Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Looking Back: 2 Years

Today it's been two years of living with anosmia. That doesn't seem possible, but at the same time, I feel as though I've always had it. In a way. Not all the time, granted, but enough that today is far and away easier than two years ago, or even one year ago.
When I realized we were getting close to this mark, I looked back at my notes and journal that my therapist had advised me to keep. I poured over the pages and pages, remembering the frustration of trying to figure out what happened to me, of piecing together who had done what and why they didn't do other things, of trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I recalled perfectly the pain of getting through every day, of having extreme surges of emotions that I could not control, of feeling completely isolated and misunderstood. It all came back to me, the loss of appetite, the secret fuming, the longing for answers... It might as well have been yesterday for all I felt.
But I also saw the miracles. The tender mercies that got me through particularly rough hours, days, weeks... Surprise phone calls from across the ocean that sent me to my knees in gratitude, dinners brought to my house that I couldn't taste but warmed my heart, moments in the day when I could escape to let my emotions loose instead of bottling them up, and the beautiful opportunities to observe other aspects of the world that didn't need smell to be appreciated.
I learned and grew myself. I found strength I didn't know I possessed, and it had nothing to do with my own abilities. I learned what faith truly means. I found my Heavenly Father, and I hadn't even known there was more to find.
I have no real recollection of the day I hurt my head. It seems weird, not having memory. It’s like those old VHS tapes where you recorded over something, and right at the beginning of the new recording there were those streaky lines with a bit of snow… That’s sort of what I have at the edge of the memories. Then it just skips around.
January 13th, 2014. The shortest day in the history of my life. I remember going to class in the morning, then having my regular meeting with my supervisors about the status of my teams and the injured athletes. I remember going into the athletic training room I worked in and getting things ready for that day’s practices. I even remember seeing an athlete. I know the athlete’s name and what the injury was.
And then…nothing.
Facebook history says that I watched and posted an inspirational video called Wrong Roads on my wall, and I said this: Really needed this message this morning. The best way to start your morning is with light and truth.
It’s nice to know that day started with that bright spot. I hope that was in my subconscious. I would need it in the coming weeks and months.
It would be impossible to comprehend this journey without the Lord. It would not have been possible. I could not have done it.
Thankfully, I didn't have to.

This is the face of a woman who can't believe she graduating after what she'd been through.
It still surprises me that I didn't go crazy like I thought I was. That I can laugh and joke about that time. That it's not even a big deal anymore. For all the pain I endured then, the peace of now is stronger.
Maybe that's the miracle after all.

I still can’t smell. Shocker! Haha, I’ve stopped looking for it to come back. Actually, I forget that things are supposed to smell. In my every day life, I never run into problems with this.
The only times I ever really think about it anymore are when I’m reminded that something is missing.
Like driving in my car and thinking I smell something, freaking out because I can’t figure out if my car is going to explode in three seconds and why aren’t any alarms going off and am I billowing smoke…? And then remembering that I can’t smell, I’m not smelling anything, and the alarms aren’t going off because everything is fine.
Not that that’s ever happened, I’m just saying.
I’ve actually had a few hard experiences lately that embarrass me, moments where I remember what I used to have and for one reason or another, it really hurts now. Tears are shed and I need to take a moment to recover myself, and then I move on, forcing the feelings away because there’s no use crying anymore.
But oh, those moments hurt.
I’m perfectly fine otherwise. I forget what pizza used to taste like. I only know what it tastes like now.
I didn’t try to smell the Christmas tree this year because I forgot that Christmas trees are supposed to smell.
I prefer fresh fruits and veggies to the alternative because they taste better than anything else. Doesn’t mean I’m any better about eating them, but they taste better.
I do sometimes wonder about my head after that wicked concussion, and if I think about it too much, I get really worried, so I try not to. I’d rather not scare myself into a doctor’s appointment only to be told I’m fine.
Still have some fun emotional shifts, but not the surges like I used to, and I can control these pretty well.
Still have some weird things that go on with my sinuses that I don’t understand.
Still prefer dark chocolate to any of the others. Still love whatever I can taste. Still crave meat because it tastes so stinking good. Still don’t love ice cream like I once did.
I have hot chocolate though. Doesn’t taste like it once did, but we’re an old married couple and we choose to love each other as we are now.
I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I can do hard things by myself. I can face scary things by myself. I can do a lot of things by myself. Because you know what? I’m not by myself. The Lord has been by my side through all of this, and when I randomly burst into tears at an outlet mall because I want to go in Yankee Candle but there’s no point, I can cry unto Him and He doesn’t think it’s stupid or silly or that I’m being ridiculous. He gets it because He gets me. He knew how hard this would be for me, and He’s not disappointed when I have hard days.
This trial is a gift because it didn’t take anything from me that I could not bear to lose. It gave me the opportunity to learn and to grow, and because of what I’ve endured with His help, I am no longer afraid of being alone.

And I’m starting to think that it’s worth it.

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