New Year Ramblings

2019 was HARD! My physical health was tested. My mental health was tested. My marriage and parenting were testing. My faith was tested. There’s no way to disguise the fact that it was just plain HARD!

But, 2019 was also so GOOD! I got to watch my husband step up and be the man God designed him to be. I’ve listened to him pray over me, argue with doctors and nurses over my health, and plead my case over and over. I’ve watched him hold my hand, shed a few tears, and be the bigger person more times than I can count. I’ve watched him reassure our kiddo that momma would be ok and that God was going to make it all right.

I watched my daughter turn into the bravest young girl I know. She has matured so much this year. I’ve also watched her confidence grow by leaps and bounds this past year.

I’ve watched my cute nephews grow up right before my eyes and made some of the best memories with them.

I followed God’s calling and stepped away from a career I thought I loved, and discovered I could be just as fulfilled by being a stay at home mom.

I found a new little crafting hobby that has kept my mind busy and introduced me to so many new people.

I’ve learned that going to and talking about therapy is ok! I’ve found that talking openly about mental health is ok, and necessary, in today’s society. The stigma surrounding mental health treatment has to end and I would love to be the person to help build that cause.

I’ve seen that old friendships are the best ones and will always be worth rekindling.

I’ve watched loved ones pass away that we thought would be here much longer than they were.

I’ve learned that some people only “love you” for what you can do for them, not who you are. I’ve also learned it’s ok to distance myself from those people to focus on myself, my family, and my own journey.

I’ve learned that when everyone else walks away, my family will be always be there to pick me up and love on me.

I’ve discovered that my worth is NOT found in how much I work, how much I do for others, how many things I find to keep myself busy (even within the church walls), or the number of things I can check off of a to do list or resume. But, my worth, and my joy, is found in who He says I am. I am loved, worthy, chosen, a friend, redeemed, a temple, and set free.

So, here’s to hoping 2020 is the year of health, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Here’s to making 2020 a year of learning to be still and intentional, focusing on being the woman God designed me to be, not the woman others think God made me to be.

Here’s to dropping the veil of perfectionism and learning to embrace the messy, with Jesus right beside me.

My New Friend

I have a new friend.

He follows me everywhere I go. I try to make him leave, but he always reappears at the door. Sometimes, he’s even in the shower with me reminding me that it’s been two days since I’ve washed my hair. He sleeps in the same bed as I do, infiltrating my dreams with vivid visions that make no sense, which can be very uncomfortable for my husband and I. He rides in the car beside me and points out every single car that slightly crosses into my line or decides to turn in front of me with no blinker. He stands with me while I cook dinner and feed the animals, and whispers negative thoughts in my ear. He’s right beside me when I’m helping with homework, looking for the right opportunity to make me feel annoyed with my child. I mean, I CANNOT, get him to leave.

He gets in the middle of my relationships and causes worry and fear to linger. Sometimes, he tells me I’m not good enough and I should have accomplished more during the day. He expects a certain level of perfection and keeps the wheels turning in my brain until that level of perfection is attained. He causes my body to sometimes shut down completely. Its frustrating when he makes my body tremor from head to toe, causes my limbs to go numb and weak, and removes my ability to speak. He causes fear to rush over my family members as they watch me lay in bed unable to function. Yet, there my friend ALWAYS is, waiting for me to rise every single morning so he can interrupt my daily routine.

Who is this friend, you ask? He has lots of “nicknames”. Some refer to him as “generalized anxiety disorder” or “panic attack”. Others refer to him as “conversion disorder” or “functional neurological disorder”. And, some can’t seem to give him a name because he’s so random!

But, his name really isn’t important to me. His identity, thoughts, and actions don’t define me. You see, I have a BEST friend, who is much more powerful than this new friend. My best friend is with me in everything I do, just like this new, annoying friend. Except, my best friend is different. He doesn’t cause worry and grief. He doesn’t cause my body to quit functioning properly. He doesn’t send negative thoughts and whispers into my mind. He can control my mind, just like my new friend, but He does it with peace and joy.

What’s my best friend’s name, you wonder?

He has lots of nicknames too. Let’s name just a few:

• Prince of Peace

• King of Kings

• Savior

• Lord

• The Beginning and the End

• Rock of Ages

• Jesus

• Christ

But, my favorite name for Him is FRIEND. I met Him when I was 12 and chose to have Him spend His days with me. I didn’t choose my new friend, but I chose, and still choose, Jesus.

