I feel as though I'm walking on a tightrope with me on one end, and all of my possible dreams for the future on the other. As I carefully force my aching and trembling body to take one careful step at a time, there's this constant fear that nags at the back of my neck that someone, at any given moment, is going to walk up behind me and push me just enough to send me plummeting to the deepest depths of despair. Thankfully that hasn't happen yet. I'm still carefully placing one foot of my broken body in front of the other, and with that I slowly get one step closer to fulfilling my dreams, even if they are miles and miles away.
My entire life all I've wanted to be is a wife and mother. Ever since I was old enough to know what marriage was, I knew that was where I wanted to be "when I grew up." I envisioned my future husband, my future children, and my future home centered on God, love for Him, and love for each other. As I grew up I would make lists of things I would and wouldn't do as a mother, and lists of what my husband would be like. I would look at picture of homes and decide what I wanted mine to be like. I watched my mother raise all of my siblings, and me, and I took careful note of the loving and beautiful way she treated us, and her husband. I took careful watch of my dad, and how he treated my mother, and I took mental note of how I wanted my future husband to be "just like that." My vision was clear, and every decision I've ever made in my life has been conducive to that dream. That's all I've ever wanted. I believe that the amount of money you make does not determine success. My belief has always been that success is discovered through family, and the love and fulfillment that comes from having one.
The day I got diagnosed with Lyme Disease, was the day that all of dreams went flying out the window and off into a distant existence where I could no longer reach them. It was the day where I began my endless basket of questions for the future, and since then it's only gotten bigger and bigger. I don't know if my dreams are reachable at this point. And it scares me to think that I'll never be able to be the woman that an amazing man gets to come home to everyday. It scares me to think that I'll never have those babies that I'd get to raise and love. It scares me to think that my home centered on God, will never be.
I have other dreams too. I've always wanted to open a vocal studio. and give to children the incredible miracle of music that my first voice teacher gave to me. I've always wanted to write a novel. One that inspires and uplifts the human soul. I've always wanted to take my voice, and perform with the objective to uplift and inspire peoples lives. I've always wanted to learn how to cook. I've always wanted to become a teacher. I've always wanted to be the perfect homemaker and continuously develop skills that would make it so I could do that. I've always wanted to be someone. I've always wanted to help people.
But how will I ever reach such a far away destination when I'm stuck at home in bed, suffering so bad that I don't even know if I'll make it out alive?
I don't know the complete answer to that, but I'd like to try and answer it anyway.
.Chronic illness is something that you take one minute at a time. Not one day, one week, one month, or even one hour, but one minute. In fact, there are some days that I feel as though I'm taking it one second at a time. And with each precious pain, anxiety, and stress free second, I count that second as a blessing given to me from my loving Heavenly Father. Every piece of strength I manage to muster at any moment I consider a gift from God. I can not do this alone, and I'm grateful that God is always with me.
In every battle, there is always a secret weapon. My secret weapon in this battle is faith. Faith keeps me fighting, and faith keeps my hope for the future. I keep telling myself every moment of the day that I have to keep my faith. Faith that I'm going to get better. Faith that I can fight this and come out stronger. Faith that God is always with me. Faith that God can heal me. Or even faith that I won't be healed, but that I'll find a way to live happily, despite my broken down body, mind, heart, and soul. Without my faith, I am nothing, and my hope that I am so desperately trying to obtain slowly vanishes into thin air.
Some days I have faith that I'll get better, and other days I feel hopeless and despairingly distraught. I look at it this way. Every day I try to do at least one thing that brings me joy. Even if it's microscopically small. If I successfully accomplish one small thing, then I'm not finished yet. Lyme hasn't won yet, and I don't intend on letting it. This trial in my life is incredibly hard, but I want to stay strong. I want to fight this battle, and I want to win. I'm exhausted in every sense of the word, but I can't give up. I just can't.
I'm so grateful to my Savior for giving me the strength I need to continuously fight this. I'm so grateful for the support that comes from my family and others that I hold close to my heart. This is a lonely battle, but knowing that I'm never completely alone is extremely comforting. I'm not giving up yet, and even though the tears streaming down my face scream fear, anxiety, and hopelessness for my future, my faith says otherwise. I intend on keeping my faith in the present in order to dispel my fear for the future. I'll still have my home, my husband, and my children. It just my be a little different vision that I had before. The important thing is that the vision I had of endless amounts of love that takes place in my future will not change, Lyme or no Lyme. In times of fear, my faith will always come out conqueror.
