The Extended Forcast is Good!

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.  Philippians 1:12

I am 2 days post surgical removal of 2 root-canaled teeth and THE CONVULSIONS ARE GONE!!!  Yipppeeee and praise the Lord!  This 3 years of daily hell for me and my beloved husband, Steve, is finally over!

While there is still much work to do to detox mercury toxicity and re-evaluate chronic Lyme and mold illnesses, I feel more optimistic that I will be able to tolerate those treatments someday.  Until this week, I was failing.  I was bedridden most every day with convulsive episodes.  The grief and impact was huge on everything from our finances to my aching neck.  My husband no longer got a full night of sleep and this illness had changed virtually every activity inside/outside of our home.  How would Steve find me when he came home from work?  Would he have to make me my pureed dinner and feed me again before bed tonight?  Carry me to the toilet?  Our hearts were weary after 3 years of this living hell.

Nine months ago I began investigating how two sore molars in the upper left section of my jaw might be impacting my health.  Four dentists and three oral surgeons, a cone beam CT, MRI, and pano plus regular x-rays later (including a consultation out of State) we had no objective data to guide us.  Everything looked “fine.”  The teeth had bothered me for over 13 years!  Fifteen years ago I had all my amalgam fillings removed but was never guided to chelate for mercury.  Were there silver filings containing mercury remaining underneath the crowns over these two teeth?  We will never know the answer to that question.  My saliva had started tasting metallic.  Eating started triggering the convulsive episodes.  With Steve’s support, we took an expensive leap of faith and pursued a dental solution.

Additionally, seven weeks before what would become the big day, I started eating only on the right side of my mouth.  Two and one-half weeks later I started a pureed diet to eliminate the chewing action that seemed to make things worse; all this was quite a feat since my struggle to get well led me to eat low oxalate, virtually dairy-free, and completely sugar/sweetener-free, gluten-free, and mold -free foods too!  Another two weeks later and 1 week before the surgery I noticed that using plastic utensils delayed the onset of convulsions after eating.  Even drinking my foods through a straw helped initially then ultimately triggered episodes.  I feared eating anything at all!  The only problem with that was hunger and thirst could also trigger convulsions or make them worse.  I felt trapped!

Three and one-half days before the dental surgery my doctor recommended trying an EMF deflecting device.  “It might help” he said, like so many other recommendations I had received all over the spectrum of traditional and alternative medical care.  After one such technology (a Rife machine called a Beam Ray) I tried 3 years ago to treat “Chronic Lyme,” the daily tic attacks started.  Within a year these episodes would escalate to waking seizure attacks then convulsive episodes lasting 2 to 5 hours per day.  We had tried to shield me from wireless technology in our home in the past yet the results were initially helpful then inconsistent.  This time the GEOMACK from Spain reduced the intensity of the convulsions 50%.  That reduction gave me a tiny boost of strength that I needed to physically and mentally prepare for surgery.  My husband got some much needed sleep as well!  Could their be an electrical cause after all?  (See this blog for more anatomy and discussion.)

The morning of the surgery went as usual.  Convulsive episodes began shortly after opening my eyes and periodically as we prepared to leave the house.  Seizure zips ripped through my hungry and thirsty frame as my beloved drove us to the hospital.  We were still reeling from the large check we had to carry with us since the oral surgeon insisted on performing the extractions near a crash cart, I guess.  And after some prayers, many silly jokes and one last shake/rattle/and roll with placement of the IV in my arm, the time had come to let go and not look back.  We reviewed my situation with the anesthesiologist and oral surgeon, surgical tech, and several nurses.  They were not to abort the mission if I seized under anesthesia!  Just wait a moment and get the job done.

I’d like to say that I woke up in a calm, blissful state but that simply was not the case.  I became nauseous and pain management was a problem over the next day and one-half.  Oh well.  One thing was certain:  THERE WERE NO SEIZURES OR CONVULSIONS!   The “battery effect” of dissimilar metals in 2 adjacent crowns over root-canaled teeth WERE FRICKIN’ GONE!  No more tazoring of my brain would continue.  And hey, if there was hidden infection in the root-canaled teeth then the problems caused therein are now also “history.”  The hell is over.

My job now includes retraining my brain to relax when falling asleep instead of bracing for impact.  My job now includes remembering all of the relaxation techniques I used to train my patients in psychiatric hospitals to deal with anxiety.  I need to rework those memory pathways and feelings of impending doom that followed me, waited for me every night, every morning, every time when I was exposed to noxious stimuli, or even on the clothing or breath of my beloved anytime, anywhere.  Hey, no problemmo.  I am ready to live and the extended forecast is good!

Thank you and big hugs to those of you who have followed my story for any length of time,  You have been an important part of my lifeblood to go on when I could not.  Sometimes my husband could not be home with me and I was alone, feeling terrified mostly of even greater suffering and it came.  The worst episodes were never captured on YouTube videos because my warrior husband was needed to hold me tightly to keep me from greater harm instead of holding onto a camera.  Sometimes the Lord was silent even when I cried out to Him when breathless, facing death again and again when my breathing stopped.  When He did speak I gained the courage I needed to face the next trial.  In the end, death was not my greatest fear.  Dying without my Heavenly Husband was.