His name matters to me because He determines my identity. He tells me I am chosen. He tells me I am worthy. He tells me I am enough. He tells me I don’t have to be perfect. He tells me I’m forgiven.

And, when my new friend is more than I can bear, and physically takes over my body’s well-being, Jesus goes to battle for me. I may spend a few days, or weeks at a time, resting, but I’m letting Jesus fight my battle because I know when I am weak, He is strong.

Do you have a best friend like my Jesus? If not, I’d love to chat with you about the abundant life He came to this Earth to give YOU and I. He’s waiting and willing to be your best friend too!

Bible Study Blues

Let’s face it! Making time for daily bible study can be HARD as a mom in today’s world. Between making breakfast, picking up toys, packing lunches, helping with homework, cooking dinner, reading bed time stories, washing laundry, and the endless list of other motherhood chores, it is sad to admit that our daily time with Jesus often gets put on the back burner. But, incorporating a daily bible study time all boils down to time management and making spending time with Jesus a priority. The truth is, digging deep into the Word and making it a daily habit to spend time talking to God is essential in our daily lives.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

If our goal is to raise children who go out into the world knowing that Jesus loves them and feeling confident in the person they are in Christ, we must model what it’s like to have a DAILY relationship with Jesus. Psalm 127:4 tells us that “children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hand (NLT)”. As followers of Jesus, we are called to put on the full armor of God, including the shoes of the Gospel, and be warriors for Christ. This means it is essential to dig into the word daily, even in the midst of motherhood.

If motherhood, or just daily life has you bogged down, here are 5 simple ways to break your Bible Study Blues.

  • Listen to a Christian podcast or YouTube channel. Put your headphones in while you fold laundry. Connect your Bluetooth speaker while you’re in the shower. Connect your phone to your car radio while you’re in the car rider line. It doesn’t have to a lengthy production, just make sure you’re listening to someone speak truth based on Biblical principles.
  • Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier and read Scripture. I know, I know. Who WANTS to get up 30 minutes earlier? It will be hard at first. You will be tired. You will want to hit snooze. But, DON’T! Get up. Grab your Bible and your favorite morning drink and dig in!
  • Pray daily. This seems like a lot. But, good news, Jesus goes with you EVERYWHERE! You don’t have to be on your knees at the altar to talk to Jesus. You can pray in the shower. You can pray while cooking dinner. You can pray over the phone with a friend. Your prayers don’t have to be filled with eloquent words and be super lengthy. Jesus simply wants to hear from you DAILY, even if you can’t find the words to speak.
  • Start a journal. If keeping a journal is your thing, do it! Doodle words that stand out to you as you read, or listen, to the Word. Keep a bullet journal of thoughts that the Holy Spirit reveals to you. If you’re at a loss for how to journal, download my FREE {Bible Study Notes} Printable below to get you started!
  • Last, BE GRACIOUS AND KIND TO YOURSELF. There will be days you fail. There will be days you hit snooze. There will be time periods where you don’t open your Bible. It doesn’t mean you failed, it simply means you are human. God didn’t create us to be perfect. He created us to love and serve Him.

So, kick off your Bible Study blues and dig in!

FREE {Bible Study Notes} Printable

Being Still and Quiet

Let’s talk about silent struggles for a minute! 

In today’s society, we get so caught up in what looks •perfect•. We want our social media photos to be edited and “filtered” until they look worthy of being on a magazine cover. We want to be the mom who serves restaurant quality meals to our families. We want to create Pinterest worthy crafts and projects for our homes. We want to do all of these things (and more). But, the reality is, rather we openly admit it or not, we all struggle silently with different adversaries each and every day. This makes successfully completing the above list absolutely absurd.

Your silent adversary may be an autoimmune disease, a mental health struggle, diabetes, pain, grief, fatigue, or one of the many other things we tend to hide and conceal behind the smiles on our faces. But, what happens when your silent struggle appears and takes over your life?

This photo is during a flare of my own silent struggle, conversion disorder. This particular flare affected both sides of my body, paralyzing my face and producing an inability to smile.

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with conversion disorder. It’s a neurological disorder occurring when the functional part of our brain functions improperly. I’m learning that it affects everyone differently, and is triggered in a plethora of ways. Most days, it stays hidden and undetected in my life. But, some days, it appears suddenly and cannot be controlled.

