Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The book "Jesus Today" by Sarah Young (Also author of the very touching devotional "Jesus Calling"), who has Lyme Disease

(The quotes I use were taken from the article at the bottom of this post)

Sarah Young, the author of the popular devotional "Jesus Calling" that has touched so many lives, has been struggling with Lyme Disease for over 3 years and is still battling it. She lives in Australia but this article says, "she spent six months in the U.S. in 2009 getting 'intensive, expensive treatment' without seeing significant improvement". She has a new book out called "Jesus Today" that was written during her hardest times with her illness. '“I am convinced that if I had been healthier I would not have been able to write this book,' Young says of her latest offering. 'It chronicles my journey from discouragement to hope.'" I didn't know that she had Lyme Disease, or was even sick, but it makes me respect her even more. She has allowed God to use her and what she's going through to glorify Him and hasn't let her illness stop her! Did any of you know that she has Lyme Disease, or that she was even sick?? Have any of you read her new book "Jesus today" ? I can't wait to read it!! I'm so thankful for people like Sarah who allow God to use them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I know I said I would post last night but I ended up staying with my grandma longer than I had planned, which was totally fine and I'm so thankful for that special time with her, but then by the time I did a little homework I was exhausted! One post is almost done so I will post that later today. I'm starting physical therapy today, which I will explain in another post, so I'll be able to finish the post that I'm almost done with after my physical therapy assessment this afternoon! Thank you for being patient with me as I try and get caught up on my posts!!

Monday, January 28, 2013


I'm almost done with a post that I will finish this afternoon, so it will be posted by this evening! It explains what's been going on the past 6 weeks with my family, specifically my grandma, so I will get that done this afternoon. I'm also hoping this week, maybe even tonight, I can post about a big doctor's appointment that I had last week, what I'm doing for this semester, and everything else that's been going on! I am going to start posting more, but you'll understand why I haven't been able to post much once I share what's been going on with my family. So be watching for a post this afternoon or evening!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Replying to comments

Well, I feel kind of dumb. I just realized how to reply to comments that people have left in the comment section...Lots of you have asked questions in the comments, and I've never realized that I can just reply to your comment there...I'm so sorry if you've left a comment asking a question and I haven't replied! Don't worry, it's not you, it's me. It probably seems like I don't want to answer your questions since I haven't replied to anyone; however, that is totally not the case at all! I just honestly didn't know how to reply to them. Now that I do, I am really looking forward to answering your questions and hopefully I am able to help you in some way.

I will try to go back and answer questions that you've asked in the past, but if you have a question and I don't reply, please ask me again in the comments of a recent post so I see it and can actually respond to it! I'm not sure how I will find the questions in the comments that you've asked before, so if you don't mind, it would really help me if you asked your question again on a recent post so that I can find it easier and reply to it!

I do read every comment and love them so much. They're so uplifting and encouraging to me! I really love hearing from all of you. Please keep leaving comments and asking questions since I now know how to reply! Seriously, when I'm having a bad day, I will go and just read your comments on my blog because they encourage me and remind me that God can use any situation for good. So your comments really mean a lot to me.

If you've never left a comment, I would love to hear from you! Where are all of you from? I'd love it if you left a comment and told me where you're from! I know I have readers on every continent except Antarctica! I would also love to know how you found my blog and if you told me your story!

Also, if you have emailed me directly and I haven't gotten back to you, I will try to very soon. I'm sorry that it takes me so long sometimes. Thank you for being patient with me!

So, once again, I'm so sorry if I haven't replied to one of your questions! I promise to do that now that I know how :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

What it's like to live with a chronic illness-The Spoon Theory

(The story I share here is incredible and so helpful. Please take the time to read this and share it with anyone you think might benefit from it. It helps people who do not have a chronic illness understand what it's like to live with one. It really is the best way I've found to help explain what it's like to live with a chronic illness, and how tasks that most people don't even think about become so difficult and tiring to us who do have a chronic illness. The story I share is called The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. I hope this helps you understand more!)

Please read this first and then I'll comment on it at the end!

The Spoon Theory

by Christine Miserandino

"My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?
I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.
As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.
At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.
I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.
Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.
She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?
I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.
I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.
I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.
We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.
When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.
I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”
Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.
After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”
Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”."
© Christine Miserandino

I love the way Christine explains this. One of the most frustrating things about having a chronic illness is trying to get people to understand what it's like to live with it every single day. And what I want to make sure people understand is that it's not their fault at all that they don't understand and don't know what to say or how to act. It's not your fault! Just remember that. 

It's common for me to hear, "you did this yesterday, so why can't you do it today?" Being chronically ill is very hard to deal with because it changes so much. One minute I will be fine, and the next I'll be on the way to the hospital. Our illness don't give us any warning about when it will strike. Like I said, I have been sitting somewhere (class, church, a restaurant), having a good time talking to people and all of the sudden I get really sick and either need to leave or go to the hospital. 

One of the reasons I haven't blogged much in the past month, and also this past semester, is because I've run out of "spoons" for blogging. Things such as walking to the bathroom from bed in the morning and showering are taking more "spoons" than they normally do. It's not a new problem, but I like I said, these tasks that we usually take for granted are costing me much more energy than normal. This too will pass, hopefully soon, and I'll be able to use more "spoons" for fun things like hanging out with friends instead of daily tasks that we normally do without thinking. Tonight I got to go out to dinner with two of my best friends! It was so much fun! But to be able to do that, I had to plan ahead and save "spoons" by going to bed really early last night and resting a lot today. We have to learn how to adapt to how many "spoons" we have each day, depending on how we're feeling. One day I'm able to go to a class and hang out with friends, and the next day I can barely even walk to the bathroom that's only a few feet away. I'm so thankful for the days where I have more "spoons"!

I hope this helps paint a better picture of how each day is different and that we have to choose how to spend our "spoons". Most days, I say to myself that I need to blog that night and I have a post all planned in my head, and then once that night comes, I'm out of "spoons" and am too tired. Tonight, I knew I wanted and needed to post, so I saved a "spoon" for that, so here I am! 

I am going to really try to post several times a week, maybe even daily this year. I love hearing from you and how God has used this blog to encourage you somehow. It really encourages me to know that God is using my situation to help others. If you would like for me to pray for you, I would absolutely love to! If you want to share your story with me, I would love to listen! If you would like to ask me questions about anything, I would love to answer them! Just leave a comment or email me directly (my email is on the side by my profile I think). And I apologize if it takes a little while for me to respond. I love hearing from you!!!

I will post again soon on what's been going on this past month!
Just want to let you all know that I'm still here and have a post almost done, which I will hopefully be able to post tonight! In the meantime, please pray for my grandma. I will explain in one of my posts in the next couple of days, but please be praying for her and my family. I will definitely post tonight and hope to post more this year. That was one of my New Year's resolutions!

I really, really appreciate the emails and comments making sure I'm okay since I haven't posted in a while, and I'm so sorry for not posting sooner. You will understand why I haven't posted as I share what's been going on in the next few days.

Once again, I cannot tell you how much it means to me when you check up on me, encourage me, pray for me, and all the other wonderful things you do for me. I can't thank you enough.

"I thank my God everytime I remember you." -Philippians 1:3

(I will also give an update about my friend, Alisa, who I asked you all to pray for in early December. I'm so sorry that I didn't post an update about that either! If you missed the post that I'm talking about, you can read it here

Look for a post tonight!