Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sleepless in El Dorado Springs

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Sleepless in El Dorado Springs

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  Proverbs 3:24 

Are you awake at night?   Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?  How often do you lie in bed wondering when sleep will come?   Do you ask yourself how many sleepless nights can one really endure?   I'm clinging to the verse above!!!

For the past month or so, I been feeling led to write about my health.  Many of you know I have had health challenges for sometime.  I don't know what the purpose as to why I'm going to share with you but I do feel a prompting to do so.

As a kid, I use to play softball and that's where my first issue began.  I blew out my meniscus in my right knee.  I ended up having 3 knee surgeries which led to being diagnosed with RSD - Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.  For me, the symptoms I experience are chronic daily pain which often feels like I'm being stabbed and/or someone is lighting a torch on my right leg.  Often I feel like I have a brick tied to my knee and am dragging my leg.  Hypersensitivity is another symptom.  Even just a little breeze on the leg feels incredibly painful or when jeans or other material touches my knee it feels like when your brother gives you "indian burn."

I have been dealing with daily headaches, migraines, cluster headaches.

The treatment I received for both RSD and headaches to try and help with pain management is the domino that we believe led to my health crisis.

Has your doctor offered you steroids for pain? For the flu? For anything?  It seems as if I hear steroids whether oral or injection is the "cure-all".   They are prescribed for just about everything anymore. Well, steroids, in my opinion are BAD NEWS!  My endocrinologist told me that you shouldn't have more than 10 steroid injections in your lifetime.  I have had at least 10x that amount.  Why you ask? I was ignorant of the side effects, not made aware of what could happen and was desperate for pain management?  Sound familiar?

I can't pinpoint the exact timetable of my health going into a major downward spiral and will probably even miss a few things.  Forgive me!

Teenager - knee surgery, diagnosed with RSD  - Treatment- too many steroid injections!

1984 - Headaches, migraines start - guess what more and too many more steroid injections and even botox injections in the head, neck & shoulders.   The botox made things worse! This led to chronic neck & shoulder pain still have today.

1990's Immune system crashing - doctor's gave me high doses Vitamin D and other nutritional injections only to tell me that they didn't "take".   Still on high daily does of Vitamin D and other immune building supplements.

1995 - Diagnosed with Hypothyroid.  Let's just say my numbers were off the chart and the symptoms I had been experiencing were not normal!

Late 1990's - slipped on ice, hit my tailbone, chronic low back pain since.

1990's - Diagnosed with NAFLD (non-alcholic fatty liver disease caused by chronic use of acetaminophen & steroids)

l990's - Rash developed on back & head - itchy & annoying.

Early 2000's - Major fatigue, brain fog, no energy, poor concentration, insomnia developing.  I used to read 1-2 books a week.  I have read a total of 3 books in the past 5 years.  I can't explain the medical terminology for what I experience, but if I read, try to listen to audio or talk on phone for extended time, or even have a conversation with someone who is kind of ADD, my brain shuts down.  I call it - the mother board has gone on overload!  I need complete peace and quiet or an activity that doesn't require me to think.

2009 - Complete crash - had to close my business down.  Diagnosed incorrectly - with Addison's Disease, one treatment option - oral steroids!  NOOOOOOO!!!!

2010 - Diagnosed Renal Artery Stenosis - narrowing of blood vessels going to kidneys's - causing kidneys to shrink.... (possibly from acetaminophen and steroids)  I don't have high blood pressure but because of this disease, I have times when I go into hypertensive crisis which puts me at risk for heart attack, stroke and other serious issues.  Hypertensive crisis means blood pressure is at least 180/120.  I have found a supplement that most times can bring me back to normal ranges within 20 minutes.  This too is very scary.

2010 - Gastro issues/digestive issues started

2011 - Diagnosed correctly - Cushing's Disease brought on by, you guessed it, too many steroids.  My adrenal glands were in complete failure.    The endocrinologist said that she has never seen a patient live with as much steroids as I had.  She didn't believe that I would be able to recover from this and didn't think my adrenals would turn back "on".  Fortunately with God's intervention, and her medical guidance, we were able to wean me off oral steroids and the adrenals are working.  They are not at normal function, however.  They are in a "permanent" stage of fatigue and weakness.  It is imperative that I have steroids on hand at all times.  I'm suppose to wear a medical alert bracelet.  Any trauma, fever, sickness or threat to my life can cause me to go into an addison crisis - this is not fun!  I experienced this many times over several years.  It is life threatening and very scary!!!!  The repercussions of steroid damage is not medically curable.

