Celebrate the Good Days

muffin

My husband and I celebrated my progress with mugs of decaf Americanos and chocolate chunk gluten free oat cakes. Being that I’ve been off caffeine and sugar for the past 3 months, this seemed an appropriate way to commemorate stepping stones of success.

I didn’t totally go wild, however- thus the decaf- and I’ll still be sugar free/caffeine free until my body totally rebuilds its systems.

But for now, a minor cheat deemed a worthy cause.

What’s the progress?

At my last doctors appointment, it appeared that my chemical toxin detox has been completed. There are no lingering amounts of the chemicals my body had been affected by. This means I’m able to stop taking 3 of the supplements I’ve been on. Hooray! Good job body!

We really do have an amazing Creator. He designed our bodies with the ability to heal themselves when given a chance.

Thank you, Great Physician, for the organic healing you’ve administered throughout my physical being.

Healthwise, the good days are finally outnumbering the bad. Remember when it seemed impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Well, I can see it now. Encouraged beyond all hope, my anticipation only grows.

With glimpses of a healthy and uninhibited lifestyle in the near future, all I can do is pray that my body continues to move forward. Although there will still be a few more relapse hurdles to jump over, I know that as I push off the ground, my strides are steadily bringing me closer to the finish line.

The exhertion I spend getting there won’t be anything in comparison to the energy I’ll be rewarded with.

I’m turning the bend. Homestretch here I come.

The Key to Successful Suffering

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

When I begin to think that nobody can understand the suffering I’m in, I must remind myself that I am not the first one who has suffered. Neither am I suffering to the extent of others before me nor others who are also currently suffering. Everyone suffers from something at some point of their life. It’s inevitable.

In a book of conversations by Brother Lawrence, he says something about suffering that rattled my mind anew. In summary, he declares his surprise over how there isn’t more suffering the world. Considering the weight of sin and power of evil still lurking on earth, he thinks there should be greater levels of suffering than there actually is. At the same time, he bothers to not be concerned over the existing suffering with knowledge that God could change everything in an instant.

What an incredible reminder to those who are suffering. There could be more – there SHOULD be more- suffering. But no. For we walk in the kingdom of an alive and gracious God who chose to rescue us from life void of love, compassion, and miracles. Instead he brought us into a family of forgiveness, mercy, and hope.

The Way to this Kingdom has suffered what no one ever will. A Father sending his Son into the gloomy depths of an excruciating death, betrayed by those he came to save. Yet he fought for us, conquering hell’s grip over our lives by paying the price we ourselves would have otherwise paid.

Hebrews said it was “for the joy set before him.” Jesus walked willingly towards that suffering cross- with JOY.

I’m guessing the joy Jesus had was no ordinary joy. In light of our salvation, Jesus decides to give us his joy too!

“These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

These things were his revelations to his disciples. His revelations of Joy.  What did he say was the key to obtaining this joy? Remaining in the love of the Father.

But how do I do this in suffering? I don’t have the superpowers Jesus had… Ah, but I do.

And so did those who suffered before me.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15

Paul, in prison, could’ve allowed depression to sink in. He was basically cut-off from all physical ministry. Physically speaking, I can relate. Me, chained to my home due to illness; Paul, chained to his home due to persecution. I’m sure he was suffering from injuries due to countless beatings as well.

Being in such an exhausted state, the lies decided to take my chains as prime opportunity to attack….

What a waste. You’re not an asset to Gods Kingdom laying sick in bed at home. God can’t use you here. You’re worthless….

I can imagine Paul wrestled with those lies as well.

How did he overcome his suffering? How did he shut out the discouraging circumstances? Through praise and worship, Paul creatively served his booming young churches by writing effective letters that all believers are still encouraged by in Scripture today. He gives credit to his writings as inspired by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 9).

What did I do that was Holy Spirit inspired? Every ounce of strength, every period of relief, by God’s grace I would offer up meager thanks and praise. Did it result in literature that changed the history of the early church? No. But it resulted in the changing of my heart. The lies no longer taunted me when focusing solely on Gods presence. By remaining in his love, yes, I received the freeing

GIFT OF JOY.

