Saturday, January 15, 2011

32 and counting

We left for the States on the 14th of December. As it is the 15th of January, I’ve now been sick for 32 days. It started with a slight sore throat and included many strange and seemingly unrelated symptoms over the course of my time in the States and since arriving home in Nicaragua on January 4th. I went to an urgent care in the States the day before I came here, which was mostly unhelpful except that I found out for sure I hadn’t been vomiting due to pregnancy. That test was negative (thank goodness!)
IMG_7557Us at the annual Miller New Years Eve Bash in Norman, OK
A couple days after returning to Nicaragua, I visited Dr. Porras, an Internal Medicine Specialist/Infectologist, who tested me for several things. I had blood tests, X-rays, and a brain MRI, among other (less enjoyable) tests. In the end, he decided that I had a bacterial infection and thus would treat me with an antibiotic, have me come back in a week (Thursday the 13th) to test my blood again and see if its helping. That week was the worst of them all. I developed a really bad itchy rash all over my body, and started having problems with my joints and muscular systems. It got to the point where it was really hard to walk and move around because of the pain. I wrongly thought it was an allergic reaction to the antibiotic and had Dr. Porras switch me to a different one. I held out until my appointment and when the Dr. saw what bad shape I was in and the type of rash I had, he said (and later confirmed through tests) that it wasn’t an allergic reaction and he thought I might have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. He wanted to admit me to the hospital for 3 to 4 days. I sobbed. He walked over, put his hand on my back, and waited. Sweet guy.
Once I calmed down, Chase and I scoured the internet by ipod to see what the heck this “country bumpkin sounding” disease was. I saw that 3-5% of people die from it still today, but held out my tears about that until the hallway between the Dr.’s office and the hospital check-in. I answered the Dr.’s bizarre questions about livestock contact, ducks, wild animals, and couldn’t possibly think where I would have gotten a tick from as I haven’t been spending time with cows or peacocks lately. (Side question: Do peacocks get ticks?)
Anyways, I got admitted. Lots of tears. A lot of tests. An extremely painful shot in the stomach, which left a nice purple polka-dotted bruise. Some throwing up on myself. Worth it? Yes, questions are getting answered. Dr. Porras had a theory that I either 1) had the Spotted Fever mentioned above or something similar to it OR 2) an autoimmune disorder. A colleague of his is more specialized in the second area, so Dr. Aragón joined my team of problem-solvers. After thoroughly checking me out and both of them examining several different tests together, Dr. Aragón reported this morning that he is 95% sure I have Systemic Lupus. Uh oh. I need the Ipod again. What the heck is Lupus? It’s okay if you don’t know either. You can read about it on wikipedia or a more trusted medical website. But basically, my cells get confused sometimes and start attacking tissues and organs in my body instead of just foreign objects like they are supposed to. This would explain why I got sick almost every month this past year, including on my birthday, when I started throwing up for no good reason. (Remember that sad day Wildwood High School team?)
So, my response to the probable prognosis?
  1. Scared. Way Scared. Especially since I just read that Lupus patients have an 85% survival rate past 10 years. (15% seems like a lot to not make it past 10! More tears.)
  2. Thankful. That would explain why I’ve been so sick. I’m not just crazy. There’s rhyme and reason after all!
  3. Trusting. I knew that my days were numbered before and they still are. This is not a surprise to the Lord. He knows. He’s always known. He’s been reminding me how much he loves me (through a lot of you also!). But somehow it seems like He is in more control now. Having something that could possibly cut your life shorter just makes things seem different for some reason. It’s as if I know now that each day actually is a gift to me.
So that’s where I’m at. I’ll be in the hospital for at least 5 to 7 days more because I am having some kidney failure problems. It is improving, but not as fast as Dr. Porras and Dr. Aragón want, so we are praying for God to heal it quicker. Join me in this? We need my creatinine levels to go down from 11 closer to 1! There’s the possibility of dialysis in my future, but we’d prefer not, so get better kidney!
My mom comes tomorrow to help take care of me and will be here through February 1st. I was was very disappointed about 2 things while in the States: 1) If I didn’t get to see you due to being sick. I had to cancel a few meetings with fantastic people because of this and I was very unhappy about it. To those of you I was around – don’t worry about getting sick too! I’m not contagious since it’s my own body attacking itself! Also, if I didn’t get to see you, it’s not because I don’t like you! Please don’t think that! 2) I didn’t get to run a bunch of errands and buy a bunch of things I needed to before leaving the States due to the Urgent Care visit on my last day there. Thus, my sweet mom is running all those errands for me today and bringing me those things tomorrow! So excited and thankful for this and her!
If you made it this far, thank you for reading all the way. Leave me a comment so I know you love me! Thank you for praying and being on this journey with me. I feel so blessed by the incredible support network of friends and family God has given me. My husband has been beyond amazing, despite his fairly intense toe surgery he had a Monday. He is certainly fulfilling the sickness part of his vows! I’m not sure I could go through this without him and I’m thankful I don’t have to.


