Friday, December 18, 2009

Nothing Between....

Today at therapy, I received an electrical stimulation machine to bring home with me and do exercises with every day. The therapist was showing me where to place the electrodes to make the muscles work. He explained once again, how the electricity runs through the electrodes and straight into the muscles to make them move. The electricity alone will make my legs stick straight out! When the machine is turned on both legs, it will make them so stiff that I am able to put weight on them and stand about half way up. It is so weird to try to move my legs on my own and not a thing happens - no matter how hard I try. I accomplish nothing. Then, the electricity turns on, and I watch my legs move and do things I cannot possibly accomplish on my own.

I got to's amazing how that all it takes is a damaged area in your spinal cord to do some major changes! It affects every area of your life - big and little. Losing the ability to walk is just one of the things that is affected. There are so many other things that you just would never think about.

One of my very favorite (and convicting) hymns is "Nothing Between My Soul and the Savior". We think that it is the big things that break our fellowship with the Lord. The Bible talks about the "little foxes" that spoil the vines. It doesn't have to be something outlandish and major to be something between us and the Savior. But, oh how it can affect our life - every aspect of it. Things we wouldn't think of are affected. "It seems like such a little thing" we think, but the damage it can cause! A wrong choice today can yield a major problem tomorrow.

Then you have the e-stim machine. How in all my trying I can't accomplish what I want but when the power is applied things start happening. It makes me so happy to know that in my Christian life, I don't have to struggle to do everything. I just need to be a willing vessel and let the power of God work in me. If I will just let Him have His way in my life, keep an obedient heart (nothing between), His power can then work through me. I am glad that His power is able to move and work in the hearts and lives of people in spite of me! How true is the verse "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me"!

It is also a beautiful thought how that if I have let something come between my soul and the Savior and it has caused what may seem like irreversible damage in my life, the power of God is still able to come in and take over and accomplish for us and through us what we are not able to do on our own.

I think God would have us all to be spiritually challenged, spiritually disabled, spiritually handicapped - for it is in these humbling positions that you realize how strong, capable, and dependable He is. You realize how helpless you are without Him your heart craves for "nothing between my soul and the Savior". Jesus is mine...keep the way clear...He is my all...I am resolved...I'll triumph at last - there's nothing between!!

Nothing Between

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
Naught of this world's delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure;
Jesus is mine, there's nothing between.

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.

Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, though harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him e'er sever;
He is my all, there's nothing between.

Nothing between, like pride or station;
Self-life or friends shall not intervene;
Though it may cost me much tribulation,
I am resolved; there's nothing between.

Nothing between, e'en many hard trials,
Though the whole world against me convene;
Watching with prayer and much self-denial,
I'll triumph at last, with nothing between.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For Your Entertainment - the Wheelchair World

It has now been 6 months since I have become paralyzed and in a wheelchair full-time. I thought, that instead of becoming mopey and sad on this momentous anniversary, that I would bring you up to speed about some things in the wheelchair world to enlighten those of you who are what “we” call “able-bodied” - hence known as AB.

There is a difference between “using” a wheelchair and “needing” a wheelchair. For the “user,” they can have all the Wal-Mart and grocery store wheelchairs out there. For those of us who “need” wheelchairs - these just will not do. Our wheelchairs cost anywhere between $1200-$6,000. They are customized to our bodies to “fit” us. They are not a one-size-fits-all. The cheap wheelchairs, although very affordable, will not work for us. I learned this valuable lesson one day at a K-Mart. I decided that the person that I was with, needed my wisdom on how to load my wheelchair and the shelves we just bought into the trunk of my car. So, there was a trusty old wheelchair with a big metal basket across the front of it that I thought I would transfer into and then be able to help put my chair into the trunk. All was mostly well, until it came time for me to then transfer out of that chair into the driver’s seat of my car. Because of the big old feet on those things, you can’t get in close to the driver’s seat because the feet hit the door. Then, when you swing the basket out of the way, it leans against the car and you can’t get around it. Then the armrests on those things are up to your shoulders so it is hard to get around that! Needless to say, thanks to the rail that is installed on the roof of my car, decent upper body strength, and a crazy Tarzan-like movement, I made it onto the door sill of my car and then onto the seat. It was very comical and I learned my lesson. Cheap wheelchairs are for those that can walk and get in and out of them. So, when you see a chair with no arms, little front wheels, low backs, and they don’t look like the ones you see at your local store - there is a good reason!!

Now, you have stumbled into the unique world of full-time wheelchair users. It isn’t every day you run into someone who uses a wheelchair all the time. Because of this, people are unfamiliar and therefore, a little uncomfortable knowing how to act or what to say. This always sends a chuckle to me and I have a very bad habit of getting tickled and then I can hardly control it. You’ve got to love the ones that talk very loud to you as they lean over and look you in the eyes. What is it that makes them think I am deaf? Or the person that pats me on the head? Or those that come and lean on the back of your chair like it is their personal perch? This is why we hate handles on our chairs! There are so many things that I want to say but I try to hold it in. When I hold it in, this starts the conversation in my head and then I get tickled at all the comebacks I am trying not to say and start laughing. While I am then sitting there laughing out loud at something that has not been said out loud, it is then I realize why they pat me on the head!

So, this moves us on into the mind of the wheelchair user. There are many things that we have to think about. Other people’s feelings are one of those things so while I am trying to deal with my own thoughts and emotions of being the only person in a store in a wheelchair, now I have to also think about your feelings as I try to deal with you. For example, I am in the doctor’s office, and after signing in, the receptionist tells you to go have a seat. I am laughing inside, but after the receptionist gives me her look of horror as she realizes what she said, I must then have to figure out how to console her. This leaves me very puzzled. I want to laugh because I already was inside, but if I laugh, then she might think I am insensitive to her look of horror. Therefore, I am stuck. Not knowing what to say or do to console the poor lady, I manage to smile and say, “Thank you.”

Then, you have the times when you are in line and someone leans over your head to get something as if you are not there. Inside of me, I want to back up real fast and squish their toes, but I don’t want to upset them so I smile and say “Excuse me.” “Excuse me” also comes into play whenever you roll up to a counter for help and the top of your head comes to the level of the counter. You really hope that they will notice a new hairline is at their station and needs attention, but instead of waiting, we will eventually say these two words.

A common problem for wheelchair users is whenever there are steps. Now, if I am home or somewhere I am really comfortable, I would just plop out of the chair and go up or down on my backside. However, this is not very ladylike in public places so you are left to the mercy of those around you. People are very kind and more than willing to help. If it is just a few steps, the decision is normally to turn you backwards, tip you way far back so that your toes are parallel with the top of your head, and thump you down one step at a time. Now, this does something to a girl’s identity. This is not the look that I am going for when I am out in public surrounded by men who are helping you get up or down the steps. I am convinced that feet are made to be lower than the head. If the steps are long, then the solution is to pick me up - chair and all - and be carried. This normally involves 3 or 4 strong guys who each grab a corner of your chair and haul you to where you need to be. So far, this has always been successful. However, in my head, as I am being tilted or carried, you are trying very hard to suppress a scream of “Please don’t drop me!!!!!” Instead, we politely say “Thank you.” All in all, although we may not have control over certain parts of our bodies, I would say that we have great mental strength. We are able to take our thoughts and completely morph them into something kind. We do this for you!! Aren’t we sweet?

A hot topic for everyone who is in a wheelchair is handicap parking spaces. Now this requires great mental discipline. For one thing, we HAVE to have these spaces. Not just for the perk of getting to park close to the door but there are real reasons. For one, we have to have the wide spaces to get in and out of our cars. Some have ramps that unfold out of their vehicles and need the space to be able to get their ramp out. Others of us, transfer in and out of our vehicles, but we need the door to open up all the way so that we can get in close to our seats so we don’t end up on the ground. So, if your car is parked in a normal spot and I am in a normal spot, I cannot get my door open all the way, therefore my chair cannot get close to the car, then I can’t transfer safely into my car and alas, I am stuck. If there are no handicap spaces available, then we have to park out in no man’s land so that we can have room to get in and out of the car and no one will park next to us. Now, this isn’t really a problem because I can roll 200 feet as easy as I can 25 feet. However, since I am vertically challenged now, we have the same problem as when I roll up to a counter. People that are backing out of their parking places cannot see me in their mirrors because I am only as tall as their trunks. This makes it dangerous for me as I roll past the trunks of many cars because I parked out in the boonies. The other problem with this is when it rains. Ever tried holding an umbrella while trying to use your arms to push yourself? It doesn’t happen. I would rather only be rained on for 25 feet than for 200! So, this leads us to who parks in these spots? We have a hard time understanding how people can park in these spots at malls and department stores and then go in and walk around for a couple hours. Hmm. I have amused myself before by going into a store (after not having found an available handicap parking spot) and seeing how many people I see in wheelchairs. Maybe once or twice have I seen someone that you can tell is a full-time user. Otherwise, they are in the electric scooters or the store chair which leads to the question that if they can walk in the store to get into one of those things than could they not have parked in the other spot and walked 5 more feet and left me with the extra space that I need? However, to be fair, I want to present their side. They did not know I was coming to the store that day. If they did, I am sure they would have given me their spot. Also, if there are so few of us, that I have a hard time spotting someone like me, then all the handicap spots would be mostly empty all the time and that would be a waste of good parking. Unless, of course, we could take a poll on how many of the cars that you see scattered along the empty back lots of stores really belong to the full-time wheelchair users. So, I have decided that to remedy this situation, I am going to ask all of the stores and restaurants I frequent, to install an automated intercom system over their parking lots. When I am ready to leave home, I will Twitter them an update and a loud call will go over all the parking lots of my town - “Alicia is coming!! Get out of her way!!”

