As the days gently pass while in isolation, the routine allows for me to effectively plan my day, mostly, for no plans at all, and it is for this time that I’ve actually looked forward to, so that I might be able to give you a glimpse into what really makes me tick…who I am, why I’m here, how I got here, and why I remain so “strong, brave, committed” as so many of you have praised me for along the way. I appreciate the recognition, but, it’s not quite as simple as that. I didn’t turn into Superwoman overnight!
I know many of you following along are people “of faith”. Maybe you’re Catholic, or Protestant, or Jewish, or Buddhist. Faith is faith no matter how you slice it. Maybe you’re a non-believer. All are welcome in my world.
I was raised in the Protestant faith (Methodist), by the hand of strong-willed grandmother who wanted nothing more than her grandchildren to embrace the church, and, who now sits at God’s side. Add to that a Sunday school teacher, Albert Masood, Sr., whose teachings of over 40 years ago remain with me today and make for a very solid foundation of faith…unwavering, unquestionable faith.
Before you get carried away thinking that I carry my Bible in my purse every day and go to church every Sunday, you can just wipe that scenario right off the chalkboard. When my grandfather Warren passed away, at the funeral service, the pastor said “Warren was the most religious man I knew who never went to church!” That pastor hit the nail on the head with that remark and that is where my grandfather and I have so much in common! My grandfather also grew up in the church, but, as he grew older, he showed his faith through touching the lives of others, like taking such care of my grandmother’s every whim and the needs of their six children, caring for and taking in of family members, and in the end, making certain that every little old lady in town had the brakes and turn signals working on their cars for little or no charge (he was a retired mechanic).
I hold my relationship with God, so close to my heart that I tend to keep it just for myself. It is my happy place, and I don’t always want to share it. I’ve taken my faith with with me during my travels all over the world. Nothing says safe and secure more than having God and a quality Swiss Army knife in your back pocket. 🙂 Over the years, I have been approached by pastors, friends, family, all offering to have me come join their congregation. As much as I’ve appreciated those sincere gestures, I am 100% satisfied with the way I roll with my God and my faith. I’ll be honest. I have great difficulty walking into a church without tearing up. That’s how bad it is. It could be a wedding, a Christmas play, or a basket bingo. When I walk in, I get so overwhelmed by the fact that I’m in His house that it takes everything I have to keep it together. Yes, it’s true. I have a soft side! So, the next time you feel like asking me to a church “tea” or something, please don’t take offense when I decline. I’m just saving you from watching me break down when we walk in. ha ha
So, now, you must be like “Wow!, Brooke is way more “religious” than I thought”. No, I’m not. I just execute it in an entirely different way than you might. Or, who knows, maybe we have way more in common than you thought.
Here’s my philosophy on how I execute my faith. You will NEVER find me banging a Bible or throwing around the “Praise Jesus!” at every turn. Except, of course, if I’ve just had the most fabulous sip of Gascon Argentinian Malbec. Now, that is reason for a “Praise Jesus!”. He and God are the ones responsible for those grapes, right? You will never hear me say every day for every situation, “Well it’s all in God’s Hands.”, or “God will take care of it.”, or “Just pray and it will be okay.” There are certain extreme situations when every option available to you has been exhausted and there is nothing left but to leave it in God’s hands. In that I do believe. However, I feel and have always felt that this gracious gift of faith is no “free ride”. Do you really think that I’m over here expecting God to take care of every little thing while I just sit back and ride his coat tails?! Heck, no! I must do my part as well. I must prove how badly I want it and fight until there’s nothing left in me. It’s no different than getting a promotion at work. Just because you got the job, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to continue to earn your keep. That’s just a little more of my blunt, black and white, sensical take on life. Take me or leave me.
You may be wondering how my faith came into play when I was deciding and preparing for this rather extraordinary trip to Russia to save myself from my MS. It went a little something like this. I did the research. I knew it was the right thing to do and that I was going to make it happen, but, something inside of me longed for some kind of heavenly sign from my dad or from God. I didn’t have to have it to move forward, but it was definitely gnawing at me. Well, dad knows that I’m not that patient, and well, God knows…everything, so they humored me and gave me exactly what I was looking for. Dad (pic below) started “visiting” me when I would sit down to eat my breakfast, but, only if I was sitting in Doug’s chair at the island. One morning in particular, he came to me as soon as I sat down and, as clear as a bell I heard him say “You’re a Taylor (maiden name), and you can do this.” Well, that’s all I needed to hear. BOOM, DONE! Let’s book the tickets! God, on the other hand, visits me in the bathroom. I’m always deep in thought in front of the mirror, contemplating my day and he just kind of graces me with his presence. No visuals, no words…just a presence. And that’s plenty for me.
Wow, man, this is getting soooo deep! NO IT’S NOT! Just hang on. It gets lighter.
So, who’s the everyday me? The one who mustered the guts to do this thang!? Here’s the deal. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I swear like a trucker. I’ve actually become quite talented at infusing swear words into multi-syllable words. The more syllables, the bigger the challenge. You try to live with MS for 10 years, and we’ll see if you aren’t slinging F-bombs on the daily. Just sayin’! Don’t worry, I keep my profanities within my domain. I know when to keep my mouth shut…sometimes. My family comes first. Work has always been a very close second. I have great friends who appreciate my sense of humor or all would be lost. I live a homemade country life while trying to infuse it with my big-city instincts. I’d like to think I have the best of both worlds…and I do.
Let’s get down to my medical status for the day. I slept for 4 hours last night…a record. It was only two at a time, but, I’ll take it. I woke up at 6:00 a.m., feeling fabulous, but weak (typical for this phase of the treatment). Get my shower, sit down to the computer, and, suddenly, I can feel my lights dimming. Not the ones in the room, but the ones in my head. I’ve passed out many times in my day, and this was it for sure. I took a deep breath and gingerly walked over to my bed and rang the nurses. I had already placed my head between my legs, pointed to the symptom sheet to let them know that I was dizzy and then they all switched into high gear. My BP was 85/48 and I was misting with sweat. They made me lie on my side, take my temp and start giving me IV fluids to assist with my electrolyte balance. They take an additional blood draw to check for infection/sepsis…it was negative. I was in no pain and not nauseous. This is simply typical and something that I need to pay close attention to and the utmost respect to in the process. Next up, Dr. Fedorenko is on the phone asking all of the usual questions and asking me to please rest until he gets to the hospital. After his examination, he once again says that this is to be expected, but to make sure to report any changes at all, and I will. The nurses just arrived with a battery of fluids to offset my little fainting drama (see the pic below).
NOTHING NEW TO REPORT ON THE WISP WATCH…SO NO PIC TODAY.
MY NUMBERS ARE IN!! MY LEUKOCYTES ARE DOWN TO 0.18, EXACTLY AS THEY SHOULD BE AND ALL VITALS ARE IN CHECK.