Saturday, April 23, 2016

I Don't Like Being Sick

It's been a rough week. I thought I had a handle on my illnesses, but I don't.

I kind of understand migraine. I know I can't control how or when the migraines or going to hit or how bad they are going to be.

But, I thought I had some clue about the fibromyalgia. The flares usually only last a day or two and then I'm fine.

Not this time. Last Saturday I caulked the bathtub and I've been miserable ever since. All my muscles burn whenever I do anything. I'm unbelievably exhausted. PWM and I walked 1/2 a mile today and I was panting halfway through.

I suppose going to see Barry Manilow in concert on Thursday night didn't help my case. But, otherwise, I've been trying to balance rest with gentle exercise. (But, really, do you think I was going to miss going to see Barry Manilow in concert? Even if he is 70 years old?)

I don't like to think of myself as sick. When I was working, there was a prejudice against the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. It was called a "throwaway" or "garbage" diagnosis. Things are definitely changing. My current neurologist certainly believes it is real; he commented on studies that show parts of the brain that light up on fMRI during a fibromyalgia flare. Yay for really being sick!?

I guess I'm a little vain. I don't want to be sick when our society is telling us to be healthy and active. I shouldn't be spending my Saturdays inside reading a book or blogging. I should be outside, riding my bike or hiking in the state park or doing some other strenuous activity. I can't do that, though. Even if I were to manage some strenuous activity, I would pay for it dearly the rest of the week.

My counselor would have a field day with this. She would tell me that it's good to grieve for the life I used to have but that it's OK to be content with the life that I have. And we would pray. And Jesus and I already have an active conversation going about this.

Today, I'll practice contentment, although it's really not easy. Paul ended his letter to the Philippians by thanking them for their gifts and explaining how he was content in any circumstances because of God's grace.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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 wonder if I can practice contentment with ice cream? So, what about you? How do you deal with illness and things that interfere with life? How do you practice contentment? What kind of ice cream do you like?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

So Tired . . .

I'm soooooo tired. I spent four years in medical school, so I thought that I knew what tired was. I mean, I would go days on not nearly enough sleep doing admissions and working in clinic.

But, I didn't really learn the meaning of fatigue until I developed chronic migraine and fibromyalgia.

The fibro came first with the poor sleep and diffuse body aches. What's crazy is that I was diagnosed at a time when I had a gym membership and was exercising regularly. A medication to help me sleep gave me significant relief.

Unfortunately, the migraines started escalating soon afterward. Once the migraines became chronic and I started having daily headaches, the fatigue kicked back in with a vengeance. I didn't know a person could be so tired without being sleepy.

Right now the fatigue is particularly bad because I've had a busy week. I've been cranking up the distance and speed that I walk to 1-2 miles at about 20 minutes/mile. I also re-caulked the bathroom (a whole 'nuther story but suffice it to say that there's mold and we're getting a new bathroom soon!) along with doing lots of house cleaning. Parts of my body hurt that I forgot even existed!

Now it's time to rest. I have a migraine today, which makes it a resting day anyway, but I had already planned for today to be a rest day. My achy body (from all the working which has flared my fibro) is telling me it needs a break. I did walk to the library to stretch my legs, but it's only about 1/3 of a mile.

God made us to rest. In the creation story, God rested on the seventh day and then He gave the people of Israel a commandment that they were to rest of the seventh day of the week. Even when we're completely healthy, we need some down time. And that's OK.

For those of us with chronic illness, rest is a necessity. And I'm working very hard not to feel guilty about it. It's perfectly fine to give my body what it needs. Today, it's to sit down and write and look at knitting patterns and read. I can pray and meditate and let God speak to my soul. I can listen in ways that I can't when I'm spackling the bathroom wall. And I can just be quiet.

What do you do when you just need to rest? How do you hear God? Do you prefer silicon or acrylic caulk ('cause I'm such an expert now)?

Saturday, April 02, 2016

What I've Been Up To - April 2, 2016

So, I've been away from my blog, as you might (or might not) have noticed. My absence was mostly for a trip with our exchange student daughter but then I needed a few days to recover!

