operate without the assistance of others and I believe that it is ALL divinely sent. Even amidst this great chasm of fear and depression I have seen the bright light of my Savior’s love. It has come in the form of my mother who, despite her own health issues, has come to my aid more times than I can count. I have seen it in my Father’s eyes as he eases my suffering with his insight and wisdom. It comes in the form of friends and loved ones who have visited me both at home and in the hospital. It came in the form of my sweet mother in law who moved in with us for a month and provided a safe place for my children to come when their mother’s arms were otherwise occupied. It has come in the form of cherished gifts, cards, and a few exciting surprises from sources both expected and unexpected. It came by way of sweetly anticipated, nightly phone calls from my sister-in-law. It came in the texts and laughs with my own sweet sister. It has come through friends and neighbors who’ve stepped up to care for me and my family by bringing meals, watching my children, and helping me get to and from the many places I’m still expected to be. Finally, it came when a dear friend and her darling baby sat for hours with me during the height of my migraine speaking in hushed tones providing a much-needed distraction and the feeling of such love that my heart was full to bursting.
I only want to do what is right. My hope is that my children will remember their mother with fun and fond memories, but most of all I hope they remember that she loved the Savior and wanted them to have a testimony of their own one day so that just in case… If she isn’t there to guide them through it, they can look back on her life and see that the Savior was there for her and so will He be there for them as well. Peace and sweet dreams all.