Tonight I’m writing out of a place of a lot of pain and hurt. I wish I could tell you that I’ve spent the day reveling in the joy of a flawless blood report, but that just wouldn’t be true. This is the part of living with a chronic condition that is so hard. It’s hard for me to try to formulate all of my thoughts into coherent sentences, but if I didn’t try, I’d only be sharing half-truths with you. I’d be attempting to make myself look stronger than I am, when the truth is right now, I feel crushed.
But I know God can use my crushed state of mind, too. It’s all or nothing and for some bizarre reason, I’ve chosen to share it all with you. Maybe it’s because I keep hearing over and over how God is using it to encourage those of you who are struggling with something that is chronic in your own life. It doesn’t change. There doesn’t even seem to be an end to it.
So for me not to share these feelings with you would make it out to seem like I am not human, that depression is not still a reality in my life, and that I don’t desperately want to be free from this
stupid human body. (It’s not stupid. While I am so frustrated with it right now, I know deep down that my time here on earth in this body is a gift and a privilege.)
Let me explain why today was so hard, because I’m sure a few of you are completely bewildered right now at how I could be feeling all of this when I’ve just been told that I don’t have cancer.
This morning at my hematology appointment we received great news. A perfect echo of my heart and a stellar blood report. I’m healthy as a horse as far as my blood goes. This should be AWESOME, right?! Yes. And No. It’s complicated. Obviously, I don’t want to have Leukemia. I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say that, but I will, because I don’t want you to misread this next part of what I’m going to say.
Every time I start experiencing a new symptom and then the test results come back “normal”, it means another part of my “normal” function has died. And that is HARD.
It is hard to hear that these constant night sweats are most likely a result of my autonomic nervous system continuing to decline. It is even harder to hear that if that is indeed the case, there is no way to treat it. A part of my “normal” is dying. Again. And as I’ve said before, that takes some grieving time.
At this point, you might still be confused and asking, “Couldn’t there still be a possibility of a treatable bone infection?” Maybe. But after a few hours of phone calls this afternoon to doctors and nurses both in Chicago and here in Milwaukee, the verdict is leaning toward not doing a bone scan or looking for infection. The chances of an infection three years after surgery is almost unheard of. Plus, we’re lacking a lot of “concrete evidence” of a bone infection (as one nurse put it). I am not having fevers, the sore spot on my spine is not red or hot, etc. So where does that leave us? Exactly back at where I started when I walked into my Primary care doctor’s office one month ago; with a high likelihood that this is another ramification of a nervous system that is shot and worn out and continuing to fail.
And so that is what I’ve been sitting with this afternoon and evening. The heaviness of THAT. My antidepressants have made my mind function well enough for me to know that depression is hovering. I know the signs. My antidepressants are doing their job. They allow me the grieving time that I need, staying crumpled up in my bed, letting the painful reality of this new loss wash over me. By God’s grace and beautiful love, my mind is able to separate and sort out that it is OK to feel like this for a while, that it’s OK to fall asleep for six straight hours in the middle of the day, but that it’s also necessary for me to wake back up at some point, even though every part of my flesh would just like to be home, forever asleep, being comforted in the arms of my sweet Jesus.
If you’re in a place where your mind isn’t able to think like this or sort out these confusing feelings, please tell someone. I remember the place you’re at right now, and on nights like tonight, I’m very aware of the enormous difference that telling someone can make.
You need to know all of this because if you are in a really dark frame of mind right now, it is possible to move to a point where you realize it’s OK to feel the hurt without trying to numb it. And then from there you might be able to move to a place of realization that not only are you allowed to feel emotionally weak, but it’s a good thing because it allows God’s strength to be poured into your weakness. Your dark moments will probably always come and go, but you’ll start to get into a rhythm of mourning and then being filled up with God’s redeeming strength for tomorrow. It’s a process, but it IS possible.
Chris gave me the sweetest gift tonight. As he gathered my crumpled self into his arms, he simply said, “That will be a good day when you’re finally home, won’t it?…no, actually that will be a great day.”. All I could do was nod my head as warm tears spilled off my cheeks onto his head. He gave me the gift of knowing that he understands that this life is hard for me and that there is an eternity waiting for me that will be so much better.
But God chose to wake me up again and I know that while I’m exhausted, his constant mercy and goodness will be there in the morning. And so that’s what I find deep joy in. Not acing a blood report, but in the fact that the blood Jesus spilled for me on the cross is allowing me to wake back up again.