Questions and Answers

Question Mark Graffiti
Question Mark Graffiti (Photo credit: Bilal Kamoon)

Do you remember playing the game, 20 Questions? You know, the one where someone asks a question like, “Does it have hair?” and you answer Yes or No, and they get 20 chances, while asking a question each time, to guess the right answer. You remember how hard it was, sometimes, to actually guess the answer? Sometimes you thought they didn’t even have an answer? You were simply asking twenty unanswerable questions? I’m beginning to feel like my health has twenty unanswerable questions.

In some ways I am a very inquisitive soul; in other ways, not so much. The answers (or lack thereof) to the giant questions of the universe never really interested me. Those giant, looming, ever-existent questions like “How did we get here?” “If there’s a God where did He come from?” “If God created us, how did He do it?” “Why?” “How old is the universe?” and other such curiosities have never really peaked my interest all that much. I don’t really need to explain the truly unexplainable. For some reason (maybe I am a very naive person) I can take it on faith that these things DO exist, that God created them all in His own good way in His own good time for His own good purpose, and the answers–or lack thereof-really won’t affect our daily lives all that much. I can even take my own personal existence on faith that God created me for a purpose…even if I’m not always certain what that purpose is.

Yet, when it comes to ordinary questions surrounding everyday life, especially my everyday life, I am profoundly curious. When I have the sniffles, I want to know what is causing them and how to cure them. When I have a stomach ache I want to know why, so that I can get rid of it. When my sons are struggling with something I want to know what is bothering them, so that I can help them learn to manage it.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I wanted answers. I needed answers. I wanted to know exactly what kind of cancer, how aggressive, where it was located, how big it was, how that kind of cancer operates and most importantly–how best to treat it. I was on the internet and in the book stores and in the library for weeks, researching…seeking the answers. I spent most of the time in my doctors’ offices asking questions. The more answers I got, the more I felt “prepared” to face whatever I had to face. As I once explained to my oncologist, I needed to know what I was facing so that I knew exactly how hard I had to fight in order to win.

All this brings me to a confession–I have been fighting a plethora of illusive symptoms for the past seven months, much of which I haven’t bothered to mention to very many people, least of all wanting to “bother” my blog friends with such mundane occurrences. Weight gain (can you say, blimpo?), brain fog, headache, bloating, balance issues (dizzy and not even blonde!), constipation, dry skin (want some crepe paper?), fast pulse, low blood pressure, brittle nails, dry hair, fatigue, aches, pains, indigestion, chronic cough, runny nose (and runs and runs and…), constant colds and infections… The list goes on. The list grows on. Every week it seems like I add a new symptom or two.

I have been shuffled from doctor to doctor to doctor in an attempt to find answers. No one seems to have any. Each new doctor tries to throw a new drug into the ever-growing concoction that is brewing in my system–most of which I have told them I will not take until they tell me what is causing these symptoms and why the drug will work to fix it. (Because many of these drugs cause their own set of symptoms, I hate throwing them at symptoms without the answers to know what is actually causing the problem to begin with.) As each month passes I am becoming more and more tired, more and more tired of being tired, and more and more depressed with the thought that there are no answers available.

I am having a very difficult time accepting the fact that my general health could possibly fall into the realm of the unexplainable. Do I truly have to just “take it on faith” that I will continue to be sick and tired without any explanation at all as to why?  Without any ability to make it go away? Must I simply accept that my life will be forever filled with illness, fatigue and…questions? Unanswerable questions?

I saw my oncologist for my final 3-month checkup prior to having my “leash” extended to 6-month checkups. She listened intently as I told her how I’ve been feeling (we had discussed some of it back in November) and I handed her my written “laundry list” of ailments. She said I have two choices, head downstairs to the endocrinologist (another doctor!) or send a request to my insurance for the approval of a full body PET scan. The amazing thing–well, actually there are two amazing things–is that she sincerely felt that a PET scan might be warranted in this case, and even bigger than that…I turned it down.

