Good days, bad days and part-time handicaps

Good days and bad days

Yes, you saw me riding my bicycle again. Yes, I have a handicap hang tag for my car. What about it? I have good days, bad days and part-time handicaps.

Part-time handicaps and part-time faith

I saw the recognition in his eyes when I pedaled past him walking his dog. My feet securely clipped to the pedals, I logged about ten miles. When I got into my car, I noticed the blue edge of my hang tag peeking out from behind the papers in the side pocket. I haven’t touched it since June. You see, I have part-time handicaps and part-time faith.

If you know my story, you know the Lord mandated a year of Sabbath rest for me. For exactly fifty-two weeks I intermittently used a wheelchair or scooter and consistently parked in handicapped parking, IF I was even strong enough to get out of the house.

My other handicap is gradually improving too. I am able to play nine holes of golf as long as I don’t waste any effort on practice swings.  I finally look normal. Well, I definitely have a new normal.

THE OLD NORMAL

I was caught in a trap of endless activities. Honestly, it was stressful and exhausting; exhilarating and rewarding; and most of all it was fun. The shrill tone of my beeper routinely interrupted my sleep and created extra-large bags under my eyes so big I needed a porter to carry them. About the time I crawled back into the comfort of my bed and settled in, my alarm rudely called me out. Despite arriving to work early, I got behind and felt oppressed under pressure to hurry through the day life. The phone rang incessantly and I felt as if I were drowning and people were pouring water over my head. I developed super-human powers such as inhaling meals, changing into scrubs at the speed of light (sans phone booth) and leaping up the stairs in a single bound. Well, maybe not a single bound, but close. It was the most demanding, most fulfilling career I could have possibly chosen.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world

Ecclesiates 3:9, “What does the worker gain from his struggles?” HCSB

MY NEW NORMAL

Instead of being the doctor, now I am the patient. Rather than worrying about how many patients are on my schedule, I have to schedule my life around appointments. I exceed my maximum out-of-pocket expenses for insurance every year by spring. Instead of writing prescriptions, I fill them – lots of them. If I conscientiously coordinate my refills I can pare down my pharmacy visits to merely twice a month. I only swallow twelve pills a day now, which is an improvement from sixteen. I never know how I am going to feel today or tomorrow. As an added bonus, every three weeks I spend an entire day in the hospital for an intravenous infusion.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world

Hebrews 13:15, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” NIV

BLESSINGS IN ADVERSITY

It may seem odd, but myasthenia gravis has brought many blessings. I would never have chosen it, but I’m not sure I would trade it either. To be completely honest, some days I hate it. Actually, every day I hate it. Strangely, as I have improved I am struggling more to accept my limitations. On days I feel like “normal” is almost within reach I do too much and pay the price. I wind up wasted for a couple of weeks. When I am tempted to be sad, I remind myself of the gifts I have been given through chronic illness. I have been given the gift of time. Previously, I wondered if I would have enough time in the day, now I wonder if I have enough day to fill the time. Fortunately, I have discovered how much I enjoy spending time with my parents. I have reconnected with dear old friends and made new ones who are really special. I don’t miss the alarm, my fingernails cut to the nub or those over-sized bags under my eyes. I do miss unlimited strength, the ability to exercise and consistently feeling good. I force myself to focus on the joys of sitting on the porch, drinking a leisurely cup of coffee, mani/pedis, time with my kids, lunch with friends, blogging, speaking and writing.

James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” ESV

NOT WHO I AM

Last week I had a procedure done. When the nurse brought the consent form, I signed the wrong line. I’ve probably signed that form ten-thousand times. Out of habit, I signed on the physician line instead of the patient line. Funny how my old identity seems so long ago. On rare occasions someone calls me Dr. Henderson, it sounds odd. It is what I did,  but it’s not who I am.

Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.” NASB

Today I have been hardly able to get off the couch. Oh you saw me on the golf course? Well, that was my good day.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world

I don’t know all of the reasons God’s chose this path for me, but as long as it is His plan, I will walk it. Unless I am too weak, then He will have to carry me. I have good days, bad days and part-time faith. Whatever situation you are going through, I encourage you to open your eyes and look for the hidden blessings. Offer God a sacrifice of praise, because if you focus on the pain you will soon need anesthesia. I know, but I try not to stay there. Fix your eyes on the blessings in adversity and allow God to use it for His good purposes.

