chronic illnessfaith

Life Changes: When A Trip To The Hospital Changes Your Life

Life With Chronic Illness: When A Trip To The Hospital Changes Your Life

As someone with chronic illness, I have been in the hospital more times than I can count on both of my hands but this last visit was life changing.

It was scary.

Life changing scary.

It all started very early on a Saturday morning. Like many other nights over the past year, I spent the night up sick and vomiting. I have continued to have issues sleeping (which only adds to the ever-present crushing fatigue of chronic illness), my GI system was definitely not a happy camper and I had one heck of a migraine. I was up for hours vomiting. Every time I would take a Zofran, it would immediately be back up along with anything else I tried to put in my body. John would come in routinely to check on me. I was growing weak and I knew I was becoming dehydrated.

I don’t remember anything else until the paramedics were trying to get me out of the bathroom floor.

Apparently, there was a point where I made it back to the bedroom and passed out. John was sleeping in the other room since I was sick so he could get some sleep and for some unknown reason to him at the time, he came into our room to check on me. He walked in to me projectile vomiting while passed out on my back in bed. He rolled me on my side and I continued to throw up but struggled to come to. He managed to get me to the bathroom and called 911. He worked on getting me cleaned up and somewhat alert while waiting on the EMTs to arrive.

The first thing I remember is being over the toilet crying and completely confused by what was happening. I struggled to comprehend the paramedics instructions and had no idea of what had just happened. The next thing I knew, I was in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

We got to the hospital and after what seemed like an eternity, they got an IV going and fluids and meds on board. It took John awhile to arrive as he had to get Abby situated and clean up the mess I had created. Most of that day was a haze with the exception of feeling like a pin cushion from what seemed like a constant stream of lab techs and nurses trying to draw blood (the initial IV would flush and give fluids but would not give blood). I have the crappiest veins on the planet on a normal day. Add in the dehydration and my veins are practically non-existent. Its not a great feature to have when you live with chronic illness. I would estimate that it took about ten tries before they were able to successfully draw initial labs.

In addition to the dehydration from the incessant vomiting, they were worried about my kidneys as my labs showed abnormalities so they were going to keep me at least overnight.

I was admitted on Saturday and was discharged on Monday (we spent Valentine’s Day in the hospital – how romantic). In that time, I blew through two IVs and became known throughout the hospital as the impossible stick. My arms were bruised badly from hands to shoulders. They were worried I may have aspirated vomit while I was passed out so I was on antibiotics the course of my stay and given nebulizer treatments (thankfully, my lungs stayed clear and there were no signs of infection). they were able to rule out a possible obstruction early on but wanted to do a CT Enterography to check for other issues.

When they sunk the last IV, it was a major struggle and the only way they were able to secure a line was by using a small gauge IV. I wasn’t on constant fluids at that point so it was able to get the job done until they decided to do the CT. They needed a larger gauge in the bend of my arm to run the IV contrast. This was the start of a quest and finding a vein proved as difficult a search as finding the holy grail. I saw I don’t know how many charge nurses followed by ICU nurses before the finally called in two anesthesiologists. Room 443 was hoppin’ place to be.

After the anesthesiologists couldn’t find a vein, it was decided that we needed to give my veins a break and we would just do the CT on an outpatient basis. It was very unlikely it would reveal anything that would need to lengthen my stay and at this point, I was completely on board. I was exhausted and ready to go home. They discharged me at the absolute worse time weather-wise as an ice storm was rolling in but after an icy and heart pounding drive home, I was so beyond glad to be back with my family. Chloe didn’t leave my side for hours. Just like Charlie would have done.

The hospital visit itself wasn’t anything extraordinary but it was what lead up to it that has left a heavy mark not only on my life but on John’s as well.

I think it was God that woke John up and had him check on me at just the right moment but we are both plagued with the thoughts of “what if?” What if he hadn’t walked in when he did? Would I have eventually woke myself up or would I have aspirated and choked and the outcome have gone another way? Would I still be here?

