“I feel as if I’m being crushed under the weight of the unknown.”
These are the words that I spoke out loud the other day. These are the feelings and thoughts tucked away in a deep part of my heart that crept quietly into my mouth, and sneakily slipped out without permission. I like to joke. I like to be funny in the light of adversity…but recently this has not been so easy.
It’s been a little over a year since this battle with my body has begun (again). Differently this time. Last time, it was a simple diagnosis with a not so simple treatment:
First line of treatment: Meds.
Med #1: Allergic.
Med #2: Allergic and makes my right kidney ache.
Last line of treatment: surgery or radioactive iodine treatment (read: type of radiation).
Me: “I prefer surgery…I don’t want radiation in my body.”
Doctor (in Texas): “That’s $9,000 and risky … you should do radioactive iodine treatment. It’s $900, and that doctor and I both had it – we’re fine.”
As a dumb 25 year old, away from home without any real guidance – I chose the latter.
I wish I hadn’t.
Fast-forward 6 years: heart issues begin.
For the last year we have tested and tested and have come to no clear conclusion(s).
An arrhythmia? An arrhythmia caused by prior-hyperthyroid status and radiation treatment?
And a nervous system issue? The tilt-table test was positive (read: my body lost its ever-lovin’ mind in response).
Nodules in your lungs? Nodules that disappear, and 2 new ones appear?
Blood work, urine tests, more blood work, multiple external (Holter) heart monitors, PFT test, ultrasounds, CAT scans, MRI’s, echocardiograms, EKG’s, surgery to put a heart monitor IN my chest…
This has been the last year of my life. And there are no answers.
And, if it wasn’t for the fact(s) that:
- I could see the PAC’s/PVC’s and the tachycardia on the monitor in the ER
- My cardiologist witnessing my body shutting down on the tilt-table
- My friends having witnessed heart episodes at bizarre moments (like laughing while eating ice cream at Dels).
- My endocrinologist listening to my heart saying, ‘I can HEAR that something’s not right…’
- Catching tachycardia runs, PVC’s and PAC’s on the implantable heart monitor
…then I would think I was a headcase.
During my last appointment, my cardiologist said,
“You know, Tara, sometimes we have patients who come in and they have a blood clot or AFib and those things are easily caught and easily treated. Then, there are some patients who come in with very real problems and very real symptoms…and we cannot catch them or aren’t sure what it is/how to treat them until a few years down the road when there’s new intel or a new diagnosis. Then, we think of THOSE patients and realize, ‘Ohh…that’s what that was’ and treat them. Unfortunately, I think you may be in that latter category.”
And while I hear him, and I appreciate both him and his honesty, what it *feels like is him shrugging his shoulders…and me being hung out to dry in the land of the unknown.
((Side-note: how ironic that as I type this – I received a phone call from my doctor’s office, saying, “Got your test results back, ‘x’ is happening”. When I asked, “What could be causing this?” She said, “We don’t know…we may have to send you to another doctor.”))
<insert heavy sigh here>
As I type this, I can’t help but think, “You know, Tara, so many other people have it much worse than you do.” And while that is very true, I also go back to something that Levi Lusko said when he was here a few months back. He said something along the lines of, “Stop comparing your pain and your situation with others. If this is the worst thing that you’ve ever gone through, than this is the worst thing that you’ve ever gone through.”
In fact, when he shared that, just moments before I had just been standing in worship thinking, “Okay. So…we know that something is up with my heart and my nervous system, also, there are these random, unidentified nodules in my lungs, and now we’ve discovered a hole in my brain. But, it’s not THAT bad…I’m feeling decent…”
Imagine what a breath of fresh air his comment was to me in that moment.
And, I FEEL like I’ve handled most of this fairly well over the last year…but…these last few weeks have brought me to a new level of ‘weary’ I didn’t even know was possible.
In the midst of feeling like this, I’ve come across an article titled, “The Beauty of Suffering” by W.M. Paul Young. What a timely article it has proven to be. While the entire thing hits the nail on the head for me, the following two bits spoke to my heart, like a soothing balm:
“Everyone in this world is dying, right now. You are going to die. From the day you entered into this world you began dying. If ‘faith’ could keep you healthy, surely there would be someone who never died, one person who had enough ‘faith’ to keep from deaths open maw.
God (Jesus) didn’t even escape it, but He did conquer it so much so that it was no longer called ‘death’ but ‘falling asleep’. Some of us fall asleep quickly and quietly, others in great pain but we know who will kiss us awake and that hope is sure and certain.”
“Suffering stops us in our tracks, makes us re-examine our sense of control, drives us into community (if we allow it) and transforms us in its crucible. And then there is this mystery: we are somehow allowed to enter the holiest of places and share in the sufferings of Jesus, destroying evil by our presence in the midst of loss.”
One thing I can assuredly say is that throughout this season, I have been brought into a community of people who LOVE Jesus and care far beyond what I thought possible. I have been so humbled and so honored by those who have spent time with me, opened their homes to me, brought me food, taken care of me, have gone to appointments/ER/surgery/tests with me, those who have blessed me anonymously.
I am in awe of you people.
And I am ever so grateful.
And while I may be in a more weary state than usual, I rest in the knowing that the Lord is so very close to the broken-hearted, and a bruised reed – He will not crush. On the days when I feel like I’m being crushed [when the roof starts to leak, when my car breaks down again, when I have ANOTHER appointment, another bill] … I cling to these facts.
Now, I will end with a song.
Rita Springer, ‘Come All Ye Who Are Weary/Deep Calls to Deep’.
*As Lysa TerKeurst says, “My feelings are indicators, not dictators” and I know this isn’t truth, it just FEELS that way. I have been SO BLESSED with an incredible team of doctors…