swollen knees

Diagnosis Knees – Osteoarthritis or RA

more diagnoses knees
created in canva for free

Once I finally had a diagnosis, I was able to get on a regimen of Savella. This relieved the majority of my pain. At least I was able to move about. We started working on reducing my 40mg of prednisone down to a more acceptable level. This was no easy feat. The pain would return with just a slight decrease. If I remember, we had to reduce by 5 mg, and then later only 1 mg. (I only recently was able to get completely off the usage of prednisone. It took me ten years!)

It’s Off to the Orthopedic Surgeon

But it only took a few months for my knees to begin to swell and be painful. So, we headed to Hughston Clinic. After x-rays and MRIs, the doctor determined that I had a torn meniscus. So we scheduled surgery. How wonderful that Dr. Collins is a Christian. By his request, he had prayer with me before we went into the OR. His staff is amazing. They checked on me several times after the surgery. I highly recommend Hughston Clinic if you live in SW Georgia.

The surgery went well, he was able to repair damage and clean out a lot of arthritis. He took pictures that showed a lot of gnarly mess. So when we met with him again, he said he would send me back to Mayo Clinic because he wasn’t certain that it was just osteoarthritis.

Back to Mayo Clinic

Already established at Mayo, it wasn’t as difficult to get an appointment. I saw my rheumatologist. He looked at the pictures and said, “This is severe osteoarthritis”. OK. No Surprise here. I was very accident-prone on the dairy farm. As a child, I was always incurring stupid injuries that weren’t too severe. I figured then that one day, I would have plenty of arthritis.

While he felt the diagnosis for knees was osteoarthritis, he decided to run the tests for rheumatoid arthritis again. Low and behold, this time it came back as R.A. We had caught it early so I was able to take Methotrexate rather than a biologic.

Why Didn’t It Show Up Before?

Apparently, the prednisone was masking the RA. I had been concerned this would be a problem all along. The steroid helped me “feel” pretty darn good, But in fact, steroids are an anti-inflammatory drug. So the numbers in the blood work came back good. I figured the steroids caused my numbers to be all over the place when I was tested back home.

swollen knees - steroids hide the real problem
photos from pixabay-Bolova59

The Methotrexate has kept the RA pretty much under control these 10 years. Osteoarthritis of the knees continues to be aggravating on a daily basis. Other fibromyalgia pains and other issues keep popping up now (10 years later). So, we are considering other medication options.

This brings us up to the Spring of 2013. Stay tuned for another addition to Mandy’s Journey with Pain or click here to see what you may have missed.

-Mandy

Wait, Wait Patiently

Did you say “Wait PATIENTLY?”

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.

Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 27:13-14
Wait Patiently
Image created in Canva.com: girl image by Ryan McGuire at Pixabay.

Wait. Again, wait.

I’ve heard it so many times over those first four years. And it never has become easier to hear. We all want everything now. But God kept telling me to wait.

Getting a diagnosis is a long process. There were 6 weeks of waiting while my primary care doctor tried different medications to ease my pain. There were blood labs to wait for. Finally, he decided to send me to a specialist.

At first you think. “Good. Now we will get to the bottom of this.”

waiting patiently
image of girl by Ryan McGurie @ Pixabay created in Canva

But then there is more waiting.

Wait to schedule an appointment.

to see the doctor.

to get more blood work results.

Wait to see the doctor again.

And then you hear the words, “I’m baffled. We need a second opinion.” This time we were referred to Mayo Clinic. The doctor said to wait for their call to schedule an appointment. This was a month-long wait.

And finally, we get the call.

“We will put you on the waiting list.”

“OK. How long will that be?”

“Up to six months.”

My heart sunk.

How could I keep waiting that long?

was on high dosages of steroids, just to be able to make it through the days. How could I do this for six months? That was just before Christmas. Fortunately, we received a call after Christmas that an appointment opened up at the end of January. Of course, we accepted the appointment and waited again for the next few weeks.

By this point, we were ready for any kind of diagnosis. It is so frustrating to wait with no idea what is going on. We were tempted to say,

“Tell us anything, even bad news, so that we can deal with it.”

