Spring is well underway, and the warm temperatures are starting to hint at the rapidly approaching summer. Last weekend we moved the chickens out to the coop. They aren't quite sure of the outdoors just yet, but are venturing into the run more and more each day. I need to clip wings as I lift the top of the coop to refill their water and the younger chicks (who we got at the feed store at the beginning of March, so they're around 10 weeks) can now fly up and escape the coop if they want to.
Tomorrow we are building our raised bed. Our town has a "junk day" twice a year, where you can throw pretty much anything to the curb and the trashmen will pick it up. People from all over the metro area tend to go junking, driving around, seeing if people are throwing out trash that will become their treasure. Well, a lady down the road from us was throwing away a lot of old boards. Boards that are perfect for building our garden bed. We're not growing much this year. Some pepper and tomato plants. And herbs. That's pretty much it, honestly. But we have to start somewhere, I guess. With the stress of moving and DH's health stuff, a lot of our homesteading plans seemed to go to the wayside. I haven't even been able to get a clothesline up.
Speaking of my husband's health, he has applied for disability. That sounds so final. Almost like giving up. It isn't, we still try our hardest to cling to hope that one day he will feel healthy and normal again. And it seems that every step forward involves one or two steps back. I try to be strong, and stay positive. But that often involves bottling up my stress and worry to hide it from him and the kids. So once a month or so, it seems that the lid blows off the bottled up emotions and I take a couple of days and need to spend time crying, wallowing, feeling sorry for myself, for us, and feeling understandably angry at whatever it is that is causing this. Once I let myself feel those things and get it out, life starts to feel manageable and reasonable, and yes, hopeful again. It is the loss of hope I dislike the most about those times.
We know the disability process can be a long, arduous one, especially if he is initially denied and we need to appeal. We're prepared, and prayerful that it won't be necessary. The woman at our local office said that locally in the cases like his, it is common to get approved on the first application. And my dad and stepfather both got approved through the same office without appeals being necessary. But, they were much older when they applied, and while it shouldn't change things, I know that him only being 31 may make it harder to get approved.
Today he got a call about the MRI he had last week. The initial MRI was only on the lumbar spine. This one was on his thoracic and lumbar spine with contrast. The call today just said they found a disc issue in his thoracic spine and want him to come in Thursday morning to discuss it. While I generally think avoiding medical intervention is best, I am PRAYING they say there is something they can do that will improve his, and by virtue of being a family, all of our, quality of life. Because right now he doesn't have a lot of quality of life.
The stress is getting to me, and it is trickling down to the kids. They are often with grandparents because it is hard to take care of a husband in pain and the kids. And that is wearing on them, and on us. I hate how separated we are. I am starting a job, because we have to get some sort of income into the house. And my oldest has been progressively getting more and more...sad. There is more often than not a sadness about her. And that breaks my heart. She is such a joyous child, such an amazing soul, it hurts to know we are affecting her this way. She told me today she is afraid for me to work, afraid she'll never get to see me. Oh, that hurt my mama heart in such a big way. I am making a much larger effort to spend time with the kids. To really be present when they are around. There will be a lot more walks to the park, story times, and just quality time.
Right now, I am unsure of my school plans for the summer. I had to leave my spring classes. The daily stresses just did not do well with homework. I am hoping with this new job I have the money to drive down to the college and register for summer classes. I may not be able to get my financial aid in place in order to do that in time. In which case, I just start in the summer. If the disability is processed by fall, that will make it a lot easier, because it will be possible for me to not be working and just focusing on school. I really want to put my all into my classes, and get the most I can out of my education. Thankfully, by finding this program at the community college 50 miles away (and the program is offered online, so it isn't that I would constantly be driving to campus, only if I miss getting into an online class I needed to take in a certain quarter), I will be unlikely to need to take out student loans to go to school. The Pell Grant should easily cover both tuition and books. Such a blessing to think of graduating with no new student loan debt! Even if loans are necessary, the total cost of this program for tuition, books, and fees is less than one year of tuition only for the lowest cost local program I was looking at.
I feel like maybe things are at a turning point. From having so much constantly thrown at us, having bad news at every turn for months on end, to maybe having some hope that things are looking up. Finding out what the plan of action is on Thursday is going to be a big turning point. Being able to start my job will be another one. I arrived today to be told my background check wasn't in and I couldn't start yet. It would be very nice to start to have questions answered. To have uncertainties made certain. No matter what happens, though, we'll get through it the best we can. It's all we, or anyone, can do. Some would look at these past couple of years, and the past six months in particular, and ask how I can go through the things I have and still believe in God. And doubt has crept in here and there. But through this all, I have an underlying faith that His hand is guiding us. That one day, we'll look back on what feels like an incredibly dark time, and we'll see that it was working for good all along.