Thursday, October 15, 2015

Happy FOUR YEARS Meniere's!!!!!!

I am almost speechless that it's been FOUR years since that fateful day.  As I wrote last year, I remember the minutest details of October 15, 2011.  That day things in my life became defined as pre-Meniere's and post-Meniere's.  Everything I do, every thought, every goal is all now in a context of a "broken body."  A body that is not wrecked by cancer or some other life-threatening disease, but a body that is not whole and never will be this side of heaven.  I find that I walk a tightrope... on the one hand thankful that this disease does nothing more than rob me of my plans, my security, my independence.  I know it won't take my life physically but it certainly takes its toll emotionally and mentally.  But on the other hand I am so angry that I can no longer be the wife and mom that I sometimes long to be.  The wife and mom that my friends get to be.  The wife and mom that total strangers all around me get to be.  And the most frustrating thing is that people, even close friends, that don't really understand the nature of this disease or the havoc it wreaks on my body can't really understand what all the fuss is about.

On January 1st of this year I was happy in remission and had all of my dizziness very well controlled.  I was about 75% of my old self physically but it was the new normal that I had become comfortable with.  Then one day in January I woke up to all too familiar symptoms.  Symptoms that were eerily familiar and that I wish would disappear.  They didn't disappear but they played out in a much less severe way than they did when they burst onto the scene 4 years ago.  Until September of this year, I experienced vertigo on and off, but it was much milder than before and for the most part manageable.  As I wrote about earlier this year, the symptoms out of remission didn't keep me from a FABULOUS week in Disney or a super fun summer with my family.

Then about 4 weeks ago, the really bad vertigo returned.  All of the symptoms that came and went throughout this year have settled in and not gone away for the last month.  I've had vertigo spells (not terribly horrible, but enough to buckle my knees) the last 3 days in a row.  I am once again forced to ask people to HELP me (good grief why is that SO HARD for me to do?).  I am waiting for an appointment with an ear specialist in South Louisiana.  I know there's no cure but I can't sit back and do nothing.  With all the available resources I believe God intends me to explore all options for relief.

The craziest thing is that I pretty much anticipated this would happen right about now... "How?" you may wonder.  Well... in September 2011 I was participating in a bible study developed by Priscilla Shirer entitled "One in a Million."  It was all about walking in the wilderness and how to grow through such an experience.  HAHAHA... so I guess that study paved the way for the onset of my Meniere's way back when.  So this September when I started a new study... by Priscilla Shirer,,, entitled "Armor of God".... about SPIRITUAL WARFARE.  Well, let's just say I wasn't surprised by the onslaught of the enemy to try and distract me with this renewed physical challenge.

It is critically important that Christians understand that all distractions, all setbacks, all joy-stealing is a scheme of Satan trying to steal and kill and destroy us (John 10:10).  And I am calling Satan out for the liar that he is.  His lie is that I can't function with this infirmity, that I'll be a burden to my family and friends, that I won't be able to serve God while I'm down.  All I have to do is look back over the last 4 years of my life and celebrate all of the goodness God has lavished upon me and my family.  I can choose to believe the lies that Satan is throwing out or I can claim the abundant life that Jesus died to give me (John 10:10).

I'm not always successful.  I've had some pretty angry conversations with God lately.  There have been days when I haven't wanted to talk with Him.  There have been days where I've cried with absolute desperation to get rid of these symptoms.  I've had my "this is SO NOT FAIR" tantrums.  Seriously, if Jesus died to give me abundant life... bring on the abundance!!!  But I know that's not what Jesus meant by abundance.  He didn't mean easy, perfect, harm-free or painless.  He meant resting in His sufficiency.  He meant taking every blessing He gives for what it is, regardless of how "small" we deem it to be.  We have to realize that abundant life to Jesus isn't defined by this world's standards.  His abundance comes in the form of unanswered prayers and blessings in disguise and silver linings on clouds.  Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God can do "IMMEASURABLY MORE THAN ALL WE CAN ASK OR IMAGINE."

