Being the Best Mom I Can Be
The most precious gifts I have ever received are my five beautiful children: Kyle, Ethan, twins – Lindy and Paige, and Erin. I love being there for them and being active in their lives every day. Shortly after the birth of my daughter Erin, my ability to be a mother was hindered.
I lost much of my mobility and found it difficult to sit, stand, sleep or walk. I wondered if I could continue to be the mother I knew I needed to be.
It began on the day my youngest, Erin, was born. Only hours after her birth, I knew something was wrong. As I got up to walk around, I felt intense pain in my back, legs and pelvis. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. As those first days of her life continued, the discomfort grew. I began physical therapy, hopeful that the pain would go away with time.
By the time Erin was one year old, I just knew that my condition was more serious than I thought. After going to see a sports medicine doctor, I was diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis. This is a condition where a vertebra in the spine slips out of place and moves forward onto a bone below it. When the vertebrae are no longer stacked, discs will tear and allow fluid to leak in, essentially, removing any padding between the vertebrae. My spine was putting pressure on my nerves, which was creating the pain that was radiating down my legs. My doctors believed that this was an injury I sustained earlier in my life and they were pretty confident that, although childbirth worsened my condition, it was not the cause.
The only way I know to describe this pain is sickening. It was raw, it was deep, it was just awful. No matter what position I was in, I could not get comfortable. I continued with physical therapy and even tried steroid treatments, but nothing would alleviate my pain. As a home schooling mother, I knew I was going to have to be creative to continue my daily routine as normally as possible. When I look back, I am not quite sure how I made it through those two years, but having a pity party for myself was not an option. I knew that something more had to be done when I couldn’t even make it through an entire day at the zoo. I watched the other mothers run after their children and scoop them up, hug them and play with them, and I wanted to be one of those mothers again. I had to be one of those mothers again.
After an excruciatingly painful MRI in February, 2007, I was told that a spinal fusion was my only option. Before deciding to stay home with my children, I was a nurse for eight years, so I understood the seriousness of this surgery. I began researching surgeons and on March 11, 2008, I underwent my spinal fusion. As I recuperated in the hospital, no matter how much pain I was in, I knew this was the first day of the rest of my life. It would only be a matter of time before I was back on my feet, running and playing with my children.
After about a month, I could feel a big difference and within five months, my spine was fully fused. During my recovery I was blessed to have so much help from my church and home-schooling community. They helped prepare meals and drive the kids around if needed. I also realized how lucky I was to have such an amazing husband. Even though it was difficult for Bill to watch me struggle, he was there for me 100 percent. He cooked, cleaned, took care of the kids and worked a full time job. When it came to my children, I know they were a little scared to see me hurting, but they certainly were troopers. Since then we have been able to travel as a family, I have become the leader for my daughters Girl Scout troop, and I celebrated my sixteenth wedding anniversary with my wonderful husband, Bill.
It was almost two years after my surgery when I realized that my spinal fusion was only possible through the gift of a donor. My husband pointed it out to me as we gathered to support a young boy at our church who happened to be heart recipient. This is the first time that I really began to think about my connection to donation and the fact that a tissue donor gave me the chance to live my life to the fullest. Little did I know that the more I would get involved, the more I would realize that my connection to donation went further than my gift of donated bone.
After attending the Candlelight Vigil for Lifeline of Ohio, I was so inspired by all of those who came together in support of donation; I knew I had to get involved. I signed up as a volunteer and during training session, I met a liver recipient who looked so familiar. After going over a quick timeline in my head, I realized that while I was in nursing school, I was one of the nurses during his transplant surgery! I also realized when I was working as a pediatric nurse I had cared for the young boy at my church when he was just a baby. It was like I was being drawn to the donation community!
If I could accomplish anything while volunteering for Lifeline of Ohio, it would be to educate my children’s generation about donation so no one gives a second thought to being a registered donor. I personally look forward to help putting donation myths to rest and doing my part to make a difference.
I love being involved and talking to others about how special organ and tissue donation is. I have met the most amazing people and, through my donor’s selfless gift, I can now be there for my children, every day and in every way possible.
Although words will never be enough, I will always be thankful for my donor, and thankful for an organization like Lifeline of Ohio; they have given me the chance to continue to be the best mom that I can be.