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

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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