The Divine covers all

Tears filled my eyes and grief my thoughts as I heard the words of a healthcare provider actually address my pain. Again. A few of her first recommendations for me seemed too risky so she called me back into the office to review my plan of care in-person. The insurance company denied a CT scan at this stage; I was exasperated. I had so much hope for relief. At least one of the tools the PA recommended during the first visit actually ended a migraine that had rendered me useless about a week ago. And this past Friday, she offered two more tools for my care. Really? There are more things to try?

For the second time visiting their office, I was overcome with the grief and traumas of my journey through serious illness. No one had looked closely at the role of headaches in the daily convulsive episodes that have created much suffering for me for NINE YEARS. Only 2 months ago I finally realized that many of the headaches are migraines. The so-called experts at the Headache Clinic at a regional medical center recently discounted me, told me to breathe deeply, and sent me off in a direction already worn from false starts in the past. The burden of suffering through many traumatic incidents recounted in this blog came rushing back like a movie fast forwarding through a person’s life when she is drowning. Yeah, there have been a couple of near-death experiences as well.

The PA stayed with me as I wept. The Medical Assistant gave me all of the time I needed to gather my composure before leaving their office. I’d had TWO HOURS of sleep in the last day! My sunglasses and the required face mask covered my sullen eyes, tear-stained cheeks, and swollen sinuses as I prepared to leave much later after my appointment had ended. It took another 30 minutes sitting in my vehicle replenishing my soul before I could re-gather my strength to drive again.

A friend has been tough to reach by phone lately including earlier that same day. I called her again. No answer. She had wept on the phone that she was very, very sick and losing weight; she didn’t know what she was going to do. This sounded more serious than when I first met her about 2 years ago through a shared healthcare provider. G was already severely underweight. Her father died then her mother died, they sold her childhood home, then her husband died all within the past year. She has only been a widow for 3 months. Her grief must be tremendous so it’s no surprise to me that she is struggling so. I called her son for the first time since he and G were at our home 2 years ago. How is your Mom doing? We talked for awhile and he asked if I could try to visit her. I was already on the same side of town where she lived and was thinking the same thing. I often called her to go for a walk together when appointments took me near her neighborhood. Of course I would.

My hubby and I have become snobs of olive oil. Once you taste the best varieties shipped directly from Italy to a local business that specializes in olive oil, you might never go back to the store bought varieties! I consider it a healthcare product, like taking a pharmaceutical grade supplement vs a brand off the shelf of a local grocery store. It really makes a difference! Olive Twist was between the medical office and G’s home so off I went to return our used bottles and pick up our tasty treasures. For some reason I felt led to pick up an extra bottle so I did. We do go through it rather quickly.

I caught up with G while she was out on a walk through her neighborhood. This is quite an accomplishment for someone who sounded next to death and in light of the sub-zero temperatures and icy streets in the neighborhood. To take a walk was her favorite thing to do. “Hey lady, whatcha doing out here in the cold?” I parked the truck at her house and braced myself to meet up with her out on those icy streets myself. The hug felt good for both of us when I reached her.

A couple of things transpired in the next hour that prompted me to write today. By the time our visit was ended, G had confided that the best tool she had to calm her upset digestive system was various types of vegetable oils. Little did she know that she would find a bottle of the best olive oil available locally sitting next to her front door by the time we got back to her house! The Lord knew your need G. And the Lord provided for it to be met on Friday. But that’s not all.

This time when G shared her fears, medical worries, “physical” feelings, and isolation over and over again (unlike our more newsy conversations just prior to Christmas), I felt led to ask her about her “emotional” feelings. Sad. Hopeless. Afraid. “I just don’t know what I am going to do?” she vented. Then we heard the wail of a freight train racing by her rather swanky neighborhood. Somewhere beyond the golf course and frigid air between us, inspired only by the Holy Spirit, came to me the themes of the Fact-Faith-Feeling train of the Four Spiritual Laws booklet. This booklet describes the gift of salvation offered to everyone through belief in the sacrifice on the Cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The caboose holds our feelings. The passenger car holds our beliefs, our trust. The engine embodies the Lord, Jesus Christ who leads and even pulls the train along when we surrender ourselves, our caboose and put our trust in Him. She wanted this free gift. She got it. Her spiritual birthday began with a simple prayer on her front porch that day. Praise the Lord!

