From This Moment On-A Beautiful Tapestry of Life

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From this moment on,
Life will never be the same.
Broken hearts still beat.
Beauty still exists.
God is still love.
All weave a tapestry of
a beautiful life.

D. Elaine Wood-Lane
12/8/16

30 years ago on December 24, 1986 I lost the second of two my two brothers. It had been a really rough year and became completely unbearable on Christmas morning around 7:30 AM when my father called to let me know we had lost Joe in a horrendous, freakish car accident the night before. From that moment on, my life was completely different. I was no longer a 25 year old young mother of two whose primary worry was when to wake my two tiny sons for Christmas morning. I had survived many difficult things in 1986, but the news of my brother’s death cracked everything wide open. It is amazing, truly, what a heart can survive and what can grow in the cracks of our hearts.

On May 27, 1986 my 69 year old mother had a massive heart attack. It took two ambulances, four emergency medical technicians and a full hour to stabilize her enough to transport her to the hospital. I called my brother, Joe, and my sister, Judy, who both lived in the area, to let them know that Mother’s life was hanging by a thread and then prayed, prayed, and held onto Daddy’s hands like the life lines they were. We held onto each other’s hands. Joe and Judy came up to the hospital as soon as they were able and we all spent the night moving back and forth between the CCU waiting room and the garish lights of the cafeteria. In 1986 you could still smoke inside certain areas of the hospital, primarily the cafeteria, so we made regular trips there. You see, everyone in my family, except me, smoked at that time. In the morning, we had to make a decision to have an arterial line put into Mother’s upper chest so the doctors would have direct, immediate access to her heart.

Two days went by and Joe, Judy and I decided it would be wise to ask our brother John, in California, and our sister, Betty, also in California, to come to Texas and join us in our vigil. Betty was unable to come at that time, but John was able to come. John himself had been fighting cancer, but was supposed to be in remission so we were delighted to learn he could make the journey to Texas. Two miracles occurred when John came to Texas. First, Mother’s condition improved greatly. Second, after a seeming lifetime of bitter sibling rivalry, my two brothers reconciled. John and Joe made their peace and our hearts were greatly encouraged that things were getting better. Over the course of John’s visit, however, I realized that John’s cancer was not in remission and that he was in very bad shape. He begged me not to tell anyone else in the family. He came to say his goodbyes to us and he wanted it to be a time of joy and pleasantness rather than doom and gloom. I kept his promise and told no one.

About a month later, Mother had to have quadruple coronary bypass surgery in order to not only keep her alive, but to give her a chance to thrive once more. She survived the surgery and once again we family members made frequent trips from the CCU waiting room to the cafeteria.

On August 24, 1986 we received word that John had lost his battle with cancer and was gone. Joe cried more than anyone. He had just regained his brother, only to lose him less than 70 days later. Daddy and Joe traveled to California to attend John’s funeral and to say their goodbyes. That trip was remarkable because it was the only time my daddy ever traveled by airplane anywhere and it was the last time Joe flew anywhere.

Several months went by with many changes occurring within those months. My husband, Craig, my sons and I moved to a small town in the Texas panhandle and started a new life when my husband started working for the United States Postal Service. It was the first time I had ever lived so far away from my parents. Also, our family slowly started to heal from Mother’s cardiac issues and John’s death.

Life was looking up! My husband and I bought a lovely old Victorian home in Memphis, Texas. I was able to stay at home with our sons, ages 2 and 1, and finally, we had enough money that we didn’t have to decide who we were going to pay each month for the essentials of life.

Christmas Eve rolled around and I was so excited because my mother-in-law and her sister and sister’s husband came to Memphis to celebrate Christmas with us. My baby sons were excited because it was the first time they were even aware there was such a thing as Christmas. I remember for Christmas Eve supper I made homemade cheese soup and rolls. I was feeling so grownup and domesticated and…happy, truly happy.

I started experiencing extreme right flank pain around 7:45 that evening, immediately after supper. I ran a fever, started passing blood, and felt like I was dying. My happiness had evaporated within 10 minutes. I desperately wanted it back, but could not seem to shake my pain and malaise. For the remainder of the evening and throughout the long Christmas Eve night, I was in agony. Nothing seemed to help. I finally drank a gallon of half apple cider vinegar and half water mixed together in complete desperation. My baby sons were going to have their first fun Christmas morning and by golly I wasn’t going to let anything spoil that!

