The Detox Diaries: Five Vials of Blood

 

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Gentle Reader,

The doctor.

We’re developing quite a relationship.

Today’s visit marked the fourth to his office in a seven-day span. I’m getting to the point where I know what information the receptionist is going to ask me to confirm before she asks it. I just start rattling off numbers and dates.

I told you that I’d been called into the office to discuss the results of the blood work I had done last Monday, and that God had been faithful to give me peace for that appointment. I am beyond thankful for that, because things aren’t the greatest. They could be worse; I’m glad that my blood sugar level is fine and that my triglycerides have stabilized. All this walking and avoiding delicious food has done some good. My liver function is, however, neither fine nor stable.

Without a medical degree I can’t properly explain the situation, but what I do know is that there are two enzymes, AST and ALT, in the liver that work to filter the blood and break down the yuck stuff. Both of mine are at much higher levels than they should be. This can be an indication of leakage from damaged cells caused by liver inflammation or cell death. Basically, my liver is not working like it’s supposed to, but my doctor doesn’t know why. He ordered more tests and has referred me to a specialist, whose call I am anxiously awaiting.

So, round two. Today I got poked again and forked over five vials of blood. These tests will reveal the levels of iron and copper in my blood, as well as the level of some very long word that began with an “a.” The lab will also run a complete hepatic panel, though I don’t know what that entails. I assume that they are checking levels of other enzymes that hang out in the liver.

I hurry to get to appointments and then wait for the results. Hurry up and wait. That is the great test of patience.

This testing and stretching of my limitations moves me to a place of thankfulness as I think on the fact that God knows all things. He knows the end from the beginning, and the middle part, too. He knows what’s going to happen me. None of this is a surprise to Him. I cannot unravel the mystery regarding the will of God and the will of man; I believe that man is free and that God is free, and somehow everyone has real choices to make, but I completely reject Open Theism. While God chooses to relate Himself to us via Scripture and the Spirit in a way that we can sort-of grasp, using the element of time, God is not bound by the clock. Time is not some force that has always existed in an uncreated state. He is completely outside of time and sees it all.

This is greatly comforting to me – God is bigger. He isn’t up there in Heaven biting His nails. He isn’t phased by my situation or by my coming to Him over and over again asking for help. He isn’t unsure how to respond. He knows exactly what I need, when I need it, and why I need it. More importantly, He knows all of this before I even know to ask and so often graciously works in my life without my uttering a word. He simply and awesomely provides.

He knows what’s in those five vials of blood and what it all means. If it will bring Him glory and me good, if it will be the best thing for the outworking of His plan, then He will remove this burden. If I walk through more tests and waiting and illness, then that is somehow what’s best. Whether I am healed by His touch, through medicine or on the other side of Eternity, I will be healed.

That is the outcome.

Grace and peace along the way.

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Fill

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Gentle Reader,

After my two-week hiatus I am once again linking up with the FMF crowd at our new hangout, Heading Home with Kate Motaung. Yes, our beloved Lisa-Jo has passed on the baton. But that’s okay! Sometimes it’s right to let a good thing go.

For this first post with Kate, we: fill.

Go.

“Omer”

I’m running on empty today, God

What You gave her just isn’t enough

I need You to meet my need

Adjust Your outpouring supernaturally

I don’t want to complain

I don’t want to be greedy

I just need enough of You

To fill the omer within me

I wrote this poem, based on Exodus 16, years ago, but it came to mind as soon as I saw this week’s prompt. God has answered this prayer over and over again, today in a parking lot being the latest occurrence.

Just a brief recap: as many of you know, I live with some chronic health issues and back in May began the process of coming off of Cymbalta due to liver problems. Thankfully the withdrawal symptoms have passed, but the road to an understanding of what’s happening to my liver is a long one.

A long one full of potholes.

On Monday I had blood work done. Tuesday the doctor called and told me that my enzymes were elevated. Higher than they were in May. I needed to come and see him as soon as possible and get a referral to a specialist. I stayed late at work yesterday so I could leave at mid-morning today and trek across two towns to get to the appointment. He didn’t tell me much more than he did on the phone, but I got the referral and an order for more labs, to be done tomorrow morning.

I’ll be honest: I freaked out when I got that call on Tuesday. I’ve made changes to my diet. I’ve been exercising. I was really hoping that, after two-and-a-half months, there would be some improvement. I certainly wasn’t expecting things to be worse!

