Thursday, April 21, 2011

It Takes a Little Perseverance

We've had an unusual amount of storms and rain so far this season. In the midst of that, my sweet brother came and did some brick-laying for me. He made a border around what was supposed to be marigolds in front of the house (I have tons of hostas coming up voluntarily), a nice border down the side of the house, and a walkway/patio in the back by the steps and ramp.

I've had little luck getting anything to grow at the front end of my bed on the side of the house. When it rains, the water pours over there, and it washes away anything that's planted. I told Gary to go ahead and brick it up; nothing grew there anyway.

You can imagine my surprise when I walked out the other morning and saw these fragile little green leaves sticking up from between the bricks. In fact, they had actually lifted the brick to get to the sun. What perseverance!

I've had at least a couple lessons in recent weeks about "hanging in there." Not only do I have tulips popping through where everything was against it, but the hostas that I dug up and destroyed over a year ago are coming through like gangbusters. What happened?

I'm convinced that the will to live is a force to be reckoned with. When Don was ill and they were giving us little hope, we could always see his determination shining through, even on the darkest days. He beat the odds - just like the tulips and hostas. Circumstances may come that we can't control. Hang in there. Illness may overrun your body and try to dim your spirit. Hang in there. Stress may come at you from every side. Hang in there. It just takes a little perseverance to win against all odds!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reminding Myself to Be Still

I had a routine doctor appointment this week. Overall, I'm doing great, but I've experienced a bit of a problem with anxiety and resultant acid reflux. The doctor knows both me and Don and knows our situation. He advised me to take a sleep aid (generic Ambien) every night and to start back up on Lexapro. I took Lexapro a number of years ago for depression and was a little surprised that he would prescribe it for my tension. I told him I didn't want to rely on the sleeping pills, and neither did I intend to take a whole Lexapro. He, in turn, reminded me that, if I didn't take care of myself, I would be incapable of taking adequate care of Don. Good point.

So, night before last, I cut both the sleeping pill and Lexapro in half and took half a pill of each. I slept okay until about 3 a.m., then was pretty much awake the rest of the night. Last night, I tried it again. Bad idea! I didn't sleep a wink all night long, and had to be at the dentist's office at 9 a.m. this morning!

I told Don the other day that I feel like I'm doing the work of two people - me and him. I'll make my list of jobs that I need to get done on a specific day, then he'll decide that he "needs" to do something. Obviously, I end up helping him with whatever it is he decides needs doing, because he simply isn't able to do it all himself. I was supposed to scrub the kitchen floor and cut his hair day before yesterday, and he decided to pull himself onto his riding mower and mow the lawn. I, of course, had to put my plans aside and see that he got on the mower safely, then I had to weed-eat and blow off the driveway and walks. What gives? Since I'm a type A personality, it bothers me to have a plan and be unable to execute it.

I've tried the meds, and may try them again later, but that's not an ideal solution. Matthew 11:28 says: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." I believe I can apply that to my present situation. I'm thinking I need to rest in the Lord. A friend whose husband has battled ALS 14 years now told me she can't survive without her personal daily devotion time. I've become so busy (especially in the morning) that it's hard to put that time aside. But I must. So, the last couple days, even no sleep and an early dentist appointment in Alton didn't keep me from the Word. My acid reflux is definitely better, and I know I'm feeling less stressed. A hoax? Maybe. But I believe the answer to my problem is in being still in Him. Realizing that I can't do everything, and not expecting myself to do it all or be it all. I'm learning a lesson, but it involves reminding myself daily to settle down, chill out, don't sweat the small stuff!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Time (and ALS) Marches On

Don has been telling me for quite some time (and telling anyone else who will listen) that he thinks he can still walk a little bit with the rollator - the walker with a seat and four wheels. I was a bit doubtful, but didn't want to discourage him. So, yesterday, I went out and got one of the rollators out of the back garage and brought it in. He was too tired to try it last night, but wanted to attempt a few steps this morning. He tried - repeatedly - to lift himself. After numerous tries, he finally shakily stood all bent over, but hanging onto the rollator. He only stood a few seconds before realizing he had over-extended himself and would have to forego anymore attempts to stand (or walk) with the rollator.

The whole endeavor made him sad. A bit deflated. He had so thought (and hoped) that he could still walks a few steps. We're past that now, and the use of a lift is becoming more and more clear in our future.

After a bit of contemplation and introspection, he snapped out of his "down" mood and was my sweet, up-beat Don again.

We have to anticipate the future in our situation and plan ahead for it. We don't want to be surprised by anything this nasty disease has to offer; we want to face it prepared, mentally, spiritually and physically. I will admit to faltering often, but I rally. Don has his occasional lapses into "remember when"s, but they don't last long.

Both of us continue to believe that there are a lot of lessons for us to learn through this trial. We continue to believe that we are blessed indeed.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Surprising Harvest

A number of years ago, I planted hostas in my front yard. I was very particular in placing them exactly where I wanted, according to size and species (do hostas even have species?). Anyway, for the first couple of years, they flourished and grew beautifully. Then, for some reason, Don needed to get into that area and do some digging. The next year, when the hostas came up, they were all out of order. Big ones in front. Too many striped ones together. Totally unnerving to me. We also had burning bushes in the same area that didn't "burn" and were ugly. So, within the last couple of years, I had dug out all my hostas, Gary pulled up the burning bushes, and we cut down the Chinese dogwood that had been planted too close to the front porch. The front of my house was clear.

That was good for one season, but I wanted a bit of color. So, last summer, my mom gave me some marigolds. It wasn't enough to give me the fill I wanted, so I went out and bought more to finish out my design. Again, they're spaced just the way I want. Colors and "species" separated according to my quirks. They bloomed beautifully last summer.

This year, my sweet brother tore down their old chimney and asked if we needed any landscaping done. Of course, we did. So, a few weeks back, Gary and I unloaded LOTS of bricks and landscaped a bit in the front and on the side of the house and started on a little walkway/patio area in the back before running out of bricks.

A couple days ago, I was delighted, after the snow and cold weather we've been having, to see new plants poking their green little heads above the soil. However, now that they've grown up just a bit,I'm thinking there's something weird going on. Everything that's coming up looks like hostas. I was CERTAIN I had dug up every plant and pitched it. Where in the world did these come from. Then, I have one more very prominent plant coming up among what I think is hostas - could it be a burning bush??? I'm perplexed. Maybe marigolds just look different than I expected when they're babies and just coming out of the ground. If not, I'm not happy about my harvest!

Isn't that just like life? We allow things to grow and take root in our lives. Then, tiring of them or hoping for something better and prettier, we do our best to uproot all those less-than-we-had-hoped-for plants, replacing them with colorful snippets. Our garden, once again, has promise of being just what we want it to be. But, often at the most unexpected moments, those old plants come popping their heads through. We thought we had eliminated them for good, but there must have been a root left somewhere. At the moment, I'm not seeing one sign of a marigold in my garden. Maybe they'll pop through later. Or, maybe, what I'm seeing isn't hostas and burning bushes at all. Just the sight of them, though, makes me remember how hard it is to break old habits, throw off prejudices and predispositions, love people for what they are down deep and not just what they appear to be.

I may be reaping a surprising harvest this summer. I hope life is coming up marigolds. But, if it's coming up hostas and burning bushes, I'm hoping I grow to love them and value them for their beauty. Isn't that what life's all about? Throw off the old; embrace the new. But, at the same time, don't be embarrassed by the old. Learn to value where you came from and who you got here with.