Friday, June 19, 2015

Bad News/Good News?

Me in 2009, the day I took my motorcycle license test

June 23 will mark 5 years since I was in my scooter accident. If you want to read about the accident and recovery, click on the links. But really, that's old news, and it's mostly me just complaining about things.

I've been in a lot of pain since then. Every day. But honestly, there are times since then that I have had thoughts like, "It's been 5 years. Shouldn't I be better by now? Why does my back still hurt? Is this all in my head? Does my back just hurt because I'm not taking a pain killer right now? Am I a hypochondriac?"

Well, I finally had an MRI done on my back today. Five years later, and I'm finally having an MRI. Haha. It took me long enough! 

I kept my eyes closed when they slid me into that tiny little MRI tunnel. I just pretended that the light in front of my eyelids was the sun and I was lying on a beach. I also listened to some relaxing music on Pandora. It really wasn't too bad at all.

The results of the MRI are really interesting. Seriously, I was a bit nervous that they wouldn't find anything and they would confirm my fears that it's all in my head. But the pictures are fascinating and you can see very clearly exactly what is causing my pain. I'd post a picture... but... nah.

So the bad news? I am still in pain.

But the good news? It's not in my head. There is a legitimate reason why I feel this way. And help is on the way.

I've vetted out a good pain clinic. With my dad's history of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse, I am very, very cautious about pain medication. (Even to the point that my doctor has said, "Kate, you don't need to be in pain all the time. You can take more.") But I constantly fear I will develop a habit and end up in rehab like my dad did multiple times. I discussed this fear (probably in annoying detail) to my family doctor and he assured me that this pain clinic is a conservative one and they will try many different things before just throwing drugs at the problem. So that makes me feel OK about going... at least a few times. I can always stop going if I get uncomfortable. And since I've managed the pain this long without anything really heavy-duty, I think it's time that I can trust myself that I won't go wild on pain killers. I feel good about moving in this direction.

Just thought I'd write this little update since people still ask me all the time how my back is after breaking it in 2010. Thanks, friends!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thy people shall be my people

Our wedding, 2008 
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.

Last week we lost my husband's sister unexpectedly. Ryan is the youngest of 9 kids and this is the second sibling who has passed. It has been a very sad thing for our family.

I have to take a moment and reflect on how much I have grown to love my in-laws. They don't feel like in-laws at all. They feel like flesh-and-blood brothers and sisters, parents, nieces, and nephews. Losing Anita has felt like losing my own sister. The Boyle family has always been so warm and welcoming to me. I loved them from the moment I met each of them. There's not a single person whom I don't love dearly.

This is my second marriage. Sadly, I didn't always get along with my first set of in-laws. I feel bad about this. I think a big part of that was me being young and immature. I wrote letters to a few of them after my divorce and apologized for a few things. When I began considering Ryan's marriage proposal back in 2007, I thought a lot about his family. I wanted it to be a better situation than my first marriage. This time around I have tried very hard to get to know everyone, to understand their blessings and their flaws, and to love them no matter what. And they have made that very easy for me to do.

I love the Bible verse above because it so nicely describes my feelings about my in-laws. Though I am not looking forward to attending my sister-in-law's funeral next Monday, at the same time I am looking forward to being back in the bosom of the family.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In the Arms of Jesus

Our dear sister, daughter, mother, aunt, and friend, Anita Boyle of Sugar City, died unexpectedly on June 8, 2015 at Madison Memorial Hospital. She was born July 5, 1964, to Lee B. and Lola Dalley Boyle. Anita was blessed with a daughter and best friend, Elizabeth Ann Boyle, whom she treasured more than life itself.

Anita was a 1982 graduate of Madison High School. She attended Ricks College and graduated with an associate’s degree with an emphasis in Computer Science. She went on to attend Brigham Young University, graduating in 1988 with a degree in Geography. She served in the Geneva, Switzerland Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where she spent the majority of her time in France. She learned to speak French fluently and continued studying the language throughout her life.