When I am in the midst of a flare, my face becomes paralyzed, my speech becomes distorted, and my hands tingle. Sometimes, I struggle to move my arms and legs. My brain becomes foggy and I experience extreme fatigue. 

It’s so easy to get lost in a pit of self-pity, bitterness, and frustration. It’s so easy to lose myself in worry and anger because I haven’t received a successful treatment plan.

Yet, it’s in those moments I learn to be still. I learn to focus completely on Jesus and the will of the Father. I learn to listen intently for guidance and how to rest completely in Him.

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

We don’t have to know all of the answers to the situations we are facing. We don’t have to strive to reach unrealistic expectations set by this world. We don’t have to worry about tomorrow. We don’t have to hide our struggles. We simply have to BE STILL and trust that He is God.

Whatever your silent struggle is today friend, know that He has it all in His hands. Lay your worries aside. Take a break and trust Him. Lay aside the need to be perfect and learn to appreciate the still, small moments. Sometimes, it may mean serving frozen pizza to your family for dinner! And, guess what? It’s ok! I promise it won’t hurt them!

Head to your local Walmart and grab the Totino’s party pack for $4.88. You can thank me later. 🙂

We aren’t called to be perfect. We are just called to be present.

Conversion Disorder Update

Here’s an update for all of you that wanna know ….

Thursday and Friday (12/26 – 12/27/19) I had awful tremors. With it being the holiday season, finding care is hard. But, it’s even harder because my condition is not well known in our area.

My primary doctor is •amazing• at helping me with symptoms, but he’s out of office for the holiday and his on-call dr wasn’t really sure what to do.

The in and out clinic and urgent doc both refused to see me because I present with stoke and seizure symptoms which they do not treat. The referred me to the ER, but we’ve been down that road and they are also clueless. The ER dr looked at me last time and said “What do you want want ME to do for you?”

My neurologist is 2 hours away running her own clinic and is hard to get in touch with.

And, last, but not least, my therapist is off through the holidays.

So, Dr. Google, aka my husband, made his own action plan.

I have a prescription for Ativan, which usually calms my spasms and tremors. However, even after increasing my dosage as suggested by primary dr the last time this happened, my entire body continued to spasm and tremor. So much so that my legs continue to constantly ache and my body is exhausted.

In addition to the tremors I also have weakness in my left hand grip, the left side of my face is slightly drawn, my speech is distorted, and I’m currently walking with a slight limp since my left leg isn’t functioning properly.

My neurologist was finally able to call in a prescription for Depakote, which basically makes me sleepy and calms my brain activity. It reduces the spasms, but the other symptoms will only get better with time. I do have a follow up with her at the beginning of January so maybe we can make a more thorough action plan. I’m going to ask for more physical and occupational therapy and possibly speech therapy.

I understand that conversion disorder will more than likely be part of my life story from now on, and I’m perfectly ok with that. There are good days and there are not so good days. They are great days and there are awful days! I’m just learning to take it all in stride.

Despite my health, God is good. He has a plan for my pain and aches, my neurological symptoms, and this crazy journey! ❤️

A Praying Wife

Let’s admit it. Our husbands can {sometimes} be the most annoying people in our lives. They tend to leave the toilet seat up, causing us ladies to slip into the bowl of cold water during a middle of the night bathroom trip. They usually don’t take the extra effort to toss their dirty socks into the laundry hamper. Instead, they leave them on the floor right where they took them off. 🤦🏻‍♀️ And, don’t get me started on the dishes in the sink. I know my husband isn’t the only one who forgets to rinse his coffee out of his cup, or the ketchup off his plate, when he places it in the sink.

It’s so easy to point out all of the little faults our husbands have, including not cleaning up his whiskers after he shaves. But, ladies, God has called our husbands to be the leaders of our households and to love us.

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”
Colossians 3:19

It’s so easy to throw this Biblical truth in the face of our husbands. To tell them they are called to “love us and be kind”. But, let’s think about our actions as wives for a minute. If roles were reversed and your husband was reminding you of all the little things you do wrong, do you think you would always be kind? Probably not.

We can’t expect our husbands to be perfect, when we, as wives, aren’t perfect.

Instead of constantly nagging our husbands, what if we commit to pray for them.

