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Is It Safe to Follow Jesus?

A couple weeks ago I was sitting in church listening to my pastor deliver a sermon focused on the passage in Matthew where Jesus is asleep on a boat when a monstrous storm cropped up threatening to overtake the boat and drown the passengers. His disciples woke him and Jesus calmed the storm leaving the disciples in awe and terrified. After all, the man had just commanded nature and nature obeyed! I think I would be pretty terrified of someone that powerful too!

Toward the end of the sermon, the pastor quoted a line from The Chronicles of Narnia in which one of the children asked if Aslan (the lion portrayed as the Jesus character) was safe. The beaver replied by saying, “Safe? Of course he isn’t safe, but he’s good”. Thinking of Jesus being portrayed as a lion reminded me of an experience I had on a road trip with my sister a few years ago. We were camping in Yellowstone National Park and one day while driving to the next attraction, a black bear sauntered out onto the road in front of us. We stopped a safe distance away and excitedly whipped out cameras and took pictures of this wild animal so close to us that we never expected to see in person. It was a really neat moment and I remember thinking how cool it was, but I wasn’t afraid. When we got to the trail we were planning to hike, I began thinking about that bear and felt much more vulnerable without the safety of a car around me. I knew encountering a bear in this setting would be a much different feeling and far more dangerous. This was not a situation I was in control of and the fear crawled up my spine.
How often do we do that same thing with God in our lives? We generally like to talk about him being loving and just but sometimes forget just how powerful he is! God was very forthcoming in saying that in this world we will have trouble, but that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Choosing to really follow Jesus and give Him control over our whole lives is not the safe choice, but oh is it good. He works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), but it is not going to be comfortable. Letting go of our perceived control over our lives and allowing Jesus to flow through every aspect of ourselves can be really scary, as though we are removed the proverbial car between us and the bear, but he is trustworthy. However, I think it is important to understand that our idea of what is good for us doesn’t always line up with his. Paul was stoned, imprisoned, and martyred for his faith. In fact, John is the only one of the twelve apostles thought to have died of natural causes.
Choosing to follow Jesus can mean having your whole life flipped around and accepting that while you might not understand, you believe that His plans for you are good. It can mean having your dreams reshaped and molded into something you had never pictured for yourself. It can mean that you may have to deal with some really difficult things in life but hold unswervingly to hope, because the one you follow is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
Accepting Jesus also means that the power of the one who controls the wind and waves lives inside you. That you are a part of the family of God and therefore are co-heirs with Christ and in sharing his sufferings, we will also share his glory (Romans 8:17). It means that you no longer have to feel that everything is on your shoulders because there is someone more powerful than Satan himself who has wonderful plans for you and what he started, he will finish (Phil 1:6). Accepting the perfect love of Jesus means that there is nothing left to fear (1 John 4:18). He has overcome death, he has overcome the world, and he loves you! If we can trust in his promises, we can say that of course He isn’t safe, but oh is he good.
Medical · Uncategorized

