Most people don’t know this about me, but after our youngest was born, I began experiencing uncommon postpartum symptoms. The left side of my body, from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet became numb. I couldn’t hold a pen or pencil without severe pain. I had trouble completing a thought and I could only see a small portion of whatever my eyes were fixed upon, the rest was blurred to a complete black.
I saw three neurologists during the months that followed and finally decided with the doctor I trusted most that my test results weren’t convincing. At the time I was on a diet high in soy, which we discovered my body doesn’t tolerate well. I had just delivered my third child, finished my Master’s and gone back to working full time. I made changes to my diet, rested more and began writing again to de-stress. Other than poor vision, which wasn’t great at its best, my symptoms left and haven’t been back. For now, I pay attention to my body for signs indicating I may need to return for more tests, but until then, we are holding off on any diagnosis.
One of the three doctors, however, immediately diagnosed me with the illness. After meeting with her, I began a short-lived blog focusing on what I believed was the beginning of my journey down a frightening path. The following is a post written during that time.
I haven’t posted here in a while. I’ve been busy with life – a good life.
When my father was diagnosed in 1994 with MS, he couldn’t walk, couldn’t control bodily functions, couldn’t complete a thought and was almost blind. The doctors quickly figured out the source and started treatment. Twenty years later, he’s walking (with only a cool limp), can see fine and is quite the thinker.
We were discussing the disease a few weekends ago, and he told me something I wish I had heard sooner. I said to him as I watched my oldest play football and my two toddlers play in the stands next to us, “You know, I just need fifteen years. I have no symptoms other than the occasional tingly scalp and some difficulty in focusing – which could be the lack of sleep from being a mom of toddlers. I just need fifteen years, and then the girls will be old enough to be OK without me being 90%.” His eyes filled with tears, and he told me of the wife of a missionary friend of his. Fifty years ago, she was six months pregnant with their youngest child. She began having odd symptoms and was diagnosed with MS. She lived without treatment for many years, but she never was able to hold her baby. She never cradled him in her arms. She never held him and gazed at him while he slept. She had to watch as others performed these “gifts” for her.
I’m asking for fifteen years and she probably would have been satisfied with an hour.
I thank God for what He has given me. I run with my children. Tickle them. Hug them. Bathe them. Dress them. Cheer for them. Dance with them. She simply wanted to hold them.
We can’t be sure of what tomorrow holds. Soon after my post I met a mother fighting an aggressive cancer. We spent several nights together talking while our girls practiced their dance routine for the year end recital. One evening I simply listened as she spoke about everything troubling her at that moment on her journey. She leaned forward and with watery eyes she whispered, “I know people have some really big prayers. All I’m asking for is about 15 years with my girls. That’s it. Just 15 years. Is that selfish? I don’t think that’s selfish.” No sweetie, it’s not selfish at all. It’s being a mother, a wife – human.
This was my last post on the blog or even in my more personal journal dealing with the illness. I shifted my focus from what could be to what was right in front of me. We don’t always see the end of our long, winding path, but there are beautiful scenes all around us. Where ever your walk is leading, I pray you see the beauty in each step.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose – Romans 8:28.