Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Lyme Disease-1 Lisa-0

Joy's message for me last night

I remember the first time I found a tick on one of my kids.  It was Mother's Day weekend 5 years ago.  I was sitting outside manning our garage sale and the kids were playing in the woods behind our house.  Joy came up to me and sat on my lap.  I looked down at her head and shrieked!  There was a TICK on her head!  At least I assumed it was a tick since I'd never seen one before.  I kind of flipped out because ewww.  Thankfully a friend just happened to be currently shopping at my sale and knew what to do.  We got the tick off and I breathed a sigh of relief that it was a dog tick and not an evil deer tick.

Since then I have found 2 other ticks on my kids, always dog ticks.  But my kids will attest to the fact that I am a bit of a bug spray fanatic whenever they are going to be playing in the woods or out in nature.  And I always make them do a tick check and take a shower after they are done.  

Last Saturday, July 2, I was doing my hair in the mirror when I glanced at my arm.  I did a double take.  What was this rash on my arm?  And is that a bullseye rash???  I took pictures because that's what everyone does when they encounter a weird rash on their body, right?  Okay, maybe that's just me.  

I ran down the stairs and stuck my armpit in Hubby's face.  "Is that a bullseye rash?  Do I have lyme disease???!!!"  We looked at it.  I had Dr. Grandpa look at it (we were on vacation at my in-laws' lake house).  We decided that it was maybe/probably/hopefully a spider bite because lyme disease is considered "just emerging" in my area.  But if I started to get flu-like symptoms, then I needed treatment.

I was fine for a week.  Friday night I started to feel bad.  Saturday I started feeling really bad.  By Monday morning I called the doctor the minute the office opened to make an appointment to be seen that day.  Yesterday.

The doctor asked me my symptoms: Every limb feels like it weighs 1000 lbs.  Everything hurts.  I am tired.  I feel like I am an electric type Pokemon character because I keep getting shooting electric pains through my body.  I showed her the picture of my rash.  She gave me medicine.  I blessed her.  She warned me about die-off.  Yes, I'd read about that.  It's when you take doxycycline and the first few days you feel worse.  A die-off reaction, also called a Herxheimer reaction, occurs as bacteria die during antibiotic treatment.  It basically means every symptom is magnified until the die-off finishes.  I thought I knew what that meant.  I thought I was prepared.

Last night after 2 doses of the medicine, I laid in bed and my entire body felt like it was humming with electricity and pain.  I wanted to cut my legs off.  Today I decided that everyone in hell is going to have lyme disease because that is what it feels like.  Every task takes a Herculean effort.  I have to give myself a pep talk that yes, I can rotate laundry.  Yes, I can goto the store and buy groceries as long as one of the kids pushes the cart.  Library-fine, but David has to carry the book bag.  Because I just can't.  

So to anyone who has ever dealt with lyme disease--my sympathies.  To everyone who lives in my area--we have lyme infected ticks here.  I had not been out of the area until 2 days before the rash showed up, which means I was bit near home.  To everyone who comes near me--I'm sorry if my new perfume smells an awful lot like bug spray but it is necessary.  And to every child everywhere who fights their parents about wearing bug spray (or maybe it's just my kids)--let this be an object lesson.  You do not want this.  You really, really don't.  Wear your bug spray and stop whining about it.  

And to Joy, my compassionate child--thank you.  She came into my room yesterday and found me sprawled on my bed and asked if I was okay.  I said no.  She asked if she could make dinner and then asked to pray for me.  I left an hour later to goto the doctor.  When I got home at dinner time, she had the table set and a spaghetti dinner almost ready.  She is only almost 9 years old.  When I grow up I want to be just like Joy.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

God In The Midst Of The C-Word

I went to the gym one day in March.  My dad walked in and got on the machine next to me.  Where's Mom, I asked.  She's at the doctor.  She found a lump, he said.  And that is when my life flipped upside down.  The C-word suddenly entered our family vocabulary.  Biopsy, surgery, CAT scan, bone scan, chemo, radiation, all these words that I now have become all too familiar with.

