Sunday, November 14, 2010

Curve Balls teach us lessons- DARNIT!

It was around this time of year, about five years ago.  We were living in a house which was so different in every single way from our previous one. It was era 1800's vs. 1990's. It had charm oozing out of the holes in the walls and floors vs. many modern conveniences. There was a claw foot tub vs. the enormous Jacuzzi one.  My husband was working two jobs and was stressed to the max, (the kind of stress at a level that I would soon come to know and not get rid of until very recently ) 
The problem with this house even though it was so old is that it did not have a fireplace. We decided that Santa couldn't just walk through the front door, and we had always had one, so we bought one. A big huge electric fireplace.  It was torture moving the thing in.  The few days afterward my husband complained of a pinched nerve in his back that was making his legs feel numb. Several days later he decided to get it checked out and had some tests run. We knew when the Dr. asked us to both meet him at the office, that it was more than a pinched nerve.  The bottom line, it looked more like MS (Multiple Sclerosis) than anything else but unfortunately, with out having a full blown "episode" it is a hard thing to diagnose.  The strangest thing is that within  DAYS we had our answer. 
A few nights later, I decided to make a REAL dinner. (I now realize this is one the last times I have attempted to cook a meal) When my hubby got off work, he walked in the door and went immediately upstairs, which was kind of weird especially since he NEVER found me IN the kitchen with an oven mitt on my hand when he came home.  Then my son came down and asked me what was wrong with Dad?  When I found him, he was sitting down and couldn't get back up. He couldn't feel his legs.  I called a friend over and of course gave her instructions on what to do with my amazing dinner in the oven (she will never tell, but I think it was actually pretty darn awful) and took him to the hospital where he spent two weeks. They ran every test possible.  At one point, I had walked into his wing, and overheard nurses talking about how he was being monitored by cameras and that he could stop breathing at any time (his MRI's were showing an extreme amount of activity in his brain and around the part of his spine that controls your breathing.  He came home and went back to the hospital two more times, while I continued to work and take care of the kids without him - something he had always been such a huge help with. I didn't know how unprepared I was to do things without him. I couldn't even run the snow blower. The kids and I would visit him every night and eat in the cafeteria at the hospital.  It was a surreal experience. People did this kind of thing when their loved ones were DYING not because of MS, right??  
This was happening to the  man I had been with since I was 15. He was my superhero who never got sick or showed any kind of emotion and suddenly I was the one who had to be strong and he was showing more emotions than I knew what to do with. 
During this time I broke down once. It was the night friends who had come to visit and help had just left taking my youngest child with them. They were taking her to stay with my brother because it was too hard with her being so little to be left with a sitter all the time.  I felt like such a failure and cried while the poor other two kids were wondering why? They were doing secret dances while I was in heap that their baby sister who could be pretty darn whiny was on a little vacation.  (She was FINE and had the time of her life on her mini vacation of course, and looking back, the stories that my brother's family tells of her stay with them makes us all laugh.  I think this was also the catalyst that made us pack up and move back home, closer to family in the end)
The reason I am telling all of this is that we went from that dark place to TODAY.  We forget so easily, which CAN be a good thing, but it CAN explain me a little bit too. To look at my husband you would never know anything is wrong. You would never know that this disease that we keep hearing about and more and more people are getting has changed him so much. MS is like an internal battle. I don't even know that he is feeling uncomfortable, pain, fatigue or irritation sometimes. Until I hear about yet another person who has MS am I reminded that he does still have this disease that was once so scary to us.  Even our kids will say-Dad has that, when we see a story about some one's struggle with it (as though it just went away) But we forget because he doesn't remind us. He doesn't complain about the shot he gives himself every single night. He doesn't talk about the constant feeling of pins and needles. (It was almost comical when he would run the kids baths and they were always too hot or too cold. Or when he nearly had frostbite every day from leaving his hand out the car window not realizing how cold it was- (he was delivering newspapers- one of the many things he did when he didn't "work") We chalk up his tiredness and moods to him just having a bad day like the rest of us, without considering what his bad day must really be like.
So it may seem strange that my house is completely decorated for the holidays as of today, and that we are practically done shopping for Christmas already, but I think it is my way of preparing for battle.  I guess this time of year reminds me that life throws curve balls sometimes and things change. So this is me preparing for "just in case". This is my way of "training" for the next curve ball and when it hits, I will be able to hit IT right back, out of this field and our life.

4 comments:

Kate said...

I can't imagine what it must have been like to go through that time. I'm so glad you're able to be closer to family. And your OCD tendencies (:D) make sense in light of all this...control what you can because there's so much we can't.

And I sort of know what you mean when you talk about kind of forgetting what he's going through on a daily basis. Or not so much forgetting, I guess, as not thinking about what it's like. Until you have some similar symptom and think, "Oh, this sucks. And THIS is what he's dealing with all the time."

Kate said...

I can't imagine what it must have been like to go through that time. I'm so glad you're able to be closer to family. And your OCD tendencies (:D) make sense in light of all this...control what you can because there's so much we can't.

And I sort of know what you mean when you talk about kind of forgetting what he's going through on a daily basis. Or not so much forgetting, I guess, as not thinking about what it's like. Until you have some similar symptom and think, "Oh, this sucks. And THIS is what he's dealing with all the time."

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

Big, big hugs for you all! Ron has the pins and needles (from peripheral neuropathy - diabetes caused) like your husband. He used to nearly get frostbite, too because he didn't realize his extremities were getting cold. I can feel your pain and, like you, know that it does get better - and it can turn worse in the blink of an eye.

Without actually experiencing the level of chronic pain that our loved ones endure, it's sometimes hard to imagine what they're going through. Thanks for putting that into perspective.

Anonymous said...

I read every day or at least every other day and catch the ones I miss. You make me smile, laugh, and cry. I am proud of the way you prepare and you will hit that curve ball out of the park. You are a very strong, talented wonderful, loving woman. I am so proud of you! (Not to mention that wonderful husband of yours who I always though of as pretty darn cute!) Love you!