Saturday, January 10, 2015

In the Illness Trenches

This is not a post to make you feel sorry for me. This is not a post to make you feel guilty if you are healthy.

That being said, let's go....

Being in the trenches of trials and suffering through a chronic illness is often very lonely.

Very. very.

Lonely.

Dark.

Hard.

Somedays it feels like you're climbing a mountain. Daily.

Taking supplements and vitamins. Researching the latest health trends. Researching treatments. Seeing doctors and specialists. Being tested until you're blue in the face. Emailing your doctors so much that you're certain they're convinced you're a bit crazy.

Overwhelmed by articles shared and friends doing their best to share ideas they've heard of with you. It can often hit like a ton of bricks to get yet another suggestion on something to take, to do, or to consider when you've either already heard of it or can't possibly try one.more.thing.

Too much is sometimes too much when you are simply trying to survive. 

Everyone has good intentions, of course. But sometimes we just want to be still. Be quiet. And not have to be faced with the reality of our illness every single moment of every single day.

It's exhausting and draining.

It's a tough road.

All this suffering. In pain. And other random symptoms that are so ridiculous you're not always sure it's part of your illness or just a part of life and you got all the bad luck.

You ask your doctors a million questions. And feel like they're tired of trying to help you. {Even when you feel you have the absolute best primary doctor and chiropractors in the world, like I do.}

You are doing things you never wanted to or ever dreamed of doing. Forcing your loved ones to care for you in ways you could have never imagined. And would never wish on them. It brings tears to your eyes sometimes to think of it.

We desperately long for community, and sometimes all we can do is get online and reach out or seek those who are like us. It's a saving grace for those who are homebound. It's an outlet when there's nothing else.

But real life. Knowing people in person who struggle with chronic illness can be a really big deal and a huge way to deal with it all. Connect with those, whenever and however you can.

I must confess. For me, it continues to be a battle to be close friends with people who are truly healthy in basically every way. I battle jealousy and frustration because I wish I was them. There's a barrier in our relationship that we wish wasn't there. We want to understand and we know they want to understand us, but there will always be a difference in our realities.

One cannot truly understand until they've been there.

It's simply true.

As much as I love those in my life who are healthy, my dearest, closest friends are those who have also struggled. Who can fully share in my joys and fears, my trials and victories, my pain and suffering, my love and zest for life despite it all, and especially those who share my love of Jesus.

I do not want you to feel guilty if you don't have these issues. Truly. It's okay. I just have to be real with those who come here with illnesses. To encourage and remind them that as they battle these feelings too, they aren't the only ones.

For me though, another saving grace is that most of the time, my husband is the one who makes me stay sane with this battle. Though he cannot comprehend what I'm dealing with daily, he lives it alongside of me day in and day out, so he sees and understands better than most.

I know that Fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses are really misunderstood. Some people still believe Fibromyalgia is more in the head than anything else. I wish I could convince anyone reading this that it's not. That concept is still baffling to me. It's an illness. It's so hard. And people thinking it's "made up" just hurts the whole of the Fibromyalgia community.

Today I've had a burst of energy and have gotten a ton of things done around our house. It's a great feeling.

But I've also been fighting a ton of pain today as I've been doing all of that. I hurt everywhere. It just never goes away. So even when I can function well, I'm never ever going to be normal again.

There are days I can do more. There are days I can only rest and want to scream as pain tears through every ounce of my body.

The majority of people cannot possibly understand that. Though they can have sympathy, pray for me, and surround me during desperate times of need... they can't wrap their heads around what my life is fully like. Not that I expect them to.

I just mean that I think those of us dealing with chronic illnesses need people close in our lives who truly understand and can relate on a more intimate level. 

For those of you who are in the trenches with illness, you also need to know that 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You will face dark, hard days. It's going to be okay. 

You will struggle indefinitely, perhaps your entire life. Take it one day at a time. 

You will wish it would end, you will beg God to take it away. Cry out to him in pain and trust him to handle it for you, and pray for his strength.

You will face deep loneliness. You are not alone. Reach out and share your story with others. Let people in. Talk about what fears and struggles you face. Don't give up, there is always hope!

I promise in the end, everything will truly be okay. God will make it right. For now he just asks us to obey and to trust him.

It's a sinful, messy, hard world out there. Everyone has something hard in their lives, and this is what God has allowed for us. It may not make sense most days and you will wish you were healthier, but try to think positively and focus on what ways you've grown through your illness.

