Tonight was the first night in a week and a half that Elly and I had been anywhere other than my mom’s. And that was just 2 minutes down the road to dinner at church. But it counts as something.

It HAS to count for something at this point. Days of looking at the same walls, watching (or, more accurately, tolerating) more Disney Jr. Halloween shows than I care to admit, and promising myself that today will be the day that I don’t nap when she naps (which hasn’t happened yet) have worn me down and my life has stalled to all but a halt.

Just as I was getting to my feet after surgery, a siege of strange fatigue swallowed me for almost a week and landed me back at the doctor to see what was up, which turned out to be just a return of anemia and strangely low vitamin levels. But then, on my birthday of all days, Elly gets up with a stomach bug. And two days later, I come down with it. Shocking, since I had the immunity of a dish rag.

I spent any awake time during the last week fearing just about anything – mainly that my frail dad would catch our dreaded disease as my blessed mother took care of Elly while I tried to recover – and by the weekend I was in such a pit, I thought I might never care to see the light of day again.

The grey days of fall haven’t helped things much and the fact that we’re not those people that can get sick, have a day or two of rest and then be completely back to normal with no lingering issues (like the fact that Elly’s appetite has only just now returned and that she mysteriously now won’t eat poultry or pasta) just prolongs everything, keeping “normal” further and further at bay. And when it was only 5 weeks ago that you moved to a new house, that totally sucks.

Guest room

This is SOOO not what I would have wanted my guest room to look like after 5 weeks, and under any other circumstances, I have to believe it wouldn’t. But it still makes me cringe.

It’s taken everything in me to find the good in these weeks. I have to go back to the day we moved in when I was jumping around saying “I can’t believe we live here!” to remind myself what a blessing it is to even be here. I have to count the thousands of ways my family – MOM – has been able to help since we live so close. I have to look at the other rooms and be thankful that it’s only the guest room that looks like this. I have to remember the little things over the past five weeks that have been unexpected blessings. I have to force myself into a place of gratitude for just surviving what I can only hope has been an unfortunate string of events and not a preview of what our life from here on is going to be like. Because otherwise, I don’t want to play anymore.

But the one superseding factor that should for all intents and purposes keep me in a state of elation is the fact that with each day, dad gets closer and closer to being put on the liver transplant list and thus getting a transplant. Doctors talk in terms of “when’s” instead of “if’s” now. Tests and procedures have been put into motion in preparation for transplant. We’re all entering an unfamiliar and surreal season of waiting that is both scary and wonderful at the same time. Praise the Lord.

So while I tackle menial tasks like trying to keep the laundry from taking us all under or just survive some days, I’m going to try to keep perspective of this stall in life and trust that somehow, all that needs to get done will get done and I’ll be better for it. In the meantime, I going to ‘check out’ and watch some Ohio State marching band videos.

Because that solves everything.



The Breakdown to the Breakthrough

I think it’s safe to say I’m no Valerie Harper.

If you’ve seen even a glimpse of Dancing with the Stars this season, you know that Valerie Harper has been the most sensational inspiration EVER simply by being willing to step foot on the stage to train, learn, and dance in her condition. Given three months to live after a diagnosis of brain cancer this spring and here she is, this fall, competitively dancing. DANCING. I have cried every time she was on the show just based on her incredible attitude and spirit that wasn’t forced or fake in the slightest. It was compelling and heartbreaking all at the same time.

If I was ever in the same situation, I would like to think that I would have just a bit of the same courage she has exemplified, but the truth is that I would likely be somewhere pouting, whining, or complaining about something with no reasonable justification. As sad as that may be, I know that would be the case – at least for a short time – for one reason: anything that takes me ‘down’ takes me ‘out.’

Any time I’m knocked out of my semblance of “normal” and “control,” whether it’s from being mildly sick, to having a baby or having surgery, I go through a crazy time that it so totally unexplainable that I don’t even think I fully understand it myself. It’s like an alternate personality takes over in some foreign universe where I become convinced that whatever I’m going through at that moment is going to be FOREVER. Everything becomes overwhelming – Cook? I’m supposed to cook edible food? HOW DO I DO THAT? Shower and be presentable within a normal range of time? WHAT? You’re kidding, right? Not have round-the-clock help and attention for whatever disaster may befall me next? NO WAY.

