Coverage You Can Trust

“He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; the Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life.” Psalm 121: 3, 7

“Softness you can feel, comfort you can count on, quality you can trust…YOU deserve the best.”

I chuckled to myself as I saw this.

An ad in a magazine? A commercial on TV? A radio ad? No to all.

A hospital gown? Yes…really!

Changing into one of the most uncomfortable articles of clothing–a hospital gown–for one of the most uncomfortable procedures for a woman–a mammogram–I read these words on the sealed package. The package also read, “We want you to have an outstanding patient experience, so please enjoy this gown that was chosen especially for you.”

I almost laughed out loud! I’ve never thought of a hospital gown as an article of clothing that makes me a fashionista, especially if you add the lovely non-skid socks that often accompany the gown. And comfort? You have to be a contortionist to reach the ties in the back of the gown to keep a large draft from exposing parts of your body that no one should see.

Unlike hospital gowns that vary from one facility to the next, you can count on God to bring you comfort, a soft landing, and His best when you need it.

When in pain, He sees you through the next hour…then the next.

When weary, He provides rest and His strength when you need to keep going.

When lonely, He surrounds you like a blanket with “softness you can feel.”

When you stumble, He will not let your foot slip.

Jesus is “softness you can feel, comfort you can count on, quality you can trust.” He also knows you deserve the best—His grace and mercy—and gives that freely.

This is Jackie…#livingwithhopethroughchronicillness

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Lord, I’m so grateful that you do not slumber and can be with me when I can’t sleep because of anxiety, pain, uncertainty, or loneliness. Please open my eyes and heart so I can see and feel your comfort at any hour of the day. Amen.


A question for you:

Where has God given you moments in the midst of your chronic illness and pain when you’ve smiled to yourself, chuckled, or laughed out loud? Please share in the comments below.

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Invisible Illness Requires an Invisible Fight

Invisible Illness Requires an Invisible Fight

Well, I’ve been M.I.A. for quite awhile, and I apologize for that. Chronic illness can do that….rob us of things we enjoy. As I was reviewing some of my articles today, I came across an article I wrote for Invisible Illness Week in 2015, sharing my experience with three invisible illnesses. Since I haven’t posted on my blog for quite awhile, I thought this would be a good post to share with you. I hope it brings you hope and encouragement, and I hope to do that more frequently!

“You’re looking pretty good today. How do you feel?” The response I often want to give is, “I feel like crap, but thanks for asking.” However I’ve come to realize that isn’t helpful to me or the person asking. It just shuts down communication, and I feel worse. I should be grateful that someone asked how I feel, even if it is just in passing.

If someone doesn’t suffer with an invisible chronic illness, it’s impossible for them to understand or comprehend the pain, struggle, and suffering we go through every day. Yet, we want them to understand, don’t we? Except for a few close friends and my husband who have walked alongside me with my invisible illnesses, most people don’t understand the numerous doctors appointments, pills and supplements, and traveling great distances for consults, second opinions, and skilled surgeons.

One of the most effective ways I do my #invisiblefight for the invisible illnesses I and my family have is through social media. It started simply by someone recommending to me a website called Rest Ministries (http://restministries.org), a website that ministers to the chronically ill. It has daily devotionals that speak to my struggles, informative articles, a chat room called “The Sunroom”, and specific groups that I joined to discuss specific illnesses or types of support. Eventually, I submitted several devotionals and articles to Lisa Copen, the founder, and she graciously accepted them for inclusion on the website. At Rest Ministries, I find great camaraderie, empathy, and understanding from fellow writers and others fighting invisible illnesses here.

The three invisible illnesses I have are ulcerative colitis, lyme disease, and endometriosis. Fortunately, my ulcerative colitis has been in remission most of the 33 years I’ve had it by taking daily oral medication. However, my two grown children both have Crohn’s disease, one diagnosed at age 8 and one at age 20, and they have had significant flares and changes in medications over the years. By God’s grace and advancements in research and medication options for Crohn’s patients, they are both in remission. My “go-to” website for information on these illnesses is the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (http://ccfa.org). This website has webinars with leading doctors and researchers in the field, a separate web area just for teens to talk with one another, the latest information on medications and treatment options, stories of those with Crohn’s or colitis who are making a difference, and many ways to get involved in supporting and promoting these diseases.

