Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Few Things.

First, Lizzie asked who died on the 28th... and I'm not sure what she's referring to?  Lizzie, if you read this and would leave a comment as to why you asked that, I'd be happy to answer.
Second... a leg update.
It hurts.  The tibial plateau (or at least the soft tissue over it) is very inflamed.  And red.  And brown.  And purple.  And bruised.  And there is a bruising all the way up and down my tibia.  It hurts like you wouldn't believe to walk on it.  Which makes no sense, because there's no infection.  No internal damage.  Unless the infection was there before... which I had been wondering about.

Today, my friend called my doctor, to inform him (the doctor) that my leg was really sore and swollen and red and warm.  The doctor gave me a serious lecture about going to the emergency room right away.  Because my leg cannot be messed around with.  At all.  Can't take that kind of risk.  Apparently, it's still... "fragile" and isn't remotely healed enough to be able to handle any further damage.  Or something.  I grudgingly concluded the phone call with "Yes, sir" in response to his demands that I go to the ER "right away" and not wait even an hour.

And then my friend approached with a very well known (and very excellent) surgeon in tow.  He (the surgeon) just happens to be a black belt where I take martial arts.  He checked my leg.  His expert diagnosis?  "That looks like it hurts."  Ya think?!  He proceeded to say that it's an inflammatory response that is sort of creating a negative loop - more inflammation, irritates the tissues that were previously infected and irritated (i.e. muscle compartments, periosteum on my tibia, venous structures, lymphatics... which causes more swelling and more irritation. 

He also said it was an exceptionally beautiful graft, and insisted I tell him the name of the surgeon who did it.  And then he said it looked like a shark bite.  Totally un-prompted, I promise.
That's funny.  Because when nosy people who I don't know ask what happened, I say "Shark bite."  And then they say "Really?"  And I smile and say "What do you think?"  I make it pretty clear with my tone that it's not really a shark bite, but that I also won't entertain any further questions.
We're attempting to install a motion alarm in our stairway and door alarms on our doors.  Right now.  It's 11:00 PM.  It's not going well. 
I wish it was Sunday.  On Sunday, my Pastor is taking part of the service to answer some very important questions for us.  I think we might get rebuked a little bit, but I really want and need to know the answers, so it's all good.
I'm rambling.  Because I'm tired.  And the hydroxyzine has kicked in.  Which means it's time for the Ambien and the lorazapam.  Yes... that's three meds.  As opposed to four.  And we're looking to wean off the lorazapam within the next month or two.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Take My Breath Away

Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver her.”  But You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 
I call out to the LORD, and He answers me from his holy mountain.
~Psalm 3:2-4

There are moments in life that take my breath away.  Beautiful moments. 

Like the day my nephew Israel was born, and the first time I held him close to me. 

Or the day my daddy walked me down the aisle at my wedding.  He was wearing his flip flops and I was wearing... nothing on my feet.  I had heels but they hurt so I left them in the back of the church.  I kept looking at my daddy's face.  He'd see me looking and his smile would get bigger still.  And then mine would.  And then his would. 

And then I looked up and I saw my husband.  Derek is absolutely, without a doubt, 100% in love with me.  Do you know how amazing that is?  To have someone so loyal, so committed, so passionate?  To not have any real fear of abandonment or even harm or neglect?  It will take your breath away, just for a minute, when you realize that there is someone who feels that way about you.

Other moments... walking along a path in the woods, crying privately about the recent death of my Gramma.  Knowing I would wait the rest of my life before I could be reunited with her.  Aching and broken and trying so hard to be strong.  And there, on a snow-covered branch, with big flakes floating all around me, was a flawless cardinal singing so sweetly.

Looking to my left and seeing my dad and my Kelly and my husband and my dad's friend Charlie, all beaming.  Looking in front of me and seeing my friends and instructors.  Raising my arms up so that a black belt could be tied around my waist... less than a month after getting out of the hospital with my hand, and 8 months earlier than it was predicted I'd be able to even START training with my leg again.

Trying to teach a very happy 10 year old how to do some ground-fighting.  Trying to be serious.  Starting to get annoyed with his unstoppable laughter and unyielding smile... and finding it suddenly pouring out of me, too.  Laying next to him on the mat, just laughing.  Looking into his black, almond-shaped eyes, at his tan skin and a smile so big it looks like it almost hurts... and realizing that the isolation and resignation and sadness have faded away.

Hearing my closest and dearest friend after Derek tell someone that I am a good, good friend.  That I would be a strong place for them, that I could hold them up during a hard time.

Those moments take my breath away.

Seeing lines of clouds in a deep blue sky, with fields of hay rolling in the breeze and birds singing. 

Watching the hillside behind our house blinking with so many fireflies it seems impossible.

