Monday, January 7, 2013

Garment of Praise Instead of a Faint Spirit

My blog is my journal.  I know perfect strangers can find it, but honestly it's mostly people I know and love who read it.  It's also here as a record for my kids...of memories we've made.  And of the thoughts and feelings of an imperfect mother who loves them.  A record of family, milestones, silliness and beautiful moments.  But I wouldn't have anyone who reads my blog, be it stranger, friend, family or child think our lives are nothing but costumes, trips and parties.  I post those things because they're fun and grandparents like them.  But posting has been hard this month.  And before I can bring myself to post about our beautiful Christmas and special birthdays, I feel compelled to post the valleys.

I am blessed with a Merciful Savior, a doting husband and three fabulous kids.  But I am a broken, sinful and incomplete person and I have really let fear, bitterness and sadness overwhelm me this year.

We started 2012 off with  Lucy having a severe allergic reaction to a particular brand of children's motrin.  Tucked away under the label under "inactive ingredients" though no other children's medicine has had it before (that we have tried), it said it may contain small amounts of whey.  Soon after, she had another reaction, this time less than 10 hours before she had to be put under for an upper endoscopy.

Shortly after this, she started having chest pain, itching, stomach aches and tiny hives 24/7.  We figured out that with the rest of us eating milk products, we were leaving small amounts of it on handles and switches and faucets.  We eliminated milk completely from our house in January or February.  She turned into a healthy kid immediately.  Stephen and I felt terribly that we had not taken this step earlier.  But we were SO grateful for the improvement.

Shortly after this,  my Uncle Steve had a stroke, it was very scary and we were worried we would lose him for a while.  And while I didn't get to see him and my Aunt Sissy much during his recovery, God put them heavily on my heart night and day.  The kids asked for updates constantly and would just randomly, every few days, break down crying for months.

During this time, Stephen and I felt deeply....wounded?...certainly hurt by a group of people our  family has trusted and respected.  This, unfortunately has caused me to struggle with deep sadness and bitterness all year.  You know, when you've told yourself or God you've forgiven people, only to find the hurt and then the anger creeping back into your heart?  This situation has really shown me how sinful I am.  We contemplated making rather big life changes, due to this, but have decided to step back and hope time will heal.

Shortly after this, we lost our dear John.  He had been around a lot more, recently, while he was recovering from some pretty rough back problems.  We grieved deeply.  He was only 33 and we weren't ready for him to go. We grieved even more when we visited my Dad and Janet and whenever we thought of them, or his brother, Bobby, and sister, Dyan.  The kids took this hard too and started contemplating what would happen if Stephen or I died.

After this, I suppose since I've lost two brothers now, I started having panic attacks about Clyde.  I would wake up, run to his room and make sure he was still breathing.  I had terrible nightmares about him.  I dreaded night time and when family would take him out, I felt a little crazy until he came home.  God has seen fit to take this mostly away, it has drastically decreased and I am thankful.

This has been my worst year EVER struggling with light-headedness.  This spring/summer it was debilitating and on my bad days, I literally slept all day.  My thinking was very cloudy, I couldn't process simple questions.  My short-term memory was very poor.  I felt so heavy.  My head, my arms and hands...everything felt heavy.  And everything looked white.  I could not go out in the sun, take warm showers, go 3 hours without eating, or stand-up long, if at all.  I had good days mixed in, where no one would think anything was wrong.  But for every good day, I had 2 bad ones.  Stephen often went to church without me or didn't go, though he had duties, because he was afraid to leave me.

Then Lucy got them.  We were on the same schedule.  We nearly always had the same bad days.  In addition to his job, Stephen had to wait on two sick women...and worry...and feel helpless.  I hated feeling that way, but I hated even more to see pale, thin Lucy looking paler still.  Looking like she couldn't move with white lips.  It scared me.  She didn't play a good bit of the summer except for the occasional good day.

