I am sick.
Let’s just put that out there. It is nothing life threatening that I know of, but most definitely is life altering and would be categorized as chronic and is now disabling. Chronic, I now know, is not a word that you ever want to hear when a doctor describes your situation. It basically means at this present time there is nothing that can be done to resolve your condition and that it is to be expected that the symptoms will continue for the rest of your life. Definitely not something that I ever thought I would hear and I really can’t say that I even acknowledged existed or could exist in my life or anyone else’s.
I could give you the entire history that brought me to where I am, but the short version is that I have always had a “weak constitution” to some degree, but that four years ago the irritating issues that I had always dealt with, quickly transformed into constant unavoidable, impossible to ignore issues. I started out thinking that I had the flu, after weeks on end of body aches, fever, soreness and feeling like I could sleep all day and all night every day. After a few traditional treatments of antibiotics, etc, etc, and a few months of my “flu” continuing I realized that we were dealing with something bigger and something beyond any quick fix remedy. Of course we went to numerous doctors, specialists, and had test upon test run to rule out all of the illnesses that you would consider to be major, and basically I was given a diagnosis that acts as an umbrella for the group of symptoms that I have. At the time the diagnosis given was Fibromyalgia, though since then there are numerous other sub-titles under this umbrella that I have been diagnosed with. There is no clear cause for why people develop this syndrome and no solid or concrete solution on how to resolve it. Simply put, once given this diagnosis you are placed on a track where everything has the word “management” behind it. Translation: “Make the best of it” or bluntly put “Deal with it”.
Remember… this is the nutshell version. Anything obvious that comes to your mind regarding lifestyle, diet, vitamins, exercise, medications, home remedies, specialists, etc. I most likely spent quite a bit of time looking into, researching, ruled out based on my personal stance or adapted into my life immediately. I am not saying I am close minded to suggestions, thoughts, ideas, quite the opposite as a matter of fact, I believe through this experience I have become significantly more open minded than I was to begin with. I am saying, however, that I am an intelligent individual and have done everything in my power to maximize and make use of every resource that I could possibly find in effort to kick this nasty sickness. If the solution is immediately obvious, you have to ask yourself this question: Presented with these options in front of me as a menu of what I want for my life and the life of my family, would anyone in their right mind look directly at this choice (neurological problems, widespread pain, constant fatigue, just to name a few) and think…”hmmm… yes please… I think I WILL have some of that…” when the solution was sitting right next to it on the menu?
At the beginning of this journey I heard from so many well meaning people that I honestly stopped answering calls and went into a brief period of hiding! I felt like people were trying to track me down! Through IM, FB messages, text, VM’s, emails, I received very very assertive and matter of fact descriptions of what I needed to do in order to get rid of this illness. Again… very sincere, caring and well meaning intentions, (almost a place of desperation to heal or fix what was going on) and I genuinely appreciated the sentiment behind each inquiry and bit of communication. Products, meal plans, belief systems, regimens, prayers, books, articles, gadgets, pills, Drs, began to stack up so quickly that I felt so overwhelmed, because they all claimed very strongly and persuasively to be the solution. But I really felt like I needed a chance to digest this new situation. This was MY journey and MY life. My family and My dreams. There are very few “One Size Fits All” solutions in life, this was no different.
I’m pretty sure that my former perceptions of illness were very prideful and that I assumed that through prayer, perseverance, and attitude that anything like this could be dissolved and conquered. I definitely spent a good amount of time (who am I kidding… YEARS) trying to use every bit of will power and determination that I had in effort to make that happen and I found very quickly that for all that energy I spent resisting and ignoring the reality of my situation, I would get hit twice as hard until I physically could not push anymore. The cliché things that I would have previously sworn by if I were advising someone else quickly burned up like paper in a fire and I watched them become ash and blow away in the wind.
I am in no way saying that God’s desire for me is to be sick, or that this is my new home. I don’t believe that at all. I do not discredit the power of a healthy attitude, a healthy lifestyle, and a strong spiritual connection, and my expectation is that this is time in my life that I will move through. I sincerely do believe that is truth. What I am saying is that there are seasons in our lives that we just flat out do not understand and may honestly never have a grasp on. There are times that are near impossible or just freaking hard! And the horrible truth is… we may not have the answers nor are they always readily available to us.
As I have continued to deal with this I have recognized that there are many philosophies that we as people have regarding life, God, health, prosperity, etc, that are often confused as God spoken but that are based on nothing more than a tradition or teaching that became engrained and intertwined in our thinking. You discover those misconceptions very quickly during trials and difficult seasons when they are put to the test. Suddenly… you feel a little naked… a little humble… looking at yourself and remembering all of the times that you boldly professed to have the answers to something that you had never experienced. In my case I honestly (and ignorantly) thought I was better because I hadn’t dealt with something of this magnitude! I know that if I were faced with a friend in need and truly got close to the situation that my heart might have changed, but when this began I sincerely believed that there was something that I was doing “right” that made me exempt from this stuff! I thought I could control it all. Whether that be through saying the right prayers, the right measure of faith, speaking the right things, living this specific lifestyle, etc, etc, the list of rules I was following and the perfectionistic standards I was adhering to went on and on.
It didn’t take but about 10 seconds in the heat that I realized… I DON’T KNOW IT ALL!! And even scarier than that to me in this case, and unlike anything I had ever experienced before…neither did the Drs. Neither did my friends… my family… WHAT??? Are you telling me that my security and purpose is no longer to be based entirely on my own philosophies, and the opinions of those I surround myself with? WAIT…WHAT??? That is some tough tough stuff to digest! In my life, that was like an earth quake. Everything around me was falling down, and afterwards there were just a few things standing. Had you asked me before hand what would have survived a storm, I would definitely have placed my bet on the structure of beliefs and the people that built up the “support system” in my life. No questions asked. All my good faith was on it and all chips were in. We base our future plans on our vision and expectations, on the knowledge that we have gained, as well as on the experiences that we have had in the past.
Our PERCEPTION (key word here) of who God is and what God has promised, our strengths, talents and abilities, our relationships, with or without intention are the things that we accept as solid and unchanging.
Well… there I was. Just me and a very very… I mean EMBARRASINGLY small core group of others. It didn’t take me long to realize that the PERCEPTION was no longer strong enough to cling to. As a matter of fact the whole thing was like some pathetic and weak skeleton of support and I honestly don’t have the slightest idea of how it held me up until that point! And I could get mad about it (and I did), I could get discouraged (and…I did), I could give up (and I did that a few times), but it didn’t change the fact that I had built my security on things that were not serving me well and that would not be worth building upon. If I were to go forward it would be unarmed, unequipped and on completely uncharted territory (for me personally) and it required that I accept and acknowledge the change that had taken place, and re-define my security entirely.
This is that starting off point that I mention in the previous note (see “Here I Go Again”) that is so vague in my memory that I have to strain to picture it at all, where I somehow (maybe I was pushed? Coerced? Drugged?) opted in to a roller coaster ride with no end in visible sight and that was way more intimidating than I ever would have voluntarily or intentionally gotten onto … … … sober.