Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Let's Catch up!

So much has happened in this past year! First of all, I fell off the blogger wagon. So I thought it would be a good idea to do a bit of a catch up.

in January of 2013, I was scheduled to have knee replacement surgery. One of the requirements was to withdraw from nearly all the medications that helped me handle RA. This proved very challenging and I don't know when I felt more pain and discomfort than during that time. However, the hope that the knee surgery would eventually prove beneficial to me kept my eyes on the prize.

A few days prior to surgery, I had an EKG which showed a new development: (drumroll would be in order), I had significant heart damage and for now the surgery was OFF! A new chapter and adventure for this little RA soldier began! The final diagnosis regarding the heart is, there is left bundle branch block and cardiomyopathy. The damaged area of my heart was functioning under 20% so that explained the exhaustion and weakness I was experiencing.

My weakened heart put me in the hospital a couple of times which meant lots of fun tests were now in store. Oh, how I learned more about God's faithfulness through this new chapter in my life!  The RA took a back seat as medications were adjusted and tried in order to help my heart work more effectively. Many tests and months later, it was determined that the heart was damaged at the time the RA began due to a severe flu that attacked my heart as well as activated the RA in my system.

The Humira and a couple of other meds were discontinued and they started me on Orencia. Now that the heart condition is being treated with medication and the RA meds have been changed up, I am rejoicing to say. "I have been in remission for about 8 months!" There have been a few tough days but NOTHING to compare with how I felt prior to remission. My rheumotologist is THRILLED, too!

One of my favorite changes this has brought to me is that I am regaining strength steadily and am once again able to enjoy walks (using my trusty walker) and exercising in the pool at the clubhouse. YAY! It has been such a blessing to feel like my old self! Now I can contribute and take part in family functions much like the good old days. Before remission, I had to be content to observe the activity around me, other than help in the kitchen and actively play with the grandchildren. So, isn't this marvelous?!

I have had knee injections two times and for me they seem to positively affect my entire body and all the joints where I suffered with RA.

However, the long time use of steroids for nearly 6 years and the injections have taken their toll on me with unwelcome weight gain. But in this there have been lessons there too! I am now using an APP on my phone called "Lose it" to help me count calories and exercise. It amazed me how out of touch I was with the calorie content of foods. So slowly and steadily I have dropped a few pounds and am going in the right direction there at last. With every pound I lose it relieves my knee joints by 5 pounds! I like that math equation! "Slow and steady wins the race" and that is one of my mantras. The alternative to losing slowly is not acceptable for me as I hope to continue to regain and maintain a good activity level while reducing avoidable stress on my joints.

Please stop by and comment if you have any questions. I would love to hear from you! God bless you in every way, dear sisters and brothers, who struggle with the challenge of auto immune diseases. May God guide us all on the journey we are travelling.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Tribute to Daddy

My precious and amazing Dad! It was December 19th of 2012 that Dad passed from this life into His eternal home with the Lord. He was 85.

This man who through much adversity and many adventures in living discovered that the joy of the Lord was His strength - every day. That the time spent on this earth was not to be without purpose.

There are so many memories we have of growing up with Daddy. One of my favorite things was that, of four daughters all of whom he loved equally, I got to share his birthday! He was a fun-loving adventurous spirit that liked to push the envelope.

A few favorite memories:

Swimming with Dad in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast. A crazy storm had come up and the waves were huge. Dad and I got out there on a small but sturdy raft. The waves were crashing over us and we had a blast...over and over we went out there laughing in our adventure until we crashed into a piling covered with barnacles. My leg was cut in several places but after looking at each other for a minute we said - "let's go for it" and got back out there! Good grief! There could have been sharks and I was sending them an open invitation for lunch...on me!

When we drove to Gramma and Grampa McComb's cabin there were three ice cream stands on the route. We always stopped for one along the way but one time we stopped at all three and we had a contest to see if we could make ours last til the next stop.

When he would come home from work he would chase us all around the house acting like a dangerous monster, laughing and roaring. Much to our delight we would run and hide and laugh and get caught and tickled and off we would go again.

Surprising our two daughters by having Dad come to the house early on a school day and announce "I'm going to Disneyland" and much to the children's delight we piled into the car and off we went for a wonderful day!

So many favorite memories that I could share if room allowed!

Dad loved his precious savior and Lord Jesus whom he dedicated his life to serve. His most recent ministry for the past several years was as an ambassador for Gospel for Asia. He loved this ministry and the work they accomplish to bring the good news to Asian countries through the work of indigenous missionaries that need our support. The children who are touched by the Bridge of Hope program of GFA held his heart tightly as he sought families to support these precious little ones who needed a helping hand.  Daddy loved his family and showed us all, by his example, to be grateful, to count our blessings and most of all to love the Lord and seek to serve Him in truth with all our hearts. I speak for all the family with these words: "We love you Daddy. We love you Grampa!"

Friday, June 15, 2012


Change - something different; A new life chapter.

Some changes we see coming on the horizon. We anticipate and plan necessary adjustments to this coming new thing. Our brains wrap around what will be different in our lives. It may be a life event that we anticipate with great joy and expectation...

Other life changes are BAM! We were here and now we're there; We were doing this and now we aren't; We had this person in our lives and now we must live without them. Abrupt. Shocking. Good... Yes good, because God is with us. He is holding our hand and He was not surprised by this change - He is working it for good in our lives whether we can wrap our understanding around it or not. How beautiful the verse is "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:7)

These abrupt changes cause our human mind to desire to understand, to regain control, to plan and figure it out, to move ahead in our flesh. God's Spirit within us reminds us instead to rest in Him and His faithfulness; to know He has a plan and is in control and knows every step we will ever take EVER. Hebrews 4:9-10 says, "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God, For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" and Isaiah 30:15 reminds us that "in quietness and confidence shall be your strength". When I rest in the Lord the whirlwind in my mind quiets. I become confident that God is not dismayed by this turn of events and He is upholding me - covering me with His wings and working this for good in my life. Ahhh! Deep breath and sigh of thanksgiving.

Opening His Word I find verses that minister to me and that I can hang onto through this change. They are promises. More real than any situation I face. So I take those first faltering steps and grasp His hand and look up at Him and then take another step and another and little by little I move forward and begin to relish in His peaceful presence guiding. Ahhh! Another deep breath and sigh of thanksgiving...maybe I am even to the point where I speak my gratefulness.

The Bible...those verses He shows me and I highlight in my Bible, or write them down to carry in my pocket and remind me every time I look at them, that God is faithful and He loves me! Me, an unworthy sinner that he plucked out of the lost world and put His holiness upon me because of what Jesus did for me on the cross! Ahhh! Another deep breath and more thanksgiving - maybe now I am singing praises to God with tears of joy flowing.

Change - it will always be. Thank you dear Lord that you are ALWAYS and forever God! You are God and there is no other. "Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You Lord are mighty and Your faithfulness surrounds You. (Psalm 89:8). You are already there in this change holding me. I will hold on to You too!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yikes! Technology!

Does anyone else out there feel like the technological world is passing you by...For instance now there are phones with apps that do everything except brush your teeth and tuck you in at night. I remember mimeographs, for heaven's sake - I would spell check that but I'm sure that word is too ancient for my computer spell check to even recognize. How about IBM Selectric typewriters? Wow, those things were something and they even had a correction ribbon built right in!

The other night I went to a movie and two "20 somethings" were sitting in front of me waiting for the show to start. A guy and a girl - maybe a date? If it was a date it was pretty sad because they both sat there madly texting on their own phones. I kept waiting for them to converse with each other but NOPE the people they were texting with on their phones were more important to them, or even sadder maybe they were texting each other because they don't know how to look each other in the eye! Take a clue people. We need to TALK; more face to face interaction before the art of conversation is lost entirely. Oh and spelling words out correctly is a thing of the past - everything has an abbreviation. I'd give you an example but because this blog is about how I don't get it then I can safely admit that I don't know what some of the abbreviations stand for. For instance when someone put LOL I thought they meant lots of luck for the longest time! Yup, I'm that old person with the confused look on my face trying to read messages that are cryptically written. Hope they aren't letting me know I just won a million dollars because I just night hit 'delete".

Another lost art is note writing. Taking a minute to say "Hi, I was thinking of you" in a note card that requires a stamp and an envelope. Don't you just love getting a handwritten card in the mail? I do! Instead we rely on emails which makes perfect sense, it really does, you don't need to wait for several days to get a reply to your letter. Instant gratification! I email my sisters almost daily. I love that we can stay in touch so easily but getting that personalized note card or birthday card is such a treat.

The other day I was thinking that this young generation will someday be standing in my shoes trying to figure out how technology left them in the dark. They will be saying "remember the days when we had our I-Pads and I-phones? Remember how we used Email, for heavens sake"?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Drama, Drama, Drama!

