Archives For Faith

The following is a guest post by my friend Jenna Rader. I am excited to have Jenna’s leap into the blogging world here on Raising Inspiration. She has such a wonderful spirit and I know that you will enjoy her writing as much as I do! Show her some love! 

At nearly seventy years of age, my mother underwent her third hip replacement surgery on the same joint. The surgeon botched the first surgery by inserting an oversized apparatus. Several months later, when she was still unable to walk and one leg was an inch longer than the other, the doctors finally admitted the mistake and scheduled another replacement surgery.

After the second surgery and several more months of pain and inability to walk, my mother discovered that the second hip replacement apparatus had been recalled by the manufacturer due to reports of severe allergic reactions in patients.  In the third surgery, the doctor reported that the site where the apparatus was located was covered with tumors. Not only was her hip-joint replaced for a third time, reconstruction was conducted on much of the tissue.

Upon awakening from this third surgery, my mother, still groggy from anesthetic, asked the nurse’s aide if she knew about the Bible App that she could access on her phone. She tried to download it for her and when she was unable to, I received the following text:

Text Message

 

Rather than being bitter and angry from the numerous surgeries, the inability to walk for nearly three years and the trauma that has been caused to her body through no fault of her own, my mother continually chooses a good attitude and possesses a beautiful godly spirit. She always shares God’s love with others.

She may never be able to walk without help again. I know that she will continue to have joy and spread God’s blessings no matter the circumstance.

Paul, writing from prison, possessed this same attitude – an attitude of joy because of the grace and love that God has bestowed upon his children. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

This kind of joy is not a human-based happiness or an emotion that comes and goes. True joy is divine in origin and emanates from the grace of God. It is a spirit-given expression of God’s grace that flourishes best in hard times. It is a timeless joy that flows out of people directly from God.

And I want to be just like that.

 

Go On, Admit It.

September 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

This is not an easy post to write. You see it is very common for people diagnosed with any disease to struggle with depression. But, no one wants to talk about it. Why? Because if you admit to having dealt with this issue then suddenly you will be seen as an emotionally unstable basket case. At least that is what we believe others will see.

typewriterThe truth is, it’s very common to deal with depression. In fact the Lupus Foundation of America states that “between 15 and 60 percent of people with a chronic illness will experience clinical depression.” That is a significant number! So why do we fear to mention this “symptom” of our disease? Because we are scared that others will view us differently. 

I have dealt with depression. There I said it. And honestly it’s not even easy for me to admit to you right now. I am actually sitting here thinking about your response as I type this.

At first I didn’t even realize that I was dealing with depression. I thought that I was emotional for one reason or another. When I finally began to realize what I was dealing with I didn’t want to admit it out loud because saying it means that it’s a reality. The thing is I wasn’t depressed about any one thing, I would find myself crying for no reason at all and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out why. I struggled understanding what was happening because I never really had a melt down after being diagnosed. There was a peace that I felt when I heard the words Lupus. There was finally a name to the problems I was having, and I knew that everything was in God’s hands. But, what I didn’t take into account was the changes that happened days, weeks and even months ahead. Fatigue that caused our family to end a Saturday outing earlier than normal, nausea that lasted all day, painful joints that left me sitting on the couch with heating pads all evening. It could be much worse, but it was change that I didn’t see coming. I also now know that certain medications can have a side effect of depression. Eventually my emotions began to shine through and I was able to see that yes, I was dealing with depression.

I don’t believe that depression is something that can ever truly be a hurdle that you leap over and never come to again with a chronic illness. The difference is that once you know it can creep up along your path at anytime you know what to do with it. For me, I look at it as another way to help others. You see I truly believe that my Lupus is more than just an illness. It is a ministry. If I didn’t battle with the things that come with my disease then I wouldn’t be able to encourage others in the way that I can connect with them now. So I write this to you today to say that it is okay to not be perfect! It is okay to admit that our illness stinks! It is okay to admit that your having a rough day! Because then we can stand together and fight our illnesses side by side!

