I started the hashtag #SheRunsOnFaith a couple years ago determined to share the importance and power of relying on faith in everyday life, especially when it comes to trials. I wanted to share my recent trial of faith with you. I believe in sharing weaknesses— not from a “Woe is me!” standpoint, but rather, a “We can get through this with God” standpoint, it can be helpful and empowering to all of us when we don’t put on our perfect porcelain exterior without any cracks and blemishes.. Though it is a little bit out of my comfort zone to be so vulnerable, I am channeling Brene Brown today as I share the following with you.
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” -Brene Brown
So here goes…
The last 7 months have been a dive into the unknown. The unknown of feeling physically “broken”. For 7 months my pelvis has been “nearly” broken in two places, meaning fractured but not a complete break.
I have also been suffering from something called “osteitis pubis”— inflammation of the pubic symphysis. The best I can describe to you what this feels like is this:
Walking feels like I am on splintering wooden stilts that could break at any moment– with a crotch (what a terrible word, haha) that feels more or less on fire. Bending, lifting, walking, running, squatting, any sudden movements— It all hurts and causes pain.
How did this happen? I would love to have a certain answer to this… the only vague answer that I can gather from my doctors and physical therapists is this:
A slight structural imbalance with a bone irregularity, years of running, years of having babies, repeated over and over (4 kids in 7 years)—— and here I am. Ta-da! 😉
Most of our muscles connect to the pelvis, right at the pubic symphysis where all of my inflammation is located which has caused a very debilitating state of life as a mother of 4 young kids.
Before I continue, please understand that I don’t tell my experience for sympathy. I know that things could be SO MUCH WORSE. This is just a tiny drop in the bucket of human suffering. But I need to express to you the lows sufficiently, so that I can accurately share the highs— the joy, faith, and miracles I have witnessed because of this hard time.
So what is the remedy for all of this?
I’ve always been an extremely active person. I always have a plan, and going 100 miles an hour is the way I roll. To say that it took a major learning curve to learn how to ‘rest” is an understatement. I had to totally rewire my brain through the course of all of this. And looking back in hindsight now, it is very apparent to me that God needed to quiet me, his child, so that I would listen more intently to Him.
I have asked myself over and over again, how can I rest when I have virtually soul care of 4 kids under 8 (one being a baby who constantly wants to be held)? My husband is a resident doctor and gone most of the time.
Therein lies the root of my struggle. I have felt again and again the prompting that I need to share my story here in my “blog living room”. I’m not sure if it is just because I need to share for my own benefit and therapy of letting my struggle out… or if there is someone out there that this might help. Either way, I’ll do it and hope for the best.
What Life Has Been Like
Bending to pick up anything, bending to get a pan out of the cupboard to cook, walking up stairs, downstairs (We have stairs down to our basement… which happens to be where the laundry room is), walking on hard floors (basically every grocery store in existence), carrying my baby, most exercise, changing bed sheets and anything else that would require ab muscles, any sudden movement—— it all hurt.
Basically, for the last 5 months of this 7 month dilemma— I could sit and lay without any pain and that was it.
But it turns out that life still had to go on in this pathetic state of affairs. My husband wanted to help so desperately and would help when he could (resident doctor life is pretty busy and stressful with very little freedom)— So between caring for kids, feeding my family, walking on hard floors at the grocery store, carrying my baby and sleeping kids in from the car, taking the kids here and there to lessons etc., doing the laundry including bending over to put clothes in the washer and dryer, carrying laundry baskets, picking up toys, picking up clothes, shoveling snow (oh the dang snow!)… and the list of mom duties goes on and on… and on. Okay, I kind of feel like I’m whining now 😃! All of it contributed to constant pain.
Where This All Began
Last September, (2016) I was all trained for the St. George Marathon. In fact, I was partnered with the St. George Marathon. It was a dream come true! I had nearly completed my whole training cycle with hopes to qualify for Boston. Nearly all of my long runs had been completed and I began to experience major hip pain for up to a whole day after my long runs. Finally after my last 20 miler, I KNEW I needed to go to the doctor. With one week until the big race, I was expecting her to say, “Just rest and take some ibuprofen and you’ll be fine.” But after x-rays and an MRI, I sat in the doctor’s office where I was given my diagnosis: two fractures in my pelvis and Osteitis Pubis.
