JoJoisms

When you feel alone…God

Written By: JoJoisms - May• 22•17

I’ve talked to so many women with chronic illness in the past several years that I’ve been writing my blog and there is one thing that we all have in common: we all feel alone at times.  We may each have a different set of issues, symptoms.  We may be different ages, have a different life experience, have different family dynamics, but we all feel alone in our struggle at some point.

I live pretty far from my family, though I talk to a few of them on the phone often.  I live one state over from my daughter and her husband. My son will be moving across the country for college soon.  I’ve moved away from many of my friends over the years and even the lovely ladies I’ve met at church live far enough away that I don’t see them much outside of church.

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one on the planet that feels like this?  Has your symptoms?   Has to put up with your struggles?  Day in and day out without a break?  With few to help you?  And no one close by who understands?  I know.  That’s why I started this blog.  But even my articles can’t be with you every day.  I am only able to keep up once a week and I can’t reach out to each of you every day to uplift and comfort you and to tell you that you are not alone.  But I know someone who can.  God.

When you feel alone…God is there.

When you feel nobody understands…God does!

When you feel you can’t go on another day…God can give you strength.

And when you don’t know what to do next…pray.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” –Deuteronomy 31:6

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4

I’ll be exploring more about this topic further at some point so stay tuned for some encouragement that I pray God will give you through me.  Please feel free to share with me your thoughts on feeling alone in your chronic illness/issues…and how can I be of more encouragement to you?

My Weight Loss (Gain) Update

Written By: JoJoisms - May• 02•17

So about no score and two months ago, I set forth upon this continent a new weight loss journey conceived in the loss of food liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal…but not with women!

In that time, I have spent my weekdays either walking around my house 10x including up and down the stairs (did I mention TEN TIMES?) or walking on the treadmill for 20-25 min at a pace that would rival a go cart (okay it just feels that way).  I have, in addition, severely decreased my intake of carbs, sugar, and just about anything that tastes good, while trying not to starve myself for fear my body will be under the delusion that it was starving to death and store all my calories as FAT (but mostly in my hind quarters and thighs).

During that same time (actually it was only two weeks), my husband had cut down on his salt, sugar and carbs while cheating in the early evening with ICE CREAM and exercising naught.  (For those of you that don’t watch BBC America, that means NONE!)

Results: 

  • In two weeks, my husband had lost six pounds.
  • In two months, my post menopausal female body GAINED…eight pounds!

Yes, you read that correctly.  He lost just shy of what I GAINED and it only took him one quarter of the time it took me!

Does this seem a bit…I don’t know…UNFAIR to any of you?!  Yeah.  Me too!

So here’s what I’m doing about it.  I’m slowly stepping up my game.  Instead of 20 min on the treadmill at level 2, I’ve been incrementally increasing the level and am now at level 3 and, as of the time of this writing, I have seemingly lost two pounds, though the scale lies. It seems to depend upon what time of day I step on it, how many hairs I’ve lost in the shower, and whether or not I have inhaled a bit more air.

I know it may be an uphill battle only six months after my hysterectomy and full menopausal status (which took almost 18 yrs in coming to fruition), but I am determined to keep going…at least until my legs fall off.

And so I continue such that these calories have not died in vain… that this body, under God, shall have a new birth of weight loss — and that body of the JoJo, by the JoJo, for the JoJo, shall not perish from the earth…until skinny.

What’s your post Meno Weight Loss Story?  Did you also reach your *plateau* at the BEGINNING of your weight loss journey?  Or am I alone in this?

God is NOT a Genie!

Written By: JoJoisms - Apr• 25•17

I’m going to go into this a lot more in detail in the coming months, but I just have to put this out there.  God is NOT a genie!

When you are chronically ill, you often run into devotionals and gurus who tell you to pray and God will take away all your issues.  The Name it and Claim it crowd will try to convince you that you can have whatever you want: wealth, health, success, love, crunchy peanut butter, and the horse it rode in on just by believing in it and/or praying for it. Further, they’ll try to convince you that if He doesn’t heal you, it’s your fault because you have unconfessed sin.  

God is not our genie. He’s our Lord, our Savoir and He knows what is best for us even if we can’t understand it at the time…or ever.  How many times have you seen a movie about someone who achieved great things despite overwhelming odds or great tragedy?  They inspire others, don’t they?  Think about some of the Bible’s examples of being faithful to God?  Did God always heal them?  