My trust in the Lord has been tested.  Daily.  Lord, what are You doing?  Why MY mom?  She does so much for You.  It doesn't make sense. 

Many tears have been shed.  The day we found out that it was cancer, it was right as I was putting dinner on the table.  I had to walk away and cry in my bedroom so I wouldn't scare the kids.  And sweet Joy came into the room and laid down on the bed next to me, put her arm around me, and said It will be okay, Mommy.  Because she is the sweetest child in the world with a heart of gold.  The day we found out chemo would be necessary, I stood at the stove stirring dinner, holding it together until my Hubby walked in the door from work.  I ran into his arms and broke down.

My faith has grown.  I know my mom will be alright.  I know that this is just a trial that she will walk through and conquer.  In the end, God wins.

God's path for me now makes sense.  This past summer when I felt led to work with college kids instead of going to nursing school, now I know why.  At the time there was no reason for it, but now I see that my being in nursing school would have been a big hindrance for me being able to help my mom as she needs me.  I would have been torn and probably would have quit taking classes after this semester.

And this being the year that we chose to stop homeschooling and to put the kids in school, that also makes sense now.  I would not have had the capacity to teach my kids the past 2 months.  I will not have the time or the capacity to teach my kids next year.  Lizzy asked to be homeschooled next year and we prayed about it, but ultimately decided that I just can't.  I will be needed by my family and so the best place for Lizzy is in school.  It may not be forever, but it is the way things will need to be for another year.  God knew what was coming.  The kids transitioning to school was a really hard adjustment for everyone.  We didn't really get into the flow of things until about 3 months into the school year.  But we were able to struggle through together because there wasn't much else going on in our lives that made it harder.  If we had to go through this transition next fall, with everything else that is going on, the adjustment would have been a lot harder.  Which is why the kids needed to goto school this year.  And God knew that and prepared the way.

I don't like this storm my family is going through, but the grace and the peace and the victories and the blessings are many.  There is a lot of good that is coming out of the blech already and we are just in the beginning of this journey.  I may not like the storm, but I know that Jesus is in the boat with us so we will all be safe.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

I Will Never...Okay, Fine I Will

Our first snow day of the year--which has nothing to do with this post

Today's lesson is brought to you by God.  Again.  

My prayer group has a week long sleep away summer camp for elementary aged kids.  Hubby and I grew up going to camp, and then served on staff after we aged out up until we got married.  Then life happened and we set camp aside.  

Hubby plays guitar and really wanted to return to camp as the music director.  I said I was okay with that once David was old enough to go.  I could handle the girls by myself for a week, but not all three.  So, Hubby has been going every year since David was in second grade, this being Hubby's sixth year.  I have gone twice, as childcare has allowed.  My first year I served in the kitchen, then a year off, then last summer I was assistant craft director.  

This year David aged out of camp.  I tossed around finding a place for David to go for the week so I could go to camp, but ultimately decided to spend the week with David up north with a friend and her similarly-aged son because that's what I felt the Lord wanted me to do.  Over the next two month, my plans started falling away one by one.  It was actually kind of odd.  First, my friend was asked to serve at camp.  She started tossing that around.  Then she discovered her son had band camp the same week so he would be gone.  Fine.  David and I would just go up north alone.  

My parents also were talking about taking a trip that week where David and I could tag along.  But then a conference sprang up and their plans for that week were up in the air.  Hm.  

Yesterday I received an email about the backpacking trip that David is going on this summer.  Up to this point the trip has been in the middle of July.  I looked at the dates for his trip and did a double take: his trip is exactly the same time as camp.  I just laughed.  Seriously???  I suddenly found myself all by myself.  No friend, no David, trip with my parents in question.  

