The Diagnosis Stories- Seeking the Purpose of My Chronic Illness
I’ve asked some of our readers to share their stories. The story of how they came to watch their bodies and functionality change, the story of words spoken over them by physicians or words yet to be spoken, the challenges they face and how they are overcoming them. My hope is that within their stories you find your own. That as you read their words you are reminded that you are not alone and that sickness NEVER wins. Today, I give you Brandi.
I’m Brandi, follower of Christ, wife to an amazing, supportive husband, blessed mother to four sweet children, and fellow spoonie. After many years of struggling with body aches, joint stiffness, severe back spasms, seasonal depression, sensory sensitivities and other various ailments, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. In winter 2012, I started on my way to becoming well again and regaining a ‘normal’ life. Through my journey, I have learned that living with fibromyalgia and chronic pain does not have to be merely surviving life, but thriving it! Being Fibro Mom not only gives you the resources needed to understand fibromyalgia and chronic pain, but also how to cope with those crazy kid days, unexpected flare-ups, and unpredictable emotional days.
You can read more from Brandi here.
In 2005 I began to experience body pains, mood swings, and constant fatigue after the birth of my first child. The physician said it was typical pains caused by pregnancy. Everything I experienced was natural.
After seven agonizing months, I went back to my physician. She ran tests and discovered I was pregnant with my second child. She attributed my pains to another pregnancy. Again, I took her opinion about it, and left it at that.
Fast forward to 2008 and my symptoms increased in severity and number. Besides body pains, mood swings, and constant fatigue, I experienced:
The pain and symptoms had to stop. An appointment with a different physician didn’t turn up any new results. In fact, this physician dismissed my pain as being a ‘typical mom’. He said that I should just suck it up.
How embarrassing. How embarrassing that all moms felt this way, yet I was complaining to a physician about it. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I cope like other moms?
I felt alone. Hopeless. Helpless.
During the next four years, I gave birth to two more children. My pain levels grew worse in severity. I gave each day all my strength. There were no complaints, no slowing down, no resting.
I was the poster mom.
On the outside.
Inside? Inside I was screaming with pain, desperation, hopelessness. Not only was I exhausted from physical pain, but I was also spiritually lost. The pain had consumed me.
To make matters worse, I wasn’t the only one affected by my pain. My immediate family felt the affects of my pain. My family living 500 miles away felt it, too. Everyone walked on eggshells around me for fear of making me mad or sad. It was no way for anyone to live.
During the winter of 2012, there was an incident. I had become angry at my husband for some reason. It was so insignificant that I can’t recall what angered me. I lashed out at him, stormed upstairs, and then blacked out.
When I came back around, I was lying on the ground crying. During my black out I threw items in my room, yelled at the top of my voice, and said hurtful things. I don’t recall most of it. I do know it was scary. That was the moment I threw in the towel and sought help.
Fifteen minutes after speaking to yet another physician, she knew what was going on. Being a fibromyalgia sufferer herself, she knew the signs all too well. Even with the diagnosis, I felt no relief. It’s weird. A physician confirming a diagnosis should have made me relieved. I could now move forward with treatment. That wasn’t the case.
Initially I thought, why me? Why do I have to be the one with a chronic illness?
As the reality of the diagnosis set in, I spiraled into a state of depression. It lasted several months. During that time my physician gave me a book to read about fibromyalgia. It talked about others suffering like I was suffering. There were others experiencing the same pains and emotions. They were having the same struggles even as moms. I wasn’t alone. I was going to find a purpose for me having a chronic illness even if it took years.
To start off, I decided to not be a fibromyalgia, survivor. I was going to manage my pain. Fibromyalgia was not going to have me. I was going to have fibromyalgia, and I was going to thrive.
After many trial and errors with treatments, I developed a treatment regiment for me. Catered to my body, symptoms, and needs my treatment has proven effective. Despite feeling better with physical pains and emotions I was lacking spiritually.
Why did God give me this illness? What was His purpose for my pain and suffering?
The spiritual awakening I needed came after a visit to the emergency room. The physician seeing me said I was the happiest chronic sufferer. I laughed inside because I was getting better, but there were still dark days.
Then I felt myself praying. I don’t know what moved me to pray, but I did. The warmth that grew inside was comforting and powerful. His comfort at that moment was addicting. It was what I had been longing for all these years. The thirst it quenched was undeniable.
From that day on I began to pray daily. My faith since that time is stronger than I ever imagined it could be. My baptism on Easter Sunday 2014 cemented my love and devotion for Him. Our Lord has been steadfast and strong in my life, and I face each day with His presence. I don’t always pray for my healing, but for understanding of the pain. I want to understand His reasoning for me to endure each day. I want to fulfill His purpose for me and having a chronic illness.
With a chronic illness, it’s easy to turn from God and His word when the world of pain is so dark and hopeless. It’s easy to say He doesn’t love us because of the suffering we endure.
Yet nothing worth having is easy.
He doesn’t turn from us when life gets tough. In fact, it’s the opposite. He loves us more and more through the tough parts of life.
He lifts us up when we have fallen.
He teaches us to love Him as He loves us.
He comforts us when we need comforting.
He makes us stronger when we are weak.
He does all this plus more and all He asks in return is to love Him. To embrace our Father is to give Him our worries, our pain, our suffering, our darkness. But it is also to give Him our thoughts, our love, our thanks, our prayers. He loves us unconditionally.
Without a doubt, I would not be as strong, calm, and comforted without our Lord and His word. Today, I understand the purpose of my chronic illness. It is that He believes I am stronger than I believe I am. He wants to use my strength to reach out to others and support, encourage, and be there for those that need it.
Throughout the last two years I have jotted down scriptures of encouragement. I have several that I love, but one of my favorites is this one:
“So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteious right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10