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Carol's Story

Chapter 11: Faith

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Carol's Story


The story I'm about to relay is deeply personal, but it is my hope that my experience might be an encouragement to those suffering with debilitating pain and a testimony of my faith in God and his love.


A Labor of Love


When I was in my early thirties, my husband, Malcolm, and I decided to start a family. Up until then, I had worked hard to establish my career as a writer, but we felt time slipping by and decided it was time for children. I knew when I had a child that my life would change, but I had no idea how much or the direction it would take.


Our daughter, Deanna, was born after a difficult birth; I was in labor for just over twenty hours. I thank God that my baby was fine. I am infinitely grateful for that blessing. However, I learned the next day that I had lost a great deal of blood. I was given the choice of accepting a blood transfusion. In a decision that would alter my life irrevocably I chose not to receive a transfusion.


After several days in the hospital, I finally received permission from my doctor to go home, as long as I had help with the baby. My mother, God bless her, gave up her own life for four long weeks to come to take care of me and Deanna while Malcolm worked. Initially, I was so weak, I couldn't even walk. I had to use a walker. That was my first lesson in humility. More lessons were to come.


The Accident


I was just beginning to re-gain my strength and was rejoicing in being able, at last, to take care of my little baby girl when another challenge arose. As a new mom and one who had been unable to care for her new baby for four long weeks, I was eager and nervous to take over the reins. One night, mistakenly thinking I heard the baby cry, I jumped out of bed. The next thing I knew I felt myself bounce off what I thought was the floor. I'll never know exactly what happened, but as far as I can figure out, I must have fainted.


Dazed, I tried to get up only to find myself in agonizing pain, unable to move. I called to my husband, waking him up, and he called for an ambulance. I spent the rest of the night at the hospital. Because of other traumas in Emergency, I didn't get treated for several hours. I was given nothing for the pain. By the time the doctor saw me, I had gone into shock; my veins had receded so the nurse had difficulty getting an IV into me. My husband was ordered from my side as the doctor worked on me. After that I really have no memory, although I was told I was awake the whole time. When I next became alert, I found myself hooked up to an ECG. I'll never know what happened, but it must have been severe.


I know God was with us through that horrible night. In fact, he worked our first personal miracle. Although Deanna was only one month old and was being fed approximately every two to three hours, she slept through the entire night from 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. without waking up to be fed. That's truly astounding for a baby that age. I am deeply grateful, because I don't think I could have stood the heartbreak of not being able to feed her (I was breast feeding) that night.


By morning, I was diagnosed as having fractured six bones, two in my right hand and four in my left shoulder. I had also severely dislocated my left shoulder; muscles and tendons had torn. In short, with that one fall, my life changed completely. My left arm was in a sling and even the tiniest movement was agonizing. My right arm was in a cast. And I had a one-month old baby.


Even though the pain was severe, all I could think of was my emotional loss in not being able to even pick up my little baby girl. It was a horribly helpless feeling, to hear her choke and not be able to go and turn her over. It was humbling to have to ask for someone to pile me with cushions so that she could even sit on my lap. The memory still brings tears to my eyes as I remember the ache.


Of course, having no arms made even the simplest tasks difficult. I had to be fed, changed, groomed. I would get trapped in rooms because I couldn't turn a door knob. I was almost as helpless as my baby. Again, I am deeply grateful to my husband who persevered with me through this difficult time and to my mother who once again stepped into the breach. I honestly don't know what would have happened if I hadn't had that support.


After six weeks, I began the road to recovery, but it was slow. The one enormous blessing I took from the experience is that even the most mundane tasks, such as changing a diaper, were truly joyful for me. I never got bored of caring for my little girl and that intense joy in being a mother has sustained me through the years ahead. Because I was so useless at so many things because of my physical limitations (e.g. housework, writing), I was able to spend the time with Deanna and we have developed a deep and lasting bond. I thank God for that.


The Diagnosis


I never completely recovered physically from that experience. I was still in pain every day and required frequent physiotherapy to recover the use of my left shoulder.


About a year later, my father was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. It was a devastating year as I struggled to cope with my own physical and emotional recovery, with being a wife and mother, and with striving to support my parents as they faced this crisis.


About this time, I realized that the constant pain I was experiencing was much worse, and, even more perplexing, it was flaring up all over my body. One day I would have agonizing leg pain; two days later it would be neck pain. The doctors couldn't explain it, except to say I was stressed by my father's illness.