Another topic of interest is how to be politically correct about all of this. What is my label? Am I crippled? Handicapped? Disabled? Physically impaired? Abnormal? This has been a laugh for me with some of my friends. They say they just can seem to find the one that fits. I am sure most that know me would argue that “abnormal” would have to be the most fitting but we won’t go there. I just read an article that said you are not to say that a person is “confined to a wheelchair”. They said that makes it sound like a prison sentence or something. True, we are not confined but maybe defined. That is not fair maybe but is realistic. “You know, that lady in the wheelchair” or “She can’t do that. She is in a wheelchair.” I warn my husband to be careful saying those last words. That’s all it takes for me to scale an all out attack to accomplish whatever it was that I was just told I could not do. He said he says it on purpose sometimes just for that reason. That’s good. I need pushed - no pun intended! Other times he regrets saying it! I got a wild idea that I would like to ride horses. They say it is good rehab and so I mentioned it to my dad. He looked like the idea scared him to death. He was wondering how in the world I was going to stay on that horse and I was trying to reassure him that it could be done safely. As his skeptic look increased, I finally said “Dad, what is the worst that could happen? Fall off and become paralyzed?” For some reason, he did not see the humor in that. So, my label? I don’t know. I am just me - the new me and I have always looked for humor and will continue to do so. Not because I am in a wheechair - but because a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

There are a lot of negatives to being in a wheelchair and if we dwelt on that, we would all be depressed, so we are not going to. The point of this epic was to entertain you so that is where we are going to stay. So, in true Pollyanna fashion, and in conclusion to this meandering monologue, here are a few perks:

1. Close parking when available
2. I never have to look for a seat when I go places
3. When you accidentally run over someone’s toes, they say “I’m sorry!”
4. You can buy expensive shoes because they never wear out.
5. Going down hills feels a bit like a roller coaster. Going up...different story!
6. I hear in some circumstances, this moves you to the front of the line (amusement parks, airplanes, etc.) Not tried it yet, but I will!
7. You can look really pitiful when you start to have an argument with your hubby. This hasn’t been as effective as I had hoped.:)
8. You get really strong arms and can impress your kids. They actually think you have muscles!
9. It helps you keep the clutter picked up off your floor. It has to be moved so you can roll! Kicking a toy across the floor is no longer an option so this helps me not to procrastinate!
10. You have an instant invisible bond to any other person in a wheelchair. So, you have an
instant friend. That is always good.

I hope you have been somewhat informed and shared a chuckle with me as you have read this. I think a sense of humor and being able to find the funnies in life - even in tough circumstances - is as good for your mental health as aspirin is for a headache. Not everything is funny, but there is a lot of humor through all of this that you can find if you are willing to look for it.

Enjoy your life.....and smile!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Do I Trust Him?

After the panic I felt last Sunday when I had the vertigo so bad, and having had so many complications and not knowing what was about to happen next, this week led me to some heart-searching questions.

I have purposed to be 100% honest on this blog. Knowing that I am human and full of my flesh and pride, it is easy to talk of the spiritual victories the Lord has given me and to share of the many special "graces" that He has shown me along the way. All of that is fine and good, but life is not all spiritual victories. So I want to be honest and share the struggles along the way also.

Last Sunday, as silly as it seem now, scared me to death and for the first time, since all of this, I felt panic, fear and discouragement. I knew the spinning room was not killing me - my heart was beating and I was breathing just fine - but it was the fear of the next minute. Not knowing what was wrong, not knowing what was about to happen. Was I about to become paralyzed from my neck down? Was I going to die? What was wrong? Fear filled my heart and I did not even want Jimmy to leave me for a second!! I have described these feelings in my earlier post about it, but I wanted to go there again because these feelings led me to questions once I had calmed down.

By the time the room had stopped spinning, my mind began to spin with these questions: How can I say I trust the Lord when I was so afraid? If I truly am ready to die and go to Heaven, then how come I want to live so badly and don't want to die? If I believe the Lord is control, why do I fear? If I am to be a joyful Christian and have a good testimony for the Lord, then why I am I struggling with feeling like I am getting discouraged and can't do this? If I feel like the Lord has given me something and His grace will be sufficient, then why I am suddenly panicked - not knowing what the future holds? If I have been through many of these questions in my mind already and feel like I found answers, then why in the world am I asking them again?!!!!

I have found answers this week and they have come in a variety of ways.Here are some of the ways that have helped me this week to answer some of these questions:

1. I talked to Jimmy. I always talk to my wise hubby about these things. He already told me I wasn't allowed to get discouraged so I knew that was out of the question.:) Seriously, I did talk to him because I know that he will always tell me the truth - even if I don't like the answer. So, we talked. After talking to him, I felt a little more settled in my heart knowing that he did not think I was a spiritual baby and that he shared fears of the unknown also. We know that we must trust the Lord - in good and bad - and even though it is hard to do, it does not change the fact that we must. His strong faith in God is what I need to hear often to remind my more female and emotional heart to not fear what is around me but to trust Who is in me.

2. I prayed
. I asked the Lord to help me - not only physically but emotionally. I told Him I was afraid. I asked Him to calm me down. I asked Him to help my scared hubby and children. I asked Him to please help me to be strong and be a testimony for Him and not to fail Him. I prayed verses to Him - "When I am afraid, I will trust in Him." "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" "Yea, though I walk through the valley...I will fear no evil for THOU art with me." Every verse I could think of, I prayed to Him. Not that He needed reminded - I did and it helped to talk to my Heavenly Father about it.

3. I got online this week and found Joni Erickson Tada's website. On it, she has a TV series where she interviews people with disabilities that are Christians and to hear their testimonies, and how they love and trust the Lord, but still have fears helped me to know that I was not alone.

4. Music!!
Music has always moved me. I will not say spiritually because quite frankly, I can get pretty sappy about Little House on the Prairie when the right music is behind it!! The power of godly words with Christ-honoring music set behind them, stirs my heart. Or just an instrumental of the old hymns playing as the words run through my mind calms my heart so much. I have sat and listened to some songs over and over and they just keep blessing me.

5. Going to church!! Really, when God tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together that we may edify one another is really so true. I know when you are sick, you cannot help not being able to go to church but going back last Sunday was SO encouraging. Hearing the songs, the preaching of God's Word, the fellowship of believers - it was all so encouraging. I do not know why people choose to not go to church. Not me - I need it!!

These things all helped me this week in answering my questions.

How can I say I trust the Lord when I was so afraid?
Because it is through fear that our trust is tested. It is easy to trust when things are easy. It is in the fearful times, that we choose to trust or not.

If I truly am ready to die and go to Heaven, then how come I want to live so badly and don't want to die?
Because the human nature comes with an instinct for survival. If my head was under water, I would not stay there trusting the Lord. I would try to swim. I enjoy my life, and I enjoy living. Heaven will be wonderful, but earth is good too as we live for Christ. I want to do so much more for Christ - I don't think that is a bad thing. I want to meet my Lord with more than I have right now.

If I believe the Lord is control, why do I fear?
Because knowing that He is in control and letting Him control are two different things. My flesh and spirit always struggle and in my spirit I know that I want Him to be in control but in my flesh (which is weak) I want to call the shots. But, His ways are not my ways and therefore, when I should trust, I fear.

If I am to be a joyful Christian and have a good testimony for the Lord, then why I am I struggling with feeling like I am getting discouraged and can't do this?
Because I am learning that it is not about me at all. It is through my weakness and struggles that the Lord uses to strengthen us. An internal strength that can only come from the Lord - beyond words or personality. Our inner strength is from looking up - not looking in.

If I feel like the Lord has given me something and His grace will be sufficient, then why I am suddenly panicked - not knowing what the future holds?
Because I don't see the tomorrows. Reminding myself over and over though that He does, is what trusting is all about. No matter what changes happen in our lives, He never changes and therefore He is so trustworthy.

If I have been through many of these questions in my mind already and feel like I found answers, then why in the world am I asking them again?!!!!
Because I am human and so cocky and confident at times. These "rapids" in my river of life, help me to realize how truly weak and needy that I am. They knock a cog out of your wheel to let you see that you really don't have it as much together as you thought you did and how desperate you need Him. I am not getting worse and worse, I just need Him more and more. These times show me this.

I hope that I will not have to learn this lesson over and over but I know that I will. We have to die to our flesh daily and I know that it is in my flesh that I struggle to truly trust Him. It is my prayer that I will stay close in fellowship to the Lord so that the spirit will be stronger than the flesh and will win more battles!