In the trenches, alongside you.

Hang in there and remember that God loves you, no matter what.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year


If you've stuck around here and watched our lives on this blog this year, I can't thank you enough. It means so much to me to be able to share this space with you.

I know my blog has shifted a bit since Elijah came along, but your continued readership and support is so special.

We praise God for a great year, even in the midst of real challenges, and we can truly say we are not the same people entering into 2015 as we were when 2014 came along.

We aren't who we could be. We aren't who we should be. But by God's grace, we aren't who we were. [quote taken from our pastor]

2015 will bring my cousin becoming a grandma, my aunt getting remarried after losing her husband to melanoma two years ago, our niece getting married in the mountains of Tennessee with an extended mini-vacation for us back where we went on our honeymoon, and probably so much more! But that's all we know of so far.

Hopefully our health issues will continue to improve with herbal medicine and chiropractic treatments, my panic attacks and overwhelming anxiety of these past two months will dissipate, and we will continue to marvel and be amazed at all the ways that Elijah continues to grow, change, and learn.

Here's to a great 2015, with the hard 2014 finally in the rearview mirror!!

Hoping you all had a great Christmas, and here's to a growing and peaceful 2015!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

16 Months

{one month late... neglected to post this!}

At 16 months, Elijah is hilarious and keeps us on our toes so often! Like any 16 month old, he's bursting full of energy, curiosity, exploration, and activity.




He loves to blow kisses - even to the squirrels in the yard, planes in the air, and the dogs on our walks.





He's a little swing addict, but what toddler isn't?!


Oh short sleeves... less than 1 month ago and we miss you so! 18 degrees as we speak. It is not January. Go away.




He has a serious, thoughtful, shy streak to him. It really makes me wonder if his personality is a lot like mine: times of being bubbly and funny and outgoing, other times of being introspective and quiet and thoughtful.








He's starting to understand what we say - no, yes, ball, trash, open, close, door, car, daddy, mommy, give mama, careful, stop, turn around, please, thank you, more, all done, eat, hungry, water, milk, paci, good job, high five, listen, calm, and walk.

He says or has at least once said: mama, daddy, ball, bubble, oops, whoa, woof, ohhh, light, yeah, all done, and probably more I can't think of right this minute.

He's a complete sweetheart with a spunky personality. He loves people but can randomly be shy depending on the situation. He loves waving, blowing kisses, giving high fives, playing basketball, pushing his bubble lawnmower, taking walks {he'd be outside all the time if he could!}, pointing up at the planes in the sky, playing at the playground {we live by a park and every. single. walk if we don't go to the park he whines and gets upset... we're working on that}, thinks it's hilarious to sit where mommy or daddy usually sit in the living room and imitate them {like point the remote at the tv... both hilarious and scary}, pretends to talk into the phone, is obsessed with gadgets and electronics, has started giving us actual kisses, genuinely enjoys his daycare friends and teachers and gets excited now when he sees the building in the morning and reaches out to the building like he can't get there fast enough {should this scare me?! LOL!}, and loves going up and down the stairs like a big boy!

with daycare buddy Caleb on their favorite little play area
He's completely obsessed with the outdoors, playgrounds, taking walks, and pushing his bubble lawnmower. I think he'd stay outside all the time if he could! He's also obsessed with gadgets of any sort. He waves and blows kisses at dogs, and gets mad if we walk away from dogs before he can pet them. He loves to 'draw' on paper and on pumpkins. He knows and loves our older next door neighbor. He loves magnets and gets so mad when he can't get them off the fridge. He waves at people so often, it still surprises me when he cries and runs to me when he gets afraid {usually if someone is coming up to the door and I'm not holding him}.

He's quite a treat and we are so blessed. It really is hard to believe he's nearing 1 1/2 years old. I know it's going to continue to go in the blink of an eye, and I'm trying to soak it in. I don't want this Winter to disappear in a total blur like last year did!!

Oh Fall, how we miss you already.


A few weeks ago Elijah had a sudden spike in fever, going up to 104 and it was a bit scary! But gratefully he just had some little bug and it went away as quickly as it came. Praise God! Those scary-high fevers are awful. But we soaked in the snuggles!!



And as of the past 1.5 weeks {so, after the above pics when he was sick}, he's DONE with the pacifier!!! I can tell it would help him occasionally, but we're so glad that he's forgotten about it and isn't asking for it anymore. Whew!