I lay on the couch on Monday afternoon with a good book and a cup of herbal tea. My body felt heavy under my own weight and my head felt similar to a bag of bricks. My eyes felt heavy and my hands shook from all the pressure in my joints. I've had the opportunity throughout my life to get particularly comfortable with the constant companion of nausea, brain fog, cognitive dysfunction, weakness of limbs, and tremors. I've had those for so long it's almost like they're a part of me. But this pain was different. This pain was heavy and exhausting. I almost felt like I was getting a bad case of the flu. At the time, I had no idea what I was in for.
Night came and by then I was paralyzed with pain. Sleeping was impossible. Every time I would lay on one side for too long, it would start to hurt and I would have to roll over to my other side which caused a whole new strew of pain. The bricks in my head turned into a sledge hammer gouging into my skull. The heaviness of my muscles morphed into throbbing pain that bit at every muscle is my body. My spine felt like it was being wrung like an old rag, and my hips felt like someone was trying to detach them from my waist. My legs felt like the muscles were being pounded with a mallet and my feet felt like they didn't even belong to me anymore. Everything was constantly spinning. Everything was throbbing. Everything hurt. I have never been in such terrible pain in my entire life. I've felt lots of pain before, but this was pure horror.
The majority of this lasted for three days. Three days straight of intense pain. One night in attempts to get up and out of bed by myself, I passed out. I hit my head, and bruised my hip on my hard kitchen floor. All I remember is opening my eyes and wondering why I wasn't laying in my bed. I then recalled everything and knew exactly why I wasn't in bed. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry for help. I wanted to punch something. I had every emotion at once while simultaneously feeling nothing at all. All I can say is I would never wish that pain upon anybody. EVER.
Well I'm happy to say I made it out alive. My pain subsided for the most part and I'm not dead yet. I'm still sore and recovering. I feel like I've been badly beaten up and am barely crawling away from it, but I'm one herx closer to being completely healed from this awful illness and that alone gives me hope. Thank goodness for hope. I will never let go of my hope, for it is my source of peace through this hard and discouraging time.
After this past week, I've gained a new appreciation for my life, for my body, and for the amazing people in my life. I wake up in the mornings now and feel like I'm 80 years old. My body is just sore and my heart and soul are exhausted. But after all of that pain, I'm so grateful. I'm grateful for the ability to walk all by myself, and I'm grateful to be able open my eyes without them hurting. I'm grateful that I can use my hands without joint pain, and I'm grateful that even though my body doesn't feel like it functions properly, it's still functioning. It's still working. It's not giving up. I'm not giving up.
I'm so grateful for all the people around me that love and support me. I feel incredibly blessed to have certain people that I love so much be a part of my life right now. I could not do this without them. Most of all I'm grateful for my amazing parents who never left my side, who stayed up with me all those nights, who provided me with comfort, and who peeled my half dead carcass off the floor after I passed out and brought me back to bed. Thank goodness for my amazing, patient, kindhearted, and loving parents. I can not walk this journey alone. Thank goodness that God has provided me with the amazing people I need to help me through it.
I'm incredibly grateful for one more thing, a huge blessing in my life. I'm truly grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. Without Him I would not have gotten through all that pain and suffering. I would be done. There were times when I wanted to be done, but through the Savior's healing power I somehow managed to pull through. Thank goodness for that. I love my God, and my Savior with all my heart. The tender mercies of the Lord that are given to me on a daily basis are truly what get me through life right now, and I am incredibly grateful.
I've shed a lot of tears this week, but I truly believe that tears are a beautiful form of expression. My tears are not a sign of weakness or failure, but an expression of strength and steadfastness. I'm not a quitter, and I'm not giving up yet. I'm a warrior, and I intend on beating this thing no matter how hard I have to fight. So to all the warriors out there, here's a piece of hope. It's not over yet. Keep fighting. It's always rough on the battlefield, but when you come out victorious, you'll remember how hard you fought, and it'll all be worth it.