This is not even biblical.  Where in the Bible does it tell us we can have whatever we want whenever we want it.  It tells us we can have the desires of our heart, but only after we submit to Him. It also says that the Lord can say yes, no, or wait when we pray.  I submit to you that God often says no or wait.  At least that’s my experience.  In the Bible, He told Paul, “my grace is sufficient for you.”

And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

The problem with believing that God will heal us if we only ask, aside from it not being scriptural, is that you end up angry, frustrated, and weary.  Weary from constantly praying for something that never happens, frustrated because the struggle now includes wishing and waiting for answers on top of just having to deal with the every day problems we face just having chronic illness.  And angry at God and others for what we have to handle instead of being at peace with how we are and just concentrating on the struggle at hand.  Instead of looking for God to do what we want, we should concentrate on doing what God wants of us.

Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”  -Abraham Lincoln

War Wounds

Written By: JoJoisms - Apr• 18•17

Ever notice that boys love to show off their war wounds?  They eagerly relate the stories that came to create their scars–each in his turn trying to top the other’s story.

Women don’t do that.  In fact, we tend to hide our scars. We cover them up with clothing, makeup, and embarrassment.  It becomes a source of stress that someone will notice and that we will have to apologize for it.  We desperately look for ways to keep our wrinkles at bay, our skin from sagging and crinkling. We take sometimes drastic measures to keep thin, to lose weight, to cover up our widening hips.  In the dark of night when nobody is watching, we may cry over the person we once were and can no longer see in the mirror.  We look at our bodies and despair over what has happened to us.

Well, I’ve decided to take a page from the Men’s War Wound Playbook. I choose to look at my scars, premature aging, turkey waggle, and car accident deformities as a sign of strength that declares to the world that I lived through all of that and I’m still here to tell the tale.  Somehow that makes me bold instead of weak, an over-comer instead of a victim.

Most of my scars are in areas of my body only my husband and I will ever see, but one of them is now proudly displayed on my neck where all can see.  Some day the scar might fade and the lump may finally disappear completely, but for now, here it is in all its glory.

The first is a headshot of me with my laugh lines (well earned) and my turkey waggle and a hint of my parathyroid surgery war wounds.  The following two show more detail of the latter.  

The last one is a picture of my hand after the car accident and shows how my middle finger now likes to cozy up to my ring finger upon making a fist.  I sure am unique, right?  I’ll bet none of you have the same combination of war wounds.  

Won’t you join me?  What’s the story behind your scars?

Hello. My name is Surah Channa.

Written By: JoJoisms - Apr• 11•17

I’ve always been a bit complicated and more than a tad weird, but I always thought I knew who I was…until I had another of my precious conversations with my mom recently.  Then I realized that I’m what you might call: Religiously Confused.  ROFL

I’m of Jewish heritage, was raised by Atheists parents, married a non-practicing Catholic, and became a non-denominational Christian due, in part, to some Amway meetings and a Jehovah’s Witness who came to my door.  If you’re confused now, keep reading!

I was born without a middle name. (Shock/Horror!)  My parents didn’t give me one. I’m middle name-less.  I’m deprived.  At 54 years of age, I’ve come to accept that and embrace the nickname (JoJo) given me by my parents to fill the void. (Insert tragic music here.)   

I’ve said it many times, I’m not your average Jo…Jo.  I’m an odd duck.  So after 54 yrs, I’m just now finding out who I am! LOL  Here’s how it went down:

I talk to my mom nearly every day since my surgeries.  We live too far to actually see each other.  She’s on the west coast and I’m here in Indiana. We talk about lots of interesting stuff.  We could chat all day long.  She’s an interesting woman who has a love of people and their stories so it’s always fun to catch up, reminisce about old times, and learn about all the interesting people she meets at even mundane places like the doctor’s office waiting room and the airport.

So we were chatting one day about middle names.  I’ve always felt a bit weird because almost everyone I know has one, or two, or three!  As a child, classmates would tease me that my middle name must be horrible since I wouldn’t even admit I had one!  So as we were talking, I learned more about why my sister and I didn’t have middle names.

My maternal grandmother didn’t like her middle name and never gave any of her four kids a middle name. My sister and I followed in that tradition and so we don’t either.  We talked about how my grandmother’s real name wasn’t the one she actually used.  This is pretty common in my family.  I learned that the Jews name people after the dead to honor them, but my brother was named after my father’s father. They asked him if that would be okay and he said yes.  That lead to a discovery that rocked my middle nameless world.