  1. Praying for you and Chase both. The Lord will provide and teach you many important things through this extremely trying time! Keep us updated and I will be praying that your mom's visit is everything you needed and more! Stay strong, friend!

    Michelle Hoekstra

  2. Julie, I am so glad that they figured out what was going on. You are such a wonderful person and someone I still consider a dear friend even thoug it's been a while. I'll be praying for you! Let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do to help you out!

    Love you!

  3. praying for you julie! Hope you're feeling better and out of the hospital soon!

  4. Julie,

    Our dear daughter-in-law, We are certainly lifting your name before The Lord as you travel this difficult journey. We don't know the why's but have faith that there will be significant spiritual growth along the way. Of course we want The Great Physician to heal you instantaneously so there won't be any more suffering. If not then we want special wisdom for your doctors to give you the best course of action for maximum healing and relief. We are so glad that your mom can make the trip to be with you. We stand ready to help any way that we can. We love you both!

    Tracy and Orell

  5. Love you friend. Your strength is such a blessing to me. Praying for you and for your kidney. "C'mon kidney, c'mon!" Please let me know how we can support you (besides beseeching the Father) in any way from CO.

  6. Ok, after reading this, my eyes are wet! What toe surgery? Chase is amazing, and so are you. You know how much I love you both and am praying for you. I only wish I could come down and help out. Kidney, shape up and do your kidney-best to get well! I lay my prayers before the throne of our Great God and Loving Father, for complete healing.
    All my love...

  7. Julie,
    Thank you for sharing all of this! It sounds like you've got a great team at the hospital taking care of you. PJ and I will continue to pray for healing for you, strength for you and Chase, and wisdom for your doctors. Remember that our wonderful Father loves you so very much!

  8. Our family is praying for your healing, Julie. May you trust in Him and not on your own understanding... only He knows His plan for you-- plans to prosper you and bless you for the work you are doing in His name! ~melanie ridgway

  9. Julie you are a true inspiration! "I knew my days were numbered and still know." I am sure that you are a basket case but know that the Lord is walking you through this....true inspiration! We are praying for you here! I know the WC prayer warriors are on it! Those people can pray it up baby! YOU ARE LOVED so know that full well. Praying for a incredibly quick healing on the kidney! I have a friend Miranda Brown who is going through a battle with the kidney. I am going to send her your blogspot! She has some great words from her experience that she wrote!!! I am thankful you have Chase and I am thankful your momma is coming! love ya girl. tammy scott

  10. Yes, read through your entire post :) Will be praying for you! I think Mark Robinson had mentioned you in service today but I was late walking into services so I only heard to be praying for you guys (but wasn't sure why, now I know!)

    Love you guys! Alexis M.

  11. Julie---

    I love you! And I will be praying for healing and ultimately God's will. Hang on, resist the devil's temptation to stay in fear, and rejoice in each day He gives you (I loved that part of your post!). I'll be praying for you friend. Thanks for the update.

    Nicole Stonehouse

  12. Hi Julie,
    It is so good to hear from YOU on all this. I've been keeping up with prayer updates andanxiously checking for email updates every day, so it's good to be able to check here. I have been forwarding everything to Hannah, so I know she's praying too! SO glad your mom can be there, and from a mom's perspective, that's for her sake as much as yours :) It sounds like you're in good hands. I know the Lord is in control and I'm so thankful you feel that comfort. Love you and Chase! Hope Dakel

  13. Oh my gosh. Praise God that you finally have a diagnosis. Thank you for being open about where you're at so we can pray for you better. I'm so sorry Chris and I didn't get to see you the last Sunday you were in the States -- I wasn't doing too well that day emotionally and didn't think I could handle a group. I sure missed you the Saturday before, though. We love you, a lot!!!

  14. Julie, we are praying! We love you. I'm so happy you got to meet Addie here in NYC, she is basically walking now although when she needs speed it's crawling all the way. I'll email you some pictures. So happy your mom's there to keep you company.


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