I was doing some reflecting on the circumstances of my life the other day. To be honest, I was searching for inspiration on what to write for this blog-entry. That's when I read the following from a previous post. I truly had forgotten how awful those early days with Sarcoidosis had been. Bear with me, there is a point to these reflections.
"Most of you know that in August of 2014, I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease which can attack several different areas of the body. In my case, it is in my lungs and joints, mostly. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure. It is, however, treatable. In more severe cases, oral steroids (usually prednisone) are used. In other cases, the symptoms resolve themselves over time. My case is somewhere in between the two. I am being treated with inhaled steroids which gets the treatment directly into the effected area.
Most days, I feel fine - although I get tired more easily than before. Sometimes it effects my ability to breathe, so I have to use a rescue inhaler. But, mostly I do ok. I'm learning to pace myself. We've discovered that if I over-do things one day, the symptoms flare up and I am down for the next couple of days.
I can always tell when it's going to be a day to take it easy because I start to run a fever. It's never very high, just enough to make me feel like I'm starting the flu. I've been foolish enough to ignore this warning sign and try to "muscle-through" it. I've learned not to do that! lol The fever gets higher and the joint pain can be excruciating.
Now, lest you think I'm looking for a "pity-party" with this post, let me assure you that I'm not! Please, not at all!!! Last August, before they came to the diagnosis of Sarcoidosis, they thought I had lung cancer! I am grateful to have what I have and not something worse. lol
It's just that this experience is teaching me things that I want to share.
I have good days and bad days. I'm happy to say they're both getting better. But I believe Heavenly Father is using this as an opportunity to help me grow and progress - to refine me, if you will.
There are days, the worst ones; when it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed. Everything hurts and I have no energy. The easiest thing in the world would be to give up and crawl back under the covers. And some days I simply have to do just that. But it would be SO easy to do that EVERY time it's a bad day, and I can't live with myself if I give in to that. So when I can, I drag myself up, make the bed (so I won't be so tempted to crawl back in) and try to get some small thing done that day. On those days, I find myself seeing tender mercies from my Father in the smallest things - reading my scriptures, a break in the fever, easing of the joint pain, a deep-full breath of air, someone else making dinner lol, looking outside at the beautiful place I get to live, helping my kids, prayer, etc... On these days, when I am SO aware of the tender mercies from my Father, I look ahead to the good days with such eagerness. It helps knowing the bad days don't last forever.
On good days, I still have to be careful exerting myself or I run out of air REALLY fast, and that's REALLY scary. But, I'm learning to listen to my body and pace myself. On those days, I get to be "me" again and do normal stuff like going to the gym, doing my visiting teaching, tending my home and family, serving my friends and neighbors, and learning new things. I'm still learning to pace myself, but it's getting better
I guess why I'm sharing all this is because I know we all have to endure hard things. But those "hard things" don't need to define or defeat us. Kevin always says, "It doesn't matter in life, what happens to you. How you deal with what happens to you is what's important". What a wise man - no wonder I love him so much! lol
My point is that when difficulties happen, we can use those times to learn and grow and triumph, or we can run around screaming, waving our hands in the air, screaming about how unfair life is, give up, and be miserable.
As I read that post, I was overwhelmed with gratitude! I've learned so much! What a journey this has been.
Now for the point of these reflections... This week, I saw my pulmonologist for a six month check-up. My labs all looked great! Best of all my exrays showed that the sarcoidial tumors in my lungs have shrunk completely! Essentially, I am in remission!!!!
It's not completely over yet. I've been warned that there may be occasional flare-ups, and I have to go back in a year for a follow up to make sure the tumors don't re-inflame; but the worst is behind me!
What a journey this has been. I can honestly say I'm grateful for the lessons learned. President Russell M. Nelson talked about joy in October 2016 General Conference. He said:
"My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
When the focus of our lives is on God's pan of salvaton...and Jesus Christ and His Gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening - or not happening - in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy...For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!"
There were moments in this journey when I thought I couldn't handle one more thing - one more pain, one more desperate gasp for air that never seemed to be enough, one more test, one more trial...one more anything would break me. Those were the times when I reached out for my Savior - after all, He had already been through this suffering for me. He alone, knew exactly what I was expriencing in that exact moment. He alone was pefectly qualified to help me through it...and He did, every time.
We were sent to this mortal life to prove ourselves, to see if we would do "all things" that God would require of us. The Prohet, Lehi said "Men are, that they might have joy." To me, that means learning to endure well the hard things we encounter in our lives and focus on the good, positive, and joyful things around us as we do so. For me, enduring these things became doable when I literally laid my burdens at the feet of my Savior and put my faith in His ability to help me. Doing this didn't take away my illness. It simply increased my ability to deal with it in the best way I could. I learned to look for good and joyful things in each new day, and appreciate them with a heart full of gratitude to Heavenly Father for His tender mercies.
I'm grateful to be on this end of things instead of back at the beginning. I am profoundly grateful for the things this experience has taught me. It has changed me, hopefully for the better.
"Remission"....what a beautiful, joyful, word!