Perfectly Imperfect

StephanieFarr-1

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.

It didn’t.

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.

 

19 thoughts on “Perfectly Imperfect

  1. Same here. I was looking at doing botox and lipo soon. And then I got sick and entered treatment for almost 2 years. It’s but hard! And every wrinkle I see, every extra little layer of fat is a blessing that I’m here to notice it. One day at a time, celebrate each day as a blessing. Live in the moment. All trite, but all so very true.

  2. Thank you for sharing. This is beautifully expressed. I hope it doesn’t offend you that I whispered “Dammit” mid-way through this post. I don’t know you, but your story moved me to tears. MS is a tough one.

    And this: “My little cosmetic idiosyncrasies have become laughingly unimportant.” Would that we could all be so free. I’m sorry it has come at such a cost for you. (I should tell you that by the end of the post I moved from swearing to, “Bless you.”) In all sincerity. Thank you again.

  3. On a day when my chronic back problems led me to say, “I can’t do this any more, Heavenly Father,” I went to my son’s Pack Meeting where a man with back problems 100x worse spoke to us about gratitude. He’d been in an accident as a teenager and had led a very different life than he’d planned but had found joy in the journey. He said that if he heard of the same thing happening to another young person, his response would be “Good for them!” because his dependence on the Lord is what made him the man he was. I cried; I think the only time I’ve actually chosen the hard road on purpose was in coming to mortality in the first place! But when I remember why I made that choice, I realize that whatever my personal road ends up looking like (and it changes regularly in terrain and scenery), it leads to a place—the place—worth getting to. I so appreciate my “daily bread” and the many little blessings that are in my life now. And at that day, I expect our focus will be swallowed up in the destination and not the price. Thanks for sharing and touching a place in my heart!

  4. You are amazing! Thanks for sharing your story. You inspire us all to be more grateful for the little things.

  5. Thank you for sharing this very sacred story Stephanie. I’m sitting here in awe….from all you have been through, and for your determination to trust in the Lord. I would love to learn more from you. Would it be possible for an invitation to your blog?

  6. Thank you for all the kind comments. Grandma Honey, yes I can invite you to my blog, but I need your email address.

  7. Something that gives me great courage is the understanding that EVERYTHING works for the good of the faithful, that if we keep God’s commandments, our momentum is onward and upward. It’s all through the scriptures–even Joseph Smith had it on good authority that his difficulties would be “consecrated” for his good. I marvel at your courage.

  8. Different diagnosis, but I can completely empathize. It is not easy to change direction, alter the vision I had for my life. I can add my testimony that the Lord is in the smallest details of our lives. I marvel at His mercy, and thank you for sharing your story. With love and hope for each of us.

  9. Thank you for sharing. Never say never, there is so much research going on and miracles happen evereday. God bless you.

  10. This is beautifully written, and I have great respect for you! I think you’ll have an effect and be able to help many people throughout your life. And I think your life will be happy, in many ways that you can’t predict.

  11. Stephanie, you certainly know how to express yourself and I was glad to know what you have been going though. Being a young mother with this illness is a real challenge. We love you and pray for you both night and morning. Your a beautiful person!

  12. I know this might not be the exact place to out this but I wanted to share something that I wrote a week or so ago.

    A glimpse of me I sometimes see
    Passing far or near to me
    With each break my heart still aches
    And longs for a deep breath to take
    I look ahead and I look behind but there are times that I am blind
    Blind to the joy that is in front me happiness is so hard to see
    Will it come or will it hide what if in Him I abide? Will He take my grief and pain and will he stop the drenching rain? From Him I see a glimpse of me with Him I know that I will be Free from grief and free from pain and only joy will I gain. My savior sees me In grief and pain but I can hear him call my name. Come to Me I will give you rest for I know what is best. Trust in Me for I have seen your happiness in all eternity.

  13. Stephanie, I am so sorry to hear of your health condition…you may not remember, but your experiences sound like mine…you put my thoughts into words…thank you for sharing…and Andrea, thank you for that beautiful poem…I am going to print that off and put it on my mirror…beautiful..

    Steph, I too, would like an invite to your blog…much love to you, young lady!!!! keep in touch

  14. Your post really resonated with me. Being diagnosed with a life changing chronic disease can be devastating. However, the comfort that comes from remembering that you are not alone is very powerful.

    I was diagnosed with lupus 9 years ago just 8 months after my third child was born. I was so sick I could barely lift my baby, let alone care for my 2 other very young children. There have been some very dark days for me. Fortunately, my moments of peace and comfort have overwhelming outnumbered those difficult days.

    As you go forward in your journey, I hope that you continue to hold onto your faith and find continued comfort in the power of the Atonement.

  15. Wow, I am having similar symptoms and am scared to death that I am going to be diagnosed with MS. I sat and cried as I read your words.

  16. I just read an article linking ms symptoms to aspartame consumption. Do you eat any products with it? Diet soda or low fat yogurt?

    Just thought I’d ask.

    Praying for you. Thanks for sharing your strength and faith.

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