How I Developed Chronic Pain

In order to really share my story with you, I need to go back to 2003. That’s when things really changed in our lives. My husband and I were happily married, I was pregnant with our fifth child and while we struggled financially, we were happy and grateful for our blessings.

In April of that year, I gave birth to a tiny, yet healthy baby girl, but I was not well. I had been feeling like something was wrong since February, but the doctors had ignored my concerns and even after I gave birth, they sent me home the next day with a fever and an inability to move my right leg (even though I hadn’t had anesthesia). Over the next few days, I returned to the ER several times, only to be sent away with antibiotics, instructions to rest, pain meds, etc. Nothing was helping and I felt like I was dying. I was in excruciating pain and I had fevers fluctuating up to 105 degrees. Finally, a week after Hannah was born and much persistence on my part that something was wrong, I was diagnosed with two blood clots – on my ovarian vein and renal vein.

Once I was admitted to the hospital, things only got worse after the doctors administered Heparin, which it turns out I’m allergic to. By the time they stopped the Heparin, I actually had clots in my femoral veins, iliac veins, ovarian vein, renal vein, and my inferior vena cava, among others. It was devastating. At that point I couldn’t walk and my doctor actually told my husband and me to call our family and friends from out of town because he did not expect me to make it more than a couple more days. They could not get the clotting to stop and blood has to flow in order for a person to live. As a last resort, he also suggested that they transfer me to a hospital in another state where a specialist might save my life.

We spent the next few weeks fighting for my life. The specialist managed to keep me alive. He treated the hyperactive clotting as a blood cancer and with a blood chemotherapy he was able to get the clotting to go into “remission,” for lack of a better description.

My life had been spared, but that didn’t mean it was going to be easy. When I finally came home from the hospital, I had a 7-yr-old, 5-yr-old, 3-yr-old, 2-yr-old and newborn to care for, but I could no longer walk, I was literally in constant pain and I had begun to suffer from migraines due to the blood thinner they had me on at the time.

It took me over 18 months to learn to walk again. At first I used a wheelchair and then a walker. I tried as much as possible to walk on my own, but it was incredibly painful. I was trying to force blood to flow in areas that had been blocked off for so long.

Not only was this process horrendously painful, but it was also emotionally draining. My life had been forever changed. I had a family to care for, but oftentimes they were caring more for me than I for them. Over the next ten years, I just focused on trying to regain my health and help my blood flow well.

2014 – This is a photo of where I have had clots. Most of the ones below my waist have calcified so they are actually still there. I grew collateral veins to create blood flow so that’s the only reason I’m alive and walking.

All the red veins have been clotted. Most of the ones below my waist still have calcified clots in them, but fortunately I grew collateral veins so that’s how I received blood flow when I was trying to learn to walk again. I actually have 3 inferior vena cavas because the one I was born with clotted completely when Hannah was born. The second clotted a few years ago. When I’m in a lot of pain or frustrated about my weight, etc., I try to remember that I am fortunate just to be alive.

2018 Update:

I wrote this post several years ago for the sake of being able to share the story with people without having to actually write it repeatedly. It’s still difficult for me emotionally to talk about it because I do live with daily reminders of how this has impacted my life. With that said, these days I have much to be grateful for! I am walking well. I exercise regularly, eat well and enjoy life. I love my husband and children and we’re blessed to know what a treasure it is to be in one another’s presence. I try to focus on these things rather than the pain or the loss.

I hope my story has been of some encouragement to you.

 

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Vapor in the Wind

My four-year-old ran up onto the porch where I was working and said, “Look at all the bubbles, Mommy!”  She held a bubble wand in one hand and a container of bubble liquid in the other.  As she blew the bubbles, they floated briefly and then popped.  She said, “They pop just like THAT!”

As I watched the bubbles float about for a moment or two, I noticed that some quickly sank to the ground while others soared high into the sky.  I realized that in the context of eternity, we are kind of like bubbles.  We only have moments to sink or soar before turning back to the dust from which we came.

“What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  James 4:14

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for giving us breath each day to glorify your name.

Thought for the Day:  What can I do to make an impact for Jesus before my time on Earth is over?

Hearing God

Some of you may have seen the news article about the rescuers who supposedly heard a voice calling for “help” coming from the location where they ultimately found the car w/ a toddler in it who actually survived the ordeal although she was upside down in frigid waters for 14 hours. Many people will say this was their imagination or that they remembered events differently than they actually occurred or… there could be countless scientific or imagined explanations.

But I want to share another story. This is one I don’t share very often so I hope it’s new to most of you. I know some of my college friends will remember this as I shared it after it happened.

