Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Time for a Hard Restart

Over the past few months, I've brought up to my husband several times how I wish I had a restart button.  Not for life in general - I absolutely love my life, in fact - but just for my body and my health.  I wish there was a hard reset button I could push, let my body "shut down" and then reboot at baseline.  I wouldn't expect perfect health after the reboot - no perfectly sculpted abs or 100% lung function.  I would just like to find myself at baseline, with the lung function I had a year and a half ago, no active infections, all the built-up mucus cleared out, and able to exercise without it seeming futile and like I was fighting a losing battle.  CF wouldn't be gone, but through the process of just "rebooting" I could start over again with a clean slate.

It's a nice thought, this idea of a bodily restart button.  And I wouldn't be unreasonable in my request - I think it would be completely understandable if we only got a certain number of "hard resets" to use during our lifetime.  I could always have it as an option, but would have to be wise in deciding when to use it.  (that seems like a reasonable deal, right?)

But, alas, as much as I could hope and pray and wish and beg for it, no such button exists.  I'm coming to except that the closest thing to a "reset" button in my life is a hospital admission where I hit my body and my lungs with everything medicine and rest and prayer can do for it.  And that's where I find myself today.

This is only my 3rd hospital stay since I was diagnosed at age 2, which, considering I'm now pushing 28 (?!) is not a bad run.  I've more or less conquered my fear of hospital admissions that plagued me the better part of the past 25 years (more on that history later), but when it comes down to it, making the call to go into the hospital is still an incredibly difficult one.

I've known for about a year now that my lung function, though not awful, could definitely be better, but I just couldn't quite get where I wanted to be, even after two rounds of home IVs and two sinus surgeries.  As I saw and felt yet another downward trend in my lungs over the past few months, I knew a hospital stay was probably looming in the not-so-distant future.  As I mentioned, the concept of going into the hospital no longer terrifies me and I can think about it as a practical matter.  When it comes right down to it, though, once I'm actually faced with packing for a stay, telling my doctor "yes, admit me," and settling into my hospital room, I'm still hit with a bit of an emotional shock.

Besides the general fear of "will this work?  will I get better this time?" that lingers in the back of my mind, there are lots of other little things that can unexpectedly disrupt my emotional balance.  For instance, this hospital stay marks the first time husband and I have been apart at night since we got married.  It's a little thing, but it's hard not be resentful that this stupid disease forced us into that "first."  Closely behind that resentment follows feelings of guilt that I'm putting us through this, and that I didn't try harder to stay on top of my treatments and out of the hospital.  Then there comes the second wave of resentment that this guilt and these issues have to be a part of our lives at all, and the pity party cycle goes on and on.  But (as with many aspects of chronic illness, I think) after a night of crying myself to sleep I woke up "over it" and a little stronger for the experience.

I've been in the hospital for a week now, but hope to be headed home today or tomorrow.  There was talk about another sinus surgery while I'm here, but I talked to the ENT today and he said he wouldn't go in for surgery again just yet.  He said my sinuses are still "relatively" clear, and that we should just try to fight the infection that's there with antibiotics, and if things don't get better, then maybe surgery.  This is not my favorite answer, but I guess it's what happens when you agree to go to the hospital before things get really rough with your health.  While I'm here, I'd like to hit everything with guns blazing, including getting my sinuses completely cleaned out - but, when some health issues are just so/so, I find the doctors reluctant to commit to hardcore therapy.  I hope this doesn't mean I'll just land back in the hospital three or four months from now with more infection because my lungs got cleared up but not my sinuses.

But enough with the negatives and on to happier thoughts!  I love how the Lord also uses these times I spend in the hospital to encourage me and pull my heart toward Him.  I enjoy talking with all the nurses, and PTs, and RTs about life, law school, families, the Olympics, whatever (though, admittedly, it sometimes feels a little awkward when the nurse or RT is in the room for treatments and I feel obligated to turn on the TV or something for some noise when I'd really rather just sit and read or work!).  It delights me when conversation naturally flows into a discussion about faith.  It's also been a neat time for me and husband to be loved on by our home group from church.  Being in the hospital also presents PLENTY of time to just sit, read the Scriptures, study, and pray.  Most importantly though, I think, is the renewed sense of dependence I have on Him - in this crazy life there is so much out of my control, and I honestly don't always do so great managing those few things that ARE in my control (ahem, exercising and therapies…).  But I can sit firm in the knowledge that He loves me, He seeks my heart, He teaches me, and He provides for me, no matter how many times I screw this up.  Time and time and time and time again He has shown this.  What I cannot control, He holds in His hands;  what I can control (exercising, therapies, etc.), He can give me the strength to pursue and persevere.  And ultimately, all this is part of His grand design to work all things to His glory.

So, there's my update for now.  Hopefully by the next blog I'll be back in the swing of things!

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