After and now during treatment, though, I'll find that things really set me off! I've even had herx episodes that involved my lungs -- I wasn't sick at all but I started having trouble breathing, you could hear the rattle in my chest, and I have a standing prescription for an inhaler.
It used to be that chemicals and perfumes and candles would cause me to get a little "phlegmy" and then it turned into it making me completely bed-ridden for at least a few days (just SMELLING these things!). That went away as treatment progressed! Isn't that cool? Slowly, I could add certain candles to our house, I can wear perfume, and only CERTAIN things make me feel a bit like allergies.
|The finished bench|
It didn't happen instantly, but within 15 minutes my eyes were itching, my throat was tight and my lungs were rattly. And not only that, but it made me even more fatigued than I already was. Not being able to breathe to your full potential really puts you out of commission! We're on day 3 now and I finally feel like possibly tomorrow I'll be back to my "normal" (which isn't pleasant, but it's more pleasant than lung trouble on top of it).
A lot of down time gets me thinking. When I'm in a lot of physical pain and a lot of fatigue, I can hardly concentrate reading, so there isn't much for me to do BUT sit and think and pray best I can. I think a lot about "dreams". The kind you have when you are in high school and college - when you dream of what your life will look like some day. You know, the white-picket-fence kind of dreams.
My life now certainly looks completely different than I expected it to look way back then. It has made me sad in the past when I dream of what my life WOULD look like if I was well. But in most situations where I get sad about circumstances, I try to think on TRUE things....anything true my heart can anchor to. And this time I got to thinking about what has happened -- my "dreams" have been taken over by God's story. Which is what it really was all along - HIS story. He's the author, craftsman of this work, and I'm His beloved daughter. He cares deeply and because I know His unfailing character, I can trust that this story He is writing for me is where I am to be.
Right now, He doesn't want me to have homemade snacks ready at the end of the school day. He doesn't want me to have the clean house I always thought I'd have mastered. He doesn't want me right now to spend lots of time pouring into each of my children to the degree I thought I might do at this juncture in life.
It can feel like a loss of a dream when you come to accept a diagnosis of a long-standing illness. You feel a lot like you're "losing out" on stuff. I don't have energy to take my kids to story time at the library with all the other moms and their kids. I don't have energy for mom nights with margaritas and movies. I feel like I'm in my own personal bubble of survival mode almost constantly.
"For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into the deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God." Psalm 69:1-3
What I do struggle with is comparing myself NOW with the made up me I had in my mind when I first began dreaming as a healthy person. Chronic illness makes us think we lose our dreams - even down to the day-to-day of how we expect or "dream" our day to go. Our society so often measures our lives by what we accomplish and chronic illness can really make you sense a loss of accomplishment just by the simple fact that our bodies can't accomplish much outside of the healing that is constantly going on inside against the disease.
But when I'm most discouraged I try to remind myself what I reminded myself when I was pregnant. Like pregnancy - where your body is doing so much work to create life that you're "entitled" to rest more, etc. - when we fight chronic illness, our bodies are accomplishing much! You can feel that a lot is going on in there and how neat that God created our bodies to FIGHT and to survive. When I feel like I'm not getting anything off my "list" accomplished because my frail body can't hardly do more than lift food to my mouth, I try to remember - the list can wait - my body is working hard!
And you know what else? God's larger story can become our new "dream". When you think about this, dwell on it, and pray about it. You will start to see God's story in your current circumstances.
"When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." Psalm 69:32-33
Be a participant in what God has for you. You will not be disappointed because He has what He has deemed BEST for us in our present circumstances.
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:30-21
Now I'm gonna go take another puff of albuterol and replace my body on the bed and dwell on God's promises and His character and ask for contentedness. It really is a much better use of time than wallowing. For reals. :)