Just as we expected, the first visit was only preliminary. We met with one doctor and, of course, the phlebotomist …. They took 16 vials of blood! And then we waited.

First Diagnosis

We waited to be scheduled with 5 different specialists and more testing… four more months. At the end of that week of appointments, I received the diagnosis of Central Sensitivity Syndrome (CSS) with indications of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain Syndrome, and Myofacial Pain Syndrome. In other words, I have a lot of pain.

While we had hoped for more help than that, it was a start down the road to managing my pain. The doctor prescribed the first medication that would help me better deal with pain, Savella. And it connected us with an excellent rheumatologist and later Mayo Clinic Pain Center. Across these 9 1/2 years, these have been a Godsend.

What’s the Point?

Finally, my point today… good answers seldom come quickly, through all my life, I have heard the instruction to “wait” … from God …. my parents …. From school teachers.

Did you ever notice that we never seem to be able to hear it once and then just sit down and wait. We are like little children, we sit down for two minutes and then we are up asking, “Is it time yet?” Sadly, I don’t really have a word for the wise today.

I’m just here joining the choir of those who are telling you ….

“Wait, Wait patiently on Jesus”

Mandy Signature
Savannah, GA

Have you missed any of my posts on this Journey with Pain?

Trials – It’s All Relative

We all have trials in life. Sometimes they can be overwhelming. But truly it is all relative when we take our eyes off ourselves and look around. Even better Look to Jesus.

1 PEter 5:10

Stand firm … and be strong in your faith. 
Remember that your family of believers all over the world 
is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
In His kindness, God calls you to share in His eternal glory
by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while,
He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and
He will place you on a firm foundation.  1 Peter 5:8-10 (NLT)

1 Peter 5:8-10 (NLT)


Alone in Our Trials

Our trials can cause us to feel so very alone. No matter the trial, many times our friends disappear after a week or so. It may seem that no one understands what you are going through.

For me, doctors were baffled. The testing all came back normal. We were tempted to feel that even the doctors did not believe me. Some doctors were compassionate, some were not.

We Are Not Alone in our Trials

One thing I learned while sitting in waiting rooms of the doctors’ offices, labs, clinics, especially Mayo Clinic, was that I am not alone. It was overwhelming to see how many people are suffering and they are suffering much more than I. Not to use their pain to ease mine, but it does put it all into perspective.

When I looked around, I saw that I had little to complain about and so much to thank God for. My suffering was inconsequential compared to what many have had to deal with.

Alone is Relative

Alone is relative

If I expand the scope of sight to Christians around the world that are being tortured and killed for their faith, I really have nothing to say at all. And ultimately, when I look at what Jesus Christ did for me, I am ashamed that I would even want to put myself in the same category.

However, I am comforted to know that He knows my pain and He holds me up. He is my support, my strength through my trials. And that my “light and temporary suffering” will not last long. After a little while, He will lift me out of the miry clay and put me on a firm foundation.

Let’s Consider… how can we trust God to support and strengthen us when we go through various trials?

1) By leaning on His promises. Reading scripture has lifted me up so many times through my trials, but listen, there are times when you are not able, for whatever reason, to actually read the scriptures. This is why I have always encouraged scripture memory. If you have hidden His Word in your heart, he can bring it to mind when you are unable to read it for yourself. Meditating on memorized scriptures has been my main support when I am having procedures or injections that are painful. I was able to concentrate on the scripture instead of what the technician/surgeon was doing.

2) Resist the devil Quoting scripture is one of the best ways to give the old devil a beating when he tries to get his foot in the door. And believe me, he will try to bring you down. He will whisper all kinds of lies in your ear to convince you that you deserve this pain, or to become angry at those who have been the cause of your pain, or to get you feeling sorry for yourself. He has so many ways to deceive us.

3) Singing His Praise. We’ll get more into this down the road. But I just want to mention that praise is a key element in the survival of the fittest. If you can’t sing; that is, your trial is so deep that you are unable to make music,  then just meditate on the words of a hymn. Godreminded me this old hymn which has become so meaningful to me … as if I had never heard the words before. 