We prayed again before I left. When I looked into her eyes afterwards, there were tears staining her face. She had told me when we were walking that she wasn’t even able to cry lately. She felt the feelings but the tears just would not come. I said to her, “G your cheeks are wet. Feel your face.” And with a muttering of how good our God is and how much He loves her, it was time for me to leave. There was nothing left to say, nothing left to do. The Lord had both of us in the palm of His hand that afternoon and will continue to do so from this day forward. I drove home with renewed hope and strength then slept a very long time over the next day.

Never, ever lose hope Gentle Reader. Our Divine Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is there with us in every single detail of our lives just waiting for us to cry out to Him. He cried drops of blood for our suffering. His plan of salvation turns death into life. The Divine in due time covers all. JJ

Wence come forth a glimmer of light

When someone leans in to your speaking, ready and willing to help

It is a rare moment to catalog, to stack over times of disinterest.

When it’s a healthcare professional who actually knows her stuff

Then you have a shot at individualized care not the easiest answer.

When she orders a comprehensive plan with follow-up to boot

You start to melt into the possibility of hope and actual gain.

When the topic is real, bonified pain evidenced in test after test

The story hath become believable to more than your weary soul.

When someone really looks at you and can tell you speak your truth

That signs of wear and tear are obvious; why couldn’t others see it too?

When these answers come so late in the game but alas before life is over

There just might be a chance for better days outside of your king bed retreat.

When your tears drain the sorrows of past fails and let in the glimmering light

On an hour of sleep with topical pain remedies in hand, you drive like hell with rock-n-roll on the radio doing more than you really should to celebrate the baby turn for good, answered prayers, and wings to fly on that are not your own.

Witness the goodness of God. JJ

One day the earth will warm again. Until then the light doth illuminate the possibilities.

A tough time to live out our faith

As if my health challenges weren’t enough of a challenge to the veracity of my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we Americans enter into the most tumultuous year in recent US history. A false impeachment proceeding of the President of the United States gave way to a pandemic, dramatic changes at every level of society, and social unrest. One could argue that the voices of darkness came out of the woodwork and into the light of day. Just when we thought we might start looking forward to the turn of the calendar into 2021, a tumultuous election process began the further destruction of our institutions. Words don’t even mean the same thing anymore so how may I describe it to those of you who don’t live here, to those who have chosen not to pay close attention? Let’s just say we have entered an exceedingly tough time in which to live.

The story of what is actually going on now depends upon whom you ask. The mainstream media claims that our President has incited a coup and the conservative media claims the opposite. While the majority of the citizenry acknowledge the multiple methods of election fraud that has dominated the courts and legislature since November 3rd, neither of the latter has been willing to hear the evidence in any meaningful way. Thousands of ordinary people giving sworn affidavits under penalty of perjury, expert witnesses, videotaped evidence, the breaking of state constitutional and election laws, manipulation of voting machines, and more suggest that some really bad things happened. But it wasn’t enough to change the outcome? Legislators who claim to support the President, the Republican party, and various causes of their constituents have turned their back on all three of them. This is true even when the President helped them get elected! So on January 6th when these “results” of sorts were set to be certified, a peaceful demonstration escalated into a riot and storming of our nation’s Capitol . . . while the Senate and Congress were in session! They all fled to the basement, the Capitol police eventually did their jobs clearing out the building, and who knows if the National Guard (which our nation was told would be at the ready) ever really showed up? Who were these rioters or who started it anyways? Why did the Capitol police let some of them in? The identities and details vary based upon which news report you view.

We could make the argument that a nation divided cannot stand and we have been divided as a nation for longer than the year 2020. News that lacks truth or even consistency on how basic language is used keeps all of us from communicating with one another and from knowing the truth. Some of our leaders are treating people like cattle to be controlled (or to be tossed little stimulus checks while other nations and special interests are fed gaga-millions), letting you know that we are already sliding from a republic FOR THE PEOPLE to one FOR THE ELITE IN CHARGE. I believe the latter is called socialism and it is now here. Personal freedoms and rights are eroding with each passing day and will accelerate if the democratic candidate actually finds his way into office on January 20th. That’s just 10 days from now. We see even more darkness coming in the policies of the “President-elect,” Republican rhinos, and the entire democratic party who now dominate the Congress, the Senate; the Supreme Court is no where to be found. The gains and goodness of the last 4 years will soon be gone. But wait, there’s more!

Unless a miracle happens, it appears that Republicans who supported President Trump especially conservatives will be punished, persecuted, and stripped of their Constitutional freedoms. This is already happening with restriction of the 1) operations of churches during the pandemic and 2) free speech once expressed on the largest social media platforms in our nation and world. Censorship worsened early in 2020 and it appears is here to stay; the Congress just voted to remove all gender-based language! Just like in the story of the King wearing no clothes, have we forgotten that “President-elect” Joe Biden has dementia? The main stream media that represents our nation to the world does not communicate facts just skewed narratives, blatant lies. And just when conservatives started to develop and pursue alternate platforms for communication, the big media companies started wielding their power to prevent posting information on their platforms; this weekend big tech companies such as Amazon and Google are clamping down further to prevent the download or meaningful use of social media alternatives such as Parler, Rumble, MeWe, and others. Twitter closed the account of and banned a sitting President! Holy cow! Some think that the internet itself will soon be shut down. How are we to communicate with one another much less function as a society? If we were playing a game of chess, we would hear the shriek of, “CHECK!!!” But let’s check our facts Gentle Reader. Is it CHECKMATE just yet? I don’t think so.

Fencing being constructed in front of the White House, Google Earth, 1.10.2021

As I am writing this, there are reports that the President has prepared the US military for special operations in our nation’s capital and beyond. Insiders claim that our military is on the move and there are battleships off the shores of our coasts, military sorties being flown over our skies. Alternative media sources report that President Trump has evidence of illegal if not treasonous activities of government and corporate leaders that go beyond the election fraud or crimes of the Biden family. The insurrection at the Capitol building on Wednesday may have been incited by the same dark, leftist, paramilitary organizations who have destroyed numerous sections of democrat-run cities throughout our nation. However it also appears that individuals somewhere on the political right, maybe even infiltrated by our own special operations military may have been a part of the attempted invasion. All of them appeared to have broken many laws. Five people were killed in the process, personal artifacts may have been confiscated, and much damage was done to the Capitol building. There is evidence that some of the parties involved had a plan of attack that day, that it was not simple mob violence, as evidenced by the tools and riot gear utilized by some of these instigators. I could go on. There are no easy ways to explain what happened this week, this month, this year, or this 4-year term of the Office of the Presidency. We could even ask if all of this evil mayhem is part of a existential “reset” of the USA into a larger plan or world order? Orchestrated and funded by wordily oligarchs? What does it sound like to you?

Those of us in Jesus Christ know who the ruler of this world is and that is Satan. The Bible tells us in the book of Job that he goes about the earth, to and fro wreaking havoc on the lives of the living. His goal is to distract non-believers from coming to know the true and living God then discourage those who do come to faith through the Lord, Jesus Christ. He wants all of us to turn our backs on the truth and our Redeemer, the hope we can find that transcends the evil of our days. We shall see God and spend eternity with Him in glory! He forgets that we see in the Book of Revelation that Satan does not win; Jesus sends him off to be bound then forever tormented in the lake of fire! Forever!

What is going on in the United States of America is frightening. We are at the precipice of losing all we hold dear in our way of life. We may well deserve correction if not punishment in straying from God as a nation. However if we look to President Trump to be our savior from the wrongs in western society then we will be misled and disappointed. President Trump still has a job to do for 10 more days and I believe he will fulfill his leadership duties as best as he can. Maybe his term of office will somehow be extended and a new administration will form? But regardless let’s recognize that Donald J Trump is only a man with flaws just like you and me. He is not God. He will fall short of the lofty expectations we Christians have a tendency to place upon him. He is a sinner like you and me. And we sinners find true rest in the person of Jesus Christ alone. Let’s remember that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the One with the power to win the battle against good and evil. Vengeance belongs to Him alone; we are to overcome by our belief, our pursuit of what is good and right as best we can and do so as we pray for the wayward, trust in the Lord. He sees and grieves our pain. He will supernaturally calm our fears.