Anita found great joy in serving others. Friends and family will always remember her beautiful smile and joyful laugh. She had a quiet, dry sense of humor that was enjoyed by all who knew her. She was a devout Christian and she was an eager volunteer for organizations including Operation Christmas Child, Adam’s Road Ministry, and The Ladies’ Bible Study. She was very involved with online Christian ministries and shared her faith each day. She belonged to her church bell choir and loved performing with them. She was a devoted pet owner. Anita truly loved life through simple pleasures: traveling with her daughter, spending time with her nieces and nephews, attending Christian rock concerts, caring for animals, and playing games with the family. Over the years, she donated her beautiful red hair several times to Locks of Love. She loved her job at Upper Valley Industries, where she was a Developmental Specialist and Adult Life Program Supervisor. She participated joyfully in their annual event, The Date with Chocolate, and won an award each year.

Anita is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth; her father, Lee, and his wife, Berniece; sisters and brothers Debra Boyle, Tamara (John) Roring, Norman (Deborah) Boyle, Eric (Erin) Boyle, Douglas (Brenda) Boyle, Kristy Hemstreet, and Ryan (Kate) Boyle; many sorrowing nieces and nephews; and Winnie, her beloved cat. She was preceded in death by her mother, Lola D. Boyle, and her sister, Cynthia Kay McDermott. Anita rests now in the arms of Jesus.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 22, 2015 at the Rexburg Christian Center, 101 College Avenue, Rexburg.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hope: part 2

7th wedding anniversary! 

My mom visited last weekend. We had a great time with her - a BBQ with friends on Friday night, shopping on Saturday, dinner with dear friends on Saturday night, pedis on Sunday, and a fancy dinner out on Sunday night to celebrate my 7th wedding anniversary with Ryan.

It's been a bit of a whirlwind.

But in a quiet moment, Mom and I had a few nice talks. One thing she said to me was this: "Kate, you seem so much happier than you did a year ago. It is so nice to see."

I've been thinking about that a lot. A little over a year ago (February 21, to be exact), after a procedure with my "lady doctor", I learned that for sure I will never have babies. Never. Ever. Game over. The end.

As I wrote before, having that hope taken away from me was soul crushing. I had been having a hard time before that, but this put me over the edge. I've been working on dealing with it ever since. What do I hope for now? What is my focus? I wanted this for me, but also for Ryan, Nathan, and Abby. What do I give them now? What do I do with the rest of my life? Who will take care of me when I'm old? Who will remember me? Who will want my things?

That's a lot to think about, and I couldn't stop.

Well, a year has passed, and yes, I have thought a lot, and re-focused, and tried to relax, and seen a therapist, and looked at what I want to do with my life, and learned to stop worrying so much about things that I can't control.

Like I said before, 2014 was a very trying year for me. But it's over now and I've learned a lot. I *am* a lot happier now.

I chose a motto for 2015: Hope. I spend some time each day focusing on that. My office at work has a gorgeous view of the mountains and I stand for a few minutes each day at the window, enjoy the beauty, and think about hope. For a while I didn't know what to hope for. It was all focused on myself. I was hoping for a while just to make it through each day (and that is not a joke). When I looked to the future, all I saw was loss, darkness, and death. But my vision has gradually broadened and lightened.

There is a lot to hope for, friends of the blog. A lot.

I have a clearer vision of the future now. I'm carving out what I want to happen and it's pretty exciting. For so long, my vision of the future included babies. I held onto that hope for almost 20 years. In many ways, I have held myself back because it was always my plan to have babies. I always felt on the verge of achieving that hope and so I held myself back because I didn't want to start things that I wouldn't finish. But now that I know with a certainty that babies aren't in my future, I can hope for other things and for other people. It is a relief to release an unfulfilled hope and fill the void with other hopes. At first it felt empty and confusing and weird. But now all these new hopes are sprouting up and growing and it's amazing.

I feel more like my old self. I'm laughing again. My panic attacks are gone. I'm enjoying the little things, like a great cup of coffee, or a beautiful song, or tulips waving merrily in the sun, or my dogs jumping on my lap and licking my face, or our Sunday Skype sessions with the kids.

This is a super self-absorbed blog, I know, but I wanted to share these thoughts with those of you who struggle with depression, anxiety, and even infertility.

It is my hope that when you read this, you won't feel so alone.

I want you to know that it will get better. Hope is very powerful. It will change your life.

Love and hugs to you all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A non-traditional valentine

Flowers sent to my friend to celebrate a year of growth

I've decided to do something different this year: I'm writing a non-traditional valentine to one of my dearest friends. I'm not going to name you, galentine, but you know who you are.