Click to Read the Words and Listen to this Old Hymn…

Until next time;

Mandy

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doctor to doctor

Bouncing from Doctor to Doctor

I was soooo ready to step off that cruise ship but it didn’t bring me joy. My body kept bouncing on the inside. You have heard of sea legs, right? Well, I kept them after we stepped on land. It’s typical for this to happen but it goes away quickly for most people. But I have never been that average. I always have to do things a little differently, from everyone else. Haha!

Time to see a doctor

Three months later, I’m still having these bouncy feelings. Thankfully, no spinning rooms, I just felt like I was still sitting on that tender boat; bouncing, bouncing along. The only time I actually felt better was riding in a car which is kind of ironic. Before this, I was always the one to have motion sickness.

My PCP had no idea what was going on so he sent me to an ENT. We did several tests and ruled out major possibilities. He “landed” on disembarkment syndrome. It’s rare, but people acquire this and live with it for years. That would be me.

Watch this… Funny… Except if you have it.

MORE SYMPTOMS ARRIVE

Two more months bounce by until I woke up one morning in July with a crick in my neck. I could barely turn my neck. Driving was getting a bit dangerous. I would have my daughter always watching that I didn’t move into another lane and run someone of the road. Finally, I decide to visit my chiropractor. I was dumb enough to say let’s not do an x-ray this time. But when he tried to do an adjustment, nothing would move. Until, it did, causing so much pain.

In August, I had an episode at church leading the children’s choir. I lost my breath and all energy. Turns out my thyroid numbers were completely off. I had missed a few days of medication waiting for a renewal but my doctor said, it shohuldn’t have caused a problem that quickly.

PAIN arrives

Still bouncing from day to day, I managed to feel fair enough until that Sunday in September. I lay down for a short nap. Or I should say I tried to lay down. I didn’t get down to the bed before my lower back began to pulse with contraction-like pains. The slightest movement would initiate the contracting again. So, we were back to the doctor again. This time needing a couple men from church to carry me down the stairs and help me into the car. How embarrassing! My doctor couldn’t see any issues so he prescribed a tritation pack of prednisone. That stuff is great!

But it didn’t last. As soon as I started tritating back down, the pain returned. In October, we bounced from one medication to another trying to find something that would make a difference. (Cymbalta, Lyrica, Gabapentin, Tramadol) Nothing helped.

A Roomma-what?

bouncing from doctor to doctor
all images created for free in canva.com

Next, I was sent to a rheumatologist which is a subspecialist in the nonsurgical treatment of rheumatic illnesses, including autoimmune diseases and especially the many forms of arthritis and joint disease. Tons of blood work baffled him. My labs were all over the place and he could not make a diagnosis. He opted for a second opinion at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Mayo Clinic is an awesome, amazing place but it takes months to get in. I wasn’t excited about waiting with all this pain.

Be Still is Not Always a Good Thing

Toward the end of the month, my leg began to swell every time I got out of bed to the point that I couldn’t put my foot on the ground. So back to the doctor we go. This time after an ultrasound on the leg, I was admitted to the hospital for observation and getting shots in the stomach for a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) better known at a blood clot. I had to learn to do these injections in my stomach twice a day. No fun!

Bouncing back home

I was released from the hospital in time for my 50th birthday which basically go by unnoticed. Welcome to old age!

We’ll stop here for now; but my Mayo Clinic experience has already be written and you can keep reading here.

Mandy

SHARING: Even in Pain there is Confident Hope

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

Ephesians 1:16-18

Confident Hope?

When chronic pain hits, we might wonder, “How can I have confident hope?” But I soon learned that this hope comes from drawing ever closer to the One Who gives all hope. That is, Jesus!

For me, it was six months of pain before finding any answers. But when I walked through the doors at Mayo Clinic, I felt an amazing hope. Every inch of this place offered hope to me. Then I began to look around at all the others seeking to find answers. Some did not know the confident hope in Christ; however, it was quite obvious that others knew Him well.

Thanks for sharing your confident hope!

