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Category Archives: The2016Story

An Expert in Passing Out

You know, of all the things I had hoped to excel at in life, passing out was at the bottom of the list. Actually it wasn’t on the list.

The second medicine I got put on is one that you have to work your way onto so it took roughly four weeks to get to the dose my doctor wanted me at. I had passed out twice on the previous med (which I was only on for about 4 days) so my neurologist switched me to a different one. I do have to say that the new one (Topamax) did a great job at controlling the seizures. But it did a terrible job at causing me to pass out.

I had a little bit of warning. I could feel it coming on like you can feel the tension in the air before a bad thunderstorm comes. Sometimes that feeling would last for an hour before and sometimes it was just a couple of minutes. Then usually about 15 seconds before I passed out I could tell for sure that it was coming. There were a couple of my friends who could look at my face and tell before I could that it was time to find a place to lay down. That was the goal- lay down BEFORE you pass out.

It got to the point where I was almost on a schedule. It would happen just about every other day. You know, it’s a very weird feeling to wake up in the morning and know that at some point, and in some place during that day, you are going to pass out. I’ve passed out in so many different places. When you don’t have much warning, you just find the most out of sight place close to you and sit or lay down. I’ve passed out in my yard, in the office, at church, so many different places around the Farm, and the list goes on. Friends have caught me from falling, have laid me down, and have held my head while waiting for me to wake back up. I was usually only out for 20 seconds-1 minute. It’s pretty sad when passing out barely ruffles your day.

I had to practically beg my doctor to take me off Topamax. She didn’t believe that the meds could be causing the issue and still thought there was something the matter with my heart. I had passed all the heart tests with flying colors and my heart had been pronounced very healthy by the cardiologist. She finally agreed to start taking me down off the medicine and guess what? It takes four weeks to come off of it too. So the passing out continued.

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I passed out a total of 32 times while on Topamax. My best friend got me a cake when we hit that mark because everyone should eat some cake if they have passed out that many times. God was so gracious to me though! There were so many times that I could have fallen and hurt myself but I didn’t. He provided close friends who know me better than I know myself (apparently) to catch me and care for me. He protected me from harm and I am thankful for that.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in The2016Story

 

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Thoughts On Comforting Others

Through all of this I have learned there are many different kinds of people when it comes to comforting someone who is in a difficult situation. A few examples:

-There are the people who tell you to suck it up, buttercup. If I was honest, I am usually one of these people. You’ll be fine, keep going, get over it. (Actually, I usually say, “Drink more water; that cures everything.” Turns out it doesn’t. Huh, who knew?) Sometimes though, things aren’t fine.

-There are the people who toss Bible verses at you. The people who don’t really know what’s going on so they just grab verses to tell you. They mean well; they really do. But let me tell you, coming from someone who has been through something like this, it doesn’t always help. This sounds terrible so I’m trying to find the right words here. Most of the time, I already knew the truth. I knew what God’s word had to say and to have someone quote the verses to me (especially if they didn’t understand my situation) was not usually helpful.

-Then there are the people who understand. Most often, these people have also been through rough times and know how to comfort others. They know that what you really need is a long hug and that words are not always the answer. They know when it is time to talk and when you just need to sit and cry together. God has blessed me with several friends like this.

The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep but how often do we really take the time to know someone’s situation well enough to do that? I don’t want to be that top person anymore. I want to be someone who is compassionate towards others because each person I meet is going through something that I know nothing about. I have been so convicted about how judgmental and harsh I was before this. Everyone struggles with things that no one can see. I want to be slow to judge others by what I see. And I want to be quick to love. Quick to listen. Quick to share Christ.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2017 in The2016Story

 

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Tests and More Tests

So apparently ‘abnormal brain waves’ is a fancy term for “we see something that could lead to seizures but they aren’t actual seizures.” I also found out at that appointment that they had seen my heart (they did an EKG at the same time as an EEG) doing some funny pauses.

Right away, they put me on a seizure medicine and set up some appointments for some more testing to be done. Two days after being on the med, I passed out. Now, I have never passed out before and when it happened again two days later they quickly switched meds. But the passing out didn’t stop.

Hence we enter what I call the Test phase. This is the phase where doctors run all sorts of tests on your body to rule out different things.

-The first test was an MRI. That was one of the most the scary ones because they were checking for a tumor in my brain. My housemate, Natalie, and I affectionately called the tumor a ‘watermelon’ when we prayed against it. I’m thankful that I’m not a claustrophobic person because that would have made things much worse. Nope. No watermelons in my brain.