Let’s commit to praying that our husbands will ….

• submit to Christ as the true head of our households

• make wise decisions regarding our families’ finances

• find a place of peace and rest when they are at home

• know that we love them unconditionally, not just by our words, but by our actions

• be of sound mind and remain safe when away from home

• love others like Christ

• set a Godly example for our children

• pray daily

It is my belief, that praying for our husbands, and watching God work in them, is one of the biggest blessings we can experience on this side of heaven.

So, I leave you with a question.

Have you prayed for your husband as much as you’ve talked about him?

My handsome husband and I

What is “THIS”? lol

“You shouldn’t return to teaching to full time. We need to get ‘this’ under control.” I fought back tears as these words flowed from the doctor’s lips. Did she realize she was turning my whole world upside down with those two sentences?

“What is THIS,” you ask? It’s a complex concern summed up into two simple words coined by some doctor, we ‘regular folks’ can call •conversion disorder•.

Don’t worry. I’d never heard of it either. It completely caught me off guard, and brought me to state of fear and tears. Let me tell you, of all of the illnesses thought to cause this scare, conversion disorder is by far the one that frightens me most, because it’s the hardest to control.

Basically, a person with conversion disorder internalizes emotional and physical stress to the point of cracking. Think of filling a water balloon. On the outside, the ballon remains calm. It’s color and shape doesn’t change much. As water fills its internal space, the balloon does EXACTLY what we expect it to do. It holds more and more water and simply “does its job”. Until, one day, when the balloon least expects it, the weight of the water becomes too much and it literally cracks and breaks apart into a million pieces and is unrecognizable as a water balloon.

In a nutshell, that’s what happens to the body (mentally and physically) of a person with conversion disorder when the stresses of life become to heavy. In my scenario, because I am a 100% type A, people pleasing, won’t say no, driven and focused gal, I didn’t realize how much my balloon was filling up. So, God allowed my balloon to be broken to show me that I spent too much time checking off a “to do” list, instead of enjoying this amazing life and family He blessed me with. It’s crazy to think about it now.

How in the world can the human brain literally shut down the body because of stress? I mean, my life wasn’t any more stressful than the next girls. Or, was it? I’m slowly learning to let things go, to live in the moment, to search for joy in simply being still, and to lean more on God for peace and joy.

I’ve had a little over a month to dissect this new “me” and on a phone call with the neurologist this week, I finally felt like we were on a path to healing. This wasn’t any easy diagnosis to accept. Sadly, any “mental health concern” carries such a negative stigma in today’s society. I so badly wanted all of my issues to have a physical cause. Explaining that stress caused your body to shut down brings on a whole new set of stigmas, questions, and, sometimes, looks, that I have no answers for. Likewise, explaining you have a therapy appointment opens up a whole new conversation.

Yet, I’m learning that I don’t need the answers. It’s ok to say “I don’t know. I’m still learning.”

My prayer is that my journey will lead ONE person to find joy and peace in Jesus, despite what’s going on his or her personal life. I know without a doubt, that He calms the storm in me. I also pray that somehow my story will break down walls and barriers that our society forms around mental illness. I’m living proof that your brain’s health is just as important to daily living as your heart’s health.

So, for now, I’m stepping away from full-time teaching to focus on me, my family, and my time with Jesus. And, that is perfectly ok with me!

Giving God the Reins

“It’s easy. You just give a little nudge and he’ll go. Pull a little this way and he’ll turn left. Pull a little the other way and he’ll turn right. Give him a gentle pull back, say ‘whoa’ and he’ll stop.”

Trey Brown

This is the pep talk my husband has been giving me for the last few years while trying to get me to ride a horse with him. He’s convinced that horse back riding is the answer to relieving some of my health concerns. And, maybe He’s right, in a way. But, if you know him, don’t you dare tell him I said he is right! *wink wink*

I have heard from numerous sources that horses are amazing therapeutic animals. Their presence can calm the greatest of fears, transform a vast array of insecurities into a steadfast confidence, and bring smiles onto faces that seem to have permanently taken a shape resembling a lower case n.

