Friday, November 11, 2016

Three Months

Three months ago, Jim drove me to urgent care that ended in an ambulance ride to the ER and we started down this twisty turny rabbit trail of meningitis and lupus and pain and learning and growing and being COMPLETELY DONE LET THIS CUP PASS and surrendering and abiding and wavering and being weak and amazed and choosing joy and struggling and...finally sitting down to try and make heads and tails of promises and word studies and lists of Scriptures and prescriptions and wanting desperately to document the perfect timing of God and the love of friends and family, to capture the kindness and generosity and love that we've experienced...that we've been overwhelmed with.

And I can't. There is so much. So I am going to give snippets, statements, glimpses into what we've seen and heard and felt.

The most recent? I had a massive emotional meltdown last night. A tiny part of that was me recognizing that as much as I have loved being able to prep and cook dinner again, it's been taking it out of me this past week as I've dealt with some more different/intense head/neck pain/and thought fog. I didn't realize how much that bummed me out and I didn't want Jim to have to pick up that task we prayed. And we asked God for mercy...for the whole situation in general, not the food specifically. And at the same time we were praying, a coworker, completely out of the blue, texted to say she was making a meal to bring over on Saturday...and then this morning, my friend/helper for the day ended up bringing over a meal as well as taking me on an outing to pick up a few things. And then I realized that we already had one planned delivered meal scheduled for Saturday and I had forgotten another friend was bringing something over before the end of the weekend in prep for chemo week.

You guys.

In less than 48 hours the Lord provided 5 separate meals for us, several of them freezable for next week when I'll be out with side effects and Jim won't have to worry about dinner.

The Lord provides. Fully, completely, abundantly.

I could sit down with you and my phone and show you a slew of text messages that I've received over the past three months and give you stories in the double digits how each of those came in a dark moment, when I was struggling with this journey and ready to give up or where I was believing the lies that would flood my mind. Text messages and emails telling me that I was being thought of, prayed for, well-wished, held up.

I can tell you of feeling I've lost myself amidst the haze of medicines and inflammation and confusion and pain and how He reminded me that I am not defined by my list of diagnoses and meds and progress or lack of progress, but I am defined by Him and I belong to Him. And how as He moved in my heart and mind to assure me of this, at the SAME TIME multiple people would email me and text me verses and encouragement, all of which were of the same thought - that He has me. He knows me. He has not forgotten me or Jim.

This journey is being used I am told. Used to show Him to others. I know it's being used to teach me that I am the weakest of the weak, and in that lies His strength. His power made perfect.

The Lord is kind.

Even in the hard moments, the open-ended questions, the statements of "now we wait and see" and "this is going to take longer than we expected".received at a recent doctor's appointment.  At the SAME TIME, an email received from work, stating that I have received an astounding amount of donated leave time and am covered for this unexpected extended waiting period and healing time. COVERED.

His kindness is thorough, not lacking. Full.

The Lord is working and active and present and THERE.

A sweet friend's own journey has been a lifeboat for me - questions and concerns and relating and getting it. Understanding not wanting to try to do a normal task because that task has suddenly become SO hard and it's humbling and scary and new. And you wonder if things will ever go back to how they were. And then you realize, you don't want them to go back to where they were because you aren't who you were anymore. He's changed you and stretched you and made you cling more to Him and to know Him so much better and deeper. And the sweetness of that realization, that even in this, even in this, He is. And He has you, despite your best attempts to convince yourself otherwise and listen to the lies. You look at the evidence before you and...

My God is huge.

So three months...

He is abundant in all things. He is kind. He is I AM.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21), ESV.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage, wait for the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14), ESV

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Just an update

Getting some requests for an update so here's a bunch of the latest medical stuff :) - slog through as you desire!

Done with round one of the chemo for my lupus! The infusion two weeks ago went smoothly, no allergic reactions to any of the meds they gave and a huge blessing was having a room on the infusion floor all to myself! Jim teleworked from there and had plenty of room to spread out his stuff. We were there for about 6 hours, so not too bad. And I had soy Pumpkin Spice Latte as a pickup me afterwards. Win!

