Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Off the Couch!

I have allowed an outrageous amount of time to pass without posting anything. Some of you may be thinking that I am still sick and living on the couch. I am here to break the rumor and present you with the truth of things.

I am off the couch.

I lived a total of fifteen weeks on the couch, but I didn’t live them alone. The Lord was with me every minute of the day. He was by my side the entire time. His grace was poured out on me in a generous manner every single day.

For thirteen weeks I had no idea what was going on. I struggled with fears of dying, and what it could be. It is so much easier to face a known enemy than to charge straight ahead at an unseen object. You have no goal and you feel very lost. That’s how I felt. That is, until I finally realized that the Lord wasn’t going to let me die. No. I sought His will on the whole matter and He gave me the answer. But nasty ole satan had to have his way and torment me asking the question, “What if this is the Lord’s will? What if you are going to die and there is nothing that you can do about it?”
I wanted to run from it all. I didn’t want to be in this situation. I wanted it to be all over with. I wanted to sleep during the whole thing and wake up when it was gone.
Then the light bulb clicked on and the Lord opened my eyes. I wasn’t going to die; I had no peace and no grace because it wasn’t time yet. The Lord had not prepared me for the situation because it wasn’t here yet. He had given me the desire and the will to fight for a reason. Not so that I could buck His plans, but so that I could follow Him with a trusting heart.
I will admit that I did continue to struggle and doubt what the Lord had revealed to me, but He was faithful and true to his word.

Friday, February 14 I had some extensive blood testing done. I was nervous and anxious about it. What did I really have? Would we get the answers? Was it terminal? Was it something I would have to live with the rest of my life? Was it truly Lyme’s disease?

We didn’t get the full list of results until two days later on Sunday. I confess, I was overwhelmed at the magnitude of it all. I was shocked and depressed for a bit.
Here is what was/is wrong with me.

My kidneys and liver weren’t working properly.
I had inflammation and circulation issues.
Adrenal stress.
Hormonal imbalance.
Hidden heavy metals in my body
A hidden virus in my lymphatic system
Multiple bacteria that was invading the immune system.
My immune system was shot to pieces. I had yeast issues and the beginnings of Leaky Gut Syndrome.
And the grand finale, Mycoplasma.
Mycoplasma is a little germ that gets inside of the blood cells and wreaks havoc in your system. It totally depletes you of energy and drains you.

It felt huge, and every time the guy would tell me what he found I would hold my breath and wait for it to be something huge and horrible. Every one of these things is horrible, but none of them are terminal. Praise the Lord! The Lord kept His promise.

I am now on a four month plan to eradicate all of my issues. But that’s another blog post for another day.

God bless,

Here are the previous blog posts if you haven't been following my journey:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Where My Life Is Part 4

No, this is NOT what I do all day

I have a weird knack for confounding the medical community. My grandfather teases me about having these strange health issues that no one has ever heard of. I told him it was all part of my enigmatic personality.

  Two months has passed since I claimed the title Couch Potato, or as my mother affectionately calls me, (cue sarcasm) Sofa Spud. Yes, two months has truly passed. And I still remain an enigma to the medical community. No, I don't count that as an achievement....OK, maybe I do, but just a little bit.
All of my tests that I mentioned in my last post, in this series, went well. Everything looked fine, except the irregular behavior of my heart. The cardiologist determined that it wasn't my heart that was the issue, but rather, something causing my heart to react. Thus we don't have any definitive answers. Am however going to get more blood testing done.

 I am still on the couch, but I'm content there. Truly and honestly. I have taken Paul's advice and become content in whatsoever state I am in. Good lesson to learn. Hard lesson to learn though. Don't get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to get back into my normal life, but the Lord has me on the couch for a reason.
I have come to realize just how similar this whole situation is to Peter walking on the water, as well as when Jesus calmed the storm. Whenever I take my focus off of God and look at my life and this situation I start to panic. The doubts, fears, and worry all swirl about me. Like crashing waves threatening to take the boat under. When I think, how long am I gonna live on the couch? That...just....scares me. But if I think of it as, how long will the Lord have me here...well that is putting my focus back on the Lord. And I can walk on the water again without being afraid. As long as I don't think of it as ME having to go through all this, but instead the LORD taking me through this then I can hold His hand and trust Him completely.

