A Trip to the Tulip Fields of Traffic
On Tuesday morning my doctor confirmed what I already was pretty sure of, my POTS is back. I keep thinking of that old song, but changing the words, "My POTS is back, and I'm gonna be in trouble! Hey Lah, hey lah, my POTS IS BACK!" But there ain't nothing cute about it. POTS is an abuser, not a cool, protective boyfriend, so we'll leave that song in the sixties.
In my last post, I described the combination of feelings: a desire to convince myself it's fine, a desire to mourn, and a type of stupefied numbness. As old symptoms have become more prevalent and well-defined as the days go by, the numbness is really prominent. I just can't believe it. I can't believe that I could feel so good, so much like my old self, and then be headed back down into the pit. I can't believe that I in 8 months could have adjusted so fully to being healthy again. I can't believe that I really don't remember how to deal with all this. Or maybe it's just that I don't want to. Doing salt tablets, wearing compression socks, hanging out in my bed, going to the doctor(s) all the time = barf, no thank you. I want to play. I want to grocery shop in public. I want to bend over and scoop up my baby and toss him over my head. I want to walk to the park or to the school. I want to say "YES!" to all the things.
I'm resisting the urge to explain how I know how wonderful my life is, how I'm so grateful, and how I know that God makes good plans and tells good stories. I hope you can find those messages all over this blog. In these paragraphs here, I need to let you know that POTS sucks. I am grieved over this news even if it is hard to let sink in. POTS is a major disruption to my hopes and dreams. I realize the ethereal nature of "hopes and dreams;" they are not guarantees and no one ever said they were. Not even me. But, hopes and dreams are written into our hearts by God who made us for more than just this life that is full of trouble. I have the capacity to dream big because of my maker, and it's a good thing because I can even hope and dream that this "thorn" (as Christians like to say) will be used to make me a better person. However, the fact that good can come from something doesn't mean that thing doesn't suck.
As I wrestled with all this stuff this week, I felt an important pull to keep finding ways to see and love the good, fun, beautiful things in life. In dealing with chronic illness, I learned that I want to be a person who is wise about how to spend myself and to prioritize lasting, meaningful experiences. I'd rather be tired from an outing or playing with the kids than from scrubbing the floors or worrying about what other people think of me. With that philosophy in mind (and probably a healthy dose of denial about POTS returning... funny combination), I decided that Hazel Belle and I should use our 70+ degree day for a trip to the tulip fields about an hour north of Seattle. I LOVE the tulip fields second only to lavender fields, and Hazel and I spend lots of time together thinking and reading about, playing with, and growing flowers. My teacher sister-in-law was on Spring Break, so I invited her to join us.
Guess what? Every other freakin' person in Seattle decided to go too. It was terrible traffic. The kids did really well until we came to a complete standstill on the freeway at our exit. Bran started crying, and Hazie was starting to feel like she'd rather go home. We sat in the car for almost an hour that should have been about 10 minutes with Bran's fussing turning into legit crying. The timing was crucial because we had to get back to Seattle in time to pick up my sons from their schools. If you know me at all, you know that timing is everything. Finally, some stunning fields of color came into view in the distance under the sunny, deep blue sky. Trouble is, we could tell that it would take us another 2o minutes just to turn towards the field, and Bran was apocalyptic. We pulled over in a business parking lot, and I pulled out a breast while Candiece and Hazel made lemonade by playing with a rock. Seriously. Those two could have fun anywhere together, and I love them both dearly for it!
Extrovert that I am, it did me so much good to have Candiece with us for the whole thing. It really could have been a disaster otherwise. With a buddy, I could see the humor in it all, and she was such a great help with the kids. I rolled my eyes, and chuckled, and prayed. I decided that we would try to continue. We had enough time to maybe at least stop and take a few pics once we got to the field. Armed with a plan and a banana for Candiece to feed Bran, we continued. When we arrived at our intersection to turn toward the field, the COP WOULDN'T LET US! I've never seen such an angry "keep going!" arm in my life. I'll bet he has to ice his elbow at night and possibly his whistle-blowing cheeks and furrowed brow. "Oh well," I thought. "We'll just go to the next one." WRONG. An even more vehement cop waived us through there too. I don't even know what to say.
I gave up ALL hope of getting out of the car again. Then Hazel started screaming like she was being stabbed because of a fly that had landed on her. I reacted with empathy, and we got it all covered. And, I'll add, I snatched the fly off of Candiece where it landed next like the freakin' Karate Kid, and tossed it out the window because that's just how I do. Up ahead there was another full, gorgeous field, the very one I most wanted to see and stroll through, but we were out of time. We headed back towards I-5. An oncoming train slowed us down a bit; par for the course at that point.
Needless to say, that trip was a real disappointment. I was hoping to stand in the fields, drink in the beauty and inspirations and remember that life can be great even with POTS (because it can). Instead, I wasted gasoline and the beautiful weather. BUT, I got great time with Candiece and walked away with a lesson (of course).
Life as I hope for it to be is the tulip fields. It's right there. I see it. I remember what it's like to be in it. I desperately want to show and share it with my kids and other people I love. POTS is like the traffic. It's inconvenient. It's frustrating. And it can really ruin an outing, a day, your plans. I am stuck in it. Thankfully, it's not always that bad. Sometimes it's manageable, and I can go about life as I would without it being there. But, like Seattle traffic, I will always have to consider it and plan for it.
Our botched trip to the tulips could have been much worse if I had let myself decide that the day was ruined. Instead, because I had the right people with me and asked for help from God, I was still able to enjoy it. Was it what I wanted? NOT AT ALL, but it was still good. And I got things I didn't know I needed, like a new great way to explain what POTS feels like, and some great adult conversation while the kids both slept. I have to remember that THAT is what POTS is like. It's just traffic. There will be times when it ruins everything or when it makes things impossible, but there will be alternatives. New, other ways to enjoy life. And just like I will appreciate those tulip fields even more once I finally have a successful trip, I am more grateful for the joy of "normal" health and life.
My 8 healthy months have been great, and I am especially humbled and grateful to have enjoyed Bran's babyhood during my break from POTS. It does totally suck that it's back, but my life isn't over. There is plenty of beauty to see from inside the minivan.