Thursday, June 28, 2012

My today...

Today. My day. Right now. Thursday, June 28, 2012. It's been a difficult one. A very heavy one. Depressed would be a good word. Pain would be another. Pure exhaustion probably the most accurate.

I'm sitting here in bed. Roll of saltine crackers to my left, along with the plate and bowl from my second grilled cheese & tomato soup of the day. To my right on the desk is my water bottle, bottle of sierra mist, hand sanitizer, Burt's Bees, thermometers, bottles and bottle of medications, and my (very needed) bottle of melatonin to help me sleep at night.

Also on the desk is a lovely vase of (fading) flowers that a dear friend sent me while I was in the hospital.  Next to it is a letter from my Compassion child that just "happened" to come today. (They are very few and far between so this is no coincidence.) Right above it is a card from an incredible friend that contained a love gift of several hundred dollars. I'm wearing the dangly blue earrings she sent as well...even though it's just me sitting here sick in bed. A pretty pair of earrings brightens any day! The adorable sparkly silver flip flops she sent are sitting on the floor next to me and I can't wait to wear them when I'm out next. My skin is soft and smells lovely after a two hour soak in bath salts and a thorough rub with a delicious sea salt scrub, followed by lots of lotion. My face is soft from a doing a facial masque just because. I'm in my comfy striped shorts and favorite lacy cami.  Some new music is playing on my Itunes and I'm waiting for the chicken & bacon ranch sub my dad is bringing me for dinner.

And I'm sitting here wondering how it's possible to have so many different thoughts, feelings, emotions, pain, joy, hurt, sorrow, confusion, peace, and passion all at the same time. In on single day. An ordinary Thursday in June after a week in the hospital.  I am so completely human and have to remind myself to give my mind, body, & heart a bit of slack. It's been one hell of a week. A week that showed me just how very fragile life and health are. A week that showed me just how precious my family and friends are. A week that made me eternally grateful to God for doctors, nurses, pain meds, and hospitals. A week that saw more tears, frustration, and sickening pain than I care to recall. A week that makes me weep just typing about it.

I don't know what to do with these feelings. There are the ones positively overwhelming me with humble gratefulness for ALL of God's goodness the past week. And months. And years. But then there's this completely exhausted part of me that is screaming to just give up and say I'm DONE. I'm DONE with these meds. I'm DONE fighting. I'm SICK of the side effects...the puffiness, weight gain, body aches all over, hair loss, risk of cancer and other serious possibilities. I'm so TIRED of crying. I HATE always asking for prayer. I DETEST having to find people to selflessly cover for me with my job. And it is incredibly unsettling to not know from one day to the next if I'll be at home or in the hospital.

And then all I have to do is recall the dozens and dozens if not hundreds of people praying for me...and all the texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, emails, etc....and look at the cards, flowers, balloons, earrings, checks, food, books, TV shows, etc., etc., etc. to be completely overwhelmed with how BLESSED my life is. Good gracious, I didn't know a girl could be so enveloped in love and care. And then there is my God, my faithful, faithful, faithful, loving, merciful, kind God. My God who puts up with my frustration, anger, and hurt. My tears, my anguish, my depression. My cold shoulder when I'm extra wounded. This God of mine just blows my mind. When I think of Him and an eternity with Him, all else pales in comparison. I just want to tell Him to hurry up, that's all.

Sharing these words is very uncomfortable for me. But I know there are other people going through similar and much worse trials and they've asked me to keep writing and to keep it honest. This is nothing if not honest. It's scary honest from my fingertips here. And yet there's so much left out, so much that just can't be posted publicly. Things between the lines that can't be written. My prayer is that those facing similar feelings will know that you are not alone. And know that I'm thinking of you, praying for you, and am right beside you in my heart. A lot of your testimonies, faith, and perseverance are what inspire me to keep going on this journey.

Monday, June 25, 2012

When life is pain...

