Friday, August 30, 2013

What's it all mean?

I've had thoughts for this blog entry for several days, but it's so scattered that I wasn't sure I should bother with putting them all down on "paper" to read.  Besides the scattered thoughts, all of my typing these days is being one with two fingers on my left hand when I'm actually right-handed.  All that to say, I'm going to blog some of my ideas, little by little, so I can share some of my inner thoughts and realizations while in the midst of this trial I'm going through.  No, wait.  We're going through.

As a quick review, I have had rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) for almost my whole life.  I only remember life with it so I typically forget I have it.  Before getting pregnant with Samuel I had to come off my arthritis medication due to the severe complications it can cause an unborn child.  It was a month after stopping the medicine that it was very apparent to others that I had JRA.  Fast-forward to now, two and a half years later.  I have had damage to my knees for years and after seeing my rheumatologist for knee issues, he ordered an MRI.  I went for the MRI and did just fine.  When walking out of the MRI room, I tripped and fell over the door threshold on the floor in the doorway.  I knew as I was falling that it wasn't my knee, but I didn't know why I fell.  My hands broke my fall and I ended up with a broken wrist.  The ladies who helped me up asked if my knee gave out and I said, "no, I know it wasn't my knee."  I turned to look back at the doorway and pointed to the threshold saying, "THAT'S what I fell over."

At this point I was very upset, had a swollen, painful wrist, and got the medical attention I needed.  I immediately began to feel bad for Joe, my husband, who was home on his one hour lunch break watching Sam.  Yes, it was quickly becoming well over an hour.  Thankfully he was able to call his boss and was able to work from home until I arrived.  This was the first of many blessing that would be given to us through the situation.  While sitting waiting in Urgent Care it really hit me that no matter what was going to happen with treatment, this was my right hand and I'm right-handed.  The simple fact that my right hand was immobilized quickly changed how I'd "do life" in the coming weeks.

My biggest disappointment came at my first actual orthopedic appointment.  The good news was that the break wasn't as big as it could have been.  The bad news was that due to the location of the break, the movement of my elbow was causing swelling and inflammation at the wrist.  Because of this, I'd need to be in a cast from my wrist to above my elbow, with my arm being bent at 90 degrees in the cast.  After a week or so of that, once the swelling was down and healing begins, I'd get a short arm cast.  I was most disappointed since they'd told me at Urgent Care that I'd get a short arm cast at the ortho. appointment.  Needless to say, this was a step I was not prepared for.  Up until this point, and now including this surprise, I felt like a hormonal woman who had just had a baby.  I would feel fine then something would upset me enough to cry; this roller-coaster was me for a few days.  For those that know me, I'm generally a very even-keeled person when it comes to showing emotions.  Joe probably wondered when this would end.  I'm sure random emotional outbreaks are hard to handle when it's your spouse that feels so badly.  That leads me to my next thoughts...

My husband.  I don't know where to begin when it comes to the awesomeness of my husband, Joe.  He's had to help me with medical issues in the past, be it JRA, diabetes, or pregnancy bed rest, but this is different.  In all of the other cases I could still do things; I just needed assistance.  This time I cannot do the most simple of tasks by myself.  I thought I'd need the most help with our toddler, but I seem to be managing him okay.  I thought I'd need a lot of help tying my shoes, but I can just wear my sandals.  I though I could wash dishes in a funky sort of way, but that uses your wrist way more than I ever thought.  I thought I could just use the crock pot for cooking, but I cannot cut vegetables, cannot use the can opener, I can't hold a bowl with my bad hand and use a hand-mixer with my good hand.  Simply put:  what I thought would work just isn't.

Joe has been amazingly patient with me, especially the first couple of days when everything was new, when we were figuring out new ways to do things you and I never give a second thought.  He helps do diapers, empty the garbage, helps me to get dressed each day, open my medicine bottles, shower, cook, laundry, wash dishes, and on and on.  It's been a struggle to replace my insulin pump infusion sets, since I use my right hand for this.  Using my left does work, but it is much harder especially with the more fine-motor tasks of my daily life.  Aside from doing much of the household chores and also working his regular job, Joe continually reminds me that it could be worse.  I know that.  I really do, but I need the reminder from time to time.  I keep reminding myself of Jennifer Niday, a local school assistant principal, who died after falling down a flight of stairs last week.  I fell, yes, but I didn't hit my head, I'm not in a hospital, I'm still alive.  I'm grateful for a husband who is committed to our marriage and our family.  We work together in all types of situations, but his help now speaks volumes to me.  I know he's right there with me each step of the way.  He's got my back, I have his.  Each day he gives me more grace than I deserve.

After receiving dinner from our pastor and his wife the night this all happened, I said we'd be okay and I think we could handle cooking and basic stuff here at the house.  After seeing how difficult and how much effort it was taking for simple things, I realized I had to put my pride aside and accept help.  That is hard for me to do.  I hate having others do for me what I should be able to do for myself.  Our church family, as well as a few of our other friends, have been AWESOME at providing us with meals.  I can't thank these women enough for making time for our family on top of taking care of their own homes.  It has been a huge blessing to us since cooking has been one of my biggest challenges.  We've had countless people offer to help in any way they can...thank you, thank you, thank you!  Sam's been cared for when I have doctor appointments, we've had a friend bring simple things for Sam to eat that don't require preparation, we had someone offer to come do dishes and laundry, and the list goes on.  We are truly grateful for all of the people willing to help.

