After I came off the Ativan and was headed back in the right direction, I tried not to be too discouraged. Yes, I took a few steps back but progress once again picked up and I was making my way toward healing…even if it meant I was crawling. It was slow…I mean really slow, but I was moving. Some of the things that I tried not to let alarm me were simple every day things I had been doing for years that now I could not do. I could not drive long distances. Shoot, I couldn’t drive short distances. Somebody had to take the kids to school and for the first few weeks it wasn’t me. The first time I was able to take my son to high school after the attack I sat rigid and carefully drove him the quarter mile there and home breathing slowly through my nose with every sense on high alert. I had done it. But that was all I could do that day until it was time to pick kids up after school. I hurried back inside after my drop off and shut the door where I was safe.
It worried me that I was so anxious about leaving my house. Was I going to be that lady now? That lady who never leaves her house. Those were the times I had to remember my anchor in Christ. That my healing was coming. The enemy would creep up and tell me I would never be the same again. He would tell me I wouldn’t function normally and that the vibrant woman I once was, was lost and gone forever. As I heard those thoughts and the fear began to rise I would stop and I would say out loud…shut up. That is a lie. The Bible tells me to forget not my benefits. First of all my benefits in Christ are forgiveness and salvation and secondly He heals all my diseases. So shut up you liar. You are not on my side. Even if my healing is slow or it is when I’m taken home to glory, He still heals all of my diseases.
After awhile of being in my house and leaving only when absolutely necessary I recognized the fight inside of me and the focus to get well. Simply put, I did what I had to do. But I also didn’t over do it. I religiously took my medication and if I had to go to the doctor I called a friend or a family member for a ride. I may not have been able to drive but I was still able to ask for help. My chiropractor could barely adjust me because my muscles were so tight and inflamed but I kept going and every time I saw her I was a little bit better. That was all I needed to hear. I was getting better. I scheduled massage therapy and saw the little bit of progress each time. I was very inflamed and swollen under my skin but I was getting better. If I was going to get better I needed to work at it. I needed to do what I was supposed to do. I couldn’t just take a pill and hope for the best. I needed to make real changes and sacrifices. We all did.
A few weeks after my December attack I was able to take a short walk with my husband and I mean it was short. I walked maybe 2 blocks to my sister-in-laws house to drop something off and by the time we got to the door I was so tense and anxious I’m sure I looked a little bit half crazed when she greeted us. It took everything in me to smile, breathe and be gracious. I felt the air closing in on me and all that I wanted to do was go back to my house and shut the door firm and tight where I would feel safe. We quickly said goodbye and I felt the exhaustion settle in over my body. Two blocks? We had to walk two blocks? I didn’t know if I could make it the two blocks back. I quietly held on to my husband’s arm, breathed carefully through my nose and told him to slow down over and over. I made it back home where I went straight to bed. It wasn’t a very successful outing in my eyes but I had gotten out and I had not been able to even leave my house before that time without extreme difficulty. I didn’t let it discourage me. I told myself that next week would be better.
And that’s the thing. I couldn’t gauge my getting better from morning to dinner or even one day to the next. I had to gauge my better on how I was last Monday compared to this Monday. The progress was painfully slow but graciously consistent. So instead of waking up and expecting to be 100% better I woke up knowing that each day brought me closer and closer to the light. I had to just keep moving in the right direction.
During this time my husband had worried eyes on me. I was finding my new normal and it looked really different then who I was before. Because I couldn’t really do much, I began to have the kids come snuggle in bed with me. We’d listen to music or they would read to me. They brought their stuffies and hid under my covers. Our nighttime routine shifted to me falling asleep with my two youngest and my husband moving them to their beds after it was his turn to turn out the lights. Mom might not be normal but mom was still going to be mom. I made sure I rested on various couches so the older kids would see me leave my bedroom. I had my husband bring up a load of laundry for me to fold. It brought a sense of normalcy to my kids.
One night I lay in bed with my husband and his worried eyes and had a heart to heart over his fears he was having. He loved me. He loved me any way I was but was this the new Niki? Had he lost something so precious to never be found again? I knew in my heart that who I was at the core had not changed. My body had shut down, my muscles were screaming exhaustion at me and yes I was anxious, but I was me to the very marrow of my bones. So I looked at him and said, “Matt, when I search inside of me I still want to travel, I have a love for life, I still want to have adventure and I still want to write. I have the same passions and loves. Picture me with a broken leg. I know it’s hard to do because the brokenness is inside of me. But, just because you have a broken leg doesn’t mean you won’t get up and walk again or play again. Maybe my break is really bad and I’m down for awhile but I’m healing. I know I am. I’m getting better a little every day. My being and my soul have not been lost in this struggle. I’m still me, just wounded.” At this he sighed a big sigh of relief. It was good for me too to reflect and voice my thoughts too. It was going to be okay. It was going to be okay as long as every day I got just a little bit better.