I Am Accepted

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Today, I go deep. It’s time to really share.

I started this blog for a specific purpose, to discuss and process through my lens of life the daily journey of what it is like to live with life threatening health issues, chronic pain and the doubts and fears that can arise from such a struggle.

This is no small feat and nothing that will change in one blog post, or with a new day upon me. It’s a true struggle as you wrestle in your life to regain control and find a new normal and just live, once again.

There’s no wisdom present, no answers quickly given, just raw, honest truth. Since I am a person of faith, I use that filter to sift through my thoughts, the fears and the journey. I am glad you are here to walk with me. So, where do we start?

The hardest place.

The most difficult thing to face living with health problems is probably not too much different than what I suspect others face in their own circumstances.  The hardest thing to deal with is quite frankly, the person staring back at you in the mirror –  me. No, not the weight you need to lose or the wrinkles that continue to emerge on your face.  It’s what’s going on inside your mind, inside my mind. These unexpected circumstances add daily challenges to everyday life. You just can’t live in denial – you must face the facts, whatever they are, including the weight to lose. But, what if the answer didn’t lie in the scale, or in the food, but in your head?

In our thoughts.

The only experience I have is my own, and it’s that voice in which I speak. I am a survivor. I have survived 3 pulmonary embolisms and 5 DVT’s. (blood clots) While I am eternally grateful for the blessings of a new day, I still had to accept that my life would not and could not be the same again. There is a very high probability that I will have another clot someday and when I do, I may not survive this time. I don’t say this to be dramatic, no. I say it because statistically speaking, it’s true.  So, how I choose to live from this moment forward drives me. Each day I awake with a fervent desire to live life to the fullest and be walking in truth. So in the morning when I see myself in that mirror I can have peace knowing I am being who I was created to be.

I want to live an authentic life.

I am in the process right now about rediscovering what this means.  I’ve spent way too much time trying to prove myself or find worth in what I did, rather than in the person I already am. There is nothing like the harsh reality of the short time span we all have on this earth to reawaken the deepest truths and fears within us. Life is short, and frankly, I want to live it.

Once I began to finally accept my limitations imposed upon me by all the clots and the damage they did to my lungs and my legs – it was time to reexamine how I was currently living. With more challenges looming ahead, this is what I learned. You have to realign your thinking, change the expectations you place upon yourself and let go of your life as you once lived it.  Sometimes this is a drastic elimination of commitments, a temporary setback or  you can chose to keep on living the way you had all along and eventually, it will catch up to you. Been there, done that!

To some of you reading this may seem like nothing new at all, it’s how you approach life. But for a co-dependent, fear filled woman who allowed others to chart her way through life and masked it all under the guise of Christianity and servanthood – these continual, consistent health problems were my wake up call and my greatest blessing.

You see, I based my identity on what I did, how I measured up, what others thought of me. I have battled it my entire life, but none so much as when I was living in circles of a faith community which for me and in my interpretation, reinforced my dysfunction. This is not to say the faith is dysfunctional, no, just the interpreter. I was the problem. I lived the life of a victim, and I lived it well.

Life circumstances being what they were, it’s how I coped.

So, this health crisis I’ve undergone, it’s been totally worth it. The constant doctor visits, lab work, medical tests and years of ongoing medical care. Worth each and every penny. Not because I can afford it, no, but because I can’t afford to continue to function and live my live the way I had been living. It took this crisis in my body to bring me to a crisis in my heart. It challenged me to seek Jesus on a deeper level and in doing so, I not only found Him, but I found me.

“Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you.  All who ask receive. Those who seek, find what they seek. And he who knocks, will have the door opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

For over 30 years I’ve been knocking on the door, continuing to knock, for the opening that Jesus says will come. I am sure He’s been opening doors for me before and I have been just too blind to see it.  Some doors I remember seeing clearly and I cowered in fear to walk through them. Others, I sprang forth and lept through!

What are your doors?

Maybe you can’t even find the doorknob, never mind the door. Perhaps you are searching for the key to unlock it yourself. Jesus say to continue to knock. Can you hear Him? Don’t give up! Find a way to form that fist and pound if you have to. Keep on knocking, use all the strength you can muster and gently knock.

Trust Him.

When the time is right, He will usher you. The Risen One Himself will reach out with Hands of glory to embrace you. When He does it won’t matter if you have your physical health, or your emotional health – all He concerns Himself with is your spiritual self. Jesus accepts you.

My first door has been learning to accept myself. If Jesus could accept me, why couldn’t I?