I am not patient. But lately I am finding that God is teaching me this very difficult lesson. There are so many dreams I have for myself and our family that I truly believe are dreams instilled in me from God. Sometimes those things just don’t happen overnight. In fact, that is usually the case! With the world of instant gratification the idea of waiting is unthinkable! Patience, who has time for that? I’ll just zap my food in the microwave and my “baked lasagna” will be ready in less than 3 minutes! Why on Earth would I actually bake my lasagna in the oven for half an hour? Patience! Ha! Do we even know what the world actually means?

Dictionary.com defines patience as the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. An ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

Go ahead and make an entire meal from the microwave! Why wait an hour?

Go ahead and make an entire meal from the microwave! Why wait an hour?

I’m pretty sure that our microwave zapping, instant streaming, world in our hands by the touch of an iPhone generation doesn’t have much of a chance! And I am right there with the rest of the population. If my iPhone is taking a hair too long to upload a page I’m annoyed, don’t even get me started when there are three commercials on Hulu instead of just one! Speaking of commercials, my child doesn’t even know what they are! We don’t have cable. Instead we bought Netflix and Hulu, made our lives cheaper and no commercials! The first time he experienced the world of commercials he was at his Aunt’s house and the Mickey Mouse Club House was rudely interrupted by a commercial. He energetically let out “I want more! More Mickey!” This continued until the show came back on. Little did we know getting rid of traditional cable would make my child impatient! It wasn’t our intention, I promise!

I’m not sure about your family, but we like to dream big! Chase and I will be driving down the road and one or both of us will start dreaming of having more children, when we can take a big Europe vacation, update our kitchen, get a second car, Chase’s businesses grow even larger and I write full-time. Our list of dreams go on and on. Here is what I am learning, rather slowly, these things might actually be our future but they won’t come easy and they won’t come with the push of a button. Sometimes we have to patiently wait where we are, work hard and enjoy the blessings of our current circumstances because as long as we are following God’s path, the blessings are sure to follow! This is something that I am having to remind myself of more often than not. I see what we are working towards, the steps we are taking and the amazing benefits of our sacrifices to get where we are wanting to go. But I still struggle with the microwave mentality. Can’t it just happen now? I’m trying daily to overcome this awful mindset because I know that when you are so focused on what you want someday, you miss out on the amazing of today! And I don’t want to miss out on the blessings of my here and now!

The following is a guest post by Mandy Karo. I first met Mandy in college when we both joined Pi Zeta Phi during college. After hearing about my diagnosis Mandy reached out to me as she is also living with Lupus. I am so thrilled to have her share her story. She has wonderful insight, show her some love! 

Middle school is a tough time for most kids. When I was in eighth grade, I was in the midst of a very difficult transition with my two best friends. We had been inseparable in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. I remember the gym teacher saying weMandy's guest post were “joined at the hip.” But in eighth grade, they were drifting away from me and becoming a part of the popular girls group. For a young teen this felt like the ultimate abandonment and rejection. I remember feeling a lot of loneliness, stress, and anger. It was in the middle of this drama that something much worse was piled on to make my teen years even harder. I was diagnosed with Lupus.

I had been having odd symptoms for a while. In sixth grade I started having strange stomach aches. The doctors thought I might have ulcers so I had to have a stomach x-ray. It was awful—the stuff you have to drink so they can x-ray you is disgusting! There were no ulcers found so life went on. In seventh grade I began feeling tired in the afternoons. But what happened in eighth grade was what led to my diagnosis. I started getting purple spots on my feet and ankles, especially when I was upset or stressed out. My feet and ankles would also swell up. At first we thought maybe I was allergic to the laundry detergent my mom used but switching it didn’t help. The worst time was when one of my teachers accidentally ran over my ankle with a TV cart. The purple spots showed up and I got so swollen I couldn’t walk on that foot. It hurt to put shoes on.

When we showed my family doctor the spots, she was perplexed so she looked up what it could be. She named off a number of possibilities and one of them was Lupus. I really had no idea what Lupus was, but I had heard the name before, and I knew it was some sort of serious disease. I started to cry. We were sent to Children’s Hospital in Denver to see a rheumatologist. They did blood work and the doctor asked me a few questions about my symptoms. Then just like that, he told me I had Lupus, gave me some packets about it, and prescribed medications for me to take. It felt odd that it was so quick. Even my parents continued on acting normal. Didn’t they know that I was just diagnosed with an awful, potentially life-threatening disease? Shouldn’t we all be crying or yelling or something? I know that they were just trying not to freak me out. Inside they were scared too.