He's an incredible sleeper even though he doesn't love sleeping through the night, but his morning naps rock. He gave them up at about 14 months at daycare {2 days a week}, but he's always still so tired on days when he's at home, so I haven't had him stop them yet. He just keeps seeming to need them. But I can tell it's coming to a close. And I'm soooo not wanting to give them up yet. It's my hardest thing right now... long, dark, cold winter days right when he's about to give up those morning naps. Oh you guys. I can't do it. It makes me so very sad. And so incredibly overwhelmed.

Sigh.

I know it'll be okay and we'll find yet another new normal. But it's a tough one for me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rough Weekends and Family Photos

It was a rough weekend and we barely survived it.

I struggled with severe anxiety on Friday. 
But we had a great date night.

Saturday I hit my head HARD on our table and I got dizzy. 
But I spoke with two doctors who are incredible
and it reminded me of our broken and sensitive our 
finite human bodies are, and just how much we all
need Jesus. Daily. 

I was required to rest and not drive for 24 hours just in case
concussion-like symptoms appeared. 
But gratefully they didn't. I was okay. 
And reminded how important life is
and how careful we must be with what God has given to us.

Hubby was gone much of Saturday, serving at church so willingly 
and picking up two items we'd purchased online super cheap from two
area suburbs. We missed him dearly especially with my head injury.
But we were reminded just how much we cherish him and his
helpfulness & sacrifices. And we are so grateful to be rid now of said-table
that I hit my head on, now that we have a new organization center for our kitchen, 
and we have an incredible new climbing/slide/play station in our family room 
for Elijah. Both items are fantastic additions to our home for only $30. 
So grateful and humbled by what we have.

My mom called a couple hours after lunch with the bad, distressing news
that my stepbrother had been found dead.
No reason. 45 years old. Tragic. 
But God has given comfort to so many in the midst of this tragedy.
Please pray for Jay's 3 kids, 3 sisters, my stepdad and mom, 
nieces & nephews, etc. Please pray for people to come to 
know and love Jesus from this. 

Late Sunday afternoon, we managed to squeeze in taking family photos with our tripod and remote. 




And if you get our Christmas cards, you'll get to see the rest of the good ones. ;) 

It was nice to be able to end the weekend on a high note!
Rough weekends happen. It makes for long weeks sometimes. 
But God is there in the midst of all of it. 
It could certainly be better. It can always be worse.
And we are so grateful and humbled by his love and goodness to us.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin Patch 2014

Of course now that we have a kiddo, we'll be joining the ranks of sharing pictures of kids & pumpkins together! :) But we just have to show him off as he takes in his first real time at a Pumpkin Patch {and by patch, I mean that generically as they're all just stacked together}. While he was there last year too, he's just now realizing what's going on and taking it all in.

Watching him experience everything and seeing it through his eyes was SO much fun!!! It was seriously incredibly special.

So on Saturday morning, we went to a nearby pumpkin patch, farm, cafe, etc, that holds an annual Fall Festival with tons of goodies and animals everywhere. We didn't do any of the rides or animal stuff yet since Elijah's not old enough, but we did take a peek from the sidelines and I reminisced about 3 years ago when we first took our little buddy Parker there!

Such sweet memories. And now there are many more!


Elijah enjoyed helping choose 8 little pumpkins to donate to his daycare classroom. What fun!


Grandpa & Grandma were with us too! Such a special treat!!



We tried taking him around to the corn and places where you could stand and take pictures behind random cartoon characters, but he wasn't the least bit interested. He just wanted to run back to the pumpkins!!



First time touching a real, big pumpkin!




Our lil' fam


Not quite sure how my mom managed to grab such a great pic as it was so crowded and we were feeling a bit rushed, but isn't the look on his face priceless?!?! :)



Yum, yum!



Elijah was quite enthralled with the camels



And the giraffes in the distance!


Aww my sweet boy


Funny faces with daddy


Before we left of course we had to get some yummy treats - including fresh hot apple cider, some coffee for Grandpa, fresh apple cider donuts, and freshly made kettle corn. Super yummy!

And finally, here's our big boy walking with Grandma back to our car. Love this. :) 



A truly wonderful experience on a perfectly gorgeous Fall day!!

