Are you numb?

I’ve read over and over again how much stress can affect your daily life, your health, everything. I’m also well aware that it can cause a flare-up with my Lyme. So, I’m not sure why it surprises me when new or even old symptoms arise during a stressful time. Losing my mom is obviously a traumatic experience, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when the tingling came back. But what surprised me (and to be honest scared me a bit), was  that the tingling/numbness that typically occurs only in my toes or occasionally my hands was now radiating up my entire leg. The more I researched it, the more it sounds like the numbness and weakness in my limbs is actually nerve damage.

About 10% to 15% of untreated Lyme patients will develop Lyme neuroborreliosis, a disorder of the central nervous system. It’s actually caused by a systemic infection of spirochetes of the genus BorreliaSymptoms include erythema migrans and flu-like symptom – which is exactly how my Lyme progressed. What I thought was a simple sinus infection, led to flu like symptoms, back pain that I could only compare to intense labor and extreme jaw pain (which is the symptom that ended me up up in the ER).

Three years has passed and I’m still trying to decipher the phantom symptoms that accompany this diagnosis. Was it something I ate? Is it the weather? Is it a new allergic reaction? Aside from my all natural IV treatments that I receive at Cherry Hill Hydration Center with Dr. Molly Fantasia, I’m also going to see an allergist for the first time. I’ve had allergic responses to a variety of things in the past few months . . . firewood, Christmas trees, daisies . . . the list goes on and on. So, I’m excited to get tested to see what else is on the list of things I need to stay away from. (As I type this, I’m getting a little depressed, because I feel like I’ve already had to cut so many things out of my life- whether its my diet or my surroundings). But I’m trying to focus on how well I will feel, once I start to remove the triggers from my life – and I’m hoping to maybe get some new hardwood floors out of the deal! The old dirty carpets can’t be good for my breathing!

Although it’s a bit concerning every time I stand up or cross my legs and feel the pins and needles, I have to look at the bright side and be thankful that my leg is not throbbing with pain. I try not to let my imagination run wild . . . and wonder “what if.” The bible tells us not to worry. In fact, it says in 365 times – one for every day of the year! So, I will take this in stride, just like I do the rest of this book of life that God has written out for me. It may not be the plot I would have chosen, but it’s my story and His plan for my life story is perfect. So, who am I to complain? Plus, being numb isn’t so bad. Sometimes it’s better than feeling pain, right? Isn’t that what most of us try to do anyway? Numb the pain? Whether it’s with drugs, alcohol, shopping . . .  it’s all just a distraction from what the real problem is. So, tonight my prayer for all of us is that we each get to the root of our own individual numbness, but at the same time, give thanks to our Heavenly Father, for giving us this trial, to allow us to get closer to Him. Because He is, and always will be the ultimate healer, no matter what you suffer from.

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A Mother’s Hands

mom handsIt’s been exactly one month and one week since my mom (the Alzheimer’s reference to my blog title) went home to be with the Lord. It’s easy to be angry and bitter. Or hate the disease that took my sweet, caring mom away from us far too soon. But when we do that, we miss out on all of the blessings that this journey has given us. When I got married, my mom gave me a plaque that said: “A MOTHER HOLDS HER CHILDREN’S HANDS FOR AWHILE, THEY’RE HEARTS FOREVER.”

I was always a mommy’s girl. Always attached to her hip, or holding her hand. She had the best hands! Long, beautiful, strong manicured nails (or banana cure as my Dad would say). The softest, smoothest skin ever. I used to tell her that her hands reminded me of a chicken leg from KFC. She knew I meant it as a compliment.

My mom was always there to extend those beautiful hands to help me. To pull me up off the ground after I fell, to give me a gentle nudge of encouragement when I needed it or to hold me when I was scared. These past few years, I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to be there for my mom in these same ways. To hold her hand and stabilize her as she tried to walk, to give her that same little the nudge of encouragement when she needed it. And to hold her hand tightly when she was scared.

At first, it was difficult to hold her hand while she was in the ICU. Her once perfect KFC hands were now discolored, bruised and swollen. It broke my heart and the heart’s my family members to see her hands this way. But as the days passed, we continued to hold them tightly, massage them and of course paint her fingernails, her favorite shade of pink. Before we knew it, much to our surprise, the swelling had gone down, her color was returning and as I rubbed my fingers across the back of her hand, my beloved KFC skin had returned. For us, it was a miracle to be able to hold those beautiful hands in her last days –  just as they had always been.

When I met my husband, one of the first things I noticed about him was his hands. They were big, strong manly hands – you could tell they weren’t afraid of hard work. They reminded me of my dad’s hands. I knew those hands would protect me and provide for me just like my father had done my whole life.

One of my favorite bible verses is Esther Chapter 4 verse 14.

If you keep quiet at a time like this. Deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.

Esther was a beautiful young woman, handpicked by the King to be Queen. She didn’t come from money.  She wasn’t raised by royalty, in fact, she was an orphan raised by her Jewish cousin. Shortly after she became queen, she discovered that there was a plot to kill all of the Jews. Esther doesn’t sit quietly and do nothing. She stands up to the King and saves her people. She wasn’t groomed for this situation, she had no training or anything to help her prepare. But she knew that this was her time. Everything that she had ever done in her entire life was leading up to this one moment. Preparing her for a time such as this.

Just like Esther, my father was an orphan, raised by family members and his siblings. He was thrown into the real world, with obstacle after obstacle. And he always overcame. When you’re too busy being angry at God, about my Mom being taken from us so soon, you don’t see the miracle that has unfolded before our eyes. This journey has opened my eyes, and now I see that my Mom and Dad were their very own little royal family…. King and Queen of the Miller family! But more importantly,  my father (whether he knew it or not) was born for such a time as this. The way he took care of my mother, day in and day out. He walked along the side of his wife. Never giving up.

Moms have a way of stealing the spotlight and the hearts of their children. My mom was my biggest fan. Cheering the loudest, hugging the hardest, while my dad would sit back quietly and smile – then give me a lecture on the humility of a sixth-place ribbon. But throughout this journey, we’ve had the opportunity to watch my dad step into the spotlight for the first time. Watching my mother stare at him in awe and appreciate of everything that he has ever done for her. Without this journey we would have missed out on the sleep deprived nights at the hospital, playing practical jokes on each other and telling the same childhood stories over and over again… laughing until we cried…. And then crying some more.

Although it’s easy to be sad or bitter or angry at God, I choose to praise Him. Not only when I’m on the mountain tops, but when I’m in my personal valleys as well. And I hold onto to those dear sweet memories that I have. And when I close my eyes I picture her….. in her brand new, healthy, glorified body. I see her dancing before Jesus. And I have peace in my heart knowing that one day soon I will see her again…. And join in on that dance…. And once again hold those sweet hands.

So, my prayer for you today is that no matter what is going on in your life today as you read this…. whether you are mourning the loss of a loved one as I am, or you’re celebrating a milestone, that you’re able to take a step back and try to see the big picture. It’s all part of His plan. And His plan is perfect. We may not understand (or even agree) with it sometimes, but that’s okay. One day it will all make sense.