In a little over 6 months, our lives have changed dramatically. They are unrecognizable. I’ve sometimes stopped in mid-motion through my day wondering how in the world we’ve gotten here from where we started.
That’s the funny thing about change. It’s often fast, dramatic and happens without realizing it. Anyone that has known me prior to last year would most likely be shocked at what our lives look like now. It’s still a little shocking to us.
In 8 months, we’ve recognized a spinal deformity in Hailey that significantly impacts her and our life as a family. We’ve found some of the most competent health care providers to weigh in on the diagnosis and suggested care going forward, and we’ve followed the recommendations that our hearts have led us to. In this process, a huge amount of travel and financial obligations took a toll on our family, the chiropractic clinic and our overall routine. All in all, we took a hit in every aspect of our lives and eventually hit bottom. Since the girls’ birth, we have been in survival mode. Do what it takes, no matter what, and keep going. Going and going and going. Endlessly. This was what it took to finally break us, and sitting where I am now, I couldn’t be more thankful.
These last months have been hard. I can’t even explain. One of our doctors told me, early on, that he saw a baby with x,y, and z and how much worse it was. That this was nothing and we should just deal with it. If anything, I’ve learned empathy and that no matter the situation, it might just be the hardest thing someone has dealt with. It’s about perspective and the process of change and grief from what was expected. It’s taken all of those 8 months to navigate this and I’m still not so sure that we are there quite yet, but I do feel much more clear and solid in our new lives.
This Christmas was the first time that I’ve truly felt we celebrated as a family. As one united family. We didn’t buy Christmas gifts this year. Instead, we celebrated the new chance we were given as a family. Christmas day our online fundraiser ended. It was exactly equal to the amount of money we owed for Hailey’s outstanding medical bills. At our benefit in early December, we raised just enough to cover the first few trips we would have to take in 2014. We are monetarily even. It was the best Christmas gift we ever could have received. The ability to catch up, to pay all old medical bills and not have to worry about where the money would come for Hailey’s January appointments. As we got stranded in Fargo in a blizzard, we did not have to worry about paying for a hotel room or eating dinner out. There are so many people we need to thank. Heidi Demars deserves a rock star standing ovation for being the main person getting this together for us. If you are reading, you are amazing. We are forever in debt to you for your kindness and hard work. We had so many people volunteer to help organize and run our benefit as well as donate items and money. You are all amazing. There are way too many people to thank in this post, so I’ll be forming a sponsorship post for all of those that we would like to thank individually.
Right after Christmas, we found out that a local Bismarck bank was willing to work with us for a business loan. Because we moved here less than two years ago and I was essentially unemployed while I was hospitalized with our daughters, we were turned down by almost everyone. We didn’t fit the requirements and my clinic was too new. We decided to “try one more bank” after even our hometown banks had passed. This has opened our opportunity up immensely. Though we had originally planned on expanding this year, it just isn’t in the cards. Instead, we’ve been lucky enough to have some practice members help us update our office a little and make some small but important additions.
It seemed like everything had fallen into place, but we were still running on empty. We simply couldn’t keep up with the demands of the office, Hailey’s care, her brace, John’s job, and our family. We were still beating ourselves up every single week and barely maintaining normal function. When we sat back and evaluated what was important to us, we realized that something needed to change and it couldn’t wait. Hailey had outgrown her brace in late November and we continued to try to use it and adjust it ourselves. We simply couldn’t get back to Chicago so she didn’t wear it for quite a while. Change or bust. What are we working so hard for if we can’t take care of our daughter and our family?!
As scary as change was, it was an easy decision. John finished working at Toyota the second week in January and joined the office. This has allowed the clinic to expand, our girls finally get to see their daddy and we are able to travel as a family to Hailey’s appointments when we need to. If needed, John can take over while I stay at the clinic and the willingness of the bank to work with us allows us to put all our effort into our clinic. Of even greater importance, it allows me to take specialty courses that will help me care for Hailey and it allows me the opportunity to gain knowledge that I can apply while serving others. We’re definitely on a time line, but for the first time we are not focused purely on survival. We’ve already hit bottom, so we can only go up and our family is better for putting our true priorities first.
I feel like we finally have our lives back. It’s no longer a choice between survival or our family. Because we are finally focusing on our family, our clinic is doing better. If we focus, we may just get caught up some day soon.
Writing all of this brings me back to the day I met our pastor for coffee. He had asked me “Where is God in all this?”
I couldn’t answer him then. None of it made sense. Why would we have to go through this? How could he give us one more thing? Hadn’t we gone through enough!?
Why? Because this is what it took. It is what it took to get us here. He had to be in everything, because there’s no way we ever would have gotten here on our own and we have been so amazingly blessed these last few months.
** We just got back from all of Hailey’s appointments. I’m writing a separate post about those visits (look for it soon)**