The pain was so bad that there were days when I couldn't even walk across a room. I literally would crawl around the house alongside my child. I couldn't take the stairs (just thirteen steps) without stopping, sometimes twice, to sit down. My little toddler would take my arm and try to help me. The pain took hold of my mind so badly that it was difficult to think straight. Some days, I couldn't even hold a conversation with my husband because I couldn't think of the words I needed to use. As a writer, this inability to communicate was incredibly frustrating. This time of my life was absolutely exhausting.


My Dad died just over a year after he was diagnosed with cancer. Three months later I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.


It was a relief to get a diagnosis, but I immediately went into a classic grief reaction. I tried to deny the problem. Slowly, I faced it and got some help. An occupational therapist worked with me to teach me how to lessen the strain on my body. She showed me that little things could add up to intolerable pain and that I had to admit my incapacity before I could help myself.


Working at the computer for even ten minutes would cause my arms to spasm into terrible pain. Consequently, my career as a writer was effectively extinguished. I was told it was likely that I'd never write again. This was another loss because I had previously strongly identified myself by my work.


In addition, it seemed highly unlikely that we would be able to have more children. While I was grateful for my one child, I had never expected to have only one child. I felt guilty for not providing Deanna with brothers or sisters to play with.


I felt useless. I felt as though I was an overwhelming burden to my husband. I couldn't keep house properly, let alone bring in any supplemental income. All the energy I had was consumed by our daughter. Even then, I couldn't do all the things that most mothers do with their children such as slide down a slide at the park or toboggan down a hill. I felt like a failure. If I was in a lot of pain and my spirits were low, I sometimes thought that they might be better off without me.


Malcolm was very patient and supportive. I am so grateful for that, because I know that many men (or women for that matter) wouldn't be able to handle the situation. My little girl, Deanna, was an angel who required very little discipline and she brought me joy in the midst of my suffering. So I was aware that I had many things to be thankful for, even in the midst of the pain; but when one is faced with unrelenting pain every minute of every day it is very difficult to think positively. I tried to count my blessings every day, but I despaired of living the rest of my life like this.


With the support of my husband and my daughter, and by reaching out for help, I slowly began a process back to health. Malcolm continued to encourage me that the pain wouldn't last forever, but I wouldn't believe him. Nevertheless, I tried. I altered my diet and the pain improved slightly. I found a vitamin supplement especially designed for those with fibromyalgia and I improved some more.


I didn't know that God had something amazing in mind for me. Truly, I am in awe of how he worked in my life.


My Faith


I have been a Christian from a very early age and by Christian, I mean a born-again Christian. I have walked with God for many years and I've tried to manifest that commitment in my life. I wanted my life to reflect my faith. Consequently, how I dealt with all of these crises would seem to be a time for my faith to grow. And it has, but not in the way I would have thought.


I've heard over and over that most people feel God's presence most strongly when they are in the greatest need. I wish I could say the same, but I can't. I continued to believe in God from sheer tenacity of will. I approached the various misfortunes in my life much like Job did in the Old Testament. While I was not angry with God, I was simply miserable and worked hard to understand what I might learn from my experiences.


As it turned out, I had something very important to learn. I had to learn that I had value in God's eyes whether I could do anything or not. Just by existing, I had value. Just by continuing to believe, however less than glorifying, I was precious to God.


I am very much a doer, a perfectionist, who has always worked hard and achieved a lot. All of a sudden, all of the things I had worked so hard for were as nothing. I couldn't do any of them. All I had going for me was my ability to love--to love God despite everything, to love Malcolm and to love Deanna. And, over time, I discovered that this was enough.


This is a hard-earned lesson that God has taught me, but more than that, I feel as though I am meant to share it with others who feel useless or hopeless--whatever the reason. I urge you to realize that just by carrying on in the face of difficulties is a triumph. You do have value in the eyes of God!


The Healing


Here my story takes another dramatic turn. Five years after I was diagnosed, my husband asked for, and received, a book for Christmas entitled "Intercessory Prayer" by Dutch Sheets. After he had finished it, I decided to read it, because I felt that my prayer life could use a tune up. Quite simply, that book changed my life.


I had been raised in a conservative evangelical church where faith healings were not something that were discussed. When trials came, the people in my church kept the faith and believed that whatever befell them was God's will. There is certainly value in that thinking. It helps us to be consistent in our faith. It keeps us from great disappointment when God does not answer our prayers the way we think he ought to.


