Called out of Death

I have spent the past several months waiting and wishing for change.  Hoping that my body would hold out, make it through today, and that tomorrow would pass and the next day and the next — before I realized they were gone.  So that I could make it.

I have cried at the end of long days, because tomorrow was going to hit me again.  I have escaped into movies and TV and tried to hang on while caring for the basic needs of my family at a deficit that seems inhuman.  The truth is, it wouldn’t matter if I slept or rested all day, I would still be tired.  So I do the things I must.  Or just the things I want, some days, and thank God for that.

Sometimes suddenly I’ll get slapped with a jerk of energy and can whip the house into better shape, take care of a project that it overdue for attention, give the kids a good bath….

My husband has been the best cheerleader.  My children so forgiving.  It is humbling.

One day I was at the 40-day countdown.  Maybe more or less….but either way, it felt like the end of a pregnancy.  I am overready but the circumstances are beyond my control.  40 Days seemed like a long time.

I just want to be finished.

Then the Lord started speaking…. I am calling you out of death, and calling you into life.  Each step, each day, a little more hope, a little more faith, a little more trust.

Each day a little more life.

Today I am at 19 days and counting.  (I feel like Mom Duggar… that sounds like a lot but to me it isn’t.  I would gladly have 19 children.  Can I be just as glad to do 19 more days of torture to my body and then gladly submit to the surgeon’s knife?)

I could beat myself up about this, because at least I am not battling actual death, but it’s like running a race on glass shards.  At moments I just want to scream or hit the wall or lock myself away or just leave and go to the beach forever.

It takes more than myself to calm down, look this Zombie in the eye and say, “You will not rule this day.”  Then deep breaths and trusting God about all of it.  Submitting to the long-term walk here.

Then reentering into my family life.

God, thank you for getting me this far.  Give me new hope for today.  Fresh life for today.  I cast out death for today.  Wanting to die… or just to be asleep all day… ignoring anything that doesn’t matter, including the dishes in the sink or the piled up laundry… ignoring my fatigue because it will be there whether I sleep or not.

Lord, thank you for delightful things to enjoy…. like helping my friend give birth this week.  Like taking my kids to fun things today and tomorrow and the next and the next, already planned, like a beautiful symphony, ready for me to enjoy each day… because you have filled my days with life.

When I was in college and I struggled with depression, I had no idea that those skills would come in handy and be built upon during this season.

And I have heard you say God, that I am in for some really great things… and now I am seeing how some beautiful things are on their way.  I trust you, God.  Thanks for helping me, again and again and again.

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Thanks for Reading, Friends.

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Update: 1 month to surgery

I am astounded at the issues cropping up for my health.

Blood pressure was 173/105 this evening… pretty frustrating to feel so rough at times.  I am ready for a change… praying that this surgery will do the most it can.  They say you wake up healed, and end up needing recovery from the anesthesia more than anything else.

I am not counting the days yet, because there is that random off chance the surgery could be moved up.  I haven’t felt myself in years now.  I am hopeful that my brain fog will lift, my ability to remember things improve, and that I will prove at last to be the more patient person I thought I was before this illness took over my life.

Thanks for reading, friends.

 

Communities At War

I made a presentation at my Homesteading/Preppers group last week on nutrition and health/lifestyle.  It was a fun event for me, getting to share a little about what I have learned in the past few years.

I added a special slide in my powerpoint at the very end, however, with a picture of the Mexican Standoff in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  Point being: I am not joining the Nutrition vs. Medical WAR that is currently happening.

That’s right.  There is a WAR, if you haven’t figured it out already.  In fact, it goes on with all things medical as far as I can figure.  Hospital vs. Home/Natural Birth, Vitamins, and Immunizations are other areas where I have unwittingly stepped on a few land mines in conversations online and off, in the doctor’s office and with family/friends.

It turns out that both sides are standing behind their relative barricades, pointing fingers and screaming “You’re lying!  You’re wrong!” to the other side.  Anyone in the middle, undecided or just trying to do a blend of both sides, has to watch out, ‘cuz they’ll get pointed at and screamed at, too.  It all turns political and very heavy-handed when people aren’t being thoughtful.

The truth is, my husband and I plan to do a hybrid of the two — with a heavy dose of Jesus in the middle of all of it.  Our trust is not in man alone, doctors or nutritionists, but in the Creator of both sides and the only One who can help us pull back and make the choice that is best for us.