PET scan image3699-PH
PET scan image3699-PH (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PET scans are the high-tech machine version of Sherlock Holmes when it comes to cancer. While the insurance companies and doctors most often use them only as a tool for staging cancer once it has been discovered, they are very good at finding small cancers lurking in the shadows that can be missed by other scans. Most cancer survivors would give their right arm for the chance to have a PET scan a few years out from treatment, “just to make sure.” A year ago–even six months ago–I think I would have jumped at the chance. But for some reason, I chose the endocrinologist.

I have lived for over 36 of my almost 49 years with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and I am fully aware of the fact that, despite my tests all coming back fine, most of my symptoms are those of hypothyroidism. While I might opt-in for the PET scan if the endocrinologist finds nothing going on (my oncologist was kind enough to leave that option open) I feel that it is in my best interest to follow this opportunity to delve deeper into my endocrine system. You see, I really do want answers. I want answers that will give me health now–and more importantly, health for life. I have felt “off” for much of my life and many of these symptoms–while not having been around since treatment–had grown burdensome shortly before my cancer diagnosis. I don’t know if they’re related. Obviously, the doctor is concerned enough that she would offer a PET scan–but even if there’s no cancer brewing yet, I want to make myself healthy and strong enough to keep it from returning.

A Hypocrite’s Path to Joy

Feeling a bit hypocritical today. I spend my time writing about the everyday joys in the everyday ups and downs of life. I spend my time “preaching” this concept to my kids, and anyone else who will listen. After spending a year of my life fighting cancer, seeking out moments of joy is paramount to my existence; necessary for my mental–and physical–survival. I desperately want to live each moment to the fullest extent, and revel in all of the experiences I am given along the way. But these past few weeks I have done anything but revel. I am not enjoying the downs one little bit, and the ups seem to be getting further apart and feel a lot less up, if you know what I mean.

As I’ve mentioned in a recent post, I have been experiencing some concerns in my general health, which always affect a person’s mental outlook. I understand this, but am not at all happy with the way I’m handling these issues. Take yesterday, for instance.

A pressing need to see me...
A pressing need to see me… (Photo credit: windsordi)

I had my regular, every-six-month mammogram scheduled for yesterday morning, bright and early. So I headed off to the imaging center to get it done. While there, I wanted to mention a couple of areas that had been concerning me for a month or two. Both of them are very high up, and very deep on my chest; the left one actually is against the breast bone and feels almost like it’s part of the bone. If it didn’t feel so entirely different in shape from the other side I would have blown it off completely. But it feels different. Very different. And it’s somewhat tender when I press on it. Call me paranoid if you must, but I wanted it checked. I knew the mammogram wouldn’t be able to “see” it, but in order to get any other test that would, I had to mention it at the mammo check.

After manipulating me into a dozen different, excruciatingly painful positions–each more painful than the last–and trying quite unsuccessfully to catch a glimpse of either spot, they sent me for an ultrasound…thank heavens! I’m not sure I could have taken much more pretzel-twisting acrobatics. But after a very cursory ultrasound (I am very spoiled by my surgeon’s much more thorough scans, I guess) they determined there was nothing visible on either area and they happily sent me home. Except, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t even moderately entertained. Not even remotely amused. I was, quite frankly, miserable. The “suspicious” spot on my breast bone ached and burned horribly (quite odd for a spot that doesn’t exist, right?) and my mood was atrocious. I cried all the way home. I felt like a hypochondriac, a complainer, and a great big baby for being so wrong about both “suspicious” spots. How could I be so unfamiliar with my own body? Could I really be that wrong about what I’m feeling?

After hours and hours of feeling sorry for myself, I finally went to bed early, just to have the day over with sooner–and the spot still burned. Which only made me feel worse emotionally. And this morning I woke up to a continuation of the burning tenderness and have thus convinced myself that I must be a hypochondriac and I’m now feeling way too sorry for myself to even function. Yeah, man, I’m glimpsing the joy, huh?