"The adrenal glands and hormones produce significantly affect the functioning of every single tissue, organ and gland in your body; they also have important effects on the fluid balance control and blood sugar regulation. They even regulate how you think and feel and determine how effective your immune system functions. Without the hormones the adrenals produce you would die very quickly, and when out of balance the quality of your health and wellbeing becomes severely compromised.  Even your propensity to develop certain kinds of diseases and your ability to respond to chronic illness is influenced significantly by the adrenal glands. The more chronic the illness, the more critical the adrenal response becomes. You cannot live without your adrenal hormones."

2011 - Knee pain, sciatica pain, IT band pain down right leg worsening, saw an orthopedic dr - they gave me a steroid injection and diagnosed me with osteoarthritis. Ugh!  I have much hip pain both sides as well.

2012 - Orthopedic doctor took x-rays low back as it slips out of place occasionally and I begin to fall.  Said my discs are beginning to crumble.

2013 - Anxiety, intense fear & panic attacks are a new thing for me.  This is a major side effect of the adrenals not functioning properly.  Depression, hopelessness set in at times.  Even chest pain - is it heart or just anxiety???

2013 - Sleepless nights.  For the past ten years, I've had struggles with sleep issues.  I used to be able to fall asleep and then wake up a few hours later.  Then it took hours to fall asleep and then would finally sleep 4-5 hours.  Now I'm having trouble getting to sleep at all or dose for a few minutes and then awake for hours to dose off for a few minutes.  I average on most nights 2-3 hours.  Some nights like tonight, no sleep as of yet and it's 6:15am.  Sleep deprivation has serious consequences to health.

2014 - Unexplained & undiagnosed foot pain in both feet started.

2015 - Since I've favored my right knee, my left knee is strained.  So much so, that it is very hard to get up from a sitting position and almost impossible without help from the floor.  Ken is going to make me a cane.

There are often days that I pray God either heal me or take me home.  I beg Him at times to take me.  I'm not looking for sympathy here.  Just trying to explain the devastating effects chronic health conditions have on folks.

Through all of this, I have tried every medical remedy, natural remedy, supplement, dietary changes etc.  Every product out there has been offered to me as the "answer".  Probably every healing or prayer "methodology" has been tried or at least considered or prayed about.  And as the book of Ecclesiastes says everything is futile, there is nothing new under the sun!!!

And since 2011, we have had no insurance.  I am unable to receive disability income.

Pain head to toe - daily
Fatigue - feeling exhausted, no physical or mental energy - daily
Emotional distress - daily
Hit the wall - weekly ready to give up (but won't, can't) This is when I usually ask for prayer.

How do I cope?  With GOD, all things are possible!  When I am weak, He is strong.  I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength.  I will sustain you, says the Lord.  I am your ever present help in danger, says the Lord.  I will uphold you with my right hand.  No weapon formed against me will prosper.  The Lord has given me some very specific scriptures that I cling to.  My grace is sufficient. Surely you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings and you will go out frolicking like calves let out to pasture.  One thing I know is that I have to speak His Word over myself and often have Ken do that too when I'm not able to.  Renewing the mind, transforming thinking to God's Truth verses what you see is hard but absolutely vital and a matter of life and death.

God has raised up many prayer warriors (you may be one if you are reading this).  He has given me a husband who has been my support in many ways.  He has had to be my caretaker for the last 6 years.  He is my chauffeur (driving is difficult), cleaning person, help with food preparation, shopping, taking care of dogs, house etc.  He even helps me with physical therapy, stretching and massage therapy.  He is a gift from God!!!!  This hasn't been easy on him, either.

I do the best I can to take care of myself as the Lord has led me.  God has made it clear that He will heal me in this lifetime.  He has told me that there is nothing I can do to get my healing any sooner than His timing.  My healing will be for His glory.  I am thankful for His goodness, faithfulness and love for me!  Without HIM, I wouldn't be here!

I want to ask you to continue to pray for me, for my health, for the ability to sleep soundly and consistently as that helps with the ability to cope better.   Please pray for Ken to find some work here in El Dorado provide until we move into our full purpose, call and destiny.  We believe that is coming.  (I do have a bit of anxiety about him working away from home and me).  We are enjoying our small group N.A.R.D..... equipping and activating others to hear God's voice, step out in faith and be a doer of the Word, to reach out and minister to a world that is hurting!  We found a church home here and are thrilled to be part of a body that is hungry for more of God!  The teaching is authentic, convicting and thankfully biblical.  We love our new little rental.. can you believe next week, we will have been here in El Do a year!!!

How can we pray for you?  We are so blessed by the many God is allowing us to intercede for!  
If you are interested in having Ken and I come teach and minister to your church or small group, we would love to hear from you.

If you have been blessed by this ministry or feel led to support what God is doing through us - financially, below are a few options.  Your generosity and your prayer support is greatly appreciated and needed as we continue to walk in faith and God's calling. 

God Bless YOU -
Ken & Michele Cole,

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