Weaknesses

Many of you know me in real life. I am very determined and usually have a good attitude. But, today I want to talk to you about weaknesses.

My physical weaknesses are obvious. I’m not physically strong, and I’ve tired out easily since the MS became a thing (especially because I always seem to push myself so stinkin’ hard).  I know that there are a lot of things that I can’t do, and I have mostly stopped trying to do them. I could make this a whole big long post about the many struggles I’ve had with this over the last decade, but I don’t want to. Just know that it was a process, and it certainly didn’t come about easily.

The internal weaknesses of every person are unseen and personal. It was a huge mental battle to overcome the fact that I couldn’t take care of Lydia by myself, but I’m finally okay with it. I love the nannies we have that come to help me at home when Doug is at work! I can’t pick Lydia up and move her, but I can entice her to come to this other corner of the room with me. I can’t keep up when she’s crawling away (foot drop), but I can grab her foot and drag her back toward me, which makes her laugh (she laughs when I’m trying to crawl after her, too). I can’t walk around with Lydia, but I can hold her and cuddle her when I’m seated just fine. I can’t manage taking Lydia places on my own, but God always sends somebody to help me. Besides, it’s way more fun for them to get to be my blessing. Another plus? I usually get a good chat out of it.

I manage my energy well. I no longer try to do the things I can’t, but instead be the best at things I can. I am thankful for my physical weaknesses, because they don’t allow me to be the perfectionist at everything I wish I could be. That, in all honesty, is not at all realistic. I’ve done the whole “trying to be perfect.” And it’s exhausting. When I think about how I can’t physically do something, I think about how trying to do it could hurt me more than help me. This is where I am at right now.

This last week, I was talking to God about my hopes for healing one day. His response? “Don’t focus on what I can do. Focus on what I am doing right now.” Since this revelation, my eyes have been opened to random conversations I’ve had with strangers here and there, and how much it has impacted. Maybe it has impacted them, but each time, God tells me, “See? I have a reason for everything. You were needed right here, right now.” Why do I have to go get infusions every month for my medicine? To have wonderful conversations with other patients and the nurses who work there. Why was it taking me so much time and energy at Walmart this week? So that the couple walking past me could help put my groceries into the trunk of my car. Why do I still have my blog, though it has fallen out of a routine and is random, most of the time? So that you, the person reading this post right now, might just be encouraged.

Anna

An Update on My Physical Abilities

A year ago, I was just getting strong enough and able to take care of myself again after living with my parents for three months. After that, I could move back home with my husband in Kentucky. We (Doug) moved into a one story house and had made sure it was  handicap accessible before I got back. Pregnancy plus multiple sclerosis (MS) is ideally supposed to help the MS, even though it’s not on meds. Well, as I learned (even though I almost already knew), I am an exceptional case. Without meds, the MS in my body was pretty terrible. I’d gone without meds for a few years right after I was diagnosed with MS, until we found a drug that worked. For the first time in ten years, I was going MS-med-free, and it seemed to be going the same way. I would get an infection, and it would trigger a relapse. New lesions appeared in my brain during pregnancy. The day after I gave birth, I tried a new med that’s supposed to help patients with MS, too (not that it’s been researched tons yet). And although new lesions didn’t appear in my brain, the weakness was still pretty terrible.

In October, I was hospitalized when I became septic with a bladder, kidney, and blood infection all at once. When I get sick, I usually lose all strength in my body. After I was discharged (and stronger because antibiotics were helping me), I started some home health physical therapy (PT) in November. In January, I started up on outpatient PT, starting at the strongest I had ever been than working with that particular PTist, Judy. (She’d worked with me when I was pregnant, too.) I told Judy the first day I saw her that I wanted to ditch the walker. And pretty soon I was walking with two arm canes, and now, if I walk with an arm cane, I only use one! I still use my walker when I’m real tired, but those times are limited. (Yay!) Then, I started up on this walking machine thing called the Lokomat. image

Basically, I go through the motions of walking, with about 50% of the effort on me. I also am not bearing any weight. For the first time in years, I don’t have to use most all my muscles to activate a weak one. The longest I have gone is for 30 minutes (as of April 3). This has also helped me with my stability! For the first time since January 2016, I have been able to stand for a whole shower, instead of needing a shower bench to sit on part way (or the whole way) through.

