Life as I know it

Sitting on the edge of change is a precarious place.  One does not know if change will actually arrive yet she (or he) can be hopeful, patient, exceedingly frustrated . . . .

In honor of the Bundy family, Nevada USA
In honor of the Bundy family, Nevada USA

There’s a scandal going on in the wild West of the United States this week, as the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management attempts to overtake the ranch and cattle of a family that has used the lands for decades.  Under the guise of protecting an endangered turtle, the government is not only rounding up cattle but cutting off water supplies; federal authorities are superseding State land rights and intimidating the family with physical force.  The conflict has incited anger from local ranchers and national militia in addition to the Tea Party (political party).  Underneath the issues may be a US Senator’s covert, personal involvement in building a solar power plant on the land in a $5 Billion deal with China.  This all comes at a time of unprecedented changes in our country.  A juicy story indeed.

This is an incredible time to be alive.  This is an incredible time to be an American.  This is also an incredible time to be a Christian.  We can easily look to the incredulous shift of power in our country from the citizen to the increasingly tyrannical government, laden with moral and civil/financial corruption, to see that life in these United States has changed.  The effect of Obamacare; immigration, voter and currency “reforms;” and more just may eventually make democracy in America a distant memory.  Sure there may be pockets of freedom.  However, that freedom is shrinking every day.  Can you say, “microchip?”  Don’t get me started on that one!  If this blog goes away suddenly then you will know that the NSA (National Security Agency) has removed my First Amendment rights to free speech.   While that is not o.k., there are more important topics to me which will never be silenced . . .

My incredibly wretched health challenges these past two years have reinforced beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control of everything.  He has been with me on my bed of sickness, making Himself real to me and sustaining me through it all (Psalm 41:3).  I draw my faith from the Bible.  Through His Word, the Lord our God tells you and me through the story of Moses that those who believe in the Lord are to:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31

Those words ring true today as well.  I have cried out to my Jesus during wretched, daily seizures and He helped me, comforted me.  My faith and resolve are strengthened not weakened despite the difficulty.  Further I am encouraged that when tyrannical kings came up against the Lord’s chosen people through the ages, He reminded them over and over again in the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 1:19

This rescuing may be from illness or other trials of life; the rescuing may be from the consequences of something much worse to what beyond our control:  the wretched effects of sin and living in a fallen world.  The rescuing may not come until the day we die yet IT WILL COME!  After all it is because of the sin of mankind that we suffer.  Gratefully we are not alone in our suffering.  Gratefully there is an antidote to our suffering such that someday we are assured that it will end!  Related to our personal suffering, the Apostle Paul concedes that his own health issues were used by God for good:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.  (Colossians 1)

From these inspiring words I draw strength to persevere when my body is failing me.  What can I do?  I can write about matters that transcend the mundane issues of my day or even the crises blasting forth from every news channel.  Want Christian news?  CNN?  Facebook news?  Tonight Show news?  It is everywhere bombarding us with allegory, truth, and propaganda alike.  In the end this kind of news will not matter.  The God of the universe reigns above all.  He will come again in glory to rescue His own, to make things right.  That is Good News!  We can trust in His Word on this since before time began He told us, “I am.”  Evidence of his sovereignty goes beyond evidence of intelligent design.  Evidence of a loving and righteous God dwells within your heart and mine.  Think about it!  Otherwise we would not wrestle with themes of morality, existence, meaningfulness.  If God did not exist, I would fight my illness with whatever snake oil came along and the Bundy family would use their crisis merely to incite a riot (or worse, civil war) to achieve survival of the fittest and not to seek what is “right.”   Our search for what is right ultimately helps us hold out for the hope of heaven where all things will be made “new.”  (Revelation 21:1)  In the meantime:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.  (Philippians 4:8-9)

The power to do these things on our own exceeds our humanity.  The Lord adds His infinite increase though the work of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us when we come to faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.  This blog will make little sense to you, Gentle Reader, apart from Christ.  I submit to you that finding the gifts of the Spirit in these alarming times [peace, love, joy, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self control (Galatians 5:22-23)] are great rewards for becoming a Christ-follower.  These rewards transcend and redeem our personal suffering, the troubles around us, the regrets buried in our hearts, and so much more.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.   (Jeremiah 29:11)

Those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have an undeniable asset in these times.  We know Who the victor will be in all things and this includes those things that are evil.  As some recite in the Twelve Step Programs of recovery from addictions, we will know that “this too shall pass.”  (See Revelation 21:4)  In the meantime we are to live our lives seeking the Lord and living as He commanded, guided in love by the Holy Spirit.

