Reeling with Raynauds

    If you have never had children then the agony I am about to describe when you see your child go through physical pain won’t make sense. There is a fear that hits your brain, hits your soul when one of your children comes against something, that they much less you has no control over. Most mothers from the moment we find out we are pregnant change our whole lives to protect and give our children the best and healthiest life possible. With 4 children I knew that my chances of having all of my kids healthy was probably slim to none especially considering the fact that one by one I went into premature labor with each one. They all were born early and up until our 3rd child they were healthy. Brayden was born 5 weeks premature and he was in the NICU for 7 days and has had asthma and allergy issues ever since, but our first-born she was healthy from day one. With the exception of a few ear infections as a baby she has always been happy and healthy so when she started having some discoloration and temperature issues in her extremities we didn’t immediately jump to any conclusions or freak out right away.

    Time stands still when you hear words like disease, cancer, no cure, manage the symptoms. The day of her doctor’s appointment we heard words that made time stand still. We heard ” Briana you have Raynauds Disease, there is no cure, but there are things you can do to manage the symptoms. Everyone is different so we aren’t exactly what sure what symptoms you will even have.” My daughter and I got through that exact moment by telling each other that it could be worse, it could have been cancer. She could be loosing a limb like I did, she could be dying. There were so many worse things the doctor could have come in and said, but in my head I was screaming all those things don’t matter this is my baby. I was devastated.

    See this child at her mere 14 years at age had already been through so much. She had to experience the death of 3 of her grandparents, 1 of which was my mom whom she was extremely close to. Then at 10 she began the task of caring for her 3 younger siblings because I had decided to have reconstructive surgery on my foot that ended up being 7 surgeries 20+ skin grafts, 2 external fixators. And in the end after 2 years of all that I ended up having to have that foot amputated. Our youngest daughter who was 7 months old when I had my first surgery called Briana mama first and for good reason, Briana had been taking care of her the way a mama would. She has been my right hand man as they say. I couldn’t have gotten through all of these obstacles without her help and she has done all of that while maintaining fantastic grades, and extracurricular activities. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that on top of all the things she had willingly took on to be a help and blessing to others and now she was facing this disease .

    We are in the beginning stages of this disease and already it is proving to be an ugly opponent. As a parent it is beyond frustrating when you see your child cry out in pain and there is nothing you can physically do to relieve the pain. Briana is a tough girl and usually can deal with any pain but she has met her match with this disease. There are days, days much like today where the only thing I can do is hit my knees and cry out to God on her behalf. I beg him for mercy and relief for her. I beg him to please deliver her from this disease. I beg him to please ease her fear and uncertainty and to help me be the best mom for her I can be.

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    When your child is hurting you feel it to. Its like you’re connected. There are times when we may be able to do something to help ease whatever they may be feeling and those times are great gifts. However, there are more times when there isn’t anything we can do and it feels like pure torture. As I watch my daughter, she moves around and I offer to rub her feet because they are cramping so bad she can’t walk, my heart is breaking. I would give my other leg if only she didn’t have to go through this. I know I can’t take this from her or go through it for her so I just pray that God will use it in her life and she will be stronger, wiser and a warrior for his kingdom. We will continue on this journey and learn more about Raynauds. My Daughter will become a voice for this disease and she will conquer it. I will turn my frustration, fear, and anxiety for my child into drive to maker her life the best I can. In the meantime as she begins to step in 2 her lyfe I will just sit back watch and admire and be inspired by the incredible young lady God has created in spite of the obstacles before her . 

 

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A Final Goodbye

   I will always ask myself did I do enough, were the words I said heard by the ones I loved? I wish that I could name only one person as I sit here today and share this part of my soul with all of you, but there are so many people so close to my heart that I am sure it will never fully heal ever again.

   I guess it starts when I was 5 years old and my baby sister died at home while sleeping in my brothers bed. We knew from the beginning that she was not going to live long but we hoped, prayed, and had strong faith that the outcome would be different. She was a very sick baby, born blind and deaf but that didn’t stop us from talking to her and loving on her. I didn’t really understand the depths of death at that age or what it does to a person. I didn’t understand what it did to my mom’s heart until I became a mom. The day my sister died was the first time I ever felt longing in my heart, I just didn’t know what it meant until much later in my life. My Sweet baby sister graced this earth for 7 short months, the only sound I ever heard from her was a cry but I believe in my heart that as she entered into the gates of Heaven God allowed her to hear all of the words that had been spoken to her here on earth that she could not hear. Carrie Jean Hawkins. 1/25/86-8/16/86

   For years to come after that I experienced what I call “normal death” yes that is how twisted my life has been, that death can be considered normal. Normal death for me is when the elderly die. You know it is the normal cycle of life, the way things were intended to be. So I had some normal deaths and it made me sad but did not rock my world.

