Hi everyone! I’m sorry for the lack of blogging over the last month. Following our miscarriage last month, I was experiencing a full range of emotions as well as insomnia. Every time I tried to sit down to write on my blog, I couldn’t focus on one topic because there was just too much going on in my head.
By the grace of God, I was able to attend a local mission trip last week with a youth girl’s group I help teach. We decided to do a local trip to support a homeless ministry in my city that is currently working on starting a women’s transition house. We have worked with the pastor of that mission on many occasions so it was nice to be able to support him and his wife instead of going to some place else where it would only be a short term type of support. With this mission, we can continue to be involved so it was nice to stay put. It also worked out well with my Celiac disease as I was able to prep all of my food the weekend before and bring my meals with me every day.
The week was a lot of hard work, but it was also an amazing experience. I feel like it was just what I needed to lift me up out of the pit of despair following my miscarriage. It restored my hope in God and my joy and passion for mission work.
On the last day of the mission trip I woke up sick Friday morning and had to go to the doctor. After my doctor’s appointment, I went back to the mission to finish out the day with the girls. On top of my getting sick, the other leader twisted her ankle that morning. I’m calling it a divine redirection because our original plans for the final night was to go prayer walking around the neighborhood and just be praying for the community. But because I was not feeling well and because my friend hurt her ankle, we decided instead to head to the grocery store to pass out tracks (which are just like little brochures that share the message of salvation).
After handing out several tracks to people, there was a young man that was standing around reading it. I didn’t want to bug him, but I just had this leading feeling in me that I should ask him if he had any questions. We started talking and had a really great conversation. He opened up to me about a lot of problems in his life. He also shared that several people in the recent past had been speaking to him about Jesus and he was starting to wonder if it was more than a coincidence. I was able to share the simple message of the gospel and had the pleasure of asking him if he would like to receive the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. He said YES!
I called all of the youth girls over and my other leader and asked them to pray with us and I think the other leader could tell I needed help in the prayer so she took over for me and led him in a prayer to ask Jesus to save him.
After all I have been through this year, after all of the tears and struggles and hard work, this was such a miracle. After losing my baby last month and agonizing over whether or not I should go on the mission trip, it was like a hand-picked gift by God to give me the pleasure of being able to lead this man to Christ. It was one of the best moments in my life – I’ll never forget the joy I felt when he said yes to Jesus!
I hate that we had to say goodbye to my baby, but I know that she is smiling down at her mama as I keep fighting back the dark and reaching a hurting world with the love of Jesus. Someday I will hold her and all of the pain of yesterday will melt away.
While I would love to live on that mountain top “high” from our mission trip, unfortunately daily life calls me back to the valley and back to reality. This has been a hard year. This year has just brought trial after trial after trial. Thankfully, I have the lessons I learned on our trip last week and the memories to give me more of a positive attitude and hopefulness about some of the troubles we are facing.
Getting a consultation to see the RE is unfortunately being put on the back burner for the moment. Since January (I believe), I’ve had some bizarre symptoms throughout the year that kind of made me wonder if I should get in to see a doctor to check on my health. I really wanted to go, but I never had a free moment to get into the doctor and it seemed like every time I did have a free day, our stupid car was breaking down and in the shop.
Like seriously, our stupid car is driving me crazy! Jonathan has a work car, thank God, but I’m getting a little frustrated constantly dealing with repairs. And two days before my mission trip, we were headed to my nephew’s birthday party when we ran over some kind of sharp metal object on the highway. It completely ruined our tire. We were trying to wait a little bit longer before we replaced all 4 tires, but went ahead and got them all taken care of at once since we really needed to get it done anyways. Sigh!
So my health issues have taken a seat on the back burner and I’m now regretting not taking things more seriously when I first started having symptoms.
Back in January, I started having trouble swallowing food. It was just things like baked potatoes or bread (gluten free of course). But they would feel like they were getting stuck in the middle of my chest where your sternum is. It hurt really bad and took a long time for the food to finally pass. I kind of panicked a bit wondering what was causing my trouble swallowing, but a quick google search made me feel better when I saw something about “GERD”.
I’m not really sure you should take “GERD” as lightly as I did, but I was just kind of like, “Oh, it’s just some type of acid reflux or heartburn. Whatever. I’ll just not eat that food and it will go away.” I literally came to this conclusion after looking on the internet for about a minute. Seriously, if I could back in time and slap myself and say, “go to the doctor, you fool”, I would.
I can’t remember when exactly it started, but I think it was definitely by April that I started to experience chest pain right in the spot where I have been having difficulty swallowing food. Don’t ask me why I didn’t put two and two together. Honestly, I’m not usually this dumb. I think I’ve been so distracted and busy this year that I literally have just kind of brushed everything under the rug that I didn’t have time to “deal with”.
It was also in April when I got a bad cough. So bad that I had irritation either in my esophagus or throat that caused light bleeding in my mucus when I spit up. I didn’t think much of the blood because it was such a light amount and it was obviously just from irritation from coughing so much.
