[We really are trying to get this going! Thanks for your patience; Lord willing, we’ll get caught up before the next year begins! – D]
So the conference was wonderful. It was. And when we got back, it was February. The year really did kind of get started without us. Such is the nature of things.
Something that was big on our minds at the time, and which we did not post here were some things going on with my (Donna’s) health. Looking back, I did post it on my blog, but what I’ll say here may explain why it was kind of crazy there for a while.
To back up a bit and give it some context, during Anna’s last year of high school – the 2008-2009 school year – we had a pretty crazy time. We had just returned from a year furlough and were doing all of those things you do when you’ve been gone for a year.
One thing that had been planned was some fix-up/repair work here in the apartment. The wallpaper was torn and cracked in places, and the plaster underneath was basically being held in place by the wallpaper in other places. So we learned that tearing down old wallpaper and putting up new is not as simple as it may seem, seeing as it involved removing the broken plaster under the wallpaper and completely resurfacing the walls. I won’t get further derailed here into a description of that chaos, but suffice it to say that it became a very, very large project that stretched over many weeks, taking place all while we were living in the apartment.
Now we have known periods of fairly significant stress in our lives over the 24 years we’ve been married, so somehow when the symptoms of stress showed up, we kind of took it in stride as, you know, one of those times. Abby and Mary were both in their first year of Ukrainian school that year, too, so it was really one big circus at our house. The Holidays came and went, and we hoped to settle into a somewhat pleasant glide into Anna’s last months at home.
‘Pleasant glide’ is not quite what happened, as is just the way of the world, but somewhere long about April or maybe even the end of March, I was kind of dizzy and tired a lot, and we didn’t have a good explanation for it. Ok, stress would have been a good reason for it, but humor me here when I say that I had actually been taking the spring a lot more slowly and had been trying to get more rest, naps, etc.
So after the school year finished with a bang and we looked up for air, we weren’t surprised that the dizziness and now accompanying spasm-like sensations in various body parts hadn’t gone away. Thankfully the summer was going to be very low-key, so we kind of thought it would all sort itself out given enough time.
By the end of August, though, not much had changed and so we started to get some medical testing done, etc., etc. Insert discussions of a lot of different things, testing, watching, and a couple more years of, ‘Well, we really don’t know, let’s keep an eye on that’.
Last fall – that is, of 2012 – when we headed into The Holidays – it’s a pretty extended period here in this expat life in that you just combine the two cultures’ seasons – starting in late November or maybe early December, I kind of had the odd sense that I didn’t quite have my right mind about me.
Now that sounds kind of strange, I have to admit, but it was just odd. People who know me well tend to see me as a bit hyper, maybe, doing a lot of things, lots of lists, etc. One thing I’ve developed over the years to keep from crashing mid-day is to take a little cat-nap, anywhere from 20-40 minutes doing the trick. Now I was finding that my cat-naps weren’t cat-naps, but deep, two-hour sleeps, even when I’d gotten a good amount of sleep I’d gotten the night before.
I couldn’t concentrate or make decisions very well, either. There was a little of that spasm-ness, but not like before, so it wasn’t like we had a return of or progression of some of the old stuff. The kicker, if you can call it that, was what seemed like a strange, unnatural apathy. Some have wanted to call it depression, but there was no sadness or despair or anything like that. I felt cheerful and fine, but had not one iota of interest in tackling any of the things calling for my attention, from various school projects, to just going out and getting the groceries on time.
So I checked in with the neurologist after we got back from our trip. She suggested that we do an MRI for good measure, and armed with almost four years of tracking this and a new image, decided that we were, indeed, dealing with one of the forms of multiple sclerosis. I have to be honest and say I was so glad she didn’t think I was crazy or that she was just humoring me. My family was not so glad.
So that was big on our minds as we worked on all that was going on at that point. I think Mary had already been cast in the play, The Diary of Anne Frank, by that point, and was also running around basketball courts all over town. Abby had gotten into the groove of life at KCA and was just doing what you need to do to get through all that sixth grade throws at you. Mark had finished the January Greek class and had somewhat survived the return side of the trip, getting his head into the right place for the lineup of classes that were still on slate for the rest of the year.
We were also all still getting used to not having Benjamin here. I know it seems like we would have gotten over that already, having Anna leave and it already being six months since we’d left them both at LeTourneau. But what can I say? The cat we got for Mary’s birthday in December, while being quite a presence in his own right, didn’t quite fill that space that now felt really empty with the both of them gone.
Generally speaking, life was pretty good, actually. We did get to connect with the older two kids on Skype every now and then, we had this cute kitten we were getting used to and having a great deal of fun watching, and we were looking forward to having some visitors come to Kiev this year. Things at the seminary were perking along as they do and we were all relatively healthy. We were and are thankful.