Goodbye 2020

MRI Results and Goodbye 2020

MRI Results

Good news! My MRI from the other day showed that my disease is still stable. No new lesions. This is such a relief. Honestly, after my day started so poorly and the MRI was one of the worst I had experienced so far, I was convinced I was in for some bad news later. 

Before I go into my tough experience, I do want to acknowledge that nurses, doctors, and medical professionals have had an excruciating year. More than any of us they are exhausted, tired, and burnt out. I know they are working long hours and trying their best to keep everyone safe and healthy. They have to go home every day worried about if they picked up something on the job and give it to their own families.  I can’t imagine what they are going through and that they are ready for this to be over and done with. I am going to write about this as a way of venting, and then choose to let it go and hope that next time it will be better. I am going to hope that this one negative experience is just a result of being overworked, overtired, and just related to Covid.

I know I mentioned that I had to wear a mask this time in the MRI machine, which was awful. Truthfully, it did seem odd and over-the-top to me. No one is in the room with me during the actual exam, so making me wear a mask just seems cruel. For those who have never had an MRI, you lie on this tiny bed and they put this cage over your face and you get pulled into a big machine. Once again, I am in a big machine…how am I going to breathe on anyone. It is incredibly claustrophobic and you have to hold as still as possible. To start out the day, the lady for some reason handed me two gowns, but the first one I put on actually seemed a bit dirty. There was something sticky on it. So, I took it off and put on the other one, which was a bit large, but who cares about that. She then insisted I wear a mask even after I asked her if it was necessary. Normally once you lay on the table they help cover you with a blanket and tuck it in, help you with your earplugs, ask you about your music preference, and insert your IV. This lady barely threw a blanket over me. My feet were not covered and after I was pulled into the machine the machine kept tugging it off of me. This alone I hated because I started getting nervous it was somehow getting wrapped up in something and who knows what could malfunction. She put the IV in my arm and then handed me the earplugs and left me to do it myself. This is next to impossible with an IV in one arm that you can’t bend. Plus, she had thrown the ball that you squeeze if you desperately need out of the machine on me before she left. Of course, that fell off the table while trying to put my own earplugs in. I could not get the earplug in my left ear (that was the side my IV was on). When she came back I asked for her help and she said, “I don’t think I can do it, but we’ll see.” She proceeded to shove the thing into my ear…I said it was fine. It wasn’t very gentle. She just didn’t seem that interested in helping me to feel comfortable or at ease. It was not a pleasant experience and I hope that next time is better.

Example picture of an MRI machine.

BUT, the most important thing is the good news I received. I can deal with a bad MRI scan any day for good news. My neurologist thinks this is a really good sign for me and that my disease should continue to be stable through the next year. He said that after pregnancy is one of the most common times he sees a relapse in women. He told me that this past year I have been sort of walking on burning coals, trying to get to the other side, and I just about made it and should be in the clear now. I wish that he could give me a guarantee of sorts that I won’t have a relapse again any time soon. The way he was talking certainly made me feel like he was handing me a golden ticket of sorts. I will take the win for now and focus on doing my best in staying healthy and praying that my disease stays stable for years to come. 

Cheers to two good scans in 2020!

Goodbye 2020

We are in the homestretch of 2020 with just a few days remaining. Who would have anticipated the turn of events for this past year? I had to laugh a bit glancing back at my “Goodbye 2019” post from last year. I was so excited to start 2020 because my 2019 felt kind of like a disaster. 

But, to be honest, my 2020 wasn’t all that bad. It certainly wasn’t what I expected. And, it definitely had bumps and sadness, but I can’t help but to reflect on the year in overall joy and gratefulness. 

Recapping 2020

In February we welcomed our sweet little Audrey. Audrey’s birth is by far the highlight of my year and I think one of the biggest blessings to have had her during this crazy year. We were so lucky and thankful that she was born just a few weeks before the pandemic started. I can’t imagine the stress and anxiety that new parents felt when the pandemic started and some weren’t allowed their significant other in the hospital with them. Or, I heard some stories of moms and babies being separated at birth. I honestly heard so many horror stories. And, therefore, we are so thankful that we were able to enjoy a normal and predictable birthing experience. 