All hooked up to the port. The steroids have given me a very full face, it's actually called "Moon Face" but we call it my chipmunk cheeks :) )

The post-chemo recovery wasn't horrible. That day and the next I felt very much like I usually do after my previous Benlysta infusions (just tired and a little sick feeling). The following two days were pretty rough with nausea and fatigue and just feeling BLAH. We changed my nausea med and it worked better for me. A good friend of mine who went through cancer this year and last gave me some great tips and saved the day with the suggestion to eat toast. Toast tasted good and I went through a lot of bread in two days :)

Each day I've gotten further from the infusion, I have felt better - and that's exactly what should happen so that's good news. In fact, I've noticed that certain joints that were giving me a lot of problems are almost pain-free now and my fevers haven't been running as high. These are all good signs and we hope the next infusion (in two weeks) will go the same.

We also started to taper me down from the high dose of steroids I have been on for almost 3 months now (!!!) On Monday evening, I did the planned taper dosage and went to bed. When I woke up, my head and neck were shouting at me and my head was SUPER pressure-y, I could barely here out of my left ear. As Jim and I talked over breakfast, I was having a lot of trouble forming sentences in my head and when I did, it hurt.

I feel asleep on the couch and woke up with numb fingers and toes and gums (yup in my mouth). And I felt awful. Jim cam home and per Rhemo Doc's recommendation, we went to the ER. Blood work showed elevated white blood cells, which I shouldn't have because of the chemo, so they started worrying that maybe I had bacterial meningitis (yup, back to that). I ended up having three lumbar punctures to get some spinal fluid. Unfortunately the first attempt didn't go well - I ended up with an epidural! The doc got the numbing medicine in the wrong spot. Let me just tell you it's VERY scary to be lying on your stomach under an x-ray machine with a needle in your back and your entire bottom half goes numb and and the docs and nurses all start working fast and yelling things and such. I regained feeling within an hour, but still. I am so not a fan of lumbar punctures.

Due to the trauma from the first puncture, the second puncture wasn't good (there was some blood in my spinal fluid). So they admitted me for observation.

The next day, they did a slew of tests because the blood in the spinal fluid. (it can indicate some serious things that need to be checked pretty quickly). I had a third lumbar puncture and the blood had cleared enough to allow then to use it for their tests. I also did four hours of MRIs and CTs mapping my brain and spine. That was one of the most challenging things I have done.  My back really hurt from all the punctures and I had to lie flat on it and hold all my muscles as still as I could (hard because I have tremors in my limbs right now). It was hard. And I cried. The nurses were SO incredibly kind and supportive and empathic (it was a really long scan for them too) and we got through it. And Jim brought me dairy-free frozen yogurt as my reward for getting through it :).

The good news is that all the scans were normal enough for them to comfortable with sending me home since I was stable - even though we still don't know why my head pain is increasing or where the numb extremities are coming from. We ruled out some stuff I was worried about, stuff that could cause permeant brain damage and such.

Eating Tex-Mex to celebrate our four month anniversary - I know it's only four months, but it's a happy moment to remember and celebrate  :-)

It's very humbling and scary to realize that you aren't thinking or processing like normal. I can feel my slowness and hear my mistakes and I know they are mistakes but I still make them. I am glad that my brain and spine look okay and that hopefully once we get the inflammation in my head to go down, all my cognitive thinking stuff and motor skills will return to normal.

I am glad to be home recovering from the stay - I'm pretty banged up and shaking by all the tests so I've been doing a lot of icing and stretching of those muscles.

The nurses at St. John's Methodist were outstanding. I am so thankful for those that choose to go into the nursing profession and show genuine empathy and care for their patients. It makes a huge difference when you're lying in a hospital bed, scared, and have no idea what's going on to have that comforting hand to hold or explanation given or just an encouraging smile, so thank you to all you nurses!

I have an appointment with Rheumo Doc on Monday - again thankful for the timing of all of this - I already had that appointment schedule before all the hospital stuff this week. Thank you Lord!

