Wednesday, July 3, 2019

It Didn't Even Hurt

I carried his growing body, his lanky limbs dangling loosely around my legs nearly over taking me. He is a lot bigger than last time I made this trek. I positioned his head on my shoulder as I walked him into the doors of our home, careful not to disturb the incision that was made on his head only hours before. His eyes fluttered opened, he picked up his head, and he pointed saying, "Take me to my brothers first."

"It didn't even hurt", he told them and then he went to his room and fell back asleep.

We are home from a nightmarish whirlwind of doctor appointments, diagnosis, CT scans, and a surgery that we didn't foresee having to deal with this year. It has been nearly four years since we have faced this infection. Four years for it to grow inside his curly little head. As you can imagine, it was rampant and his body had made interesting adjustments to compensate, growing bone and pushing the wires from the mostly explanted cochlear implant into the mastoid bone. It was a mess and left no hope to ever implant again, not that we wanted to anyway. The aim of surgery was to extract all foreign bodies and clean out the infection. We were told it was successful, but we've been told that before. I don't want to seem gloomy. We're incredibly hopeful. Many have been praying and that's truly all we needed. Still, through this I was able to see all the good in people, too. People taking off work to help, my sister-in-law watching the other kids while we stayed at the hospital, hundreds reaching out to pray with us, and old friends coming to Nashville with a gift goody bag full of a newly sewn shark pillow case, handwritten notes of encouragement, and cookies. People praying for my son in the midst of their own tragedies. My kindness list is very full. Thank you.

I've been so proud of my little people. Kinley hugged Abel and prayed over him before we left.

Abel never cried as he bravely asked the doctors exactly what they planned on doing and how long he would be asleep. They wheeled him away as he was putting the finishing touches on a drawing he was working on, leaving me with a wetness in my eyes I hoped wouldn't spill over again.

Before he left, I focused on Matthew 8:17-

"He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases."

I believe God did that and He will do that in Abel's life again. God bless this testimony snuggled up in his bunk bed back home with his siblings.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Napa Valley Marathon and the Power of Yet

Good Morning from Tennessee. I was welcomed home last night into the unseasonably frigid winter air after having spent a long weekend in Napa Valley, California. I want to share my trip, but first I want to jot down some thoughts on the race to talk myself through it and have a record of what needs work and what I did well. Warning: If you don't run, you might find this post terribly annoying.

It's hard to not be disappointed in my performance on Sunday. In the same breath, I know I ran a freaking marathon...again...and that feat is an enormous blessing that I should feel very proud of. For a reason unbeknownst to me, I'm too hard on myself. I'm disappointed after almost every race, even when I PR (set a Personal Record). The truth is that running fast is hard and with the amount of training and time I dedicate to it, I feel like I should be better at it. If I'm being totally honest, I am better at it than I was, but my progress feels so slow. Some people are born with the ability to be speedy, others aren't made that way but can set their goals to improve despite it. I'm in the second camp and the power of yet hasn't escaped me. I know I can improve. I can get faster. I have already. But man, is it frustrating to have a goal in mind half of the race, just to see it slip through your fingers with no good explanation except that I just couldn't do it that day.
I could look at a lot of setbacks that played into my performance on marathon number two. During training, I hurt my knee and was out for a few weeks. I was also diagnosed with rupturing ovarian cysts which can be incredibly painful and sabotaged more than a few training runs. My mileage just wasn't there for the improvements I wanted to make in my finishing time. Still, I shaved fourteen minutes off my previous time, crossing the finish line at four hours and eighteen minutes. Truly, when I left for California on Friday I believed I would be incredibly pleased with that time. When race day rolled around, though, a new story developed in my mind. God had answered my prayers that I wouldn't have knee pain or cyst pain that day and I felt so hopeful starting the race with two girls who are really just incredible, faster than I could ever even fathom being. I knew I could finish the twenty six miles even at mile zero. I was ready.