I’ve seen this is in my own child. A child that was once drenched in fear, anxiety, and insecurity, blossomed into a child boasting with confidence and joy after learning to ride horses. There is something calming about brushing a horse and having him rest his head on your shoulder. There is something rewarding about teaching your horse to follow your direction and to trust your commands. When your horse learns to trust you with the reins, your ride becomes smoother and more enjoyable. Just ask my husband….If your horse doesn’t trust you with the reins, you might end up tangled in a barbed wire fence with your horse laying on top of you. But, that’s a story for another day.

The trusting relationship between rider and horse reminds me so much of our relationship with Jesus. When we choose to give him the reins of our lives, we must live and act as if we know that He will not misguide us. We have to know that He has our best interest at heart and a plan that extends far beyond the realm our minds are able to comprehend.

When He nudges us to move a little to the left, we simply have to step out in faith and move one step at a time to the left. When He nudges us to pray with a complete stranger, we simply have to take their hand and speak truth to them. When He prompts us to step into a new role, He only expects us to take the first step, no matter how small (or large) it may seem to us. He doesn’t expect us to know all of the details, or to have it all figured out. He just wants us to give Him the reins and trust Him.

So many times, that first step scares us to death and we try to pull back on the reins and go our own way. Sadly, this often leaves us tangled in barbed wire instead of galloping in open pasture.

Start today. Take the step. Let go of your reins and give them to Him. Because, I can promise the barbed wire fence in your own path is painful and leaves scars you weren’t meant to bear.

Happiness in Healing

Today started with this workout.

I could easily be frustrated and give up. A few short months ago, I was able to complete this run much faster, without breathing so hard, and without my face looking like a bright red tomato when I’m finished.

Likewise, a few short months ago (4 months and 10 days to be exact), I was lying in the hospital unable to coordinate my left side movements, struggling to form words and sentences, and in a state of fear and worry.

But, today? This girl is roaring in confidence, happier than she’s been in a very long time, filled with unexplainable peace, and learning to appreciate a new, slower pace. Not only on the track, but in day to day life as well.

Many of you have asked for a health update. I’m not quite ready to spill all of the details, but you can rest assured that God is working overtime healing me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I will say my “episodes” are almost non-existent and that in itself is a victory! In time, I will share all of the details with you. It’s a pinky promise. (You can take the elementary teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the memories out of the teacher).

Moving on….

I have consistently prayed these two scriptures over my own life the last few months:

1. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm‬ ‭73:26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

2. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I’m learning that despite what this world throws my direction, He is good. He is faithful. He gives me peace. He loves me more than I could imagine. I know, without a doubt, that God is restoring me physically. And, most importantly, He’s restoring my mind and my spirit to stay focused on Him and His callings.

I don’t know exactly what’s going on in your world. But, I think you’re reading this for a specific purpose. Maybe you aren’t facing a health concern. Or, maybe you are in the midst of a scary, overwhelming diagnosis, either for yourself or a loved one. Maybe you’re just “stuck” in a rut of living a mundane, routine life. Maybe you’re stressed about finances, or your career. Maybe your kids are driving you bananas this summer and you long for a break!

Whatever your battle is, I encourage you to lean on Jesus for your strength, your comfort, your peace, and your boldness.

I can tell you, giving up a career and changing your ENTIRE daily routine can be hard and scary. But, when you do it with Jesus, it’s so much fun!

Let me end with a shoutout to my AMAZING family members and friends who are waking this new path with me. There’s no way I could survive this journey without y’all in my cheering section, sitting right behind Jesus!

My Story

March 3, 2019 — exactly two months ago — the day our lives were turned upside down

Let’s set the mood. It was 5:30 pm on a Sunday and I was folding laundry to get my husband packed for work. Nothing out of the ordinary. I always pack his bags and make sure he has everything he needs while he’s away.

It was in the middle of folding his gray, oil stained coveralls, our world instantly changed.

My left arm started tingling. I felt dizzy and confused. I lost grip strength in my left hand, and had developed significant weakness in my left leg and arm. So, like any husband would do, he swept me up and rushed me to the local hospital.

Once there, I was coherent, but couldn’t get my words out. Soon, I was labeled as a possible stroke victim and chaos began. I was rushed for a CT scan, that came back clear, and was admitted to the hospital for more testing.

I had a lumbar puncture, two MRIs, an EKG, 18 vials worth of bloodwork drawn, arteries checked for blockages, rare autoimmune testing, and some other tests runs.