I'm thankful that I have 4 years of this behind me and I can count SO many blessings over these years.  I know I have many more years ahead... some with active symptoms and some without I am sure.  For now, I will try to live in the moment and take one day at a time.  And for the record, I'll probably pass on the next Priscilla Shirer bible study that comes my way!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Praise Update

27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight. What is whispered in your ear, shout from the rooftops. Matthew 10:27

There are many, many things God told me in the dark and whispered in my ear and now I want to shout about his goodness from the rooftops!

I felt compelled to write this update so that the many, many people who prayed so loyally for me for so long can be encouraged.  My family and I had an incredible vacation in Disney World at the end of April.  We were gone for an entire week and visited all 4 Disney theme parks.  I felt good the entire time.  In fact, my Meniere's Diseased, dizzy self rode every roller coaster in every park - some more than once!  That is a BIG DEAL!  We all LOVED the Rock & Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios.  It boasts a top speed of 60 mph and does "3 thrilling inversions: 2 rollover loops and one corkscrew"!

Here we are taking off:

Jonathan and I were pleased to discover that our kids love roller coasters as much as we do!  

And during our trek to Disney we got to take the kids somewhere that I have been dying for them to see for years... the Promised Land (aka: Gainesville, home of the Florida Gators).  We drove all over, showing the kids where Jonathan and I first met, the apartments we lived in when we met and the first apartment we lived in when we were married.  Best of all we got to explore the football stadium:


After that trip, we returned to see our kids "graduate" 3rd grade with honors, turn 9 and continue to grow in size almost before our very eyes.  Then last week I lived through another reminder of God's goodness... I worked VBS at our church all week.  I don't take lightly that working at VBS in our church is an absolute gift, a joy, an honor.  I loved being up at the church with my kids.  I loved serving my church in that way.  I do not for one minute take for granted the fact that I could be there.  I wasn't just working VBS... I was living out the answer to your prayers these past few years!

Three years ago I never would have dreamed any of this was possible.  Three years ago many of you were praying for me.  I just want you to know that your prayers were heard.  It is a reminder to me that God doesn't always answer right away and His answer isn't always specifically what we ask for.  Three years ago I was naive (and desperate) and I often prayed and firmly believed God would miraculously and instantly heal me.  That wasn't God's plan.  God wanted to take the longer route so that He could get my FULL attention.  And that took time.  So what I thought were unanswered prayers at the time were just a delay in human time because God wanted to teach me more than I thought possible.  And I didn't get exactly what I asked for - complete healing.  I still have Meniere's Disease and some days I still get really dizzy and feel bad, but I am okay with that.  In fact, I'd rather it be that way.  Those times and those days remind me that I am not in control.

I hope this update encourages you... to keep praying for others and to believe that God does listen.  He may not always answer right away or give us the specific answers that we're seeking.  But there is great privilege and honor in taking our requests to Him.  Keep on praying.  Keep being faithful.

And from the bottom of my heart, I humbly thank you for thinking so much of me to pray for all those years.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ear is clear - no surgery!

THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all the prayers these last few days.

I am ecstatic to report that I am not having surgery Monday!!!!

I have not had any more vertigo and in fact last Sunday I woke up and my ear was completely clear.  All the pressure and ringing were gone and my hearing was restored.  This is truly a miracle.  Aside from when I had the shunt put in the first time, my ear has never just cleared up once it was full.  This is what I prayed would happen three years ago and for whatever reason God chose the surgery route for me back then.  And so I am beside myself that this time was different!

I was doing my quiet time this morning and thinking of how different my emotions would be today if I was preparing for surgery Monday.  I am so thankful today is just a regular ol' Saturday!

Thank you again for praying.  Please lift up praise and enjoy being a prayer partner in a miracle!

1Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's Ba-a-a-a-a-ck! (Meniere's Disease)

Yep... "it" happened.  After almost 3 years in remission of Meniere's Disease (NOT chronic subjective dizziness, but true-up Meniere's Disease) last Monday it returned.  As the day wore on last Monday, the pressure and ringing mounted in my left ear (my "bad" ear).  It's been a roller-coaster ever since.  Let me try and break it down:

Monday morning - I called a travel agent to discuss booking a trip to Disney in May.  The twins will turn 9 in May and haven't been to Disney.  We intended to go in Spring of 2012, but alas our family was in the throes of vertigo and dizziness and there was no way I could have "done" Disney.  And it's taken a couple of years to really get on my feet to the point I think I could handle it.  So, when the familiar pressure and ringing started that afternoon, all I could think was, "Wow! God really doesn't want our family to go to Disney!"