Due to the controversy over whether chronic lyme disease is a reality, I found it difficult at first to find reliable information, but through meeting hundreds of patients and being treated by two great Lyme Literate medical doctors (LLMDs), I have found reliable websites that offer names of LLMDs, effective treatment of lyme and its co-infections, and ways to advocate and support legislation for better research and testing. Just a few of those sites are ILADS Lyme Society (www.iliads.org), Lyme Disease Network (www.lyme.net), and the LDA–Lyme Disease Association (www.lymediseaseassociation.org).

Of the three invisible illnesses I have, finding current and reliable information on the internet, or anywhere else, for endometriosis has been the most difficult. It’s not considered a “big deal” in the hierarchy of chronic diseases–a few bad cramps, some severe bleeding occasionally, a few “minor” surgeries, and you should be up and running. If all else fails, most gynecological surgeons recommend a hysterectomy.

I’ve had endo for 27 years, had five laparoscopies, a hysterectomy, worked with a pelvic floor physical therapist, and tried numerous medications, and at age 59, still have pelvic pain. After my most recent laparoscopy in April 2015, I got serious about researching this disease and found that there are only a few surgeons in the U.S. who are endometriosis excision specialists. If you want to learn about endometriosis and find support from others who are experiencing debilitating symptoms, ask to join Nancy’s Nook Endometriosis Education & Discussion Group on Facebook. Two other great resources are the CEC–Center for Endometriosis Care (www.centerforendo.com) and the EFA–Endometriosis Foundation of America (www.endofound.org). Through these groups, I educated myself and am sending my medical records to three excision specialists with the hope of eradicating endo from my body for good.

Finding good resources of information from other people suffering from your same illness, discussion groups on Facebook, Twitter, or websites, or your own experience with good doctors can empower you and give you hope to keep up the #invisiblefight. And you can pass it on to others who are also fighting the #invisiblefight.

My ultimate weapon for my #invisiblefight is prayer and the strength that Jesus gives me when I don’t have the mental or physical strength to function. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God hears my cries when I lie awake at night wanting to sleep, but can’t. He knows my suffering because He suffered great physical pain, too. When no one else understands, He will never leave me nor forsake me. When I am unsure about a medication or treatment plan laid out before me, He gives me His wisdom that is way beyond my finite mind. He collects all of my tears in a bottle and gives me peace in the midst of the #invisiblefight.

But the greatest gift Jesus gives me in the midst of my invisible illnesses is joy. Joy in spite of the circumstances. Joy in His creation if I open my eyes and ears. Joy that He never sleeps and is always awake for a good cry or conversation. Joy when He uses my struggle to comfort and come alongside another who has the same illness. Joy that I can pray for others when I can’t do anything else. Joy that He is my greatest warrior in my #invisiblefight.

Rebuilding Resilience

Here is a great blog post on Rebuilding Resilience in adversity, including the symptoms and emotions that accompany chronic illness. It’s from a WordPress blog called “snowdroplets.”

I like this article because it lists specific things we can do to rebuild resilience in our lives and live at peace with our illnesses. In addition to the ideas listed by “snowdroplets,” I would add that my faith in Jesus Christ gives me courage and strength to move forward that I don’t have in my own human strength, and I am grateful for the grace and mercy God gives me every day.

snowdroplets

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Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt to stressful situations and to overcome adversity. I’m recently experiencing a recurrence of depression that had been well managed for many years. I’m grieving, living with health problems, and dealing with major stressors at home and work. I think it’s the combination of those factors all happening together that’s capsized me. I know that I’ll be okay eventually, but I’m finding the depression very hard to deal with. I feel my resilience has become exhausted.

I believe resilience can be restored and grown. Here are some commitments I’m making to myself based on common factors that build emotional resilience:

Resilience: I will make a conscious effort to cultivate resilience in myself and to acknowledge the resilience that I have.

Acceptance: I will accept these struggles, hard times, and losses. I will accept myself and those around me as we are. I will accept…

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