Dawna Austin
Twenty months.  It's hard for me to believe it has been that long since I've last written.   It literally feels like just a few months.    So little has happened in that time - and yet so much as happened as well.

In December of 2013 doing routine errands around town, a man in a car (leaving Starbucks with coffee in hand whilst driving) left the parking lot and t-boned our van while we were driving along oblivious to the challenges our lives would soon experience.   The impact was so strong that my son's glasses flew off his face and the door of the storage compartment between the driver and passenger seats slid open and the contents flew around the van.  We said goodbye to our beloved Previa that day, as well as our innocent trust in drivers around us.

The kids were in the van at the time and were quite fearful to get back into vehicles again, but I pressed on, knowing that it was the best thing for all of us.    We picked up our rental vehicle within the hour and kept on with our lives, and the challenging task of figuring out how to replace our Previa.

Slide forward a few months into January of 2014.   All is well.  We have a replacement vehicle, we just finished a wonderful Christmas with family and I thought the horizon looked brighter. The kids were not as fearful as they were in the weeks following the accident, and I felt like we could put this all behind us successfully.   This was not to be so.    On January 4, 2014 while driving on a popular city road in the inner lane, a truck apparently decided that he "thought he could make it" and turned in front of me.  Already being on high alert to drivers due to the first accident, I had already been watching him as I approached him on the road.   As he turned in front of me, my thoughts were filled with shock and amazement that someone would even try this feat.   I immediately turned left to avoid a head on collision and we hit on our front right corners.  This, in retrospect, was a gift, as in the front corner of vehicles, the airbags aren't triggered. I  can only imagine what recovery would be like in a collision where airbags are deployed.  Immediately I felt pain in my neck and back and knew I would be in trouble physically, with compounding injuries from the first MVA.   The kids were screaming in terror for having experienced this twice within a few months. I knew at that moment that our emotional recovery was now far from over. 

One year later, December 2014, and the kids still vow they will never drive a car.   They are untrusting of every driver on the road.  They constantly watch traffic and quote when vehicles are "over the line" or are swerving.   It's not right for little kids to be watching traffic every time we drive somewhere.  Fear is a very powerful thing.   It is getting better - albeit ever so slowly.   I try to give the children activities in the van to keep them distracted as much as possible which really seems to help.  I keep praying that God will heal the painful memories and that they will be able to be confident drivers one day. 

With one year post-first accident, I thought I was starting to show some improvement, until around a month or two ago I started to get numbness and pain in my left side, and my headaches, neck and back pain started to greatly increase.  I honestly thought my MS was starting to wreak havoc on my body.   Time for a checkup with the neurologist.  It had been awhile.    One MRI and follow-up later, my MRI showed no changes within the past few years -- STABLE!  What did that mean?   All issues ARE related to the MVAs and therefore treatable!   That was good news, even though it means I continue to live with pain that challenges my daily attitudes when I deal with kids and other responsibilities. 

I've learned it's a tough road to live with chronic pain. Some days, you find yourself at the end of your rope and you really don't know why.   It's then that you realize that your pain has been screaming at you all day, and your ignorance of it only just drained you further.  I'm going to have to try a new strategy.   Instead of trying to convince myself that I'm capable of doing anything I put on my to-do list, I think a new plan of realizing I have limitations, albeit temporary, will greatly help my emotional state and therefore bring about more productive days.   My brain still lives in 1984, when I could accomplish the to-do list of three people.   Emotionally I struggle with the physical loss that the MVAs have dealt, but I'm fighting to keep the hope that this is temporary and that I will see resolution, both physically and emotionally.

One minute at a time.