A Fresh Start

Today marks the first day of May, and although March 20th, the spring equinox, was the official first day of spring, here in Minnesota, the first of May feels like the first day of spring more often than not.

At least in my back yard this statement is true. The leaf buds on the trees are beginning to open. As a matter of fact, we have an apple tree that hangs over our deck, and the apple blossoms are starting to bloom. The birds are in full voice as they chatter and sing well before the break of dawn—loud enough so that my husband will wake with them, complaining, “Why can’t they be just a little bit quieter?” The tulips and daffodils are blooming, adding a dash of color to my garden; and even the lilies have pushed their way up through the earth, reaching toward the sun, waiting for their time to open later in the summer. It seems that most living things experience a new beginning around this time, and this year I can rejoice because my sister Janice has had a new beginning, too.

Jan is the youngest of the seven children in our family. Being the baby of the family, we’ve often thought that she’s had the easiest life. You know how it goes: it seems the older children in the family always “pave the way” for the younger children, and therefore the younger children don’t always have to work as hard to earn the same privileges. However true this may or may not be, I believe that Jan has more than paid her dues for this in later life.

You see, Jan has been suffering from severe and intractable chronic pain caused by both partial and total bowel obstructions for more years than I can count. She’s had innumerable hospitalizations and surgeries to correct those medical conditions and their subsequent complications, but to no avail. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to comfort her as she shed tears over the agonizing pain she was suffering. Then there were the times when she would call me, sobbing because she’d been to the emergency room to get some relief from her pain, only to have an emergency room physician accuse her of being a drug addict.

Besides the constant, never-ending, and sometimes unbearable pain that she’s had to endure, her medical conditions have caused her stress, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, nausea, loss of employment, loss of self-esteem, problems with family relationships, and depression, among other debilitating symptoms.

Chronic pain is very different from acute pain. Acute pain happens at the time of injury, and goes away when the injury heals. Chronic pain sticks around longer than it should, offering little to no relief. If you’ve never had chronic pain, it will probably be difficult for you to understand it.

I understand because I’m a chronic pain sufferer myself. Ever since I ruptured a herniated disc in my cervical spine several years ago, I’ve had one medical condition after another present itself, including that of fibromyalgia.  So I’m no stranger to what it feels like to go through this kind of disruption in your life.

But I’m glad to say that there’s hope for people like my sister Jan. A few weeks ago she had a spinal cord stimulator implant placed during surgery. This is a device that is used to exert pulsed electrical signals to the spinal cord to control chronic pain.

After going through a successful trial with the device four to six weeks ago, a permanent device was then implanted.  I am now overjoyed to say that my baby sister is happy and pain-free at long last.

No longer will I receive those tearful phone calls with her being in the depths of despair and feeling like there will never be any hope for herself. No longer will she dread waking up in the morning to face another day filled with constant and oftentimes agonizing pain. No longer will she miss family functions because she’s being hospitalized for pain control management. No longer will she need to shed those precious tears.

Thanks to modern medicine, she can actually look forward to each day instead of wondering when her next trip to the emergency room will be. Thanks to modern medicine, she can make plans for the future and not have to worry about how being in pain might impact that same future. Thanks to modern medicine she can spend more time with her family instead of trying to find ways to cope with her pain. Thanks to modern medicine, she can be the person she was always meant to be.

My sister Janice

So you see—there are so many reasons why I think that this first day in May is truly the first day of spring for my sister Jan; and as a matter of fact, it may indeed be the first true day of spring that she’s had in many years. Now that’s something that our entire family can rejoice in.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, happiness would not be so welcome.”  ~ Anne Broadstreet ~

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