The Effingham County fair…sweat running down every inch of your body, gorging yourself on fair food, stinky animals, allergies from all the hay, carnival rides, judging animals even dogs, parades that are way too loud, showing stinky animals, and visiting with great friends are just a few of the memories I have of going every year since Wes and I have been together. (Wes and I have been together now for 15 years)
Yes, some of those memories are not the most pleasant, but for the most part the Effingham County fair has always brought me great joy. However, last year was the beginning of my downfall. It was this time last year that my neck was hurting so bad I was seeing a doctor for weekly pain shots. It was this time last year I went to the fair “hopped up” on pain pills, steroids, inflammation pills, and muscle relaxers. It was this time last year that I was unable to “bounce” back from my “flare up” like I had been able to in the past.
I was baffled. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just shake it off and suck it up like so many times before?
I believe a few things came into play here…
1. I was getting older
2. I wasn’t taking good care of myself
3. I was overweight
4. I had a lot of stress in my life…my grandma was sick, financial strain, two kids under the age of two, school was getting ready to start again, lifting my two kids was never good on my neck or back, I had been in two car accidents, I just needed time to heal…
In theory, some of these reasons I think played a major role in my inability to get better, but little did any of us realize it was going to get a lot worse before I could get better.
So, this year as we packed up the kids to head to the parade I had a newfound appreciation for even the sweat and allergies. I was alive! I was able to go to the fair and enjoy seeing my kids get candy and play with other kids. Yes, it wore me out. Yes, I am still paying for it today. Yes, it WAS worth it.
This past year, has been the biggest life lesson I could have ever imagined or asked or prayed for. I was literally dying and I didn’t know how long I had left in this world. I didn’t know if I would see my babies grow up or how Wes would survive without me.
In desperation from so much suffering, I began to ask God to go ahead and just take me. Prayed to Him to take me home. I just knew I didn’t have the strength for this journey and that I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone anymore. I’ve only told a few people about my request to die, and how I wanted it so badly at the time. It’s not easy to talk about or something that I want to admit, but I do know that I am thankful that He didn’t listen to me. Thankful He believed in me.
God has given me a second chance at life. He has blessed me with a wonderful life, and as I continue to heal I am reminded of how quickly everything can be taken away. I know God chose me so that in return I can help others fight their battles, educate them, and support them because not everyone was as blessed as I was, not everyone has a good support system. I am here to continue to help myself, but also help those around me feel better.
I can tell you without a doubt if this journey had not started a year ago, I would be in a worse place than I am now. I would be overweight, uneducated, unappreciative, I would lack faith and trust, and I would not have realized that my body is a temple. I never used to look at it that way. I lived to eat. I couldn’t wait for my next meal, and now I eat to live. Food is energy. Nothing more. What I put into my body does matter and it will either help me or hurt me. I am smarter and healthier even though I have a chronic illness, it does not define me.