Living with A Chronic Illness, but Still Enjoying Life

Well, I know it’s been several months since I last updated all of you. I finally wanted to let you all know that I have been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis. This is a bladder condition that everyone experiences differently, and it has a wide array of symptoms, so it is often difficult to treat or diagnose. But yet, it is possible to still enjoy life and make the most of every day.

At first, I felt alone in this struggle. This was before we knew what was wrong with me. But I remembered that God has always been there for me, so I literally cried out to him one day and he gave me the Bible verse, Exodus 14:14 NLT, which reads, “The LORD himself will fight for you, just stay calm.” At that point, we weren’t sure what was wrong with me. We didn’t have any answers, and we were facing a potentially major exploratory surgery that would have cost thousands of dollars that we didn’t have…even with our insurance…thanks to a high deductible. But after God gave me that verse, I had peace…I was able to see that he was providing for me. Within a few weeks of him giving me that verse, my friend, who also has IC, reached out to me and said that my symptoms sounded a lot like hers, and that she has IC. I began to research it and found an article in the Journal of Urology that stated that IC patients can have all of the non-bladder-reltaed symptoms I was experiencing, I began to feel more and more that there was something else that wasn’t so expensive to figure out. After one visit to a urologist that proved fruitless, and after discussing my findings with my gynecologist and my primary care doctor, we agreed that IC was most likely my ailment, and I was given a presumptive diagnosis, and I began following the IC diet and taking Amitriptyline for my bladder issues, and let me just say, they really help. There are days where the pain is bad, but they are far and few between, thankfully.

I am able to still enjoy life because I surround myself with those who love me. I try to live and work with a purpose, and I seek God in everything that I do. He is my number one source of strength. I pray and seek his word, and when I am feeling down, I go to him first. I am lucky in that I can still go out and ride horses, do photography, and other hobbies that I enjoy. But even if I couldn’t, I would probably stay home and write all day…to try to encourage others as much as possible.

It really is all a matter of perspective. I always tell my fellow people with this disease: WE have IC, it does not have US. This means that we can conquer it. Even if it  becomes bigger than us and hard to manage, we can still be victorious over it, at least from an emotional standpoint. We must daily make the choice to say that life is good, and to choose to focus on God and the ways in which he has blessed us. We can make a difference in the lives of others by the way we choose to live. I may live with this disease, but I am not my disease. I will not let it impact how I treat others, how I view the beauty of the world around me, or how I live life in general. Rather, I will take the cards that life has dealt to me and seek the Lord and his guidance. I will trust him, and hold onto the hope that one day he will heal me from this disease. But even if he chooses not to do so in this life, I know that I will be made perfect and new in eternity, and that is the hope that I hold onto.

Life is worth living, no matter the struggle. Stay strong, my friends, my warriors. Fight through the pain. Whatever you’re facing, show it that you’re bigger than it…that your GOD is bigger and stronger than it. Amen.

Advertisements

Joy

Joy is an attitude. It is a daily choice…something that we will find at one point or another in life, and it is completely attainable for all people. I fully understand that there may be circumstances or situations out of our control that don’t allow us to always look at the bright side in life, and I don’t discount or discredit those things in any way. But joy truly is a state of mind: it is a conscious choice to say “yes” to small victories each and every day. It is a state of contentment with your life, and trusting that God has big plans for you…it is choosing to not let the negativity of life consume you or control you. You may not be able to choose if bad things happen in life, or if certain things happen to you, but you do have a choice regarding your response to it. They say that life is 90% what happens to you, and 10% how you react to it, and that is so true. Each day presents us with a new choice: we can choose to allow ourselves to give in to our circumstances and the seemingly endless cycles that we face every day, or we can choose to try our best to rise above our circumstances. That’s not to say that it’s at all easy. It will take plenty of time and effort to accomplish this, but once you receive it, and I mean, TRULY receive it, you will never let go of it. Choosing to see the world with an attitude of joy and an attitude of gratitude is one of the most freeing things that you can possibly do. It takes so much weight off your shoulders. I say this from personal experience. Sure, there may be days that you slip and fall, days where you don’t feel so joyful, and days where you may feel downright negative and dark. But if you can think back to all the joyful moments that you have had previously, and choose to remember all the wonderful ways in which God has blessed you, then you will quickly be able to return to your joyful state of mind: remembering that life is good.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel joyful every day. To be human is to experience a wide array of emotions, but to as I said before, it is our choice whether we let those emotions control us or not. We may be perfectly justified feeling angry in the moment, but if we choose to let that anger control us, we will only find ourselves becoming bitter. Once you release all of the things you’ve been holding onto in your life and turn them over to God, it is much easier to see life from a joyful perspective. Be kind to others and to yourself and remember that you, like them, are a beautiful work in progress. God has called you to a life of peace and hope, and eternal JOY in him…joy that you can experience moment by moment if you ask him to help you with it, and if you make the conscious choice to do so every day.

