Known in the Gates: Part 2, The Inside Story

One of the movies that has really resonated deeply with me is, The Breakfast Club.  Please see my previous post for the catchy theme song that underscored the film and one of the most poignant scenes that is also pertinent to Part 2 of this 3-part blog.

In Part 1, I described the isolation that I have felt when enduring a serious illness and how the Lord still gets me through the toughest of days.  His Word is my greatest comfort; the leading of the Holy Spirit and His presence are my greatest companions.  I ended with a question,

But how well does he really know me?

Sure, my Lord crafted me before I was born and set forth all that I would be, all that I would endure and accomplish.  His Words in Psalm 139 declare that He knows my “innermost being.” Does this include the longing of my heart as well?  If it does, why has He allowed me to become so dreadfully isolated?

Maybe someday I will get to see why so many family and friends have chosen to “walk on by” me as it says in the theme song of The Breakfast Club.  Have I not been a good friend?  Maybe I was not.  I remember about two years into this ordeal someone contacted me and asked me about getting together for coffee.  I replied “yes” and then I never heard from her again.  My spirits had soared then crashed and burned.  For believers in Jesus Christ, the answer to the “why” question is usually left for eternity.  We simply may never know “why” this side of heaven.

Those of you not living in isolation may not have any idea how much Satan uses this experience to tear a person down.  He can prey upon all of our negative emotions and be allowed to create havoc in our lives.  (Yes, ultimately God is still in charge!)  Yet I know that it’s really not about resisting Satan or about losing the people in my life.  I resist the devil and his demons with the sword of the spirit:  the Word of God as described in Ephesians 6:10-17.  People come and go in our lives and that is the normal ebb and flow of life.  It really is about my response to the taunting, the loss of these relationships.

My challenge has been particularly great due to the effect that this chronic illness has had on my brain.  Responding to Satan’s lies and the loss of relationships has been affected by the change in brain chemistry that came with chronic illness.  My ability claim victory in the name of Jesus Christ and fully embody the companionship of my Lord have been affected.  Satan’s lies have been magnified.  My social skills have eroded.  My ability to think clearly has been altered.  And I struggled to override these skill deficits but could not, even if I tried.  Allow me to explain.

Only recently did we discover that excessive neurotransmitters called catecholamines (epinephrine, norephinephrine, and dopamine) are likely contributing to my mood changes, thinking and communication skills in addition to possibly causing the convulsive episodes.  This is happening due to the expression or “turning on” of polymorphisms (SNPs) or breaks in several enzymes that help form my DNA code.  The DNA code is the instruction manual or blueprint from which the body functions.  Everyone has a unique combination of broken SNPs that get turned on by illness or significant stressors in the environment (such as exposure to mold).  For me the factors included everything that I have written about in this blog:  biotoxin illness/hepatitis, latent Lyme disease, Candida toxicity, mold illness, infected root-canaled teeth, and mercury toxicity.  That’s a lot of stressors!  These illness and environmental challenges became a trigger for disaster.  I even have the data to prove it, all of it!

methylation cycle, Dr. Amy Yasko, SNPs, Lyme disease, mold illness, mitochondrial, mito disease, methylation, B6 deficiency, CIRS, mold illness,
One version of a methylation cycle from http://ihateticks.me/2014/10/06/methylation-for-dummies/

For some people this process manifests as a Mitochondrial Disease or a disruption in the methylation cycle inside the nucleus of the cells of our bodies.  My thought life was affected.  My mood was affected too.  I had waking and nightly nightmares not based in any reality past or present.  Those were internal things that my beloved husband, Steve, and the healthcare community could not see very often.  Several healthcare practitioners labeled me as having a mental illness of sorts, often without even completing a mental status exam or workup!  Gratefully, Steve believed me.  They all saw the wretched convulsive episodes that have plagued me for hours every day for 3 1/2 years.  And Satan was allowed to enter into the whole dynamic with lies and attacks that I will definitely write about at another time.  Absolute mental and physical wretchedness.

But now the gig is up!  Two days ago I woke up from a lovely nap after starting to treat this condition.  I had my first 16 hours seizure-free!  It’s as if someone turned on the lights in my brain!  Not only do I have a formula for correcting the brain-part of the process but the prayers of deliverance against the spiritual warfare are taking hold.  The cascade of negative mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual suffering is beginning to turn around. Lord willing, I am going to get well!

My Jesus knows all about every aspect of what I have described here.  He also knows the desires of my heart.  How do I know this?  My prayers long before this illness began was to become whole.  I had been broken by the consequences of a hard life:  events out of my control.  Many times during trauma the Holy Spirit would bring encouraging scripture to me that kept me moving forward.  Yeah, finding hope and finding myself has come through horrible, ongoing isolation and trauma.  I have worked hard to recover from so much suffering in my heart, my mind, my body.  Each step of the way has been both painful and meaningful.  Yet I tell you, Gentle Reader that nothing has been wasted!  I have learned to trust the process in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE under the protection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And now the desires of my heart are being realized.  Cool beans.

So how does one rebirth the desires of one’s heart?

Jer 29.11b

To be continued in Part 3 . . .

Perspiration, Inspiration, and a Some Exasperation

When I was going to college we used to say that many gals were there more to look for their “MRS” degrees than prepare for a career.  Then when I went to graduate school we used to say that our Master’s thesis was 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.  And as life carried on, while grateful for my education and degrees, I realized that what I would accomplish in life had little to do with either.  Who I became had more to do with what I was willing to endure in the refinement of my character as a believer in Jesus Christ than anything else . . .Jesus-shepherd-holds-lamb-in-arms1-281x400

Psalm 23 (NIV)                        

A psalm of David.  