I quit.

I completely shut down, break down, and literally melt down in this crazy place for usually about 48 hours as I get over the transitional hump that inevitably has to come with healing. It’s not pretty. I blame anything and everyone for it and nothing satisfies. Fear and anxiety usually sing and dance around me, mocking this inexplicable chaos I’ve created for myself when I’m just trying to get better. Faith becomes a chore and somewhere in the middle, I convince myself that even that is futile – nothing and no one can rescue me from this. It’s ridiculous and I KNOW my thoughts and behaviors are ridiculous, but I can’t shake it off. For this brief time no amount of journaling, good thoughts, and praying seem to do any good until this “alternate universe syndrome” runs its course. It’s the breakdown. It happens every time. And it sucks.

But then the light somehow comes back on. My humor comes back. Life is a little less overwhelming. I’m sane again. (Well, as sane as I get. Ha.) But it’s gone, like a black cloud that pours a heavy rain and then disappears as fast as it appeared. It’s weird and strange and horrible (and anyone who’s ever been around me during this “crazy” will certainly attest to the awfulness.) I’m just a beast.

And then I’m exhausted.

(Just as I’m sure you are trying to read this.)

But tonight, in the exhausted glow of finally getting over this surgery’s ‘healing hump,’ while I watched Valerie Harper dance and smile and cry happy tears and plainly exist in such an amazing light of life, I scolded myself for ever having to break down over a petty illness or recovery. But then she said something that made me think that maybe all of this is really a normal and necessary part of healing (as ugly as it can get sometimes.) She said “I had to get to a point where I couldn’t carry on to decide I would carry on.”

Those are some powerful words. And whether she came to that conclusion by being a beast for a bit or by sheer will alone, I’ll take my opportunity and decide to carry on too.

Until the next time, anyway.

This is Day Five

Today’s the fifth day post-surgery. (I had my stony gallbladder removed for those of you late to the ballgame.)

Today’s the day that I feel well enough to be annoyed with a sinus headache, but not quite well enough to “forget” that I had surgery. (I keep expecting to wake up and not have ANY soreness or pain.)

Today’s the day that I take a shower I actually enjoy, wear real clothes (…ahem…glorified pajamas), fix my hair, and smear a little makeup on.

Today’s the day when the thankfulness that I survived the whole ordeal meets the realization of the mortifying experience that is surgery. (I think I’ve lost count of the amount of people who have seen far too much of my skin at this point.)

Speaking of mortifying, today’s the day when I realize I’m still not over the fact that they shaved my stomach. SHAVED MY STOMACH. What am I, a she-wolf? I’m also not over picturing the horrifying image of being on the table assumedly wearing ONLY the old-person socks with skids they give you in outpatient prep (because that gown is never on you the same way as it was before you went in. Think about it. Or don’t. It’s horrifying.)

Today’s the day where I am able to actually do more than just look at my precious baby girl – all while holding a pillow over my stomach to lessen the blows that tend to come from a flailing 1-year-old.

Today’s the day that everything I was formerly amazed had gotten done in the four days post-move prior to surgery seems minimal and mentally I begin to make lists of what boxes need to be unpacked and what needs decorating.

Today’s the day I’m thankful – INSANELY thankful – for my mother who has essentially stepped in as me while I can’t pick up Elly and who watched football with me while Elly napped. There’s no replacement for her.

Today’s the day I start questioning how I’ve spent my recovery thus far. Should I have attempted to watch all the episodes of Downton Abbey? Should I have written 17 blog posts? Should I have read all the books on my Kindle? I haven’t done any of those things.

But mostly, today’s the day where I fear the future – how I’m going to find “normal” again, how I’m going to be able to do everything on my own again, and how on EARTH I’m ever going to be able to thank all the people that have helped, prayed, cooked, and blessed us during this time.

It’s a big day.