Even if you don’t immediatly find yourself joyful, or if you find it hard to see the bright side of anything, just celebrate your daily, small victories. There is hope in even the smallest of things that we do. Most importantly, don’t forget to take time for yourself and to ask for help when you need it. There is nothing wrong with doing either of those things. You owe yourself the best life possible. Celebrate the small victories, surround yourself with those who will only build you up, and choose to live the best life that you possibly can…choose to see the good in people, despite their flaws, and most importantly, seek Christ in all you do. In time, joy will follow, and it will well up so much within you that you won’t be able to contain it. Eventually, that joy will spill over into the lives of others and cause a chain reaction.

Hold on, stay strong. You are beautiful, you are loved. You matter. Your life matters. You have a reason and a purpose, you have something valuable to contribute to this world, even if you can’t see it yet. Tomorrow needs you. Hold onto hope. Choose to see the world from a perspective of joy, and watch how it begins to transform you.

 

Another Medical Update

Hey everyone, I know I haven’t posted in a while, sorry about that, I’ve just been really busy. But, I have another medical update for you guys! Turns out, it probably isn’t endometriosis at all. Rather, my gynecologist, my primary doctor, and I, all suspect that I really have interstitial cystitis, a painful bladder disease. I developed UTI symptoms in March, and they haven’t gone away. I started researching IC, and almost all of my symptoms fit. I was peeing anywhere from 7-to-13 times a day on a bad day, my pain in my pelvic area was terrible, my urethra burned all the time, I was dizzy, nauseous, and had a host of other symptoms. I talked to both my gyno and my primary, and they agreed that it sounds like IC. While they haven’t officially diagnosed me yet, my primary did start me on 10mg of Amitriptyline daily. OH MY GOODNESS, that stuff really works! It’s about 80% effective for me, and the only side effect I have encountered is nightmares, which I can handle. I do have to follow special dietary restrictions, but it’s not too bad. And I’m saving $7,000 because now I don’t have to have a laparoscopy to find out if it’s endo, so that’s really good! I feel mostly like myself again! I have an appointment with the urologist next month to get an official diagnosis, but we are pretty sure IC is what it is. If you have this disease as well, message me. I always appreciate a kindred spirit, and would love to offer any advice I have, as well as share the experiences I have had.

Blessings upon you all. 🙂

I Can Only Imagine: A Great Song, A Great Movie, and a Beautiful Story

I just went and saw the movie, I Can Only Imagine about Bart Millard, the lead singer of MercyMe’s life, and about the song that came about as a result of his journey. Let me tell you, it was an absolutely wonderful, amazing movie, and it stirred something in me that has been hidden for a while. First of all, it showed me that I needed to forgive those in my life that I have found it hard to forgive. Next, it reminded me that God can use any of our circumstances for good. It reminded me that we should never give up on our dreams, no matter what. If God has given us a talent, skill, ability, or interest, we should figure out how to cultivate and harness that thing and use it for his glory. God is not done with you, your story isn’t over yet…in fact, it’s just beginning. You never know what God is going to do to change you, and you never know how he’s going to use your experiences to shape your life and maybe even the lives around you. It shows you the importance of being open and available to God, and saying a daily yes to him, and seeing how he uses you.

