Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Spring of Hope

After a hiatus of several days, I’m back at it hard today.  I took a long weekend off and headed to Baton Rouge last Friday with my STL Connection.  We had an absolute blast visiting with a mutual friend and my family.  It was relaxing, fun, and we have promised we will do it again!  Sometimes it’s just necessary to get away from the pace of your life for a few days, have a little fun, and recharge.  Since I couldn't be in Mexico for the DDPYoga Retreat, I think I managed to drown my sorrows in the most positive of ways! 

Now, on with the blog…

Ten days after the birth of my baby girl Annalee, I began experiencing what has to be the most excruciating migraine of my entire life.  I’ve had a history of migraines for several years, but this one outdid them all.  After about 12 hours with the migraine, I decided to check my blood pressure when absolutely nothing else I was doing was bringing me any relief.  I thought perhaps my blood pressure was elevated more so than normal and was causing my head to pound.  It was about two in the morning when I took my blood pressure.  I was certain when I read the monitor that there must be some kind of error as I had never seen my blood pressure that high outside of a delivery room.  I took my blood pressure a second time and got the same result.  I woke my husband up and took his blood pressure.  His came out normal.  I took mine a third and it was still measuring extremely high.  My theory that the monitor was malfunctioning was now out the window.  I decided to call the on-call doctor for advice on what to do.  Needless to say, I was advised to go to the emergency room.  Immediately.
I arrived at the emergency room sometime after 2:00am.  Although my migraine was still out of control, I was seriously thinking my blood pressure would be normal at that point and I would feel silly for creating all the fuss.  However, it quickly became obvious there was a serious problem with it.  The same measurements were taken in the emergency room I had taken at home:  210/111.  I wound up being taken up to the maternity floor as I was only ten days post-partum.  The next day and a half was literally one large blur.  I was barely conscious and Lord only knows what was done to me try and get my blood pressure back under control.  The only point at which I can even remember being aware of whether it was day or night was when I was taken to have some kind of scan.  I have an extreme sensitivity to light when I have a migraine, and they gave me a towel to cover my eyes on the way.  At one point, my arm slipped off the side of the wheel chair and the comforting dark veil of the towel gave way to the searing pain of sunlight.  In that brief moment until I could coordinate my hands to get the towel back over my eyes, I felt as though needles were stabbing my eyes.  Regardless of the pain though, I couldn’t let myself cry.  Sobbing only made my head ache even worse.  I sucked it up as best I could and tried to breathe out the pain.
The nightmare finally ended after that day and a half although I wound up being in the hospital for a total of four days.  It’s still unclear what exactly happened.  I don’t know if the high blood pressure caused the migraine or if the migraine caused the high blood pressure.  No one else seemed to know either.  Seemed to be the usual case for me.  Nothing ever comes standard for me health wise.  Ever the enigma as I hear from medical professionals on a consistent basis, “Well, I’ve never seen it present this way, but…”  Man, if only I had a nickel…  One thing was for sure, I wasn’t birthing any more babies.
The next year or so would continue on as the last several had.  I would sporadically have migraines, my psoriasis had become an ever present condition on my skin, the acute arthritic back pain and neuropathic pain would come and go, and crippling fatigue would continue to plague me every step of the way.  I continued with work and caring for our two children and would pray for temporary reprieves from my symptoms.  Sometimes they would come and sometimes they did not.
I must have been in a particularly froggy mood when a friend of mine asked me around February of 2010 whether or not my husband and I could temporarily help care for her nephews if needed while her sister underwent treatment for Leukemia.  Without even consulting my husband, I gave her a flat yes.  I somehow instinctively knew my husband would be quite okay with a couple of a little boys in the house to help even out the estrogen to testosterone ratio.  When I spoke with him, he was okay with my response.  And so we waited.  We didn’t know how long it would be before the call would come asking for our help or if it would even come at all.  It did a few months later.