As I approach the one week mark of this hospitalization, my emotions and thoughts are a crumbled mess of pain, hurt, frustration, and exhaustion. Tears are constantly waiting to flood down my cheeks and I'm just thankful that I have some pretty strong gates holding them back so I don't drown. Yes, I know tears are healthy and can bring relief....but these go beyond that.

I've been thinking about this life God has planned out for me, this path He has me on that I never would've chosen.  The past ten years of my life have been about CHOOSING to find happiness, while my life around me is full of pain and hurt.  There hasn't been a "happy season" in my life since I was little girl.  There have been happy moments, happy days, even a happy week or two, but never a happy season.  God has taught me to FIND happiness, to MAKE happiness, to SEARCH for happiness through all the physical and emotional pain of the past decade.

He's shown me that He's here on the darkest days. The deepest hurts don't change who He is. The physical pain doesn't change His care for me.  His mercies and faithfulness are new every day that I live. And He's shown me that He gave me my crazy, spunky, feisty, independent personality partially BECAUSE of the paths He knew/knows were/are ahead of me.  I'm not sure how anyone can "get" me because I can't even "get" or keep up with myself.  I'm such a crazy mix of a person and my daily life is such a mix of crazy laughter and crushing tears.

In closing I just have to say this: I'm so thankful my life is built on the solid Rock of my God and not on the shifting, hopeless sands of this world. It is ONLY because my God doesn't change that I can keep going and maintain joy and peace and be the crazy girl He created me to be.  He's so incredibly awesome. He's my strength and identity. He's next to my side when I'm not alright and He heals the broken in me. Praise You, Jesus.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ramblings from a Madison Hospital Bed

Here I sit in yet another hospital room for yet another week of this year...this year that has had the most difficult, hard, up and down decisions/times of my whole life.  (Not just health related but that has been a lot of it, hands down.)  My God has proven Himself more faithful than ever before in my life but at the same time He's stretching me so much that I just want to scream some days.  This week has been one of those weeks...

Tuesday was a normal, time with youngest siblings (water fight anyone?!), and grilling burgers and hotdogs for dinner.  The pain started around 4:00 that afternoon and while it really took me by surprise (I'd been having a pretty good few weeks, aside from a nasty respiratory virus I couldn't kick), I didn't think too much of it.  What surprised me even more though, was that no matter what I did, it kept getting worse (and worse, and worse, and worse, and worse, and worse).  I slept for a couple hours between 2:00 and 4:00am after moaning, sobbing, shaking, and writhing in pain and enduring the most horrific vomiting I've ever experienced.  When I woke up around 4:00 after the couple hours of sleep, the pain was back in full force and after a half hour I knew I could not keep going.  So to the ER it was.  

I spent five hours in Waupun ER, while four different doctors decided what to do with me (ER doctor, my family doctor in Waupun, and GI doctors in Madison).  Can I just say that I won't complain about hospital room beds anymore after experiencing five hours on an ER bed?! Holy crap.  I couldn't even feel my tailbone.  But that was obviously one of the least of my concerns and I'll stop rabbit trailing. The x-rays at ER showed a partial blockage in my small intestine.  Not any small concern.  So I was transferred to the hospital here in Madison to work with the GI specialists down here.

So far I've had a Remicade infusion (that was two weeks overdue because of my respiratory virus, which made it too dangerous to have one), clear liquids only (until this afternoon when the dr. switched it to full liquids), IV steroids, narcotic pain meds, anti-nausea meds, Benadryl for my reaction to something (we're not sure what), and just waiting for signs that the blockage is decreasing.  I'll probably be having an MRI of my abdomen on Monday.  Praying so much that that goes smoothly...the last time I had a test that involved drinking contrast it got stuck in my system.  They assure us that this contrast will not turn into cement and I'm praying they're right.  It's a test I've refused for the past few months but it has now become absolutely necessary that they get a better look at what's really going on in there.

