"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A time for health...and a time for illness

One of the more well-known passages of the Bible is found in Ecclesiastes where the writer describes that everything has a season and a purpose under heaven. “A time to plant, a time to reap; a time to be born, a time to die; a time to gain, a time to lose…” and so the list goes. God has a reason, a purpose and a season for all areas of our lives so that when the bad times come, we can know that the good times will follow. And vice versa. In their own time. In God’s own time. In His season.

Such as I am now learning. I was in my doctor’s office this past week when he wheeled around and just bluntly told me, “Jimmy, you are now a full diabetic. No pre-diabetes, no almost there; you have Type 2 diabetes and your life will need to change. Quickly.” While not one of the horrible, tragic diseases like cancer, diabetes is one that definitely requires a change in life if I am to remain in this life to be an older man. I also have many friends that are living with this disease, but when it is my name called before the diagnosis, it hit me hard. It knocked the winds from my sails and gave me a quick sense of my own immortality. For awhile, I was lost and I’m still dealing with it. To be honest, I first thought, “Why me, God? Why me?”

I’ve always been a healthy guy. Majoring in Education with an emphasis in Recreation and Physical Education kept me in great shape through college and for many years after. However, as I began working more and more at a desk, my activity went to a much lower level and my fitness began to slack off. Then, as I’ve aged and things creak, groan, ache and snap more often, those days of weights, sports and such have basically ceased to exist. And as the fitness dropped, my weight increased and I began to ignore the healthy eating I knew to be best for me. And so it continued until today. A week after my diagnosis, I am reading all the information I can get and have an upcoming appointment with a nutritionist and diabetic educator where I’ll plot out my lifestyle and receive my new blood sugar monitor.

Has there been something in your life that threw you for a loop? When your first thought was to wonder why God had done this to you? The loss of a job? Maybe a disease over which you had no control? Or, like me, a disease that is my fault and now I have to deal with it? The death of a spouse, child, family member, friend, a loved pet? So many things come across our path while we trudge through this thing called life and the only way we can handle it is with the help of God. It’s okay to grieve or be sad because the Ecclesiastes writer includes that in our seasons of life. And the Psalmist reminds us that, “weeping may last for a night, but joy will come in the morning.” So, know that your feelings are valid, but also rely on God’s promise that a new season will be coming. In God’s time. Not my time. Not your time. In God’s time.

My God is faithful to me and He will walk with me through the next season of my life as I learn to live with diabetes. Me and God. As it should be. And when you hit those overpowering situations, please be reminded that it is only for a season. And that God will always be faithful for you.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy (who really wants a piece of chocolate cake right now).

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Getting real with the hard reality

For about six years now, I've been living with Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis...also known as a fatty liver disease which basically is meaning my liver is enlarged, enzymes extremely high because my liver is not processing the sugars and things as it should. For example, I cannot take Tylenol because it goes through the liver and isn't processed correctly. So, I've learned what I can and cannot eat with this (like whole-grain, nothing refined...basically all the things we should eat anyway) and it has worked greatly. My liver is no longer enlarged and enzyme levels (while not back to perfect) came down to more acceptable. However, at my last two lab workups, the levels are going back up and we aren't sure why. Even though the last liver biopsy I had wasn't a horrible thing, I don't relish the thought of having another one anytime soon...

However, the newest wrinkle in life is that I am no officially living with Diabetes. I know to many folks who have it or know folks who do, it is kind of a 'okay and ho-hum' thing....until you hear the words with your name in front. It threw me for a spin. I mean, I may be a big boy, but not heavily overweight by any charts and the doctors have never been particularly concerned about it. My diet is fairly good...I love fresh veggies, fish and beef (not a big poultry fan), and very rarely eat any kind of bread. However... I could live my life eating pasta three meals a day (whole-grain, of course)....but, pasta is pasta is carbohydrates. And...yes, those gummi bears call my name frequently. So, I guess those are safe from my jaws now. But, I am now officially on two more prescriptions and I am not a fan of legal pharmaceuticals....(just kidding, church people!) Plus, I have STRICT doctor instructions to reduce the stress in my life. Hmmmm, reckon how he knows that Stress is my middle name.

I've spent a couple days reading everything I could find from reputable internet sources, doing a lot of soul-searching and talking to some trusted friends who are in the medical field. I know this is a serious thing if I don't get my act together, but I can do it. And I will do it. Well, since today is my brother's birthday, I must force down birthday cake and ice cream, but I will do it.

Since I tend to have few filters about revealing all things about my life, you will probably enjoy traveling this journey along with me as I travel a new path of eating, exercise and lifestyle. I had my cottonball with a few drops of lavender oil next to the bed last night with my instrumental Celtic music playing....said the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd Psalm from memory and then relaxed off with my new meditation skills from Deepak Chopra. I slept better than ever. Plus, a dose of tough love from Micheal Elliott scared me if I don't get busy.