January 8, 2018
It’s safe to say I get emotional when I’m sick. Tears rolled off my cheeks and wet my hair and pillow. How could this be happening all at once, and how could it be happening to me? I’m already feeling so weak and limited; how could God allow an increase of challenges in the area’s I’m already maximizing my ability to persevere? Each wave of tears represented ounces of pain and disappointment as the reality of my situation registered. Lots of people get the flu, and it was making me really emotional, but it wasn’t just that. My fever was making my MS symptoms flare; my ribs hurt — oh they hurt, my eyes hurt, and just like last time, I could hardly walk. And the worst part, the part that brought me to tears, was that our sewer had backed up today. Not just a little. A lot. Under the walls and into the hallway and dining room — right smack in the middle of a family that really could use a working sewer. I don’t know if our homeowner’s insurance covers sewer backup, I don’t think it does. And I’m thinking how huge of an expense this is going to be and how we can’t afford it. Then there’s the basic logistics I cry out to God: How is our family of five supposed to go the bathroom? Shower? Do laundry? “Lord, I’m already so weak, my daily chores are already pushing me further than my body wants to allow sometimes, how am I going to manage all of this?!” Actually, I felt so bad for my husband who will carry the stress and work of finding a solution to this sewer problem, even though he made me cry earlier with his insensitivity to how going to the bathroom for me, for girls, isn’t as simple as it is for him and for men. Especially for me, which was a further trigger for my years. My bladder does not work right. I use a toilet like anyone else, but it’s just a part of MS that bladder problems come with the territory. And again, my tears form with this knowledge, “God, you know, how could you allow this?” Using the restroom is as much mental as it is physical for me. I can’t just squat and go. But then sometimes I can hardly even make it to the toilet on wobbly legs that won’t get me there fast enough, but now I’m supposed to find the nearest bush? Or waddle all the way out to the camper? Okay maybe TMI…
My hands are so numb, they feel so odd. Like they’re not even attached. It’s more than just numbness, it’s stiffness and muscle weakness too. I bend and flex all my fingers to remind me I still have control. The fever also causes the intensity of my muscle spasms to rapid-jerk my legs into what is also called “increased muscle tone”, which is a very flattering way of saying my muscles flex and become rigid without any conscious effort; I choose to barely move my foot and my entire leg locks up. I go to take a step and my knees suddenly are locked in the bended position. Oh, and the limb shakiness, I don’t even know what that is. Stand up, shake shake. Take a step, shake shake. Next step, shake shake. What the heck? Although that’s been going on a while, and it’s just made so much worse now that the rest of me is further compromised. Those who know me would not recognize this exasperated, high fever version of me.
Finally I get up because I’m just so hot and uncomfortable. My Fitbit is telling me my heart rate is in the 90’s lying down — quite drastically different from the low to mid fifties it usually is. That can’t be good. Then after I make my way to the table where I daily sit and do my morning routine of water-coffee-reading-quiet-time, my heart rate is reading 123 sitting down. Does this happen to everyone with a fever? Could the fever be causing my autonomic dysfunction to be even more dysfunctional? I guess I’ll accept it as a sign I’m supposed to be sitting, in addition to the sign of being light-headed when I’m standing. A bad cold, the flu, I can handle that, it ain’t got nothing on me, it’s this stupid chronic disease I have to worry about and its terrible manifestations.
Once I’m awake and rested, and Dayquil medicated, I realize it’s not that bad. Thank God we have a camper to use for a restroom and shower, although as for me, who showers when they’re sick anyway? We also have an outdoor sink next to our barbecue that doesn’t drain into the same line that is clogged. Plus I’ve secretly fantasized of a disposable paper product lifestyle that results in throwing away every dirty dish rather than washing it, but won’t allow myself because personally I feel like it’s poor stewardship. But most things that are “easy” result in some sort of poor stewardship and like I posted before, I am a professional at doing things the hard way — but not this time. Maybe I’ll get some time off from making meals since I haven’t discovered disposable pots and pans and I’m not well yet anyway.
After a few days, I finally talked to our homeowner’s insurance company to discuss our claim. Gordon was clearly hired for his soothing voice and tranquil communication skills. He said if the blockage is under our house, we have maximum coverage, and if the blockage is outside the house line somewhere else on the property, our policy includes a “Homeowners Plus Endorsement” which covers up to $5,000 in repairs. That’s good news since hubby thinks the blockage is outside the house line and that’s $5,000 we will really need, although it probably won’t be enough, and we have a $1,000 deductible. Yet, I thank God for homeowner’s insurance. Thank God for Gordon.
Day four of being sick and, contrary to the way I usually live, I’ve finished both seasons of “The Good Place” with Kristen Bell, which is pretty funny, although about as opposite from a biblical view of “The Good Place” as they could have possibly have gotten. I’m sure that’s partly the point. It’s a play on what most people assume Heaven, and getting there, is all about. Additionally, I’ve finished a documentary called “Rotten” which is in long episodes about the food industry and very informative, I highly recommend it. My middle one called me yesterday and said, “You must really not be feeling well, I don’t think you’ve ever sat down and picked out a television show and watched it, not to mention finished it!” This same sweet girl and her big brother stopped at Trader Joe’s after school and came home and made me soup. So very sweet and thoughtful! I’m pretty sure they forgot about the “no dish using rule” we had in place, but that’s okay.
Sitting isn’t so bad. Doing nothing isn’t so bad. Having a port-a-potty in my front yard, that’s kinda bad.
After a little over a week our sewer situation is remedied. Hubby and a small crew worked on it for days. We had usage of our plumbing off and on through the process which was SO WONDERFUL, and then when Hubby finally hooked up the two-hundred-plus feet of new sewer line, I’m pretty sure he felt like king of the world. I’m still not all the way better, but I’ve been hearing this cold/flu that’s going around is a lingering one. However, almost all of my MS exacerbations that were caused by this virus have subsided, although I’m fairly sure my body is battling costochondritis, again.
It occurs to me most of us need to be forced to rest. Very few of us recognize when it’s time just stop, just think, just breathe. And even though I consider myself somewhat of an expert at resting because of my limitations, even I need to be reminded to just be still and that “in quietness and trust is my strength”, and I don’t have a clue how to solve most of my problems. Sometimes it feels like our trials define us. How we respond to life being exceptionally “crappy” at times is way more important than the muddling through the everyday inconsequential stuff. This coming from someone who cried herself to sleep just over a week ago. But now that I have a bird’s eye view of the entire process — the part before when I was just starting to feel sick, the part where I cried in defeat like a baby, the part where I saw that this isn’t so bad and I think we’re gonna be okay, and the part where a solution was on the horizon and we laughed at the trial — really, really laughed at the ridiculousness of it all, I see that hope was there all along. Even when life feels like nothing more than sewer and human waste, even when our bodies hurt and fail us, even when we can’t see the solutions we need, there is always a remnant of hope. And my sweet almost 89-year-old Grandma, who knows more about trials than anyone I know, confirms this truth and her words touch me so much I want to remember them coming from her mouth always, “Even in the bad, there is always some good.” Temporarily I couldn’t see it, but it was there all along.