As my Emmy says, "Just keep sipping! Just keep sipping! Just keep sipping, sipping, sipping."
(Name that movie)

Thursday was incredibly rough.  I was getting pain meds every hour and even that was making it all barely tolerable.  I was also incredibly sleepy the whole day and was constantly drifting in and out of consciousness.  The doctors were quite baffled.  Thankfully yesterday and today have shown some improvement.  Praying I can go home on Monday or Tuesday but we're just playing the "hurry up and wait" game at the moment.

Right now I'm sitting here blogging to myself and watching You've Got Mail on TV with my sister.  A fresh bag of fluids is hanging from my IV, I have an ice pack to use on my burning skin, water and apple juice to sip on, and my amazing sis just started giving me a foot massage with beautifully scented lotion from my friend Megan in Michigan.  I'm told a beautiful bouquet of flowers is coming from my friend Emily Baber and I'm very excited for the cheer that will bring to this room.  My view from my bed is gorgeous...lake, trees, boats, sky.  God is here.  Amidst the pain and confusion, He is here.

During this rough time, as I question God and what He's doing, I can't help but wonder if He's reminding me that all He wants is ME.  He doesn't want my best services that I could give as a healthy person.  He doesn't want me out doing, doing, and doing.  He wants me.  And apparently I'm slow enough to get that that He has to knock me flat in hospitals for a week at a time.  Okay, I'm sure He has other reasons but it sure feels like a kick in the butt this time.

Yesterday was my best day so far in the hospital so Mom asked if she could snap a picture...
(She knew better than to ask when I looked like a sick, half-dead freak.) 

My amazingly amazing friend Lydia visited me yesterday morning and brought all kinds of fun randomness to cheer me up <3 

Lyd knows that my favorite comfort thing during rough time is ice cream. And since I couldn't eat any at the time of her visit, she brought me ice cream gum instead! Love her so much.

Well, I'm thoroughly exhausted but should really try to get up and walk again.  So I'll stop rambling/journaling to myself.  If you've read this, thanks for putting up with my (wordy/disjointed) thoughts.  To those who have been upholding me in prayer, I love and appreciate you so much.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Does it Matter?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my daily and weekly life and wondering if it really matters.  It all can seem so mundane; work, be sick, work, be sick, dishes, laundry, cooking, exercise, feed the dog, take medications & supplements, respond to emails and Facebook, be sick, run errands, clean the car, play taxi for siblings, etc., etc., etc.  I look at friends and their "exciting" graduation, ministry/mission work, great jobs, amazing travels, kids, etc. and feel like I should be doing more bigger "better" things. (And for the record, it sure as heck reminds me of the downfall of comparison!)

But comparison aside, I still question it at times, especially the weeks that feel like all I do is get up, take meds & supplements, shower, go to work, come home, eat, and collapse in my room until I start the same cycle the next day.  Thankfully those days have been a little less common the past couple weeks and I've been able to add in lots of time with friends & family and plenty of errand running and house cleaning and food cooking. 

When I look at the Scriptures, I'm reminded that each little thing matters and that life is made up of the little moments, not the big ones (important as they may be). "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much." (Luke 16:10) "This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24) "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" (Lamentations 3:22-24)

I love how these verses talk about the "least" things as something not to overlook, how each day is one to rejoice and be glad in, and how each and every day--no matter how "mundane"--God's faithfulness and mercies remain the same.  Somehow mundane days don't seem so mundane when looked at through the filter of God's Word.  Each "little" day, "little" decision, "little" responsibility, "little" joy, each on matters!  It's also sobering to realize that if we do the little things poorly, we'll do the big ones poorly too.

Also, when I look at how Jesus lived His life, He didn't live for the big moments (ie, raising a dead man back to life?!!).  He was a servant, down the littlest, most humbling tasks. "So when He had washed their feet [WASHED THEIR STINKY DIRTY FEET, FOLKS!], taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. And if then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.'"  (John 13:12-17) As Christ's daughter, I deeply desire for my daily life to reflect Him and Who He is and how He lived his brief life on earth.  And it looks like that is done by humbling myself, loving others, and serving them in whatever way I can, no matter how menial or mundane. The song below is one of my favorites and echoes one of the deepest, deepest cries of my heart as I live each day of this life God has given me.

