Wednesday, March 2, 2011

#39 - Nurturing Nature

The past two weekends my husband and I have been "vacationing" on our land in East Texas within the Piney Woods. On near ten acres of land, I feel truly at home. We've owned our land for almost ten years. It means more to me than I can describe. This land was bought within a few months of my diagnosis of Addison's Disease.

Since I had become seriously ill with this disease, I had been unable to fulfill ordinary daily duties much less a full-time position running a long-standing business. My business had been my baby. As a Litigation Support Specialist company that helped Fortune 500 law firms with civil discovery, I had enjoyed a very nice income. We lived in a beautiful four-bedroom home in Clear Lake and every weekend we did as we pleased with little thought to cost. Life was financially easy, yet I worked like a dog for my bread and butter. During the week, I had a maid service and when we were particularly busy, we ordered meals from any restaurant in town through a specialty delivery service. However, my Addison's disease and the complications that came with it would soon change everything in our lives, drastically.

The year I became ill, before my diagnosis, my daughters were about 9 and 12 years old. Unfortunately, my illness would have a traumatic impact on the entire family. I rarely talk about these years because they were so difficult, but I want others to know that a family can go through a catastrophic illness and have major changes in their lives and still get through it. I have to say that my husband helped me through everything. He was stressed beyond my ability to express in writing, but he did his best and I couldn't have made it without his determination to honor his vows, " sickness and in health." But, please do not think that daily life was Rosy. It wasn't.

As my conditioned deteriorated and I had been going from doctor to doctor and had been admitted to various E.R's, I knew something was seriously wrong and the "something" was quickly becoming more serious. As I grew weaker, I could no longer walk safely, then I could rarely sit upright, and it became obvious in the faces of my visitors that they were shocked by my appearance and state of health. That part I remember the most...seeing the look on people's faces, as if they thought I were dying. Their expressions confirmed my deepest concern, that my body was actually dying. Several felt moved to lay hands on me and pray. I was grateful, but a little scared. My children got to the point of being unwilling to go to school because they were fearful I would die and they would come home to a house without a mommy. I had kisses and smiles to offer, but no promises. I only told them that they would be fine, no matter what happened because I would always, always, always be in their hearts and minds. Always.

A year passed and we had gone through six months of emergency savings in addition to stacking medical costs. Thankfully, we were able to make some very hard decisions. We knew that we could no longer afford our house with me unable to bring in an income. Also, my mother was having to travel, daily, back and forth to our house to help get the kids to school, pick them up and try to make their lives as normal as possible. It wasn't fair to my mother for her to have such a burden. Soon, it became evident that I was not going to just "get over it" and things were progressing negatively, so we had to face facts. And, I really needed my mom during this time, on multiple levels. We needed each other. So, my parents still had their large home in a neighboring town where I grew up, so we decided to move there to get the help needed until I stabilized. Back into my old room we moved. At first, the girls had to share the former formal dining room. Not a pleasant situation for anyone. The doctors had told us, after my Addison's diagnosis, that I had become so critically ill that it would take about a year for me to level out. I could not believe those words.

We sold our house. Within 11 days after being put on the market, we had a buyer. Things moved so fast. This was a blessing and a curse. It seemed like a nightmare. With sadness that our children's lives were most affected - they gave up their bedrooms, their neighborhood friends, their school...everything in their lives was impacted by my diagnosis and terrible condition. But, I had become so ill that I could not do the most simple things. First and foremost, I could not walk without losing my balance easily. One moment I would be fine and the next I would be losing consciousness, even with the best of treatment. I was far from being stable in my health. Unfortunately, when you become that ill, the medicine does not instantly make your body well. Some of the damage can be irreversible. My husband didn't want the kids to be home alone, so he felt relieved to move in with my parents. After such a long time, he would not worry while at work. This was critical for him since his business required him to be alert and carry a weapon every day. I never wanted his "bullet-proof" vest to be tested because of distraction from worry about his wife. Living with my parents also helped him to not dread the possibility that something would happen to me and the kids would find me.

As a compromise, we sold our house, but I found near ten acres in the Piney Woods and within two weeks of us selling our house, we had purchased our land. I had to feel a bit of independence, no matter how dependent I'd become on others. Next, we bought a huge RV with slideouts and put it on the land after having a couple of acres cleared enough to enjoy a view. So many weekends we went to the land with the children - to be together and to heal. Through the years, this land has become a place of refuge and a retreat for me to physically and emotionally recharge. My children also feel as if it is a sacred place, but my youngest is not so ready to make trips out there with us these days---she's 20 now and beyond the "country" stage. Supposedly.

