Pin the Tail on the Donkey?

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To the Eeyore in all of us!

I hear about my suffering all the time. Most people say that what happened to me is horrific, and that I’ve suffered a lot. That’s one of the reasons I have a blog! But have I? Have I really suffered? I haven’t been friend-less. I haven’t been homeless. I haven’t been food-less. I haven’t lacked medical care. Anyone who’s been in one of those situations might argue that they’re the ones who’ve experienced true suffering. Comparing all of us together, how do we know which predicaments qualify as real suffering? The more I ask the question, the less I know the answer. I feel like a blindfolded little kid trying to pin a “definition tail” on a donkey named Suffering.

Obviously there’s no donkey named Suffering, and no tail for me to pin. What now? I  invite you to walk with me on a journey to answer that “What now?” question.

When I arrived at my neurological rehab hospital on Christmas Eve, 2016, the nurses fussed over me as they adjusted my legs, cleaned out my tubes, and gave me my meds. “You’re way too young to be here, honey!” Many of them befriended me and treated me like a diva for the rest of my stay. (Yes, I was at least 20-30 years younger than the other “younger” patients, but still.)

Ivan calculates that I made it back to the mental level of a teenager during my Casa Colina stay. My brain had cleared just enough to begin sorting two things: 1) what had happened to me, and 2) where that landed me in the grand scheme of things. #1 was fairly easy to decipher, so let’s jump to #2.  For starters, I began remembering world crises. I recalled many of the news articles I had read that fall season before the accident. Articles about the strife in Syria and the refugee crisis. Who was I compared to all those victims? I was not mutilated by bombings or burned by poisonous gas. Even the politically neutral Western medical care teams could not reach all the injured. Often, those afflicted died in agony. Or perhaps they still drag themselves along in mutilated lives even now. Many of the refugees who escaped Syria weren’t wounded per se, but who was I compared to them, either? I wasn’t country-less, or stuck in a refugee camp, or sent back to my own lethal country.

When doctors and nurses – or anyone for that matter – expressed how sorry they were for me, or how surprised they were that I could still be joyful, I had Syria eating away at the back of my mind.

During my stay in Casa Colina, I also heard about the electrical emergency in Florida. At that point in January 2017, the power failed in most of the state. There were too many hospital patients, and especially too many elderly people in nursing homes, for them to all be transferred to facilities that were still running. Many of them died from the heat. I looked around at my excellent hospital room. I myself had been destined for a nursing home, but some indomitable warriors (you know who you are and THANK YOU!) intervened to get me into Casa Colina. Casa is one of the best neurological rehab centers in California. (FYI, you’re very welcome for that statistic. I was fact checking it online and a pop up ad triggered a cluster of seizures. I was in my wheelchair for the rest of the day.) But anyway, back to my hospital room. I had snowy white sheets that were changed every day, plus lots of blankets from friends and family because MY room was freezing. I had great hospital food. My drugs came on time every four hours. Every four minutes would have been fantastic, but you get my drift 😉 Therapists dragged me and all my broken bones out of bed for therapy three times every day. That therapy part felt awful, but it made me what I am today. Compared to the poor, stifled nursing home residents in Florida, did I really suffer?

On a spiritual level, I think of all the people who have been murdered for their faith around the world. In my life experience, many doctors and nurses actually seem interested in what makes me joyful in the face of losing most of my life. On a practical level I do have to admit that I’ve undergone much mental and emotional loss, but not as much as people who have been abused. My family has suffered with me, but not as much as if I had died.

So did (and do!) I really suffer compared with all the traumatic experiences around the world? That’s a debatable question. To say “No”, would diminish the pain of many people who have been through something similar to what I’ve been through. Maybe they’ve been through less, but have been scarred by the emotional trauma more. To say “Yes” would disrespect the magnitude of any negative experience that is greater than my own. And there is a TON of pain that far exceeds my own.