I have met several of you who have splashed your confident hope all over me. I’m thanking God at every chance that through my chronic pain, you have become an essential part of my life. I pray for you often that God will continue to bless you with his wisdom and insight through the trials you face; believing it is through these trials that we come to truly KNOW the God of Hope. I pray that your heart is filled with His Light so that you continue in His confident hope and keep spilling it over on the rest of us.

We are His holy people and we are so blessed to be His rich and glorious inheritance. He has invested everything in us to make this possible.

confident hope

Prayer

Oh Lord God, thank you for bringing so many chronically wonderful friends into my life. I ask for wisdom and insight for each of us as we daily try to fight off pain with Your help. As David said, “It was good that I have suffered that I might know you,” the God of all Hope, better. Fill us with Your Light today. I pray that Your investment in us will yield great and wonderful results.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions

  1. In what circumstance have you found Confident Hope?

2. Who has graciously splashed their confident hope over you? Have you told them so? Have you prayed for them?

3. Who could you splash your confident hope over?

In His Confident Hope;

Mandy Signature
Savannah, GA

Even though my life changed drastically 10 years ago, God has still brought purpose into my life. I have found a little niche in writing. Something I never had time, nor the confidence, for in the past. Chronic Joy is a wonderful ministry to help those with Chronic Illness thrive. I was given an opportunity to write a prayer prompt for them recently.

*** All along my Journey with Chronic Pain, I have met many who have encouraged me. I am so thankful to them. Seeing that others can make it through tells me I can too! In this journey, I have found a wonderful ministry for those with Chronic Pain called Chronic Joy. Today’s post was written for this ministry. Find more at this link.

Suddenly Still – Journeying with Chronic Pain

scripture JOhn 15:5 suddenly still


“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

Suddenly Still

I’ve never been able to stay STILL. I can’t even watch a 30 minute TV sitcom without getting up and moving around. I have to either be crocheting or have something to do with my hands. Otherwise, I’m up at every commercial whether I have something to do or not.
My son inherited the same thing from me. He is always going and going. As a baby, my husband had to literally hold him tight in his arms to get him to go sleep at night.


God had to do the same with me.

He had to take me in his arms and hold me tight. I was doing so many things. To name a few …

Suddenly Still pin

  • not only was I a pastor’s wife,
  • homeschooling my daughter,
  • Children’s Ministry Director,
  • leading classes at the home school group,
  • Office Manager at the church,
  • and who knows what else.


Until one day in September, I was Suddenly Still

God said “Be STILL” one last time and I could do nothing else but be STILL.

It was a normal Sunday. I had been dealing with Dis-embarquement Syndrome from a cruise earlier in the year; so, that afternoon I decided to lie down and rest before evening services.
As I went to lie down, I had a sharp pain in my back, I couldn’t finish lying down, nor could I raise myself to upright. My husband had to help me into the bed. If I moved the least bit, I had excruciating, contracting pains in my back.
Long story short, I spent the next month or two laying on my back in the bed-Suddenly Still. It took a year and one half of doctors visits trying to find out what the problem was.


During those days of  STILLNESS

God stripped all the things away that were getting my attention instead of Him. The church office, the children’s department, the home school group. Thankfully, my daughter was self-directed enough to keep her schooling on track. She also amazingly picked up the housekeeping and cooking.
While I lay there, STILL, God was finally able to begin to speak to me. That’s when I began to actually spend time in the Word. Over the next three years, I read the Bible through in three different versions.
God has allowed me to get back on my feet, but not back to doing all the things I wanted to do. I’m not sure that He will because when we discuss it, He asks me …

“Can you guarantee that you won’t forget to GET STILL and hear my voice?” 

GOD

So this pain is my “thorn in the flesh” to remind me about what is most important.
The message I tell people the most now is, 

“If you are too busy to have a quiet time, you are too busy.” 

ME


Don’t let this happen to you.

Put God first and everything else will fall into place. (Matt 6:33)

These years have brought me so close to God. I’ve realized how far I was from Him and how much I was doing things in my own strength. And how much I had been missing.

If you have been “SUDDENLY STILL” from your “responsibilities”, I wonder if it is not God calling you to come, get STILL, and fellowship with Him.