But you know what?  I made it through.  Steve made it through.  A new chapter in our lives is about to begin.  I’m going to take some time now and regroup.  I am very weak.  An infusion of my Jesus is needed.  The warmest embrace with my beloved must follow.  And really good food cannot be far behind.  After tomorrow the putty d’ jour will be history!  Yeah God!

Pureed Tri-Color Carrots, Cauliflower, Bacon, Ground Round, Potato Chips, Homemade Broth, and Sea Salt
Pureed Organic Tri-Color Carrots & Cauliflower, Bacon, Organic Beef & Potato Chips, Homemade Broth, and Sea Salt in the Recovery Room!

With love, JJ

But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.  Psalm 18:18b-19

Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

UPDATE:  The holiday from convulsive episodes did not last, unfortunately.  There were many benefits from having these two infected teeth removed:  significantly less mouth pain, less congestion in the upper shoulder and neck, decreased TMJ symptoms, decreased auditory anomalies, reduced ringing in my ears, and more.  Then there was a miracle:  our insurance company covered most of the $10,000 bill.  Amazing!  :J

It depends on . . .

Don’t you just “love” when you ask what appears to you to be a focused question and the person to whom you are speaking starts his or her answer with, “It depends on . . .”  Yeah, I have heard that a lot lately as I discuss product specs for my new company, Two Step Solutions.  My husband is a brilliant mechanical engineer and a bit more focused than me, I guess.  There is so much to consider so it depends on this or that parameter, application, material, use, and so on.  Yet this reply can be a bit maddening too, ya know?  :}]

Enter here a somewhat unusual perspective on the somber topic of suffering.  I would have never wanted to hear a blanket answer as to how to handle my own private hell.  I understand that Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale gently take an “it depends on”  approach in their new book, Why Suffering.  They recognize that for Christians, suffering poses both intellectual and emotional challenges:  God loves and cares about all of our needs yet desires to meet us amidst the unique circumstances in which we find ourselves in as well.  Here are some further insights from Vince Vitale in the Fall 2014 Issue of RZIM:  Quarterly News, Views, and Insights.

But while pain can be a great obstacle (to belief in Christ), it is also one of the greatest reasons to turn to God.  The more seriously we take the problem of suffering — indeed, the more seriously we take the people who suffer — the more we will be led to trust the God who can do something about it.

The challenge, I find, is that what each person needs when suffering is very personal.  There is no one-size-fits-all . . .  Ultimately, what we need is the presence of a loved one.  And when we have the chance to be that loved one for another, our temporary presence can act as an invitation to a life with the One who is always present.  One of the greatest gifts of the Christian life is that you never need to wonder if a loved one is near; you never need to wonder if a loved one understands.  That Person is always with you even within you.

While suffering can be traced back to humanity’s fall into sin, Jesus is clear that we cannot assume from the fact that a person is suffering that it is their fault or that they are being punished.  A second distinctive of the Christian response to suffering is this:  God promises that one day He will wipe away every tear.  What an amazing claim, that God himself will wipe away our tears.

And perhaps most unique is that the Christian God chose to suffer with us.  Suffering’s greatest cruelty is its isolation.  The Christian never suffers alone.  (We point) emphatically to the Cross of Jesus Christ, to the Cross of the only God loving enough to suffer with us and for us.  (p. 7)

May these words encourage you or your loved ones who are suffering.  While the experience of suffering is unique to each of us, we are not alone in our time of need.  God takes our angst seriously, suffers with us, and will deliver us one day.  My prayer is that you will seek comfort in the person of Jesus Christ who loves you more than anyone, more than you can ever imagine.  His Scripture reassures us this fact in Psalm 139:17-18:

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

And that’s way more than my words can say.  Take care Gentle Reader and do let me know how I may pray for you, k?  JJ

Psalm 139 17 18

When there’s no where else to go

the crossSometimes I am not quite sure why I am crying, this late in the game.  I’ve been here before, I know my Heavenly Husband is in charge, and I haven’t died no matter how severe the symptoms have gotten.  My husband and I have seen the Lord work amazingly through this illness.  New skills have come, I am grateful to have met you Gentle Reader, and by the grace of God we have overcome tremendous trials together.  Healing is on the horizon with a new treatment direction  .  .  .  I even have my own company on the drawing board to fulfill my entrepreneurial dreams.  So how can I possibly be sad?

I am sad because it is normal to be sad when suffering.  I am sad, grieving if you will, for all of the losses even if it was good to let some people, places and things leave my life once again.  I am sad that Steve and I had to lose so much to gain so much goodness.  We almost missed “it” so many times!  I am glad that we are more in love now than ever before and it came though an extremely difficult path.  No longer do I ask the questions “why” and “what if?”  More often my question is “when?”  When will this hell be over?