Tuesday - The pressure continued to mount and my hearing started to go.  I cried and sobbed my eyes out that day telling God "I can't do this.  I am not strong enough.  I just cannot."  The kids asked me that afternoon if I would eat lunch with them Wednesday and I told them my ear was bothering me and I'd have to wait and see.

Wednesday - It was bad.  I knew the vertigo was imminent.  Friends and family kept saying, "Maybe it's an infection or just a change in weather."  But I knew... I bawled my eyes out to Jonathan.  I was inconsolable.  Lunchtime drew near and I decided to go eat with the kids.  I told Jonathan, "If I'm gonna go down, I'm gonna go down swinging."  Lunch was tough just because of the volume in the cafeteria but I made it there and back and the kids were so happy.  At 3:00, I picked the kids up from school and the moment (the split second) I pulled into the garage, a vertigo attack started.  "Thank you, God, that it didn't happen while I was driving!"  Jonathan was home and carried me inside.  It only lasted about 30 minutes, versus when they used to last 2 hours.  Jonathan called my doctor in Jackson and was able to get an appointment for Monday - a miracle to be seen so quickly.

Thursday - Still bad.  I had a small vertigo episode in the morning, but it didn't last long.  In the midst of all this I had some other stuff going on and had to see my regular doctor that day.  Jonathan was in Memphis for work and my mom had outpatient surgery on her finger that morning, so my BFF Summer took me to the doctor.  I had to lay on Summer in the waiting room because the vertigo hit again.  But I knew it was coming so Summer and I were ready for it!

Friday & Saturday - The pressure subsided a bit.  I still wasn't up for much and certainly was not about to get behind the wheel!

Sunday - The pressure and ringing were still down and I went to church with my fam.

Monday - Pressure and ringing were still down, although present.  Jonathan and I went to Jackson.  I had a hearing test, which showed hearing in my left ear was well below the norm.  The nurse came to our room to conduct the usual information session, asking why I was there.  I told her, "My shunt quit working, so I need a new one."  She probably thought I was kidding... Indeed I was not.  The doctor came in and I told him the same thing.  He first offered/suggested that we try a cortisone shot because that is the best method to clear things up while also restoring my hearing.  I told him I didn't want the shots, they did nothing last time but prolong the process and make me feel worse.  This very conservative doctor who did not stray from protocol in 2011/2012 conceded immediately and said, "I'll get the nurse in here to schedule your surgery.  It'll be pretty much like last time."  I'm not a fan of surgery, but if it eliminates vertigo from my life, I'm all for it.  God worked out some really cool details and as of right now, I'm scheduled for Monday morning, February 2!  And it really shouldn't be as bad as the first time because there's that convenient hole in my skull that he drilled the last time (so handy to have a hole in my head) and as he reminded me yesterday, "Because of your age that bone hasn't grown back much if any.  In someone younger the bone would have already regrown."  So...
Hole in my skull - check
Advanced age at which bone will not regrow - check

Today - The pressure and ringing are almost nil.  If it stays at this level, I will cancel the surgery.

I cannot help but believe there's a reason for this speedbump.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 

Perhaps for this reason alone... to remind me that apart from God's grace, love and mercy I can do nothing.  Without God's sovereignty and might, I can do nothing.  By myself, I can do nothing.  There have been many, many moments and many, many tasks and many, many activities over the last year or so when I have forgotten this.  Not intentionally.  I just haven't been intentional enough.  Who would ever think that a part in my inner ear so teeny weeny would cause so much trouble?  When my body is working fairly well and normally its easy to think I can do things myself.  But reality is that apart from God NO BODY could function as it should.  

Please, please pray with me that God will divinely regulate the fluid in my ear.  I believe He has paved the way for the surgery but I also know that He can nullify the need for surgery in a moment.  And please pray that the lesson He has for me and my family in all this will be clear.

And for the record, I'm booking the Disney trip... with a little travel insurance  :^)