Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Story: A Beautiful Journey with {Chronic Disease}

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I've been blogging for over 2 years and what a 
huge blessing it has been for me! 
If you've ever clicked the "About" tab at the top of the page, you may have read the little blurb I tacked on the end mentioning 
that I've had some health issues, and that this blog was created to give me motivation to keep doing what I love.

That is really all I've ever said about it, until now.
There is comfort in numbers and community and I have found
 the blog community to be one of tremendous
 encouragement and support.

I've watched other bloggers put their stories out there and share their deepest struggles, health issues they have or that their family members have.



I also know that prayer is a powerful thing,
so I am sharing today.




The photo above is not of me, but it could be.
Living with chronic pain is of course, painful.
Many days there are tears. I usually save them for when I can be alone
and no one will see or hear, which is most often in the shower.

But there are more days with smiles!
I am alive, by the grace of God and can still enjoy lots of things.
I laugh, I sing, and sometimes dance {gasp}.

I, of course like to create, decorate, cook and make our house 
a home for my hubby and our 2 teenagers.

I've been battling this autoimmune disease 
called Rheumatoid Arthritis for 9 years now. 
This thing called RA has changed my life.
How has IT changed my life? Let me count the ways:

*I never know what a day will have in store. *
Will I be sore and if so, how sore? Will I be able to keep the plans
 I made for the day? Will I be stuck at home?

I used to be a big planner. I still make plans, but I have come to understand that my written plans may not "come to be" 
on that given day.

 I don't think I was ever a "control freak",
but now I certainly don't stress over things not getting done
 like I used to.

"Oh look, there's a dust bunny under the table"...
I'll think to myself.
Yes, I still see all kinds of things, I just don't always have the energy to do anything about it.
It's a little freeing! 

*I have so much to be thankful for* 
Keeping my mind in a place of gratefulness is so much healthier,
especially on those hard days.

I have found new joys, too. 
I've become a bird watcher in my old age.
Laughter is good medicine, so I'm always looking
 for funny videos on YouTube or Vine.

Music has always touched my soul.
 I play music a lot during the day.
It just makes me happy!

Food, glorious food has grown into a real passion too.
Oh, I'm thankful for yummy food!

*I have kept an open mind about medical treatments*
For 42 years I was rarely sick. I was a Kindergarten teacher for 11 years, and didn't use many sick days. 
So when I began having symptoms that I couldn't ignore, 
I did exactly what the doctors told me.

My body and liver didn't like the medicines I was offered,
so I had to look for alternative treatments. 
I'm pleased with my healing progress.
Managing all my supplements, etc. is a part-time job in itself.

*I understand what physical pain is*
Since I was rarely sick, I'm embarrassed to admit that
 I never had much patience for
people who complained about being in pain. 
How bad could it be, is what I would think. 
Now I know! It can be bad!

 If you suffer with pain, I understand. 
I'd love to hear your story too.

*I believe suffering is never wasted*
Through all the pain, and I have a lot of days where I barely feel any pain at all (those are the days I have to celebrate because you never know how many you'll get in a row)
I know that God is still using me some way, some how.

My kids were 6 and 7 when this disease hit me. They barely remember me before, when I had energy that never died. (And yes, I was THAT Mom who stayed up till the wee hours sewing an Easter dress or Halloween costumes for my kids)

My kids have watched me go from being strong and healthy to having to help me get up out of a chair. 
Some days, they see me struggling to walk around.

My husband has had to step in many times to make/pick up dinner, or make an unexpected run to the store, 
because I couldn't make it happen that day.

My family has had to pick up the pieces. I trust that ALL of those hardships on them will make them better people,
 more compassionate toward others, a better friend,
and maybe less selfish. I am so thankful for them!
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*Hope is a beautiful thing*
Over this 9 year journey, I have seen improvements. 
I've seen swollen joints
go back to normal and be nearly painfree.

I hang on to hope. I look back to remember how bad things have been and how I've seen them get better. 
I've seen the flare ups grow further apart.

When I'm tempted to be discouraged, 
I remind myself of the UPs on this long journey.
I remember the recent days of being able to hop out of a chair, without thinking about my knee, or wearing a little heel without hurting. I remember and I hope.

*I trust God with my life*
Because I am a Christ follower, I know how much Jesus loves me.
He died for me, so that I could spend eternity with Him...
so He thinks I'm pretty special.
(FYI, He feels the same about you too!)

Why wouldn't I trust Him with my life,
 if He cares about me that much?

In this world, we were never promised it would be
 all roses and rainbows.
There will be trials, and battling chronic disease and pain definitely qualifies.

