My Fibro Fourth

Living with chronic illness means one never know when it will rear its ugly head. Yesterday started off great with a blogger chat. Then I was blessed to give an English lesson for a friend from Bosnia via Zoom. As we were studying, that old nemesis fatigue decided it was time to visit again. So I had what I call my Fibro Fourth of July.

It could have been any of the three chronic illnesses I live with causing it, but Fibro Fourth sounds fitting.

As I write this on the evening of the 4th, I can hear the fireworks going off. As I write this I am also grateful for something that happened Friday. A friend and former student from Brazil messaged me that she has a friend who needs help with English. By the time we finished chatting, we set up an appointment for my friend Monday afternoon and one for her to introduce me to her friend on Tuesday. So I will be providing English lessons for Brazilians living in Canada. 🙂

So even though we are still in the midst of COVD-19 problems, God blessed me to interact with friends from Bosnia and Brazil. Jesus has work for me to do. 🙂

Oh forgot to mention that my 4th of July did involve me taking a four hour nap, so that was good. I love naps 🙂

How was your 4th of July or if you live in another country how was your Saturday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Enough Is Enough for This Spoonie- Part 2

As I shared yesterday in Enough Is Enough for This Spoonie, a spoonie is a person who has chronic illness and lives with constant fatigue.

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My journey with it all began with hypothyroid in the early to mid 1990s. It got so bad that my heart, liver, and kidneys were out of whack. I lost memory and it was an ordeal for a few years until the correct diagnosis in July 1995.

However, since that time there have been wonderful adventures for me despite living with chronic illness.

Jesus has blessed me with the opportunity to go on 11 ministry trips to other countries, 7 to Romania, 1 to France, 1 to Mexico, and 2 to Brazil.

I mentioned losing memory when I was sick. Well that is not an issue for me. Jesus led me to study Spanish in 2010 and Portuguese in 2013.

Jesus has blessed me with a ministry for refugees and immigrants in my city. He has blessed me to teach English as a Second Language for a college for the past 19 years.

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So when I say that the Lord has given me the strength, that is what I am talking about. At my age it is more about finishing well in serving Jesus in this life. Currently I am writing a study guide for my Life Group at church for the book of John in the bible putting into writing what I have done over the years in my Sunday morning bible study for friends from other countries. My hope is that it can be used by other Life Groups/Small Groups in church.

I hope to finish my book Encounters with the Ancients-Jessica’s Encounters at The Harbor Coffee Shop- in July when I have a break.

In a way not much has changed since I was the 12 year old boy who played football. I was a starter on defense and in the first three games was the leading tackler. I injured my elbow late in the 3rd game. I had to sit out 2 games because of it. The final game after convincing my parents and coaches I was healed up, I played in the last game and despite aggravating the injury, without telling the coaches, I led the team in tackles again and my team was undefeated for the season.

So yes I live with chronic pain and fatigue, but there is so much more to do in sharing he love of God in Christ. I would rather stay in the game and not have obstacles such as being a pinball patient.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

Enough is Enough for This Spoonie

A spoonie is someone who lives with chronic illness and the accompanying fatigue.

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I sat down and did something maybe I should not have done. I added up the money I have spent on seeing various kinds of specialists over the past five years and realized I could have bought a new car like maybe a Kia Soul.

The results have been getting diagnosed with Celiacs and Fibromyalgia so far but those do not explain all of the symptoms I experience. There are only 2 Rheumatology clinics in my city. One is nearly impossible to get an appointment sooner than 3 months out and is the one who diagnosed me with Celiacs. The other I won’t go back to because he said, “at your age something would have shown up by now.” Statistically speaking about 30% of various autoimmune problems are diagnosed in people in their 50s and 60s.

So I decided to stop seeking help from Rheumatologists and just live with it all unless later in the year I go to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. But I doubt I will. It is that whole could have bought a new car thing with my van being 13 years old.

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I will deal with the flare ups which include the recurring rashes a Dermatologist did not know what they are and said go to a Rheumatologist. I will be glad to take naps to lessen fatigue. I will stop googling symptoms to see what they could mean. I am taking myself out of the Pinball Patient machine.

Enough is enough for this spoonie.

Jesus has given me the strength to carry on with life for over 25 years. I will trust him to do so with my remaining years in this life.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Saturday Smile- The DOCTOR???

