The summer of 2017 was never intended to be just another summer for our family. No, this one was to be a special one.
For a year, my husband Gary and I planned with our daughter Lisa and granddaughter Zoe, a summer long visit of demon slaying and healing. Lisa was coming to stay with us to fight her life long battle with severe depression and anxiety. Before they arrived, Gary and I saw the movie Wonder Woman so the vision of a mighty woman with sword in hand, surrounded by her support team at the ready, seemed the perfect image to conjure up in my mind as we marched into battle.
Except, that’s not what I imagined, at first. At first, I thought I would be taking Lisa to treatment every morning for 6 weeks, spending one half to three quarters of an hour waiting with Zoe in the waiting room then we would spend idyllic San Diego summer days body surfing and boogie boarding at the beach. On the weekends, the 4 of us would visit a few of our local tourist attractions and just enjoy the pleasure of one another’s company. We all knew the summer would be centered around Lisa but, if I’m honest, that wasn’t really my picture. For me, I pictured a fun-filled summer with my granddaughter, while Lisa had morning treatments on the side.
So, on a Wednesday in the middle of June, 2017, l flew to Tulsa, packed Lisa, Zoe, Nikki the dog, Dude the cat, and all their worldly possessions into an oversized SUV minivan, and headed back to San Diego that very same day. Lisa and Zoe would not be returning to Tulsa after treatment was over. Instead, they were moving to Washington State to live with Lisa’s boyfriend and his family. The only attraction for us along the way was a stop in Phoenix to visit my granddaughter Kryssi. We arrived home Friday night to Gary’s open arms, just in time to spend Father’s Day weekend with him.
Without knowing exactly what was ahead, I could see my own role so very clearly: I was to be the Zen Mistress. I wanted home to be a peaceful and safe place for Lisa. I did not want to be the cause of any stress for her. If she felt stress, I wanted it to be self-generated and then we could work through it together. I decided I was to be the Guardian of the Gate. Lisa and Zoe were in for a battle and I wanted there to be no doubt I was on their side.
TMS Treatment started that Monday. During the first week, entire days were spent on the preliminaries: Lisa’s brain needed to be mapped, lab work needed to be done, a DMV ID card needed to be gotten, a schedule needed to be set up. After all results were in, the doctor determined that optimal treatment for Lisa would be 33 TMS and Hyperbaric Chamber treatments. Each weekday morning for 6 ½ weeks, I would get Lisa to her 7:45 appointment and pick her up usually between 10:00 and 10:30.
We started to notice change within the first week. Lisa’s face started to soften and her voice started to relax. Instead of wanting to sleep all the time, except at night, she was getting up in the morning and exercising with Zoe to dance music. She was staying up for the entire day and starting to sleep better at night. She was reprimanding Zoe and Nikki less, and less, and less. Until there was none! Well, hardly none. Not only was depression starting to lift but so was anxiety. We were smiling, and laughing, and hopeful. Not only was I seeing a change in Lisa but I was seeing one in Zoe, too.
When I think about the Summer of 2017, Zoe first comes to my mind, but there weren’t many days on the beach. She was often with me when I took her Mom to treatment in the morning but she was always with me when I would pick her up. It was those quarter hour moments of alone time on the way home in the earlier morning and on the way there for the daily pickups that Zoe and I had our most meaningful conversations. We talked about things such as what qualities she looks for in people who are her friends, to the value of communicating, to the importance of airport cell phone lots. Most importantly, we talked about the benefit TMS will have for her. She has already seen that when Lisa’s life is lighter, her life is lighter, too. When Zoe first got here, her arms would hang at her side as I would hug her good night. I asked her if she would hug me like she meant it, at which point, we would get into a competition to wrestle each other to the ground. By the time she headed away to her new home, she was giving me hugs, with two arms, and I can still feel the Love coming through them.
TMS is not easy. It takes time and commitment. There’s an unknown about how effective treatment will be, because it’s different for everyone.
An unexpected roller coaster of previously unfelt emotions may surface when least expected. Those emotions, for Lisa, represent healing. I shared with Lisa something my son Jason said to me one day. He said, “I feel better.” The quote was not referring to the difference between feeling happy or feeling sad. The beauty of the quote is in reference to the ability to feel feelings better. When I said it to Lisa the first time, she didn’t get it. Later, I said it again. She gets it.
Lisa and Zoe are in Washington State, now. As I sit here reflecting on the Summer of 2017, I have a vision in my mind of a Mighty Woman with sword in hand, surrounded by her support team, hugging like they mean it!