For starters, I just want to say if you happen to find yourself on this page– I am sorry, seeing that it is some kind of pain that probably brought you here. I know what it feels like to have pain on the inside, but look fine on the outside and I’ve struggled with it since 2013. I would say even though my medical diagnosis hasn’t gone away, I am not where I was in the years of 2013 through 2017, and I am as healthy as I’ve ever been since I took charge of my health in 2018 mainly through what I’m feeding it. Though I deal with minor joint pain symptoms, I am learning that pain doesn’t have to steal my joy. I look forward to swapping stories with you, dear friend.
“Perhaps the butterfly is proof that you can go through a great deal of darkness yet become something beautiful.”
Lupus SLE sprung up on me in September of 2013, at age 23. It was only a month later after I had moved off to Colorado for school and work that the pain had started. I was working with special needs children and started my masters program on campus in Colorado Springs in August. One night my shoulder started burning and when I woke up I was limping and barely able to brush my hair or move my fingers.
I was misdiagnosed at first with RA. My RF (rheumatoid factor) was 640 and to be “normal” it will usually be below 10. I have the symptoms of arthritis (I swell in 2 or more joints), and I test positive in most all my blood work for lupus. The pain just started spreading slowly to different areas until I was diagnosed in April of 2014 with systemic lupus erythematosus.
I switched to online schooling to finish my masters degree, sold all that I had, packed up my car and moved back to Texas in July of 2014 for better support and treatment. Though mine is said by my doctor to not be life threatening, my immune system is prone to attacking my healthy joint tissues systemically (throughout my body) and pain comes whenever it feels like it. Flares come and go, as do my exhausted days. Describing the pain is difficult but when a flare happens or I’m in pain, it feels like bruises anywhere inside my body, and someone is either jabbing needles in them or pressing them for long periods of time.
In the very beginning of my diagnosis, I just wanted to stay in bed. One day, I’d feel like super-woman at work with the kids, but the very next I could barely walk or push them on a swing. It’s all the things I never had to think twice about doing. The pain could last all day be it in my hands, wrists, feet, shoulders, elbows, knees, fingers or my back. I got bouts of sharp pain in random places. All of a sudden just pouring a cup of coffee was aggravating. It was in those moments I realized, I was not a super-woman.
Most times I’d pray, but sometimes I’d cry and sometimes it’d be a mixture of both. There was so much pain, but also much hope. At first I asked God why do I have this pain? Which slowly turned into Lord, what do you want me to do with this pain? How do I glorify you in this?
I felt warm when I felt His sweet answer. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). He never said give thanks in only the good circumstances, He said, in all circumstances. In knowing this, that was enough for me. It doesn’t mean I’m thankful for disease, but it makes me grateful for the things it hasn’t done to me. Sometimes our hardships that we sometimes question God in are pivotal moments only to draw us closer to God; to realize our continual dependency on Him. I have learned it’s possible to feel the pain of disease, yet still have your heart feel joy. How is this possible? This is where I can point to Jesus Christ. This is where I can glorify God. He is the joy in my heart keeping it safe from satans long-term diseases like depression, anger and bitterness.
I want to encourage you that whatever pain you are going through, whether it be emotional or physical, or both, to pray. Pray right now. Sure, this is a “chronic long-term disease” that they say can’t be cured, but I serve a God who works on His own term. I used to think I needed to be healed immediately, but now I’m learning how much I am growing out of this and whatever pain comes my way, it matters what I do with it and how I continue in my faith. I still believe this is only temporary pain, serving a long-term purpose.