Disruptions in the Natural Order Stink
I always thought that parents having to bury their children was particularly devastating. Now, in a way, I am getting to see why that is. It’s so unnatural. Take a good look at this picture. It is really sweet, but it is really sad, too. This is not how things should be. My Dad should no longer be having to push his grown daughter around, like he once did when I was in the stroller. Yes, I think it signifies that we can make it work. Our little train is a solution to getting around, and it shows how we are surviving this hardship, by making things work, but it’s still really sad. In the video Alex Wolf made for the ‘Katherine Lived’ Party, there is some footage of my mom pushing me across the street from UCLA for one of my first visits outside of the hospital with James riding on the tray of my wheelchair. It makes me cry. This sweet 2 year old should not have learn to say words like “Mama’s Wheelchair” and “Mama’s Cane”. Yet I know the disruption of the natural order of things in my life has created a deeper level of empathy in my family and friends for other people whose lives have fallen outside the natural order. I hope that when James gets older his heart will be particularly compassionate toward people who look different or have wheelchairs like mama’s.
There are Still Issues Here
Just like my saddlebags, cellulite, and muffin top that all came back, so did my issues. Well, neither one ever left I guess, they were just on hold while I almost died. Like anyone does, I have issues in my life. I’m not a perfect person and like every other human I know, I am a complicated, with my own special idiosyncrasies on top of interesting family dynamics, which I do not always handle well. There are physical issues, emotional ones, and spiritual ones. They are all hard. Having a medical crisis did not automatically fix everyone or everything in my life. It didn’t fix me. Perhaps I (and those around me) have a little more perspective than we used to, but nonetheless, things can still be hard. There are still broken relationships, poor communication, and complicated interactions. Those (sadly) stayed. In the end, love and grace cover over a multitude of sins. I guess it’s some good fodder for the counseling I’m getting!
Calories In and Out Determine Body Weight
Over the months following my injury, I lost over 30 pounds. I was eating a diet of 1800 calories a day through a tube in my stomach. It’s pretty funny (and kind of scary) that I lost all that weight on 1800 calories! How many calories was my body used to eating? Though losing over 30 pounds might be some women’s dream, at 5’10”, it was too much. I have joked that it was a great post-baby diet, but the truth is that it was disgusting. My bones showed through my clothes, and I looked emaciated. I lost all that weight while on a fixed diet and through working out a ton in rehab. Thankfully, through a concerted effort of eating lots of treats in the past year, I have regained most of the 30 pounds. The challenge is to not gain back too much more! When it boils down to it, your amount of input (FOOD) and output (EXERCISE) determines your body weight. Period. In our childhood, when my sisters and I used to scarf cookies in Manda’s pantry, she would lovingly say, “Calories, calories…” Still true.
Baby Steps Forward are still steps Forward
Quite literally when re-learning to walk, it’s all the little steps that matter. (I do not recommend re-learning to walk at 27 – it is atrocious!) When I practice walking without a cane, Jay tells me that he thinks I look like a little baby taking her first tiny steps. (He thinks that is a very good indication that like a baby, my brain will develop that natural skill of walking one day too.) On the larger scale of my recovery, each little step forward is progress. It’s the whole “you can’t eat an elephant in one bite” thing. You have to crawl BEFORE you can walk. I can (finally) crawl after almost 2 years without that ability. WOOHOO! I choose to celebrate every little progression – no matter how small it may be. Focusing on the mini-miracles along the way help to keep a positive perspective during the often long stretches between the big miracles.
Hydration can Prevent Panic Attacks
I had never had a panic attack in my life. I didn’t even know what a true one was. I had a bad one on my birthday last year. I think it came from knowing it was my birthday and that signifying the passage of time. I also saw the pictures from James’ first haircut the day before. The fact I could not be a part of that haircut (his 1st one) just sent me over the edge. I was sobbing and my hands and feet went totally numb. I was irrational and inconsolable. It was rough. My friend Lauren told me that hydration can be the key to preventing these things. It made sense because I was not getting the normal hydration I would have because of the feeding tube. Now, when I wake up in the night feeling funny, Jay gets some water and I do some deep breathing. I share this sort of random tip because many of you who shared with me that you have had dealt with panic attacks. Drink some water if you feel one coming on!
Miracles Still Happen
At my most recent appointment, Dr. Gonzales told me that still being alive was a miracle, as well as my recovery. He spoke about the miraculous nature of my healing and how different it is than so many other cases he sees. I transposed what he said at Christmas and posted it on here with our Christmas Card. Here is what I think about miracles…My AVM was the largest my doctor had ever seen, in the worst possible location, and with the worst possible blood drainage. The massive pressure was pushing my brain down into my spine which made my case particularly terrible. CT scans and testing done in the emergency room revealed that I was on the verge of death any minute. A medical student told Dr. Gonzales that Jay was in law school which meant he should not fool with me – I was going to die anyway and he needed to think about the liability of a dead girl. Despite all these factors, he couldn’t get me out of his mind and he decided to operate. Miraculously, I lived through surgery! I was so struck by what the anesthesiologist said when I had my eye surgery last August. He had been there the night of my life-saving brain surgery (he and a team of doctors had transfused over 5 times my full blood volume). His voice trembled as he looked at me and said, “you’re a miracle”.
More to come…