But I have found that one needs balance in one's spiritual life as well as in everything else. When I read "Intercessory Prayer", it was a dramatically new point of view for me. Here was a man who believed that prayer caused change. When I sat down and really looked at the Bible (which I have studied all my life), I realized how much I was missing with my Job-like approach. Consistently in the Bible, prayer and faith changed lives. Why should I be any different?


Do you know that until then, I had never asked God to heal me. I was just thoroughly convinced that fibromyalgia was God's will. But what if it wasn't? What if it was an attack by Satan (not the way I usually think at all)?


Still, I was uncertain about whether I would be stepping outside of God's will by even asking to be healed (a lifetime of teaching is difficult to shrug off sometimes). So I prayed a conditional prayer. I prayed that if it was Satan holding me back and in pain, that God would heal me; but if God intended for me to have fibromyalgia, I promised that I would be his servant in this as in everything.


The very next day I had my first answer to that prayer.


Answer #1. A friend of mine called me and, during our conversation, she mentioned that her dentist wanted to replace all her fillings so that she wouldn't have any silver fillings. She asked what I thought and I said that I thought her dentist was after her money. The next day, there was a story in our local newspaper about the problem of toxic waste from dental offices. Apparently, the material used in silver fillings or silver amalgams, as they are called, is over 50% mercury. This waste was causing problems in the sewers of the major city nearby our hometown. When I discovered this, I thought "If this is a problem in the sewers, what is this stuff doing in my mouth?"


I began to do some research and the more I discovered, the more astounded I was. It turned out that over 80% of the symptoms I showed with fibromyalgia were also symptoms of mercury toxicity in the body. There are some truly remarkable stories on the internet on this topic. I wouldn't have even read this newspaper article, if my friend hadn't asked me about this. This was my first answer to prayer.


Answer #2. While in the health-food store the next day, I impulsively decided to buy a new book on fibromyalgia. I had read many books when I was first diagnosed, but it had been over a year since I had read anything new. Within this book, it was strongly advised that all silver fillings be replaced. You may think all of this is a coincidence, but I don't think so. I think God was consistently trying to show me the direction to take.


Answer #3. By now, I figured that it would be a good idea to have my fillings checked. Obviously not everyone who has silver fillings has health problems, so what was going on? In order to get a straight answer, I had to change dentists. I was sitting in my new dentist's chair just one day after my initial call. Using the latest technology, they were able to show me to my complete satisfaction that at least two of my fillings were leaching mercury into my system. The fillings were over thirty years old and the amalgam had broken down.


Apparently, the solidity of this amalgam is one of the keys as to why this problem strikes some but not others. Following the advice I had found on the internet, I decided to have only one quarter of my fillings replaced at a time so as not to overload my system. I took several further precautions, including having a rubber dam used in my mouth.


Answer #4. I had discovered on the internet that it is possible to get rid of heavy metals in the body by something called chelation. It is an alternative medicine, not yet accepted by mainstream doctors. I found the names of two or three local doctors who administered chelation and then I approached my family physician. He immediately focused on one of the names and said that he knew this one doctor and that he had sent patients to him for EDTA chelation.


I couldn't believe it! Everything I read about this therapy implied that I would meet resistance from standard medical practitioners. Here was yet another indicator of the way in which I should go. So after each dental appointment, I also received chelation treatment to rid my body of any harmful effects of the procedure.


Answer #5. Before proceeding with this treatment, I wanted to make sure that I was obedient to the Bible's teachings, so I called friends of ours who were pastors in a more charismatic church than our own. They agreed to come and do a laying on of hands. I believe that this step of faith on my part contributed to my healing every bit as much as all of the other measures I was taking. The Result The treatment took place over approximately 2 1/2 months. After the final treatment was done, our family went on vacation.


Two weeks after the final treatment, I found I could go on water slides, walk long distances that I could never do before and was generally feeling over 80% better. I've had people say, "Why weren't you healed 100%?" All I can say is, I don't know, but God does. I'm just grateful to be back to this level of functioning. I was back to my normal self. I could enjoy life again. I could write again. About a year after this miracle, I decided that I wanted to contribute something to to world--to use the gifts God gave me. I came up with the idea for this book. It is a great joy to be able to write again and, hopefully, to help people.


The Exhortation


So, while you may have been told your situation is hopeless, never give up! Most doctors don't profess to understand every working of the human body and God can do the impossible. Even if you do not re-gain your health or overcome whatever is holding you back, God loves you. He loves you whether you're well or not, whether you're flawed or not. I hope that my experience will help someone else in their own struggles, whether that be in a marital relationship or not.


May God bless you.








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