With Conn’s Syndrome, my adrenal gland presents a particularly tricky situation.  Unlike Adrenal Fatigue, a disease has caused my gland to overproduce one particular hormone.  I have a tiny little bump or growth, tumor or nodule, however you want to call it, that nutrition might be able to help me manage but will not cure.  In fact, nutrition has gone so far as to help me daily with my blood pressure and overall health far better than the medicinal management we tried last year.  However, my BP stays far higher than it should and the hyper-production of aldosterone continues to ravage my life.

So, it seems as though surgery is the best option.  What I left to the last, will (this time) take center stage.  I have explored doing a partial adrenalectomy, or asking the surgeon to simply chip off the nodule.  These might seem to be good options, but the main thing I have picked up on in studies accessible to me is that some adrenals that are fully removed show further disease once they are studied post-operation.

It is so rare to find two diseased adrenals that this is usually not a concern.  And for me the option of having my BP return to normal (as is the usual outcome) as well as my overall stamina/health for my family’s sake… far outweigh the negatives of losing my adrenal and maintaining my nutritional choices for the sake of my other adrenal.  I was concerned about guarding against adrenal insufficiency, but again from what I have read this usually occurs when people do not have even one properly functioning adrenal… it’s a totally different issue than Conn’s.

So… I have tried maintaining my health on my own, and for me it has not worked.  Maybe others could find a trick and I would love to hear about it here, even if I did not get the chance to try it.

It is interesting to me, overall, how much time it might have saved me if any one of the doctors I have met would have stopped to help me understand the full picture instead of trying to strong-arm me into surgery without fully understanding why.  I wonder if any of them even know enough about Conn’s to do this.  It remains a simple “I read that for Conn’s you do surgery” and they expect their patients to agree/submit to that.  Questions are a waste of their time.

So, it is up to US to really do the footwork and read, read, read to figure out WHY we would do what they suggest  (which can be tricky to do when you are already not feeling great and other things/little people need your attention).  It’s all about Informed Consent.  If you expect the doctor to do the explaining you are barking up the wrong tree, unfortunately.

Another guarding factor I have uncovered is, when working with doctors, it really helps not to disclose the Nutritional side of things.  A kind doctor friend explained in a private conversation that it’s best to say “I’d like to treat this conservatively, and avoid surgery if possible.”  So sad, but true… until Judgement Day we may never have a world where the yin/yang of
Science/Bible or Nutrition/Medicine can meet.  I’d argue that this is due to the meddling of the enemy of our souls.  Far too much good would come by those combinations, but that’s another story for another day… that’s my Christian two cents.  (wink)

Blessings to you, wherever you are on your road!  Let me know how you are doing and how I can pray for you today.

A Different Approach to Flesh – Diet for the Zombified

It all happened in the chocolate section of Central Market.  No joke.

I listened, got mad, and cried in front of the 80-100% dark chocolate as this random guy told me that a Zombie tumor can be eliminated through specialized diet, rest, and lifestyle choices (among other things, no more chasing people through the streets at night… hmm… that’ll be hard… I miss those sweets already).

Here I was, about to give up an entire organ (adrenal gland) in order to try and purge the nasty tumor growing inside me.  At first I got mad.  Who does this guy think he is?  “No…. don’t let them do that.”  He and his wife said in tandem.  I felt the buzz of frustration grow.  You don’t know what I’ve been through to get to this surgery!!!

“You need both of your adrenals — no matter what they say!” he said.  “Would you consider postponing surgery for a month?”

“Just for a month,”  His wife chimed in.   My head started to spin.  I admitted aloud that I needed to sit down.  Next thing I was crying on the floor.  (Silly zombie hormones.)  The wife patted my back as the clerk for the coffee section brought a chair.  Of COURSE this would happen in Central Market, I thought. Crazy health-nut quacks.

Over the next forty minutes, I felt a strong conviction begin to grow.  Why did the adrenal have to be removed anyway?  Why can’t she just remove the tumor?  Why couldn’t I try nutrition?  It’s worked in other ways for my family, for people I know.  What is my doctor going to say?  There’s no way I can talk to her before surgery on Monday, it’s Friday at 1pm!  What is my husband going to say?

