Sunday, May 6, 2012

Life. Just life.

I've not written in a while.  I'm sad about it, but I'm going to do my best to catch up.  There is no weigh in involved today - and maybe not for a couple of weeks.  I'm going to go back toward my birthday and try to recap the past few weeks.  

The weekend before my birthday, the handsome hubby and I got to get away.  It was magical and beautiful, and only overnight, but SO needed.  We escaped to a B&B near Mystic, CT.  We had one of the nicest suites there - it had a huge whirlpool tub and towel warmers, a fireplace, and the grounds were beautiful.  The staff there was gracious and helpful, and we would love to go back and make a tradition of staying there.  So if you're in New England, Stonecroft is a beautiful place to get away for a weekend.  A kind of TMI NSV involved here, but actually utilizing a two person whirlpool tub as TWO persons and not one big ol' person is quite gratifying.  It brought me to tears, honestly.  I was able to wear a sweet little dress that I picked up on clearance at Old Navy for $15, but I felt like a million bucks.  It was magical to reconnect with my husband.  The two of us have been working so much and passing like ships in the night - barely having time to see each other, much less celebrate being married to each other.  We held hands, visited the Mystic Aquarium, laughed, and actually looked into one another's faces.  Seriously, a fantastic time.  

Right before we left for Mystic, we received an invitation to a luncheon honoring the Coast Guard Spouse of the Year and an awards ceremony for Military Spouse of the Year in Washington, D.C. coming up in May.  We immediately phoned in our RSVP.  I felt so honored to be invited to celebrate my dear friend, Jennifer, and so thankful that she included me in one of the projects that led her to receiving this designation.  After discussion, we decided to make a family trip of it, and take the kids to Washington, D.C. with us and visit the National Zoo and other landmarks together.  What an opportunity!

We came back and were struck in the face with reality.  Back to work, back to kids' school projects, back to life.  Just life.  But here's where I want to put my focus today, and it's a place I've visited before: at what point are we living life, celebrating life, enjoying and being grateful for life, and at which point are we merely existing?  Existing is easy.  You breathe in and out.  You travel the paths in your day to day life.  Wake up, coffee, shower (if you're lucky), kids ready for school, work all day, homework with kids, laundry, dinner, bedtime prayers, sleep.  Then the next day you do it all over again.  Throw in some after school activities or something, and where is the LIFE?  It's just running back and forth and all over.  Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not condemning anyone who is able to celebrate and embrace life with all the busyness I'm talking about.  On the contrary, I admire that ability.  My physical limitations, however, really hinder the LIVING part there.

I went back to work, plugging through.  I managed over the past few months to furnish 5 new townhomes on the base for rental this summer.  Our team at work had been working very hard to make up for a construction project - I'm not going to get into all of it, but there's been a lot going on.  My body has been very tired, but I have been working so hard, and we have been receiving praise for the work our team has done.  

I might mention, by the way, that looking to God for guidance has not been at the top of my list.  I have been so busy - He wouldn't be providing all this STUFF if He didn't want me to do it, right?  Did I ever stop to ask, or stop to listen?  NO.  Not at all.  I haven't used my prayer journal in months, or stopped in prayer and sought guidance.  Ladies' Retreat?  Absolutely!  God wants me to do that, right?  Bigger workload at the office?  Sure!  I've got it!  Figuring out childcare for different events, knowing that my husband's career in the CG hampers that - I mean,'s not like he can call in because I don't have a sitter, right?!  I have been going like a whirlwind - paying no mind to what I am picking up and what I am passing by.

Two weeks ago, a hiccup happened.  I was singing at church that morning with the Worship Team.  I had a Leaders' meeting after church for the upcoming Womens' Retreat.  My older son woke up having a meltdown and exhibiting signs that he was having a hard day.  Knowing that I had that obligation after church - the meeting - and knowing that the kids would have to be with me...and then knowing that the next day was back to school from Spring Break... All of this KNOWING, all of this self-imposed pressure, all of this ME.  I said a prayer that morning, and spoke with the lady in charge, and told her that I needed to be a Mom that day.  The relief of praying about it and seeking what God had for me was huge.  The weight of knowing that I possibly was disappointing, inconveniencing, and likely annoying a group of women was significant, but hearing God say, "I love you.  Be a Mom.  It's okay," was enough comfort.  There were waves of relief.  Women I love and trust that God has placed in my life reassured me, as well, and offered prayers for me.

