For as long as I remember I have dealt with migraine headaches. There were years that these headaches sidelined me, however the past several years I have found several natural remedies that have helped me manage the rare occasion that a migraine hits.
However, that all changed this summer. In mid-May, I was video chatting with a friend and my left eye started watering like crazy. By the end of our conversation, I had what I thought was the start of a migraine.
The next morning, I woke up and realized that this was much different than a typical migraine for me. The pain was not in my “normal” location, instead it was just behind my left eye and was very intense. Over the course of the next week, the headache never went away. In fact, I started to notice that I was having problems with my vision as well.
At first, I thought the strange new headache was from stress. Maybe I had too much on my plate and I wasn’t managing it all well? However, when deadlines came and went, and the headache stayed around, I decided that maybe something else was going on.
In early June, I went to get my eyes checked. I hadn’t had my eyes checked in several years, and I really expected the eye doctor would simply confirm that I needed a new prescription and all of the headaches and strange vision issues would go away. However, that’s not at all how it went. I will never forget when the eye doctor turned on the light after my exam and said “Well, I don’t think you have a brain tumor, however your optic nerves are swollen and that is concerning.” Never in my life did I expect to hear those words. (Trust During the Unexpected)
I left the eye doctor’s office and drove straight to my family doctor’s office. He looked at everything the eye doctor had done and then scheduled me for an MRI the following week. On the day of my MRI, I had complete peace. During the test, I was able to listen to whatever I wanted, so I choose a Bethel Worship CD. As the MRI raged around me (goodness those machines are loud), I felt like I was in a little worship bubble with Jesus.
A few days after my MRI, the test results came back clear. I rejoiced thinking all of the “scary stuff” was behind us. Unfortunately, I was wrong. My doctor explained the MRI did rule out some of the reasons for the swelling in my optic nerves, but not all of the reasons. He felt it was best to send me to a neurologist.
So in July, I walked into the neurologists office, still not convinced this was real life. After reviewing my tests, symptoms and medical history the neurologist shared what he believed was going on. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension is a rare condition were a person’s body creates to much spinal cerebral fluid which creates pressure. Increased pressure can cause optic nerves to swell, and when the swelling is left untreated it can cause blindness. All of my symptoms are considered “textbook” for this condition.
One week later, I had several tests that confirmed the doctors assumption. My spinal pressure was nearly double what the normal level should be. Once the doctor’s lowered the levels, my headache finally broke. After nearly 10 weeks of having a strange headache, we left the hospital that day with no headache. I cried happy tears, to finally be headache free. We also left that day with a diagnosis. A rare condition that we still don’t fully understand.
Now, a few weeks after diagnosis, I am still trying to figure it all out. We are still working to balance new medications to keep the headaches under control. The new medications have caused crazy side affects that have opened the door to other conversations. We don’t know if or when the pressure will come back. We don’t know what caused it. We also don’t know what this means for the future. We don’t know if I should get pregnant with this condition or if the medication is safe to take while pregnant. Basically, we are full of lots of unknowns.
Over the course of 10 weeks, our lives completely changed. There was a lot of this summer that flew by me because my head hurt to badly to function. I have almost completely stopped reading because my head or eye hurts (which anyone who knows me, knows that it a really hard thing for me!) I feel like I have lost a lot because of this crazy condition. All of these questions and unknowns just make me angry.
This year, Dan and I felt like God gave us the word “rooted”. (The Year We’re Rooting For) I was so excited to spend the year doing what I thought “rooted” meant. For the first time in years, I changed my study methods and tried new bible studies. I read as many books as I could get my hands on. I worked on memorizing scripture. However, these were all “my definitions” of what the word rooted meant. I never once thought that maybe God’s definition was something different.
One day last week, the grief of what was surrounding me in the natural hit me at a new level. I was angry. I hate the phrase “When it Rains it Pours”, but that is exactly what the last few months have felt like, and I started to tell God it just wasn’t right. As I sat in my office I heard the Lord say “roots can’t grow without rain”. Friends, this is when I get really real with you. My first thought was NOT “Oh goodness, that’s a powerful message!” My first thought was “God, you are a jerk.”
As quickly as the thought entered my mind, I felt really guilty. For the past several years, I have dug very deep into scripture, and have gotten to know who my God is and He is a lot of things, but He is NOT a jerk.
God is faithful. Lamentations 3:22-23 says this in the NIV Translation:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
God is good. Psalm 100:5 says this in the Passion Translation:
For the Lord is always good and ready to receive you. He’s so loving that it will amaze you — so kind that it will astound you! And he is famous for his faithfulness toward all. Everyone knows our God can be trusted, for he keeps his promises to every generation!
God is forgiving. Isaiah 43:25 says this in the NIV Translation:
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
God is strong and all knowing. Psalm 147:5 says this in the Passion Translation:
How great is our God! There’s absolutely nothing his power cannot accomplish, and he has infinite understanding of everything.
God is a God of healing. Psalm 41:3 says this in the Passion Translation:
When they are sick, God will restore them, lying upon their bed of suffering. He will raise them up again and restore them back to health.
God is a God of restoration. 1 Peter 5:1 this in the Passion Translation:
And then, after your brief suffering, the God of all loving grace, who has called you to share in his eternal glory in Christ, will personally and powerfully restore you and make you stronger than ever. Yes, he will set you firmly in place and build you up.
God has a good plan for ME! Jeremiah 29:11 promises this in the NIV Translation:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
These are just seven of the characteristics of God, and I promise you, no matter how far you look in the Bible “jerk” is never a characteristic you will see. The past 10 weeks have been hard, however as I think over the past 10 weeks, I have seen God’s hand in so many ways.
He has been faithful and good to provide just what I need to get through each day. A call from a friend, an encouraging word, a song or sometimes time for a nap. Each day, He knew what I needed and He provided a way.
He has been forgiving. Friends, I called God a jerk straight to His face, and I am writing a blog about it. God wants our hearts. He wants all the ugly and all the emotions. Not just the pretty ones that fit nicely in church pews. He wants all the stuff we hide in the back of the closets of our hearts.
There have been days that have I been worried about schedules, timing and appointments. However, God is all knowing. He has opened doors at the perfect time. I could write post after post about how much His hand has been in this situation.
I trust that my God has a good plan for me. The doctors do not get to have the final say here. I trust that God will bring healing and restoration from my head to my toes in His time. Until that day comes, I am working to choose joy every day. I am choosing to trust Him. I am choosing to believe that this only is for a season. Most of all, I am choosing to believe that God didn’t lead us to the word “rooted” this year for nothing. I am choosing to believe roots always lead to beautiful plants. Always.
I went back and forth about sharing this story. Health is a very personal thing, and it’s so much easier to share when the story is over and there is a wonderful testimony. I am still very much in the middle of this story, and I am still very much trying to determine what comes next. However, if you are in a season that feels like “when it rains it pours”, I first wanted to tell you I am sorry. It just stinks. I also wanted to encourage you that you are not alone. Finally, I wanted to remind you God is not a jerk. He is a good good father, whose heart is for you!