MY plan was, were I to go back to camp this year, would be to go back as the assistant craft director because I loved it.  And it gave me contact with all the kids, but not TOO much.  Like, being a counselor "too much."  On Tuesday I was talking with my friends about camp.  One is going to be a head counselor, the other's husband is, too.  I said on Tuesday that they were crazy, that I would never be a counselor because it'd be too much for me.  Just like I've been saying for the past 5 years--I would go to camp but as anything BUT a counselor.

But I saw the letter with all the staff positions listed.  The only spots open were 4 female counselor spots.  I was left with a decision: camp as a counselor vs going up north by myself.  I prayed for a few minutes about it and asked God to make it obvious.  I was in my car driving at this point and I decided to call the women's camp director to talk to her about it.  I got to my destination and was looking through the papers in my car trying to find my phone book.  I used to store it under the center console so I reached under there and pulled out what I found.  Out came a picture that I had meant to give to my friend months ago--a picture of her son at summer camp holding up a fish he caught.  I looked at the picture, laughed, and set it down.  Looked like I was going to camp.

I called the director and signed up to go as a counselor.  In all its "live in a cabin with girls all around all the time" glory.  Something I have said for years that I would never, ever, EVER do.  And after I hung up the phone, I just laughed, because this is what the director, who is also a friend, said:  "You can just add it to your list of doing something new.  Are you still doing that?  It really inspired me to try to do new things.  If Lisa can do it, so can I."  

Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking: Lets do something new.  Ha!  Ya, not at all.  What I was really thinking is that God pretty much did everything possible to ensure I would be going to camp as a counselor.  Despite my every protest.  Despite my saying I would never ever do such a thing.  I decided to not go to camp, thus giving up the one position at camp that I loved.  And then when it was too late to get any job other than that of a counselor, God stripped away every plan one by one, until I was left all alone with nothing to do but be by myself for a week or go to camp.  As a counselor.  Once again, I am left trusting that the Lord knows what He is doing, because clearly I do not.  Ha!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Can I Just Have A Billboard Message, Lord?

For the past few months, I have been praying every day but my prayer times have felt kind of...dry.  I'm putting in the time, I'm doing all the things, but I'm not really hearing a lot from the Lord.  Praying has been more of something I have to do versus something I delight in doing.  I guess it comes down to the fact that it's hard to talk to someone every day when you aren't really hearing much back.

It was really starting to bother me because I usually have a pretty good prayer life.  I usually hear from the Lord several times a week, if not more.  I tried changing things up, I read some new spiritual books, I prayed and asked God to "make it all better."  I like having a vibrant prayer life over a ho-hum prayer life.  And I am pretty confident God would agree with that.

Friday I was praying about direction for my life.  I have a few big decisions I need to make coming up.  As I was praying, I felt God speak pretty clearly:

Lisa, I will never leave you nor forsake you.  But I'm sorry, there are no billboards in your 
immediate future.  Instead, I will hold your hand and lead you day by day, which requires 
intimacy and daily trust.  Today you are going to build up person A.  Tomorrow you are 
going to build up person B.  Sunday, person C.

Yes, I was hoping for a billboard, because that is way more "exciting" and "big" and "flashy."  And yet, God holding my hand?  Pretty amazing.  Him wanting to be with me every day, every step of the way?  AWE-some!

Then as I thought about the second half of what God said to me, about building these specific people up, I kind of felt skeptical because I wasn't even planning to see 2 of the people at all this past weekend.  But, God said it so it must be true.

Friday my plans changed and I ended up spending lots of time with person A, who was struggling with discouragement and burnout.  I was able to brighten their day a bit and encourage them.

Early Saturday morning one of my kiddos decided it was time to experience what norovirus is all about, so all our plans for the day were cancelled.  Which then allowed me to spend time with person B because I was no longer busy.

