Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chapter 2 My trial begins

The summer of 1992 my Grandma Christopherson's siblings started a family reunion at Lake Siskyou in Mt Shasta city California. It was a great way to get to know my great aunts and uncles and their families. We spent late nights playing scrabble and yahtzee and long days at the lake. Tim joined us midweek. One of the first adventures Tim and I had was renting a paddle boat. We paddled to a nice cove and jumped off to take a nice swim. We were both good swimmers because we both grew up with pools. When it came time to return the paddle boat I wasn't able to lift my body back onto the boat. Tim had to pull me out of the water.

The next day my siblings chipped in and rented this floating island. I was the only one who could not pull themselves onto the island. I couldn't believe it,  even my little sister and brother could pull themselves up. What was wrong with me?  My sister Laura who was married and lived in Utah only saw me once a year.  She asked me why are you walking funny. I just answered I'm not. Later she pointed out my walking to my mom and from then on my mom was worried about me.  She said she prayed that night and knew that a big trial was coming our way.

When we returned home from the family reunion my mom immediately made an appointment with the family doctor. My mom explained that I was walking funny and how my balance was off. The doctor started to ask questions about what was going on in my life.  When I told him that my boyfriend of three years was leaving to Japan on a mission he said it was probably just stress and not to worry about it. Before I left his office he wanted to check my reflexes. So he hit the bottom of my knee and my leg went so high and so fast that I almost kicked him in the gut. Immediately I started crying because I had never seen my body react like that. This began my journey to find out what was wrong with me.  He referred me to a neurologist which was the first of three I would see. The MRI, spinal tap, EMG and multiple blood test came back normal. They could not find anything wrong with me. While all this was going on I said good bye to Tim for two years. Finally they sent me to Los Angeles to the USC neuroscience department.  After examining me the doctor decided to do a muscle biopsy the next morning. Leaving the office we gathered all the pamphlets on all the neuromuscular diseases.  My mom actually read them all. She was so scared for my life. She prayed hoping to find an answer. The name Sarah came to her mind. She knew right where to look in the bible. It was the story when Abraham was told by an angel that Sarah would deliver a son and when she heard this she laughed.  Then Sarah was told is anything too hard for the Lord.  This brought peace of mind to my mom and when she recounted this story to me I knew everything would be fine. When my muscle biopsy results came back the doctor at USC told me I had ALS commonly known as Lou Gerhig's disease.  He explained that on average the life span was three to five years with ALS. I did not fit the mold for an ALS patient because most people with ALS are men over 45. I was only 20. He explained how that eventually I would be a quadrapalegic and only be able to blink my eyes. It sounded so scary I began to cry. How could the Lord save me from this? I tried to not think about my diagnosis and just go on living. Tim received the news in a letter and he reassured me that he still wanted to marry me even if we only had 5 years together.

I continued my 3rd year of college still focusing on music but it all changed in February of 1994. Cal State Bakersfield choir had been invited to sing in Carnegie Hall.  We were all so excited,  but I knew I couldn't do it. I couldn't even hold my music or turn the pages and I had no breath control and got lightheaded just singing. The hardest phone call I ever made was to my choir director that I had to drop out of the choir. Luckily my best friend Anna was Tim's sister was still in the choir and my future in laws paid for me to go watch the choir perform in New York.

To fight off my depression from my voice being taken from me and no longer singing I focused my attention on wedding plans. I bought the dress of my dreams,  decorations and invitations all before Tim got home. ALS increased my anxiety and I remember feeling sad that I might be suffering from anxiety when I marry Tim.  I was blessed to go to Japan with Tim's parents at the conclusion of his mission.  We went to a beautiful garden at the foot of the Okayama castle and there Tim got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.  It was like a fairy tale and my anxieties ceased.  The morning of January 14th 1995 I was calm and peace filled my soul while I was sealed to my eternal sweetheart.  As we exited the temple hand in hand we looked at each other and knew our vision came true.