Sidenote: If I had pushed through the pain, skipped going to the doctor, and run the marathon anyway— my pelvis might have broken completely (in two places) during the marathon or soon after… which would’ve meant months in a cast and no movement at all. I believe in divine intervention. God had my back on that one.
With my diagnosis and the doctors orders to rest, I was super disappointed but I knew it wasn’t the end of the world. The doc reassured me that I would be up and running by Thanksgiving. “Thanksgiving?! I can do that!” I thought.
Well, I tried to rest… Thanksgiving came and went. I would have a “good day” and get my hopes up that maybe I was getting better and then the pain would come back with a vengeance and my heart would plummet again and again. I wasn’t getting better, I was getting worse. Pain began to increase just doing easy day to day things that we all take for granted… like walking across the street to church, or carrying my baby to the car, or picking up toys, or getting a pot to make ramen noodles. Life was deteriorating fast around here and I was determined to still do it all and get better. I could do this. I’ve done hard things before! (Read about my ovarian tumor HERE)
Expectations are the worst and all of mine had been dashed. I had put up a front to everyone around me for all of these months, I needed to be strong— I felt like I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Family was far away and busy. I couldn’t stress my husband out more than he already was. It was a very hard and lonely place. It was easy to mask my limp, to hide my constant pain and discomfort. After all, I had always been strong, capable, and relatively had my ‘stuff’ together! Amidst ever worsening pain, everything began to crumble around me. I began to snap at my kids due to pain (I wasn’t taking any medication due to controversy on the matter of healing fractures and anti-inflammatories), I became enveloped by laundry piles, there was stuff all over my house— and as much as I’d try to get the kids to pick up their things, it was just impossible to keep things clean. I dreaded leaving the house, I dreaded going to the grocery store, I dreaded snow storms, walking around the corner to church and teaching my Sunbeams (the 3 yr. olds at church). I would often cry at night. Mostly for my kids who had a dead beat mom that couldn’t even take them to the park or play very well with them. Why wasn’t I getting better?! I was trying so hard! Though how do you just not pick up your baby when she needs you? How could I not help her? The pain got worse and reliving all of this as I type it makes my hands shake, tears flow, and I can barely catch my breath.
By the time Christmas rolled around, I was a puddle on the floor (I know what you’re thinking, “Someone get this girl some therapy!” 😉 ). Any morale and hope for normal life was in the gutter. We were in St. George at the time with our extended families. On Christmas night, my husband and I put our kids to bed at Grandma’s and went out for a drive. As we started to talk about life— his stresses at work, and what was going on with me— I couldn’t even control my sobbing. I was in so. much. pain. For months I had been trying to juggle all of the balls of our life in the midst of it. I had been doing everything possible within my power— even spiritually. I had been trying everything to hand it all to Christ. Ironically, on the night of his celebrated birth is when I fell apart. After a lot of tears and talking, we said a prayer and I felt peace. I didn’t know if everything would be okay. I didn’t know if I would get better, but I felt peace and knew that my Heavenly Father was aware of me, loved me, and that I was in His hands. Jesus Christ had felt all of my pain and I could keep going.
After Christmas I went back to the doctor defeated, asking her all of the questions. Why am I not better? What can I do? What am I doing wrong? Help me! So the road of physical therapy began. In physical therapy I found out that my body is a bit lopsided, possibly from carrying babies on my left side most of the time for all of these years. I also have a touch of scoliosis. We started to work on muscle imbalances, exercise started again in small increments (I had stopped for two months because I became so desperate to get better). I still wasn’t getting better though. I called my parents in tears of desperation and pain and though they wanted to so badly, they couldn’t help me at that time. And the same happened with my in-laws.
