Guest Blog: Chronic Illness: The Rollercoaster You can’t Get Off

by Krissy Ward

     written by Nola Gaillard 
     It's been two years since falling chronically ill and what a rollercoaster ride it's been. I've never really been one for rollercoasters but here I am having the ride of my life!

     Pain and pleasure all rolled into one- Riding a bullish, freaking aweful, bright-colored vintage choo-choo train, on a rollercoaster track, chugging and barrelling through curves with its endless twisting and turning, highs and lows- Screaming at the top of my lungs, stomach in knots, feeling extremely dizzy and nauseous... Help! Somebody please make it stop!... But here I am.

     God is funny like that.

     If you asked me two years ago where I would find myself, I definitely would not say being homebound, a body wracked with chronic pain and endless cycles of extreme fatigue, feeling like I've run a marathon yet gotten nowhere. Frequent days of being bedridden... Days filled with disappointment, days of discouragement, moments of anguish filled with frustration, sadness, darkness and lots of tears... I'm sure you get the picture!

     Life has been pretty tough to say the least- Rough with definitive moments of wanting to give up- Not just for me but for my family too! If anything, my heart breaks many a day for them because they too have had to accept a 'new normal'. A life with a spouse who cannot hold down a job, not always available for support, and the list goes on and on! A mom who frequently spends days in a dark, quiet, room because the lights are too bright, the noise is deafening and being unable to talk because you just don't have enough energy. I mean who wants a spouse and mom like that! How does one move on from this!

     And yet here we are, two years later, forging our way through the deepest, darkest valley in the hope of coming out braver and stronger than before we entered it.

     Being chronically ill has taught me many lessons I'm happy to accept but also many bitter pills I have almost choked on...not to the point of death but incapacitated and breathless... yet, I am still here, we are still here!

     Before I continue sharing the rest of my story, I most humbly acknowledge with a mind still full of pain, lots of fear, doubt and anxious moments, yet a heart changed with grace-filled temperance granted to me by a gracious, loving and amazing, God and Father, that I am exactly where I am meant to be!

     Yes! Yes! and many more yesses (is that even a word), I know deep down in my heart this is the right place and time for me. It's not what I like, or want but I accept that it's just right!

     I surrender!

     I am right here in this space, this moment where I have found what I have been searching for- true faith, true love and self. It's been a place to dig deeper, a gushing, overflowing river that runs through it, a mountain that seems insurmountable, yet I rise. I'm still in the muddy, dirty and dusty trenches of warfare and illness, yet I rise! I rise because I have one who is greater on the inside of me than my circumstances. God's grace, mercy, His love and strength have kept me on the mountain tops even though I am still in the deepest, darkest valley.

     Many days my body lay in this deep, dark valley with no hope of redemption but my spirit rises to believe that my loving, Heavenly Father, is right in this space with me.

     My mind and heart sitting with Him- on the mountain tops, lying in lush green pastures, with the breath of His Spirit breathing on my pale, drawn face, like the beauty of mist resting on craggy creeks. God's Spirit renews me, it energizes me! I'm feeling weak yet stronger than I've ever felt because I've been in the presence of my Healer, my Saviour, my Advocate, my Counselor, the lover of my soul! I rest in Him! I might feel death in my body but my spirit is coming alive every day in small yet beautiful ways.

     So yeah! this is me and my chronically ill life but I am still standing, still trusting God for a miracle! I believe!

     And then, coming back to the thought of lessons I've learnt because what's the purpose of going through something without learning stuff, right!

     This life challenge may not be the same as yours but I hope you learn something from my experience.

     My lessons I've learnt:

     •I've learnt that pain is part of the process toward spiritual progress. If you want to grow you have to embrace suffering. It's not God's desire for us to suffer but we live in a fallen world and so He uses moments like these to help us grow and mature spiritually. He never intended for us to suffer this way but He will make good on it!

     •I've learnt through this long and ardeous journey who are the people I can trust and count on and who I need to let go of.

     •I've learnt that God is good and He loves me inspite of my faults and failings.

     •I've learnt that I am enough just because of who I am. When you're incapable you have to know that you're enough just because of who you are and not what you're doing.

     •I've learnt that God is in control of everything. Hahaha! Go figure...

     •I've learnt that timing is everything with God. He's time definitely does not equate to human timing. The most important principle you will learn in the "God-life" is, WAITING! Nothing extravagant just simple, old-fashioned waiting. Trust me, I'm not the first and neither will you be and it's all okay because it's part of the learning process. To put this idea into perspective... think of a farmer who plants seeds to harvest a crop... If he wants to yield an abundant, fruitful harvest most of his time is spent waiting. After all preparations and necessary requirements, he waits in faith with patience. I think we might just learn a thing or two.

     •I've learnt that it's okay to be vulnerable and have deep moments of despair but still get up, show up and take the next step, even if it's a tiny one towards progress and healing.

     •I've learnt that it's okay to cry when you're hurting.

     •I've also learnt that most times you are going to have to be your own cheerleader because not everyone will understand.

     •I've learnt the joy of celebrating a life with godly and good boundaries. A delightful silver lining I discovered on this journey which I am thankfully learning to use well.

     •I've learnt to let go of offense (because people are definitely going to hurt you even if it's unintentional) and trust God to make good on His promises- He never fails.

     •I've learnt a greater compassion and empathy for chronically ill sufferers. Most people think you are not sick because you don't look sick but I'm learning to apply the well known sayings- Don't judge a book by it's cover and be kind to everyone you meet you don't know the battle they are facing!

     There's so much more I could share from this experience but a blog is too short to capture the journey... which by-the-way, I am still on... a book would be ideal. Mmm! Maybe one day, I don't know! What do you think???

     So as I look back on two years which seemed like an eternity I only have one regret... I wish I had paid more attention to what God was and is still doing in this process and not have fought so hard against it but then again, no one is perfect hey!

     If you have faced, or are presently facing any chronic illness please know that my heart is for you and I am willing to pray for you.

     Sending my love always,

Nola Gaillard