Friday, May 29, 2009

On my mind...

This has been on my mind the last few weeks and I’ve decided to document my thoughts since they’re so prevalent right now. About this time of the year, every year, I think about the last few years of my life. This month, 11 years ago, I was diagnosed with Anklyosing Spondylitis (AS). Why? I have no idea, nor do doctors know why people are affected with any of the 100+ types of arthritis. At 19, I was carefree, very busy, in college, super selfish and felt like I could take on the world! I grew up going to church and felt that I “knew” God but didn’t really give my life over to him until right after I turned 19. Three weeks later, I hurt myself, ended up in several different casts, on and off of crutches for 8 months, was misdiagnosed and eventually, in May of 1998, was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis (a few tests later revealed AS). Let me tell you what, being in college, an officer in many clubs, including student government (which was the busiest), working, playing intramurals, and active in my sorority, it was HARD. Very, very hard. No more exercising, sleeping was very difficult which led to having difficulty remembering which isn’t so great when trying to study. I kept a diary about my walk with God and about my disease. I really only had God to lean on. My friends were great and supportive but no one could relate with me. Who gets arthritis at 19? I mean really, who? I sure didn’t know anyone. I’m sure I looked crazy to my roommate with my stiff legs and back, hobbling to the bathroom where I would, after about 30-45 minutes, be able to stand up straight and walk with a slight limp. Old people got that, is what I thought. But, God totally took over my life, helped me deal with the pain and realized that it was just something that I would have to deal with. God is the only one who can cure this disease; it has been treatable but incurable. I remember the day that my doctor told me my options for medicine. I was at the doctor’s office by myself because I had been dealing with things pretty well up to that point. I thought he told me I’d never be able to have children because of medicine I’d need to take. Initially I was okay about our conversation, got the bloodwork over with, went to check out and saw a family friend who happens to be the office manager. I broke down. I can’t put into words how sad I was! I wasn’t dating anyone seriously, Brian and I had broken up at that point but MAN! To think I couldn’t have children was devastating to me. Well, I did misunderstand him. It isn’t SAFE to try to have children while taking certain meds. OMG, I was 19 – what did I know.
Anyway, God has been so good to me. He’s kept me strong, faithful and hopeful. He brought Brian back to me, we were married in 2000. I couldn’t believe he would still want to be with me knowing that I had this thing I’d have to deal with for the rest of my life. God gave me the strength and endurance to run a marathon in 2003 and another in 2007 as well as many other races. He knew that I desired to be healthy and active. He designed me not to want to be still. Sometimes I believe He gave me this to remind me of how grateful I should be for what He’s given me. And, I’m reminded of that often. Having children was something that I thought I wanted but was scared to death about it. Getting pregnant the safest way meant being off all of my meds. I won’t go into details about that but I will say that it took a while and although some days were very difficult (even some weeks), the way I feel now is completely worth the struggles. He kept me strong mentally and physically. God got me through this all the way. He’s provided this little miracle whom I pray to meet in September.
This little baby has no idea how much he’s blessed me already. You see, AS is 9 times more prevalent in males than females and of those females, most have symptoms onset with pregnancy. If you read about it, you’ll see that the HLA-B27 gene is found in 80-95% of people with AS. Yep, that’s me. There’s only one study, conducted in 1998, focused on pregnancy in women with AS. It wasn’t a controlled study and was completed via paper so the results are a little questionable. What is interesting is 4 out of 10 of those women had less symptoms and were more likely to carry a girl when these symptoms were decreased. I, unfortunately, haven’t been benefitted by AS statistics before pregnancy. Fortunately, I don’t have any symptoms now! I found an article about women who have RA and go into remission with pregnancy. The study found a correlation between fetal DNA circulating in the mother’s blood and lowering the RA disease activity. I believe that one of God’s blessings includes Troy putting my disease into remission. I feel like I’m 18 again. Well, not the way my body looks with this stomach but physically, I feel that wonderful. Praise the Lord! I thank my little baby, whom I’m incubating but I feel that he’s incubating me - how amazing is that? My disease will probably come back within a few weeks to a few months after the baby is here but I just want to say that I’m extremely grateful for the way he’s making me feel now.
I feel that if I don’t put my feelings into words, I’ll forget one day. Often I find myself impatient with others who don’t take care of their perfectly healthy bodies they’ve been given. It isn’t right for me to judge but it’s difficult at times (God made me human, too). So, for you bloggers or readers out there, take care of yourselves! You’ve been given such a blessing, by God, for your own health. Don’t take it for granted. I did, for the longest time, and now, although it’s difficult, I’ve realized that it’s important to take care of what He’s given me. My son will never know how grateful I am for him. No one knows exactly how anyone else feels at any given moment but I’ll do my best to let him know I love him already, in so many ways. One of those is for my health. God has allowed him to bless me already. WOW!

Elyse

Image by Cool Text: Logo and Button Generator - Create Your Own

5 comments:

Donna said...

Oh Elyse this is the most amazing post. I remember all that happening in college- and I don't think anyone ever completely understood what you were going through. I'm so sorry. And how amazing for God to work this way in your life by using your sweet Troy! And to run marathons after your scary diagnosis- oh God is good!! Thanks for writing this!

Jack and Laura said...

Elyse what a testimony, you made me tear up. I cant wait to meet you little miracle.

Shelley said...

Elyse--As I read that I felt so bad about the lack of care and concern I offered you. I remember the diagnosis and maybe one cast. I am sorry for not helping you out more or praying with you. I am so happy for you and Brian and this precious and special baby boy. And I love his name. Chip and I considered that name before but it is his uncles name. And...you can SEW! I am jealous.

Dawson said...

Oh, Elyse, your faith is so admirable and inspiring. Thanks for sharing this personal story, and for the reminders of all that we have to be thankful for. I am grateful for your friendship, and I can't wait to meet your special little miracle!

nick, robyn and taylor said...

What sweet words, Elyse! Like Shelley and Donna said, I remember this in college. I hope you continue to feel you're 18 again for a long, long time! I look forward to seeing pictures of your sweet Troy!