Backstory (health journey part 2)

When I shared a little with you last week about my health journey, I wasn’t sure how much more to share or where to go next.  I know some people like more details.  I know that I need to see how it all fits together, so I write it down.  Everything I have written so far was too much for one post, and there is a summarizing or going forward element to all of this that I also need to share; therefore today’s post will be part two of four parts. Today goes back a few years to give you some backstory that some of you already know, but I’ve not written about it much.  In part three I’ll give you a little more specifics on my journey last year (which started late 2014).  Then, I’ll wrap up this impromptu series with part four, which I still need to write. If you don’t mind indulging this foray into my health, I think I need to process before I can move forward if that makes sense.  And I want to go forward.  To read part one first, click here.

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In 2011, I contracted double pneumonia that almost wiped me out.  I was in the hospital for nearly three weeks.  My understanding, after the fact, is that I’m blessed to be alive.  My kidneys were beginning to shut down, which resulted in a couple of dialysis treatments and my heart was going into Afib.  I was in ICU for the first week and don’t remember all the details, mostly just impressions. I ended up with plasma and blood transfusions.  I had a thoracentesis to draw fluid off my right lung.  I was too sick to pray for myself, but I kept getting reports that others were praying for me, and that was what sustained me.  I knew God was with me, and I wasn’t scared.  I felt safe like I was in good hands.

The fear came later after I was home. I was sent home on a bitterly cold night.  Rocky’s mom was with us and between the two of them – one pulling and the other pushing – they managed to get me up the steps from the parking lot and into our apartment.  It took me several days (ok weeks) to adjust to being home and trusting that I would be alright without around the clock care.

Rocky’s mom stayed with us a few days; my sister came after that, followed by my parents.  I remember the day my parents left, my dad knew I was apprehensive about being alone while Rocky was in classes.  He reminded me that God would be with me and that I had to be on my own sometime.  In other words, he was telling me the time was now, get on with it already (but in a nice way).  So, I did for the most part.  We still had a few people who sat with me on the evenings Rocky had to be away, but eventually, I got used to being by myself again.

And, finally, I made it back to work.  I didn’t want to go back to work.  Not because of my workplace – they were wonderful to me and very supportive- but because I was so drained.  I don’t think I realized until some time later just how much the pneumonia had slowed me down.  I’m sure I didn’t pull my full weight at work, but still, they were gracious and showed me Christian kindness.  Everybody pulled together to help me.

After the pneumonia, everything in my life became defined by pre or post pneumonia.  My whole life became measured by that event.  The year before the pneumonia I had been through surgery and had finally been feeling like I was back on track, and then the pneumonia hit.  After the pneumonia, I assumed that I’d feel like myself again soon enough.  But I didn’t.  I had good days, but they seemed few and far between. My tolerance for almost everything was on a short leash.  The simplest of things seemed more than I could handle.  And I was suffocated by fear.

Fear of everything.  I became more aware of death and getting older and how short life was.  I lived life waiting for the next bad thing to happen.  I remember in the winter of 2012 holding my breath hoping I wouldn’t succumb once again to pneumonia because I wasn’t sure I’d survive it a second time.  I started questioning my faith and my salvation and whether or not I’d done everything right to be accepted by God.  (Knowing full well that it is all about his grace and my faith).

Quite honestly, I believe I was under attack from the enemy, he was trying to push me to the depths of despair while I was in such a weakened state.  I prayed a lot and clung to the scriptures that had sustained me while I was sick.  I put on a brave face and tried my best to muddle through.  And, I must just say here, that God was and is faithful to me.  He has been my rock through everything.

I lasted about a year after returning to work. Then we moved.  I haven’t worked public work since.  The day I knew it was time to leave, was such a liberating day.  My job was our primary source of income while my husband was finishing school, but I knew God was telling me it was time, and I knew he would provide.

We moved back to my hometown to the little house we’d been fixing up next door to my parents.  My mother was battling Alzheimer’s, and my father was no longer driving due to Macular Degeneration; it was becoming more apparent that my parents needed me.

The first few months back home were filled with good days and some pretty bad days as we all adjusted to the new normal of living with Alzheimer’s.  It was very taxing mentally more so than physically.  I still had days that I felt wiped out and barely had the energy I needed for essential tasks.

My husband would shake his head that something as simple as basic housework or going to the grocery could make my whole body ache.  I couldn’t explain it.  The simple everyday things that most people do like cooking, dishes, laundry, scrubbing the toilet, running errands, etc. became overwhelming to me.  There were many times that I didn’t want to go out or attend events because the effort just seemed like too much.  I struggled with feelings of guilt, inadequacy and wondering if I was just lazy, or was I really that tired.

I had known for several years, long before the pneumonia, that I sometimes got tired easily and that I ached quite a lot.  I would have good energy days that everything seemed to flow. I managed most days to function.  But, if I had an especially tiring or busy day, or if we’d go on a trip, even just a day trip, I’d pay for it later.  It would sometimes take me several days to bounce back.