As I practiced being in His presence while experiencing pain, I gained a cheerful stamina. Once I even fooled my husband, who saw my happy demeanor and asked if I felt better. “Nope. My head is pounding and I feel nauseous and dizzy, but, I found Jesus’s Joy!”

The key: to always, ALWAYS remain in the love of the Father.

 

Hand Unlocking Old Fashioned Lock
Hand Unlocking Old Fashioned Lock ca. 2002

The Timing of it All

Close-Up Of Stop Watch

Remember how I said it was going to take awhile to feel the healing affects of the treatment?

Well, two weeks into the “plan” I was still waking up every day with the dreaded, disabling  symptoms. I almost didn’t want to go to bed because I knew the next day was going to be as terrible as the one I had just lived. At the same time, I wanted badly to go to bed so as to put a stop to the day’s suffering.

In the beginning stages of recovery, I would end each night speaking hope of tomorrow out loud, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I am going to be better.” This, however, became harder to do the longer it dragged out.

There was one evening where I quit trying to be positive– my spirit had been too badly broken. I was tired. Frustrated. I wanted to give up. Crying my weary complaints, I was gently put into check by the thought-provoking words of my husband who had also been persevering this trial alongside me.

It was a new perspective.

As I listened, my tears slowed and my heart grew softer with his reflection of God’s faithfulness to us. “Kimmy, think about the timing of it all…”

So I did.

Based on the charts, it seems that my body’s internal systems have been slowly fading over a period of time.

From the outside I appeared a healthy, well-balanced human being. On the inside, however, I was unknowingly sending my body into its worst nightmare.

I could have crashed at any time. But I didn’t.

Yes, there were minor illnesses and health cycles that I now see correlated to the main problems at stake. Although these illnesses pushed me faster downhill, I would eventually recover without suspicion of a grander coup de ta.

So, in realizing the vast opportunities for when my body could have ultimately decided to “crash,” there honestly could not have been a better time than now.

Had it happened during the honeymoon, before the wedding, while in Turkey, or even in college, there would have been serious life repercussions dramatically altering everything I’ve been able to do and accomplish up until this point.

Now.

It had to happen now. By God’s sovereign grace, it happened now.

Now. When I have a husband to be my constant partner, hilarious best friend, endless encourager, prayer warrior, and compassionate caretaker.

Now. When we’re in America, where doctors speak English.

Now. When we’re on furlough, resting and transitioning out of the holidays to put our focus towards our partners, friends, and family.

Although I would have been more than happy to experience our first couple months of marriage as well our brief time in America at full physical capacity, my husband wisely pointed out how this trial has worked to only bring us closer. Likewise, as a song on my running playlist says: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

This health debacle has once again showed me my weaknesses and where I am spiritually lacking. It has pinned down my pride, reminding me I am nothing without Christ. Greater yet, it has highlighted my spirit of ingratitude. At times like theses, ungratefulness could very well be my number one sin, perhaps even the biggest wall I build between me and my gracious Father.

All this time I’ve been sulking in my chair, dwelling on the now, while the NOW is exactly what I should praising Him for.

I still have a lot to work through and repent. But for now, I will gratefully run back into my Father’s arms and thank Him for the unconditional love and faithfulness He gives me, the child who seems to need to learn the same lessons over, and over again.

Nothing Stays Hidden Forever

veggies

I would be lying if I didn’t say I thought that being married would make my life go uphill a little.

And in so many ways it has.

So many ways!!!

Having another person to loyally live life with besides myself is indeed a wonderful thing. I will forever have someone to trade ideas with, cook meals with, and adventure with. My husband is my biggest ally in all things and constantly reminds me how much he loves me. He challenges me in the best of ways and is continually learning new things he can do to cheer me up.

Marriage is filled with opportunity to refine myself, to become more of the embodiment of Christ, to love selflessly, offer more grace, and confess with eager humility.

I love it. I absolutely love it.

