This year my birthday was the epitome of a typical birthday celebration for my family. It was fun, it was memorable, and it was full of major challenges. This could be a story of how my family never gets to go out and have fun, but we have really learned to just roll with it when we have to face challenges. So, this is a story of how my family had fun, giggled a lot, pulled together, and really enjoyed my very memorable birthday party this year.
A Little Background:
In order to help you understand my story, let me give you some background. I have suffered from a severe immune response disorder with serious complications in my heart for the last 6 years that made it impossible for me to exercise at all. About a month ago, I started a new medication and it has been like a miracle. As long as I take my shot everyday, all of my symptoms are gone. (For more on this see my post here.) This was my first birthday in 6 years that I could be active so my family was really excited to go for a walk along the Boise Greenbelt which is a beautiful path along the Boise River.
My oldest son has severe epilepsy and he has intense grand-mal seizures about 3 days a week. (This is down from almost everyday since we started using this essential oil roller.) There is no way to tell when he will have a seizure so we have to take that into consideration anytime we plan anything. A walk along the Boise Greenbelt is something he enjoys but it’s very ambitious due to the chance of a seizure. One of the things that is the most important to me as his mom is to help my son do the things he loves and do things with the family and not let his seizures limit him.
I hesitated sharing this story because it involves a pretty intimate view into the life of a mom of someone with severe special needs, and I don’t want to intrude on my son’s privacy. The challenges we faced may sound like really serious situations to other people, but to our family, they are common enough that we know how to work through them and we can laugh at the bad timing and just roll with it.
The plan was to walk from Julia Davis Park in Boise to the MK Nature Center about 1 mile down the Green Belt to see the fish and native plants, then walk back to Julia Davis Park and go to the Discovery Center (a fun hands-on science museum that connects to the park), and finally stop for pizza on the way home.
It was an ambitious plan but a fun one and one that we have done before when the kids were younger. We are an active family and we love the Green Belt and all of the great family friendly activities that our wonderful city provides. Now that I feel good and can be active again, it felt like the perfect way to celebrate.
Our group included me, and 6 of my kids as well as my 8 year old nephew. (The rest of the family had to work and my daughter is off at school. My husband and I went out that night.) This is a group that really knows how to just roll with it when plans need to be changed or problems come up.
Our adventure started as planned at Julia Davis park. We walked to the end of the park on the Green Belt, but our path to the MK Nature Center was blocked by repairs on the trail. We quickly adjusted our plan and decided to walk on the trail 2 miles in the other direction to Ann Morison Park.
The walk to Ann Morrison Park was fun and we enjoyed watching the geese and ducks and the beauty of the river and trees. Once we got to Ann Morrison Park, we stopped so the kids could play on the playground. It was fun to see even the teenagers have fun swinging and playing with their younger siblings. My oldest son had fun going across the monkey bars and sliding down the slides.
After about 15 minutes at the playground, we decided to walk the 2 miles back and go to the Discovery Center. As soon as we got back to the Green Belt trail, the real excitement started. As we got to the trail, my son had a hard seizure and wet his pants. We got him to a safe spot and got him cleaned up and tried to decide what to do. Our car was 2 miles away and I was the only one with a driving license. I couldn’t leave my son with my kids while I went to get the car, and it can be hours before he is fully awake after a seizure. We just had to laugh at the bad timing and we were all glad he got to have fun before he had a seizure.
Within a few minutes, his seizure had changed so that he was trying to talk and sit up but was still having small seizures and was unable to balance. My youngest son who really knows how to just roll with it, suggested that he and I each get on a side of my oldest son and support him to see if he could walk. He was able to walk with us as long as we held on to him and kept walking quickly. We all walked together on the trail for another mile with my son and I both holding my oldest son up and helping him stay steady. My other kids stopped from time to time to take pictures or for someone to pet our little dog, but the three of us kept our steady rhythm.
When we got to the part of the trail that went by Boise State University campus, my son started to have another hard seizure and contracted his muscles so much that his pants fell down around his ankles. We giggled, pulled up his pants, and got him to a safe place again. At this point we were all laughing about how this was so typical for our family and how we would not forget this birthday. We were still almost a mile away from our car so as soon as the hard part of the seizure was over and my son was trying to sit up, my youngest son and I helped him stand up and we all started walking again with my son and I supporting him on each side.
Our trip back to the car was much quicker the the walk there and I was so grateful for being healthy enough to walk the whole way back without being able to stop and we were all grateful that my son was able to walk with help because that is not always the case. By the time we got to the car, my son was awake and talking about the ducks and how he wanted pizza.
We didn’t get to go to the Discovery Center, and going out for pizza was canceled. Instead, we ordered pizzas to go and we ate at home.
A Wonderful Birthday?
My birthday celebration was not what we planned. It was not what I would have wanted, but we all had fun. We spent quality time together. We worked together as a team, and we overcame challenges. We laughed and giggled and bonded over the awkward moments. Even my oldest son had so much fun at the playground and walking to the park and loved the pizza.
We could have been frustrated that things didn’t go as planned. We could have complained about my son having a seizure and how we can’t go out and do things without that being a worry. That would have been natural to do but it would have ruined a wonderful day. The challenges and uncomfortable parts of the day were times for us to just roll with it, work and have laugh together.
Instead of being defeated by our challenges, we have learned to just roll with it when challenges come up and find the joy in the new situation. Our situation wasn’t going to change because we complained, or got frustrated. The situation was what it was and the only thing we were in control of was how we responded to the situation. It could have been a terrible day. We could have remembered it as a hard day filled with things we wanted to do but couldn’t. How sad that would have been! Instead, it was a great day, made better by the memorable and awkward moments we had. We will remember it as a fun, silly day that we worked together and enjoyed each other.
This is a happy story of a good birthday spent with the people I love so much. This will be remembered in my family as one of our most fun outings. We love our embarrassing moments. It hasn’t always been this easy, but with a lot of practice, we are learning that by looking for the joy in every situation and learning to just roll with it when life gives us challenges, our family is able to have many more fun and memorable days like my birthday.