Category Archives: Miracles do happen

2019 Capital City River Run

Welp, I did it! I ran a half marathon. All 13.1 miles with minimal walking. All of this training I’ve been doing really paid off, and I was able to run pretty much the entire way. I walked over slippery bridges and once late in the race because I was sensing some drop foot, but other than that I was good to go. I did NOT feel like I was dying, and despite how I looked to others at the finish line, I felt fabulous. I was all smiles and ready to sign up for the next one.

The Comradery: I simply could not have done this race without my friends. Alicia and Staci were with me every step of the way, guiding me away from obstacles and leading me down hills so I wouldn’t lose my balance. They even kept me from taking off in the beginning at too fast a pace, which is something I tend to do, and pay dearly for on these long runs. I happened to see a couple other running friends before the race started, and that really helped to boost my adrenaline. All the runners I have gotten to know are pretty special people. We are a diverse crowd, and yet everyone is so supportive of on another, regardless of all our differences. We are all running with the same goal, but for very different reasons, and I find that pretty awesome.

The Spectators: I had an entire team of spectators cheering me on throughout this race, and this was pretty dang awesome. My husband, my son and daughter (who had no shortage of hugs), my dad and stepmom, my sister and her boyfriend, my niece, and as a last surprise of the morning, my big brother. I was so surprised to see him there because he has been so busy working lately I just didn’t expect he would be able to make it. But he was there. They were all there, and they knew why this was such a big deal. It wasn’t just a race. This race happened almost exactly 6 years from when I lost my hearing and vision. In fact, that morning a memory came up on my husband’s Facebook feed. It was a posting he had sent out updating everyone on my long hospital stay. I was so sick and no one knew what was wrong with me, and I could not walk unassisted, among other numerous issues. So to have that come up on his feed the day I was running my first half marathon was just incredibly fitting.

The Final 5k: At 10 miles my family was there cheering us on, as they had in several other spots, and my son started jogging next to me. The excitement of the moment took over, and I invited him to run the final 3.1 miles with us. They frown on this sort of thing, I guess, but no one bothered us about it. He did a great job keeping me going and holding me steady down the hills. However, when we were nearing the finish, we were at the top of a very steep concrete ramp that feeds into the baseball stadium where the finish line was. He danced on ahead of me while Alicia and Staci took my arms to help me down. I was so embarrassed to see my husband at the bottom of the ramp, taking our picture. It looked rather pathetic, as if my legs had stopped working, but really it was just a matter of keeping my balance down the incline. When we reached flat land my son was waiting for me and we began to sprint the last stretch towards the Finish. I was so giddy I was almost in tears. And after I crossed the line I tried to stop but instead just fell to the ground. This is what seems to happen after my races and it alarms people because it looks like I’m hurt but really it’s just muscle weakness and poor balance. The motion of running keeps me on my feet somehow, so when I try to walk it never works. They brought me a chair and a woman put a medal around my neck and we all just stayed there congratulating each other and taking pictures.

It was a fantastic race and I am so glad I did it. Every time I try a longer distance I think about how far I’ve come, and I wonder how far I can go. My curiosity I think is what drives me. I just want to see how far I can go before my body says no. Yes, it tries to tell me no some days, but I’ll always try to call it’s bluff.

I am so grateful to everyone for supporting me and cheering me on. I could not have done this without you. Most of all though, I owe my gratitude to Jesus Christ. I would not have even started on this journey into running and health if it had not been for His sustaining grace and comfort. He is my constant, every day all day running partner. Hallelujah!

The Finish Line:

Living History

This story is coming a week or so late, and I do want to post about yesterday’s half marathon, but I just finished reading this book and I want to get this story posted while it’s still fresh in my mind.

After my last infusion a couple weeks ago I sat on the bench in front of the infusion center reading my latest library find, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. As I’m reading, the woman next to me asks me for the time. She too, is waiting for a ride home from our local paratransit service. I notice she has a slight accent and I ask her where she’s from. She’s from Latvia, she tells me, and asks me if I know it. I regrettable do not, as geography was never my strong subject. She proceeds to tell me all the surrounding areas, and I ask her more about her story, what brought her here to America. This opened up a big can of worms.

The woman was happy to share, not at all shy, about her experience. She lived through World War II. Her family was driven from their home in Latvia because her father owned land and the Germans wanted it. My dad tells me this was common during the war. This woman sitting next to me told me how she worked in slave camps during her teen years, until her family was able to escape to a refugee camp in Sweden. She came to America in 1950 and she’s been here ever since.

