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Thankful

Thankful for MS?

In as much as we have recently experienced the Thanksgiving season, I was thinking about the impact Multiple Sclerosis has had on our lives and trying to think of reasons why I could be thankful for MS.  What comes to mind first, of course, are all the challenges but if I really focus I can think of several rewards I have received related to this condition. Here are a few.
Our Relationship
Coping with the challenges of MS has made Lynn and me closer.  Before MS, we were two married, independent partners. We each functioned well alone so there were many aspects of our lives that were not shared.  Due to his dependence on me for just about everything, we are truly one now. We share thoughts and fears, good times and bad as a team rather than as two people with their own agendas. It has made us recognize our own unique needs and struggles and we have more respect and admiration for each other as we recognize how each of us sacrifices for the good of the other.
For the People I have Met
In many cases, there is an instant bond when I meet another person who has MS or is a caregiver for someone with MS.  Instantly, I know the challenges faced and perseverance required every day just to get by if they are dealing with this complex condition. Though that understanding, there is a connection that does not exist with those who have not had to face those same experiences. I now have friends I’ve met through blogging that I expect never to meet in person but who share with me their concerns and offer support for mine.  I’ve also met many health professionals who have been awesome and who have offered so much assistance and encouragement to both of us. I am thankful for each of them and the efforts they have made on our behalf.
Continue reading this article at: http://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/thankful/
 

How am I Thankful? Let Me Count the Ways

I’m ashamed to say that I often use this blog to vent.  When I’m tired and discouraged, I find it therapeutic to talk it through on this blog knowing that there are those out there who have gone through the same things or are experiencing them now,  and that helps to know I am not alone.  When I receive comments of support and encouragement, it’s better than my own private therapy session. So I’m thankful for those who listen to me whine and share and to those who share with me as well.
I’m thankful for my husband.  Though providing for his care is overwhelming at times, I’m thankful that he is here for me to care for.  I’m thankful for his encouragement and his caring.  He’s always looking for ways to make my life easier and to provide his support.  I admit that I often don’t allow him to care for me because I’m so used to caring for him, but I appreciate his reaching out to me.
I appreciate his humor; he is often able to see the funny side of life.  I appreciate his faithfulness; he strives to be a faithful servant of our Lord, Jesus Christ, with whatever abilities he has.  I appreciate his knowledge; I’ve met few people who know more trivia than he does!  Plus he seems to know something about just about anything!
I’m thankful for Lynn’s abilities. His mind is very alert and as I said above, he’s very intelligent and useful.  Though he cannot physically do many things, he can tell me how to do them or guide me on how to get someone else to do them. Though he can’t write, he can speak and he can see so he uses software to write on his behalf and therefore, remains productive and has goals.  Though he has selective hearing, his ability to hear has not been touched by MS. When he puts his mind to it, he can clearly hear the same as I do. His essential organs still function to keep him alive and healthy though not untouched by medical limits.  Though he was a gourmet cook and can tell what’s in a dish by taste and though I tend to burn more than I like to admit, he always compliments what I make him and phrases my cooking to others.
I’m thankful for my job, my boss, my staff.  I love what I do and where I work.  I love the people I work with and for.  Their encouragement keeps me going and the work gives me purpose and reward…as well as enough income and benefits to provide Lynn with the care he needs and both of us with all our essentials and many of our wants.
I’m thankful for my children and their spouses and my awesome grandson who brings us so much joy with his love of life.  All of our children would drop whatever they are doing at a moment’s notice to come to our rescue if needed.  We KNOW we are loved by them and we know how fortunate we truly are to have been blessed with such good people in our lives.  Not only do we love them as our children but we love and respect who they are as individuals in this world.  We are truly blessed by their presence in our lives.
In the same way we are blessed by our extended family.  Lynn and I both have wonderful, caring, and supportive parents and siblings. Each side of our family gives us love in abundance and it’s so special to spend time with them when the opportunities come.
I’m thankful for our church family.  Our church family truly walk the walk of Jesus’ loving example.  Gethsemane Church of Christ is a powerful example of walking the faith; of giving and giving and giving through God’s love; of reaching out to show they care and of never forgetting that you exist.  The last we were able to go to church was in the fall of 2009.  I was rehearsing with the drama team for Christmas.  Lynn went into the hospital and they had to find a substitute for my part.  Though I was replaced in the role, they never replaced me or us in their hearts even though we’ve been “out of sight” and could have been “out of mind” for some time now.  They have never stopped caring and for that