Mom had found a certificate among the papers and related to me that her parents, my grandparents, had a naming ceremony for me at their Temple and gave me a Hebrew name. So I may not have a middle name, but I do have a precious Hebrew name given me by my maternal grandparents in honor of my grandfather’s mother, Sarah Hanna.  She sent me a picture of my baby book in which the details of the naming ceremony were written.  Next to those details was something else I didn’t expect.  I have God Parents! Turns out my parents’ dearest friends at the time were Catholic, though I don’t think they were particularly religious, but to honor them, they were named my God Parents.

So to recap: I’m of Jewish Heritage, raised by Atheist parents, given a Hebrew name and Catholic God Parents, who married a non-practicing Catholic and became a non-denominational Christian due, in part, to some Amway meetings and a Jehovah’s Witness who came to my door.  You might want to read that again.  I’ll wait…

But isn’t that sweet?  As a Christian, I’m so excited to feel more connected to my Jewish roots.  What an honor that my grandparents took the time to do this for me!  So I say again, I may not have a middle name, but I do have a Hebrew name…a gift given to me by my grandparents: Harry and Florence.

I guess you can learn something new about yourself every day! ROFL

And…My Meno Weight Loss Journey Begins

Written By: JoJoisms - Apr• 04•17

So back in October of 2016, I had my total hysterectomy and shortly thereafter I began putting on weight. More importantly, I began exercising, working out, dieting, watching my weight…whatever you want to call it. And so my Meno Weight Loss Journey began.

So I’m about thirty pounds overweight at this point, which on a small framed 5′ nuthin’ woman with a toddler sized head and children’s sized hands and feet is a LOT!  Several years ago, I stopped eating carbs and found that within a few weeks, I was losing waaaaay too much weight and had to slow that puppy down!  Post Meno, I’ve cut down on carbs/sugar AND started exercising and noticed that within two weeks, I had pulled two muscles and GAINED a pound or two!

We decided to buy a used treadmill from a cute little lady across town who apparently only used it on Sundays before church.  She bought it used from someone else on Craig’s List a year prior and it was now several years old.  About a week after we brought it into the house, it quit, but I’m still 30lbs overweight so I can’t!  Now we own a 900 lb paper weight!

Here in Indiana, it’s either too cold, too humid, snowing, raining, or Tornado Season which makes it difficult to get out and walk around the neighborhood even two days in a row.  Necessity is the mother of invention and creativity is its cousin. So I invent the JoJo Walk Around House Exercise Program.  It consists of ten laps around the inside of the house. It starts off by the stairs through the perimeter of the office, around the dining room table, down the hall through my bedroom door, to the master bath, walk in closet, around the master bedroom, through the kitchen, around the kitchen table, around the coffee table in the family room and up and down the stairs.

I walk quickly to get my heart rate up and to avoid lifting weights which, apparently somehow without my noticing at the time, caused the muscle pulls and body aches.  If anyone peers in through my perimeter windows they would probably question my sanity.  I, too, am beginning to question my sanity because I’M STILL GAINING!

People from my planet apparently don’t lose weight this way.  I’ll have to phone home and ask ET what to do next.  Film at 11!

So how’s by you?  What exercise program have you found works for YOU? Please share. I’m sure I’m not the only one from Planet Meno.  We could all use a good idea.

Don’t Judge Me by YOUR Yardstick!

Written By: JoJoisms - Mar• 28•17

I’m not “arguing for my limitations” or determined to “remain in” my chronic illness. I’m trying to explain to you why your Amazing Cure All didn’t work for me!  I understand it worked for you. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m not you.

Do you have my chronic illness or something else? Do you also have several OTHER conditions or just that one symptom? Are you 54 years old are are you 30? Are you also in menopause?  Have you lived with my issue for a year?  Six?  THIRTY FIVE?!  Have you just had three surgeries in the span of six months?

