|designed by Jane Foster|
Yesterday was a big day. It was my Dad's birthday, my husband's birthday, and my one year stroke anniversary. And honestly, I was in the mood to celebrate! God has blessed me with a wonderful earthly father, a strong and loving husband, and an excellent medical care team. And my kiddos? They are pretty fantastic, too. I am very grateful.
The last week has been a huge recovery week. I guess my brain finally got the message that my adrenal system was good to go. My thoughts are more clear; I can stay more focused on a task. I am not exhausted all the time, although I still take regular naps. I am feeling energized from regular workouts, and I feel significantly more positive and jovial. It is rather startling that this journey started a year ago. In some ways, this has been the longest year of my life.
As I look back in my journal, I see the slew of symptoms I initially developed. Now, the only symptoms that remain are the numbness (and some weakness) on my left side. I have limited numbness on the right. At least 75% of the numbness has never improved, although I understand that neurological recovery can happen at any time--- even years after a stroke. Nonetheless, even if the Lord choses not to allow for my full neurological recovery, I am grateful to have the function I enjoy.
So how has a brain stem stroke changed my life? I think it has simplified things... and clarified others. My day is simpler. Due to my fatigue and decreased patience, I had to hire a tutor for my kids. Now, I only teach one child--- which only takes a couple of hours daily. Not only did this school change help me with recovery, but I think it also helped my kids to de-stress. (If you're not hanging out with a stroke patient every single moment of the day, life is more relaxed.) I workout, teach, and then do the household tasks. I don't run too many errands. I don't plan more than a couple events per week.
I have also not worried so much if my house is a mess, if my refrigerator is not full, or if my bathroom scale is still 12 pounds higher than it should be. In the words of my brother, "It is what it is." I only do what I have to do, and I give myself the grace to sleep or do nothing if I need to.
Having a stroke has also clarified life. What's really important? What has this event brought out in me that is not too attractive? What does the Lord want to teach me?
In this world, all that mattered anymore was my family. I did whatever I could do to love them and to protect them (e.g. revamping wills, writing love letters to them in case I died, speaking affirmation to them). I also never stopped going to church. Even if I cried throughout the service, I knew I needed to be in the company of other believers. I'm sure I was a joy to sit next to! I also made sure I was continually "right with God." I quickly confessed known sin; I asked for forgiveness from those around me if I had messed up. I didn't take one moment for granted anymore.
Unfortunately, I also soon discovered that I was not the pillar of strength, patience, or perseverance. Illness brought out some ugly things in me. I retreated from friends. I didn't return phone calls or emails. I can not count the number of times I lost my patience, prayed to die, or screamed at my kids. At times, I found it impossible to even pray or even ask God to heal me. I never lost my faith, but I lost my ability to even form prayers in my mind. I felt spiritually numb--- not questioning why I was suffering, but not really being able to climb out of a kind of limbo. I had to rely on others to stand in the gap for me and pray for me when I simply couldn't. It is a very humbling experience to feel so emotionally labile and fragile. I couldn't do what I knew I should do. I couldn't make myself be "more spiritually mature." However, God was so patient with me. I never felt guilt or condemnation; He just waited for me to return to Him.
And return I did. I was slowly able to return to reading devotionals and then the Word. But what I credit with my recent recovery is the return to service. The Lord showed me something to do! He gave me a task! (see http://www.gofundme.com/gkh5qk)
After praying about this new venture, I wholeheartedly gave myself to this project. The Lord used helping someone else to pull me out of my stagnant life. I find it very difficult to contain the joy I have in my heart right now. God is good; He is good all the time... you just need to wipe the tears from your eyes and open your heart to what He wants you to do for someone else. The Lord may not show you what He wants you to do right away, but if you just ready yourself and make yourself available, He will show you what path He wants you to take. I am so thankful He didn't lose patience with me. He gave me the time I needed to recover, and then He gave me a new passion to help a sweet boy.
If you would like to share in my joy and help little Alazar, please use the Go Fund Me link http://www.gofundme.com/gkh5qk