If suffering is so impossible to nail down, then how do you know when you see real suffering? I think the answer lies in an analogy Ivan uses sometimes. When nurses check on you in the hospital, they always ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. We knew that I had an unusually high tolerance for pain even before the accident. So, after the accident, when a nurse came to give me heavy narcotics and I said I was only at 7 out of 10, what did the 7 really mean? If the nurse went on to the next patient, and that patient had an extremely low level of tolerance for pain, they might also say their pain level was at a 7.  Maybe their 7 would only be a 2 on my scale. But the nurse would never argue and tell them that because I had said mine was a 7, theirs could only be a 2.

No. Each person‘s pain as is significant as their ability to tolerate it.

So I think that’s how we should measure suffering. Not on a global scale, which would be literally impossible, but rather on the amount of trauma a specific experience inflicts on a specific individual. I truly believe that there is no ” definition tail” to pin on a donkey named Suffering. Perhaps all we can say is that each person’s pain matters. It matters to them, it matters to God, and it should certainly matter to us. I hope this idea can open our hearts and our eyes to be on the lookout for pain around us, whether or not it measures up to our personal perception of real pain, That’s exactly how God approaches our pain, always has, and always will. (Jesus bore the punishment for our sins, and none of us could ever catch up to that level of suffering!) So maybe it’s better not to navel gaze at our pain, wondering if we’re the ones who’ve really suffered. Maybe it’s better to look outside ourselves and see someone else’s pain, without comparing them to us or anyone else. If you see someone hurting (and you will), take a minute and remind them that you see their pain, and that they matter. Mattering is truly the best medicine!

Back to the Future!

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All ready to go! ❤

 

Ivan’s back at school! He is still super happy teaching at Valley Christian Schools, and I am still super thankful that he’s there. (I hope I get to write about him going back to school at VCS for many Augusts in the future!) I’d love to do one of those cool “Summer Summary” posts…except that y’all pretty much know everything. 😉 BUT I’ve seen so many moms do cute “back to school” posts for their kids that I decided to make one for Ivan, too. I most definitely am not Ivan’s mom. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make one. He is cute, after all…

Name: Ivan Christian
Age: 25
Height: 5’11”
Grade: 6,7,8,9,10,11,12
Favorite Movie: Lord of the Rings
Favorite Food: Anything with CHEESE. Or shrimp. Or both.

Other fun facts not usually seen on “Back to School Posts:” Ivan doesn’t just teach piano periods! He also teaches AP Music Theory, and co-teaches two choir classes. In case y’all got lost on the music theory part, it’s basically analyzing how composers “build” music so it sounds a certain way. I call it the “math” of music.

Last year we were nervous about how I would do “on my own” while Ivan was away at work. Mom filled in the gap during the fall by taking me to therapy twice a week and making up other short excursions. I was considerate enough to save my seizure hospitalizations for everyone’s Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. (You’re welcome!) I graduated therapy in January, but Mom and Dad still took me out in the spring as I was able, and came to help me out at home when I couldn’t go out. They also both ran “seizure interference” so Ivan could stay at school as much as possible. We’d all imagined that this “back to school” transition would be a piece of cake compared to last fall’s, or this past spring’s for that matter. But our plans rarely work the way God’s do. A dramatic summer is leaving us nervous for the fall transition – again. But on the bright side, we already made it through one full year in spite of a theme park’s worth of ups and downs. I’m pretty sure we can make it through another. We’ve still got all the same ingredients in the recipe: Ivan, Mom, Dad, an understanding job, and a great church family. Best of all, we have the same God.

Ivan: Cheese.

Caring for Your Spouse

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We went on a frozen yogurt run 144 days before the accident…

 

Ivan: Spouses are called to care for one another, but things get really interesting when a severe, life-threatening accident gets thrown into the mix. I was 23 when a man ran a red light and hit my wife at 40 mph as she was walking in a crosswalk (there was a security camera at the intersection). Grace was also 23. “But we were so young!” Is there ever an “appropriate” time to become a caregiver for one’s spouse? There is something wholesome and sacred about all husbands and wives who stay together and care for each other till the end. I pray that God will give me the privilege of taking care of Grace for decades to come. That being said, you don’t usually think of couples in their 20’s operating under a “victim-caregiver” dynamic. Grace and I are very aware that we are not the only newly married couple to face something unexpected and devastating. We share our story in the hope that whoever reads our words may be encouraged.