I’ve been diagnosed with Lupus for thirteen years now. I deal with fatigue, unexplained fever, swollen joints or muscles, sensitivity to the sun, susceptibility to sickness, and the spots (which are called purpura and are caused by bleeding underneath the skin). The medication I take has helped me in controlling the flares. I know I am actually very lucky because many people with Lupus have much worse symptoms, and thankfully my symptoms are not life threatening.

There are a lot of questions that come with having Lupus. Will my symptoms get worse? Will I be able to have a healthy pregnancy? Will I have the energy for a full time job? Will I have the energy to raise children? Will the men I date be able to handle the fact that I have Lupus or will it make them want to head for the hills? The real question becomes, what do I do with all of these fears and anxieties?

When any sort of fear comes into our lives, no matter what it is, we must remember the power of God. God is bigger and stronger than any scary thing that looms in our path. Just imagine the universe in its incredible vastness and remember that God created it! That is power. Then remember that he loves you. When something bad happens in life, we might be tempted to ask if God loves us. If God loves me, why did he allow me to get a disease? But that question is focused on the physical, and God focuses on the spiritual. Yes, bad things happen on this earth. But God allowed his son to die for us in order that we might have a new life. That is love. This world is temporary, and we must use the struggles that come with it to strengthen our relationship with God.

Lupus. It’s a word we all know but a disease most know so little about. I was once a part of the crowd that knew nothing about this invisible illness, and then I found  out I had it! There is no simple way of getting diagnosed. In fact this was a four-year process and I didn’t even realize it! When you keep getting misdiagnosed but have faith that the doctors treating you are accurate then it doesn’t really cross your mind that something much more could be going on. It all started one night, four years ago when I awoke in a panic. My heart was racing, my chest felt so tight and painful that I could hardly breath. I could have sworn I was having a heart attack! I can still remember how scared I was, I’ve never felt that kind of fear before. We went to the ER only to be told that my cartilage in my chest was inflamed. They chalked it up to exercising. I was told to simply take some ibuprofen and I would get along just fine.

feetAround this same time I also had a rash on my torso. I went to several different doctors, all of which gave me a different answer, different medicine and nothing proved to work. I was beginning to feel like I was just imagining things. But, I didn’t really know what else to do other than maybe find a doctor that could not only give me answers, but that I could trust.

During all this time my chest pain would return for days or weeks at a time. Eventually I got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t breath so I went to our new family doctor and he started me out on an inhaler to see how it worked and brought me in for follow-up appointments. I was so appreciative of a doctor that cared for his patients and followed up with them. I wasn’t on the inhaler very long and wasn’t fully convinced that it worked. Then I got pregnant and my symptoms improved, which can happen with Lupus patience.

A few months after having my son my symptoms began to come back along with a new one that I had never seen before. Every time I got cold my fingers would turn stark white and stay that way for a very long time. They would then go painfully numb as the blood worked its way back in. This was a pretty scary thing to see. At first I thought it was just poor circulation but I really felt like something wasn’t exactly right. So, I went in to see my family doctor and showed him a picture on my phone of what my fingers were doing. He immediately called for blood work.

Within a week I had my results back where I was told that they were referring me to a rheumatologist. Everything finally came together at that first appointment. The past four years of chest pains was Lupus, the rash was Lupus, the painful shortness of breath was Lupus, my fingers turning white was Lupus. I didn’t even realize during all this time that I was being misdiagnosed, thankfully I found a doctor that called for the blood work.

This is a problem for so many with Lupus because it’s symptoms mimic that of so many other diseases. No one blood test can diagnose it either. It takes blood work, examining your symptoms and your history. Because of these reasons it can take years before a person is diagnosed, for me it took four years and I didn’t even know it!

So much changed after I received my diagnosis. I am learning my illness and hoping to not only spread awareness so others will not go misdiagnosed, but to spread a little hope and inspiration to others in similar circumstance, because Lupus does not define me!

If you would like to join my team and walk a mile in the annual Lupus Walk or donate to the cause, you can do so by following this link.

Thank you for helping me in my fight with Lupus!