God bless!
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Friday, January 3, 2014

One Year Ago Today...

Repost: God Spared My Life!

I should be dead.

Or at the very least in the hospital right now along with my older sister Steph. But I have a miraculous story to tell. One that bears Spiritual Warfare at the very heart of it.

Yesterday, Steph and I went to Panera Bread for dinner with some friends. I had changed my mind at the very last moment to actually go. I had planned to stay home, but decided against it when I realized I needed to pick up some things from the store before Friday.

We weren't planning to stay at Panera Bread past seven-thirty. We had music to practice for our parent's 25th vow renewal ceremony/celebration on Saturday. But we stayed later and then at the last minute decided to take one of my best friends, Rachelle, home after we had hit T.J. Maxx (another last minute decision) the library, and Walmart.

These details may seem trivial, but it all played a part in the story. In order for Rachelle to ride in Steph's car we had to put three heavy-duty card tables, for the party, in the trunk. It was tricky fitting them in there, but we managed to get them in the trunk.

We spent more time in T.J. Maxx and Walmart than all of us had anticipated. I couldn't find the particular gift card at the 'old' Walmart in Columbus that I needed. Frustrated, I told Steph and Rachelle that I'd just get it at the newer Walmart out by the highway.

We dropped Rachelle off at her house and then headed to the newer Walmart. We met up with Mom there and almost took Samuel  home with us. Once again, it took me a while to find the gift card, but I finally found it and we left for home.

During the drive, I worked on Christmas gifts while Stephanie practiced her speech for Mom and Dad's party. We had found it interesting that every time she came to the part of sharing the gospel she always blanked out. This continued all the way to Columbus and back. She told me, "Haley, Satan does not want me to share this."

The road from Columbus to our house is a dangerous one in the winter. Especially on a particular stretch known as Beck's Grove. We had come through there before just fine. Yes, there were patches of ice, but we had made it safely the first time.

While we were on this road Steph was practicing her speech once again. She was at the part of sharing the gospel when all of a sudden we began fish-tailing. Now Stephanie is a safe driver. I feel safe whenever I am with her.

But whenever the car started twisting, it seemed to go berserk. Steph said, "Don't worry, Haley, I got this," remembering Dad's instruction.

No matter what she did it was worthless. The car was headed for the left side of the road where a deep, wooded ravine seemed to be our destined doom. All of a sudden the car was turned around and the next thing I see is a white embankment and a tree coming at us. Stephanie shut her eyes through the whole thing, but I kept them open the entire time.

I remember screaming and hearing Stephanie scream. We slammed into the embankment and I thought that would be the end of it. I remember thinking, "God, I'm going to die today." But next thing I am being flipped upside down. I hear a loud crunch and screaming. I remember hitting the door, but I didn't feel it. While flipping, both of us felt like someone was holding us in a tight, comfortable embrace. We had our seat-belts on, but it was a stronger grip. Even when we were rolling we felt as though we were swaddled with soft pillows or something. There were angels holding both of us, I am sure of it.

All of a sudden I was suspended in midair by my seat-belt. I suddenly realized that I was repeating, "Oh my God" over and over again. I couldn't figure out where my seat had gone. My door looked odd and I couldn't figure out how to get out. All I could think of, was my sister dead?

I unbuckled my seat-belt somehow and softly landed on the 'floor'. I later figured out that it was the cracked windshield that I was sitting on. The first thing that Stephanie thought when we stopped was, "Shut the car off." Then she thought of me. She thought she had killed me or impaired me and I was in a bloody mess. The first thing I said was, "Are we still alive?" She assured me we were very much alive. We were both turned around mentally. I grabbed her arms and she grabbed mine. I said, "Steph, we need to pray!"
She started praying and I interjected, "Thank you God for saving us!" She stopped me and said, "Right now is not the time to pray. We can pray later. We need to get out of the car." I collected all the necessary belongings and placed them in a Walmart bag. That is, after I found my shoes.