What is it like being a caregiver for your spouse? It’s hard. It’s hard because everyone has 24 hours in a day and a finite amount of energy with which to take care of the many things that need to be taken care of in a day. Usually the demands of work and family life are enough to leave people feeling exhausted. Adding serious medical needs doesn’t help. Somehow you have to keep being employed and keep meeting “normal” social and relational demands while also helping your spouse. The spouse is understandably unable to do as much work (professionally and at home) as before, so the caregiver is responsible to make up the difference.

In addition, the spouse being helped is aware that “if it weren’t for them” their spouse wouldn’t need to be a caregiver. This can create feelings of frustration both at the situation itself and its effect on the caregiver. The caregiver also needs to be sensitive about how to “cope” with the exhaustion and frustration arising from the situation, because it would be easy to inadvertently make the “victim” feel responsible (even though in our case Grace is 100% blameless for what happened).

Sometimes I feel like there is a train called the “train of life,” and a major accident has derailed it. But somehow the train is still expected to function “as usual” because “life goes on.” How do you get the train back on its rails?

You push it back on to the rails and then you push it until the engine slowly comes back to life. Then you keep pushing.

Why do all this? Sadly, many don’t. Many give up and leave because “this wasn’t what they signed up for.” And if we’re honest, that reason (or excuse) makes sense. Then how do we account for that voice that says, “That’s not how it should be! Stay for love…”

No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13.

I never know when the next seizure will come. When they do inevitably come–because we can’t cocoon Grace in a life completely insulated from any chance encounters with light triggers or fatigue triggers–I have no power to make them stop. If I’m present with Grace and not at work or someplace else, I literally just sit there next to her and wait for the seizure(s) to stop. It feels completely helpless. People don’t like to feel helpless. But it’s part of my calling now to care for Grace.

There was a time last year when I worked many hours to make up for the income Grace lost because she could no longer work, and I was finishing my master’s degree, and I would come home, administer a blood-thinner shot in Grace’s arm because her knees were broken and she was stuck in a wheelchair and we didn’t want potentially fatal blood clots to form, then I would help Grace with her self-care, then I would clean her G-tube which had been infected and had developed pressure sores from being installed inappropriately, then I would sleep, wake up, repeat. But that was part of my calling to care for Grace.

Grace and I miss going to church (we hope we can go back to trying to go to church again, once Grace has rested up and recovered after our recent hospitalization). We miss the fact that she hasn’t been able to attend events at VCS or meet my students and coworkers. We miss the fact that (unlike many of our peers) we are not able to travel freely abroad, or even to Southern California, or even around town. Or eat out. Even watching TV sitcoms (Grace introduced me to Seinfeld a while back and my life hasn’t been the same since) is risky, because light triggers could come onscreen at any time (Grace has been triggered during Seinfeld episodes, fyi…). Movies are also risky. Walking outside our front door feels like leaving Rivendell to walk to Mordor. But even inside our apartment she’s not safe from triggers, so it’s not quite an elven sanctuary.

I’m rambling, but you get my point. Peace of mind is hard to come by. I would have crumbled long ago were it not for my Foundation. “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

“In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.”

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full, in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.”

Only God is strong enough, kind enough, patient enough, faithful enough, constant enough, to face life’s biggest challenges. I know I’m not. I pray that all of us would come to the only Source of true Life as difficulties keep coming our way. Our Shepherd walks with us through the darkest valleys…and leads us through into the light.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.” Psalm 23:6

Soli Deo Gloria.

The Man who Hit Me (Part 1)

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Grace: Hi everyone! Our rollercoaster ride over the past few weeks reminded me of someone who’s never showed up on the blog: the man who hit me. The man who hit me and didn’t even say “I’m sorry.”

