Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Reflection, Recommended Reading, and a Brief Update

There are some days when I realize how long we've been on this journey that we've been called to travel.  Anna was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis just before her second birthday. This past week, she celebrated her 18th birthday. Obviously, this road does not end on any certain birthday. So we continue.

In the very early days (back in 1999), I came across the following verses from the Bible, and at the time--in that moment--it seemed like a direct message just to me (from 2 Corinthians 1, from the New Living Translation):

God Offers Comfort to All

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

When I read that in 1999, I was definitely feeling mired in our "troubles," (the shock of having a child diagnosed with a chronic disease that will not be fixed with ten days of medication) and these verses were (and still are) a huge comfort to me. We've grown and matured since then, and while the road is not always easy, Jesus gives us strength and peace when we have none to offer in and of ourselves.  He holds us up when we feel rather weak.  We have always prayed that in all that we go through, in everything we do, that we will see who God is.  And we have.  Our prayer has also been that others will be able to know the love and presence and comfort of God through our circumstances, as well.

I am humbled when our experiences have been able to help other moms (and dads, too!). There are newly diagnosed JA children all the time, and parents who at first are in shock, who feel alone, who are overwhelmed by trying to understand this diagnosis and its implications, who are wondering what the future holds for their child.  They get a lot of information from great pediatric rheumatologists and their nurses, but sometimes they just need to hear stories from other parents who have been where they are.  We can help with basic information, comfort, encouragement, and hope that the future does not need to be bleak.  We have groups on Facebook, where information and encouragement and support is shared.  There are family-oriented conferences and activities offered by the Arthritis Foundation and some other groups.

And for those parents who are wanting to read everything they can, I do have some recommended reading---books which have been great sources for me.  One book which explains a whole lot about muscle, bone, and joint pain; rheumatic diseases, and the latest treatments as of 2004, when the book was written by Thomas J. A. Lehman, MD.  (Believe me, a lot has changed in treatment in the last 11 years, but this book is still excellent, and written to the audience of parents---in language we understand!)  I just saw on-line that Dr. Lehman has another book available, "A Parent's Guide to Rheumatic Disease in Children."  I just ordered that one from Amazon.com.  This is a newer book, published in 2008.

A book that doesn't speak to rheumatic diseases, but to discussing why God doesn't always choose to immediately fix all of our problems and troubles is by Laura Story:  "When God Doesn't Fix It."  This book just came out a few weeks ago, and I ordered it and read it last weekend.  As I was reading, in my head, I kept saying, "Yes! Yes! and Amen!"  So much truth and love in this book.  It is one of those books where you want to quote a multitude of her sentences to your friends and family!  So much so that I am just recommending that everyone read the book for themselves.  Laura Story is a singer/songwriter, and I also recommend her music---so much of what she has learned and heard from God is written into her songs, and this love and truth just sinks into my soul as I listen (usually when I'm working in my kitchen---that's when I usually put music on.)

To all JA parents and families---let's continue on this journey with hope, with a sense of calling, with the truth of God's love and comfort throughout the entire road, but especially in the rough patches along the way.  We can have a good cry every now and then (sometimes I just need some "moments" or "a day" to deal with some of the rough detours before I'm ready to get up and move forward), but we have something to offer to each other:  encouragement, advice, support.

Oh---and an update on Anna!  She's beginning to regain some feeling in her lips and gums and face, although she still has some areas that are numb.  (This is to be expected.)  She still needs to be careful with what she eats---still can't bite into a lot of things.  She was hungry for a good hamburger today, but ordered a hamburger steak, since she knew she would have to cut it up in little pieces and eat it with a fork. Anna just had a Remicade infusion a few days ago, and they took blood work, and this time, her doctor asked for some more specific numbers to check on her iron levels.  Although her hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell count were all just a little low, they were not far from the normal range.  That is good news, since there have been some days when she has seemed rather pale and tired.  We'll continue with the iron supplements for now.

2 comments:

Claudia said...

you have been a blessing! Thank you!

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