Mothering is so…. hard. It is so incredibly hard. You lay everything out there, you keep nothing, you pour it all out. Sometimes you leave so little for yourself that you run out of gas.
I don’t know what God instilled in mothers to give them the instinct to love so deeply. I am not a natural nurturer…. Maybe that is why I latched onto the word so long ago? I found the word “nurture” on a FB for sale webpage one day and had to have it. It is the single word that I have striven for since I became a mommy.
But there have been days, weeks, months, when the gas tank was on empty and I didn’t love mothering. I think that should be said. Sometimes as mamas we think that we should find nurturing natural. Or maybe that we should like to pour every ounce of ourselves into our children? It isn’t natural. If I confess Christ and I believe the Bible as Truth then I believe that the natural state of man is a sin nature, selfishness at the core.
And I know I’ve felt it before. Not on those, “Mama, I don’t feel good,” nights when the preschooler comes in with sleepy eyes and tousled hair and needs, desperately, to be held, tucked into your own bed, and their tummy rubbed so that they can get back to sleep. But definitely on the mornings where I haven’t yet had coffee and I just want to finish reading a post or sending an email! 😉
I need this to be said, to be written. Long ago a book was written: What is a Family?
But I ask you: What is a Mama?
This needs to be written. We live in a culture where women can, and do, almost anything. This past year I was wife, mama, worker, student, homeschooler. It was many plates to keep spinning and I think I did well.
Then yesterday came.
I have been sick. Not “real” sick in that I felt bad, but sick in that something wasn’t right. I began to drag a foot. Not such a big deal. I had had a car accident back around 1997 and the dashboard came back and bit that leg. I thought certainly this old nerve damage come to haunt my present. After all, last summer, a summer in which I hauled dirt, built up our foundation, gardened, mowed with a push lawnmower, helped carry sheets upon sheets of drywall, and dug out my entire flower bed and replanted perennials until my heart sung with happiness. I love being busy. I love being active. I love being outside. I was in the best physical condition of my entire 39 years.
My first neurologist thought nerve damage or, maybe MS? But four MRIs cleared the MS. A perfect EMG cleared the nerve damage. The EMG, lol, was an eye popping experience. Not exactly painful, but not something I’d readily sign up for again.
She told me, “I understand you *feel* like you are dragging a foot, but I find nothing wrong.” I felt dismissed. I felt silly. Maybe it had bothered me for a week and I just got used to walking like that?
But then….. But then my leg started to twitch. I called the office. I asked the question, “Could the EMG cause my leg to twitch?” Their reply, “No.” Just no. Not just no. Absolutely NOT just no. I asked for the referral to the University. They gave it. Probably they thought I was silly.
I *felt* silly. I felt paranoid. I had that first visit in early/mid January and felt so good. The doctor, old, comforting, warm, told me he thought my MRI wasn’t exactly right. He suspected Multiple Sclerosis too. He found a few concerning things. My reflexes were “very brisk.” I had clonus in one foot. But, overall, I just looked good. He wanted to confirm the MS with a lumbar puncture. I wasn’t scared – hello, um, twelve babies? 😉 I also asked for a Lyme test of the CSF.
No MS indications. None.
A tiny amount of Lyme antibodies that they tell me is still negative. Figure that one out.
The next week? This wonderful man retired. And I, non emergency, got shoved to another doctor’s new incoming patient lists. November was my next appointment.
In the meantime? My balance is a little wonky. My twitching? Now in the left leg, the abdomen, the right arm. It’s February. The morning of my nephew’s birthday party I noticed something strange about my leg. The calf of the left leg was rounded, full. The upper calf of the right leg? Flat. The difference was so slight I thought maybe I was imagining it. I kept it to myself, quiet, until my husband noticed his loud, noisy wife was being hushed. So I had him look. And he saw it.
And he saw it.
Until that moment, no one else could see my symptoms. I had convinced myself that maybe it was in my head. I repeated the first neurologists words so many times, “I understand you *feel* like you are dragging your foot….”
And he saw it.
I called the University scheduling. They couldn’t do anything. I was a “new” patient and non-emergency. The next week, in Iowa City anyway, I “dropped by” the office. I don’t think you’re supposed to do that, lol. I dropped by and asked if a nurse could take a peek at my leg. I didn’t want to seem like a nutjob so I brushed away the fear, “I’m sure I’m imagining this, but…….” I have dismissed myself, my thoughts, my fears. It isn’t selflessness. It is that the medical community is so dismissive of us, that we feel as though we are a bother, or stupid, or somehow that our concerns are not legitimate. I am so strong, so insistent, so vibrant when dealing with my kids’ medical concerns and so dismissive of my own.
The nurse saw it.
She called in the doctor. The doctor saw it. And I had a sinking feeling.
He was out next week, he explained, but could I come in the next Monday morning? So I did. And that was yesterday, March 13th, 2017.
And that was the first day we were told that ALS is now on the table.
I am forty years old. I am the wife to one and the mother to eleven.
I will be damned if this will become a blog about ALS. Or that I will let it become a blog about a slow demise into a pit of despair.
The original intent of this blog is:
To EQUIP and INSPIRE hearts and minds of children for the GLORY of CHRIST.
And so I will carry on. The second EMG is on Monday. We expect it will be less than stellar. But, in the meantime, I will love my children. I will equip them. I will inspire them.
I have clarity of thought on this day that I have lacked for some time. My purpose in this life was to give them life and to pour mine into theirs. It is not lacking. It is my contribution to this world. They are so beautiful, so amazing.
I have told people that I am the most blessed woman they will ever meet.
It’s true. I am.