I had a doctor’s appointment to go over the results of the blood test I didn’t study for last week. I was planning on canceling, but my little sister in Jesus Deandra kept pestering me about going, so I went. We can blame this post on her 🙂

Going over the results was okay but then disaster hit. He asked me the question I was hoping to avoid. He asked me about my knee.

and yes I know by looking at the picture I STILL need a haircut, but digress

Doctors are pesky. He had me have an X-ray of my knee. I probably should not have overplayed my excuse for not exercising being that my knees hurts which it does- ALOT.

After the X-ray it got worse. He told it is real bad- bone on bone. He told the only thing to take care of it is a new knee. He told me I needed an injection.

I told I was concerned I might kick him by accident. The nurse came in and I told her it was her job to hold my leg so I didn’t kick the doctor. We all laughed. He did the injection.

I totally took like a man. No reaction at all. 🙂

Actually it did not hurt but it was fun the take the pictures before the injection. I did take a picture of the injection itself. If you want to see it, let me know. haha

The nurse said, “good you didn’t kick him but he would have forgiven him.”

I replied, “Yes he is a good Christian doctor. He would have forgiven me.” It is true that he is a strong Christian. He has served as a medical missionary.

So visit Deandra’s blog and let her know this post is ALL her fault 🙂 The link is deandrahurst.com.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus in the Midst of Chronic Illness Flare

Later this week, I will have my annual physical. I went in for the blood test last Friday. Not sure how my blood test went because I did not study for it. lol

I have been in the midst of a flare up for a few weeks, but did not seek treatment because some treatments can cause the blood tests to return negative.

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Yesterday was a bit rough. I took two power naps but did manage to teach my two classes online. But that is life with chronic illness.

BUT- The whole day I felt the presence of Jesus. The whole day I felt a song in my spirit. It reminded me of Zephaniah 3 in the bible:

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

Have you experience that? The Lord singing over you? It can be a worship song in your spirit that just stays with you. Did you know that Jesus takes delight in you? Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus takes delight in you and sings over you.

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I have experienced that during flare ups with chronic illness. I have experienced it during difficult times. At times it is what keeps me going.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Others Watch How We Handle Hardship

A conversation last night reminded me of something that has been a theme in my life. Since I devoted my life to Jesus in July 1989, it has not been an easy road. There have been difficult times, chronic illnesses diagnosed, times of financial hardship and more.

2 Corinthians chapter 1 has been a theme for my life- Blessed be the God of comfort who comforts us……. so that we in turn my comfort others.

The verse in the image relates to Paul’s suffering and how it blesses others.

Last night I had a Zoom chat with a friend in Brazil. I shared with my friend about what happened in March when I lost three weeks of income because of the shutdown but also how God helped me. I also shared with my friend about my autoimmune flare this week. My friend’s reaction was, “You have all of that happening and you still teach us the bible on Sunday morning. You are a model for me for following Jesus.”

I was not expecting that comment at all. All I could say was thank you. No one had ever said that to me at least in person or video chat.

Other people watch how we handle hardship. They watch how we treat other people. They watch what we do.

This is something I wish more Christians would stop and take in at this time. Our focus should be on showing the love of Jesus at this time, trusting him in this crisis, and helping others not feeding into conspiracy theories or arguments.

Let’s be the church and show the love of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Getting Tested Yesterday

I have been experiencing an autoimmune flare up this past week. Out of an abundance of caution, my doctor had me get tested for COVID-19 to make sure it isn’t the cause. I highly doubt it is, but I went for testing yesterday anyway.

My imagination can get a bit carried away at times. As I watched nurses in hazmat suits walking from car to car to give the test, I began imagining I had just returned from outer space and needed to get tested for alien contamination.

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Then I began imagine that they were looking for alien clones living among us.

The longer I waited in my car during the drive thru testing, the more I entertained myself with possibilities such as perhaps the Zombie Apocalypse had happened, so everyone had to be screened.

As active as my imagination is, I can’t really begin to comprehend what heaven will be like. We don’t know much about it. We know there are none of the sorrows of this life. We know it has a beauty far above what we have experienced here. We have brief descriptions such as this one in Revelation 21:

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it”

So join me in trying to envision heaven in the presence of Jesus while listening to this song.