And you won’t trade it for the world

Focus on the pain and you will soon need anesthesia#sacrificeofpraise#rightsideuplife. Click To Tweet

Romans 8:28, “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” MSG

I keep thinking tomorrow will be a better day

But I am still here
But I am still here

Fatigue is a formidable opponent. It is also foreign to me.  Some days I survive by clinging to the hope tomorrow will be a better day.

Lamentations 3:21-23, “But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.” ESV

I SURRENDER

In an effort to wake up my adrenal glands I have been taking Prednisone every other day, which means every other day I can hardly function. Finally, I raised the white flag, emailed my doctor and got permission to change the dose. Some of you are probably laughing because you know I tend to doctor myself and change the dose without permission, but this time I was a compliant patient.

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How do I get off this merry-go-round?

The house on the corner of River and Market Street was located across the street from an elementary school. The playground in the front lacked a fence which I accepted as an open invitation to escape the heat and cigarette smoke of my grandparents’ house. As a young girl, the merry-go-round was my favorite. Bracing my small frame against the metal bar, I leaned my weight against the heavy contraption. My feet followed the circular path worn into the dirt. At first, it was nearly too heavy for me to move but as the speed increased centripetal force took over and it spun round and round. Making the leap, I hopped on and watched the world swirl past my vision causing me to suppress an immediate urge to retch. I have always loved the feel of wind in my hair but the thrill only lasted a few seconds. Prone to motion sickness, the spinning quickly made me want off, but it was moving too fast. If I jumped I would surely fall and likely scrape my knees. If I stayed on I would soon vomit. I thought this was going to be fun, but I wanted to stop. I didn’t know how.

Exodus 34:21, “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.” NIV

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Because you never know about tomorrow

Because you never know

A thin layer of dust mixed with sweat covered my face, but in my mouth was the sweet the taste of victory. I imagine this is how it feels to cross the finish line of the Ironman triathalon. Maybe I should get the tattoo, but probably not. Had I thought about it I likely would not have gone. There were plenty of reasons it was a bad idea. But then again, you never know about tomorrow.

You never know about tomorrow.

 

A few reasons hiking was a bad idea

  1. Myasthenia gravis (MG) causes weakness in my muscles. Of course I do have a warning, my right eyelid droops. Then I have to stop, not slow down, not take it easy, STOP.
  2. We hiked in a “wilderness area” with no cell phone service.
  3. Since it was a spur of the moment trip, no one knew where we were. Initially we had other plans, but they fell through and well, we somehow ended up here.
  4. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree
    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

    Ominous black clouds heavy with rain moved toward us.

  5. My hiking companion was my mother. Although she is in excellent shape, she had a heart stent placed two years ago. I think it is safe for her to skip the stress test this year.

VOICE OF REASON

My daughter chastised me suggesting I should try to walk one mile in town before attempting a three mile hike. Yes, that would have been an excellent idea but then I would miss the breathtaking view.

After a quarter of a mile sliding downhill over rocks and roots and even a felled tree, my legs trembled like a newborn colt taking its first steps. As we rested on a rock that wasn’t quiet flat enough to be comfortable, it occurred to me there was a possibility I would be unable to walk back out. I mean, it happened in the grocery store on aisle two. My back-up plan was, wait, I didn’t have a back-up plan.

BETTER TO DIE LIVING THAN LIVE DYING  (you can read that post by clicking here)

I never took for granted the magnificent, expansive view available from atop Whitaker Point. What I took for granted was my ability to walk. The possibility I would never be physically able to hike again filled me with regret. I live fifty-one miles from this natural wonder and yet I had only been once. You know, I was working and had family responsibilities. And I was working and had meetings. And I was working and… So although I love to hike, I waited for another day. Then I got MG.

James 4:13, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” NIV

DON’T WAIT

Often we wait until tomorrow to enjoy life. Truly we never know what tomorrow brings. We wait to hike; we wait to reconcile; we wait to serve; we wait to share the hope of the gospel with the lost. Sometimes we wait too long. Thankfully, I got a second chance.

Don't just fill your life. Live life to the fullest.#live #life #fulfilled. Click To Tweet

SWEET VICTORY

Earlier this week I crossed the imaginary finish line with my hands raised to the sky in victory. Although my legs felt like Jell-O, I successfully hiked 1.5 miles to Hawksbill Crag and it was sweet. Maybe I will get a tattoo if I can talk my mom into getting one to match.

