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: 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.

The Detox Diaries: Rock of Ages, Let Me Hide Myself in Thee

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Gentle Reader,

Since we’ve been doing this for a couple of months now, I would like to draw us back to the purpose of The Detox Diaries:

“My motivation in sharing The Detox Diaries with you has nothing to do with garnering sympathy and everything to do with the knowledge that there is someone else out there struggling along with me, someone who may wonder if Christ is worth trusting through the pain. Or someone who doesn’t even have the hope of Christ to hold on to. That struggle may not involve medical issues. Maybe it’s finances. Broken relationships. Job loss. When I have been faced with such mountains in the past, I have usually given in to defeat before ever attempting the climb. Maybe you have, too.

Not this time.

You can trust Jesus. I can trust Jesus.”

I believe that today just as strongly as I believed it then. In fact, I believe it more. I’m living it. Even though it’s hard. Even though the horizon is covered in soupy clouds. Even though I’m not sure what the next step is. Even though I can’t see where this path is going to lead.

The Lord is with me. I fling myself upon His mercy every day. He’s not going to be able to get rid of me, not that He would try. I am desperate for Him. I will lose this fight if I get stupid and arrogant and think that I can do it on my own. If faith is a crutch for weak people, well, fine. Give me the crutch. I know myself. I limp and it is only with His hand that I can walk upright.

You who read this: Do this thing. Fight this fight. Blow by blow. Come back to Jesus, over and over and over and over again. Every time a negative thought plops into your mind. Every time the news is bad. Every time that you don’t know what to do. And you know, do this thing if you’re having the best time of your life. If the sun is shining and the sky is clear. Don’t pursue the Lord only when you need or want something. Come back to Him and give Him praise. Practice in the light what you learned in the dark.

We must rely on God at all times, for He is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17) as equally as He is the source of strength (Philippians 4:13). Everything we are, everything we have, is from His hand.

“He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.”- Job 33:28

Grace and peace along the way.

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