We crawled out and heard a man's voice asking if we are all right. Steph answered "I think so. I don't feel hurt, but I need to call my dad."

I looked at the flipped car and thought, "There is no way we just made it out of there alive. No way."
The man's phone didn't get signal in the spot where we were. He told us we needed to call the police.
A county water utility truck stopped and the couple both had cell phones. The man used his to call the police and the woman let Stephanie use hers to call dad.

The couple from the water utility backed up and sat farther down the road with their flashers on. Dad would be at the crash site in roughly thirty minutes. The man who had first stopped told us, "Why don't you come and sit in my car where it's warm?"

We numbly got in. It was a good thing we did because I was starting to slip into shock.

Aaron was the man who let us sit in his car and he told us some of his crashing experiences. He didn't even live in the area. The only reason he had been down here was to get his birth certificate for a job in another city where he lives. We told him that God had orchestrated the timing perfectly.

The first volunteer policeman got there and we got out. He asked skeptically if we were the ones who had been in the car wreck and if we were hurt. Steph told him, "I don't think so. I don't feel hurt. I'm just shook up."

The policeman shined a flashlight in her eyes and asked, "Are you sure?" She reassured him.

Dad showed up along with more policemen. We went through the whole process of registering the car and all that. Nobody could believe that we were the two who had been in the car wreck.

Those tables I mentioned that we had put in the trunk? I shudder to think what could have happened if they had been in the back seat!

Stephanie's huge glass water bottle had landed above her head and all that had happened to it was the lid came off and the water spilled out. I later reached into my coat pocket and pulled out a Starbucks Mocha glass jar. It was not scratched or cracked. I could hardly believe it.

Mom arrived and charged up to us crying. We put our arms around her and reassured her that we were okay.

We were all heartily astonished when after the wrecker had turned the car over, the car started. Then Dad drove the car all the way home! Stephanie fell apart at that point. She could not believe it. I put my arms around her. I felt like giggling. I didn't feel like crying at that moment. I wanted to laugh exultantly because my God had conquered the demons who wanted us dead. I told Stephanie that I was going to mention what had happened before she gave her speech on Saturday. There is no way I can't. We all agree that what had happened to us was a direct attack from Satan, but God had intervened and had an army of angels all around us.

Fuzzy picture taken from Mom's cell phone camera

We are both sore and I found out I had a minor concussion and a cut on my foot, but other than that and being traumatized I am extremely glad that I am alive. I honestly thought that my life was going to end last night. God spared my life. I cannot tell you how grateful and humbled I am to know that the Lord has a specific purpose for me. I have come to the realization through this whole situation that God has me in the palm of His hands. Life is precious. Value it. Don't squander away your days. Enjoy them. Live them to the fullest. Fill them with things that have an everlasting purpose.

Note: To read Mom's account, read the post The Car Wreck on her blog.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Where My Life Is: Part 3

Saturday morning I trekked upstairs, gathered up my Bible, my laptop, a couple of notebooks, some Starbuck’s via, candy and chocolate I had saved back, (essential to living on the couch. Can’t survive without candy or chocolate!) books that I hadn’t read yet, letters that I needed to reply to, and my pillows and blankets. I was moving into the living room.
One week turned into two. I was still living on the couch. I physically couldn’t do things. I went to church, but all I did was sit, that was the extent of my activities. I went to my appointment with a cardiologist on the 22nd of November. After telling him what was going on and such he said that the list of what it could be was too long. So we would narrow that down with three tests to start with. And if we couldn’t get any good answers from that we would, as he puts it, ‘Do some more investigation.” Love this guy’s vocabulary!
I would have my chest X-Ray, Echo-cardiogram, (heart ultrasound) done on December 2nd, as well as have my 24 hour EKG halter monitor put on.
So what did I do while waiting? Well November is National Novel Writing Month. I was doing the contest of writing 50,000 words in month, but had gotten set back due to the circumstances. So I pulled my story out and finished that baby. I wrote letters, read the Bible, and since I couldn’t get out that much I spent a lot of time conversing over the Internet. I will admit to you here that my attitude has seen some definite changes. In the beginning I was scared about it all. I mean that’s really understandable considering. I had no idea what was going on! But I also wasn’t completely trusting in the Lord. I was grouchy, still am from time to time. I didn’t want to live on the couch. I hate being confined. I love moving around and doing things. I love being busy! To me, I’m being lazy. That’s my mindset. But….through different conversations with my brother Josh he finally convinced me that I can’t really help it. It’s not my fault if I’m being lazy. It’s still frustrating to me when I see something that needs to be done, but I know that I can’t do it.

