Monday, January 27, 2014

Remember This

January 27, 2014

The past few weeks have been a little rough, but I have some wonderful people in my life who are always here to cheer me up. This week I received a card from my mother-in-law that I wanted to share with everyone. The card says:

Remember this - whatever life may choose to bring your way,
You're not defined by anything but who you are each day....

Remember this - your spirit shines so brightly from inside,
And the light you bring into this world, no clouds could ever hide....

Remember this - you're cared about, there's no one quite like you,
And you've only grown in strength and heart with all you've been through.
I know it is cheesy, but I am realizing that cheesy is OK. I keep telling Ann I need to go get my testosterone levels tested because of how sensitive I have been lately. She thinks I am crazy.

Anyway, I wanted to share this because I think this is a message that many of us in recovery can often forget. We have been through too much to not be thankful for today. As Ann has reminded me, "Today is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). Now it is time for me to go and put my "big boy" pants on and continue moving forward one step at a time.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Back to the Future

January 20, 2014

Well the party hats and kazoos have been put away and the pity party is over. However, for my next pity party I am definitely having cake and ice cream. Maybe even streamers. I wonder why the party stores never carry any "pity party" party supplies? Much obliged for all the kind words and kicks in the pants that I needed.

 Life is not a perfect sequence of events that are neatly laid out in front of us. Life is a long and curvy road. Along the way we will encounter many obstacles. Some good. Some not so good. This past week I went back and revisited my blog. It is easy to sit here and offer words of encouragement, but it is another thing to have those words staring back at you. Doing this reminded me just how far I have come. Reading through my blog also reminded me of how scared of the future I was. I worried that life would pass me by as I wasted away. I no longer have those worries. It is now time to get BACK TO THE FUTURE.

This week has been eventful to say the least. I have had the opportunity to meet and be inspired by some amazing people. My new friend Ken has promised to teach me how to fly fish and how to weld. I can't wait to catch a fish on a fly rod and then weld it to my truck. (Sorry PETA it is a joke). Ken and his wife Crystal are amazing people who have some of the biggest hearts of just about anyone I have met. They have such wonderful stories and have done so by overcoming many hurdles. They are continually paying it forward.

So, what have I learned this week? I have learned that I am still stubborn as a mule. My CIDP may be under control, but there is no stopping my cabin fever. I have learned to be more thankful for the things that I can do. I have learned that as much as I once despised Facebook it is a wonderful tool to connect with others. I have learned that my wife is right more often than not and I need to listen to her more. Yes I admitted it. Men please do not think less of me, but Ann has been on a roll and I need to give her credit. Finally, I have learned the importance of keeping your heart open to new opportunities and relationships.

Since today is the International Day of Acceptance I thought it would be fitting to leave you with another quote from the Bible. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, LET US DO GOOD TO ALL, especially those who are a household of faith" (Gal. 6:10).

Photo: Today !!!!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Four Walls

January 13, 2014

Thursday will mark 6 months since my stem cells were infused into my chemo depleted body. The experience of my recovery from the stem cell transplant has brought about many changes. I am no longer taking any medications to suppress my immune system or treat my CIDP. I know the procedure worked and my days of being hooked up to IVs are over. I do not know how much of my former self I will recover and that is the mental challenge I am now facing.

After my failed work attempt and my back-aching fall it is apparent that I still have a ways to go in my recovery. Over the past week I have been fairly secluded within the four walls of my living room. Each day these walls seem to be inching in on me. Slowing smothering me and breaking my spirit. Sure I know how to put on the smile and charm to others…I have been doing that all my life. Smiling through the misery. My family are the ones that truly suffers. Ann, Taylor, and Tori have to deal with the highs and lows of my depression. They see the real impact these four walls have on me.

Sharing these feelings is not something that I wanted to do. I prefer my blog to be uplifting and positive, but it has been brought to my attention that this “funk” or “rough patch” can happen. Not everyone will experience these lows, but some do. 

This past weekend I watched a movie I had not seen in sometime. The movie was about a former mental patient who turns his life around and becomes a doctor. At one point in the movie there is a reference made to him being in a mental hospital and how the doctors cured him. His response was that it was not the doctors who cured him but the patients. He realized that by helping others he forgot all about his problems. If you haven’t guessed by now the movie was “Patch Adams”.

After watching that scene in the movie it made me realize how important helping others is to me. When I was in Chicago going through my transplant it was never about how I was doing. I was always more concerned with the other patients on the floor. My motivation for walking the hallways was to catch a glimpse of my fellow Dr. Burt patients. The moment I returned home from Chicago I was already laying the foundation to find ways to help others.