Ashley and I went to New Jersey to meet check out things for next year's school year. That actually didn't take long, so we spent the rest of the time hanging out and shopping!! Here are the fun things we did!

  • Ate Japanese food. Ashley loved the sushi. I ate cooked food, but lots of new things. That's a big deal for me - I'm not an adventurous eater.
  • Got manicures.
  • Shopped at a mall in New Jersey.
  • Got Godiva chocolate!!
  • Went to Manhattan!!!
  • Almost froze to death in Manhattan! OK, it wasn't all that cold. But, we dressed for temperatures in the 50s, but it never got out of the 40s. I wasn't too bad after I got a pair of light gloves, but Ashley was cold all day. 
  • Walked from Central Park to Rockefeller Center to Times Square with shopping and eating all spread out.
  • Got to see St. Patrick's Cathedral.
  • Went to the M&Ms store!!!
  • Ate Korean food for lunch.
  • Saw and got jostled by a million people in Times Square.
  • Ate Chinese food in New Jersey on Saturday night.
  • Got up at 4am for our flight out on Easter Sunday.
  • Waited in a security line that seemed a mile long in Newark. And I got patted down because I'm apparently a security risk.
  • Missed our second flight in Chicago and had to wait for two hours. We were so tired and sore by this point!
But, we made it home and Ashley still had Monday off for Spring Break. I made it through the trip without a migraine, but I had one on Monday for good measure. But, now I'm home and am back into a routine. I think. So, my blog won't be nearly as quiet.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Taking a Walk

So, I took my walk today outside. For those of you living down South, this is a big deal! It is 50 degrees outside, perfect for a walk with a jacket. And I much prefer outdoor walking to the treadmill.

  • I thought I walked faster outside than I do on the treadmill, but today that was not the case! My pace was about a 26 minute mile. Indoors, I do a 24 minute mile and think that's slow.
  • I can't get away with not walking far when I walk outside. I walk a certain distance and then I have to get back!
  • There are a number of flower gardeners in our town and they have their beds ready and their rose bushes all pruned. Reminding me that I need to pull all the weeds out of my hostas so that I have a hosta bed instead of a weed bed this summer.
  • A plain silver panel van slowly passed me when I was in one of the less occupied parts of town. I was ready, though. I had my hand on my cell phone, ready to throw it so the authorities would know where I was when I was kidnapped.
  • The van passed me and I saw two (TWO) Better Business Bureau stickers on the back. Nobody who belongs to the BBB would stop and kidnap someone, right?
  • I passed the big Lutheran church in town while I was walking. I occasionally considering converting to a liturgical church just for the great art and architecture. I'm shallow, I know. Jesus is dragging me again.
  • It's the time of year for apartment rental again. Nobody ever evicts people in the dead of winter around here (I think it might be illegal, but it's certainly immoral), so they start evictions in the Spring. So, the great apartment swaps begin! Living as we do on the "apartment row" of Weyauwega, we are witness to this great migration. And, it appears to be beginning soon, based on all the rental signs that I saw.
  • The sidewalk situation in this town is convoluted, to say the least. Some streets have sidewalks. Some don't. Some sections of streets don't have sidewalks. On one street, it looks like one house just got rid of their own sidewalk, so I walk on the street around their sidewalk-less house. The yard looks nice, though.
  • I thought there was still a bit of snow in our yard, but I realized it's actually a bit of cotton. Why is there cotton in our yard?? I still don't know, but I hope it's from a Halloween costume. 
What do you see when you walk about your neighborhood? Do you walk often?

On a more serious note, please pray for all those affected by the attack on Belgium. Pray that there will be no more terrorist attacks. Pray for ISIS, that somehow their hearts will be changed to peace, and that this horrible war can end for everyone.

Friday, March 18, 2016

My Salvation Story

I'm an Evangelical and we all have one. A salvation story. How we "got saved" or "converted" or "came to know the Lord". Pick your favorite euphemism. Conversionism is the fourth part of the Bebbington quadrilateral. It's what Evangelicals are known for. We believe in the necessity of the individual to turn from sin and to God.