They ALL came back normal. I was thankful it wasn’t serious, but felt so lost. I couldn’t get out of bed and walk without help, couldn’t lift my left arm, spoke with a slow, Southern draw that sounded robotic, and had no grip strength in my left hand.

I remember being so excited that I could pick up my pudding with my left hand one night at dinner. I also remember the moment I said “pudding” and sounded just like Forrest Gump, and the room broke out in laughter. I mean, we had to find the humor in something.

I remember looking around the room at all of the visitors that I had, all leaving with red eyes from crying tears over me. I remember the many sweet people who shed tears in prayer over me. I remember literally feeling the brush of wind from angel’s wings as tears of fear rolled down my cheeks in the MRI machine. I told everyone Jesus wasn’t ready for me yet, but I knew something about this event was different. And, to be honest, I was a scared girl on the inside, putting on a brave front for family and friends. I knew God was faithful, and trusted His goodness would prevail, but I was overwhelmed.

And that’s where the fight began. My family began begging for me to be transferred to a larger hospital, in a larger city for more testing. My nurses were wonderful. They encouraged us to fight for answers. Yet, the hospitalist I was forced to see and the neurologist on call, both repeatedly said they knew not what was wrong, but wanted to just send me home. Talk about a crushing blow!

After learning a sweet friend worked in administration at the hospital, (cue God’s faithfulness and provision) through heartbreak and tear soaked eyes, my family begged with her for a transfer. And, the process began.

“The neurology team at the hospital accepted you as a patient, but the the hospital won’t admit you.” We heard that over and over again for 24 hours. The call was made to the LAST hospital on the list. I began earnestly pleading with God for hope, for help, and for a hospital. Because He is faithful, I was transferred to a neurology floor at a huge hospital.

I was there less than 24 hours, and major things like stroke, seizures, multiple sclerosis, Lupus, artery blockage, TIA attack, etc has been ruled out. Then, I received the news that I suffered from sporadic hemiplegic migraine.

Wait! What are you talking about? I don’t have migraines. Ok, I get dull, throbbing headaches frequently, but they aren’t debilitating. I was started on a migraine concoction via IV, and felt better within 4 hours. So, I thought, maybe they’re right. I was referred to a neurologist in the big city, who is also headache specialist, and sent home.

Once home, I attended bi weekly physical therapy sessions where I learned to walk, trusting my left side again. I completed mental tasks using my left hand and arm that brought me to tears because suddenly, the girl who was a straight A student, couldn’t figure out how to get a bead to move down a wire with her left hand. I was so uncoordinated and frustrated. Suddenly, the girl who ran 3 miles for fun and attended HIIT workouts frequently, became extremely fatigued walking less than 1/10 of a mile.

I knew recovery would take time, and I was willing to give it time, but I longed for a normal life. So, toting a walker, I returned to teaching my sweet students, but only for a short while, 7 days to be exact.

It was Sunday, March 31, 2019, and my husband was working. I got very sleepy in the afternoon, so my 7 year old and I took a nap. I woke with a slight headache, took some ibuprofen and thought nothing of it. Until, all of the crazy symptoms resumed. My left side tingled and became weak. My speech began to be delayed. I felt disoriented and confused. The first time, it was ok. My husband was home to help. This time, I was frightened, because how could I possibly be a good mother with these symptoms.

My parents rushed me to the ER where I was given a migraine IV and sent home. My child and I spent the next 5 days living with them. I was placed on new medications that literally knocked me out. I slept all day, everyday. I became somewhat of a walking zombie. And, we knew something more was going on.

That’s when we remembered I had a permanent birth control device, Essure, implanted a few years back. We knew we weren’t having any more children, due to my pregnancy complications, and it seemed this was a better option to permanently fix that than returning to surgery to have my tubes tied. My family began to wonder if I was possibly reacting to the metal in the device.

I swear every single one of my family members is a google expert. Each one of them found something different to build their case. The device had been recalled, and numerous testimonies were found saying how young women, just like me, were healthy and active and began to have a variety of debilitating health conditions post Essure placement.

That Thursday, I had another episode. This time, with blurry vision and dark spots in my vision.

Fast forward, to that Friday, and my husband rushed home from work to take me to the OBGYN that had performed the procedure to discuss removal. “The only removal option is hysterectomy, but she’s not neurologically stable enough for surgery.”

We left his office feeling a little defeated. He wouldn’t order a heavy metal screening. He wanted to place me on hormone supplements although I had no symptoms of a hormone imbalance, and hadn’t checked any kind of blood work.