Please, help me pray for this.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I am alive!! After yesterday, I wasn't sure if I would be or not - honestly. Yesterday was one of the scariest days of my life. My room would not quit spinning and when I closed my eyes, I would not stop spinning. It was like someone had you on one of those merry-go-rounds, and would spin you so fast, you could only lay down and hope it would stop. Except, you knew you were laying perfectly still and it still wouldn't stop. With everything else that has been going on, I did not know what was happening.

I was terrified for Jimmy to leave me for even a second because I could not even move my eyeballs without my head going crazy. We called the neurologist and the one on call said he just thought it was vertigo and to lay still and drink plenty of fluids. I had no other choice anyway. I don't even think I could have moved if I had wanted to.

They had me on a blood thinner for the last 4 months because of the risk of blood clots with me being paralyzed and pregnant. The OB dr. said that I was to stay on them for at least 6 weeks post partum because the risk is still high. But...when I had the hematoma they had to stop the blood thinner so the bleeding could be controlled. This had us worried that it may not really be vertigo but me trying to have a stroke instead. After waking up paralyzed overnight and no one knowing why yet, I think that a toothache will just about send me into a panic!! I try very hard to stay calm, and really, through all of these complications, I have. But yesterday was different....I though there was something bad going on in my head and I was very, very scared.

Since my heart rate has been low and erratic (since going off of the blood thinner), then I got to thinking that might be the problem.There is a lady in our church that had a stroke some time ago, and she came to the house and asked Jimmy to please get me on a blood thinner. She felt that all the symptoms I was having sounded like a stroke and not just vertigo. Since I still had blood thinner shots still here at the house, we made an executive decision to take one last night. When I took one, my heart rate was 50.

As of this morning, my heart rate is up and I feel better. If I am laying down and turn my head to either side, I get very sick feeling and it all happens again. However, if I sit up I can turn my head and I feel weak, but not sick or everything spinning out of control. We can't help but think the blood thinner has helped and we are asking our doctors to check into this.

I cannot thank you enough for all of your prayers. Yesterday morning when all this was happening, I told Jimmy "Honey, I think I am going to get discouraged." He said "No, Alicia, you can't do that. You stay strong." I did not feel strong. I felt weak and very vulnerable. I felt like I didn't know if I could handle one more thing. In the afternoon, I awoke out of my sleep with these words running through my mind "Not what I wish to be, or where I wish to go, for who am I, that I should choose my way? The Lord knows best for me, tis better far I know...." I have the tune for these words also in my head but this is all I remember of it. I think it is an old hymn about missions. Please, if any of you know what this song is, let me know. However, I knew the Lord had put that in my heart to encourage me and let me know that He was choosing my way and that He was with me and had not forgotten me. This "nugget" from the Lord, helped me so much and once again peace filled my heart.

Please continue to keep me in your prayers. I feel selfish asking this of you but it is such an encouragement knowing that all over your dear friends and family are bringing you to the Lord. I feel so very loved on by all of you and I cannot thank you enough for that.

I love you all!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Baby and Me - Update Memo

I reread what I had written and I realized that I had left out something important - the "treasures in the darkness" that the Lord constantly encourages us with even in the midst of trying circumstances.
The first 3 days after I had the baby, we had the same nurse. She had a keen interest in us and our "story" - as did all the nurses we had. Her name was Barb and after talking with us and asking a lot of questions, she found out that I had not had any therapy at all. Our little county just seems like it doesn't know what to do with me. Since I delivered at a large hospital in Cincinnati, Barb decided to call their therapy department to see what could be done.
Every day, for the remainder of my stay, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist came to see me and worked with me. Jimmy and I learned so much during those days. The therapists got all excited about working with me and said they were "mortified" that no therapy of any kind has happened. They have it all set up for me to come back for outpatient therapy as soon as I recover enough to handle it. They have an entire floor dedicated to therapy and they even took me up there for a tour and a much desired shower as I could not use the shower in the room where we were. I was introduced to "Bob" the director of admissions, who has been paralyzed for 25 years due to falling off a telephone pole on his job. He was very nice and gave us his phone number to call him personally if we had any questions or needed anything at all. On the funny side, after the shower, I had my hair wrapped up in a towel, they made me wear a hospital gown and we had to go back to my room via public elevators and halls so I told them they had to give me a pair of scrubs so that I would be decent. So here I am with a hospital gown, another color of scrubs, my hair in a towel, and some ugly brown socks and that is when the therapist decided to introduce me to everyone. I kept telling her that if she did not let me look decent first, they would all assume that I should be on the psychiatric floor! I am sure I looked quite "unique"!
This has been a huge answer to prayer for me and something that has been bothering me for months now. Thanks to the Lord working through a nurse who took an interest in us, He answered a major prayer and we are praying that positive results will come out of the therapy - if it is His will. If not, then I will be learning much needed "life skills".
Everyone was so wonderful and kind to us. We felt like we were part of a big family by the time we left. I didn't want to leave out or overlook this blessing from the Lord.
Elisha is a precious blessing from the Lord too. He is a healthy little man and he is such a good baby. He really only cries when he is hungry and then he settles back in. We are quite attached as the only thing that we do most of the day is snuggle one another. This has been fine with me and I am enjoying every minute with him. It is much more fun to hold them in your arms than inside your stomach!! The Lord knew that we needed an easy-going baby with everything else going on.
One other thing I want to add is how thankful I am for my precious hubby!! He has had to do so much taking care of me, the children (although they are such big helpers - they are only children and need looking after), our home, the church and on and on. He has never complained one single time!! I am so not worthy of this man's love and care. I could never brag on him enough for the way that he unselfishly loves me and our children. May the Lord heap loads of blessings on him as Jimmy has blessed me so.
Alright, I am going to hush now. I just wanted to add these blessings as part of the much-needed-to-be-told part of our story.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Baby and Me - Update

Everything was going as planned on Monday, July 27th. We were to go into
the hospital at 5:00 p.m. and they were to monitor me and start my induction
on Tuesday morning. We went as planned, and they got me all settled in
and hooked up to the monitors. They decided to give me a little pill to help
me get ready for the induction and within 30 minutes, the pill had started me
into labor. My contractions were 2 minutes apart, although they were not
terribly strong. Thankfully, I could not feel them!:)
The doctor said that she would come back and check me every little bit and
that we may have a baby by morning without ever having to start the
Pitocin. After about 2 hours or so, we noticed that the baby’s heart rate was
doing crazy things. It would go up to about 170 and then suddenly drop to
about 70 and then back and forth like that. It lasted for about 10 minutes.
Just as we were starting to get nervous about it, the doctor came back in and
said that she wanted to check me again. As she was checking I noticed a
worried look on her face and she asked for an ultrasound machine to be
brought in. They did the ultrasound and they said that our little guy had
completely turned. They said that he was sitting “Indian style” with his feet
and bottom down and his head up. They went out to discuss it with the head
doctor and my nurse said to me “Do you realize what this may mean?” I said
“C-Section” and she said that was correct.
The doctors came back in and said that they were going to try to turn the
baby manually but if that didn’t work, they would have to do an immediate
C-Section because my body was already in labor. After trying to turn the
baby for about 20 minutes (which was terribly uncomfortable) they said that
he wasn’t going to budge. At that point, everything was hurry-hurry. Jimmy
was thrown scrubs, I was given a hat, the nurses started preparing me, and
the anesthesiologist was brought in to consult with me.
Apparently, I was a puzzle for them because I did not need an epidural for
pain because I have no feeling waist down. However, due to being
paralyzed, there is something called Autonomic Dysreflexia (http:// that happens when your body
experiences pain and you do not know it that causes your blood pressure
and heart rate to become unstable. So, it was necessary to have a pain
medicine to fool my body into thinking it felt now pain. They decided to
give me the epidural and see what happened. They wanted me numb from
my chest down and that was not happening. I could feel everything on my
stomach so they felt like the epidural was not working. So, they began to try
all different kinds of medicines to numb me. Finally, the anesthesiologist
said to me “Hon, I am about to give you something in your I.V. that is going
to put you out.” I said, “Okay, how will I know if it is working?” He said, “
You are will feel like you are stoned.” I said “I have never been stoned” He
said, “You are about to be!”
The next thing I remember is my ears starting to ring and then I felt like a
bed was sitting on top of me and smothering me. I could not swallow,
breathe or move my arms (or so I thought). Then I felt like I was completely
floating away from all reality. I felt like I was leaving everything. Not in a
calm way, but in a weird, terrifying way. My mind never stopped working
and I felt like I had no grasp of any kind of reality. I thought to myself “I
think I must be dying but there is nothing I can do about it”. I have slight
memories of a baby crying in a far distant place but not realizing it was my
baby. I remember Jimmy rubbing my head and saying “He’s alright” but not
grasping what in the world he was talking about. My first clear memory is waking up in the recovery room in severe pain and not being able to hold
the baby because of the pain and just trying to concentrate on taking my
next breath. This is my memories and version. Jimmy’s version was
He said that once the doctor gave me the medicine in the I.V. that I seemed
to go out but that I cried and moaned the entire operation. They said that I
could feel everything that was going on and nothing every stopped the pain.
He said that the anesthesiologist was trying everything that he knew to do
and told Jimmy that he had “emptied the medicine chest” on me and did not
know what else to do. He also gave me a medication that makes you forget
most of what happens and that lasts for about 24 hours. We could not
understand how I felt things if I have no feeling from my waist down. The
doctors explained that the feeling of deep inside your body (organs and
such) come straight from the brain and do not come from the spine. So, that
is why I could feel what they were doing deep inside of me. I guess you
learn something new all the time! They told us that the medicine he gave me
was the same as LSD and that is why it was all so crazy for me.
I am confident that anyone who has had both a C-Section and has delivered
naturally would pick the latter! There is a lot more to recovery with a C-
Section and it takes time. Due to me having no use of my legs, every move I
make from sitting up to rolling over has to be purely through my arms.
When you pull with your arms, it pulls your stomach muscles. Seeing as
how they cut through my stomach muscles, every tiny move I made was
extremely painful - even with the pain meds. They could mash on my
incision and I don’t feel a thing so that is a positive. The feeling that I had
was like a hot poker being jammed deep inside of my left side. No matter
what I do, that is the only place I feel pain.
They wanted me to try to sit up for awhile every day. The problem I was
having was that every time I sat up for about 5 minutes, I would get
extremely dizzy and nauseous and start blacking out. They did not know
what was causing that and so they had me stay extra to monitor that. I am
still not able to sit up longer than about 20 minutes without the same thing
happening so that is a bother but we hope that as I get stronger, that will fix
On Monday night (a week after that baby was born), we were still in the
hospital and REALLY wanting to come home. I was missing the kids awful
and just wanted my home. Jimmy was helping me that night and had rolled
me over on my right side. When he rolled me back over on my back, there
was blood everywhere!! It was pouring out of my stomach on the right side
of my incision. We got the nurse and within minute I was surrounded by 3
doctors and 3 nurses. I was talking 100 miles an hour trying to keep my
mind off of the whole situation. They said that I had a hematoma that had
ruptured and blew out the right side of my incision. This has led to Jimmy
having to pack the “hole” with some kind of medicated gauze, that looks
like a shoe string, twice a day. Also, I have to be extra careful now so that
can heal. We were almost feeling like every time we turned around there
was new comlications but we were thankful that we were still at the hospital
when it happened and not an hour and a half away at home.
They let us come home on Tuesday night (after 8 days) and we suprised the
children. They were so happy to see us and we were so happy to be home
with them! The baby is perfect. He never cries unless he is hungry and then
he eats and snuggles right back in.
As for how I am now, I am getting stronger. I am able to make small
transfers by myself now, I am rolling over and sitting up by myself so that is
major!! The pain is less now and I am trying to sit up for as long as I can. I
really cannot stand having to be so dependent on others but that cannot be
helped for now. I cannot thank my sweet hubby enough for all of his love.
Also, my children have just jumped in and cannot seem to help me enough. I
feel so blessed by the love that I am receiving from my precious family.
Until next time....thank you for all your prayers for our family!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Medical Update #3