By Sunday I had completely forgotten about what God had said until today when I went to write in my prayer journal and reread it.  And I realized that I had only seen person C for maybe 5 minutes, but it was enough to pray with them for a decision they had to make.

God was right!  Okay, I know God is always right, but on Friday morning I had this set of plans that ended up being completely changed due to circumstances and illness which opened the door for God's plans.  When I looked back and saw that message from God, I was like, wow.  That's really cool, God.  I did hear You.

So now I'm all, "What's on Your agenda next, Lord??  I'm ready.  I'm pumped.  I can do this day-by-day stuff.  It's kinda fun."  Who needs a billboard anyway when you have God right there with you leading you by the hand?  

Friday, January 22, 2016

Back In The Saddle Again--Diet and Exercise

Me in all my post-workout, un-showered glory

Three years ago I started the process of getting healthy.  I lost 45 lbs in 6 months and never felt better.  Then life happened.  I stopped eating the way I knew I needed to eat.  Just one cheat here, and another there, until I gained back 35 lbs.

Over the Christmas holiday, I decided that it was time to get serious again.  My weight was slowly creeping up, I was feeling sluggish, and my clothes were getting tight.  Not cool.

I recommitted to eating the Trim Healthy Mama way and joined the YMCA.  Yes, I need to drop some weight, but I also need to improve my overall fitness.  Build up my endurance.  I'm not going for marathon-runner or anything, because I actually hate to run.  I just want to be able to do a few flights of stairs without getting winded.

My first day to the gym was last week, just after I was feeling better from pneumonia.  My goal was 20 minutes of walking on the treadmill.  After 16 minutes I started to feel really bad.  Like dizzy-gonna-pass-out-I-need-sugar-right-now bad.  I immediately regretted my toast with just a teaspoon of butter breakfast.  I stumbled off the treadmill and made my way to the locker room for my stuff.  I somehow made it to my car where I downed a granola bar and waited in the parking lot for my sugar to come back up before driving home to eat breakfast.  Lesson learned.  Must eat a real breakfast before attempting to work out.  (Yes, I have hypoglycemia that likes to surface at the most inopportune times)

I should mention that I have accountability partners to keep me going--aka Mom and Dad.  They joined first and I asked if I could join through their account and pay a lot less money.  The Y said yes, so woohoo!  I now have a gym membership for $22/month.  Of course, my Mom kicks my butt every time we're both there because she is an aerobic machine.

My second day at the gym (after eating a good protein-rich breakfast of course), I found my mom on the elliptical machine.  I got on the one next to her so we could talk.  She'd already gone 20 minutes, which is the longest I ever choose to go on an aerobic machine.  So I asked if she was about done, that she didn't need to stay on just to keep me company.

"Oh no," she says.  "I go as long as I can before my knee starts to hurt.  I aim for an hour."

An HOUR!!!??!?!?!!!  Kill me now.  I lasted 10 minutes and left her to her "fun."

This week I only got to the gym twice due to Joy being home sick, again.  Thankfully this time it was just a viral cough and not pneumonia.  I took her to urgent care for a chest x-ray just to be sure.

Yesterday I did 10 minutes on the elliptical-on-steroids (It felt more stair climbing ish) and 20 minutes of weights.

Today I tried the normal elliptical, but my legs said no thank you.  Apparently they were sore from yesterday.  So I did weights and then 20 minutes on the treadmill.  Good enough.

Yes, I am out of shape.  No, I am not an exercise machine.  Sure, it's a little embarrassing that my mom is in way better shape than I am, but everyone has to start somewhere.  And this is my starting point.  I can only get better, right?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Blessings In The Midst Of Suffering

Taking her temperature while playing with Christmas presents

My kids have been school "going" kids since September.  And the truth is that I miss them a lot.  Almost every day.  I say almost because sometimes they drive me crazy and I am all too happy to send them off to school.  But for the rest of the time, it is quiet and lonely around the house.  Grocery shopping, while faster, isn't as fun.  I have no one to take to the library.  No one to do projects with.  Or go on nature hikes with.  Which is why I was really looking forward to Christmas break.  Two weeks with my kids with time to do lots of fun things.  