Then they started running tests on my heart to see if my heart was actually causing the issue. I have to say, the cardiologist was my favorite doctor and I should have taken him a plate of cookies. Finally someone who sat and listened and seemed to care! BUT the heart testing was the worst.

-First came the stress test. Basically, they put you on a treadmill while they monitor your heart to see if anything happens. They stress out your heart. Now, at this point, I was having issues with the passing out and I told the nurse that. She told me that if I started to pass out, she was probably going to try to bring me back using smelling salts and continue the test. Okay, I thought, that’s fine. HAVE YOU EVER USED SMELLING SALTS????! It’s not like in the movies, people, where they wave the bottle under the person’s nose and they gracefully wake back up. Oh no. Smelling salts come in this little tube that they snap open under your nose and they smell like ammonia. For some reason, I had it in my mind that they would smell good, like flowers or chocolate or something, but they smell like ammonia and they make you choke and gasp and your eyes burn and water. UGH. Sometimes I still get the memory of that and choke a little. They used smelling salts on me twice during that test because I passed out twice. After the second time, they stopped the test.

-The second test was an ultrasound on my heart. Which was actually super awesome! I got to see my heart moving and beating. God’s design is incredible and I was able to mention that to the nurse.

-The third test was a tilt table test. For this one, they strap you to a table and lay you flat for 15 minutes or so, monitoring your blood pressure and heart rate. Then they quickly tilt the table up to see if you pass out or not. In my case, that did not cause me to pass out, so they brought out some nitroglycerin and had me put a tablet under my tongue. Do you know what nitro does to you? It increases your heart rate incredibly. Within 15 seconds of that tablet dissolving I had passed out and she laid me back down.

These tests are hard. Although I had friends go with me to the hospital, no one can be in the room with you during the actual test. And it’s hard to be alone and at the mercy of others. I came out of most tests crying, feeling like I had just left a torture chamber, instead of a doctor’s office. I can’t imagine being one of those nurses and having to do that to people all the time.

Do you know what else is hard? It’s hard to be kind to some doctors. There is such a balance between “I know my body best and what’s going on” and “You are a doctor and know way more than I do.” Natalie went with me to all of my appointments and we learned a lot about tact. How to say things with tact. For instance, (yes I have her permission to post this) at one point, a doctor was telling me something and I knew it wasn’t going to work because I had already told him that I tried it and he wasn’t listening to me. Natalie looked him right in the face and said, “No, that’s garbage!” We had to have a discussion later about how it’s not really kind to tell people what they are saying is garbage and we talked about tact.

But if I think about my own life, how often do I say things without thinking them through? How often do I give the harsh answer that stirs up strife instead of the soft answer that turns away wrath?

How about in your life?

 

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in The2016Story

 

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The Waiting Game

I’ve learned a lot about doctor’s appointments in the last nine months. First off, did you know that many doctors (at least all the ones I saw) don’t actually check your height anymore?? They just ask how tall you are and write it down. Funny thing though, they DO still check your weight. Hmm. Like people aren’t honest or something. Secondly, doctors must not trust anybody. They send their nurse in to ask you a bazillion questions and then they come in and repeat the EXACT. SAME. QUESTIONS. Thirdly, I’m pretty sure neurologists must be the highest paid people on the planet. They basically spend 10 minutes in the room with you and BAM! there goes a few hundred dollars.

Those random thoughts aside, I’ll pick up TheStory now. We went to see my doctor the very next day. And you guys, this is just how awesome the Lord is. I didn’t actually have a family doctor until a few months before this when I decided it was time to adult and get a check-up. After doing a lot of looking I finally found one that I liked and she is wonderful. Isn’t God’s planning great? I’m so thankful that when all of this started I already had a doctor I could go to…and she has walk-in hours first thing almost every morning. 🙂

I had already guessed what she was going to tell me. You, see my brother has epilepsy, so I know the signs and symptoms of a seizure and I had a suspicion. I outright told her that’s what I thought it was that had occurred but I wanted to know WHAT IN THE WORLD AND WHY AND HOW AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN. She agreed and ordered an EEG for later that week and made an appointment with a neurologist.

Have you ever had an EEG done? They make it sound very relaxing: “We are just going to hook all these wires to your head and maybe flash some lights at you and we may want you to try to take a nap.” Easy-peasy. Uh…no. They flash lights right in your eyes until you cry and your head is pounding and they make you hyperventilate to the point of almost passing out. Simply put, they are trying to induce you to have a seizure so that they can record it. Not a fun experience.

