Archive | July 2019

Sick & Tired : Chapter 3

“Sit Down and Cry About It”

Preparation: Read Chapter Three this week.
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

This particular chapter resonated with me. Kimberly Rae deals with the subject of grieving the loss of our health. It’s a deeply emotional topic for all who have been burdened with chronic illness. Some of my early symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis began after the birth of our second son. (I blogged about my MS history at hopekeepersindy.com, our companion website.) Now, thirty-nine years into that history, I realize it’s been a process of grieving each loss of freedom that MS has taken from me.

In this chapter we are taken to the book of Job, who lost literally everything but his wife and his life. The first thing he did was go through the common rituals of grief. It those days, this involved shaving the head, putting on sack cloth and sitting in ashes. Aren’t you glad we don’t do that today in America!

The next step Job made was to fall down and worship God. Was this your next step after hearing your diagnosis? I remember my first reaction when finally being given a diagnosis of MS after three and half years of chasing from doctor to doctor. My initial reaction was relief. Validation. I was right; my symptoms were not all in my head!

Though I knew God and theoretically trusted His sovereignty, it took a while for me to fall down and worship Him, and actually THANK HIM FOR MY MS. Whoa! You read that right. I would never have come to the point of surrender to God’s plan for my life without the quirks and frailties of Multiple Sclerosis. My headstrong will had guided my life, and the idea of real surrender to God was foreign to me. I have to tell you, though, that it was not a one-time surrender, a one-time grief-and-done moment. It is a day-by-day laying my life on the altar of God’s mysterious plan for my life.

Back to Job, poor man! He was blamed by his friends, saying he must have done something to deserve all the tragedies that happened to him. We read how he verbalized the injustice of these accusations. He poured out his complaints before the questionable friends and God, too. He even wished he had never been born! Even Job’s wife told him to curse God and die! How’s that for loyalty?

At this point, God intervened and set all of them straight. God reminded Job that there are eternal questions for which God only knows the answers. Though God never did tell Job why he went through all of the tragedies and losses, He caused Job see Him for who He really is. When Job understood his frail humanity in comparison to God’s deity, he fell to the ground in surrender. We know the end of the story. God blessed Job the rest of Job’s life and restored to him his health, wealth, and family.

Back to now. God has, in His sovereignty, chosen us to live with chronic illness. Would we have chosen a life of suffering just so we could be tested, stretched, and given more faith? Nope. I doubt any one of us would have chosen this path on our own. I have often wondered what would happen if God chose for me to lose everything. What if I couldn’t see, or hear, or walk, or communicate? What if I lost all my family, friends, comforts of life? What would be left? The answer is GOD.

We need to give ourselves permission and time to grieve. For each of us, the process is individual and ongoing. But we are not alone. God is with us in the process. I love to listen to Audio Bible. I put in my earphones so His word is going directly into my brain, to me personally. I listen to chapters and chapters and talk to God as I listen. I comment on the phrases, ask Him questions, make applications to my own life, and many times simply wonder at the mystery of His words.

My preferred narrator is Max MacLean. Try it. You can listen here:
www.biblegateway.com/resources/audio/?recording=niv-mclean

Here are some of author Kimberly Rae’s own words from this chapter:

“The Center for Disease Control posted that 133 million Americans – nearly one out of every two people – have at least one chronic illness. The Census Bureau projected that 96% of those illnesses are invisible, suffered by people who may look perfectly healthy.”

“I’m no expert on loss and how to deal with it, but my guess would be that most of us are going to go through variations of four categories:
1. Stunned – overwhelmed, feeling this can’t be really happening to us.
2. Emotional – anger, denial, tears, depression, and a whole host of feelings in response to the fact we don’t like this and want out.
3. Broken – recognizing our helplessness and inability to deal with this or conquer it.
4. Accepting – coming to grips with God’s plan even if we don’t understand it, and letting God put His strength in place of our weakness.”

“For some unfathomable reason, however, God has chosen us. Not because we volunteered, not because we want our faithfulness through suffering to help others, but because God has some unseen, eternally important reason we cannot, at present, comprehend.

Knowing this, we can fall down and worship, give ourselves time to go through the feelings of anger or despair, but then come out stronger on the other end. Not because we ourselves have strength, but because we have accepted God’s will, and in doing so can receive the strength He offers.”

Where are you in the process of grieving your loss of freedoms due to chronic illness? Join us in responding to this week’s study questions. We help one another with we share our conditions and insights.

Group Study Questions

To make reading easier, kindly refer to the question number when commenting.