I am looking at the title of this post and hoping that there won't be so many more!!:) Here is the latest:
My neurologist called me Wednesday morning and let me know that he was not comfortable with the MRI that the OB doctor had ordered. He said that as a neurologist that he had never heard of having an MRI on your side and that it would be a very fuzzy picture and that it would not show anything so that basically it would be a waste of time. So, I cancelled the MRI for Thursday morning. Then, the neurologist called me Thursday and asked me to come in that day that he had some tests that he wanted to run. So, we went yesterday afternoon and they were able to do a special MRI with what they called a Lumbar Coil that they wrapped around my body. I felt like I looked like a mummy football player! Anyway, with that around me they were able to tilt me slightly to the left until I could tell that I was not going to pass out. They also gave me oxygen the whole time and I think that really helped me to breathe. So, they did the MRI and were able to get a clear enough picture to know if there was anything they could do surgically to relieve any pressure that may be on the spinal cord from a tumor or a mass of any sort that may be there.
The MRI showed that there was nothing there that he can do surgically to take care of this problem right now. This was disappointing in one way because I had a hope that maybe he would find something simple to give me back the use of my legs. However, the positive side is that if there is nothing they can do surgically, then that means we don't have to make any more hard decisions regarding our little baby and any risks to him.
Then, he said that he wanted to do 2 other tests - a Nerve Conductivity test, and an EMG (electro myo graphy). The nerve test was to test my peripheral nerves (for example, carpel tunnel is not a problem with the spinal cord - it is a problem with the nerve near your wrist). So, I guess there are diseases that affect your peripheral nerves that he needed to check mine. So, they put these silver disks taped over my ankle bone and then wires are connected to a computer and he would hit a button on the computer and my toe would jump. Then he would tape it behind my knee, hit the button and my whole leg would jump. He said that my peripheral nerves were responding but that the message was going down but it was not coming back up. He was not sure why this was. Then, the EMG test is a test where they take about a 2 inch needle and put it in the muscles in your legs at different places and wiggle the needle around and the sound that should come from your muscle sounds like loud radio static. One look at that 2 inch needle being pushed in my leg muscles made me thankful, for the first time, that I had no feeling in my legs!!!:) This test checks to see if your muscles are getting any signals from your central nervous system (your spinal cord). My muscles made no noise at all. So, they are not getting any signals from my spinal cord. He tested the muscles in my back where I can start feeling stuff (above my waist) and the muscle sound was loud and clear. So, the doctor said that proves that something acute happened in the spine at the Lumbar area.
The problem is, that he is not sure what. He said that all the symptoms of what happened on March 12th are classic of a stroke in your spine. He said that everything fits that perfectly. Apparently, pregnancy increases your risk of a stroke and they come in like lightning, do damage, and then be gone. The thing that is confusing to him is because of all the symptoms of 2008. He said a stroke would not happen gradually. He mentioned that something called Guillian Barre could cause all of this but that he couldn't say for sure if that was it because he cannot rule out MS although what happened is very uncommon for MS. I asked him if we could rule out MS and he said no. He said that he needs to do a detailed MRI of my brain and spine as soon as I have the baby. Then, that will help him rule in or rule out some other things. So, he won't say anything for sure. He said that he has to figure out if one thing is causing all of this, or if two different things are going on. He just doesn't know yet. I asked him if we could rule out Lou Gherig's disease yet because that is the one that really scares me. He said that yes, he felt we could rule it out because my muscle sound would have been very loud and that was one thing he was checking on. So, I was very happy to have that ruled out and that was another positive for the day!
So, the million dollar question - do we know if I will walk again? We do not know. The doctor said that with anything that happens to the spinal cord, the longer it takes for you to get any movement or feeling back, the less chance you have of a recovery. I did not ask him straight out if he thought I would walk again because I wasn't in the mood to hear an answer. I thought I had had enough info for one day. I will ask at another time I guess.
I will say this, if you want a good perspective on life, go sit in a neurologists waiting room for about an hour. It is very sobering and makes you thankful for the life you have because there is always someone worse than you.
We are going to change and have the baby at a high risk pregnancy center in Cincinnati. The neuro had talked with the OB doctor there and they said that I am a high risk and that I need to be in a better facility and that OB doctor wants my case and will take me as his patient even though I am already 33 weeks. So, we just have to call and make an appointment which we will do Monday morning.
Our hearts are at peace. Although we know that nothing can be done to help me walk right now, we are relieved that the baby will be safe until it is time for him to be born and we won't have to make any hard decisions concerning him. I feel so calm knowing that my Heavenly Father has all of this in control and is concerned for me and my baby and is leading and guiding us and filling us with His peace.
Hopefully, the next update will not be about me!!! I will update again after I see the new OB doctor in a couple weeks and let you know what he is saying about the baby and delivery plans. I want to thank you again for your prayers. Please keep it up. I love you all!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Medical Update #2

