Sunday, May 21, 2017

4 years

4 years ago today(well technically yesterday, since I've stayed up so late), I arrived back on US soil. I was full of anticipation, hope and excitement for all that was to come. What I did not anticipate was the loneliness, darkness, grief, anxiety, and shock I would face over the next year.

I felt that I was no longer wanted by people who wanted to know everything while I was overseas, my friends had moved on(as they should've)- both literally and figuratively, and I was left with the ashes, expecting to create something beautiful and new out of dust, but it was impossible. I remembered last night that this day was here, and stumbled upon this blog post. I BURST into tears.

I've noticed... on Facebook, many respond to my happy, exciting posts, but few do anything with my challenging posts. I'm not putting this up for attention. I'm putting it here 1) to process a bit. and 2) because it HAPPENED and many of you had no idea.

I felt like I wasn't allowed to mourn my loss- and it was a LOSS, in SO many ways. I had SEVERAL people tell me 'Welcome back to the REAL world'. I still shake my head, let out a sigh, while my eyes fill with tears, thinking... wow.. if you only knew what the REAL world really looked like.

That's EXACTLY why I struggle with this anniversary. Because I DO know what they 'REAL' WORLD looks like, and I am haunted by its beauty, by those I've left behind and truly truly wished I could bring home with me, and not just the poverty I've seen with my own eyes, by those babies who will never be adopted because they are HIV positive, and the patients we lost to conditions that are 100% preventable and treatable, but also I was amazed by the fact that these people who had NOTHING.. and I mean NOTHING, were HAPPIER than I'd ever been in my entire life, and likely happier than I ever will be.

I struggle because I left my heart behind 4 years ago. I find pieces of it from time to time- in the eyes of my students, when I truly get to know someone and can call them 'friend'... but- it's certainly far from whole. My heart is in Sierra Leone, Togo, Benin, and Guinea. It is with each of my dear friends and their kids, who stood by me in some of the darkest days of my life, and never gave up. It is in the patients I saw die and my patients who I saw walk the gangway with a new lease on life.

4 years- it feels like it was just yesterday, and it feels like a lifetime ago.

Friday, April 14, 2017

But... It's Friday....

I have a hard time each Good Friday. I loved the ship because they gave us time and SPACE around this time to process and reflect on this day. At home, there are very few of these opportunities.

I'm having trouble today because I wanted to go to a Good Friday service, but my body had other plans. All over Facebook, people are posting 'it's Friday, but Sunday is coming'. I love that visual and, most of the time, it's exactly what I need to hear, but this time of the year... no. I need to reflect. I need to remember. If we don't remember what happens on Friday, what happens on Sunday won't be nearly as meaningful.

Jesus was TORTURED. He went through the most gruesome death and it was horrific. What made it worse was what happened after. Jesus was separated from God, not just physically, but spiritually. He literally went to Hell to take on our sins and FOUGHT for us!!! True- Sunday IS coming and that is a MIRACLE... but... today is Friday- the darkest day in history. The day for which Jesus was created.

I am so grateful.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

So Much to Say

I have so much to say, but just don't know if I have the words to say it... I am going to try... but please know this was hard to write.

As most of you know, if you've been reading this for any length of time, the last year and a half have been a bit of a ride. I went to Kenya, and basically came back at the very beginning chronic condition. A year and a half later, I have all 4 of my doctors baffled. Nobody knows what's going on. Each time we thought we had an idea, months after we began a treatment and saw improvement, I would deteriorate, sometimes rapidly, sometimes over time. The last year has been the hardest. The first months were very scary, but the last year has been far worse. 

The minute I realized I was losing weight, at times 5 pounds in a day, I knew something was very, very wrong. My doctors didn't meet my fears, however. At the beginning of all of this, I packed on 20+ lbs in weeks, and my doctor said I must be eating too many carbs. I know my body... I don't gain weight like that. Now, we have the opposite problem. I am making sure to get enough calories, after my adventure I'm losing 5 lbs a day for a bit, but my doctors said it must be because I've restricted my diet so much. They didn't take me seriously until I got near the 60 lb mark in a year, and I stressed that most of it was in the last 7 months.

This has all been hard on me, as I've always bee a heavier person, so most of me wants to rejoice in the ease of the weight loss. I have literally done NOTHING to lose the weight... but as I near the 'normal BMI' zone, I begin to fear what I think all people with chronic GI conditions(if we can still call it that) fear... becoming underweight. Sure, it's not really reasonable for me to think about it and the potential to need feeding tubes and the whole shebang; we aren't there....but I've seen it happen to people.  I also fear the opposite. I don't want to one day put back on the 60+ lbs I've lost... 

The tricky part is that whenever somebody tells me "Wow! you looks so great!" All of this floods into my mind. I did nothing to get here, I'm scared of what is happening and nobody knows what IS happening... what if it doesn't stop... I've learned to just smile and say thank you, because people don't really want to hear that the loss is because I'm sick and we don't know why. So I just brave a smile and say thanks, even though, more often than not, I am choking back tears of fear.

I'm going to be very real... being single during this whole process has been gut wrenchingly brutal. My family is busy dealing with everyday life of their own, my friends are all either married with their own kids, across the country or world, or busy with their careers and lives. Many do the best they can, but I find myself feeling more alone than ever, when faced with all of this. I hold on to every shred of hope, every comfort that God offers me and provides me...and boy has he provided me peace and comfort when I have needed it. But there are days, when I wish I could've gone through this during a different season of life. One where I had more tangible support. And while it's hard, I am thankful I don't have more responsibilities to other people right now, because I can hardly take care of me some days, let alone others, or little people who would rely on me. But, maybe that's part of the lesson to be learned- joy through trials no matter what the circumstances. 

This week, I go in for GI procedure 5 in 15 months. I'm finding myself more anxious  thanks like to admit, given I won't be put under and don't even need to prep, except for a clear liquid diet. I think I am most afraid of getting my hopes up that we might finally get an answer, only to be told once again ,"We have no idea why this is happening." I envy your prayers over the next week or two, while I wait. Waiting is not my suit, but I am truly trying to choose JOY over fear.