My first clear thought about this man came in the rehab hospital. The night nurse was putting me to bed, but she hesitated before pouring out some pills. “Are you mad?” she said. I thought she meant about the accident in general, so I gave her my standard reply. “Not really…I mean, how could I be mad? I’m alive when I should be dead!” She laughed. “No, not about that…are you mad at the guy who hit you?” That made me stop and think. (Thinking took a lot longer back then.) “No,” I said finally. “I think I just feel bad for him. I’d hate to live the rest of my life knowing I had done this.”

She probably thought I was drugged, but what I said was true. I still feel truly sorry for him. Ruining someone’s life is a terrible ghost to haunt you. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I don’t want that man to get hurt. (I don’t want him dead or hit by a car in case you’re wondering!) I definitely don’t want him to go to Hell.

So what do I want?

I’ve thought about this a lot and come up with two big wishes:

  1. That he would encounter God through Jesus before the end of his life. Facing a just and angry God with the pain of our accident on his hands would be a terrifying, terrifying fate.
  2. I don’t want him punished “for real” in this life or the next, but I would love to do one thing to him. I want to make him watch one critical day – just one day – of our post-accident lives. It could be me way back in ICU that first night when I was supposed to die. It could be me in therapy trying so hard to catch up to a bunch of amputee patients. It could be me in the hospital during any one of my stays in the past seven months, having seizure after seizure after seizure. I’d love for him to have to turn around and look Mom and Dad and Ivan in the eye during one of those moments and see their fear and pain and exhaustion. I’d love for him to be with us just one day and think “I did this.”

Yeah I have to admit it would feel pretty great if someone could make wish #2 come true. Thankfully for the man who hit me, they can’t. But my wish #1 is still my top wish for him. The best part is that it could come true. He really could find Jesus one day and be forgiven. But in the meantime, whatever happens…I still feel really, really sorry for him.

P.S. This is all I’m at liberty to share at the moment. There may be a Part 2 at some point in the future where we can share more. But for now, thanks for your patience!

Ivan: I won’t write too much for now, but I just wanted to add two things. First, there is a legal side to this accident that Grace and I can’t elaborate on just yet. However, Grace and I can say that we have received no settlement from the offending party and most likely will not. Second, as much pain as this person has caused us, and as great as his need for God’s forgiveness is, Grace and I are reminded that we also need God’s forgiveness for our sins. The Bible is clear that everyone needs forgiveness, but it also gives a clear path to forgiveness through Jesus. Thank you all for your love and support!

 

“They turned me into a Newt!”

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Because this is how everyone wants to start their Monday.

This is actually not a happy post, but I promise to end with a silly Monty Python clip so we all feel better. Hang in there!

Two Sundays ago I ate a Costco salad and got sick. Food poisoning is annoying but pretty low key in the grand scope of life…unless you’re me. An upset tummy led to a low grade fever…which led to a giant seizure spike. Over the course of the week I had 31 seizures. Breaking my previous record for number of seizures in one week felt pretty awful. But wait, there’s more!

This past Sunday I got much worse, at which point my family freaked out and drove me to the Redwood City ER. It’s 30 minutes away, but that’s the only Kaiser center in our area equipped to treat my type of case. I had 15 seizures before I got checked into the ER, and fit in 23 more before I made it to my neuro hospital room that night. In case you’re bad at math (which I totally am!), that’s 38 seizures in one day. Which makes 69 for the whole week. Ouch.

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That many seizures makes you look like this. :/

The next morning (Monday) the neurologist decided to run a 24-hour EEG to see if anything had changed in my brain since my last Redwood City stay in December. At this point I was much more stable. Being hooked up to an EEG machine makes me look like this:

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“They turned me into a newt!

I had a few seizures Monday, but at least I was already feeling better.

That basically summarizes my Monday. On Tuesday afternoon the neurologist analyzed my EEG Tuesday and didn’t read any changes since my December EEG. That’s actually a praise since we don’t want anything else to be wrong with my brain. But we also know that food poisoning is really, really terrible for me, since it seems to mess with how my body absorbs my regular seizure meds.

