Saturday, September 22, 2012

I am weak, but I am strong!

My cousin, Brandon, has created a nickname for me...  "Freak of Nature".  It might not seem like a very nice nickname, but coming from him, I know it is a term of endearment.

He's right, you know.  I am a freak of nature.

Freak is defined as "a very unusual and unexpected event or situation".  I have a very unusual and unexpected body.  And I do not mean that in a good way.

My ex-sister-in-law once accused me of always having to be the center of attention.  I never liked her.  I'm glad she's no longer part of the family.  However, she was sorta right about this.  Although it's more like my body craves the spotlight, doing everything it can from the inside to get noticed on the outside.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not one of those girls who "shakes what my Mama gave me" just so people will look at me.  I'm the girl who is always getting sick, thereby requiring attention from a LOT of people, including my husband, my children, my family, my friends and many times doctors, nurses, specialists and more.

It's frustrating.  Very frustrating.

Let me just give you a glimpse of the unusual and unexpected events that have taken place in my body.  I'll start in my adult life, although I'm sure my mother could add many items to list from my childhood.

  • 3 months of seemingly incurable ear infections
  • annual bouts of dizzy spells that leave me incapable of operating a vehicle, thereby requiring a chauffeur (my husband, my parents, my sister)
  • recurrent severe urinary tract infections that are never cured by the usual medications, but always require a stronger antibiotic
  • adverse reaction to the usual UTI-treating drugs
  • spontaneous anxiety attacks that seem to strike at the most inconvenient times
  • almost every pregnancy symptom a woman could dread - morning sickness which lasted all day for the first 17 weeks, POPS - a very uncomfortable rash all over my very pregnant belly, water retention in my feet, preterm labor, yada, yada, yada
  • wound infection following my first c-section - the doctor had to reopen my wound without anesthetic, and I suffered daily wound packing by my husband who is NOT a nurse.  ouch!
  • pregnancy-induced thyroid problems resulting in radioactive iodine therapy to destroy my thyroid
  • H1N1 flu
I get drowsy from non-drowsy medication.  

Less than 3% of people who receive the tetanus vaccine suffer rare side effects such as fever, body aches and chills.  I am in that 3%.

Let's suffice to say, in my case, "possible side effects" equal probable side effects.

I could go on and on.  But the truth is, so far, writing this particular blog post is really bringing me down.  So let me move on to the good news.

Yes, in the midst of all this physical weakness, there is good news.

I recently came across the following scripture in my Bible, spoken by Paul to the Corinthians.  It has stuck with me.

2 Corinthians 12:10
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Upon reading this the first time, I was quite confused.  How can it be that when I am weak, then am I strong?  If this is the case, I am always weak.  Which means I am always strong.  Wait.  What? 

So I decided to go back a few verses, and this is what I found...

2 Corinthians 12:7-8

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. 

So Paul had a "thorn in the flesh", a weakness, which he asked God to take from him three times.  But God said no.  

Why did God say no?  

Because God's strength is made perfect in weakness.  When Paul was weak, his strength came from God.  He was no longer dependent upon himself, but fully dependent on God.  God is strong.  Therefore, Paul was strong.

Okay.  I have a very weak, easily-sickened, unusual body, which I have asked God to make immune on more than three occasions.  But God has said no.  


Because God's strength is made perfect in weakness.  When I am weak, which it would seem is pretty much all the time, my strength comes from God. When I can no longer depend upon myself, or my body, then am I fully dependent on God.  God is always strong.  Therefore, I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

This is the hard part.

Apparently I should be happy when I am weak.  Again.  Wait.  What?

My first reaction to yet another infirmity is always one of discouragement.  Here we go again.  
My next reaction is denial.  That's okay.  I can handle it.
This is followed by anger.  I hate my body.  Why am I always sick?!
Right after this comes self-pity.  Poor me.  Pitiful me.  Woe is me.

After I've ridden this highly erratic roller coaster, I find myself physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.  That's when I finally take it to the Lord.  

Dear Lord, here I am again, lying on the couch, completely useless to my husband and children.  I'm not able to do what I need to do, what I want to do.  Please help me Lord.  Help me to get well and stay well.