That afternoon, I made a plunge of faith.  I called my husband.  I called the hospital.  I told off a nurse.  I explained to an attending doctor.  We cancelled the surgery.

Incredibly, within ONE DAY off the medicine and on this detoxing diet, I already felt better than I have ALL YEAR.  A week later and I feel amazing.  I feel ALIVE.

Left to Right: My husband and me, a week before scheduled surgery. Pre-detox-diet. Me, a week after cancelled surgery, and being on prescribed detox diet for eight days.

L: Me, a week before surgery, after two months of meds. Before detox diet.
R: Me, a week after cancelled surgery, off meds, on prescribed detox diet for eight days.

I have had a number of other Zombies (or even just regular humans) approach me and ask about this.

Here follows the strange, other-worldly suggestions put forth by this bold young man and his wife… I believe God just used them to steer me toward the healing he had for me without surgery.  God alone is the source of wisdom and healing.  No one else — not myself, not my doctor, not this nutritionist at Central Market — can be the final authority.  We must listen to Him, and trust Him to lead us, guide us — and RESTORE us.

So, I will be following this diet for the next forty days to completely detox from my Zombiehood (down to a molecular level — quite important you know).    How will I feel IN 40 DAYS!?!

DETOX DIET FOR ZOMBIES

No starches/carbs/fruits for one full month to fully detox and starve the tumor.  They turn to sugar, and feed the problem. The tumor is probably made up of toxicity which has been building due to lifestyle or life problems/traumas — and I would have to agree with him on the existence of that in my life.

Detox continues: Leafy greens at each meal (a small side serving). I have been doing steamed broccoli at breakfast, salad at lunch and dinner (with no cheese or croutons).  Also starting the day with a juice of coconut water and leafy greens/carrots for a potassium boost, and drinking pressed garlic and ginger for lowering blood pressure.

Drinking the liquid herbal extract called Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) to drink in water each day to cleanse the adrenal gland.

Eating 80%-100% or pure raw chocolate regularly to detox.  No problem there… it’s sooo good!!! This is what originally started my conversation with Rory and his wife.

Eating Celtic or Himalayan sea salts with each meal — salt and potassium balance each other, so if we cut out all salt it does not let the body balance my potassium myself.  Amazing.  I felt the effects immediately.

Eating a healthy protein at each meal: seeds, nuts, meat that is not too lean — eat some healthy fat — hunted game from my husband was a plus.  Coconut oil could be added as a healthy fat.  Eggs are also good, but I am supposed to eat the yolk and try to eat organic eggs.

Take Vitamin C for immunity boost, and Milk Thistle for Liver boost.

He mentioned eating as much organics as possible, and watching what you put on your skin in terms of lotion/makeup/haircare etc. (so of course I was pretty proud to be able to share about my company, Pink Papaya).

I have personally added Green Tea, brewed for ten minutes but drunk before an hour passes, to detox.

He was also focused on other things like lifestyle, working on balancing hormones through diet, getting my spine in line with a chiropractor, looking at what things I might need healing from. We talked about birth and needing to heal from that and pregnancy still. We talked about Living Waters (the class my church does on inner healing and formational prayer).

Like I said above, I met him and his wife in the chocolate section at Central Market. It was a God thing. I was only shopping for pure chocolate because a lady from church had told me it was an antioxidant and fights cancer. We spent about 40 minutes talking, after I stopped crying and being shocked, about some of the insights and questions he raised. They were all in line with what my husband and I have learned in regard to health and holistic/organic living in the past 3 years.  (My husband has already lost 50 lbs and I have lost 40.)

L: Me, two years ago, before trying to eat healthier and more organically R: Current comparison.  I feel great.  It was hard to drop breads and sugars at first but I know it's the right thing to do for a while.

L: Me, two years ago, before trying to eat healthier and more organically
R: Current comparison. I feel great. It was hard to drop breads and sugars at first but I know it’s the right thing to do for a while.

We will see how this goes… it is truly up to God to direct us. I am really excited to see what happens.

First Monster Sighting

I first saw my monster on March 24th, 2013.  But she had been there longer than that… much longer.

Unlike most of her kindred, she did not chase me wildly through the streets and turn me into a bloody carcass.  If that had been the case I would have known how to handle it.

