Autoimmune issues have plagued me since I was in fifth grade. I have easily had my blood drawn over 500 times. Multiple specialists. Lots of missed school. In fact, due to a blood disease, I could never do sports or P.E. past age ten. But, it never really bothered me. I always had my family’s support, especially my mom’s, my BFF for life. She has always been there every step of the way for every procedure and when I moved to San Diego and had to have emergency surgery, she flew down immediately to be with me. She is the best nurturer, mom, friend, hand holder, and soother in hard and scary circumstances.
Through the last sixteen years of living here in sunny San Diego, I had a lot of health issues arise. Blood transfusions. Endoscopy. EEG. EMG. Sleep study. Iron transfusions. Four rounds of chemo. Two broken bones. Bursting ovarian cysts. Bowel Obstruction. Internal bleeding. Two ambulance rides. I don’t need to give you my whole medical wrap sheet, but point is, it is A LOT! Way, way more than the average person and I’ve done it all alone. I have driven myself to urgent care more times than I can count. I just always saw it as annoying, more than anything. But in the last few years, I’ve found it so much more lonely to go through it all by myself. In the waiting room, sitting and stressing, in pain and discomfort alone. Driving myself home absolutely exhausted. Waiting to hear test results by myself. How I wish I had a husband to pray with me, hold my hand, bring some comfort and lessen the worry. Just to be there to let me know things would be okay. Make me laugh when I’m tense and uncomfortable. Someone to pass the countless hours in the waiting. In the waiting room or for a CT scan, an X-ray, blood to be drawn, the doctor to come examine me. If I had a nickel for all those minutes waiting alone, I’d be rich. It’s not easy to stay mentally strong and positive in those moments that feel like you have been there so many times before. So many times before alone.
I watch the show “Outdaughtered,” on TLC once in awhile and they have 6 daughters. The mom started having pain and was having some tests done. All 6 daughters made her “Get Well” cards. She told the camera of the love of her family and how it got her through and when she was sick, she didn’t just get one “Get Well” card, but 6 and how special that was. Something so basic and simple. And I thought, I wish I had just one. I can’t even imagine 6. As I get older, I think, will I even have one child to make me a “Get Well” card? Will I even have a husband to give me a “Get Well” card? These are very real questions for me. Ones that I don’t have an answer for. I can hope and pray, but only God truly knows the path of my future. And that can be very lonely to ponder on and wonder.
What has always gotten me through though, has first and foremost been my faith in God and His calming presence. In praying my heart out to Him and having prayer warriors, God showed up and came through. Reading His promises to always be with me, to calm and protect me, lowered my fears and wild thoughts. Ultimately His faithfulness in bringing me through the ever-present storms, strengthened my faith and my love for Jesus. It wasn’t always instant, but I saw God work on my behalf.
And of course, my family checking in via text, phone call, or video chat. They are good at making sure I am alright. My endlessly caring mom who wants a play by play, even if I am older now. If I didn’t have her constant love and support, I would be so lost. She grounds me when I feel like my world feels chaotic and overwhelming.
Also knowing and reminding myself that so many have it so, so much worse. Yes, some do have it better, but some don’t even have access to healthcare. Some have lost limbs. Some are losing battles to cancer. I’m okay. I may not feel great a lot of the time, but I can walk and breathe on my own. And that reminder of gratitude, during rough patches, keeps you together and from going down that rabbit hole of feeling sorry for yourself and your pain. And I used to compare my pain to others or minimize my own based on what others go through, but a good reminder is that pain is still pain. So, find that sweet spot of gratitude, that you aren’t going through something so much worse, but also acknowledging that yes, it is still a place of pain. It is hard and it hurts. It hurts physically, emotionally, and mentally. And then CHOOSE to grow from it to make you stronger. As the saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, “is indeed accurate.