As many of you know I have had migraines with vertigo for eleven years now.
They started out of nowhere and despite trying every medical option available nothing has worked to ease the symptoms. I experience pain, nausea, and fatigue every day and the dizziness means the room is constantly spinning. Sometimes the symptoms aren’t so bad and I can manage to get out and about, other days I’m housebound and in a lot of pain.
The worst thing is it’s totally unpredictable as to what sort of a day I’m going to get which, for a person who loves to be organised and plan is incredibly frustrating.
God has taught me a lot through my illness and I’d like to share a few thoughts about what I’ve learned along my journey.
My mantra has become:
- God loves me
- God is good
- God is in control.
These three things are easy to doubt when prayers go unanswered. I’ve learnt that they’re true always, no matter how I’m feeling.
With God or Without God
People often say to me that they’re impressed with how I persevere. But to be honest I don’t have a choice but to persevere. My only options are to do it with God or do it without God and the first option is by far the better.
I know for certain I’ll be healed in heaven but I’ll persevere in prayer that it’ll be before then. I know that there is always hope, no matter what the medicine says.
One neurologist told me there was “no hope of me ever getting better”. He couldn’t have phrased it better! If he’d said, “there are no more medical options” I would have felt broken. However because he used the phrase, “no hope” it instantly pushed me into the arms of my loving father where I always have hope. It’s a hard journey, and one I don’t understand the reason behind, but I know God is with me every step of the way.
Rollercoaster of Prayer
Every time I pray for healing it’s a rollercoaster. I believe in the power of prayer and pray with expectation. So when healing doesn’t come it brings disappointment.
I remind myself of the people in the Bible. For example Joseph in prison, Ruth and Naomi, and so many others. Their suffering lasted a long time. We can see the fruit it produced now but at the time they just had to press into God and trust him.
We shouldn’t be surprised and doubt God’s word when we suffer, he told us to expect it, it’s all throughout the Bible. It’s hard with healing because we see Jesus heal so many people. But we’re living in the Kingdom now but not yet, which means that we do see healing today because Jesus’ Kingdom is here. However it hasn’t come in all its fullness yet so we don’t see healing every time we pray.
I always add an ‘even if’ to my prayers like in the fiery furnace passage (Daniel 3:18). Even if I’m not healed God loves me, God is good, and God is in control. It doesn’t weaken my prayers. It proclaims that I will press into Him and trust His character even through the tears and disappointment.
Compare it to Lockdown
On a more practical note I think comparing chronic illness to lockdown is a great opportunity to help people understand living life with a chronic illness. (PICTURE 3)
Here are a few comparisons:
- My pain, nausea and fatigue build up throughout the morning so by about 1pm I’m struggling to function. The only thing that helps is a nap to ‘reset’ the symptoms. It’s basically lockdown for 90 minutes every day. We can never have a full day out.
- When I trial a new medication it’s like being told there’s a vaccine coming, lockdown might be over! When it doesn’t work it’s devastating, like lockdown starting from scratch with no end date.
- Imagine being told that lockdown is permanent, your life will never go back to ‘normal’. That’s what it’s like being diagnosed with a chronic illness.
- My symptoms vary daily and can strike anytime without warning. It’s like waking up every morning not sure what the lockdown rules will be for that day. And the rules can change at any point. It means lots of cancelled plans, and often accompanying guilt if that means cancelling plans with other people.
- Imagine you are the only one in lockdown. There’s no community, no “we’re all in this together”. It’s just you. It’s a lonely place to be.
- People with chronic illness lose acquaintances. Because we’re stuck in the house so much we don’t just bump into people e.g. at the gym, toddler groups, work places. Think of all the people you’ve lost touch with through lockdown. There is a plus side to this point though as although I have fewer friends, the ones I have are closer.
There’s a brilliant video by Miranda Hart who compares chronic illness and lockdown so much more eloquently than me. Please give it a watch as she explains life with chronic illness so accurately, it felt like she was describing my life.
Also check out the song ‘Even If’ by MercyMe.
If you’ve made it to this paragraph, then thanks for sticking with me through my ramblings!
Sarah asked me what I hoped readers would do after reading this post.
Understand, empathise, and pray?
Or offer practical, emotional or social support?
My answer is that I hope that people will ask those questions themselves and that the conversations about chronic illness will be opened. It’s really appreciated when people try and understand life with chronic illness more.
Let’s get chatting!