Saturday, August 6, 2016

Choosing to be thankful

This past winter/spring was a hard one for our family health wise. Most of you know, my husband Elias has Cystic Fibrosis. CF is a progressive, genetic lung disease and as we are learning, things can change very quickly.

As we've been adjusting to what we consider to be our new normal, we've also been grieving the things that we can no longer do as a family and what he can no longer do as an individual. However, tonight we were talking about all that we are thankful for and all that we have done.

We are so thankful that God called us to live in West Africa when he did. Six years ago we were living in The Gambia with no concerns about hospitalizations and IV antibiotics. We mainly had to focus on getting Elias' meds to him via visitors and making sure his meds stayed cold during times of unreliable electricity. This was an amazing time for us as a couple, relying on God and each other. Spending basically every waking hour together without the stress of jobs, finances or health insurance. This is the time when our infertility journey began to get a little bit more difficult emotionally, but overall it was a really rich time for us. As much as I have dreamed about the possibility of going back longer term, at this point, that is no longer an option for us as a family. I am so thankful that it was at one time.

Three years ago we chose to put plane tickets on a credit card and go to the Grand Canyon with my parents and my sister and brother-in-law. We were able to walk quite a bit and hike part of the way into the canyon. I wasn't sure if we should go. I wasn't sure if we should spend the money and we had also began the adoption process and we knew that calls for babies can come at any time. We chose to go and I am so thankful that we did. We just paid off the debt this past year from those tickets, but I don't have a single regret. The following summer the boys had joined our family and now Elias would no longer be able to do the hike we did. I am so thankful for that experience and those memories.

It took us 5 1/5 years to become parents. Most of those years I hated our infertility. It was another thing that CF robbed us of (98% of men with CF are infertile). But, I also tried to remember that we might not have the retirement years that so many couples get to travel and to have their time as a couple. I can now look back and be thankful for those years. Those years that allowed us the travel opportunities I listed above. Those years that we had just us to connect as a couple without the demands of children on our time. They weren't easy years, but they were our years.

We don't know what the future holds. A cure might be right around the corner. Or a clinical trial may stop the progression of his disease. He may be stable for a number of years or he may end up needing a double lung transplant. CF is unpredictable and I'm growing to dislike this disease more and more. Despite all of that, I will be forever thankful for the time we have had and the memories we have had the opportunity to make. We are thinking about traveling again, sooner than later, to make more memories before things change again. It may take us another 2-3 years to pay it off, but I know that we will have no regrets, we will only be thankful.