Friday, August 21, 2015

Faith Trials: "I Can't" Becomes "I Can" and "I Trust"

I know. It's been a while since my last blog post. As I wrote last time, I've been going through a lot of medical issues. I say "a lot" because it seems like it but, in reality, it's not that much in the grand scheme of things. I unfortunately got a skin infection that spread and it took almost an entire month to go from start to finish... and I'm not done yet since I still have at least one or two more wound evaluations and a 10-day round of antibiotics to get through before I'm (hopefully) all done. Doctors have told me it's been a community thing and I actually found out that it's true. I've had three other neighbors tell me that they've had the same issue.

I've had so many people say, quite pityingly, "Oh, you've suffered so much" yet I don't believe I have. I've had excellent doctors, nurses, and now physical therapists for wound care at great hospitals. My blood work has come back perfect. Yes, terrible acid reflux stinks but that's not unique to me and it's gotten better. Yes, I'm currently slightly underweight from the multiple days that I wasn't able to eat for several hours (13+ hours at the hospital sometimes). I have a fast metabolism so losing weight is easier than gaining it but I can add more calories into my diet and cut back on my exercise for a bit to help the weight gain. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a bed to sleep in, friends and family who are praying for me... where is the suffering?

Before I go on, let me just give you a brief medical history. I was an extraordinarily healthy child. I rarely got sick. Not even the chickenpox at age 8 kept me down for long. It wasn't until I developed anxiety at 15 that things changed... but I was still healthy. If you didn't know, anxiety can manifest itself in physical symptoms. Heart palpitations, cold sweat, lightheaded/dizziness, stomach issues, lack of appetite, lack of sleep, physical pains in the most random places, extreme fatigue, etc. It doesn't mean you're not healthy; it's just your body reacting to the natural "fight or flight" response that the anxiety triggers. So, sure, I haven't felt 100% all the time because of anxiety but I've been quite healthy for the most part. For some people -- especially the ones who don't have experience with anxiety -- it may seem like I'm "always sick" because the anxiety mimics symptoms that would suggest I'm not well when I really am.

The last time I went through something remotely similar to what I'm going through now was right before my reversion to the faith, 9 years ago this summer. However, unlike the last time, a lot of "I can't" moments have become "I can" and "I trust." 9 years ago all the physical symptoms of anxiety hit me at once and it was something I'd never experienced. Because I was in the hospital so often and the doctors couldn't find anything (nor did they even entertain the possibility of it being connected to anxiety until years down the line), I developed medical PTSD. A lot of my fears about going to the hospital, being sick, and going through pain have been the ones I've had to face this past month. Who wants to go to the hospital 2-3 times a week for the past 3 weeks, even if it's just to get a wound checked? No one. Yet, I've done that and have been okay.

The first time they diagnosed and treated the abscess on my jaw/chin, I shook as soon as I found out they had to do a surgical procedure. I teared up in the minutes leading up to it because of that fear. It was something I'd never experienced. I had one of my rosaries in my hand throughout the entire procedure. Though it hurt so much, I kept telling the doctor continue. By the time the second abscess had ruptured and had to be drained, I was a lot calmer. I didn't cry once, even though the pain was much worse because of the location (chest wall). The doctors and nurses even commented on how I had done "the best" out of the patients they'd seen with abscesses on that particular day (there were 4 of us on one particular day).

I had no real moment of anxiety or even panic attack beyond the first trip to the E.R. I was naturally, occasionally nervous, sure, but not overly anxious. The days I knew I was in for a world of pain (when they repacked the wounds), I had no anxiety despite knowing what I was to endure. I prayed the Rosary and other prayers for everyone in the E.R., for the doctors and nurses, etc. I joked with the nurses and doctors. I read books. I listened to music. I tweeted. A lot. lol. Even when I had fleeting moments of fear, I automatically said "okay, this is happening but I trust God." I reminded myself of the pain Christ endured on the cross. I remembered the spear that pierced His side when I had to have my chest all abscess drained. I offered things up for the souls in purgatory as well as friends going through rough times. I made myself become a "brave little toaster" and I faced all those fears straight with God in mind. "I can do this" and "I trust in Him" have been the mantras that have kept me going. That and remembering that I have a handsome little godson who needs his godmother to be strong and not give up.

After going through the spiritual desert at the beginning of last month, followed by temptations and experiencing a rough period of loneliness, going an intense attack literally a day or two before the abscess nonsense began, and then going through (almost) a month of dealing physical medical issues I've had people tell me that they think I've been going through some sort of spiritual attack. I actually talked about it with my spiritual director and we're not dismissing it, especially with how random and sudden some of these things happened... and in succession. If that's the case, I'm just glad that my faith has remained intact.

My faith has not wavered during the last two months of what I've gone through. If anything, I feel like it's pulled me closer to God. Every moment of "suffering" (again, I use the word with quotations because what I've gone through isn't even close to the suffering other people go through on a daily basis) has just reminded me of how wonderfully loving and merciful God is. I know He doesn't rejoice in seeing me go through pain and everything else. Yet, He hasn't and will never abandon me and that's so comforting.

When I had the two surgical procedures done, I envisioned Mama Mary at my head, St. Therese on my right side, and Bl. Pier Giorgio on my left side. My imagination is rich enough that I could picture it into my mind to help me through it. During the last surgical procedure, I even pictured Sts. Cosmas and Damian (twin saint physicians who are the patrons of doctors) on either side of the doctor who performed the procedure. I held onto my rosary for the first one and I had it in my pocket for the second since I help the doctor for the second one. I never failed to wear either my brown scapular or my Miraculous Medal. It's been my faith that has kept me going... and will continue to help me during my recovery time.

I sincerely believe (as does my spiritual director, apparently) that all this has been preparing me for something bigger and better in my near future. Whether that be career, school, and/or vocation (big V vocation, that is) related, I don't know. But the fact that I've had to face my biggest fears seemingly all at once has to be for a reason. Maybe God wants me to see that I'm stronger that I've thought. Maybe He is preparing me for career that will have me stepping out of my comfort zone... something that I would've used anxiety as an excuse not to explore. Maybe He is preparing me for marriage and motherhood, helping me see that I can not only take care of myself during some rough times but also other people when in the past I've had the mentality that, because I was sick, I was basically useless to everyone. Whatever it is, I am truly grateful to have gone through everything. These past two months have taught me to not only believe in myself but to have confidence and trust in Him and others.

I'm sorry for writing to much but I just really wanted to share this with y'all. :) Don't worry, I'm pretty sure I'm done talking about this for a while. lol. I seem to be on the mend so all I'm going to focus on now (besides finishing the antibiotic and resting) is the start of grad school next month. :)

To everyone who has prayed for me during this crazy summer (see? I told y'all in May that summer is usually the worst time for me), I just wanted to say a huge "thank you!" Thank you for the prayers, the support, the love, the encouraging words... just, everything. I know I already said that and apologized for the crazy amount of tweets but I still wanted to do it again.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, especially those who are starting classes next week... or have started the semester this week. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless. :D

1 comment:

AnneMarie said...

WOW! What a wild ride God has been taking you on! Thank you for sharing your story with us all!