Did you notice I had cancer and can’t take hormones?  Are you aware that I just said I ALREADY TRIED THAT?! …and it DIDN’T WORK!  I’m sure I mentioned that…

If you’ve never lived my life, please stop trying to tell me how I’m doing it wrong!  If you’ve never walked a mile in my shoes, try not to step on them as you walk by.  If you’ve never had to deal with a chronic condition for YEARS and YEARS and YEARS, please don’t try to tell me, “all I need to do is…”

Why is it so hard for some to put aside their Positive Attitude Playbook and actually LISTEN to what I am saying.  I didn’t say I’m a negative person.  I don’t go around Woe is Me-ing all over the place. I’m not even saying that what they advocate is wrong.  I’m saying I tried it and it didn’t work FOR ME!

Are you aware that everyone is difFerEnt?  Notice how my hair is curly?  Yours might be straight.  Do you understand that what you use on your hair might not work for mine?  You may be able to step out of the shower and let your hair dry and not have it look like someone stuck your finger in a light socket, but I can’t.  To get my hair straight, I need to blow it dry for an hour section by section whilst putting each part in a big curler to keep it from curling up while the moist air of the bathroom works against me.

Know why there are so many different weight loss programs out there? I’ll bet you dollars to donuts I can find people who have lost weight on EVERY one of them.  Certain things work for some people and don’t work for others.  Everyone’s body is different.  If you don’t think so, think about DNA.  Even twins are not exactly alike in everything.

Do you know that many diseases and illnesses all have the very same symptoms?  The VERY SAME SYMPTOMS!  Think about what that means for a just a minute. If you are thirsty, you drink, right? I was watching an episode of M.A.S.H. once where they couldn’t give thirsty people any water or their kidneys would shut down because the underlying issue wasn’t just thirst.  Get it now?

You are not me and I am not you.  My issues may be similar to yours, but they’re mine.  I may even have the same illness as you, but mine is different because it is inside of my body.

Since I was talking about it before, let’s just think about something as common as hair.  MANY people have brown hair.  What color do you think of when you hear brown hair?  My husband has such dark brown hair it’s almost black.  My sister used to have such light brown hair it was practically blonde.  Didja know that, when I was a kid, my hair was brown with red streaks?  And the red streaks were HORIZONTAL?  I’ll bet you didn’t think of that when you thought of brown hair, did you?  My hair was so weird that a woman I had never met tapped me on the shoulder when I was a teen at the mall and said, “If you dyed your hair, you did it wrong!” My brown hair is probably nothing like your brown hair, but on my driver’s license it says: “Hair: Brown” just like every other brown haired person in the nation.

So just because someone doesn’t cotton to your idea of the perfect cure, it doesn’t mean they are “determined to stay in their illness”, are “arguing for their limitations” or are “being negative.”  Don’t assume you know and don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.  THEIR shoes, not what you think their shoes look like from where you stand.

 

Finding the Humor

Written By: JoJoisms - Mar• 21•17

After my last surgery, my brain came home to roost.  I’m able to do things now like remember my last name and why I walked into a room…more than I used to.  It’s also afforded me the opportunity to write some new JoJoisms.  Here’s one.  

Since so many of my readers are in the same boat as I am, I thought I’d talk about how we can all find the humor in whatever situation we find ourselves.  It’s not a long post this week, but it is a significant one.  This is how I do it. Maybe it’ll help you too.

No matter what comes up to hit me in the face or pokes me from behind, my first thought is: “I don’t know how that happened or why, but there’s got to be a joke in there somewhere!”  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!  It’s that kind of thing.  So I live believing that all the bad stuff that happens is just fodder for my comedy that I share on my blog and other social media.

An idea hit me just before I wrote the above JoJoism (which brain fog prevented me from numbering).  Someone asked me what the story of my life would be called and my brain went there.  It’s how I keep from losing my mind when everything around me brings me knee deep in pain, fatigue, and/or financial stress.

I leave you with this thought.  If I can do it, you can too.  So I challenge you to turn something hard you are going through around.  See the funny, sunny side.  “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

What does that look like for you?

Why You Should Tell Your Story Before It’s Over

Written By: JoJoisms - Mar• 14•17

I wrote this article some time ago after reading a meme on Facebook.  It struck me so important to share how strongly I believe this saying is a detriment to inspiring others with our story already in progress that I spoke out about it.  That, in turn, inspired others to believe that they might have more of a purpose on this earth than to be tired and in pain.  Your story can inspire others and so you should tell it, even if it’s not over…especially if it’s not over. And here’s why…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”2 Corinthians 12:8-10

 

blind mouseLast week while on Facebook, I came across a meme that said:

“I can’t wait til my storms are over so I can tell people how God challenged me, how I made it through, and how I’m a better person because of it.” 