PS. I always think I’m done with hospital posts, but then…?

PPS. Sorry Costco! I still ❤ you mostly. Just not your salads.

 

iLife 3.0

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Squinty swim shot 😉

Today is a “swimming date” for me and Ivan. Yes, I do actually schedule swimming dates. My first reason for a schedule is I’m semi-albino (okay not really but it feels like it!). Selecting warm yet cloudy-ish times of day is a must. My second reason is sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen. Ivan’s newest gig is sunscreen assistant to an (extremely white) white girl since my left hand needs some back up. Sunscreening any type of girl is not a skill he perfected as a bachelor. My third reason is SWIMMING! Yay!!! I’ve loved swimming ever since I was a kid, and now it does triple duty by engaging my left hand, helping me with cardio, and working out my legs without irritating the hardware.

But there’s a fourth reason I swim with Ivan. Why? I’m strong enough and smart enough and recovered enough to handle the whole swimming thing. Exercising solo is cathartic. for a lot of people. But now I need seizure as well as sunscreen back up, so Ivan’s more than a want. He’s a need. (Still super cool since he’s my husband! ❤ ) You can keep reading…I won’t beat the seizure “dead horse” again in case you’re nervous about that! 🙂

Ivan and I are in the middle of discussing what our newest life operating system should look like. (If we were Apple this would be iLife 3.0 – at least!) . I say “middle” because we’re young and inexperienced, and who knows? This could be a life-long conversation. On the bright side, conversing is great since you get to know the other person better!

Up to this point we’ve worked under the assumption I’d arrive at independence someday. Now, we understand that some of my formerly “temporary” dependence is here to stay. I don’t have a driver’s license. I shouldn’t go anywhere by myself. Naps will always be a thing. What’s more, we need some permanent social smarts to navigate events that might have triggers tucked away somewhere  (we’d thought that level of social vigilance would go away after a bit.) Ivan will stay shopping master because he can drive and handle store lights!

None of this dependence has to be bad if we decide to call it something more positive. It’s challenging, it’s different…and it definitely requires extra brain power for Ivan to help me navigate each day wisely. We’re deep into the “extra brain power” phase now, but I’m confident God will give us (and Ivan in particular) the requested smarts to make iLife 3.0 a good operating system. He doesn’t bring any update without a way to work through it eventually.

It’s a little weird to write a dependence post just before Independence Day. But how do you define independence? For me, true independence is deciding what to call something, on your own, no matter what surrounds you. That’s what our founding fathers did. They decided to think on their own even though British Imperialism surrounded them. Who knows where we’d be today if they hadn’t done some independent thinking? The best part is that God’s given every single one of us the chance to think independently, whether or not you have an iLife update on its way. Here’s to taking Him up on His offer!

 

 

Finally! Rest for the Weary

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That time I had strep throat and played Sibelius

 

Today I took two naps. I would usually feel extremely guilty about this, since even after the accident I’ve felt like my number one goal was to do the “old me” ASAP. My last post shared how my first attempt at diving back into closer (notice how I said “closer”!) to a 25-year old activity level wasn’t working out so well.

Just to recap, within the space of two weeks Ivan had taken me to the Perlman concert, we’d tried go go visit his parents in Concord, we’d watched the cat and the condo while my family were in Europe, I’d gone out with some friends, and I’d still kept up with therapy maintenance and chores at home. Oh, and tried church. I admit that’s not quite up to what you might expect for someone my age, but it’s a whole lot closer than what I’ve attempted so far.

And then I relapsed into the worst seizure frequency since March. Not so good. Since I woke up having seizures one day last week without a light trigger, my doctor decided that fatigue in and of itself was a trigger (we’d just thought that it lowered my resistance to light triggers but wasn’t its own trigger). So, now I’m on an imposed rest streak until we get back to our goal of 1-2 seizures a week.

