I don’t know about you, but my days NEVER go as I have planned. Life happens, and real life is not usually able to be scheduled. By the time you read this post, I will be on my way to San Diego for my sixteenth surgery in 6 years. My family and I have it down to a routine. We get plane tickets for Grandma, she arrives early enough to get the kids used to her again, she takes over the household and homeschooling while my husband and I go to the hospital and take care of the surgery. I come home and rest for a few days while she runs things like clockwork and then I gradually take over until the day she has to go home. A few months pass, and we start the whole process over again. Life goes on.
But it wasn’t always this organized. In the year before I had my first surgery to open my trachea, I was very, very sick but no one could figure out what was wrong. I was pregnant and I sounded like an 80 year old chain smoker. I’ve never touched a cigarette in my life, but there were a whole lot of people in upstate New York who would never have believed it if I protested. I was treated for asthma and even told by one unsympathetic doctor that I was just having trouble breathing because I was carrying the baby so high and it was perfectly normal. I almost died in childbirth because none of those doctors pursued my symptoms enough to get answers. Every day before and after Caleb’s birth was a living nightmare for me and even those closest to me did not understand how much I struggled or why. They thought if I would just use my (asthma) medications more faithfully I would be fine. Very little school was getting done the way I thought it should be. My oldest daughter went for months without ever practicing handwriting, and I didn’t even know it! I would sit down to check math and find myself checking three months worth of work at a time and then my kids would spend a few days or weeks going back and fixing all of the errors they had made.
Fact is, I didn’t have asthma. In the weeks surrounding our move to Virginia I inhaled smoke from a small kitchen fire, inhaled the fumes from ammonia that a less-than-thorough maid left in the corner of the hotel shower where I inadvertently placed my soap, and suffered from the beginnings of seasonal allergies all of which aggravated my symptoms until I finally told my husband I was going to die. My exact words were: “I feel like I am dying, and nobody knows it. Nobody understands. None of the doctors will listen to me. And I.am.going.to.die if we don’t figure out what is wrong.”
Finally, one doctor noticed an anomaly on one of my cat scans. “Let’s look at this more closely.” he said. He ordered a fine-cut cat scan of my trachea and within three days I was having emergency surgery. At that point my trachea was ninety-percent blocked by a stenosis — a non-cancerous growth of tissue. The only reason he let me wait three days was because the world-reknowned expert he wanted to perform my surgery was in Europe at a medical conference. Plus, it gave us time to fly in Grandma.
Even with a few answers, the next couple of years were filled with uncertainty and more surgeries than I even care to remember. It was a long time before I was able to get a handle on this disease called Ideopathic Tracheal Stenosis. School had to take a back seat on more then one occasion. Even now, coughing can cause momentary panic as things often get stuck on the recurring tissue growth. The doctors who found and first treated my stenosis considered it an absolute miracle that I survived to that point and gave birth to a child in that condition. Not to mention the smoke and ammonia inhalation. Just when I thought things were settling into a routine, we found out I was (surprise) expecting again and 25 weeks later – we found out that expectation was a double blessing – twins. Talk about crazy days where nothing goes as planned!
Jesus is the Answer.
The question is not whether or not bad or crazy stuff will happen; the only question is when. And when that time comes, how will your children, your marriage, and your homeschooling weather the storm. By God’s grace, I did survive. With the exception of my special needs daughter, my children have all consistently passed their year-end examinations. My oldest daughter finally has beautiful handwriting, and my youngest daughter is finally reading. We’ve settled into “surgery” routines now and the life lessons we have all learned along the way have made us better for it all. But only through God’s grace and strength was this possible.
In the midst of life’s trials, Jesus is the answer – the source of strength that will carry you through. If you do not have that source, I urge you to talk to a local Christian pastor or friend who can loan you a Bible and talk you through what it means to have Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. You can also contact me privately for more information if you have questions. Life is fleeting. Where will you spend eternity?
This post was written in response to the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Cruise titled When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned. Many others have written great posts on this topic from a lot of different angles, and I bet one of them will speak to your needs and where you are right now.