The decision to follow Christ has led me to the only way I could have survived many sorrows.  I submit to you that it is a great way to live life as I know it in the times that try our souls.

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Here’s a meditation for believers to transcend the times, straight from the Word of God.  I pray that the frustrations posed by our tumultuous days will draw us to His throne of grace in sweet fellowship and will be used to bring glory to the Father Who loves us beyond what we can ever imagine.  In all things:

 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (Romans 12)

 

 

 

 

Progress not perfection: it’s all in the details

One of the slogans of the 12-step program is the title of my blog today.  Progress not perfection is my sentiment as I sit on the precipice of either potential progress or doom.  Or maybe it will be that it was doom and is now on its way to progress?  This is a mini treatment update.Progress Not Perfection

First, the potential doom:  I am reacting to most foods, supplements, meds., and treatments in a noxious manner lately.  Then, out of the blue I took a 1/4 scoop of sugar laden cholestyramine (CSM) to attempt to counteract the convulsions that came with 1/2 cup of homemade, oven roasted sweet potato fries.  I had added coconut oil and a clean protein to my quick lunch to balance any extra carbohydrates from the sweet potatoes.  Not sure if it was the carbs or some latent mold in the potatoes but I was down for the count, so to speak, within minutes.  I had a more delayed reaction to them and a couple of other things consumed together yesterday so I wasn’t that concerned.  Mistake.

So I cancelled my 2:00 p.m. IV magnesium treatment; I could not drive myself there.  I figured that I might as well get the CSM treatment over as it causes seizure attacks anyways, even with a 1/4 scoop loading dose of 1 gram.  And to my surprise, the attacks stopped!  I was still pretty wiped out though.  Perhaps there was a war going on inside my central nervous system and the victor was not yet declared.  So all I could do was veg out on the computer for a few more hours.  It sure beat the alternative of lying in bed shaking some more.  Maybe I should have tried to add to my 4 1/2 hours of sleep last night?  Oh well.  Decisions don’t come easy or get made well in this type of mental state!

Second, the progress:  my tolerance for CSM might be improving.  If it can stop the progression of a reaction then maybe I can take it without a reaction by itself.  I think I’ll give myself a day to recover then try to increase it to 2 doses tomorrow.  Lord willing, I may be onto something good!  And if that good lasts for more than 3 doses, well then we might actually have something really good.

CSM is a resin typically administered to lower cholesterol.  Persons with Lyme and mold illness use it in Dr. Shoemaker’s protocol to bind with mycotoxins that have a neurotoxin effect during treatment.  CSM removes the bad guys from the body (according to clinical research); there are some gastric side effects.  I was unable to tolerate it earlier this year during the stress of mold remediation of our home and had to discontinue even a low dose.

It’s dispensed as a very grainy powder with either massive amounts of sucrose or aspartame to cover the taste.  After calling 6 pharmacies and 3 drug companies last week (including being forwarded to an “off shore medical center” in India for one of them!) I hit a dead end trying to locate CSM without sweeteners.  Then a call to my favorite local compounding pharmacist revealed that the powder is indeed available but at incredible expense.  He would investigate further and get back to me.  In the meantime, the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy from which I get my VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) package arrived with a brochure that included CSM without sweeteners!  Their price is the same as what I pay for VIP.  It’s expensive.  Turns out that my local pharmacy cannot even purchase it for the price that the MA pharmacy would charge me.  Well then.  A plan is coming together.

Unfortunately my LLMD appointment was cancelled Friday.  I spoke with desperation to the not-so-friendly, overworked receptionist who notified me of the cancellation, pleading for an order for sweetener-free CSM powder from the MA pharmacy.  Have you ever given detailed information to someone on the phone then wondered if they were just pacing themselves on the other end of the line and not really taking any notes?  I had that feeling.  I had no idea if anything would happen until I could confirm everything with the phone nurse next week.  The weekend ended up with many wretched moments as I experimented with the sucrose-laden CSM.  Sugar feeds Lyme, Candida, and fungal/mold infections.  Not good.

