Monday, October 27, 2014

Sleep Deprivation Fosters Randomness

 Wisdom most certainly will not be the prevailing motivation for this post. I have missed writing and reading my favorite blogs but the days have been full, overflowing with appointments, calls, feeding, diapering, case worker visits, and cleaning. The adjustment to waking up at 1a.m. and 5a.m. has not been too terrible but then again I might not  be the best person to ask since I am priding myself on being able to do things with my eyes closed - getting dressed, changing diapers, going downstairs. Hey, a girl has to catch some zzz's whenever she can.

 Somehow I did manage to pull off a dinner for my dear hubby's repeat 40th birthday and it included cake because cake is his favorite. Since I am sequestered at home due to the foster baby's health issues, I kind of have to wing it with whatever is in the pantry or fridge or hope the teen is able to run errands for me but it turned out well despite lack of real organization. I am blessed that God gave me a husband who is hardworking and has faithfully put up with me for over 20 years so if he wants cake, I think he should have it (especially since I revamped the recipe to be a tad bit healthy. Shhh!).

 Speaking of being confined at home, I have really enjoyed Sermon Audio. Now, I do not believe one should have a virtual pastor and I do love my church and my pastor but when you cannot get to your church, Sermon Audio is awesome. It has been hard being out of church. 

 When we made the decision to foster the baby, we were told that the baby's monitor was portable and would not stop us from going out and doing what we normally do. It wasn't until we were leaving the hospital that we heard the words "do not take the baby out except to doctor appointments." How do you turn back when you have spent three days holding a baby, feeding a baby, snuggling a baby, learning about the baby's health needs, and you have the baby loaded in your car seat? They probably knew we would not refuse at that point. Of course, I am praying that the doctor appointments show the baby's health is improving and they at least grant me permission to go to church...just a small church.
Who could resist those eyes?

  All in all it has been good and God is working. Lest you think that we are doing a good work by fostering a child, let me assure you that the greater work is always done in me every time. God pours out a measure of grace and love that overwhelms and works a miracle in this self-centered heart. Life is refocused and vision is repaired and it is all the easier to be about the work of my Lord. I cannot explain the how or why of it but it happens and I end up being so thankful. 

 But, you can do more than just take my word for it, you can foster a child or mentor one, too. Usually, you are doing more than just impacting a child, you get to interact with that child's family as well. No, it is not easy but yes, it is worth every moment, every drive across town, every sleepless night, every heart break. 
-Matthew 20:28 "...even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, 
and to give his life as a ransom for many."
 Let it be so in my life


Friday, October 10, 2014

Little Words Because Little Person

 So, one word is fitting for today - COFFEE! Usually, I might drink one  cup but today is a 2 or 3 cupper.

 I am not sure I will be posting too much for a bit. As I am writing this there is the sweetest little one asleep in the other room. It was a roller coaster for a few days but foster care brings that kind of drama and excitement. You are just going along with your normal routine and then you get a call and everything is a whirlwind.
Sweet little mouth & hand of our newest member

 I am definitely going to need an adjustment period. Every four hours of feeding is something that my body has lost touch with but I think I will get the hang of it pretty quick. This little one is very patient. 

 Now begins the prayers for this little one's family and for God to use me however possible to spread the Gospel. May He be glorified and His Word be spread. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Once Upon a Time Continues

  Last post stopped the story where we had no clue what was happening to our daughter and it was a scary time. I did not know what else to do but pray.

  A  friend from church, to whom I am forever grateful, suggested we go to her doctor who was helping her heal from Crohn's disease. Our first appointment was supposed to be in December but it was cancelled due to bad weather and rescheduled for early February. I was hesitant having been blown off by so many doctors but we decided to give him a try. 

  We survived January and anxiously drove the 1-1/2 hours to see this doctor. The first thing he said was something no other doctor had ever said, "Start at the beginning and tell me everything about this girl." It all came out like a flood and when we were done, he hugged the girl and said, "I can tell that you are sick and with God's help, I will do my best to help you." That started our journey. 

 Tests revealed malnourishment but no Crohn's thankfully, just a leaky, depleted gut, a shot adrenal system, Candida overgrowth, a gluten allergy, and two tick-borne illnesses - Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Looking back, we remember that she had been bitten by ticks, even going to the doctor with one still attached because it was a deer tick but were told, "Lyme disease is not in this area." We trusted that opinion and even felt relieved, never thinking that doctor was wrong. T
o top it off all the diagnoses, he sent us to a chiropractor because he felt down her spine and discovered that her tailbone was crooked, which led us to finding out that she had severe lumbar scoliosis. Finally, answers! Bittersweet answers.

 Due to the gut problems and rounds of strong antibiotics during the kidney infection, the doctor suggested a natural protocol to start treatment plus diet changes and lots of supplements. With much prayer, we trusted the doctor's opinion.

 Over a year later, here we are at a new upgraded normal that includes a girl who works as a waitress, runs three miles at least once a week, hangs out with friends, laughs, smiles, lives life. From time to time, we hit a bump in the road of treatment and there are still struggles with the ability to focus and the rare joint pain or random crying but she gets through it quickly. Even the doctor is amazed at her progress.

  We are at a point where we are assessing what damage may be permanent. Probiotics will be part of her life always and possibly a gluten-free diet but I thank God that, although He gave me peace when I was not certain she would make it, she is healing and we have been able to help others. Glory to God! 

