There’s Something About November 12…

Two years ago today I had arthroscopic surgery on my right hip. I posted on Facebook after the surgery and said that I was looking forward to starting the journey toward being pain free. Two years, another hip surgery, weeks on crutches and even more weeks of physical therapy (and not mention a few thousand dollars) later, and it seems that I’m still on that journey toward being pain free.

FullSizeRender

Sometimes I have questioned whether surgery was the right thing, but I know it’s foolish to question decisions I’ve already made, for I can’t change the past. And if I had to do it all over again, I probably still would have the surgeries because if I didn’t, I would always wonder if I did everything I could to find and treat the source of my pain. Even though my surgeries didn’t have the complete outcome I hoped they would, they did show me how blessed I am to have a strong support system. My husband was invaluable to me in the days and weeks after my surgery, helping me get out of bed and to the bathroom and in the shower and around the house and on and on and on. My parents helped care for Charlotte and also for me. My church family made sure we had meals to help us in the early weeks, and I don’t even know how many prayers were prayed for me. There is nothing like suffering to show you who your friends are.

Five years ago today, I came home from another visit to a hospital, this time after spending a week there and finding out I have ulcerative colitis. I remember feeling so incredibly grateful to be at home and being overwhelmed with the kindness of the Lord. I had a chronic illness but also a heightened sense of God’s love for me.

Image-1
I don’t have any desire to spend more time in a hospital, but I’m thankful for the way that the Lord has watched over me there and everywhere. I’m thankful for the way this day reminds me that the Lord’s mercies are new every day.

Advertisements

Five Months with Ava

Ava turned five months old today. The saying “the days are long but the years are short” really does ring true; it doesn’t seem possible that she’s been with us for five months already, but there have also been days that have seemed to drag on forever. We had struggles with breastfeeding early on that led to exclusively formula feeding, then tummy issues, then reflux problems and sleeping problems. There have been few nights of truly restful sleep (although hopefully that is changing, as the last two nights were wonderful), and some days were filled with so much fussing and crying that it brought me to tears as well. Despite this, it’s hard to remember what our family was like before Ava was in it, so completely has she captured all of our hearts. Seeing Charlotte interact with her has been such a beautiful blessing, and there’s really no one who can make Ava smile and laugh like Charlotte can. Ava has a smile for everyone, and she giggles with her whole body. Since she started rolling front to back and back to front two weeks ago, she’s been even more curious about everything around her. Her play gym doesn’t hold her interest for long anymore now that she can move around, and I know that once she’s crawling it will be even harder to keep her in one spot! It seems like her sweet brown eyes don’t miss a thing, and she’s fascinated with her hands and feet and our dog Bailey and everything that Charlotte does.

Being with Ava every day has allowed me to see how much a baby can change in a matter of days, and that means that even the hard days will turn into better days. I have delighted in being with her, even on days when she’s fussing or not napping because I know how very blessed I am to get to raise another girl. The Lord chose us for Ava, and Ava for us, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Giving Thanks for Chronic Illness

Five years ago today, I woke up from a drug-induced nap to see my parents as they sat by my hospital bed, ready to give me the news that would change my life. I had just had a colonoscopy, one test in a string of different tests that doctors did to figure out why I had been so sick for weeks. But with this test, I finally had an answer: ulcerative colitis, a condition I would become well-acquainted with over the weeks and years to follow.

Today I looked at pictures taken around that time and remembered anew how sick I felt. I had lost weight and was incredibly fatigued and soul-weary and beyond tired of visiting the bathroom. But in the midst of my confusion and sadness, the Lord met me with His peace. I felt Him with me and knew that because of Him, I would be fine, more than fine even. I had spent that year reading through the Bible, and that foundation of truth upheld me when I needed it most. The Lord prepared me for that season of sickness by grounding me in His Word, and so even though I didn’t know what the future held, I knew I could trust Him with it.

IMG_0510

Smiling after my first shower without being attached to an IV pole.

The years since my diagnosis have been equal parts difficult and beautiful. At one point I was taking 16 pills a day. I dealt with a variety of side effects from medications and the disease itself. I have spent many hours in doctors’ offices and given up dozens of vials of blood. I didn’t achieve remission until 3 years after being diagnosed. Even though my disease has been inactive for 2 years, I still wake up each day not knowing if I will find myself in a flare.

IMG_00175

At one point I was taking 9-12 of these pills a day. Now I’m down to 4 a day.

But I do not dwell on the uncertainty of my disease; I dwell instead on the certainty of the Lord’s kindness. He was faithful to me in that hospital room, He is faithful to me now, and He will be faithful to me always, for He must be true to His character. I may not be able to control or fully trust my body, but I wholeheartedly trust the God who made it. He knows me inside and out, and in His Son, I have all that I need. Ulcerative colitis taught me to let go of control and embrace God’s sovereignty in a way I hadn’t before, and that is a gift so valuable that I am able to give thanks to God for my chronic illness. Chronic illness has taught me not to depend solely on medicine or doctors but on the Lord, for He holds my past, present, and future in His hands.

I give thanks that in regards to my disease, I feel better now than I have in a long time. Back in May, I stopped taking Humira, a drug that I self-injected every 2 weeks for 4 1/2 years, to prepare for Ava’s arrival. I have yet to take it again, almost 6 full months later. I am on less medication than I have been since I was diagnosed. Of course, all of that could change tomorrow because autoimmune diseases are largely unpredictable. I’m not foolish enough to think I will enjoy this level of health forever, but I give thanks while it lasts and will give thanks when the next flare comes because I know the Lord will meet me there. I may not be cured in this lifetime, but I know that one day I will stand before Jesus healed and holy. Glory to God.

My Budding Bookworm

Tonight Charlotte read all of the text from our devotional reading. I’m thankful that she’s volunteering to read to us, when we used to have to practically bribe her to do so. She used to get frustrated when she encountered words she didn’t know and would want to quit, but she is learning to keep going. She reads out road signs and signs in stores and likes to read stories to Ava. Much to my delight, she asked for chapter books for Christmas. I have loved seeing her grow more confident in her reading and hope that one day soon she will be hunkered down in her room, her nose buried in a book. I spent many a day like that in my childhood and am all the better for it. She loves stories, and I hope she carries that love with her for the rest of her life.

IMG_9362

Reading to a very tiny Ava.