31 January 2009

Why and What If?

Why is it that when I need it the most, it's the hardest to write in my journal or update my blog? I know that it's easier for me to sort out my confusing thoughts when I write it all down. I know that it's easier to get past my fears when I stop trying to hide from them. I know that my life is better when I take the time to take stock of my hopes and dreams. But I still avoid writing whenever I reach that point where I'm worried or scared or confused. That's when I go into hiding. I retreat into my own private little world of rainbows and bubbles, where everyone loves everyone else, where no one fights or quarrels, where people help and serve each other gladly, where no one suffers or feels pain, where even death is not a scary prospect.

I prefer my own little world. Nothing can get at me there. And it's so easy to retreat into the land of rainbows and bubbles! It's so much more fun to make chocolate chip cookies and cuddle up on the couch with a good book than to acknowledge difficulties and troubles. And really, that's not a bad thing. I'm glad that I have my own little world to escape to.

Most people who know me could tell you that I'm built a little bit backward. I love the fog and the rain. I get depressed on a bright, sunshiney summer day when there isn't a cloud in the sky. Maybe it's because it's so much easier to hide in the mists. Maybe it's because I don't really like to have to shine too much light on reality. I guess that sometimes I forget that you need the sun to make my beautiful rainbows, not just the rain. Maybe I need to embrace reality just a little bit more...

But reality is scary, isn't it?

In my world of rainbows and bubbles, there is no sorrow, no pain. No one would ever willingly hurt another person, not physically, not spiritually, not mentally. In my magical world, there is no worry, no fear... And I can do anything that I set my mind to.

I don't like to step into the harsh light of reality, because then I have to admit that I am terrified. And maybe there are things that I really can't do... And I don't like that feeling.

For the past couple of weeks, since we arrived at our new home here in Maryland, I have been thinking about how blessed I am. I've thought a lot about all of the little things that we generally take for granted in our lives. For instance, we have 3 levels to our home. The T.V., the computer, the board games and the washing machine are all in the basement. All of the bedrooms are upstairs. (Of course, that leaves the kitchen, library and craft room all on the main level, but that's not the point.) This means that I have to go up and down 2 flights of steep steps several times a day - especially right now, as I try to unpack boxes and sort things into their proper places in our new home.

And I can do it! I can climb stairs. This is a major accomplishment for me, as it really wasn't long ago when I couldn't even stand up by myself. Less than 3 years ago, I had to completely relearn how to stand and to walk. And even 6 months ago, I couldn't go down the 3 steps in our house at Beale AFB without holding tight to the handrail. I can't even count the number of times when I fell down that tiny, little set of stairs. But now, I can do it with relative ease.

Of course, I hold tight to the handrails. And I don't try to climb or descend the steps wearing high heels (actually, I did try one time, and I almost fell, so I decided that it wasn't a good idea to try it again!) And I watch my feet to make sure that I'm not going to miss a step. I'm very careful about using stairs, because I know that I do have limitations. Stairs can be kind of scary when you can't feel one leg. But I have come so far! I have made so much progress! There is so much that I can do now that I couldn't do last year!

These are all things to be grateful for. Life is good. I am so blessed. Reality shouldn't be scary.

But it is.

Because, just as I can keep track of my improvements, just as I can measure my progress, I can also very clearly see those areas where I haven't improved. When I start to notice how much better I've gotten at compensating for lack of feeling in my leg, I can't help but realize that I still haven't regained the sensation in that leg. When I think about how well I've been able to catch myself when I have dizzy spells or lose my balance, when I realize that I don't fall down as often as I used to, I have to admit that I still get dizzy and lose my balance just as frequently as I used to.

In my world of rainbows and bubbles, I can think about all of those improvements. I can focus on the fact that I haven't fallen down the stairs, I haven't broken anything, I haven't injured myself in months. These are all happy, upbeat, wonderful things to be grateful for. I like to concentrate on those things.