I used to think like this. I remember praying God would cure me so I could have a wonderful testimony to share with others.  But after 35 years, God didn’t heal me and I believe the above statement is dangerous thinking.

For so many years I never even mentioned my health issues to anyone. It was embarrassing.  No doctors believed me and all the test results said I was normal so how could I complain? I was young, how embarrassing to tell people I didn’t have the energy to go out with my friends or to admit I went home and slept in the sun after I got home from school every day.  Later on it just seemed silly to share my story because I believed I was the only one living it.  I didn’t realize that thousands of people struggled the same way I did and, like them, I needed some support, but I didn’t find it because too many others were unwilling to share their struggles for the very same reasons.

But what if we didn’t wait for our story to end before we tell it?  What if we shared it in real time and in all candor?  We could lift up so many others who suffer with chronic illness and need to know someone understands, someone cares, and they are not alone.  There are many reasons why you shouldn’t wait til your story ends before you tell it:

1. What if, like Paul, God doesn’t heal you this side of heaven?  Then what?  Then where will you be?  Then where is your testimony?  Then how can you help others?  Why wait?  Why not share your struggles, your triumphs, your blessings NOW?  Contrary to popular cultural belief, not everyone who prays is healed.   “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

2. It keeps you waiting for your joy and doesn’t allow you to see God’s hand in what you’re going through.  If you are always looking for the silver lining you miss the blessings in the clouds.  You miss the blessings inside the struggles. There are some, I promise.  More on that topic next week.

3. It keeps you from seeing the blessings that come from helping others.  I can’t tell you how blessed I feel each time I receive a comment saying that a reader was inspired to take charge of her daughter’s treatment or how someone no longer felt alone after reading on of my posts.  I think I cry each and every time, but they are tears that come from knowing that place of deep hurt that can only be understood by another in my same situation.

4. When your struggle is over, you may not remember some of the details that can hold blessings for others struggling as you did.  You may be tempted to put on your rose colored glasses and not share the times when you weren’t positive, when you were angry or did something you aren’t proud of.  You may not want others to see your flaws, but trust me in this…they need to see them.

5. It takes much more courage, sometimes much more than you think you have, to share your story in real time not knowing if others will judge you, condemn you or chastise you. I wish I could say they don’t, but they do.  They will.  Reaching out to help others has never been easy; it’s just always worth it.

6. Sharing now, in the midst of your struggle, pain and flaws is much more of a blessing to those who can relate to how you feel right now. Not when it’s all over, but right now.  Your honesty and candor will draw them in and lift them up.  If they know your story has a happy ending, they may not be able to relate to what you have to say because they see it colored in the peace of a life without that struggle.  Right now, as I struggle with health issues and several other things 2014 has brought for our family to deal with, I am sharing how God hand is in our lives.  I’m sharing how He sustains me-even after I get angry, falter or cry out in frustration.  If I can do that, you know that you can too with His help.

7. Sharing now keeps you honest.  It’s difficult to write how well you handled each and every set back with grace when you just had a meltdown.  It’s tempting, but it’s convicting. I always think long and hard before I disclose anything personal or unattractive about myself, but I feel an overwhelming need to share truth and honesty with my readers-otherwise what’s this blog for?

As I was finishing this blog post, I heard a song playing in the background. It’s Write Your Story, by Francesca Battistelli.  I have embedded the YouTube video for you here. Pay close attention to the words and then read my final comments and challenge to you.

God is writing our story on our hearts right now.  Unfortunately, our story is not always the story we envision or would choose. The hope He gives us isn’t usually for a pain free life, whether that pain is physical or emotional. His plan isn’t always that we live an illness free life and I’ve never heard of  a life that was devoid of all struggle.  In fact, most of the Bible stories of great men and women shows that their lives were filled to capacity with struggle, illness or pain.  Just look at Paul’s life.  Life with struggle isn’t all fun, I’ll admit, but it doesn’t have to be without purpose or joy if we let God write His story on our heart and we share that story, yet in progress, with others so that God may do the same for them.

I’m not waiting til my storms are over. I’m writing about how God is getting me through right now.  What about you?  If you feel a calling to share your story…Why wait til later?  You can write your story on the hearts of others who need to feel like someone understands right NOW.  Don’t wait until (or IF) God heals you to begin to share your story.  Do it now. So I ask, do you have the courage to write your story before it ends?

Share some of your story with me and my readers right now by leaving a comment on this post.

Invisible Illness Scars

Written By: JoJoisms - Mar• 07•17

One of the biggest complaints I hear from those with chronic illness is that it is an Invisible Disease.  Whatever it is for you: Lupus, thyroid disease, chronic pain, migraines, or peri menopause, the fact that people are only concerned with what they see can leave us with the feeling that others either don’t believe us or think we are making mountains out of molehills.

Some of the things we hear are:

“You don’t look sick!”
“So glad you are recovered.”
“I’m tired too; everybody is tired. Don’t make a big thing out of it.”
“You look fine to me!  Why can’t you just…” 

Just because you can’t see our pain or fatigue or brain fog or <insert invisible issue here>, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  Chronic pain doesn’t cause bruises.  Depression doesn’t show on the outside.  Migraines don’t leave scars.  Chronic fatigue doesn’t come with circles under our eyes…well, maybe sometimes, but there’s this incredible invention called MAKE UP!

Silent Pain is a poem I wrote that explains a bit about how we feel about the pain part of it, but I had an interesting experience the last six months that I’d like to share because, while I had no idea it would relate to this issue, I found it perfectly described the invisible part of chronic illness.

As I told you in previous posts, I have had three surgeries in the last six months.  The first was to remove my left ovary and tube. The second was to remove all the rest of my lady parts as they might have also contained cancer cells and the only way to know for sure you don’t have any more of this type of aggressive cancer is to look at everything under a microscope.  Although I’m only 5′ tall, I’m not small enough to fit under a microscope so they took it all out.  Good call, Doc!

Those scars are all on my stomach.  I have four small incisions/puncture marks and one very long smiley face well below my belly button.  Since I will never again in life wear a bikini or midriff top, nobody but my dh and myself will ever see those war wounds.  However, when I returned to church and met with friends and went out about my business, I ran into people who really didn’t ask how I was doing or thought that because I looked ok, that I was feeling fine.  Well, a radical hysterectomy takes six to twelve months to completely recover and I am only four months as of this writing.  I still have numbness on my stomach, the fatigue is something that is said to last a while, and the hot flashes and other meno symptoms are the stuff of legend.  But every time I was asked how I was and I tried to tell them that I was still tired or having issues, they dismissed them sounding as if I were making it up or milking it for all it was worth.  Well, I’m kind of used to that having had many chronic illnesses since I was a kid.  So…

My next surgery was a month after my hysterectomy.  However, this one was much more minor.  With my hysterectomy, I stayed in the hospital three days and wasn’t able to go out for two weeks.  With my parathyroid surgery, I went home just hours afterward.  Recovery time is much shorter and I had no real pain. Never took any pain pills.  Yet, when people see me at church or out and about, they can see the red, inflamed smiley face on my neck which makes it appear that I have swallowed a tennis ball after someone slit my throat.  NOW they ask me.  NOW they listen when I say I’m still tired after having three surgeries back to back.  NOW they are understanding.

My surgeons have been incredible.  All of my surgeries and doctor visits were handled quickly, decisively, and with compassion, but they didn’t solve the underlying problem of chronic illness. Now that the surgeries are behind me, I am going back to my regular drs to finally address the most frustrating issues of my health.  They may not be life threatening, but they greatly diminish my quality of life.  Know what I noticed?  Most of my appointments are now marked by the doctor saying things like, “Let’s try this” and “Let’s wait and see” and the ever popular “We’ll handle that at another time.” 

I’ve said this for years: Modern medicine is INCREDIBLE at solving things like broken bones and diseased organs, but not so much at solving chronic illness.  As long as they can see the problem, they know what to do to solve the issue.  My wisdom teeth were impacted, my wrist had two big cysts, my gallbladder was diseased, my uterus had a huge fibroid tumor, my ovary had a large cyst, my parathyroids had growths, but my fatigue and pain don’t have a visual marker.

Perhaps one day medical professionals will discover a visual marker for pain, fatigue, depression, and brain fog.  Maybe there’s a microscope in the near future that will be able to see a frowny face on our genes.  Until then, we have to accept that what people (or doctors) cannot see, they cannot have compassion for.  But those of us who deal with invisible illness have compassion for each other and that’s why this blog exists and I pray you don’t feel as alone as you once did.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10