I want to thank you all so much for your prayers. I know the Lord is leading us one little step at a time and we are trying to walk in the light that we are give. Sometimes through all of these things with the baby and my health, I get SO frustrated and unsettled about big and little things. It seems the little things have a tendency to frustrate me more than the big things. However, it is during these times that I realize that I am either being shallow, selfish, or full of self-pity and my eyes and focus are not on the Lord but on my circumstances. I do not want to be an individual like this let alone a Christian who should be a testimony of my precious Lord. So, I guess the struggles are good because they make you take a deeper look and provide an opportunity to mature just a little bit more.
We saw the OB doctor yesterday morning and he is very uncomfortable with inducing an earlier than 39 weeks. He understands the neuro's concerns but doesn't want to induce an earlier. I think this is in part because the hospital is really not equipped for an babies that would be born earlier. Also, the baby is still breech so that worries him. He wants me to have another ultrasound to make sure our little fellow is growing like he should. Also, because I am only able to feel the baby with my hands on the outside of my stomach, I am not feeling him move as much as you would in a normal pregnancy so they just want to keep an extra careful eye on him. For this, I am grateful! The OB wanted to consult with a radiologist about the risk it would be to the baby for me to have a cat scan which he thought I could do on my side but that would involve radiation. I am NOT comfortable with that. I don't mind a cat scan for myself but if I were to have one after this baby was born, then I would not take along Briley, Caleb, Isaiah, Audrey and Macey for a free scan with me. So, I do not want to take Elisha along with me (inside of me) for the scan that only I need. So, I told the doctor I wasn't comfortable with that.
They called me this morning and told me that we were going to try to do another MRI at a different facility where I may be able to lay on my side for the procedure. So that is scheduled for Thursday morning at 9:45. We will try it and see what happens. All we know to do is to take one step at a time and pray about each step and try to follow what we think the Lord would want us to do.
We still have much to pray about and more decisions to make but we thank the Lord for the direction that he has given so far. We are also praying about if we just need to go to a larger facility to deliver the baby now that new things have arisen and kist may be too large for this small hospital where we are currently supposed to deliver. So, please help us pray about that and for the Lord to guide us.
Pray for my poor hubby - he is such a wonderful and devoted man. I am not saying this to be bragging in any way, but he really worries and becomes burdened the most over anything that concerns me and he has always been this way - not just since I became sick. So, with the church burdens he carries as a pastor and now the heaviest burden he has ever had to face with me, I know that he always has a lot on his heart and mind and I am asking you to please uphold him in prayer. He never complains and he is always so willing to do anything but it burdens me to see him carry such a huge load. I thank God for him and cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to go through all of this without this godly man by my side.
I will keep you updated as I know more so that you can pray knowledgeably.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Medical Update

First of all, I want to thank each of you for your prayers. I know that the Lord has all things in control and He knows what He is doing, and I am trusting in that, but it sure is a blessed comfort to know that people are praying for me.
As far as the update, I am now 32 weeks pregnant and my OB doctor wanted me to see a neurologist as a consultation to see if there was anything MS-wise that they would need to be on a look-out for, or red flags, during delivery. I had to get a new neurologist to do this, because my old neurologist would not take the insurance that we now have. As we went Monday morning to consult with the neuro about what we thought was just a basic routine procedure to please the OB doctor, we were not even slightly prepared for what he told us.
As he came in and asked a LOT of questions and did a thorough examination, he then told us that although everything that has happened in 2008 is very symptomatic of MS, and he was not saying that I did not have MS, but that me waking up suddenly paralyzed from my waist down was not classic MS. Actually, he said that it can happen but that it is very rare - occurring in only about 3% of the MS population. Because of this fact, he said that he was most uncomfortable with saying that what happened on March 12 was because of MS. He was very disappointed that all medical people have been saying "this is MS, and this is awful, but this is the way it is." He said that although that may be the truth in the end, that he was in no way ready to say that right now and he thinks that something else may have happened on March 12 that is not related to MS. At least, he said that he had to pursue it before he would say it was because of MS.
He said that I needed to have an MRI so that we could see what was going on in my spine. I said, "Okay, as soon as the baby is born we will do that." He said that he really was not comfortable with waiting that long because the longer we wait, the more permanent damage might be done. So that led to the next question of "What could it be?" He listed about 15 things in about 30 seconds of possibilities from a blood clot in the spine to a tumor to bleeding in the spine, I can't even pronounce some of the other things he rattled off. Jimmy asked if my life was in danger and he said that he did not think so because it has been 3 months already. We asked if there was something that he found that was fixable, would that mean surgery and could that be done while I was pregnant? He said that yes, it would mean surgery and that we would have to decide what risk would be greater to us - me possibly never walking again, or the risk it may cause to our baby. This, to me, is an impossible question. He said that they may get in there and see something they can fix, or they may see something that they know they cannot fix, or they may see nothing and then we are right back to square one.
However, he told us that we needed to start with the MRI and he wanted to do one right away so we had one scheduled for last night. We had talked to our OB dr. and asked him if it was a risk to have an MRI and he said that he thought that we should do it. We prayed about it, sought some counsel and felt peace to go ahead with the Dr.'s decisions. We kept praying that the Lord would just keep our little baby safe. So, last night, we went to have the MRI done. To make a long story short, I was not able to have the MRI. If I lay on my back for more than about 5 or 6 minutes I begin to pass out. I have known this to be true at home in my own bed, so I was worried that I could make it through the MRI. I told the radiologist this and so she knew that it was a potential problem. Well, sure enough, I started passing out and I hadn't even been in there for 5 minutes and the whole procedure was to take an hour. The radiologist said that the baby is laying on my aorta and cutting off the blood supply to me and the baby and she did not want us to proceed any farther. I agreed knowing that I would just go in and pass out again. So, now we are not sure what will happen next.
The neurologist will want me to be induced early but we are not sure what the OB will think about it. I will talk to the neuro early Monday morning and I have an appointment with the OB on Monday at 10:30 a.m. Since we will be talking about inducing me early, we have to decide what the risk will be to the baby as compared to a chance they may end up finding that nothing can be done at all. If they decided for me to have the baby, I will have to change all plans on where to deliver as the hospital I was planning on delivering at is not equipped for early babies. This will mean another new doctor.
This has all been an emotional roller coaster for me - especially since I am not an emotional girl! I cannot stand the thought of bettering myself if it would hurt the baby. I don't think I could live with the guilt. On the other hand, if there is a chance for me to walk again, and I feel like the new neuro has given some hope, then I would be so very excited. I am afraid to get excited though for fear it won't happen and then I will have to deal with the major disappointment.
Having said all of this, we know that our lives and the life of our baby boy is in the Lord's hands. The very fact that I was passing out on the MRI table last night, was helpful and comforting to me. How? Because we had the green light from all the doctors, and we even felt peace about proceeding and we still feel like we made the right decision to get the MRI, but in the midst of all that, we know the Lord was looking out for us and the baby. Even though we felt a go-ahead about it, we have been praying that the Lord would keep the baby safe, and apparently He stopped the MRI in His own way. This is a comfort because it just reassured once more that He is in control and even in the last minute, He will make His way known. This is a comfort because there may be many more hard decisions to have to make, but the Lord knows our hearts and that we are seeking His face, and we know that He will take care of everything - no matter how everything turns out - it will be according to His will.
This has calmed my heart and I do not fear what decisions may have to be made. We do covet your prayers on our behalf. We KNOW that people are praying and I cannot thank you enough. Please keep it up and know that we love each of you and thank God for you being in our lives.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Multiple Blessings!!

I have been so behind on blogging and now I feel I have way too much to blog about! However, the blessings from the Lord just keep pouring in and I want to share them and some thoughts that have been in my head scary huh?). I hope I can remember everything I need to say!

Blessing #1 - The Crown Bible Conference
This was such a wonderful encouragement for me. Jimmy had asked me if I still wanted to go to the Bible Conference this year. I told him that I was really nervous about it and that I wanted to hide but I know I cannot do that the rest of my life and I have no intention of doing that, so I decided to go and get it over with!! I knew that if I did not go, I would regret it so bad. Jimmy said that he was leaving it up to me but he was glad I decided to go. He thought it would be good for me. Boy, was he right! I was happy to see and talk to Pastor and Mrs. Sexton. They had been writing me and encouraging me for a few months prior to the paralysis and they asked for me to get there and see them before I ever became paralyzed. Janie and Jeanene had also decided to come in this year and we had all made plans to be together for a couple days. When I knew I would be coming but in a wheelchair (which had not been in the original plans) I told them I did not want to sing at the Conference. They said that was fine and we would just enjoy being together. Jimmy said to me "If Pastor Sexton sees you girls together, he will ask you to sing." I said, "Well, I will tell him no. I am not ready for that." Jimmy said "Are you sure?" I said, "YES!!" So, sure enough, Pastor saw us and said "Girls, you are going to sing right?" Janie and Jeanene just looked at me real pitifully like "we want to but Alicia said we couldn't".:) I said, "Pastor, I can't get up there to sing." He said, "Oh, we will take care of that. That's nothing. You need to sing." So, I very calmly said "Okay." After he walked off I said to the girls, "What am I doing?!!!!! I told you I was going to say no!!" So, we sang. I was a nervous wreck as we were going to get up there but once we were in place, the Lord made me very calm and I was glad to be singing with old friends in our favorite place to sing. That experience really was good to push me out of my comfort zone a little and move forward. I have learned that those moments have helped me go further although they are very uncomfortable at first. I will address this thought later. Of course, I always enjoy seeing everyone at the conference and catching up with dear friends. Our family always enjoys the time spent with Mark and Stephanie Fowler and their girls. They graciously host our large family and we lose much sleep talking and laughing the nights away.

Got this picture off of Faith For The Family - I hope this is allowed!!

I found this old picture of us in college days. We were singing at Jeanene's dad's church for the week-end and we decided that we needed a picture posing like all the famous southern gospel groups. I think we had to take about 10 pictures before we got one where we weren't cracking up laughing. How the pro's do it I'll never know!:)

Blessing #2 - Angela's Pictures
While we were in TN for the Bible Conference, Angela Pepin had written and asked if she could get together with us and take the kids picture. Could she?? I was thrilled! I was very touched when she told me that she could pray for me, and she was, but her pictures were something that she felt she could do for me to be an encouragement to me. I thought that was so sweet and thoughtful. I have since seen the pictures and she was right. There is no greater thrill than, as a mother, seeing your children's personalities captured in beautiful photography. I cannot wait for them to get back from the printer's so I can work on the wall collage that I am putting together. Then, I will see them every day and thank God for precious friends who unselfishly give of their time and talents to be an encouragement to one another.

