The Changes We Make

Years ago my mom would come home with these face masks and tell me to wear them for dusty jobs. Hauling hay, cleaning the tack shed, stripping the stall, mowing, and more would come with the admonition that it would be better to wear one.

Flu season would come with the suggestion to wear one in public.

But being cool and not being seen as sick overrode wisdom. In all my teenage glory, I looked at parental concern and care and I scoffed. I was certain that they just wanted to ruin my life and make me look ridiculous to my friends, boys, the world. (Sorry Mom.)

As I got older, the cool thing didn’t play such a role in rejecting the masks, but not wanting to be seen as sick sure did. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time pretending that my lungs work better than they do. Illness is so often seen as weakness.

Illness made me feel like I had to work twice as hard to prove myself. I’ve failed time and again to bring the proper medications and my nebulizer with me when I knew I’d need more than an inhaler. I’ve hidden in bathrooms using too many puffs from a rescue inhaler, trying to get my breathing back to normal (or at least to where no one noticed) and I could continue an event/activity/outing.

I didn’t want to be seen as less.

My husband has been kind to me these years we’ve been building a life. As he learned how reactive my airways are, he has swooped in to handle all the dusty jobs. When I’m talking about my to-do list or particular jobs, he’s known to ask, “But will it be too much for you?”

I’ve bristled at the question and even snapped at him. I refuse to live like life is too much for me. But I’ve had to admit defeat and that some jobs are hard for me.

Life has thrown transitions our way time and time again, and here we are, facing more 20190627_200812.jpgof them. As I settle into my role keeping the home and farm on target and he travels, I knew I’d have to face some dusty jobs. So, while I was at the store, I bought masks. And I put off the first dusty job for a couple of days because I was struggling with wearing the mask.

The chicken coop – a dusty mess of feathers, wood shavings, and poop. Never a good combination, and an especially bad combination for an asthmatic. For the last two years, my husband has faithfully cleaned out the coop. But with his hours home shorter than we like, I don’t want him to be cleaning coops, I want him to be playing peekaboo with toddlers and driving dirt bikes with teenagers.

I conquered the job, in a mask and all. And I realized how much better it is to wear the mask and protect my airways and still get the job done. I didn’t have to bow out, pass it off, or neglect the task. I did it, no rescue inhaler needed, and the mask wasn’t as bad as I expected. In fact, I plan on wearing one when I tackle the next dusty job.

I’m learning that living with illness takes a measure of embracing that I am sick like it or not, which means taking measures to prevent flares. It also means doing the best I can with what I have, learning to rest when I need it, and learning that denial doesn’t make one healthy.

And we don’t get it all right, 100% of the time. As I was writing this, I was snacking on a bag of Skittles my husband left for me. And I realized that’s not the fuel my body needs to be as well as possible. So I put those up and switched it for carrots because I snack while I write. I am a work in progress and I am okay with that.

Struggling with chronic illness? What preventative (like a mask) or other change can you identify that will help you manage your illness? Tell me about it in the comments below.

 

Happy Trails

Happy Trails!

Day Two

How have you changed in the past 2 years?

What a question…day 1 – what weird thing do you do when alone… day 2 – This?! How haven’t I changed in the last two years?

I guess as I pause between typing lines, I have to acknowledge that the last 2 years, while a roller coaster in many ways, has also pointed me toward God, solidified relationships, and helped me to see many things in a clearer way.

Two years ago I knew I was carrying my last baby – 7 kids is plenty they say. I (kind of almost) agree. Especially when her royal highness wakes up too early, misses a nap, or is otherwise perturbed. 7 kids is plenty. She’s the type of kid that might make you think twice about having a second if she came first.

Knowing that she was the last of the babies I would birth and watch grow, I’ve embraced her moments more fiercely. I’ve watched with the wonder I had for my firstborn, with the wisdom I have now. It’s been a time of joy and sadness as I come to grips with what it really means to me to have ended my child bearing years.

We went from financial high to financial low in the last two years. That’s been humbling and devastating. It’s reminded me not to be too big for my britches, and that God is our provider – no matter how much we try to do it for ourselves.

I feel less patient, which is the opposite direction I want to go with this particular skill. I feel like I should be saying I’m more patient and less gets under my skin. But if I’m being honest, I feel a little more anxious now. A little more nervous. A lot less patient.

One of the best things that is different now than two years ago is how much closer my husband and I are. I don’t spend as many days watching him and wondering why he has one foot out the door, wondering why he isn’t all in. This change, while it took time and some definite heartache, is a treasure. We’re going through some stuff, and knowing he’s right beside me, both feet in, has been a huge relief.

Two years is a lot of time that goes by so quickly. To look back over the last two years makes me realize I need to work on the patience thing, and really focus on valuing each day, making the most of each moment.

I’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Family in Transition

Dear Regina,

What should I do? My husband and I were planning a visit to distant family over Thanksgiving but have recently learned that this family is going through a large transition in their lives which is not a pleasant one. Should we postpone the trip and not invade their home and lives while they are going thru this transition?

Rebecca, Colorado

 

Dear Mom,

I couldn’t decide if I was supposed to reply with or without the familiarity we share. So, if I didn’t know you, or the situation you were referencing, this is what I would say:

The burden of unpleasant transitions is often eased by the community around us loving us through the changes, and sometimes exactly what someone needs is for family (or friends) to show up, connect, and lend an ear/shoulder. Time is an invaluable gift, and your presence matters to them, I’m sure. That being said, holidays are often a stressful time for people, with increased financial expectations, and the general busyness of the season. If the transition affects the family financially, then you may reach out and discuss meal plans and let them know how you can help with the big meal, but also the smaller meals surrounding the trip. Travel makes it hard to cook and bring specific dishes, but knowing that they aren’t expected to feed everyone out of their own pocketbook may be a relief as they face the transition at hand. Offering to split the grocery bill, or letting them know that you don’t need them to provide every meal while you are visiting will be helpful to them. (If the transition is not financial in nature, and they have offered and are willing to feed you, then enjoy and go be a shoulder!) If you don’t share the closeness with this family that it takes to have a transparent financial conversation, it may be best to postpone the trip.

I have to get personal with this answer and say, please come see us. These transitions are just part of life – changes happen, and we learn and grow in the difficult seasons. I want to see your beautiful face, and Dad’s too. I want to spend time with you and watch my kids interact with you. The meal will worry about itself, but let’s not miss the opportunity to spend time together.

Happy Trails!