The next morning, I was at the gym working on what very limited exercises I COULD do— feeling such desperation and frustration. I ran into a sweet friend from my church congregation (ward). She asked me how I was doing, and that was it. She caught me with all of my walls down and once again I was a puddle on the floor. It all came out— I couldn’t keep it inside anymore. She sat with me on a bench in the middle of the gym, her arm around me, while I sobbed almost uncontrollably. We were surrounded by Saturday morning gym-goers who I’m certain were wondering “What the heck?” I blubbered and told her all the happenings of the last few months.
This was a major turning point in my recovery.
Women from my church took my struggling little family under their wing and started bringing us meals 2-3 times a week, including freezer meals, and random plates of treats. One women came and took all of our dirty laundry to her house and washed, dried, and folded it all— believe me when I say 6 people make a TON of stinky laundry! People helped me with my kids so that I could go to physical therapy 2-3 times a week, members of our church were constantly checking on us, seeing what they could do for us. Offers to carpool, teach my class at church, sit with my kids at church, everything. One woman, sitting behind our family (aka circus of chaos) in church on Sunday— saw the need for my sweet baby to take a nap. At the time, my husband was already out in the foyer of the church with a disobedient child. I couldn’t just walk out with the baby even though I wanted to …. this sweet women leaned over and whispered, “I would be happy to go rock her to sleep in the mothers room.” So she did, and Lucy fell right to sleep. And between her and another sweet young women, they took care of the baby for the rest of church so that I could sit and be spiritually fed.
I have never been very good at asking for help. I have always preferred to be the one offering it. And God taught me that it is just as important to allow people to help and serve you as it is for you to serve others. It has been a hard lesson to learn, but I have seen incredible beauty in the service rendered by others. Including my sweet mom who was able to take her one week off so that she could come help me with the day to day. I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude.
I love this crazy crew and I can’t live without them. We have had a lot of wonderful, Christlike, and kindhearted people drop everything to serve us lately. It brings me to my knees in gratitude for such angels, both earthly and unseen (You know who you are). I am so humbled and hope I can turn around and show the same love to all in my sphere of reach. . . “Our family is the focus of our greatest work and joy in this life; so will it be throughout all eternity.” -Russell M. Nelson . . “Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others…By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.” -Gordon B. Hinckley . .
My spiritual life has been forced to deepen through all of this. If everything was always easy, then we wouldn’t need God, right? I was trying so hard to understand but said many prayers like this, “Why is this happening God? Moms shouldn’t have to deal with stuff like this. I am doing EVERYTHING I possibly can. I am trying my hardest to put you first. There is nothing more that I can do! Please help me to learn what I need to learn. Please help me to heal.”
Numerous prayers, blessings from my husband (Learn about priesthood blessings HERE), and I continued to struggle. Ironically, attending the temple every week I never felt pain while there. (Learn more about temples HERE.)
One particularly hard day after picking up the kids from school, I pulled into our driveway and had the distinct impression that the reason why this is happening to me is because it is teaching my children how to serve. “Isn’t there an easier way?” I thought, but then I felt intense gratitude as I watched my daughter grab her backpack, unbuckle the baby and take her inside the house for me without me asking. And I felt intense gratitude and greater understanding. We don’t have to always know why something hard comes upon us. God has his purposes, and it is always for the best— to make us who we need to become. Who He knows we are capable of becoming.
My kids offer to carry the baby everywhere— to and from the car, when Daddy can’t be at church, my oldest son and daughter take turns holding the baby all the way to church. They carry her down the stairs and up the stairs at home for me. My little man has been so helpful picking things up off of the floor for me or running to grab the diaper and wipes. My daughter wrote me notes asking me to write down what I needed so that she could help me. Don’t get me wrong— it wasn’t this celestial experience all of the time with my kids working and helping me in complete harmony— but after that answer from God, I began to see with more spiritual eyes what this injury was really doing for my family. It was drawing us closer to Him. Though it stung when my son would say, “Mom, when are you going to get better? I want my fun Mommy back.” and I would try to answer happily instead of cry my eyes out.
Finally, after the 7 month rollercoaster, I was still in pain and went to the doctor’s again with tears. The doctor ordered another MRI so that we could get some more answers. We needed to know if my fractures were healing because she thought they would have improved by now.
