Healthcare

Baby decisions and chronic illness

I grew up in a small town. When I say small, I mean 400 people. My graduating high school class had 18 students. That being said, I babysat a LOT of the kids in town. I always wanted to be a parent…but.

There’s that ‘but’ that kept nagging at me while I was growing up. To keep things simple, let’s just say that there is a huge neurological history in my family. Enough that even in junior high I was starting to wonder if I should carry a child when I got married. I didn’t want to pass on any genetic issues. Things seemed to run on the female side and if I could stop it, then I had a decision to make.

Fast forward through high school and college to when I did get married. We both wanted children, but something kept nagging. Then several years later I had a mass in my chest that we thought was cancer. When it was removed, it turned out to be benign, but the surgery had affected my breathing. Half of my diaphragm was paralyzed for a year and I haven’t been able to lay flat for the last seven years.

In 2014 that’s when all hell broke loose. Life was turned upside down and we were forced to figure out which way was up and what the “new-normal” was. I knew that having children was out of the picture.

Our hearts ache for what we will never have. So many of our friends have children and are having more. They are guarded when they tell us that they are pregnant. I am equally guarded in response. My heart is bursting with joy and crying at the same time.

I quilt as a hobby and have made receiving blankets, wall hangings and quilts for these precious babes. They are made with so much love and joy. Seeing the smiles on our friends’ faces when they see them is the best part.

Several friends have made us honorary aunt and uncle, which to us is momentous. We get to be a part of those kiddo’s lives. Each time I see them, I imagine what our children would be like at that stage. Then I push the thought away.

Have you ever noticed that if someone mentions a certain item, that you start seeing it everywhere? Do you have any idea how many commercials are on TV with kids? Do you know how many times we look away or close our eyes?

We’re not the only ones yearning for that something that we will never have. So many others with chronic illnesses have the same decisions to make every single day. The what-if game plays over and over and over in your head. Yet you still come to the same conclusion and there is always the ‘but.’

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Healthcare

A Dose of Holiday Magic or Something

I’m sitting here thinking that it doesn’t feel even a little bit like Christmas. Maybe it has something to do with a total lack of energy and feeling like I got hit by a bus. Maybe it’s because there doesn’t seem like there has been a lot of joy lately. As my autonomic symptoms have been ramping up, so have the falls. Two major falls in two months. I’m a little nervous to be alone just because I’m afraid of falling now.

It’s amazing how our illnesses can make our world seem so small. We visited some family yesterday, which was wonderful. But I was tired enough that I made it through dinner and had to go lay down. At the very minimum it was a change of scenery. We can be just as miserable somewhere else as we can at our own house…we just have to change our clothes and look a little more presentable.

While it should be a joyous occasion watching young children open their presents, for me it’s an entirely different feeling. Sitting and watching, makes my heart ache for what I know we will never be able to have. My disease has affected every aspect of my being. There are days that I can hardly take care of myself, let alone our two dogs. But the one thing that my husband and I wanted the most in the world, is the one thing that I am unable to give; a child. Even an adopted child would be too much to handle and it breaks my heart. But, I reflect back to when I was young and have sweet, resounding memories…

The rule was that I couldn’t go see what Santa brought me until the sun came up. At the time, it felt like an eternity from waking up at midnight until 7 am. Then my mom let me race into look at what was in my stocking. The true innocence of childhood.

There are also joyous memories of Christmas while we’ve been married. Saturday is our 11 year anniversary already! Memories are something that will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.

I actually had part of this blog written a couple of weeks ago and as I’m sitting here reading through it, there is a smile that crept onto my face. This is the magic of Christmas.

Our very first Christmas tree we put up also happened to coincide with having two brand new kittens…sisters at that! Every single day, we would come home from work and the tree would be shaking just a little bit. Upon closer inspection, there were two tiny kittens sitting in the tree. There also would be a pile of lights next to the tree and a new selection of ornaments handily removed by our new pets. This happened every single day. Every few months for at least two years, we  would find a tiny ornament that had escaped our frantic search when we put the tree away.

Two years ago was when we decided we were brave enough to put the tree back up. By then we had a beagle as well. We did a good job “cat-proofing” our tree. None of our treasured ornaments went up. We did a trial

We have several rules/traditions at our house for Christmas.  1) Sugar cookies in large quantities are a must, if you don’t have a sugar high when you go to bed, then you haven’t had enough!  2) EVERYBODY believes in Santa.  3) Watching “A Christmas Story” is mandated.  It must be watched at least twice during the holiday season.  4) “The Polar Express” is read aloud on Christmas eve.

I will be the first to admit that I thought “A Christmas Story” was annoying.  You can only listen to, “you’re gonna shoot your eye out kid,” a few times before you want to pull your hair out.  The leg lamp too…don’t get me started.  This was my opinion until I met my husband!

Since we’ve been married, I now love listening to the giggles when the kid gets his tongue stuck to the flag pole. My husband still REALLY wants to get an inflatable leg lamp for our front yard. I think you know who won that argument!

Perspectives change and lessons are learned.  I had never even heard of “The Polar Express” until the movie came out.  Now, the songs are memorized and the book is read aloud at least once a year.  If you can’t act like a kid during the holidays, then something is the matter.

Although nobody in this house is getting an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle, we have plenty of fun to go around.  It’s the tradition and warm fuzzy feelings that make it our favorite time of year.

No matter what is going on in our lives at this moment, make sure to let Christmas rest in your hearts. Take in the magic that comes with it. Even if you aren’t in the mood, we only have these moments once a year. Time isn’t something to be taken for granted. Have a very Merry Christmas.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on our troubles will be miles away

Here we’re as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

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