Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Unashamed



I stand here unashamed.



                                                                                                                



I spent last weekend at a woman's retreat and I came out of it thanking God for many different things. Going into this weekend, I must admit, I was not at all excited. I was anxious and tense. But it was one of things that I knew was good for me, I knew I needed it but did I want it? Not even a little bit.

But now, I am so glad and so thankful that I decided to stick it out and participate in this woman's retreat. Now, for those of you who don't know really what a woman's retreat is, in this case the retreat was a bunch of Christian woman from a couple different churches and a passionate speaker from down south who had come to share her thoughts with us. It does kind of sound intimidating when you think of opening up and being vulnerable with a bunch of people you don't know and taking serious look at yourself and realizing the things that you maybe need to work on and change.

The theme of our of sessions was 'Free and Unashamed'. Honestly, I ended up getting a lot more out of it than I had expected to. I came to realize that there were actually multiple things in my life that I have come to feel ashamed of. Everything from the way other's might see me, mistakes I've made in my past and biggest of all my chronic illness and how it affects my life. The last of all being what I'm going to focus on in the post. 


I've tried very hard to be open and honest when it comes to talking about my illness and my health problems. I see no point in hiding it or keeping it to myself when it it such a huge part of my life. Writing my blog definitely helps me to feel a little more empowered when it comes to living the life of a chronically ill person. Turning to God absolutely helps even though, if you've read this blog over the past year, you'll know that I've been through some very dark times of depression and doubting God. Even through all of this I ended up realizing that I don't feel free and I don't feel unashamed. I used to think it was my illness that made me feel like I couldn't be free. I used to think it was my illness that made me feel ashamed. I can see now that it isn't my illness that makes me feel like I need to hide who I really am, it's the way I view my illness and the impact that has on my life.


I doubt I'm the only person living with a chronic illness who feels this way, but I have a tendancy to feel extremely inadaquate. I doubt my abilities, I doubt myself and I don't have a lot of confidence when it comes to accomplishing my goals. The main reason I struggle with this is because I constantly compare myself to others. I compare myself to all the other people that are the same age as me. I constantly feel like I am not doing enough, accomplishing enough, being enough, giving enough.. I never feel as though I am enough just the way that I am. I feel this way because I expect my life to look like the lives of everyone else. My expectations of myself are so high and I often feel like if I don't meet those expectations that I am not only letting down myself, but also my parents, my family and God. 


Even though I have days where I can't make it off the couch and I have weeks where I don't even leave the house because my fatigue and my pain are so intense; I still feel ashamed that I have not accomplished all of the things that I have expected myself to  accomplish. 


Just for kicks, let me make a little list of the things that I expect of myself in an ideal world:

- Good health
- Fit body
-Healthy diet
- Avid reader
- Daily time spent in prayer
- College Degree
- Full time job
- Future plans
- Serious Relationship
- Good friendships


And those are just the big things. Not even the little things that we expect of ourselves each and every day, like: getting out of bed, brushing our teeth, getting ourselves ready, showering, preparing and eating healthy meals, housework, laundry, work, spending time with friends, exercising, etc.


I have finally come to realize how insane it is to expect all of this from myself. Especially considering the current state of my health. I have finally been able to see that I do not have to be ashamed. I no longer need to hide who I've been in the past, the mistakes I've made, the struggles I've faced and the person that I am now.


Something that really stood out to me over the weekend was a quote that went something like this, "untangle your need for approval from other's with the challenge to live for an audience of one." That audience of one, being God. If you're a Christian, your job in life is to please God, to love God, to bring glory to him, to share him with others and spread his love. You do not need to change who you are because God made you just the way he wants you. God created you and called you wonderfully made and beautiful. God loves you and he's got huge plans for your life. God has you in the palm of his hand and if you let him, He will use you to further his kingdom and to save the lives of those around you. When we learn to live in a way that is pleasing to God and not focus on pleasing those around us, we will see how easy it is to live free and unashamed. Because, God forgives even our worst sins and our biggest mistakes. God has forgotten. God doesn't need or want us to keep recalling the mistakes of our past. God does not want us to be ashamed of what we have gone through. God wants us to SHARE OUR STORIES. God wants us to use what we have gone through to save others and to bring others to Him. 


All of us have the power to share our stories and maybe in the process, change someones life. 


"Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your

 greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will 

come out of your deepest hurts." - Rick Warren

Friday, April 8, 2016

A Waiting Game

I've been struggling with deciding whether or not to write a post about my first lyme disease specialist appointment. Mainly because things still are not confirmed. Although I already feel as if things have changed. Where we're at now is that we are officially waiting on my results from the igenex testing to search for the bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi; which causes Lyme Disease. The process of testing my blood over in the states will take a few weeks so within the next 3-4 weeks I will know for sure whether I have Lyme or not. 


After meeting with the specialist I had my first experience of actually feeling like my illness and my pain was valid and real. I've always known that I experience pain and illness but it so often is dismissed when a bloodtest comes back showing nothing out of the ordinary or your doctor can't seem to find anything "wrong" with you. I finally was able to tell my story and actually feel like I was heard and understood. After our assessment this specialist informed me that she does believe I am suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease. We of course need to wait on the results to be sure but she believes that is what has caused my issues over the past few years. Either way though, positive or negative results, she is confident that she can help me to better manage my symptoms and pain. Which is one of the most comforting things to hear for someone in my position. 


I've already started three new natural supplements to help with my symptoms. A digestive enzyme, a probiotic and a natural anti-inflammatory. A test is also being run to see if any food sensitivities or allergies can be found in my blood. I think the stress of all the appointments I've had lately and the waiting for results and the over-thinking has caused me to flare up because it's taken all I have the last couple of days to roll out of bed and hobble around the house. 


Over the next few weeks I would really appeciate some prayer as I wait for my results. Thank you all for being so supportive of me throughout this journey. I love you all!


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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What's New? I'll Tell Ya

I'm sitting here sipping my tea while half asleep unsure of what exactly I want to focus on in this post. Mind you, it's 3:13 pm so I shouldn't be half asleep and I don't usually drink tea anymore but I'm cutting back on coffee and I need some form of caffeine right now. I might as well start by giving a bit of an update on the last post I wrote which addressed a job offer and my pending decision. 

Alright, so..

I've accepted the job and I'll be heading off for the months of July and August on a fun little adventure because of it. Which I am really looking forward to.

In other news..

My doctor perscribed me a sedative to help regulate sleep pattern again because my insomnia was getting out of hand. The first few nights were amazing and I had never felt so rested in my entire life. The last few days have been quite the opposite. I'm sleeping and that's the good part of it but I'm waking up much earlier than I am used to (which is kind of the point) but it has its consequences. I'm getting a major caffeine lag late in the day and it's making me super tired like I am now and causing me to get a headache every afternoon. But I'm pushing through!


Also, I had an appointment last week with my gastroenteroloigst (a physician who specializes in diseases of the digestive system, also called the gastrointestinal tract) who informed me that he'd like me to have yet another colonoscopy. I've decided against it for now because I'm trying some other new things that I hope will improve my well-being and colonoscopy prep is one of the least enjoyable things to do ever. Trust me. He also mentioned the idea of trying a low FODMAP diet which sounds insanely hard and not at all like something I'd like to do although it would probably help a lot. Which, as far as I can tell would mean that I would have to cut out almost all gluten, dairy and sugars and some other random things. So, I'm not feelin' it.


The last bit of news I have at this moment in time is that I FINALLY have my appointment with a naturopath who specializes in Lyme disease tomorrow. My appointment was supposed to be last week but ended up getting cancelled because of a personal emergency. So I've been anxiously awaiting this day for a while now and am really happy that we're finally going to start the process of testing for Lyme disease. So my dad and I will be heading to Burlington tomorrow for the appointment and to head to the lab so they can take many, many viles of my blood. 


As for physically how things have been going for me lately, things seemed to be going really well for the last few weeks and now they are kind of plummeting again unfortunately. I tend to think that it's from a combinatilon of switching up my sleep routine, the weird weather changes we're having here in Ontario and also the fact that whenever I feel good physically, I over do it and end up crashing later on. So I've been pretty go-go-go the last few weeks having outings with friends, running errands, going to appointments, getting taxes done, babysitting, visiting family, planning for my new job, looking into new opportunities and a million other things and now I'm crashing. I decided to give myself the day to recharge a little but it seems to only be making me more tired. But I guess that means its a really good time to head to the naturopath tomorrow! Some of the symptoms that I've had lately that are the most prominent are a headache that lasts 3+ hours each afternoon, fatigue, hand tremors, extremely dry and sore skin on my upper arms and sudden sharp pains throughout my body. The last of which is definitely the worst. 


ANYWAY, I'm sure that after tomorrow I'll have many more things that I'd like to fill you all in on but for now, I'm going to finish drinking my tea and rest up because I've got a busy few days ahead of me.