Anne Ryan Dempsey guest blogs and beautifully shares in words and photos the rebirth and life that comes with Easter. Please check out her website at http://anneryandempsey.com/ to see more of her writings and photos. Enjoy!
Here is a post from guest bloggerwith excellent information and links about endometriosis!
She started a blog to help her in her journey through grief, infertility, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, migraines, PTSD, depression and, hopefully, to help others in similar struggles. She uses the name “snowdroplets” because she wants to convey both her sadness and hope. Snowdrop flowers are a symbol of hope. Some will bloom in winter. Droplets…as a symbol of tears. Also as cleansing water and the life-giving properties of rain. Put together… snowdroplets.
Please click on “snowdroplets” below to see her entire blog.
As we kick off Invisible Illness Awareness Week, I was so happy to see The Guardian publish a whole series of articles on endometriosis today!! Endo is part of my #invisiblefight. It made me so very happy to see this awful illness receive this kind of attention and to see the discussions that these articles kicked off in the comments section. I hope this will help us to get more funds for much-needed research. Here are a few of the articles:
1) Endometriosis: the hidden suffering of millions of women revealed
Often dismissed as ‘women’s troubles’, endometriosis affects one woman in 10 of reproductive age, yet a lack of research and funding means sufferers can live in severe pain, unable to work or socialise…
2) Endometriosis: 20 things every woman (and every doctor) should know
For example: you do not have this disease because you failed to breed in your early 20s. And pregnancy is not a cure!
3) ‘I’m not a hypochondriac. I have a disease. All these things that are wrong with me are real, they are endometriosis’
4) ‘The pain is paralyzing’: 30 women describe living with endometriosis
5) Endometriosis: if your doctor isn’t taking you seriously, it’s time to find a new one
Thank you Guardian, for raising the profile of this disease!
Thank you, snowdroplets, for writing this blog post!
I was nominated for The Real Neat Blog Award by my fellow blogger, Bloomin’ Uterus. THANKS!!!
So here’s the fun part!
Here are The Rules
- Put the Award Logo in your post.
- Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
- Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
- Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
- Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog)
The Questions Bloomin’ Uterus is asking me:
- Think of a moment when you were uncontrollably smiling. Why? Share that memory with us! Anytime I look at or spend time with our 6-1/2 month grandson, Caleb. He adorbs, and just looking at him or thinking about him makes me smile:-)
- If you had one super power, what would it be? Being able to transport myself anywhere I want to in seconds or minutes, because my grown children live a distance from me, and I love to travel!
- What’s your favorite condiment? The one you slather on EVERYTHING! Well, I can’t say there are any condiments that I slather on anything, but I love many kinds of jellies and jams (cherry preserves, apple grape jam, boysenberry jam, to name a few) and I definitely slather them on bread or toast!
- I’ve seriously enjoyed your blogs. How long have you been blogging? I’ve been blogging since 2012, shortly after I learned the basics at a writers conference.
- Would you rather camp in a tent with a cozy fire going outside or sleep on a fluffy bed in a lush hotel? No contest–sleep on a fluffy bed in a lush hotel…..ahhhh!
- Which came first: the chicken or the egg? I believe God created heaven and earth, Adam and Eve, and all the animals. So I think the chicken came first:-)
- You have the chance to Live in a Reality that is the reality from your favorite book or movie BUT your favorite character hates you…Would you still go? Yes, I think I would. I love Narnia from the C.S. Lewis books and movies, and even if one of the brothers or sisters hated me, there would be the other siblings to have adventures with!
I hope you enjoyed reading the answers to these questions as part of my nomination. Please visit Bloomin’ Uterus’s blog to learn more about endometriosis and get many resources!
This is a devotional I wrote that was published on the Rest Ministries website (http://restministries.com).
“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).
I live in Pennsylvania and by mid-August, the hot, humid summers give us ripe, red, juicy tomatoes. The kind that you take off the vine and bite into, with the juice dripping down your chin.
