Saturday, August 12, 2017

"Failure is not a problem to be considered!", or "How to manage headaches"

It's been quite the week for me, and not in the typical "amazing life of Connie Chandler" kind of way. Headaches have continued, along with nausea, aches and pains, exhaustion, apathy and emotional battles. Multi-level discomfort has a crude way of chewing up and spitting out joy and hope in a broken, soggy, sloppy mess. Needless to say, I have not been myself, so I've intentionally stayed away from blogging so as not to depress you all. But I'm back now!, which must mean...

I finally feel myself coming back! 

My neurologist has been pretty wonderful this week, calling me daily to check on me and talk through my symptoms. She basically put me on bed rest for the week, telling me I was overdoing it and I just needed to slow down and try to let my body heal. My worst headaches have been in the morning when I go vertical, and she said there may be some fluid leakage around the shunt in my spine that is causing that. Since the headaches seem to be gradually improving (shorter and less severe each day), she's hopeful that it will heal itself, if I don't put too much strain on it this week. She also ordered some nausea medicine for me, and talked to me about the importance of taking pain medicine at regular intervals (rather than waiting until it's unbearable). Oh yeah, and she said caffeine is good for headaches, too. 

So, for the past three (incredibly long) days, I have been laying down, binge-watching "Chuck," reading books, listening to music, and taking my meds like a good little patient. I must also say I've had some exceptional company, too - thank you to all of you who have come by to eat with me, hang out, care for me, pray with me, and spend the night with me. You have kept me from going crazy, and reminded me that I am not alone in this.

This morning, my initial bad headache only lasted about 10 minutes, I had a delicious cup of Earl Grey tea, and then I realized that I feel different - but in an old, familiar way. I feel more like myself - happier, more energetic, stronger, and more focused. I celebrated by playing a round of "Words with Friends" on my phone and beating EVERYONE. (Maybe not everyone, but it felt like it!) Also, I celebrated by writing to you. (Don't you feel special?) I'm still going to take it easy today and tomorrow, because I begin work next week, and would like to be at my best. But it is encouraging to feel the joy and hope reviving in me. 

I mentioned emotional battles, and one of the biggest is doubt and fear. Did I make a huge mistake in all this? There have been so many moments in which the solution seemed obvious - just quit while you're ahead, it's not worth it, and no one would blame you if you backed out of this now. Failure has felt like a reasonable option this week, and that is scary. But the other day, Kevan read to me over the phone - he read "The Snow Sand" scene, from The Princess Bride. It is one of our favorite parts of the book, and we often read it to each other in times of distress. It's too long to write it all out here, so I do recommend you get your own copy to read (this scene is nestled in the middle of chapter 5), but I will end this post with just a few lines from it that have helped me through the difficulties of this week: 

"To release the vine was truly madness. There was no possibility of forcing your body all the way back up to the surface. A few feet of ascension was possible if you kicked wildly, but no more. So if he [Westley] let go of the vine and did not find her [Buttercup] within a finger snap, it was all up for both of them. Westley let go of the vine without a qualm, because he had come too far to fail now; failure was not even a problem to be considered... he reached out blindly with both hands now, scrabbling wildly to touch some part of her, because failure was not a problem; failure is not a problem, he told himself; it is not a problem to be considered, so forget failure; just keep busy and find her, and he found her..." 

Through Christ, I am strong and courageous and victorious - even as I lay on my back and wait for equilibrium to return, I remind myself that failure is not a problem to be considered - press on and don't look back! The adventure continues ahead! 

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