When I was 18, I went to Mexico between my freshman and sophomore years at King College to help teach Spanish to students from the U.S. I lived in Saltillo w/ a family (a whole different story!) and took a bus into town each day to the school. Riding the bus was a cultural experience in itself. Imagine multiple lanes with no traffic laws, vehicles of all sorts all over the place weaving back and forth and basically no speed limit. One day, after I had been in Mexico for about a month, I caught the bus and it was particularly crowded that day. I was literally standing on the steps of the bus when I got on. The rest of the bus was filled with people, cargo, chickens, baskets of food… you get the idea. It was like something you would see on a movie. Since there was nowhere for me to go, I just stood on the steps of the bus, holding on to the railing for dear life.

When we reached town, the bus driver seemed to be going exceedingly fast. I get motion sickness on a good day with the best of drivers so this was not boding well with me. As we were approached a more busy area of traffic, rather than slowing down, he seemed to speed up. I was very nervous. Then I heard a voice. An audible, almost tangible voice say “MOVE.” It was in English and I had only a split second to realize that the voice was speaking to me. No one else seemed to notice, but I didn’t have time to ask. It was as if I was compelled to obey.

Very quickly, I squeezed myself up the steps and into the crowd at the top of the railing. At that moment, I turned and looked out the front windshield of the bus and instantly we crashed into another bus. Two people died that day, including the bus driver because the entire front of my bus was crushed. When I gained consciousness, I was actually laying in the BACK of the other bus. I had gone through our windshield and through the back window of the other bus. Over 40 people were taken to the hospital. Rather than being taken to a hospital, I was actually taken to the home where I was staying and it’s another story to share sometime, but let’s just say a “witch doctor” was involved, eggs, and lots of chanting. I found out after I returned to the U.S. that I had actually shattered my left knee (still have bone in the cartilage to prove it), busted my right hip, had cuts and bruises all over me and probably a concussion since I had lost consciousness, but considering where I had been standing, it’s amazing I survived. The stairwell where I had been standing was jammed completely UNDER the other bus. If I hadn’t moved, I would most assuredly been killed.

Some people like to say that God is dead. Or never existed. Or that miracles no longer occur. Or even if they believe God is real and alive and that miracles do occur, surely God no longer talks to people. I don’t believe this. To this day, I can’t explain the voice I heard. It was powerful and overwhelming. It was real. And I am grateful that God is still active in our lives, performs miracles and even cares enough to talk with us if we’re willing to listen.

Here’s a link to an article about the little girl who was rescued:  http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/03/09/utah-officers-say-mysterious-voice-pushed-them-to-rescue-toddler-trapped-inside/

Car Buggies

Several years ago, when the children were much younger, I had planned a special vacation for the family, but I hadn’t told them about it. Finally, the day arrived for us to leave so I started getting everyone ready and I announced that I had a treat for them. We were going someplace very special and I thought they were going to have lots of fun. The kids got very excited and I asked them where they thought we might be heading. They replied in unison, “Food City!” Seriously. That was their answer.

I had spent a couple of weeks planning a vacation, but they were thrilled that they might get to go to Food City, our local grocery store that had just added the much desired “car buggies.” The children thought it was such a fun activity to go shopping just so they could “drive” around the store in the “car buggy.”

It was amusing for me and they did have a great time on our real vacation, but each time I walk into Food City, I’m reminded of the joyous expression on their faces at the prospect of simply going to the grocery store.

Do you look for reasons to rejoice even in the little things in life? Do you encourage a joyful heart in your children or do you have a tendency to crush their spirits? Does a crushed spirit dwell within you? We should always be asking ourselves these questions as we interact with our children. I think this verse alone should be a tenet to live by for parents. Think today how you can encourage joyful hearts in your home. 🙂

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Expert Advice: Encouraging or Discouraging?

This is a short excerpt from Homeschooling for the Rest of Us (Bethany House, 2010).  This topic was on my mind today and I thought perhaps it would bring encouragement to some of you.  Sonya  🙂

Homeschoolers tell me about the pressure they sometimes feel from the homeschooling experts. Instead of feeling encouraged through various books, conferences, seminars, or other programs, many homeschoolers feel intimidated. A number of these experts travel from conference to conference with their polite children (who have perfected their math skills by helping sell products from the family business). It’s difficult not to envy these families. Trust me, I know because I have! On the other hand, I’ve been on the other side of all of this. At times moms comment to me, “I would never be able to take care of the household, teach my children, cook, do all the other things I need to do, and write books like you do!” The fact is I can’t do all these things either. When I’m finishing a big project like a book, other things have to wait—including a clean house and fresh-cooked meals.

God has given us all individual gifts. Some people are good at things like organization, public speaking, or writing, and have used these gifts to help other homeschooling families. But God has given homeschooling moms and dads many gifts to minister to others in needed ways: hospitality, cooking skills, musical talent, sports abilities; the list goes on and on. So rather than being intimidated by the experts, look in the mirror and recognize the many wonderful talents God has bestowed on that person looking back at you. Use your gifts to bless others.