*All photos taken from my "wisdom" Pinterest board*

Friday, June 15, 2012

Truth, Hope, & Circumstances

So many blog posts swirl through my head over the course of a week or two.  I really should try to type more of them out.  June is already half over and I haven't blogged once (besides in my head; but we can see what good they do when I just leave them up there).  And of course I would pick the one night that I'm having trouble putting anything into words and would rather crumple up and cry. Hopefully writing is more therapeutic and profitable. 

The Scripture verse, "Man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps" has been going through my head a lot the past couple weeks.  (See Proverbs 16:9)  It applies to just about everything He's sent me week over the course of the past fourteen days.  Now that I stop and think about it, it applies to my whole life for the past several years. In the last two weeks, God has changed the schedule of my IV treatments by allowing me to contract a respiratory virus and fevers.  It is dangerous to have an IV infusion when already sick so we've been waiting until I get better.  I've been doing a ton to kick this virus' butt but instead it's kicking mine.  Even with tons of vitamins, herbs, water, and a round of antibiotics, it's getting worse, not better.  This is a huge concern with my already lowered immune system from the meds that I'm on.  Fevers need to be monitored very closely.  One doctor wants to put me on more antibiotics, another doctor thinks that's too risky because the antibiotics could cause a serious infection in my gut.  It's seriously a lose-lose situation, apart from my GOD.

Speaking the truth to myself in my own heart, is a 24/7 battle.  Discouragement and fear are constant enemies.   Continually, I need to remind myself that I have a God bigger than anything. Bigger than my very severe Crohn's, bigger than a cold settling into my chest, bigger than these fevers that won't go away, bigger than the two huge decisions I need to make, that are completely unrelated to my health. (Although if I'm honest, no decision I make is completely unrelated to my health, as it affects everything.)  My God overcomes anything and everything, no matter how it looks from my teeny tiny view here on earth.  And through faith in Him, I can overcome anything and everything He allows in my life.  "For whoever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith." (1 John 5:4)  As I type these words, "What Faith Can Do" started playing in my Itunes playlist.  It's making me all teary...

"Hope that doesn't ever end."  THIS is my daily, hourly challenge.  When life is really hard, continually living in HOPE is a challenge.  Faith, hope, and love are put together in 1 Corinthians 13 and I am continually challenged to have each one of them.  The only way is through Jesus.  I am so stinking human it's ridiculous.  Only when I take time to seek His face and study His Word and beg His Spirit to FILL me can I have even the slightest ounce of faith, hope, or love.  "I am the Vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

As I type, there is a constant war going on in my heart and mind.  The more I feel my chest tighten (literally by the minutes), the more I am tempted to have a complete breakdown and full fledged freak out.  I am madly trying to speak the truth to myself and trust the One who knows the end from the beginning--of the world and of my health!  That seriously blows my mind.  He is so big and so deeply personal at the same time!  "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of you head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."  (Luke 12:6-7)  "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You." (Psalm 139:17-18 and the sixteen verses before those ones are incredible as well!)

And as I type these words, "You Are for Me" came on my Itunes...needed words when it doesn't feel like He is for me.

It's now almost 11:00pm and I've had multiple "interruptions"...just life, really.  Phone calls, Facebook messages, conversations with family members, etc.  So I'll have to abruptly close my (written) thoughts for now.  As I try to settle down for the night (facing another enemy in the name of "sickness-induced-insomnia" (very unofficial name of whatever I have going on at night), I pray God keeps my mind on the truth and my hope in Christ alone.  And I'm praying that same thing for many that I love who are also going through some deep valleys.  Our God is in control and His good purposes never change.