A year ago today ... quite possibly to the date, I'd have to check my calendar to be sure ... but a year ago today I was sitting with my mom in the ER.
I sat in the plastic, pushed to the corner, "family or friend" chair while my mom tried unsuccessfully to find a comfortable position on the exam table. She had been experiencing a new, more severe back pain and we were there on the Friday after Thanksgiving with the hopes of finding the cause.
She went for several different tests. I sat and thought about calling my sister with an update. But I really didn't have any update to give. Eventually they sent her home with a generic prescription: rest, pain meds as needed, follow-up with primary physician.
That weekend we had plans to visit the tree farm and cut down our Christmas tree. My mom rested up a bit, but she was adamant about coming along. She is a bit stubborn when it comes to family time and she really hates to miss out on seeing the kids excited about anything. She joined us in feeding the Clydesdales, Sam and Gus. She helped the kids roast marshmallows and she took a few pictures of the kids climbing the hay bale pyramid. But when it came to climbing up on the flat bed trailer and bouncing along behind the tractor out to the cut the tree, she had to say, "no". She headed back to the car to wait and probably had a good cry.
That weekend was the beginning of a long and difficult season for her filled with chronic pain and empty of any feasible relief. For the next six months we watched rather helplessly as my mom's back problems went from bad to worse.
She saw a variety of doctors, each with their own thoughts and plans, but any alleviation of pain was temporary. She grieved the loss of her ability to walk, sit, move without pain and we grieved the loss of family-time with Nana.
Then came June ... and the promise of relief.
The doctor called a it a "lumbar fusion". I called it hope.
Hope for freedom from pain,
Hope for my mom's quality of life to be renewed,
Hope for time for Nana to enjoy your grand-babies,
Hope for the mom I know to be restored,
Hope for God to heal her.
Next came six more months and they weren't any easier. The first two were doozies filled with an arduous recovery, full-time care provided by my amazing sister, shuffling steps and groggy-headedness. We watched as my mom wrestled with fluctuating blood pressure problems, loss of appetite (unless you count creamed spinach as actual food) and a bit of the blues. She didn't have the original back pain, but her nerves were shouting from all the poking and prying from the surgery.
There were a few times after visiting on the phone when I wondered if I would ever talk to my mom again. She looked like my mom, sort of, and her voice sounded like my mom, kind of, but it wasn't my mom. She didn't have much to say ... and my mom is a talker. She didn't want company ... and my mom loves to be around people. She resisted seeing the kids ... and my mom will jump in the car in a moment's notice to see her babies. We were still waiting and still hoping.
Then came the day when she realized that she didn't hurt. Not her back, not her incision. Nothing. She cautiously celebrated. We watched as she took baby steps back to her new normal.
This past Saturday, we headed out once again to the tree farm with my brother and sister-in-law and their kids.
The fourteen of us fed Gus and Sam.
The fourteen of us roasted marshmallows around the fire pit.
The fourteen of us took pictures as kids climbed the hay bales ...
... and carriages.
We have seen our hopes for Nana come to life! Freedom from pain, enjoying life, loving on her grand-babies, restored as the woman we know and healed by God!
That's what I'm thankful for today.