For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven… A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. -Ecclesiastes 3:1,4
A good friend asked about the time I lost my hair. I know when it started, when it ended, and not much in between. “You were in survival mode”, Lisa commented. Yes, I was.
At fifteen my mitral valve relapse was discovered during an EKG and echocardiogram. Every month brought endless tests during our Boston visits. Luckily my lungs, kidneys, and brain were unaffected. That’s the thing with lupus, the body attacks its own organs, it’s completely unpredictable.
Puffy, chipmunk cheeks were my nemesis, weight gain soon followed. My disease was under fire from high dose prednisone. My once slender, athletic body put on multiple pounds. But, it wasn’t enough.
Chemotherapy became an easy choice. It wasn’t until mom was left alone with my chart did we discover my aortic valve was similarly troubled. They weren’t pumping blood the way they should, a good amount was left behind, I learned this was less than ideal.
One Friday a month I traded school for the hospital. Mom and I had fun shopping before checking in. I never ate much during our restaurant lunches, knowing what was to come. The I.V. was the part I feared most, I tried to remain tough, but tears often flowed. I’m embarrassed to admit, they make me cry.
Mom had a tough time that first night. She looked at me on my bed, eyes drooping from the sedative, and shed her own tears. It wasn’t until I had my own children that I started to consider how she felt during this time. Her heart was broken too.
The sleepless night led to being wheeled out to our car the next morning and we’d begin the long journey home. Mom often wanted to stop at cute little shops on the way, I always too groggy. Monday, I’d return to school, having had the weekend to recover.
Chemo continued for a year and a half, though it was supposed to last for five, my heart began to heal itself. I remember bits and pieces from this time. I have diaries stashed away, little floral padded books with locks, I’ve been hesitant to revisit them. Reading the entries I feel might bring healing, I think it’s time.
What I do remember is the trust I had that things would get better. I held on to what I knew during that time, my studies, sports and a few close friends. I was patient, believing my health would return, and thank God, it did.
We all have dark seasons in our lives. Times we wish time would pass in an instant instead of the sometimes years they last. Pleading for our burdens to be lifted, we can easily miss the lessons buried within them. It can help to know that you are being made stronger, wiser, and yes, even happier, because of what you’re going through.
I wouldn’t wish this frightening disease on anyone. I want you to know I’ve found peace in spite of it. I’ve learned to live with uncertainty knowing that no matter what, I will be okay. God is bigger than lupus and more powerful than any circumstance I may experience.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
Sure, my memory may fail me, but hope never does.