As we were talking, the paratransit van arrived and it turned out we were on the same van because we lived near each other. Our conversation continued until we arrived at her home.

It was incredible to talk with her, and I just wished we had longer together. But even in that short time we were given I learned that she is a survivor, though she was quick to deny it. She has PTSD from her experience. And because she subsisted much of that time on soy beans, she still can’t eat anything with soy. She smiles as she tells me that even soy sauce is unbearable. Those odors bring back horrific memories that she can’t bear, even all these years later. I tell her she is a survivor because she kept going when many others did not. She keeps going even now, as she suffers the residual effects of the trauma she lived through.

Her name is Mitsy. She has a precious cat who loves to greet her at the door and she looks fabulous in her big floppy red hat. Mitsy is a survivor. Living, breathing history. I thank God that I had the privilege of that brief ride home with her. It was an encounter that left an indelible mark on my heart.

I guess R.E.M. is still my favorite band

I had several vivid dreams last night and all of them were filled with the music of R.E.M., which is ironic and weird but also really awesome because I was able to hear and enjoy the music with working, human ears. In one dream I was actually chatting with Michael Stipe so that was an added bonus. He was his strange self but also very laid back and easy to talk to. Which was nice because even in my dreams I suffer from a little social anxiety. Ha!

Those types of dreams are so refreshing and a blessing to my heart. I consider them a gift from God and I am thankful for them. I’ve been deaf for a solid five years now but I will never lose my love for music.

Two for two

2 Thessalonians 3:16 – “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

Having just shoved the kids off to the bus in typical hectic fashion, this verse today is an answer to a prayer I was too frazzled to make. I was frazzled, yes, but I didn’t blow my top today. I was miraculously able to stay calm – ish – and I did not raise my voice. A small victory, indeed.

Also, I’m drinking delicious coffee. Coffee that’s still hot. Miracle number two.

 

 

Angels Among Us

I’ve been doing fairly well this week, dealing with this relapse with my vision and the steroid treatments. However, Friday afternoon I was approaching a meltdown. I was sitting at the kitchen table when it occurred to me that I was experiencing the dreaded MS hug. The MS hug is a neurological symptom experienced by many of us MSers. It feels, to me at least, as if I am wearing a super tight corset, and someone is pulling the strings tighter and tighter around my ribcage. It’s not dangerous or life-threatening in any way, but it can be painful. At a minimum, it’s extremely uncomfortable.

I think what bothered me about this the most is that I hadn’t experienced it in many years, and I felt that since I am currently treating a relapse, that I shouldn’t be experiencing any worsening symptoms. So, I was understandably freaked out. Knowing that I was probably overreacting, I called my mom so she could talk some sense into me. And that she did. While I freaked out, she reassuringly talked me off the ledge, consulting Dr. Google at the same time (she’s the ultimate multi-tasker), and gave me some guidance. We ended the call with a plan for me to take a warm Epsom salt bath, take a Gabapentin (the drug I take for the occasional fiery nerve pain in my feet and thankfully have plenty of), and watch a happy chick flick on Netflix. Oh, and we did a fair amount of Skyping while she helped me pick a movie to watch (I went with her suggestion of Under the Tuscan Sun). At the tail end of the call she showed me a great view of the Oklahoma sunset from her backyard. It was truly breathtaking, and left me speechless..

That sunset was the first of several ways God would speak to my heart, comforting me in very personal ways, letting me know that I am still never alone, never as long as I have HIM.

I woke up Saturday morning to a message from one of my very best friends, one whom I had purposely kept from reaching out to for help this week because she is recovering from a major surgery and I didn’t want to burden her further. It sounds so ridiculous in hindsight, and she would tell me that, I’m sure. Her message was so short and sweet, it cut right to my heart: “Love you. Miss you. And prayers for comfort.” And again I was left speechless. How could she have known how much I needed that? She couldn’t have. That’s all God right there. Grace.

One more though – ou all know I love checking the mail, right? Today my son beat me to it, so I didn’t get to run out to the mailbox like Blue, but when he handed me the mail, with a card addressed to me, I got just as giddy. A handwritten greeting card, from a familiar name. This was sent from a woman from my hometown. She knew me when I was in high school and she reads my blog. She wrote a beautiful note to encourage me and let me know she is always praying for me. I think she must have read the post about checking the mail and gotten my mailing address from my sister. But again, she couldn’t have known how much I was going to need that when she mailed it. But God must have stirred her heart to send me that note, and she took action, and my heart was comforted once again.

