Some rambles in quarantine

* this post has been through many edits. I keep seeing holes here and there, thus the rewording and reorganization. Just letting you know. And of course, thank you dear readers for reading and for being here!!

Our family is made up of homebodies. We spend a lot of time at home, but this sheltering-in-place and social distancing are taking it to the extreme. All the news inform that staying home is the best solution: it’ll flatten the curve and hopefully prevent further spreading of this super contagious COVID-19. But even if you wanted to go out, it’s a scary prospect. You could catch it from non-symptomatic individuals or we could be carriers and unknowingly spread it. Too risky!

So we feel grateful to be home and for our health. We are extra vigilant to protect Ellis too: her underlying medical condition makes her more vulnerable. Though many people are stuck at home riding out this pandemic, there’s mounting fear concerning the present situation for ourselves and family, health issues, job situation, economy, and what the future holds. Click on a new’s story and be prepared for a meltdown; death toll keeps climbing, new cases mounting, protective gear in low supply for medical workers, and surgeon general’s warning that this upcoming week will be the “hardest, saddest.” Unreal. Cue…panic attack.

A lesson I’m learning through all this is that plans are only plans. I’m not a planner at all: the word itself gives me a migraine. But I still have broad ideas of what we would be doing the next couple of months, in terms of homeschooling, appointments, summer activities, goals to achieve etc. Then, when the first quarantine happened, my very vague plans suddenly became nothing but a past concern. Now, it’s a day-to-day thing.

For the past 2 weeks, I feel my mind sorting through this deadly reality. It’s all a confused, incoherent jumble at present. So much to digest as life turns inward and reality flipped upside down. But my plan (eeek, I said it!) Is to use this solid block of time to make memories with my family and dig up old things to do again. I aim to do that in bits, because this making memory thing is a laborious process testing my patience when kids get into everything and simple activities become elaborate disasters. Will we have stories to share when this is behind us.

Through it all, I’m working on strengthening my affirmation that God is in the business of performing miracles and bringing goodness out of awful situations. He’s done them before in amazing ways. However, the walk was and is not easy…so many perils, questions, unknowns, losses, and paralyzing fears. Reassurance is that a powerful God who raised Jesus from the dead walks with us through the darkest valleys. He’s that kind of powerful. I’m sticking with him.

Praying that you stay safe and healthy. And here’s an empowering thought from pastor Jud Wilhite’s sermon yesterday:

“You can make yourself miserable or you can make today memorable.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6

7 years in a nutshell

Seven years ago tonight, I arrived at the hospital to get induced for labor at 36 weeks. It was a fearful night full of unknowns and insecurity. The birth plan was for the baby to be born the next afternoon, so she could be taken to the NICU for care before the shift change for the medical team.

I didn’t know if the next day was going to be the worst day of my life: would we see our newborn and begin the medical care to bring her home soon, or were we going to leave the hospital with news that every parent dreads?

For 16 weeks, our family prepared for the best and the worst. When we first found out that our 20 week fetus had a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), we were terrified from the news and prospect of how we would be able to navigate the future. Doctors sat us down telling us the hardships ahead: surgeries, emergencies, hospitalizations, oxygen saturation, weight and eating issues, feeding tubes, etc. We were lucky to have found out early on, because she could get timely intervention after birth. In some unfortunate cases, the condition is discovered after birth and doctors can lose valuable time to give appropriate care. If no surgical intervention is involved, the condition is fatal.

After the first surgery, the most precarious time would be the first year with survival rates of 20-60%.

Our faces turned white and breathing short. After the doctors explained the diagnosis of this condition, we were counseled with the option to terminate. Feeling like I was in a dream, I had to ask the doctor how much time I had to decide. Chris and I said nothing to each other on the drive home. We picked up lunch, ate at home, and took a nap. Elliot, 1 1/2 year old at the time, was mad that we had the audacity to nap and not give him attention: he came over and bonked us on the head with an empty plastic milk carton. That was his nonverbal cue for ‘I want milk.’

It took us a few days to process the news. We didn’t talk about it, and when we finally discussed it, we both agreed this baby was God’s special gift and he had good plans for us: difficult but good. And the rest is history. It’s been indescribably difficult with lots of unexpected hospital trips, constant nightmares, depression, and a heart held in fear of the worst.