But not this year. It’s mid-August as I write this and our tomatoes are still green. Others who planted tomatoes are having the same problem because we haven’t had a hot, steamy summer, like we usually do. In fact, we’ve had only nine days at 90 degrees or above.
As a person who is not fond of hot, humid weather, I’m not complaining. However, our green tomatoes are proof that they only thrive in these conditions. This summer, the plants craved as much sun as their little solar-collecting leaves could gather.
Chronic illness can be like these tomato plants. We yearn for days when we have less pain, more mental clarity, and are more productive. Yet, our ministry to others is most “ripe” because we’ve experienced the discomfort of blistering heat, and the distress of oppressing humidity.
Our ministry is most “ripe” because we are totally dependent on God for our next breath, or our next hour.
We can only understand others’ suffering if we walk that same road. I empathize with women who have endometriosis because I’ve had it for 25 years and had it recur after a hysterectomy.
Our family helps others navigate Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis because three family members have these diseases. I understand the mental and physical pain that comes with depression because I’ve “been there.”
Though none of us chooses the path of illness, God can use it to comfort others in their pain, loneliness, and suffering. As we rely on God for our strength and perseverance in the “heat” of our illness, He is ripening us to minister to others.
When you can’t take another day of the “heat and humidity” of your illness, know that God is preparing someone to come and pluck you from His vine and to enjoy the juicy morsels of godly wisdom and comfort that only your experience can provide.
Prayer: Lord, it’s hard for us to reach out to others when the “heat” of our illness saps all of our energy. When we have better days or go into remission, help us to look for people in our lives who have chronic illness and share our experiences to minister to their hearts. Amen.
What have you discovered in your journey with chronic illness that could be helpful to someone else?
Ecstatic! Amazed! Grateful! I feel all of these and more about my right hip replacement I had 3 months ago. I’ve been back to work full-time since early July, and am tolerating that very well. Each day I gain strength and flexibility in my hip and leg, and I marvel at the skill of the surgeon and the way God made our bodies to heal!
Although there were days that were difficult, I am grateful to God for many of you who prayed, sent cards, made meals, drove me to appointments and physical therapy. I’m especially grateful for my servant husband, who faithfully filled my ice machine every night to reduce the swelling in my leg, who assisted me when I was learning to walk with a walker, then a cane, then no support, and who didn’t expect me to make meals once I was healthier and started back to work. We ate dinners from Chipotle, Chili’s, Moe’s, and some of our other favorite haunts more than we cooked…and that is OK:-)
I’m also grateful to my physical therapist, Randy, from Commonwealth Orthopaedic Associates Physical Therapy at Body Zone Sports & Wellness Center. He has rehabilitated just about every major part of my body over the last 12 years with skill, encouragement, and a lot of laughs.
On the disappointing news front, my Lyme disease is still active, and my pain from endometriosis is beginning to rear its ugly head again. And yes, that’s after a hysterectomy and a subsequent laparoscopy to remove endo after the hysterectomy.
Regarding the Lyme disease, my doctor thought I might be in remission, but when the blood test came back, it showed I still had active disease. I am also beginning to have some symptoms of a co-infection, Babesia. So I will be back at the Lyme doctor in September. In the meantime, I’ll take oral antibiotics to continue to fight the Lyme.
And regarding the endometriosis, apparently what I’m experiencing isn’t all that uncommon. Many women believe that a hysterectomy is a cure for endometriosis, but actually, it just gives doctors more treatment options. However, many of these treatment options don’t work.
An online article by The Cleveland Clinic states, “Whether endometriosis will recur after surgery depends on how severe the disease was at the time of surgery and how completely the surgery removed your lesions. Lesions that appear after surgery may be new or pre-existing. For this reason, it may be difficult for your doctor to tell whether your disease has come back or is progressing. The most recent studies have shown that endometriosis recurs at a rate of 20 to 40 percent within five years following conservative surgery. Um hmm….you read that correctly…..20 to 40 percent.