Well five days into this thing I found out that I couldn’t laugh anymore. Well, at least without consequences. Laughing makes it a whole lot worse. The first time this happened, I went to lay down to go to sleep and I had to sleep sitting up. Whenever I laid down it was as though there was a heavy vise clamping and compressing my chest. My chest pain and heart rate increased too. I ended up throwing myself into a panic attack the first night. The second night I laughed the same thing happened, except I didn’t have a panic attack. So no laughing. Which is completely foreign to me. I am known for giggling. I handle life with laughter! I love to laugh. I love to make other people laugh. But now I can’t.

Thanksgiving rolled around, and on the way to my older sister’s house I laughed some, and sang. Bad idea. When I tried to get out of the van a sharp pain stabbed me in the chest. I couldn’t hardly breathe it was so bad. I made it in the house, and into a chair. I started shaking violently and I couldn’t get the pain to go away in my chest. After family pictures, I stayed snuggled up with soft blankets, in a most comfortable chair the entire day.
That night I had a bad attack..
After that we determined that I would not sing anymore. I’ve done some a little bit, and I’ve always felt horrible afterwards. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Where My Life Is: Part 2

To pick up where I left off in part one…

At the doctor’s appointment on Wednesday Nov. 13, we discussed with the doctor our suspicions about me having Lyme’s disease. She agreed to give me the test along with a bunch of other blood tests. Such as my vitamin D levels, a thyroid check, things like that. The next day, she called saying that she had gotten one of the test results back. Mom and I were on our way into town so we couldn’t call her back.
  Whenever I get test results I’m always nervous. No matter what kind of test it was, it makes me nervous. When we got to a friend’s house mom called the doctor. A few minutes later she announced that my vitamin D level was critically low. It was a level nine. I was immediately put on 50,000 IUs of vitamin D per week. I’ve been on that for about five weeks now.