I don't know if I will be physically healed on this side of heaven, 
but that's what I'm asking for.

I pray for healing! And I believe God hears my prayers.
I also believe His Word,...
 "He is able to do immeasurably more than I could ever
 ask or imagine."
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If you live with pain, I'm reaching out to you. You are not alone!
I understand your daily struggles and I will pray for you.

Thank you for reading my story.
You, my faithful readers and friends have been such an encouragement to me. THANK YOU for being here!
Your kind comments keep me motivated
 to continue to create and share.

You are a blessing to me!

xoxo

38 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I love you much dear Heather!!! Thank you for being such a sweet friend <3

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  2. Thanks for sharing Janis. So many people suffer in silence. Arthritis is a cruel disease. Prayers for you, and thanks for the hope you provided.

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    1. Oh Sara, thank you! I always welcome and appreciate prayers! Hope is worth hanging on to, for sure! 2014 is going to be a great year, and I'm excited for you!

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  3. Janis, what a beautiful heartfelt post. I am glad you shared with us what it is that you are going through so that we can specifically pray for the daily pain you endure. I am in the midst of a study of Romans, learning a lot about suffering and struggle, but hope in the end. My youngest suffers from migraines, and has for many years now. We have finally found a bit of relief after discovering several food sensitivities. I too have had some health issues in recent years. However, I will wholeheartedly admit they pale in comparison to what you are dealing with on a daily basis. I know however that I have to trust Him with the care of both my daughter and myself. We are fortunate that He has placed us in the hands of wonderful doctors in recent months, and things have changed. I have a VERY dear friend who suffers from RA (as well as her brother), so I am familiar with the disease. I know what a daily struggle it can be. Again, thank you for putting yourself out there so that others may find some comfort in knowing they are not alone in this struggle. You are in my prayers!!

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    1. Thank you Lauren for your prayers! Any health issues can rock our world, and I'm sorry that you and your daughter are dealing with some. I'm very thankful for new information about food sensitivities and such. There is so much to learn. God is so good and I find such comfort in His Word. I'll be praying for you all too!

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  4. Love this post- not for the subject, but for the MESSAGE! You're so brave and amazing for making your voice heard and I pray this can be the start of a supportive community for yourself and others suffering with chronic pain and illness!

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    1. Thanks so much Jessica! I hope so too, because I do think a lot of people suffer alone. You and your courage inspired me, so thank you for that! xoxo

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  5. This is one of the best posts I've ever read! Thank you so much for sharing your story and for sharing the positive in a tough situation! (((hugs)))

    Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

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    1. Thank you Angela! Your sweet words mean a lot! And I'll always take a hug! xoxo

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  6. What a wonderful post, my friend! I am sending you thoughts and prayers! I have osteoarthritis, which is not systemic, so I understand that yours is much more painful. You're right--good days and bad das, but the bad days make you enjoy the good so much more!

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    1. Well Kirby, I didn't know you had osteoarthritis. Any level of pain is no friend of mine! I hope 2014 is full of tons of "good days" for both of us! Love you!!!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your story Janis! You are an amazing woman and I'm glad our paths crossed this summer. I will keep you in my prayers. xo

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    1. Mary, I'm so glad we met on the way to the elevator!! What a sweet friend you are! I'll always take some prayers. xoxo

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  8. Janis, I'm new to your blog....and I must say I don't know how you've been able to keep such a beautiful home while suffering with RA. I have been inspired by your ideas and now that I know what you've been dealing with....I'm sincerely impressed by the will power to keep your blog going. Thank you for sharing your story....and your home! May GOD continue to bless you and your family....you will be in my prayers!

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    1. What lovely words Kathie! There are definitely weeks where no posts are written, and remember these are just pictures. I don't show you the mess in the other rooms, closets, etc. Blogging has really been such a blessing because I get to share what I love, and if I'm not feeling well, I can stay in my pj's all day! I can stay in my pj's when I'm blogging too, so it's a win win. I appreciate your prayers so much!

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    2. You are so welcome...if you ever visit Destin, Florida...I would love to meet you!

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    3. I have never been to Destin, but it's definitely on my list! I would be honored to meet you!!

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  9. Janis- the very essence of this post is a tribute to your grace and elegance.
    This is a story of hope, and we can all benefit from your message, regardless of what obstacles we face.

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

    I feel honored,

    Laura
    White Spray Paint

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    1. Awwww, your thoughtful comment has blessed me so much!! Thank you Laura for your sweet words. I'm overwhelmed. Thank you thank you!

