Today is a good day for rest and reflection. After a week of significant highs and lows, I slept in this morning and woke up to a rather breathtaking scene outside: snow. Beautiful, thick snow falling softly to the ground, causing the ground outside my apartment to appear as a thick, untainted blanket. The weather is very fitting for how I'm feeling today, and only my Father could cause such a thing to occur. Not only did I wake up to the awe-inspiring scene just outside the door, but my towel was softer, my dog was more enjoyable (seems impossible), the cereal with the little marshmallows tasted better, and all other minute things around me don't seem so small.
The dermatologist who ordered my CT scan and ultrasound finally called on Thursday after two weeks of me waiting anxiously for an answer. Her timing wasn't ideal, but I was just glad to know it was her finally. I was on my way out the door to be in class on time, but my walk up the hill to school was put on hold when the phone rang. The doctor assured me that my kidneys and lungs were clear of any spots related to my disorder, but then she hesitated. The radiologist found a spot on my brain measuring about 5mm. There were actually two spots detected, but that one is the only one of any real concern at this point. Dr. Donovan told me that the spot isn't of extremely considerably size at this point, but now that it's been discovered, we need to keep a close watch on it. Since I'm 23 and never had any of these sort of tests run, there is no telling if this spot has been present for awhile, or if it's something new. She told me that I will need to have a CT scan done every six months for the next three years to make sure the spot is not growing. If we find that it is growing at any point, other steps will be taken to make sure that it does not cause further problems. Such a spot could put pressure on the brain or cause a number of other problems. She said the scan every six months is what should be done unless I start experiencing "other symptoms." I asked her what she meant by that, and she asked about headaches and that sort of thing. When I mentioned to her that I do have occasional headaches which aren't remedied by pain relievers, she encouraged me to get a primary care doctor set up as soon as possible and then get a referral to start seeing a neurologist. There is only so much Dr. Donovan can tell me since this isn't her area of specialty, so it is pretty important that I see a neurologist. In my state of shock while she was telling me all of this, I didn't think to ask her the location of the spot until after our conversation had ended. Not only did the news serve as more definite confirmation that I do in fact have tuberous sclerosis, but it brought to light one of the hardest things about being faced with this disorder. This is not something that will be remedied, never to show up internally ever again. I am going to be keeping a constant check on such occurrences, going through numerous scans and ultrasounds, for the rest of my life. The uncertainty of such manifestations as this spot on my brain is what scares me the most. What if something goes undetected? What if these spots continue to show up over and over again? I could drive myself over the edge consuming my thoughts with such questions.
I came home from Greek that night, after doing my best to focus and sit through over an hour of class discussion and lecture, went straight into my room and collapsed onto my bed. The tears began flowing, and before I knew it, I was sobbing beyond my control. All of the questions that had been going through my mind during class seemed to all come to a head, and I could contain my emotions no longer. After talking to my mom for a little while, the tears subsided enough for me to change clothes and move onto the couch. There was no noise in the room, just stillness, and for the first time all evening I heard the Lord. His words were so evident and fell on me as a blanket. "I placed this in you, and I've known this day would come since before time began. I am great, your Father, and you are my precious child. Rest in my arms." I spent the rest of the evening with my boyfriend, weeping and asking questions together. We were faced with one thing when I heard from the doctor that this disorder will more than likely be passed down to my children, but for me to be faced with this is an entirely different reality to stomach. I may not ever be able to tell him fully how much the Lord has amazed me by placing him in my life, but I was overwhelmed by the simple fact that I was not alone that night. The Lord has given me this precious person who aches and hurts because he can't make this go away. He wants to take care of me and be my hero, and he felt utterly powerless when we were sitting together on the couch. What he doesn't realize, though, is that him simply being there was exactly what I needed that night. By being there with me, sitting on the couch crying and wondering why, he was taking care of me and he was being my hero. The times when he feels weakest are the times I most often see him as strong because I can visibly see the Lord working in him. He wouldn't be my hero were he not a fragile vessel before the Lord. I am so undeserving of such love, but the Lord has seen fit for he and I to walk through this valley together. I would not trade that night with him on my couch for anything in the world.
Little did I know that the encouragement would continue the next day at work (yesterday). My dear friend and kindred spirit is an amazing contributor in my daily walk. It's no accident that we're so many miles and hours away, and yet the Lord has orchestrated our lives in such a way that we are able to write to each other everyday while we're both at work. She often reminds me of just how active the Lord is in daily growing us up into His image. She is faced daily with fibromyalgia and knows firsthand how difficult it can be somedays to do the simple task of getting up out of bed and making it through work. But through her own physical maladies, she ministers to me in speaking Scripture and reassurance. "All our bodies are in a constant state of deteriation...You just may be making a few more trips to the doctor than some people, but that doesn't mean you body is deteriorating any faster than ours. I also want you to know that you are not alone in having/finding things wrong with your body. And as we get older, it will only get worse. We have hope for eternity...No matter what happens outwardly, we have faith that God is faithful and is our Provider, of things on this earth and of heavenly things. We can be at peace no matter what happens on earth because we are certain of what is to come." That small excerpt of her words stayed with me throughout the day at work yesterday and have lingered into today.
The details, down to my very DNA, are so intricate. The Lord has ordained these things to be. My only response is that He is great, and He has given me each day. He has given me a man to walk with whose utmost desire is godliness, and he wants my ultimate good above my own selfish wants. I don't deserve any of this! I don't deserve a man who so humbly sees me through such pain, I don't deserve friends who speak words of truth over my life, and I don't deserve the overwhelming love which has been lavished over me.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, 'I believed, and so I spoke,' we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." ~2 Corinthians 4:7-18