Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wandering Wednesday - Saint Augustine Florida

St.Augustine Florida is a popular tourist town that many people will excitedly exclaim "oh I've been there, I love that place" if brought up in conversation.  It has a very very rich Spanish history and the buildings to prove it.  I absolutely love St. Augustine but for a more personal reason.

In 2002 my daughter, Ashley, turned 13 years old but before that, since about 8 years old, she would have hundreds of drop seizures every day; all day and all night.  While drop seizures are not as well know as grand mall seizures I honestly think that hers were more disruptive because it had caused at least an ER visit every week with something needing to get stitched up.  Unfortunately for her she spent a lot of time in wheel chairs and scooting around to get things so that she wouldn't fall down and get severely injured.  If you can imagine how hard it was to see her want to walk, run and play like any normal kid and she had the ability to do so, but she simply could not because no sooner than she got up she would collapse to the ground.

 During those tough years I almost lost her on 4 different occasions because, for whatever reason, she would have a few episodes of seizures that would cause her to completely stop being able to take in a breath.  First responders would have to bag her and I would watch helplessly while she was being rescued.  Just like many people, our family was going through a time where we had a lot of stress.  I could go on to many details of the struggles but it is much too long of a story.
Wally and Ashley (before Ashley started to have drop seizures)
 What was special about 2002 was that after trying special diets, every medication combination under the sun and all kinds of other treatments she was going to have brain surgery, a complete corpus callosotomy.  I was terrified that if we didn't do it she would have no quality of life and may die and if we did do it she may have no quality of life and may die.  Fun times.  So in light of never having had taken a real family trip during my poor children's entire life and this may be my last chance, I decided to take them to Disney World and on the way a stop in Saint Augustine.  I had no money but when a mother is feeling the way I did you find a way to make things happen and with her neurologist's blessing we were on our way. 
Ashley's 13th Birthday
 I had never been to Florida or really too far out of the Midwest so this was exciting but scary to take Ashley so far away from the security of home and doctors.  At this point she was in the wheel chair 90% of the time, so we made special little trailer for it and strapped it on to the back of our Green '99 Mercury Mystique that Ashley named Green Eggs and Ham. We were completely packed in with a weeks worth of supplies and we hit I90 ready for our 1700 mile trip.  Just outside of Maustin Wisconsin I heard my son, Wally, say "Are we there yet?"  I knew it was going to be a long ride.

After a long ride we finally made it to St. Augustine and found our hotel on the beach.  It was the first time that I had seen the ocean this was such a moving moment for me.  I had always dreamed of travelling, especially to the ocean shores, and for a long time it looked like I was never going to get a chance to.  As I brought the kids out to the beach for the first time I noticed that I had not planned for off roading with Ashley's wheel chair.  No matter how hard I tried I could not maneuver her chair through the sand.  So I took a deep breath, folded it up and put it along side the rail.  Then taking Ashley's hand we ventured out to the water's edge and she fell.  But to my surprise she did not get hurt and there was no blood or no broken stitches from the last injury, she just looked shocked and got up. 

The sand was soft enough that she wouldn't get so banged up if she did fall.  It was the first time in years where Ashley could actually play like a normal kid and I didn't have to feel like I was a cat ready to spring in action at any sign of falling.  The entire time that we were on the beach Ashley was free.  Her brother and her spent many hours jumping waves and discovering treasures along the shore.  When it came time to leave St Augustine they begged to stay longer.  Needless to say once we arrived in Disney World they were very happy we left but that moment of peace in Saint Augustine will always be a treasured memory.
Ashley and Wally (Ashley standing safely on her own with her brother was a special occassion)
 It is amazing to look back and see all of the miracles that God provided for us over the years and during our trip He certainly gave us many. Ashley had very few seizures and the ones she did have were more manageable then normal.  It was a trip that will always out shine any other trip in my life.  Ashley had the surgery succesfully reducing her seizures significantly so that she could leave her wheel chair behind.  She has good days and bad days where she may need to use one for power shopping through a store, but over all life is much better for her.  Ashley is grown up and happily lives with other adults with special needs.  Wally is also an adult and has was just married to a beautiful Utah girl. 

Not only did God give me and my children the strength to get through a very tough time He gave us great beauty and happiness amid the stress and tourmoil.  One of those blessings was found on the shores of Saint Augustine.
Disney World Heals All Broken Hearts!

It was nice to see them smile and to be able to act like kids

Ashley's High School Graduation


Diana C Ramirez B said...

Hello, I came here because of the pictures of Saint Augustine and stayed reading because of the beautiful story. I am very happy that you and your family were able to travel down to Florida and have a great family time and that your kids were able to enjoy themselves. I hope that Ashley gets better. She is very lucky to have such a lovely family and you are lucky as well to have your kids and you family... No matter how hard life can be sometimes... love will keep us alive and together... Good luck!!

Butterfly In The Attic said...

Thank you for your lovely comment. It was a very beautiful time for us, one that really needed.