Friday, June 10, 2011
Okay God, I'll admit it. Today I am frustrated. I have stayed up late and poured my heart into these lesson plans for summer school at Zion. I have worked hard to make sure that they're fun and engaging, and that my kids can learn something new from them. Teaching is my passion! It's my only escape from this disease. But lately, I can't even escape it at work anymore. The last few weeks of school before summer, I missed numerous days of Extended Day because I felt so bad. And now this week, I have thrown up everyday in the Kindergarten bathrooms while my students are busy working on something. And today, I make it to work, and first thing I do is revisit those bathrooms, except this time, I can't keep to stop throwing up. I feel weak and the muscle pain in my stomach from the strain of vomiting makes me walk stooped over. I couldn't stay today. God, I had to leave my children. And to see the worry and disappointment on their faces when they saw I was leaving caused me to cry all the way home. God, there are some students in my classroom that need me. One boy already suffers from a broken heart because of his family's circumstances, and he was afraid that once I left today, I wouldn't come back. He tells me that he loves summer school, and that he wants me to always be his teacher. God, I want to be strong for my kids! They mean everything to me. They push me to get through each day. But I'm getting worse. The illness I have is progressive and incurable. The past several weeks have assured me that I have progressed. I'm afraid of what that realization means for me, God. Will it eventually effect my career? What about my family? I'm talking about getting married. What kind of wife will I be? Will I be able to stay strong for my husband or will he have to become my caregiver? And what about if or when I have children? Will they have to watch their mother miss games or recitals because of the sickness? God, I'm already exhausted. I try my best to help out around the house, but I always end up feeling useless and fatigued. I hate complaining to You like this, but I am honestly scared. I'm scared of being this sick or worse the rest of my life. I'm scared I'm going to disappoint You and my family. God, You and You alone are my strength, and I praise You for getting me through this. But on days like today, when I throw up so intensely that it seems like it's Death reaching into my body, causing me to vomit out what life I have; it's these days when I need You not to just give me strength, but I need to feel Your arms around me. I HAVE to know that You're there beside me, comforting me through it all. I know that You have a plan for me, and that it's perfect. But some days I just don't honestly want to be a part of it, I just want to give up and quit. I won't though...because I know that You won't let me. And I thank You for that. Thank You for not giving up on me. I get so frustrated with this disease. I don't sleep because I'm sick and if I can sleep, I suffer from nightmares because I feel so bad. I can't eat or even drink anything. And God, it's summertime, I'm so thirsty all the time. I especially get frustrated with myself for being too sick to talk or work. God, I hate this disease, but I love and trust You will everything in me. I know that You will guide me through, I just need Your help knowing what to do. Keep me brave, God. Don't ever let me quit being a fighter! I will praise Your name until the day I die, even more so when I'm sick and dying.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I'm clueless. I usually am. It's the story of my life, and I think life in general. We're not supposed to know how the puzzle pieces of our lives fit together. We just trust that even though certain pieces don't look like they fit, they do interlock once we take a step of faith in trying to match them together. My most jagged piece in my life is this disease. It's frustrating going to so many doctors and realizing that they don't have an interlocking pieces to add to mine. I feel like I'm stuck with a puzzle piece that is bent from constantly trying to piece it together with possible answers, in hopes that one day I may at least start to see how this puzzling illness is coming together in my life.
As the weeks pass, I see less progress and experience intensified symptoms. I've almost quit complaining and crying about my situation because I'm starting to accept my fate. I am 21 years old now and I have a chronic illness that will haunt me til the day I die. It's daunting because I know what the days head of me are going to feel like. Nausea is the single worst feeling. There is no adapting to it, like you can sometimes with pain. No, nausea severely inhibits everything in your life. It makes it hard to think, talk, move, even breathe. And I feel the nausea all day, everyday with no relief whatsoever. God has given me the strength to learn to function to the best of my ability with a sick stomach, and I praise Him for that. But I continue to look at this warped puzzle piece in my life, wrinkle my eyebrows, and ask, "Where does chronic nausea fit in all of this?" I mean, where does it really? When you look at me, you have no clue that I wanna die I feel so sick, or that I just violently threw up 5 minutes ago. You have no idea the intense weakness I experience each day, or the fatigue, and tremors I battle. Looking at me, you would never know that my bed is a recliner and that sleep seems impossible for me. You never realize that I wear dresses because they put less pressure on my stomach or that I wear flowing shirts to hide the horribly painful bloating in my stomach that can last for weeks. These are daily struggles that I face, and when the world sees me, they have no clue. I have a rare disease and it's main symptom is misery. How can God use it? Where does it fit? Why doesn't it at least fit to a piece with a name- why can't it be something known so that I can respond accordingly?