When I face reality, though, I have to admit the other side as well. Yes, I'm getting better at dealing with my issues. No, the issues aren't going away. I still can't feel my right leg or the fingers on my left hand. And I would probably have to relearn everything all over again if the feeling ever did come back! No, I don't fall over as often. I've gotten really good at catching myself again. But I still have my blackouts, my dizzy spells, my balance issues... and sometimes, that's still really scary.

When we moved here, I decided that I'm not going to have a brain tumor any more. In my own private world, anything can be the way that I need it to be. I decided that it would be much easier to deal with all of those annoying little things if I didn't have to worry about the way everyone else reacts. I'm tired of going to the doctor repeatedly, only to have them tell me that there's nothing they can do but watch it. I feel like I've wasted my day every time I go to these appointments. And I hate the way that people walk on eggshells and treat me like a fragile porcelain doll when they hear about my tumor. I know that I can't really just get rid of the tumor by saying that I don't have it anymore. (If only real life worked that way!) But I figure that, when there's nothing to do to make it better, there's really no reason to keep dwelling on it... and my hope is that I can manage to stop dwelling!

I've only been here for 2 weeks, but so far, I have managed to avoid the subject of medical issues. And it's so wonderfully refreshing to not have to worry about the way people will react! Of course, Phil still has to do all of his inprocessing at Ft. Meade... and I don't know if I'll have to start going to the doctor again... I have a feeling that, if I don't bring up the issue, I'll fall through the cracks. Before you know it, the military might even lose their record of my tumor. After all, it costs much less to not keep sending me to a team of various medical specialists!

This is truly a relief. The prospect of days, weeks even months without doctor's appointments is thrilling!

And it's scary.

Sometimes, my bubbles burst, my rainbows fade, and I can't help wondering: What if? What if something happens that could have been prevented if I had just maintained my regular monthly checkups? What if I get worse? And just as scary: What if they don't forget about my tumor? What if I have to start once again scheduling my entire life around doctor's appointments? What if I never get to plan anything because every spare moment is taken up sitting in a waiting room???

Sometimes, when I'm having a particularly difficult day, when I'm dizzy and can't breathe, when I've blacked out a time or two, when I start to realize that I still feel the same way that I felt back in January of 2006, before my surgery... Sometimes, I get discouraged. Sometimes, I wonder if I will still be around to watch my children grow or to see my grandkids. And sometimes, that's scary.

Not always.

Usually, I am able to remember that life on earth isn't really what it's all about. I have been eternally sealed to my family in the Temple of the Lord, and those bonds are stronger than death. Even if it's not my destiny to live a long life here on the earth, I can still be with my family for all of eternity. My children will always be my children. Phil is stuck with me forever :) This life on earth is just a part of the Lord's whole, big plan.

And my life has been a good one so far. I may not be the perfect mother... but who knows? Maybe I am :) At least, for my own children, I think that I'm probably the right choice. And when I look at my kids, I can see that they are going to be okay. Even if I'm not here to finish raising them, they'll be okay. They know the important things. They know what really matters. And I'm not going anywhere just yet, at any rate!

I guess that's what scares me the most, when I start squinting through the sunshine of reality. I'm not scared of dying, because I know that it will be okay. At times, I think about my death... not that I'm contemplating or planning for death... not that I want it to happen or anything... but sometimes, especially when I'm having one of those difficult health days, I realize that it could be closer than I want to admit. And when that thought occurs to me, I'm filled with a sense of peace and comfort. And for just a moment, I'm not afraid at all. And because I'm human, that lack of fear is sometimes the scariest thing of all... if that makes any sense!

Franklin Roosevelt said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Well, I guess that just goes to prove that I really am built backward. I'm afraid of not being afraid! Still, I will continue to live my days within my rainbows and bubbles world, periodically peeking out into the sunshine for a warm dose of reality... and life will go on. Hopefully, for a long, long time.