Doing The “Unthinkable” Technology-Wise

Well, I never thought I’d do this, but I switched back to Android. That’s right, I traded in my iPhone X for an Android phone: the Keyocera DuraForce PRO. I’m kind of accident-prone, and I like the features and functions that this phone offers, much better than the iPhone X. I know, I know, it’s unthinkable, but it’s true. I actually really like this phone a lot. Anyway, I’m still keeping my MacBook, because I’m getting into Voice Acting now, and I really enjoy it, and the Mac is great for that. I also do a lot of photography, and the Mac is far superior in that regard. I will never go back to Windows computers for personal computers, I’ll always stick with Mac. But I may just have to stick with Android phones from here on out for smartphones…this phone is like a freaking, TANK. Virtually indestructible. Check it out on YouTube sometime.

Just Me — Part 1: A Life Update

Haven’t really been up to much lately. Just working and spending time with my husband. This month has been pretty busy, but things are starting to look up. My follow-up appointment for my suspected endometriosis is in just a few weeks…hopefully we’ll have an answer to that. I’ve also released a lot of my anger, bitterness, and more. I’ve given it all over to God, and I’m feeling great. I mean, I’ve already been a Christian for most of my life, but whenever you actually just choose to stop harboring anger towards those who have wronged you, it’s so freeing.

I keep just trucking along, working hard, being happy. 🙂 I’ll update the blog again soon.

Resolution: My Quest to Better Myself in the New Year

We all make New Year’s resolutions, and many of us rarely keep those resolutions. Sometimes we try to make resolutions to spend less money, to eat more healthfully, to go to the gym three days a week, etc. Whatever the case may be, resolutions are hard to keep. We just get so lost in the hustle and bustle of the world around us that we forget to pay attention to our resolutions, and they fall by the wayside until “next year.” This is not going to be the case with me, this year. My resolution is simple: to no longer apologize for being myself: to love myself exactly the way I am, remembering who I am and whose I am. That’s just about all that anyone can really expect of you.

Medical Update

I forgot to update you guys! Sorry about that. I asked you all to pray, and then forgot to update you. My new gynecologist does in fact suspect endometriosis. In fact, he brought it up before I did. While we aren’t 100% sure that’s what it is, he says it’s the most likely thing right now. He switched my birth control pills to a different type that should keep it in check, and I won’t have a period for three months, so yay! There’s that. Now I just hope that the pills fix the problem…otherwise, surgery (two surgeries) may be in my future. So again, please pray. Just continue to pray that this is solved. I’m still in pain, but at least we have a potential answer now, so I’m satisfied just with that.

Silence: Our Deepest Fear, Our Deepest Longing

via Daily Prompt: Silent

You know, when you stop and think about it, silence is really a funny thing. It’s the thing that we all crave at the end of a long day. When we have had a long day, filled with hustle and bustle, we would crave even just a moment of total silence–a time to clear our heads from the world around us. We are constantly saturated with noise and need a break, and yet it is this very saturation, this constant state of motion of the world around us…this connectedness to our technology that makes us terrified of silence. We feel like if we spent even one moment alone in total silence, we would hear our innermost thoughts…would see our real selves…and that’s a side of ourselves that we are afraid of. Whatever the case may be, it’s pretty sad that we don’t want to face ourselves…that we have to drown out everything around us because the silence is too deafening.

There is beauty to be found in silence, if you know how to find it. My favorite way to enjoy the silence is to just sit in nature…with only the sound of the wind moving through the trees, or the waves on the sand crashing. If you’re looking for pure silence, perhaps try going out to see the starts in an area that’s good for camping late one night. Then, look up at the sky, watch the shooting stars, and just forget about everything else around you. Enjoy the peace the silence brings. It’s not so scary, we just have to learn how to embrace it.

It’s About That Time Again

It’s about that time again! I’m getting ready for Christmas! We’ve had our Thanksgiving celebration, and now I’m like Buddy the Elf, and I’m getting ready for Christmas. Our fiber-optic Christmas tree is arriving tomorrow, and we’ll be decorating it and putting it up. We’ve already done a little bit of Christmas shopping, and my husband and I will be putting our gifts to each other under the tree and trying to cat-proof the tree. 🙂 I can also start trying to bake Christmas goodies, decorating my cubicle at work, listening to Christmas music, and more. Oh, how I love this time of year!