I am never ever ever happy when I am weak.  Like ever.

I think what God is trying to tell me from these verses in 2 Corinthians is from the moment I realize my physical weakness, however it may manifest itself, I should skip all those previous steps and take it directly to Him.  In the midst of my weakness, I will be fully dependent on Him.  He will make me strong. 

I get it now, God.

Now I realize how much time I've wasted feeling sorry myself, when I could have been praying, worshipping, studying and praising.  Yes, it's been unproductive time in terms of my home, but it could have been productive time in terms of my relationship with God.  I should take advantage of this time with Him now, because when else will I spend this amount of time with Him.  That will not only make me happy; it will also give me peace.

So, I may be a weak-bodied Freak of Nature.  But from now on, I will take glory in my weak-bodied freak-of-nature-ness.  I will be happy when I am weak.  ...for when I am weak, then am I strong.

And praise be to God, for with His strength, I am a strong, weak-bodied Freak of Nature. 

Hallelujah!  :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

bad, bad, bad

It's 9:18a.m.  And I can already say, "I'm having a bad day."

I'm having a bad week actually.

Since I'm really feeling sorry for myself, I could say, "I'm having a bad few weeks."

Three weeks ago, I started having abdominal pain, which my doctor first diagnosed as a possible bladder infection, but probably just menstrual cramps.  I am the queen of menstrual cramps, so I knew something more was going on.  As the week went on, the pain persisted and eventually became worse.  I called my doctor to confirm the results of the test for bladder infection, certain they must have come back positive.  But no.  The tests showed no sign of infection.

So she sent me to the Outpatient Center at the hospital to have an internal ultrasound.  Yes ladies, cringe with me.  That most unpleasant experience revealed a cyst the size of a tennis ball sitting on my left ovary.  At that point, I was so relieved the pain was not in my head, I didn't really hear anything else my doctor told me.

I went to a friend's house that night, and she warned me of the elevated pain to come, as the cyst would eventually rupture.

Despite the pain I was already experiencing, I spent the following week in a constant state of dread.  When will it rupture?  How bad will it hurt?  Can I handle the pain? 

While the cyst made it's presence known in my lower abdomen, every day the pain manifested itself in a different way.  I had sharp pains shooting down my left leg.  My lower back hurt.   I felt lots of pressure in my side.

The worst of it came on Sunday evening, when the cyst did in fact rupture, creating a burning pain that I can only describe as "almost unbearable".  I tried to be strong as I saw the concern on the faces of my husband and children, but I could not hold back the tears.  This pain was intense, and it didn't just go away.  It lingered...  for hours...

I was up at 4:00a.m., unable to stand without passing out, clinging to the toilet, praying for relief.  I finally fell asleep, and spent most of the next day in bed.  In and out of reality, but constantly in pain.

Yesterday was better, physically.  The pain had dwindled to a feeling of soreness.  And that soreness continues today.

If this was all that I had been through in the last three weeks, I think I'd have a more positive attitude this morning.  But it's not...

In the midst of my own physical stress, my children came down with a virus that causes diarrhea.  Great.  First Bryson, for two days.  Then Camden, for two days.  But wait, that's not all.  Then Bryson again, for two days.  Then Camden again, for two days.

And as you know, when Mommy is sick, most of what Mommy does on a daily basis, does not get done.  My husband did make sure we had all our meals.  Thank you Keith, I love you!  And he started a load of laundry every now and then.  But let's face it, he's a man for whom housekeeping is not instinctual.  And he does have a job outside of the home.


When I woke up this morning, one thought was on my mind, "I've been cooped up in this house for days. I have GOT TO GET OUT!!!  I took a LONG hot shower, mentally planning out my day.  Breakfast at Rick's, story time at the library, pick up a few groceries, lunch with Michelle maybe, back home, homeschooling, housekeeping, housekeeping, housekeeping.  

So I get dressed, actually taking time to fix my hair.  I brush my teeth.  I walk out of the bedroom feeling so much better than I have in weeks...   to be greeted by a pale-faced little boy who tells me he has diarrhea again.

I want to cry.