Lynn and Eli enjoying a ride
Lynn and Eli enjoying a ride

we are truly thankful.
I am most of all truly thankful for the knowledge that I have a Savior who will forever be with me.  It’s amazing how He faithfully meets our needs.  He doesn’t remove the challenges; no Lynn still has MS and my arthritis is making it more difficult by the day to provide his care; but He gives us the resources we need just in time; every time.  Sometimes His answer to our cries is “wait” and sometimes it’s “no” but it’s always, “I’m right here; just hang on.”  He is our safety net and the light in the storm.  Always loving; always caring; always there…forever and ever.
For all these things and so many more, I am truly thankful and awesomely blessed.

The Blessings of Children

Elijah Gregory moments after his birth

May 27 at 3:51 p.m., my daughter gave birth to a beautiful son, Elijah Gregory–Eli for short.  I was fortunate enough to share in the experience with her and her husband and at the moment of Eli’s birth, my daughter weep tears of joy, as did I. 
The decision to have a child was not easy for her.  Though she does not have MS, she has a chronic health condition that has dominated her life (and mine) since she was five years old.  The condition has required multiple medication adjustments, much lost time from school and work, and interfered on more occasions than I can remember, with being able to enjoy plans made.  It made her different from her peers, which created many difficulties for her as a teen.  There have been many tears and many discussions about the quality of her life…but we made it through those times.  Her condition is now controlled on medication that she must take every day for the rest of her life and it still is a factor in all her decisions but she has matured into a beautiful and kind young women, with a deep sense of responsibility, and wisdom beyond her young years.  She is very fortunate in that she also has a very devoted husband who is unbelievably understanding and supportive of her.  Now he has taken over my role as her “rock” and together they face their future.
I share all this as background for her decision to have Eli.  She knew her pregnancy would be difficult and there was a risk that the medications she was on could cause birth defects (thankfully that does not seem to have happened) so she worked with her doctors to prepare her body, her mind, and her spirit to take on the challenge of having a child.  For her that decision was the right one but for some people with chronic health conditions, the prospect of reproducing and sentencing a child to the same possible condition is not something they can do.  Neither decision is wrong; both decisions are right…for those individuals.
As for my daughter, she has a strong faith in God and has learned to rely in Him to help her through the difficulties of this life.  Though she certainly does not want to invite hardship, she also knows that her strength comes from the courage He has given her.  Her life experiences, though very difficult, have prepared her to face what may be ahead since she probably won’t know if Eli has her same condition for several years yet.  However, if he does develop it, who better to help him through it than his mother who can not only empathize but coach him in how to cope with it?  That is true for any person thinking about having a child that might inherit a serious condition.  There are some conditions, that I am sure would cause her (and me, too, if faced with the choice) to decide to adopt.  In fact, she may decide to do that next time.  But it’s okay either way.
My step-son knows that he may very well develop MS as he gets older.  His father and grandfather both had it so his changes are significant. When he asked his girlfriend to marry him, she and I talked about their having children.  They are fully aware of the risk of inheritance and that he may end up as his father but we also know that new medications and treatments are always in development.  BECAUSE of his father, he’s prepared.  He knows what things seem to reduce the risk and what to stay away from; he knows the symptoms and when to seek evaluation; he will know what to do if the time comes that he has to face the prospect.  Plus, like with my daughter, he will know that his father and I are here to help out anyway was can and that God will bless them whatever the decision regarding children may be.
I belive that each challenge we face in our lives prepares us for what lies ahead.  We gain strength, knowledge, and courage with each obstacle we overcome.  Life is hard…no doubt about it.  I truly wish and have prayed often that these burdens be removed from Lynn and from my daughter and that He would protect our other children from them as well. However, I know that we are not alone.  I know that this time on earth for us is like a speck of dust compared to eternity in heaven.  I know that although we have trials and difficulties and get depressed and hurt that I love this life we have.  I feel so blessed to be married to Lynn and to have two wonderful children of my own and an awesome stepson.  I love the partners my children have chosen to share their lives with. I can’t wait to spend time with my grandson and to share with him all we have learned that might be helpful to him on his journey through life.
I am very thankful my parents decided to give me life.  I am very thankful that God blessed my decision to have children.  And now I’m thankful that God has given my daughter the courage to face the unknown and to share her love and commitment to Christ and to her family with a child.
Yes, for me and my family, having children is truly a blessing for which we are thankful.