Some days just seem full of drama. Once my daughter Joanne described her toddler daughter as 'living in a glass house of emotions' that day. Don't we all have those days?

It isn't the huge life changing issues that I'm referring to here - that falls into an entirely different category. I am talking about the things that are bugging us at the moment. A messy bathroom left for you to clean up, someone ate the last of the ice cream (it might have been you the night before, but still!...), the car is making a funny noise, the meatloaf burned, the kids have been stepping on every last nerve you have or you just had an ugly disagreement with your teenager. You think longingly of the Sandals Resort commercial only you consider going alone a nice idea, because you just aren't in the mood to deal with anybody, at least at the moment.

I think that is the key phrase - at the moment.  It is a moment, a temporary situation. If we dwell on that moment and give it more fuel by pestering it mentally to death then we will find the next drama-moment will bug us even worse. We will enter a downward spiral. Instead, we need to de-rail the effects of the drama and recognize things for what they are - usually small stuff and as the saying goes "don't sweat the small stuff - and it is all small stuff". We need to redirect our focus...For me, what works is to think of a praise song and start singing it - or recall a verse and meditate on it...This scrubs my mental clockwork and gets me back on track. That is the power of the Word of God. It is life changing and also moment changing.

I've been reading the Old Testament, and over and over the Israelites whine and complain - human nature rears its ugly head even in the midst of God's provision - sound familiar? It sure does to me. The temptation to focus on circumstances instead of AMAZING GOD!

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Bumpy (Lumpy) Ride!

What is this ugly lump on my hand? The first time I found one of these new strange lumps it was on my palm so I thought it might be a ganglion cyst. It wasn't painful except when I bumped or pressed it. I asked the doctor about it but she really didn't have any comment to offer me at that time. She just looked at it and gave a slight nod then wrote something on her ever-present computer. A friend of mine who is a nurse said in the olden days the treatment for ganglion cysts was to smash it with a heavy book. OUCH!

Shortly thereafter a lump appeared near my right elbow and at the same time my left elbow started to grow a twin. Good grief! This meant I could no longer comfortably lean on my elbows. Time for researching on the intenet. I discovered these lumps were a side effect of RA that many of us deal with. Since that time I have developed a few more nodules, especially in the joints on my hands. I no longer feel a sense of panic. Sure I don't like them but what can I do?

Sometimes I say to my husband "Why...?" followed by whatever is concerning me at the time (why this lump?; why am I so tired?, etc.). He answers patiently, "Honey, you have RA and this just comes with the territory." So I guess we are blazing new territories in our lives and will just have to figure it all out as we go along! It is called LIFE. Time to remind myself that "THIS is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Profit and Loss Margin

Is my glass half full or half empty? I was thinking about some of my losses and gains through the experience of dealing with RA and I wanted to share my reflections on the subject:

Here's what's lost:

long walks
the ability to get up easily from a chair
getting down on the floor to play with grandkids
some of the grandkid games that grammas play with them
energy and stamina to cook a big family meal
energy and stamina in general

Here's what I still have:

I can still walk - just not as far
I can still sit in a regular chair
I have grandkids and they love me (the feeling is moo-choo-wul)
There are plenty of games and activities I can still do with them
They take naps so I can take one at the same time
I am blessed with a dear husband, my family and dear friends
I can still cook and there is always "take out"

Here's what I've gained:

Realizing how many people love and support me
Increased creativity
Drawing closer to our dear and loving Lord
More compassion for those who are down and suffering
Deeper understanding of the Scriptures
Better realization of what really matters
More appreciation for each new day
More thankfulness for the day that has passed
    (as I retire for the night in my comfy bed)
Realizing that a merry heart really is like medicine (Prov 17:22)
Deeper love for my family and friends
More grace for how others, and myself, journey through life
     (and to have patience with the process)
Learning to trust the Lord more

So looking at these lists and seeing how much longer the last two are brings a tear to my eye and gratefulness to my heart. If these lists were placed on an old fashioned scale it would tip in the favor of GAIN!! I may have lost certain things but am so grateful for the lessons I am learning. Thank you Jesus that You are always with me and You have promised to "Never leave me or forsake me".

Please share a comment on your profit and loss margin - I would love to hear your thoughts. HUGS!

Bless the Lord oh my soul! Let all that is within me bless HIS holy name! Psalm 103