I know, silly title, right? What in the world would “DVD’s in my purse” have to do with chronic illness or even faith for that matter? This thought kind of jumped into my head recently, after a particularly bad day when, once again I could not muster the energy to hardly think, let alone move. I did have one crazy thought pop up though: “What if I had DVD’s that I could carry around in my purse to hand out to people who didn’t know me back when I was well?” The title of the DVD would probably be something like “I Wish You Knew Me Before…”. Before what, you may wonder? There are probably even people who know me now that are reading this blog but have met me “after”. You see, with chronic illness there is usually a “before and after”. There is that person that you were before and now the person you’ve become after you’ve suffered with some form of chronic illness. My DVD would be pretty long and maybe even entertaining to some. You see, before I developed all these pesky problems, I feel like I was a pretty fun person. I know that I was energetic. One of my favorite memories is when I was staying with my precious Grandma the month she went home to be with the Lord. She was suffering from colon cancer. I packed up all three boys, who were then ages 5, 3 and 1 and headed “home” to take care of Grandma in the time she had left. My husband supported this wholeheartedly and there was NEVER a single thought that went through my brain about what doing this would involve or how much work or anything like that. All I saw was the opportunity to go and honor the woman who helped raise me and took care of me while my Mama worked. I’ve been like that since we moved to Charlotte 16 years ago. Driving up and down 218 was a common occurrence for us because if my family called I was there. But one thing I didn’t slow down and think about was how this time would not be about work. I realized that one day when we were hanging out THE screened in porch (our gathering place) and Grandma was relaxing on the swing with her sister. I don’t remember what I was doing (it was probably laundry since that’s all I ever do) but she asked me if I “ever just sat my tail down and quit moving”. (Tail is country talk for your rear end, lol). I honestly thought about it and quickly realised that very seldom did I just stop and not find work to do. I worked my actual nursing job, cared for my 3 young boys and husband and took care of my own home. I worked from my house so when I couldn’t find someone to cover for me I would go home, work my shift, and usually drive back. Of course I was tired but I didn’t feel like I was doing too much or even pushing myself too hard. I know a lot of that was age and being younger. After Grandma passed away, I had found work coverage for an entire month, so I came back home to Charlotte determined to rest more before going back to work. That didn’t happen. I think I grieved by working more and ended up painting my entire house and doing major work here before I went back to work. My point in writing all of this is to try and give you a mental picture of what that DVD would be like. I guess it’d be like the Tazmanian Devil on crack or something. It would show you all the things that I used to be that I’m not now. The boys grew and started school so there were all the school things to do, being in the PTA, sports, etc. I did things and was so involved in church. I was reliable. So when the bottom fell out for me and I literally couldn’t do these things anymore, I was devastated. I don’t know how many people know about the HUGE book that medical personnel use for diagnosis codes for patients. There is one for mental illness as well. Well I think my range of emotions ran through every code in that huge book and then some more they haven’t even thought of yet. It literally was like I was a train flying down a track at max speed and then I just hit this huge concrete wall. Physically, the “injuries” have been from minor to moderate with some bad scares in between. But emotionally and spiritually, I was wounded beyond belief. I, of course, turned to my faith and tried to figure out why this was happening. I knew (and I still know) that I am not immune to suffering. None of us are. But while I once thought that I was this super strong, resilient do it all person, I realized that I wasn’t even close. And this was hard to take. So hard. I see others dealing with cancer and other horrible, painful, even fatal diseases far worse than mine. And I feel so selfish. I know that I should always feel blessed because God is keeping me here for a reason. But I’ve always been very impatient and stubborn and I want to know everything NOW! I’ve lost relationships with some of my best friends because of this. Going anywhere is always a guessing game with me because I never know how I might feel from one day to the next. But to most people this appears as me just being an unreliable, selfish person with no regards to anyone’s feelings. Those people don’t know that I sit home alone and cry and cry over being that kind of person. And I know it gets so tiresome so I just don’t talk about it. Just always give the same response, “I’m fine”. Since there seems to be no end in sight for if or when I’ll feel better or even gain a little of the old me back, I’ve learned to stay in the background now. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve cut myself off from a lot of people just to avoid disappointing them. I know a lot of people think “well why don’t you just get out and get over it, you’ve got to at least try”. Those are the ones who probably need to see my DVD the most. If anybody ever thinks that I wanted to go from what I was to what I am now, they are very sadly mistaken. I know this post has been a downer, especially compared to my other ones. I guess I’m just in one of those “pits” that I’m trying so hard to avoid. But I also want to say “I’m sorry”. If you are reading this and you know me now, or have known me in the past, please forgive me. I am trying. I don’t want pity. I just want God’s plan for this adventure that is my life now. And if it somehow glorifies Him, even in a tiny way, then it’s all worth it. If it helps bring just one life to Him to be saved, then it’s worth it. So if you ever do see that DVD come to fruition, don’t despair! It might start out crazy wild, go into a pretty depressing low point in the middle, but here’s the best part! The end is FULL of hope, peace and joy because through it all, no matter what I go through, now and forever, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has got my back!
Published by Amy Johnson Rhinehardt
Daughter of the Most High King*wife to an amazing man named Keith*mom to 3 awesome young men: Chase, 18, Garrett, 17 and Dalton, 14* Registered Nurse with a heart to minister to all I am simply a very blessed, very real woman doing this crazy, mixed up life with my guys, but most importantly, with the main One, without whom I would be very lost... Using my passion for writing and for people who may be hurting: whether it's physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. My desire to share my heart with has finally overcome my urge to withhold so I'm letting it go and I'm letting God have it to use as He sees fit. It is my prayer that the words of my heart, my very own "heart strings" will bring some hope and joy to your day, and maybe even a chuckle or two. Become a follower if you like what you find! "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Matthew 6:21 View all posts by Amy Johnson Rhinehardt