Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity with doctor stuff. The day started off with an MRI my rheumatologist wanted me to have with check in time for it at 7am. To put that in perspective, I usually wake up at 7:30 🙂 MRI machines are loud even with the earplugs in, but it was no big deal.
Then I stopped at the school where my morning class is to do a few things. Mondays I do not teach. It is the day that we have a speaker come to share with the moms through a translator. I was there for a few hours.
Then the big one my appointment with a cardio electro physiologist about an ablation. It looks to be a simple procedure. I will have the ablation next Monday with a check in time of 5am.
After a refreshing nap, it was time for conversation practice with a Brazilian friend.. She lived in my city for one year several years ago. She is back in Brazil, so we meet in Zoom. Yesterday I met her boyfriend while we were talking. We do entrecambio-exchange- speaking in English and also some Portugues.
The day capped off with teaching my online class for the college.
What was the common theme that wove all of that together? Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 says:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Throughout the day there was a calm in my spirit because of Jesus. Starting a day with an MRI could be an unsettling experience, but the peace of God was with me. Seeing a cardio doctor could be unsettling, but the peace of God was with me. The peace of God was with me because of Jesus.
Seven years ago I began the experience of what I call being a pinball patient going from doctor to doctor to try to find out what was wrong. At that time, I came across this video by Kristene DiMarco-It Is Well. Since that time, I have listened to it every day and some days more than once, some days several times.
I have shared it before, but felt it would be good to share it again today. Today is a double doctor day for me. I have an MRI this morning with check in at 7am. The MRI is to determine if I have ankylosing spondylitis which is an arthritis that is in the spine. Then at 1pm I have an appointment with an cardiac electro physiologist which is a doctor who does ablations. I need one to correct my heart rhythm.
So I will start my morning, way too early, by listening to It Is Well and praying. It is a video that has blessed me, so I am sharing it in hopes it blesses you as well.
Last Friday afternoon, I had a appointment with my cardiologist. I found out I was back in what he called heart flutter rhythm, which means I will have a minor procedure done in the coming weeks. It was not exactly the kind of news one wants to receive two days before Christmas, but at least as my cardiologist said, it is the best problem to have with the heart because it is easy to fix.
My appointment finished in time for me to make it to the Ukrainian church to teach English for refugees. We had a good time together My plan was to go home after the class, but I found out that the children and youth of my friends in my class were singing in a Christmas program that evening, so I stayed to listen. It was a blessing to listen to them sing especially considering their children had just fled the war with them only a month or months ago.
Back to my appointment and a question I had when he told me I would need a procedure. My first question was about recovery time. I told him, “my concern about recovery time is how long it will take because I am helping Ukrainian refugees and need to know how long I would be away from them.” My concern was more about my Ukrainian friends and friends from other countries than it was about me. I was relieved when he told me I would be back to work a few days after the procedure.
Anytime I find out something medical that is one of my first thoughts. How will this affect the people Jesus has called me to serve?
Living with chronic illness has meant needing to make adjustments. Some are easy such as letting my friends from other countries know about my need to gluten free foods. Some are a hassle for me personally but do not affect them such as which day I inject my once a week medication knowing the next day will be low energy day for me. That has been my reality for many years. That is why one of my first questions was how long will the recovery time be.
Living with a chronic illness means experiencing the ups and downs of it sometimes in one day. I can be fairly okay one day and the next day is a struggle. Add to that the fact that my personality is such that I do not want to give into it and do not want let it hold me back and the result is the pull of two sides one being accept it and adjust and the other being no way I will overcome it.
Case in point is the temporary parking placard my doctor wanted me to have so I can use handicapped parking when needed. Upon receiving it, it sat there in my car not being used at all for two months. I know the stores I go to and the times to go, so the parking spot next to the handicapped spot is empty.
But last week in the midst of a flare up that caused me to have pain shooting down both legs from my back, I finally used it. I parked in a handicapped spot feeling defeated by doing so.
Since the first autoimmune problem hit in 1993, I have lived with a theme of I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. When someone would suggest perhaps I could not do something, I would stand on that verse from Philippians 4. Jesus has blessed me with eleven mission trips to other countries since 1997 for one example of Christ giving me strength.
Add in the fact that I tend to have an adventuresome spirit and it kind of complicates things even more. We had a large snow in parts of my state, but my city won’t have much. I was kind of hoping we would just so I could see how my small SUV does in the snow. As I work on finishing my book Jesus Understands Trauma, my hope is to travel to Brazil and Mexico to speak in churches.
But then there is that placard to handicapped parking that is in my car that I finally used last week. That is the push/pull of the two sides of me. This leaves me thinking it would be good to have Jesus return soon.
Several months ago I shared a post I Love Nurses. My recent hospital stay a few weeks ago highlighted for me why I love nurses. They are awesome.
My nurses were the ones who took time to explain things for me step by step including the cardioversion I had. They were the ones who checked on me frequently. They were the ones who listened to my concerns. They were the ones who brought me chocolate ice cream.
