Sunday, March 22, 2015

Taking MS To A College Open House

Here's a little insight in order to set the stage:

My daughter is a highly intelligent, sweet spirited, obedient, attentive, detail-oriented 17yr old.  She struggles with anxiety, but has shown great successes in managing it over the years.  She likes rules.  Rules provide her a sense of comfort.  Rules equal consistency and predictability.  Rules are good.

Me?  I don't do well with rules.  I mean, when it comes to my job and such, sure.  But just general rules?  I find them restrictive.  Constrictive.  Like an MS hug that swallows me up.  Like laying in a closed MRI.  Stifling.  Rules are annoying.  Especially when I'm fighting through a flare.  The only rule I want is like - mandatory nap time.  That's a rule I can get with.


There were plenty of directional signs, complete with celebratory balloons, to properly guide me to the right location.  Did I follow them?  No.  I determined, from the appearance of the main building, that parking in a different lot would bring us closer to where we needed to enter.  It's about conserving steps, right?  Right.  As it turns out, I walked about halfway to the building and realized that I had the wrong building.


I handed my daughter the keys and asked her to go get the car and bring it down into the lot we were standing in.

her:  "No, Mommy!  (I love that she calls me that)  I only have my permit.  I can't drive your car by myself!"
me:  "Oh come on, it's a parking lot!"
her:  "I can't.  I don't even have my permit along with me."
me:  "Are you kidding me right now?  You are not getting pulled over in a parking lot.  Just go get the car and bring it down here."
her:  "No.  I can't do it."

Back we walked.  Me, restraining myself from asking her again if she was kidding me.

You'll be happy to know that I parked the car in the right lot (right where the signs ended...oops?) and we made our way to the registration area.  This area was at the top of a steep walkway.  Important to the story, because "steep" and I don't play well together.  "Steep" invites our friend, Lhermitte, to the party.  And since we were partying, vertigo and twitches and tremors of my entire arm and numb fingers and eye flies decided to join in.  All at once.  


We were greeted by a wonderful group of students who made the mistake of inviting me to ask any questions.  

"Yes, where is your nearest restroom?"

After over 10 minutes of "I feel like I have to, but nothing is happening, wait, no there's nothing in there, wait I do have to go, okay no, false alarm, oh here it comes, do I have to keep going or...?" I was finally on my way to find my child and move onto the next step of the open house.  We found seats (near the door for quick bathroom escapes) in the auditorium and waited for the speakers to begin.  They were quietly playing some of our favorite contemporary Christian songs, pre-speakings.  I looked over at her as she was reading the contents of her registration packet.  I wondered...when did this happen?  When did we get from me going to college to her going to college?  Look at her.  She's already studying, carefully noting each break out session, choosing which she wanted to attend.  Look at her.  She's amazing!  Look at her.  She's so beautiful.  Just look at her.  Stop tearing up.  Stop looking at her.

Thankfully, I had to pee again.  Otherwise, she'd have caught me.

The speakers were each fantastic.  I had ample time to rejuvenate, or not.  We were ready to set out on...a walking tour!


I stumbled my way, trailing far behind the group, throughout the majority of the visit, until I finally conceded..."You go ahead, don't worry about me, I'm just going to hang out right here!"

As I leaned against a steel post and stared across the beautiful ponds, all I could do was think:  How are we ever going to pay for this?  She's so happy and filled with wonder.  We can't disappoint her.  My present state is not very comforting.  This flare has been with me for a long time, just changes its face here and there.  Are my legs coming back today?  Are they coming back at all?  Would this thing in my back stop grabbing me and squeezing with all its might?  The tour guide kept having to stop for me.  Two of the women in our little tour group couldn't stop staring at me.  They probably thought I was drunk.  Hey, maybe they'll give her a full scholarship if they think I came to the open house drunk!  No, don't think that way...that's not funny.  Who am I kidding, that's VERY funny!  But I should probably get a walking aid.  If my son had come along, he could help me.  He could find campus security for a golf cart ride...or a walking stick...or stand nice and strong so I could put my arm around his shoulders and use him as my walking aid.  Hmmmmm, I'll bet this is exactly why he didn't want to come along, because he's my helper dog and he's probably getting burned out.  Yep, I'm burning him out.  I'm a burden.  Just one big burden.  (more tears)

And then - literally then - my phone went off.  It was him, asking what chores he could do and telling me that he hoped we were having a great time... :')  

The leaning and resting was helpful.  I was able to get myself back to the main area and attend the 2nd half of the event.  Well, with modifications...

her:  "We're supposed to meet in the library lobby to tour the science labs."
me:  "But the labs are in this building."
her:  "We're supposed to meet in the library, Mommy."
me:  "We're already in the right building.  Let's go to the lab awhile, I wanna see it!"
her:  "We shouldn't be..."