I get so frustrated and tired of trying to find the matching pieces to my puzzle. The misery I experience can be discouraging. Most nights I hate going to bed because I know that when I wake up the next morning, I will have to suffer through yet another day. I've reverted back to not really telling anyone how severely sick I am. I'm not sure my parents know that I've thrown up at work or while walking in the yard. I don't think they know that the nausea is becoming more than I can bear. I just getting tired of talking about it because there is nothing that can be done to help me. I don't want to share my burden because it's too heavy for others to carry, and I don't want my misery to rub onto anyone else. So I simply bite down and grit through this disease, trying my best to be strong for everyone else, but feeling certain that I fail.
I have put countless puzzles together with my grandmother, and whenever you have a piece that just doesn't seem to fit to some of the others, you simply put it down, move on to another piece, and try again later when you have more of the puzzle completed. My emotional health was severely damaged and once the stomach surgery was over, it crumbled all together. But God provided me with some different puzzle pieces in my life to examine and interlock together. He gave me Ashley, a girl close to my age who is battling some of my same symptoms. This encouraged me to put down my illness for a while, and concentrate on being a source of comfort for her. He also gave me Bobby, a young man who makes me never want to pick up my bent piece and stress over making it fit. Instead, he's the piece I hold in my hand, and I get excited seeing how he interlocks perfectly with other pieces in my life. I'm starting to see the beginnings of a picture, and it has restored my emotional well being. Life is nothing but a mess of puzzle pieces on a table, and there is no lid cover to serve as a guide. It's best, but hard, to be patient while trying to match them all together because there is no quick solution. In frustration we often jam pieces together only to notice later that they truly don't fit, and as a result, the pieces are slightly damaged. My bent puzzle piece bearing my illness, I am learning to slide to the end of the table, so that I can focus on the other pieces God has given me. When I concentrate on putting them together, I tend to have more success and blessings. Sometimes we just have to carefully feel each piece, trust and listen to God, and let Him guide us to their interlocking pieces. When the time is right, I can pick up my bent piece again, and maybe enough of my life puzzle will be put together that I can fit it in. I will always feel the miserable effects of my bent piece as I continue piecing my puzzle, but it doesn't have to be the sole piece i hold in my hand, consuming and frustrating me. I am beyond thankful to God for the new piece He has given me to replace the warped one in my hand. He has known, and always will know, exactly what I need precisely when I need it.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I'm watching one of my dad's favorite movies, Field of Dreams. We would always watch this movie together at the start of softball season. It's almost spring outside, and when I leave the school after teaching, I can hear the pinging impact of the ball meeting the bat. I can't help but come home and ask Daddy if he wants to play catch. That is one of my fondest memories I will ever have of me and my dad. I love to play catch with him! We do a lot of our best talking while listening to our gloves capture the ball. Whenever I have a bad day, I want to blow off some steam by having a good game of catch with Daddy. That's why I'm counting down the days until the time change, when he and I will have an extra hour of daylight to talk and catch together.
But anyway, I'm watching Field of Dreams, a movie about a man who plows up his corn crop to build a baseball field. I never realized how I can kinda relate to the main character, Ray Kinsella. Ray had a wonderful life, he was a successful farmer with an amazing wife and daughter. Then while working in his field one day, he hears a voice declaring, "If you build it, he will come". Quite the nonspecific declaration. Ray struggles for days trying to understand what the voice means. He becomes frustrated, and wants to give up, but suddenly he has a vision of a baseball field in the middle of his cornfield. And there in the outfield, he can see Shoeless Joe Jackson, a legendary ball player who died in 1951. Joe was hero to Ray's father, and Ray is convinced that he is supposed to build the field so that Joe can come back and play.
Before I got sick, I was successfully "working in my cornfield". I was being obedient to God; in fact, I felt that my relationship with Him had never been stronger. God had called me to play softball to be a witness on the team, and I was good at it. The other girls looked to me for encouragement and guidance. Then one day after practice, I felt sick, and my whole life changed. God plowed up my cornfield, and I searched for weeks, looking for an answer as to why. But God doesn't give answers away, He requires faith, perseverance.
