I Am Broken

On this sunny Memorial Day weekend, I am broken. I’m not having a cookout with friends. I’m not enjoying time with my family. I’m not doing car stuff. I’ve been in the bed since Friday. But I am supposed to be happy right now. Christina had her last chemo treatment on Friday, and this whole weekend was supposed to be filled with fun stuff, as a celebration of her successful treatment. None of the fun stuff happened and I’ll go ahead and take the blame. This is not a pity party–apparently, this is just another message from God. What does it mean? I don’t know yet, but I’m sure He’ll let me know somehow.

Leading up to the last round of chemo (to treat a severe kidney issue that is linked to Lupus), we talked about how it would be bittersweet. The treatment days weren’t all that bad, actually. Our nerves were pretty intense the first couple times, but after that, we just sort of fell into the routine. The nurses at the infusion center smiled when we walked in the door, as if they had known us for years, and that was a great comfort to both of us. The effects of the chemo were intense at times, and Christina has basically been in a continuous cycle of the drug for three months. As soon as it starts to wear off, they pump in more, so she had just started to know the routine, and how she needed to schedule “life” to work around it. This became the new normal.
For a while, we were pretty freaked out about getting sick, because Christina’s immune system was basically non existent. I’ve always been worried about germs and stuff, so this wasn’t new practice for me, but it did raise my anxiety to a new level. The stomach bug scares me the most personally. I’d rather deal with a week-long cold that a 24-hour stomach bug. Anyway, we did a good job with this, as we stayed healthy throughout the chemo process, even with a three-year-old who had multiple ear infections and had to visit the doctor several times in that three month window. Now, onto the final day of chemo, and I’m feeling very bad. Headache, body aches, restless. Christina and I did not have a good day together like we’d hoped. I came home and went to bed. Saturday and Sunday weren’t much better.
So, how did a stomach bug or whatever this is make me feel so broken? This was supposed to be a great long weekend. I was supposed to go cover a Southeast Gasser race in Knoxville, and got about 3/4 of the way there and had to turn around. That means I missed out on fun, AND I missed out on a little extra money from the magazine that sent me there. My sickness has caused Christina to worry, which has kept her from her routine of eating and drinking enough to keep the chemo from knocking her down. Carlee is staying with my mom since Christina isn’t feeling good enough to take care of her, and obviously don’t want t spread my germs to Carlee either. If I was healthy and fine, Christina would be fine because I would be pushing her to go do stuff. That’s what I keep telling myself. It is killing me that I can’t fix her, and it kills me more when I know that I could be doing better.

I know better than to think that I am responsible for fixing Christina. That is my biggest downfall. I want to trust God, and I do trust Him. But there are still times where I feel like maybe I play a role in all of this. I am a child of God, and I was put on this earth 30 years ago for a reason. I don’t completely know what the reason is, but for right now, my reason for being on this earth is to take care of Christina and Carlee. So, when my body lets me down, it feels like my whole life is crumbling around me. My whole reason for living is shattered. It may sound crazy to you but it’s an ongoing battle in my head…while I’m at work, while I’m in the garage, while I’m at a car show “working”. My brain and my heart are supposed to be happy right now, but instead I am broken because I can’t hug or kiss my two girls, and make everything better. Is God trying to tell me that I’m overstepping my boundaries? Am I trying too hard? I know that God works in mysterious ways, but sometimes I just wish He would spell this stuff out for me, plain and simple.

And here I am, after just a few days of being sick, complaining about how it is effecting my ability to take care of my wife and child. When the real heartbreaking thought is that Christina has felt this way for MONTHS. She hasn’t been able to take care of me or Carlee in the ways she wanted to, and now I’m feeling the emotional stress that has been placed on her for so long. It is a terrible pain in my heart.


I Didn’t Know It Would Be Like This


Life. I didn’t know it would be like this. Please don’t take that statement the wrong way…this is not a rant. In the past few years, I’ve had some of the most awesome high points, both in my family life and my career, and I’ve had some of the most frustrating times that I could ever imagine. Regardless of my frustrations, I know that I am immensely blessed and that God has a plan for me (and my family). The frustrating times have forced me to grow up…and by that I mean to grow closer to my family and grow closer to God. I’ve always been a hard worker and my own worst critic, but lately, I’ve had something else on my mind. I’ve found out what it’s like to realize that the person I love the most has an illness that can’t be cured.

My wife, Christina, is the reason that I’m the man I am today. She always says that if she wasn’t around that I’d have a lot more money, and while that might be true, my heart would be empty, and the money wouldn’t mean nearly as much. I also remind her that I’d also be a lot more lazy, and that I might not work as hard if I didn’t “have to”. We’ve been married since 2008, and we really thought we had it rough in 2009, when I didn’t have a “real job”, and we were trying to buy a new house, and blah blah blah. Yeah, that was a rough patch, but it led to a change in my mindset that gave me a “get the job done” attitude. That’s how I’m trying to view our latest obstacle, but seeing the silver lining is not quite as easy.