1. Have you ever thought about the fact that having a chronic illness involves genuine loss and deserves to be grieved?


2. How did you feel immediately after hearing you had a condition, or when you realized your symptoms were not going to go away?


3. Right now, do you think you are in the Stunned, Emotional, Broken, or Accepting category?


4. Where do you feel you should be at this point?


5. What do you think a reasonable time for grieving should be for you personally?


Activity

Give yourself permission to grieve. What would best help you go through this process? Some ideas would be journaling, praying, talking with a trusted friend or counselor, or getting away for a couple of days.

This entry was posted on July 30, 2019. 1 Comment

Sick & Tired : Chapter 2

“So What’s Your Problem?”

Preparation: Read Chapter Two this week.
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

This has been jumbled week so far. I started writing this post on schedule on Monday. Before I could publish it, I was invited to go see “Lion King” with my 14 year old granddaughter. Well, of course I went with her! How special to spend time with my sweet girl.

On Tuesday morning I intended to finish the post. It didn’t happen. My husband Jim was experiencing severe vertigo and had to go to ER, where we spent the day while he underwent multiple blood tests and two CT scans before being admitted to the hospital.

An amazing thing happened while Jim was in ER. Our son’s youth group loaded up in vans and drove to the hospital parking lot, where they held a prayer group just for Jim’s recovery! We couldn’t see them, but we were sent pictures of the teens. Talk about a tear-jerker! Teens praying for their leader’s dad…be still, my heart.

Because of Jim’s concurrent health issues, there was a question whether the vertigo was caused by his extremely slow heart rate, vestibular problems, or occluded tiny veins in the brain. There was a whole team of medical professionals working on his case. It was finally concluded that crystals in his ear canal were in the wrong place. The neurologist performed the “Epley” maneuver on Jim, and he was due to come home on Wednesday afternoon.

Well, it’s Thursday afternoon now, and he’s still in the hospital. I came home exhausted last night, and am staying home this morning until his discharge from the hospital is finalized, and I will go pick him up.

Lots of praises this week:
Thank You, Lord, for providing excellent medical care.
Thank You for good insurance. This is a HUGE praise!
Thank You that Jim’s extreme vertigo could be relieved.
Thank You for all the prayers offered on his behalf. We are blessed!

So my goal today is to finish writing this post and finally get it published so you can read and respond to this week’s group study questions.

Now to the lesson at hand:

Have you ever been asked “So What’s Your Problem?” If you have chronic illness with many invisible symptoms, sometimes people can ask that question with blunt skepticism. Even when asked with genuine concern, we may flounder in the way we answer.
Do we start at the beginning and list our historic episodes of symptoms?
Do we state our diagnosis and then scramble to give an explanation?
What if we have a cluster of chronic illnesses?
How can we possibly explain that?

Yep. It’s hard. So what I usually say is something innocuous, like “I have MS, but God has been good to me. I’m doing well.” That’s my short answer. It doesn’t completely answer the bigger question of “What’s your problem?” but at least it doesn’t take a lot of time.

Kimberly Rae offers some excellent suggestions for ways to condense our response to phrases that are useful, short, and informative. Here are her suggestions:

Let’s think through how to fix this dilemma…To do that we need to start with the big initial question: What is your health problem?

You pick which option you like best and fill in the blanks:

I have a disease called __________. Than means my __________ doesn’t work right, so I have to __________.

I have a condition that affects my __________. This causes me problems with my __________ and I can’t __________ anymore.”

I struggle with having to give up __________. I’ve had this condition for __________, so I’ve learned to __________.

I really miss being able to __________, but I’ve learned to ask for help with __________, and that has been a blessing because__________.

Wow, this is helpful! Have you every tried to summarize your chronic illness conditions in this way? I haven’t either, but this week I intend to do so. I hope you will share your summary with us.

Did you find Kimberly’s suggestions helpful?

Group Study Questions

To make reading easier, kindly refer to the question number when commenting.

1. Do you feel overwhelmed when people ask you about your condition?


2. Do you catch yourself telling them a long story that leaves you frustrated and then confused?


3. Do you feel like people don’t take your condition seriously because it isn’t diagnosed yet, or is an “invisible” illness like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue?


4. Do you ever think people are picking up on your own insecurities about your illness?


5. If you could communicate with confidence, do you think that would change how people respond?


Activity

Fill in the blanks in the sentences in this chapter, then type and print the sentences that express you best. Put them on a 3×5 card and carry them around until you memorize exactly how you want to present your illness to others.