About 5 million American women have endometriosis. Endometriosis can occur in teenagers and adult women of all ages, but most typically it occurs in women ages 25 – 40. Mind originally occurred in 1988 when I was 33. I had about 4 laparoscopies over a period of 20 years before I had the hysterectomy and subsequent laparoscopy last August in 2013.
Implants can form in many areas, most commonly in the following locations in the pelvis: ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterine surface, cul-de-sac (an area between the uterus and rectum), bowel, bladder, rectum, and the peritoneum (the smooth surface lining that covers the entire wall of the abdomen and folds over inner organs in the pelvic area). Rarely, remote sites of endometriosis may include the spinal column, nose, lungs, pelvic lymph nodes, the forearm, and the thigh.
On my last visit to my gynecologist, whom I’ve had for 31 years, he said my exam was better than previous ones, but I was tender in the spots where he found endometriosis before. So we decided to wait until I’m at least 6 months post-op from my hip replacement to give the nerves, muscles, and tendons time to heal. After that, we will decide how to address the endometrial pain going forward. He says it will probably be another laparoscopy.
So, even though I sometimes feel like just pulling the covers over my head and sleeping through life, God has shown me that I need to be grateful for life, whatever state I’m in. If I wake up in the morning, can put my feet on the ground and move forward, it’s a blessed day. I just ask God for His strength and wisdom to give me a good attitude and the physical and mental ability to do the tasks for each day.
So stay tuned for Lyme and endometriosis updates…and keep those prayers coming!
Sorry for the delay in this post, but I was making changes in the appearance of my blog.
The Bionic Woman is an American television series starring Lindsay Wagner that aired for three seasons between 1976 and 1978 as a spin off from The Six Million Dollar Man. Wagner stars as tennis pro Jaime Sommers who is nearly killed in a skydiving accident. Her life is saved using “bionic” surgical implants similar to those of The Six Million Dollar Man. As the result of Jaime’s bionics, she has amplified hearing in her right ear, a greatly strengthened right arm, and stronger and enhanced legs which enable her to run at speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour.
Well, I’m not The Bionic Woman, but part of me went bionic on May 9 when I had a total hip replacement of my right hip. It’s kind of surprising for a woman who recently turned 59, had been a group fitness instructor for 28 years, works full-time, and leads a very active life with her husband. Frankly, I was shocked! Here’s the backstory.
In December 2012, I had a robotic-assisted hysterectomy to remove painful endometriosis. It was a very successful surgery….we thought. However, when I returned to work a month later, I began to experience pain in my right lower back and pelvic area. No, it can’t be…..it should be all gone.
After several examinations by the doctor, seeing my chiropractor (who noticed I had a limited range of motion in my right hip), and getting xrays and an MRI from a hip orthopedic doctor, I found out I had some arthritis, an arthritic cyst, and some bursitis in my right hip. After several hip injections with little pain relief, I went to a pain control doctor, who gave me several steroid injections in my spine, as I have degenerative discs in my lower back. Still, no relief.
Eventually, I was able to plead my case with the gynecologist that endometriosis was still present. He did some research and was hesitant, but he trusted that I knew my body. On August 19, I had a laparascopy and two small spots of endometriosis were found embedded in deep tissue and sitting on nerves, which was causing the intense pain. Whew…I was right and now the pain is gone. Woo! Hoo! Thank you, God, for the perseverance and the trust and skilled hands of my gynecologist.
I recovered from that surgery well, but a nagging pain lingered between my right hip and back. Back to the chiropractor and physical therapist I went. PT did not bring pain relief or improved range of motion, so my PT recommended I see a doctor who does hip arthroscopy, as he might be able to open the hip, and fix what is wrong. Surgery…really?
