So, it’s Friday night – youth group night – and a beautiful fall day outside… and I’m home in bed. No fun. Everything at youth group starts in thirty minutes and my mind is reeling with all the different responsibilities that I’ve had to let someone else handle because I’m home sick. We prep all week for youth group and then start setting up around 3pm, print all our stuff at 2pm. What a day! Then, this morning when I woke up as sick as I am Clark said I needed to stay home. Sigh. My health has been one of the biggest challenges throughout my adult life. Here’s the “short” story…
In 2005 I contracted mono, which most of you know as the kissing disease! Well, I didn’t contract it having that much fun… although I did end up giving it to my teenage boyfriend that way ;-). Come to find out toddlers just so happen to carry the EBV virus in their system, which is what mono stems from. One Sunday afternoon I volunteered to watch the kids in the nursery when apparently one of those little critters passed their lovely strand of the EBV virus to me. I became apart of the elusive top %5 of worst case mononucleosis cases in the US. I showed the most serious systems of mono during the first six months and missed almost half of senior year of high school. I think the school let me graduate just because they didn’t want me to stick around another year. This wasn’t the “stay home from school and feel tired for two weeks” type of mono… I remember waking up some mornings and not being able to feel my legs. It was scary, and I missed out on a lot of life during that year. What 17 year old wants to stay home all day and be miserable? By the end of the year I had like three friends left.
I continued to be symptomatic for over a year and half. The damage done to my immune system and body were so severe that it caused permanent damage. In 2007 the doctor’s finally started to test for everything in the book including some pretty scary things like lymphoma and MS. I really stumped the doctors and specialists for a long time. All those years of my life I had no idea what was really wrong with me. Now, years later I have better doctor’s who were able to look back through my health records and at least find SOME answers! I have three autoimmune deficiencies. I have Hashi’s disease and hypothyroidism and severe psoriasis. I also have a few growths or “nodules” on my thyroid glands, and one particularly large one on my right gland. My neck unfortunately bothers me all the time now. Recently I’ve had so much pain there that I visited the doc’s office to get an ultrasound. The doc found that my right gland’s “special visitor” – the nodule – has grown even larger. In December they’re going to have to stick a needle in my throat and pull some of it out… and I’m not looking forward to it! They’ll retest for thyroid cancer, which wouldn’t be as scary if my aunt hadn’t just gone through thyroid cancer.
Phewf… so it’s out – that’s my ongoing scary health sega. Many of you other chronically diseased friends reading can relate. “Sick days” for us are not just a normal sick day. It’s like having to miss out on your life because of some illness that you have no control over. You often think “why me?”. So today, I’m home very sick with either a cold or virus and because of my other conditions I don’t have the capability to fend it off properly. It’s taken me a while to gather the courage to share this information about myself, but I hope to somehow help other’s going through something similar. Today, I think all I can do is share. Often I have to remind myself that my health doesn’t define who I am. So many people in the past have marked me as “lazy” or “not motivated” when in reality I was silently suffering behind closed doors. I’ve always wanted to do a post on my psoriasis or thyroid because of an inspirational woman who’s blog I read. She is a mom and talks about how she deals with running a family and living with rheumatoid arthritis. Don’t you love reading a blog only to realize you would probably be friends with that writer if you had met in real life? Thank you Hillary Leonard, hopefully my life will at some point become equally as fascinating!
The truth is, mono sucked… but that time period of my life taught me an incredible amount of life lessons that I wouldn’t have otherwise learned so young. The truth is, being chronically altered is depressing… but it keeps me balanced and [when I let it] allows me to see life through the most important filter. All I had during those long moths at home with mono was God and my Bible. It was then that I learned God is not a feeling or an experience that could only be reached at places like youth group and summer camp. When all my friends struggled in college and ended up leaving the faith, I had a strong rock to lean on. I knew where my fulfillment and purpose came from and didn’t have to go searching for it. I didn’t feel the need to act a certain way to prove something either. I was settled in my who I was and my beliefs – my foundation – and it was then that God delivered to me the life I couldn’t have possibly dreamed… including my man!
Now, when my colleges are overworking themselves and exhausting their families… I don’t even have the choice but live a more balanced life. Yeah yeah… sometimes I too do the overworked thing. I’m not above it, I get sucked in too. But then I pay for it with my health and God reminds me that I wasn’t created to constantly be on the go. Maybe it’s like my “secret” fail safe that God puts in me so that I never have to experience a burn out. That’s my worst fear… me or my husband burning out. God knew that when I married a pastor. He’ll take care of us, I know that, but I still have to do my part too. Today, I remind myself of this… otherwise it would be easy to feel sad about everything I’m missing. All I can do is try. In the mean time, my husband has come home and made me feel a whole lot better. He came through the door with presents!!!! Oh how well he knows me. He got me a card, my favorite cookie dough, my favorite soup, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Thankful for my husband today and that outweighs my stupid diseases. Sometimes you just have to take it one day at a time.