So until then, I think I've regressed about a month for what I am able to do around the house since the head/neck pain is pretty intense. I feel like every hour I have to tell myself to choose joy (James 1:2). My friend visited me yesterday and I really wanted to spend some quality time with her and couldn't due to the pain levels. As I lay there on icepacks, I realized, 1) I've made more progress since my initial hospital stay than I realized (sometimes we can't see something until it's taken away and then we see what we had) and 2) I could choose to be joyful that I at least got to see my friend for a bit and hear about the awesome things going on in her life.

I am thankful that God is allowing me to choose joy and to be thankful when it's hard. I know He is helping me do that because I have so many moments where I just want to be done, I am definitely not getting through this on my strength, but His and the amazing people He has put in my life, like my husband. This has been a hard journey and it's not over. But I also know that He will continue to sustain me:

"But you oh Lord, are a shield around me, My glory,  and the lifter of my head." Psalm 3:3

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rehashing My David Moment

I'm not going to lie - the past couple of weeks have been tough. I had my chest port placed and that all went very smoothly and it's been healing nicely. In fact, I got to unexpectedly use it for the first time yesterday.

Over the past two weeks, my lupus joint pain has really flared up and the meningitis symptoms of a full head/stiff neck have increased. I wake up around 1am with severe joint pain and have to massage/walk it off over several hours. When we discovered that the first available slot for my first chemo treatment wasn't until October 17th, my face crumbled. "Two more weeks of this? I can't do it - things are getting worse, not better" was my inner mental dialogue. I was told to call every morning and see if there had been cancellations. I requested being moved to a different location for the treatment but my Rheumo Doc is pretty adamant about location due to their expertise and my complicated history. And the cancellations never happened.

This past Thursday evening was the worst it has been and it's because I took a sleep aid and it kept me asleep far past when I should have been up rubbing my joints. After my morning nap, my knees and ankles were so swollen I couldn't walk and my legs were bright red. I called Rehumo Doc, left a message, and then settled in to visit with a sweet dear friend whom I hadn't seen in awhile. Rheumo Doc called back quickly and told me to come in for steroids - he didn't want me going into the weekend like this and we didn't want anything to mess up my treatment on Monday.

My amazing friend, who was teleworking by the way, drove me all the way to the med center, waited for my infusion, and then brought me home. And she lives up in town so this was no short commute for her. I am amazed at the help God provides just when we need it. And I greedily soaked up an extra hour or so of conversation with my friend and greatly had my spirits lifted.

My first port access went great - so nice to only be poked once and it hurt less than an IV. I am glad that milestone is out of the way and one less thing I have to think about for Monday. The infusion nurse was kind and answered a lot of my questions about port care and such and I feel Jim and I are better equipped to deal with it and anything that might come up on Monday. Such a blessing. Already the steroids have helped with the joint pain...not with the sleeping though ;-) but I will take the breather, no complaints here.

Through the ups and downs of the past two weeks and the waiting, I was reminded how God likes to be remembered. The Old Testament and New Testament are filled with re-telling of all that He has done for His people. It's re-tell worthy folks, that's for sure. He is mighty and powerful. And perfect in His timing. Despite our efforts to get me into treatment sooner, it has been very clear that the answer is no, and while I don't understand that and have struggled with "but haven't I hurt enough yet?" I have been so sweetly reminded by several things.

This article by Joni Eareckson Tada has been a balm to my spirit and emotions. We aren't promised a charmed and pain free life, Christian or no. There is going to be trouble. And we are to walk joyfully in it, because, for me, my hope isn't in this world, but in Jesus Christ. And we don't walk it alone, He and the amazing support community He has provided are with us every step of the way.

And then I ran across an old post from 2012, where I was really struggling with the day to day stomach pain and wondering when it would end. I want to be the woman in this post, the one who was finding joy and hope even in the waiting. I look forward to Monday - it's a big day - it's when I feel like I start my offensive against lupus and the meningitis. It will take 7-10 days for us to notice if the treatment might be helping. I am praying for miracle of shorter time. BUT even if we don't see the results we hope for, I want to choose joy. 

