I feel so fortunate to be living the life that God has given me. It wasn't always easy, but with lots of faith and friends I have survived and become a very strong person. I am often asked if I am angry that it took 33 years for a correct diagnosis. The answer is, "No."
I can honestly say that I am proud of everything I have had to endure growing up with Spastic Diplegia. It was never easy, but it lead me to the person I am today. I have a wonderful husband, three amazing kids and friends that are there for me no matter what. I like me. And I love my life!
I also believe that God made me the way I was so I could teach others what is really important in life. I can walk my kids to the bus stop in the rain, use my hands to put clean sheets on the bed after a child is sick, see the mess on the kitchen counter and hear the kids fighting while I'm on the phone. These are all blessing. Tonight I will be sure to give thanks for my life and will encourage my children to do the same.
As I'm getting ready for bed tonight, I can't help the tears. I'm not sad, I'm just so overcome with emotion. Three years ago tonight, Steve had to put me to bed. He did the same thing every night: helped me into my pj's, walked me to the bed, helped me roll onto my side (and get comfortable) and then covered me with the sheet and blankets. Little did I know that he would never need to help me with that task again. My life changed on that Good Friday three years ago and I wouldn't come to believe it myself until I stood independently on Easter Morning. I can never give enough thanks to my husband for taking care of me and the good Lord for healing me.
Being able to walk is a gift. Even back when it was very difficult for me to walk, it was a gift. It was a gift that I didn't have to be in a wheelchair all the time. With help, I could walk. So, when I had to get around in public and there wasn't an elevator, I could still get where I wanted to go with help. I always felt that I was blessed; even with all the inconveniences of being disabled. I knew that I didn't have it easy, but there were many people who had it much worse that I did. I had the opportunity to reflect on this yesterday afternoon while I was walking Winona and her Girl Scout Troop to their meeting.
As I walked the four blocks from school to the leaders' house, I couldn't help but thank God for allowing me to be with those 12 amazing fifth grade girls. Not only was the weather gorgeous, but I was able to put one foot in front of the other without worrying about whether or not I would fall. It's still hard for me to keep myself from tearing up in times like these and I can't help but wonder "why me?" Out of all the people in the world with limitations why is it that God chose me for a miracle? I don't have the answer to that question, so all I can do is live my life to the fullest and appreciate all He has given me.
This past weekend, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to hike in The Badlands. Using my hiking poles, I was able to walk independently with Steve and the girls. As the sun beat on my face and the silence rang in my ears all I could do was thank God for the wonderful gift He had placed before me. I couldn't keep the tears from my eyes and felt that I had to tell my girls how lucky we were. Not only were we able to look at Gods beautiful work, but we were also blessed to be right in the heart of it, together as a family.
There were several times on this walk that I wasn't sure if I could make it all the way to the end of the trail. Every time I found myself up really high on a rock or on a narrow path, Steve assured me that I could do it. Every step of the way, I could tell that he was proud to be with me on this exciting experience. I desperately needed his support and because of it, I was able to make it to what felt like the end of the Earth
Last night was an emotional evening for me as I watched John be baptized. As I stood and held my son at the back of the church all I could think about was when the girls were baptized. When they were baptized, Steve held them and I held onto his arm for dear life trying to hold myself up. I didn't get to stand with ease and enjoy the moment. I was far to worried that I would tumble to the ground. Last night, I felt like I was living someone else's life. How is it that I was able to hold my own child as he received the sacrament of baptism? As I held back my tears, I thanked God for all He has given me.
I made a quick run to the store today. As I was pushing my cart towards the checkout I saw a woman about my age riding a mobility scooter provided by the store. As I watched her ride away from me, all I could think was, "that used to be me."
I have no idea why I have been blessed with so much in my life. I will never be able to thank God enough for all he has given me. My friends and family were always there for me when I needed them most. And still are. I know I don't say it often enough, "Thank you."
