I was 19 years old when I went to the water fountain in my dorm (I know…GERMS!) and prayed for some down time because I felt like I couldn’t make it one step further. I was super tired, feeling like I was getting the flu.
The next morning, I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck. I was a sophomore at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC. It was enough miles from home that I couldn’t be demanded to be at holidays, but close enough that when I wanted to come home my daddy would drop everything and come get me.
Anyway, I wasn’t hungover – that morning *wink, wink* – so I really wondered what was going on. I felt like “death turnt over” (if you haven’t watched the bootleg movie Ride, find it just for the comedic timing and genius of Cedric the Entertainer and John Witherspoon together). The fatigue and head to toe body aches overwhelmed me to the point of skipping class, which is something I NEVER did. I was on the Dean’s List for heaven’s sake! But I just couldn’t bring myself to get up and get dressed. It was like I was drained of energy and given extreme body pain instead. So, I stayed in bed…
For four days.
When I finally got up enough energy to attend class that Monday, it took me 20 minutes to walk the 5-minute distance to class.
I was embarrassed and confused.
I had no idea what was happening to me. My cognitive function was delayed. My body was in pain, achy, and stiff. My breathing was affected and I could barely keep my eyes open to do much, even after a long night’s sleep. My roommate, and her boyfriend at the time, even offered to take me to the emergency room because of these symptoms.
I was prayed for, prayed over, and cared for by my friends and friends of friends before I left for the hospital.
At the ER, they took tests for Lupus, MS, other autoimmune diseases and different kinds of things. All of my tests came back negative.
The embarrassment and confusion remained.
My Roomie and I had a heart to heart talk while she stayed in one night to play cards with me. I was practically bedridden, still unable to do much. I stopped going to class and was trying to decide whether to just go home or to stick it out. We talked during cards and I broke down in tears because I just didn’t know what to do and what was happening to me. My Roomie cried with me and the next day she began researching my symptoms. She spoke with our biology professor and she suggested they research Fibromyalgia together. They did, and my roommate came back with 80 pages of information for me. I looked at those symptoms and felt a sigh of relief. There was a name for what I was experiencing!
Now to get a doctor to help me.
Side note: I read stories of how doctors told patients with Fibro that it was psychosomatic – basically “all in their head”. So, I was prepared for some pushback from doctors but, MAN, I didn’t know the medical journey would be so difficult.
After about two weeks of no change in my symptoms and abilities, my brother decided he was coming to get me from school. So, thankfully, he and my dad drove down and picked me up so that I could get some medical help back home.
Months went by, I saw primary care doctors after neurologists after rheumatologists and no one really helped me. They all considered Fibromyalgia as incurable, untreatable, and they dismissed me.
Fast forward to the present and I have doctors who want to help me. They have figured out which symptoms are related to Fibro and which symptoms are because of other chronic, autoimmune diseases that I battle. I have medications to help me function as a normal person on their sickest day. That is a blessing!
This is my life until God decides to heal me.
One word, a world of weight.
When the word healing is mentioned, a vast array of expectations flows toward the person it is referring to. People don’t always mean to send this flow, but it is inevitable.
Here’s a declaration:
“I am healed.”
That. There it is. Did you sense it? Do you even know you did it?
The expectation that usually accompanies that declaration is finality. Suffering is no longer because,
“I am healed.”
If a person shows signs of suffering in the future, what is one of the first questions you might think?
“I thought he was healed.”
“I need healing.”
It’s there again. It’s different this time though. Do you hear it echoing in your mind?
You name this one.
Are you questioning why the person is bringing it up? Why they just won’t go get healed? Are you accusing them of being an attention getter instead of seeing the strength it takes to be this vulnerable about a need?
For chronic pain sufferers, health is a tricky and complicated thing. So, we need support.
If you see us today and we are moving well and seem better, do not assume we are healed. Today is a good day and we will enjoy it because, sadly, we do not know what tomorrow holds. We revel in the good days, but if you see our good days and translate that to “healed”, you lack compassion for us on our bad days. And we need compassion. We may not say it but it’s true. So, if you see us tomorrow and we are outwardly struggling with our chronic illness, think “heal-ING” – the process of being healed. We are still in the process and we would appreciate compassionate words and the offer to help us if you see us struggling.
And always remember what your Mama taught you: if you don’t have anything nice to say…well, you know the rest.