04 February 2020

An Attitude of Gratitude

Once again, Roger Allen has propelled me into a higher realm. This time, his words from last November have hit me when I needed them most, right now. In February.

Lizard and I had just returned from a checkup with the neurologist. The doctor confirmed what I had feared most of the last 12 months. Lizard's Parkinson's is advancing aggressively. After all we have done to attempt to slow the progression, the incurable disease is starved and taking big bites out of the person I love most.

It was difficult to hold back tears and be positive as I drove Lizard from one appointment to another. He doesn't need me being a drama queen. He needs me to be strong and cheerful. He can't hang on by himself. Yes, my feelings are important, too, but he's been hit over and over again in the last 18 months. I need to share my strength with him.

Being in the car these days is miserable for Lizard, and so he was focused on trying to soothe his restless legs when my runaway tears escaped. Lizard did not see.

I kept trying to tell myself to be thankful I still have him. Just 18 months ago, the symptoms were moving so fast we feared the diagnosis might be ALS. I even made plans. We'd sell the house and buy an RV. I'd retire, and we'd visit family while we could. I'd give him one more trip to Moab. I'd take him to one more beach.

If the diagnosis had been ALS, we'd be at the end now. I'd be saying goodbye. Not driving him to PT so he can try to build muscle and strength after total knee replacement in December to hopefully be able to get back on a bike one day.

PT became extremely painful for him, and he quit taking the heavy duty painkillers, which he never wanted to take in the first place, after the second week. He did great on breaking free from painkillers, I might add. There is no addiction here.

Well, I take that back. We're both addicted to life... Well, and cycling. And quilting... I wonder if I could get him into dyeing one day? Hmmm...

After his previous PT visit, Lizard was joking around at home, saying he would show those therapists. He would do wheelies down Mount Evans on his walker, and then they'd see he's no wimp.

Whenever he gets discouraged now, I remind him I want pictures of wheelies on Mount Evans on his walker. He'll smile and then laugh. It's a wonderful tool to fix the screwy emotions that journey hand-in-hand with Parkinson's and recovery from a serious surgery.

He was dreading this next PT visit because he knew how painful the rest of the day would be afterward. To distract myself from my own grief and pain, I offered to drive us up to Idaho Springs after PT so he could ride his walker down the peak, and then we could enjoy Beau Jo's Colorado Style Pizza for dinner and still have enough left over for the next couple of nights.

Lizard's attention rapidly shifted from the misery of his rigid and erratic legs to the thought of speeding down a steep mountain road on two wheels... and stabilizing walker bars. He laughed and repeated he will show those therapists who's a wimp.

Gratitude enveloped my heart. I have not seen an extraordinary amount of humor coming out of my beloved in the last year. I am so thankful he can still smile. I am so glad his sense of humor has not been completely destroyed.

And that's precisely what Roger Allen had written about last November. Why his Thanksgiving email landed in the top of my email on a late-January evening escapes me... and yet, it doesn't. God has always had a way of putting things right in front of me right when I need to see them.

visiting Roger & Judy Allen less than a month after the Parkinson's diagnosis

The questions in the email/blog post gave me pause. I don't really have to dig deep to find answers to any of them. I just have to stop dwelling on things I can't change and be thankful for every blessing I've been given.

1. Not only did Lizard make me smile when he remembered the preposterous idea of racing a walker down Mount Evans, but we spent nearly an hour of appointment day walking in a park and lake we'd never visited -- because it was close to one of the medical appointments. It was the first time Lizard had walked with me outside our immediate neighborhood since before his surgery in December.

2. One of my neighbors volunteered to help me with transportation when Lizard has a PT appointment on a day when I can't get away from work. And now that I'm running out of vacation time, several of our friends in the community have volunteered to help with PT transportation following Lizard's next knee procedure next week.

3. My adopted daughter and I are rebuilding our relationship.

4. I haven't been listening to music much lately, but I had to look up a song for a recent blog post, and "Stronger than I've Ever Been" still brightens my spirit and strengthens my determination as much as it did, if not more, than the first time I heard it, during the 2018 Winter Paralympics.

5. While walking with my arms full (without a basket because I'm always mistakenly certain no basket will result in fewer purchases) in the grocery store one day right around Christmas, I dropped a container of grapes. Grapes rolled EVERYWHERE. Two young boys, perhaps 9 or 10 years of age, got up from their Starbucks seats and treats and helped me pick up all the grapes, then returned to their seats. Who knew such service from such youth still existed?!?

6. Okay, I typed #5 a bit too fast!!! But people are good. Recently, my church announced a worldwide special day of fast and prayer for Australia, due to the fires. It wasn't just my church that was praying that day. Everyone who saw the announcements, which were EVERYWHERE, prayed. And Australia got rain that night. The continent isn't out of the woods yet, but they got rain. Also, firefighters from around the world joined in the fight, and crocheters, knitters and sewists from around the world created nests and protective coverings for burned animals. Some businesses around the world, including Spoonflower, where I have my fabric designs printed, volunteered to collect and mail nests and protective coverings so crafters could focus their time and energy on making what was needed instead of worrying about postage costs.

7. One of my co-workers asked me out of the blue today if she could treat me to lunch.

8.a. Here's where #5 could be inserted again, darn it! But I can come up with another answer. Or two. Several of my friends and co-workers listen when I need to talk about how hard it is to watch someone I love become disabled. They try to make sure I take care of me so I can better take care of Lizard.

8.b. When I told one of my co-workers about turning my grief into gratitude when I realized ALS would have made this particular time even more difficult, he described what it was like watching his mom go from happy, active and healthy to unable to do anything, due to ALS, in exactly two years, to the day. I feel so bad for him and anyone who has lost a loved one in such a horrifying way, but I'm even more grateful now I get to keep my Lizard a lot longer.

9. My Heavenly Father is ALWAYS there for me, even when He seems so far away. He always has been. He always will be.

Regardless of how bad things get, I still have my Lizard. We have many great years ahead of us. Our future may not look the way we planned, but we do have a future together, and I'm looking forward to every single day with him.


  1. Great that he can still smile and find humor throughout the awful health issues. Sorry to hear it progressed over the last year. Shows there still are some good people out there indeed. Never would have expected kiddos to help out with the grapes.

    1. You are so right, Pat. Just a few minutes ago, a couple more friends stopped by to make sure we are ready for Lizard's next procedure, which is tomorrow. People are really good.

  2. All the best! And yes, there are good people all around. Regula

    1. Thank you, Regula! And yes, you are right! Good people everywhere!

  3. I too agree with Pat about Brett being able to find humor in the midst of his health issues. Staying positive during tough times is not easy - kudos to you for your positive attitude as this certainly cannot be easy for you either. We are here for you and Brett. You and Brett are in our prayers -

    1. Thank you, Lori! We are so blessed to have you as our friends!


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

All spam is promptly and cheerfully deleted without ever appearing in print.

If you are unable to leave a comment and need to contact me, please use the email address in the sidebar. Thank you!

Related Posts with Thumbnails