The MS Chronicles: A Letter to My Pre-Diagnosis Self

Dear 25 year old Heidi,

Welcome to what will be the greatest and hardest year of your life.  You’ve just lost your grandmother and your dad’s death followed a week later.  I know you’re taking life one step at a time but yet still feeling like you’re barely making it.  On top of that, you’re dating this great guy but not sure how all that’s going to work out if your brand new neurologist doesn’t figure out what’s wrong with your brain.

Hiking at a state park in Georgia. I’m still not sure how I walked all those steps but I did!

I know it all started years ago with trouble walking.  This mysterious set of symptoms have come and gone for years but now they’re coming but not going.  You’ve finally found a neurologist who seems like he’s not going to give up on you and you’re hopeful that maybe this is the one.  The doctor who won’t think you’re crazy but that there’s actually something causing your numbness, pain, and trouble walking.

And he will.  He will figure it out.  He’ll do  MRI’s and spinal taps and he’ll come back with those two words you’ve heard for years- multiple sclerosis.  Your diagnosis will come six weeks after your wedding.  You and the new husband will learn all about auto injectors, disease modifying drugs, and the awful noise that the Rebif injector makes when you use it.  It won’t be easy.  But it won’t be the death sentence you imagined.

You’ll keep walking.  And falling. Even once you’ll fall head first into a clothes hamper.  But you’ll keep getting up.

Eventually, you’ll get through two pregnancies and while you’re busy growing those babies, the FDA will approve the first oral medications to treat multiple sclerosis.  The day you take that first pill instead of an injection, you’ll feel like you’ve won the MS lottery.

My first Walk MS event

Bad days will still come and they’ll be times where you’ll feel like they’re all bad days and no good ones.  You’ll battle fatigue, memory issues, and the intense South Carolina heat in August.

But you’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And remembering that God’s grace is sufficient. Just like it was yesterday, it will be enough for tomorrow.

Wedding photo cred:  Jacob Dean Photography

How my 1960’s Green Carpet is Teaching Me Contentment

We bought our brick ranch home about 5 years ago. Great neighborhood, great location, and we scored a pretty sweet deal on the asking price. When the inspector came before closing, he said he’d rarely seen a house so well maintained. We knew it was solid house in great condition. Except it had been well maintained since 1965.

Enter the green carpet.

The plush, thick, high end, meticulously maintained GREEN CARPET.   That’s in the living room and two bedrooms.

Y’all, it’s the bane of my existence. I have no words to accurately describe my dislike of my 1960’s green carpet. I’m not sure why the carpet bothers me more than the yellow tile in the bathroom or the Brady Bunch-like intercom boxes (for real, they’re in every room!) but it does.

So why don’t we just replace it?

We’ve committed to keeping it until we’ve saved enough to replace it with the type of flooring we want long term.  Replacing the carpet with hardwood could also require us replacing the flooring in several other rooms (so they’ll all match) and it would be an expensive and lengthy renovation.  So, the green carpet lives to see another day.  Truthfully, it’s probably going to live to see a WHOLE lot of days….

Anyway, so how does my disdain for the carpet teach me contentment?  

Because of this.

And this.

And this.

As I looked through the pictures I’ve stored online the other day, I realized how many moments the green carpet has been the backdrop for.

Because of the age of carpet (and it’s color), I don’t worry if it gets played on.

Or eaten on.

Or- ahem- anything else that young children might do to carpet.

So, in that way, my green carpet chills me out as a mom.  It doesn’t look anywhere as nice as it did on the day we moved but you know what?  We’ve lived on it!  It’s seen farm toys (because it’s perfect for a pretend horse pasture), playroom sleepovers (because it’s soft and comfy), and tons of family TV/movie nights.

Do I still want new carpet or hardwood?  Ummm…..yes a million times over!

Is it worth going into tons of debt over?  No.  Nada. No way.

Is it something I should apologize over every time someone comes in my house?  No- because you’re probably secretly glad I don’t care when you kid spills something on it! 🙂

My carpet is just one little aspect of my life where I feel like the Lord is teaching me patience and contentment.  To wait on Him, to not wish my kids’ childhoods away, and to be diligent with the resources he’s provided.

What are YOU learning to be content about?

Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:19

I’ve seen this verse all over social media the last few days.  Everybody wants to find that “new thing” to start the new year.  For some of us it might be a newfound commitment to hit the gym, read with our kids, or eat out less.  One year, I foolishly decided that my New Year’s resolution was going to be that I’d only say nice things to people for 365 days.  Yeah, that lasted all of a day…

As a teacher, January 1st haven’t ever really struck me because it doesn’t feel like a fresh start.  Now, August 1st?  That’s when I feel like I’m starting over.

This January seems different.  When I came across this verse the other day, it hit my heart in an unusual way.  Because I truly have an overwhelming sense that God is truly doing a new thing in my life and those around me.  So, for the next few weeks, I’ve committed to pray and seek His will.  To find that way in the wilderness or the stream in the wasteland.  Maybe even the one I didn’t know I was looking for.  Will you join me in praying that this new year will be filled with His will and not our own?