That’s when “episode 4” began and my husband , once again, rushed me back to the ER. Once again, I was given a migraine concoction via IV. My neurologist was SURE we were missing something. She suggested admission for more testing, yet her practice was 3 hours away and she isn’t affiliated with any hospital locally to make that happen. So, the ER doctor performed a 2nd lumbar puncture at my bedside, and began the process for getting me admitted.

But, remember the local neurologist I had seen the first go round? You know, the one who said he didn’t know what was going on, but there was nothing he could do? He was the one who had a say in my admission. And, as you guessed, he said no.

So, ambulance ride #2 began, and I was transferred back to the neurology floor at the big hospital, in the big city. I was seen by several doctors on their neurology team. I endured a 2 hour MRI of my head and spine. It all came back normal! They were baffled, once again. We questioned them about the Essure, and they said that was out of their field and to follow up with an OBGYN, eye doctor, and an endocrinologist. You see, I already battled two autoimmune diseases, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Raynaud’s phenomenon. So, maybe it was endo related. The doctors kept telling me it wasn’t related to the Essure. But, when they left, the sweet nurse, who also served as a patient advocate, suggested we follow through with our theory.

And, I was sent home. My left sided weakness had pretty much corrected itself by this time, but my speech was still “purposeful”. It was devastating at times. I mean, I talk for a living. I’m the teacher who gets random ideas for lesson engagement and runs with it, without writing a script. Words literally roll off my tongue in the classroom. I can give speeches and presentations for my co-workers without note cards, and it would all sound like it was rehearsed. I taught Ladies’ Bible Study and never planned a lesson. I simply prayed for God’s guidance and He never disappointed. Our group talks always provided spiritual growth and insight. Yet, now, I had to think of the words I wanted to say. Conversations made me mentally exhausted. I didn’t want to talk, because it was hard.

I saw my neurologist in the big city again. She started me a new medicine to take at the onset of symptoms, and she referred me for speech therapy. I told her of my concerns with the Essure, and she suggested immediate removal. She told us about a documentary she had watched recently that was circulating the medical field, with eyes opened as big as Texas. You see, every other doctor danced around the issue. “Nothing in the medical books, suggests it will cause neurological symptoms.” That’s the standard answer we ALWAYS received, but she believed in me. She knew nothing I had endured thus far was “life threatening” but it was definitely “life altering” and she wanted to see me better. She wouldn’t release me to work, drive, or stay alone with my young daughter, until we had all of my symptoms under control. So, we packed a suitcase and bounced around between family members as I schedule drivers to take me to my various dr appointments and to get my daughter back and forth to school while my husband was away at work.

In the next three weeks, I saw an eye doctor. My vision was the same from my previous year’s eye exam. The pictures of my retina and optic nerve were normal. It wasn’t a vision issue. I saw two endocrinologists and all of their testing came back clear. No hormonal issue. No diabetes. There was nothing they could do.

But, we still wondered about the birth control device. So, my amazing husband began lobbying on my behalf. Y’all, he seriously amazes me. He probably should be some kind of lobbyist in Washington. Or, maybe a negotiator for some big law firm. He called the high risk pregnancy doctor who delivered our preemie baby. Days later, the doctor called and suggested immediate removal.

I visited a new OBGYN in our area, who was not taking new patients (cue God to work a miracle) and had an appointment within the month. I told her my story, and how many of health problems, the autoimmune diagnosis, recurrent Bell’s Palsy spells, shingles, mono, scarlet fever, the new “migraines” and many more random illnesses, didn’t begin until after the device was placed. She agreed something was wrong. She had only implanted one Essure. They were released in 2002 and recalled in 2018. So, in 16 years, she only placed one? She explained how she didn’t trust them and they weren’t researched enough before being placed on the market. She agreed to removal and a hysterectomy was scheduled.

The next few days were normal. I attended our family reunion and got to hug the necks of all of my aunts and uncles who had been earnestly praying for me. The next day, I got up, attended Sunday School with my parents, and we were ushered in to our seats for Easter Sunday service. That’s when it happened again. Silent tears starting rolling down my cheeks as my neurological symptoms returned. I looked at my dad with fear, and told him I was having another “episode”. They took me home, gave me the new meds, and I took a nap. But, it was Easter, and I wasn’t going to miss watching my kiddo hunt eggs. So, I took some pain meds, sucked it up, and attended two family functions that afternoon. One thing I had learned over the course of this event, was that time is valuable. And, I refused to miss out time I had been given.