One thing getting married didn’t do, however, was wipe my personal history clean. I was still me.

All and any existing problems regarding health, my spiritual walk, and worries didn’t just automatically disappear when we said “I do”. In fact, some of these prior issues seemed only to accelerate.

As soon as we got back from our honeymoon and we began to live “real life”, it was obvious these struggles needed to be addressed. When my husband saw firsthand how my health problems quickly grew to affect my overall quality of life- how the headaches, nausea, and stomach pain increased to a daily ailment- it was affirmed that steps needed to be taken.

The test results from urgent care came back annoyingly negative. Um, no, nothing is not wrong with me. The worsening symptoms I’ve been experiencing aren’t normal. But they sent me home saying I was fine.

A friend of ours referred me to a doctor who took a serious interest in helping me. After listening to me describe my current health frustrations and medical history, the doctor proceeded to test me for organ inflammation and mineral deficiencies. These tests all screamed positive results. Positive meaning she found the explanation as to why my body was less than behaving, and that there is a way for my body to heal itself and function properly again.

This was hopeful news indeed! Handing me a packet of information, the doctor explained that first my gut needed a help with repairing itself. Along with healing my gut, I need to balance mineral levels, which would then cause less stress on my organs and decrease their inflammation, enabling my body to better process and distribute the nutrients it’s been lacking.

At first I was a bit shocked at the root cause of this illness. I consider myself a consciously healthy eater; anyone who knows me would say the same. I love my veggies- I mean, I’m all about the spinach! However, in this case it’s more than just my current habits that matter, for it was actually the domino effect my entire medical history contained which sent me downhill.  Diet, medications, antibiotics, and living environments had stained my health for the worse. Although they were in the past, the test results quickly brought them out of hiding.

The doctor sent me home with the assurance that she found the key issue and that I will get better. There is a solution.

Two days later I went in again to measure progress. There wasn’t any. I was still experiencing the same frustrating headaches and nausea. Oh, you’ll probably begin to notice a change in at least 3 weeks. So, 3 more weeks of feeling like this?!?

Even though I don’t see any visible evidence of healing, I just need to trust that my body is indeed responding to the treatment.

So, what’s the plan?

Diet-wise, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I now follow the 1/4th rule. I fill 1/4th of my plate with protein, 1/4th with raw vegetables, 1/4th with cooked vegetables, and 1/4th with gf whole grain carbs. Organic everything. And, I get to eat more butter. Butter on my eggs, on my toast, on my spinach. Who knew that butter was good for you? All my life I stayed away from it, but what I wrongly stayed away from was a healthy fat that would offer my body the good type of fat it needs. (We bought a huge chunk of the Amish home-made kind from Pilgrims, my new favorite grocery store.)

Along with every meal, I chew and swallow 10 different whole food supplements. Since I’m at such a low percent across the mineral spectrum, these supplements act to make up for lost time and build my minerals back up again.

Oh my goodness…. The first time I chewed these things I about threw in the towel. Talk about gag reflex!!! Imagine all the foods you wouldn’t dare eat raw ground up into little tablets that you then have to chew and gulp down. Once I got used to taking them, however, their stomach-wrenching flavors didn’t quite set me off as bad, and I was soon able to waste no time in nonchalantly chewing all 10 of them up before eating my food.

Already being gluten free and a fairly healthy eater, the new diet guidelines weren’t too difficult for me to adapt to, well, that is all except for not being allowed to have any caffeine.

Oh man.

That was a punch to the stomach.

Apparently the 1 cup of coffee I have every morning only serves to greater deplete my body of minerals it doesn’t have enough of. This ironically means that instead of boosting my energy it  takes it, exhausting me faster than normal.

In conclusion, here’s a scary fact: I’ve been functioning at less than half of my normal energy level. Whoah. I can’t wait to be myself again!

The Pre-Wedding Fall and the Battle for Joy

On October 4th, my fiancé took me backpacking up into the beautiful Bitterroot Mountain range in Montana. His friend Jake also came, and he brought his dog, too. The four of us set off into the winding mountain trails for a 3 day trek.