   Then life stopped. On Monday December 11th 2006 I received a phone call from my grandma that my mom had slipped into a coma and that I needed to come now. My mom had been sick most of my life. Yet I guess I never thought that we were truly at this point and maybe that was because she didn’t want to burden me with what was really going on with her health.  As a matter of fact just the week prior she had been in the hospital and we were not even sure she would make it home at all. At this time in my journey I had only had 2 of my 4 children. Briana was 4 and Bj was 1. I was in the middle of finals and what my grandma was saying to me was not registering because I had just talked to my mom on Friday. She had called to tell me how much better she was feeling after being released from the hospital. She sounded great at the time and we agreed we would talk about Christmas soon, looking back I know she knew this would be our last conversation, her next words will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was her final goodbye. She said ” Baby promise me you will remember the good times” this frustrated me because I hated her talking like that and I said “mom stop, don’t say that” and she replied “sister just promise me no matter what you will always remember the good times” and so I said ” I promise mom I will” and our call ended with the usual I love you’s and I will call you later. That was the last conversation I had with my mom.

   I arrived at my moms on that Monday the 11th and she passed from this world at 11:50PM The following Thursday the 14th. I got to spend those 4 days with my mom talking, singing and praying to her as she was in transition from this world. She got to die at home in her bed with us all around her. I laid in bed next to her as she struggled for each breath and whispered that it was ok for her to let go. That I was ok and that I loved her. As my mama took her last breath I was right next to her praying that in her heart she knew how much I loved her, praying she knew I was sorry for all the things I had put her through, praying that she could feel how much she meant to me. My mom was 45 when she passed from this earth on to Heaven and I was 25. I know in my heart that during really special moments God gives her a window seat so she can be apart of the special things that are going on in our life. Nothing in this world can fill the void that loosing her has caused. Ruth Alice Hawkins 2/19/61-12/14/06

  I have had a rough life, I am sure that more of that will come out in different times as more of my journey reveals itself. But the part that pertains to this is I was a very difficult teenager. I made so many mistakes and treated my mom so bad, but it didn’t matter she loved me unconditionally. This year will be the 10 year anniversary of my moms death and sometimes it still feels like the she just died. It’s hard to explain the feeling. It was like I was suffocating at times. Like it was all I could do to take my next breath. At times I did not know how I was going to get through the next moment. Even to this day I am still working and learning how to forgive myself. I know I did my mama proud though because I laid her to rest and took care of all the details. I made sure everything was handled and beautiful. I Pray her pride for me has only grown since then.

   Never could I have imagined that the pregnancies of my youngest 2 children would include death, death of two of the most important people in our lives. In 2008 as  I was beginning the 8th month of a high risk pregnancy with our third child. My father in law passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack in his home. He was found by my brother in law and my husband, unsure if he had been there 1 or 2 days. There were no final goodbyes, no time to make things right, just shock and heartbreak. 21 days later at 35 weeks, I delivered our son Brayden Gerry Carrethers named after his papa. He spent 7 days in the NICU and fought hard to come out. I have no doubt that our special little boy has helped us to get through this loss that we may never heal from . Jerry Lee Carrethers Sr. 10/14/50-4/29/08

   At this point in our life I thought we had suffered it all and that nothing could rock our foundation again as hard as it had already been rocked until you get a phone call and you begin to ask God why he hates you so much. I was 5 months pregnant with our 4th and final child. My mother in law was being rushed to the hospital by ambulance. She was unresponsive and that was all the information we had as we headed to the hospital. My mother in law had been battling cancer, she had been in remission and the cancer had come back. We all knew this but what we didn’t know, what we later found out was that she had been hiding from us all was how bad the cancer had spread. She knew she was at the end of her life but she didn’t want any of us to know. My amazing mom Sharon had a faith like I had never experienced and she knew that if it was Gods will he would heal her and she was standing on faith that it was a possibility that might happen. My final goodbye came that night in the ER.

   The Dr. had updated us all and explained that the cancer had spread and that she probably wouldn’t leave the hospital. We were so lost and shocked we had no idea it was so bad. For the most part she wasn’t lucid, but there were moments that she seemed to come in and out. There was a time that night when the rest of the family was out in the waiting room and I was in the room alone with her. We were waiting to get her moved to ICU. I was holding her hand and talking to her and a nurse walked in and told me that only family was allowed. Now if you haven’t read my previous blogs then you don’t know that my husband is black and I am white so the nurse had no reason to believe that I was family. I started to tell her that I was family and before I could say anything mom Sharon reached up and put her hand on my stomach and she said this is my daughter and she is having my granddaughter. The next morning my mother in law passed from this earth. 4 days later while in the middle of planning her home going ceremony Brian and I had an ultrasound to find out the sex of our baby. We found out on 3/22/11 that we were having a little girl. In honor of her nana Brooklenn Goyce Carrethers was born on 8/4/11. Mom Sharon is gone from this earth but everyday I see a piece of her alive and well in a granddaughter she knew she was having before we did.  Sharon Joyce Carrethers 9/14/52-3/18/11