The three nurses I had were also the ones who laughed at my jokes. Perhaps only to humor me. 🙂
Nurses help me feel calm. Doctors make my blood pressure go up.
Whenever I go a doctor, I enjoy talking with the nurses as they go over my medications and reason for my appointment.
So this short post of mine is a shout out to nurses. You are awesome. As a person who lives with chronic illnesses, my appreciation for nurses is high.
Thanksgiving has come and gone already. It feels like it zipped on past me quickly. It was nice to spend time with friends last night sharing friendship and delicious food. But it is over now. The rest of the world will be full speed ahead to Christmas, but I am not ready for it. I do not mean about shopping. That is a five minute thing for me on Amazon.
I wonder how many crazy people will wait outside in the cold to be the first ones in the stores for shopping. How many will be sane and do it all online like me. 🙂
I feel like calling this year My Chronic Christmas as in chronic illness.. I have a follow up appointment with my GP next week to follow up on my recent hospital stay. I have a rheumatology appointment on Dec. 21st and a follow up appointment with the cardiologist on the 23rd. I also have a MRI sometime before the rheumatology appointment.
So that is four medical things before Christmas. UGH.
The one good thing about Christmas, the best thing, is that it is a reminder that Jesus left heaven to be born as a human baby, so he could be Immanuel-God With Us. I am grateful Jesus is with me at medical appointments.
Are you ready for the whole Christmas holiday thing?
After reading the timeline I wrote regarding the years after my first health struggles and remembering the timeline I wrote from childhood to my first health struggle, my therapist said, “You have overcome so much in your life. What’s next for you now that you have overcome so much?”
Me-“I don’t know. Maybe Jesus will take me home to heaven.”
Therapist-“What would you like to see happen?”
Me-“I would like to finish and publish my book about Jesus Understands Trauma. I think I can get it translated into Spanish and Portuguese. I would love to share about it in Ensenada Mexico and in Brazil and maybe here in the USA. I would like to continue teaching and helping refugees/immigrants.”
Therapist- “Those are great goals.”
Me-“But at my age I am not sure how much time I have to do them.”
Therapist-“You could have many more years.”
Not verbalized to her my thought-“I don’t want many more years of pain, Maranantha Lord Jesus. Come quickly Lord Jesus.”
Even this morning was another morning of waking up in pain and wishing I could stay home all day. But I will go teach three classes today. Each day is like that for me living with chronic illness. But there are more people to reach with the love of Jesus and I do hope to follow what 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God
That is my motivation behind the book and my desire for future ministry.
Fall break is here for all of my classes. After a morning teacher’s meeting today, I am off until next Wednesday. Last night I realized how much I need it. It is safe to say I was TIRED. One of the issues that bothers me the most, besides constant pain, about living with chronic illness is fatigue.
While other teachers were talking about short trips to visit family or projects to get done around home, my thoughts were of doing things like sleeping and taking naps. 🙂
But I have a feeling that next Monday and Tuesday will also involve time at the coffee shop to do more writing. I might even see other teachers there who are summer regulars at the coffee shop, but too busy to hang out there during the school year.
The top of my list for next Monday and Tuesday is along the lines of Luke 5:16 and following the example of Jesus.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
It is from times of prayer that refreshment comes and this teacher needs that.
My Saturday morning group grew to 15 people this week including a 90 year old great grandmother. We had a fun time studying together. It is such a blessing to see people ,who suffered loss during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, smiling and laughing during class. The morning also had a few other blessings.
One is depicted by the picture. A woman was teaching cooking for Middle School age kids in their church. After my class, I went upstairs and followed the pleasing aroma of food being cooked to the kitchen. She blessed me with not one, but two omelets. I won’t need to eat the rest of the day. When I say omelet, I mean ultimate omelet. It had diced peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, diced potatoes, and cheese.
My translator for today was the 17 year old son of one of the pastors. We had a deep conversation about living with chronic illness. He had surgery for Crohn’s Disease a few months ago. We talked about how God can take our suffering, if we give it to him, and work through us to bless others as 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4 says:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Now I am sitting in the coffee shop, drinking coffee and giving the two omelets a chance to digest before I go to the Latino Festival.
In June 2021, I started taking methotrexate for Psoriatic Arthritis/Psoriasis. I read comments by people on Instagram who take it and referred to the methotrexate hangover, which is not feeling like doing anything the day after. So I took it on Fridays with the thinking that Saturdays can be spent at home if need be.
The opportunity to help Ukrainian refugees on Saturdays is something I believe God is calling me to do, but then there is that methotrexate hangover thing. So I made a small change. I injected Sunday afternoon. My thinking is that this small change will allow me to help the Ukrainian refugees on Saturdays with worrying about being out of it due to the medication.
I tried it this past Sunday due to the holiday yesterday to give me a trial at it. My thinking is that Mondays I can teach in the morning, come home to rest, and then teach online Monday evenings.
Chronic fatigue is something I always have to factor into my decisions including the after effects of methotrexate. That is just part of life while living with chronic illnesses. I am so grateful Jesus gives me strength.
I am looking forward to this Saturday and spending time with my new friends from Ukraine.