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Saturday, March 5, 2011

MS ... trial and triumph, part 2

(continued from part 1)

Mid-July Trevor’s mission call came. He would be serving in the Russia Samara mission and was scheduled to enter the Mission Training Center in October. The timing was perfect – he would be able to finish out tour season as a kayaking guide and save enough money to support himself for the next two years.

Just a couple of days after Trevor’s mission call came, I woke up with the outside of my right leg completely numb. Not being able to stomp it out, it was something that concerned us slightly. I’d had my veins stripped in my left leg after our last child was born – and if it would have been that leg that was numb, we would have been truly worried. But after a quick phone call to the ER, we decided we’d just go see the chiropractor. Probably a pinched nerve, our chiropractor worked on me a couple of times that week. He also suggested I go to a gym and hang on an anti-gravity machine to see if we could free up that pinched nerve. Within a day or so everything escalated. The numbness spread to both legs and started to rise. After a few days it was up my back and belly and still rising.
image from

Brad was away on a boat delivery on July 24th. That morning a friend was over and her 2-year-old little girl started following after a dog near our yard. I stood up from the lawn chair to run after her and my legs refused my orders. They wouldn’t run. That night there was a big potluck party at our church. Always the kid, I climbed into a potato sack with the intent of showing those kids a thing or two. Again, my legs refused my orders and as the crowd cheered and kids hopped along, I climbed out of the sack, now truly concerned.

(Brad took this picture of the church from the top of a nearby mountain. The building is made entirely out of cedar ... it's not only beautiful, but it smells just like stepping into a cedar closet. It's so neat!)

I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe in Priesthood blessings. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (you might better know us as Mormons) We believe the Priesthood is the power to act in the name of God, and that holders of the Priesthood can bestow blessings of healing from God on anyone who requests this – members and non-members alike. I asked my son and the local missionaries if they would give me a blessing while we were at the church. We entered a classroom, which became a sacred place as hands were placed on my head and the blessing pronounced. The blessing offered comfort as well as advice. Among other things, I was told that this illness was temporary; that through this experience of mine, other people’s faith would grow; that I would be able to know that Heavenly Father is in charge; that I should share my experience and through sharing it, faith would grow; that I would be able to see this not as a stumbling block, but as an opportunity for growth and learning. One thing that really stood out was that even though I was suffering, this was not all about me. In retrospect, I cannot tell you how many times I reflected on those words and found comfort in them, as well as the ability to be joyful through the experience. For some reason, it seems that the things life throws us are easier to deal with when we know we’re doing it for someone else. It was this Priesthood blessing that sustained me through the next few days of diagnosis, the next few weeks of increasing symptoms, and the next three years of pain and hardship.

I arranged for rides home for the kids and drove myself over to the community hospital. I love Sitka. It’s a town of just under 9,000 and is just like a gigantic family.

I walked into the ER, waving to friends in each department as I passed. After spending 3 hours in the hospital, seeing every visiting physician – one after another – and having my blood drawn multiple times, the ward clerk set me up with an appointment in the neurology department at a hospital in Seattle for the following week. They couldn’t accurately diagnose me with anything in Sitka, and the fact that the numbness was exponentially spreading and mobility was decreasing caused even the doctors great concern. I got home, called Brad on the east coast and asked him to change his return flights to meet me in Seattle.
(photo from

... to be continued ~ part 3 tomorrow ...


  1. Opportunity for growth is something we repeat in our house, sometimes more than others but it is always a good reminder. Everything is a lesson, a gift - even if we don't understand it for many years.

  2. oh my goodness.... I am so on edge. It is so wonderful that you had the support and love from your community and family during such a frightening time.

    much love Denalee.


  3. A great story. I really want to know what happens.....


  4. Whoa! I didn't know you are Mormon. I am too and it is so wonderful to see the faithfulness during this trial. I can't wait to hear what happens!

  5. I love that in the midst of your suffering you turned to the Lord and hung on His promises. Our life stories are the best when He does the writing. Going to read more.....