Two days into break, Sunday, Joy came down with a fever and sore throat.  Monday Lizzy had a fever and sore throat.  I took the girls to the doctor's office for a swab test and sure enough, they both had strep.  Antibiotics and 24 hours of no fun.  But they would be fine by Christmas so all was well.

Wednesday Lizzy started coughing a lot.  And her fever came back.  I did my usual internet doctor thing and looked up her symptoms--they just didn't fit with strep.  Apparently she had something else as well.  So I called Dr. Grandpa and asked (begged) him to come listen to Lizzy's lungs to just rule out pneumonia, because surely it couldn't be pneumonia because we've never had pneumonia in our family.  And...she had pneumonia.  I sent Hubby to the store to pick up her new medicine and prayed her cough would go away within the next 24 hours so she wouldn't have to miss any of the Christmas festivities.  

I also prayed, and asked everyone I knew to pray, that David wouldn't get pneumonia because he has asthma.  And pneumonia + asthma = a really bad thing.  

Lizzy was remarkably improved after just one dose of the new medicine, but she was still coughing.  Hubby's family agreed she could come over for the family Christmas Eve party as long as she didn't cough around the babies or great grandpa.  

Christmas day at my family party was a no go due to my very delicate grandma and my immune-compromised aunt.  So we skipped Christmas dinner, but they agreed she could come for presents as long as she sat far away from grandma and auntie.  Yes, Lizzy was pretty upset and sad about missing out on Christmas fun, but we ended up having a good Christmas anyway.

When no one else started coughing, I was relieved that we had dodged that bullet.  So I made plans to have fun with friends and we managed to get a few things into the second week of break.

And then Wednesday morning I got the call that Grandma passed away.  All plans were put on hold, Hubby came home from work to be with the kids, and I spent most of the day helping clean out Grandma's assisted living room because she was only paid up through the end of the month, which happened to be the next day.  If the room wasn't cleaned out by the next day, we would be charged $5000.  

Sunday morning on the last day of break, Joy and Hubby spiked a fever.  Then the cough set in.  Dr. Grandpa was called in for a lung check, but Joy sounded fine.  Sick,but not pneumonia.  Monday I called Dr. Grandpa again for a lung check--she sounded fine.  Tuesday I asked for a chest x-ray because her fever was still over 102 and she sounded awful.  The chest x-ray showed pneumonia.  So Joy and Hubby (who was also still sick) went on meds.  Joy missed the whole week of school, and any activity exhausted her and required a nap.

Wednesday night David spiked a 102 fever and had a tiny cough.  Oh no!  Please don't get bad.  Please don't get bad.  I prayed; we all prayed.  Dr. Grandpa called me this time and told me to get David on meds ASAP so that his pneumonia didn't have a chance to set in.  God sure heard our prayers because David never got that sick.  I made him stay home from school Thursday because of the fever Wednesday night and he needed to be on meds for 24 hours, but he probably could have gone to school.  No fever on Thursday, just the small cough.  He went to school on Friday and was running around like normal.  That was a complete blessing from the Lord that David didn't get that sick.

Which brings us to today.  With everyone off to school and work, and me at home.  Sick.  With pneumonia.  I started feeling bad Sunday morning, and today I called the doctor.  But it's okay for me to be sick now because the rest of my family is fine.  Because that's how it works.  