One thing I truly love about writing is that I get to be completely real. We all have struggles and trials in our lives, and yet we cease to talk about them. We paste on a fake smile and play the tough guy while inside we're falling apart. Well my writing is my safe zone to be real. No fake smiles, no masks, no reminiscence of a barbie doll, and no sugar coating. Just me and my inner most thoughts and feelings; imperfections and all. Sometimes coping isn't possible if you can't get your thoughts and feelings straight, and I suppose that this is my way of saying "Hey, I'm real. I'm a human being. No, I don't look perfect right now. Yes I'm in pain right now. And yes, I did just spend my entire day in bed because of my chronic illness and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that."
With that said, I'm going to be completely real with you now. The holidays are not easy. They never have been. Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas, and I acknowledge the most important parts of the holidays. But even then, there are some days that I'm in too much emotional and physical pain to care about the holiday season at all. Two Christmases ago, my mother was so sick that she could barely get out of bed to spend Christmas morning with us. Since then it feels like the domino effect has taken place in my home and family life. Just one thing after another. What do I have to be thankful for when I don't even really have the strength or motivation to get out of bed on some mornings? How do I put the happy into the holidays when knives are stabbing me in the stomach and my legs feel like they're going to give out at any moment? Where's the merry in Christmas when I'd rather do anything but lie in pain, but my chronic fatigue rather have me lay in bed. I was doing so much better for a couple of weeks, and then it's almost as if my Lyme got bored and decided to torture me for its own sick joy.
A few nights ago I lay on my floor, wincing in pain, and praying for some relief. The tears burned down my smeared face and discouragement flooded my mind and heart. All I wanted was a form of rest at that moment. With Chronic illness sleep (if you can obtain it) is your best friend. Your brief escape. Your peace of mind for the time being. I'm so grateful that even despite all the pain I feel, I'm still able to sleep soundly and forget my agony for a small moment. And with that, there are so many more small moments in life that I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of.
Coping with chronic illness is all about looking to the small moments. I'm so grateful for my family and close friends that I have that bless me with those small memories of joy during a hard time in my life. Life is not all bliss, but seeing the bright side of even the smallest things will bring just enough light into life to make it through the day. So to all that are struggling through the holidays, (or anytime of the year in that case) you're not alone. You're loved, and I pray that every small moment of joy will flood your heart which in turn will allow sorrow to flee from your mind. Look to the little bits of joy that life brings. It's those things that will get you through your hardest times. I hope your holiday season to be full of love, and I hope we can all find Christ in Christmas. I wish you enough strength to get through the holiday season. Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas.
There's a special kind of heartbreak that comes from having to say goodbye to people that I have come to know and love. It's the kind of heartbreak that accompanies the sense of failure and defeat that festers inside my heart as I turn the page of the story of life and move forward into a new chapter. I recently experienced all these feelings as I drove out of my college town and back to my home town where I can heal from the afflictions that have been burdening my body and soul since I began my journey into the college world, and inattentively before that.
I never asked for this. I never asked for Lyme disease. I never asked for long painful nights, decreasing grade percentages, extreme exhaustion, and my loss of ability to think straight or focus. I never asked to leave all the people that I came close to. I never wanted to be a quitter. I'm only a freshman in college and I've already failed at surviving my first semester. My hair is thinning out, my skin is breaking out, my muscles ache, my brain is exhausted, my heart is breaking, I feel like my body is literally deteriorating beneath my skin, and my emotions are screaming for help inside me. There's something extremely devastating about having to put all of my dreams on hold for an illness. It's days like today where I wish I could just crawl into my cozy bed and disappear from this cruel sick world.
These particular thoughts cross my mind almost everyday. I am determined to fight long and hard until they are cleansed from my heart and mind just as the bacteria that is eating away at me will be cleansed from my body. I'm not a failure. I'm not a quitter. There are much worse things than Lyme disease in this world. I truly believe, even on my worst days, that this disease is a blessing in disguise even if I don't quite understand why or how. Right now I'm discouraged and scared. My treatment is about to be increased and with that comes increased herxheimer reactions, which means increased fatigue, pain, anxiety, and depression. I'm not excited for the incredible journey ahead of me, but I'm ready to fight long and hard. Lyme disease will not crush me. I refuse to let it crush me.
I find great comfort in knowing that God is with me through this journey, just as He is with everyone in the world that is currently suffering from the recent horrific current events that have taken place over the past week or so. My faith is strong, my hope is never unending, my prayers are always continuing. God hears and knows our cries and He can and will give us peace. I hope that through each of our individual trials and afflictions we can all remember Him in these increasingly hard times. Peace will come. Rest is just around the corner. God bless.
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." -Matthew 11:28-30