The cough went away but the chest pain continued on.
Because of all the stress I was under, I started to think that maybe my chest pain was from anxiety. Again, I’m not sure why I wouldn’t take it seriously enough to see a doctor because the chest pain is constant. It’s like a pressure in my chest that doesn’t go away. Even when I sleep it affects me.
Last month during my miscarriage, I noticed that my lymph nodes in my throat and behind my ears were swollen again. I’ve noticed this has happened a lot over the last year, every time I get sick with a cold/cough (now looking back I’m realizing how much I keep getting sick). The day after I started to miscarry, I also got sick with yet another cough/cold.
I started to feel better after about 7 days, but the cough has not gone away (we are going on 4 almost 5 weeks of coughing now). It’s been a very minor cough, just coughing here and there, but I can feel the cough in the center of my chest right where I’m having chest pain and right where I’m having trouble swallowing.
Last week on Tuesday I was at the mission center having dinner and eating a sandwich. The bread again got caught in my chest, but this time it took a really long time for it to pass. I was really starting to worry and for a minute I thought I might have to go to the ER because I was so worried it wasn’t going to pass this time. Thankfully it finally passed with the help of water, but I was scared to keep eating my bread after that so I just took the sandwich meat off and ate that by itself. I would have stopped eating all together, but I was starving from doing yard work in 100 degree weather all day.
I thought that doing all of the work at the mission center would make my cough worse, but it was pretty minor the entire time. I just coughed here and there, but nothing major. There was only one time during the week when I had a bad coughing fit and one of the young girl’s asked if I was okay. I said, “Oh yeah, I just have a lingering cough that’s taking a while to go away.”
I felt fine all day Thursday, hardly any coughing at all. Friday morning I woke up, went to the bathroom and then had another bad coughing fit. Only this time, there was so much mucus inside my chest that I started gagging and throwing up.
And the reality that this wasn’t a normal cough hit when I realized I was coughing up blood every time I spit up, and not like before where it was obviously from being irritated from a cough. This was a pretty significant amount. Not so much that I was like, “Oh I’m dying!” but enough that I realized I needed to get into see a doctor right away.
The doctor wasn’t terribly concerned by my cough not going away yet, but she was concerned by my chest pains. Like a fool, I didn’t write down all of my symptoms and at the time, for some reason, I didn’t really think my problems swallowing were connected to my cough and chest pain, so I forgot to mention that pretty important symptom. She sent me for a chest x-ray and asked me to come back in a week if the cough did not go away (with some medicine to help).
The chest x-ray came back clear and I felt relief. But I started to feel a little irritated. What’s wrong with my chest? Why am I having this pain? There has to be something causing this!
A little bit more research online and I discovered those symptoms could be caused by GERD (this time I took it more seriously and read for more than a minute) but I also discovered my symptoms could be indicating much more serious problems – Barrett’s Esophagus or even Esophageal cancer, which is a very fast-growing, deadly cancer that you don’t mess around with.
These issues would need to be diagnosed most likely through an endoscopy. I’m sure that I’m just having a bad case of GERD, but because the symptoms are the same for more dangerous conditions, and because long term GERD can lead to dangerous complications, I’m not going to wait around and take this lightly any longer.
I’ll be back in the doctor tomorrow morning and I’m sure they will send me to the GI specialist. It took me three months to get into see the GI doctor for Celiac disease, so I really, really hope it doesn’t take that long this time around. I want an endoscopy as soon as possible. I hope because of the serious nature of my symptoms, I’ll get bumped up to a quick appointment. I don’t think I can handle waiting and spending all this time wondering, “Is it GERD or cancer?”
I’m obviously nervous about what’s to come, but I’m just trying to stay positive and hope for a good outcome.
The good thing about all of this is I’m realizing how much healing has occurred over the last few years in my heart. Even though we are still experiencing loss and troubles, I have this hope that keeps me in the fight, and even a joy that is coming back again, Praise God! I remember I used to sob on an almost nightly basis after our first three losses, and I would just beg God to end my life and take me home. With these scary symptoms, I’m kind of facing mortality and thinking a lot about when God will call me home. And I have this strong desire to keep living. I have been praying in tears that God will let me live because I know He has good plans for my life and I want to be here to see all of it unfold. I’m not afraid of the pain my infertility brings anymore because I know that while it hurts now, there is a beautiful story that God is working on, and it’s worth it for me to hold on and trust Him while I wait to see all the beauty He is restoring through these ashes. I’m already seeing so many beautiful miracles (hello, a new brother-in-Christ!).
If you would like to pray for me specifically, I would appreciate prayers for peace and not worry, prayers for God to provide for the tests for diagnosis, prayers for answers to my health problems, and prayers that it will be a minor health issue and not a life threatening diagnosis.
Blessings and love to you all,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will go with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9