Last year she was going through a rough time, this friend. Actually, it had been going on for longer than a year. We had been confidantes in each other for quite some time. We called each other when things were bad. We went out to lunch and cheered each other up on dark days. But I didn't realize just how rough of a time she was having until the night her sister called me and said, "My sister is suicidal. Can you go over to her house and take her to the hospital?"

Immediately I knew what the problem was. It hit me cold in the stomach. And in spite of our long-standing friendship, and all this friend has done for me, immediately I flatly thought, "I am not the right person to call. I don't want to do this. I can't do this."

The problem was alcoholism - a problem I am all too familiar with.

Let's make this about me for a minute.

My father was an alcoholic and I have spent my entire life distancing myself from those terrible memories. I moved away from home at age 18 and never moved back. (I have only recently been able to admit this to myself.) I have been to countless Al-anon meetings. I have been to years of therapy. I have read books. I have done thought worksheets. I have attended church groups for families and friends. I have ditched out on relationships when I've felt alcohol was a problem so I could save my heart. It seems I've done it all, and I am done.

So... back to her. In spite of this, I love my friend. She is so dear to me! I had to go help her that night. I just had to. I knew she would help me if I needed it.

So reluctantly I drove over to her house. I'm not kidding when I say I had to drag myself to the car. I parked on the street and sat there and steeled myself until I was ready to go in and help.

We stayed in the hospital for the night while she detoxed. Almost like watching another person, I saw myself in the hospital room, talking to the nurses and social workers and doctors. I saw myself keeping her from leaving. I saw my hands still hers when she tried to pull her IV out. In the morning, I saw myself walk her out to the car and drive to the rehab facility. I saw myself sit down on a bench after she walked through the check-in doors so I could put my head in my hands and just breathe.

On my way home, I was so distraught that I got lost driving back. I was only driving from Salt Lake City to West Jordan - a drive I have done many, many times. I cried almost the whole way home. I felt I was reliving a horrible nightmare. I felt I was losing one of my closest friends. I had absolutely no faith that any of this would help her. I felt like once again, I had been sucked in and fooled.

She spent a few days there, checked out, and enrolled herself in an intensive out-patient addiction treatment program. She asked me to attend family meetings with her on Tuesday nights because her family doesn't live in Utah.

Can we make this about me again? Because once more, I thought, "I am not the right person to call. I don't want to do this. I can't do this." I made it completely about me.

Unwillingly, I went that first night. As I drove there, I thought, "I have been hearing this same old shit since I was in the fifth grade. It's not going to work. I'm just going to get my heart broken all over again." I even made a comment like that in the meeting.

But I did go - in spite of the baggage I have been carrying around since I was a young child, in spite of not believing she would stay sober, in spite of thinking it would only hurt me. Because of her love for me, I went.

Because let's be honest. It wasn't ever supposed to be about me.

Don't think for a moment that I was being selfless, because I wasn't. Nobody was being more selfish than I during those months. In reality, she has no idea how much she helped me. No idea at all. You see, in spite of my unwillingness to help her, in spite of my inability or unwillingness to love her fully, she reached out to me anyway. She loved me. It was her hour of need, but it was mine, too. One that I didn't even know I had.

This program was amazing. I found myself really looking forward to attending every week. I found myself releasing deep, cleansing, sobs on the way home each Tuesday night. And my friend was amazing. Her ability to open up, to feel, to share, to talk, was just amazing.

I'm sorry if I'm using that word too much: amazing. But it was. It really was.

It was so healing for me. I came to understand addiction much better than I ever have. In fact, I don't think I ever understood it at all. Obviously as a child, I thought it was about me. I think that's pretty normal for a kid to believe. I thought that if I was a good enough girl, a good enough student, a good enough daughter, a good enough friend, a good enough wife... etc etc... then that person wouldn't need to drink or do drugs.

But it had nothing to do with me at all. And that's what I learned from my friend.

I learned not to expect perfection. Not from her, not from me, not from life. I'm still learning that. Failing is a part of healing. Relapsing is a part of recovering. Falling is a part of getting up.

This really is a very strange valentine, I know. But I want you all to know, and especially my dear friend, how much I love her. I have learned more from this experience than I have learned in a lifetime. I am so thankful that she came into my life and chose me as a friend.

Happy Galentine's Day, L.