When I wrote my last blog post I was crushed in spirit. I received so many kind messages and I have been too worn down to reply to most of them but I want you to know that your prayers and messages carry me. Thank you.
It has been one month since I wrote that post. I can barely remember the days between then and now, though they were long and seemed to stretch eternal.
After the serum sickness, I recoiled and became very small, absent, empty. I grieved in a way that is required of us after life deals too much hurt.
The past 15 years have been harsh, at times brutal. And life has been intense since late November/early December 2014 when my case of leukemia relapsed.
In March my oncologist gave me an IVIG treatment to boost my immune system because it is wiped out from chemotherapy.
When I got the treatment, I was actually in a getting better stage. I had returned to work in January; our dog and I were walking an hour a day. I was joining other women for yoga and even barre workout classes. It seemed like we were finally getting back to life.
I had a wicked reaction to the IVIG called serum sickness which you can read about here. It was a horrific set-back.
I felt like someone pummeled me right when I was coming up for air sending me back under the water, wiped out, weary and having to fight the current again in order to survive.
The physical pain of the serum sickness and chemical meningitis was devastating; the night at the ER which went so wrong left me feeling stripped of dignity.
When my oncologist called me the morning after my ER trip, she explained serum sickness and that I won’t be having IVIG again. I slept feverishly and fitfully for a couple of days; when I woke up her words became clear to me and my heart cracked wide open in sadness.
That time period is now blurry and void of details other than the sting I felt in my heart and the shallow breaths that accompany severe sadness. I remember PBS was running an Anne of Green Gables marathon that Sunday and I watched it, recalling younger years spent with my sister and my college girlfriends during what was an uncomplicated stage of life.
I returned to work and focused on survival. I worked and I slept. I had become severely iron deficient and was scheduled for an iron infusion. The anemia made everything that was already so hard, extremely complicated.
It felt as though I had a blindfold around my eyes and was being shoved through a thorn-filled maze.
It hurt, I was exhausted and I knew that the only way through it was to go through it. I put one foot in front of the other and did not think past the moment.
The Sunday before my iron infusion fatigue draped heavily over me; I simply could not stay awake. It was a sunny day and my husband was working in the yard, I wanted to join him because I longed to spend time with him. I also knew it would be good for me to be in the sun. He found me in the house with defeat stamped across my face. Tears pooled in my eyes while I told him how badly I wanted to be outside with him.
He chose compassion.
He took my hand and guided me to our bedroom where he wrapped me up in my favorite blanket. He told me to rest, to nap, that I would feel better when I woke up and that he would be right outside.
Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched him through the window until I fell asleep.
This man, who has never been “sick” who does not understand by experience what it feels like to have your body stop working correctly; this man who is not naturally inclined to extreme patience has been immensely generous and patient and loving towards me. His dreams have also been dashed by my health crisis because it impacts everything from our finances to our ability to socialize to what he has had to witness. He has chosen to love me and to stay committed to me. He breathes words of life into me and treats me gently when he could easily allow resentment to build up toward me. But every day he makes the conscious decision to choose love over resentment. I am amazed.
When I awoke from my nap that Sunday afternoon, I did not feel better, I felt hopeless. I remember standing in our kitchen wondering if all of my good years are over. Then I shook my head and told myself to “stop”. I reminded myself that God has always provided for me. I literally stood in our kitchen and talked to myself “yes, there have been times when I have been in pain and at times it has been profound, but God has always supplied hospitals and medications for me. There have been horrific moments but there has always been an end to those moments”. “There are places in the world where that type of pain relief and medical rescue does not exist. I am grateful that I live in a place where I have been able to have those rescues”.
I expressed gratitude for my husband and his choice to stay faithful to, and supportive of, me during this time which has seemed ruthless.
In my experience, there are stages that are part of healing and I wish I could skip steps and rush through the painful ones but it does not work that way. We have to go through each stage. It is the only way we heal.
I am not crying or grieving anymore. We are laughing again. I am still working full time and my dog and I are taking our daily, one hour walks. I am stretching it out in yoga.
My heart is not yet light again but we are adding play into our lives now that I am medically stable. I know that the light-heartedness will come in time.
I have been through these stages before; it has just been a while since I had to do it. This is not easy.
I recently heard a song that reminded me of the way that God has been with me over the past 15 years. As hard as they have been, He has peppered them with joyful moments too.
The song is really beautiful. I hope it encourages you too, whatever you may be facing.