Storms of Life

So two days ago, it hurricaned (that’s not even a word) in Lubbock, Texas. Okay, so that’s not completely accurate. But considering how much it does not rain/hail here in our desert of a town, it sure seemed like a hurricane! And of course, it came out of nowhere. It started to sprinkle on me as I walked to my car after my last class ended at 3:20. My friend and I power walked it out of there as huge claps of thunder seemed to shake everything around us. As I headed south towards home, the rain stopped. However, I could see the clouds continuing my way. Approximately 30 minutes passed before the storm had reached my house, and before we knew it, it was hailing and the wind was blowing and rain was gushing from the sky.

Of course, me being the worrier that I am, I immediately had anxiety. It was about 5:00 at this time and I had an event for my sorority at 6. I also was supposed to go to another event in the park on campus. So my anxiety stemmed from 1. Me driving in this awful/insane weather 2. making it to these events on time because of the awful/insane weather 3. going to a park for an event in this awful/insane weather. So I grabbed my rain jacket, umbrella, two towels, and jeans (just in case). Fortunately, the rain had moved on by the time I needed to leave my house and we were left with flooded streets and slow-moving cars.

Later on during the evening, I was reminded of how the weather earlier that day was a reminder to all of us of our dependence on God. It rarely rains in Lubbock. Yet, we need the rain. But rain isn’t something that we can just make ourselves or make fall from the sky; we need God to provide it for us. We need Him.

Recently in my life, I’ve been reminded of how much I need Him-physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. About a month and a half ago, I visited Cook Children’s hospital in Fort Worth to meet my new CF care team. I came out of the appointment feeling like I had conquered it (read about my appointment in my previous post-“Challenge Accepted” 🙂 ). Since then, however, there have been blood draws, phone calls from the doctor, x-rays, fear, and lots of tears.

Let’s start with my oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). That was fun. I’d never had an OGTT before, so I was pretty nervous. As CF patients get older, they become more at risk for CF-related diabetes. Therefore, since I’d never had an OGTT and I am 21 years old, my doctor ordered me one. I was not allowed to eat or drink anything other than water for 8 hours before the test. Therefore, I stopped eating/drinking at midnight the night before I went in. I ended up sleeping in by accident, so I actually fasted for 10 hours before they checked my blood sugar. Instead of just pricking my finger like I thought they would do, they decided to draw blood. This made me really nervous. If you know me or have read any of my previous posts, you know that blood draws are extremely hard on me. I have to prepare in advance for them.

So of course, since this blood draw was a surprise, I was not prepared. I told the phlebotomist that she probably wasn’t going to get any blood from me, and she ignored me. She stuck me and dug around before calling in one of her colleagues to stick me. I told this lady the same thing, yet I was still ignored. She stuck me yet again, and by this time I was crying. She got the minimum amount of blood needed before she gave me the 75 mg “sugary drink” to gulp down. She handed me a bandaid and told me to go sit in the waiting room until it was time to do it again. I was upset that neither of the two women seemed to care that they had hurt me or even made me cry.

An hour later, I was called back in for another blood draw. I told myself that they were only getting one shot to stick me and then I was walking out of there. Fortunately, they stuck me once and again, got only the minimum amount needed. I cried again, and yet she didn’t care. I walked out of the office steaming mad. Three of my veins had been blown and I had three large bruises that I knew were only going to get worse.

About a week after my OGTT, my dietitian called about my vitamin A levels. She explained that all of my vitamin levels looked really good except for vitamin A. I immediately thought that was strange because I eat a lot of foods rich in vitamin A, and I’ve been pretty good about taking my fat-soluble vitamin (vitamins A, D, E, & K) with my meals and enzymes. She asked if I had been feeling bad recently because sometimes a vitamin A deficiency can indicate infection. I told her that I had felt fine, so she prescribed that I start to take 50mg of zinc once daily to help with the absorption of vitamin A.

The next day, I got the results for my OGTT. My fasting glucose (the first blood draw) was 146 mg/dL-which is considered to be in the “pre-diabetic” range. However, my glucose after drinking the sugary drink was normal, which means I don’t have diabetes because my body was doing what it was supposed to. When my nurse practitioner called with these results, she let me know that I would be seeing the endocrinologist when we go back to Fort Worth in December. After doing some research to find out what might have caused my glucose to be high, I came across what is called the “Dawn Phenomenon”. There isn’t a lot of research to support this theory, but the idea behind it is that when we wake up in the morning, our body secretes certain hormones to help us wake up. Our glucose is also elevated during this time, however, our body will normally secrete levels of hormones to keep our glucose in the normal range. Because my glucose was high, my thought is that it could be a hormonal problem, instead of an issue with my glucose. But we’ll find out more in December!

