Lost Treasure

I’ve been staring at an empty screen for about 30 minutes, not really knowing where or how to start.  I recently received a message from a reader, which says:

“Hello my sister,

How are you?  Almost 2 months and no new item on your blog.  Are you alright?  You used to share your wonderful emotions and God experiences.  Keep moving with your difficulties.  You are not alone.

May God bless you with good health!”

 

The problem is, I haven’t really had anything to share.  Nothing good, at least.  I try to be a positive person, not focusing on the negative, but life has been pretty hard lately.  So, I’ve kept the negativity to myself…no need to share that, right?

The short version is this: our long-awaited visit to the MS specialist ended up being a total letdown.  The doctor basically told me that it’s possible that I have Multiple Sclerosis, but he does not want to diagnose me unless I get much sicker.  We were expecting to start treatment, but instead, we took about 10 steps backward.

So, the next few weeks were filled with even more testing, some of it intrusive, some of it painful, all of it uncomfortable.

Still no definite answer.

Three specialists say it’s MS, but no one will formally diagnose me, so no treatment.  Don’t get me wrong, not having MS would be wonderful news!!!  But, then what is wrong with me?  (Besides the obvious sanity issues, of course.)  Medically, at this point, I’m just in limbo…a medical purgatory, shall we say?  (Oh Lord, help me.  I just laughed at my own corny joke.  I really need to get out more.)

Besides being utterly disappointed by my lack of progression towards health, I was still very ill.  Though I no longer had vision problems, I still suffered with quite a bit of pain, as well as fatigue and cognitive issues.

I was pushed to the brink emotionally, and my faith was wavering.  I flip-flopped between knowing that God was with me to feeling extremely alone.  One minute I had faith that my trials were to serve some greater good, then the next minute I was angry.  Not only was I suffering, but my husband was missing his wife, and my children were missing their mother.  I physically could not be as available to them as I normally am.

I felt like such a failure to my family, and the guilt was almost too much to bear.  I just could not find the purpose for this…I was not living but merely existing.  I was in an emotional and spiritual funk that I just could not shake.  Even the earnest attempts of the Ninja-Priest-Friend could not help my spiritual desolation.

Then, one day I woke up and felt a little better–emotionally and physically.  And the next day, I felt better still.  And each day progressed with a little more happiness and a little less pain.  For three weeks, I’ve felt decent.  I’m still not at my best and haven’t been since January, but each day is an improvement upon the previous.

So, I’m taking each day slowly, thankful for whatever progression emerges in that particular day.  It’s amazing what you can relish when you feel like you’ve been down to nothing.  Getting out of bed without pain in the morning makes me giddy, and being able to chase the kids around the house gives me the greatest feeling of contentment.

I’ve always been one to enjoy the simple things, but now I appreciate them with a fervor never felt before.  I hope to continue to improve, even if we don’t know why, even if I never know what was wrong with me for the past 5 months.  And, even if I never reach optimal health, I know this:  I will be thankful for whatever is given to me.  Because I know what it feels like to be down to nothing.

Life is such a treasure.  I forgot that for a while.  I lost my treasure and couldn’t find a map.  But life is a treasure that cannot be found in any location; it is found in time, in experiences, in days, in moments.

So, day by day.

Moment by moment.

I’ll cherish it all.

 

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Leaning In

“Regardless of your personal situation, regardless of your heartaches and pains, remember that it can always be worse.

We are all blessed.  We just don’t always see it.  But, if you quiet yourself, if you look around you, if you listen to the whisperings of your heart, you’ll hear it.  You’ll hear the sounds of God working in your life.  You’ll see Him around you.  You’ll see your own blessings.”

Little did I know that these words–my words–would be a challenge once written.

As I clicked “publish” on the above post one week ago today, my phone rang. And within one minute, my world changed.  Yet again.

My dad was calling with bad news…my grandmother died very unexpectedly.

So, here’s a quick recap of 2013 so far:

I’m not one for superstitions, but I’m starting to think that there may be some truth to the number 13 being unlucky.  At this point, if I’m still standing in June, I think we’re doing good, don’t you?

