Have faith they say, have hope, never give up they say… Humans can only handle so much until they break, or at least crumble a little. I was brought up in a Christian home, my mother being the “glue” that held the family together. Then, one day my father decided, ” I’m going to go back to University and be a minister”! What? You go from globe trotting with the RCAF, to Saskatchewan, to settle into theological studies, while we have to move a very small town (hamlet?) from Edmonton. So, we as a family, had faith: faith that he would successfully complete his studies while ministering to a small rural congregation, Of course, looking back, I don’t know whether faith had much to do with it on my part, or my siblings, as we were along for the ride so to speak. I think I was going into grade 4.
So, not only are we moving from a large city to a very small “speck of dust” on the prairies, but I was now going to be a “preacher’s kid”. Double whammy! With this new role, I was expected to “tow the line” and be a good girl. There were no questions about whether you were going to church on Sundays, because you were. I remember when I was about 10 years old and wanted to take a stand: I said I was NOT going to church! To my surprise, my father and mother didn’t object, they just got themselves together and off they went. I think they knew that I would arrive at the church, just in time for the service to start and to see my father looking at me with a big grin! He knew what was embedded in my heart: it just felt so wrong not to be there with my family: so much for rebellion.
So it goes, I was always the “good girl”, never made trouble, studied hard all the time, got ticked off in grade 6 when my group mates didn’t hold up their end of the project (remember I am type A personality with a touch of OCD: my teacher actually spoke to my mother to ask if I had hobbies meaning I was too intense? for grade 6? not sure), and of course, the basics of Christianity were firmly planted by this time.
Being a Christian has expectations attached to it, just as my father gave me the will to chose to come to church or not, Christian foundations also influence your choices. So, being diagnosed with CKD is a major adjustment and needs some faith and hope to get through some of these days. This doesn’t mean I didn’t question, because I have. The classic question of “Why me?” becomes, “Why not me?”. It’s a hard pill to swallow and you question what kind of God just lets these things happen (especially to me, after all I was a good girl my whole life). You’re told there is a grand plan and that we may not even know what it is! There is an element of hopelessness about that, basically admitting you are powerless over your life and God is in the driver’s seat. Being human, being an A personality, that causes conflict. The frustrating part is that you never really get answers, in the end you try to get some peace out of your situations and perhaps use what you go through to be of benefit to others. I must say, that becomes more difficult as the complications keep rolling in: long term steroid use has made me diabetic now, this same medication has given me “bacterial overgrowth” in the bowels, as well as having osteoporosis due to the CKD making me dependant on medications that are given via IV every few months. Then to top it all off, during investigating the constant bowels problems, I am the lucky genetic winner with getting another diagnosis of hemochromatosis! Normally, this isn’t such a bad thing because the treatment is basically donating blood every so often to bring your ferritin levels down in your blood. Me? I’m not so straight forward: having CKD, means chronic anemia, which means they can’t just take a pint and call it a day. I have to do chelation every night or risk getting liver damage/failure. Well, isn’t that he icing on the cake!
When I was presented with this new diagnosis, and the treatment of choice: which is iron chelation, it was a brand new world. The three specialists that I see regularly to monitor all this are a hematologist, my nephrologist, and now an internist that deals with liver disease. The kicker is that we are running this with no “data” to back up, as this is normally not to be given to anyone with poor kidney function and has never been done. The main problem being the fact that the “cure” for the hemochromatosis was a treatment that could potentially put me into overt renal failure! Let me tell you, I agonized and questioned and prayed and had a couple melt downs. I did the nursing thing and researched it all: wrong move, because that just made me more afraid and worried. In the end, it was a question of having faith and just doing it! I did not have faith for several months while I pondered this. Then one of my Dr’s put it in another way: either I go into liver failure and kidney failure, or we treat the hemochromatosis and hopefully save the liver. I did pray that this was the right thing and that it was now in His hands, let the chips fall.
Doubt: absolutely! Blind faith, I’m afraid not. I hope, I pray, and I try to keep going and be that “good girl”. It’s tough just handing things over to God and actually letting go. The times I have done it, there has always been a sense of peace that comes over me like a blanket. It is said that the Lord doesn’t give us anymore than we can handle, but does he need to push it to the limit?? Even when you try to make peace with it all, there remains nagging doubt deep down: that thought that what if nothing of this really matters? This question then takes me back to the ol’ philosophical existence question: “Why am I here?” What is my place in this world? Am I doing any good? Some days these questions are more pressing than others which fosters a need to delve into life, it’s meaning, and all that good stuff.
I guess in the end, it is the daily or hourly choices we make that hopefully provide us with some peace, some dignity, and some quality of life. More and more, as I get older and deal with these forks in the road, the trials, the tribulations, it is my spirituality that I seek to give me comfort. However, there are times when I need to feel the human touch and a warm body to cling to.