Remember this line from the movie, “A Few Good Men?” Actor Tom Cruise is a military attorney questioning Jack Nicholson’s character, a high-ranking Army officer. Tom presses Jack to determine if he ordered some soldiers to haze a homosexual soldier in the name of honor, code, saving lives, and so on. The men were shouting at each other as Jack blurts out that he did in fact order the “Code” that resulted in the death of the hazed soldier. Jack is escorted out of the courtroom shortly thereafter, sure to face his own court Marshall. The soldiers who carried out the order were then dishonorably discharged from the Army. The moviegoer could finally breathe as the scene came to a close.
Hmmmmm. The intensity of emotion needed to find and face the shocking truth in my life is like that scene in my mind right now. The truth is that I can no longer hide the noxious tic and seizure attacks that can be complications of neuro-lyme disease, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, or chronic lyme disease. For me these are occurring several times per day or night and these times are not limited to medical appointments or within the privacy of our home. Perhaps it is the recent successive course of 3 different antibiotics that has caused the increase? Perhaps these episodes will diminish again after the last dose in a few days? Or perhaps not. I have no idea what is to come as their pattern has changed.
The next truth is that more people than I am comfortable with have now witnessed my private hell. Tis quite embarrassing, quite humbling and wretched to have to be carried down a flight of stairs and out to the car after an evening of fellowship with friends from church. You see, after a lively Bible discussion with some friends on Sunday night, I had to ask the man of the house to help me find a quiet place to rest; a series of seizure attacks was beginning. He showed me to a back bedroom upstairs which worked well initially: the seizure attack came on strong then subsided as I sobbed in the comfort of a room away from everyone else. The only problem was when the attacks didn’t stop, no one could hear my attempts to cry out for help! The act of crying out triggered more attacks. A train went by in the distance then another, covering the sound of my cries for sure. After a long while, my husband came looking for me and found a shell of a wife curled up in a recliner.
Initially I had difficulty speaking and responding to his questions. If someone tries to touch me or move me during an attack, these also can make them worse. Both gratefully and sadly, Steve has been in this situation with me before many times and knew what to do. I still couldn’t stop crying. Geez. So Steve gingerly helped me sit up and slowly rise to a standing position. Unfortunately the neurological collapse was settling in and I was unable to stand on my own. What would occur over the next hour was like recovering from a stroke: left-sided parasthesia with my bilateral lower extremities and proximal left arm affected the most. My speech was slowed and simple. My thinking narrowed to the tasks of managing the episode without injury. I became terrified of the two sets of stairs between the master bedroom and our car parked in the driveway. Steve ended up carrying me, first to a couch on the first floor then second out to the car with a break inbetween.
At this point, the only folks left visiting in the house were the couple who lived there and their father. Mrs V., the wife, had seen a seizure attack episode last year when she graciously stayed with me for a night. Steve was out of town and her presence was a great comfort. I have wondered if her husband sometimes doesn’t know what to make of the chronicity of this illness plaguing my life? Who knows. I do appreciate his prayers when the group closes for the evening. Well tonight, Mr. B. too got to see the worst of it as well. Great. But that was not my prayer when I was secluded in the bedroom!
When the attacks did not stop, I pleaded with the Lord to please make them stop! I did not want the horror of having to be seen unable to walk, hanging from my husband’s arms. I tried to get up myself but the jolts held me back. I tried to vocalize, “help,” but it was not loud enough for anyone downstairs to hear me and the attempts to speak triggered smaller tic attacks which held me back. Another truth is that inner voice I know to be the Holy Spirit was pressing on my heart to wait and not try to force a situation that was out of my control. Obviously I was not in control and that was not going to change anytime soon! I turned my focus to my breathing. Breathing was difficult and my chest was hurting from the crushing chest compressions that accompany the vigorous shaking episodes. Yes, all I could do in that moment was breathe and maybe ask my husband to remember to get my purse before we left the house.
I am sorry if this is too upsetting for you, gentle reader. This is crap-o-la-ski at it’s finest! My truth today is that I have been sad most of the day, even crying some. This stuff is difficult for sure. More attacks, less intense “tic attacks” I call them came again today during my first treatment by a new chiropractor. More tears followed afterwards this time as well. Sigh. What I’ve got here is simply a very tough season in my life and I just have to endure it. But I know from the past trials in my life that these experiences will not go on forever nor will they be without meaning or purpose.
The Bible tells us that our suffering can produce endurance, endurance, character, and character, hope (Romans 5:4). The Bible tells us that we may endure many different kinds of hardships for His name (Revelation 2:3), that He will ultimately rescue us from attack for His glory (2 Timothy 4:18), and that we are to persevere with the supernatural strength that He alone provides with His righteous hand (Isaiah 41:10; 58:11). We know that in this world, even as those who are in Christ Jesus, that we will endure many trials and hardships. No one is immune to this! These are the consequences of living in a fallen world. Even the most wretched of situations can be used to strengthen us as they did for the first disciples (Acts 14:22) if we but hold on and do not become embittered by them. We must cry out to God at these times because the Lord promised that He will be with us now and until the end of our days (Matthew 28:20). He is present and weeps with us in the midst of the heartache. The person of Jesus Christ, the indwelling Spirit, and the blessing of the Father are with us in our time of need.
It did not take very long into my time of agony upstairs in our friends’ home that I knew that I was not alone up there. The Lord was with me then as He is with me now as I write this to you in the wee hours of the morning. In the shadow of His wings, in the protection of His mighty right hand, I was able to endure the crisis at hand. And you know, He can be right there for you too. It does take but one thing: to call upon His name: Jesus. Can you remember that? The truth is that if we do call upon His name, one day soon all this sorrow will pass away and we will be in the presence of the King forevermore. Now that is a party, an eternal bliss that I do not want to miss. I hope you will be there too with me. Just knowing you are out there comforts me you know. Will you join us? Oh I hope so! This is His the reality of His new covenant that is now here, our hope, our joy no matter what comes. This is truth that we can handle for sure. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?
11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. 12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. 13 Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. Jeremiah 31:11-13 (NIV)