   I wish I could say that it all ended there but it didn’t. About every six months or so up until about a year  ago someone close to myself or my husband would pass away. As I have stated I am not sure my heart will ever be able to fully heal because the heartbreak is just so gut wrenching. Well and those are just the deaths, not to mention the other life changing ground moving obstacles that have been stacked up against us. But as long as they keep coming, as long as God is giving us the strength we are going to keep knocking them down.

   To those left unnamed you still rest in our hearts and thought of more than possible to explain. I don’t know how my soul and heart can continue to exist under so much pain however God has continued to push me forward. Without his Glory and Grace I would surly be a paragraph in someone else’s blog where they are sharing their Final Goodbye.

 

 

 

 

Deepest Hole of Life

   Sometimes the darkness from these holes of life consume him so quickly and take him so deep I am not sure I will ever get him back. It’s black, so black and he goes so very deep to a place that even after 15 years I still struggle to understand. This disease is a dark place that even in this day and age where we have 12 and 13 year olds killing themselves its still taboo to talk about. Depression and Suicide, Yes I said it, Mental Illness.

   Everyday people, people that most of us would never expect deal with this illness. Most people hold down jobs, have long relationships, and are raising children. They suppress their feelings, put on a happy face and do what needs to be done. In a month and a half my husband and I will be together 15 years. I knew from the beginning that this was a disease that he battled with. He fights everyday to get up and go to work to provide for me and our four children. I have never had to work and working after my amputation became especially challenging but it was never an issue. Its a disease that is so misunderstood. “Snap out of it, get over it, just be positive” Those are just a few of the things that people that don’t understand this illness say so often, I myself am guilty of this. However, here is the truth behind what really happens, and it is nothing like what people think: There is a constant feeling of doom, not feeling good enough, no contentment with what one has. Most of the time not wanting to die but wanting the pain to stop and feeling like the only way to accomplish that is by death of the flesh. Feeling abandon by God, “If he loved me why would he continue to let me suffer with this?” Not wanting to continuously hurt the ones they love. Hating life so badly that truly just wanting to die seems the only answer.

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   I don’t know exactly what words to use to explain the pain I feel watching my husband go through this day after day. Trapped so deep in this hell of his own. Fighting so hard to stay above the waves that he always feels are crashing down upon him. He is drowning and there is nothing I can do but I throw him the only life vest I have at my disposal, prayer and faith of our Heavenly Father.  This disease has stolen so much from me. Before my moms death she spent years abusing drugs to try and escape this disease, guilt and depression has stolen the relationship I could have with my dad with the years he has left but we couldn’t be more distant from each other, this disease has stolen my brother, my only living sibling and he is lost in the throes of addiction.  Now it steals days, hours, and minutes with my husband and I fear one day it may steal his life.

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   This disease is real, it needs to be talked about, with our children, spouses, parents, friends, and anyone else who will listen. One more life lost is one more to many. Tonight my heart is heavy and I think about the staggering statistics and I pray for all of those struggling with the Deepest Hole Of Life that most people are afraid to talk about. Right here is a safe place and anyone can come here and express what they need and get love and support. Today I am stepping into my Life. I hope each of you are to.

 

The Amputee in Me

  What do you see when you look in the mirror? Honestly I don’t know if anybody’s image of themselves in their head matches the image they see in the mirror. That is defiantly the case when you are an amputee. Regardless if you wear a prosthesis all the time or if you spend most of your days in a wheelchair at some point you see your body for the first time after it has been anatomically changed. I won’t speak for anyone else but I don’t think I will ever get use to that sight. This month will be the two year anniversary of my amputation and a few days ago I caught my reflection as I wheeled by a mirror and it took my breath away, I said to myself “No wander little kids stare.”

   I look at this thing every day and it still takes my breath away it shouldn’t surprise me that children, strangers, or even people that have yet to see me as an amputee are taken back by the sight of me. In my mind because I live with me every day and my children live with me every day it is normal, but it’s not. It Is not normal to have a part of your body “hacked” off (my husband hates when I use that word). On Rizzoli and Isles Dr. Isles makes the statement that Cause of Death is “Death by traumatic amputation” and I think to myself, hold on a minute is there an amputation that isn’t traumatic? Dang, why didn’t I sign up for that surgery, I am sure I would have liked that better.