It is amazing to watch the world through a child's eyes. I'm floored every day by something he sees or does or exclaims "whoaaa!!" to. He's growing and changing so much, I can barely keep up. He's almost 16 months old and I'm not sure how to process that.

We are trying to soak in every beautiful Fall day, and every chance we get to experience something new with Elijah in this stage... because all too soon we'll be stuck inside for the Winter. For a child who looooooooves the outdoors, this will be a challenging season!

So Fall, please stay around just a little bit longer.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Home for 11 Years

Photo credit: Unknown. Just wanted to clarify it wasn't taken by us,
but by the previous owner's realtor when we bought the house.

This little place. 
This place we have called home for 11 years now. 
This place with all the memories.
This place with the long commutes to work,
but more space than we could afford close to work.
This place with its 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full finished basement,
a spare room we made into an exercise room, a wood-burning stove, 
two car garage, a backyard that leads into the park behind our house,
and a quiet neighborhood that while we've had irritants, has been utterly safe.

This place that went through significant neighborhood changes 
just one year after we bought it. 
Land was sold next to us and the house by us was torn down to its roots, 
and two houses were built where previously there'd only been trees.
This place where we live at the top of a hill and rarely had to worry about flooding.

This place that is less than 15 minutes from our church. 
This place that is less than 5 minutes from good friends who could be here
quickly in case of an emergency.
This place that is near the best bike trail, petting zoo, and walking paths around!
This place that gets me to LL Bean and Cabela's in under 15 minutes.
This place that allows us to get to our favorite mall in 15 minutes, 
to Tim's mom's in under 30, to Walgreens in 2, 
Dairy Queen in 1, and Target in 7. 
Because, hello, priorities!

This place where we both got different cars.
This place where I sobbed and cried out to God in desperation
when we found out about my illness symptoms, was tested
out the wazoo, and eventually where I came home after finding
out for sure that I had Fibromyalgia.

This place... a place of refuge, safety, and some days... confusion and loneliness.

This place where we got to talk to families struggling
with infertility and beginning adoption, 
wondering if we might someday be on the same course.

This place where, after years of trying and struggling, 
we finally brought our sweet baby home. 
After 11 days in the NICU.
Where we entered over that threshold with fear and trepidation.
And much rejoicing.

This place where we were scared. 
This place where we got the call that Tim's dad had passed away
and we sobbed.
This place where we found out about all of our grandparent's deaths.

This place where we argued a lot and found out the
real meanings of "for better, for worse, for richer, 
for poorer, in sickness and in health".
This place where we felt God's goodness and grace,
and his sovereignty over the overwhelming, sad, 
and hard parts of life.

This place where we became a family.
This place we've shared with so many family and friends.
This place where people met Elijah for the first time. 

This place where love was shared, tears were shed, laughter was abounding, 
grace was given, fights were hard, God was glorified, deaths were wept over, 
voices were raised, whispers were given, prayers were constant, songs were sung,
and God's love for us and our son was ever-present.

Memories.
11 years of sweet memories.
All the better now with a little one's voice echoing through the hallways.
And where we get to truly see God at work every day.
Through the eyes of a child.





Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall TV 2014

Fall TV goodness has begun, woot!!

image credit: CBS

My favorite new shows are Madam Secretary {CBS: Sundays at 7 pm CST or after 60 Minutes when football runs long} and Scorpion {CBS: Mondays at 8 pm CST}.

My least favorite new show is Gotham. I'm trying to like it. I'm watching it because hubby likes it. Its premise is intriguing, but it's to me so far it's dark and depressing and gross.

We ended up deciding not to watch NCIS: New Orleans because well, it just wasn't pulling us in enough and we have plenty to watch. We want to try to watch The Flash but we'll see how it goes once it premieres next week.

We LOVED Chicago Fire. It was the premiere that I was the most looking forward to. That show always has me gripped and on edge and cheering and booing. It's the best little roller coaster ride and I love it! Some compare it to E.R., but I like this one so much better, the characters are more interesting and it's much more exciting and uplifting I think. Plus, it's in Chicago. Hello.

We continue with all our favorites and catch up late at night and on weekends:
Big Bang Theory, NCIS:LA, NCIS, New Girl, Shield, Person of Interest, Arrow {premiering next week}, Chicago PD, The Millers {premiering 10/30}, Elementary, (premiering 10/30}, Amazing Race, Hawaii Five-O, and Blue Bloods.

What are you enjoying this season?? What new shows are you trying and liking or not liking?