Hospital gowns are so becoming, aren’t they? 😛
The MRI came back with the fractures almost healed (!!!) and the inflammation had slightly gone down (!). The pelvis is a very slow place to heal because there is very little circulation in that area and like I said earlier, many muscles and tendons attach to the pubic symphysis which makes it extremely easy to reinjure. Finally, a cortisone shot became the plan. Potentially, a cortisone shot right in the problem area (right in my crotch… yikes!) could heal the whole area of inflammation or at least minimize pain. Hallelujah!!!! This diagnosis allowed me to hope that I would be better soon!!!
I felt so bad for my husband through this whole thing. And gosh, he really was a champion and made the most of it. The weight of his stressful world as a resident doctor, and then to add on a laundry list of household duties and 4 very active kids just to survive— hugs to all of you single parents out there! Not to mention a wife that was emotionally stable half the time… it made for a lot of tough moments, ramen noodles, and intense exhaustion for both of us. I think his parents felt so bad for him that when his birthday came around in February they offered to watch our kids for one week so that we could go somewhere together (soooo nice, right?! We are so grateful!!!). So we settled on France because we found the deal of a lifetime that coincided with our dates. My doctor thought it was a great idea as it would take me out of my everyday “mom life” and I wouldn’t be bending over all the time and carrying children and laundry, the walking would be good for me, and I would probably get more sleep. My AMAZING physical therapists were behind it too and helped my husband to know some exercises he could help me with if I had pain while walking in France.
So in the end we have a double happy ending. We went to France for one week and had the trip of a lifetime where we celebrated our 10 year anniversary. I felt a lot of pain the first day and the last day— I am convinced the days in between were a little blessing from God especially when we were walking an average of 9 miles per day! Riding bikes helped us to cover a lot of ground with minimal pain, and my husband pushed me through the Louvre in a wheelchair… which was a bonus because we got to cut in front of the whole crowd to see the Mona Lisa. I haven’t said too much about all of this on instagram— it is easy to make life look picture perfect there— and if you saw the pictures of our trip you never would’ve known my struggles. Therein is a reminder to all of us… No matter what you see in your little square spaces on social media, you aren’t getting the whole picture. “Real life” is happening to all of us. The way we get through it and whether we turn to the “Prince of Peace” is the true test.
When we returned home I received a cortisone shot and here I am typing this at one week out and feeling very little pain. This has allowed me for the first time in 7 months to hope that I can be the fun mom that I am dying to be again! Hooray!!! I still have a tiny bit of pain, but I have a new lease on life and I couldn’t be happier! So give me all the laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, carrying my baby, and toys to pick up. I’m ready!
Lessons Learned and Reminders:
People are wonderful and willing to help if you just ask.
I was reminded that fitness is a very small part of life– I LOVE running marathons but “optimal health” is my new mantra. I’m not throwing in my marathon towel per se, but right now and for the next long while—I just want to play with my kids at the park, go hiking, and run with them someday.
Trials really are a blessing— I find myself learning this lesson over and over again.
I needed to go through this to understand how many of you, my readers, may be feeling. Not being able to do something you love, trying to do something that you desire so deeply— but in your case it just won’t work or can’t happen. Maybe it works for everyone around you, but you can’t and you feel broken. I get it. And it is HARD. And I’m in your corner cheering you on.
God needed to calm His child. I needed to slow down and reconnect with what matters most. This has led to a major lifestyle redesign based around simplicity and “practical minimalism” (more on this later.)
There really are angels on earth both seen and unseen.
There are so many people that need help and I want to help them!
In our Easter lesson last Sunday, I was overcome with overwhelming gratitude for Christ and his suffering, death, and resurrection. I feel like my understanding, although completely inadequate still, has grown intensely. I love Him and am so grateful that because He lives, we will live with a perfect and resurrected body. What an incredible blessing!
*A very special thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who stuck with me along the way. I love you!
~~~~~~ Just to give you an idea of how crazy we can get when we are foot loose and fancy free with no kids and no responsibilities, click the link below! ~~~~~~