Through all of this I have learned valuable lessons. Sometimes we must take two steps back in order to take five steps forward. Letting go is often the best way to be catapulted into a new, necessary direction. Since we had to sell that home in Clear Lake and rebuild our lives (it took about 1 1/2 years at my parent's house), we've since purchased two other homes and are now in a gorgeous home that I love, a better home than the one we had to sacrifice for my illness. For a while there, I never thought I'd be in another home of my own. Heck, that was the least of my worries; I wasn't sure I'd see my children grow up to be women. But, God was merciful. Eventually, we removed the RV from the land. Actually, that's an entire new story because the RV was used as a temporary home after our real home was destroyed by Hurricane Ike. I was glad to finally sell it. So, now my husband and I are in our 40's and we've been going back out to our land lately, roughing it, in a tent. I have to say, we've had incredible fun with these new adventures. I might not be physically strong, like I wish to be, but this land is a part of me now and I love it.

In a few months, my husband and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Basically, we were still kids when we got married, but we defied the odds. Through many ups and downs, we are still in love and even though we still get into stupid fights and test each other, we've found a huge blessing in having each other through this life. God has been so good to us. Most of the time, we are tender and loving with each other and that is beautiful.

Through the next couple of months, everything on the land will be changing. The dry, bland colors will be bursting with lush greenery and blossoms of every sort. The wild honeysuckle will fill the air with a delicious fragrance and birds of every kind will be looking for goodies that I will leave for them to enjoy. Once, my husband was clearing an area at the creek that runs through our land and a huge buck ran upon him and it made a gigantic, yet elegant leap in front of him to jump the creek and he was left in awe. It startled him, but he was amazed by the encounter. No, we are not hunters. But, all of these moments can bring glorious joy during times of heavy-hearted pain. The simple beauty of nature is indeed nurturing.

The fire to burn down branches & fallen tree starts to spread. David had to shovel
dirt onto the spreading fire to snuff it out.

A very old oak tree felled after one of the Hurricanes impacted the land,
even though our land is quite a distance away from Houston.
Our campsite is in the distance.

Yes, that's a potty bucket with an actual potty lid. It is the best of outdoor "plumbing."
When nature calls, you get to actually enjoy nature. My kids are horrified, of course.

Me in my Sexy-Mama outfit - rubber boots, knit pants, husband's fishing shirt,
headband and too-big jacket. I'm all about fashion.
Our "Second-Generation-Babies" --- Lyla & Howdy.

My adorable Australian Shepherd (Black-Tri-Color)
Just over 1 1/2 years old. He is always on guard. I sure love this doggie.
He's already protected me a few times. Did I mention that I love this doggie?

David preparing to fish at the lake located at the back of our property.
This is a spring fed lake with a spillway leading to a creek that runs
thru the back of our property. It is constantly running fresh water
stocked with various kinds of fish. Yes, I love this land.
Another partial look at the private lake, about 15 acres of lake.

Shish-K-Bobs with T-Bone steak meat, fresh cut pineapple, mini-bella mushrooms,
bell pepper and onion with some wine.

Wind-blowing from behind - another high-fashion moment.

While planting bulbs in a pot on the land, I dug in & this creature came scampering
out at me. A skink? It posed nicely for me. If you know what this is...please tell.

My super hunky husband taking care of more fallen branches & trees.


  1. Hi Lana, as I read another one of YOUR posts it is like you could be telling MY story. I too had years of ever declining health,many many different dr visits trying to find out what is wrong. Knowing that there is SOMETHING desperately wrong with me. My Husband & I (whom met in high school,at age 14) thought I would die before the dr's ever figured out what was wrong with me. He too feared every time he left the house I would be dead when he returned. All the while trying to make life as normal as possible for our 3 children whom I was (& still am, the last one) home schooling.
    For me it has been going on 7 years since my dx and I am left with some irreversible damage done to my body in the years it took to get a proper dx and get started on my meds. Life is better now than it was 8 years ago but no where near where it should be. I still struggle to do simple daily tasks.
    I am so grateful for my husband & family with out their love & support I would not be here today.
    It amazes me how similar our experiences have been. I hope you find some comfort in that, I do. Not that I would wish this disease/life on anyone. It some how helps though knowing that someone out there has & is going through some of the same trials as me.
    enjoy your time in nature!!!

  2. Hey Dannielle!! I have been a reader of your blog too - I know it's been a busy year, but keep at it! It is comforting to know that we are not alone, even though we wouldn't wish our circumstances upon anyone. Your friendship with our blogging and communications is important to me. Our similarities are amazing. I am finding that so many of us are the same...we want to be healthy and to not suffer and to be able to be the parent, spouse or friend we wish to be, but our bodies don't always cooperate. During those times, we simply have to keep reminding ourselves of all that we have and be so thankful for every day with those we love.

    I keep checking in on you too. At least we can have valuable, helpful time on the computer in connecting with others who share our challenges. Even when I've had a rotten day, I feel charged by reading buddy-blogs. I am glad you enjoy reading...through the good and bad days, I keep posting!!

    Keep checking in & letting me know what you think and how it relates to your experience with Addison's/Adrenal Insufficiency. I'm always fascinated to hear other people's point of view.

    Today & Everyday --- The BEST to you Dannielle!!

    Til next time...Lana C.


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