The closer I got to the office today, the larger the lump of panic in my throat. Pulling into the packed parking lot, I located an open space beneath and tree and clunked into the…whatever that concrete thing is that keeps you from running into the grass on the other side. Turning off the engine, I closed my eyes, took and deep breath, and prayed.

Okay, God. I need You. I need You really bad. I need You to fill me with that peace, that peace that doesn’t make any sense. I don’t need high blood pressure right now. Calm me down. Help me to hear what the doctor says and make whatever decisions I need to make. Give me clarity. I am with You, Jesus. You are with me. 

I got out of the car and finished with, “Let’s do this.”

My blood pressure? 117 over 70-something.

Almost before the words came out of my mouth, the peace flooded in. From head to toe, I was filled. Completely. There wasn’t any room for fear. I listened, I asked questions. When my doctor told me not to freak out, I smiled.

Because whatever happens, I’m with Jesus. And His plans are good.

Stop.

Grace and peace along the way.

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries: Tears for Fears

Gentle Reader,

I’m back.

I would like to tell you that I feel less upset than I did when I began the two-week blogging break, but that would be a lie. More than once this fortnight I was hit with that awful pain, the one that sits somewhere between your heart and your stomach (or maybe it takes up the whole space), the one that heralds a sudden crash into sadness. Yes, there is a very real, very physical ache that comes with deep emotional distress.

It hit me again last night as I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep after watching a documentary about the rise and fall of the Russian Empire. (Don’t judge me). Rest was pushed away by tears, tears that came unbidden and unwanted. I wasn’t crying because I had just turned 30. I wasn’t crying for any specific reason. I just…cried.

As a testimony to the illogical and irrational nature of emotions, I crashed mid silent-wail sometime after 1:30 this morning. Nothing was resolved. I had no sense of enlightenment. My body simply clicked the “off” button and wasn’t particularly happy about being aroused a few hours later. I smacked the “dismiss” button on my alarm and dozed, telling myself that I could go in to the doctor’s office and get the blood work done at any time. I didn’t have to get up early. That was true, but it was also true that I had to be fasting for the labs.

The longing for breakfast won out over the longing for more sleep.

I wanted the blood work to be a get in and get out kind of deal, though I knew I’d have some wait time. “Some” stretched into 45 minutes. The information on my account was completely screwed up; they had me marked as a single, full time student seeing a totally different primary physician. After that got fixed, a nurse called me back and said she had no idea why I was even there. I told her that, at my last visit, my doctor had told me to come back in three months and repeat the tests. She sent me back out to the waiting room and I tried to read a dated Time magazine, all the while musing over how thrilling incompetence is.

Insert sarcasm here.

At least the taking of the blood was quick and very nearly painless. Maybe this time I won’t develop an epic bruise.

Nothing about this morning improved my mood any, so I knew I had to take a walk. I am learning to see the paths and sidewalks around my neighborhood as my antidepressant/antianxiety/anticrabby medication, my running shoes the delivery system. Moving even a little really does get the juices flowing, and that really does help.

Partway through my walk, I heard this song:

Once again I was reminded of the truth of the prophet’s words:

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it? – Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)

Emotions aren’t evil. They are not to be repressed. But they are also not the basis for how I live my life. They can’t be. I don’t understand why I feel the way I do. Yes, chemicals and all that, but really, at the root of it, I am baffled by how my feelings so often do not come into alignment with reality. What I feel can easily cause me to believe that something is wrong when everything is fine.

Feelings are a poor foundation. The verses I’ve been working on memorizing (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) speak of this fact. I must destroy speculations, and much of my anxiety and sorrow is fueled by just that. I must rip down anything that stands in defiance of God and His truth. I have to take every thought, and I would also say every feeling, to Jesus and ask, “Should I keep this?” If He says no, based on what He has revealed in Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my soul, then I have to get rid of it.

It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.

Dearest friend, I want so much to tell you that I am further along on this journey than I really am. I want to tell you that I have found victory in all areas of my life. But really I’m just as weary and battle-scarred as you are. Every day is a struggle. To get out of bed. To go to work. To speak. To do house work. To be around friends and family. I am pushing through a constant, thick haze, one so heavy that it blocks my view of anything other than my feet.

But in looking down at those feet, I see also His nail-scarred hand holding mine. His is strong and certain where mine is weak and limp. In His other hand He holds a lantern, one that lights the way just enough for one more step.

So I go on.

Grace and peace along the way.

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.