Friday, April 15, 2011

A Whirlwind . . .

I wanted to title this "In a Nut Shell" but there is no way I can type all that's been going on in what people would consider a "Nut Shell", so I'm not even going to try or lead whoever may read this to believe otherwise.

First of all, I want to say that we are really doing well!!! I have repeated the verse, "Count it all joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds," James 1:2. And I have been remembering that while things may seem difficult in our lives in some ways, there are so many worse things going on all around us. With that said, I thought I would share things that have been going on with us . . . good and bad.

Today, Friday April 15th (just in case it takes some time to get this posted), James was officially diagnosed with epilepsy. Wow! That was harder to type than I thought. First of all, let me tell you that he has been such an incredible testimony, and I am one proud mama!!!! He got pretty sick with a virus in early March and was in bed for six days running a fever. It would go up and down, but never really went away until the final day. Even after he returned to school, he was exhausted and came home after school and went almost immediately to bed . . . after a snack, or should I say first dinner because he doesn't really have snacks anymore. The kid can eat!!! After about a week of this, I decided it must have become a habit, and I needed to put an end to it, and started making him stay awake after school. Sometime during that second week, he started complaining of very short lapses of time. You would think that having a seizure disorder myself, my mind would have gone straight there, but I guess I was living contentedly in a world of denial. I kept thinking it must have been related to being sick and that it would go away. It wasn't affecting him significantly because they lasted for such a short time, but one night he came into our room and said he really wanted to go to the doctor. At that moment Brent said he wondered if James was having seizures. With that now in my mind, I acted quickly and got him a doctor's appointment immediately. That was about a month ago. He has continued to have anywhere from 3-5 of these little "lapses" every day. The lapses are followed by short spells of either a headache, tight muscles in his stomach, some anxiety or depressed feelings or a combination. He has had an EEG and an MRI. We were happy to learn today that the MRI was normal, ruling out a brain tumor. The EEG was also normal, but that has little meaning. It just means they didn't catch any seizure activity during the 20 minutes he was hooked up to the machine. I've had many normal EEGs in my life but have also had many abnormal ones and have had seizures anyway. With the normal EEG, I must say that I was hesitant to begin medication, but the truth of the matter is that the doctor identified the issues he was having as seizure activity a couple weeks ago and wanted to start medication then. James hates having these little seizures, which at this point are just more of an inconvenience than anything, but which at any moment could lead to a grand mal seizure, which could be very dangerous for him. So tonight, in about an hour, he will take his first dose of anti-seizure medication.

This is the culmination of a year of incredible medical problems, mostly just injuries, but medical problems none the less. It's been rough, and I have had moments of frustration with God (If I am to be open and honest). The moments have been brief accompanied by tears and then me trying to seek and trust God with everything, but they have happened. I have been watching my kids and learning lessons from them, and they have learned lessons from us. The financial impact of all these medical issues has been one the the greatest difficulties in all of this. We are so thankful to our parents and a few dear friends who have helped us through a couple of tight spots. I don't know what we would have done. I tend to steer away from giving Satan too much credit for the personal sin that we as humans have, but I must tell you that in this case, I feel Satan has been attacking. In a very small way, I have felt like Job with all of us experiencing significant medical issues this year. James had been the one free and clear of Urgent Care/Emergency Room visits, (He actually still is because we never took him to either of those places!!!) and I was happy that at least one of us had not had some medical crisis, but that did not last. His crisis is likely the worst due to longevity issues.

In addition to all of the medical issues, there have been a few other things that have happened that have been difficult and challenging. At first I was going to mention it, but I don't think I will now. Seems pointless and complaining. What I will say is that these challenges are molding me more and more into the person God wants me to be. If I can look at them in that light, they don't seem quite so bad!!!

And in fact as I type, so many blessings come to mind. A couple weeks ago, we enjoyed an amazing weekend of fellowship and service with our small group and church, enjoying each other's company on Saturday night, and taking lunches to the homeless on Sunday. This past Sunday, Brent had the opportunity to dedicate a beautiful baby girl in our church, and afterward we enjoyed a great time with her family and their friends. Today that sweet baby had her adoption by this family finalized. It's such an incredible testimony of how God adopts us. We sat down with our small group on Tuesday night and just had an incredible time with this group of people who we love and who have become incredible friends and encouragers. God used them that night to really encourage us in so many ways. We love them. We are currently in the process of doing pre-marital counseling with an amazing couple who attends Kaleo, and we are loving the friendship we are building with them. And I love listening to Brent talk to them about marriage. We're both learning and growing in this process as well, and I realize more and more what an incredible husband I have!!! On Wednesday we met some friends for coffee and closed the place down laughing and sharing life with them. They are at a HUGE crossroads in their life and wanted to bounce some stuff off of us. We were able to share our story of how we ended up here . . . the good and the bad and in the process, remind ourselves of how GREAT our God is. Things may not go our way, but He is sovereign and He works things out for good according to His plan. We are so privileged to be a part of that plan. We were able to laugh with them and share the tough stuff with them and use our story to remind them that God has a plan for them. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what that is or when/how it should take place, but God will provide direction in His time. We have certainly learned that as we have walked the path that we have been walking. There are so many other great things. I could write and write a list of things that I could thank God for right now, things He just did or showed us in the past week even.

In addition to all this greatness, we have our kids. What a blessing they are!!! It makes me want to cry as I think about this. They can be frustrating and they need discipline and correction . . . sometimes a lot, but they are amazing, and their hearts are turned toward Jesus, and I am thankful. As we have dealt with all this stuff with James, there have been a couple things that have stood out in my mind. We were to have a CT Scan one day a couple weeks ago. I took James down to the radiology place. He was a little anxious as this test was to rule out a tumor, which his pediatrician mentioned in front of him, so he was a little worried. It ended up being a HUGE mess. I was expecting to pay them my normal co-pay, but they wanted half of the total cost of the CT. We did not have the money for that so they would not do the CT. I was initially in total shock, but ultimately asked to speak to someone in the billing department thinking there had to be some way to set up a payment plan. Even after talking to all of them, they would not budge. We had to write a check for half of the total cost or he could not be seen. I did not even have a credit card, so there was nothing that could be done. In this whole process I had gotten pretty upset and was crying a lot. James put his arm around me and had to remind me that it would be okay and that God was in control. Even in his anxiety, that was clear to him. It wasn't so much to me. We went to the neurologist a couple days later. He asked if we had gotten the CT scan. When Brent said no, he said he was glad because really James needed an MRI. We would have paid all that money for nothing. God was totally in control. It was that morning that the neurologist said he was pretty sure James had epilepsy. When the appointment was over, I asked him how he was doing and what he thought about what the doctor said. His response was simply, "I'm fine. We knew something was wrong. We might as well have a name for it." He was so calm and collected, and that has pretty much been the case today as well. I so appreciate his faith. I have not heard a complaint out of his mouth about any of this.

In the midst of al of this, God has crossed our paths with many people experiencing much greater difficulty than us and some of them do not have faith in a God who loves them and who they can trust. I have had many moments of reminding myself to keep perspective!! We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we continue walking down this road with James and just the road God has us on in general. Pray that we would remember to "count it all joy!"