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My Journey of Health, Perspective, and Trust

This is less a post about failing, although I certainly had those moments. It's just something I'm sharing. I hope it helps someone in some way.

It started back in May of 2011. I just randomly started having breathing trouble and was coughing a lot. Of course working at WebMD, I began a long process of self-diagnosing. Something I try to never do now. My symptoms seemed to point to asthma, although I imagined a dozen worse scenarios. The doctor thought it could be severe allergies so he gave me some medications to try. It didn't help. 

I went back and he gave me an asthma test. It did not indicate asthma but did show some improvement in breathing with a breathing treatment, so I then got inhaled steroids and a rescue inhaler. That did seem to help a bit... but when I say a bit, I really mean that. I spent the whole summer barely able to breathe and unable to be outside for more than a couple of minutes. I couldn't work out. I could barely walk around for any length of time. Every breath was difficult. I even had a lung MRI to see if I can a blood clot -- no. Nothing. During church, I couldn't sing worship songs, because I couldn't breathe. I would stand or sit and just cry and pray that God would let me just be able to sing. That's all I wanted. I left discouraged. I cried so often and freaked myself out with self-diagnosing. I was such a mess. I spent most of the time lying or sitting on the couch watching tv. I was stressing myself out so much I couldn't sleep well. Almost every thought was "what is wrong with me?"

Side note: 
Jeremy was so patient during this time. He would resist what I'm sure was a strong urge to tell me to stop whining and thinking about myself, but he would pray with me and hold me and remind me of how God promised to care for us.

Later in the summer, I developed other additional problems. I noticed I was getting sick to my stomach just about every day. On top of the breathing and sickness, keep in mind the worrying was wreaking havoc on what was left of my wellness. Worrying does horrible things to your body.

I could barely stay awake during the day. I would crash right at 5:00 after work and then get up and try to cook something for dinner. Then crash again. We went up to Pennsylvania around labor day to visit Jeremy's grandparents that year and I spent that week sick. I had random symptoms: pain in odd places that would just go away and return in another spot. Unexplained aching. I thought, I'm only 25... how is this even possible? I've never been sick in my life (I'd also had zero compassion for anyone who was less than healthy... I assumed they brought that sickness on themselves with diet/exercise/other decisions like that). I'm not proud of that, but it's how I felt up to this point.

I developed an infection of some kind. That lasted a week and made me even more miserable. Finally I couldn't stand the wondering/worrying anymore so at 25 years old, I underwent a colonoscopy, abdominal MRI, and had a test for celiac disease. All came back perfectly normal. I was beyond terrified... what could be so hidden that no doctor can find what is wrong? Why am I hurting everywhere? Why is this happening to me? Am I going to live like this? Am I about to die from something? I was sure that was it. And I cried out of anger and fear. I didn't trust God. I trusted myself, and the doctors who'd let me down, and the medication that didn't work. My doctor suggested that because my mother has fibromyalgia, maybe that's something similar to what was wrong, although he didn't diagnose me. He suggested I try a medication that might help. I was above that. Medicating every day? No, not me.

Finally, and I don't know when or how this happened, I broke for the first time. I gave in. I told God -- whatever. Whatever you want for me, I wasn't willing before, but I'll do it if you'll help me. I don't want to live with pain or die young, but whatever. It wasn't the most humble of prayers, but I was at the end of my rope.

Now physically, I decided let's try cutting some things out and see if it helps. Indeed, it did. Dairy turned out to be a culprit. I eliminated it and felt some relief. The breathing problems starting going away on their own. I have no explanation, other than perhaps anxiety was triggering some of it. And I caved in and took the medication. It was such a huge step for me. I was so humiliated to be "one of those people..." but God showed me that this should not be a matter of pride. And I now have almost none of those original symptoms. Praise God for that.

But the bigger picture here isn't that. I really believe that the trial I faced was as spiritual as it was physical, and I believe God used it for my good. I was almost defeated. I was at the bottom of a dark pit, and God lifted me out. There's no other explanation. I've never been so happy to sing in church in my life. I know the value of breath. I know how it feels to hurt every day. To be desperate. To be loved unconditionally by a loyal, encouraging spouse, and for that I am well aware of how blessed I am. Jeremy and I went through a valley together and came out different people. I can't place faith in doctors alone, or medicine alone, or the internet alone... as stupid as that sounds, it's scarily easy to do.

In the spring of 2012, the church showed a video of a mission trip to Africa, including a clip of a man who ran an orphanage and took in children with HIV and AIDS. This was just after I felt that I'd been healed from this specific trial by the way. Now, I've seen mission videos a bazillion times and while I've been moved, I've never been broken. This video broke me. I went home and sobbed for the people that didn't know hope and had nothing. God changed my heart that day, again. Even more than before. What followed was a year of lessons at church about living for others, a class opening your heart and listening to God’s leading, my dear friends Mikee and John deciding to pursue mission work, and a desire to be used by God. This whole process seems to have been a way of preparing my heart to listen to God and trust Him.

I want to reiterate how wonderful Jeremy was... that man is my rock. I can't say enough about his love for me always, but especially during this time. God gave him a love and compassion for me that passes understanding.


Now I still have problems. I now have a working diagnosis of "probable fibromyalgia." But I'm OK. I'm content. It has been almost 3 years now and I'm still learning, but life is good. Maybe I'll figure out a symptom-free way to live and maybe not, but either way is fine.


Comments

  1. Thank you. It did help. I came across your blog and this post via a friend's link, while in the midst of an anxiety attack. I've struggled with anxiety for years, and everything you've said here really resonates with me, from the crashing right after work to the sleepless nights to the not being proud of any of this. I hate that you've had to suffer through this, but I'm grateful to you for sharing it, and it did help calm me down when I really needed it. Thank you, and all good wishes to you.

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