I Only Screamed a Little Bit

We did it! I know you want to know how Monday’s visit to the doctor’s office went and that is the summary: we did it!

Claire went into the morning very brave, telling us she planned to not even cry today. And she stuck to it for a long time, but when the set-up started taking longer than expected I saw the look on her face the moment her courage began to fail.

Before the actual shots, the doctor puts numbing cream around the injection sites in her calf and hamstring. While that medicine gets to work, Claire positions herself on the exam table with her arms draped over a pillow. We watch a YouTube instructional video for the line dance in the Hannah Montana Movie and wait. We make a false-alarm trip to the potty and then wait some more.

The doctor brings in the small electronic machine made to guide his placement of the injections, the biggest part of the waiting is over. She is doing so well, we all take our time. Too much time, apparently, because slightly before the alcohol wipes are smeared across her tiny legs, the tears began to flow.

“I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to!” Now my courage fails, but I smile anyway.

Put a rush on that, Dr. – we’re about to lose contact with all sense of perspective!

Now she actually has something to yell about as the doctor inserts the needle, injects Botox (lovingly termed nerve poison), repositions the needle under the skin, and injects more Botox.

“Owie! That hurts! Ohhhh! That hurts! . . . . ”

We take a short break while a second vial is loaded. Breaks aren’t good. She starts to cry, announcing again that she has changed her mind and does not want to go through with it after all.

“We know, Baby, it will be over soon.”

And it is, but not soon enough. Claire is wiping tears while we pull back on her jeans and notice the tiny broken blood vessels around her eyes and cheeks. “It’s all over, Baby.”

She sits up tall on the exam table, looking a little ashamed but still confident, “Yeah, I only screamed a little bit.”

We smile, knowing what a trouper she is.

“And I didn’t even spit at him.”

Botox and Provision

claire

It is another day of Botox fun for us. Claire’s hemiplegic CP is keeping the muscles of her leg really tight right now and her doctor has prescribed an aggressive treatment of Botox shots every 12 weeks as well as two new braces, one for night and one for day. Since we were still paying off the last round of Botox, our financial hopes were looking rather dim about this time last week.

But. God. You’ve heard that one, right? The one about blah, blah, blah, all my problems, blah, blah, blah . . . but God. And it isn’t like I’m one of those full of faith people. I usually manage to say I believe God will provide even though on the inside I’m thinking, of course, this time He might provide by forcing me to sell a kidney or something because He certainly isn’t in any hurry, is He!? Or something along that line.

Anyway, yes, we were financially in a jam and yet knowing that our window to make a difference in Claire’s less than 40 pound body was shrinking. Not getting these muscles under control now means a future of surgeries to cut tendons and muscles so that bones can grow straight. It means listening to the tears of a teenager who can’t walk without drawing extra attention (you’ve been there – being a teenager is rough enough!). All these thoughts and many much more dramatic versions were weighing on me like a sopping wet quilt.

Provision didn’t come in one swift movement. It came in many little steps of obedience and blessing. I signed up for a secondary insurance that wounded my pride a little but came through beautifully. I recieved an actual, downright miraculous gift – that I can’t tell you about because the giver wants all the attention to be given to God. Grandparents everywhere were offering support and moo-lah. These and a bunch of other little things started adding up to provision, to comfort, and to a reminder that God is able.

Pray for us today. Pray for our courage to hold up and our pain to pass quickly. Pray also for the doctors and scientists of this world looking for a better long term solution to Claire’s problem. For now, thank God for Botox and provision. Amen.

from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

One of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books. In this scene, Margaret Hale has invited Nicolas Higgins, a working class man who has just lost his daughter to consumption, to join her father, a recently displaced pastor losing heart for the established Church of England, for tea and conversation. As Higgins, sitting in a parlor the like of which he has never seen, decides to take his leave, this is how the chapter closes:

‘Stay!’ said Mr Hale, hurrying to the bookshelves.  ‘Mr Higgins! I’m sure you’ll join us in family prayer?’

Higgins looked at Margaret, doubtfully. Her grave sweet eyes met his; there was no compulsion, only deep interest in them. He did not speak, but he kept his place.

Margaret the Churchwoman, her father the Dissenter, and Higgins the Infidel, knelt down together. It did them no harm.