I had just written about finding blessings in a world full of heartache and pain, and now I felt as if I was being challenged to follow my own advice.  I sat in silence for a moment, letting this loss sink in.  Memories and thoughts of my grandmother flooded my mind and heart, bringing an immense sadness.  I waited for anger.  There was none.  I waited for self-pity–after all, how could this happen to me?  I just finished IV treatments!  There was no self-pity.  I waited for cynicism.  There was none.  I waited for feelings of “that’s not fair!”  That never came either.

All that came was sorrow and loss.

My own feelings puzzled me.  It seemed like I should be angry.  Why won’t God just give me a break this year?!?  Why is it one thing after another?  Why can’t I just have one really good day?!?  I had just finished IV treatment a few hours earlier; I had just taken out the IV.  Why couldn’t I have just enjoyed being MS symptom free for a little while?  These are thoughts I would’ve normally had.  But instead, I had a calm about a very chaotic situation…and that confused me.  I struggled to find the source of the calm.  Good Lord, I’ve actually flipped my lid.  I’m calm because I’ve actually lost my mind. 

And then it hit me.  I wasn’t losing my mind.  In actuality, it was the exact opposite.  I had an unbelievable moment of clarity.  It didn’t matter why my grandmother was gone.  It didn’t matter that this year has been horrendous.  It was completely irrelevant.  The fact of the matter is that bad things happen every day.

Maybe I’ve matured.  Maybe I’ve hardened.  Maybe I’ve gained wisdom.  Maybe I’ve just gotten used to crappy things happening.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s something more.  Continue reading

Sincere Thanksgiving

Life is great.  Really.

I haven’t been able to write in about 10 days because my current multiple sclerosis relapse took a serious turn for the worse.  I woke up one morning a few weeks ago, with a loss of vision in one eye, blurred and double vision in both eyes, and I was having serious balance problems–that’s code for “falling on my butt with every other step.”

After waiting it out for a few days (I was told I had to just be patient through this relapse, which actually started on January 13), we called my neurologist.  He is sending me to a specialist, which we have anxiously been awaiting–just 2 more weeks now!–and has been hesitant to treat me until I’m seen by said specialist.

Well, because my symptoms escalated so quickly, the neurologist decided to treat the relapse.  Unbeknownst to me, treatment included 5 days of high-powered IV corticosteroid infusions.  Whatever.  I need to see.  This disease can affect so many different parts of the body, all at once, that it is hard to diagnose.  For me personally, I can handle pain much better than what I call “head stuff.”  I can ignore physical pain.  I can’t ignore mental confusion, loss of vision, light sensitivity.  Those things impair my quality of life.  The things I love need some sort of mental capability (however little I may have), such as reading, writing, movies, theatre, etc.  So, even though I wasn’t sure what IV treatment would be like, I was up for it.

The next day (last Thursday to be exact), I began IV treatment.  (I’ll share more on this experience later, when I was blessed with the gift of perspective.)  Almost immediately, I saw results.  Friday morning, just after one treatment, my vision cleared up.  I still could not read well, but I no longer had blurry or double vision.  And the blind spot was gone!  Saturday morning, vision was completely clear, I no longer had balance problems, physical pain, and no fatigue or fever.  This morning, just after 3 treatments, I felt no sting of the MS symptoms that have plagued me for 2 months.

Nothing.

No pain.  No vision problems.  No fatigue.  No balance issues.  No numbness.  No confusion.  Absolutely nothing.  All MS symptoms are gone.

I don’t know if I’ve ever woken up so happy before in my entire life.  How could I not be elated?  I could actually walk to the bathroom without holding on to the wall.  I wasn’t exhausted after getting dressed.  Even better, I could get dressed by myself!

According to The Husband, this image best fits me this morning.  Seriously couldn't stop smiling.  :)

According to The Husband, this image best fits me this morning. Seriously couldn’t stop smiling.   :)

Like I said, Life is great!