And this is where my “philosophy of life” hits a brick wall. Can one really “glimpse joy” in the everyday ups–and downs–of life? Is it truly possible to feel abundant joy despite the everyday awful things that happen? Not necessarily the earth-shattering events, like death and cancer and divorce and betrayal, but in the everyday, mundane, miseries and upsets of everyday, normal life? Yes, I think you can–hypocrite that I am. Despite the fact that I am failing miserably at it these days, I do believe that it is possible–and that it is also quite necessary.

I’m not always great at following my own advice–obviously. And sometimes (more often than I’d like to admit) I have great difficulty in even remembering how to find the joy, much less feel it and enjoy it. But I do believe it is there and I do believe strongly that it can be and should be looked for, enjoyed and clung to. It’s like looking up in the sky on a really, incredibly storm-cloudy day and catching that tiny glimpse of blinding sun as it breaks through one of the clouds, painting a brilliant silver-white glow around the edge of that charcoal gray cloud. That’s joy in the midst of the downs of life. Without the clouds, it would simply have been a sunny sky. Nice but nothing truly extraordinary. It’s the darkness of the clouds that create such beautiful contrast to the blinding light shining through.

I believe that life is very much like that. The more “sunny” days you have, the harder it can sometimes be to enjoy the brightness of the light shining around you. And when the storm clouds come, all you seem to be able to focus on is the darkness they bring. But if you choose to look up, directly into the clouds–instead of focusing on the moment, instead of focusing on the ground you’re walking on, instead of  just muddling through the dirt–you just might catch a tiny glimpse of blinding sun, intensely burning joy. I’ve been focusing too much on the ground I’m traveling on, instead of looking up at the clouds, at the sky. Instead of looking for the tiny rays of sunshine, I’ve been focused on my feet, focused on the grayness of the clouds and next step I have to take.

Like yesterday. I was focused on the mammo, on the ultrasound, on the “suspicious” spot–the routine, the path, the questions, the rain cloud. Had I looked up through the clouds and the fears, I would have seen: the mammo tech smiling her encouraging smile as she sent me off to the ultrasound room, telling me she was praying for good things for me. Her courage could have been my own beacon through the darkness. My surgeon’s nurse-advocate who “dropped in” while I was there, just to say hi and let me know they were going to make sure I got the tests I needed, offering me a ray of courage and hope, a little sunshine through the fear-clouds. The extra hugs my second born son gave me all afternoon, just because he knew I needed them, even though he didn’t know why–little pieces of bright heavenly love. The peace and quiet I found as I curled up under the covers of my very comfy bed, seeking solace in the warmth and the darkness, wrapping me in a blanket of seclusion, desperately needed. The incredibly exquisite sunrise that greeted me this morning as I took my youngest to school, lighting up the sky with brilliant pinks, yellows and bright baby blues–painted like a psychedelic nursery splashed full of neon-pastel colors and light. These were tiny–almost microscopic–rays of light, of life, of joy, shining rather shyly through the clouds of my day.

I must remember to stop focusing on the grayness of the clouds, the darkness of the ground I am traveling, and look up high into the sky, seeking out the tiny rays of light as they peek through the clouds of life. Hypocrite that I may be, I still believe this is possible; and hopefully, I will remember to look up, if only for today.

My New Best Friend

I have a new best friend–actually three. One entered my life two weeks ago, the others just yesterday. But for the next four weeks, I will be attached to two of them every waking moment of the day; and one of them will be attached to me 24/7 for an entire week. One is a little journal, one is a blood pressure cuff, and the last one is a heart monitor.

Just when I thought that it was safe to get back into the “real” world, my heart decided it was time to do a rather crazy dance. Except, my heart has no rhythm. That’s actually a bit misleading. The rhythm is relatively smooth (at least we think it is) it’s just that my heart thinks it is quite appropriate–which it is NOT–to race out of my chest just because I got out of my chair. After two weeks of keeping track of my heart rate (pulse), the very nice cardiologist (whom I thought I was done with!) did some more tests and told me yesterday that I have what is known as POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which is a form of dysautonomia (mouthful, right?).