After having a pain injection and MRI with the hip arthroscopic doctor, he stated that my hip was too deteriorated to correct with arthroscopy, and he wanted me to see the hip replacement surgeon in their practice. It is now December and both the hip replacement surgeon there and the original hip surgeon in my city agreed I’m not ready for a hip replacement, that it might be my back, and I should go back to the pain control doctor to see if injections might bring pain relief. Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me! I’m running around in circles here, God. Please direct my path.
Mid-January through March, I had several injections from the pain control doctor that brought limited and temporary relief. He sent me for nerve conduction studies, which are all normal. I also found out in January that my Lyme disease had returned. Ugh…can’t be. How much more, God?
I returned to my PT, who recommended I purchase a cane as my gait was really uneven. If I would have had a cane in my hand, I would have probably hit him with it! A cane? At my age?
So I decided if I’m going to carry a cane, I would go in style, so I purchased a fold-up cane called “Glow ‘N Go” where the handle and tip glow in the dark:-) Fun! And it was quite a conversation piece:-)
After a few weeks of therapy, my PT recommended I go back to the surgeon as my hip was not improving. I did that and told the doctor I had done injections for my back and was doing PT, but the hip was getting worse. He did a standing hip xray, and when he pulled it up on the computer, he turned to me and said, “Well, I now can do a hip replacement.” (He doesn’t mince words.)
I was shocked and asked, “What happened in the last 3 months?” He put the xrays side by side. The one from December had cartilage and the one he took that day had none. I was bone-on-bone in my right hip joint.
Startled, I asked, “Isn’t that unusual?”
He said, “Everyone deteriorates at a different rates, but the end result is the same–the hip needs to be replaced. Now, let’s get a date on my calendar.” Oh, I can’t believe we’ve actually come to this point. It’s all moving so fast.
After doing some research, getting a second opinion from the hip ortho doc in my city, and getting questions answered from the surgeon, I made arrangements to be out of work for at least six weeks and for my husband to be with me the first week after surgery. Before the surgery, I had one lingering question that no one had been able to answer….
I had an appointment with my Lyme doctor a week before surgery, explained to him the quick deterioration of my hip and asked him, “Did Lyme disease cause this quick deterioration?”
Without hesitation, he said, “Absolutely. Yes. Lyme disease can affect the skin, brain, nervous system, muscles, bones, and cartilage. After my own knee quickly deteriorated and I had a knee replacement, I surveyed my patients and researched Lyme disease studies. The research indicates that infectious spirochetes [the tightly coiled bacteria that causes Lyme symptoms] can remain adjacent to or embedded in cartilage for extended periods,even after antibiotic treatment. Also spirochetes love hiding in cartilage because it’s one of the immune system’s weak spots.” Ok, great…I had to ask, didn’t I?
Well, I had an answer, but it was another ugly surprise about this disease called Lyme. I am recovering very well from the hip replacement surgery, and my strength is coming back quickly because I had a newer procedure called the direct anterior hip approach, which doesn’t cut any muscle. More about that in a future blog.
There are days my recovery has been slowed or halted because of overall muscle and body aches from Lyme, but I am now walking with that flashy “Glow ‘N Go” cane again and have already put that walker you see in the picture away.
Something I read in a Karen Kingsbury novel while I was recovering has stuck with me. One of the characters in the book had just had a delicate surgery, and another character asked the doctor, “What if it doesn’t take?”
The doctor replied, “Oh, it’ll take. In fact, the area where there was trauma, replacement, and healing will actually be stronger than the unaffected parts of his body.” I thought about how amazing God is that He gives this skill and wisdom to doctors, and that He designed our bodies to heal even stronger. Where there was trauma and eventually healing, that section would be stronger than any other.
And so it is in our marriages, our families, our work, and our relationships. Trauma will come to many relationships. Disagreements, differences, arguments….sometimes acute or chronic pain. God knew we’d need some surgery, so He gave us His Word full of advice on how to make points of trauma, places of healing. And come out stronger because of our obedience and His Grace.
