Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hope in the Crashing Waves

I remember when I was a little girl and we would go to the beach.  I was the one in the water the entire time!  I remember standing there with my little-girl-legs and the waves would push me down and as soon as I would get up they would push me back down.  I would get mad at the waves, as if that would help.  I remember specifically one time I just walked out of the ocean and decided I'd just had enough.  

Lately I've been recalling those feelings of frustration.  No, I'm not at the beach (I wish)! I've been having some waves knock me down, though.  Waves of frustration, waves of health issues, waves of weakness.  Not feeling very gutsy lately, if I were completely honest.  And yet I've been so blessed to have been in a position where God had my complete and undivided attention - something He honestly hadn't had for awhile.  I'd gotten kind of busy.  Can you relate?

My waves began when I came down with a bout of pericarditis in April.  Pericarditis is an inflammation of the lining of the heart, usually caused by a virus or sometimes it can be a problem with the immune system, chronic sinusitis or something like that.  Well, I recovered from that when the next wave hit.  I realized my chronic sinus infection that I've had for months (maybe even years, honestly - I think it was a 'gift' I brought home from China in 2007) was possibly causing my immune system issues.  So my doctor decided to try to fight it again.  I'd tried before in the past six months with no success, but this time we managed to find out exactly what antibiotic would kill it for good.

The only problem?  Well, it was an IV antibiotic and I would have to be home for two weeks, infusing from home for about 4 hours each day (2 hours, twice per day).  I did this for about 11 days when I began to break out into a rash all over my torso, neck, and scalp.  I went to the ER because it was Memorial Day and my doctor's office was closed.  They gave me steroids and a strong antihistamine and sent me home.  As the week went on, I got worse each day.  By Sunday, I was covered with huge blisters all over and the little rash I had was now a full-blown mess and it was spreading to my legs and arms.

My mother came to visit me on Sunday and gasped when she saw me.  She took some photos of me and emailed them to my physician who told me to get to the emergency room - it was not normal what I had and it needed to be treated.  I, of course, went to the ER and was initially told it was Stevens Johnson Syndrome.  A specialist was called in (who, by the way, just "happened" to be 5 minutes away from the hospital - the doctor said God must have been smiling down on me) and he said it was actually called "Erythema Multiforme Major" which is the step before having a full blown Stevens Johnson Syndrome reaction.  He said it was a good thing I went to the ER because usually these rashes can get worse before they get better and they can be life-threatening.  He said on a level of 1-10, my rash was a 2.  Some people don't have any regular looking skin left and I was only about 40% covered.  I was shocked!  I immediately said a prayer for anyone who has had this horrific diagnosis - it was so bad I couldn't imagine it getting worse.

I was in the hospital for a couple of days where they gave me IV steroids , pain medication and antihistamines (stronger ones than before) and today I was released.  I still have the rash but it is fading and I'm not feeling as though my skin were on fire anymore.  It's amazing the things we take for granted!

Now I'm sitting at home and I cannot sleep because I think the steroids are giving me a little bout of insomnia.  Small price to pay.  I hope to be getting better very soon.  I need to get stronger because, unfortunately, we still have to figure out how to get rid of the sinus problem, which as of last week's culture is still there.  I have a big God though...not to worry!

I know it could be so much worse.  I am grateful that the rash was stopped before it could get more serious.  I'm grateful for a mother who had enough sense to take photos and send them to my doctor.  I'm grateful the specialist just "happened" to be 5 minutes away on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and that, on his free time, he took the time to come see me.  I'm grateful that I'm sitting at home with insomnia instead of at the hospital with it (smile).  I'm grateful for friends and family who have been praying for me - what a blessing!

I'm also grateful the Lord used this time to get my attention and remind me that nothing else matters in the world more than taking time to spend with Him.  I've really enjoyed reading the Word, my prayer time and even some opportunities to pray with others at the hospital who were hurting much more than I.  What a beautiful thing it is to be a Child of God and to know that all pain has a purpose - all of it can be used for our good and His glory.  And it must be filtered through Him first.  Nothing can touch a Child of God without going through Him first.  Nothing.

I've learned that when hard times come, instead of saying "Why me?" I need to say "What can I learn from this, Lord?" Then I can see the whole thing from a beautiful perspective.  I'm so grateful that in spite of the pain, there is Hope.  There is always Hope.  

Romans 5:3-5 "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." 

"My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever." Psalm 73:26


Anonymous said...

Wow! Can I relate to your story, Leslie. I'm so sorry for all you've been through recently. I read your post and cried because it hit "home". I love though your quote about our hope in God because it was hope that has kept me going - really since the summer of 2006 - I've had one disappointment after another yet God has remained faithful and He has taught me so many things. Thank you for sharing that today and thank you for always being willing to share your heart with the rest of us. I think that is what God meant by "iron sharpening iron" - it encourages me that I'm not alone in my struggles. So many people, especially in the family of God, hide their struggles and make you think that they don't have any which makes me think I'm a complete weirdo! When I read posts like yours, I'm reminded, that in this unknown and sometimes crazy journey of faith, I'm not alone in my struggles. God bless you and I pray complete healing for you, my friend.

Leslie Nease said...

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! Sometimes you feel like there must be something you are doing wrong...other times you feel as though the trials are a beautiful gift from God. When you are His child, you are safe, no matter what. May He bless you richly today!

Got Questions?