“When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19.
It had been almost two weeks since my feeding tube placement. Even though I was still on complete bedrest, we were seeing some encouraging improvements. I was able to speak without gagging, my dark circles were diminishing, my energy levels were slowly climbing, my cold was clearing up, (I will NEVER take the simple ability to blow my nose for granted ever again!!) & I was finally gaining a few pounds. It was clear this nourishment was long overdue & we were beyond grateful God had provided a way for me to receive it!!
In some ways, my body continued to struggle. As soon as we turned the machine on, overwhelming nausea would hit hard & fast. I also started a brand new symptom: sharp spine pain. I dismissed these symptoms, & told myself I just needed more time to heal & allow my body time to adjust to the nutrients.
But one night, my body began to seize. It would tense & jerk & shake violently. I would get extremely hot & sweaty & thirsty & I had absolutely no control over it. It was not only frightening for me, but for my parents, Luke, & our dear friend Heidi to witness. So, my parents made the executive decision to immediately take me to UVA’s emergency room.
I seized the entire way there. Thankfully, Heidi so generously volunteered to come with us, & drove so my Mom could keep me stable me in the back seat. I don’t remember much of that car ride, except for the fact I called one of my best friends crying. I couldn’t communicate very well, but that didn’t matter at all. She simply prayed with me over the phone…words of truth, encouragement, & strength over me. My Mom said she’ll never forget that I visibly calmed, & that was a gift!
The three of us spent the entire night in the ER. I did not want to be there at all. I didn’t realize my parents were concerned I could be battling a possibly fatal side-effect from the feeding tube involving nutrient shock & electrolyte imbalance. I didn’t realize I could actually be in danger. My brain just wasn’t there. My number one concern was how I was going to survive this. Again. I just wanted to go home.
Heidi & Mom advocated without wavering on my behalf that night. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen my Mom in such a “Momma Bear” mode. 😉 It was a good thing, too, considering the only phrase I would say to the doctors was, “how soon can you release me? I don’t wanna be here.”
Thankfully, the doctors didn’t listen to me, & I was admitted first thing the next morning. We stayed for three nights & two days. During that time, they hooked me up to an electroencephalography, also known as an EEG, to watch what actually happened as I seized. I gotta say, I don’t think I have ever felt so self-conscious! I had wires attached to my head/hair with strong paste, a feeding tube coming out of my nose, no makeup, no shower, a hospital gown, an IV coming out of my arm, & a heart monitor attached to my chest.
By the end of the visit, we had an answer for my “seizure” activity. The doctor explained that I was experiencing what are called pseudo seizures. Basically, they strongly resemble seizures, but don’t cause blacking out, being unaware of surroundings, or any brain damage whatsoever. He told us that when my pain & nausea hit a particular level of unbearable, this was my body’s way of telling me that it was done…it couldn’t handle anymore. This information was able to put us at ease knowing that I wasn’t in any fatal danger, & we were cleared to go home.
That week was the first time I hit my breaking point. I had tried so hard to be strong & unbreakable for so long, but this just felt like too much. I could not go back to the hospital again, & I absolutely could not be admitted. I couldn’t endure another test or another needle. I couldn’t see another doctor. I couldn’t spend another night away from my own bed, my own room, my little brother. I just couldn’t.
I was reading back in my journal today, & found this entry from that week,
“Sometimes everything just seems like too much. Life just gets too overwhelming. You feel like you can’t deal anymore. I’m so exhausted. This whole health thing is so hard. Every minute is a fight. Every second is a raging battle. & it is so hard, God. I feel so alone. Why can’t I be normal? I don’t want to count calories or walk around with a tube coming out of my nose. I am weak, overwhelmed, & lost. I need a break, Jesus. All I can think is ENOUGH. This whole thing feels like an uphill battle that I’m losing. That’s all I can think. I’m losing. I’m broken.”
But what I find even more interesting is what I wrote the very next day,
“When my heart is heavy with hurt & confusion, may I always surrender to You. I have so many internal battles, but I know You will win all of them. When my mind goes 100 mph, may I still rest in You. May I surrender all my anxieties & stress into Your hands. May I trust You are in control & Your perfect timing, even when I am impatient. I come to the fountain of your grace & peace I. Am. Satisfied. I am okay. I can do this, because You will walk with me.”
When I look back at my health journey, it is a gift to see how God was so clearly present. Most days, I couldn’t see Him working amidst the pain & heartache, but that didn’t change the fact He still was. I love to see how broken I was, but how God still worked in that & brought complete emotional healing. When I thought I couldn’t endure another hour, He always, always gave me the exact amount of strength & hope I needed to press on. I know for a fact there is absolutely no way I would still be here today without that…the constant promises of His love & strength.
God has taught me, “He is inviting me to heal, but also to see my most meaningful calling: to be His healing to the hurting. My own brokenness, driving me into Christ, is exactly where I can touch the brokenhearted.” (Ann Voskamp) When I want to give up, when I want to throw in the towel…..that reminder is what helps me keep going. The continual prompting that this journey isn’t ultimately about me. It’s about God using me to be a disciple to those He brings into my path. It’s about pointing everyone around me back to Him over & over again. It’s about being completely & totally sold out & willing to say, “Write my story, God, however You see fit, & I will trust You every second through it. Here I am. Use me.”
& that, is my gift wrapped in black.