My First Appointment at the Jefferson Headache Center

I’ve decided I want to keep better documentation of my experiences these days. I’ve let myself completely stop documenting this period of my life because I’ve been thinking of it as more of a transition or waiting phase rather than my life that I’m actively participating in. Now I think that this is just life and be it the medical saga that it is, its mine and its up to me to not only survive it, but to embrace it and make the most of what I can! With that being said, I’m going to be documenting my medical journey more often on this blog as well as writing down my thoughts and opinions on other topics! So here goes… my first appointment at the Jefferson Headache Center…
Mom and I packed up to hit the road on Tuesday, May 23rd which also happens to be moms birthday. We weren’t able to do much celebrating because of the circumstances but she has never complained about the sacrifices she makes for my sake (well any of her children really). I think she deserves all the thanks in the world but that’s another subject altogether. We dropped my Sophie dog off at the Sycamore Dog Estate where she loves getting to spend time with her canine friends and running around to her little hearts content. Then it was me, mom, and Moxie eastbound and down with the goal of making it to the hotel room in time for the Dancing With the Stars finale that night. Moxie was an excellent traveling pup and provided plenty of smiles and “awww” moments along the way. We made it to the hotel just in time but the room kind of reminded me of something out of a horror movie… we had two nights reserved but packed our things in the morning and decided we’d find somewhere else for the next slumber.
Moms phone guided us to the right address fairly easily and once we parked and checked in I started working on the personality test all new patients take. I do think its complete garbage that the psych doctors choose not to work with insurance at all so it was nearly $500 out of pocket right off the bat for this test and a consult with the psychiatrist – both of which are required for all new patients. Anyway, we thanked God for the blessing of the ability to pay for it and moved on and hopefully insurance will reimburse the fee. While working on the personality test the nurse called me back to the exam room to take my vitals. Things were ok aside from having rather low blood pressure and of course still being underweight. She took a somewhat brief history and then sent me back out to continue filling in bubbles.
A little while later the psychiatrist called my name for my consult with him. He was super nice and very knowledgeable. He immediately put to rest any worries that they may be trying to “weed out” patients that are “attention seeking” or “just depressed” or anything of the sort and explained that rather, they want to treat the whole person and an important part of that is mental health as well as physical. I was very happy that he listened to what I said and despite my history with depression, he agreed that right now, any depression or anxiety is a normal response to chronic pain that is caused by the physical problems and not the other way around. He also had some interesting thoughts about the cycles of insomnia I’ve been having. Overall I was really put at ease with our conversation.
After finally finishing the 330+ question personality test, I met with my doctor who will be the head of my team. She is primarily a physiatrist with a fellowship in headache medicine, trained in both pediatric and adult medicine, rather than a neurologist. I love this because not only can she evaluate my body as a whole, she takes several different approaches including physical medicine, medication therapy, and holistic options! We had a long conversation and she went all the way back to mom’s pregnancy with me. She explained that what is happening in my body is all under the umbrella of a hyperactive central nervous system. There are lots of different names to give the different collections of symptoms I have but at the end of the day, her goal is to “reset” my CNS and the parts of my brain that have been telling me that my dog’s cold nose on my leg is painful and things of that sort.
We decided that the most efficient use of our time would be to do inpatient lidocaine infusions and I am scheduled to go back for a follow up July 24th to discuss expectations and make a plan, and then I will be admitted July 25th to the inpatient unit for the infusion. It will likely be a 5-7 day admission and after that we will discuss options like physical therapy for my neck and shoulder pain, continuing biofeedback, and what medication regimen I’ll be using.  During the appointment she also gave me a prescription for a medication to address my POTS-like symptoms. Although I don’t meet the criteria for an official POTS diagnosis, she did want to address the fact that my body certainly leans that way and it is often a comorbid condition of NDPH. We discussed my Botox treatment at length and decided that if my Botox specialist in Indy is not willing to do anymore treatments after the second round, I will most likely transfer that care to her as well. That would mean a trip to Philadelphia every 84ish days which is certainly not ideal but, as mom and I decided, would be worth it if I were able to have a better quality of life. We’re just leaving that situation in God’s hands to work out!
After the appointment was over, mom and I headed back to the car and hit the road back west! We made it to somewhere in Ohio where we got a room for the night that was significantly more appealing than the previous night’s lodging and let Moxie romp around all over and had some good laughs watching her pounce on each of her toys. We stopped at a massive candle shop somewhere around New Castle, IN on Thursday that happened to be pet friendly so Moxie had a ball walking around shopping for a bit and we enjoyed some time out of the car. Little fluff ball got loads of attention thanks to her being SO gosh darn CUTE! On Thursday afternoon we pulled into moms driveway safe and sound and I picked up a very happy Sophie dog after a short rest on the couch. It was a whirlwind trip that has left me totally and completely drained but it was a worthwhile one! Now my goal is to make it through these next couple of months as best as I can and pray that the admission in July is successful! We are very thankful to God for safe travels, good insurance, sweet puppies, moms affinity for driving, and of course a positive outcome of this appointment!
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Approval

Its a funny thing, approval. Its not quantifiable, its not equal, and its completely subjective. Yet it is the very thing most of us spend our lives chasing. One of the most influential factors in the weight of approval is who or where it comes from. Being told by your mother that you’re beautiful is great but being told by the guy you’ve had a crush on for years that you’re beautiful? That usually carries more weight in our minds. Hearing that you’re intelligent from your best friend is one thing but gaining entry to the university you’ve been dreaming of feels more validating. Its so easy to tell ourselves that those closest to us give us compliments out of a sense of obligation or because their loves clouds the “true” picture of you. The quest for approval is one that never ends and while it can be a healthy motivator to achieve your life goals, it can just as easily be a tool for your destruction.