Do you hear Him calling?

-Mandy

Ways to journey with me as I write about my pain

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Embarking on the Chronic Life

Just when you think you have arrived,

God changes the map.

It was Valentine’s Day of 2011.

We were finally taking a cruise with friends. They had been begging us for years to go to the Bahamas with them. We were all set to go the previous year until my father had a heart attack just weeks before the embarquement.

cruise ship embarking
Mandy embarking on a cruise

So we waited another year. And finally, we embarked on the ship. The first few days were wonderful. I wasn’t even experiencing expected nausea from seasickness.

We arrived on the cruise island for a fun day of bottomless boat rides, parasailing, and a huge BBQ picnic. What fun it was. But it was to be my last good day for a long, long time.

embarking on a chronic life
Mike & I on right.
The last time I have ever felt great.

Embarking the Tender

A tender is a small boat that carries you to and from the port of call, or island stop. On this particular day, we need to take the tender to get to the scheduled shore excursion. The trip to the island was fine. However, returning was not so great.

We took the very last boat to the ship. So did “everyone” else. We were packed on there like sardines. This would not have been so bad except There was a backup of tenders taking people to the ship. We sat on the water bouncing about for nearly an hour amidst a lot of diesel fuel fumes.
I was already a bit nauseous from that bottomless boat, but this “little” trip did me in. I pushed my way to the edge of the boat just in time to lose my lunch over the side.

Things did not improve on the ship. We dressed for our Valentine’s Dinner but my stomach just wouldn’t settle down. I remained sick for the entire return home to Jacksonville.

I was never so happy to set foot on land. But my body decided. Nah! I’ll just keep bouncing around for a while. It’s what they call Disembarkment Syndrome. I had a feeling of bouncing about in that little tender boat for the next 6 months.

~Mandy

embarking on the chronic life

intro journey with pain bbe still

Introduction to My Journey with Chronic Pain.

BE STILL and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10

originally posted Oct 1, 2015 at The Farmersplace.com

Stillness is hard, especially when you are hurting or scared or worried. Whenever I hear this Bible verse I am reminded of working in the strawberry fields.

strawberry fields BE STILL
John Joannidis from pixabay


When I was in college, I worked at a strawberry patch every summer. Now, this was not just a little patch of strawberries in our backyard. This was acres of strawberries.  I worked through the season. So I was cleaning fields to keep out weeds and ready them for the public to come and pick strawberries. Now when strawberries are blooming, guess what else might be around. You guessed it, bees. 


One day, I was working the fields when suddenly I found myself working in the same place as the bees. And I was surrounded. Why couldn’t this be one of those times when you find yourself frozen and cannot move?

Journey with Chronic Pain
Introduction
It’s Hard to be Still

No … My mind was saying “BE STILL… BE STILL and they won’t bother you. Just go about your own business. Keep pulling weeds.”
But my body was flailing, my feet were doing some kind of new dance. My arms and hands were waving and swatting the air. And no matter how much I tried to stop, I could not convince my body that I needed to just stop and quit moving. (My brothers had a good laugh imagining this when I relayed the story to them.)
Somehow, I finally did find a way to still myself without getting stung.


Here’s the point.

The bees need to be there to pollinate those strawberries. We wouldn’t get those sweet, delicious strawberries without the bees.


It’s that way in life.

Those trials are there to help us grow. You’ve heard it before … “ the testing of your faith produces endurance, etc., etc” But, we don’t like it one little bit. We want the trial to go away, but God needs us to STOP AND LISTEN. He is CALLING to us, but too often, we don’t hear him because we are too busy doing good things and then too busy swatting at the problems.


But He is quietly saying “BE STILL.  BE STILL.”
Some of us never learn to BE STILL until God forces us to BE STILL.

Coming up next, I’ll share how God made me STILL

Meanwhile, share in the comments, “What does it take for you to BE STILL?”

-Mandy

Want to know about my journey with pain? Check back HERE for new posts on my story.

Finding Purpose with Chronic Pain & Link-Up

Finding PUrpose

I’ve been struggling with chronic pain for nearly 10 years. Finding purpose is key to having a fulfilled life in the midst of pain.