As the movie unfolds, Ray faces foreclosure on his farm due to the loss of crops resulting from the baseball field. Shoeless Joe does come to play ball on the field, but no one can see him but the Kinsella family. Ray knows the field is a blessing, but he struggles with it the whole movie, because he can't see its true purpose until the end. In the last scene, Ray sees his dead father, as a young baseball player on the field. Ray's last words to his father were harsh, and they had not spoken since. Ray and his father are able to play catch again, and the relationship is restored.
Much like the voice in the movie, God has led me through this journey step-by-step, with not much explanation. Ray exclaims, "I have built this field without understanding and explanation, but I did it anyway! And I want to know, what's in it for me?" Sometimes I feel the same way. "God, I have trusted You with this illness. I have accepted You plowing up my corn to put in a baseball field. I don't see it's purpose. Everything in my life seems to be trying to foreclose around me. What's in it for me? I'm tired of suffering." But I keep my faith. No one else can see my pain, can truly know my struggles, and I can't seem to see the outcome of this illness. I realize now that I tend to sit in the dugout, not wanting to take a risk, not willing to step out onto the diamond and face the disease. There's a quote that I have always loved, "Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game". But I haven't really tried playing the game because I am terrified of striking out. I'm scared that I'm not strong enough to let this illness be a witness for others. I'm scared of being a disappointment. I'm scared I don't have what it takes to survive this thing. I'm so sick and so discouraged. But then I'm reminded that God put this ball field in the middle of my corn! He chose me! He knows the plans He has for me, and their plans to prosper me, and to bring me a future, not to tear me down. He has given me wonderful teammates composed of family and dear friends that will encourage me when I'm up to bat, facing the illness head on. I don't need to let the fear of striking out keep me from giving my all to God. I need to step out of the dugout and onto the field, and put my full trust in God. Play a game of catch with Him, talk to Him and listen to what coaching advice He has so that when I come to the plate, I will have enough confidence to swing and not miss. I don't know how many innings this illness has in store for me. But I want to play it out, and not just sit in the dugout feeling sorry for myself. By fearfully, yet trustingly, stepping to the plate, there may be other players who can be inspired to play the game too. When I get a bad report from the doctor or am so sick I can barely walk, I must not let that strike discourage me. I need to persevere, grit my teeth, say a prayer, and swing again. God, forgive my cowardice in You and Your plan. But I trust You fully, and am humbled that You have chosen me to suffer through this. I am not praying for the game to end, I'm just praying for the strength and courage to keep playing. Thank you so much for the support You have given me through friends and family. I am truly blessed. So God...I'm ready to play ball!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
God, I haven't talked to you in so long, mostly because I feel I have nothing to say. I know that's no excuse. I'm so scared. I'm scared of what my life is going to be like. I'm scared that I'll never get better and that I'm going to give up on You and everything else in my life. I hate to be a pessimist, but I truly feel that I am never going to get the relief I need from this pacer. God, the surgery was hell, and I just feel sicker and sicker everyday. Honestly, once the surgery was over, I was determined that I myself was going to get through this, to grit my teeth and bear it; Ha! As always, when I take You out of the equation, I fall flat on my face every time. I am so thankful that you have patience with me. I guess I wanted to push myself through this disease because I feel like You're not around to help. Which is so dumb, I know. I'm so embarrassed with what a stupid sinner I am. I think I would have given up on me a long time ago if I were You. But You always find a way to bring me back. I'm so sorry I've abandoned You. I'm just like a three year old in my faith, throwing a tantrum when things don't go my way. When I felt so much pain during the surgery and when I kept getting no results with the pacer, I should have turned to You for guidance and support. Instead, however, I reacted like it was the straw that broke the camel's back, and I gave up on You, and like a child, I sat down in my faith again, when You're right in front of me, like always, with Your arms wide open, waiting for me to walk to You. God, I'm so tired of feeling hopeless. If I never get better, then I need You more than ever to show me how to deal with it so that Your light can shine through me. I know You have a purpose for my life, and I'm officially done coping on my own, because all it does is screw up Your plans. Please forgive my weakness, God. Set me straight in You once again. I'm thankful for my stubbornness, but teach me to be stubborn for You, to seek after You when the odds seem to be against me. Teach me never to give up again. I'm tired of fighting to survive each day, but that's because I've been fighting without You. I'm going to rest in You, and let You carry me through each day. Oh! I am so grateful to You for allowing me to see where I mess up and giving me the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and come back to You. You truly are Grace because You give me what I don't deserve. Saying I love You sounds so...incomplete. Teach me how to love You fully. Thank You for listening, and giving me little blessings that let me know You are still there, even when I am miles away. Help me to be strong for my family God, and no longer a burden. Show me what to do, and how to live my life. I'm excited about restoring my relationship with You! I feel braver already because I know that You're with me on this hard journey. I'm ready to stand up in my faith and take that first shaky baby step towards You!