I cannot even begin to imagine what John had to see when he came in the room to find me passed out and vomiting. I cannot imagine the fear that had to be running rampant through his veins. Getting me to a safe place. The 911 call. The clean up. Trying to figure out what to tell Abby. I know that the fear and the nightmares are still there and probably will be for some time. I wish there was something I could say to make it all go away but I know there isn’t.

My fears rest in the unknown. All the things that happened that I have absolutely no memory of. How could I have been so sick but be too weak to know it? To know that there was a great possibility that had John not walked in when he did, he could have found me dead instead of throwing up. Or worse, Abby could have found me. Those are the thoughts that haunt me. I still hold my breath at the sound of a siren. My life is forever changed knowing how quickly things could have gone in a different direction.

Rising Above Adversity & Chronic Illness

As scary as this whole experience was and how much the thoughts still plague my mind, I cannot help but praise God. Praise God for waking John up in time. Praise God that I didn’t end up sicker than I did. Praise God for another day, another minute, another second of life. Praise God for the reminder that life is so, so precious and nothing, absolutely nothing, should be taken for granted. Praise God for another day to share my story and hope that it can touch someone else’s heart and help them know that they are not alone. And praise God that He can continue to make broken moments beautiful, the weak made strong, and scary situations an opportunity to share His grace, love, and mercy.

[bctt tweet=”Praise God that He can continue to make broken moments beautiful, the weak strong & scary situations an opportunity to share His grace”]

It has taken me so long to write this post for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t ready to relive it, and 2) how do you find the words? I wanted to share initially just as an update but it turned into something more. Something much deeper than I had anticipated. This was hard. Really hard. But it helped knowing that you guys are out there supporting me and praying for me. There are no words to describe my gratitude. My cup runneth over.

I want to find a way to mark this moment in my life for the good, not for the scary. I’ve thought that a new tattoo may be the way to go but I’m stuck on what to get. I’ve got so many ideas rolling around in my head. What would you suggest?


adoptionchronic illnessinfertility

Wrestling Match: Where is God When I’m Sick?


This week as my unit of CPE is drawing to a close, I was asked to spend time in reflection regarding my journey and formation as a minister.  My development as a theologian has been very important in my development as a minister and as an individual so I thought that I would share that here.  I entitled the post Wrestling Match as I times that is where I feel like I have been.  I have had some tough questions that I have wrestled with over the years and the amazing thing is that God welcomes the wrestling!  He invites us to wrestle and dig and question because on the other side we come out as stronger individuals and stronger believers.  Also  as National Infertility Awareness Week winds down, I thought it would be appropriate to share how my faith kept me moving forward even when my circumstances with infertility told me to give up.  There is a song by Caedmon’s Call called “Hold the Light” where one lines says “Jacob wrestled the angels but I’m too tired to fight” which has allowed me to reflect deeply on my experiences in life (I wrote this post back in the day if you would like to see the lyrics).

I came from an Independent Baptist upbringing where questioning God wasn’t even considered. Regardless of life’s joy or pain, it was all a part of God’s will and it was your job to deal with it. So as I embarked on my journey with chronic illness I found myself in unfamiliar territory as found myself in the midst of fear and doubt. However it is the journey through fear and doubt to find myself in a place of peace that has been formational for me as a minister and as a theologian in coming to an understanding of who God is and how He works in the world.

Just before starting seminary I was diagnosed with a disease called endometriosis. I understood the physical damage of the disease but soon enough I would come to know that chronic illness not only affects a person physically, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Over the course of seminary, I would have three additional surgeries and receive two more chronic illness diagnoses. As if that were not enough, I would discover that my husband and I were infertile and would never be able to have biological children. We would then go through two failed adoption attempts before becoming parents to a wonderful daughter.

This challenged every fiber of who I thought God was.

