This past Mother’s Day, we decided to treat Mom with a picnic at the state park just down the road. It was such a lovely day! After the Frito taco style lunch, everyone played some outdoor games…I focused on Frisbee and amazed myself how good I could catch while sitting on my walker. Throwing it back to another person was a different a story. The day had me thinking of years past where we would take family picnics in the mountains. But instead of picnic birds and cute chipmunks joining the feast, we just had bugs. While Melissa’s pup, Basho, tried to eat a caterpillar, I was distracted with a few baby spiders crawling around at the end zone of our picnic table cover.
“They’re in nature and they’re so tiny,” I kept telling myself. Mom and Dad have done a pretty good job of keeping spiders out of view in the house–it has been a while since I have even seen one so close. I think the time helped calm my previous state of hyperventilating in arachnophobia; even watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. was more tolerable (of course, Marcia and I were a little distracted too at that part, as we were attempting to get my caption specs to work properly!)
Anyway. back to Mother’s Day, the sun was shining and not yet having my sunglasses on, I was in squint mode trying to keep up with all the lip-reading conversations. Up until this point, lunch had peacefully survived without epidemics of girlish squeals of bugs–but I broke that trend when all of a sudden, I realize that this is no cataract fuzz in my right eye view. It was a spider! And it was no tiny baby one at that either! My first reaction–the glasses got thrust off with my left hand and shoved into Dad’s face (well, more like over his plate that was still full of Frito taco lunch.)
“There’s a spider on my glasses!!” Dad takes my glasses and flings the spider off into the grass. I continue, “Gross! I am infested with spiders!” Still disgusted, it occurs to me, “That could have been crawling on my face!” And Marcia confirms, “Well it was on your arm.” Yeah, thanks for the warning.
I am not certain as to why numbness is a side effect of the tumors. I understand muscle atrophy and weakness, but not the numbness or why/how it also affects the muscle weakness too. I can’t even tell you when the numbness first began…I don’t remember. All I remember is that it started in my left ring finger at the tip. Slowly over time, it progressed to other fingers in the left hand and my toes. A definite turn took place the summer of 2010 when the tumor on the 5th Nerve doubled in size, suddenly leaving me with intense jaw pain. I first thought it was TMJ, as others in my family have the condition, but as soon as I felt the first tingles of numbness I knew it was tumor related and it was confirmed by the MRI results.
Numbness in the face was strange at first–now, it covers everything: forehead, gums, cheeks and neck. As of this past week, I have confirmed numbness in the upper left lip. Mom says it is not noticeable, but if you studied my face closely, you can see the lip is a bit poofed and that makes the lip slide to the right (just a tad, but still, I see it.) It’snot just my face…my feet (can’t really wiggle my toes anymore), whole left leg and right arm and hands…areas on my shoulders and back too…numb.
It is hard to describe “numb.” One would assume when you’re numb that you don’t feel anything. Almost but not quite. I feel things, depending on what it is. Just examples: I feel the ground when I walk and I feel what I touch with my fingers (minus the right pinky and my grasps are very weak); I can’t feel temperatures in the hands or feet, so it is hard for me to tell if my feet are really cold or if the plate coming out of the microwave is hot. Numbness tingles like when you come indoors after being outside on an extremely cold day–the thawing effect. Numbness is heavy. Numbness is a pain (although too figurative, I am implying the literal definition.)
As I was thinking of numbness this week after confirming it in my upper lip, different situations came to mind. I found myself, in numbness, with a burden for those who hurt deeply (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.) Whatever state, I realized that people in immense pain use “numbness” (or the forms of action in a way to numb the pain), to escape pain (or the hopes of escaping their current suffering.) But you never escape through numbness–because you feel numbness…it is heavy, it is a pain. Numbness (or the denial of the situations/conditions one is living) is not the answer.
“Held” by Natalie Grant
(*Second verse)–This hand is bitterness.
We want to taste it, let the hatred numb our sorrow.
The wise hands opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow.
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held.
If hope is born of suffering.
If this is only the beginning.
Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior?