It’s a good thing that the Lord is great and consistent every single moment of every single day, keeping our best good in mind when we are bouncing around a bit in life. Yesterday was a day with two of those hits for me.
I recently described a dilemma I had with a new treatment direction as I trend overall toward recovery from a serious illness. I am grateful for some better days and many more better moments than most of the past 7 1/2 years. I’ve barely grasped the significance of all of the changes let alone managed the new patterns of illness/recovery/illness and so on. The following 2 pictures from my early “birthday celebration” depict this very well I think.
With the blessing of an incredible local endocrinologist (that I miraculously got to see in record timing) I am free to make my own changes with new medications (this time covered by insurance, yay!). Her intervention has led to both successful and sometimes confusing experimentation. I’ve consulted with a local compounding pharmacist, prayed and landed on a plan that includes returning to mercury detox. Mercury can be sequestered in the tissues of the thyroid. I suspect that Hg is getting stirred up, even dumping as I transition from suppressing the thyroid: Docs prescribed high doses of meds for decades but an Endo at the Mayo Clinic recommends drastically titrating them down. I can’t seem to go fast or slow enough to cope with the outcomes each day. Hg as a mitigating factor seems the only plausible explanation to me right now given that I was doing so well initially then the seizure attack episodes returned. And mercury binders, minerals affecting the thyroid inversely affect the pattern of episodes. Mercury showed up again in recent blood work . . . Gratefully I have the best tools around now for both of these avenues.
I felt really beat up and exhausted as we left the house later today yet rallied for the cause of celebrating my upcoming birthday none the less. The tickets were already purchased for a show that is a long car ride away from home and my beloved Steve would be doing all of the driving as usual. It was a good decision to go. I had a really nice time with Steve. Then I took my Hg binder supps too close to bedtime and have been awake all night. Well crapolaski! (That’s Polish, of course.) This time at least I was able to get some correspondence done as the night broke into day. Crying and weeping really take the life out of you for a time, then joy comes in the mourning.
But social media stars Diamond and Silk are exactly the rescue remedy that I needed today. They are a hoot! Don’t follow this link if you aren’t open to other political viewpoints in our hotbed of political correctness in the United States these days. These sisters are polarizing! Kind of refreshing for me: a gal who has chosen to be transparent with the real ups and downs of overcoming a serious illness. The straight scoop is just alright with me. “Don’t sugar-coat it baby! That’s right!” And so is the Word from Lord, Jesus Christ, that sees me through it all. I hope He will do the same for you Gentle Reader. Have you trusted in Him no matter what? JJ
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
The plan began with a desire to see my husband’s family for an upcoming holiday. But gathering in Texas would require 2 very long days of driving for us, pulling a travel trailer. One family member suggested we meet in Arkansas instead which would be closer to the university where a younger family member is studying. Cut off one full day of driving for us? Yes, let’s go to Hot Springs, Arkansas instead.
This plan continued with the hope that we could camp at the RV Park inside Hot Springs Village. My Mother-in-Law has a house in the Village and we would be closer together. But the campground will be under construction for the months of November and December to have sewer hook-up lines installed. It’s going to be closed! Yes, let’s go to an RV Park about 30 minutes away on top of a picturesque mountain top instead.
The plan originally included having Steve’s daughter travel with us then the idea popped up to have both of Steve’s daughters stay with us in our travel trailer. Oh what a blast that would be! We now have the room to accommodate them but I simply cannot do so at this time. I was devastatingly sick for 4 days this past week when some new fragrances triggered my worst symptoms of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Geez, we don’t even know how we will have family over during the Christmas holiday let alone have them visit overnight when both are back in town. (Our attempt in September failed.) But to stay in closer quarters of a travel trailer while away from home in a less-controlled environment? Yes, we want to be together but no, let’s at least travel and stay separately this time. Again really.
This plan got even more complicated when planning our trip scheduled for departure not long after that horrific flare up last week. I saw my newer Functional Medicine Doctor who spoke frankly and clearly: I don’t think you should travel now. What? She said it would set me back even further, even if she could find a replacement for a treatment that contributed to the flare-up last week. So her recommendation posed a dilemma for my saint of a husband who wants to see his elderly parents-n-family AND be with me. Did I mention that our wedding anniversary is coming up? But I really don’t want to be alone on a holiday much less our anniversary! Yes, we want it all and may need to split up the holiday into a shorter trip, a shorter anniversary celebration. We are used to compromises.
The planning behind the scenes for this month involved a recall notice for our new-to-us travel trailer. We bought it after the original owner had it for about 3 months so we never got the national recall notice; it was for a safety feature that could pose a grave threat if not corrected. We found out about the recall in a Facebook group! Nineteen phone calls over the past 15 days resulted in a plan to have the recall work done at a local RV repair shop. But it got too close to our potential departure date to get the trailer to the shop-and-back: 2 trips of 3-hours of travel each time. Yes, we are no longer travelling with the travel trailer so we have more time now to get it fixed!
This trip required me to get the oil change and tire rotation for my truck that was coming due. We just figured out that we were not travelling cross-country but I decided to get the maintenance done anyways. On the way to dropping off my truck at the shop last night I HIT A DEER! The impact trashed the right-front quarter panel and headlamp of my Nissan Frontier. The turn signal stopped functioning correctly. There is no way we could travel cross-country (which always includes nighttime travel for us) with a damaged headlamp. Yes, you can see now that the door to travelling this holiday is now fully closed.
The plan may change to include my hubby travelling alone for a shorter time while I rest up; we are holding our breath for now. But what if it snows? He needs new tires on his car before the next time it snows, according to the professionals. Yes, we will find $800 for tires if we need to . . . That’s about how much a longer trip would have cost anyways, if we helped with housing for Steve’s daughters. Which we would offer, of course.
This but that, but this! Such is life in this fallen world in which we find ourselves. Many times I have said that when the trials have come, seemingly often of late, that I am holding out for the hope of heaven. Heaven indeed. The late Pastor Billy Graham wrote:
Paul wrote, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19). But our hope isn’t only for this life! In the midst of life’s storms, our hope in God’s promise of heaven is “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).
He said that if we are ever going to live for Christ, then do it now. I was reflecting on these themes when I was emptying the trash the other day. I hit my head leaning over to remove the top of the can as the can was positioned between the toilet and the bathroom sink cabinet. The top slid back behind the toilet, my head brushed against the toilet paper dispenser, and something fell back there too. I wondered if in heaven things like emptying the trash would always go smoothly? Then I realized that there is no trash in heaven! We know this from Revelation 21:4 that tells us:
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I imagine that there will be no long days of driving with cracked headlamps, recall notices, endless phone calls to make things right, separation from loved ones, suffering, cramped bathrooms or travel trailers, worn tires from roads traveled, nor heartache in the dwelling place of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is a plan upon which we can depend for those of us who believe. Now that’s a trip I’m already on. How about you Gentle Reader? JJ
The passing of John Sr. brought sorrow as I considered the impact this man had on my life. And I was not alone. Everyone knew John’s love for his family and friends, the Lord, Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of believers united by our faith. It wasn’t until I started to describe three key scenes in my past where his care was palpable to me that I started to grieve the passing of this faithful servant of the Lord. Surely the heavenly hosts are celebrating your coming home sir . . .
My connection to John Sr. was initially tainted by the critical viewpoint of my former spouse. I suppose it’s easy to criticize someone else for faults that the two of you may share? Years later this appeared to be the case. So when I ran into John Sr. just 3 weeks after my former spouse left me, I was not prepared for this gentleman’s reaction to the news. He asked how Craig was doing and I was speechless for a moment: did he not know what had happened? I guess not. I had to tell him. John Sr’s face fell as I shared the devastation that was just beginning to unfold in my life; John Sr. looked at me as if someone had punched him in the gut right there in the store! He could barely speak, mumbled a few condolences, and shuffled away obviously affected by my story. In the moment I was stunned as well. Why was he walking away when I had just shared my heart with my elder brother in Christ? Much later I supposed it was a type of grief reaction. Not long afterwards, I experienced the most important message from our encounter that day: my brother in Christ loved me as his sister in Christ, like a father I did not have at the time. He was hurting for me, hurting for the fall from grace of our brother in Christ. I also learned that day just how profoundly adultery affects many others in the body of Christ in addition to the spouse.
John Sr. didn’t live anymore in the town of that grocery store where I had encountered him. I would not see him again until a few months later when visiting with his daughter who had become a good friend of mine. Deb and I had traveled from the Chicago suburbs where we lived to her parents’ home in the Wisconsin countryside. A neighbor and fellow member of our church (where we had all met) came along for what was to be a fun time of fellowship, food, and relaxation. Their youngest son played classical guitar to everyone’s delight and John Sr. told amazing stories of missionaries they knew, places they had been, and so on. We were one big family for the weekend! That is, until nighttime came.
The Y family always had a menagerie of sofas with hide-a-beds, cots, and blankets to accommodate everyone. Me and my neighbor, Ardie, made our beds in the living room while the family tucked themselves to sleep in their respective bedrooms throughout the modest home. But I could not sleep. Instead of feeling full from the lively fellowship and activities of the visit, I was filled with grief and sorrow from the tremendous losses in progress in my life back home. I lain in the dark with tears streaming down my face like a crack in a retaining wall holding back an avalanche of tears. Finally I could not hold it in anymore. Everyone was asleep in the dark starry night whilst I was coming unglued! I gathered myself as best as I could and walked out into the cool blackness that received me outside. The tears and whimpers gushed easily then uncontrollably. “Would they ever stop?” I wondered.
Before long I could hear some wrestling of the folks inside the house. A light went on in one of the bedrooms, illuminating the front porch where I was holding myself up against a wall. Arlene and John Sr. were up! Despite my best efforts to weep quietly, they had heard me and came to comfort me. John Sr. muttered again with the same type of sorrow I had seen in the grocery store. Arlene wrapped her warm, motherly arms around me and brought me inside to sit on a handmade bench with her for as long as I needed. He got me a blanket. She stayed with me until the tears flowed no more. Eventually I spoke a little while she simply listened. What a gift she gave me that night! No one said much about it all the next morning. Somehow they just all understood the pain I was going through. They did the best thing that they could do to help me through that traumatic time in my life: they just loved on me like one of their own.
John Sr. and Arlene were the best at loving on people, a model we know comes from the love who is embodied in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That love is as pure as it is convicting with the truth of His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The two of them shared scripture often and how the Lord had led them through their lives, how He too may encourage and lead your in your days as well. I experienced this witness in an unexpected way about 3 years later. The Lord had begun the process of restoration in my life and brought me a wonderful man of God named Steve. We were engaged that September and I wanted to visit the important places and people of my life before moving to Indiana to marry him. I brought Steve to meet John Sr. and Arlene, this time without my friend Deb, their daughter. I wanted them to see my happiness and thank them for being an important part of it coming to fruition.
We had a wonderful visit. After Steve and I returned to Illinois from that long weekend, and after Steve had already gone on home to Indiana, I got a call from John Sr. He didn’t waste any time chatting about our visit and got right to the point: check yourself and the truth of God’s Word, the Bible, before you take this step in marrying Steve. I was a bit taken aback by him questioning things but heeded his advice. The next few weeks were filled with prayer, scripture reading, pastoral counselling, and looking honestly with Steve at our Biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage. All counsel pointed to a blessing for us so we proceeded to get married by the end of the year. The counsel of John Sr. was a necessary part of our preparation that brought clarity that would be needed when others would pass judgement on our union. We have complete confidence and peace that we made a God-honoring decision to be together forever.
I have often quoted Mark Twain at key times in my life who said that the un-examined life is not worth living. Indeed we can find rich value and meaning by taking a closer look at our lives within the context of God’s plans for our lives, ways He gifts each of us, orchestration of events, our limitations, and the stuff that He crafts for each of us as we live out our days on this fallen earth in which we dwell. If we are honest then our search for meaning will lead us to the Creator: the person of Jesus Christ. If we heed the call to recognize our sinful nature, receive His gift of salvation and redemption then choose to grow in knowledge and character of our Lord, then the transformation of our lives will shine for all the world to see. We will become a witness for His transforming power, His love, His grace, His mercy, His goodness. And a life seasoned by the love of Christ, never tainted by the trials we all endure, can become a life well-lived, well-loved for the glory of the Lord. This is who John Sr. was. This is the legacy that he has left for those who got to know him, were ministered to by his love and care, who witnessed his walk with the Lord every day of his life.
Well done John Sr: faithful servant of the Lord! Well done! May God be the glory for the faithful witness of my brother in Christ. May He also bless your beloved bride Arlene, until she joins you one day in the presence of our Lord. Thank you for bringing me into your spiritual family through the faith that we share. You have made a difference! JJ
Who needs a padded insert to swim in the surf anyways?
I suppose you all figured out the item in the picture by now? I found it to be hilarious finding it on the sand of the beach at Port Canaveral, Florida earlier this month! My beloved and I were there to witness a rocket launch a mile away to the south along Playalinda Beach. It was surreal. I wonder if the gal missing part of her bathing suit top felt the same way? 🙂
That day was a bit of an oasis in the middle of a medical trip that continues to change my life for the better. I was exceedingly exhausted just 1 week after treatment began and felt out of place sitting on a sandy beach with large, acrylic dental appliances in my mouth. I was unable to eat without changing out appliances (which meant rinsing them in a Ziploc plastic bag with paper towels to soak up the mouthwash) and was nearly nauseous with a lot of head-jaw-neck pain from the aggressive dynamics achieved by the splints. On the other hand, Steve was geared up to hit the waves in our outrigger canoe! We both slathered on the sunscreen and lugged our stuff up a long flight of wooden steps, over the berm, and down onto the beach. With a big umbrella in-hand, I was going to make the best of things that 86-degree day . . .
And so we did. I sat in front of the most majestic view you would never find in our home State of Indiana (note new cover photo above!) munching on my lunch, brushing dental appliances, and taking pictures of the coolest dude on the shoreline. A few hours later I witnessed the magical sight of a rocket being launched into space: a satellite developed by the same company that Steve works for in Indiana. Steve had gotten an inside scoop from co-workers at the Melbourne headquarters of how to get the best view. (Incredibly Harris allowed him to work there remotely between my medical visits and before we would return home.) The launch was spectacular!