Please join us in praying for a miracle, to see a difference even in this first treatment, to trust Him no matter the results, and to choose to be joyful when it's hard.

You are an amazing village of supports and prayers and positive thought senders and helpers - even in the darkest moments, knowing how loved we are - we see the Lord through that and can remind ourselves of His faithfulness.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" ESV- James 1:2-4

My David Moment - repost from 2012

It's been a rough past five or six days pain-wise and sleep-wise and I've found myself getting pretty discouraged. My right hand recently broke out with the blister/ulcers that I usually get only when it gets cold outside (one of the aspects of the Raynaud's Syndrome that I have). It made me crinkle my brow, because I wouldn't think that would happen with the new meds in my system - I know I am not supposed to really start seeing results for another couple of months, but I didn't think that I would still be getting disease things - I was hoping everything would just freeze where it is at. And my abdomen pain has been pretty brutal at times and on top of all that, I am having a lot of trouble sleeping - I just can't sleep through the night and wake up and can stay up for hours before falling back asleep. It's been very wearing.

I found myself at caregroup last night not wanting to ask for prayer because I am so TIRED of praying for my health and tired of disappointing people when they ask me expectantly "so, are you feeling better?" and I have to say no. I know that probably sounds a little crazy, but I'm just being honest here. My sweet group had great encouraging things to say and did pray for me when I finally admitted that I didn't want to ask for prayer...and while I appreciated their prayers and concern, I still came home hurting, tired, and discouraged.

I've been studying the book of Hebrews, but I wasn't feeling it this morning. I journaled a bit and asked God to remind me that I do find joy in what He is doing through all of this and that I want to share that joy with others. I was feeling so weary. So I looked up verses on "weary".

I read Hebrews 12:3 but it wasn't what I was looking for...I went on to the next verse that had "weary" in it, Psalm 69:3- "I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God." Um. WOW. What's this? Did I write this? Nope, David did...I flipped the page and started at the beginning of the psalm. Here's how God used this psalm to mightily encourage me today:

So you saw verse 3 (crying out, eyes growing dim)...and then nine verses later, David writes this:
"But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness" (Psalm 69:12). 

Oh Lord, YES! You know that I know this is all part of Your plan and that it is for my good and your Glory. But please Lord, in your timing, end this season for me.

And then David writes:

"I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high" (Psalm 69:29)

Oh so true, and yes, Lord, I would really like for this disease to settle, to go away completely.

"I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners" (Psalm 69: 30-33)

Now, the study portion of my bible says that this is what David (who is writing this psalm with the perspective that we all should have in trials) will do if he is delivered from his trial. I agree with that, yet, I want to praise the Lord even if this trial doesn't end, because He never ceases to amaze me with how He blesses me and gives me grace - true, it may not be according to my plan, but it is always so much sweeter and greater than what I have planned. And I hope when I share how He has blessed me and given me grace, that it encourages those around me, that they will see Him working, and not me. And this is EXACTLY what David is saying. Whoa. Big whoa.

And finally, David writes:

"For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; the offspring of his servants shall inherit it and those who love his name shall dwell in it." (Psalm 69:34-36)

Ah yes Lord, my hope is not in this world, but in Heaven. One day, I WILL have perfect health. That day when I am with you for all eternity. What amazing hope!

I cannot tell you how encouraged I felt after going through this psalm and writing down those verses. My Father cares for me, He encourages me when I am discouraged and points me back to Him.

And that, was my David moment. ::grin::

Friday, September 23, 2016

Abide - the Forward Plan

To abide:

1. To wait for
2. To endure without yielding
3. To bear patiently 
4. To accept without objection

Over the last week, the word "abide" kept coming up in what I was listening to - Scripture, music, etc.

Last week, Jim and I started realizing that my recovery progress had slowed, even reversed in some aspects. Along with the meningitis head pain/fuzziness, my lupus has been out of control - joints, higher than normal fevers, fatigue, and severe stomach pain. The evenings have been pretty miserable. On Tuesday, I had an endoscopy done of my stomach (they stick a camera down your throat and take pics of your insides!). The good news is that the damage we thought might be there from some meds wasn't. The "bad" news was that the pain is due to inflammation of the lining around the outside of my stomach  caused by the lupus. That was the info we needed to call Rheumo Doc and press for a forward plan - I was done.

