Jump into the Way Back Machine with me for a minute. When I started writing here, I posted about a lot of silly things like falling in love over banana bread, how cool space is (with Star Trek references. I’m not embarrassed), and what is UP with Ezekiel. (I love those posts and often use them to remind myself to embrace my inner goofball.) Those posts were a bit of throat clearing before I started writing about Brad’s illness. His health and our coping with it filled my thoughts and soon, this blog. (You can catch up starting here, and then click on the “lyme disease” tag if you’re interested in what happened after that.)
Writing about the experience here was a gift. It connected me to big-hearted people who, remarkably, cared. It helped me process some of our most difficult moments. It also created a whale of a cliffhanger when I stopped writing here for a while.
Sorry about that.
When we left off (in February 2015!), Brad was about to start a low-dose antigen therapy for his chronic Lyme disease, auto-immune concerns, and inflammation. I’ll be honest: I forgot he did that. So I probably don’t have to tell you it didn’t do much for him. Shortly after that, his doctor told us we were out of options. “You have to wait now for research and innovation to come up with the next thing for you to try.”
We waited all summer that year and the waiting was barren. That’s the only word I can think to describe it. There was no next thing on the horizon. There were no more foods we could eliminate or play with. We had tried it all, truly. We didn’t have any hope. That’s when I wrote this.
We prayed, but it wasn’t powerful or hopeful or trusting. It was more like moaning again and again and again.
And then something happened! Brad heard about a cellular health supplement from his dentist (of all people–she was applying it to patients’ gums after oral surgery and seeing fast healing). He tried it and within two weeks, he started feeling better.
Can I say that again but louder? HE STARTED FEELING BETTER.
He started sleeping through the night.
The veil of pain over his eyes lifted. They literally cleared.
His headaches vanished.
His energy skyrocketed.
His knees, always swollen like melons, started gradually getting less puffy.
It was like living the last few years in reverse, watching his symptoms fall away, starting with the most recent. It was glorious and weird. It felt like I was meeting the Brad that I never really got to know: the healthy Brad. As fantastic as it was, I needed time to adjust.
I was numb about the change at first. People who saw how much better Brad was would approach me with tears of joy in their eyes and tell me, “You must be so happy!” And I was! I am! But Brad getting healthy was a sea change in our marriage. It was all wonderful, but everything from how fast we walked down the street to how he greeted me after work changed. I needed time to revert from caregiver plus wife to just wife. I didn’t expect that.
Even now as I’m writing this, I feel a little bit of distance from it. Isn’t that odd? I spent years so engorged on feeling everything from sorrow to supernatural faith and then this moment–the moment we had been working toward and hoping for for years–it came at me like a wall of quiet. No hysterical crying, no screaming with joy. Just standing in front of Brad and watching. Thinking. Weighing. Remembering.
At that point in our journey, remembering made me sad. Brad was happy, full of energy, and full of hope, and watching him reminded me of the six years where he was the opposite of that. Yes, we got so much out of that time. I wouldn’t change it. I really wouldn’t. But I felt loss along with the gain. The grief surprised me.
That’s why I didn’t write about it until now. I didn’t know how, I could barely believe we were exiting illness. I could barely believe he was getting better. It took me a full year to realize this was our new normal.
And how is he now? Well, he’s still better. He can lift our (very chunky) baby. He has the energy and strength to work out twice a week (with this incredible trainer). He usually sleeps through the night still. He can carry the groceries into the house and mow the lawn and get down on the floor and back up again.
But it’s not perfect. His knees still swell with activity, or sometimes for no discernible reason at all. With lots of use, his other joints continue to ache and swell occasionally. In times of high stress, he doesn’t sleep and his headaches come back. Cold weather makes it all a little rougher.
But when we feel discouraged by these remaining signs of illness, we only have to look back at where we were. At the cane, the IVs, the inability to get dressed without help, the days of shivering and nights of sweats. We look back and we know God has brought us up from the low place. We see what’s He’s done for us and we are thankful. We have seen his goodness in the land of the living. And this verse, well this verse makes me cry because it’s our story:
Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.