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Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  (Galatians 5:1)

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  (Colossians 3:2)

For God has not given us a sprit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:7)

And let us not grow weary while doing good for in due season we shall reap if we do no lose heart.  (Galatians 6:9)

. . . but we also glory in tribulations knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  (Romans 5: 3b-4)

. . . being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.  (Philippians 1:6)

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.  (Philippians 1:12)

Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.  (Ephesians 3:13)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13)

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Hebrews 4:16)

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19)

For we walk by faith, not by sight.  (2 Corinthians 5:8)

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I was hoping that somewhere between copying these lines of scripture and writing this blog that I would feel better.  Well, not yet!  When all else fails, I shall crawl up to the cross of my Jesus, place myself at the foot of His throne of grace, collapse in the shelter of His mighty wings, rest in the promise that He is always with me:  now and forever.  Yes, this is the best place to go after all.  Here is where I belong.  JJ

Don’t confuse happiness with joy

In the words of Billy Graham:

Some people think Christians should always be smiling and happy, and something is wrong if they aren’t.

But this isn’t necessarily true.  Jesus stood outside the tomb of his friend Lazarus, and we read that, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  As he approached Jerusalem “he saw the city and wept”  (Luke 19:41) because of it’s spiritual blindness and guilt.  He knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and was, “. . . in agony [and] his sweat became like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44)

Don’t confuse happiness with joy.  Happiness comes with happy circumstances; joy wells up deep inside our souls as we learn to trust Christ.  Joy does not mean that we are never sad or that we never cry.  But joy is a quiet confidence, a state of inner peace that comes from God.

Life’s troubles will rob us of our happiness, but they can never rob us of the joy God gives us, as we turn in faith to Him and seek His face.

The joy of the Lord is your strength.  Nehemiah 8:10

From “What is joy?”  in Hope for each day, (2002).  Thomas Nelson, Inc.  p. 338.

I get this and hope you do too, Gentle Reader.   Few things can rob your happiness like waking up in the middle of the night 8-10 times with convulsive episodes and a massive headache.  It probably wasn’t nice for my beloved husband Steve either, awakened from a sound sleep lying next to me.  The aftermath for me felt like I banged my head in every direction against a wall.  Not fun at all!  Gratefully the dream I later woke up in the middle of (after more seizure attacks falling asleep)  was a reasonable one.  I mean that we had experienced something similar just under 2 years ago so it wasn’t that bad really.

I dreamed that Steve and I had moved temporarily into an apartment while some work was being done on our home only to have all of our belongings and the inside of the apartment become covered cascades of dust!  Yeah, that was not good for someone multiply chemically sensitive like me knowing that mold is often lurking in dust.  The situation was beginning to resolve when I woke up.  Phew!  It was just a dream!  This time the headache was less and the convulsions were replaced with less violent seizure attacks.  They actually helped clear my head some . . . and yet I still felt beat up.  The next few hours were meaningless . . .

Regardless, I have joy!  How is this possible you may ask?  Well, it’s just like the quote from Billy Graham noted above.  I have learned to trust Christ in all things, wretched or not.  Of course I cry in sorrow when a new treatment intended to help me makes things worse for awhile.  Call it a healing crisis, herxheimer reaction, or the like.  It’s a bite in the shorts any way you slice it!  But that doesn’t change anything between my Savior and me.  He meets me on my bed of sickness and weeps for my suffering.  This is not His intention for me yet at the same time my suffering will not be wasted because He has a plan for my life.  Maybe one part is this:  I am hoping that my suffering provided an illustration here of HOPE IN ACTION.  I pray that it will encourage someone out there who is suffering too.  HE CARES FOR YOUR SUFFERING TOO and will see you through it!

One day all of our strife and worry will be over as He makes our joy complete when He comes again in glory:  with unimaginable happiness too!  This promise holds true for those who love the Lord and call Him Savior.  If you are suffering, please do not let that stop you from seeking the best hope you have in your pain:  the person of Jesus Christ.  His love covers ALL.  In Him, you will find a joy that will transcend it all.  Gentle Reader, please do not confuse happiness with joy.  JJ

Jer 29.11

Inside my heart

If a heart weeps for all that is gone

Must it place value in only that left behind?

If a moment in time is all that we have together

Will you remember me when your last breath reminds you there is none left?

If a baby bunny can nourish itself from my well-tendered garden intended for me

Could the disease inside of me eat away at my strength til there is none left to redeem?

Yeah that last one doesn’t encourage me much so I better stop right there.  I’m struggling to make sense of the 12 hours of seizure attacks that ended yesterday.  Periodic re-occurrences continued of course leaving me afraid to go to bed whenever I got brave enough to go to bed.  Wretchedness with writhing, head-banging, moaning, and more greet me in the first stages of “sleep” every night.  Make sense out of that one!  These episodes make me suspicious of anything that might trigger them.  Inside my heart I am angry,  I am hurt.  I am exasperated.  I am . . .

I am in need of renewal inside and out.  Where are you Lord?  Fill my spirit with your unending grace.  Please make your presence known such that I might endure, recover from this hell.  I submit to You my king.  There is none like You.  For your glory.  Amen.  JJ