Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The ugly truth about the last two months…

Hello faithful readers.  Sorry for the delay in posting the last two months.  You have been on my heart regardless of my silence.  There have been LOTS of things I have wanted to say, but didn’t… couldn’t.

The ugly truth is that I’ve been busy and sick… more sick than busy I guess.  I hate posting about being sick.  It seems like it is never ending at times. Sharing about sickness doesn’t seem very encouraging in my opinion.  However every time I do for some reason people feel inspired.  Not sure why.

It seems it is in the messiest and ugliest moments of my life… when I feel I am not at my best and everything is going wrong… that people are touched the most by my efforts.   God shines through the brightest for all to see in our darkest of hours when they are surrendered to Him.  If sharing my struggles out loud for all to hear helps inspire you to keep moving forward trusting God, then buckle your seat belts and get ready for an earful.

So… I guess it all started with me feeling BETTER in March.  I had gone to my regular check up with my neurologist and shared how good I was doing.  I was sleeping better, my autoimmune disease seemed under control, and I was feeling stronger.  I had just gotten over a winter flare up caused by an upper respiratory infection.  It felt like I was on the upswing finally… or so I thought.

My doctor agreed.  I was doing much better.  As a result, he lowered my medicine.  I was excited!  It’s weird to say I was excited about my medicine being lowered, but you have to understand at high doses of some of my medicines side effects accompany them.  If you have ever experienced side effects with long term medicines, you know they are NO fun!  I left the office feeling encouraged by the outcome of my visit.

It wasn’t even a week later and for some reason my symptoms started to flare up again.  I got weaker and weaker as each day passed by.  I was hoping I would get better, but instead I got worse.  I assumed it must have been from the lower dosage of my medicine which really frustrated me.  That was pretty quick to go down hill… errrr.   Finally I gave in and called my doctor.  He scheduled outpatient IV treatments immediately to try to boost my immune system and get me back to normal.  Normally this helps, but not this time.

For the first time in all my years of having IV treatments, I left the hospital feeling worse than when I started.  I couldn’t figure out why.  The whole time I had the treatments I had side effects… hives, fever, migraines, and the like.  This wasn’t normal for me.  I researched online to discover what the trigger might be.  The only thing I could figure out was that the Tetanus shot I had at my family doctor the day before my treatments had caused all my random reactions.  In fact it seems as if it completely negated all of my treatments.  In my research it had happened before to others.  I wish I would have known this before my treatments or at least my doctor’s office would have known.  The weird and rare things always happen to me… It’s true.  I’m not kidding!

So… I got home after my treatments and hoped this was just a freak thing.  I thought I was really going to start getting better, but I didn’t.  I gave it a full three days to see, but nope.  I only got worse.  I called my doctor again.

In the midst of all of my medical frustrations I tried to maintain normalcy for everyone involved.  I continued working part-time, picking my boys up from school and running them around to their various activities, and serving at church in the kid’s ministry or wherever else I had made a commitment.  I continued to do life as it had always been sick or well.  At times, I had to rest more or slow down, but I kept pushing forward.  I had to.  I don’t know how to do anything else.

My favorite verse that has always seen me through many a trouble is… 
Philippians 4:13.  The way I memorized it says it like this… “I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me STRENGTH.” 

I used to focus on the “doing the ALL things” part of that verse.  You know… God helping me get everything done I need to do, but now I see the significance of the “Christ giving me STRENGTH” part as well.  The autoimmune disease I struggle with weakens my muscles (Myasthenia Gravis)…ALL the muscles in my body are weakened when it flares up.  It takes all of my strength away in a sense.  

This verse reminds me that when I am struggling (or feeling weak) if I will go to God, He will give me the strength I need to accomplish all that I need to do.  Maybe not all I “want” to do each day, but what I “need” to do at that moment. 

God has been faithful to see me through many adversities as I have continued to run to Him in the midst of my struggles.  I have learned that no matter WHAT I am struggling with, I need to run to Him!  He is my greatest source of strength.

So… to finish my story, I called my doctor again when I noticed I wasn’t getting better after my initial IV treatments.  He scheduled three days of high dose steroid treatments.  They seemed to work.  I finally started feeling better.

Amid all of my medical drama, I was asked to share MY story on video for our upcoming sermon series at church.  My pastor was beginning a series entitled “Ink”… talking about scars.  The catch phrase was “Scars are tattoos with better stories”.  Each week he shared an inspiring story from each of our staff pastors on how they overcame a difficult season in their lives with God’s help.  Mine of course was all about the struggles of my illness zeroing in on my darkest hour.  My husband and I were both interviewed.

This whole video thing was a real struggle for me.  I guess I just wanted to “feel” well when I shared my story with others… and at that moment I didn’t.  I also struggled with sharing my dark moments with everyone.  It was a very hard time for me and I didn’t want to lose my composure on camera breaking down into tears for all to see.  I wanted others to be encouraged, feel inspired to keep trusting God, and be filled with hope… but it was just really hard right now to do this.

The day we video taped MY story I prayed non-stop.  I wanted to say the “right” things God wanted me to say and feel well enough to say them.  I can’t say I was feeling the best that day, but I can say I did my best to share what was on my heart.  You can check out the video HERE

You can check out the other videos from that series HERE.

Our video doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story… however it does tell a good part of it.  Telling the full story would have taken up the whole Sunday morning leaving no time for Pastor’s sermon.  It was the perfect length for what Pastor needed.

My husband promised to make me another video some time soon (a longer version) of our story to keep.  I’m holding him to that.

When we showed the video I couldn’t hold back the tears.  It was so raw and real to me still to this day.  At the end of the service we were able to come forward to pray with people.  It was SO powerful to hear people say how much “our story” inspired them to keep trusting God for their break through.  Thank you Jesus!  I’m so thankful God can take the seemily horrible moments in our lives and use them for good to touch others.  That in itself helps my time spent being sick not feel as wasted.

So to sum up my last couple months in a nutshell… I got sick.  I called the doctor.  I had IV treatments.  They didn’t work.  I got worse.  I called the doctor.  I had Steroid treatments.  They worked.  I video taped MY story.  We showed it on a Sunday morning in May and lives were impacted. 

P.S.  My oldest son got his driver’s license and his first official job at McDonalds during this time as well.

Some of my amazing nurses
Now just a couple weeks later my symptoms have flared up again and I had to have more IV treatments.  Not sure why.  That makes 11 treatments in 6 weeks.  Yikes!  I’ve never had that many before so close together! 

I talked to a few of the nurses while I was at the hospital this week and explained that I have no idea what is causing the flare up this time.  “It just doesn’t make any sense unless God sent me here to see you gals.  Do you need anything?”  I think they were taken back a little.  Sometimes God does that to me… uses me to speak into the lives of others randomly.  I was so blessed while I was there to be able to share MY story on video with some of the nurses.  By their teary eyes, I could tell they were touched deeply. 

Thank you God for divine appointments and tender hearts!  I pray you will continue to use my story (and the lives of my friends reading this) to inspire others to keep trusting you, following you, and believing you for impossible things.  YOU are faithful!

Who knows why I got sick again or who I might have been there to see?  All I know is that I am finally starting to feel better… and just in time for summer break!

Living to leave a legacy,