So, we are in the hospital again. Yep, Hannah’s in, I’m in. Thankfully we aren’t roommates with the IV team poking us simultaneously or anything weird like that. I’m just a mom. She’s just a daughter. We’re bonded and have a special grace between us when we are in a hospital room together. Regular life has been a wee bit more challenging but in 28 years we have made it work no matter what. My new term for our resolve is “stubborn gladness”.
Stubborn gladness doesn’t mean that you are happy when things go well: it means that you fight your way to the light in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES! Elizabeth Gilbert (from her FB page today)
These words actually reflect the determination in my heart to face my life – whatever it actually is now, or has been, and find my way to the light. I am this way because I grew up the daughter of two people who came from very difficult circumstances and pushed their way through them until they found the light. Over and over and over, in circumstance after circumstance, my parents are people who overcome.
The Great Depression and World War II had left intense grooves in the psyche of my grandparents and their parents. Poverty and PTSD are cruel task masters and leave marks on everyone within their circle of influence. My parent’s lives were no exception. Statistics would have said that my parents wouldn’t succeed in life but somehow they figured out a way. They did it anyway. Until I read the quote from Elizabeth Gilbert today, I didn’t know what to call this force that continues to push me forward when I am sorely tempted to throw in the towel.
Last December found me depressed in a way I had never known before. I got a therapist. I exercised. I took trips to visit close friends and family but all efforts proved futile. In fact I cut my trip to Utah short by a full week because I was so ill. At the time I honestly thought I was just resisting the reality that I didn’t get to live there anymore. It’s no secret that Cache Valley and the Wasatch Mountains are my sanctuary. I returned home ill and broken. The depression would not lift and I’ve been on antidepressants since 2004 when our world turned upside down putting H in treatment. Then my body began to act like it was starting to fail in ways I couldn’t quite articulate. I honestly feared for my sanity.
I saw the pain doctor for a check up and she determined I needed more nerve blocks and that it was time for me to go on Lyrica to numb the nerve pain. I had no peace whatsoever with that direction so I followed my gut didn’t fill the prescription. I continued to pursue “the light” feeling as if I was hanging on for dear life sometimes. I made an appointment with my general practitioner simply wondering if there was something else amiss. After describing my symptoms he ordered blood work and low and behold there was a chemical problem in my body. As a result of the crazy surgeries I’ve had my food goes through me to quickly not allowing vitamin B12 to be absorbed in my body. In addition to that, our brutal winter had kept me inside so much that I also had a vitamin D3 deficiency. Regular B12 shots and vitamin D pills have worked their magic and I came home to myself sometime this summer.
In late August Hannah’s digestive issues started to overwhelm her and saw the GI doctors at the Mayo Clinic. I had just started to prepare for a year with the Minnesota Reading Corps and was SO looking forward to normal. I am pretty sure I need to remove that word from my vocabulary because really, there is no such thing anymore.
One morning, as I struggled to get out of bed, the familiar mantra of depressive thoughts began to go over and over in my well trained brain.
“I hate how dark it is here”, “I have no purpose anymore”, “maybe I should just sleep some more”
Then all at once light broke through my woe is mes and said,
“It’s time for YOU to get up and live YOUR life.” followed by Steve Jobs saying, “Don’t waste your time trying to live somebody else’s life…”
So I got up.
I am now living what IS MY life.
I am the daughter and daughter-in-law of aging parents and living within a days drive means I may need to hop in the car and go to Nebraska. When I get there I may or may not get to see dear friends or play with my niece’s kids. I’ll be busy going to doctor appointments or sitting in the hospital with mine or Dean’s parents. We went back 3 times this summer simply so we could have visits with our parents and family away from these realities.
I am the parent of a daughter who started life with a 2 1/2 month stay in the hospital after I had spent that one month before in it. A daughter who has spent way too much of her young life listening to beeps in the night and being asked to rate her pain on a scale from 1- 10. And the worst part continually having to tell complete strangers about her bodily functions to the point that it’s almost easier to say, “Hi, I’m Hannah and I had a BM at….” you get the picture. A daughter who has a brain severely traumatized from early medical trauma before the figured out that BABY BODIES DO REMEMBER whatever they endure.
I am the parent of a son and daughter-in-law who live in Texas and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sacrifice 5 volunteer hours a week while on vacation to please the Americorps part of Reading Corps. Words can hardly describe how much I miss them. Stephen and his dad’s chemistry – well Dean’s and my children’s capacity to find the most stupid things humorous is such a boost to this mama.
So…this is ME too. I grew up in a home of stubborn gladness even though much of the time it appeared to be other than that. I created a marriage and a home where stubborn gladness is the air we breathe. So…today, I’m finding the light here at the Mayo Clinic’s Methodist Hospital that is a beehive of activity during the work week and a place of Zen tranquility over the weekend. I’m enjoying their beautiful gardens and fountains and friendly people. Oh, and I’m writing. Could life get any better today? Yes, it could but it doesn’t have to. The light can come in wherever I am and I will continue to pursue it with all of the stubbornness in me!
Thanks, Mom and Dad!