  Plus, it has led me down the road to studying nutrition, natural medicine, plants, and the body in a way that shows me more and more the amazing works of our Creator God. Do you realize that many of the native plants in an area have the ability to treat the diseases and health issues specifically in that region? Only God could do that!

 So, today, as I sit working on shaking off the Fall Blahs, I consider this new place God has me. So much is different and exciting but He has also chosen not to remove all the struggles of my heart - a family that does not know God, issues that plague me from the past, communication with our previous foster daughter, difficult people in my life. But as I look it all, I cannot help but think, "How will this also reveal Your glory, God?" No matter what I trust Him.

- 1 Chronicles 16:23-27
"Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods.For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place. "

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fall Blahs and Once Upon a Time

  What to write about has been stifled by a case of the Fall Blahs that came on early since I have been sick. October is blah-inducing for me because all of my grandparents except one passed away in October. They were precious people. 
    As I was seeking out ideas to write about, I was contacted by a woman who has Lyme disease which is nothing unusual any more. After talking with her, she said, "Get your story out there somehow. People need to hear it." Is this the thing to write about? Can I glorify God by writing about it? At this point, I can look back and see His hand in this six year journey - maybe it is right to flesh it out here on this space. I will try.

 Once upon a time there was a little girl who was active and creative and very organized. Even as a small child, she loved to rearrange her room, organize her clothes and toys and she would play all day non-stop. Her parents put her in gymnastics because she needed an outlet for all this energy and she excelled. Gymnastics four days a week, four hours at a time could not drain her. She would still come home and ride her bike, climb a tree, or play chase with friends. She rarely cried, got sick, or complained. She was fearless and carefree.

  A month before she turned 10, she became sick. The doctor said, "Stomach virus." After a week she was better but three days later she was sick again and this time worse. The doctor said, "Reinfection of the stomach virus." The loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, headache and diarrhea lasted a week but after that week she was not exactly  better. She was scared to go places, to do things, and panic attacks became a daily occurrence. If we did go somewhere, she sometimes would freak out and start crying loudly. Her stomach hurt and some days were battles with severe constipation or diarrhea. She was weak and had to quit her beloved gymnastics. 

  The months were filled with more tests and appointments. We were sent to the children's hospital for more in-depth tests, ultrasounds, and x-rays. During the blood work, she passed out and looked like she was having a seizure. I was scared and all I could do was tell the doctors that this child was not the same child any more. The doctor found nothing. 

  We ended up at a less-than-friendly GI doctor who spent five minutes with us then pronounced the cause as "post-infectious IBS" caused by the dual stomach viruses and would resolve itself in 6 months to a year with a high fiber diet and probiotics. It took a year but still this girl was not the same. We downgraded to a new normal.

  In those three years, the girl stayed inside more and more. She began to have more headaches and strange joint pain plus a very weird pain in her tailbone. The doctor would do tests and tell us that there was nothing. After a few visit like this, the doctor suggested that it was in "her head, too much stress." I became apprehensive about taking her to the doctor after that. So, this step downward became our new normal and the plan was to give her a relaxed life and pray this would pass. 

  One year later, symptoms still existed and the joint and tailbone pain were worse. After pushing for a real answer, we were sent to an orthopedic doctor. Another exam and x-rays and this doctor gave us knee braces and sent us to a physical therapist. He had no answer for the tailbone pain. The physical therapist gave her exercises and put her on a regimen of three Ibuprofen three times a day. This only brought slight relief and more symptoms were being added. Severe neck pain with stiffness, migraines, increasing fatigue, and weight loss. In July 2013, we stopped the therapy after a month and again downgraded our normal.

  By August, the fatigue was causing a large part of her day to be consumed by sleep. Pain and headaches had her in tears at least once a week. I was thankful for home-school because I was not sure how she could go to school in this state. By October, she could barely climb the stairs or sit down some days because of pain. Her crying increased and on occasion it would be for no reason that she could explain. There was no way any of us could continue as if this was normal, our normal had hit rock bottom. It was taking a toll on all of us. 

 That November, the girl became violently ill and the doctor said, "Kidney infection" and put her on a round of antibiotics. When that did not do much, the doctor changed the antibiotic. She was also concerned that the girl was losing so much weight. I told her again of all the symptoms and she sat quietly for a moment then examined her chart. Finally, the doctor said that nothing else showed up in her blood work so maybe it was just the kidney infection. I could not understand why no one wanted to see all the years of symptoms as related.

 December brought no relief from the kidney infection and dehydration and pain sent us to the emergency room for more tests, ultrasound, and painful antibiotics injected into the thighs plus lots of IV fluids. As she laid there, I looked at her small, weak body and face so pale. We tried to make jokes to each other but I was afraid and it was the first time my prayers changed from "Lord, help my daughter" to "Lord, are You going to take my daughter? If You are, I need You to prepare my heart because I am not sure how I can get through it in a way that will bring You glory." The infection passed but not the other symptoms and depression became our foremost enemy. 

  Not many words can describe that time. The girl was acting so strangely and was awake only about 4-5 hours a day. One evening I yelled for her to come to dinner but she did not answer. I called her cell phone, no answer. I went upstairs and there was no girl. Frantic, I searched all around. I knew she was in the house. Finally, I found her in the dark of her bathroom linen closet, curled in a ball quietly sobbing. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I can't quit crying. I want to die." My heart sank and I sat holding her while we both cried.

 Little did we know that an answer was coming...

- Psalm 18:6
 "In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears."