*In order to keep my progress in order, I am going to post underneath my original post and will date each update.
Original post: 9/3/13
First of all, please excuse any typos because at this point, I am typing with one hand. : )
Oh goodness, where to start...
I have been struggling with severe pain for at least the last 2 months. Well, to be honest, for the last few years, but sometimes it seems to have improved a bit and then it comes again like a tidal wave.
This time it began with severe hip pain, along with my ribs and collar bone dislocating. We tried to figure out how it happened and even made a few guesses that maybe things got aggravated by a KRAV MAGA self-defense class that I took. However, as healing never took place and as other joints started to follow, we knew it wasn't that. My stomach is also having a lot of issues. I don't know how to describe it, but I can be doing fine one minute, and the next minute it feels like food poisoning and after about 3-4 hours of getting sick, I start to feel a bit better. All of this sickness, eventually led to bleeding quite a bit, which was obviously a concern as well. We've been to several doctors, had just about every blood test done imagineable and just can't seem to figure out what's going on. I have had steroids a plenty as well...oral and shots in my joints. In fact, I took steroids to go on a trip in July this summer, so that I could walk and I felt a ton better while on those (except for the stomach sickness), but the relief only lasts about 3-4 days for me and then it's actually worse once I come off of them. This fact led my doctor to believe that it's something autoimmune, but we still couldn't pin down what it was. We've been trying to figure this out for at least 4 years...naturopathy doctors, regular doctors, acupuncture, rheumatologist, chiropractors, more doctors, scans, tests, etc...
The week of teacher in service, things began to get worse. I began to get sick 24/7 and was losing about 10 lbs a week (making me thankful my efforts to lose weight the previous year didn't work. ha!). My joint pain continued to get worse as well, but it was mostly in my hip at that time, so I still thought I could teach. I woke up the Sunday before school started with searing pain in my left arm, completely unable to move it. My husband, who was already having to help me in and out of bed, was now having to help me go to the bathroom, shower, and attempt to fix my hair. I finally broke down and had to admit that if I was weeping because of the pain and unable to walk or move my arm, I couldn't teach this year. It was an excruciating decision for this people-pleaser who loves teaching children. I had already met the families and the kiddos and was just broken about it all day. I called my principal and she was amazing. She was understanding. She said that me getting better was the most important thing and that the Lord would work out the details on their end. Her sweetness of course made me cry again. : ) I was so touched by how my Prov. family handled everything, that it made me even more thankful to be a part of that school.
As of now, I still have no improvement of joint pain, but I was able to get into see a gastroenterologist. I have always been given a 6 month wait, so I was thrilled to get in so quickly, thanks to Dr. Fox fighting to get me in. When I went in on August 21, they scheduled a colonoscopy and EGD but they couldn't get me in until sept 18th. I was disappointed to say the least because the pain was worse than ever. I called them on September 4th, to tell them the pain had gotten worse and that I wasn't eating or sleeping. I asked if there is anything we can do in the meantime...they ended up having a cancellation so I got in the next morning!!! Such a blessing! Dasun took off work to drive me and it went really well. The night before was really painful and exhausting, because you have to drink 128 ounces of "prep," when I was not only sick to my stomach but has already been having horrible bout of food poisoning like sickness for months now. I was up all night and the pain only got worse. I only fell asleep for about an hour total, so I was exhausted. The anesthesia couldn't have come soon enough! It was really nice to have a good nap. : ) I just wish they would have let me stay longer and enjoy the sleep instead of poking me with more needles. : )
I was pretty groggy when the doctor came in, but he said he found several lacerations/tears in the intestinal wall that can mean Crohn's disease, so they took biopsies to check for that. There are also ulcers which can be indicative of that, but not necessarily. We won't know until sometime this week when the biopsies come back. In the meantime, he gave me stronger pain medication, some medication that it supposed to help heal the lacerations inside (3 ginormous bottles of big pills- 9 a day), and something to hopefully help with the bleeding. We are hoping to get the results back and see improvement soon.
In the meantime, my sister-in-law Jenny, sent me a link to this girl's story and it was almost eery how closely our stories mirror each other. She also has an autoimmune disease and has had great success through changing her diet. Those of you that know me, know that I am already pretty strict because of other doctors orders, but I decided to take the plunge and follow what she's been doing to see if I can heal my stomach and see health again as well. She has had at least 2 years of remission right now, and that makes me so hopeful. I am not a diet girl by any means and have never stuck to one for weight loss purposes, but I am desperate for some pain relief...truly desperate. I bought her cook book and immediately felt better about having to do it. It has amazing recipes that make you feel like you may not actually have to give up eating everything you loved, which was so encouraging.
I have literally been crying out to my Savior throughout this whole process. Sometimes I feel stronger than others. Sometimes the only thing I can get out is, "please!" I have struggled mentally, physically, and spiritually. Pain wears you down...exhausts you...wears especially on your hope. I miss being able to hug my children, pick them up when they get hurt, and play with them. I also feel guilty about all of the medical bills piling up because of me...especially with no answers coming in. Dasun reassures me that he doesn't care and just wants me to get better, but I know that it's a huge strain on our already tight budget. I feel so guilty that my husband is having to do all of his jobs and then come home and do all of mine as well.
Oh boy do I struggle! I have to continually put truths in front of my face. Truths that remind me of who my Savior is, what He has already done for me, His love for His children, that he personally suffered pain and agony for me, His past faithfulness, and so much more. Hopelessness is not glorifying to God and hopelessness offers a foothold to my enemy, so I have to fight right now.
