There are times in life that feel just like a rollercoaster. Literally. Up, down, straight, twisted, upside down, fast.
I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster that isn’t stopping soon! Even though it is exhausting, it has taught us so much.
I’ve learned we must have perspective…
- Things can always be worse. When you think you are at the bottom, just know you can be lower. I thought I had hit my low a long time ago – nope, not there yet. We all have those bad days but it’s how you handle those days that will make or break you.
- Friends are forever. No matter how much time passes between visits, conversations or even passing thoughts; true friends will always be there to help when you need it. Thank you all for the texts, flowers, calls, scarves (to cover my port), well wishes, and every effort that has been made to help us. We are forever grateful.
- People are generally caring. There are people who are willing to show kindness to strangers or relatively unknown people. It is amazing to know how great people can be – especially since we usually only hear about how screwed up this Earth is through media outlets.
- Need does not discriminate towards race, gender, religion, economic status, during a certain season, etc. Need is not solely monetary for some either. I’m not bragging here as I know we can do better but we always try to help out causes when we can (donations, fundraisers, benefit dinners, medical research, etc. I’ve willingly donated towards dinners, candy, popcorn, Girl Scout cookies, etc. Not because I get to enjoy them, but because I appreciate the efforts and the causes. We used to emphasize our giving during the holiday season – not anymore. Through all of this, we know that need is constant. Don’t forget about those with emotional or other types of needs. A simple smile, or pleasant hello, etc….
- Pride can be detrimental. We never thought that we would be in this position of poor health. I’ll be honest, I always kind of tried to prepare myself for the worst (as far as my family goes). I know I have an odd way of handling emotions but I wanted to know what my plan would be if something happened to Caleb or the kids, or my parents, siblings, etc. However, in my weird processing of planning my life, I never imagined that I would be the problem. Now it is here and I can’t handle it. We are independent people. We don’t ask for help, we do things on our own. Ever since we were barely scraping by during college – but we did it. One of the hardest things for us now is to “swallow” our pride. For those that have offered help – we thank you sincerely. Don’t take our resistance the wrong way – we are appreciative and grateful; we are just trying to come to terms with everything.
- Men were designed for certain duties – putting on racerback tank tops and properly fixing a “pony tail” were not one of them. God bless that husband of mine. He makes a wonderful at home nurse. My chest port care was pretty simple and the pain was manageable. I’m at two weeks post-op and feeling pretty great. It is still taking some getting used to. For example, it sticks out much farther than I thought it would BUT it looks better at the same time (if that makes sense). It’s actually kind of fascinating. I’m loving how easy it is making my extensive lab work and my weekly IV therapies. MUCH faster and almost painless. ANYWAY – the first couple of days my arm movement was pretty limited. It was much more painful than I anticipated BUT Caleb was great. He attempted putting on my loose racerback tanks – but it took a little explaining and trial and error. I will say his “dad pony’s” are much better than his “husband pony’s”. I have to give credit where it is due though – he’s a good sport and a great help (even when I don’t want it). Finding that person that will go through whatever “hoops” necessary to take care of you is truly a blessing.
- Ignorance is bliss. Don’t take this harshly as that is not my intention. By ignorance, I do not mean stupidity, etc. I’m just referring to those who do not know. I am ignorant in many areas. Over the last few years, I have been judged in many ways due to my health. People questioned my ability to raise my children, suggested I was a drug-user (my frequently bruised veins from IVs didn’t help my case recently), thought I had an eating disorder (like I was purposely doing this to myself) and also believed I was “making it up” for attention. If you are ever curious as to what is going on with me, just ask. I will be honest whether it’s good or not (unless you don’t need to know, then I’ll spare you details). I now have a protruding thing on my scrawny chest that is rather obvious. However, it has already proven to be worthwhile as it is making those frequent hospital visits much more comfortable. We can’t control what others say, think or feel about us (and we shouldn’t try). I’ve learned that you can only do what you know is right and worry about what you can control.
- Faith=Strength. Through this we have revamped our faith. We consciously pray, meditate and reflect- and we do it together. On the days I’m really struggling, I just open my super-cool app on my phone for some daily verses, reflections, etc. Obviously it doesn’t replace the ‘good book’ but it is nice to have on the go. I’ve also learned that I can pray a rosary while walking to/from the track and 2 laps around (1 full mile) each morning. I honestly believe that the more faith we have, the stronger we can be in our fight. I got Caleb and I bracelets as a constant reminder (as if we need one). They are both simple and discreet. Mine says “Trust in the Lord; He will direct thy paths.” Caleb’s is a shield with this script on the back “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Perspective is everything. There are many days I’d like to sit around and complain or have a pity party for myself (some days it still happens) but I can’t really figure out why. You can say I’ve been “dealt a bad hand” or question what I did to deserve this but I’m a better person for it.
If I wouldn’t have had these health struggles, I wouldn’t have started this blog. I wouldn’t have poured my heart and soul into my first cookbook. I wouldn’t have been featured in my all-time favorite magazine. I wouldn’t have become involved with some of the great companies and people I know now. I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to be at home with my beautiful babies. I wouldn’t get to attend weekday Mass on occasions. I wouldn’t value time with my family like I do now. I wouldn’t have the patience I have now. I wouldn’t have the faith I do now.
I can honestly say that while my health issues suck – they are annoying, painful, frustrating, scary, expensive, exhausting – they’ve also changed my life for the better. I appreciate each second that I get to watch the wind blow in my daughter’s hair. I thoroughly enjoy listening to my sweet boy trying to read a new book. I consciously think about how lucky I am to have such a great family, wonderful friends and supportive community to surround me.
I know there is still a long, winding road ahead. In less than a week, Caleb and I will be traveling to Chicago to meet with a new medical team to see if they can help us. We have NO idea how long we will be there, what to expect or anything. We are just getting on a plane and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, the kids won’t be able to go with us as my sweet boy has just started school. Not only have we never left the kids this long but we have also never had this much alone time together. We never had a honeymoon and while Chicago and the University Medical Center was not our 1st pick of “honeymoon” spots, we are trying to make the most of it. We won’t get to enjoy a fancily prepared meal at a top restaurant and we won’t get to do much as I tire easily. However, Caleb and I will actually get to BE with each other without as many distractions. We aren’t “big city” people AT ALL but we will do our best to “fit in”.
There have been so many people who want to help us but don’t know how. Here’s what I think we need most right now: prayers. If you don’t pray, send a positive vibe our way. Pray for safe travels. I can count the number of times I’ve been on a plane on probably 1 hand. Pray for our children and that they can somewhat grasp what is going on. It has been incredibly hard to answer their questions (not knowing the answer) and very difficult to watch the disappointment come across their face when I’m sick. Pray for good news (or any news for that matter). We know that the possibility of bad news is strong but we have faith that whatever we find out will be manageable. We’ve already got this far – have to keep going! Pray for our friends and family who are helping us out while we are away. Taking on a couple little kids for an unknown amount of time can be a little daunting but they are always there for us. In turn, we will be praying for all of you as we do each day. We are so thankful for everyone and only wish we could somehow show you how grateful we are.
Again, thank you and remember to always find that perspective – even if your whirlwind makes it hard to see. Much love to you all!