This entry was posted on July 25, 2019. 1 Comment

Sick & Tired : Chapter 1

“Joining the Unhealthy Club – Involuntarily”

Preparation: Read Chapter One this week.
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

Our website HOPE FOR THE HURTING is labeled as “BIBLE STUDIES FOR CHRONIC ILLNESS SUFFERERS”. When you read the first couple of chapters of SICK & TIRED, you may ask yourself where the Bible study is. Stick with us. By chapter three, Kimberly Rae will get into the book of Job. Not surprising, huh? Job is all about suffering. In the initial chapters, though, Kimberly will lay the groundwork for the lessons to follow.

In the chapter one, Kimberly looks at her own health history in retrospect, from childhood to her final diagnosis many years later. You can probably identify with the zig-zag route of seeking a diagnosis. Most of us have experienced frustration, despair, humiliation, anger, depression, and feelings of isolation on the road to our own diagnosis.

A few of Kimberly’s own words:

“And now, just this past year, after fifteen years of searching, scores and scores of hours of personal research on the computer, and ridiculous attempts at diets and treatments trying to fix something, I have been officially diagnosed. Seems it wasn’t all in my head after all.”

“I have Addison’s disease. I also have asthma – which happened somewhere in the middle of all this and was quite annoying as I really didn’t have time for another condition – and, of course, the low blood sugar thing, and scoliosis…My most recent addition has been finding a cyst in the middle of my head. Now this did strike me as funny because, technically, if it’s been causing a lot of my problems, then it’s safe to say it really was in my head all this time after all.”

Yep. We get it. Many of us live with multiple chronic conditions. They seem to attach to us like BBs to a magnet. We accrue allergies to medications and fragile responses to environmental scents and noises. And worst of all, the medical professionals may not believe us! Grrr!

Take your time this week to answer the Group Study Questions. Tell us what you think. Be honest. We can take it. We’ve all been there. Let’s talk about it.

Group Study Questions

To make reading easier, kindly refer to the question number when commenting.

1. Think back. How long have you been suffering with symptoms?


2. When did you first approach a doctor with your symptoms? Did he take them seriously?


3. What are your feelings right now about having chronic health problems?


4. Do you have a diagnosis yet? Do you feel it is complete and covers your entire illness?


Activity

Consider journaling your entire health history, starting from whenever you first experienced symptoms until now. It’s a good way to consolidate years of information and emotions into one place and will give you a reference point for future use. Not to mention, you’ll have the whole story to hand over to whoever wants to know about it on those days you don’t feel like telling it.

This entry was posted on July 15, 2019. 1 Comment

Get Ready! Get Set!….

Only four more days!
Our Bible Study will begin on July 15, 2019.
Be sure to enter your email address
in the JOIN OUR BIBLE STUDY link in the margin.
We look forward to having you join us!

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

Introduction to SICK & TIRED

Author Kimberly Rae has a personable, down-to-earth, at times whimsical and funny, at times emotional and heart-rending, style of writing.

You are going to love reading SICK & TIRED. From the first words, I was nodding my head. Kimberly is one of us. She is a sickie, a spoonie, a daily warrior, a Christ-follower, a real live person battling often invisible symptoms of chronic illness.

Yep. We get it. If you are doing this study with us, you likely either have a chronic illness yourself, or you are close to someone who lives with chronic illness. Get ready for encouragement as you read SICK & TIRED. Get ready to laugh, and at times, to get a little teary-eyed.

Here are some of her own words from the the Introduction.
See if you identify:

“Sometimes I want to slap a sticky note on my forehead that says, ‘I am sick. No, I don’t look sick at this moment. But I am not faking having a disease just because I’m not in a wheelchair, and I am not a freak.’ “

“Nobody wants to have a condition that affects their social outings, work choices, family life, and just general day-to-day stuff.”

“For those of us with chronic illness, we’ve had to give up some or all of those freedoms. And they probably didn’t seem like freedoms at the time. We likely took them for granted until our bodies took them from us. Now here we are, active brains inside limited, broken bodies. But as technology has yet to create a way to get an entire body transplant, we’re stuck with it.”

Discussion:

To make reading easier, kindly refer to the question number when commenting.

1. When someone says, “But you don’t look sick!”, what is your initial gut response? How do you actually respond, and why do you respond this way?


2. Do you find it hard to make plausible excuses when you have to cancel an event or appointment? How do you usually handle cancellations due to your chronic illness?


3. What freedoms have you given up due to chronic illness? Have you taken those freedoms for granted in the past? Do you fear future loss of freedoms?


This entry was posted on July 11, 2019. 1 Comment