Friends, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been out of touch. OK, maybe you’re not thinking that, because it’s not always unusual for me. But I’m thinking that, because I had a whole lot of things I was working on sharing with all of you.
There is a long and short explanation: I’ve been attacked. The not so dramatic way of putting it is, I’ve been under the weather.
It all started two weeks ago on a Monday. When I got to work I wasn’t feeling so hot and I spent the first part of the morning grumbling about how I wanted to go home, but the powers that be wouldn’t like that. (Which is ironic, because I don’t believe in the powers that be, only one Power that Is. So you know… Do as I say not as I do?) Then I spent the rest of that day running around like crazy doing all the work-ish things you wouldn’t want to do if you weren’t feeling well.
The next day was even crazier, and I carried my little glass dish of homemade gluten-free mac n’ cheese with all the good stuff like heavy cream and asiago cheese and basil pesto from one meeting to the next until I finally got a chance to sit down and eat lunch uninterrupted at 4:00 PM. By that time my lymph nodes were ever so gently throbbing (you notice these things quickly when you’ve been through illness), and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball at my desk, rock back and forth, and wait for the day to be over. So I did what any level headed person would do in my shoes… I chalked it up to a stressful day, ate my mac n’ cheese, and distracted myself with wedding pictures (which are officially here and which I’m officially going to make you look at soon!).
That night I sat at the new office nook that the hubby constructed and whipped out loads of blog posts I wanted to share with you all. And as I was whipping them out, my back started hurting, my legs starting hurting, and I started feeling achy all over. So I thought to myself (rational thought here) “this chair must not be ergonomic!” And I went to bed.
Then I woke up at 6:00 AM Wednesday morning with faint memories of a dream in which my hips hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep. I got up, went to the bathroom, and just as I was climbing back into bed, I realized my hips did hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep. Come to think of it, most of my lower body did. That’s when I grabbed the husband’s arm, shook him awake, and cried on his shoulder that I wasn’t feeling well. Not feeling well is my weak spot – me, the Lord, and now you know this about me.
My husband is an incredible man. In years past, he might have been upset that I wasn’t feeling well. He might have said, “you’re supposed to be better, you’re not supposed to not feel well.” But my husband didn’t do any of those things. Instead, he got out of bed – and 6:00 AM is not his preferred time to get out of bed unless he’s heading to the gym for an early morning spin-session, in which case he miraculously finds a way to get up earlier than I ever want to – and headed straight to the kitchen. He came back moments later, juggling a mug of hot chamomile tea, a glass of emergen-C, two Advil, and my favorite homeopathic flu medicines then helped me drink it all down, reminded me to email my boss, and let me fall back asleep holding his hand, which is something I’ve never done in our lengthy 5 weeks of marriage until that day.
I stayed home for 2 days. There were a lot of great things about staying home, most of which I’ll get into later, but one of them is I got to rest up a lot. I slept for another 6 hours after the husband put me back to bed on that first day. And then I slept in a ton on that second day. By Friday, I was feeling like I might just be able to go back to work and so I did. And even though it was clear that I wasn’t really feeling as well as I’d normally want to feel to run around New York City, I worked a full day, escorted my husband to the barber shop, and joined him for our friends’ goodbye party that night until the clock struck 10:30 PM, and I turned into a pumpkin and made him bring me home. I thought, I must have just had the flu and I must have just nipped it in the bud in time. Aside from a little leftover achey-ness and a lot of fatigue, I was feeling pretty good.
I made up for Friday by sleeping most of the day Saturday except for our weekly Costco run, then did our usual Sunday routine: church followed by lunch with friends followed by a few errands, which at that point I did not want to run but thought I was just feeling lazy for no real reason. Then the process repeated itself. The aches started coming back – only this time they were back with a vengeance! My feet felt numb and painful at the same time, like I just went skipping through the snow with flip flops on. My legs were aching up a storm, and every muscle in my lower body was on fire. I tossed and turned with my electric heating pad for hours and then fell asleep with it laying under my legs (Which also is not really something they advise that you do. So again… Do as I say and not as I do?).
By the next morning I was in a world of pain. The husband pulled me out of bed, got me into a taxi, and took me to our favorite urgent care. The doctor spent 2 minutes with me, listening as I cried on the exam table when she asked if I ever had this pain before, and said something about “yeah, you need to be in an emergency room.” She felt anything she could do in an urgent care would only complicate the situation further and given my health history, there was lots of blood work to be done. So my husband once again very patiently pulled me out of the urgent care and onto the nearest bus (there was not a free taxi in sight during rush hour) where we spent the next hour making the 30 block trip down to the hospital.