Monday, January 3, 2011
I haven't blogged in a while. Mostly because I have felt like the rocks weathered by the constant moving of the sea. I felt as though I was sputtering for air under the overwhelming sea. I was simply trying to survive each day. Lately, a storm has risen and the seas of life are eroding away me, like a rocks along the shore. I am beaten and battered and unsure of how to make it until the hurricane passes.
Two weeks ago today, I had stomach surgery. They out a stomach pace maker in to try and see if the rhythms in my stomach can be regulated, and therefore relieve the source of such discomfort for me. Here's where I'm at: I'm 20 years old. A little more than four years ago, I was perfectly healthy, playing ball and hanging out with friends. It has finally occurred to me that I have a chronic illness, meaning that I am going to be sick until my last breath. It's a pretty sobering thought. I'm scared and very, very tired. I have to grit through each day, just to get a unrestful night's sleep, so I can start all over again. I know that by the strength of God I am able to survive each day, but I don't want to have to try to survive each day. Fighting the high, heavy waves for air is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Life's hard enough without having to feel wrung out at the end of every day.
As the waves strike the rocks along the shores during a massive storm, there is an explosive spray upon impact and sometimes pieces of the rock are broken away. That is what's happening to me now. If I ever feel the waters receding, making me feel in control again, I am blindsided by the impact, realizing that it was just the vicious ebb and flow of the ocean. I'm breaking. I'm tired, lost, and confused, and the constant wear and tear of the waves are breaking my steady rock of foundation. I'm fighting to stay strong, and I'm fighting to survive.
As the pieces of me began to erode away, I made a very hard decision. The one who's stood by me for two and a half years, I asked him to leave for higher ground for a while. I felt (still feel) unstable, and that's not a solid foundation for a good relationship. We're both young and I've found that there is no handbook on how to manage life with a chronic illness, so much of it seems just trial and error. And we were experiencing more errors than anything else. We love each other with all of our hearts, but if I'm drowning, I can't be who I need to be for both him or me. I've been ostracized, it feels, for my decision. Understandably so. But I honestly believe that I made the right choice. I want to focus on recovering the pieces of me lost at sea, I want to use all of my strength to get better. But then again, I could be just making another error. I'm so tired, and I can't breathe with the waves constantly crashing down on me.
Honestly, I just want to skip town. Take my camera and go back to Montana. Everything seems clearer there, that God's presence is so easily recognizable. I just want to go for a drive, and not stop. I don't want to hurt the ones I love anymore by lashing out while under the stress of the storm. I am completely clueless of which direction I should take to weather the storm, each way I turn all I can see are giant waves, causing the horizon to be blocked from my vision. One wave exclaims that there is no hope in this illness, the pace maker will not provide me with the necessary relief to get through each day. Another shouts that I have made the wrong decision, and that I always will. Another wave declares that I am a disappointment to me family. Most of the waves scream that my life is in pieces. The oppressiveness of the waves cause me to despair. The only thing I know to do is to push myself to wait patiently on the Lord, for one day He will deliver me from this storm, and He will restore my foundation.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I haven't written in my blog for a while. To be perfectly honest, I'm still processing what's been happening. A lot has transpired within the last month. Let me try to sort it out.
The third week of August, we finally had an appointment with a physician, Dr. Abell, at the University Hospital in Jackson, MS. He has been working with patients just like me for ever 40 years! After our consult, he ranked me a 9 on severity on a 1-10 scale, which actually made me feel validated. It wasn't in my head, and apparently I'm not a wimp either. I really am sick. After a series of tests, he put in a temporary stomach pacemaker, an invention of his own design. It works just like a heart pacemaker, and it is intended to regulate the rhythm of my stomach. (we found out that the rhythm of my stomach is extremely off beat! haha) The temporary had "sensors" so to speak attached to the walls of my stomach, and the pacemaker was dangling from my neck in a pouch. All of these machinery was connected by over 5 feet of blue wire, most of which was hanging out of my nose. Needless to say that I didn't go much anywhere until that thing was removed! Unfortunately, the pacemaker did not produce the desired results as I continued to throw up. Dr. Abell suspects that I may have an underlying autoimmune disease causing my severe nausea. So he sent us to a neurologist that is a member of his team, and now Dr. Veta ran more tests. His were much more unpleasant. My personal favorite is what my family calls the "taser test" because that's what was used to test the nerve responses in my hands, legs, and feet, nothing more than a fancy taser. I even had a burn on my leg from that test! He required more bloodwork so he could run more specific tests.