Let’s continue to pray for our leaders, our President, and the resolve of fellow believers in the sovereignty and power of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Let’s pray that others who are scared, looking for direction will find it in Him through the testimony of our lives surrendered to the Lord. We all deserve judgement for our failings but we know where we can receive mercy, grace, salvation, hope. Let’s live like we believe it. This is a really tough time to live out our faith here in the United States of America. Persecuted Christians around the world have endured far worse and found peace in the God of the Bible. Their endurance through trials inspire us that, in His strength and through the leading of the Holy Spirit, we can live the way in which we are now called. Our God reigns! Let us pray without ceasing as we go for His glory! JJ

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

The Aftermath

When another healthcare faux pas takes the life out of my weary stride

It’s easy to give up or rather give in to a despair that never leaves.

Then a new day comes and I have a decision to make

Even if that day begins much later than planned.

I AM sad. No doubt legitimately so

From the treatment I received,

Or rather did not.

Siiiiiiiiiiiigh.

It’s hard.

I’m only human and in my own strength I cannot do this over and over again.

Thank the Lord that you are with me on my bed of sickness every time

Weeping over the trials, the suffering of your child

Promising that one day all will be perfectly well.

I just gotta hang on, hang tough, and trust

‘Cause the journey won’t be wasted

The rewards will be the best ever

When I see my Jesus’ face

My wings flying free.

For all eternity.

Yes indeed!

Is it enough to have overcome the dearth of trials that pain us so in this life?

That’s a question only answered with faith that comes from our Lord.

Our own strength will never be enough. The days are just too evil

Acceleratingly so Gentle Reader. Do you see it too?

Waste no more time wondering just BELIEVE

Get into your Bible right now, go, run!

Our just God’s Word will ring true

On redemption, wondrous glory

As we take rest in His grace.

Today. Join me there.

It is enough and so

Very good too.

After all.

What else could they do?

The glass chamber is designed to match your body temperature while you complete the subtests of the Pulmonary Function Test. Mike did his job. Steve helped where he could. And for me?

The trauma was REAL.

The cardio-pulmonary work-up continued this past week with a carotid ultrasound, beginning of a 7-day EKG event monitor, and the torture chamber otherwise known as a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT). Perhaps the PFT is not designed to create stress but completing it between 5 sets of convulsive episodes was a real bite in the shorts!

I knew the risks for me for the PFT from having completed one about 5 years ago. We were unable to progress to the section administered after a bronchodilator medication because of convulsive episodes triggered in the first few subtests. So this time I asked my beloved to drive me to the hospital for the test and brought with me several rescue remedies that sometimes stop the attacks. With assistance to administer them I might get through it all. When Thursday came I was not motivated to head out the door for the hospital and after only 4 1/2 hours of sleep. Looked like it was going to be the same story, different day.

The first part of the test went alright as Respiratory Therapist Mike kept a close eye on me. I had given him the spiel of what can happen if I had a seizure attack, including the request not to call the paramedics if I had an episode! He said he understood and actually stayed calm throughout the entire ordeal. Seizure-like tics began after the 2nd subtest and most of the ones that followed. Steve graciously brought me the ice pack I had in my lunch bag which served to slow each episode once placed over my sternum. We continued and eventually got it all done like a good beating on a warm summer day.

The test that required you to breathe against resistance was particularly frightening. When deep breathing or panting re-triggers the episodes, I thought that surely breathing against the mouthpiece where my airway would be blocked would be good. On the contrary. It actually calmed me down considerably! Holy cow. Have we found another tool to help control these dang things? Mike said that breathing against resistance stimulated the vagus nerve. Well there you go again. I first started looking into vagus nerve seizures and treatment strategies at the beginning of 2018. This ultimately led me to see a Craniomandibular Specialist and the rest is now history. But here we are again. The trigeminal nerve of the TMJ and the vagus are interrelated cranial nerves. To date only these 2 of the many vagus nerve stimulation techniques I have tried have proven to be helpful. Turns out there is a difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic fibers of this 10th of the 12 cranial nerves; the trigeminal is the 5th. We shall revisit this topic here again another day for sure.