Finding myself, my true self, not the one I presented to the world has been a hard journey so far. It’s like digging for treasure. Sometimes you dig and dig and hit something and you think it’s a chest full of gold, but really it’s just another boulder in the way to the real treasure lying somewhere. Hand Him the shovel, let Him dig, watch Him sweat. He already has the map to my heart anyway, invite Him to chisel away and just let go.

Allow Him to chip off the fears, the insecurities, the doubts about who you are. Invite Him to recreate and renew your heart and accept with gratitude who you are and who He is. He is God. I am not.

I am accepted – and I am finding my way in Him.

If you are struggling with a current health crisis, know this, you aren’t alone. If you are wrestling to accept who you were created to be, know this, you can find a way. There is hope, HOPE.

Just stand at the door – knock.

The early start, of a long day…

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It’s the middle of the night, and the moment I realize again. Life will never be the same. Yes, it’s a constant flurry of activity, moving, going, doing ~ but so little being. Even surrounded by family and friends, yet not still. Quiet.

Oh how I ache for it. So, here I am.

Today I am reminded, just ever so slightly, that my life is  not my own. I think I am getting sick. Not anything major, just some sniffles. Yet, even these sniffles mean no rest for the weary. I cough, I ache, I hurt, I can’t return to sleep.

I sit here wanting to take medications for the coughing, I cant. I want to take some medication to stop the post nasal drip, again, I can’t. All I can ever have is aspirin. Ugh. So this may be the beginning of a long week, I don’t know. Last year I remember I had a pneumonia shot along with a flu shot. It’s time!

You see, these clots I had, I pretend they didn’t do any damage. I make way and think, “Okay, I can handle this.” I push myself. Off I run, doing more – or just what needs to be done, but my body just can’t keep up. This is the hardest thing to accept after a pulmonary embolism. While it’s true you can return to your life and thrive, you still have limitations. Each case is different. I wish it would be clear where I am headed.

I reflected early this morning, that it was just about a year ago I had my 3rd PE. Just what am I in store for this winter? I have no idea. It will be the first winter without a clot in my lung or in recovery in 3 years. Wow.

This life continues to be an exploration and journey. It’s time I listen. If that means I get up in the middle of the night to remember that, then so be it.

And the day begins.

Just Another Step

Today marks another day in recovery for me. I had minor surgery a few days ago. Really, it’s minor.

Yet, somehow it doesn’t feel minor.

My health has been the main reason for this blog. To consider what has been going on with me and try to explore the realties of my  new life. These pulmonary embolisms have totally changed my life. I can’t even express how they have effected me and my entire family. But here’s the hard truth, the stark reality, I am so thankful I am still alive! More often then not you don’t survive a PE.

Since my third PE last fall, I’ve had  a medication change. I am now on Lovenox for life. Coumadin just wasn’t effective for me. I just couldn’t get therapautic. Lovenox is a low dose heparin that I inject into myself twice daily. It works differently within the body than Coumadin does. Each anticoagulant comes with their own risks and concerns. Nothing is ever fail proof. One of the risks of Lovenox is a higher chance of internal bleeding, as well as not being able to stop the bleeding once it starts.

It was the reason for my recent surgery.

It’s been about 10 months of internal bleeding now and I am ready for it to stop! So although the surgery was minor, it’s not minor to me at all, it’s major to me. For it can set me on a new road for recovery. If my internal bleeding finally gets under control, then perhaps the anemia will stop and the fatigue will subside.

I just have to be patient and take it one step at a time. And this?

It’s just another step.

Happy Anniversary!

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It was two years ago today. I heard the doctor tell me that I had a blood clot in my lungs. At first I wasn’t sure I heard him right. But make no mistake, it was a pulmonary embolism. The first of two I would suffer that week. Three total since that fateful day. There are some things in life you are just not prepared for. Here’s was one of mine.

Family immediately poured into my hospital room and support was all around me. Yet, there was no greater presence in my life than my husband, my girls, and Sam. They were there with me, in victories and in struggles. I meandered slowly around the hospital floor, they’d cheer from the waiting room.  They’d cluster on the window, giggling, taking photos on the laptop and hanging out.  Patiently waiting on me, and loving me in a hard time.

I remember feeling like a patient on “House” as they deliberated to figure out why this was happening. No matter the reason, there was nothing to change. They tell you how lucky you to be alive, yet rarely prepare you for the journey that lies ahead.

Recovery.

They say it’s hard to understand another’s journey unless you walk in your shoes. I dare say I wouldn’t want you to.