Later that week I got a call with the results from my test. They did not see any exact seizures, per se, however they did see some abnormal brain waves they would like to discuss. Ummm…can I have some more explanation, please? What exactly are “abnormal brain waves???”

Do you know what else I’ve learned about Doctors? They involve a lot of waiting. You sometimes have to wait weeks or months to even get an appointment. You have to wait to see the doctor and wait to get results. Even after you get a call with your results, you have to wait for the explanation. The receptionist was not able to give me any other information and I had to wait until my appointment with the neurologist.

Sigh. Waiting involves a lot of trust in the Lord, you know. Sometimes waiting can be the hardest part of difficult journeys. Whether it’s waiting for a job opportunity, or a prayer to be answered, or a brain issue to be explained, waiting tests our trust in God because we have no control. We have to trust that he knows best and we have to learn to be still before him. And boy, is it hard! And it’s something I had to learn.

So I waited.

 

(Disclaimer: Please don’t be offended if you are a doctor! I really do appreciate you all!)

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2017 in The2016Story

 

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April 10, 2016

It’s funny how a date can stick in your mind. Something happens and you never forget that date. April 10th is that day for me and actually today marks exactly 9 months since that day. Although at the time I didn’t even realize the significance of what had happened.

On that day, I woke up at 4:30am as normal and sat down at my iPad to start studying. I had been sitting there for a little while when the weirdest thing happened to me. Suddenly my whole body tensed up for just a second and then relaxed. It almost hurt but not quite. Almost like a jerk, but it was certainly not intentional. Oh well, back to studying. That’s usually what I do: ignore things like that. But then it happened again later. And before 7:30 that morning, it had happened 5 times and I was suddenly so tired that I wanted to go back to bed and sleep forever. So I was a little concerned but not enough to do anything.

So instead I went to work (which just so happened to be a longer day than normal) and got home (practically dead) and just laid on the couch. I felt terrible and tired, and I cried.

When my housemate got home, I finally told her what happened and we agreed (more like she forced me) to go to my doctor in the morning. Little did I know how many appointments would follow that first one.

Little did I know that my life had just changed completely.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2017 in The2016Story

 

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Living the Good Life

I know this series is called The2016Story, but for it really to be impactful, we need to go back a little bit further than that.

From about summer of 2015 to April of 2016, my life was awesome. I seriously loved it. I was finally getting to know people at church and getting involved there with the young adult group. I loved my job, the people I worked with, and the ministry we have. And, I was in the best shape of my life. I woke up early every single morning and worked out. I convinced several friends to join me most days and we had a blast doing it! I did tons of running (which I love) and ran my fastest times and farthest distances ever.

Life was busy with friends, work, and church. We (my housemates and I) had friends over to our house most nights for games, a movie, or just to sit around and talk.

With all of this going on, in September of 2015, I decided I wanted to finish my degree online and I started classes. I woke up every morning at 4:30am so that I could study, do devos, and exercise before work in the morning. There was no way I wanted to give up time with friends so I went to bed a little earlier but still around 10:30pm. Six hours of sleep is fine, I told myself. And I did it every day, no exceptions. Everyone told me I was insane.

Do you know what? I liked it! I actually like to get up early and I like to be busy. I finished a year of college in 4 months and I was thrilled! I didn’t feel worn out or stretched thin. 

How was my relationship with the Lord, you ask? Well, you know, it was…good? Whatever that means. Kind of bland, but who cares? I was so busy and had such a strict schedule that I knew it would get better. I just needed a little more time in the day. I just needed to push a little harder. Maybe get up a little earlier so that I would have more time.

Pretty much I felt invincible.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2017 in The2016Story

 

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The2016Story

I have struggled for several weeks and pushed off writing this post because I don’t know where to start. So much has happened in my life and I feel like a different person since my last post. Where do I even start? How do you pick up the threads of a old blog? (Lord of the Rings reference, people. Come on.)

God has molded my life in a way that I couldn’t have imagined and I hope over the next several posts to be able to share that with you. His grace has been shown to me in a new way and although it was not a way I would have chosen, (curious yet?) I have come to realize that it’s when the darkness is the worst that his love shines the brightest.

So I think I’m ready to tell the story. The2016Story. Stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2017 in The2016Story

 

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