One of the good things about that is connecting with so many wonderful chronic pain warriors. We have such a wonderful support community online.

One of those places is the Diamonds Conference where I met Paula Short. She recognized my blog and knew she had read some of my posts in the past. Now she knew where to find me! So she jumped right over to the blog and signed up for the newsletter. I have asked her to share a bit about her life with chronic pain and how she found new purpose.

Mandy

Legacy Link up Time! Finding Purpose through trials. Click To Tweet
divider
curleque by Coffee at pixabay
PAula Short interview finding purpose
photo provide by Paula

1. Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What is your diagnosis? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.

Paula: I distinctly remember sitting on my mom’s bed crying because my legs hurt. That was at age 9. I could never go outside and play long because I had to come in and lay down because of the pain in my legs. My parents took me to the doctor and were told it was growing pains, my parents were told then that I had anxiety. Well, the pain never stopped, it stayed with me as I aged. Then in my teen years, my pain was spreading to other areas of my body. I began getting headaches at around age 4 and having chronic diarrhea since childhood. Of course, the doctors did not say it was IBS but just a nervous stomach. I still have belly pain and IBS today, even though I take medication for it.

I spent my 20’s going from doctor to doctor each area of illness required me to see different doctors. Finally, I was diagnosed with migraines, IBS, TMJ, and at the time MS. Fast forward to my 40’s. I was then diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, degenerative joints disease, and chronic pain. Finally, in 2016 MS was ruled out as a misdiagnosis, and then I got the fibromyalgia diagnosis. I also got my diagnosis of Complicated migraines while some people get auras, I get stroke symptoms. I am told it is a rare type of migraine. It was in 2016 that I had to retire, early at the age of 45.

Losing Purpose

I was devastated to have to leave my beloved Social Work. I felt like I lost my purpose. The constant pain and daily migraines (that cause me cognitive issues) had taken over. In addition to being in pain all the time. I am always in some state of migraine; my baseline pain level is 3 during the days but can rise to an 8. Balance and mobility issues, as well as, the dreaded fatigue and fog have been an issue, causing me to be labeled a fall risk.

So Much Chronic Pain

I don’t remember what it feels like to have no pain. I can’t forget to add in I see a psychiatrist for severe anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. After three years of therapy, I phased out of counseling in August of 2019.

 Grieving and then on to acceptance. I continue with medication management now. Everything seems to get worse as I age. I take a lot of medication and prednisone is my friend. 

I don't remember what it feels like to NOT have pain. #chronicillness #fibro Click To Tweet

2. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get Stronger?

PAULA: While I had grown up in a Christian home and followed Jesus all my life. Looking back, I see that I was a lukewarm Christian for a lot of my adult life. It was during my 30’s that my faith began to grow. It wasn’t until my 40’s that my faith began to develop into a relationship with God. I found and still do that during my worst times it leads me to draw nearer to God. It was during self-isolation and not wanting to go out of my house that I suddenly had an awakening if you will, I had to surrender not only my illnesses but my life to him. I said,

 “God, I can’t do this on my own, every time I tried, I failed. May your will be done.” 

I am a work in progress

3. Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?

PAULA: No. I really can’t pinpoint a specific event that was a turning point along my way. The best way I can describe it is since it has been a long journey, I continue to be a work in progress. If anything, this journey had led me to have a relationship with Christ. Emphasis on “relationship

4. What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey? Why?

PAULA: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV).

 Although Jesus has not removed my physical condition his power is displayed in my weakness. It reminds me to trust and rely on God instead of myself, admitting my weakness affirms God’s strength. 

Another Scripture that I rest in is Isaiah 40:31, NIV. It gives me hope and reminds me that his promise of strength will help me rise above life’s distractions and difficulties. 

5. How do you find comfort on especially painful days?

PAULA: I remember that God is omnipresent, He is always with me day and night throughout my journey of this thing called life and illness. It brings me great comfort in knowing that. Also, I love listening to Christian music such as K-Love radio. It leads me to sing praises and worship him despite the pain. And thankfully, I am uplifted.