The PFT was scheduled for about an hour. We left after 2 hours! Each time there was a trigger of seizure-like tics, we had to stop for me to struggle to pick up the ice pack on the laminate floor of the glass chamber, apply it to my chest, then wait for things to calm down again. The violent shaking wrenched my neck. I longed to lower myself to the floor and curl up in a ball, holding my head and neck. The pain, the pain. At home I struggle (or Steve carries me) to lie down someplace safe where I can grasp my head and neck to prevent whiplash. Not so during the PFT. My right leg banged against the metal frame and glass walls of the chamber a few times; my body tensed with fright as I feared falling off of the narrow stool and onto the hard, linoleum floor. No warm blanket was anywhere to be found. Mike and Steve just watched in silence each time. What else could they do?

Times like these finds me terrified of falling and getting injured. Gratefully I have never fallen even after thousands of these wretched episodes. But initiating movements of any kind to either speak, break a fall, or otherwise create safety exacerbates the directionality and velocity of the seizing; this in turn creates a high risk to fall or get injured! Too bad that I am awake to remember all of this hell unlike an epileptic seizure where the person is unconscious. (Well it’s probably good so that I don’t have the injuries that can come with falling after passing out.) I guess it’s my own form of grace manifest as survival mode. Tense my muscles to prevent of a fall but trigger a rebound: increased rapid-fire, uncontrolled shaking of an appendage or two that may bang against whatever is nearby. Metal frames and glass walls. Still can’t speak most of the time. Breathing? Yeah maybe. Oy vey. I hate this!

It took awhile after the PFT was over to regain enough muscle control to walk out of the chamber of doom to a chair across the room. Perhaps it will be diagnostic for the cardiologist later this month as to why forced-breathing maneuvers trigger such bad episodes? Maybe the test results will show something this time? Everything flooded my mind as I tried to be pleasant to the two men staring at me the whole time who were powerless to do much to help. They were both most kind. I could see it in their eyes above the masks they both wore. (I was the only one allowed to remove mine! Go COVID-19!) Mike and Steve remained standing as I slumped into a hard plastic chair in the opposite corner of the room. One of them asked if I needed anything but I just couldn’t speak very well yet to respond. Managing the wires from the EKG event monitor, holding the ice pack to my chest, and groping for a snack bar in my lunch bag for something to revive me was about all I could handle. Steve opened the packaging of a Clif Nut Butter Bar and helped me get a drink of water. He knows the routine well. Love that man!

Cracking jokes has been my way to bring humanity to this hell when someone new comes along for the experience. “Welcome to my nightmare.” “I guess I’ve completed my involuntary exercise program today.” Or something similar are my usual bylines. I let a few fly. Before long we were leaving. I was walking verrrrry slowly however.

Somehow I got through a telehealth medical appointment a few hours later followed by a full day of several long blocks of sleep. Thankfully I had made some food ahead of time and thankfully Steve was willing to bring me a meal later on as I began to recover. My Skype appointment on Friday needed to be cancelled and I declined an additional make-up appointment from a second Provider. I was too weak and shaky. About all I accomplished on Friday was a load of laundry and achieving many levels on a word game app. The pup got lots of scratches too.

Two days later I realized how traumatic all of this was. A dearth of tears busted out after yet another bad episode and eventually I got the story typed out here. Perhaps someday these wretched convulsive episodes will stop. Maybe my beloved Steve and I will actually get a peaceful night of sleep on a regular basis, together. Maybe my life will be about the volunteer stuff I get to do here and there instead of medical appointments every week. Seems like we are getting closer than ever before to the mechanism of action of what triggers and what stops these waking, convulsive episodes; I have a few rescue remedies that keep me out of the emergency room these days. Yay God! Lord willing, I pray and plead, my Jesus will mercifully bring me to complete healing. Maybe someday soon? JJ

King Tut Grass and Cannas @ParkviewHealth
Mandevilla vine, Begonias, Geraniums (right) and Potato Vine (left) @ParkviewHealth