Finally, around 6:30 on Christmas morning, I passed what seemed to be a large kidney stone and the pain was gone. I went to bed completely exhausted. Around 7:15 AM our phone rang. I answered the phone to hear Daddy say, “Is Craig there? I really need to speak to Craig.” As Daddy asked these questions, his voice cracked. I immediately was alerted that something was terribly wrong. After a few minutes of wrangling, Daddy finally spoke the fatal words that changed my life forever, “Elaine, well, Joe has been in a terrible car accident. Please let me speak to Craig.” “Is Joe ok? How badly was he hurt? Daddy, please just tell me!” “Elaine, sugar, I’m afraid Joe didn’t make it. He was killed instantly.” Suddenly my hands were no longer strong enough to hold the telephone. As I dropped it, Craig picked it up and I started keening and wailing in agony. How could my beloved Joe be gone? It just couldn’t be true!

You know how you always read in novels that the hero or heroine has gone numb from grief and shock? I always thought that was pure hyperbole until that morning. After my initial wailing and sobbing bout, I realized I had a job to do. It was still Christmas morning and my boys were expecting fun! By golly they were going to get it too!  So, I took some deep breaths, wiped the tears off my face and went upstairs to wake up my babies. We had a great Christmas, from what I understand. Apparently I did all the appropriate things, but  I remember none of them.

So, where does that leave things now, 30 years later and staring Christmas Eve down as it looms closer and closer? The pain is still there. I still miss my brothers. In addition, I miss my sister Betty and my parents, all of whom I’ve lost in the intervening 30 years. My life never has been the same since Christmas day 1986. However, it hasn’t been all horrific either. I’ve learned we have moments of great joy and moments of great sorrow in life. They don’t balance each other out. They never become equals. What they do accomplish is weave a tapestry of a life wherein we know to cherish the joyous moments, however brief they may be, to know with confidence God will assist us through the agonizing moments, and the rest of the moments are full of the dreams that become beautiful memories.

The most important things I’ve learned from that fateful moment on December 25, 1986 is to love and trust God, to love people and tell them so, and to love life. There is no other way to find peace in this wild and crazy tapestry we call life.

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Cocooning

Have you ever woken up
And you feel like your nerves
Want to crawl right out of your skin?

You want to crawl back into your
Cocoon of a bed and sleep until
It’s all over. The pain, not life.

It’s rare for me these days,
But on this snowy, cold day,
Even with my favorite Buddy
On my lap and the beautiful,
Snowy scenery outside,

I’d rather be cocooning.
Wake me up when it’s
Safe to come out and play
Again.

© D. Elaine Wood-Lane
1/8/16

I have fibromyalgia. I have been doing really well lately so far as pain goes. Even on my trip to Europe, I felt pretty good most of the time. Tired and a little achy in the evenings, but we scheduled in days of rest. This was very wise.

Since we have returned my sleep schedule has been all messed up. I tend to wake up in the middle of the night. I’m usually not hurting, but just can’t sleep.

Out of the blue last evening I started hurting. The all over the body, just shoot me now, kind of pain. The pain that no matter what you do or what position you get into, nothing helps. EVERYTHING HURTS. When my pain gets like this I swear even my eyelashes hurt. It’s that burning, pervasive, what-the-hell kind of pain. I always describe it as feeling like having a bad case of flu after you’ve run a marathon. You know, where you feel feverish (I’m not), your muscles are on fire, your joints hurt, your skin tingles and prickles and you just want to lay down flat on the floor, spread eagle and die kind of pain. I’m not in this kind of pain nearly as often as I used to be, but, dear, kind, merciful God, please remove it from me now!

I hate the pain scale question that nurses and doctors always ask. You know the one: “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, what is your pain level today?” Usually it’s between 5 and 7, but I don’t even register that pain any longer. I’ve been inured to it. Get it above a 7, though and wow! Turn up the dial on that and it’s like 10 isn’t high enough to describe it. I personally think the scale should be 1-20. Tonight I would be a 20.

Ok, now, I’ve whined long enough. I know this too shall pass because it always does. I’ve taken my “only in case of real pain” medication. I’ll drink coffee and read something excruciatingly boring and the next thing you know, I’ll be asleep on the couch. When I wake up, most of the pain will be gone. The birds will be singing, the sun will bright and I’ll forget what this pain feels like. I’ll think, “Oh, good grief! There’s nothing wrong with me! Why was I making such a fuss last night?” and I’ll forget what I was feeling until the next time.

I read a blog post on Momastery tonight that made a lot of sense. It was referring to deep depression, but whether one’s pain is mental/emotional or physical, pain is pain. She recommended that when one is down and hurting, write a note to yourself so when you do go to the doctor two days later and you’re “fine,” you can show them the note of how you felt when you weren’t fine. Hence this self-involved blog post. I’m writing down my notes of how I feel when I’m not fine. I will take it with me when I go to the doctor’s office.

I’m not an artist, but in this I’m trying to represent artistically, how fibromyalgia pain feels. 

I feel better already! Confession truly is good for what ails you. God is good, all the time, and is bigger than any kind of pain we might bear. He won’t let us be tested beyond our abilities to get through things. I know that for a fact. Sometimes I just wish He didn’t think I could bear so much! LOL!