I love to read and prefer reading over TV, and I get creative by Bible faith bullet journaling. 

I also find great comfort in my friend that Jesus blessed me with to journey with me, my ESA dog’s a little beagle named Little. 

6. What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?

PAULA: Well, that depends. My family and friends have not read about my chronic illness to educate themselves on how my fibromyalgia can affect my body and cognition. When I try to tell them how it affects me, sometimes, they listen and sometimes they dismiss or marginalize me.

They do, however, know how my complicated migraines affect me and are receptive towards me through those. Someone always goes with me to my neurologist appointments, so they hear what the doctor has to say. They are accommodating and compassionate when my migraines escalate.

My family and friends do not understand how #chronicpain, #fatigue, and #fibrofog affect me.   Click To Tweet

7. Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.

PAULA: First, I need to tell you how God gave me my purpose back. If you recall above, I said I felt like I lost my purpose when I had to retire early from my beloved Social Work. I had been thinking of blogging for a long time, my heart was, and is convicted, in sharing more Jesus.

I kept feeling a tugging. Like God was calling me for something. But at the time I couldn’t recognize for what. Then when I did, I resisted saying “But God I’m not a writer.” Well, he had plans for me, and here I am writing hence Simply Chasing Jesus was born in November of 2019.

created by Mandy in canva.com

My new purpose was sharing him. Then I began to feel that tug again, still to blog. This time Simply Coffee and Jesus were born in September of 2020. This is where I began to hone in and write more specifically on chronic illness among other new topics for me. I never considered my blogs my ministry, but pausing and reflecting on it, it really is my ministry to help others and share Jesus’ good news. 

8. Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for purpose in their own chronic pain journey.

Dear friends, living with any chronic illness is rough. I know there are days when you are wondering how you’re going to make it through. I know there are days when you simply can’t function. I get it. Whether you are newly diagnosed with a chronic illness or have been a long-time warrior, educate yourself. 

Try your best to educate friends and family. Some may not understand nor want to understand and that’s okay too. There are many great websites out there about living with chronic pain and illnesses. It was just recently that I was able to connect with other Christian bloggers who have and write about chronic pain and illnesses. So, you see, it may have taken me a while to find fellowship and community with others who understand but I finally did.

Friend, there are others out there, we are out there for you. We support you; we care. You are not your chronic illness you are not your chronic pain. God chose you and called you by name. Keep digging deep into God’s word. All Scripture is God-breathed from beginning to end. The answers, comfort, and hope are there in Him. The Psalms are filled with every emotion and lament you may have. God breathed hope from beginning to end. Dearest friends pray to him with honest abandon.

 God’s got this!

God’s got you.  

Paula


Thank you, Paula for this encouraging interview. Though I don’t have as many diagnosis, I could relate to so much of your journey. Especially the “I can’t write”. But God has a great sense of humor doesn’t he?


It’s Your Turn

legacy link-ups
Share your own post about finding purpose. (Not neccesarily though chronic pain)

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Is Chronic Pain Stopping you from an Abundant Life

I recently met Alexandra through the Fibro Bloggers Directory. She has only recently been diagnosed with fibro; however, when you hear her story you will see that she has been suffering for quite some time.

NOTE: It’s Legacy Link-up time. Once your finish reading the interview, be sure to link-up your own uplifting post this month.

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

1. Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What is your diagnosis? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.

pain warrior interview with Alexandra Henry acceptance journey

My chronic illness journey set off when my feet were swollen (individually at different years) in college. My podiatrist reassured me that lymphedema is not something to worry about. He said that I should just keep my feet elevated. He didn’t see it as a big deal, so I didn’t either. (One of my feet is still swollen…!). At that time I was going through a period of depression because of my low self-esteem.

My depression transformed into anxiety when I contracted TMJ Disorder and pain from my neck, shoulder, wrists, knees, etc. I literally thought that I was going to die because of my pain. I had vivid nightmares of my body becoming flat, shapeless, and deformed! Finally, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2019. So, that cleared up some of my questions about my nerve pain and other symptoms. But it was very hard to see me as a young woman in her 20s who has a chronic illness.

2. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get Stronger?