James 4:14, “You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring- what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” HCSB

LIFE IS SHORT

This truth was underscored after I attended three funerals in eight days. So I urge you to take a few risks and have some fun while you can. Worship God and enjoy the wonders of this beautiful planet He created. Drive fifty-one miles if necessary. Cherish your loved ones. Forgive generously for tomorrow you may not have another chance. Do good and help your neighbor. Share the hope Jesus Christ offers. Do it before it’s too late.

James 4:17, “In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that for you, is evil.” MSG

Thanks for sharing my little victories. My feats are small but my God is big.

 

What’s right with you?

It has been a hard week by anyone’s standards. Twenty-eight hours and over two-hundred miles separated the two funerals I attended. Yes, it has definitely been a hard week.

Myasthenia gravis and stress do not play nice together either. Physically, I have been markedly stronger, but if I thought getting on prednisone was hard; getting off is harder.

Lamentations 3:19-21, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all-oh, how well I remember-the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope.” MSG

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Do you see what I see?

What I heard surprised me, what I saw shocked me.

What I heard exceeded my expectations, what I saw shocked me.

Since I took piano lessons for eight years and only learned three rudimentary pieces, I am overly impressed by musical talent. I have none. I cannot sing and I cannot read music.

My dad quips,

It took me twenty years to learn to play the radio.

So when I heard the ivories generating a melody of notes and chords, it snagged my attention.

Psalm 149:3, “Let them praise his name in the dance:  let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.” KJV

UNEXPECTED

For reasons I won’t disclose, I consult with a specialist 966 miles away from home. My disease is rare and the treatments prescribed have improved my strength greatly, so the inconvenience is worth the travel. The university hospital clinic is expansive and a grand piano is situated in the center of the lobby. It’s,slick and shiny, oil-like surface.seems out-of-place in the sterile environment.

Job 5:8-9, “If I were in your shoes, I’d go straight to God. I’d throw myself on the mercy of God. After all, he’s famous for great and unexpected acts; there’s no end to his surprises.” MSG

ABILITY

As I entered, I was disappointed the piano was idle and covered. But as I exited, I heard music being coaxed from the keys and was soothed and impressed. As I neared the artist seated on the bench, I noticed she wore shorts and a T-shirt, which seemed odd for such a competent musician. Like many accomplished pianists, she was not looking at the keys, but not for the usual reasons. When I noticed a white cane protruding from beneath the bench, I realized she was blind.

Isaiah 43:21, “The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My  praise.”  NASB

DISABILITY

It would be easy to dwell on all the things I cannot do because of myasthenia gravis. Passionate about physical activity and fitness, I am confined to a body whose muscles fatigue with everyday activities most people take for granted. In fact, the more I do, the less I am able to do. If I could describe this disease in one word: frustrating.

Philippians 4:11, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” ESV

INABILITY

I asked my doctor’s permission to try exercise since I am improving. He consented. Unfortunately, my mental ambitiousness exceeds my physical capability. I am utterly drained by heat and minimal activity. In addition, despite eight years of instruction, I can play little more than Chopsticks on the piano. There are many things I cannot do.

1 Corinthians 12:7, “A spiritual gift is given to  each of  us so we can help each other.” NLT

EQUIPPED

I believe God has uniquely equipped me just the way He wants in order for me to serve Him and bring Him glory. I believe He has equipped you also. Your gift is to help others. I could wallow in what I cannot do and I would be miserable, probably everyone around me would be too.

The works He appointed me to do would go undone if I focused on what I cannot do. It is a natural temptation, but deadly.

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” HCSB

ENABLED

With all my heart, I believe in a sovereign God who sees a bigger picture. He wants what is best for me and I simply must accept it. There is complete peace in surrender. Instead of focusing on what I cannot do, I choose to focus on what I can do. I am enabled by my disability to uniquely serve Him. So are you.

Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” NIV

Do you  see what I see? I see your ability, not your limitations.

Do what you CAN do.

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

PANIC!

My response was visceral. My heart dropped into my gut. Six missed calls and five new voicemails in the span of twenty minutes, more than I usually have in a week. The missed call from my daughter and voicemail from my mother were not unusual. But four voicemails from my husband? To say that is highly unusual would be an understatement.