Blessing #3 - Spending Time With Family
After the days at the Bible Conference, we were able to spend an afternoon with my parents and go to church with them. Both sets of my grandparents were there and that was so nice to see them. Then we went to Jimmy mom and dad's for a couple of days which is a Bible Conference/Spring tradition. We all enjoy the tranquility of the farm to refresh for a couple of days every spring. Of course this year was different for me and once again I was nervous about seeing all the family for the first time. But again, the Lord came through and I was very relaxed and comfortable around every one. That says a lot about our families also, to be able to make me feel like everything was almost normal. Jimmy got the 4-wheeler out at his dad's to ride the kids - which is our favorite farm toy! He told me that he wanted to take me on a ride and I was all for it! When we got on, we remembered that all of the gears and breaks were on the handle and nothing was on the floor. This made me anxious to ride it by myself which I did a good while and took the kids on rides. That was so much fun but it made me crave driving again very badly. And really, made me very sad that I couldn't drive anymore. It was one of those things that I had tried not to dwell on because it leads to self-pity but after riding the 4-wheeler and feeling that freedom again, it was a lot harder to get the thoughts out of my head which leads to blessing #4.

Blessing #4 - My Car!!
After was got back home and settled in, I started researching how I could drive again. I read about hand controls, watched YouTube videos of people getting in and out of cars by themselves with no help, putting their wheelchairs in the car and getting them out and doing what they wanted to do without having to be dependent on someone else. Have I mentioned that I hate having to depend on someone for all of these things?:) So, after I looked at the different hand controls and realized how expensive they were (around $1300 to get them and have them installed), I decided to look on Ebay and see if you could buy the hand controls for cheaper and then have them installed somewhere. My very first search on Ebay for "hand controls" brought up hand controls, but also brought up 3 vans and 1 car. I looked at the car, read about it, and knew it was the car for me. It is a 1999 Eighty-eight Olds, but it only had 33,000 miles on it and had been a one owner. The other thing, was that it was only 4 hours away from us here in Ohio. The original owner had been handicapped and ordered the car brand new with hand controls on it already. After researching and calling a few people about the car, we bought it and Jimmy picked it up that week. I felt like a 16 year old getting their license!! I could not wait to drive again! I actually had not been driving (with the exception of going to Wal-Mart once in a blue moon because it is less than a mile from my house) for about 7 months. The reason being that several time I would go to hit the brake pedal and my foot would just simply not move. This, obviously, does not make for very safe driving. So, I had not been driving and did not want the kids with me if I did. I had already been missing driving and then the paralysis made it seem so much more final that I may really never drive again that it was very sad for me. Having said all that, I have loved having my car. My Jimmy hates buying cars and he was so excited to get this car for me. He said he felt like he handed me back part of my life that had been taken away and since he isn't able to do that for most things, he said it was very exciting for him. He has pretty much let me go and do what I want and hasn't griped a bit. I think I have volunteered for every errand that needed to be ran!!:) The hand controls have become second nature to me and it is a great way to stay popular with children. They think it is the coolest thing they have ever seen - well, that along with playing in the wheelchair!!:)

Blessing #5 - Our Ladies Banquet
I have been so busy the past month preparing for our annual ladies banquet. This is a big deal around here and it has become a tradition for Mark and Stephanie Fowler to come in for the week-end. She speaks at our banquet on Friday night, we all hang out and have fun on Saturday, and he preaches for Friend Day on Sunday. We have kept this tradition for 4 years in a row now and we look forward to their visit every year. We had around 80 women this year and was the largest we've ever had. I am going to have to say this again, but I was nervous as things had to be a little different this year (for example, I could not get up on the stage like I normally would) but it all worked out well. I think this is the best year we have ever had - for the banquet and for Friend Day. We have outgrown our banquet facilities and will have to think of a different location next year. One of the most encouraging things to me was that there were 3 Pastor's wives that are my friends that came this year. None of them had ever been to the banquet and this year they all came. This was the shot in the arm that I needed. Cassie Brown, whose husband pastors in Portsmouth, OH came and brought 5 ladies. She and 2 other ladies sang for us that night and did a beautiful job. Mrs. Suzie Montgomery, whose husband pastors in Chilicothie, OH, came and brought her daughters and a lady from her church, and Mrs. Tammy Palotta, whose husband pastors in Wartburg, TN came and brought 13 ladies with her. As a Pastor's wife, I was so encouraged by their love and support of me by coming to the Banquet. I hope they make it a tradition to come every year!! Stephanie taught a wonderful devotion on being fashioned by God and had made paper dolls and accessories on her Cricut machine. The ladies had a lot of fun putting them together while Stephanie compared what they were doing with a spiritual application. It was a wonderful evening filled with music, funny skits, great catered food, and feasting on God's Word and godly music. It couldn't have gone any better and my heart is refreshed from it. Saturday we enjoyed the day with Mark and Steph and she and I enjoyed playing with her Cricut machine and making some things for the church walls and nursery. Sunday was a wonderful day and Mark did a great job preaching. He is always such an encouragement to Jimmy and to our church. We rejoice in the godly friends that the Lord has allowed us to have.

Blessing #6 - Jimmy's Missions Trip
Although Jimmy left today, and will be gone for 2 weeks, this is still a tremedous blessing to us that he can go on this trip. He went to Kyrgyzstan to work with Daniel and Christina Norton. Jamin Boyer went with him and they have been like 2 little boys planning this trip. Originally, Jimmy wanted to cancel this trip because he did not want to leave me. The first 2 weeks of being paralyzed, I had my own doubts about it simply because I did not know how I could do certain things without him truly picking me up and helping me. But, as I learned more that I could do on my own, I became convinced that he needed to go and began to persuade him to go. I knew we would be alright. He agreed and went forward. The reason this is a blessing to he and I, is that so many people have been such a blessing to us, financially, prayerfully, physically, spiritually, and on and on, that this is a way we felt we could be a blessing to someone else for a change. Our prayer is that he can be a blessing to the missionaries while being there and helping them in their work, and I can be a blessing by supporting and encouraging him 100% so that he will not fret about me and be hindered in the work God would have him to do. We are thankful that the Lord has provided for him to go. The children and I will miss him but we know He is where God wants him to be for the next 2 weeks and we are going to hold down the fort for "daddy" until he gets back. They are all excited to help mommy and I am blessed to have such sweet little children that enjoy being a blessing to us.

Blessing #7 - Our Baby
We are so thankful that the Lord is protecting our little unborn blessing. Elisha Maclaren Reagan is due August 4 but they will deliver him early because they do not want me going into labor for fear that I won't feel it. I have had a lot of questions about my pregnancy and the delivery and how this pregancy is going with me being paralyzed. Instead of me answering all of these here, I have a "new" friend the Lord has brought along my path who is paralyzed and pregnant (we are just a couple weeks apart) and she wrote it all so accurately that I will just send you to her post. I couldn't have said it any clearer, I am thankful that the baby is healthy and we are on the path to a near normal delivery. Here is the link to Jamie's sight and you really ought to read it real quick.

Having said all of these blessings, and returning to a thought that I had mentioned earlier, is the thought of all of us being stretched out of our comfort zones. I know this has become realistic to me physically, whether it is singing again in front of crowds and feeling like a spotlight is on my wheelchair (which it is not), or being around people for the first time and still trying to be "Alicia" but knowing that I am newly defined somewhat, or getting in and out of a vehicle in a parking lot and wondering who is watching, to wheeling around a store and everything now being to high to reach or see and literally trying to stretch until you can stretch no more just to see what is on the shelf or to pay with your debit card, to figuring out how to get in someone's house who has no ramp and only steps, to getting in and out of bed or rolling over in bed, or taking a shower and trying to do a simple task of shaving your legs, or just get dressed, or trying to put shoes and socks on, or open a door and getting out of the way so you can get the door opened at the same time, or not being able to reach your stove top or sink or anything in your upper cabinets, to going up the stairs backwards on your rump and lifting your body step by step, to getting back in your wheelchair from the floor, to physical therapy to keep my legs from getting stiff, and I could go on and on. The point is not that I am complaining. The point is that these challenges have made it possible that I have had to push beyond what was normal for me to be able to continue to move forward in my life. This has not been comfortable and I assure you it has not been easy, but it has been good for me. The only other option is to stay inside, in bed and act like life is over. I have realized though, that my arms are a lot stronger, my will is more determined, my spirit is stronger, and I have been able to meet each challenge and slowly conquer them one by one. Not like I used to, but in a new way. These challenges have stretched me as an individual and made me stronger and better.
Now, spiritually, I have not been able to get off my mind the fact that as Christians, we have all got set in our little comfort zones and we are not willing to be stretched any further. We have stagnated our lives spiritually, because we will not allow ourselves any temporary uncomforts that would really help us in the long run to be stronger Christians. So, we stay in our weak and comfortable little spots. That may be fine but don't expect great things from God in your life and in your influence if you are not willing to be stretched farther for him.
Practically, how does this apply? What about attending church faithfully? Even Sunday School and Wednesday evenings? What about volunteering for something - like the nursery, or sunday school teacher or helper, or join the choir, or make a nursing home visit or something. Maybe it is to start a devotion time with your children or reading your Bible and praying faithfully. Something. My challenge to you would be to stop right now, and think of something, or maybe the Lord has already been working on your heart that you need to be stretched somewhere in your life and you already know what it is, but decided right now that you will allow the Lord to stretch you. I promise you, whether it is physically or spiritually, being stretched farther than you are comfortable with always ends up positively and you will be thankful in the long run.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Month On Easter