But, the weeks to follow, we would never have predicted. About two weeks after Audrey was born the first few COVID cases happened at Evergreen. The same place I gave birth to Audrey and had to go for my post-op. I was not thrilled that I had to go to the hot spot where COVID started. Turns out, the hospital was pretty empty. I ran in, and ran out hardly touching anything.

About one week later we went into lockdown. When you have a new baby you never expect to not be able to let people come and visit and hold your baby. And pretty quickly we started realizing that this was not something that was going to just disappear in a few weeks. Thankfully Mitchell has been really good about reading and doing research on what has been going on so he kept mentally preparing me from early on that at the earliest this would go away by the end of summer. That was holding onto the hope that the heat and good weather would help stop the spread of COVID. But, it wasn’t too long before we realized this is probably not going anywhere until there is a vaccine or treatment. 

Pretty much the same time that COVID started was the same time my sister was diagnosed with cancer. My parents traveled down to Arizona to go help her as she got set-up and started with treatment. This was incredibly hard, but understandable. She was alone in Arizona and needed help and support.

Early March was pretty much just an incredibly hard month for us. We had a newborn, my hormones were all over the place, my sister was diagnosed with cancer, everything was shutting down. And, to top it off Expedia was doing mass layoffs. We spent an entire week panicked about whether Mitchell would still have a job or not. Thankfully, he was fine. 

Then, of course, there was so much wrapped up into this year. I don’t really need to go into too much of the political aspect of the year, you lived it too. But, that definitely adds stress and tension to all of our lives.

There have been some other challenging things throughout this year and of course the passing of my sister has been by far the hardest thing to have happened in 2020. Never did I expect to find out she had cancer in March and that she would pass just 7 months later. Never did I think that her story would end this way. Maybe someday I will get the courage to share more of her story. My mom mentioned that I need to write a book about it, but her story is so complex that I am not sure I would be able to do it that kind of justice.

Counting My Blessings

I hate admitting this, but I have a tendency to be more of a pessimist. Mitchell on the other hand is an extreme optimist. But, this is such a good and healthy thing for me and our marriage. Mitchell is good about listening to my pain and sadness. Comforting me, and then in the appropriate times reminding me to stop and take a look around. Look at the things God has blessed me with. I have two beautiful children who I adore and they adore me. They seem truly happy. And, I mean, they have some of the biggest smiles I have ever seen on a 2-year-old and 10-month-old’s faces. I have been able to breastfeed both of them, which was a desire of mine. They both sleep really well, which is crucial to my health and well-being. Mitchell is able to provide for our family while I stay home and care for the kids. And, in this weird year, we have seen way more of him because we get time back from his commute that he doesn’t have and his breaks he comes up to play and have lunch with all of us. We have grown so close as a family this year. I have been able to recognize and pour time into the most valuable parts of my life, starting with my faith and relationship with Jesus and extending to my family and friends. 

In such a challenging and unique year, I feel it especially important to sit and recount my blessings. But, I want to be honest. This year was hard, emotional, sad, frustrating, and many times lonely. So lonely at times. I feel this is especially important to share because I know that others are lonely too. We were not created to be alone. We were created to be in community with others. So your sadness, pain, and sorrow, is valid. 

In my opinion, it is not healthy, or normal to sit at home alone all the time and be afraid of being in the same room as another person. It is not healthy to live in fear of an illness that could potentially harm us. If there is anything that I have learned over the last couple of years with my diagnosis of MS, is that there are some things in life that are out of our control. No good will come from me anxiously trying to control my life to avoid another relapse. We cannot let ourselves get wrapped up in fear, anxiety, and the overwhelming desire to control every little aspect of our lives. However, all that to say, we should be cautious and concerned for ourselves and each other. Be respectful and stay home while you are sick. And, when it becomes available to you, consider getting the vaccine. Put aside those “new” fears of side effects of the vaccine. Because we desperately need to go back to normal. For our own health, our kids, our community, and for everyone. 

We desperately need to start doing better about living peacefully and not fearfully. Teach our kids that life throws us unexpected situations, and we can handle them, and come together, and support each other. And, it all starts with letting go. Hand over your fears, anxiety, and control to God. You never know what day you could get a diagnosis that will change your life, or get in a car accident, or have life taken from you. 

Wishing you a 2021 filled with hope, joy, and most importantly, peace.