Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hope

Recently a friend reached out to me because she was suffering from chronic illness and pain for a long time. She'd been to doctor after doctor and wasn't getting better. The day after day of struggling with sickness becomes a heavy load to carry. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "But you don't look sick." Or how many times a doctor shook his/her head at me and said, "I can no longer help you."

My friend wondered if she might have Lyme disease, like me. She thought I would be a good person to ask "what's worked" or hoped to hear that I was cured of the vicious cycle of chronic illness.

Or maybe she just wanted to know, how do I get through this? Or to know that someone understands?

Yikes! I had to take a deep breath and think about my years of illness going around and around the same mountain. Essentially, all of my life. What I heard in her voice was what I've experienced myself...

Desperation...hopelessness...frustration ...depression...but maybe a little bit of hope?

My friend started seeing a new doctor so I offered my advice about what tests etc. to ask for. I told her to keep pushing forward and to not give up.  I told her how much my heart fills with thankfulness when I'm having a 'good day' or a 'good hour.' She's not at that place yet, as she spends more time in bed than out. 

Unfortunately, I could not tell her I was cured or miraculously better. After all, when you mix chronic Lyme disease with 3 autoimmune diseases, it is really a mess!

Today, I saw my doctor who I highly recommend and respect. He has always been willing to go the extra mile with me and "try" something. Anything. He expressed to me today how hard it is for him to see a patient year after year who he hasn't been able to help. I told him to not taking it personally because I don't. His empathy, kindness and compassion towards me are always present and evident.

I first saw Dr. Glenn Toth in 2006, and then he picked up my case again in 2011. He's allows me to see him on an as-needed basis per my request. For me, that's once a year, if I'm lucky. After 30 doctors in 5 years, I only see a doctor now if absolutely necessary. He knows this and respects it.

He prescribes the medications I need to survive. It's as simple as that.

But today, he offered me another 'thing' to try. Ugh! Immediately my defenses went up, and I humbly remembered my advice to my friend...don't give up! I remembered the years I struggled when I was only left with diagnosis's and treatments that didn't help. I was left disappointed and disheartened time and time again. So I've been resistant to anything "new" for 5 years because I got burned out.

Dr. Toth always leaves the decision to me, but he kindly and lovingly directs me in the direction he thinks "might help." Sometimes I think he's invested in me more than I am. He doesn't want me to give up. Or maybe he doesn't want to give up on me.

This time I choose to step out in faith...1 more time. I've been at this place in my life once before (Luke), and I will never regret it. This new treatment will be costly, time consuming and painful. It is meant to build up my immune system, and it will hopefully knock some of my symptoms out of the park!

HOPE - don't you just love that word?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Scars


 
I look up to the mountains. Does my strength come from the mountains? No. My strength comes from God. Who made heaven and earth. And the mountains.

We all have scars. Some are visible; others are not. Some we'd rather not show anyone at all. I call my stretch marks from having our babies my "battle scars." I am not embarrassed by them, but I still find myself trying to hide them with the right bathing suit. I humbly remind myself they are a reminder to me of the gift of motherhood I was given.

Our scars should carry no shame at all.

When Luke was 2 years old, he tripped and fell outside. His forehead caught the corner of our fire pit. Ouch! He was crying the one that gets every parent's attention - you know - the one where they are crying so hard that they don't make any noise. Yikes! Thankfully, his cut got glued together pretty darn quickly with his paramedic daddy right at his side at Children's Hospital. Yet, he has a scar because of it. Matthew has one, too, from smacking his head on our coffee table. For some reason, boys feel like a scar is something to be proud of instead of being ashamed of.

Maybe it should be?

After all, I have a scar or what I like to call "dent" in my leg from when I was hit by a car when I was 13. It's not something I'm proud of per se, but it is a reminder to me that I did not die that day all because of God's grace.

But there are also scars that no one can see. They are tucked inside each one of us. They are what we hide from most people, and we only allow a select few to see. Many times we hide them from even ourselves. They are there because of loss, despair, trauma, shame, guilt, grief, regret....the list goes on and on. Doesn't it?

I recently learned that someone I love has been going through an unimaginable struggle in this thing called life. I cannot help but relate and empathize because I, too, have been through the unimaginable. We all have to some degree. Yet, this person suffers in silence. Why? The same reason we all suffer...out of shame or embarrassment; feeling judged or misunderstood.

It shouldn't be that way.

I've learned that  being vulnerable is what brings healing - when the light meets the dark - (thank you Tenth Avenue North).  I've experienced healing when others have said to me I understand. I've been there. You're not alone. 
 
There's one thing I know for sure ~ let your scars show. Because they matter. Don't let fear stop you from owning your truth. Those scars are there for a reason. To teach you something or maybe someone else. A definite reminder that our scars make us who we are. I believe they are a reminder of God's grace and love despite what we see.

After all, Our help comes from You. You're right here pulling us through. You carry our weakness, our sickness, our brokenness all on your shoulders. We don't have to see it to believe it.