:::I was already heading to the elevator:::

I was gazing through the window at the lab, imagining all the super cool stuff they do in there.  I thought about the awesome conversation my daughter and I had with the Biology professor earlier in the day.  Science was my absolute favorite subject in school and college...who knew I was a business major, right?  To see the spark in my daughter's eyes as she spoke with the prof was really, like, wow!  Because she was thinking she'd be an English teacher...until she got talking to this woman, sharing with her just how exciting she finds the sciences to be...she can't wait to take a genetics/immunology class next year as a senior, and how the professor was equally excited, explaining how much she'd love their current genetics study with flies!  I saw a little of myself in that moment.  And I knew, as I replayed all of that, that my daughter needed to have that lab tour.

her:  "Mommy.  Seriously.  We HAVE to go back over to the library lobby."
me:  "It makes no sense when we're already here.  We'll just go to the lobby of THIS building.  We're ahead of the tour!  We're overachieving!"

The reality?  I wasn't sure I was making it back over to the library, then backtracking to the current building, then wherever else we had to go before driving home.  

A few minutes later, the Biology professor walked through the lobby doors and gave us a hearty greeting!  She said that she thought everyone wanting a tour was meeting in the library lobby, to which my daughter gave me one of her disapproving looks and replied, "Yes.  I know.  I told her that."  I explained that I really don't do well with rules.  The prof thought that was pretty funny!  My daughter, seeing the response to my level of crazy that I had no reservations sharing with a professor of a college she is highly interested in, shook her head.  I then told the prof I'm "that kind of Christian".  My daughter froze in embarrassment...

The professor stopped, turned to me and said, "the fun kind!?!"

:::a friendship was born:::

Apparently, the rule followers of the group did not add up to a high enough number with which to have a tour of the science lab.  So what happened?  The prof was contacted and told she had no tours coming, close up shop.  But?  She knew the staggering, stumbling woman and her poor daughter were eagerly waiting!  This kind soul gave us a personal tour of ALL the lab areas, the science offices, the study areas, and the equipment rooms.  Also?  My daughter got to see the current experiments, the actual flies with various eye colors, as well as the professor's own studies, under her own microscope.  

Had I followed the rules, I would have had a better parking space.  A better space may have given me more steady steps.  More steady steps would have made me appear more normal.  But I didn't need 'em, because God already worked it out.  Just as the speakers in the very beginning of the event said, God takes our decisions and works them out...anyway.  Anyway!  Despite me and my limitations that I often don't want to concede to.  Despite my bullheaded-ness.  Despite not following rules that I deem unimportant, restrictive, MS hug-ish, MRI-ish.  He works it out.  And if she's meant to attend this wonderful school with this incredible professor, He'll work that out too.

There.  That all feels rather...freeing!

Too pretty not to share :)

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free..." - Galatians 5:1

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ain't Got Time For MS

I'm not sure what it is about today, but ms is taking its "awareness" month to a whole new level.  Sneak attack-style.

I was about 1/4 of the way through the grocery store when it hit.  Hard.  To the point where I nearly fell over.  I then made the mistake of looking down to the bottom shelf (stupid ketchup...that should be top shelf, people) and my legs buckled on me.

Dear Lhermitte's Sign:  Love ya like a hangnail.  You, vestibular disturbance, visual disturbance, and lack-of-caffeine disturbance.

I made my way through the store by leaning my entire upper body on top of the cart handle.  Yes, I smashed my cart into stuff.  Yes, some people stared at me as if 9am was too early to be that drunk.  Yes, one woman whispered to another and both stared.  No, I didn't care - nor did I explain that I actually don't drink, thankyouforyourconcern, and you're mocking a woman who would ordinarily kick your tail if she wasn't trying to live life the right way (and if she could see/stand on her own 2 feet).  Anyway, since both my mother and my husband were working, I couldn't call for back up.  My options were:  Leave the cart.  Finish the task.  People, that cart was the only thing keeping me on solid ground.  I went with "finish the task".

I'm really too busy with blessings and excitement to be bogged down in and/or by ms right now.  I was thinking of those things as I dragged and stumbled my way through the store.  I was thinking of those things as I drove home.  I was thinking of those things as I barely made it into my living room from the car.

These things:

Let me explain...

See, over the next month, there are so many awesome things happening in my kids' lives, which means so many awesome things happening in my and my husband's lives.

Those dress shoes are my daughter's.  She's looking forward to attending her high school prom in a gorgeous dress, which I could have tossed into the picture, but it's bagged in plastic.  I knew you'd understand.  Her prom date is a wonderful, kind, thoughtful young man.  We really couldn't love him more than we already do.  God has His way of surrounding our kids with incredible peers.

