My parents just left to go home, a 1000-mile, 2-day drive that I do not envy. It was a fun visit of 8 days where my dad re-built my patio cover (what I discovered is called a “pergola”); we went out to Coronado, Legoland, and a Padres baseball game where about 8 players gave their testimony following the game.
The rest of the time we talked, went to the park and my sister, who came for a few days, played ball with my son who just discovered basketball, baseball and soccer following a couple weeks at sports camp. Papa and Aunt Michelle took Joshua golfing for 9 holes and he said, “I really wanted to golf with you all 18.” We went to our favorite outlet stores, the thrift stores, and through it all Joshua was at Vacation Bible School each morning from 9 AM to noon.
I took a few extra pills in there during some afternoons to pull through. I didn’t sleep the best, trying out a new pillow, plus not having anywhere in the house to escape to when my husband’s snores kept me awake. My hands have throbbed more than normal and I haven’t been able to “unfreeze” my shoulders. I have swiped my share of Voltarin gel over my shoulders and knuckles, put menthol patches on my knees, used the wheelchair at Legoland and said, “I HAVE to get something to drink. . .” (No, not a “drink, drink” just something cold to rejuvinate!)
The last few visits my parents have made have been bittersweet because the real purpose of the visit was to care for me as I recovered from surgery or an infection. I am blessed to have an amazing relationship with them both, and doubly blessed that they are both still in good enough health to visit and help ME, not yet the other way around.
Now. . . the recovery! I type this from my little computer at the children’s play club near our home. All the neighborhood kids were busy so Joshua and I got in the car to come find some playmates. He has energy; he has social needs. I lack energy; I have air-conditioning needs.
Some may look at the list of things we did and say, “You did too much. You shouldn’t push yourself. Your family needs to understand your limitations better.” But everything this week was really decided by me. Many days we took it easy. I had other people drive. I told everyone to sleep in. I let my mom cook and my husband grill. Tickets were half price for the baseball game, so I splurged and got the ones with padded seats.
Last summer my husband and son went to visit my husband’s parents and I stayed home due to health reasons. After doing exactly what I wished, including sleeping or not sleeping whenever I wanted, they returned 5 days later. And what I discovered was I felt about the same as if I had been home with my son for 5 days and my husband at work and home in the evenings.
In some ways, this is a bit depressing! I had hoped to feel refreshed, rejuvinated and renewed. But. . . nada. Nothing. But one can look at the bright side of this. Running around taking my son to karate, McDonald’s, the movies, and playdates really wasn’t the reason I was always tired. It was just life. Life with a chronic illness is and will continue to always be physically draining. Going and doing doesn’t necessarily mean I will be more exhausted. Napping and doing what I want does not mean I will become rested and ever “catch up” on my physical needs.
So I’ve learned to grab for life. Reach for the zipline and hold on. Because chronic illness will require tests, doctor’s appointments, waiting, pain and more. If I am going to be tired, I want my life to also include adventures, whether that is a trip to Big Lots (discount store) or a baseball game.
And whenever I feel like I am missing out, I just need to remember Joel 2:25, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust. . . .” God will restore whatever we have lost because or our illness, both the great things and the small things. The odds are our new gifts won’t be the shape of packages we are expecting, but they may just be even greater than we imagined (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV).
Saturday at Legoland I told my son, “Mommy is really sore [note: why do we always talk to our kids in third oerson?] and I don’t know if I will go on rides today, but I don’t want you to worry about me. I just want you to have fun and be a kid and enjoy yourself. I will have fun watching you and taking photos.” He nodded and said, “Okay, mom!” That was that.
The good thing about life is we only have to take it one day at a time.
Lisa is the founder of Rest Ministries.