So therein lies my caution with advancing CSM, my new wonder drug, until I have the sugar-free and aspartame-free version.  If I’m having mysterious trouble with sweet potato fries oven roasted in 3 types of organic cooking oil to offset the glycemic impact, then I ain’t gonna mess much with the sugary version.  Too bad that I get headaches with aspartame.  Or maybe it’s a good thing.  Aspartame can break down into formaldehyde and is associated with all kinds of health issues.  You know what they preserve dead corpses with right?  I’ll never forget the smell of formaldehyde from gross anatomy dissection lab in college . . .

Oops.  I’m on a bunny trail.  Well thank you for reading this rant and helping me to sort out a few things.  Since the recent expert evaluation of seizures at a major university hospital didn’t yield any new information, I’ve been wondering what the heck to do next.  A person with hours of multiple wretched events per day keeps looking for answers you know, with the brain cells that are left firing in the correct sequence.   The Lord has definitely powered the sustaining grace of this renewed  pursuit of CSM and any mental ability to write about it.

Oh, and some other progress:  just finished the final edits of my upcoming eBook Hope Beyond Lyme:  The First Year.  I’ll do a final read-through and copyright check then publish it online.  Stay tuned for some more good news!

Yeah Lord for anything good that happens from here!  Your strength is shining through once again.  This vessel is broken, cold, and quite spacey.  Help me finish the race you have set before me and publish this work you have created in me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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UPDATE:  The CSM is on it’s way across country from Massachusetts to Indiana!

The Throne of Grace

He’s got the whole world in His hands

So much to let go.  So much that still haunts this troubled mind and body.  Troubled?  Yeah, a side effect of battling an illness that affects your central nervous system.   Negative emotions are magnified, fears are stronger than they need to be, stress responses come more easily, and a cynical attitude creeps into more and more moments.  It’s a battle and little of needs to be mine, actually.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, we have THE warrior on the throne, can embrace HIS spiritual armor, and trust that HE will be the victor in the end.  He promises all this to those who love Him and call Him Lord.  It honors Him to call upon His name with our praises and requests.  Remembering this fights against the workings of my brain these days a little more than the distractions and temptations we all face.  No, I’m not special.  I’m just selected!  And I get to write about what I learn along the way!

I used to have a God Box.  It was a tool introduced to me during my years in Al Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics’ meetings.  The Lord used 12-Step meetings as a first step to finding a personal relationship with God (AKA Higher Power); I now know God as my Savior, Jesus Christ.  By writing a prayer request, troubling thought, or need on a slip of paper, I had a symbolic way of turning people/places/things over to Him when I put the paper in the God Box.  My Box was a little plastic folder with imprinted with a world map.  Somehow it seemed significant to me as a reminder that the Lord is everywhere, cares about everyone including me.

So this blog is another form of a God Box.  Here’s the list on my piece of paper today:

Lyme Disease.  Treatment decisions.  $250 per week out of pocket for medical expenses.  Restitution I feel my ex-husband owes me.  Amount of money I was entitled to but didn’t take from the settlement of my father’s estate.  Daily physical pain.  Dreams for my jewelry business.  Upcoming craft show.  VISA bills.  Yard work I’m unable to complete.   Last few CEUs for my OT license that need to be done even though I ‘m not working.  Seizure attacks.  Headaches; will the new OTC med. that worked for me yesterday work when I need it again?  The need to exercise and the intolerance of most exercise.    Oh dear.  There is so much and it escalates to near panic if I don’t stop when the avalanche starts.  I’ll stop here.  I need a good word badly!

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  From Hebrews 4 (NIV)

Lord I give you these heartaches this day.  I lay them at Your throne of grace.  I pray for your mercy and help in my time of need.  I also place before you the readers of this blog.  Bless them, Lord for caring about me and perhaps considering the role You may have in their lives.  I pray that each one would come to know you as Lord, lover of his or her soul, friend, and sojourner through this life.  Strengthen those who already know You.  For Your glory, Lord.  In Jesus name.  Amen.