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Yea for those who call Jesus Lord of their lives; ruler of their hearts; and the Way, the Truth and the Life we have so much goodness to see us through.  This was never more clear to me than earlier this evening.  Brace yourselves as this is not for the faint of heart.

Around 9:15 p.m. I was having one of the most wretched seizure attack episodes and spiritual battles since becoming sick 2 1/2 years ago.  Nothing in particular triggers these battles of late:  for the last month this has been my nightly rite of passage into the next day.  My screams of terror, violent writhing, head banging, and pleading for the Lord to deliver me continued non-stop for over an hour.  My beloved came near to check on me at a moment when my nerves were on edge like a dry ember along a raging fire.  I cried out in sudden frightfulness when surprised by his silhouette in the darkness.  Later he returned to check on me again, clarify what had happened, and continue to pray for deliverance from the hell that I was enduring.  I had a sense that more wretchedness was welling up inside me so he was willing to grab the camera and videotape the horrifying moment in time.  Then all was quiet.  I lain on the bed exasperated with exhaustion.  My voice was hoarse, my frame sore from the thrashing about.  I was fried yet awake at the same time.  Man did my neck and shoulders hurt!  (sigh)

It’s times like these I have to ask myself if I am even going to make it through the evening.  Sometimes I am not sure based upon what I am experiencing.  I have to push through the binding down as I am seizing to even breathe while holding a pillow around my head (to avoid injury).  What in the world causes this?  Sadly the worst was not over:  it just needed to take a new form.  The spiritual attacks ramped up next as Steve returned so I asked him to hold me tightly.  He prayed aloud, sang a few hymns, and made sure I was safe as I wrestled with the effects of the attacks.  The new seizures, vocalizations, gut-wrenching tears went on for another 30 minutes or so with a few breaks for us to catch our breath, thankfully.  And then the worst was over.  A few zips, tic attacks, and guttural utterances slipped through with some low level shaking that looked a lot like shivering.  The whole episode had started with shivering before it escalated into full body wrestling.  Good grief.

The rain started swiftly outside the bedroom window around midnight.  The rushing sound of the water hitting the glass sounded more like my truck going through a car wash than a summer downpour.  And then suddenly I felt a strong urge to go outside . . . into the rain.  I needed to get up out of bed to try to put some closure on all that we had endured in the past 2 hours.  Lying there could invite more aftershocks so I strained to get up.  Alas I needed cleansing from the darkness.

Now I know why I selected the new black-n-white header photo for this blog.  The picture shown above came into mind as I walked decisively outside and into the redeeming  waters from heaven.  Now I didn’t go crazy or anything with holy laughter or getting drenched by the chilly droplets pouring onto my weakened frame.  Just for a few moments I stepped into the night to feel the cool wetness and look up into the sky above.  Three times I retreated under the covered porch to warm myself slightly before stepping back out into the night.  It felt good!  My socks were getting really wet though so I removed them as I went back into the house on the way to a lovely warm shower.  A little giddiness slipped into my steps as I realized how many decades it had been since dabbling in a summer rainfall.  I thought of the girl in the black and white photo.  Yes, little one, I understand your smile completely.

Gentle Reader let’s be clear on one thing:  if there was a remedy for this illness of course I would take it in a heartbeat!  While these episodes provide rich fodder for spiritual lessons and blogging, I’m cool with someday writing about gardening instead!  Earlier today a root canal specialist doubted that there is any infection hidden in my gums causing systemic issues or chronic illness that would create waking seizures.  Hey, my upper left jaw has been sore for many years so it was worth a shot to have it ruled out.  Sure I’ll see an oral surgeon in a couple of weeks for a special scan just to make sure of things.  Looks like it might be another dead end to a “bunny trail.”  I guess I just need to wait on the Lord for a time until he leads me beside “waters” that will “quiet” the unrest in my central nervous system.  I’ll see my Lyme literate medical doctor on Friday for a status update.  We have so very much to discuss with the ER visit 2 weeks ago and recent worsening of symptoms.  The arduous process of managing my care thus continues.

And yet in the worst moment of this evening, the one where it’s as if Satan himself taunted me to give in to his schemes instead of trusting in my Jesus, a teeny tiny voice inside me uttered that I will continue to trust in the Lord regardless of the suffering.  Steve reminded me of how Job of the Old Testament questioned what was happening to him even as he waited on the Lord in horrible circumstances.  Then when God reminded Job who He is:  His mastery over all He created, His almighty power, omniscience, and omnipresence, Job fell to the ground despite his gaping wounds to submit in worship.  I wonder if he heard a tiny voice stir inside his spirit as well?  I am just so very grateful that this inner voice, the leading of the Holy Spirit within those of us who believe, remains no matter what the trials may bring.  I heard it today and His refreshing words comforted me like the healing rains outside my window.  Thank you Lord that You are here with me like You were with Job.  You are the same today as yesterday and worthy of our praise.  YES, I will trust in You!

So if you think you too are facing circumstances that create perspiration and exasperation I encourage you to hang on until the inspiration comes.  Specifically, Gentle Reader, I encourage you to hang on to the Shepherd who refreshes the soul and will bring comfort in due time.  We must remain vigilant in keeping our eyes fixed on the face of Jesus Christ lest the evil one gain a foothold in our hearts, our minds.  Put on your spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-17) with the holy scriptures and he will flee in the name of Jesus Christ.  I guarantee you that warm fellowship with the One who loves you more than anyone will minister to your needs completely.  Hang tough.  Greener pastures are coming soon!  JJ