The next week all of my test results came back negative. No Lyme, which I am grateful, deeply grateful for, and my Thyroid was fine. They did find that at one point I had had Mono. I find that funny and horrible at the same time. I never knew I had it. Hopefully I didn’t give it to anyone else.
So…back to square one. By this time I was getting progressively worse. Even more worse than before. I had passed out on the tenth of November after performing dinner music with my sisters. Thankfully I was home when it happened.
My episodes seemed to be getting closer together. More frequent. And we had no clue what was going on. Talk about scary! The week of the Long Sister’s Student’s Recital I taught piano lessons while relaxed on a couch. I teach at my student’s home so that was awesome how the Lord provided a way for me to comfortably teach. But I was only allowed to sit. I could walk, but only when necessary. The only thing that the girls would let me carry was my bag. I admit I got irritated with this over protection. It was needed, but I felt…restricted. 
At each of my student’s lessons I told them that this might be the last lesson for a while. We might have to stop after the recital and pick up in January. I felt like breaking down. OK, I did on Sunday night when my mom told me that I needed to tell my students that. I’ve come to love all of my students. They are like, I don’t know, best friends. The more you invest in someone’s life the more you grow to love them.
Friday rolled around, and I actually felt really good. I had taken my second vitamin D pill the day before and I felt almost somewhat normal. I taught four of my students in the morning, then came home and readied myself for the night.
While trying to seat my students I kept getting their names mixed up on the paper. Whenever I get close to passing out my vision feels funny. I had already begun to feel nauseous, yet another symptom of passing out. Flustered, I handed the paper to my older sister, Emily, and explained to her what was going on. The recital began, and so did my shaking. I continued to shake throughout the whole thing. Nobody except Emily knew because I did my best to hide it. Emily sat beside me, with her arm around me just in case I did pass out. She didn’t want me falling on the floor. Halfway through she whispered to me and said, “You are not getting up to give your speech.” I nodded and told her it was best if I didn’t get up. I didn’t have notes so I gave her a brief run down on what I had planned to say.
After the recital, and during the reception I continued to stay seated. I knew that if I got up I would more than likely pass out. One of my student’s came up to me and asked if we were still on for lessons the next week. Ever the stubborn one, I pluckily replied, “Of course we are! I plan on being there Tuesday!”
A little bit afterward I went to the restroom with the aid of Emily. When I returned to my seat, I laid my head on her shoulder, and went limp. I didn’t completely pass out, but I had no strength left whatsoever. I kept my eyes closed throughout this time. It’s too much of an effort to lift them, that and talking. I heard them get a wheelchair, and then my older brother Josh, and possibly someone else put me in it. During the process I kept slipping in and out of consciousness. Movement seriously aggravates it. Don’t ask me why. It’s the weirdest feeling though. At the time I wasn’t sure what they were trying to get on the wheelchair. Turns out it was a leg rest or something. Mrs. Beck, the lady who had helped us organize our recital, and one of the mothers of four of my students, ended up wheeling me out. She used to be a nurse, so that was a great asset. I remember hearing her take my pulse saying it was at 120. I left the recital in quite the melodramatic way. Not the way I would have preferred in a million years, but did I really have a choice? I was put in the front seat of my dad’s car by dad and Josh. I’m not quite sure what they were doing, but Josh was in the car talking to me. That really helped me calm down. 
 A lot. I won’t go into all of the details of what happened in the ER. It would bore you, but they did not find anything new. They told us that it was pointless to keep bringing me back in there because they would do the same thing over and over: Suck my blood, do an EKG, and hook me up to a heart monitor.
That was one of my worst episodes ever. On the car ride home mom informed me that I was going to cancel life for a week, and do nothing but lay on the couch. And she meant that to the ‘T’.

Where  My Life Is Part 1
Where My Life Is Part 3

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Where My Life Is: Part 1

Life is crazy. That's just the simple truth. Twists and turns arriving that are so unexpected. It's scary sometimes. Never knowing what exactly is around the bend. But at other times that's what makes life exciting. Very exciting. Sometimes. It's fun to read about it in novels; "Oh, wow, that's so amazing! Her life just got turned upside down." Does anyone ever wish that it would happen to them? I did, I admit, once or twice. And well, I got my wish. I've always been told to be careful what I wished or prayed for. Lesson learned.

