This post is long overdue, but I suppose better late than never. Some of you know about the physical challenges I've been experiencing for the last two and a half months, for others this will be news to you. I've been waiting for the right time to write about what I've experienced but I don't know that there ever is a right or good time. Regardless, I feel ready now.
My body started betraying me in August, although there were signs earlier had I known what to look for. At first it was the feeling that something wasn't quite right. I was tired, couldn't remember things as well, but I'm a mom since when haven't I been tired. By the second week of August intense dizziness and tingling in my hand began. I was feeling old and worn out. I experienced a tired I couldn't push through. The dizziness at times was so extreme that I just wanted to lie on the floor to make the room stop moving. But you can't always lie on the floor in the middle of church. Sometimes it made me nauseous. The odd tingling and sensory changes were disturbing. My left hand was affected most. My finger tips would feel like they'd gone to sleep and then my whole hand. I dropped things a lot. Sometimes it felt like little bugs crawling along my scalp or in my calves. The severe dizziness gave way to the feeling of occasional lightheadedness or off balance. The sensory change became permanent in my left hand. I felt like I was in a fog and had a hard time remembering things or following directions. Then the really scary symptoms set in. My legs became so weak, sore and hard to use I had a hard time walking. Some days I could hardly lift my feet and couldn't feel the bottoms of them. It didn't feel like my legs were my own anymore. I had been walking 2 to 4 miles several times a week, and loved it. By the end of August I could barely walk a few blocks. Some days I struggled to get out of bed.
I had an appointment with a neurologist at the end of September. I was suspecting MS. He felt there was reason to look for MS given my symptoms and ordered two MRIs and some blood work. I had an appointment with him this past week to discuss the findings of the tests. There was no sign of MS in the MRIs and the blood work indicated slightly elevated B6 levels in my body. Toxic levels of vitamin B6 cause nerve damage and some of the symptoms are very similar to MS. When I initially heard from his office, a few weeks before my follow up appointment, that my MRI's were negative for signs of MS and my B6 levels were elevated I was relieved and believed it was an easy answer. I have even seen improvement in some of my symptoms since I stopped taking supplements. However, when I talked to the neurologist this week it doesn't appear to be the easy answer I thought. My B6 levels were 26, the upper limit is 21, he considered this only slightly elevated. He said he would expect to see higher levels in someone who is struggling to walk and had the symptoms I was showing and has seen levels as high as 70. So, he believes the B6 certainly caused some symptoms but is only a piece of the puzzle, not the answer. Although I didn't show signs of MS in the MRIs he's not completely ready to rule out MS and may yet do a spinal tap to check for signs in my spinal fluid. He also wants to test for other auto immune diseases. So, while I'm not at square one I'm not much past it either.
At times I feel anxious and ready to know what I'm facing. Who is this silent foe? I want to know if my life is going to change permanently or is it something with an easy cure. I'm ready to know. There are still so many unanswered questions. As far as the 'why me' question though, it doesn't exist. God has so graciously prepared my heart for this journey. I have told God all along, and still do, that however he wants to use my body to bring himself glory I'm for it. I recently finished re-reading my favorite book, "Hinds Feet on High Places". What a reminder of the beautiful work suffering produces in our lives when we yield to his purposes and plan. I know that there is work to be done in my heart, my marriage, my family and hopefully in my church if I yield to God's plan of suffering. Not to mention the obvious truth that my life is no longer my own since I've participated in Jesus death and resurrection. Or that God is God and I'm not, if he's trustworthy I don't even want to question what comes from his hand, I trust it. In the midst of the uncertainty and discomfort I'm learning to offer up the sacrifice of worship. Worshiping in the darkness is an act of trust and I believe there is no greater way to worship than trust. I can already see the Holy Spirit using my health to prune and refine me. My heart's desire is to bare my heart to that work with abandon. I'm learning that my health really isn't the point, God's glory is. He has invited us to participate in bringing him glory and he will use any means possible to do that. He's been teaching me these truths for the last couple of years and now I feel like I'm putting them to the test, it's exciting!
I'll keep you updated on the news I receive about my health, as well as what God is teaching me. I know you understand that in my situation it's not uncommon to get tons of advice on my health. As much as I know the advice is well meant it can be overwhelming to receive regularly from many different sources. However, your encouragement and prayers for endurance are most welcome!