Wow...I cannot believe it has already been almost a month since I have been in a wheelchair. Life is moving so rapidly I do not know where the time has gone! I feel like I have been in a very challenging course in school or something. I think the key word for this time period is "rediscovery". There have been so many things that I have had to learn to do a "new" way and some things that I am still trying to learn and many, many other things that I want to try to learn someday. Rome wasn't conquered in a day I guess.
How appropriate that my 1 month anniversary should fall on Resurrection Sunday. What a day to think about how I could have never gotten through all of this without my very real and alive Saviour. I thank God that I do not love and serve a dead god. I know He lives because I feel His presence in my life every day. I see His hand working, leading, guiding and preparing me for every step of my journey.
I feel like every role in my life - wife, mother, teacher, pastor's wife, homemaker - has had to be approached from a completely different angle. Who would have thought that you would ever have to rediscover how to sweep your floors (hard to wheel yourself around a room and hold a broom let alone get the dirt in the dustpan) or vacuum (can't reach the plug) or do the dishes (can't even reach the faucet to turn it on) or even make your bed? These are things that you do because they need to get done but you never really think about them and if you do think about them, it is normally that you wish you didn't have to do them. Now, when I finally get my floors swept and vaccumed I feel like I have just won the Olympics or something. It is a great feeling of accomplishment even though it may take me an hour to do 2 rooms. It's amazing how your perspective on life changes. I really feel like I can either sit around and mope and pout about it all or I can hit it head on as a challenge and see what can be done.
There are times I get very frustrated and I just have to stop and make myself rethink something and calm down and then start over. That always helps because the more frustrated I get the more difficult it makes it for all of us. It is really the littlest things that can annoy me - trying to get through a doorway and banging the wall 5 times in a row or something like that starts to bring out the "growling" sounds!:) I am convinced that my house is going to have to be entirely repainted and maybe all of the drywall replaced by the time I learn to drive this chair!! I really think they should require a special driver's license or something!!:)
Speaking of driver's made me think of a perk with all of this - handicap parking! Now if you want to get my hubby to start growling, it is when we go somewhere and all of the handicap spots are taken up. You can't just park in any spot because you have to have plenty of room to get the doors open good and wide to get the wheelchair to my door so I can get in and out of it. So, the handicap spaces are wider so that you have room to do that (I told you this was like a college course!). If there are no handicap spots left then you can't just go find another close spot because a car would park too close to you. So, you have to go all the way out in the parking lot where no one wants to park so that you have room to maneuver. This upsets him way more than it does me (unless it is raining) and really gets me quite tickled because I hear the same speech from him every single time. "We better go in this store and see a lot of people in wheelchairs because if I don't, I am really going to be mad!!" If you know Jimmy, just hearing him say that he is going to be mad about something is so strange that this always sets me off on a laughing spell because he gets so worked up about it. I am not able to get in and out of our van by myself (yet!) and so he always has to take me so we have this conversation/laughing spell quite often because in this county I think you can get a handicap parking permit if you are a drunk (that is a disability you know) so you can hardly ever find a spot. I don't know why this tickles me so much but I am even chuckling about it while I am typing this!!
Laughter truly has been a great medicine for me and I thank the Lord for creating it. I am thankful that His grace has been so abundant that I am able to laugh and find joy even in these circumstances. Please, don't misunderstand me, there are times that my mind starts to dwell on things that are not healthy. Like, it's my legs now, but where will this be in 1, 5 or 10 years. Or, even if it stays like this for the rest of my life, I am only 31, I could be in this chair for the next 50 years!! Or, planning a roller skating party for the kids in our church and knowing I will not be able to skate with my children. These are thoughts that want to take over sometimes, but if I allow them to go there, it will either lead to self-pity or to fear and that is not where God wants our minds to be. So, the Lord helps me to think on things that "are of good report" and keep my mind on Him. I have to take one day at a time, and live my life to the fullest because I never know what tomorrow could bring.
Are there blessings out of all of this? Oh my, I cannot even begin to tell you all of them. I will try to name a few:
1. The unity of our church and how they have come together in a common bond. I am such a people person and I love our people dearly, that I have always made it a practice to go around the room at our services and hug each of our ladies, tell them hello and that I loved them. I worried how I would do this now because our church has slanted floors and it is not easy getting around. I was afraid I would be a little lonely at the services while everyone congregated to talk and I may not be able to get to them to join in. This has truly been a ridiculous fear!! I not only get many hugs myself, but I also get many kisses from my abundance of "mommas" in our church. I am surrounded by people waiting to talk to me before and after the services and jokes are being made about the "bottleneck" in the church during the fellowship chorus while people are hugging me and saying hi. I feel so very loved and the Lord has proved to me once again how silly it is to worry over these trivial things.
2. The love of my distant friends and family. I have received so many visits, cards, flowers, phone calls, and e-mails from everyone letting me know that they love me and are praying for me. If that doesn't boost your morale, I don't know what will.
3. Physically, I am now almost 100% pain free except for my hands which are receiving a work out they have never had before so I don't if that is why they hurt or if it is the MS, but either way, it is very bearable compared to the terrible pain I have had in my legs all year. I feel like a new person not being in pain all the time and I am ready to conquer the world again (although differently!)
4. Spiritually, I have never felt so close to the Lord. Maybe I should say that I have never felt Him so close to me. I know without a doubt that He has been a very present help in time of trouble. I know that when I get scared or confused or frustrated or grumpy that He is there and He understands and He is waiting to help me if I will just call out to Him. I have many times and He is right there ready to comfort me. I love Him so very much and my greatest fear is that I will fail Him through all of this.
5. My husband and children. My precious Jimmy is so wonderful and the Lord has helped him tremendously. We talk all the time about how life has dramatically changed for our family in one way, but in the things that matter, it has not. My role as a momma, is still to love my children, teach them God's Word, train them to grow up and serve their Lord, and set the atmosphere of happiness and peace in our home. You do not have to be able to walk to do this. Actually, it seems like now, I have even more time for them to come crawl up in my lap and we talk of things. Sometimes, in the mornings, Jimmy will still be reading his Bible in the office, and I will be in bed and will have read my Bible, but will be waiting on him to come in and help me get up, and the children will all come in and pile in bed with me. We will talk and play and tickle and giggle and it has turned into quite a wonderful morning tradition that we really never had before. The children are so sweet and are sometimes way too helpful - like putting my brakes on for me when I am trying to roll from one room to another!:) I truly am thankful for my precious family. On that note, I saw the baby doctor on Tuesday and they want me to get an evaluation at a high-risk pregnancy hospital. I really would like to stay where I am at since I am about 6 months along, but they are a small town hospital and have never dealt with a delivery of a paralyzed woman. My doctor said that we may throw the whole hospital into a state of shock!! However, there is a high risk of blood clots and the chance that I may not be able to feel going into labor so we need to have other plans ready. As far as the baby, his heartbeat is very steady. Since I cannot feel him moving (and you Mommy's know this is a security blanket for us to feel our babies move throughout the day) the doctor said to come in at any time to hear the heartbeat and they will not charge me. I thought that was so very sweet. So, my consultation appt. at the high risk facility is on April 28th. I should know more about what is going on by then I think.
We are coming to Tennessee for the Crown Bible Conference next week and I will be around from Monday evening till Wednesday morning. I am looking forward to seeing some of you.
Well, this has been a very lengthy and rambled post but it is a beautiful day outside and I felt like a long chat. If you have endured this to the end, I thank you and you should get a reward for your patience!!:)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Faith Has Found A Resting Place

It has been over a week since I posted last and almost 2 weeks since waking up on "that" day on March 12th. Time has a way of sorting things out a bit so I thought I better offer an update and share where my heart is now.

One thing that Jimmy and I have talked about is the "shock" value of all of this. It has just taken everyone off guard so. Our church has pulled together like you wouldn't believe. It has been so precious to see God's people respond in our time of need. Jimmy was thanking the church Sunday and said that there is no hidden clause anywhere that says a church has to treat their Pastor's family so wonderfully but they do anyway and that is true Christian love. We are so honored to serve the Lord here with them. As for me, I believe that the shock value hasn't been as severe on me as it has been on everyone else. I know that may sound crazy, but I feel like I have been living in this body all year and felt it going downhill. My legs had been getting weaker and weaker for months now and I had already told Jimmy that if something didn't slow down that I was really worried for where I was headed. I just didn't expect it to be so extreme suddenly. Also, I have been in a lot of pain all year. Since this has happened, my pain is completely gone in my legs. Either that, or I can't feel it, I don't know. But I do know that it has been so wonderful not to live in extreme pain every day. So, I count that as a blessing out of all of this. Overall though, life has a way of moving on and you learn to adjust with it.