All that to say that my autonomic nervous system (that’s the part of your nervous system that controls all those things your body does automatically–like breathe, pump blood, digest food, etc.) is not working efficiently, and my heart seems to be getting the wrong signals. While sitting or lying down, my pulse is somewhat normal, usually never above 85. But as soon as I stand up it soars to at least 120, often as high as 140 or more, which isn’t very much fun, I can tell you. I’ve been walking around with a head that feels swollen and bruised and filled with cotton; I’m almost always dizzy while standing; my workouts are becoming non-existent; and by 5 pm, I am more than ready for a really long nap–say 12 or 15 days (maybe I’ll just turn into a bear and  hibernate–for life). All this on a good day–don’t even ask about the bad days.

So, we will continue to monitor my pulse at various points during the day–by we, I mean I will monitor and the good doctor will read over my journal at our next visit. I will also keep track of my blood pressure with my new little friend, to make sure that the beta blockers the doc put me on yesterday don’t lower it too much. You see, my “normal” is already on the low side of normal and beta blockers are really good at lowering blood pressure–that’s actually what they usually do.

I also get to wear this awesome, incredible, gloriously lovely heart monitor in order to make certain there are no tiny arrhythmias or such hiding in the background. All this after an EXTENSIVE work-up last spring (complete with a colorful echocardiograph and an angiogram–a thin tube pushed up my leg artery and into my heart just to “look around”) and another follow-up echocardiogram just over a month ago which cleared me of all heart problems–go figure.

Since POTS, and other dysautonomias, are actually neurologically based, I guess this was technically true. But frustrating to know that I can no longer mark off one of the doctors from my excessively long list. Post-cancer checkups suck–and I used to think that seeing a primary care physician AND a gynecologist every year was a pain. And after this fun little excursion, looks like I will be adding a neurologist to the list soon, too. Ugh… Anybody else wanna piece of me?

Seriously, I do greatly appreciate the attentive care that each of my doctors have given me these past few years; and I am truly and eternally grateful that they are all so good at figuring out what all these new and different “problems” I keep developing are and what they can do to help make life a little easier to live. The confusing part of this particular “problem” is that we’re not really very certain WHY it is happening now.

Chemotherapy drugs, namely the Taxol I took, are notorious for causing peripheral neuropathies in your hands and feet (which I still have slight issues with) and can occasionally  cause issues with the autonomic nervous system, as well. But these issues usually begin during chemo or shortly after the final dosing, not 2.5 years AFTER chemo. So once we make sure there’s nothing more serious than POTS going on (like a yo yo heart rate isn’t enough!), and hopefully get the symptoms under control, we are once again on the hunt for the reason for this most recent decline in my enjoyment of life–or at least, my enjoyment of an full, active life. Oh, the joys of post-cancer life!

Healthy Habits for Life

I have been asked to write an article for the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation’s newsletter, regarding Breast Cancer Awareness Month, discussing any topics I feel important to share with women about breast health. So I thought that I’d share what I wrote with all of you!

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October is here and it’s time to remind you of the importance of breast health. Time to establish healthy habits for life. For starters, it’s time to establish (or reestablish) the habit of regular breast self-checks. By the way, it’s a very good idea to get your adolescent daughters in on this healthy habit. Triple negative breast cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that often affects younger women–often women in their early twenties, and sometimes even younger. To illustrate the importance of establishing these habits early, many years ago–we won’t think about exactly how many–I lost a friend to breast cancer; she was a senior in high school and had just celebrated her eighteenth birthday. My point is, it’s never too early to begin healthy, proactive habits of any kind, and self-checks are both healthy and proactive.

Another healthy habit we should establish once we reach our 40s, is that of having regular mammograms. I know, they are uncomfortable, and they take time, and…and…and… You can give me all the excuses, but I am living proof that mammograms do save lives. Three years ago my cancer was discovered through a mammogram, because the primary tumor was so small and deep that it could not be felt; and the second, larger tumor was actually in a lymph node in my armpit…not an area that anyone ever told me to check. So I’m telling you–check your armpits! After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I am now cancer-free and loving life. Had it not been for my doctor’s nagging reminders, I would not be cancer-free or loving life–in fact, I might not even be living life.

