Stephanie Farr is married to the world’s best handyman and is the mother of three daughters and four sons. She has a degree from Brigham Young University in Elementary Education, but never actually taught school, due to her (cough) honeymoon baby. She has an unhealthy obsession with pebble ice, Chapstick and clean sheet day. She dreams of being a writer when she grows up, and practices by blogging sporadically at mamamelee.blogspot.com and regularly at todosmishijos.blogspot.com.
I used to always say that after the resurrection, I wanted a better chest and fewer moles. In The Book of Mormon, Alma teaches, “The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (Alma 40:23) Shouldn’t we be able to submit some kind of wish for a “proper and perfect frame”? Maybe there should be a spot on the tithing slip for this.
Now however, my desires have changed. I can deal with being flat chested and spotty; my ultimate wish would be to get my hands back.
I lost my hands in October of 2011. I had been happily sleeping in on a Saturday morning. The sun was streaming in through my window, nudging me awake. I groggily stretched and noticed that my right hand was numb. Thinking I must have been sleeping on it, I fully expected the numbness to go away in a few minutes.
Days went by and it was still oddly numb. One week later, I realized that not only was my hand numb, but my right foot and the whole right side of my body. I began feeling a strange sensation, like water trickling down my right side. I kept telling my husband, “I feel like I’m sweating profusely, but every time I check, there is nothing.”
The severity of the numbness in my hand progressed to pain. Within a few weeks both of my hands were in agony. My hands, which I had previously never given a second thought to, were useless because I could not stand to touch anything. My children and husband were doing with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. I sat at dinner one night, crying because I could not pick up the grilled cheese sandwich they had prepared. The texture of the grilled bread felt like stabbing fire.
It seemed like the ultimate cruel irony. I sew, I craft, I blog, I enjoy photography, I have six kids and a husband. I am the Primary President in my ward. With useless hands, how could I do these things?
Several doctor visits and two MRI’s later, I received the diagnosis. Our phone rang, the caller ID indicating that it was my doctor. I sat down on the overstuffed chair in my bedroom, in the dim morning light of a grey day. My heart pumping madly with nervous energy, I answered the phone. “While there is not a definitive test for Multiple Sclerosis, all the signs show that you have it. There are lesions on your brain and on your spine. I can recommend a Neurologist who specializes in MS, if you would like. I’m really sorry.”
I’d like to be able to say I was up for this challenge from the start, but I wasn’t. The realization that life as I knew it was over, crippled me. Depression, something I had never before experienced, hit with a vengeance. With my husband at work and my children at school, I lay in bed for weeks, numb with grief and fear. My youngest daughter watched movies for hours on end while I barely functioned.
Thinking of my future was terrifying. How long before I would be in a wheelchair? When would I lose complete control of my bladder and other body functions? Would I lose the ability to speak? When would my mind lose the battle to the lesions dotting my brain?
I wallowed in depression and grief for most of two months. Then I decided that with the new year, I would start again. I listened to President Uchtdorf’s talk, “Forget Me Not,” over and over and over. His words soothed my troubled soul. “Sisters, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, he loves you with an infinite love.”
I began to feel hope. The way I had always envisioned my future had been changed, but I still had my life. I had a loving husband and seven wonderful children. I had friends and neighbors who had served our family in countless ways. I remembered what I had for a time forgotten, that Heavenly Father knows me, loves me and watches over me.
My hands will probably never return to normal and my body will continue to deteriorate. I know there are challenges ahead. My little cosmetic idiosyncrasies have become laughingly unimportant. I look forward to the time when, “all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” But until then, I will try to live daily with faith and trust in the Lord.