There have been so many times in my life when I have sought approval from unworthy places. I thought that if I could do well enough in the sports I was involved in, I would get the thumbs up from not only coaches but my teammates as well. I went through a phase of rebellion when I sought the approval of the “party crowd” which only led me down a path of self-destruction and broken trust between my parents and I. I have placed my self worth in my grades and found that it didn’t matter if I had a 4.0 or a 2.8 GPA, I would never feel fulfilled by my transcripts. Approval from professors was not enough to satisfy my heart.
When I took a step back and really thought about it, my mind wandered to the question, “whose approval is most important in my life?”. What if there was a standard to measure myself against? A perfect person who could tell me if I’m really all the things my family and friends say I am. Am I really beautiful? Am I really worthy of love? Or are those just things people say?
As it turns out, there is in fact that perfect person. He walked the earth over 2,000 years ago but his words and teachings are still shaping the world to this day. His name is Jesus. In his time as a man among us, he was the perfect example of how we should live. If there is anyone whose approval carries the most weight, shouldn’t it be from the only person to live life with no sin, no mistakes, and with perfect, earth-shaking love? Some attributes of this man were (and still are) love, mercy, righteousness, kindness, compassion, self-control, fairness, and honesty. He did not live to please people but rather to please God. He had those in his life that hated him. Being perfect does not always equal never having conflict or never offending anyone. He lived by the standard God set out for us and not the standards that come with something as empty as sports, grades, or friend groups.
So what does this man think about me? Well, for starters, he knew me before I was born. Before I was even a thought in my parents mind, he knew the plan for me and he created me just the way he intended (Psalm 139:13-14). He loves me enough to call me by name (Isaiah 43:1). He has chosen me to be part of his family (1 Peter 2:4)! Just think about that for a minute. The most perfect man who created the universe wants me to be his child. The one who put every star in the sky and every drop of water in the ocean, cares to know me. Even though I am a mess of a human, he loves me just the same. He also cares about what is happening in my life and wants to take my anxieties and worries into his hands (1 Peter 5:7, Phil. 4:6-7). He makes everything work for my good, even when I can’t see it. Even when things are painful and I can’t imagine how the suffering could possibly be anything but mindless, pointless pain, he tells me not to worry because it is in his hands (Romans 8:28).
Finally, perhaps the most mind bending part of this perfect man, he died for me so that I wouldn’t have to. He didn’t just die but took on the worst of the worst punishments. The man who had no sin was willingly beaten and whipped and nailed to a cross so that I could live and spend eternity with him. (John 3:16-17) So with this knowledge, the approval from any worldly places seems to pale in comparison. There is no one higher than Jesus and he loves me. He says I am worthy, I am called, I am his child, and I am loved. His approval is all I need.
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Intro to Ashley 101

Hi all! This is my first attempt to join the world of blogging and I’m excited to see where it leads! My name is Ashley, I’m 23 and I spend a lot of time with my own thoughts. More than four years ago I woke up to a one-sided headache that has never gone away. I live with a condition called New Daily Persistent Headache and it has impacted my life in ways I never thought possible.

I’ll back up a little and tell you the more interesting things about me first. I was born and raised in rural Indiana with my older brother and sister. After high school graduation I moved to Texas to attend Texas A&M University. I found my calling in Animal Science but unfortunately was not able to complete my degree, though I still love to learn and educate about agriculture.

About two years ago I made the move back to Indiana and now live with my two pets, Sophie, the cattle dog mix and Glitter, the unruly cat. They definitely keep things interesting! I worked at our local humane shelter when I first moved back to the midwest but eventually my health deteriorated enough that I was unable to keep that job. I spend a lot of time now with myself either in bed or on the couch which has resulted in some interesting thoughts I mull over on a daily basis. I write for The Mighty, an online community of chronic illness sufferers which is how I learned that getting my thoughts written down is very therapeutic for me. Because The Mighty is all about chronic illnesses, not all of my writing is relevant to that site which is why I decided to give blogging for myself a shot!

It is my hope that my words encourage others and are beneficial to those who read them. Thank you to those who know me personally for taking the time to encourage me to write and thank you to those I’ve yet to meet for giving me a reason to.