DSCN7239b

No.  She was a malignant growth, silently ripping into me, beckoning me with a persistent hand to come along as her unknowing and unwilling partner over the past few years.

Somewhere along the line I had a dull realization that things had changed.

This monster woman was more edgy, irritable, unreasonable… The real me, the soft me, ran to the bathroom or sat fearfully in the car, hoping for a moment of escape from the tyranny of her visitations.

Then the Monster Me set up a permanent residence.  She told Dream Me that this was the real world: monsters, fault lines, shaky hands, exhausted body, foggy insanity.  She said that Dream Me was the laughable hallucination.  My dusty dream-self gazed around sadly, wishing things could be different.

DSCN7606b

I asked for help, fearing exposure.  Instead I got a reinforcement, a rejection of my dream, and being told this was normal.  New mom, house project, new business?  You’re just doing too much.  Keep going, you’ll figure it out.  Pat on the shoulder.  You’ve done the best you can.  Accept grace.

I kneeled down and believed it.  But things only got worse, and Dream Me finally began to scream and weep inconsolably.

REAL grace finally found me.  At that point, my monster began to lose.  Good overcoming evil.

Two women gathered around me to really stop and pray.  I remember I said:

This mean, ugly person woke up, she is with me and she won’t go back to sleep.  What can I do?  What should we do?  (Tears.)  My life is being ruined!  I have this coexisting good/bad self.  If this is normal, it’s scary.

Then there was a picture in my head.

When my family moved to our new home, we were without a stove for months.  We survived with a campstove, but it had a leaky valve which burned extra fuel brightly in a tall flame.  I saw a bright red X struck over the leak, and suddenly the huge flame was the Monster-me, cut off.  She disintegrated.

IMG_3057

At the time, we all thought this was about stress and coping.

I wrote this in my journal from my pastor’s sermon later that morning: “Christ is overcoming evil.  Evil is bent as a power on my destruction.  Romans 8:29 — In Christ we see the original and intended shape.”  I also drew this picture:

Img0002_09-21-2013

No one had any idea that six months later, I would be at the cusp of such a thing literally taking place.

God alone has brought that picture to pass, of cutting off the leak at the source.  Oh God, thank you!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  If I weren’t feeling so bad, I would dance this morning.  Instead I am going to cry and go make my husband some breakfast.

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Deuteronomy 2:7

New International Version (NIV)

7 The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.

All the Best

Off to see the wizard today!  I’m excited.

While getting ready for my appointment I had a ton of paperwork to fill out.  They asked for all kinds of info and I went to look in my filing cabinet for some data (like blood type).  I started finding things like cancer history in the family and my immunization record.  BUT HERE’S WHAT BLEW MY MIND.  I don’t know how I still had this, but I found a full blood panel and Dr’s notes/intake form from 2000 when I went to work in Japan (I suppose I had copies for submitting to the missions board).  On my doctor’s intake form I had written “I have been feeling fatigue for about three years.”  My blood test was normal so I think my fatigue complaint was just ignored (and I was too inexperienced to know better).  Crazy, huh?

Except... not really...

Hmmm…

I’ve had a lot of help since I put the word out this last two weeks.  It’s been incredible to be loved on when I felt at my weakest.  I originally was facing 10 weeks of waiting for an appointment.  I had already waited three weeks to be scheduled (after seeing three other doctors over the summer), so I pretty much cried when I thought I had 7 more weeks of exhaustion each day (until 4pm).  I am so thankful when they could move me up (only another 2-week wait).

I had a dream a couple of weeks ago that the machine they did the 4-D scan with was huge, round, and I sat inside and rolled like a kid while they did it.  We’ll see if this one lives up to that.  Here’s a picture of the one I had my regular CT scan in at … Kinda scary, super modern (Star Trek modern, the machine was talking to me) and super frigid in the room. (“Can you hold still?”  “I’m… just…. too…. cold!”)

CT Scan

CT Scan

On a side note, being at the hospital yesterday was interesting.  I was usually the youngest person in each room, but never the sickest.   Then, I was waiting for a hospital shuttle I saw a private shuttle pull up…. who pops out?  An incredibly wealthy young couple with a tiny, unwell infant.  My heart stopped for a moment.  People can have all the riches in the world and still not be able to buy health for an innocent, cherished baby.  I felt like praying for everyone all day.  I just wanted to stop and say, “Hey!  What are you facing?  Can I pray for you?” to each and every sickie around me.  But I don’t have the energy to do that!  So I just talked with a few.  Turns out even my registrar was facing some little mountains!