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  10. Oh Janis I feel your pain! My grandmother had R.A. and sadly we believe I have it as well. There are so many projects I want to accomplish. The ones that I do kill my hands. There are days every bone in body hurts and I just want to curl up and lay still. I push myself a lot because I know it will only get worse and I remember how my grandmother was. I want to do as much as I have always dreamed of before I can o longer do most of it. Prayers for you and thank you so much for sharing your life with us!

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    1. I knew there had to be someone else out there!!! Thank you for sharing with me. I can relate to everything you are saying! The hands are the hardest aren't they? After i painted my armoire a year ago, my knuckles have been swollen ever since.
      I feel an urgency too, because there is no way of knowing the future. The creative mind doesn't stop either, but I joke that I just need a staff to complete all my ideas. Lol
      Oh Pamela, I enjoy your FB page so much and your lovely projects! I'm praying for you!!
      Please feel free to email me anytime you need to share, scream, cry, or whatever!
      And praying tomorrow is a good day!
      Xoxo

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  11. Janis, what a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing your story and your testimony. We have RA in our family and I know how bad it can be some days. Prayers and hugs to you!

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    1. Thanks so much Christy! Prayers to your family member. Hope you have a great week!

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  12. Thank you for sharing your story, Janis...having lupus myself, I understand how much chronic illness can affect your life. Blogging IS a real blessing, and I am sure you have touched many others telling your story today. I will keep you in my prayers for healing and strength!

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    1. Oh Linda, i will pray for you as well! Any autoimmune disease is so tricky to figure out. I know we probably have some similar symptoms. Thank you for sharing with me!
      Hope you have a great week ahead. Xoxo

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  13. What a beautiful post! I was diagnosed with an overlap of Lupus and RA when I was 23. I'm now 37. I have really, really bad days that no one understands (after all, it's JUST arthritis) :), but my good days outweigh the bad. God has recently blessed me with twins and talk about being exhausted all the time! But it's so worth it. I'm still believing for my healing, and you'll be in my prayers. God is able!

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    1. You are right about our God! I am adding you to my prayer list. I understand how hard those bad days are and I pray they will be fewer and fewer. Twins means double blessing! Enjoy that sweet time, it flies by. I've also learned that just being "present" for my kids is enough for them.
      Bless you Kassie! keep me posted on your progress. I'd love to continue to pray for you.
      Janis

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  14. Janis, you are incredible, beautiful, strong and courageous! You inspire me! I'm so glad you shared your story. You are and will be an encouragement to many people. I love you, girl! I'm praying for you!

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    1. Love you too Lori and miss you!! Thank you for your thoughtful and generous words. I am privileged to call you friend.

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  15. Wow! What a beautifully written post. Describing pain is so difficult, but you did it with such elegance and a positive spin. A friend of mine suffers from chronic pain. It's always hard for me to understand, but I see her pain. A pain that can only be comforted by living daily in God's love and provisions. Lots of love to you!

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    1. Oh thank you Michelle for your sweet and thoughtful words. I'm sorry for your friend, but thankful she has a friend like you! I appreciate your friendship too! Love to you!!

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  16. You are amazing. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey. Sending you big love, buddy.

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  17. Janis, when I have been with you at Haven, I did not even know that you had this condition. You are a trooper! Thanks for sharing your story with us in such a beautifully written way. I really identify with the statement that you made about not being patient enough with others who say they have pain (calling into work sick, etc.). Your story will help me be more empathetic.

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  18. Hi Janis, thank you for sharing your story. Very courageous and full of hope for others including myself. I feel pain as well, but the kind you can't see. Fibromyalgia is a nasty bed fellow as well as migraines. I totally understand the "planning then breaking the plans" so I try not to commit to ANYTHING, since I never know when IT will hit me. My prayers of healing go out to you!

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  19. Hi Janis, I feel like I'm reading about myself. I don't have RA but these autoimmune diseases have many overlapping features. Thanks so much for opening up. So many people don't understand how limiting and difficult a chronic illness can be. Because of your candor maybe someone will be a little more understanding and a little kinder to someone who is suffering.

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  20. A beautiful, heartfelt post and I so appreciate your sharing. I'm new to your blog and so happy I found it! My mother had horrible arthritis and osteoporosis. It was so difficult to see her in pain, yet I didn't fully understand until now. I have a lower back issue....just had injections in the spine. I also have migraines. These bring such pain and IMHO, such a waste of time. :) I applaud your courage and strength! I know God is with you daily and I will remember you in my prayers.

    xo
    Pat

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