Prior to the trip, people kept warning us that we were crazy for going in October and that it was going to be deathly cold. This, however, was not the case. The weather turned out to be perfect for backpacking and never got lower than 40 degrees. The fall colors were especially vivid, including the fire-yellow Larch trees that got more populated the higher we climbed.

After 3 hours of trail climbing, we bush-wacked another 1 1/2 hours to a lake where we set up camp for the night. The rushing of the water calmed the adrenaline built from constant exertion from the hike, and as my muscles began to relax the hunger set in. We built a fire and enjoyed deluxe camp food and boxed wine.

Nighttime, though, was not my favorite… If you remember, my previous camping trip involved a bear-scare, so I still haven’t gotten used to sleeping alone in a tent with unknown natures separated by nothing but a thin sheet of fabric. The first night I did not sleep; the second night, Jake’s dog slept on my toes and I felt better protected:)

Overall, we had an incredible weekend of hiking and exploring. The summit we were hoping to reach was called El Capitan, but boy did El Capitan fool us! Right when we thought we were getting close to the top, we got over the ridge and were met by a giant cliff wall, making it impossible for us to summit without picks and rope. However, the view was still breathtaking, and it was a steep enough/slick enough ascend that the adrenaline thankfully succeeded in pushing out my crippling fear of heights.

The day sadly came when we had to leave the mountainous refuge, so we packed up and started back down. Our packs were lighter from eating all the food. This was going to be a piece of cake. Or so we thought… We made it down the roughest unmarked areas down to the trail and got going at a steady pace. Too steady. Before I knew what was happening, my foot slipped on a mossy rock, twisting underneath me and bringing me sliding down it’s steep slippery side.

So much pain.

Jake called ahead to Jesse and the two of them helped get my ankle taped and calm me down. 10 minutes later I still couldn’t put any weight on it. Still 4 miles deep, we tied mine and Jesse’s packs on top of Jake’s so he stood about 8 feet high and 100 pounds heavier. Jesse pulled me unto his back. Thankfully they decided they weren’t going to leave me for bear food!

At first it wasn’t too bad. We could go for 20 minutes without a break. But then the fatigue set in; Jesse’s legs turned to jello, my arms and legs went numb, and Jake could barely stand straight without tipping over. What made matters worse was that the trail didn’t finish on a decline, but an incline! Come on!

Finally, 5 hours later we collapsed at the car– any longer and we would’ve run out of daylight. Praise the Lord, we were out! My love for my fiancé, his love for me, and his heroic act of carrying me out of the woods was a sure sign I was completely ready to marry him and rely on him through anything!

Gear unloaded into the car, Jesse tried to start the engine. It wouldn’t go. He got out and spotted the problem: we had a flat tire. As if the guys hadn’t worked hard enough! The two of them put their hearts into changing the tire and we made it safely down the mountain into town. The Lord provided us with a place to spend the night, and the next day we were able to get the tires fixed and make the 4 hour drive back to Idaho after a good night’s rest.

I spent a couple more days with Jesse’s family before flying back to Minnesota to finish wedding planning. The woman next to me on the plane let me elevate my swollen foot on her knees, God bless her. Dad met me at the airport with crutches and we scheduled a doctor’s appointment for the next day. I was convinced it was a sprain. Well, I was hoping it was just a sprain. It can’t be broken: I was getting married in 25 days!

X-rays came back with the hard truth. My fibula was fractured on both sides. It was broken.

The next week was agonizing, both physically and mentally. Tears flowed regularly. The pain wasn’t getting any less due to the way it twisted when it broke, the bone’s edges were jagged and nerves screaming whenever the pieces touched.

My heart had suffered it’s own fracture. I was going to have to accept this injury and my circumstance. It is what it is…

But the thought of being on crutches or not being able to walk down the aisle on my much-dreamed about wedding day was more than I could bear.

The next week I went in for a follow-up checkup, and the doctor decided that I was going to need surgery. Noooooooooooooooo. I couldn’t believe it.

