Life These Days

Somehow we have hit a rhythm that is working this semester. Maybe it is working for me because I get to sleep until my Lyme diseased body is ready to wake up, and the professor is doing the work of getting the children up for the day. But I think that perhaps he is okay with things as well, especially since we put our feet down earlier this year and made all the children ages 5 and up responsible for getting themselves ready and fed in the morning.

I have been waking up around 8 am most days to the sound of my children laughing and playing outside my door. By the time I am dressed and out of my room, the school aged children are hard at work at the dining room table, and the professor is working beside them. His sabbatical has become a semester of studious contemplation for us all. Once I am able to manage the school and teach the subjects that need teaching (about half of their work is independent requiring very little one on one instruction), the professor disappears to do his work away from the chaos of four children.

I guide the children through school until lunchtime at 12:30pm. We have fourth grader, second grader, kindergartner, and a three year old bundle of energy this year. Mostly the younger two entertain themselves with continual reminders to play somewhere else when they intrude upon school space. I do make time to work on math, reading, and handwriting with my kindergartner, and my preschooler is gleaning all sorts of things like counting, colors, playing blocks, building duplos, coloring, from his older sister.

We have found our rhythm in the elementary school level as well. I am used to our curriculum for each subject now (though fourth grade singapore math is getting intimidating–I can’t remember at what grade level I learned the order of operations…but we just covered it!), so teaching is going smoothly.

Lunchtime has become super easy as well since we instituted the “make your own lunch” rule. To clarify, we have guidelines about this for them–they choose from a small variety of healthy options. The older children then move the dishwasher along after lunch while listening to a fairy story from the Andrew Lang Fairy Books (which we learned recently were actually compiled by his wife and some of her friends!).

After lunch is nap time for the three year old and quiet time for the rest of us. The girls and I start of each quiet time with a short prayer time where I read the daily Mass readings to them and then we reflect quietly (or look through saint books or children’s Bibles) for ten minutes. They go off to their quiet time spots for an hour and I settled into reading theology for about an hour (trying to get through St. Gregory the Great’s Morals on the Book of Job before Christmas), and then whatever writing or editing work I need to do for that day.

We have streamlined dinner meals to be shorter an easier these last few years, so I can usually get away with working until 4:30 or so before I cook dinner (which I have been able to do these past two weeks…this Lyme will be beaten!).

At dinner we will often have a discussion topic. We cover one painting and one work of music a week. Lately, we have been reading through the Constitution and discussing it. About once a week we watch Ken Burn’s National Park’s documentary with dinner, and that sparks discussion as well–our kids are turning into environmentalists! Sometimes we will discuss a question from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. Then the professor reads to us from the Bible–a chapter of the Old Testament and a chapter of the New Testament in order. We have been doing this for over three years and it is so great to hear it, and for the children to learn salvation history in a family setting.

After dinner, I take my crazy amount of meds (had a morning dose as well), and help the professor clean the kitchen.

We get the kids to bed in a leisurely way with family prayers, stories, and lots of “last drinks” and visits to the bathroom. The professor reads to the older kids from a chapter book. They just finished Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and are reading The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. It is the second time through for King Arthur, but the younger kids do not remember it.

Once everyone is in bed, the professor and I have been indulging in Star Trek: Enterprise. We were both into Star Trek in high school, gave it up in college, and tapped back into it our first years of marriage. This series is new to us, and has been a good way to enjoy the evening quiet while I have been sick. We usually have time for reading as well. I just finished Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, and am now plowing through my second reading of Framely Parsonage by Anthony Trollope.

So, despite the annoyance of being sick since we got back from our wonderful trip Out West, I am finding a peaceful enjoyment in the studiousness of our life these days. I think it is good for the kids and for us to spend our days in study, even if my two afternoon hours does not seem like that much, it does wonders for me. This is the home school life I dreamed of, and I wish the professor’s sabbatical would last forever…and maybe we could avoid all the extra curricular activities that have not yet started…

Always Carrying About in the Body the Dying of Jesus

Two weeks ago I hobbled into my functional medicine practitioner’s office on crutches to discuss my gut healing that we had been working on. I left the office with a probable diagnosis of Lyme disease. The symptoms started the Sunday eight days previous before I even noticed a bite—my legs seized up at dinner several hours after walking slightly off a trail at near the Mississippi River. In the week that followed I had neck stiffness, leg swelling, headaches, blurred vision. It was not until midweek that I noticed large raised bug bite on my ankle. It did not hurt at all, nor look funny, but my ankle joint pain was getting worse.
I woke up in the middle of the night early Friday morning with shooting leg pain, and spent a half an hour Googling symptoms. I could not figure it out. By the next evening I could not walk around the house without help. I decided to go into urgent care on Saturday—because clearly I was injured. At urgent care I got an x-ray and a few blood draws, but their best explanation was a sprain or bursitis, though I had not had an injuring event. So, when I went to my appointment on Monday, it all came together.

I had always been terrified of someone in our family getting Lyme—I knew it was bad—and now we are living it.

The first week of treatment had me just getting worse—as the bacteria started to die off, they released toxins into my body, which increased my symptoms. I could not even get up to go to the bathroom without extreme leg pain, which then led to my legs throbbing for almost an hour after I made it back to the bed or couch. But I had to drink fluids to promote healing, which would lead to another painful hour of recovering from getting up.

The professor took care, still is taking care, of all my needs. He makes me breakfast in bed, lunch on the couch, dinner on the couch. He helps me pick out clothes. He helps me run the bath and shower since I do not have the strength to stand in the shower. He brings me my medicines and fluids. He takes care of all the kids needs. He preps the dinners and washes all the dishes. And I can’t do a thing to help him, because I am too sick and too tired.

A sweet friend arranged a meal delivery sign-up as soon as she heard of my illness, and we have been supported by so many meals all accommodating my extreme dietary restrictions. THANK YOU FRIENDS! You are the best!

Last Friday, our pastor came over and I received three Sacraments: Holy Eucharist, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick. It was so beautiful to experience a Sacrament specifically praying for my bodily health—my health so that I can serve the Church again. As Father left, he said that he felt that my whole motherhood was under attack because of the way I have been limited from doing my normal tasks of motherhood for my children and for my family. Which is true.

But all along as I have not been able to walk and have been in pain, I have been thinking about how an illness in one part of the body affects the whole body. I have been praying for the whole Body of Christ throughout my suffering, because our Catholic Church so needs it.

But while we are afflicted in every way, we will not be destroyed, because Jesus rose.

This summer since we got home has been a ridiculous one. I had a bad case of mastitis (which they thought was cancer for about 5 days), and then have been being treated for candida (an overgrowth of yeast) in my gut, and now this. But the Lord is giving me the great gift of uniting my suffering, my fatigue, my fears, with Him.

I do not know how long I will be ill. Some people take years to recover from Lyme. For most, if it is caught early, the first four week round or so of antibiotics is enough. It would be nice if the professor could actually use his sabbatical to write his book, and if I could have the strength to home school the kids each day soon.
I am walking mostly pain free now–still limping, so still using a crutch. Today, while I was in less pain, I barely had energy to sit up and eat. Eating has been a trial–I struggle to get through each meal and feel triumphant and relieved when the last bite is in. Yet, I am steadily getting better.

So, please pray for my complete recovery, and I will continue to offer this all for the Church, that healing will happen, the truth will be made clear, and that justice will be done.