I really don't have a reason to title this "Match Point" except that I just watched Juan Martin Del Potro, a 20 year old Argentinian defeat the 5 time Swiss champion Roger Federer for the title of the U.S. Open Tennis tournament. I felt so honored to be a witness to this event, along with the millions of people also watching along and cheering. Maybe it was re-assuring to see a different name in bold to take the main stage....what an amazing match, and wow they get lots of cash with that prize! Maybe he'd like to donate some to the coho community?
Back to the reality of life with two children under the age of 3. Our days are full. Full of smiles, giggles, screams (of joy and of upset), singing, animal sounds, poopy diapers, sinks of dishes, dirty laundry baskets, you get it. Most of the time I don't know if I really have a life besides my family. I know I once did , and I imagine that the possibility exists sometime, but not quite yet. But there has been a distinct moment in time when my body has said "this is all you". I thought maybe this would be a good place to share with my future coho community and whoever else may end up reading this; the struggles of a seemingly young and healthy family, as getting to the match point is indeed quite hard work!
On May 23, 2008 I woke up excited and ready to get to the first Belfast Farmer's Market of the season. I was already dreaming of tasting the cheese samples from the Appleton Creamery and getting a fresh loaf of bread from Billy of the Firefly Farm. I was second in line to get a shower, enjoying the kicks of my baby in my womb, as I was just entering my 26th week of pregnancy with my second child. As I finished up my bathroom routine the room started spinning and I immediately grabbed my dirty clothes and ran for the bed about 10 feet away. I felt as if I were inside of a centrifuge, my world spinning endlessly around me, no up, no down, no in between. I felt as if I were falling but I was already on stable ground. I called for James, but could not be heard. Eventually he caught sound of my voice and came up the stairs. Maybe he would be able to do some Reiki on me and this would all stop and go away. But nothing slowed down. This was something serious, maybe I was having a miscarraige, this was all I could imagine, and I was worried. I began to be sick, as most people who get severe sea sickness do. James called our midwife, but there was no answer. He left a message. Next option was 911, and the dispatcher sent the EMT who arrived in minutes. One happened to be a neighbor from down the road, another an overweight smoker who I only remember by his huffing and puffing the entire trip to the hospital. What was going on, and why was this happening to me?
It turns out, after an emergency MRI and helicopter ride to Maine Medical Center (MMC) in Portland, that I had a blood clot in the right side of my cerebellum, causing me to have a stroke. I was unable to speak with clarity (due to weakened vocal chords), unable to swallow for 8 weeks, lost sensation on the right side of my face and left side of my body, and was living in constant vertigo for 6 months. I spent 4 weeks in Portland at two different hospitals. Parula, who was then 16 months old, was cut off from nursing, and broke her arm the 2nd day I was in the hospital. Good thing she and James were on their way to seeing me in the hospital, a quick trip to the ER. It was an extremely stressfull time in our lives. When we all returned home from Portland I was not in good shape. I could barely walk, I had to be fed liquid through a tube in my stomach as I could not swallow. I also got to carry around a bottle that I spit in, as I was unable to swallow, saliva included. The hottest days of summer came and went, and all I wanted to do was drink a tall glass of water. I sucked on cold popsicles and ice, my throat rejecting anything to go down. One day James encouraged me to try to eat something, maybe a bolus of food would be easier than a small amount of liquid. I swallowed a bite of homemade pizza a friend had brought over, and from that moment forward I was all about swallowing again!
Sorrel was born at MMC August 19, both he and I were very healthy and his birht was as natural as possible. We were both released from hospital care within 36 hours. I was able to drive a car again in late November, and this summer I have begun to feel in my body again, much more grounded and able to take care of not only myself, but also my kids. For a long time James was the primary caregiver to us all, holding the space of physical functioning human in our household. He has involuntarily taken on a huge load of care and done an amazing job at making sure we are all happy and staying healthy.
All of this being said, I think it is a huge part of my life that I cannot leave out, as my entire physical perception of the world has been changed by this event. The thoughts of joining the cohousing community first came into our minds last fall, when our friend Maria had become an exploring member and urged us to attend a meeting. We felt skeptical, as we weren't really ready to think about this idea that seemed larger than we could handle at the time. Now it seems we can handle not only the idea, but the reality of community as well. So many people were willing to help us out when we were struggling the most, and I know I would do the same if I were on the other side of the situation. This group of people involved in the Belfast Cohousing community feels open and inviting to me and my family. Having a community to support and be supported by seems to be extremely important with all I have come across in life so far. Not only would there be opportunity to help others with whatever their needs or desires are, but we have a chance to be a part of the creation of something sustainable, beautiful and extremely satisfying. In return, we are living more efficiently, with help nearby if needed, and with community for our kids to grow up knowing their neighbors! If there is one lesson I have learned from this life over and over and over again, it would be that our time here is finite. So, why not make the best of it and share the joys and struggles with our friends who are also our neighbors?!