Christina was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis in February of this year. She has been sick since November, and with lots of random symptoms, we were losing faith in doctors as she continued to struggle without any real answers. She bounced around from her primary doctor, to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, trying to figure it out. Her blood counts were way off, her energy level was way down and she had a growing knot behind her ear. After a minor surgery to remove a few lymph nodes, it was a major relief that her weird symptoms were not related to Lymphoma, but we still didn’t have an answer. The ENT referred her to an Oncologist to check on the wacky blood work. Again, no real answers, and she was referred to a Rheumatologist. By this point, Christina is feeling terrible, day after day, with no relief. Trust me when I say that Google is not your friend when you start asking about all these random symptoms she was experiencing. The Rheumatologist confirmed one of Christina’s Google searches, stating that she felt this issue was a mixture of Lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome. The Rheumatologist found blood and protein in her urine, and referred her to a kidney doctor, who ultimately diagnosed her with Nephritis.

Sorry for the long, drawn out timeline of her diagnosis, but try to imagine the minute or so it took you to read that paragraph as four months of your spouse suffering without any answers. It was brutal. I had to sit and watch my wife suffer during Thanksgiving and Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, especially with a toddler who was so excited about the Holidays. Random pains, a lingering cough and terrible fatigue were just a few of her symptoms during this time. Although I was hopeful (and naive) that this would be something simple that could be resolved with medication, that was not the case. On the day she was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis, her kidney function was 33 percent and on the verge of irreversible damage, and chemotherapy was the only option to knock out the severe inflammation in her kidneys. That was the turning point, because even though it hasn’t gotten any easier, we know that there is a plan and she’s working toward something. But it hasn’t been simple or easy. I’ve prayed a lot, I’ve cried a lot and I’ve learned a lot. One thing that I’ve learned is that no matter how much you beg God for something, you may not get the answer that you want. God’s timing is something that we cannot control, and it’s something that may not always work in our favor.

I’ve been strong for Christina, but I’ve also broken down with her. I have pushed her to call the doctors, take medicine, drink more water, REST and most importantly, not feel guilty for me helping her. I’ve done more house work and spent more time with Carlee than I ever imagined, but I had it in my head that I was helping make Christina better by doing all these things. There I go, thinking that I’m in control, and that my actions would somehow heal her. Apparently, that’s not how it works.


During all of this, our little girl, Carlee has given me great lessons about being a father, and she has indirectly shown me how our Heavenly Father handles certain situations. Carlee is one of the greatest blessings in my life and it was earth shattering, heart breaking, life changing (the list goes on) to think that if Christina’s problems hadn’t been caught (and immediately treated) by her kidney doctor that I would have to explain to her how great her mom “was” and how proud she “would be” of her. My heart couldn’t take it. The devil tortured me with these thoughts of losing Christina, until I finally broke into a million pieces, allowing God to come in and clean up the mess.

I didn’t know my life would be like this. And you don’t know what God has in store for your life either. You might feel like you’re in control, but God will eventually show you otherwise. My advice to whoever might read this is to love your spouse like they might be dying, because ultimately they will. Life is shorter than you think. Regardless of your health, or your spouse’s health, we’re one step closer to dying with every day that passes. Doesn’t that freak you out a little bit and make you want to get right with God so that your time together doesn’t have to end so soon? It sure had an effect on me, and made me realize that my time with Christina will not end when our hearts stop beating…but in order to make it to Heaven, I have to get out of my own way and let God control my time on earth. It’s a hard pill for a man to swallow, but it’s the only way to get the ultimate reward at the end of the long road called life.

Where Did I Go?

Wow, it has been almost 8 months since I’ve posted a blog here. That is ridiculous and I apologize to anyone who actually enjoyed reading my posts. I hoped that I wouldn’t drop the ball on this blog, but it appears that life got in the way and I simply didn’t have time to keep up. I’ll do my best to stay on top of this, but a lot has happened in the past 8 months to take my mind off of rambling for no apparent reason. Click HERE for the rest of the story…

And it begins…

It was only a couple months ago that my 2012 drag racing season came to a close. Yesterday, it cranked back up with the first test and tune of the year, held at Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip. Unfortunately, the turnout was weak, but it worked out well for my friend Josh, who made numerous passes in his turbo Maverick. The questionable weather, and the big race in Valdosta put a damper on the turnout, but it was a great chance to get out for the first time in a while. Check out my full gallery of pictures here: http://byrdphoto.smugmug.com/Cars/Brainerd/Brainerd-Opening-Day-2013

Brainerd Drag Strip Test 2013 Click HERE for more!

Swap ‘N Shop

I love swap meets. Big or small, swap meets give me a chance to see some cool stuff, and possibly buy it if the price is right. My dad raised me to go after a good deal, so I’ve been going to swap meets with him for as long as I can remember. From the good ol’ days at the Corvette Expo (when it actually had a great swap meet) to our most recent adventures, my dad and I enjoy hunting down a good deal.

Nashville Swap Meet Click HERE for more pictures!

Best of 2012: Drag Racing

Alright, I’m running behind on this stuff, but here we go! My favorite drag racing photos of 2012!

Mustang Wheelstand

Small block, stock suspension car doing its thing. Shot at the Bounty Race at I-40 Dragway.

Click HERE for more pictures!

2012 Highlights from my Dad’s Shop

My dad has done paint and body work for about 40 years, so he’s probably painted 10,000 cars in his career. From quickie jobs to full on restorations, he’s done it all, and continues to turn out great work on a regular basis. I thought I’d put together a post about his 2012 build highlights to show off some of his (and Wally Smith’s) handiwork. Check it out.

1959 El Camino

My dad’s longtime friend, Bill Sims is the owner of this ’59 El Camino. He’s owned it for many years, but my dad freshened it up this fall.

Click HERE for more pictures!