Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 4 and Surviving!

Five long years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. This is a cruel and selfish disease. It robs you of most everything you hold dear. It robs you of time with your children. You watch them play from the couch and feel shame as they ask you to come play with them. You explain to them that mommy hurts and cry quietly while life goes on around you. Fibromyalgia is wide spread body pain that at times can be so deeply painful that it's hard not to want to make it all end. There have been times of great sorrow and depression for me. There have been times that I knew I could not last another moment with this pain but there have Los been great moments of relief. 3 years ago in Arizona my doctor prescribed what seemed to be the answer. They put me on fentanyl patches. They are a 72 hour patch that you wear on your skin and for once in a very long time I was pain free. I remember the first morning waking up with the patch. I got right out of bed and installed into the kitchen without limping down the hallway. I was not stiff or sore, there was not shooting pain in my legs or back and as I told Matt that I didn't hurt he began to cry. He had seen what this disease had done to me. Fentanyl is an opioid medication so it is pretty heavy duty but it did what it was designed to do and I felt "normal" again. This past year living in Utah we have had a great trial. Someone has decided that they too would like t be on fentanyl and my patches have been disappearing. We have our ideas about who it might be and although I am angry I am more hurt because it must be someone who knows me well and knows the pain I endure without them. So once again an entire box of patches has gone missing and I have made the decision that I am going to manage this disease without narcotics of any kind. It has been hard and for days now I have felt the effects of the narcotics leaving my system. It is going to be a long hard road but I know that I can do it. It will not be painless like it was but it will be worth it. We are on day 4 and this morning I was not groggy as I got out of bed. I was stiff but I pushed past it and by 9:30am I was dressed, had fed the kids, swept the kitchen and watered the dry spots in our lawn. I am going to have to pace myself and I am going to have to limit what I can do from day to day. I am going to have to rely on priesthood blessings to get me through the hard days and celebrate like crazy when there are good days. I look forward to living my life narcotic free and having energy to at least go outside and watch my kids play even if I join in.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pieces of This Tired Soul

Yesterday was Sunday and it was the first Sunday that I had been to church in a while because of the seemingly constant sickness or ailments in our family!  We all made it however and I am so glad we were able to make it. It was my week to teach relief society. I thoroughly enjoy my calling. I am positive that the Lord knew this was the calling for me. I know there is so much that he has in store for me to learn from teaching his gospel, I just hope that the women I teach can get as much out of it as I do and if not I appreciate their patience as I learn what I need to learn. For some reason I really didn't want to teach this last Sunday. It was a hard day. I was in pain, you think that after 5 years of living with fibromyalgia I would be used to it but I don't think chronic pain is something you ever "get used to." It's an unwelcome constant companion. Between the pain and sporadic social anxiety I have been experiencing since Matt's stroke I really didn't want to teach. The lesson was on missionary work. I have a tough time with this subject because although I find it easy to make friends and talk with total strangers, I hesitate to bring up the gospel. I'm not sure why and I suppose it is why I needed to teach this lesson. When the lesson began and we started reading through the story and words of George Albert Smith it took a turn that I had not anticipated. We talked about teaching the gospel to non-members but we focused a lot on missionary work within the people we know whether they are members or not. The spirit led us into a discussion on not only preaching the gospel but performing missionary work through showing love to others. We are constantly learning and progressing in the gospel. We learn not only through scripture study and prayer but through the love and examples of others. When we moved our little family back from Arizona I fell apart. I'm not exactly sure why but my theory is that I no longer had to hold our family together by myself and without that responsibility I fell to pieces. My heart was broken and my soul was tired. I could not face the Lord and admit my anger and resentment toward him for our situation. I have since learned that he was not punishing us and through the infinite blessing of the atonement and the love of others who showed incredible service through missionary work on our behalf I have come to rely upon my savior rather than resent him for lessons he knew I must learn. In the words of President  Monson, "There are no such things and coincidences" because he said "As you look back you see the Lord's hand shifting the way the journey must go." I have seen his hand in our lives now more than ever. We have felt his love through our ever vigilant home teachers and friends who have brought meals, tended to our yard work and come to our rescue when it was needed. I have had the opportunity to share my testimony with a wayward friend and solidify what I know to be true. This last Sunday as we talked about the many ways we can share the gospel and do missionary work, I felt the love of my savior and the presence of his spirit in the room. It was such a learning experience for me. I am so thankful for my calling and for the love I feel from the sisters I teach. It has been through their willingness to pick up the pieces of this tired soul that I have begun to heal and my heart has turned once again to my savior.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Something Worth Fighting For

