A lot of you know that I suffer from Ehlers-Danlos. For many years, we didn’t know what it was. I was told I had Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and a host of other things. “Yoga” they said. “Swimming” I was told. So for 20 years I listened.
Ehlers-Danlos is easily explained. Your ligaments are what support your skeletal system. They hold your joints in place, your head up, and keep your body straight. When a person exercises, your ligaments stretch (especially in yoga) and your joints get moved around (especially in swimming). This is a good thing. When you are done, they shrink back tighter and stronger. A person that has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome isn’t so lucky. The ligaments stay stretched, thus getting looser and looser. My muscles realize that I have no support, so they try to overcompensate by flexing and tightening to hold my head up, to keep my joints where they belong and to help me stand up straight. My joints want to continually pop out of place (swimming is one of the main causes of this).
Because my muscles are tense all of the time (try flexing your shoulder and neck muscles and see how long it takes before you are sore), it causes all kinds of chronic pain. It causes Fibromyalgia. It causes Chronic Fatigue. It causes many, many things. The dr. told me that my body was that of a 70 year old. There is no cure, only pain management.
Unfortunately, over the last year, it has rapidly accelerated into a force to be reckoned with. I find that I can barely leave the house. Research, vitamins, juicing, and high powered prescription meds have made the pain bearable (sometimes). Unfortunately, it has gotten to the point that I have no energy. I can barely go to the grocery store. I have had to leave the cart and get help out to the car many times because I hit a “dead end”. I cannot support my body to stay upright. I cannot even lift my arms at times.
Why am I sharing this? Because I know so many women that are struggling with chronic pain and feel like they are alone. They can’t get answers and start to feel like they are just crazy and need to suck it up.
The truth is, God created us and gave us this path. It must mean that He can be brought the greatest amount of glory through my suffering. Through your suffering. Start looking at your life through the lens of bringing Him glory and it will be a little less overwhelming.
My husband and sons are the most compassionate people I have ever met. It wouldn’t be that way if I wasn’t sick. They are true servants. My son, that is a junior in high school, will make dinner almost every night. He does so many of the chores around the house and it’s all without me asking. He does it because he loves me and wants to serve me. I can see how that is training him to be such an amazing man.
I used to always feel like people needed to “suck it up” when they felt sick. I had no idea. Don’t ever wish that on someone or God may show you what it feels like.
So, what now? I choose my activities very carefully. What is most important. If I do this today, I won’t be able to do that the next two or three days. My son needs this? It’s that important to him? Ok, well then, we need to do that and I don’t get to do my girls’ night out. (what is that anyway? I haven’t had one of those in a MINUTE).
Here’s the kicker: James 1:2-4
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
Did that say “don’t try to get out of anything prematurely”? DID THAT SAY, “DON’T TRY TO GET OUT OF ANYTHING PREMATURELY”???? No more internal screaming. That takes a WHOLE LOTTA God. That’s where the “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” come into play.
If you are not one of the many that has to deal with chronic pain, please be the one that is there for those of us that do. People feel like they don’t know what to say, or they get annoyed because we can’t always hang out, or just don’t get it and want us to “suck it up”. Please don’t be that person. Send a card in the mail that you are thinking of them and praying for them. Bring by a dinner and let them know you love them. Send them a text to let them know you care.
I am VERY lucky to have the support I do from my family. But so many people out there don’t and they are seriously going crazy. It’s scary, lonely and absolutely horrible. Be Jesus to them.