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month- Depression

What is a person to do when their own body is affecting their mental health? That was my dilemma a few years ago. Due to living with three chronic illnesses for a long time, I began having panic attacks and also experiencing depression. I am not talking about temporarily feeling sad. I am talking about feeling numb, staying in bed, losing all interest in things that normally captivate me, and losing all hope even though I know Jesus.

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I had the bottle of medication my doctor prescribed for me. It had been sitting on my desk at home for six months. My depression was getting worse. Finally, in June 2017 I watched a movie-Brain On Fire. It is based on a true story of a woman with a rare autoimmune problem that affected her brain and left her catatonic. Watching that movie helped me accept that my situation was physiological. It is an excellent movie to watch.

The problem? There is stigma in some churches about medication for mental health issues and about mental health issues in general. I will never forget starting the medication and feeling better within a week. That can vary for individuals, so please don’t expect the same. It might be sooner or longer.

I will also never forget sending an email to the pastor of my church who oversaw missions. I let him know the situation and that if he needed me to resign my missions ministry, I would do so. He responding with, “Let’s talk about it at church.” I emailed because I thought he would tell me I needed to resign and then I would just fade away and go elsewhere.

BUT- when I saw him, the first thing he said was, “Matt it is medical. You will not resign.” Huge burden lifted off my shoulders.

I read an excellent post about being a friend for someone with depression. Alathia of alathaihayes.com shared a wonderful post 7 Things You Can Do For Your Friends With Depression. I think they are good tips for whatever a friend struggles with as well.

My hope is that by sharing my experience it can help a little with lessening the unnecessary stigma regarding mental health issues. If we think about it, the brain is a physical organ in the body. It is the most complex of the organs, so there is more to learn. But why stigmatize someone with mental health issues? We would not do that for someone who has other illnesses.

If you suffer with depression, one thing that I want to make clear is that Jesus understands you. He loves you. I say that not as a cliche. I say that as someone who has experienced that love when I was in the depths of the worst of my depression.

I am sharing a song that helped me so much in those dark days.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

May is a month of awareness days for more than one health issue. Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

While women make up the majority of people with Fibromyalgia, I happen to be one of the men who also lives with it. I was diagnosed last year, but have been living with it for a long time.

It is one of the Chronic Illnesses I live with and lucky me I was in the process of finding out if I have another one before all of this COVID-19 stuff hit.

The symptoms include:

For me the worst ones are constant fatigue and pain. If there is one bright side to teaching from home because of the virus, it is that it is easier to take naps. 🙂

I have lived with Chronic Illness for over 25 years. But God has given me grace and strength to go on 11 ministry trips in other countries, start a ministry in my home city for refugees and immigrants, and to teach ESL.

I understand what Paul meant when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 what God told him:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I can’t imagine living with 3 Chronic Illnesses without God. I have had days that in the morning I mutter a prayer like, “I have no energy Jesus. I need you to carry me through this day.”

Those days wonderful things happen like a student having a break through, or having the opportunity to share Jesus with someone.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Safe by Alisa Turner and Her Story

Last Monday I shared Alisa Turner’s song My Prayer For You. As I listened to the song many times, I felt I was listening to a song by someone who has known hardship.

I live with Chronic Illnesses-Celiacs, Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroid, Each of them have wrecked havoc in my life at different times. Celiacs and Fibromyalgia each have symptoms of depression and anxiety.

That is why I felt a connection to her song My Prayer For You. I felt she understands what it is like to go through hardship.

I watched a video about her story which is the 2nd video in this post. It will help you realize why she understands living with hardship and yet still live for Jesus. Each Monday this month I will share one of her videos.

Today I am sharing Safe. During this time of the COVID-19 Crisis with all of the uncertainty it would be understandable if someone does not feel safe.

There are other reasons we may not feel safe- abuse, chronic illness, anxiety, PTSD, family problems, depression, and more.

I love these lyrics from the song safe:

Safe, I’m finally safe
I can hide here, I can hide here
Safe, You hold me safe
I’m okay here, I’m okay here
Completely safe

We are safe in the presence of Jesus. He is our loving Savior. When John was taken into the presence of Jesus in the book of Revelation and saw Jesus in all of his glory, John fell to his face out of fear. Jesus touched his shoulder and said:

“Do not be afraid. It is me.”

Come to Jesus. Do not be afraid. He loves you. He is waiting for you.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.