My life was running good for a couple of months. I settled into being a piano teacher to sixteen students. Absolutely loved it. Was planning a recital with my two older sisters and their students. And then my health started to go downhill. Funny how that happens to me a lot. I get a good start running and then crash! There goes my life for a couple of months. This is the third  year in a row that this has happened to me. I have no idea why. So don't ask me.
Over the summer I had been having bad wrist pain, and getting random fevers that would run for two days. No one else would get them. Weird, right? In September my heart started doing strange things. It would randomly speed up for about an hour or so, then it would go back to normal. Over the next month my joints began hurting. One day it would be this, the next day it would be that joint. I would get horrid leg pains frequently. In October, my sister MacKenzie came to mom and told her that she had been having some of these same symptoms. All except the heart issues. We honestly thought we had Lyme disease. Mom put us on supplements that would fight infection, and also help us with our joint pain. I didn't get better. I got worse. I was still teaching, but it got harder to hide my pain. I'm not one to show weakness. I like to think of myself as invincible....boy did that idea go out the window!
  As the month of November approached my symptoms kept getting worse. I couldn't walk up a set of stairs without feeling seriously winded. Not normal for me. I got weak easily, and required a ton of sleep. Again, not normal for me. I love seeing how little sleep I can get by on. It's a challenge.
 Wednesday, November the sixth my heart rate went way up after I had been doing applesauce. I couldn't do anything. I felt totally out of breath, and I shook horribly. I sort of freaked out, but didn't really say much about it, besides that I couldn't do much.
The next day, while at a Bright Light's meeting I felt weird again. I told mom that I was going to go out and get in the van. When I arrived there, I had no strength to actually step up into the van. I felt weird, like never before. I asked MacKenzie for help, and asked her to get Emily. She could immediately tell that something was wrong with me. Usually when I'm in pain I tend to not want to be around people. Emily put her arms around me and went to lift me into the van. I told her, "Emily I feel like I'm going to faint. I'm go-" And I slipped to the ground in a faint, in her arms. She freaked out and yelled for mom. Stephen, a friend who was still there with us along with his brother, picked me up and put me in the front seat. I kept slipping in and out of consciousness.
When I pass out I can still hear what's going on around me, for the most part, but I go totally limp, and it's too much for me to open my eyes, or speak.
Mom called dad and they agreed that she should take me to the ER. We dropped the kids off at the house, and dad put me in the car. I kept passing out in his arms and freaked him out too. My poor dad...
The only thing that could be found out at the ER was that I had Tachycardia. They told mom that she should call and get an appointment scheduled with my doctor. Which is exactly what she did.

More to come in Part 2


Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm Still Alive!

I’ve been absent for quite some time. I honestly did not mean for that to happen. Time ebbs away too easily it seems. Especially the older you get. At least that’s what it feels like. Truth be told, every time I have tried to write a blog post I get caught up in socializing with other people, searching other things, and forgetting that I needed to write a blog post. Honestly, I didn’t feel inspired. I generally don’t write unless I feel a desire to do so. 

Nevertheless, I have been going through quite a bit. There are certain areas of my life that I would like to share with you. Hopefully when you read the different posts you will be encouraged and maybe even convicted. If I haven’t made this clear enough already, my goal for this blog is to encourage and bless any and everyone who reads it. I see this blog as a journal of sorts. I’m documenting my spiritual journey, (though sometimes the posts don’t always follow that guideline).
What I will do is give you an overview of what I have been up to. Then I’ll go into detail in a few of the areas that God has been working heavily in my life. It may take some time to get this all written, but that’s OK.
The last post that I wrote was on my graduation party. What have I done since? Anything and everything! Or…so it seems. 
I have fifteen piano students. I divided it up to where I teach them on three different days of the week. That takes up quite a bit of time. Plus I’m getting sewing lessons in exchange for teaching piano. Absolutely love exchanging trades.

I have been writing as often as I can. By writing I mean working on my novels. I have three in the works. The main one I am working on is the second rough draft of my World War Two novel. I am really trying to get that one finished. My hope and prayer is to get it published someday soon. I’m still praying about which publishing house I want to go with, and how to find a literary agent. That is one scary thought. I have no idea how it will all work out so I am simply leaving it up to God to provide me with one.

My family has been busy with singing engagements and different functions. Corrie’s baptism/our fall party is this Sunday. We have preparation for that to work on.

I have been continuing with my own piano lessons. God worked it out to where I would be able to further my piano education. That was truly amazing how the Lord opened the door for that one. I am still awed at how He made that happen.

I have a new sister! Sabrina Lynn. Beautiful six year old. She is actually our second cousin, but the Lord allowed us to obtain guardianship of her. She is such a blessing. I am planning on doing an entire post on that one. You’ll get all of the details on that situation, most of them anyway.

That’s about all of the major things happening in my life. There are little things in between the cracks of these main things that I will share with you. I know God wants me to share them with you all. He has laid it on my heart to do so.
Stay tuned for the next few blog posts that are certain to follow.

God bless you!