Yet in the storm, God has blessed us so much through her. We call her the ‘game changer,’ because our lives turned upside down when she arrived. What we foresaw for the future stayed in the plan phase. I couldn’t have imagined this kind of life or have wanted it, but now I can’t imagine something different. In difficult times God never lets us down. This is weird to say yet some of my fondest memories are these hospital stays, which made me realize that memorable moments do not only mean happy experiences but hard ones too. We talk about those times with tenderness, disbelief, and humor in recalling what happened. On occasion, Elliot still talks about the day I cried and had to drop him off at our neighbor’s house when I had to drive Ellis to the E.R. He says the chips he had with our neighbor that day was the best ever.

These experiences try our spirits and stretches our faith. We kick and scream, metaphorically, when we think Ellis is getting sick again casting a dark gloom over me. Chris knows that I get super sensitive and start yelling. Don’t ask: I just do because he asks questions, that seem non-common sense about what to do. We know this is my coping mechanism, so he’s aware it’s not a personal attack.

But I love my little girl with her funny laughs, wild hair, and spunkiness. The best is when she hugs me and loves on me at random times. One time I had a nightmare and cried in my sleep. It was late at night but she woke up, turned over, and patted me on my back saying, “Mommy, it’s okay. You’re just tired.” The she fell back asleep. It’s like she was the comforter that night.

We’ve been through a lot together and have seen each other at rock bottom. We’ve cried holding each other for different reasons, but fear was the underlying motivation. But when I feel her warm arms around me, I’m reminded how God has made her stronger and bigger all these years. A miracle.

God had different plans for us; plans we wanted to refuse at first. Still, we don’t know what the future holds but we trust God by looking at how he has brought us through the sudden storms. Moments when my heart drop from terror of the worst outcome, I can do nothing but sigh and give it to God. I don’t do this because I’m super holy or have great faith. The weight of the issue drowns me and it’s so deep that I can only give it to God for keeping my heart safe.

Reflective poems in midst of uncertain times

What is happening to the world?! How has it come to this?!

When I first heard about Coronavirus crisis it seemed like a faraway issue until it affected our own community. Within a matter of days, we were notified that everything, besides essential work, will be shut down till April 7th. All schools, gyms, shops, places of worship will be closed: possibility of that date being postponed too. We are practicing social distance, 6 feet apart, and issued to shelter-in-place (stay home as much as you can).

Hopefully, this extreme strategy will slow the spread of this contagious virus and give hospitals time to process and recover from an influx of patients. But lots of people and businesses are hurting with each passing day.

For our family, this kind of bubble-like existence is familiar and we’re coping with it okay. It’s just weird that everyone else is doing the same thing. If you know our clan, we are paranoid of coughs and germs. Ellis’ underlying heart condition puts her in the high-risk category and we know how sick she can get. This means our immediate family cannot catch something or else she will catch it too. So stressful: these things are out of my control as much as I try to control the environment. So when we hear a cough, we slowly distance ourselves and start running for the hills.

I’ve heard many people say that ‘it will get worse before it gets better.’ I hope that we will soon leave the worst place and transition into the upswing of this situation. The aftermath will be difficult as we grapple with the effects the shut down will have on people’s finances, plans, and life situation.


My sage friend from NYC sent me these two poems and their words and imagery speak vividly about the reality we are currently in. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. 

“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. 

“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.” ~Kitty O’Meara

Image

My prayer is that we will become a healthier, more resilient, and compassionate people as a result of this. God, help us weather this sudden storm!

In this time of forced hibernation, if you haven’t done so yet, let’s read God’s words, pray for wisdom, discover his promises, and find ultimate security in God’s presence.

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV New International Version
Image from bible.com

What a week…rambling post. Had a point, then got off track.

It seems like there isn’t enough hours in the day to finish what needs to be done. For me, it’s the fear that I’m not making good use of my time; I should be doing more but I’m not. It’s some arbitrary scale I use to evaluate my usefulness. Very self-defeating. But when I pause to appreciate nature, mull over beautifully written words, or see the usual in a fresh perspective, I feel inspired to tackle my own craft.

