Posted in testimony, theology

A Testimony. Part 1

By Elizabeth Prata

In an unusual move, I’m going to get personal. This is a testimony in 2 parts. Part 1 is what was wrong. Part 2 is what came right. As hard as it is to openly discuss my personal challenges, I must praise the Lord and give Him glory for what He has done. His glory comes first.

Since May, I’ve been under an increasing pressure from one thing after another happening, to such an extent that it’s obvious it’s God applying the pressure.

During the last week of May, I got pneumonia. It came suddenly. I’d had a cold and a slight sinus infection but I thought it was going away. It was actually gathering strength at the bottom of my lungs, only to spring up and try and defeat me one night as I slept.

I woke up not being able to breathe. I sincerely thought I was about to kick the bucket, a scary thought at 3 am for someone living alone. The doctor wanted to put me in the hospital but I wanted to recover at home. It was touch and go, since I had a bad bout of it. I was in and out of the doc’s office for breathing treatments, meds, and oxygen checks for the next two weeks. Fortunately it had been the last days of school, just the teacher close-up days, so I didn’t miss much work.

During the first week in June, my cat also got sick. He began defecating outside the box, usually the only signal cats give when they are ill. Even though I had a temperature of 102, I brought him to the vet and they gave some pills and advice. I waited for the meds to kick in, but his bathroom times were still a problem. It was very stressful to be so sick and also to see him in pain. Having to constantly watch for poop bombs and cleaning up was exhausting, too.

Both me and Bert got worse. One night during the next week, at about 8 pm, Bert flopped down on his side and howled. He had tried to go, I saw him trying, and instead he stopped and just howled in pain. I loaded him in the cat carrier and zoomed to the only place (and the best place) open at night, University of Georgia Veterinary Emergency Hospital.

Bert was there 3 days and didn’t come home. I cried so hard. UGA then sent me a four-digit bill, and I cried harder, lol. No regrets, though. Bert was a good cat for 12 years.

That was the end of May and June. During my near-constant visits to the doctor I’d asked her about my IBS. I’d been in increasingly constant pain in my gut for about two years and had the other associated issues with IBS too. My mom’s a celiac.

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. … Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. Source

Knowing celiac runs in families, I had been decreasing the amount of wheat based foods over the last couple of years but it had become obvious that I needed to rid myself of it entirely. They tell you about the physical pros and cons of gluten sensitivity but not the emotional impact. Foods that I’d associated with my heritage were now forbidden. Foods I’d associated with pleasant or holiday memories, all had to be abandoned. This was a loss.

Deleting gluten from my diet helped but didn’t solve my IBS. So I gave up dairy also. That helped more, but again, not totally. I was physically tired. Fast transit from intake to expelling meant few nutrients were being applied to my body. Vitamin count was low. Tiredness was high. I was also demoralized and at my wit’s end. So when I had opportunity to speak with my doctor, I did. She steered me to a nutritionist who was up on new science. When I met with her in July she put me on the FODMAP elimination diet.

FODMAPs are short-chain carbs that are resistant to digestion. Instead of being absorbed into your bloodstream, they reach the far end of your intestine where most of your gut bacteria reside. Your gut bacteria then use these carbs for fuel, producing hydrogen gas and causing digestive symptoms in sensitive individuals. FODMAPs also draw liquid into your intestine, which may cause diarrhea. Source

Sorry to be so specific. The problem was causing serious quality of life issues. It was also impacting my work. I drew the line. The situation had exceeded my capacity for resolution and I needed an expert. The elimination diet is difficult and complicated. I was glad I’d had a chance to experience it during the summer when I was home from work. But it demanded a large quantity of time, money, and mental capacity. It’s helpful, but it’s a struggle. So, another struggle.

The timing of the conclusion of the elimination portion of the diet trial and complicated  reintroduction of food phase coincided with my return to work: August. We received our new schedules at work and they were yet ever more demanding. The 8-hour day is a blur and we are extremely busy. My brain was fried almost right away and my body rebelled against the demanding schedule.

In September, I saw that an enormous quantity of oil had been spraying along my passenger side transom. Scary. Ever since in a previous car my idle pulley fell off and I lost steering, electronics, and my engine overheated at once, as I was traveling 55 mph, I have a near paralyzing fear of driving. Though I have another car now, the memory of that scary moment is emblazoned on my mind. Car issues send me into a blind panic. It turned out I needed a new axle on my car. Oh, no.

In October, my tooth broke, necessitating three trips to the dentist for reconstruction and then a crown. Another 4-digit bill loomed.

And in between there were many other things. It got to be almost humorous. The moment I solved one issue another popped up immediately. I don’t mean the next week, I mean the same day. I was praying a lot.

A person doesn’t have to endure a huge diagnosis or a death or something terribly tragic to be burdened. The constant drip-drip-drip of small-to-medium issues constantly draining one’s  pocketbook and demanding my mental problem-solving attention is also a burden. A person can fade from a thousand paper cuts.

I sought the Lord, never asking why, though. I wasn’t saved until age 42 and I lived as a terrible sinner, the chiefest of sinners. I know the Lord can do anything He wants with me, the creature. I’m still amazed He saved me and I’m still grateful that I am saved. I know through and through I am a vessel, His to do with as He pleases. But I worried about a sin I was overlooking, or a displeasing attitude or something, something that I could correct so as to end the discipline (if that is what it was).

I know He sharpens us for His glory and for better service, and that is OK. But no one mentions how much the process raises unease or how bad it hurts. I do not like to disappoint my Lord. And to be honest, being under so much pressure and needful circumstances was uncomfortable. I was reaching a frustration point. I was in an ever-tightening vise.

Part 2 tomorrow, Lord willing.

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Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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