Friday night, May 4 - I sat with some of our family in Commerce, GA at the GRPA State Track Meet for 2018. Just the week before, Effie qualified at the District meet to run the 1600m event at state. We couldn't be more proud! I had hoped for her that she didn't finish last, but the competition was tough, and she did finish last in her age group with a time of 7:05 for the mile event. A great time, but with competition running in the 6:30-ish mark, she couldn't make it out in front. All season long, I've tried to push her to get out in front, but she's more content to start near the back, and try and catch up and pass whatever competition she could. It worked ok for her most of the season, but that doesn't work at all in state competition. She wanted to win...or even place, but it wasn't meant to be this time. I'd like for her to have that bulldog...win-at-all-cost attitude, but she's not built that way. When we run longer distances, she's more in her element, and I pray that when she's at the eligible age, that she have a good future in cross country running...time will tell:) I held her and wiped her tears away, and reassured her that I was so very proud of her...she was so worried I would be mad. I am a tough mama...and if you don't give 100%, I'm way tough, but she did give it her all, and I am overjoyed...and thankful.
You see, when she ran that night, I watched her with a different eye than anyone else in that stadium. She was 2 days away from the 6-month anniversary of her brain surgery...BRAIN SURGERY. Holy cow! And to see her out there running...at a state track meet...it's almost too much to process.
In the day or two after her surgery, we helped her get up and "walk" to the bathroom...she was very wobbly, and when I watched her feet take steps, it was as though they were stepping almost on top of each other, sort of "pigeon-toed". I remember asking the surgeon about that...his response was "it's early...it should get better". I had watched Effie over the couple of years before this whole thing started run...and run well...and grow to like it. I tell her all the time that God can give us talent, but it's up to us to nurture that talent, work at it, and make it grow. The worry "what-if" she couldn't overcome this and be able to run again was enough to bring me to my knees. She's had to deal with enough already, why her? Why should she have to face this? Eventually the steps became straighter and straighter, and finally we could see the light.
Six weeks after surgery, we had clearance to go for a light run again...it was 42 degrees outside, I bundled her up, bundled me up, and we went to run laps in her school parking lot...I think her time that evening for a mile was about 8:00/mile. I was blown away...6 weeks without running and she came out and ran almost like she had never missed a day. She wasn't tired...she wasn't complaining about being cold...she just wanted to run. My heart healed some after that run.
Obviously, Effie is doing well, but she still has obstacles to face, and she still has some really rough days. We go back to Atlanta in July for follow up x-rays with her orthopedic physician, and then we see her neurosurgeon on that same day. From what I understand, if there is any change in the curve in her spine, we may be looking at an earlier MRI. If that curve is stable, she wouldn't have another MRI until 1 year after surgery, which would be November. Waiting is hard. There's a large part of me that wants to know today if that curve has increased or not. There are days filled with tears, back pain, and discouragement. 22 hours a day she wears her brace...it's a part of her life now. I know facing summer temperatures, there may be more complaining about heat, but just over a week ago, she helped plant the garden...while she wore her brace. When we were all done, she had some pain, but a shower and a meal later, she was back to herself.
We still have a running plan, and we are getting signed up and registered to run about 6-7 races over the summer. If anyone is close by over the summer, and wants to wait for her at the finish line to cheer for her, I'm sure she would absolutely LOVE it!
In the 3 week span that we learned of the scoliosis, then the Chiari, then facing brain surgery...I would just stand in the shower alone and just cry...and pray. It was a quiet place to let all of the fear go...to not have to hide just how terrified I really was. There is a song by Casting Crowns "Praise You In This Storm". The first few lines read "I was sure by now, God you would have reached down and wiped our tears away. Stepped in and saved the day. But once again, I say Amen, and it's still raining." At times, it felt like the storm wouldn't end, and we know there are more storms in her future...but Effie has continued to have an unwavering faith throughout this time in her life...the storm has made her have deeper roots, and for that I am so very thankful. Praising God in the midst of a storm is tough...I am so often in awe of parents facing true devastation and their steadfast faith and praise. I've failed at this on so many levels, but it truly was prayer and feeling the love and prayer from our family and friends that helped hold us up in the trenches.
Today, we capped off her track season with their end of year party...when it came time for her name, her coach asked if it was okay to share Effie's story. Of course, I was totally happy to share where she was six months ago...I didn't expect to cry, but as I spoke, my voice cracked and the tears were flowing. I'm an ugly crier...it's pretty pitiful really, but in that moment I couldn't even begin to express how proud we are of her perseverance, her attitude, and yes, her success in something that she has found she loves. Tomorrow is Mother's Day...I told the kids all I wanted was a clean house, kids that didn't fight for the day, and to go for a run with my family...I sure am going to enjoy that run:)
2018 State Meet
We are so thankful for this girl's health and her hard work...running with her is my very favorite thing to do in this season of life. A special thanks to her coaches, who understood that we had two other children playing sports...and on days when I couldn't get her to organized practice, they would share with me their running plan for the day. When the boys got to where they needed to be, Effie and I would run whatever the team's plan had been...that truly helped us!