I hate resting. When I was young, Mom often had to make me lie down and rest when I was sick – especially when violin and school were involved. One time I pushed through soloing with an orchestra and attending the post-concert reception while I was sick…and then was diagnosed with strep throat the next day. I feel like I was born doing things. And I’ve developed this mindset where I have to be doing stuff (usually introverted stuff like reading or writing or music, but still stuff) to be happy. Doing stuff wears out any brain, but now especially mine.

One nap a day has been necessary since I did have two strokes, but two naps a day feels decadent and a waste of time. I mean, I could be hanging with Ivan, reading, playing with Daisy, practicing Spanish. The old me would have been outraged at such a waste of time.

I think God is teaching me two things: 1) is to be kinder to myself and not believe that my worth is solely based on what (or how many whats!) I can produce in a day, and 2) is to be much, much gentler in how I think about other people. I did, and unfortunately do, typically assume other people should be just like me. As in, if I can do this much in a day  (especially if the disabled me somehow grinds out this much in a day), so should everyone else. The truth is I don’t know everyone else. I don’t know everything they’re going through right now. I don’t know everything they’ve gone through before. I obviously don’t have a job, and I have no idea what some of those super stressful jobs (or any job with kids!) can take out of a person. I really have no idea.

So if I have to stop and take two naps a day and limit all my other activities to twenty minute chunks, fine. And for everyone else who stops and has “nothing” time occasionally just to take care of yourself, I think that’s fine too.

Solo in San Jose

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Haha, I WISH we were that cool…

This weekend Mom, Dad, and Anna return from Europe. Anna started saving up for the trip last year as a post-graduation extravaganza and I’m SO glad she (and Mom and Dad) ventured forth. She totally deserves her first time “abroad.” 🙂

This trip was a big step for all of us since Ivan and I haven’t been solo since last August. Honestly, it probably wasn’t safe for us to even think about testing our “solo” skills until mid-April. Praise God that all these dates lined up at the last minute! The Europe story is copyrighted to Mom, Dad, and Anna, but I CAN tell y’all how our solo experiment turned out.

What we tried: Both of us dealt with schedule changes and extra responsibility (Mom and Dad have a condo and a cat), Ivan still worked during Week 1 of Europe, and I threw in some extra outings since it’s June and who doesn’t want early-summer fun?

What actually happened: We saw some interesting epileptic and TBI developments with the raised activity level. This felt weird at first, but I think God sent it early so we can plan for a fun AND safe summer. Here’s a breakdown of what we saw.

  • Epilepsy: My seizure frequency went way high (I even started clustering again), since fatigue makes my brain more susceptible to triggers. We still made it to church one week out of two (any church is a yay!), but we had to turn around on our way to visit Ivan’s family since I started having seizures on the freeway (yikes for everyone involved).
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): This is one of those things I always forget to plan for until it starts acting up, but unfortunately TBI also gets irritated by over-activity. There were a few days in there when I reverted back to some REALLY old deficits…usually because I couldn’t remember what we were supposed to do that day, much less figure out the order we should do it in. I ended up staying in the car for some of our outings, and got so noise-sensitive again that I wore earplugs to go feed my parents’ cat. That’s when ya know…

We certainly had our share of fun moments, though! Ivan got some extra chill time with my parents’ grand piano, I met up with a couple of church friends during some of my good days, and Ivan and I inaugurated the first swim of the summer. For the record, I can swim just as well as I did before the accident. (Including longer/faster than some people who shall remain nameless.)

Now what?? We’re looking forward to a great summer. 🙂 Thankfully we have a heads-up to count in lots of rest days, too, since happy brain = happy all of us. Quality is always better than quantity…and you can bet we’re aiming pretty high on the “quality” level.

As always, Ivan wins a gold medal for keeping up with me.

Update and Thoughts

 

 

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Daisy Mae makes the days brighter!

 

Hi all, long time no see! Time for a quick update and some thoughts. Recently we’ve had a higher number of seizures, which is always difficult to deal with. It’s hard for Grace to go through that, and it’s hard for me to watch her go through that. But she keeps battling, and I’ll keep trying to help her as best as I can.