So the blessings.  We only missed a little bit of Christmas.  We were all well for a few days so we could do fun things over break.  We got to see Grandma one last time at Christmas.  The tech who took Joy's x-ray "strongly suggested" we go upstairs to our doctor's office to have the doctor read the x-ray report and get Joy meds.  But he could neither confirm nor deny that she had pneumonia.  I just laughed and blessed him for doing that because it got Joy meds that day instead of having to wait until the morning (and by this point she was really bad and I was concerned I may need to take her to the ER).  David didn't get that sick, and he never had any trouble with his asthma.  I didn't get sick until everyone else was better.  My extended family was unable to have Grandma's memorial service until later this month, which means my family will be able to go because we will all be healthy by then (I pray).  And we got to spend LOTS of time together at home since, you know, we couldn't go anywhere.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

God Gives the Best Presents

Last January I started to have tailbone pain.  It came and went, and then came and stayed.  Sitting became excruciatingly painful.  Sitting through church required a lot of wiggling around trying to find a position that didn't cause pain.  Driving short distances hurt.  Driving long distances required pain killers and it still hurt.  Sitting in my recliner to read a book was replaced with laying in bed because even a comfy chair was no longer comfy.

In May I decided to see the doctor.  She ordered an xray which showed lucency of my sacrum and the radiologist recommended a ct scan for clarity.  Being the internet doctor that I am, I looked that up.  And everything I found looked bad.  Cancer bad.  Bad, bad, bad.  I had the ct scan and then sweated bullets for three days waiting for the results to come back.  I have cancer.  Of course I don't have cancer.  I am going to die.  I am going to be fine.  

Finally the nurse called me with the results.  They found nothing on my ct scan.  Nothing.  I was so relieved that it wasn't cancer that I decided I could live with not being able to sit for a while longer.  

By fall I decided to try again.  This time I was referred to an osteopathic manipulation doctor.  She twisted and pressed and finagled my spine into proper alignment--and it did nothing.  My tailbone still hurt.  I went back three more times before deciding that this just wasn't helping.  I asked my doctor for an MRI thinking maybe the ct scan and xray missed something.  My doctor referred me to a spine doctor instead.

I went to that appointment thinking, "Yes!  A specialist!  He will fix me."  He was a jerk. He was the all-knowing doctor and I was the ignorant peasant.  In the end he offered me steroid shots as the only solution, and they may or may not work.  I said no thank you.  

This is where I hit the lowest of the lows.  I got into my car and cried.  No one in the whole world could help me.  I had tried every doctor that could possibly help me and no one could.  I cried out to God in supplication: God, I can't fix this.  The doctors don't seem to be able to fix this.  Unless You do something, I am going to live in pain for the rest of my life.  Please fix me.  You are my only hope. 

There was one last avenue that my doctor had left on the list.  She referred me to a pelvic floor physical therapist.  It was a long shot, but I was desperate.  I didn't have much hope, but I had nothing to lose.

I met Karen on December 2.  Tailbones weren't exactly her specialty, but she'd dealt with them a few times before and had helped the women get out of pain.  Suddenly I was hopeful.  She quickly ascertained that my tailbone was stuck in the "I am standing up" position.  When I went to sit down, my tailbone wasn't curling under like it was supposed to, so I was literally sitting on my tailbone.  Ouch.  Karen worked her magic, told me I would be in pain for a few days, but then it would go away.  I nodded, didn't really believe her, and left.

I should have believed her.  Oh my!  I hurt way worse for two days.  I wanted to cry because it didn't work!  

On day three, I sat down to eat breakfast and noticed something strange.  I wiggled around a little in my chair just to be sure, but the pain was gone.  My constant companion for almost a year was just gone.  I didn't know what to think.  

For the next week I tested it out.  I sat on chairs I would never have sat on before; nope, no pain.  I sat on the floor to fold laundry, which always caused pain before.  Not anymore.  Driving?  Nope.  Church?  Nope.  Well, huh.  She really fixed it.  She really fixed it.  She really fixed it!!!

I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and went from appointment to appointment trying to find someone who could take the pain away.  And finally, I was healed.  

I had my birthday in December.  Out of all the presents that I received between both my birthday and Christmas, the ability to sit without pain was hands down the best present.  God gives the best presents.