Toward the end of May 2010, the call came asking us if we could take the boys for a couple of months.  We said yes and asked when they would arrive.  It would only be a few days before the number of children in our home was going to double for a period of time.  I knew it would be no easy task, but I had prayed on it and I knew we would be up for it!  We busied ourselves getting a bedroom and ourselves ready for their arrival.  We were very excited to have them with us and with Kim coming to visit soon for the summer, it was going to be quite a summer with five children about!  I simply couldn’t wait to have a house full of children!

Kim arrived shortly after the boys and the summer was off and running.  After Kim’s arrival and several conversations, it became evident Kim wanted to move in with us as badly as we had wanted her to move in with us for years.  We began filing paperwork and doing what needed to be done legally to make it happen.  Although something of a headache, the process went along more quickly and smoothly than I thought it would.  Before we knew it, legal custody of Kim was ours and she was on her way to east Tennessee to pack up her things and head back home!  So, as we were prepping to make Kim a permanent part of the household, we were simultaneously prepping for the boys to return back to their mother.  The two months was almost up and we had been advised they would be returning home as planned.

Word came the Tuesday before the boys were to return home that their mother had been re-hospitalized.  The treatment she had undergone had been brutal.  Her physical health wasn’t near where it needed to be to look after two young active boys.  We were asked if we could keep the boys a few more months to give her additional time to recuperate from the treatment that was almost killing her in order to save her.  Without a doubt, our response was yes.  We had to shift gears from readying the boys to return home to getting them enrolled in Kindergarten and pre-school, getting physicals completed, etc.  It was a pretty major shift as Kim had also just moved into our home.  It appeared we would have a house full for the foreseeable future.  So, it was the seven of us from that July of 2010 until December 0f 2010.  That’s when the boys went back home to their mother.  Although I was happy the boys were going home because it meant their mother was still in remission and doing better, there was a part of me that was so sad to see them leave.  Their mother and the boys spent Christmas with us, the boys would come visit on the weekends, and it was nice that we would get to remain a part of their lives.
It would also turn out to be a good thing the boys went home when they did.  In January of 2011, my body went into a total revolt.  I don’t know what happened.  I’m unsure if it was in some way related to the stress of the whole situation with the boys and Kim moving in or if it was just the natural progression of my still unidentified disorder.  It probably helped little that I had strep in December.  Strep can take my immune system down like nothing else.  Either way, the ride I was about to go on would be a nightmare unlike any other I had yet experienced with my health.
The months of January and February 2011 would be two of the darkest months of my life.  The arthritis in my back had spiraled to new lows.  I remember having said multiple times before when my back would go out a few days at a time that I just couldn’t imagine having to live with chronic back pain.  I didn’t realize that my sporadic issues were going to turn chronic for me.  I missed almost the entire month of January from work.  I was in so much pain I could barely function on the day to day.  Much like the incident from when Libby was a baby, it became a daily struggle to even get out of bed.  The exception being that rather than lasting for a few days, this episode stretched into a couple of solid months.  Each morning would begin the same.  I would wake up feeling nothing but excruciating pain up and down my spine.  Each morning I would spend the first hour of my day getting out of bed and into an upright standing position.  Literally, it would take an hour just to stand up.  I can think of little in life that has ever been more disheartening for me.

My darkest days came when I seriously considered the point in going on.  I felt absolutely useless and was in so much physical pain, I just wanted a way out.  I seriously considered the worst choice to be my best option because I physically and mentally couldn’t take it anymore.  I thought about overdosing.  I thought about pulling my car into the garage and closing the door.  I thought about it multiple times.  I thought about how my husband and children could survive without me and they would be just fine.  At that point, I could only see myself as a burden.  All the while I still prayed for relief and answers to come.  It just didn’t seem to be happening fast enough.  I was just so tired of fighting with my body, feeling sick, feeling tired, and being in pain.  I’m glad I made the wiser choice of hanging on.

The last two months of my harshest winter were almost over, and with the spring answers would come.  Although I wasn’t going to be “fixed” overnight, I was at least happy to finally know there was an answer.  It was a relief to find a “name” and an explanation for all I had been going through.  I knew there was still a long road ahead of me, but at least the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was visible to me.  Hope.  Hope means a lot when you thought you’d never find it again.

No comments:

Post a Comment