Friday, June 3, 2011

Big girl britches

Friday nights are always cathartic for us. We are exhausted and ready for an even earlier bedtime than usual. We always exhale a little and say a "thank you" we made it through another week of life. Tonight we were especially grateful Dan made it home with our old JEEP. He had barely made it to work on Wednesday morning and then worked all day and through the night, only curling up for a couple hours sleep, and then worked again all day Thursday. Danica and I took him lunch after her therapy Thursday morning, and he looked as tired as I have ever seen him and discouraged. He had just written the "break through" post about his glass finally being full and then the JEEP gave out. I could see his heart wondering if maybe the other shoe really is always going to drop. Danica and I have been shuttling he and Delaney around since. Tonight he decided he should try to get the JEEP home. He let me know he was leaving in case we needed to find him on the side of 77, and the girls and I had a little prayer meeting. Imagine our joy when he pulled up in front of the house. Hallelujah!

The funny thing is I truly haven't been stressed about the car. My first response was concern for Dan's safety and then some truth, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Two years ago He gave us this vehicle free and clear. Although we have had to put money into it to keep it going. It has been reliable and a true blessing. There was something deeper than my remebering how many times God has been faithful in the past. By God's grace I really have grown into this response of peace when life happens.

Not long before our Florida trip we made the very hard but necessary decision to move into my parent's basement. I was struggling mentally and emotionally. It was the most depressed I have felt through this entire journey. I shared with you all how brutal the roller coaster was of trying to be strong and positive then rushing down into despair and worry without warning. I made an appointment with my doctor and began a new medication in addition to all the others I was taking. I can tell you without a doubt it has changed my life. I feel better than I have in a decade. I am stable. The side effects have been manageable. All except one. I have gained weight. For someone who has literally always felt comfortable with my body this has been a challenge for me. I still see the benefits as far outweighing (no pun intended) the problem for now. I saw my doctor today, and I was reminded how thin and fragile and truly unwell I was last summer. Since then I have gained 15 pounds, 7 of which have quickly accumulated since beginning this medication. I have had two very major, body changing surgeries. I have truly healed in so many ways.

Tuesday I made a trip to visit a dear friend who I made online right at the beginning of Danica's Chiari journey. Her son, Josh, had his first decompression two weeks before Danica did with Dr. Cohen. We have never met in person but walked a very similar road with our children following their first brain surgeries. She was recently diagnosed with cancer. If there are good and bad kinds of cancer this is one of the bad kinds. I had planned to drive to her oncology center in Pennsylvania and do a chemo day with her, but she became very sick and her blood counts were so bad they hospitalized her. I decided to go anyways to visit. I have been to many hospitals in my life. I have been the patient and the one sitting vigil. I am always reminded when I walk in the doors how "real life" stops and this world hangs on threads. I saw her body, so frail and fighting, unable to eat because of thrush and the burning from the radiation and nausea from chemotherapy with a stomach tube keeping her fed and IVs keeping her hydrated. She talked about her disease as frankly as I have ever heard or read. She was matter of fact and still resolved. I was completely humbled and changed by the time spent with her.

As I drove home my pants felt a little tight and I loosened the button. I felt shame alone in my own car about my growing tummy. Then I thought about how my body has carried me through my life, often betraying me, making me aware of weakness at every turn. I am stronger now than I have been in years. I am in less pain. I am able to do more. I am able to go longer and work harder. I have always had a test for my size. A pair of Ralph Lauren jeans. Not the Ralph you buy at TJ Maxx. Real ones. Timeless, beautiful and perfectly made. I have been able to comfortably fit in these jeans for 10 years. Tomorrow I think I'll yield to this new body and buy a new pair of big girl britches. I'll let myself be comfortable with the scars and stretching and the growing because a size 10 could be one of the best gifts I've been given in a very long time.

(Danica's appointment in Cincinnati with Dr. Crawford was moved from June 14th to June 28th. Although we are anxious to see the progression of the fusion we are relieved to have it pushed until we are moved and have a week to settle. She had a great therapy session this week and got to ride an adaptive bike. I am hoping Dr. Crawford will give us permission to have a trike adapated for her to ride in our new neighborhood. She was so thrilled and proud to be back on wheels.)

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