Yes, walking counts…but you might want to step it up a bit, these guys are slow

Another habit that can help keep breast cancer at arm’s length–and for overall good health–is exercise. I know, I know, it’s boring, ya-da, ya-da; but it doesn’t have to be. Before my diagnosis, I was the “couch potato-extraordinaire,” and thoroughly enjoyed my sedentary activities–watching TV, reading, computer work, scrapbooking. I still enjoy these things, but now I balance them with at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. To motivate myself, I got a workout buddy. We hold each other accountable and have a blast “sweatin’ to the oldies,” as they say. We walk, we do Pilates, we blast the fat with a kettle-bell workout. We change it up and keep it exciting and fresh–and I’ve managed to lose 40 pounds in the bargain! Choose any activity that you enjoy, whatever works for you. Just get moving! Beware, this habit is quite addicting, and you may actually enjoy yourself!

Even animals know the importance of a healthy meal!

While I’m hammering you about habits, let’s not forget diet. No, I don’t mean crash dieting. This is about healthy habits, not fads. Simply add lots of fresh veggies and fruits to a lower-fat, higher whole grain diet, while limiting your portion-sizes; and not only will you have more energy to start that new exercise routine, but you’ll possibly scare aware cancer cells, too.

Enjoy the journey of each new day!

One more healthy habit I learned through my cancer battle, that I would like to share with you–this one is possibly the most important. Enjoy yourself; enjoy your life. We are only given one lifetime; enjoy the journey. Every moment of every day is yours to be savored, treasured, enjoyed to its fullest extent…the good, the bad, the extraordinary and the mundane. Enjoy them all. This is your life…this is your one life…ENJOY!

A Touchy Subject

The girls in my support group got onto quite an interesting topic the other day–the breast cancer patient/survivor’s love life. While this is not a topic I want to delve into in the wide open spaces of the internet, suffice it to say, it IS a very important topic for the cancer patient and their partner to discuss. If you have questions, concerns, fears or issues PLEASE deal with them.

There are professionals that specialize in this topic, and a good support group comes in very handy for realizing that the issues and concerns that you have are quite often faced by many, if not most, other cancer survivors. Talk to your oncologist, if you feel comfortable doing so. They will, at the very least, be able to point you in the right direction. If you aren’t comfortable discussing this topic with your oncologist, find a well-informed nurse or one of your other medical professionals who can guide you to someone you can trust with this issue.

My point is this: don’t sit quietly and think that you are alone in your fears and concerns; and whatever you do, don’t think that it is something that will just blow over. If it concerns you or your partner, it needs to be worked through. Understand that there are many changes, both physical and emotional, that you are going through (many that your partner is facing, as well) and this is not something to be ignored. Your feelings and concerns, your partner’s feelings and concerns, are real and need to be addressed. A healthy relationship with your partner, both emotionally and physically, is paramount to helping both of you cope with the changes in your lives. Don’t sweep your concerns under the rug, thinking they will go away. Work at having a healthy relationship…it will go a long way to helping you heal from the scars of cancer.

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

The other night my sons and I watched a documentary on the World War II. The Nazi government actually went around filming Jewish communities and families in order to make the rest of the German population believe they really were “the enemy.” They would purposefully pose the people in ways that suggested they were harsh, callous, and very extravagant while others Jews around them were starving in the streets. If these “actors” did not “act” according to the “script” they were carried off. Of course, they were carried off later, anyway, but they did not know this at the time. The Nazi regime wanted the rest of Germany–and the world–to believe that Jewish people were uncaring, undisciplined, greedy and self-centered people unwilling to care even for their own needy and poor.

