It’s been over two years since I last posted on this blog. A lot has happened. I never imagined my life could have changed so significantly in just two years.
Four really big events summarize the last two years:
- I moved in with a family I met in Charlotte, NC. The wife and mother of the family, Gina, wanted to help me be as independent as possible and saw that living alone in my apartment wasn’t a realistic long-term option. After months of getting to know Gina and her family, I agreed that moving in seemed the best for me. It also seemed to me that her kids enjoyed having me in their home and I was a good “match” for their family. I moved into their home in March of 2015.
- Beginning in May of 2015 through October of 2015, I had the worst CRPS flare I’ve ever experienced. I was having increasing difficulty with my heat intolerance and flares from any amount of physical activity. I figured out that dunking my legs in a bucket of water helped return the pooled blood into circulation and calmed some of the burning pain. So I continued to dunk my legs when they got unbearably hot. Unfortunately, this turned into a nasty case of frostbite and six months of being entirely bedbound, not leaving my bed or bedroom except to go to the hospital by ambulance. I didn’t think I would stand, walk or even leave my bedroom ever again. Gina stayed with me through it all; nights of screaming agony, crying, and passing out from pain levels at 10/10. Dystonia curled my legs into unnatural positions. Gina’s family pulled together and her husband and kids cooked and took care of the grocery shopping and all of our needs while Gina stayed in the bedroom with me 24/7.
I began a slow and frustrating journey of recovery. For months I was unable to put my legs down into a seated position, much less put any weight into my legs. Unable to use my wheelchair, I developed the idea of using a “scooter board” like I’d done in elementary school to scoot myself across the floor in gym class. This gave me the first hint of mobility in about six months.
I adapted my wheelchair to hold my legs up by using my sliding board and balancing my feet on the board. I needed help with everything. But by and by, I made progress and found ways to move around the house again.
Within a year, I was able to walk again.
- In January, my spiritual Grandmother, “Gran,” went to be with Jesus. I was able to say goodbye before the ventilator was turned off, and I played my flute for her to hear one last time before she heard the music of Heaven (which I’m sure was infinitely more beautiful). I attended the funeral in May of 2016 in Maine; I felt blessed to be able to go and honor the memory of my dear friend and the woman who lead me to a living relationship with Christ Jesus. At last, she was at peace, with a new body and most importantly, in the presence of her Savior. I’ve missed her beyond words.
- When I recovered well enough that I had some energy to spare, I began going through my things that had moved with me from my apartment into my new home in Charlotte. We’d not been able to finish the project of moving me in before my flare began. With Gina’s help, I went through every item I owned (probably a few times!) and discarded, donated or shared with others. It was a great way to start a new season of my life.
After I’d disposed of everything I no longer wanted or needed, I had nothing left to do that didn’t involve needing money to do it. At that point, BOREDOM hit, and it hit hard. It’s possible that I’ve never been so bored in my life as I was for the first half of 2016. When I was flaring, I had no energy with which to be especially bored. But now it was real.
In August of 2016 I began toying with the idea of going back to school in the Spring to get an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology (IT). I had no idea how I’d pay for it or how I could have accommodations to attend classes. Rather than sitting on my fanny, I decided to gather information and apply to two schools. My FAFSA was approved and I got full Pell Grant coverage of my school expenses. Vocational Rehabilitation began the process of helping me get the equipment I need to attend school. Both schools accepted my applications. The first bidder was even able to approve all of my accommodations through Disability Services and get me registered for classes before the beginning of the Fall semester! I prayed about it, sought counsel, and felt that the door was open for me to pursue a new career in IT.
That’s where I am now. Gina takes me to school and helps me through my classes by helping me with the physical things that are too hard (like carrying my backpack and pushing my wheelchair). I also take classes online. This semester I’m a part-time student, but I’m hoping to go back to school full-time beginning next semester.
Now you see what I mean! I never had any plans to leave my apartment, but I’d always answered Mike’s question, “How long are you going to stay here?” with a simple answer, “As long as God wants me here.” It was an accurate answer. *Smile.* I miss Mike, but I think even he understands that if I weren’t living with Gina’s family, I’d have been put into a nursing home, and I might never have made it back out again.
Yet here I am, hoping to work a job again after several years of unemployment due to my physical disabilities. Thanks for sharing in my joy and praying me through.