We have hired help at home (my caretaker/nanny) that helps me take care of my little girl, as I still can’t transfer her well or really walk with her yet. Whoever is there is also my hands and feet, as I still get tired pretty easily by running around or lifting things. And I call it “supervision” of me to make sure I don’t do something I probably shouldn’t be doing. They’ve been with me since Lydia was three weeks old, and in that time, I have better learned to ask for help when I need it. (Um, Lydia is now seven months old. SEVEN! Next thing I know, she’ll be off to school!? Lol.) Amanda, the gal who comes to our house to help me out that’s closest to my age, has become a dear friend of mine. I guess that longing for a friend to just sit and have coffee with I’ve had for years has finally been fulfilled!

So, I’m making a ton of progress. And, we just found out that after more than a MONTH, the only MS med that has ever really worked for me has FINALLY been cleared by my new insurance company, so I can start taking that again! I can’t even imagine my improvements after that starts! But don’t worry, I’ll keep ya’ll updated. 😀

Hugs, everyone! (Even if I don’t know you, I’m gonna send you a hug. I like hugs, and I’m excited about this stuff.)

Anna

The Thorn in my Flesh….A Gift?

It came to me like a light suddenly being flipped on in a dark room illuminated by a night light.  The kind of light that hurts your eyes, but then you can see across the room to the object you knew was there but couldn’t really see with only the night light given its limited illumination.  Multiple Sclerosis is the thorn in the flesh “gifted” me by Jesus Christ.  This “messenger or Satan” (2 Cor. 12:7) that harasses me is a continual reminder that I depend on Jesus for everything.  I depend on him for physical energy throughout the day, for comfort in my despair, for life, for everything.  God uses the “messengers of Satan” to serve us.  In 2 Corinthians, Paul displays this openly.  I have clung to his words, but I have received a new understanding.  I don’t want MS.  It drains me and limits me and causes me to go crazy when I lose feeling in my hand or my leg.  I can’t even describe in words, and it’s not really possible for anyone to exactly understand it, anyway.  But God’s promise remains: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).  Back in October, I wrote this post relating my thoughts on this passage (real thoughts and thinkings, people).  When I am weak, then I am strong.  I want it to go away, but the more I ignore the MS tormenting my body, the more it takes advantage of making me miserable.  If you ignore a thorn, stuck in the flesh, it won’t go away.  Oh, why have I not seen this analogy before?

“God showing his strength through weak things was laced all through redemptive history, culminating in the cross” (Bloom).  Oh, man, God is awesome.  His grace is abounding.  Through these thorns, he gives us JOY.  He always is kind of opposite of the world.  I pray that I’ll remember the MS as a gift when I struggle.

The college band I am in is on tour currently, and it is exhausting.  I have been learning what I can and can’t do, and I am so ever thankful for the other people that help out.  I play percussion, and the percussion equipment must be unloaded off the truck and set up before each concert—it’s a lot of work!  I am the door holder, because I know I can do that.  I help pack up, but there are extra hands that help with load up, giving me the opportunity to head back to the bus.  I am so thankful to everyone who is helping the percussion section and me.  I am so blessed by people all over!  Thank you to you who are reading this who have been helping me out as we tour and elsewhere/other times in my life.  You know who you are.  MS as a gift?  Still seems weird, but I’ll try it out.

Anna 🙂

 

Insight sourced:  Bloom, Jon. “Are You Content with Weakness?” (Desiring God)

When I am weak, I am strong.

When I can’t walk, I feel like a FAILURE.  I feel I can’t physically do all I usually can do just fine—I feel like my body is making up an excuse for a cop-out.

When I can’t walk, I feel HELPLESS.  I need people to help me do what I SHOULD be able to do.  I am so thankful for friends who help me.

When I can’t walk, I feel like GIVING UP on everything else, too.  I ignore invisible weakness, and push through other things unseen—but when I am having troubles walking on my own…I’ve reached a bad point.

When I can’t walk, I feel TRAPPED.  Sometimes, I DO have energy, but I can’t do anything about it.  What can I do when weakness of my body restricts me?

When I can’t walk, I feel EMBARASSED.  I’m such a slow walker, trying so hard to lift up my foot enough so I don’t trip on it, and take a step.  The more I can’t, the slower I move.

When I can’t walk, I sometimes FORGET about the Lord, who is lifting me up every moment.  I forget that I’m alive and can have hope for a better future despite this disease.

When I can’t walk, my weakness is VISIBLE.  In my weakness, Christ’s power is made perfect, and I am strong in Him.  FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, I AM STRONG.  Do you see Christ’s power in me?  If not, maybe it’s okay when I can’t walk well, so that His power may shine through me!

Anna 🙂