Pandemic Motherhood

Feeling grateful today that we currently have an almost 14 year old, 15 year old and 18 year old. I have survived being a SAHM to these three boys. I did my time so to speak. I know what it’s like to be “stuck at home” with three little kids.

I have multiple chronic illnesses. I spent a good deal of time when they were younger unable to leave the house because I couldn’t manage them all and or have the energy to do so. I am a different person today. I thank God for that too.

Today I realized how grateful that I’m not in that place. I’m also grateful that we’re at this stage of parenthood while going through this pandemic. I’m grateful my current concerns are about whether or not they are able to keep up with their homework or if they are playing too many video games. My other concerns are about whether I have enough work to keep me busy while I work from home instead of going into the office. Because I’m now healthy enough to hold a job, something the old me wasn’t able to do.

So to all the moms out there suddenly finding themselves in a newfound role for a little while, know you can get through it. Countless women before you have done it, you can do it too. There were days when we didn’t know how we’d get through it, but somehow we did. Looking back, I wouldn’t have traded those days for anything. The chance to be home with my kids was and is a true gift. Value every day you get to be there for your kids. Take every opportunity to engage with them. Turn off the tv and the video games and spend time with them – no matter how old or young they are. Time is fleeting. So hats off to the SAHM, WAHM, working, single, or basically any kind of moms out there. Every season has it’s ups and downs, but you’ll get through it.

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Just the beginning

We are living in such a strange age. I have never received so many emails from companies about a disease before in my life. We live in an information age. We know so much about this, yet still so little. People say we are overreacting, but I don’t think that’s true. You have to remember this has only been around since December. I think if we looked at what’s happening in other countries you would realize we are not overreacting at all.

I am not worried for my kids, well maybe Zeke who’s immune system is lacking, but the others will be fine. I worry about my grandparents and parents. I worry about myself.

I’m currently sick. I doubt it’s coronavirus, but it’s damaged my already weak immune system. I can’t afford to be exposed to more germs.So if you are sick, stay home. I am staying home, keeping my germs away from others just in case. It’s the right thing to do.

Do your part. Stop buying all the things from the store. I could really use some lysol wipes so my family doesn’t catch whatever it is I have, but they are hard to find right now.

Be aware of others. Check in on others. The more events that get cancelled the more likely your lonely friends will be to be even lonelier. Reach out via phone, email, chat. Let them know you miss them. Don’t let this put even more walls up between us in this age that already has enough distance between us.

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It’s coming..

I’ve been called the worrier in my family. It’s just a family curse. Last week I was talking about how things would progress in the next week with the coronavirus. My family said I was nuts. As things continue to unfold. I just keeping shaking my head, because some of us saw this coming. The impact is going to be something we haven’t ever imagined before, at least for my generation. Or so I think. We’ll see, but I think at least for a little while things are going to be kind of crazy. I could be wrong, and I am willing to admit that. But we’ll see….I am not even worried. This isn’t about me being worried for my kids. I think they are safe. I am a little worried about myself and maybe Zeke, who also has a crap immune system. But I am mostly concerned for our patients at work who have bad immune systems. My older family members. Our communities. The economy. Hang on. It’s gonna be a wild ride.

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Puddle Jumping

This fall I bought a pair of custom shoes. Only 100 pair exists. I have tried to take good care of them. They are my favorite pair of shoes. They mean something to me.

Today I went out to do 3 miles. I unexpectedly found myself in my favorite place, along the trail faced with a nice, muddy mess. But I was wearing my favorite shoes, still nearly pristine.

I laughed. My life is currently a mess, yet here I was trying to avoid the puddles and mud to protect these shoes.

I love these trails. I love getting my shoes muddy, a sign I am not afraid of being perfect. A sign I am willing to take risks. It’s something I have come to love about walking or running on the trails. It’s become therapeutic.

I wasn’t ready to let go of these shoes. I decided I needed to let go. It was about so much more than a pair of shoes. I have been trying to keep up appearances, keep up the status quo, hold things together.

Life is hard. It’s ok to not be ok. My hearts been broken. It won’t be fixed overnight. As I trudged through the mud today, I was grateful. For all the life lessons I learn as I walk these trails.

I highly recommend taking a nature bath regularly. It’s good for you, but maybe not so good for your favorite pair of shoes.

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Road to Recovery

On April 19th I had major surgery on my left foot. At the time I thought my recovery would take 8-12 weeks. It’s been 21 weeks and I’m waiting to get cleared to stop using crutches. At the beginning of August I was given permission to start using the Alter G anti-gravity treadmill and the exercise bike to get more mobile. I was eager to start moving again and the progress I’ve made since then is substantial. My pain has decreased and my energy levels have increased.

Some of you may be wondering what an anti-gravity treadmill is. It’s been a very useful recovery tool for me these last two months. The technology was originally created for NASA, but was later put to use to create the anti-gravity treadmill which helps people with arthritis, those recovering from major surgery, obesity or other health conditions which limit their mobility. Elite athletes also use this technology to supplement their training. This treadmill allows them to stay active by limiting their pain and the impact on their joints.

On August 2nd I started out using the treadmill at 40% weight-bearing. I had some pain as it was the first time I had walked since April. To use the treadmill you wear special shorts that zip into the machine that keep the pressurized air inside. It’s an odd feeling at first, but you get used to it.

Each week I slowly increased the body weight percentage up higher as long as I didn’t have an increase in pain. You can also increase the speed and incline of the treadmill if you desire. I knew that by September 19th my doctor would have me off of crutches, so my goal was to be at 100% body weight before then if I could tolerate it and did not have any pain. As the weeks went by and I increased the percentage my pain decreased in my foot and I found it became more natural to walk on the treadmill. My body was getting used to returning to normal activities.