We are currently waiting for the results. I honestly feel like I am in some sort of limbo land. We have nothing to do, but sit and wait until we get the results back, and we meet with Dr. Abell again. While I was in the hospital, we met another lady with similar symptoms to me. her name is Tammy Briggs. She's been suffering with her condition for 10 years. She also cannot eat, and instead of throwing her food up, the food will not pass, causing it to build in the stomach. This is extremely painful for her. I can relate. It felt good to meet someone like me. She just called me. She had the permanent pacemaker put in Monday. The recovery from the surgery is very painful. But she was calling to see how I was doing, and if I had any questions she could ask the doctors about. After I hung up with her, I started crying. I want nothing else, just for her to get better.
I'm still trying to process how I feel about everything. I just don't know. I can't describe my emotions, so I react by burying myself deep in Troy's school work and lesson plans for the children. I can feel myself running out of energy. But I'm scared that if I ever slow down, I'll get depressed because I don't know what lies in my future. I truly feel that I will never be rid of this disease, but I hope that God provides a way for me to make it through each day. He's done good so far. I know He's here with me on both the bad days and good. I hope that I remain true to His Word, and I hope He gives me the courage to face my fears and emotions head on so that my spirit can heal. I love this verse in Job, "Shall we just accept the good from God and not the adversity?" That is true for me, and all of us. I tend to only want to take the good days to praise God's name, but I don't want to take the bad. This verse has reminded me that God is ALWAYS there right by my side during the times when I'm too sick to move. During those times I need to be more like Job, and praise His name rather than focus on self-pity. I pray that I can glorify His name, even though I am not worthy!
(on a much lighter note: my parents, through God, bought me a 2011 Limited Hyundai Tuscon last week!!! I LOVE it so much! I feel both safe and comfortable in it! I intend to drive it until the wheels fall off!)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Today was my first day at Troy, and I am stressed! Between buying books, parking, and doing online assignments when the internet is down, I am wiped. I have also been given the responsibility of managing my own classroom in the Extended Day Program this year. I have a classroom of unruly kindergarteners and no furniture. I haven't been able to sleep well in a couple of weeks because of my illness, and I can feel the weight of the world slowly squishing me into a nauseated pulp. I cry because I'm exhausted, sick, and frustrated. In order to counter the weight of it all, I hit the books.
I have just started a new book for my quiet time with God. It's called Holding on to Hope. It follows the life of Job, a man to whom I can sort of relate. Today's chapter was perfectly titled Tears, and I would like to share what's on my heart.
I think we expect faith to make things hurt less, but it doesn't. Our faith gives us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement, but it doesn't make it hurt less.
Put into words like that I finally realize that when I feel the hurt of being sick, it doesn't mean
that my faith is any weaker. It simply means that I am human, and feeling the physical frustration
of this illness. My faith was designed to be a shield around my emotions, to deflect any harm crossing
my path. No, it was designed to shield that unconditional belief in God, to draw strength from
His Word and to trust Him no matter what. It's okay to feel hurt, but not to lose faith.
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then shaved his head and fell before God.
I think too often I cry in secret and carry my bucket of tears around with me. I don't share my
burden. I'm afraid to inconvenience anyone, plus I'm so stubborn that I want to try to get through
this alone. So I put on my happy face and pretend that everything is okay. A lot of times, it's not.
I have learned that I need to share my buckets with those who care because the burden of the load
has worn me out and weakened my faith. God has blessed me with a wonderful family who would
like to carry a bucket every once in a while when I need it the most. Openly unloading the buckets
of tears like Job is actually part of the healing process. God wants us to share our burdens with
fellow Christians, and likewise carry buckets from others. It's part of working together in the body
I am excited about continuing this study on Job. I want to learn to cope in a way that blesses God.
I'm holding on to hope, and I will never, ever let go.
Thank you, God, for your blessings upon me! You have already spoken to me through this study
and I am thankful to You for that. Help me to keep my faith strong by understanding that tears are
part of the healing process, and that it's okay to share my buckets with others, especially You.
By unloading my buckets onto You, I am showing You that I trust You to help carry my burden, and
that You know what to do, not me! Thank you for the children in my new classroom! I m looking
forward to a wonderful year! Teach them through me. Show me how to minister to each and every
one. Thank you for the strength to drive to Troy everyday. Help me to be a witness on this new campus!
I love you!