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  • Laura Alvarado-Newson

When all you can do is shake your head

In May 2015, exactly a year ago, my husband came down with a horrible

pneumonia. At the same time, he told me his right hand was numb and weak. We went back and forth to the doctors. I was concerned pneumonia had something to do with is blood disorder, specifically more blood clots in lung. After some tests the doctors rule out blood clot issues and put him on antibiotics for pneumonia. The doctor also assumed right arm weakness and numbness had to be some kind of shoulder injury or nerve damage and put him on muscle relaxers and exercises. To move this story along, after countless changes in meds and referrals to specialists, his arm wasn't improving, until finally becoming completely useless, his arm, not him. Months and months went by filled with different diagnosis including carpel tunnel syndrome. All of the doctor's ideas proved to be wrong.

At the same time that this is occurring, I am noticing a change in my beloved husband. His driving was a bit scarier, he seemed a lot more confused, and became very quiet and withdrawn. Something was terribly wrong and I knew it had to be neurological, but by this time, my husband had lost his job and health insurance. So I turned my focus on getting him covered so we could get to the bottom of these mysterious symptoms.

May 2016, I took him to the hospital, because his right leg was becoming numb and dragging, this only confirmed my suspicions and I demanded a head CT. Sure enough, a stroke; as a matter of fact, many strokes, small ones for at least a year followed by a massive one that day. Doctors couldn't believe his condition, all they kept on saying was "but he is so young".

Since then we found out his aortic valve needs to be replaced, this is the heart's main valve; aside from that horrible news, we find out there is a strange tissue on that damaged valve, which could be the cause of the strokes. We found this out over 6 weeks ago. Since his discharge, he has been back to the hospital another time because his right hand started with tremors, he has been to urgent care several times, one of them being for an ankle ulcer due to his bad circulation. We are hopping for appointment to appointment, to therapies, to pharmacies, to the SSI office and of course, I am the chauffeur, because he is now unable to drive. During this time, on the same week, our dog (my 4th child) develops a severe ear infection, let's go to the vet. My youngest also falls ill, lets go to urgent care.

In between caring for my husband, my dog, my baby girl, my son was hospitalized with pneumonia last week and today he had a seizure. Something he hadn't experienced in years. Thankfully he is ok. It was actually something quite amazing. He starts seizing, my husband yells for me. I run into room to find my son twitching violently on his bed, the last time he had a seizure he was a 40lb skinny kid, now at over 100lbs, seizures are a bit scarier. The first thing that came to my mind was call 911. I picked up the phone and dialed, and my son as he is still seizing flashes a big smile at me. I hung up the phone. A million thoughts run through your head as a parent of special needs child, my thought was, how did we do it before? Oh yeah, we prayed for him and his seizures would calm down. He used to have multiple seizures a day and the doctors would prescribe these scary meds that could cause respiratory distress (He could stop breathing). We left those meds as last a resort, we would pray over him, talk to him and he would snap out of it within 2-3 minutes. So what was our problem now? Why weren't we taking our positions and praying? I thought, well Lord that couple before was a strong couple of faith, they're gone. But, what the heck, we'll give it a shot. So both my husband and I lay a hand on his chest and just said gently, no more than three times "in Jesus name". The seizure seized! Instantly! The seizure lasted about 3 minutes, my protocol is once it starts hitting 4 minutes we call 911.

This was God telling us, "I'm still here, I'm still on the throne, and I hear you". Usually my son is exhausted and sleepy after a seizure, not this time, he was smiling, laughing and ready to go to school. Please note that I am woman with both feet on the ground, I don't go for over-mystical, dramatic, spiritual experiences that would put any one in danger, I was very observant the whole time of his breathing pattern, his alertness, his state of mind and he was fine. If my mother gut says call 911, I call 911. In this case, it was not necessary, God had our backs.

So now, at this moment 11:39pm, I am on watch. I am watching my husband who has a severe cough and may need to go to urgent care, I am watching my 13 year old daughter who went to sleep with a slight fever and chills and I am watching my son to make sure he doesn't have another seizure. Yes, all of this tonight. I say that our life circumstances are pretty unreal and a bit ridiculous; I have been going on survival mode for awhile, in between deep bouts of depression and despair. This doesn't make anything any better. I have let go of my relationship with desserts to help me get through another day, and I am through being sad all of the time; yes, I did get sad today, but I am thankful it wasn't all day. So to whom or what do I cling to? The only one that has the answers and knows the end of this strange, exhausting story: My God

* 2 Corinthians 1:4 "He comforts us in all troubles so that we can comfort others,. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."

This verse is hard for me to swallow, as it is so hard to look beyond one's bubble of suffering to try and help someone in their bubble of suffering. I do recall years ago asking the Lord to "Send me, here am I, send me" So could this be the preparation of the send off? I don't know, I don't see it, my vision is a bit dark right now, but I will believe it because God says I will comfort others.

* 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9 "Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness."

Another hard one to accept, yet I do want God's power to work in me and through me and if that means His power will work through my weaknesses (which are many) than I will not resist Him and His plan. I may cry, kick and scream every once in awhile, and than fall back into His arms of mercy and grace, where else am I going to go? Every morning, as I wake up, I see God with two beautiful gifts in His arms, extending His arms towards me, offering His grace and His mercy for today. I have my moments, but know deep in my heart, He is carrying me through and He will carry you through whatever you are going through.

So to all of you who are shaking your head at your life and thinking "ay yay yay", there is grace and mercy for you. Grace to get you through it, mercy to cover the weaknesses and pain that come with the territory.

Well, time to go make my rounds. Blessings and until next time...

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