First Post at the New Place!

girlsI thought I’d post this picutre just to make sure you all found me!

Changing blogs has been a project of my husband’s. He bought the domain, found a hosting service, and has spent hours tweaking and adjusting. I feel kind of like Truvy at the end of the movie Steel Magnolias. (Strangely enough, this is the character played by Dolly Parton! Is this woman on my brain or WHAT?) Truvy’s husband drives her up to a surprise second location for her beauty shop downtown. Surveying the pink and lattice-work store front she squeals, “I’M A CHAIN!”

For some reason that’s how I feel, only it is more like, “I’M A DOT COM!” My husband is so wonderful. It is easy to stay motivated toward your goals when the person who loves you best and knows you best not only supports you but even pushes you to pursue more.

This post is for you, Dan! Love you!

(And Serenity has a new home, too!)

I Cannot Resist

I remember watching this performance by Dolly Parton in 1989 and feeling the thrill of shared faith. I mean, there she was in her fancy dress and long nails standing on a huge stage singing about something that I totally identified with. I think later, when she presents the next award, she says, “lordy” when she can’t get the envelope open and then worries, “I don’t know, can you say ‘lordy’ on this show?”

Don Francisco is the writer of this Easter classic and his version on YouTube is great also, but this is the one I remember connecting with. Today is Good Friday, and I haven’t been very good at exploring the quiet somberness of it yet. I’m kind of stuck on getting to Sunday! However, this song is kind of long – the “Sunday” stuff doesn’t show up until around the 4 minute mark. But, like waiting through Friday and Saturday, the wait is worth it. If you try to skip to the end without listening to the reflective, repetitive verses, the end won’t mean as much. So, I guess I do get it a little.

Enjoy “He’s Alive” – one of my favorite Easter songs. And don’t skip anything – ’cause Sunday’s comin’!

What Writer’s Block?

At the author reading I attended this weekend I heard two bits of fabulous advice. One of them I’m saving for another post – it was just so lovely and affirming. The one that most applies to me (and probably you if you write at all) is this one:

He doesn’t believe in writer’s block.

OK – I like that. When an audience member asked him if he has ever faced writer’s block andbooks how he handled it, he simply replied that if he doesn’t feel like writing he reads. A finalist for the National Book Award in 2008, he claims he has never missed a deadline following this advice. He has also never taken a creative writing class, which both irks me and thrills me. My English major advisor assured me this is often the case: the best writers are readers – they study writing by reading what and how others have written.

I know this is true for me when it comes to academic papers. When I feel stuck or don’t know where to start it usually means I don’t have enough information to craft a thesis idea out of. If I read for a while I almost always strike upon a brilliant (or at least satisfactory) idea.

So from now on, if I don’t have anything to post here, I might just copy a passage from a favorite book and call it a day. Afterall, you need to work on your writing as well! We’ll do it together.

The Human Connection

Most of you know I’m finishing my English degree online. I’m married with four kids, a dog, and a full-time job. Oh, and I live in the middle of nowhere. Finishing this degree on campus was not even an option. I’m so thankful for the opportunity that I have to finish my degree in the hours after my kids go to bed and in all the other spaces I can find in the day (and the night and the afternoon and . . . )

My experience going back to school online has been so positive, that I didn’t even know I was missing something – until this weekend. I convinced Seren to jump in the car with me and make a road trip to a Verbal Arts Festival at my university, which turns out to be only about 2 1/2 hours away. As I sat at a long table in a charming cafe on Saturday afternoon, I got to chat with my advisor over chicken salads and a Diet Coke. Up until this weekend I had only known these professors through email and online course management systems. Sitting across from her at lunch I was able to admire her elegant silver hair and charming smile.

I didn’t only meet professors, either. One of my classmates came all the way from California! Meeting the actual person behind a Facebook profile is like the difference between the photograph of the menu item and the food itself actually sitting on a hot plate in front of you. It may not be exactly what you were expecting, but it is always more satisfying to be able to touch it, smell it, and taste it. I savored every moment with these friends.

When former socialite Margaret Hale (from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South) meets common factory workers Nicolas and Betsy Higgins she says she finds a reason to enjoy her new town because she has found a “human connection.” This is how I felt about my education this weekend. Luckily, I’ve always enjoyed my online studies, but now I feel so much more connected to them!