There are moments in our lives that catch our breath and ultimately change the course of our lives. These moments come to define who we are and how we see ourselves as well as how others see us. I have had many moments in my life that have been unforgettable, both for better and for worse. I have had moments that have touched my heart and moments that have broken it. Now that we are in the recovery phase of Matt's stroke and dealing with the aftermath I can sense that we have all changed a little for the better and a little for the worse. There are days when we cry, days when we laugh and days when we are just grateful for the opportunity to be together. We have learned that life is fragile, life is kind, life is sad and sweet and incredibly hard all at the same time. My testimony of eternal families has been strengthened and I have felt the tender mercies of my Heavenly Father. He was with us in the hospital to comfort me when the situation seemed so bleak. He was there with Matt as they intubated and prepped him for transfer. He was there with me as I waited a frightening 12 hours to be reunited with my husband. We have been blessed exponentially by our Savior. There are still days that are heartwrenchingly difficult. There are times when tears flow freely and emotions are too heavy to endure but there is also the comfort of our Father in Heaven to guide us and the Holy Ghost to whisper "try again tomorrow." There are days when the memories of that life changing event wash over me and the pain that accompanies the memories is overwhelming. I have re-lived the experience again and again in my mind and in my dreams. These memories have made me catch my breath and have truly changed the course of our lives. It is clear looking back however that my Heavenly Father was with me that day. The Holy Ghost truly was a constant companion. I will not lie, I am not grateful for these particular trials in our lives most of the time but there are those sweet moments when I can see what has transpired and how much we needed these trials to strengthen our testimonies and our love for one another as a family. I think it is easy to become so comfortable with our families that we simply take for granted their presence in our lives. I took for granted the simple things like having Matthew by my side as I slept at night. The nights that I spent at home while Matthew was in the hospital were sleepless and long. I had come to take for granted the simple act of lying next to my best friend as we slept and knowing that he would be there when I woke. I took for granted the simple conversations that we would have about our days. I took for granted being able to look into his eyes and connect with him. When I was finally able to see him after 12 hours, a helicopter ride and an extensive surgery, all I wanted was to see his eyes. Shortly after I entered the ICU room for the first time the nurses left me alone with him. I begged him to open his eyes. I wanted so much to see his beautiful blue eyes and connect with him. I wanted the reassurance that he was ok and knew who I was. I wanted some proof that my husband was still inside. Twelve hours later when he finally woke up, all I could do is cry and tell him how much I missed his eyes. I remember telling him numerous times over the next two weeks in the short intervals when he was awake how much I missed seeing his eyes. We are moving forward but there are days when we seem to take one step forward and two steps back. There are days when Matthew is lucid and full functioning. When he knows what happened just hours before and no one would know that anything had happened. I am grateful for these days because he can keep our household running even if I can't get out of bed and face the day. There are days when he is so tired and cannot recall what day it is or even what transpired just hours before and on these days we work to adjust and overcome our fears about this being a permenant condition for him. In all honesty I am just glad to have him and to have our little family back together.  While we were in the hospital we were seperated from one another and even the kids were split up in order to accomodate schedules and try to maintain some sense of normal.  During those days as I made phone calls to each of my children I could only think of how nice it would be when we were all home together again.  As I longed for that day I couldn't help but think of how it will be in the eternities when we are all together as a family.   I am so grateful for the plan of salvation and the promise that if we are true and faithful to our covenants that we will all be together forever.  During those quiet tender moments in the hospital when Matt and I were alone, he sleeping and me alone with my thoughts the Lord was silently but lovingly teaching me of the importance of the blessings that I already have in my life.  I felt his guidance the day that Matt had the stroke.  I felt calm in moments when I would normally be falling apart.  I knew that without a doubt that Matt would be okay whether he was given the opportunity to stay here on earth with us or to pass on to the eternities where he would wait for us to join him.  I knew that Heavenly Father was with him.  I don't know if I will ever be able to look back on the events that transpired on March 2, 2012 without feeling many of the same emotions that I felt that day or without shedding tears but I do know that I will always remember the embrace of the comforter, the Holy Ghost that my Father in Heaven sent to watch over me.  I no longer take for granted the simple things like sleeping next to my best friend or spending the day as a family without being apart.  It is true that we are all suffering a little inside because of the events that transpired but the Lord has given us so much to be thankful for.  I know that my Heavenly Father was and is aware of my little family.  I have never felt that I have much courage but I have learned that courage can be as simple as getting out of bed on a day when it seems impossible.  Courage can be found in the most humble places.  Sometime courage can be as simple as breathing in and out when it seems impossible.  I am so thankful for the courage that Matt showed in the hospital when the pain was at its worst.  He showed me that I am something worth fighting for and that alone has made all the difference.