But this hospital (MD Anderson) is such a bright place to be.  They have obviously worked hard to make sure they take GREAT care of their patients.  Everyone was friendly and helpful.  My question is, do I have to be an admitted patient to take advantage of the free haircut/beauty shop? 😉

I'm a patient!

I’m a patient!

I am looking forward to meeting the lady who might have a few answers for me, and her team.  What a blessing and a miracle from God that someone could know Adrenal Glands inside and out.  🙂  Thanks, Lord.  You have sent me all the best.

My Monster Story

I am asleep when I see the monster the second time.

She remained placid as my family descended into a dusty basement with shabby stairs.  She had something to show them, she said.  Her salivating malevolence was held in check until she had them — Trapped.  Doomed.  Screaming.

Part of me, the real me, was an inactive partner hung on the wall.  I watched in confusion and horror as this ravenous zombie emerged and made a big mess of the people who I loved.

Momentarily, my dream fast-forwarded and I was myself again.  Days later; fuzziness gone… I was home from a hospital stay (with frightening memories of being in a straitjacket).   No one knew why I could not account for the monster or the massacre.

My mother, my brother, and a panicky, wild-eyed cat were all that remained, and they did not — could not — trust me.

Police lined the streets outside, ready to take me down if I tried anything again.

I wake up in a solid sweat; it is 6:15 in the morning.  Tears pound up from the depths of my gut and my wretched body lurches to the bathroom, only to sense that the evil monster is not only a dreamlike companion.

She is real, at least in the spiritual sense.  She wants to take me over, but she is not winning, and she hates me for it.  She stands heavily in the hallway as I pee forever into the commode…. horrid and uncomfortable side-effect of Spironolactone medicine… for Conn’s Syndrome.

Is that all I have?   Truly?  One disease, or one possible tumor…. or is it more than just that?  She makes it clear.

Don’t jump ahead of me.  I am not haunted.  I am not possessed.

No.

My family is under attack.  And I must take a step to fight this morning.  First, to rid myself and my home of this sickening horror that is suddenly hovering.

“Get out of here, In Jesus’ Name.”  I actually speak out loud.

She stares lustfully and violently at me for a moment, but then she turns…. and obeys under the Power that assists me… and she walks out of my home.  She is not to return if I have anything to say about it.

“Lord, fill this house with your love, your light, and your peace.  Cover me Lord.  Cover my family.  Protect us, God.”

I refuse to stop fighting… for my family, for my body, and for my peaceful home every day.

She does not define me.

I hate that damage is done.  I hurt that my life has become less structured, more organized by energy slots and holding hands with those who can understand and help a bit here or there.  Frustrated by a light “at the end of the tunnel,” not here yet.  I despise that my children and husband are exposed to this… a disease that makes me a tired mommy, an uninterested partner in life.  Disheartened at  losing my temper and seeing my child be mad at doctors for taking my blood so many times.  I dislike watching “Special Agent Oso” and not doing a fun activity.  I am heartbroken over our finances, which worsen along with one tiny little monstrous thing manifested in my center.  Devastated to realize just how long I have lived with the symptoms, as well as the guilt, fear, self-manipulation, and anger that it fostered into my daily life.

No.

I thank God for bringing this issue to light; for giving us good doctors, and for giving us the wisdom to fire the bad ones.  I am thankful that we had paid off so much debt already; this will not sink us.  Thank You, God, for providing help from friends new and old.  Thank You for a church that believes in prayer; for the comfort of a hand on my shoulder and the counsel of those who have walked similar roads.  Thank You God for a husband that has become so supportive; a distracting job on the side; the supernatural energy to help others.  I will celebrate every little thing I can.

Life was not originally designed to be so painful.  All of our lives, at this very moment, are truly about Someone far greater and the war being waged against Him daily… and against those who even think of following Him.

I do not desire to run away from the battle.

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“God!  Help me, help me, help me!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.” — Joyce Meyer

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Job 1:18-22

The Message (MSG)

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”  Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth. God gives, God takes.  God’s name be ever blessed.”  Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.