Peace and love,

Elaine

Catching Up With Myself

(I started writing this on March 12.)
One thing that many people don’t know or understand about fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome is that often the people diagnosed with the syndrome appear to have normal, even very high activity levels. From the outside, everything seems status quo, even to the person who has fibromyalgia. Often, I’ll find myself thinking, “Oh good grief! There is nothing wrong with me that a good swift kick in the pants won’t take straighten out! I can do anything I set my mind to do.”

This week I have been in my hometown and area meeting my new grandson, little, sweet adorable Milo (no, I don’t care for this baby at all). I’ve also been spending time with Milo’s parents, other grandparents, family, and dear friends. The weather has been beautiful, the drives across my beloved plains have been inspirational, and overall life has truly been beautiful. I mean, how could you not be happy and energetic with moments like this?

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Or this?

Then comes Thursday afternoon and suddenly the bottom drops out. Your left big toe starts hurting like it is on fire. Your elbows get hot. You hips decide they want to feel like you’ve been practicing for the grand finals of Rumba dancing, and you realize you are sinking fast. You know you can make it to the next place you’re going (my sister Judy’s house), but you’re not very sure you’ll be coherent when you get there. The blessing of having a sister like Judy is she rarely thinks you’re coherent anyway so she doesn’t care or particularly notice that you acting “weirder” than normal. I tried to set up a printer for her, but since she doesn’t have wifi, it didn’t work.

(Wrote this today, Sunday, March 22)
Suddenly, I knew I had hit my limit. I told her I had to go, gave rather incoherent goodbyes, hugged her and her sweet fellow Palmer fumbling hugs, and drove away to my friends’ house where I was staying. Buddy and I managed to stumble to the bed, where I started writing this post, but somehow I fell flat asleep (for four hours) in the middle. So, now I’m completing this post a week and some days later. I ended up getting quite ill with a sinus infection and exhaustion. My drive back to Colorado Springs was gruesome to say the least. Every cell in my body hurt. At every town I wondered if I should stop and stay the night. I kept pressing onward, however, one town at a time. I finally made it home and was never so glad in my life to sit in my green recliner and just…be. I stayed there practically all week, taking antibiotics and regaining my strength and obeying my body’s commands on how best to take care of myself. That’s the thing with fibromyalgia. You have to listen to your body and respond accordingly. If you do that, you’ll be ok. If you don’t, and you push too hard, your body says, “Nope, you’re done for a while kid. You’re going to sleep now.” I have to admit, my body is smarter than I am sometimes. 😉 You know, though, given the same chance, I’d do it all over again just to be with my grandson. That grandmotherly love kicks in and is completely irresistible. Holding my baby grandson is worth any pain or exhaustion.

He’s sleeping with the blanket I crocheted for him. I think this is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen in my life.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Peace and love,
Elaine

Buddy, the Clean and Frisky Chihuahua!  

Buddy is all cleaned up and feeling frisky!! I even cut his toenails. Cutting a Chihuahua’s toenails is fraught with the same dangers as cutting a human infant’s nails except maybe even a little scarier if they have black toenails like Buddy.  It is impossible to see where Buddy’s toenail quick is so I’m always scared to death I’ll cut his quick and make him bleed.  I did that once and both of us cried for five minutes.  As a result, I never cut his nails as short as a professional groomer does, but that’s fine with me!  Today Buddy was so good throughout the grooming  process that he got two of his bacon stick treats for good behavior! 

Our big kitchen sink was the perfect place to bathe him because of the spray hose, the size, and the height so I didn’t have to bend over a bathtub.  (Don’t worry, the sink was cleaned and sanitized afterwards.)  The beauty of a small dog, especially if they trust you, is you can do their grooming yourself, IF you have the energy.  I had the energy, but now, alas, I believe it is now gone for the day!  Also, my hands and forearms have that tingly, pins and needles pain which means I should rest, even from knitting, for a little while.  Sometimes fibromyalgia really cramps my style, but we had fun and best of all, Buddy looks and smells mah-ve-lous dahling!   I hope everyone is having a beautiful first day of Spring and has a great weekend!    

Buddy the Clean and Frisky!

Thursday Morning

I’m sleepy, but jittery.
Hurting, but not overcome.
Must be a Thursday.

Thursdays are when
Mr. Fibromyalgia comes
out to play.

He’s tired of
being good and
looking nice.

He has been nice,
patient, kind,
tolerant for
three days.

Even good visitors
start to stink
like bad fish
after three days,
right?

The sun is shining,
the air is cool
and bright.

I’m going to
swathe myself
in sunshine,
and ignore
Mr. Fibromyalgia.

I’m tired of him
already. He needs
to find a new
place to play.

©EWLane 9.18.14