Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Life-Affirming or Life-Altering

It's no secret I'm an active member of the LDS church, or that twice a year we participate in General Conference that is broadcast worldwide. I want to talk about one of the conference talks that really hit home to me. You can reference it HERE since I'm having issues trying to post the video, because I'm not tech savvy.

Go ahead and watch. I'll wait.

That's just what I've been doing. Waiting. I've been waiting for more than two years for my brain to heal. And if you've followed this blog, you know I've struggled a lot with feelings of hopelessness and bitterness. I've tried to keep my head above water, but nobody expected my injury to cause these long-lasting symptoms--least of all me. I'm supposed to be the mom. Do you have any idea how hard it was to see the fear in my kids' eyes when I was in the hospital last year? Or when I came home? My girls still won't talk about it, but I can see the phantoms of it in their expressions whenever I complain of pains in my legs or my head or talk about coming down with something--even a common cold. They're scared. My illnesses stole a security from them, the concept that Mom is a rock in their lives. And it happened far too early.

These illnesses have been an uphill battle. While I expect someday to heal from the brain injury, there's no telling when. In the mean time, I live with it. This thing that has altered our lives completely. It's altered Bryan's employment, altered how the kids go to school, how I work, my plans for publishing my books--everything. The blood clot issue is forever. I've had clots while on blood thinners so we know that it's never going to change. And that's altered how I live my life.

So like Elder Hallstrom asks in his video, Do I have the faith not to be healed?

I had to answer that question last year. There were three distinct moments in 2016 when I could have died, when I was aware of death, and was spared. It was a life-altering time for me, and, to be honest, a time I'm still recovering from. I'm still adjusting to my life as it is now. Sometimes I rebel against it, sometimes I get angry at my new restrictions and yes--there are moments I feel cheated. I'm human. My left leg will never, ever be what it was before. When I don't wear my compression sock it aches like you would not believe. But I HAVE MY LEFT LEG. This time last year the doctors considered that a miracle. Last April, when I saw my surgeon, he couldn't believe how the swelling had gone down, and couldn't believe I could walk as well as I can. I could choose to be bitter and say that's easy for him to say because he doesn't have to live with it. OR I could be grateful for what I have.

I'll choose gratitude. Frankly, it's easier. I have days when I'm feeling low. When I'm walking and I push to hard my leg will pull and ache and I'll be reminded of my limitations. Sometimes I get frustrated. But the alternative would be much harder.

Lately I've been struggling with my brain injury a lot. The two week migraine was like a setback to the early days of my injury. I'm struggling with finding my words again. My memory is like Swiss cheese. I have two measly writing goals right now, and they feel unattainable. Last night I was trying to ask Bryan a question and got stuck halfway through because I couldn't remember a word. A regular, mundane household word. Writing is like the tide, the words ebb and flow in ways I can't control to save my life. And, the whole time, despite pain shots and medications, my head hurts. The whole time.

So I might as well write as not, right? If I'm going to be in pain regardless, I might as well work. There may as well be something to show for it in the end. It's so hard. I hate the pain. But I live with the pain. All day. All night. It's always there. Sometimes it's less, sometimes more. But always present. It's this weight I carry around. Lately I started noticing that I sleep in a tightly curled ball. I tense up in my sleep, instead of relaxing. One night my cat rested his head in my open palm, and I drifted off. A noise woke me just as I was almost asleep, and I realized I'd started tensing my hand and pulling his head away from his body. Since then, I've realized I tense up my shoulders at the computer. I'm just this huge ball of stress. Anxiety is one of my TBI (traumatic brain injury) symptoms that I don't medicate. I take so many pills already...

I didn't intend to get off topic. This was a great talk and I found so many truths in it. There are little steps I can take despite my issues. There are lots of ways I can be better, more patient, especially with myself. Forward progress is still progress, even when it's slow. I don't have to wait until I'm better (when ever what will be) to do great things.