Today's post written by a wonderful friend, customer and now writer for Blessed Nest..welcome Christal
I have what I affectionately call my “accidental garden”. You see, I had very little to do with it coming into existence. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted a garden! Towards the end of last winter I began planning, as I would imagine only diabolical scientists do. I purchased a worthy stock of raised garden bed supplies, delighted in schematics, and gleefully poured through a seed catalog. I carefully plotted what it would take to feed my little family of five, determined to avoid the produce section at all costs. At night, when my husband would pry me away from my gardening books, I would dream of canning with my kids. Oh, the bounty I imagined we would reap from the confines of our back yard.
By Spring I had everything I needed and began installing our raised beds. Once I was satisfied with their placement, I set about the task of waiting patiently for the weather to signal planting time. While I waited I poured all of my precious compost into the soil and churned it. I imagined all our vegetables benefitting from my sometimes fanatical composting, and it made it all seem worth it. Then everything came to a screeching halt.
I have suffered with migraines since junior high, but the headache that hit me one spring morning felt nothing like what I’d had before. For days it seemed that it wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t eat, could barely talk, and the normally joyful noises my kids made felt like some sick form of torture. Then, on the fourth morning, my vision went haywire. I couldn’t see right and had crazy zigzagging lines running all over my field of vision. Something was very wrong. I knew it the way a mother knows when her child is sick. I felt it in my gut.
I went to the ER with some trepidation, knowing that most military doctors aren’t keen on finding out what’s wrong with you. Most are incredibly patronizing and treat you as if you’re faking it. I was fortunate enough to have a doctor who took me very seriously. She ordered an x-ray first, since it would give her results the fastest. I didn’t wait long before she rushed back in to announce there was a mass at the front of my skull, located by the right frontal lobe. I was scared, but the look on my husband’s face was worse. I could tell that he was thinking about the possibility of raising our brood alone.
The next morning I went in for a CT scan to see exactly what we were dealing with. When the results came back, we all breathed a deep sigh of relief. It seemed as though it was a calcified meningioma. My mother had multiple meningioma, so it made sense to me. One thing kept nagging at me though; if it was calcified, meaning that it had been there a long time, then why was it suddenly hurting so badly?
I was referred to neurosurgery to meet with a specialist, who ordered a scan with contrast. He explained that he also felt it was a calcified meningioma and offered to leave it for observation or take it out. With the pain I was in, this was an easy decision. I wanted it out yesterday. He seemed slightly irritated, but agreed to go ahead with removal right away since it was causing me pain. He did, however, tell me that he didn’t believe it was causing my headaches. I disagreed. About the time my seedlings should have been peeking their heads from carefully cared-for pots, I lay in recovery. Brain surgery, as it turns out, takes some time to heal. As usual though, I recovered faster than expected, but still hardly felt up to a task as monumental as setting about a garden. I was depressed over the loss of everything I had planned so hard for, but accepted that it fell in line with the rest of my life. As they say, the best laid plans….
Then, after proper time for pathology had passed, I got a call from my surgeon. He said to me, “Your pathology results were VERY interesting, very interesting INDEED!” I shuddered slightly, wondering what would be that exciting to a neurosurgeon. As it turned out, I had an incredibly rare type of cranial exostosis. An exostosis is simply bone that grows in a place where it shouldn’t. Some types are common, and cause no ill effects, while others can be quite debilitating. Mine was potentially life-threatening. As it turned out, this exostosis had generated from my skull, grown through the dura (lining of the brain) and lodged into my brain. It hadn’t just butted up against my brain, but rather bore a hole into my right frontal lobe. Left untreated, it could have caused permanent damage.
I laughed hysterically at the fact that the odds are never in my favor, and cried with relief that it was out of my head. One day, as I watched the kids play in the back yard, I noticed some unmistakable plants rising from my raised beds. I ran in the house and drug my husband outside. Tomatoes! I counted 8 glorious plants. Then I noticed the squash plant…and the potatoes. The compost that I had mixed into my soil had yielded a garden. It wasn’t symmetrically planted, and I had no idea what type of bounty lay ahead, but it was a garden!
What I learned from this experience is that, sometimes, all of our planning and good intentions don’t get us anything (or worse, get us a result that we don’t want)…and that’s ok. What happens in our lives, when we step aside and allow time and nature to step in, can be even more rewarding. In the history of gardening, I don’t believe there has ever been a garden more appreciated then mine. Every day that I go and harvest bowls of tomatoes, I am reminded that good things can happen when you least expect them. Every time I drag the water hose out, I am grateful for the plants I’ve been entrusted to care for.
We all go through times in our lives when it seems like nothing has gone the way it should. Our plans go out the window and our hard work seems all for not. Life has a funny way of reminding us that we’re far from being in charge of our own destiny. My best advice is to keep planning, do as much as you can to prepare for the life you want, and then be prepared to sit back and wait if life deems it necessary. After all, you never know when your accidental garden will pop up.