I set off in mile one anxious to start fast, but not too fast. My plan was to hover around 8:50-9:10 minute miles. I loosely wanted to stay with the 4:00 or 4:10 pacers for as long as I possibly could. I think my first mistake is that I didn't look for them. I managed my clock on my own wrist and ended up sticking with the first group I found near me which was the pacers finishing at 3:55. I ran just in front of them for a long while and then I slowly slipped just behind them. I was with them for about fourteen miles and I was feeling so hopeful. The first half of the marathon felt great, but it was quickly into the second half that I felt my body giving up. In the last marathon, I didn't feel this until much later in the race so I started to worry that I set my sights too high and started off too fast.
A funny thing happens when I'm running long distances. I migrate from a lofty yet focused, hopeful goal into this thought "Well, most people don't go out and run a marathon. You are awesome and you deserve a little walk break." Ha! I tried to press on, but the hills were long instead of steep. They stretched out and messed with my head. The rain made me cold coupled with the wind pushing me backward and I could feel my newly created personal goal in my mind becoming unreachable. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, but it was the shuffle of an exhausted marathon runner instead of a prepared, strong athlete. Soon, the 3:55 group was out of my sight and I thought I would just try to stay in front of the 4:05 or 4:10 group. If they didn't pass me, I should be good. I never saw them pass me. I don't even know if they existed. At mile 20, I still had a pretty great time (for me). If I could have busted out those last six miles, I might even have made it around four hours. At that point my body was burning and aching around my stomach and back. I felt depleted. I knew I would regret my slow pace, but I was struggling, knew I was on pace to crush my previous time, and frankly, just didn't care. I lost my race in those last six miles.
Carol Dweck wrote, "In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work- brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment." As frustrating as running can be, I attribute it to saving me. I think God put this sport in my life, giving me deep connections with friends when I needed it most. Postpartum with all my babies was a difficult time and I searched for something I could work towards for myself. It has been a gift. This trip was a gift, too and I'm grateful to have had another opportunity to try to crack the code of marathon running. I remember when I used to think people who ran marathons were superhuman. Now, I've done two full marathons myself and I feel not at all like a super human. Instead, this sport draws me closer to Him. In my desperateness, I remember how much I need him in every area of my life. In the quiet moments as I ran along the Napa Valley Silverado Trail, I could call out to Him and ask for His strength and He gave it freely. I could cry out to a Savior who hears me and cares about every little detail of my life and tell Him thank you for the ability to run, for breath in my lungs, and for strong legs to carry me all over His beautiful creation. Running is a gift that brings me closer to Him.
Sometimes I really want to quit this sport, but I have so much room for improvement and I know I can do it. I'm not done. The power of yet feels so promising two days after the marathon. How quickly I forget the toll! How readily I remember that "Becoming is better than being"(Carol Dweck). I'm not done working toward figuring out this distance and when I come back at another chance, I'll know more than I did before.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Facing Fear

I hardly write here anymore. But old problems swell up, threatening to burst open into the comfortable life we've been living lately and when that happens, I want old faithful. This blog has been an outlet for me on some of our darkest days. I'm teetering on a nervous breakdown at the risk of sounding remorsefully weak. If you're new here, this post should give you a little background of our story with Abel. If you want to read even more, check out these posts. Abe has been through a lot. We have been through a lot. Before you start worrying (like me), I will preface this with- Abel is doing just fine. He currently has strep, but is on medication and won't be contagious soon. But what we discovered at the pediatrician yesterday sent me into a tailspin of despair. It's not terribly alarming news, it's just that I have so much PTSD associated with that time of our lives that the black cloud that has just been gathering over the years poured out all over me again when I heard it.
Lately we've noticed an odor coming from the ear that he had all that trouble with years ago. In short, he was simultaneously bilaterally implanted. He had all sorts of struggles and surgeries causing the surgeon to come to the decision to take out one of his implants nearly a year later. Months later, he was finally released from infectious disease and I never looked back. I despised Nashville and all that it represented to me. No longer was it the first place I ran the distance of a half marathon. No longer was it where I celebrated my birthdays in college. No longer was it a fun place to get away for a couple days. It was the city where I mourned so much of a normal life for my child. It felt suffocating when I drove into the awful traffic almost weekly that year. Nashville was the place we spent much of my son's early childhood in cold offices and caged hospital beds. I know this is a bit crazy, but it's how I felt. When I drove away from infectious disease that day, I knew I would only be back if I had to. Fast forward to now.
His pediatrician has cultured the bacteria in his ear and was a little concerned. The results are not back yet, but he wanted us to go ahead and get in with Abel's surgeon in Nashville to check up on him further. It might be nothing, but the fact that it could be something broke me open again. I cried all morning thinking of starting down this road again, both literally and figuratively. Over the years I've worked at trying to create happy memories of Nashville in my mind, but when I get off that exit I feel the heaviest curtain of dread fall around me. I know better, but I can't always shake it.
Tomorrow we will return to Vanderbilt to get him checked out. It's something we've needed to do for awhile now. I had pretty much laid to rest the idea of having him implanted again and so I saw no need to bring him back. I hoped to find an ENT around Knoxville who would see him, but because of his delicate history, no one was willing to take him on as a patient. Perhaps his infection is one that is easily handled. Perhaps it's not. But I'm writing here today because I know you'll join in praying for him. Thank you for allowing me to spill out my heart for all to see as dramatic as my sentiments may be. I feel better already. God is and always has been in control and He'll never leave us. He'll carry us with Him as we walk back into the doors of the Children's Hospital tomorrow and everything will be just fine. Deep breaths, Kacy.
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