Immediately after the rheumatologist entered the room and shook my hand, he said, “Well, I think you win the award for the most services received by Kaiser in the last month! I don’t think I’ve ever had a patient that’s gone through such thorough testing and is still without a diagnosis.”
“I wish I could be happy about that award,” I replied with chagrin. We continued the appointment only to conclude with yet another inconclusive result: as badly as this doctor had wanted to be The One Who Figured It Out, he could not; and so, a few more tests were ordered and I went on my merry way.
The good news? Even without a diagnosis, I am improving. This weekend, I was able to make my own smoothie for breakfast (twice!), play the piano for about 15 minutes, and even do a little bit of watering in the garden (that last one was probably not one of my better choices…but, whatever!), and these were all things I couldn’t have even imagined doing just a few weeks ago! I chalk this improvement up to a few different things:
1. PRAYER. I have never had so many people offering up so much concentrated prayer on my behalf. God loves to act when his people humble themselves and pray, and he’s certainly been acting on my behalf this summer. I will be forever grateful to my prayer warriors – many of whom I don’t even know. I myself am also learning some new ways to pray this summer. I have been taking care of some unfinished business between me and the Lord with the help of the Wellsprings prayer ministry that has also helped bring spiritual and physical healing.
2. REST. I have an UH-MAY-ZING husband, and equally amazing parents and in-laws, that have stepped up and filled in and done everything for me so I haven’t had to lift a finger. In addition, we’ve been overwhelmed by good people from the body of Christ who have helped share the load of childcare, meal prep, housework and yard work. This has allowed me to get complete physical, emotional, and spiritual rest. And it’s working! My body is slowly coming back to me. The more I rest, the more my “energy bank” gets filled up. (It empties verrrry quickly, so I have to be extremely picky about how I choose to use it up.)
3. DIET. About a week and a half after I came home from the hospital, I decided it was time to get serious about what I was putting into my body. For the last year or so, I’ve consumed a fair amount of grains (albeit gluten-free ones) and refined sugars, and I always noticed more inflammation and pain in my joints afterwards. This can be indicative of an auto-immune disease, and while I do not have an official diagnosis at this time, I decided that the one thing I could do to help myself (besides rest) was to view food as medicine and begin to eat accordingly. So, I adopted a Paleo diet and am following the 30-day meal plan for auto-immune conditions as recommended in the book Practical Paleo. I feel that it’s helped my brain to clear, my stomach and intestines to feel calmer and happier, and I have less joint pain than before.
So, things are looking up. It’s all happening too slowly for my liking, but maybe that’s the point. You see, I’m beginning to realize that I’d been operating at a very high stress level for a very long period of time. I was over-scheduled, going a million miles a minute, and under-rested. Even when I wasn’t feeling well, I would adopt a “mind over matter” philosophy and just push through. I never asked for help, because I was proud and I wanted control and I expected too much out of myself. I tried to do too much for too long, and my body finally couldn’t take it anymore. I neglected to mention in My Health Crisis: Part 1 that another subject the doctor covered while I was in the hospital was something called Caregiver Syndrome. I don’t know a lot about it, but he said it’s a very real thing that can come upon a person who has the role of a caregiver to someone with special needs. He mentioned that it could be another factor in my current health crisis.
I’ve suddenly found myself with a lot of time to think and reflect. I don’t know what it all means yet, and certainly I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know one thing: I’m going to have to change. It wasn’t easy to type that. I’m going to have to change. Sometimes we decide to change, and sometimes circumstances force change upon us. Sometimes our loving heavenly Father allows things to happen because in his infinite wisdom, he knows what’s best for us. And when we can’t see that on our own, sometimes he allows circumstances to make it very clear.
I’m feeling very much like a broken, used-up, tired old “jar of clay” right now. Everything that was once a source of my identity and pride has been stripped away for the moment. I can no longer take care of my children, my husband, my home. God has made me STOP. Stop striving, stop stressing, stop running, just…STOP. REST. It’s hard to come to that place, but you know the miracle in all of this?
God has SHOWERED his love upon me!!! He has opened up the floodgates of heaven (see verse below) and has shown me just how much he loves me! And it’s crazy, but I’m beginning to understand a bit more that it has nothing to do with what I DO or DON’T do. He has demonstrated to me that I am his beloved, and he is rejoicing over me with singing! It brings me to tears of joy. He has used so many other people to rain down his love upon us. The elderly couple from church who stopped by with tons of vegetables from their garden and a beautiful bouquet of roses. The families who bring us beautiful meals (in spite of being intimidated to cook for us with our strict dietary needs!). The friend who comes twice a week to give me foot reflexology treatments as a gift. People who have surprised us with money or gift certificates. Pastors and friends who have come over to pray for and with me. The friends who have taken my children on fun outings or given them rides. The entire small group that blitzed all my house work and yard work one Saturday. The ones who stop by with flowers or a card or books to read. The friend I only just met who helps take care of my children. The countless ladies who’ve cleaned my house, fed my son, brought me meals on a tray, done our laundry, changed Caleb’s countless diapers, played with my girls, and then asked if there was anything else they could do?…I could go on and on. Are you beginning to get the picture? Little old, tired, broken-down me certainly doesn’t DESERVE this outpouring of God’s love. He loves on me lavishly simply because I AM HIS (Eph. 1:3-10). He is helping me to receive this truth more than ever before through all these amazing people and through this unexpected season of rest.
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zeph. 3:17, NKJV)
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10 NIV)