I once heard that difficult times can either drive people away from God or point them toward Him. For my part (and Grace’s), I have come to rely on God more and more as trials keep coming. A year and a half ago, when the accident happened, I learned very quickly what it felt like to not be “in control.” So many of the things we usually take for granted—abilities, opportunities, time, energy, and other resources—are actually gifts from God which are His to give and take away. In fact, it’s all His to give or take away. We are merely stewards.

I have also realized more and more how transient our life on earth is. Man is but a breath, here today and gone tomorrow; eternity is long. Selfishly, I almost wish that Grace and I could be in Heaven already. But I am reminded that God has a purpose for every person during their earthly journey: namely, to enjoy and glorify Him and help others discover Him for themselves! How amazing is it that that is God’s ultimate desire—He loves us that much!

So we persevere! Grace and I want you all to know that we are always grateful for your love, prayers, and support, and that we pray for you all too, as much as we are able. All of us bear burdens of varying sorts and daily encounter people carrying their own loads. But “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19)

P.S.: I want to specifically thank my family, my parents and two brothers, for their support for me and Grace throughout the past year and a half. They have prayed for us unceasingly, and I know I can always turn to them for love and support. Back in December 2016, my dad spent multiple nights in the hospital staying up all night to watch Grace so that I could get some rest. He himself had to pass other nights trying to “sleep” on hospital lobby chairs. My brother Eric drove down to Riverside from Fresno the day right after the accident and encouraged me continually. Mom, Dad, Eric and Joey, thank you, I love you all, God bless you always!

Life after Itzhak…

 

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And there ya have it, folks!

It would be super cool to write about Itzhak Perlman every week. Alas, such is not my life. Changing the subject…

Dealing with my final epilepsy prognosis is convoluted. Most personal pondering has taken place on the treadmill since there’s NOTHING to do except move my legs, but that’s beside the point. We’ve faced a lot of trials in the past 18 months and this one’s bugged me and Ivan more than many…probably because it’s permanent. We’ve received many loving admonitions recently: everything from “God often uses doctors to give us His final answer” to “Just keep praying for a miracle!”…and some suggestions that fall in between.

My heart naturally gravitated to the first opinion but I felt guilty whenever the miracle suggestion came up. Was it wrong to “stuff” God into a medical box? But He did also create medicine. I didn’t have a good answer.

Today God showed me that even if both sides are plausible, neither is the final answer. It takes two stories to explain.

First, we find a beautiful story in John 9 about Jesus healing a 40-year-old man who was blind from birth. It would be great if you look it up, but if not here’s the Cliff Notes edition 🙂 . I’m sure the blind man resigned himself to being blind decades earlier, and then wham! He could see. Jesus healed him but the crowd was so thick the man didn’t see who had done it. A couple of days later, though, Jesus found the man. After explaining He had healed him, Jesus gave a simple command: “Follow Me.”

Pretty inspirational for the miracle side, huh? But there’s also a darker story too.

In John 21 (Cliff Notes again) Peter is walking and talking with Jesus and promises to keep following Him even after Jesus returns to heaven. Jesus responds with: “Will you really do that? If you do, it involves the same kind of death I died.” I think Peter was pretty dismayed since he turned around and pointed to another disciple. “What about him?” Misery loves company. But Jesus didn’t go down that rabbit trail. “Even if that man lived forever, it wouldn’t matter. You follow me.” For the record, Peter did…and he was later crucified for it.

As much as one story is glorious and the other unsettling, the outcome isn’t the point of either. The point is Jesus wants followers. I’m pretty sure I can rule out crucifixion since most countries don’t do that, but I can’t rule out either a happy ending or a sad one. I also shouldn’t waste time fixating on which one I’ll get. Whether or not my epilepsy changes, my (and every believer’s) job is to follow Jesus no matter what. I need a whole lot of spiritual help getting better at that. And I still have a whole lifetime (and prayer lifetime) to work on that…seizures or not.