In the documentary, some of the Holocaust survivors, who originally had been filmed by the Nazis, were allowed to watch the finished films, which they had never before seen. Many of these survivors had been very young during the Holocaust and were now very old. While watching her young self trying not to notice the dying man on the street, one elderly woman–with tears streaming uncontrollably down her aged cheeks, commented on her profusion of tears–so unlike her callous behavior as a child–saying “I am human now. Now the pictures make me cry.”

I cried while watching this documentary, and as I cried I thought about my own reaction to photos taken during chemotherapy, and some of the conversations my Pink Sisters and I have had about how we often have difficulty looking at our chemo photos after it’s “all behind us.”

While going through chemo, I knew I had lost my hair, my eyebrows and lashes, gained exorbitant amounts of weight, and basically no longer looked very much like myself–or any other normal human. But it wasn’t until I was sorting through my photos several months after chemo that the reality of what I had gone through actually hit me. As I looked at the pictures, I began to cry, great sobbing tears. All the fears and anguish of my cancer journey were forced upon me as I saw myself as I was during that time…really saw myself…and remembered. It wasn’t that the photos were so entirely awful–most of them actually do me much more justice than I deserved. But when I heard this beautiful Jewish woman, through her tears and regrets, say “I am human now. Now the pictures make me cry,” I understood the some of the feelings she so eloquently expressed in this simple statement. Her words, the anguish of her own journey spoken so succinctly, helped heal my wounds.

Chemo was required for me to fight the disease of breast cancer. The battle to win the war for my life. I was focused on the battle, on the fight, not on being me or being human, or even being alive at that moment. Simply fighting to win, fighting for a future. But looking at those photos months later hurt. It made all the fear, the pain, the struggle real again. It reminded me what I had been and what I had felt during the fight…and those memories were agonizing.

The primal urge to survive took precedence over all others…except maybe basic comfort. Pain and the need for rest became the prime focus on most days. Fatigue and depression took their toll in not allowing me to even want to be “part of the action;” I would rather have been in bed with the covers pulled over my head than almost anywhere else.

But once I had passed through the storm and was on the other side, back into “normal” life, I was able to feel human…to be human with human emotions and thoughts. Life had feelings, as well as meaning and purpose, and some of those feelings were agonizing. The memory of my deepest desires–the desire to be alone and buried in a mass of quilts while life marched on around me–brought anguish to my now-healing heart. And these feelings of depression and despair, in proportion to the anguish they brought, flooded my soul in equal measures as I gazed at those photos months later.

I am once again human. I once again have the need, the desire, to fill my life with people, places and joyful occurrences. I once again desire to live and fully experience living. And looking back still brings twinges of sadness. But I am learning, ever so slowly, to put the pain behind me. I pray that someday I will be able to look at these photos and see the sadness and pain, but no longer have my insides cry out in anguish when I do. But maybe that’s unrealistic. Maybe these photos for me, like the video for the lovely Jewish woman, will always remind me that I am now human, and humans really can shed tears. Tears of pain and regret for things in the past…as well as tears of joy for the blessing of life itself. Pictures really are worth a thousand words…and a thousand tears, as well.

Love and Faith…Dangerous Refuge

So much busy-ness and so many confused thoughts floating around in my head these past several weeks that it’s been difficult to figure out what to write. In fact, it still is. The last post I wrote my youngest son had recently had a karate accident which left him mostly blind in one eye. The week before his finals, a child popped him in the head with a wallet filled with coins, which separated the vitreous fluid from the retina (called posterior vitreous detachment) which caused him to have over 100 “floaters” in the already damaged eye; as well as increasing the chances of a retinal tear in the near future.

This, only a day after the blessed news that his vision was slowly and steadily improving–finally able to see 20/80 (the second line below the giant E in the eye chart) instead of barely 20/2000 (light and motion perception) when the accident occurred…at least in 25% of his vision field (the other 75% is still black.)

