chronic illness

Appointment Update & Reflection

Another update in my daily life with chronic illness. I had my doctor’s appointment this morning.  Going in, I was very apprehensive and nervous but I feel much better now that its over.  My wonderful husband went with me (I am such a lucky woman!).  Of course the first thing stated was the obvious – we don’t know what to do next.  We talked for awhile about what all was going on, both related and unrelated to the pain.  We went back over my list of medications and what we thought was or wasn’t working.  Then we went through my massive file looking at past tests and procedures.  Then came the fun part – the exam.

From there a couple things were decided.  1) Redo my blood work to check my thyroid and vitamin levels (as both could play a role in my symptoms).  2) Check for Interstitial Cystitis.  3) Get a 2nd opinion from a Gastroenterologist.  Three vials of blood later #1 was complete.  I go in Wednesday to have some medicine injected into my bladder that will both help the sensitivity plus serve as a diagnostic tool for IC.  #3 is in the works.  They sent in the referral forms this morning.  I knew that I needed to see a GI doc.  I just didn’t want to see my GI doc.  Their last recommendation was to “eat more yogurt.”  So I was happy when she suggested getting a second opinion.  She said that it seemed most of my pain and tenderness stemmed from my colon and she just has a gut feeling that something was missed.  Getting a 2nd opinion probably means having another colonoscopy but if it leads to answers I will take it (I will take that over drinking barium for a scan).

Even with all of the productive medical stuff, her frank conversation with me is what meant the most.  She said that I understand where you are in life.  Working, finishing up grad school, and having a family.  Its tough and its so easy to aim for the day when everything will all of a sudden get better.  For me, that day has been May 17th . . . graduation!  I have planned for months thinking that everything will miraculously become easier once that diploma is in my hand.  She said that that day will come and go and there will always be something else.  Grad school will be finished but Abby will be a toddler.  Then maybe it will be a new job.  Then maybe starting the adoption process again.  She said “I have learned that I cannot keep aiming for a day in the future for things to get easier or make sense.  That day will never come as life continues to go on.  You have to learn to live in the present and take each day as it comes.”  Profound statement.  I mean its easy to hear that and know it but its another to truly know it and grasp it.  I keep holding out hope for a day in the future to be finished with grad school, to lose 40 lbs, to be cured from my illnesses and be truly healthy, and to win a million dollars (ok…scratch the last one).  In the meantime, I am missing out on today.  I need to learn to be truly present today.  I think I have been selling myself short in so many areas both at home and at work.  What an eye opening moment it was!  These few sentences may have been the best thing to come out of this appointment. Daily life with chronic illness is ever evolving.

chronic illnessinfertility

Friday Words of Faith: I believe

Over the past two weeks, I have been asked to reflect over my experience thus far in my unit of CPE (clinical pastoral education).  It was quite a task.  Especially since we were asked to come up with a metaphor for our CPE experience.  I’m not an English person to start with (give me a math or science class but please not English or history).  So after racking my brain I came up with the metaphor of a mirror.  In the past seven weeks of CPE, I have had the opportunity to see myself in a brand new light.  I have learned about myself on a personal level as well as a spiritual level.  During our discussion yesterday, I was asked how this experience has caused me to analyze my faith.  I think that my exploration of my faith started when I started facing infertility and chronic illness (and the CPE experience has only caused me to explore it further).  How does my experience affect my faith?  How is my picture of God affected by my faith and by my experiences?  As I continue to reflect on these things on my drive home from the hospital, I listened to a song by Barlow Girl called “I Believe in Love” and it blended so beautifully with what I was thinking and feeling.

The song begins with these words:

How long will my prayers seem unanswered?
Is there still faith in me to reach the end?
I’m feeling doubt I’m losing faith
But giving up would cost me everything
So I’ll stand in the pain and silence
And I’ll speak to the dark night

As I began my journey with chronic illness (which was later joined by infertility) I asked these same questions.  Where was God in my time of need?  Was He punishing me?  Where is God’s will in my illness?  These questions haunted my thoughts.  And then I felt guilty for even asking them.  Where was my faith if I questioned?  Was I sick because my faith wasn’t strong enough?  Was my worry  and fear a sign that I didn’t trust God or didn’t believe?  When I voiced my concerns, they were usually met with responses such as “God is trying to teach you something,” or “Pray harder,” or “It’s just God’s will.”

These answers provided little comfort (and mostly hurt) so I began a spiritual journey for answers and came to a conclusion:

I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it
And I believe in God even when He is silent
And I, I believe

I learned that I can still believe even if I don’t have answers and it’s ok.  I can trust God and trust that He is working in my life and still not understand what is going on or where He is in it.  

Though I can’t see my stories ending
That doesn’t mean the dark night has no end
It’s only here that I find faith
And learn to trust the one who writes my days

I think that one of the toughest questions I had to answer for myself was “Did God cause this?”  Did God look down from His throne and pick me out to suffer?  For me, to say yes to this question was also saying yes that God destined a baby to be aborted, or a child to be molested, or a new mother to die of cancer.  It just didn’t fit with the character of the God I serve.  In some cases, we are given free will and therefore our choices impact our future (such as making the choice to smoke and then developing lung cancer).I think sometimes things just happen.  In others, I think things just happen.  Period.  And what follows was a profound statement for me personally:  We have a choice of what we do with our circumstances.  I can choose to be bitter, angry, and depressed over my illness (and believe me I’ve had my moments of all three) or I can choose to allow God to be glorified through it by using my story to help encourage and support others.  I don’t know how my story is going to end.  I don’t know what the outcome of my doctor’s appointment Monday will be.  But that doesn’t mean that God isn’t working.  Just as the last line of this verse states, I am learning to trust the One who writes my days.  And trusting is a choice.  Believing is a choice.  And I believe that it is a choice that must be made on a daily basis (or hourly or every 10 minutes depending on the situation).

So when the times are hard and I can’t seem to see past my own pain, these words become the cry of my heart:

I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it
And I believe in God even when He is silent
And I, I believe.
I believe

weight loss

Wednesday Weigh-in #3 – Spring Fling Challenge

It’s that time again!  I was actually dreading this morning’s weigh-in.  I definitely lacked self-disciple this weekend.  I’ve worked out and ate well from Monday until today so I was hoping it wasn’t as bad as I was thinking.  I did have a slight gain.  Last week’s weigh-in was 154.2 and today’s was 154.8.  So I’m up .6 lbs.  Nothing that I’m going to beat myself up over because what is done is done but I am definitely back on my game to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

This weekend I was able to wear a pair of jeans that I haven’t been able to fit in since before my hysterectomy (which was in May of ’08) so I know my body is changing for the good which I think is more motivating than the numbers on the scale!

I always hate Daylight Savings time in the spring as it takes me forever to adjust to losing an hour of sleep but its been worth it.  Abby and I took a 3 mile walk on Monday after I got off of work and it was fabulous.  I am hoping to do the same this afternoon!  I am loving the extra sunlight.  Of course, getting ready in the dark . . . not so much.   Its so tough to get up when its still pitch black!  But oh well! 

Here are the details for the week:

Starting weight: 164.4

Challenge Starting weight: 156.8
Challenge Goal:  148.0

Last week’s weigh-in:  154.2
Today’s weigh-in:  154.8
Change:  +.6

Overall Change: -9.6