I can’t even begin to explain the changes this life experience has brought about. Much of it necessary and needed in my life. But you know what? I don’t need to explain. That is a wonderful byproduct of this difficult road. Learning to let go.

Freedom.

So much of my life I clung to what I knew, what I could do, what I believed in and what I accomplished to determine who I was. It was this deliberate, yet immediate, shutting down of my life as I knew it that caused this shift to my experiences and eventually to my heart.

Change is a part of life. We all have it. Circumstances that cause us to stop and ponder the view. To take stock of where we are at and  by chance where we are headed. Even with all the physical problems that have cropped up dealing with the pulmonary embolisms, I am thankful.

For it’s in these intense difficult moments that small nuggets emerge which crystalize your view. That scrape away the scales of doubt and fear from your eyes. Perhaps for the first time in yoru life, you really see.

Would I desire to change how things have developed and evolved? Sure, there’s plenty I would want to handle differently.  But since it allowed me to get to this place today, I embrace it. I grab ahold of it fiercely like never before. For what is emerging is truly a resurrection. Not of who I was, but who I am truly am, and who I truly need in my life. God.I am, a survivor, yes. Yet, I am His!

So, I close with His words, not my own.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18

Rebirth

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It’s a new day! I look at this photograph and reflect.

I remember the anticipation waiting for the sun to rise and a new day to be born. As the sun crest over the horizon, bursting forth with color and light, I was reminded of the majesty that surrounds a freshly formed day. The newness of it. The sky awakening with ever changing color and light. The clouds as they roll on by. The birds as they speak their song. Each moment sacred. The time that lies before you will be like none you have had before. Or will have again.

I dare say, it’s a rebirth.

A time to start again. To rethink what has happened before this moment and per chance marvel at what may lie ahead. A time to replenish your soul and be filled with the beauty of a new day and the hope that lies within it. A time to recommit and focus your life in the direction you are called.

For me, it’s that time. A rebirth.

I began this blog as a place to combine some thoughts and explore a journey that has evolved for me. As with each new day that unfolds, sometimes clouds form blocking your view, a constant fog as you see the next step on your journey.

Today, this is my step. A recommitment to me. Not in this wow look at the canvas of my life and see how amazing I am. I venture not. I ever so meekly thinks it might be more a wow, look at my life and how much I need the Maker who makes each day new!

He created me, this person, with all my ambiances and quirks, for this moment in time. To live.  Regardless of the blood clots. To live. Regardless of what has happened in your past. To live. Regardless of what you know of where you are headed this very day. To live.

To look out over the horizon of a new day, and making your choice.

It is in those precious times of reflection, like the birth of a new day, that those sacred truths of who we are, and hope to become, etch ever deeper in our hearts. Like the sun reflecting across the each stone on this beach, is the handprints of my God calling me to come.

It’s a new day, a rebirth, an ever moving journey.

I am eager to walk. Join me.

Another day

So today is another day, left wondering what might be really going on inside my body. That’s the thing about dealing with constant, health problems, doubt creeps in, fears ebb at your trust and you are left hoping for security, but not truly hopeful.

In times of crisis, or times of chaos, there may be friends, family or church members who reach out as you struggle with your health concerns. Rightly so, you are in pain. Some may even call you brave. In truth, you are just trying to accept the day to day reality you now need to live with.

Here’s one issue I struggle with and has really overtaken my life these past few years. Blood clots. Clots that form in your body even when you are doing all the right things, following the doctor’s orders and bam, another one hits. The interesting thing is the reaction from others when you tell them you have a clot. Often they are worried, scared for you, truly concerned. When you begin to think about it, your get scared too. Yet, you face them once again, like before, medicating yourself and asking God to return you to a “normal” life.

At least that’s how I handle them.

My life truly has not been my own, almost each time I have recovered fully from a clot and am released by a doctor, my time is spent “catching up” on things at home that have piled up, it’s a vicious cycle. Stress levels increased  and a chaotic life becomes the norm. And guess what, stress is horrible for someone who has a clotting history, round and round we go!

Blood clots can stay in one place or they can travel in your body, and you can lose your life from them. This is serious business. They are not anything small to play around with.

Wanna know one thing I have learned in this process? Trust yourself. Trust your body and how well you know it. It’s not foolish or  selfish to listen to what your body is saying to you. The more foolish thing would be to ignore it. Listen and get help. Don’t worry about what others think, because they are going to think it regardless of what you do. Judgement comes easy when opinions abound about “what you need to do,” comes. Remember you are the one living this life.

Let’s live it!