Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Best Christmas Ever.

Merry Christmas!

This time of year now brings back some unique and special memories for me.  My family and I remember Christmas 2010 as the best one we ever had.  You might imagine that we were all gathered together, eating lots of good food at a beautiful table before opening a pile of presents under our tree.  In actuality, we were crammed in my half of a hospital room in a pediatric rehabilitation hospital, the other half shared by one of the dearest friends I have ever been given in this life.  I'd already been in the hospital several weeks, and was now struggling to relearn how to stand, and then walk, after months of frequent severe stroke-like/hemiplegic episodes.

The day started with a strange "swooshing" sound.  I struggled to shake the black spots away, half dysautonomia and half sleep, as I sat up to see what was going on.  To my surprise, our nurse was dragging in huge boxes wrapped in bright paper, filled to the brim with wrapped presents.  I could hear excitement floating in through our open door, along with the light of the morning.

I said of mornings at that hospital:
"Days started the same, in a warm comforting pattern.  The voices of your night nurses faded if you were unfortunate enough to be up at seven......You smiled at your day nurse, all were your favorites, and she greeted you warmly and affectionately like you were her own daughter."
S and I eventually sat at the boxes after going up and down the hall to see our friends.  She plopped down on the floor while I looked on from my worn wheelchair.  We hardly knew where to start.  "You do one, and I'll do one!"  I remember finally saying.  There were at least thirty packages in each of our boxes, extravagant in my mind.  It wasn't the gifts that struck us, it was the fact that Child Life had figured out the interests and needs of each child in the hospital, and wrapped all of those gifts for each of us.  There were only a few of them, and they'd stayed up late Christmas Eve to finish, we'd seen them.  It was very touching.  We soon were back out in the hallway with all the other families, who were joined with our own.  It's a difficult thing, what we were all doing, but doing it together made it easier and I cannot tell you the number of amazing people I have met.

PS we got permission to take pictures for Christmas! 
My prayer quilt, each knot is a prayer. Made me cry!

I wheeled alongside another good friend, T.  I helped him tear open his bright packages, almost all football related! while we talked with the others.  I tear up just thinking of him, he became very much like a brother and I miss him very much.  Some people have such a strong spirit inside of them that they give you the fire you need to push on in times when you think you can't move another inch.

Soon my family arrived and we had a wonderful day together, just being.  We opened our Christmas presents and mom brought my stocking for me (I love tradition).  We played Scrabble and had a delicious meal in the cafeteria (they make amazing food, and go all out for the holidays.)  Feeling at home there, with such amazing people around us, was so special.  And we just spent the entire day together talking, laughing, and playing games.  We were immersed in each others company and the joy of the season, remembering how blessed we are and what a gift life is, eternal life from God and Jesus' birth.  That is what made it the best Christmas we've ever had.

My sister visited me often, as she lived nearby at the time.  New Years Eve she joined in the party with the families.  I was collapsed in bed early as usual.  So two other patients, my sisters, climbed into my bed with me for the ball drop and made enough noise for the three of us!!  What lovely memories.

Thanks to generosity and more stories that cause waterworks, I was able to stay past my insurance's deadline (my progress was to slow for them).  I did leave that hospital able to walk with a walker a functional distance due to my physical therapist's determination.  He came up with the idea to use isometric maneuvers called "hooking", which is what pilots experiencing G-forces exercise to stay conscious while flying.  It works by squeezing large muscles groups to prevent blood pooling.  It worked wonders for my dysautonomia, as did my doctors willingness to keep IV fluids going with peripheral IVs as I wouldn't get my first port for a few more months.  That wasn't their usual protocol.  My PT would also encourage me and tell me not to give up, to stay on my feet!  I would think of T, S, and all the others and I'd find it in me to keep going.  Praise God for the kindness of others, I'm forever grateful.

I can't believe it's been 2 years since I've seen so many special faces.  I still go to the same place for outpatient PT, and I have seen some people more recently.  One long distance family I just got to hug a few months ago upon their return!  Others, I stay in touch with, thanks to the amazing technology we have today!

I've treasured the past two Christmases even more because I HAVE been home.  My mom makes each year so special.  Although I do remember spending a few very sick, one Christmas Eve we spent trying to get to the ER in a blizzard, and I had a scheduled test the next day.  I was a bit grumpy that year! ;-) But Christmas has always been wonderful, even when I'm not well.  This year was no exception, even though I "crashed" for part of our time, it was an amazing Christmas.  Every year I say it was my favorite, and every year it's true!

finishing presents Christmas morning, our tradition
is to do them Christmas Eve, but I was going with my body's flow!

My sister, brother in law, and I Christmas Eve! :)