As I've been in slow-motion as I try to figure out how to get things done, the Lord reminded me to slow down in my time with Sam lately.  Generally speaking, I try to enjoy the small moments with our little boy.  I can't believe we're about a month and a half away from his second birthday.  I know these moments are fleeting, but with this whole broken arm ordeal, I've been more introspective.  Yesterday I had Sam on the bed to change his diaper.  He was just babbling as I changed him.  When I was just about done he said "kiss" to me.  This isn't that uncommon, but it caused me to pause.  This little person was watching, listening, learning as the days go by.  At that moment he wanted my love.  I gave him a kiss and a big lay-right-over-him kind of hug.  He thought this was so funny that he giggled and laughed the entire time.  I thanked God for that moment, since I knew those moments are what motherhood is all about.  I hope Samuel grows up to be excited for life and to not takes things too seriously.  What a simple, sweet moment despite the chaos.

I have felt so loved and encouraged by all of my family and friends who live huge distances from us.  I know it's times like this that make living so far from any family very difficult, both on my part and their part.  I know it's hard not being able to jump in the car to come visit and help.  I'm grateful for my family and the ways they show their love and concern.  I wouldn't say falling and breaking a bone is the best way to understand this, but this has been another time of me seeing how important my family is to me.  I'm thankful to have my family and Joe's family by my side.  No, our side.

I found out a couple of months ago that a local church (not the one we attend) has a ministry for moms.  I had heard a few random things about it, but they were taking a summer break so I couldn't check it out.  I found out when they were kicking off the year and was very excited about it.  It is different from another moms groups I spend time with.  This was more for the moms-- a time of fellowship, Bible study, friendship and food as we explore God’s special promises of encouragement to mothers in every season of life.  As the date got closer, I realized I now had a big 'ol cast and sling to contend with when taking Sam out in public.  I did think about staying home, but something told me I should go check it out.  I LOVED the MOMS time.  It was exactly what was written about it.  There was time for fellowship and food.  There were young moms and ladies whose children have long since been out of the house.  I felt so welcome with this group of ladies.  I knew a lady that was going to be there, but I was surprised to see that I know four ladies who've been attending for a couple of years.  Anyway, my point in even mentioning all this was to reflect two things from the morning.  My first thought is a song that the worship leader sang.  She told of her struggles and trials over this last year closing with the song "I Know How to Say Thank You."  (Video can be seen below or heard here.)  Although I'm not a huge fan of the musical style, I absolutely loved the lyrics to this song.  It spoke to my heart and I feel as though the words are my thoughts about what I can say to everone who has offered encouragement, prayers, food, or help to me over the last week.  I've received so many blessings and so much grace that "thank you" just doesn't seem good enough.

My second thought was about the message that was taught.  I felt like it was just for me.  Most people who have been to church have at least one time when they felt the message was meant specifically for them, but I haven't had that in a while.  Jennifer, the lady teaching the lesson, spoke about trusting God more.  Fully.  I know my faith has been tested in these trials of life, but I haven't really thought much about it.  I just keep pressing through.  I think that's important.  I think that's good.  But, that's not all of it.  I'm learning to trust in Christ more...for things that are far beyond my imagination.  


So, what's it all mean?  When this all first happened I said I do believe the Lord is teaching me something through this; I just don’t know what that is yet.  I still haven't figured it out, but maybe it happened so I didn't rush into knee surgery, so I didn't take a part-time work from home typing-type job I'd been considering, so I'd have to swallow my pride and accept help, so I'd draw closer to the Lord, so I'd have to rely on others and rely on HIM when I'd otherwise depend on myself.  Maybe I broke my wrist to be an example to the doctors and nurses who would treat me, to remind me to pray for others despite my own situation, to think about (again) that there are millions of people with less than I have, in worse situations than mine.  Maybe I'll never know, and if that's the case, I'm okay with that.  What I DO know is I've been made to learn and grow through it all.  A quote I learned years ago goes something like this:  Someone not need to set a good example in order to take away a positive message. This trial is not one I would have chosen, but I choose to look at the positive in the situation that was given to me.

Robin Roberts, from Good Morning America, used this (make your MESS your MESSAGE) as her mantra during her cancer treatments.  I've loved it since I heard her say it.


  1. Suzanne - this is wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Sheryl. I was hoping it would all make sense when I actually typed my thoughts out.

  2. Suzanne, this was absolutely beautiful and it helped both me and Gram because it makes us feel better that you aren't alone. I kept asking Gram if I should get to you to help some how but maybe it's a silly word but it makes your family here in Chicago feel so much better that you are "safe". Safe in the love of your friends there but most of all how special a person Joe is and thankful to God that he brought Joe into your life. Please know that You, Joe (or Joseph as Uncle Tony would say) and that Little Man Sam, are always in our thoughts, hearts and prayers. We Love You All!!!

    1. …Suzanne…Yes…I read the whole blog…know that our Lord does not teach lessons or test our faith through what we think or know is pain, suffering, trials, or tribulations…know that these things happened because it is the nature of our human life. This we can’t change; this we can’t explain. What we can change is our internal drive to find Him and seek refuge under His Grace; to increase our faith and dependence on Him. This is how we get through it all. The beauty of all of this is to realize that no matter what challenges we or others impose in our lives, knowing, leaning, and having Christ our Savior in our side is what makes us beat. One thing is for certain, all of us have to carry our own Crosses. It is a “mystery” why some feel heavier than others. As I continue to grow as a person of faith I have come to the realization that there is only one way to make sense of our lives: Faith and unconditional love to Christ our Lord. God Bless!

  3. Hi Suz, it's Val so sorry to hear what happened, but grateful for your sharing..I will share this with friends, the topic of the discussion.."in spite of, there's still love, from sources we take for granted, even the babies, (their laughter), I hope and pray you continue this blog, and maybe a book can come out of this..We are Listening and we are inspired.. I Thank You.. Love you, VAL