Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's Not All Bad

Today I am going to take a minute and count some blessings.  In light of my recent diagnosis (read about that here), I have been so focused on what is going wrong, I need to take a minute and focus on what is good. 

1.  Jared.  I am so thankful for a sweet sympathetic spouse who thinks I am the best ever.  He reminds me constantly of the beauty he sees when he looks at me.  He reminds me of the good in our lives when I'm struggling and just see the pain.  He is a wonderful father who takes time with his kids to talk about what matters as well as being fun and playful.  We have been together since we were 15 and he knows me better than I know myself.  I am so very thankful for my Jared.

2.  Our Children.  I am thankful that this diagnosis came after we were done having children.  If this had come 10 years sooner our family would look very different.  I can't have children on these medications due to dangers of severe birth defects.  If this disease had to come, I am thankful it came after all 5 children are already here and old enough to be self sufficient. 

3.  Our Church.  The outpouring of love and support from our church family has been such an encouragement.  I am thankful for the cards, prayers, hugs, and phone calls.  Ministry can be so hard at times but this season has been a reminder of how wonderful life in the ministry can be.  I am so thankful for the family God has granted through this church.

4.  Worship.  I have always enjoyed singing.  When I sing I feel closer to God.  Being a part of worship during this has been times of reprieve.  Moments when my focus is taken off of self and put where it belongs.  I don't think about anything but the words and the music.  I absolutely love being a part of this ministry and I'm thankful I have been able to continue.

5.  Friends.  When Jared and I were looking for a church 15 years ago I prayed that wherever we went I would be able to find friends, to have community.  The most common complaints from those in full time ministry is loneliness and isolation.  I love my friends and feel I have people in my life that fit all kinds of roles.  Thank you for loving me when I'm unlovely.  Being patient with me when I'm self focused and emotional.  Thank you for reminding me of the good and admonishing me when I need it.  Thank you for being my community, for being an answer to my prayer from all those years ago. 

6.  Family.  I am thankful for family on both sides that have called and text and shown love and concern.  I have called on you for prayers and sympathy.  Thank you for not tiring of me when I need to talk through the same thing for the 100th time.  Thank you for letting me talk about all the gory details and offering support and love in return.  

7.  Modern Medicine.  I currently have 9 prescriptions in addition to vitamins I take daily.  If you do some research you will see that it wasn't that long ago that people diagnosed with auto-immune arthritis' were doomed to a life of pain and deformity.  The medications that are available may have side affects but not taking them cripples the body ensures severe chronic pain.  I am so thankful to live in this time, in this country, so I have access to the medications I need to be able to function and  live a long life.

8.  Our home.  Everything I need is on one floor.  When I have an achy painful day I have everything I need without any stairs.  We have a big bath tub in our bathroom and I have a huge bag of Epson salts.  Soaking in that tub has been wonderful and brings relief.  Obviously these are not necessities, but they sure make it all a lot more tolerable. 

God is good regardless of my circumstances.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pain in The Neck

It's obvious from the date of my last post I don't write super often.  There's lots of reasons really, but one thing I really appreciate about this blog is that writing is cathartic.  There's been a lot happening over here and writing about it may help the process :)

Starting back in January my left hip (the sacroiliac joint) began hurting.  It was a severe pain that would leave me unable to walk or sit.  Laying flat on my back was the only relief.  I have had the same pain in the past but only on the right side and only during pregnancies.  Since I wasn't pregnant we were slightly befuddled.  The pain continued for months so I made an appointment with my general practice doctor.

My appointment was April 1st and she ordered labs and x-rays.  She thought I may have a type of auto-immune arthritis that causes your joints to fuse together.  She told us we probably wouldn't be able to see much on the x-rays unless the damage was severe.  The x-rays showed damage in my sacroiliac joints.

She referred me to a Rheumatologist.  I had to wait for 6 weeks to get into her.  During that time more joints began to be affected.  By the time I finally saw the new doc I was having pain in my hands, feet, neck, both S.I. joints, knees, elbow and my left eye would turn bright red and swell.

Dr. Warner is my Rheumatologist and she is just amazing.  She diagnosed me with Psoriatic Arthritis and Spondilitis. PsA is akin to Rheumatoid arthritis.  It affects ligaments, tendons,  heart, lungs, eyes, skin, nails, stomach, as well as joints.   

I have been on medication for 5 weeks.  It has been really hard because the symptoms of the disease were still affecting me (it takes weeks for the meds to take effect) and I was suffering from the side effects of the medication (methotrexate, which is a low dose chemotherapy). 

During this transition I have been so blessed with friends and family that have similar diagnosis' and understand the emotional impact a chronic illness and diagnosis has.  Their love and empathy have been priceless.

I am starting to feel better more each day.  The fog of pain is lifting and I can actually identify specific areas that hurt verses just everything hurts. 

The hardest part of this has been the emotional toll.  I have always been a very productive person and I feel of most value when I can create and do.  Spending large swaths of my day in bed has been a significant change for me.  I was having a really good day this past Saturday.  Low pain and I was able to be very productive and spent the afternoon with a friend and the evening swimming with the kids.  I was happy and feeling healthy.  That evening I sat down on my bed and realized I had lost a toe nail (a symptom of the disease).  All the good of the day drained away and I was left with the reality of what is happening to my body.

It is my goal to be an example to those around me, my family, our church.  To be strong and rely on the Hope we have as believers.  To trust in God's plan for my life even when I don't understand.  I know that up until now I have struggled but I am coming out of the fog.  I can manage this with God's grace and my precious family.

I am so thankful for a very patient and loving husband who has been more than willing to help with the kids and to lessen my burden. 

This scripture has become a lifeline for me.  Thank you Lord for your promises.