Needless to say, this coming on the heals of an already stressful and confusing few weeks sent us all into a bit of an emotional nosedive. It is difficult to find your equilibrium when every time you begin to balance yourself, the waves come and knock you off your feet again. Mine has always been a relatively forgiving nature (probably my lack of memory makes it easy to “forget” the offenses caused by others, thus making forgiveness easy!) and the last thing I wanted was to blame this teenager for further damaging my son’s already damaged eyesight and possibly being the cause of permanent vision loss. Knowing that the second “accident” was not an entirely “accidental” act made forgiveness difficult, to say the least. And for one who manages to find forgiveness of children very easy, my unforgiving spirit left me totally drained…and not really knowing how to find balance.

And in the middle of all of this, I was back in the doctor’s office for more tests and procedures. This time, once again, for digestive problems. When I was in my twenties, single, and eating whatever and whenever I wanted (translate: way too much junk, way too little fruits and veggies), this didn’t sit very well with my digestive tract, and I developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Once I married and learned/practiced better eating habits, this was no longer an issue for me–until after chemo! Oh the lovely things that chemo stimulates! And to top it off, I now also have diverticuli (little pouches along the lining of the colon) which can get infected. Also, not a problem until AFTER chemo. Last fall, I had a nasty bout of diverticulitis (inflammation of these little pouches) and in the middle of my son’s issues, it decided to flare up again.

So in the middle of all my worrying and fretting over my son and his vision (since IBS and diverticulitis tend to be worse under stress, probably BECAUSE of all my worrying and fretting), I’ve been running back and forth to the doctor for my own health issues. More imbalance, more stress, more uncertainty. Somehow in the midst of all this craziness, I need to find balance. I need to regain my sense of focus and faith. And I’m having difficulty doing it.

I read a beautiful blog today that went a long way to helping me remember where to find the balance. The blogger spoke of the love affair we seek with our God…a dangerous God, a dangerous love for an out-of-control world. And I paused for just a moment, and remembered my own faith journey, my own “love affair” with the Savior. How in the midst of some of the deepest, darkest trials I have felt and been comforted by His presence in my life. Just knowing that He loves me has been enough to bring balance and restore peace in my soul. So why not now?

Is He any less “in control” because these problems center around my children, instead of around me? Do I have less confidence in His ability to be there for them than in His ability to be there for me? He has healed me through the skillful hands and watchful eyes of my physicians…do I really think that He can’t or won’t do the same for my son? And if there is no further healing, do I doubt His ability to guide my son into a new way of looking at life, a way that won’t require full physical vision, but might actually allow him to see life more clearly? Why won’t I just let go and let Him have His way in all this? Why must I try to be “in control” of this situation, even when I know full well that I’m NOT in control. I can’t bring back his vision any more than I could have stopped either “accident” from occurring–or from either “accident” causing harm–in the first place.

Love is dangerous. Loving a God that challenges the very nature of who we are, is dangerous. Faith in anything, especially such a God, is dangerous. Faith is simple, but it is not easy. Having the tiniest amount of faith can be a challenge. Loving (and forgiving!) when surrounded by hate and anger and pain seems like weakness. When the gail-force winds and the rising surf of the seas of life seem to knock us off our feet, wiping away the course we have charted to take, setting adrift in an unknown ocean filled with new and terrifying experiences, faith seems not only futile, but meaningless and nonsensical.

But in this world of danger, challenge and fear, faith is the only solid thing I have to hold onto. The love I have for my Savior, the love He has for me, the “love affair” that I live each and every day with Him, is what holds me together in the midst of those trials and challenges.

As a lover feels safe when held firmly in the arms of their lover, in the midst of the trials of this world, the loving arms of my Heavenly Father–the truest Lover my heart has ever known–is the only place I can find safety, focus, meaning, and balance. And I know deep in my heart, that He is there for me. There for my children. A solid rock in a storm-racked world. Waiting for me, for us, to come to Him with open arms and open hearts.

I’m not certain what the future holds: for me, for my family, for my son’s vision, for anything. But I do know that through all the trials and dangers that I will face, He will be there. And when I stop focusing on the tragedies and focus only on Him…that is enough.