An Unexpected Change

I’m sitting here, on my bed, staring at the screen. Just staring. And honestly, I think that’s the best way to sum up how I’ve been since about 12:30 this afternoon. What are we suppose to do when life just throws us a curveball? When it hands us a challenge that we never saw coming? That I never saw coming?

Maybe I should back up a bit though. My last post was all about some weird feelings that I had been having, what began as vertigo. That never really went away. And eventually it got worse. The huge indicator that something was seriously wrong was when I began to lose the ability to speak clearly. I began slurring my words and was unable to pronounce words randomly. No pattern really, I would just lose the ability to talk for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. That’s hell. Not being able to talk. Not being able to be understood clearly. That was a pain. But it was also a blessing. Because that’s when I really began to think that maybe something could be wrong. So I went back to a doctor, and it was decided that I would get an MRI and see what happened from there. And that began one of the loudest experiences of my life. I had no idea a single machine could be that loud. The results of that MRI came back a few hours later, and my doctor called me and said that she recommended that I go see a neurologist as soon as possible and seek specialized help.

Looking back… this was perhaps one of the most intense phone calls of my life, though I have no idea if I realized it at the time. This was really the first time that it began to dawn on me that my life could change. And the conversation hit hard. I remember hanging the phone up, and thinking about the conversation, and slowly the tears started to come. And I fought them, hard. And I was successful, for a little bit. Until I called my dad. Then.. I lost it. Amazingly he was able to calm me down. And he told me that no matter what, it wasn’t the end of the world, that anything can be dealt with – and that most importantly during no part of the process would I be alone. And I needed that assurance because in that moment I felt alone. I knew that family was only a phone call away, that friends lived only minute away. But, in that moment I felt alone and helpless.

Just too cut a long story short, my trip to the neurologist would lead to another MRI, more blood work, and my personal favorite (sarcasm), a lumbar puncture. My wonderful, awesome parents drove up from Arizona to be with me for that and to offer the support that I really needed. My last test, the lumbar puncture happened on Monday. And so far that has given me about five days to think. Five days to hope that nothing serious would really come from all this, that it could all be explained by something pretty simple and easy to fix. Five days to tell myself that it wouldn’t necessarily mean a change to my life or a change to my life plans. You know, the hardest part of those fives days was when people would ask me how I was doing. I didn’t even know where to begin to answer a question like that. I mean, most people ask to be polite, so I’m not gonna drop a bombshell on them. That’s rude. But I’ve always been one who is not gonna shy away from the truth either.

Looking back now though. I think I knew, all along, that it wouldn’t be easy. That it wouldn’t be simple. And that maybe it wasn’t suppose to be. As I sit here I’m looking for a silver lining in all this. And amazingly I can find several. Things to be grateful for – and mostly they come in the form of my family. My supportive, awesome, understanding family. They come in the form of my friends. Those who I have told who have a day to day role in my life. My ward and the people in my building where I live. I cannot express adequately how much they’ve helped me, whether it has just been through a smile, a wave, a conversation – short or long- or any other number of things. God has truly placed some amazing people in my life right now to help me out. And you know, reflecting on that has brought a lot to my mind. In particular, a scripture from the Book of Mormon comes to my mind. In the Book of Alma chapter 36 verse 27. A man and prophet is talking to son Helaman, and he bears his testimony at one point. And he says “And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.” That is a pretty powerful testimony, a promise, and a belief about the ability to be delivered from those hard times. I don’t know that I will be delivered from mine, but I know that I’m not alone. That there are people in my life I can rely on and turn to for help and support, and that most of all there is a Heavenly Father who loves me. Who knows me. Who knows what I can do, even with a disease that cannot be cured. Who knows that I can handle this, even in the times when I’m not sure that I can. I don’t know why this was thrown my way, but the more I think about that, the more I realize that the why doesn’t matter all that much. That what is going to matter is knowing I’m not alone. That I’m loved, no matter what happens.

Today I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). That was my curveball. My game changer. But, it’s not going to define me. One pitch isn’t going to make or break me. I refuse to let this change who I am and who I can become. I know it won’t be easy, that I’ll have rough patches where the world will seem to run me by, but I truly believe that I can grow from this. Because that’s the reason trials exist, in my opinion. I have no idea where this road will take me, especially because I have so much to consider in both the immediate and long-term future. But right now, I think I’m okay. I can make it through this. I will make it through this.

 

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Ether 12:27, in the Book of Mormon.

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “An Unexpected Change

  1. Hello Zach, we met in Alberta while you were on your mission. I met you in a candy store (no this is not the beginning of a song…🙂) & told you & your companion could buy whatever you would like. I think one of you only bought a drink, anywho. My name is Samantha, & You are Amazing! F.E.A.R.=false evidence appearing real, I love this because it reminds that when I have Faith things will work vs fear it will just make many things worse. Now you may have already known this, but at a time like this, is when we need to be reminded. Or who is this person, I have the right to be afraid. You do, I am just the lady you met once, who has also had her share of trials, & sharing what I wish someone would of shared with. Everything’s gonna be all right. Samantha😊

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  2. I love you Zach. You are an amazing disciple of our loving Heavenly Father. I know that you have a mission here on this earth, and I believe you are fulfilling that mission every day. I have personally seen you make a difference in the life of someone I love deeply, and for that I will always be eternally grateful. Always keep the eternal perspective that you possess and the Lord will bless you. You have an amazing family, and I hope you know that you can always count on my love, prayers and support.

    Love, Sarah

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    1. Thanks so much Sarah! I really appreciate hearing that. It mean’s a lot to know that. I think keeping that eternal perspective is what really matters, and often is the only thing that keeps us going. If there is ever anything I can do for you or your family, please let me know!

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  3. Madsen, I’d be surprised if you didn’t shed a few tears. Did we ever tell you about Chris’ brain tumour/cancer/eye surgery saga? Been where you are… sort of. We got the proverbial get-out-of-jail-free card, but we’ve faced similar dragons and you are so right: this does not need to define you. It will alter you, inform your experience, but doesn’t have to be the centre of every thought, plan, relationship. A bit of hope maybe: I have a friend who has been living with MS since the age of 17. She got married, had three kids, and I knew her five years before I stumbled on to the fact of her diagnosis. She is now 40 and lives a full life.
    I don’t have a crystal ball hidden in my closet, but I don’t see why your story can’t be similar. Love.

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    1. Sister Demes! I didn’t know that at all about Chris. I really appreciate you sharing though and offering that hope. You guys were such an inspiration to just live life and be happy no matter what. I hope you guys are doing well in Hillspring! Miss you guys!

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