The Star-Herald

The struggle

I compare the foliage that we see from afar to a finely crafted quilt, one that tells a timeless tale. On this cool, sparkling Saturday morning, Kent and I were heading toward Allagash via Route 161 and then on to Fort Kent and the Allagash.

The river, resembling an ocean peninsula, seemed quiet and without motion. Wide strips of bare land interrupted the flow of water and the beach was smooth and barren.

For just a few moments, I was free of worry, free of fear. My writing is intended to be uplifting and full of hope and there are days, my friends, when my spirit and my mood are a long way from pleasant. This drive, intended to catch one more glimpse of deep red and trees dipped in orange neon, was a success, until I found myself once again battling several of the uncomfortable maladies that never fail to pull me back into the abyss of self-pity and doom. In other words, the delight of the day succumbed to the realities of a body that seems to be permanently off kilter. 

The hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber is doing its job. I see and feel improvement in the symptoms that have plagued me for quite some time now and for that, I am deeply thankful. I am running out of patience, though. I am tired of my body’s betrayal. I desire to get up one day soon and start walking without assistance. I haven’t felt sensation in my feet for years, and for some reason, I cannot seem to determine just which foods I ingest that cause me to be extremely ill. My left knee needs to be replaced. And, lastly, I dread another infection that may once again cause me to battle with sepsis. 

I am newly married and I love my husband. It is a forever love that has turned many dreams into realities. There is such a thing as true love and he is without a doubt my soul mate. He snowmobiles, fishes and hikes. I cannot do any of these things with him. I cannot go for a stroll with him unless I use a rollator that is designed to encourage good posture. I walk slowly, looking down to detect anything in my path that might cause me to fall. How unromantic to walk with the love of a lifetime while being held up by a rollator. I have to say, however, that the rollator is a crucial tool for those who have difficulty with mobility. I use a small rollator or a cane at all times, and I could not move about safely without either. 

My friends tell me I am strong and a real warrior, but I must admit to you that there are moments when I am most definitely not a “shield maiden” (a term from the series “Vikings”). I was a stout crusader yesterday, while sitting there in my husband’s truck, holding his hand, listening to music, eating our lunch, and reveling in the magic of autumn. Out of nowhere, I began to feel ill and, of course, we had no choice but to bring me back home. 

I used my phone to video and take photos of the endless array of color on the trip home. We talked candidly about my mood changes, my sometimes sudden and unexpected tears, and the tedious schedule we had, staying in Bangor five days a week. We spoke of Sarah’s House, St. Joseph’s Hospital and the medical staff, friends like Pam and Rick, Judy and Lyle, Andrea, my close and dear friend Kathy, and others I have mentioned. 

I realized once again that all of the positive in my world easily defeats the negative. I also realized that I must allow myself a few breaks along this path. I will cry. I may feel angry. I may want to give up. And, yes, I may feel sorry for myself from time to time, but I know I will rise to my feet and continue on. This is my journey: a book filled with surprising chapter after chapter; some filled with elation and some with despair. 

Let us all be kind to each other and to others. Much love. 

Belinda Hersey lives in Caribou with her husband, Kent, and their two dogs, Barney and Morgan.  You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.

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