"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
February 16, 2015
Celebrating Small Things
by Kathryn H. Kidd

We recently passed one big anniversary and are approaching another one.  February 5 marked the two-year anniversary of Fluffy's unexpected retirement, and March 5 will be the two-year anniversary of my hospital release after my coma and the subsequent paralyzation of my legs and feet.

If you are a regular reader of this column, I can hear you exclaiming in surprise.  What?  It has only been two years?  The way she yammers on and on about it, you would think it was the eighty-seventh anniversary, at the very least.

I know.  But when you write a column about your life, and your life changes in this particular way, what can you do?  I can hardly report I had been recruited by the Bolshoi Ballet, and had been off at a secret training site for the past two years.

After a while, when no pictures were forthcoming, you might start to suspect that something was just a little bit rotten in Denmark — or Nairobi, or Fort Lauderdale, or wherever the Bolshoi Ballet is headquartered these days.

I really hate to bore you with my coma saga, but it was a big, big deal for me.  One day I was the size of Jabba the Hutt.  I had feet that could barely walk me across the room, and a heart and lungs that were about to stop working.  The next day — whammo!  I woke up from a nap and I was a hundred pounds lighter. 

The good news was that my heart and my lungs were all well — fully and miraculously recovered from two fatal diseases that people don't recover from.  But the bad news was that I no longer had working feet. 

It was like going to sleep as an elephant and waking up as a giraffe.  There's nothing wrong with an elephant.  There's nothing wrong with a giraffe.  It's just that you don't go to sleep as one and wake up as the other. 

Even two years later, I can't wrap my mind around it.  Altogether, I vastly prefer being the giraffe, especially considering I'm going to get my feet back one of these days.  I'm really happy about the way things have turned out.  But that doesn't mean I can wrap my mind around it, even two years after the fact. 

I was told in the hospital that I'd be in a wheelchair for a year to a year and a half.  They lied.  I'm sure they justified these lies by convincing themselves that they were just "encouraging" me, but they were lying through their teeth nonetheless. 

It's going to be a long time before I can walk the way a real person walks.  It's going to happen.  I am determined that one of these days I'm going to have a pedometer I keep in my pocket that will register 10,000 steps per day, just as Fluffy does.  But before I have one of those, I have to learn to walk.  And before I do that, some really obnoxious nerves in my legs have to grow back.

Right now, all they are doing is causing a whole lot of pain.  But that's a good thing, my neurologist says.  To paraphrase my dead mother, "You must suffer to be functional."  (She really said, "You must suffer to be beautiful," if you want to know the actual quote.)

In some basic areas, my life has remained a constant pre-coma and post-coma. I still have the same job.  That's a huge blessing.  I still go to church with the same people I love.  That's a huge blessing, too.  And then there's Fluffy.  What a rock he was and is!  And my family and friends — it’s good to know that the important things have remained unchanged.

But as for my day-to-day life, that's what's completely different.  When you take your feet and your physical strength out of the equation, you don't have to be a mathematician to know that your number isn't the same as it used to be.  As for me, I turned into a little old lady overnight.  I haven't been able to come to grips with that, especially in the mental sense.

Nobody ever told me that a coma steals pieces out of your brain.  Nobody has done an MRI of my brain post-coma, so I don't know if there are literal holes there, but I can tell you the old brain isn't what it used to be. 

I could not read anything for months after I got out of the hospital.  When I finally picked up a book, the most I could handle was the Little House on the Prairie series of children’s books — and even reading those was like studying quantum physics.

I could handle a few pages at a time, and then I had to put it down. It was just too much to absorb. I did not get past the first book. Is that pathetic, or what?

I am now reading actual books, but I am doing them my way. If I start reading a book and decide I do not like it, I no longer finish it out of guilt. I just put it down. I will not finish Middlemarch even though many people said it was wonderful. I didn’t like it, and life is too short to waste time on such things. I didn’t finish The Count of Monte Cristo either. So sue me.

In fact, life is too short for a lot of things I used to do. The days gallop away too quickly for me to spend a lot of time on Facebook, so I don’t. I want to keep in touch, but the days pass and then they turn into weeks.

I’ve been too busy concentrating on work, and on getting well again. And before I notice, the day is over and it’s time to go to bed. And then the month is over, and then my birthday is over, and before you know it Christmas is over. The Christmas season was so short this year that we still have our Christmas tree up. Yes, it was still up on Valentine’s Day. Life moves so fast in these post-coma days.

Despite the challenges of the past two years, Fluffy and I are grateful for the things we have learned, and the different perspectives we have gained through this journey. We still look forward to the big events in life such as birthdays, holidays, and vacations. But we have also come to appreciate small blessings such as the warm sun on a winter day, and the beauty of a wonderful sunset.

Each day is a precious new gift from God, and should bring us great joy, even if we have to celebrate the small miracles in life that are so easy to overlook.

Look for something to celebrate in your life today, even if that event is something as insignificant as the way the howling winter wind at least makes the wind chimes sing. The harder you look for those events, the easier they are to find, and the more you realize that every day in your life can contain a cause for celebration.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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