Perhaps it is a silent presence, a type of mindfulness that can speak as loud as a mountaintop yodel in a life-changing moment. Or maybe you must shout it out, screeching through a resistant case of laryngitis just what is on your mind. Then there are those measured words spoken through gritted teeth; oooooh, I hated when my mother uttered those when I was a child! A crazy person makes sense only to his or herself when the disemboweled utterance emerges from the trouble soul within. And the most agregious is the spine-tingling barbs of an angry person that can cut to the heart every time. Sure wish I had more of the first one and less of the others in my history!
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
The seizure attacks came quickly this evening as soon as my face hit the head of the bed, elevated with folded blankets to promote sinus drainage and ease the chest compression of a recent infection. My left arm was tucked along my left side with my head turned to the right as I lain partially face-down. This position causes less neck and shoulder pain so it is often my go-to position when I sense the episode ramping up. The head-banging and shoulder trauma are minimized but the wrenching of my neck is nasty. Oh well, that’s what the chiropractor is for, right? Sigh.
Eventually I screeched out some “help me Lord” utterances with what was left of my voice box today. That came whilst straining to cry out to my Jesus with an acute illness on top of the mysterious seizure-like tics that plague me every morning, evening, and after exposure to noxious stimuli. I can’t even cry right! Then things got incredibly darker. In defense of my sanity I won’t go into details here so let’s just say that frightful images passed through my mind. Then in my mind’s eye I could see the images on my arms. Just then I noticed that Steve was stooping over the side of the bed beside me in the dark. Holy crap! His sudden appearance in the dark scared me further. My body writhed with seizures, now lying on my right side with Steve behind me. My arms flailed in the air, my legs flapped together then apart, and the screeching sound of my hoarse voice screaming holy terror would exceed any scene I’ve viewed from a psycho thriller for sure. But this was not a movie. This was ME!
A few decades ago some really bad things happened to me when I was a kid. I spent about 12 years as a young adult in many kinds of therapy, therapy groups, 12-step recovery groups (Al Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics), faith-based and 12-step weekend retreats, and reading tons of self-help books. True healing came when I got saved and the person of Jesus Christ showed me his love, care for me, and plan for my life if I would follow His lead. He was restoring the years the locusts had eaten (Joel 2:25) when I met my intended beloved and married Steve. I felt happy and free at last. Four years later I got very sick with viral hepatitis, Lyme disease, and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (related to mold). I haven’t been able to work in two years largely due to the seizure attack episodes multiple times per day. They are heartbreaking for both of us in addition to many other folks who have witnessed them too.
Over and over again I have searched for meaning, a purpose for this extended illness. The incredible expenses of remediating our home for mold in early 2013 surely tested our marriage for sure. We were living in a hotel while navigating a myriad of details and tough decisions as Steve travelled between work, home, and the hotel; his daughter chose to continue living in the house and help us out during the entire process. Eventually our dog joined us in the hotel. Eventually we completed the remediation, opted not to sell our house, and moved back home. However, the seizure attacks never stopped! By summer of 2013 they increased to up to 4 hours per day! No medical professional or online research has found an answer yet. Somehow Steve and I grew closer through it all as our hearts were breaking; the pain and suffering has been great.
Recently the Lord did show me a few tasks that needed to be completed in our marriage. The love between Steve and I over these past 2 1/2 years has become strengthened, deepened because of this difficult journey. We have now turned our residence into a “safe home” which restricts visitors or the conditions under which others may enter our home. This helps prevent exposures for me that could cause a negative reaction (aka seizures!). I love that my beloved is helping to protect me in this way so that I can get well. I love that he has been faithful to the Lord and to me through this entire journey. Others are watching us and I understand that we are doing some things right! My own restoration and healing from the past may have provided a foundation for the important growth in me that has happened of late. I am grateful to be able to recognize the good that is here along with the challenges. There is always good along with the challenges if we look closely enough . . .
Back to the scene in the bedroom. I asked Steve to move from where he was stooped behind me to the other side of the bed where he would be in front of me. The uncontrollable hell that was ravaging my weakened frame was frightening enough not to have a sense that someone, even someone I dearly loved, was lingering over me from behind. Steve knows all too well that if he touches me during an episode it can magnify the symptoms significantly. I just couldn’t risk a casual brush of a hand; my distress was already unbearable. Then the breakthrough began to happen. Speaking up despite the hoarseness of my voice rose up some inner strength I had never sensed before. I had to ride out the frightening images and thrashing about, my estimation of what weeping and gnashing of teeth might be like in a Biblical description of hell. Tears came. Silence followed. I was able to ask for what I really needed when scared.
Soon my gracious and godly husband was gently sitting beside me. I’m not sure if he was more horrified or moved to compassion! We processed the scene. His eyes held mind for a long time in the darkness before I was able to reach out and touch his arm. Soon he was able to reach out with comforting touch for me as well. Somehow we knew that my intolerance to intimate touch for the past 6 weeks was finally broken. I was able to lie in the arms of my beloved once again.
My writing this story includes a great deal of literary and intellectual license. I mean that I think I might know what is going on, the purpose and meaning in some of this suffering, but there is only one person who actually knows the truth: my Heavenly Father. I am glad that I found my voice in the darkness this evening. I am glad that I survived a wretched scene without too much damage or lingering baggage. I am grateful to have reconnected with Steve and that he could look beyond the ugliness to the beauty imbedded in this crazy journey together. I trust that the Lord will go before us in the next scene and lead us in His way everlasting for His purpose and glory. Lord willing it won’t be so bad next time.
Thank you, Jesus, for your redeeming grace. You make all the difference in the world for me, tonight and always. Thank you for your enduring mercy, giving me have the strength to do that to which you have called me (Philippians 4:13). Be my voice in the darkness and in the light. In Jesus’ name. Amen.