I did relax that afternoon at home with my boys.  I was a Mom.  It had been a long time, and it was SO nice to enjoy my boys.  I sure am a lucky lady to have these sweet dudes here.

The next day, I got the numbness in my face that signaled a migraine was coming.  That was the day before I posted that I met my 25 lbs lost milestone.  That Tuesday, I ended up at the neurologist.  Whether anyone will actually read up on Hemiplegic Migraines, I don't know, but here is a highlight from Web MD:

Migraines are unpredictable and unique to each person. You may have a hemiplegic migraine headache with extreme pain and minor paralysis one month. Then the next attack might bring extreme paralysis without much headache pain at all.
Symptoms of hemiplegic migraine include:
  • Severe, throbbing pain, often on one side of your head
  • A pins-and-needles feeling, often moving from your hand up your arm
  • Numbness on one side of your body, which can include your arm, leg, and/or one side of your face
  • Weakness or paralysis on one side of your body
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Visual aura, such as seeing zigzag lines, double vision, or blind spots
  • Language difficulties, such as mixing words or trouble remembering a word
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and smell
  • Confusion
  • Decreased consciousness or coma

The only symptoms I did not experience are vomiting and coma.  The migraine completely weakened the left side of my body.  I could not see clearly.  I couldn't make out facial features.  I certainly couldn't drive. I visited the neurologist, who reassured me that this is "normal" for this kind of migraine, and that I just needed to be patient while we figure out which medicines will work for me.  Thursday came that week, and I was still home.  Things had not gotten better.  Friday came, and I was in significant pain.  Honestly a 10 on the pain scale pain.  The neurologist sent me to the ER for pain management in hopes that the migraine would go away.  I rode in the car with a ball cap, sunglasses, a coat over my face, and stumbled into the hospital.  I ended up being admitted for a few days, while they treated my new "normal."  I had an MRI, a CT scan, a Reiki practitioner visited, and lots and lots and LOTS of medicine.    

I left the hospital on Monday, with my headache still here.  Today is Sunday, nearly a week later, and my headache is still here.  I have marked weakness remaining on my left side.  I have tingling and numbness.  I have gobs of pills that I am ingesting in hopes that something will work in my body to stop the symptoms and provide maintenance and control in the future.  In all of that, you know what I realized?  I haven't been listening.  God knocked me on my butt and made me be still.  Not on my own accord, because truly I hadn't been still in months.

Know what the theme of the ladies' retreat was?  Guess.

Be still.  

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10.  You reckon He wanted me there?  You think all of this is a coincidence?  I know God is working in my life.  God is making changes in my life that I was not prepared to make on my own.  God is placing people in my life right now that have been prayer warriors for me - people I hardly know.  But you know what?  He's got it.  God is in control.  I have no doubt there.

So my plans for D.C. are foiled.  I am so sad that I will not be there to celebrate Jen, but I know she understands and longs for me to be healthy.  I have not driven myself anywhere in almost 2 weeks now.  We have had lovely friends prepare meals for us, and I have had friends babysitting me and chauffeuring me to the doctor when my handsome hubby has not been available.  God has rendered me weak and vulnerable, and I am a captive audience.  I am listening.  I am looking.  I am searching.  

Why weight?  Why?  When there is life to be lived, why focus on weight?  I am focusing on my overall health.  Right now my weight has gone up a little bit - I am on a steroid, I have been lethargic and ordered to bed, and pumped full of fluids in the hospital.  I am not beating myself up about that right now.  

If my lessons I am learning help anyone, then I know it has been worth it.  If they help my family, even better.  I know God will provide for us - He always has.  I know God has a purpose for me.  He has a plan for me.  God's plan is not for me to be on my rear like this long-term.  His plan involves me being healed and helping others.  That much I know.  I just have to remember to stop and listen, and not take matters into my own hands.  

If you're still reading after all this, please be in prayer for me.  Specifically pray for discernment, for open ears, and an open heart.  We are being led to make some big decisions right now that will impact our family in many ways, and I need the confidence of knowing that it is God's decision I am making, not Amber's.  

I am being still today.  If you have not been still in a while, I urge you to on your own accord...because it's not fun when God sits you down for a "come to Jesus" meeting.  Better to sit down and be still before it gets to that point.  

My migraine persists, and I see my neurologist this coming Tuesday.  Hopefully I will have a good update at that point.