I hope you take the time to refresh yourselves with the works of art, in whichever form, around you. God has given each of us unique talents and gifts that are all special. Some may be more visible while some are less noticeable. Nonetheless, they can all be used to glorify God!

Creativity is not only for the arts but for living one’s life well. It’s hard to feel creative as a homeschooling mom, but when I feel daunted by the day’s task ahead of me, I ask God for wisdom, energy charge, and enthusiasm. The effect is so subtle but I feel God bringing order into our chaos. I wish it were like this all the time, and it has a lot to do with my heart state.

This week has been unusually tough with more to do at home, pain management for my ongoing knee issue that is acting similar to sciatica, and with kids testing my patience.

Happy place. Remembering how peaceful and convenient it was to wake up at the hotel and take a short walk to Monterey Bay Aquarium. This was our yearly outing (the aquarium offers a free day for homeschooling families and members), but kids have developed a deathly fear of the gigantic whale sculpture there. Gonna take a few years before we make a return visit.

I wonder what in the world I’m doing and if any of it serves a purpose. They argue over trivial matters, want me to see everything they’re doing, or ask what else is there to eat for the umpteenth time (both have different preferences). All I want to do is curl up on the couch facing the wall. For the sake of everyone’s happiness and my sanity, the best thing would be for me to take a long nap and stop obsessing over irrelevant things.

This blog post was supposed to be about using our creativity to glorify God, but in writing it, I felt the need to share my thoughts. Tomorrow will be a better day and Advil hopefully will alleviate this body pain. Never realized how physical pain mars everything I do. More empathy for people living with chronic pain.

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday!

How I miss my knee cartilage

Hi readers,

It’s been over a week since I’ve last posted. Life has been hectic to say the least.

This year is starting off with knee pains for me. It’s been an ongoing issue but it really hit the roof in December 2019. After the usual imaging tests, the result is that one part of my knee has worn-down cartilage that needs surgical repair. I’ve been oblivious. But the surgeon will not know if it can be repaired until the knee scope test, which required general anesthesia. The hope is that it can be repaired immediately following the scope exam. If the scope results show that there’s more cartilage damage, then I’ll have to wait until the other cartilage wears down; this will require a knee replacement. Nice?!

I’ve been in a dilemma trying to decide whether to postpone surgery till the summer or get it done next month. But the recent pain level is showing me that sooner is better. It’s now affecting my lower back; I can’t find a comfortable resting position. Thus, the tossing and turning and fidgeting and constipated look on my face from discomfort. I even got X-rays for my back in case it’s a separate issue that needs to be addressed, and then I can decide the best treatment schedule. Turns out it’s muscle spasms.

Yesterday morning I seriously considered postponing till summer when Ellis started throwing up for no reason. I already envisioned us ending up in the hospital for abdominal migraine and going through that whole bit. Then, mid afternoon she was all better; by this time, my nerves were shot.

This experience is giving me newfound empathy for people living with chronic pain. It affects everything you do and it’s hard to enjoy the day when your body is sending loud pain messages. What a lesson in hitting the pause life button, oh so reluctantly. God is teaching me some hard life lessons that I need to relinquish it all to God, believe that he knows what’s best for me, and the need to take better care of myself. That latter statement is a hard one for me since I’ve always believed that it’s selfish to take care of yourself. It’s self-sabotage thinking.

If I’m hurting, how can I take care of others? I wish I didn’t have this pain nor this existential issue looming over me. But life seems to love throwing me these challenges. Still thankful that this is a fixable issue and for medical advances.

As for blogging, I think my posts will be sporadic for a while. But I may find more quiet time to post more during recovery. I’ve noticed that I’m taking less photos these days and not stopping to snap pictures of pretty flowers I see. This is so not like me!! But I will try my best to post when I can since I miss connecting with others in this community. And please be patient with me, I will respond to comments slower than usual. 🙂

Hope everyone is having a good month of January! February is right around the corner and new adventures await. Let’s embrace them with courage, hope, and some smiles to lighten the load for one another!

from 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Precepts