it's the most wonderful time of the year...

Well, my posts have become a bit scarce. But that is a symptom of happily living life, and so you will have to forgive me.

Things couldn't be going better for me. And with the change of seasons and the closer we get to the holidays that I love so much, I am reminded over and over again to STOP and APPRECIATE this. I am getting to simply enjoy the holidays this year. I don't have a searing pain that constantly interrupts my work, my fun, or my sleep. I am not recovering from a painful back surgery, nor am I preparing myself to undergo one. I am not taking heavy pain killers that make me sick, and I am not dreading long car rides to visit precious family. In short, I am very, very blessed.

My friends and I went on my long anticipated trip to New York a few weekends ago to celebrate my 29th birthday (which happens to be my first birthday with my fused spine). The trip went exceedingly well, greatly surpassing my low expectations for how well my energy would hold up and how long my leg would withstand the vigorous walking we would be doing.

The plane rides to and from New York were not bad at all, I had no discomfort at all on the trip up, and only minimal discomfort on the trip back. I didn't need any extra pain medications or any extra muscle relaxers (which I packed a few just in case). I did take a couple more gabapentin than I normally do, but that is a small price to pay for 3 days of roaming New York. All in all, I was just like any other tourist. I got to see Central Park and all its beauty. I got to sit through all 2 and a half hours of Phantom of the Opera with no leg pain. I got to see the Statue of Liberty and walk down to 30 Rock. It was a busy, busy few days. But even when I felt the tiredness creeping on, or a pain when the bike cabby went over a pothole, I just kept reminding myself, I couldn't have done this a year ago. I couldn't have done this or enjoyed this for the last 5 years. How wonderful it was to get to see this city I've been dreaming of for years, with two of my best friends who have supported me so much through this last surgery.

I already want to go back and get to explore the museums and visit a few other tourist traps we didn't have time for. And that to me is the biggest sign of my recovery...I am not completely wiped out by excursions any more, not even one of this magnitude. My trips or family visits are are no longer overshadowed by how much pain I was in the whole time. I enjoy life, and perhaps enjoy it more now that I know what it's like to live through constant pain.

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for many things. But most of all I am thankful for my husband, my family, my friends, and my healing. I thank God who I believe is responsible for giving me all of the things I'm thankful for. I believe He was with me when things were hard, because He always provided for me and gave me strength to endure the pain. And I believe He is with me now, showering me with blessings and rest. He has reminded me time after time to "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) And He has proven faithful to that promise to be with me wherever I go, whether it be into surgery or to New York...