Guys, I believe in angels. I really do. And I believe God speaks to our hearts. I believe when we listen to that still, small voice and respond to it? We become God’s hands and feet. His angels here on earth. I have almost zero research to back any of that up, but I promise you with all my heart that it’s real to me. So you can take my word for it if you want, or you can try it on your own. Practice kindness and compassion. What can it hurt? At the very least you’ll brighten someone’s day.

The light in the darkness

It’s Christmas Eve, and we’re all ready for Christmas morning with the kids. Breakfast fixings are ready in the fridge, gifts are surrounding the tree.
We went to church tonight and were reminded that Jesus came to be a light in the darkness. Then we drove around looking at Christmas lights, a tradition we’ve been doing since before the kids were even born.
And do you know, my 9 year old son made the connection between the sermon at church (which I thought he was sleeping through) and the decorative lights everyone puts up at Christmas? I don’t know for certain the origin of Christmas lights, but I think my son might be on to something. The lights we put up at Christmas are a representation, a reminder, that Jesus is the light in the darkness. That just blew my mind, to hear something so wise coming from his mouth. I was pretty impressed. And for sure, I will remember that connection and from now on our annual tradition of driving around looking at lights will hold much greater meaning for me.
Merry Christmas, and may you find the light in the darkness.

The Social Security Office

I had to visit the Social Security office today. Here’s the long version (because that’s the only way, really):

I’ve been receiving Social Security Disability Income for a full two years now. After you’ve received benefits for two years, they automatically enroll you in Medicare. I have health insurance through my husband’s employer, so I wasn’t real interested in Medicare, but if it’s free, I guess I can’t complain. What I learned, however, is that Medicare comes in different forms, and the two I was enrolled in were Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Now Part A is free, but Part B is not.

Now Part B could be advantageous, if it covered what my current health insurance doesn’t, and saved me more than I would be paying for the premium. But I never looked into it, because I learned that my participation in Part B would deem me ineligible for another program I’m part of. I currently receive assistance paying for my monthly Tysabri infusions (for MS, $20,000 before insurance PER infusion), and if I didn’t receive that assistance I would be stuck with about a $5,000 deductible. (I did warn you this was the long version.)

So basically, I could pay $120 per month for Part B Medicare and possibly $0 deductibles OR I could pay $0 premium and definitely $0 deductible. Now I was a straight A student, and I went to college. I chose the latter.

Simple, right? Not so. In March, when they sent me my Medicare welcome packet, I returned the card stating I was opting out of Part B. Then June came, and with it a welcome letter – and a statement of my insurance premium for PART B. I called to say W-T-F and they told me that was just a standard letter and that I would receive another one telling me it had been cancelled. Another month went by and my benefits came, less the $120 for Part B premium. I was not so happy, and I called again. They acted like they knew nothing about my opting out, and told me I needed to sign a form requesting cancellation, and that they would mail it to me.

At this point I didn’t believe a word they said, but I gave it a week to see if the form showed up. It did not. I called once again, but this time made the call to the local office, in case I needed to make an appointment. They said an appointment was not needed, but that I should come down and they would get it all straightened out. They made it sound so easy but I was still doubtful. I made arrangements (thanks Grandpa!) to get to the office today and guess what? It really was easy. The hardest part, literally, was signing myself in at the kiosk to get in line, when they asked me this question:

Are you….
1) Blind/low vision
2) Deaf/hard of hearing
3) (to be honest, I really don’t remember what was after those first two, but I was looking for an “all of the above” option)

I waited for about an hour, which is what they warned me it would be, and when they called my number I had to ask a few of the people waiting where #10 was, but they were all happy to direct the obvious newbie to her station, and I found it just fine. The gentleman was exactly that, a gentleman, and immediately put me at ease. He reassured me that cancelling was a simple process, and showed me where to sign, and before I even had a chance to ask, he was telling me they would be refunding me the two months of premium I had already paid, and the check will be on its way within the week!

I was so pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it went and I felt pretty silly for having been such a nervous wreck. No worries though, it’s done now and I can move on with the rest of my week. Is it really only Monday still?