My father had recently passed away from cancer, so this made my own chronic illness harder to manage. I didn’t know what was going on with my body, my life, my mind. How was God present in all this? “Not knowing” what God was doing or if He was even with me throughout my struggles made it hard for me to trust in Him. I consider myself a very faithful woman, but to be honest with you, my physical challenges caused me to doubt His presence. Although I was doubting God, there was still a little internal nudge that pushed me to not lose hope.

3. Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?

Throughout my experience of desolation from God, I turned to poetry which I eventually published in 2019. The publishing process of my book, “Songs of Freedom”, was a spiritual and emotional healing process. Writing and publishing my book helped me to face chronic trauma from my childhood memories that shed light on my negative and unreal perceptions of myself.

I sat with my thoughts and feelings and intentionally invited God to sit with me. This was a turning point for me because, for the first time, I was truly and authentically seeing God as my Father and not as an unruly dictator in my life. This unveiling process of my subconscious mind helped me to also start the healing process from my relationship with my dad who had passed away.

I, now, wholeheartedly, believe in the power of my thoughts. For me, chronic illness showed up due to unmanaged anxiety and unresolved chronic trauma in my life. All this time, I had a laser focus on physical healing when it was really my mind that needed the healing.

Although my body was still experiencing intense pain and stiffness, a little door of freedom was being opened in my mind and it was helping me to have a different relationship with my chronic pain issues.

4. What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey? Why?

It’s hard to pick one scripture verse….but the Passion of Christ has been near and dear to my heart in my journey because of the pain and suffering Jesus actually went through for me and for you. Imagining Jesus looking into my eyes as he carries the big and heavy cross all the way to Calvary sends me shivers to my spine. And it makes me think of his love that never gets tired of me.

5. How do you find comfort on especially painful days?

On especially painful days, practicing gratitude has saved me from playing the victim of my pain. I try to be as accepting of the situation as much as possible; choosing not to fight with my pain. I want to respect my journey, my body, and even my pain, so if I need the rest, I choose to love my body by giving it the rest it needs. God wants me to take care of my body and my health conditions. I can be grateful to cooperate with Him in this little “reroute” in my day. It’s definitely not easy, and it takes prayer, practice, and consistency to create the mindset of gratitude and surrender of one’s chronic illness (or anything!).

6. What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?

This is a really good question. Sometimes it’s good to distract your mind from your pain, so they are so helpful in picking out movies, praying with me, making me a nice smoothie, or just hanging out with me. Company is such a gift when you are going through pain. Especially if they understand or try to understand your chronic illness.

Company is such a gift when you are going through pain. #fibromyalgia Click To Tweet

7. Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.

I recently started a blog called The Acceptance Journey which focuses on the mental and spiritual wellbeing of people with chronic illness. From my blog, I hope to build a community in which we can share about our relationship with our chronic illnesses: is it positive or negative? Our relationship with our own chronic illness and the perception we have of our own chronic illness can positively or negatively impact the healing process. I hope that The Acceptance Journey can be a source of light and inspiration for those who feel like a victim of their illnesses.

8. Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey.

It's Your Choice Acceptance Journey

No matter how bad your chronic pain is, it can be a big wall or a big door in your life. It’s up to you to decide if you are going to let chronic pain stop you from living the life you are called to live or to walk through that door and see what good things are in store for you. It’s a daily decision.

Jesus says, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Yes, Jesus calls you to live an abundant life–even with your chronic pain.

It's Your Choice ~ Is #chronicpain a wall or a door? #fibro Click To Tweet
abudant life John 10:10 Acceptance Journey
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How does that look? It’s going to look different for each person because we are all unique, but don’t resign to a life that lacks peace, joy, order, freedom, creativity, connection, and God’s loving Fatherhood.


Thank you, Alexandra, for your encouraging words! I’m looking forward to following your blog, The Acceptance Journey, and getting to know you better.

Readers might also be interested in Alexandra’s poetry.

She has already published a book of poems. I downloaded a sample from Amazon and my first impression is that she is quite a poet. Check it out on the link below.


IT’S YOUR TURN!

legacy link-ups

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter