Tag Archives: Challenges

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I didn't want to let today pass by without honoring my son, Hunter. I already told him how proud I am of him and I know that he hears me, but I'm not sure how much it actually sinks in. I hope that someday when he's an amazing, grown man that he'll read this and know how much I appreciated all that he was and how hard he fought to overcome his weaknesses. blog1

Hunter has battled anxiety since he was two years old. At least that's as early as I remember it starting. It alleviated some when he was 5 and 6 years old, but then it came back with a vengeance.

Most things make this fantastic son of mine anxious; playing sports, going to school every morning, taking tests, talking to people (adults and kids alike) that aren't his nearest and dearest, being in front of people, and trying absolutely anything new. He is anxious to the point of tears every time he walks to the school bus or out onto a baseball field or like this weekend, out into a 4-H show ring.

I have no personal experience with anxiety in any way and therefore I can't even imagine the level of panic or the insane emotions he must experience on ordinary days, let alone what he must feel on extraordinary ones. And I can only guess at the level of courage it takes for him to fight it. But he does. He fights it every day. Sometimes we push him to fight it and sometimes he comes out throwing punches all on his own.

When we moved to Naches Hunter wanted to join 4-H and show pigs. He has practiced and worked so hard for this weekend. It was his first time showing an animal.  blog2

He made the All Star Baseball team this  year and I cannot even express in words the breakdown he experienced before tryouts. He almost bailed and we cajoled and nearly forced him out the door.

But this weekend we didn't have to push. I could see the anxiety all over his face. The emotions raging through that tired boy were almost too much for him. He wouldn't even talk to me. If he had he would have cried. So he's moped around for two days fighting his own internal battle. But he's also walked into that show ring twice.

Today was a rough one. His pig ended up being in heat and there was a male pig that wouldn't leave her alone. It kept running her into corners making it fairly difficult for Hunter to show what he could do. I could see the frustration and the panic, but he continued to work. He came out of that ring with his head up.  blog3

I don't tell this story because it turned out perfectly or because he walked out of the ring with a miraculous comeback victory. In fact, it turned out a far cry from where he would've liked it to. But there my sweet 9 year old was . . . continuing to work until they told him to stop, braving every emotion he's working so hard to learn to control.

I'm incredibly proud of this boy of mine. This year I've watched him walk into a brand new classroom and sit down. I've watched him stand in a batter's box almost paralyzed by nerves. I've watched him victoriously walk to a pitcher's mound with mastered serenity and confidence. And now I've watched him walk into a show ring and give his all when everything went wrong.

I know that everybody loves their children as much as I do mine. And I hope everyone can find reasons to be proud of them. Today my pride in my son turned into an incredible amount of respect. I admire him for the internal and very emotional battle that he fights every day. I admire his goodness and his sweetness. And I very much admire his courage and his willpower to fight the battle that's fallen into his lap. He will forever have my respect. I can't even imagine the strength of the man that will leave my home in the not very distant future. I love you, Hunter.

 

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I've been absent from the blogging world for quite some time. It's quite shameful really. But hey, I was pregnant (and not pleasantly so) and I had my miracle baby. That's a story for another day, however.

Today when the school called me to come and pick up my sick Kindergartner I was barely phased. Normally a wrench such as this thrown into my already chaotic days would have sent me into a hyper stressed sort of inward panic. I would've been the perfect picture of calm and collected if you had seen me, however, because hey, being outwardly calm is one of my talents. But today I really was calm. It didn't matter that I was trying to work. It didn't matter that I was in the middle of homeschooling my 8 year old. It didn't even matter that I'd just taken my newborn out of the bath and was nursing him mid phone call.  All was well.

Why, you say? Because Seattle Children's Hospital has entered my life, that's why. Talk about an ideal relationship. They're perfect. Or at least close enough to perfect that you can blindly put them on a pedestal for the remainder of your eternal relationship.

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If you've read my blog for long you know that Tanner, my 7 year old, was diagnosed with PLEVA back in March. It's a rare autoimmune disease with flare ups lasting for months (or forever) that make you look like you have the chicken pox. It leaves terrible scars and is fairly unpredictable. It can mutate to lymphoma and we were told there was no cure. His diagnosis tore at this mom's heart. It's a tough thing to hear about your child.

We tried 2 different antibiotic treatments lasting for months that did nothing but weaken Tanner's immune system.  He was fatigued and caught everything under the sun. And he still had spots. It was awful and frustrating.

Finally our appointment with Seattle Children's came (there is quite the wait to get into the place because let's face it, nobody breaks up with the perfect significant other). Tanner and I went on Tuesday. It was heavenly.

Our doctor was phenomenal and hopeful. She said that Tanner had quite the impressive case of PLEVA from the looks of his scars (not the type of impressive you want to be). She also said that treating it with antibiotics was basically worthless and the last thing she would do. She treats PLEVA with a low dose chemotherapy drug. He'd be on the drug for 1 to 2 years. It's immunosuppressive and so he'd have to go off of it any time he was sick in order to heal, but the lengthy use of the drug stops the flare ups and then is used as a maintenance drug for awhile. Slightly scary, but at least it's something that works.

And in even better news, she told us that she has seen PLEVA burn out. I stared at her blankly. What does that mean? It means she's seen it cured. Not all the time. Sometimes it lasts a lifetime, but she's seen it go away. You know what that means? HOPE. One of the finest feelings in existence. Hope gives people reason to believe and to have faith and in this case, to breathe easy.

Oh, did you think that was it? Sorry, no. Are you ready for the news even better than that!? She's never seen it mutate to lymphoma. NEVER. NOT ONE TIME. She's not saying it can't or that it won't, but she is saying that she's never seen it happen. I could've kissed her. I think she knew it too because she told me my mama heart could rest easy for a bit. She even told me what to watch for if it were to mutate (we were previously told that lymphoma and PLEVA would look identical and that it'd be tough to know if it had mutated). Oh, be still my heart.

So, yes, my son still has a rare autoimmune disease. And yes, it may never go away. There are all sorts of terrible things that could happen. But his doctor is hopeful and confident and she has a plan; an effective plan that has worked for her many times before.

Tanner currently has only one new spot on his leg. Unless it flares up and he gets more spots, he doesn't have to be on the medication yet. We can rest easy and not have to feel the panic of the  uncertain every moment of every day. And if things turn south we have someone we can call. Someone who knows what to do, someone who's done this before.

Things don't always turn out the way we'd like them to. Sometimes they turn out exactly opposite of our ideal. Sometimes our hearts break and sometimes hope seems just out of our reach. But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes we're blessed with little miracles. Sometimes things take a positive turn. And sometimes God has prepared other people to improve our journey and make it easier.

Thank you , Seattle Children's Hospital.

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As featured in The Reflector:

At this time of year, people’s expressions of gratitude seem to increase a hundredfold. I’ve always wondered why they don’t feel gratitude to that extent in months besides November, but I’ve also been happy to see that so many people are still aware of the richness of their blessings.

I feel like I have an abundance of things to be grateful for.  I typically do a good job of expressing that gratitude, whether through words or actions. I can’t think of a moment when I haven’t been grateful for my motherhood, in particular. And as everyone knows, I’m pretty vocal about it.

However, something happened this last week which has made me grateful for it in a completely different way. I learned something profound about gratitude. And it’s not that the concept is entirely new to me, but I’d never seen it in this light.

I woke up just after midnight Sunday morning throwing up. Moments later I discovered that my oldest had also thrown up in his sleep. He was sleeping soundly in one of the most disgusting messes I’ve seen (knock on wood). It only took me moments to realize that he’d thrown up so much that it had gone down the wall and somehow deflected onto his little brother. So Tanner’s head, pillows and sheets were also covered in vomit. He was sleeping through the whole episode too, which I find disturbing and perplexing on so many levels, but who am I to judge the sleeping prowess of another?

Side note: I know everyone touts the space-saving ability of bunk beds as a tremendous virtue, but the chance of getting thrown up on by someone on the upper level is a rivaling negative that should be more publicly discussed. There needs to be a warning label at least. This piece of furniture is hazardous and the Surgeon General should get on that. Just saying.

Anyway, I’ll spare you the rest of the nauseating details, but let it suffice to say that I stood there for several moments. I stood there staring at what I knew I had to take care of, feeling sicker than I had in a long time and wondering how I was going to accomplish it.

I quickly found myself getting annoyed. My nausea helped my negativity right along its not-so-merry way. After getting two boys showered, starting laundry and opening a window until I could do the rest, I was basically irate.

After getting my head out of the toilet, I found myself lying on the couch. I stared at the ceiling, fuming about the mess I just had to clean up and thinking about the one that was still awaiting me. I was murmuring all sorts of things to myself about how moms aren’t supposed to get sick and about how I shouldn’t have had to do that. I even realized that I was mad at my son for throwing up in his sleep. How could he expect me to clean up that mess!?

I glanced over at my two sleeping boys who had taken up residence on the living room floor after their room was declared uninhabitable and was overcome by a feeling that I’d never had before.

“Be grateful for all of it, even the awful parts,” the feeling said, “You wouldn’t want your obligation to these children to be gone, nor would you want that responsibility to fall to someone else.” My thought process stopped dead.

No, I wouldn’t. You’re right. I almost uttered the thought aloud.

I instantly felt the warmth that so often accompanies gratitude. I stared at my boys again. I couldn’t imagine having them gone, rendering my service no longer necessary. I couldn’t imagine voluntarily handing my responsibility to serve and love these children over to someone else. I couldn’t imagine their absence or an obligation disappearing that has always been mine.

I suddenly felt grateful for every speck of vomit that I’d ever had to clean up. I felt grateful for the fact that I haven’t slept through the night in two years because neither has my baby. I felt overwhelming gratitude for everything required of me that seemed ridiculously impossible when it presented itself. I felt grateful for dirty laundry and puddles on bathroom floors so severe that I was sure my kids must not have noticed the gigantic toilet bowl right in front of them. I felt gratitude for the adversity that characterizes my motherhood.

Truthfully, I’ve been grateful for adversity before. I’ve learned a lot from my challenges. But never before had I felt grateful that my children needed my service. I’ve felt gratitude for them, but never for the challenges that their presence automatically brings.

I hope that as we proclaim our gratitude this holiday season that we remember to extend that gratitude to every challenge that those particular blessings bring. Be grateful that you’re needed, thankful that you’re necessary and happy that no one has had to step in because you gave up.