Even though I went to Mass yesterday afternoon with my mom, I decided to join The Husband and my boys again this morning.  I felt such an immense amount of peace and calm, that I just knew I had to give credit where it is due.  What better way is there to pay homage to our Lord than adoring Him in the most Holy Mass?

We usually arrive at church pretty early to have personal prayer time in the quiet.  Today was no different.  Now, I’m usually extremely private when it comes to my personal prayer, but I feel called to share this with you.  So, rather than paraphrasing how I’m feeling today, I’ll just share my personal conversation with God.  Here goes: Continue reading

NyQuil, Insanity, and American Idol

Ah, a day in the life…

I’ve been having a really hard time sleeping lately, mostly due to an upper respiratory infection that I’ve had for about 2 weeks.  So, in my not-so-infinite wisdom, I took a NyQuil to sleep last night.  Oh, NyQuil.  The “nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, sleep better to feel better” medicine, right?

Have I mentioned that I have a very low tolerance to meds?  I don’t simply “wake up” after ingesting HighQuil–oops! I meant NyQuil–I actually have to slowly come out of a 13 hour coma.  Instead of sleeping like this:

I end up looking something like this:

And, she’s actually kind of cute.  For it to be an accurate representation, she’d have to have her mouth wide open, hair sticking straight out, and she’d be completely hanging over the side of the bed.  Seriously.

As I slowly came out of my medically induced coma, I realized it was lunchtime.  No big deal.  I wasn’t even remotely hungry.  Oh, wait–I have children.  Dang, they need to eat, don’t they?  Continue reading

Chaos, Cats, and Confusion…Oh My!

It was a rough night.  It was one of those “I can’t take it anymore” nights.  One of those “Jesus, help me” nights.  One of those exhausting, emotional,  overloading nights.  Like I said, it was rough.

The Older Boy has a tendency to obsess over things.  He’s always done this.  Whether it was an upcoming trip to Grandma’s or a new toy, he can’t focus on anything else if he’s excited about something.  It could drive anyone insane.  For example, if we’re going bowling on Saturday, and I tell John Edward about it on Thursday, he will ask repeatedly when we’re going.  He understands the days of the week, and I can even write it on a calendar as a visual for him, but it won’t matter.  “Mom, we go bowling?” will be his mantra until we are in the bowling alley parking lot.  It can wear on your patience, trust me.  We’ve learned over the years to not tell him if we’re doing something exciting until we are on our way there.

He also does this with new things.  The other day, he bought a new Wii game with his own money.  Before we even checked out, he was asking, “We go home now?  I play ‘da Wii?”  We heard this about 15 more times on the way home, which is only about 12 miles from the store.

So, I should have known better when we decided to get a new cat.

Actually, a new kitten.

Actually, 2 new kittens.

I’m an idiot.

Regardless, we now have 2 new family members in feline form.  Of course, The Older Boy is obsessed with them.  He is constantly wanting to hold them, play with them, follow them, take pictures of them, etc, etc.  Those poor cats have no privacy when John Edward’s home.  I understand that he’s excited about our new pets.  They are super cute.  They are hilarious.  They are warm and cuddly.  I get it.

But he goes too far.  They are all he thinks about.  It’s unhealthy.

I’m terrified he’ll end up like this: Continue reading

A Lesson in Compassion

I thought of him again today.  This happens from time to time.  He randomly pops into my mind, and once I start thinking about him, I cannot stop.  He’s made a huge impact on my life; I will never forget him.

And I don’t even know his name.

It was a typical hum-drum day at the office, as I sat looking at yet another unpaid claim from an insurance company.  I worked in medical billing at this time, and my job was to appeal (a.k.a. fight) the insurance companies on behalf of our patients.  Glamorous, it was not.  But, I liked my job.  I always felt like I was helping the everyday working man.  (Cue super hero music and patriotic flag/sunrise/eagle scene.)

Oh yeah, that's me. Saving the country, one claim at a time.

On this typical day, about 8 years ago, one of my co-workers burst into the office, saying she needed help in the parking lot.  Not even knowing what was going on, myself and 2 other women ran out to help her. Continue reading