I’ve been having a pretty horrific tumor flare up over the last two weeks. Stress—good or bad—always does this.

My grandma used to recite a poem when we were little.
“There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good she was very very good. But when she was bad she was horrid.” I think of this rhyme every time I have a flare up.
When it’s good, it’s kind of sort of good.
When it’s bad, it’s horrid.

It started in the middle of the night last Sunday. The tingling slowly crawling up my right leg, waking me up. Until finally, it clamped down. Hard. All down my right side and searing most prominently into my lower back. It hurt so badly that I didn’t—I couldn’t—bother to wake Luke. I just reached over and held his shoulder through the biggest wave of it all until it dulled.

Over the years, the best way I have figured out trying to describe a flare up is this: it feels like an alligator has its jaw clamped down around my entire right leg, with its snout all the way up to my lower belly, and it’s left claw sunken into my lower back. During the worst of a flare up, typically at nighttime, this is what it feels like. Then it eventually dulls and pulses more like a cramp. Eventually, after a week or so, it creeps away, and the normal pains, numbnesses & weaknesses re-enter.

When I was first wheeled into post op after surgery 4 years ago, I’m told the first thing I did was loopily thrust my working right leg into the air, declaring, “LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!!!” I could feel again. I could move again. All of these sensations being big question marks a mere 12 hours prior—and there I was. Feeling.

Every time I have a flare up, when I feel myself slipping into fear, into isolation over it all, into worry and what ifs of the future—as I feel the alligator clamping down on my leg, I remind myself:

Look what I can do.
Look what I can feel.
Thank you Jesus.

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