The same time that my nurse practitioner told me about my glucose levels, she also told me the results of my sputum culture. A sputum culture is taken by either someone swabbing your throat with what looks like a giant q-tip, or you coughing up mucus in a cup. Yea, it’s pretty gross. Basically, they test the mucus taken from the swab/cup for bacteria, viruses, or anything that could be growing in my lungs. The past couple of years, I have only grown MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)-a bacterium that is hard to treat because it is resistant to a lot of medications. With this last swab, however, I was told that I am not only growing MRSA, but also pseudomonas (another bacterium), and aspergillus (a mold). Cyndi, my nurse practitioner, stated that because my lung function was only down by approximately 3% (not a huge change), they weren’t really worried about these new infections just yet. However, if I started to feel bad, I needed to call her right away.

At this point, it hadn’t clicked that something was going on in my body. I felt fine even though I was coughing more than normal, as well as coughing up more mucus than normal. Even though I made sure to tell Cyndi this, it didn’t seem to be much of a concern.

Just a few short days later, I got a call from Dr. Burk’s office. My white blood cell count was elevated, indicating infection. I was asked to go get my blood drawn at UMC to check to see if it was still elevated since, by this time, the results that my doctor was looking at were about a month old. I went the next day (after majorly preparing) and was surprised when the phlebotomist stuck me once and it only took ten seconds. Literally. I made sure to get his name for the future.

Two days later and Cyndi called again with the results of the blood work. My WBC count was even more elevated and they had finally gotten a chance to look at my x-ray which showed a lot of “stuff” in my lungs. The woman that I was talking to, Laura, asked if I could get to Dr. Burk’s office in Fort Worth by the next day. I was immediately taken by surprise. I told her that I needed to talk to my mom because school was starting the next week and I needed to figure out what to do. My mom was surprised as well. We were unsure if they were wanting to hospitalize me or not, so we called Laura back and asked her a few questions so we could know if we needed to pack a bag for a hospital stay or not. Laura didn’t know much, but she said she would talk to Cyndi and call me back.

A few hours later, Cyndi called me. She stated that because my WBC’s were elevated and there was a lot of “stuff” in my lungs, Dr. Burk really wanted to see me. She assured me that this wasn’t something that they wanted to admit me for (HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF), but she said she forgot that we were about 5 hours away from Fort Worth. She said that because Dr. Burk was my new doctor, they only had this one chest x-ray of me, so they asked that I go to UMC to get another one done to see how it looked (again, the x-ray that they were looking at was about a month old at this time). So after thanking God that I didn’t have to go to Fort Worth, I headed to UMC the next day for a chest x-ray.

Two days later and Cyndi called me with the results. I had even more “stuff” in my lungs, so she wanted to start me on two antibiotics-ciprofloxacin and bactrim. I had taken these several times in the past for infections and knew that this was going to help. I thanked Cyndi for her help and waited a couple of hours before going to pick up the prescriptions.

That was last friday, August 22nd. Saturday the 23rd, I made the mistake of taking the medications on an empty stomach and ended up “throwing up my toenails” as my dad said. It was awful. But I’ve been doing better. I just finished my first week of my senior year of college. I’m nervous and excited for what The Lord has for me this Fall.

But as I said earlier, I was reminded of my need for God and my dependence on Him when the “hurricane” came to Lubbock. I was reminded that, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 I can’t fight these infections on my own. I’ve tried, and it’s only left me drained and broken. I can’t win the battle over cystic fibrosis without Him-My Refuge and My Strength.

I love the story of when Jesus calms the storm in Mark 4:35-41. When this happens, the disciples have already seen Jesus perform many miracles. Yet, when the storm hit, the disciples were afraid and they woke Jesus up and asked Him, “‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?'” (v. 38) Jesus immediately calmed the storm and asked them, “‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?'” (v. 40)

Notice He asked if they still had no faith. To me, this means that they’ve seen Him perform miracles and do amazing things, yet they still didn’t believe that He could save them from drowning in the storm.

Those disciples symbolize me at times. How many times have I seen God work in my life, yet sometimes I still don’t have any faith in Him or what He’s doing? How many times has The Lord been faithful to me, even in my faithlessness, yet I still can’t seem to trust Him?

God has taken care of me for the past twenty-one years. He has shown me that I have nothing to fear. So when I get a call from my doctor, why do I worry? God knows what He is doing. I’ve seen Him work before, so why not let Him continue to work? My flesh may fail, in fact, it WILL fail at some point in my life, but God never will. I’ve got to trust Him. Maybe those disciples symbolize you, too. What is it that you just can’t seem to give to God. What’s holding you back from trusting in Him? What’s your storm? The storms of life are going to come, and they may try to rock your boat, but God is the One Who Calms the Storms.

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