Beauty and Ashes

Today I am honored to be writing over at Running This Thing Called Life for my good friend, and wonderful encourager, Jenn.

Would you join me there?

“I look at this pile of ashes heaped up before me, they are called “my life”. He says that He makes beauty out of ashes, and I never understood it before.

 The ashes are the friends killed, the loved ones who died, the family scattered in every corner of the world, the evacuation out of the land I love, the loss of health, the being diagnosed again, and again, and again with chronic illnesses, the nearly dying, the depression, the loss of my house, the letting my job go, the leaving my ministry….”
To read the rest hop over there, I know Jenn would love to see you.

One week, Two years, and A moment.

sick-girl-toilet-evil-erin--300x199I sit on the bathroom floor head against the wall too weak to keep it up. My body drenched in sweat, vomit and diarrhea mixed in the toilet bowl next to me. I ring my teammate, the one who’s a nurse. I hear her voice at the end and through the tears I ask her to help. She comes over and gets me into bed. The doctor comes, they give me tablets and drinks, and my nurse-friend stays with me.

I groan in pain and slip in and out of sleep. Another friend comes by to stay with me that night, sleeping in a bed next to mine. I scream with agony most of the night, I try to get up for the bathroom and faint. It takes me three attempts to walk the 50 yards. I make it through the night, sleeping at some point. I know because she told me my silence worried her.

I awake still drenched in sweat, this morning brings no change, vomit and diarrhea are still taking over my life, and nothing will stay inside me. I lay there whimpering and groaning. Pain and fear mixed together, exhaustion not allowing real speech or expression. My nurse-friend comes back, the doctor comes too. They agree I need an IV, the doctor leaves and returns shortly with the bags full of liquid in one arm, the other hand carrying hammer and nails. They hammer in a nail to the wall above my bed and she hangs the IV bag on it. The nurse gets a needle out and pulls at my arm, I’m too weak to even care. She sleeps in the cannula with ease, I’m impressed at her skills and give her a feint smile. The doctor leaves. She sits and holds my hand as we watch fluid drip into my body. I’m too weak to say anything, and my body is ravaged with pain, but I am thankful she is there. The one who cares without being intrusive, the one who cares always with a smile, the one who brings joy into horrible situations, the one who shows me Christ. I am glad she is the one sitting with me.

moving-boxes-21Two days later I am on a plane being evacuated for medical care.

One week later I will be back.

Only it’s been 2 years now, and my things lie stacked in boxes, collecting dust, and I wonder how that one week ever became 2 years.

I long to go home, to wipe away the dust, to discover forgotten treasures in those boxes. The nurse has long departed, leaving to start a new journey of marriage. The doctor no longer walks those streets. The one who slept next to me night after night, now sleeps alone on the other side of the world. They have all gone, but my heart remains, and my God remains.

Brown-K_Weight of Dust_ Station 12for web

He is there, and He has taken my heart there and kept it there.

Today, it rests on today. On those few moments spent in hospital. What will that man who calls himself a doctor but who tries to play God in my life say? Will he speak the words I long to hear “Medical Clearance” or will he deny me?

I live in peace, I walk in confidence, because I know a truth he does not.

He is not God.

God is my father, my saviour, my love, the author of my story.

He is not God, but I know who is, and I know that God is control.

I trust.
I believe.
I give thanks.
I rest peacefully.

The Conversation : Getting Worse

My doctor had warned me that the last week of coming off my meds would be the worst. Whilst pretty much bed-bound for a week, repeating my mantra in my head “Soon it will be over, it will be worth it, this too shall pass”, I understood what he meant. It had been a horrible week.

Once it was over I gave my body a few days respite before taking a deep breath and halving my pain meds dose. This was a move my doctor had agreed upon, but wasn’t overly thrilled by, he didn’t think it would last. This was all my idea, and this was something I wanted so badly. To be free from those narcotics that clouded my mind, free from those drugs that caused me to drift in and out of consciousness every time I was stationary for more than a minute. That was what I imagined bliss would feel like.

I felt the first reduction, but it wasn’t too bad. I felt nauseous, on edge, restless, but nothing too bad. The next reduction a week later, another halving, brought with it repeated vomiting, a lessening appetite, and pain. But the next week, that was the one that will be seared into my memory forever. It was time to ditch all pain meds, they told me to even leave off the paracetamol. For the first week I stopped eating, I kept minimal fluids down, I threw-up every thirty minutes or more, pain soared through my body, panic attacks plagued me, insomnia haunted me, depression returned, shakes and sweats took over, it felt as if my soul had been sucked out of my body. The only way I can describe it is living hell. There were two things that kept me going. God – I had no idea where he was, I couldn’t for the life of me find him, but I know he was holding on to me, squeezing me tight through that time. The second was my housemate. She sat up with me night after night, despite having to wake early to go to work, she would sit with me talking, being silent, singing, walking, telling me I could get through it.

That was just the first week. After those 7 days, things began to improve, slowly, very slowly. On day 8 I left the house for the first time. Hood up, coat wrapped tightly around me, housemate close by, ready to leave at the first moment it became too much. On day 10 I ate my first bit of food without vomiting. On day 14 my heart stopped racing so fast. It took 26 days to stabilize, the insomnia was the final thing to depart. After that it took a good couple of weeks to recover, to put back on the kilos I had lost, for my mind to calm and be still.

In that month it felt as if the hope that had been handed to me had been snatched away. I had to keep reminding myself that was I was experiencing was temporary. I was reminded how it felt to be really ill again. It reminded me that I really did not want to go back there as long as I could help it.

After that things changed dramatically. My health seemingly turned overnight. One moment I had been living a nightmare, the next I was feeling healthier than I had in years. I felt well, alert, like I had both physical and emotional energy, happy, low-levels of pain, just all-round healthy. Of course this had been building up slowly but because things had to get worse before they got better, it seemingly flipped over in an instant.

I had never even entertained the thought that I might one day be 100% medication free. I could hardly take it in. I had never imagined that I would feel as healthy as I did, I didn’t really know what to do. The new-found health was a big shock to me. As everyone around me rejoiced, I walked around in a state of shock. I was grateful, oh so very grateful, I was rejoicing, I was praising, but I was also walking around stunned, in shock, not able to grasp all that was happening, not able to process, overwhelmed by it all.

Join in the conversation.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your health?
Has change ever shocked you and left you stunned?
Do you find in life you have to remind yourself that the season you’re in is temporary?