The other items belong to my son.  The briefcase contains nearly a full year's worth of hard work and research that he's done on a bill he's written for a Youth & Gov't conference he'll soon attend.  Last weekend, it won rave reviews by his peers and YAG leaders.  Those new spikes are for his upcoming soccer season, which he's very excited for.  And the envelope?  Contains a letter that says, "Welcome to..." our local community college.  He is following in his sisters footsteps by registering as a dual enrollment student for the '15-'16 school year.  He's making major decisions in his education, which we're in full support of.  Sure, we had a choice to tell him he's too young...why don't you wait to do all this...can't you be 10 again?  But the truth of the matter is, it's all a part of his growth and our job is to step out of his way.  Typing that to remind myself ;)

Add these blessings to the upcoming college visits my daughter will be doing (with son along for brotherly approval)...and I really just don't have time to be sick.  Don't have time to walk around with pool noodle legs.  Don't have time to see through a kaleidoscope.  No time for Lhermitte's Sign, ms hugs, or prickly nerve pain across my face.

Definitely no time for that :-)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

REMIX: Temper Temper, A Kid's Soccer Game, And How God Keeps Me Classy

Several months ago, I was led to write a post about my challenge with controlling my ridiculous temper.  A temper, which morphed into some sort of tornadic, inner struggle that could best be depicted by this:

To catch you all up - it was a soccer game...a parent, standing behind me with a small group of fellow parents, was making extremely negative and mocking comments about certain players.  Mostly mine.  Especially mine.  It took every ounce of self-control to maintain myself.  I ended up a physical mess from it.  And now you're up to speed ;)

I am no surprise to myself, people.  I'm well aware of my biggest challenges.  My temper has always been #1.  I've written before about my fight/flight mechanism being broken, thereby stuck on "fight".  With God's help - or at least with what I have turned over to Him - I've made great strides in...keeping it classy.  By His grace.  But there is so much work yet to do...

So anyway, I've just been made aware that my son will have greater interaction with the person I had written about back in September.  Admittedly, as I read this, my right eye began to twitch to the point where I wondered if I had misread the webpage.  Alas, the eye stabilized, but the information did not change.  I could feel that 'thing' I get in my chest start up.  The heat rose into my face.  I turned to look at my son, who was peacefully reading, feet up on table, cat draped on his shoulder.  And the fight switch flipped.

"Nah.  I'm gonna get in between him and the situation.  Totally gonna..."

I began to construct an email to see if I could make a change.  But?  As I typed with "totally gonna" fingers, which are definitely sans dexterity, something stopped me.  Well, aside from the overflow of right hand tremors and resulting typos.

Over the past couple of months or so, my son has surprised us in big ways with stepping outside of his comfort zone in the pursuit of...growth.  No really, he's literally said, upon making a decision (ie. to try out for the school play), "...because it will help me grow."  He is no surprise to himself.  He knows his biggest challenges.  He wants to overcome them.  He has come to embrace the things we've said to him, one of which was, "we don't grow when we stay comfortable".  Comfort, for him, is withdrawing from situations.  So he's been praying for strength, right?  And God is totally setting thing after thing in front of him as opportunities to grow in his faith walk.

But there I was.  Typing.  Typo'ing.  Twitching.  Totally gonna.

...which makes me a hypocrite.

I write this post with great humility and in a spirit of confession - both maternal and "I'm trying to grow in my walk with the Lord" confession.  I nearly got in the way!  It's no accident that things have lined up the way they have.  Even if it goes horribly wrong, because I'm really good at thinking that way right off the bat, God will be in it.  And maybe?  It will go horribly right.  Maybe this person will come to see my son's willingness to try his best out there.  Maybe this person will come to understand that he doesn't particularly like the sport, but he plays it because, and I quote, "it helps me grow".  After every single season, he's told me he's not going to play again.  When registration opens, he tells me to sign him up.  Because?  He wants to grow.

So let him grow, self.  God's in the details.  Stand down.  Step aside.  'Git out the way.  This inner swirl of "fight" that kicks up and turns into something that has to be managed like-stuffing-a-hurricane-into-a-bottle is only appropriate and helpful when it comes to one thing:  Fighting MS.  Aside from that?  It kinda has no place.

"Let the message of Christ dwell richly" is the goal...not "let the big bad wolf (as depicted in son's drawing from grade school, which he drew for one of his evaluations, no less - and boy was THAT an interesting conversational piece with the therapist) step in and right the ship that hath not yet been wronged"

Humbling myself before all of you and the Lord.  Sharing my weaknesses to draw on His strength.  Not ashamed to put myself out there and look pretty silly in the process, because my #2 biggest struggle?  Is anxiety.  And I often get super anxious when I show my vulnerabilities.  And what makes me feel most vulnerable?  MS and the majority of its symptoms.  It all ties together.  In my hole-filled head, at least :)