I started therapy on Friday. The therapist was a very nice guy named Mark. He did a very long assessment on me and for now, I do not have anything at all in my legs. I am able to bend my toes down but I can not lift them back up. Of course, he had a name for that but I don't remember. He talked to me that his first job was to educate the patient but he could tell that I knew some about MS. He stuttered about for awhile about how we were going to proceed and what the priorities would be. After stumbling over his words and talking about "home modifications" and "proper fitting wheelchairs" I asked him if he was trying to tell me that this was probably more permanent than temporary. He said that yes that was what he was trying to say but he did not want to be the bearer of bad news. I assured him that I already knew this to be a realistic possibility. He said he was glad that I knew that because it made the rest of our discussion much easier. He said that it was probable that I could regain something but things would never be the same. So, the course of action for now is to keep working on the house and making some needed changes. Also, getting a proper wheelchair that will enable me to be more independent is in the works.

Physically, every day is met with new challenges that you never think about. From not being able to see in any mirror in the house to do your hair and make-up, to your almost 2 yr old telling you "NO!" and running and hiding in a hole where you can't reach her and trying to stay consistent with discipline!! Some of the challenges are frustrating and others are very, very funny. Boredom has now become my best friend and is always with me. I am looking forward to the new wheelchair that I will be able to spend all my time in and be comfortable. Then, I will be able to explore new things. The one I am using now is very uncomfortable and hurts my back a lot after just a little while so I sit in my "comfy" chair in my living room. There I feel pretty much stuck. This is kind of hard on this once active girl. With the new chair, I hope to be active once again!

Emotionally, I am so thankful for the Lord's presence in my life. I never realized how terribly important a personal relationship with the Lord is, until this has happened. I mean, I knew it was important and wanted one, but the impact it has on your life in a severe trial, I never understood how important it would be. On Tuesday, March 10, in my daily Bible reading, I read Ps. 119:71. It says "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." That verse had jumped out at me that day, and I had underlined it and wrote beside it "Lord, help me to always view it this way" and had dated and signed my initials. The next day was when I was so terribly sick and slept almost all day, and then I woke up Thursday paralyzed from my waist down. Looking back, I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord gave me that verse to help prepare me. I think that is so precious of Him. I keep thinking to myself "What if I had skipped my Bible reading that day?" I know that my happiness and the joy of the Lord in my life and our home is not in the conditions of the future. I don't want to feel like "I know God can heal me and I have faith that He can do this so I am trusting in that!" While I do know that He can heal me if He wants to, I want to trust Him now, today, no matter what happens. I want the joy of the Lord in my current circumstances - not in waiting for what may or may not happen. I read the other day in Heb. 4:16 "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." It does not say we will find all of our answers or even healing, but it does say we will obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. All I can say to this is a hearty AMEN!! I am so refreshed by the grace of God every day. Some days, I need a bigger dose than others but the Lord always gives me the exact prescription for that day.

This is where my faith has found its resting place. That my precious Heavenly Father loves me, and is only bringing about in my life that which will make me more Christ-like and that is my hearts desire. I only pray that I never disappoint Him - He truly has been so very good to me.

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He'll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior's name,
Salvation through His blood.

My great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.

~ Eliza Hewitt

Monday, March 16, 2009

This post may has no title because I could not come up with just one. There are so many things running through my mind right now I don't know if I will be able to get it all out where it make sense so please bear with me.
I have already mentioned in a previous post that I have been having trouble with my legs and they seem to have been getting weaker and weaker the last 3 months. On Wednesday of last week, I was very sick with a bad spell. I slept most of the day, trying to get up for a couple of hours, and unable to stay up. I slept through church and after church was over, a couple of ladies came over to stay with my children while Jimmy took some people home. They came in to check on me and I noticed that I did not feel the blankets on my legs. I just thought since I had been in one position they were just asleep. I woke up Thursday morning though, and I was paralyzed from my waist down. I have absolutely no feeling in my legs and am not able to move them at all. I have seen my doctor and at this time, we do not know if this will be permanent or temporary. Only time will tell that. Because I am 20 weeks pregnant, this causes a complication simply because of the limitations of medications in pregnancy. There really isn't anything medicine-wise that they could do right now except a high dose treatment of steroids which my doctor does not think is safe for the baby. Even the steroids would not take away any paralysis, but if it is temporary, then it could maybe speed up the process a little. So, it is a wait and see thing. My doctor does think that it is possible that I have a more progressive form of MS, simply because every symptom that I have developed has never gone away. If that is the case, then I know that I must prepare myself that this could very well be a permanent situation. I would rather prepare my mind in that way and then be excited if it is temporary, then to constantly hope it is temporary and be disappointed and frustrated every day. I will be starting physical and occupational therapy this week. The doctor said physical therapy really won't do anything because this is not a muscle problem - so, strengthening your muscles won't do a lick of good. My muscles are fine. It is like talking to a deaf person and asking them to do something for you. They have the ability to do it, they would be able to do it if they could understand you, but since they can't hear you, they cannot complete the command. So, my brain is telling my legs what to do, but they can't "hear" it because the signal has been destroyed. He said we could try a little physical therapy though if we wanted too. Occupational therapy teaches you how to adjust your life to living in a wheelchair which I need major lessons in!
Now, as far as me and how I am doing with all of this. As you can imagine, this has been a huge shock. You know that with MS it is a possibility but I guess you never could really prepare yourself for the real deal. I could not write about this for a few days. It was all so overwhelming and I didn't know what to say. I want to be perfectly honest in my feelings and emotions.
I was sad for Jimmy and him having to take care of me. I was sad for the kids and how life will be different in so many ways for our family. I was sad for myself because every tiny thing has become a challenge - from rolling over in bed to putting my socks on. There is an element of fear in knowing that an accident has not caused this but a disease and it could take even more away in the future - but I will not let myself dwell on this and am trying to just take it one day at a time. I am thankful the Lord has given me a spunky personality because I view every obstacle as a personal challenge and I am determined to do it by myself - even though my stubbornness has been foolish a time or two. For Jimmy, he said the shock hits him in waves like when someone suddenly dies. He said that he will be going along just fine and then it will hit him that his wife cannot walk. For me, it has not hit me like that, I guess because I live with the feeling (or lack of it) every second so it is always there. It hits me in little ways, like when I bowed my head to eat Thursday and I was going to silently pray over my food. I started my prayer with "Heavenly Father, thank you for this day...." That is as far as I could get. At this point, I cannot thank God for "that" day. There are many things about the day that I can be thankful for (my kids, my hubby, the sunshine, etc.), but to be thankful for "that" day - the dreaded day that no one with MS ever wants to think about - no, I am not thankful. Not yet. Jimmy said that God says that all things work together for good - not that all things are good. The importance is to trust the Lord and He will work ALL things for good - even the things that are not good. Another time, is at church a few times yesterday. Of course, just going to church in a wheelchair was very dreaded. But, I will not sit home and hide. Life must go on. But little things like, "Would each of you stand and take your hymn book..." or singing "Wherever He Leads, I'll Go". These are the things that seem to hit me. I know this will get easier with time.
Overall though, I feel that the Lord has helped me so very much. I have tried to see each challenge as an oppurtunity to find happiness in instead of frustration. I know this may sounds suprising, and I know a lot of it has to do with my personality ( I have a hard time with sadness), but there has been much laughter in this home the last few days. There are really so many comical things that have happened - yes, I know that in reality it may be viewed as sad because of the inability to do something. but in this learning process of how to do old things a new way, there have been a lot of comical moments. I think it is helpful to the children to keep the mood light and that it is okay, we will all learn to get through this with laughter at our awkwardnesses instead of sadness and anger. The kids are doing great and loving playing in the wheelchair.
I have been absolutely overwhelmed and humbled at all the love I have received. Yesterday at church, I got many cards and hugs and kisses. The ladies of my church had a meeting and are bringing us meals for the next 3 weeks at least. One lady is paying for a massage therapist to come to my house and give me a massage. I got flowers today from a dear friend in England. Our deacon's son, who lives in Columbus, took today off from work just to go to different wheelchair stores to find out exactly what kind of wheelchair I will need to make me be able to be as independent as possible. He is going to see if they will let him bring a few home with him to try out and he is going to drive them to me so we can decide what I need. Another man owns a company that builds huge metal buildings and stuff. He is donating the lumber so we can get a ramp built for outside of the house. We have received numerous phone calls from people with "connections" who can help us get what we need. Ladies have offered to come clean, or do laundry and the blessings and love just keep pouring in. I truly feel like my "cup runneth over".
So, my dear friends, you have just read my heart as accurately as I know how to write it. Please pray for my precious family and our church. They are so dear to me and this is a difficult time for all of them. I love each of you and am so thankful that I have so many loved ones that I can pour my heart to and know you truly care and love me and will pray.