Conversion stories are fun to read. C.S. Lewis has a great conversion story in Mere Christianity. Growing up in the late 70s, I was also part of the culture that indulged in evenings of giving testimonies, an event where people would stand up and tell about how they became Christians. I am inspired to write about my salvation story today because of reading about Tim Fall's (and also because I don't want to do the laundry).

Alas, since I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, I don't have the greatest of all the testimonies: the debauched and sinful person who is brought to Jesus in a dramatic conversion a la the apostle Paul never to smoke, drink, or dance again. No, my salvation story is downright tame.

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, the kids my age at church all started going to the front of the church during the "invitation" time over the course of several months and then getting baptized (by dunking - we were Baptists). The invitation (for those uninitiated) is after the sermon and is a time when the congregation sings and those who feel led may come to the front of the church for prayer, for salvation, or for any other need. One Sunday I wanted to go forward. My Dad said that we'd talk about it later. 

That week, the pastor came by the house and we talked about "getting saved". I prayed the magic words and "asked Jesus into my heart" and the deed was done! The next Sunday I walked forward. The Sunday after that, I was up in the baptistry (like a hot tub, but cold and with no bubbles) getting dunked.

That was it. I was 9 or 10 years old and saved. Washed in the blood so to speak. I could now safely die. Or could I? Did it really take? Was I really saved? Really?

For the next five years I prayed the Sinner's Prayer (don't check your Bible - it's not there) at least every three months, sometimes every three days. It was an anxious time for me. Sometimes the pastor or youth group leader would talk about "knowing you are saved". Well, I didn't FEEL like I was saved. Down on my knees that night, I'd pray the prayer yet again.

Finally, at age 17, I was in an evangelism class where we were learning to share our faith, except that I suspected that I didn't have any faith to share. I went forward during the invitation again and confessed that I wasn't really saved. I prayed the prayer yet again. But, this time, I was baptized again! As a 17 year old! I must really be saved now!

Looking back on this time in my life, I can laugh at my anxiety-ridden self. Was I "saved" at age 10 or age 17? Actually, I have loved Jesus from as long as I can remember. I know that Bebbington's quadrilateral says that we have to have a conversion event, but I can't find that specifically in the Bible. Maybe it's OK to be an Evangelical and not have a specific salvation event. Maybe?

I loved God in whatever way I could at whatever age I was. When I was 10, I was very concrete, so I was very anxious to do everything right. Hence, my constant need to "know" that I was "saved". That's certainly what my church taught - get saved and be sure about it. And at 17? I don't know what that was all about! Peer pressure? Not understanding my relationship with Jesus?

What do I know now? I have loved Jesus for as long as I can remember. When I was 17, I started walking with Jesus in a newly conscious way. I tell people that I have been a believer since I was 17.

What is your conversion story? If you are no longer a believer, what is your deconversion story? I'd love to hear? Post in the comments, or post your link in the comments!!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Yoga Pants and M&Ms

A year or so ago, there was a kerfuffle (I love that word!!) in the Christian blogosphere about the propriety of wearing yoga pants outside the comfort of one's own home. The concern was that a woman wearing yoga pants might cause a man to lust.

Well, first of all, I can assure you that no man is going to look at my booty in a pair of yoga pants and lust. Except maybe my husband, but then it's not lust and it's perfectly OK. Secondly, men need to be concerned about their own temptations and where their eyes go. Nobody said that they can't take an admiring glance. It's the second glance when a man and the Holy Spirit need to get on the same track and fight the good fight.

For example, when I go to the grocery store, I don't ask the stockers to remove the M&Ms off the shelves because I might want to buy those M&Ms that I most definitely do not need. No, I walk past them. Then, I might take a second look. And that's where the Holy Spirit and I start waging spiritual warfare against the spiritual principalities and power and I walk past those M&Ms and right into the produce aisle.

Or maybe I tell the Holy Spirit I can handle it myself and I put those M&Ms in my cart because they're such cute spring-time colors and I have to have them in my house.

Yoga pants.

Ya'll we need to pray for each other. The chocolate Easter bunnies are coming soon.