In addition to using the anti-gravity treadmill I was doing at least 30 minutes a day of cycling on the exercise bike 3 days a week. This also helped condition my legs and get them stronger after having been on bed rest for so many weeks after surgery.

My goal once I get final clearance from my doctor to be off of crutches will be to begin walking outdoors again with my dog for short walks, slowly rebuilding my mileage back up to a 5k distance if possible without pain. I will also begin cycling with my bike outdoors several days a week. I know that without the use of the Alterg treadmill I wouldn’t have made as much progress as I have these last few weeks. I was in pain 2 months ago when I walked on the treadmill but now I have no pain when walking. My body has adjusted to being mobile and the natural progression to full weight bearing that the treadmill gives allowed my bones to continue to heal throughout the process. I highly recommend using the Alterg anti gravity treadmill post surgery for recovery and rehab!!  It’s cost efficient, easy to use, promotes healing, and is a natural way to return to weight-bearing after prolonged use of crutches.

Below (click to enlarge) is the data for how I progressed on the Alterg treadmill over the weeks to get from 40% to 100% weight-bearing. I think this was a successful journey and I am grateful for the ability to use the anti-gravity treadmill as part of my recovery.

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Painful past, painfree future?

It was an innocent question. One that most people could probably answer without thinking too hard. The intention behind the question was good, in fact, it was to be helpful.

When was the last time you felt healthy for a period of at least 2 years?

I sat in silence. I thought about it and a wave of depression overwhelmed me. For all of my adult life I have been unhealthy. There was a very brief few months when I was doing well when I hit my goal weight and I thought things were going well but things quickly took a turn and my body couldn’t maintain it. In fact I got worse after that for a while.

When I finally answered I was honest and said that I can’t recall a time that I was healthy for 2 years, at least not as a an adult. I was met with an even sadder realization – I was told that that’s not normal. That most people live in a normal healthy state or can at least recall a period of their life when they were healthy.

Ever since that day when that conversation took place I try to imagine what life would be like if I were healthy. What it would mean to wake up without pain, to have the energy to do what’s needed for my day, to not cope with depression and anxiety and to not worry about medical bills for all the issues I face. I would give anything for one day free of all of those things. I can’t imagine a period of 2 years living that way.

Today I went for a walk. It was difficult. Every step was painful. It was a pain that won’t go away. I will live with this pain for the rest of my life. I’ve been told so by countless doctors. I’m only 38. As I walked today I wondered what that means. That if I’m limping in pain at 38 what will this pain look like at 48, 58 or 68. If it’s already limiting my mobility and there’s nothing the dr can do to fix it, what hope can there be for my future. What hope can there be for a healthy future?

While I’d like to think that there’s a healthy future ahead for me, but it’s so hard to imagine when the facts are what they are. It’s hard to imagine when all I know is pain and sickness. I’d love to think 2 years from now someone can ask me that question and I could answer it differently, but today the pain is too great so unless tomorrow miraculously changes my condition, I don’t think it’s likely to happen.

How does one move forward knowing that? Knowing that their future will likely be as painful as their past? How does one find any hope in the midst of pain?

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Mother. Wife. Daughter. Friend. These are all titles I claim. They say something about who I am. For the past 16 years I’ve been a mom. It occupies a lot of my time, devotion and finances and for a long time I identified solely as a stay at home mom and was proud to do so. I had 3 little ones at home who needed me to provide for their every need. I now have three independent sons who remind me daily they don’t need or want my help or input. The tides have turned. As they boys aged I sought out outside sources for my identity. Friendships, community, and eventually a career.

For the last two years I had people rely on me for their needs and I was known for more than being a mom and wife. It was great. I got every morning and I knew I could get up and out and actually have a purpose. I knew I was needed. I developed friendships and found joy in my job. Unfortunately the stress and weight of my illness became too much for me to bear and working became difficult. It’s now been more than a month since I’ve worked. At first it was a much needed reprieve. I needed the time to refocus on my physical and mental health.

While I still need time to attend to my health and am working on getting well, I feel lost. I wake up and face the day with no agenda other than maintaining order in my mind, my house and my family. Some days that’s easier than others, but some days its hard to even get out of bed. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t long ago that I was living life at full speed and seemingly doing it all, haphazardly and not at my best of course. I long for simpler days, pre-diagnosis. I don’t think it would make things easier, I would still be sick I would just be pushing through without the excuses. I don’t let excuses stop me most days, I just now allow myself permission to heal which in the past I never granted myself the grace to do and always led me further down the road to increased sickness.

I’m in an odd season. I am still a mother – with boys who don’t need her as much as they once did. I am still a wife – with a husband who is trying to keep living his life despite having a wife who is limited by her physical and mental constraints. Besides those things most days I don’t have much purpose and it’s taking it’s toll. I long for days when I was needed and there was more purpose in my day than loading and unloading the dishwasher or washer and dryer. While I know this season is temporary it’s still painful.

Stripping away the stress to show you the simplicity in life can be good, but sometimes too much simplicity can be bad as well. I am longing for a better balance. I’m desperate for something greater than the confines of these four walls day in and day out that doesn’t stress me out to the point of worsening my symptoms and therein lies the difficulty I face on a daily basis. Finding a delicate balance between overdoing and underdoing, I’ve always been an overacheiver. In this season of undoing years spent taxing my body and mind, there’s bound to be some growing pains as I learn what it looks like to love the stillness and serenity that’s found in just being present.


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