I have come to believe that the Lord cares for everything in our lives from the mundane to the big, spectacular moments in time. He attends to every detail, crafts them for our best good. I am thinking that many of the rewards in life generally come in some way or another when I am able to move off my limited view and trust that my Lord, Jesus Christ has a bigger plan. It just might be a good one. My change in perspective will help to find it. The fact that so many years have held me captive with much agony in the past is really no predictor of what the future holds. I simply do not know.
This leap of faith to pursue a new treatment approach 1,000 miles from home is changing my life day by day. The minor setbacks are easier to take than in the past and don’t last very long, gratefully. My perspective on most things in life, my expectations, my faith, and so much more have changed accordingly. One of the sweetest rewards is sharing this newness of life with my hero, my Stevers. I love him so! And I am so proud of him, grateful for him, and in awe of his strength, faith, and love during our eleven years together. The anniversary of our first date is coming up soon! Oh I could go on . . .
How about if I just end with another awesome sight from the beach that day. Isn’t he just the coolest dude ya ever did see? I love you Stevers! :JJ
Alright. It’s a few decades too soon in my life to be fussing over fake teeth in a restaurant but that is exactly where I have landed. Or an acrylic mouthpiece of sorts, that is. Then there’s the one with metal wires in it. Aaaargh! This is all kinda gross, especially with bits o’ lunch in thar!
It’s not your average bear that carries around a bottle of mouthwash in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag with 2 paper towels, a funny little brush and a clam-shell plastic box with air holes in it with a spare mouthpiece in tow. Gentle Reader, you knew I was not undergoing a normal treatment plan when I signed up for this next phase in my recovery from a serious illness. After all, who said that specialized dental appliances would stop almost 7 years of daily seizure attacks?
The answer: no one really. Persons with Tourettes Syndrome, dystonia, and tics have found relief in addition to persons with severe TMJ or Temporal Mandibular Disorders. Only one expert mentioned “atypical seizures” and another “movement disorders.” It was the Lord who led me to examine my own pattern of symptoms and triggers, led by an observation from an ENT in a recent exam, and extensive research that seemed to indicate that I, too, might benefit from this highly skilled approach within the dentistry profession. It made sense to me that a Craniomandibular Disorder Specialist would be able to relief pressure on my aching jaw. If it relieved pressure on cranial nerves in the surrounding tissues as well, then there would be a good chance that many of the episode triggers and the convulsive episodes themselves could go down. So I interviewed thirteen professionals in the USA then said, “sign me up!” My beloved agreed. Graciously, many wonderful folks helped make it happen.
And I am glad that it did happen. The convulsive episodes are now EIGHTY PERCENT IMPROVED!!! Yeah God! Praise the Lord! Holy cow! Cool beans! Plus every other exclamation of joy I have ever used on this here blog. Just Julie is going to get well! I can now lie down and get up from bed most of the time without 30 or more minutes of convulsive episodes. THIS IS HUGE! Bonus: my reactivity to noxious sensory stimuli is also down. My posture is better. I am able to eat a few more foods that I have been able to in many, many years without triggering a seizure. Other symptoms have come and gone yet even the nagging jaw pain is also reduced. I am looking forward to seeing what will happen over time as the improvements continue . . .
The battle is not yet won, however, as my devices will need adjustments and I’ll possibly need new dental appliances as time goes forward. This will require significant travel to my Doctor out of State, a leap of faith in the Lord’s provision, and a massive testing of my health status to travel by myself. Am I up to the challenge? Absolutely. We will plan carefully and proceed with caution. Looks like I am on a good path for recovery at last. I am humbled and grateful beyond what I can put into words. Thank you Jesus!
Here are a few pictures from the process from my first week on this new journey. I look a mess in most of them yet that is because I was very sick going into these appointments. I had six violent convulsive episodes just trying to do the 5 hours of evaluation and was quite depleted by the time it was over. Afterwards, my hubby and I were so trashed that we stood in the parking lot late that sunny afternoon and ate every snack and drop of water we had with us! It took days for me to recover yet somehow I knew that my life was about to change very soon. Three days later I had another very long appointment to receive my mouth splints. The changes began within a day and continue three weeks later! Stay tuned for more good news as this story develops.
Gentle Reader, if you are struggling with serious health issues, I encourage you that the Lord sees your suffering, grieves for you, and promises to be there for you for each and every breath, now and forever. Call upon His name. There is “hope beyond” what we can see. Consider trusting the person of Jesus Christ Who will see you through, carry you this day and always. I would have never made it this far without Him. I hope we can share in my joy together someday Gentle Reader. Our God is good! JJ