Psalm 112:7, “They will have no fear of bad news, their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” NIV

UNSTEADFAST

I knew he was in a meeting. My fingers trembled as I struggled to tap the play button. By the time I listened to the third extended blank message, it dawned on me. Last night, I misplaced my phone and asked him to call my number so I could locate it.  Four times he called, until I finally found it in the bedroom closet.

Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength, I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” MSG

FIRM GRIP

When I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in my eyes, I knew it would likely generalize. Statistically, the chance ocular myasthenia will progress is eighty-five percent. I told my doctor it would be a devastating diagnosis for me. But this verse from Isaiah showed up everywhere, “DON’T PANIC.” I taped it to my bathroom mirror and guess what? I quit panicking. That is until six missed calls and four new voicemails appeared on my phone. But hey, I only panicked for a minute. I knew exactly what to do about it.

John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” HCSB

HERE IS THE BAD NEWS

The message very well could have been bad news.  In fact, it could have been devastating news. Tragedy is never more than one phone call away. But the Bible tells us not to panic. God never promises our lives won’t be turned upside down, in fact, the truth is He prepares us for inevitable trouble and suffering. His promise is to hold us steady and keep a firm grip on us.

Hebrews 13:5,”Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” NKJV

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS

He won’t leave us. He won’t forsake us. Death, disease and discord are part of life on planet earth. None of us escape. But if we know Jesus, we never have to face our troubles alone. He promises to be with us. I can tell you from experience, His presence is worth everything. It has been my lifeline and I am not devastated by this disease. It is comforting to know:

God is already present in our tomorrow. He knows what the future brings. Click To Tweet

Isaiah 43:2-3,”When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God.” NASB

When, not if. Trials will come. He knows before they happen and we can be comforted by that.

I don’t know what is going to happen today or tomorrow and neither do you. But, it is pretty silly to get worked up about a few missed calls. I know whatever happens tomorrow, God is already there and He is never caught off guard.

Walk with Him before trials come. Plant His word deep in your heart, then you will have no need to fear bad news. His grip is firm.

If you tend to panic, memorize the verses in the post. Better yet, share your own.

Sorry I snarled at you

A happy heart makes good medicine

I immediately spotted the card lying on top of the bills and circulars when I opened the mailbox. Unexpectedly, it filled me with a disproportionate sense of dread. The post card from the DMV reminded me, it is time for me to renew my driver’s license.

THE PHOTO

I know it is pathetic, but I don’t want to do it. The prednisone puffiness in my face is fading, but I prefer my old driver’s license photo. It’s not really a bad picture.  I am smiling and my face is thinner. Vanity? Maybe, but I forget how much my face has changed until I look in the mirror.

Psalm 94:11, “Jehovah knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.” ASV

I CAN’T SMILE

Before you get upset, let me explain. It is not physically possible for the corners of my mouth to turn up. Myasthenia gravis (MG) causes a snarl instead of a smile. I think it is permanent and  I hate it. I laugh a lot and smile often, but it looks different. I miss my smile as much as I miss the feel of wind in my hair or the softness of a newborn’s feet.

Proverbs 31:25, “Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come.” HCSB

SOMETIMES IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS

Have you ever been singing in church and someone turned around and said, “You should be in the choir.”?  Yeah, well that has never happened to me. I cannot carry a tune, nevertheless I enjoy singing, especially in church. Sometimes I don’t have enough breath, but it’s okay, I am content to listen. What I really miss though is not being able to hold the Wooooo when calling the hogs. It’s a razorback thing, ya’ll. Even if I had the breath, I can’t hold my arms up.

Psalm 66:1, “Make a joyful noise unto God” KJV

WHO MISSES YOUR SMILE?

I miss my smile. Does someone miss yours?  Mine was taken by MG. Has yours been stolen by grief, heartache, bitterness or depression? Someone misses your smile. Someone needs to see the corners of your mouth turn up. Maybe it is your children, even if they are grown, or your spouse. Perhaps a stranger needs a smile.

Job 29:24, “When I smiled at them, they could hardly believe it; their faces lit up, their troubles took wing!” MSG

KEEP SMILING

There is no cure for MG, but it is treatable. And I promise I am smiling even if you can’t tell by my face. If you have lost your smile, ask God to give you joy. Count your blessings, I promise it helps. Simply practice smiling, it looks better than snarling.

I miss my smile. Who misses yours? #IHaveHeardofMG Click To Tweet

Numbers 6:26, “The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” NIV

When is the last time you smiled? How about starting today…