We met with Rheumo Doc yesterday and pretty quickly came to realize that my immune system has gone completely haywire. Rheumo Doc is also leaning towards the leftover meningitis pain actually being my lupus with Central Nervous System (CNS) involvement now. We're still not sure if my lupus triggered the meningitis or an actual virus, but the fact that the inflammation is lingering so long leads to the former. Lupus with CNS involvement includes cognitive dysfunction, vision and hearing impairment, pain, dizziness, stiff neck...all of which I am currently experiencing.

My immune system needs a reset.

The Forward Plan - Chest port and Chemo

So, next week I am going to have a chest port placed (it's a permanent IV that has a catheter that goes to a larger vein than the ones I have in my arms - my veins are completely shot after a few years of infusions and all the recent problems and it's been taking forever and many attempts to get an IV in me- the port will allow easy access for treatments and blood draws and can be removed when I no longer need it). Once the port is placed, I'll start on a 3-6 month round of chemotherapy.

Lupus is not cancer. Let's be very clear on that! However, chemotherapy works by suppressing ones immune system and mine needs to be be suppressed and reset so we can start over.

The chemotherapy that I will be doing is called cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). It is one of the chemo treatments cancer patients get, however, I won't be taking the cocktail of harsher chemo drugs that cancer patients get so it is "shockingly rare" (Rheumo doc's words) that my hair will fall out. I will get the treatments once a month. Historically, lupus patients respond very well to this treatment and it has many people stabilize and even enter remission. It will be worth some rough months to potentially have an even better quality of life before all of this started! There's some bright hope for tomorrow!

Once the chemo treatments are completed, we will evaluate where my lupus is and maintain it with the same or different medications that I've used in the past. I am hoping that this will nip the current organ involvement (stomach/CNS) in the bud...and maybe even get me into remission (and it's been YEARS since I've been there...)

We're hoping that the chemo will settle the lupus, the remaining effects of the meningitis, and get me on the road to recovery and back to whatever the Lord has for us - we are so excited to be about His work and see how He will use what we have experienced to encourage and pour into others.

So the word "abide"... I realized that the description of my blog is from John 15. In that chapter, verse 5 states "I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he who will bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." It's been staring at me since 2007.

I am just a branch on the vine.

I will abide in Him. I will wait for Him, I will endure without yielding, trusting Him, I will bear patiently by His grace, desiring His will, not mine. 

So, I'm sitting here, contemplating what abiding looks like, what that means for this season. And I am hopeful. Because He doesn't reveal these things and leave me hanging. He is SO very good to complete the good work He is doing in me, and in Jim through all of this. So I'll look to that peace that endures and the bright hope for tomorrow. For He is my hope.

"Abide With Me" 
(Audrey Assad version)
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not, abide with me

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee
In life, in death, o Lord, abide with me
Abide with me, abide with me

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Expectations versus Reality

We started me on a new pain management regimen on Friday and I've had a few bumpy days. Trying to figure out when break through pain might hit and get ahead of it, rather than being surprised by it is tricky. Yesterday was unexpectedly rough and I ended up sleeping a good portion of the day. I am working on getting into my primary care doctor to help me track and trace all these different symptoms that I'm experiencing - it's hard to sort out what's meningitis pain/recovery versus lupus.

I am still making forward progress when it comes to daily tasks and I am seeing small improvements in stamina. I can visit with friends for about 1.5 hours before my head gets too "full" and I need to rest. The concentration that's required to converse/process seems to irritate my head and hearing and vision get increasingly worse. The good news is resting definitely resets all of that, so I am having some decent moments during the day too.

I'm learning how to spend my spoons during this recovery - it's different than just with the lupus. Right now, my mornings start early due to being uncomfortable and "time to take your meds" times. I get up and make Jim's lunch (so thankful I can manage that now for him) and make my breakfast. He leaves for work and I head back to bed to rest. We're having friends come "babysit" from 10am-2pm so I can have help getting lunch and to have a social visit. Afternoons consist of resting more - sometimes listening to a book on Audible or spent coloring. Screen time is very limited because it quickly causes brain fuzziness and vision issues.

I told Jim the other day that I experienced a first, I was just laying in bed, in the cool darkness of our bedroom, and just resting. Not thinking, not trying to figure out what I could do to keep healing. I was just THERE. And I thought, "Lord, is this what it feels like to rest in You, because, this is kind of nice!" :). Each day, I feel  I learn something new about resting in Him. I rattle of lists of things I am thankful for and remind myself, sometimes out loud, to just be still and to be content in the moment and not think ahead. Such a different way of thinking for my loves-to-be-doing-and-going-do-ALL-the-things personality.

Your ways are not my ways.

Before all this started, I had started my own study on Expectations versus Reality, but specific to this new married life that I am blessed to experience. I had even started writing a post in my head. This current trial fits in well with what I was beginning to learn. My lupus had started flaring pretty soon after we returned from the honeymoon and I was struggling to be the wife I wanted to be while feeling so lousy. The Lord showed me that I was setting all sorts of expectations that neither He nor Jim had - I wanted to be the perfect wife, the perfect homemaker. How was I not able to get stuff done when I had friends who are full-time working moms and they were able to pull it off brillantly? I was measuring myself against them and falling short in my eyes. I was trying to learn a new spoon juggle and was overspending everywhere.

Like a smack upside the head one morning while doing my bible study, I realized what I was doing. I was considering my standards more important that God's. I had crammed myself into my little "Perfect Wife" box with a certain set of rules and standards and was leaning on my own strength and knowledge and wisdom (snort), and not His. A wonderful dialogue started with me asking for forgiveness for my arrogance that I KNOW BEST, instead of Him and then looking at what it means to surrender my expectations to His reality.

What are His expectations of me, me not just as a wife, but as a follower of Him?

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" and "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39)

In my study so far, that's it. The other commands I've come across so far about how to be a follower of Jesus, how to be a loving sister, daughter, friend, wife, mother, fall into those two commands, the Great Commandments.

Wow, do I overcomplicate things :).

And so, as I sit in this season of needing to rest, to be still, I am trying to focus on those two things - loving the Lord and loving others., not on what I can or can't do or accomplish right now. The struggle is real folks, to do this, but with His grace, I know I can, because He sustains, equips, and provides for His children.

My expectations of myself did not reflect the reality of what God was and is asking me to be. And His way is so much better. How hard it can be to surrender and trust, but when we do, oh what a sweet place He has for us to rest.

In Him.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Strength for today

Listening to that song and being able to write out my thoughts and emotions has been a turning point for me. I share the rawness and ugliness because I think it's important to know that it's okay not to be be okay. It's okay to question and process and work through things. The point is to keep moving forward and to speak truth when I want to listen to lies. I have to constantly remind myself that no one, including Him, is asking me to walk perfectly through a tough time and be all rainbows and kittens about it. I am overwhelmed by the encouragement, truth, and strengthening He provided through all of you who commented and messaged me. Throughout this ordeal, we have felt so surrounded and supported and loved. We have such a good God to sustain us.

I am learning to be content when it's hard to be content. Yes, it's good to long for and hope for "all the bright and joyous things" that I mentioned in my previous post, but I also need to learn to rest and be joyful where I am. Each morning I am waking up and listing the things that I am thankful for and noting any progress that has been made. And reminding myself that slow is okay. I am not missing out on anything God would have for me because I am right where He wants me to be. At His feet.

Progress is happening, I am able to sit up more, can do more things in the kitchen (we've found that me sitting on a stool, rather than standing, helps me get more done without being so tired) and I can converse longer with the wonderful ladies that have been keeping me company during the day before my head gets all buzzy-fuzzy-shuddery. The pain in my head is changing, which I hope is a sign of healing.