Coming in softly late at night, and watching my husband sleep.  All the tension gone from his face.  Gently kissing him, pulling the covers up over his shoulders.  His mumbled "I love you" that is so deeply ingrained, he says it even in his sleep.

Sitting on the back of a horse for what would be her last full-speed run... ever.  And what was my first full-speed run with a horse, ever.  And feeling for just a moment that I was somehow joined together with this animal who CHOSE to obey me, and that the world rushing by could not touch me.

Tiny, sticky arms wrapping around my waist as two young boys dash across a restaurant to greet me.  Spaghetti stains left on my shirt from their faces, and warmth spreading through my heart with their "I love you" still fresh and new.

Feeling my pocket vibrate and hearing the strumming of a guitar, telling me that my daddy - my hero, my protector, my friend - is calling me.

Those moments, take my breath away.  Not for long, but briefly.  Just briefly, I am too full of so much good, and I don't have room for air.

And then there are other moments.

Watching a young father gently pick up a tiny, tiny white coffin that holds his newborn daughter.  Watching him walk, alone, down the aisle of the church while my heart exploded with grief and love for that child's family.  Watching that man slowly sink to his knees at the back of the sanctuary as tears poured and his shoulders slumped.  Watching him rise up again.

Driving too fast for too long in order to make a cross-country trip in time to attend a "brother's" funeral.  Feeling my heart explode with new grief as I notice one of the pictures by his coffin - it was him, holding his baby girl, before she went to heaven.  Dreaming so vividly of him stronger even than he was here, with his giggling daughter, dancing in heaven.  Seeing his bride comforting those who came to mourn this wonderful man, and vowing not to cause her any more grief or hurt... knowing I would bear all of her pain for her if I could.  Hugging her and suddenly feeling the crushing weight of what she was facing, and being so unprepared that I began to cry.  Forcing a smile as I said to her, "My heart is broken for you, for your kids, for all of us who will miss him.  He is in heaven, and we WILL meet him again." 

It took my breath away.  So intensely that I wouldn't have been surprised if I had physically turned blue.

Standing with a camera, as requested by my Grandfather.  Taking pictures silently, as he bent to kiss my Grandma goodnight.  Hearing him tell her she was beautiful.  That he loved her - that he'd always loved her, from the first time he met her.  Watching the back that had always been straight and the shoulders that had always been square slowly droop.  They've dropped further in the years since.  And when I look at him, it takes my breath away.  This man has known death, has known grief, has known financial hardship, has carried personal burdens that he is afraid to put down... and what did he choose for the inscription on the grave site he will someday share with his wife?  "But you MUST be born again."

I relived that moment when the film came back.  All you can see is the flowers around the coffin.  The middle of the pictures is completely white.  It takes my breath away.

Seeing a still, perfectly formed but not-beating heart on the ultrasound screen before the technician turned it away.  Falling to my knees in the bathroom of a convenience store on the way home, and crying out to God in sheer, broken anguish.  A month later, getting "lost" in the Black Hills with my husband.  Still waiting for my body to release its hold on our daughter.  And being filled with a gentle peace that did not remove the sadness, but made it easier to bear, as we sat beside a mountain stream surrounded by millions of tiny blue flowers, and tiny blue butterflies.  Anna's flowers. 

It took my breath away, to be so broken and so at peace and surrounded by both beautiful life and ugly death.

Watching my friend be blasted financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  And seeing no end in sight.  Knowing I cannot fight this battle for him, I cannot take it on his behalf.  And loving him so deeply that I would.  I would take every last bit of it, if it would take it from him.  Watching that friend give up over and over... and over and over, renew his fight, renew his vow to NEVER give up.  Knowing that I am so blessed... to have my husband, my daddy, my friend... men who treat me with respect and love and honor and gentleness, and who defend not just me, but everyone around them.

Walking into a nursing home and having tears start welling up and my throat clamp shut when I see a strong, intelligent man curled up like a baby in the bed, having shrunk drastically in such a short time.  Wondering if that day, he'll know who I am or if he'll once again thank me for being kind enough to "visit a stranger."  Kneeling down to hug him, and feeling his hands soft and warm gripping my hand and around my neck, holding on with every bit of strength left in his failing body.  Feeling his tears wet against my cheek, and hearing him whisper thank you.  Trying to stand strong, maintain composure on the way out the door.  But unable to stop the ache inside, and unable to stop myself from imagining that it will be my dad in that bed some day.  Breaking inside for him, and for his children, for his wife.  Knowing that the burden he carries, the aching and sorrow that come when a parent buries a child, aren't fading along with the rest of his memories.  Knowing that soon, he'll be with his son in heaven... and that his other son will be here on earth and will be more broken than he's ever been.  And knowing I'm powerless to do anything more than be present.

It takes my breath away.

