Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Battle of 5 Armies (or more...)

"How Your Body Works" by Usborne
When I was a kid, we had this biology book produced by Usborne, all about the circulation system. White blood cells were dressed as valiant knights, ferociously defending the townspeople (red blood cells) from the attacking villains (bacteria and viruses and parasites…. which always looked rather like pirates).

Well, if you’ve been following any of my health journey, you know that this past summer, as I’ve been travelling around the Midwest and sharing with churches, groups, and individuals, I’ve been undergoing a battery of tests with multiple doctors to see what is going on and how to best treat it (including my chronic Lyme disease).

Chronic illness is tricky to unearth and complicated to treat. There are so many threads buried deep in the system, intertwined and interacting; there’s no one magic pill that can make it all get better. And recovery, if it happens, takes a minimum of months, if not years. After all, I’ve been sick for years. And I know that’s hard to remember—mine is what is called an “invisible illness.” When you see me, I don’t look sick, and I don’t act sick. Or, at least, that’s my goal (I don’t leave my house otherwise). But it means that (most likely) I really don’t feel any better overall than the last time you kindly asked a month ago (or even 6 months ago).

According to my doctors, at first blush, I’ve got multiple giant armies of various parasites, protozoa, and fungi, running around my body, shouting battle cries and staking their flags as conquering invaders. My immune system, despite some valiant efforts a few years ago, has been utterly overrun and finally waved the white flag. And so it sits miserably by, watching the destructive occupation of foreign marauders who have thrown up giant neon welcome signs to all other pirates, neer-do-wells and villains who want an easy place to make a home.

Argh, come me maties! (image from

Or, to put it another way, I’m essentially a giant ark, carefully harboring all sorts of little critters inside me.
Just replace the cute animals with...well, other things. Image from

Now that we’ve unearthed at least a few of the components, we’re going to start treatment of some of the parasites and fungi. (According to my doctor, we’re going to send in troops to encourage my immune system and try to take out the advance battalions of the invaders, but it will take more work to get at those command centers buried in the bunkers). We need to hit these before we can effectively go after the chronic Lyme disease (and, as you might expect, the destruction of war inside my body will make me feel quite a bit worse before I’m going to hopefully feel better).

At the same time, I’ve also spent the last 4 weeks on a very strict elimination diet—about a dozen vegetables, a few fruits, lamb, fish, beef, and almonds (and then at one point, even the fruits were axed…). This is to hopefully promote gut healing as well as to figure out if any of the foods are contributing to Great War inside of me. As you can imagine, it has created its own share of stressors as food prep and planning takes quite a bit more work, it's pretty tricky to accept food from anywhere except my own kitchen, and my whole system is in some very unpleasant turmoil (some of the occupying forces are extremely unhappy with having their food supply lines interrupted). Not to mention, there’s something about extreme deprivation that suddenly makes me hyper-aware of every billboard, restaurant, Facebook ad, TV commercial, Youtube video, and even short story which references food… which then then leads to those moments where I feel like a saber-tooth tiger suddenly released from being frozen in the ice flows AND I WILL DIE IF I DO NOT HAVE A GIANT PIECE OF CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE.

But I digress. I get to slowly add new foods (oats! Green beans! Chicken!) back in over the next 2 months, and will hopefully be at normal dietary habits by Christmas.

In addition to all of this, I get to work with other medical professionals for both routine visits (dentists and eye doctors) and chronic issues (physical therapists and chiropractors to address chronic pain issues). This means, I’ve been averaging 2-4 medical appointments a week for the last few months.

We'll defeat them together! (Image from
As you may have realized by now, I’m not actually returning to Papua New Guinea in two weeks, like I originally had planned. I need to stick around Minnesota with my team of medical professionals for a few months as we lay siege against these armies and hopefully take back some ground and throw up new fortifications. I’ll be sharing more about what this means, how I’ve been processing through it, and how it may affect all of you as we go forward. Right now, I just want to say thank you once again for all your prayers and encouragement through this challenging time. You are the support network that lets me still stay active with Wcyliffe and in Bible translation during this time (such as this month when I’ve had awesome opportunities sharing with college students about what God’s doing in Bible translation! I look forward to visiting more after the holidays!).