Without going into too many details (cause this is still the internet ya'll :) Starting at about September of last year I began having episodes of extreme pain. It was incorrectly diagnosed. Unfortunately that oversight lead to a year of pain and exhaustion. I was diagnosed with all kinds of autoimmune disorders, when what was really going on was quite simple. Every time I went into see the doctor, I walked out with a prescription for codeine pain relievers and nausea medications and whatever else they could think to throw at this. It was like a goody bag at a birthday party. Those drugs were necessary, but they made me so tired. I am the kind of girl who gets knocked out like someone chloroformed me by a child's dose of Benadryl, you can imagine what this was like. Too many times my children had to play the role of caretaker to me during the episodes of extreme pain.
Fortunately, while we were out of town for vacation a couple of months ago, I went into the hospital because it became unbearable. A smart doctor there figured out that I just needed a simple surgery in no time I was feeling better. Had I been at home, I would have gone to see my doctors who would never have clued in. Ignoring it almost killed me. Now, I look back and I can hardly believe I made it through. I also grieve for the mother I wasn't able to be to my children for that year. Don't get me wrong, everyone's basic needs were met. But if you know me, or have read the blog at all, you know how much I value having FUN with my kids... Hands on projects, messy art, unexpected surprises, really fun trips. I was no fun at all, I barely had energy for "functional", much less fun.
But we are changing that, and getting back to normal. We have fun again. While I didn't really want to dwell on the negatives of the past year, it didn't seem right to just ignore this chapter and edit it out of our lives. After all, this is our story and this happened. In some ways the last year has changed us all, including the kids. Not all of the changes were positive, but I prefer to dwell on the ones that are...and count my blessings....
- my children and I are very compassionate towards people with illness, especially illness that you can't "see".
- They can all cook for themselves, do laundry, and are very self sufficient.
- Although I regret that they were forced into seeing me in such pain, my children did SUCH an amazing job taking care of me. When I think of some of the precious things they did for me, I cry. I appreciated every washcloth on my neck and every rub of my back. They are amazing kids and those are memories I keep close to my heart.
- In some ways, their sibling bond is strengthened, because they all found they could rely on each other when they needed to.
- I found out I have some pretty amazing friends. Friends who were willing to come to my house and have play dates here for my children (when their mom was too sick to take them out). Friends who would wake up themselves, their kids and their spouse to come and rescue me and take me to the emergency room in the dead of night when my hubby was out of town. Friends who could just cheer me up by chatting with me. I don't think I would have made it without friends.
- I learned how to receive help. I suck at asking for help. I think it is one of those self esteem issues I haven't completely worked out, worthiness or something like that. But when you have no options, you ask for help. And then look, nothing bad happened? As a matter of fact, lots of good things happened.
- As with above, I also don't do vulnerable well (understatement). Vulnerability is so messy. But learning how to be vulnerable and be zen with that, I don't think I could put a price on that.
- I am a very lucky girl, who is married to an amazing guy. He is not the most emotionally expressive guy. That used to seem like a negative to me. But when you are lost in a sea of pain, exhaustion, and hopelessness, you have plenty of emotion for two (or three hundred). What you need is a rock. He is absolutely steadfast, unchanging, and it turns out that was the thing I needed all along. He rode in on his white horse and everything was always better.
- I learned so much about health and wellness. Oh my goodness. I used myself as a guinea pig to experiment with alternative health treatments when traditional medicines weren't working. I wouldn't trade this knowledge for the world. I know so much more about my self. So much of my diet and my health has changed for the better. I am healthy and I plan to just continue optimizing that.
- Spiritually I think that suffering changed me. It would be a whole other story to tell... but I don't think you can walk through a time of suffering of any kind and accept easy answers. I think for me, so much was reconciled to me. What I learned was the compassion and grace of God. Which seems odd doesn't it? to learn that while suffering. Too much of what was offered to me as a kid was a graceless, nit picky, judgmental religion that honestly, didn't seem all that appealing (and still doesn't). And somehow, through this... all I know now is the grace and compassion of God.