Watching my husband walking the same difficult path I walked down myself just a few short months ago - the path of genuinely and fully grieving the fact that all of our children live in heaven, and not here.  Facing the very real probability that we will not raise any of our biological children here on earth.  And hearing his stifled sobs as he does what I've been doing... and reads a childrens' book about heaven.  As he gets the truth of eternity ingrained more deeply into his heart, giving him the strength and courage to feel the temporary loss here and now.

Seeing so vividly that it seems as if it's playing out in front of my eyes, an image of that daughter who went to heaven.  Seeing her holding my Gramma's hand and beaming as they wait for me at the Eastern Gate.  Remembering Gramma's soft promise, made each night that she tucked me in.  "Make sure you look for me in the Rapture, Jenn.  It will be beyond description.  But if I beat you to heaven, I promise, I will meet you at the Eastern Gate."  Aching for that day with every fiber of my being.

Knowing that in Heaven, there is so much.  And loving my life.  But wanting so much to just be done.  To go there, and be with my Jesus.  To see my Grandma smile, to hear my childrens' voices.  I wonder if my uncle Paul is a carpenter there?  I wonder if Gramma takes care of kids who get there before their parents?  I wonder what it's like to truly and eternally be free of oppression.

And it takes my breath away.

And when I have no breath, when life squeezes the air out and I am at the end of myself... I remember these words from Job, chapter 33.

"The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life."

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Friday, June 24, 2011

FIberglass, Part 2


I have neglected this blog.  Not out of spite,b ut out of lack of time to write.  Lots of new, exciting, good things in life right now.

But also, something old.  The endometriosis has gotten bad again.  It hurts, every day, all day.  And some days, it hurts even more.  SO, surgery is scheduled for two weeks from today.  I'm glad, in a way.  I don't like surgery, and especially don't like recovery, but I DO like being in less pain.

The other issue is my thyroid.  It's sort of taken a vacation, or leave of absence, or however you'd like to put it.  The doctor is testing for certain autoimmune idsorders, and there's a good chance that a few particular tests will come back positive and if so, it will be an indication that we should no longer attempt to get pregnant.  Because my body, if those tests are positive, is not a good place for a baby to be.  At all.

At first, I was shocked.  And then heartbroken.  And then (very shortly after), I realized something.  If this pans out the way the doctor supects, and we indeed will never have a biological child, it's not a huge shock.  It's a possibility that has grown and been dealt with by us for years now.  And people WILL say "You can always adopt instead."  And I'll still get angry, and I'll still say to myself "Why can't you say 'you can adopt too'  Adoption isn't a replacement, it's not settling, it's not second best.  It is a way to become parents, and it isn't seomthing we would do if (and only if) we are unable to have kids 'of our own'.  It's something we will do whether we have biological children or not.  And by the way... any child we adopt WILL be a child 'of our own.'  So pfft." 

Yep, in my secret thought life, I really am that snarky.

So I got to thinking last night... what if all the time and energy and money we've spent pursuing biological children has been... well, has been like my cat licking fiberglass when we have really good cat food for her upstairs.  What if we've been trying to obtain something we think is going to be so good, and for us God has a different and better plan?  Maybe, just maybe, the chocolate cake is just around the next bend.  And who knows what that chocolate cake will look like.  It might look like Derek and/or I.  Or maybe it will have chocolate skin or almond eyes. 

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Don't Lick Fiberglass.

I have a cat named Izzy.  She's a good kitty, and I like her.  But she has this unhealthy obsession... she will work ridiculously hard to fulfill it, too.  She'll dig and hunt and search, and finally... she'll succeed.  And she'll take her prize and lick it.  The object of her affection?  Fiberglass insulation.

I was talking to my daddy tonight, and told him that she'd just obtained and licked more fiberglass.  I then said I had no idea why any creature would do such a thing - think about how much it hurts when you put your HAND on fiberglass.  And then try to imagine licking it?! 

He paused, and said, "Well, I think that a lot of times, that's how God feels about us."

My dad sometimes says things that stop me in my tracks.

And now, I am thinking to myself... "How much fiberglass have I licked lately?"

Obviously (or it should be obvious, anyway) I haven't actually licked any.  But... what have I worked hard and long for?  What have I kept in the front of my mind, devoting my attention, affection, and energy to?  And of those things, how much is the equivalent of licking fiberglass?

I am quite certain there are things I find appealing, enjoyable, or for whatever other reason, I like to do.  Things that seem worthwhile to me.  Things that, from a heavenly, eternal perspective... well, they are like licking fiberglass.  God knows what could be and what I could have/do/experience... and He knows what I actually have/do/experience.  And I suspect my daddy is right.  God probably looks at a lot of it and feels the same way I do when I watch my cat lick fiberglass.

Because truthfully... there is better.

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