I began to wrestle with the character of God and how that impacted my understanding of how He works in the world. I was forced to ask the question what was the source of my illness. Where is God when I’m sick? Did God cause me to be sick? Did He will for my husband and I to endure the pain of infertility? Was any of this a punishment for some wrongdoing in my life? These were not easy questions to ask. For starters, I had to come to a place in my faith where I knew that it was safe to ask these questions. It was safe to question God in order to know Him more and to better understand His works in my life. This was a big step in my spiritual walk and by allowing myself to take this step, I believe that I am a better minister for it.

[bctt tweet=”In my digging and my searching, I discovered above all else I could depend on the character of God.”]

In my digging and my searching, I discovered above all else I could depend on the character of God. I serve a loving, faithful, and just God. I may not understand everything that is going on in my life and in the world but I can find understanding in WHO He is. I came to a place where to understand my illness and my infertility I had to look at the One who created me. I came to a place where I could say that I knew that God did not cause me to be sick. I was not chosen out of a crowd to suffer pain and loss. I was not being punished by a cruel or spiteful God. Instead I was being held by a God who knew me before I was born and declared that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Yes, I was sick and infertile but I came to a place where I understood that sometimes things just happen. God does not cause all of the pain and suffering in the world but sometimes He just lets it be. And it was with this knowledge I came to an understanding that God may not be the cause of all things but He can be glorified in spite of it. I could choose to blame God and to be angry and bitter (which I experienced both emotions at times) or I could choose to glorify Him through my circumstances.

[bctt tweet=”I could choose to blame God and to be angry and bitter (which I experienced both emotions at times) or I could choose to glorify Him through my circumstances.”]

This ties in directly with my understanding of the will of God and how He works in our lives. I had heard the concepts of both God’s will and humanity’s free will all my life. I just did not understand how the two coincide. Where did God’s will end and free will begin? Do we really have a choice at all? This question came to a head after we lost our daughter Mia in the spring of 2009. We were matched with a birthmother and two days later our daughter Mia was born at 35 weeks. We were instantly amazed and attached as we viewed our child through the isolette in the NICU of Grace Hospital. We saw the wonder of God’s love and grace in a 5lb 5oz bundle of joy. The papers were signed and we parented from the NICU for four days. One of us was always there. We got to do the first diaper change and first bottle feeding. We were called “Mom” and “Dad” by all of the staff. We were just so thrilled to finally be parents. However, this would change. In the state of NC, a birthmother has seven days to change her mind and revoke the adoption papers. On day four, the papers were revoked. Our whole world crumbled before us. It was as if our child (along with our dreams) died.

In the following weeks, I began to wrestle with this whole idea of God’s will.Had God willed Mia to be taken from us? Or had He chosen her to be our daughter yet the free will of the birthmother allowed those plans to be changed? Could we in fact change the will of God by our freedom to make choices? I wish I could say that I was able to come up with a single answer for any of these questions. These questions can be applied to many situations throughout the world. Where did that line lay between God’s will and free will? I think we may never know. I think it is impossible for the limited human mind to be able to understand such things as vast as this.

In this situation, I think that once again we have to rely on the character of God and His promise to never leave or forsake us. Does this promise mean that our lives will always be peachy? Not at all yet it provides the peace to know that we are never alone and we serve a God who takes every step through every joy and trial with us.

I believe that through this journey God has shaped me to become a better minister.  I have learned that it is ok to ask questions and even more ok to not have the answers.  Instead, as a minister and caregiver, I can walk alongside of patients and their families as they embark on similar journeys of faith and life. 

I can help them when they ask themselves, “Where is God when I’m Sick?” and I can say “He is right here.”


I Believe in Love

I Believe In Love

“I Believe In Love”by BarlowGirl
How long will my prayers seem unanswered? I
s 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
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
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
So I’ll stand in the pain and silence
And I’ll speak to the dark night
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
No dark can consume Light
No death greater than this life
We are not forgotten
Hope is found when we say
Even when He is silent
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.