The next few days were normal. My speech was normal. I had a good amount of energy. I even went on a 3 mile walk one afternoon. I cooked lunch for my sister and I. I cleaned the kitchen. I did laundry. I played “tennis” with my daughter. I played board games and read books with her. And, life was normal. In fact, I was beginning to become frustrated that I couldn’t work and drive, because I felt pretty good!

On April 25, 2019, I was scheduled to remove the Essure device via hysterectomy. The 2 1/2 hour operation went off without a hitch. Everything looked great and my family got to see some cool photos of my insides. I was kind of jealous. I woke up from the anesthesia just fine and immediately asked to see my husband. I was moved to a room, where he was waiting, and was so happy everything had gone well.

But, I was hurting, and couldn’t receive any pain medication. My stomach was so swollen with gas, and excruciating gas pains were shooting through my stomach and chest. I felt light headed and in a fog. That’s when they told me I couldn’t take medication until my blood pressure stabilized. It was staying in the area of 70s over 30s and 80s over 40s. Which wouldn’t be a huge concern if I were at complete rest, my blood pressure is naturally a little lower than 120/70. But, because I was in pain, and alert, it should’ve been higher.

A blood test was ordered to check my hemoglobin and it had dropped from a 14 (pre- surgery) to an 8 (post- surgery). The decision was made to give me 2 units of blood via transfusion. Side note: if you’re not a blood donor, consider it. I’ve always donated, but never thought I’d have to be on the receiving end.

My hemoglobin levels increased slightly following the transfusion. My blood pressure was closer to a normal reading. I was able to take something for the pain. I was able to get up and walk. Things looked better! I went home the next day, with orders to eat steak and take iron medications, along with your typical post- op instructions.

I felt pretty good. I was very sore, but able to get up and move around slowly. My pain levels weren’t awful and after day 2 at home could be controlled with over the counter ibuprofen and Tylenol. I was ecstatic! Things were definitely on the mend.

Until, I tried to sleep. It didn’t matter what I did, nothing was comfortable. My entire body ached. That’s when we started taking my temperature and noticed I was running a slight fever. My, once again, amazing husband stayed up all hours of the night, checking my temperature, placing cool rags on my head, and holding my hand while whispering silent prayers.

Fast forward to the Wednesday following my procedure. I had a follow-up appointment where we noticed there was significant, uncommon bruising on my abdomen. My surgery was laparoscopically assisted and I only had two small incisions. The bruising should have been minimal. Yet, my entire stomach is a large bruise filled with every color of the rainbow, and is still so swollen I can’t fit into my regular T-shirt’s, and am only comfortable in pajama pants. The doctor explained when the camera was inserted it must’ve hit a blood vessel in the muscle, and all of the blood rushing to the surface is causing the impressive bruising. She assured me it would go away, but it might take a long time. She also started me on an antibiotic, just to be sure there’s no infection, and re- drew my bloodwork.

My husband and I returned home. He made dinner and we were watching tv. He kept asking if I was ok because evidently I was staring in space. Our daughter was outside playing with her goats and I was simply looking out the front door waiting on her to run by giggling, the goats following her like puppy dogs.

That’s when something began to feel different. Suddenly, my left hand and arm felt numb and heavy. I couldn’t close my fist. My left side of my lips started tingling and my face started drooping. I began noticing that it was difficult to find words. I didn’t want to worry him. It would all go away, right? WRONG!

My symptoms began worsening and I yelped out with fear and crocodile tears that it was happening again. I was in panic mode. You mean, all of the surgery issues didn’t change this? I’m still having issues? My husband looked me in the eyes, held my hands, and assured me I was ok. But, I was devastated.

He began calling my OBGYN and neurologist to see if I could take my migraine meds with the other meds I was on post-operation. They both called back and approved it. They meds help subside some of the headache and the symptoms. They both explained it could take 2-4 weeks for us to know if the removal of the Essure will “fix” my problem.

So, the next few weeks will be crucial for my recovery. We aren’t sure yet if we found the answer, but we are sure we serve a faithful and loving God whose guiding us every step of this scary journey!