However, has he discussed it more, it actually looked like surgery was going to be my best chance at healing sooner and more of a possibility that I would be able to walk for my wedding. My hopes were lifted and I agreed to go under.

The procedure was over before I knew it. They had given me a “block” to numb my nerves all the way down my leg so when I came out of the anesthesia I wouldn’t feel the pain from the surgery. It was completely “unnerving” and scary not to be able to feel my toes. I checked every once and awhile to make sure they were still there!

The next day the block wore off and I could finally feel my toes, but I wished I couldn’t! Everything hurt. They couldn’t give me enough painkillers. To say it lightly, I felt terrible.

My parent’s had been through this before with both my brothers and their sports injuries. They were post-op care professionals. They took turns staying home with me, watching episodes of dated comedy shows from the 60’s, cheering me up with chocolate covered pretzels and prescribed doses of drugs to relieve my discomfort. I couldn’t have felt better cared for.

Yet it was still difficult for me to hang unto joy. This was supposed to be the most joyful season of my life. For heaven’s sake, I was getting married in two weeks and I’m being pushed around in a wheelchair! I let the pain and the uncertainty of being able to walk down the aisle or not control my thoughts. Fear took root.

There were some particularly low days when I was ashamed and frustrated by my attitude. I couldn’t recognize myself. Why was I letting this ruin my life and pushing out my excitement? Acceptance was huge. I had to accept that the plans I had made for my wedding might not be how my wedding was supposed to be. Oh how I prayed for Jesus be my joy!

Having to depend completely on my parents again for my every need was not easy after being out of the house the past 6 years as well as anticipating heading into married life. But as I got used to it, I really began to see what a blessing it was to be able to spend so much time, literally at home, with my parents, especially since I hadn’t lived at home for so long and was now officially moving out of their house and getting married. I cherished that time.

My broken ankle did indeed slow down the entire wedding planning process. I managed to do some small tasks on my own, and those small tasks I really enjoyed doing because I finally found joy again, and I think the pace wedding month had taken on was a huge part of that as God made his presence known during sweet time spent in acknowledgement that this was God’s will. Everything we did was intentional, and the normal chaos that precedes the Big Day wasn’t threatening simply because it wasn’t physically possible for me to move or go anywhere! For that, I was truly thankful.

The doctor said that usually when the stitches get taken out is when a patient tends to try walking. At my first physical therapy appointment I expected to walk, and when I didn’t, I remembered I needed to give myself grace. It was going to take some time. I had to work up to it.

Three days before the wedding I ditched my crutches and walked with a cane.

Deep down, I knew that God was going to heal me. All throughout my life I’ve had injuries, and all throughout my life God has always healed me. Only trusting in His promises and praying for faith was what helped me to push aside my fears and doubts and believe His glory would shine even more because of it.

The Comeback

R.I.C.E

For all you athletes, we know this dreaded acronym stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. It  works when obeyed. However, both the trainer and the athlete know all of the above might be followed except for the R. Rest is hard. One of the main reasons for injuries is lack of rest, so if that’s a problem to begin with, habit and overuse isn’t likely to stop. Or maybe the injured victim thinks they’re doing a good job at resting, when really, they’re still doing more than they should. I’m praying this isn’t me. This summer I was strictly prohibited from running. So I didn’t run.
At all.
Until my departure date.
The weather was perfect. There was a slight September breeze. Colored leaves had drifted from their assigned branches unto the pavement below. I couldn’t help it. It was a red letter day. I had to run.
The next day my feet felt the repercussions. Patience, Kimmy. I rested. Again.
Until London.
It’s nearly impossible to live across from Hyde Park and not go running. Even non-runners go on runs there. So I ran. Dealt with the consequences. Rested.
Until my birthday.
Everyone deserves a birthday run, right? Especially a birthday run along the Bosphorous River. Oh it was such a good run. I felt no pain. Until the next day.
It’s been about a week since that birthday run. I decided to attempt another one. It’s now the evening of this run, and my feet are in fine shape. Ladies and gentlemen, it appears to be that I’m making a comeback…