I had even suspected that I might have something going on with my autoimmune system, but for whatever reason, that route was never pursued.  I also had a lot of hormonal issues, so I chalked a lot of my tiredness to that.  No matter how tired, overwhelmed or depressed I became, it got better sooner or later.  So, I naturally assumed after the pneumonia that things would eventually get back to normal.  And, although I did see improvements and even had some excellent days,  almost four years later, I was still floundering, and I was still aware that I had not bounced back to my pre-pneumonia state of health.

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Come back tomorrow (or soonish) for the rest of the story?

Relying on grace,

Teresa

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And I Pray Hard

This post has been hard for me to write and I’ve struggled with whether or not I even need to share. I’ve embarked on a health journey that will be an ongoing part of my story. Writing about it helps me see how I am processing and will hopefully give me perspective. Since you sometimes read what I write, you too are part of my story, so I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind if I shared with you.  The original post was too long, so I have broken it down. Today’s part is more general and reflective after living a  year of discovery that led to a diagnosis of a chronic autoimmune disease. The main take away is that God is faithful, even when I have questions; especially when I have questions.

And I Pray Hard

God is good, even when life is not.  I know that.  But yet, sometimes I wonder why he allows me to suffer.  I find myself wondering why I’m being punished.  I know that is not Biblically sound, so I try to banish that kind of thinking immediately.  Even though I know better,  I wait for the other shoe to drop.

I remind myself of all the good that God has bestowed on me and remember the times he has restored my health, but I still find myself wavering on a shaky tightrope between faith that he will heal and fretting that maybe I’ve run out of get-well tickets.  Again, I know that is faulty thinking.  I know better.  And I pray hard because I don’t want to give in to such fear.

Because it is fear brought on by attacks of the enemy who is constantly trying to defeat our walk of faith.   If he can convince us that God is out to get us then he can render us useless and a quivering heap on the floor, bound by fear, unable to fulfill God’s purpose for our life.

Even in those times when we need healing, and God chooses otherwise, he is still good, and we can still have faith in his promises.  He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  He is faithful.  I know that, and I cling to that and do my best to head in the direction of hope.  And I pray hard, thanking God for his goodness even in the midst of my bad. 

Life for me last year was a very up and down journey that ranged from despair and depression to faith and hope and back again.  I’m sure over time I will be able to unwrap some beautiful gifts from the journey.  I do believe that in all that is hard, God works on our behalf and teaches us great truths.  When bad things happen to us, he doesn’t leave us to stumble in the dark.  He is right beside us, holding us under his feathers.  He knows life can be scary and uncertain, but he also knows that he is our only certainty.  I know that too.

The truth is we live in a fallen world that is rampant with sin and disease.  Sometimes, for reasons we may never know or understand, we fall prey to the fallen.  We know that bad things do happen to good people.  But God, in his great merciful love for us, holds us tight in those times and works on our behalf. We don’t always get the answer we are hoping for, but we always have the hope of our father.  In his time, he will make all things right.  Some of us may suffer this side of heaven, but he knows all about suffering, and he knows how to comfort.  And I pray hard because I need his mercy and comfort as I live in a fallen world.

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Praying hard for grace,

Teresa

31:29 – Freedom From Fear

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Fear can be paralyzing.  It can cause us to do nothing.  As a young child I had no fear.  I think children who feel loved and are in a nurturing atmosphere don’t know to fear, so they don’t.  I can remember standing on our front porch as a little girl, during the beginning of a storm.  It was wonderful. I felt so free.  My mother allowed me to stay out to the last possible minute before finally making me come in the house.  I think that was the last time I ever felt such abandon, such freedom.

Soon after that time, through a series of life changing events and trust that was broken, I learned to fear.  The rest of my life seemed riddled with fear.  Even after I became a Christian I still lived in fear and struggled to completely trust.  I would remember thinking at different intervals in my life that I’d grow older and overcome the fear someday.  That never seemed to happen.  Even now I struggle with fear.  As I’ve matured in my faith, I have learned that only God’s perfect love can cast out fear, and I know this, but even so, it is a daily struggle to let go of fear and just live in his freedom.  I know it’s there, but sometimes my emotions don’t get the message and I find myself filtering life through the lens of fear instead of leaning on the one who has the power to calm my fears.

As Hurricane Sandy approaches, even though it is not close to me and so far, there have not been any predictions for major events in my immediate area, I am still reminded of how vulnerable we are and how fragile life is.  It would be easy to let the grip of fear overcome rational thought.   I know there are those today in the path of the storm that are fearful and worried.  I know the ramifications of such a storm could be far reaching and there could be ripple effects that touch many.

So, I pray for those in the path of the storm.  I pray for God’s protection.  I pray for people to seek him and trust in him.  I pray for this to bring people together.  I pray that we will wake up and be stirred to seek God’s will in our lives.  I pray that we will learn to completely trust his sovereignty and let his perfect love cast out our fear.

He loves us so much and there is great freedom in his love.  We just have to rest in his love.  Oh, the joy and abandonment we feel when we can do that.  Whatever has happened in life that has brought us to fear, God can heal those wounds.  He can be our strength, our very present help in trouble.  He can give us freedom from fear.

Will you join me in prayer and in learning to cast all our cares on him?

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.”   Lamentations 3:22-23

Trusting in Grace,

Sadie