The Lord blessed us with a good Dr. who figured out our problem and sent me for a HORRID test.  I got a diagnosis.  Later Lucy was diagnosed too.  And it explained so much.  It explained why we felt poorly at the same time.  (extreme heat, low salt meals or low barometric pressure)  The literature I received told me people with this disorder sleep in the same manner I do, seem sort of spacey/air-headed, have memory problems, don't enjoy sports, avoid the heat, go back and forth between being extremely productive and "lazy", have trouble making decisions, and have extreme/inappropriate emotional responses.  And that's just the weird similarities.  All this and more due to not having enough blood in the brain. Vasodepressor Nuerocardiogenic Syncope, that's what we have.

I suppose partly because I feel funny so much of the time, partly because my feelings are still wounded and partly because I've been so isolated this year, I've grown very socially paranoid.  It reminds me of how I seemed to drive friends away when my kids were babies because I was always tired and all I seemed able to talk about was nursing, poop and teething.  Now, I am faint, isolated and always home with 3 school-age children.  All I seem able to be able to converse about is homeschooling, food allergies, and child behavior.  I suspect that people don't like me because of this.  In fact, I'm quite certain of it.  I'm told it's my imagination, but sometimes I feel like people literally back away from me.  I've forgotten how to have conversations, how to be thoughtful, and how to be helpful.  And I'm not sure if people want me to do these things anyway.  I used to thrive in crowds, now I fear them.

The fall went fairly well, with medications that kept my blood-pressure stable and some travel and holidays.  I was even a fairly productive teacher.  Now winter has hit.  The effectiveness of my medications seem to be slowly dwindling. But I probably am having more good days than bad?...or they're pretty even. 

Then the Newtown tragedy struck and it broke my heart like no other national tragedy has.  Because I had a 6 year old like Emilie Parker four years ago.  Lucy was like Emilie...a first born who took care of her siblings and loved art and making cards.  I had a 6 year old like Noah Pozner two years ago.  Clyde, like Noah, loved anything hyper-active like swordfights and water-balloons.  And he loved to build things and see how things worked.  And right now, in the room next to me I have a 6 year old like Grace McDonnell.  She and Grace are the same age.  They both love pink and girly things.  They love to bake with their moms.  And I know what a 6 year old is like.  I know it so terribly well.  The gap-toothed smiles, the hugs and the enthusiasm.  And during all the news coverage and national grieving, I would go look at Iris and feel breathless and overwhelmed.  Days after it happened, I stood in a line with Iris when a lady watched her and said, "It just makes you want to hug her more doesn't it?"  My throat was immediately knotted up.  I couldn't even answer her.

And now we've lost my Uncle Steve.  He had been improving, he knew it...everyone knew it.  We all felt it was just a matter of time.  He leaves an enormous void for his wife, mother, sister, sons and 14 year old daughter.  It's just too much to think of his mother having outlived two children.  To think of my aunt losing the man who adored her and told everyone how beautiful she was.  The man she begged to live the day he had his stroke... months ago.  My cousin has lost a grandfather, father and friend all wrapped up in one.  And she has already had too much loss.  It overwhelms me...she's at such a fragile age.

You can see why I just haven't felt up to blogging this past month.  If you're still reading this, I'm impressed.  And don't worry, I'm not completely depressed...I haven't even decided whether to publish this or not.  I do indeed realize that, eternally speaking, all is well.  It's well in control of an Almighty Father.  I know that John and Steve are up in heaven experiencing what PERFECT is like and they do not desire our deep grief.  They're going to have to accept it, of course, because we're going to grieve, but they are home.

When you think of our family this year or possibly feel inclined to pray for us, you now know the Momma's struggles, even if you don't know anyone else's ;)  This new year kind of took me unaware, while in a sort of dark place.   I plan to make (late) resolutions.  And I'm praying that the Lord will renew in me a love of fellowship, a love of His Word and increase my tendency to pray at His feet.  I pray that He kills the bitterness in my soul and replaces it with praise and joy.  And I pray that He will teach me to love His people well and learn once again to serve.

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