If you’re still feeling pressure because experts or others tell you to “do it this way” or “if you’d only follow my plan, your life will be perfect, your children will obey, and they will love learning” or any other “just do it my way” kinds of statements, my advice is simple: Find different experts!

An attitude of gratitude

I heard something today that really made me think.

A man was talking about his life and growing up in the Great Depression.  During that time, when he was 12 years old, his father died, leaving his mother with 7 young children, no money, and no income.

This man said that he remembered his mom, like a mother hen, huddling all the children around the casket at his father’s funeral.  She looked down at his father, with the children there in front of her and said, “Look at what you’ve left me with…”

And I fully expected her to say something like, “all these children, no money, and what am I supposed to do?”

But instead, she said, “Look at what you’ve left me with” and she looked at the children, “something that is worth more than all the gold in the world.  THANK YOU.”

Wow.

I am so thankful for this wonderful example of gratitude, faith, and devotion.  I hope it encourages you today as it has me.

Sonya Haskins

mom, author, homeschool advocate

Seeking Perfection…

Chris took the children to church this morning while I rested.  Even though I pray all the time, study my Bible regularly, and truly worship God in my heart without church, I still don’t like to miss church.  My pastor gives the best sermons in the world and it’s nice to visit with fellow believers.  When I can’t go, Chris and the children tell me about the sermon when they come home.  That’s good, but it’s not the same as hearing it myself. 

Sometimes our pastor plays a short video clip of missionaries or something pertaining to the sermon.  This morning the children and Chris came home telling me how powerful the video was that he used today.  You can view it here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX_7j32zgNw    It’s amazing!  The video is a sermon entitled “That’s My King!” by S.M. Lockridge.  Take six minutes of your day to watch it.  It will thoroughly inspire you!

As Chris and the children were telling me about the service, Chris also mentioned that a new family visited today.  He thought I might know them because they homeschool and have ten children.  I immediately thought I knew who he was talking about and I said, “Were they perfect?  Sitting in the pews quietly?  Dressed neatly?  Etc.?”

Chris thought for a moment and said, “Yes, they were.” 

He gave me a kind of funny look and Sarah said, “Mommy doesn’t like perfect, as if that would explain everything.

Although I denied this fact, I couldn’t help but think of my wonderful editor.  We’ve had many discussions on this topic and I immediately thought, “Gee, it’s pretty bad that my editor would probably agree with my 12-year-old daughter on this topic!”

Instead of saying that, I said out loud, “Oh yeah, I know who they are.  That’s the ___ family.  They are as sweet as can be.”

“You don’t mind that they are perfect,” he asked, imitating the way I had said the word.

“Oh, no,” I said, “Of course not, but they are pretty perfect.”

I told him how the mom had shared at a mom’s meeting one time how a new homeschooling mom had asked how to reduce her stress.  This mother replied that she didn’t have any stress because they followed a strict schedule so everyone knows what needs to be done when.  They get up at 6:00 and all the children are responsible for getting dressed and doing morning chores by 7:00, when they have to be at the breakfast table.  They eat a full breakfast every morning with dad before he leaves for work so that he can do Bible study with them.  Then they clean up the dishes and start school at 8:00.  They do school for four hours and then break for lunch at noon.  The children rotate lunch and dinner duty so that mom doesn’t have to cook the meals.  After lunch, they have quiet time, then play time before dinner.  After dinner, which is served at 6:00, they have family time for a couple of hours and then the children are in bed at 8:00. 

I remember watching the reaction of the new homeschool mom as this veteran homeschooler was sharing this information.  The new homeschooler looked as if her eyes would pop out of her head. 

To ease her mind and help her get her eyes back into their sockets, I said, “Actually, I think that might drive the average person insane!

“You don’t have to do it that way,” I stated.

The veteran homeschool mom is one of the sweetest people I know and I was quick to acknowledge to the group present that if they were able to manage their household so efficiently and maintain a schedule so expertly, then by all means they should do so.  That is a wonderful way to train your children about scheduling, discipline, responsibility, commitment, etc.  However, I also think that it’s just not possible for some families to maintain such structure and if they try to do it and can’t, it’s a greater source of frustration and stress than they had to begin with. 

I really am not against “perfection,” but rather the idea that we can attain it.  Perfection is attained through the only one who is perfect – the Lord Jesus Christ.  Also, it’s very easy to look at someone else’s situation and desire to be like them, but God gives each of us our own unique abilities and challenges.  Instead of worrying about or comparing yourself to others, seek the Lord’s will for your life – and your homeschool. 

Rather than seeking perfection or an idea of perfection that you’ve developed by observing someone else or creating an ideal world in your mind, seek the Lord.   Seek God.  Know God.  Love God.  Obey God.  If you do this, the rest will follow and it doesn’t much matter if you follow a strict or a flexible schedule so long as you have the Light to guide you.

Sonya

www.thehomeschooladvocate.com

 

 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33