One of the challenges we are facing is that my lupus was flaring badly before the meningitis and is continuing to flare, but I am currently off all my lupus meds (besides a hefty daily dose of steroids to help with lowering inflammation). My immune system was going so haywire that we needed to pull back and just try and get it settled. My stomach issues from years ago have returned, so we are looking at how the pain meds treat my head (neuralgic pain) and my stomach pain. The pain meds slow your system down. My stomach was already having issues before the sits too long and causes nausea and pain and acid backs up. Thankfully, my pain doc, stomach doc, and rheumo doc are all at Houston Methodist and so they can put their heads together and work a plan for me. Forward plan is still up in the air as we wait and see how my body handles recovering from the meningitis and the lupus flare.

I have also been able to see how much the medicines are helping relieve pain (forgot to take a dose and wowee...). Appreciation and thankfulness for them has helped me to be more patient. Your body can't heal if it's constantly fighting pain.

I'm drinking bone broth and turmeric tea and juicing and smoothing all the anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies I can :) . We're also using acupuncture to keep the blood moving and hopefully relieve pain. Lots of yoga stretching going on as well. Two weeks ago, I couldn't even imagine doing some light stretching, so movement is a huge sign of progress as I am learning to adjust to the weird pressures in my head and correct for imbalances.

"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall notoverwhesm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and they flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..." (Isaiah 43:1-3)

I want my heart to be aligned with Him. That the bright and joyous things I seek are the ones He wants me to seek, to pursue. His will be done, not mine.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." (James 1:2).

My faith is being grown. Oh to be steadfast!

He provides strength for today. And that is enough.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Looking for New Mercies

This isn't going to eloquent or smooth, it hurts to search my mind for the right words or to connect thoughts together. In fact, I am typing this mostly with my eyes closed because the words make me dizzy and word proofing will be limited, so please bear with me.

Jim is at church this morning and I'm worshipping at home. He texted me to say that they are singing "Great is Thy Faithfulness" this morning, That was the hymn I chose to have sung at our wedding because it reflects so much of what God has done in my life.

I read his words and pulled up the song and started listening to it and the tears started flowing because I am struggling so much with believing in those words That his mercies are  new every monring. Every morning I wake up and something has changed. The pressure in my head is different and I have to adjust to a new level of dizziness and nausea while fighting the feeling that my face is going to explode off my skull or that a little steam spout will form at the top of my head. The pain meds muffle the pain so much that my ears feel they need to pop and they can't.

The nerve medicines that are helping to hold back the headache pain have made my extremities gums are numb - it's a weird sensation.

It's hard to live in a muffled world when I want to experience all the bright and joyous things. To be out from this fog and to live life like normal again.

Normalcy, That's what I want.  And it's coming so very slow.

But it's there. Jim set out all the ingredients for me to make pancakes yesterday and on the second attempt (I am having trouble reading lines on a page so I blurred two lines together and add way to much baking powder) and I was able to mix up a batch for him to cook. That's progress.

I made tea by myself too. And I can mostly wash my hair by myself, depending on the time of day and what I've done before.

Those are my achievements right now - just trying to get the basics back down. It's so very humbling and yesterday I found myself standing in the kitchen, trying to get out ingredients to make a sandwich and just began sobbing because I had absolutely no strength left. Jim is a rock and sat me down on the couch and made me my lunch while I blubbered the whole time. I so wanted to do it by myself and ease his burden.

I am going to listen to "Great is Thy Faithfulness" on repeat this morning and ask to see these new mercies. Because my previous blog posts though trials remind me that they are there, that He is faithful. 

Dark moments are okay. It's dark today but I look forward to the light and newness tomorrow and will keep telling myself to trust Him that he will provide the strength for each day forward. 

I will get better in His perfect timing. My release date from the hospital last week was 8/28 and I spent some considerable time over the past weeks thinking on Romans 8:26-28 (thankful for audio Bibles). This verse and that hymn, going to work on writing this on my heart.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

Great is Thy faithfulness! 
Great is Thy faithfulness! 
Morning by morning new mercies I see. 
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!