 However, the people I need to help the most are my family. I carry a huge burden of guilt for not being “the man of the house” and seeing all that Ann does. Right now I am uncertain of the direction I am heading. Sometimes a step back gives one the perspective to see a clearer path. Uncertainty, doubts, fear, and anger have all piled into these four walls of my living room. 

I know that I am in good hands and God has a plan for me. Just wanted to share that the "post transplant blues" may occur so that others going through it will not feel alone.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Accident Prone

January 6, 2014

This past summer when I packed my bags and headed home from Chicago infections were my biggest fear. As time has passed and I have been fortunate enough to avoid many of the germs floating around my fears have changed. My biggest fear now is not seriously injuring myself.

For the past few months my health has been steadily improving and I needed to get out and test my boundaries. This included a failed attempt to return to work full-time. My body was just not ready for the demands of working 40 or more hours in a week. The upside about this experience is that I learned that when I do return to work it will initially be on a part-time basis.

Since I am no longer working my energy levels began to return after a few days of taking it easy. Once again I start becoming restless. I piddle around the house looking for things to do. My mind is always jumping from one idea to the next. I feel like I have no direction. I can feel a sense of anxiety and anger building up inside me.

As a teenager I spent a lot of time in the woods behind my parent's home. It was my little sanctuary. It was a place I could be alone with my thoughts. I place where I did not need to worry about anything. I have always felt peaceful in nature watching animals behaving in their natural environment. Watching a squirrel scavenge the forest floor looking for an acorn. Listening to the birds singing their wonderful praises for the day.

For Christmas, my parents got me a camera that I could put out in the woods to take pictures of all the forest dwellers. We open presents on Christmas Eve with my parents, so needless to say I had Taylor out there holding a flashlight while I found the perfect spot for my new set off forest eyes.

The following days were filled with anticipation for me. I just could not wait to see what action my camera may have captured. Almost every afternoon I would go up and check the camera and then I could sit there looking at the pictures over and over again.

Last Thursday was going to be no different day. It had snowed the night before and I was looking forward to heading out and checking my camera. The backdrop of snow really makes the animals standout. I walked to the spot like I had several times, switched out the SD card, and made a couple of adjustments. That is when it all went wrong.

Turning to leave the woods my feet slipped out from underneath me. I came crashing down directly on my butt. I consider myself to have a high tolerance of pain, but in that moment of impact I remember yelling out for help. I knew something was instantly wrong. I heard a "pop" and pains shot instantly into my hips. I actually thought I was going to vomit the pain was so intense. Fear began to set in because I was not sure that I was going to be able to get up.

Laying flat on my back watching the snow falling from the sky I made a decision that I was not going to just lay here. Somehow I was able to get to my hands and knees. The pain intensified. Grabbing a nearby tree I was able to work myself to my feet. Once I reached my feet it was pure adrenaline that got me back to my truck. I knew this was not good and I needed to go the the emergency room.

Ann, who was not too happy about all this, drove me the 20 or so miles to get to the emergency room. I never realized how bumpy many of our state routes were until every bump sent a jolt of pain throughout my body. Never been so happy to finally be pulling into a parking spot at an emergency room.

After I got registered they sent me for an x-ray of my back. Then they stuck us in a room to wait for the doctor. After about 183 minutes (give or take a couple of days) the doctor popped in to tell me that I have a slight to moderate compression fracture of the L1 vertebrae. The good news was that their spine doctor was in the building and he would be willing to see me. So off to sit in another room.

When the spine doctor entered he seemed very confident and reassuring. He explained to me that with the use of a brace and rest I should be good as new in a few weeks. I am able to walk around the house. However, getting up and down out of a chair is quite painful. I go back this week to get fitted for the brace and I hope that my back heals properly.

This fall really took a toll not only on my back, but also on my spirits. It is devastating and frustrating to always be suffering from something. I had been feeling so good and here is another setback. It often seems that I am destined to never leave this house. Wrap myself up in a bubble and forget about the outside world. Just stay put. Never move. Never take a chance. I can feel my heart beginning to harden and I have to try even harder to put my faith in God.

"Why me?" I know that no matter our situation we have all asked this question at some point. Throughout my life this phrase has resonated numerous time in my head. The bible tells me, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6). Sounds easy enough. Well not always.

Hoping to continue to find the positives in the week to come.