As of now, I can barely move my neck, my left arm, my right hip, and my right knee. They are always in pain, whether I sit, stand, or lie down. There's not much rest in this time, but there has been a lot of growth in my life. I have had to let people help me, which is hard for me even in small ways, but people have had to help in big ways as well. My sweet husband has been an amazing blessing from the Lord. I cry every time I think about all that he has done and continues to do for me and for the girls. My sister-in-law came to stay with us. Helped me wash my hair, mop my floors, and clean my house. My sweet friend Mrs. Temple brought my girls home from school for me and my friend Carrie has offered to do that as well. Our amazing landlords continue to bless us time and time again. My school has been understanding and generous with my family during a time when they could be upset at the timing and the extra work it caused them. My dad took off work to take me to my root canal and take care of me afterwards (oh yeah...got to have one of those last week too. ha!). He has also helped in countless other ways. My friend Casey has already brought us meals twice even though she's a teacher and crazy busy right now. My family and friends have sent me texts and emails checking on me and letting me know they're praying even in the midst of their busy lives. Today, I got an email from the school asking parents to bring us meals and the slots were almost full. I just wept. I couldn't believe it and was so touched. I KNOW how busy the beginning of the year is and I know that no one has time to make an extra dinner for us. I am just so very thankful for people being the hands and feet of Christ during this time. Thank you all SO VERY MUCH!!!
Health Update: 9/15/13
First of all I want to thank you for wanting to keep up with what's going on with me. I am so very thankful for your thoughtfulness, prayers, and for all of your offers of help.
for His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
despite our efforts to reassure them.
Health update: 10/26/13
I am happy to say that I have been able to be on crutches for a little bit the last few days and today I even hobbled a bit! I am so thankful for some progress! My knee is still swollen, but since it went down a little bit, the pain isn't near as bad. My elbow seems like it's getting worse again, but my neck seems a little less stiff. My ribs seem to be a little better too. I have to watch those on a daily basis, because if I sneeze, cough, or even try to lay back, I will hear a pop and the whole healing process starts again. For now, I am being careful and am enjoying being able to hug again. : )
We are officially going to Mayo on November 8th, and will probably be there a week, but we don't know for sure. My dad graciously offered to take me, so that Dasun could stay here with the girls. We were originally going to take them with us, but I think sitting in the hospital and having to be quiet most of the day for several days straight isn't ideal for two energetic kiddos. Plus, with all of the things they've already been struggling with, we want to keep things as normal as possible for them. Adelynn has already been crying about me leaving though, so if you can pray for peace for them while I am gone, that would be wonderful. I plan on doing FaceTime with them every night so they'll know I'm okay. We also have some very close and precious friends, that the girls are already very close to, watching the girls for us while Dasun's at work (Thank you Carrie and Casey!). Those things and a list of friends that have offered to help if need be, make me feel a lot better about leaving. I am going to miss them SO much though. I have never been away from my girls for more than 2 days and being home and with them 24/7 for the last few months is going to make it even harder to leave. That may sound crazy. You'd think I'd be ready for a break, but I truly love being around my girls. They are such a sweet joy and blessing to me. I'm getting all teary just thinking about it. : )
While I am thankful to be seeing progress and continue to pray for healing and pain relief, I can honestly say that the Lord is continuing to teach me, grow me, and show me His faithfulness. I have had a hard time as I have struggled through the pain, the seemingly unanswered prayers for healing, and well-meaning peoples comments, but as I have sought Him more I have truly become thankful for this time, as crazy as that sounds. He has reminded me of His sovereignty and His ability to make beauty from ashes. He has reminded me of His heart for His children...that He keeps track of my sorrows...and has collected all of my tears in His bottle...recording each sorrow in His book (Ps 56:8NLT). He does not take my suffering lightly, but has compassion for His children and will use this suffering for a purpose. I have felt His love in such big ways as He continues to meet our needs physically and spiritually. I am reading a book right now by Joni Earekson Tada called, A Place of Healing- Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty. To say that this woman understands pain and suffering, is an understatement. If you don't know her full story, I encourage you to watch this video. She's amazing! This is a new book that came out in 2010 when she started suffering from chronic severe pain on top of quadriplegia and a battle with cancer. She purposefully wrote it in the midst of her pain and offers such beautiful biblical insights on so many of the questions we struggle with as believers. Here are a couple of my favorite parts so far:
Wow! I love the beautiful wisdom that pours our of her and I have to say, that if she had not endured what she's endured, it would be much harder to hear her words. Isn't it always easier to hear something from someone who knows what you are going through?...who has been there? I have no doubt that God can use even pain and suffering for His good. I've seen it. How could we ever be truly compassionate, unless we ourselves had to endure hardships of some kind? He has already used my mom's battle with cancer, to bring about compassion in me for anyone facing it...an understanding of what it all entails, that I never fully understood before. A longing to be there for people as people where there for us. It's my hope, that even if I am eventually healed of whatever this is, that He wouldn't let me forget the pain and desperation I have felt, so that I can meet other hurting people where they're at. So that I will remember that this life is not about schedules, jobs, busyness, and to do lists, and in fact, as I realized, those things and your ability to do any of them, can be gone in an instant. This life is about loving God and loving others. Pouring yourself out to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a hurting world. Oh that I would remember that even when the busyness creeps back in. : )
Thank you in advance for continuing to pray over us in this situation. Please pray for healing, but pray most of all for God to be glorified in all of this. Please pray for my girls and for continued strength for Dasun. We are so grateful for your thoughtfulness and prayers. I hope you all know that! I will be sure and give you an update as soon as we have news from Mayo, but it may be a while.
Love you all!!!