On Monday, November 23, I found myself in a theater surrounded by “Whovians.” For those of you who don’t know – a “Whovian” is a fan of the British television show Doctor Who, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The show’s recent popularity is due to its return in 2005 after a long hiatus. Many young people on both sides of the Atlantic have become fans.
The show follows the Doctor, a Time Lord, who travels through Space and Time in the TARDIS that looks like a British police box. When mortally injured the doctor can regenerate into a new body. This is the reason the show has lasted for fifty years, with eleven (or is it twelve?) different men portraying the Doctor.
I first heard of Doctor Who a two years ago from a student named Elizabeth. Elizabeth came to CSF to observe us for a project she had to do in one of her classes (a mini-ethnography). We have had a few students come to CSF for this reason before and usually they don’t hang around after the project is over. I don’t think Elizabeth planned to either, but she did.
She found a welcoming and life-giving community in CSF. When she interviewed me for the assignment we discussed her Catholic faith and whether that was a barrier to being a part of CSF. I recall explaining that CSF seeks to be a place where all Christians can come and grow in their faith in Jesus. (Of course, we also hope to create a place where people who are not yet disciples of Jesus can come and learn too.) I know there are things Christians disagree on, and we discuss such things sometimes, but we try our best to lay those aside on campus so we can focus on what really matters. On a campus filled with broken people there are more important things to do then argue our particular theologies. What matters on campus is learning to love Jesus and spread this love to others.
Soon Elizabeth became good friends with many members of CSF. She was part of an especially tight-knit group of ladies. The next year, which was last year, she served on our leadership team as secretary. Now in her senior year she continues to be involved in CSF. Just a few weeks ago I took a group of students to the Penn State football game to work in a concession stand with the CSF group up there. Elizabeth could hardly hold in her excitement as she got to see Hannah, one of her best friends, and one of the first students to welcome her to CSF two years ago.
Elizabeth is a huge Doctor Who fan. When you meet Elizabeth you soon find someone who enjoys good books, movies and television shows. I suppose this is appropriate for someone who is a professional writing major. As Elizabeth talked about Doctor Who other students who watched it also talked about it. Others of us were so intrigued that we soon began watching it too.
This is how I found myself in a theater full of Whovians the Monday before Thanksgiving. Bryson is another of those students who first welcomed Elizabeth to CSF. He is now at University Park but was home for the holiday. I joined Bryson and Elizabeth in watching the 50th anniversary special in 3D on the big screen. Fun, nerdy times!
One evening a few months ago I was at the diner with CSF students. They were talking about Doctor Who. There was probably a new student who had just confessed to not ever seeing it. I recall Elizabeth made an interesting comment – “I never tell people to watch Doctor Who. I just talk about how much I enjoy it and they want to watch it.”
“And there’s your lesson on evangelism for the night,” was my response.
Too often we Christians create this huge pressure to sell Jesus to unwilling customers. We approach it like a used-car salesman. We hate it though as deep down we feel dirty…kind of like our stereotype of a used-car salesman. But this is not what evangelism is.
What if evangelism is simply talking about what we are passionate about, what defines us, and what if this is primarily Jesus Christ? I don’t need to take a class to learn how to tell someone I love my wife. If you spend time talking to me, my likes and dislikes will come out. And just as people may watch a television show we are very excited about, they may decide to visit our church or crack a Bible due to our excitement.
I feel the need to add a caution – this is not a program. This does not mean we need to artificially create a false-excitement for the Jesus. When I talk about my wife, or a book I really liked, or a movie I saw recently, I don’t pretend to like it out of outside pressure to get you to like it. I really and truly love something and it naturally bubbles out of me.
So the challenge for me, the challenge I give my students and those reading this now, is to get to know Jesus. Read the gospels, encounter the real and amazing person at the core of our faith. I believe through this you won’t help but talk about him. As you do, you’ll find others are wanting to marathon the Gospels much like marathoning episodes of Doctor Who on Netflix.