This past weekend we went to the cabin (baby John's first visit). When Steve pulled into our parking spot, at the top of the hill, I got out of the 4Runner and grabbed John and his car seat. I began carrying the heavy car seat down the hill to our cabin. Halfway down the hill, I realized that not only was I walking down the hill without assistance, but I was also carrying a 10+ lbs in my arms.
The first five years we owned the cabin I was not physically capable of walking up or down the hill that leads to our home away from home. Steve always had to take my arm and at times carry me up the hill. At that time, I had absolutely no independence at our lake place.. It amazes me how far I have come since my new diagnosis.
As I walked down the hill carrying my son all I could think about was that I used to be carried down the hill, but now I am the one carrying a heavy baby down without the fear of wondering if I will make it. God is wonderful!
On May 20th, I was blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby boy that we named John Stephen. I always find it so amazing how fast you can love another human being. I also can not believe how much easier it is this time around.
Like my daughters, baby John is a really good baby. He eats well and sleeps well. Because my mobility is so much better than it was when my girls were born, I find true enjoyment feeding this little guy at 3am. My legs can walk me to the kitchen to make his bottle and my hands allow me to easily change his dirty diapers. It was so challenging taking care of the girls. I could do it all, but it would take me so much longer to snap up there sleepers and fasten their diapers. I may have three children now, but today was the first day that I ever gave an infant a bath. Steve always took care of that for me in the past. Even though John cried the whole time, I loved EVERY second of it and can't imagine ever forgetting that I did it on my own.
My life is very busy taking care of two girls (ages 10 and 8) and my one week old son, but I can honestly say that I have never been this happy. I have everything I could ever want: a great husband, three healthy kids and a safe place we can call home. I wouldn't want to trade places with anyone else in the world and thank God for all the wonderful gifts He has given me.
It's really hard to believe that I was diagnosed nearly two years ago. Good Friday will mark the day that changed my life forever. I was so skeptical that day. I wasn't even going to fill the prescription thinking that there was no way I would ever live a 'normal' life, but here I am doing exactly that.
People often ask me if I'm angry that it took the doctors so long to correctly diagnosis me (33 years). I don't know how I could possibly be angry that I now have so many more capabilities. If it wasn't for the correct diagnosis, I would not be pregnant with my third child. How do I answer their question? The answer is simple, at least it is to me.
I grew up as a very happy girl in an unbelievable loving and supportive family. My parents pushed me to do things that were physically challenging, yet I always gave it my best. Plus, I always had a lot of good friends. It was all of my life experiences (good and bad) that made me the person I am today and I like me. Who knows who I would be today if I didn't grow up with the wrong diagnosis. I have to be honest though, I don't know if she would have been as happy as I am. Why? I probably wouldn't have gone to Winona State University where I met my wonderful husband, Steve. Therefore, I wouldn't have my daughter's Winona and Sharon. Everything that I had to endure to make me the person I am today was well worth it!!
Thanks for all of the support! I look forward to sharing even more with you over the next year.
This past weekend I went to a family reunion. I enjoyed visiting with those who I only see at weddings and funerals. I must say that it was kind of weird seeing them in shorts and t-shirts. Anyway, we took time out of the day to take group photos. The last photo that was to be taken was of the entire group.
Since everyone's cameras were running low on batteries, I was asked if we could use mine. Everyone took their place for the photo and I quickly tried to figure out how to set my cameras' timer to take a photo.
As soon as I knew everyone was ready, I asked where I was supposed to jump in. The answer was up front, right next to my niece, Becca. I stood behind my camera, looked through the lens and then pushed the button to take the photo. Then it was time to run! I ran as fast as my flip flops would take me, sat down next to my dear niece. crossed my legs and smiled with a second to spare.
How is it possible that I did this? In the past, someone would have had to help me walk to where I would have to pose for the picture. Not this time. I did it and on my own,. So, when I look at this photo of me sitting up front, with a big smile on my face, I know that it's much more than a family photo. I also have a pretty good idea that my grandparents saw the whole thing from heavan and that makes my heart smile.