   Ok now, I know not everyone will appreciate my humor, however anyone that has been through what I have been though, and seen what I have seen in life has to use something to get through it, and I use humor. I laugh at myself and most of the time others laughing at me and that makes me laugh harder. There is 100% truth to the saying that laughter is the best medicine, it can heal or fix anything.

    Writing is the other thing I do, write about this life, my journey, this walk. Or roll should I say since most of my days are spent in a wheelchair. So what do you see when you look in the mirror, do you see who you were in high school, or when you were 20 years younger? No matter who you see God sees the real you and he loves all of who you are even when you aren’t able to love yourself. He loves us at our highest and lowest, when you wake up after your 9th surgery and half your leg gone and the sobs are so deep that the air doesn’t move through your body, he loves. I am still stepping in to my life. I hope you are to.  

 

 

Grace

   Underserving favor, I feel so undeserving of many things and Grace is definitely at the top of that list. Love would have to be next on that list, I guess people would probably describe me as putting on a brave face, however I feel completely unlovable. So if I am not worthy of love why would I be worthy of trust, friendship, honesty, patience, and especially Grace, God’s Grace.

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    Maybe it’s not finding Grace that is so hard but accepting it for our self and even more than that extending it to others. The thought of it is so beautiful and can truly take your breath away when you think about what it means.

  • Showing favor in a situation when favor is not earned
  • Goodwill especially towards one that does not deserve it
  • Extending love or care to others without thought or concern for ones self

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   There are so many more examples just like this. Jesus gives Grace as easily as he gives breath. More than find it for myself I want to learn how to be Graceful even in the toughest of situations. I want to leave people better than I find them and I want them to say as they leave my presence that I was full of Grace and love. I have a lot of work to do.

Always My Safe Place!

When everything in my world turns upside down he is the one thing that is always right.

Arriving to this place in our marriage wasn’t an easy task by any means. It’s been a long road, one not without its fair share of bumps, many bumps, uphill battles, curves and detours. Yet it has also come with beautiful scenery, downhill coast, and  this journey is one that I would happily take over and over again.  

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In two months we will be celebrating 15 years together, 4 more years and I will have been with him longer than I was ever without him. Wow 15 years!!!! When I think about the things that we have been through in that time it makes my head spin. No one would probably believe me even if I tried to tell it all. So many heartbreaking moments, but even more happy ones.

Oh the way this man loves me…..   20150530_195006

I have never been loved the way he loves me and he just keeps getting better and better. He is my safe place, he knows what to say and when to say it. He knows how to love me at my worst and when I am at my best. What is beautiful about that statement is that he chooses to love me even at my worst and these last few years I have definitely been at my worst. He chooses to love me because we have learned that loving your spouse is often a choice. You won’t always be in love, but you can always choose to love.

He is my calm in the storms of life, the whisper in the loudest room. Over the last 4 years he has become the one thing that I always know is there. When I begin to wander and doubt God’s love and intentions for my life I look into Brian’s eyes and there is where I see how much God loves me. God had to truly love me to send me a man such as this. A man that knows what I need before I even ask for it, a man that knows my heart, the true depths of  my heart.

Loving me even when I am unlovable. Wanting to make changes to be the best version of himself that he can. Bringing out the best in me. Renewing my faith in love, life and even fairytales. He is the logical to my emotional. Listening and allowing me to just talk it out. Now remember I said our road has had its fair share of hard times, we are human and we have to work things out, communicate and deal with our emotions and feelings just like everyone else. But anything worth having is worth working for.

 He is my safe place, everything is good, calm, and peaceful when I am with him. He is everything right in my world.20150713_193017

When there is nothing left to do!

  So I share, not even sure if what I have to say is anything anyone actually wants to read.  See the problem is I have so much inside me to get out that I don’t even know where to start. I have tried this once before and I blogged pretty regularly for awhile, then I just stopped. Everything seems so complicated and I really want to be able to write and inspire and at this very moment I am just writing to clear the ball of anxiety and emotion that is sitting in my chest. I can’t inspire others when I don’t have the ability to inspire or uplift myself. I have to carry the weight. The weight of my children and of my husband and of my own health.  Right now I need to reprioritize, reorganize, and revitalize my mind.

   So from here on out is where you see me begin healing from this life and begin this new journey, a journey where I find myself. This school year is coming to an end. My first born daughter is leaving middle school and entering high school. My first born son is leaving elementary and entering intermediate school and my baby is starting school and going to kindergarten. For the last 14 years I have always had a child at home and in 5 1/2 months all of my children will be in school. I have no idea what I will do or even who I am, who  I am supposed to be. Yes, this is going to be a journey all right and I admit I am scared and nervous about what the days will hold.

    I know that God will work it out and I am all in.