Long story short, I was there all day. And they were pretty incredible. They got me to the back within minutes, took note of my symptoms and my medical history, asked all the right questions (when I had Lyme did it affect my heart, did it affect my brain, did it affect my joints? how long did it take to diagnose? how long was I in treatment? have I ever felt this way since I was healed the first time?), knew more about infectious diseases and immune issues than any hospital I’ve been to in five years and even asked if I had a specialist they could call for advice. The Lord is good. Five years ago, four years ago, and even three years ago, when I spent more time in the ER than I ever want to remember, the very mention of an insect born infection was usually enough to cause a ruckus. Last week, they treated my medical history with dignity and care. I was floored.
That being said, I didn’t leave there with a diagnosis and they were upfront with me that I probably wouldn’t. Instead, they ran all the right tests, including for Lyme, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, even though I didn’t think it was any of these things, brought the inflammation down, and gave me a couple theories to work with, which were again, pretty good: Either I’d been exposed to another infectious disease, something they didn’t dismiss as unlikely, or my immune system thought I had been and was reacting with all guns blaring. Either way, my body was aching, but my vitals were good, the tests that came back that day were good, and I’d certainly been in worse pain before so they sent me home. Before you ask, yes, I will be seeing my LLMD this week.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been praying for a lot of healing. And I’ve had lots of moments of doubts and downs (and a few friends did get an email from me in those moments). But thanks to our God they’ve been moments. He has put lots of people, lots of promises (i.e. Scripture), and lots of Holy Spirit in my life to remind me that He’s right here and He’s no less awesome and loving than He was any other time I’ve gone through this. He’s spoken lots of life to me to remind me He’s still my healer.
The other day the husband said to me, “You know, the last time you went through Bartonella you were just a mess but this time you’re not.” And I said, “Oh well I was in 100 times more pain then.” And he said, “No, I mean emotionally. This time you’re just like, ‘This hurts but it is what it is and I’m going to get through this.’ You’re not really that upset.” (Now, before you give his words too much thought or give me too much credit think back to that moment when I shook him awake at 6:00 AM crying.)
The gist of it is this, this time I do feel different. Not only physically, and I am incredibly thankful that this time is nothing like the last times when I felt like every cell of my body was dying a slow death. But also emotionally (spiritually?). I know that God is here. I’ve wrestled with Him over this and asked the tough questions – Was it something I did? (I’m not saying punishment. I’ve learned enough from our God to know that He doesn’t punish us by making us sick. But I did ask Him if something I did to myself is leading my body to be this hurt?) Where have I gone astray? Where have I wandered in my heart or my ways that I haven’t stopped to seek You? And do You want to heal me again?
He gave me answers to lots of those questions.
Was it something I did? Maybe – It could have been the rusty pipe I scratched my hand on when cleaning the bathroom. It could have been the cat scratch I got when I fell asleep on the couch a few weeks ago, my cat fell asleep on me, and then we both went flying when my husband jumped up and yelled “YES” at a Giants’ touchdown. It could just be a hyper alert immune system making sure that neither of the above is going to mean I get an infection.
Where have I gone astray? Where have I wandered? I already knew the answers to those. Yes, I did go astray. No, I haven’t been seeking Him in His Word as I should be. Yes, I’d be more prepared for this moment and probably a whole lot less obnoxious if I’d been filling my heart with big chunks of his hope day in and day out like I know I should be doing and I know I love to do.
Just as importantly, He showed me this is something I’m prone to. That’s it. It’s something I’m going to have to lean on Him for for the rest of my life. Just as God said to Paul when He prayed for the thorn in his side,
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
And that’s OK. It would be crazy of me to think that my body would be made perfect this side of heaven. Just like some of us are prone to weak knees, susceptible Achilles tendons, deteriorating vision, etc, etc, etc. this is the thing I’m prone to. That doesn’t mean I’m going to let it define me, and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m going to let it limit me (unless the Lord tells me those limits), and I’m definitely going to follow the path of self care that He’s carved for me to take care of myself as best as I can.
I’m also going to praise Him for the healing He’s done and tell Him when I need more healing. Like when my legs are aching to high heaven and we don’t know what’s going on.
But ultimately I’m going to trust Him. If He healed me once, He can do it again. If He healed others, He can do that in me. If He’s choosing to keep the pain at bay so that this is only a shadow of the pain I’ve felt in previous years, I’m going to praise, praise, praise Him for His mercy. And I’m going to believe that He knows what’s going on and He can get me to the other side. Because He is. I’m believing that He has a way to take this moment right here and use it for good – because He already has.
My love for God is not contingent on healing. No, He’s far too good and holy for that. But I do look to Him as my healer. And someday, I might walk through something I’m prone to and He might walk me all the way through to the other side into heaven. I’m working of not being afraid of that moment. Not heaven, but the moments leading up to it. Because right now I’m learning to rest in His arms and if someone close to me tells me I’m handling it with grace (again, we could just chalk my husband’s comment up to amnesia) then it’s certainly not because of me but because of Jesus. That’s pretty awesome.
p.s. A big huge thanks to those friends who did lift me up and encourage me by email in my weakest moments, and who reminded me that Jesus is absolutely, for sure, without a doubt our healer. You guys are the greatest.