Two years ago tonight I was reading in bed when I started to cough something up. I panicked a little when I saw the Kleenex full of blood. “This can’t be good,” I thought. Within a couple of weeks, I was coughing incessantly, feeling pain in my chest and back, and exhausted all the time.
When they found “something strange going on with your lungs,” I figured I’d be walking through one of three possible doors. Door Number 1 was cancer and I’d have six to twelve months to put my house in order. Door Number 2 was some easy-to-treat infection that would soon be a distant memory. I didn’t want to think about Door Number 3: a chronic illness that wouldn’t kill me but make life more challenging for the next 30 years.
“I’m fine with going home early, Lord,” I prayed. “But please don’t let it be Door Number 3.”
Long story short, I was told I had Bronchiectasis (which in itself does not kill you, but is not known to ever go away). Meanwhile, other seemingly unrelated problems with other body parts surfaced, too. After 14 months of various tests, they also discovered an atypical bacterial infection in my lungs known as MAC. At first, this made me happy because I thought, “at last, something they can treat.” But the treatment sounded worse than the disease and not highly promising.
So for the past nine months, I’ve been on a journey of naturopathic treatment requiring a complete change in diet, two or three trips to the clinic a week, additional self-treatments at home, and an uncomfortable amount of money. But I began feeling better so quickly, it gave me the determination to keep going.
I’ve learned things I never dreamed I would. Like how to put together some pretty decent meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free meals. I’m playing the saxophone. I gave up coffee. I end every hot shower with a 30-second blast of cold and barely flinch. I exercise 3-4 times a week. I ’ve asked for prayers all over the place, going to the front after Sunday services numerous times and meeting with the elders a couple of times.
And I really am much better. Energy’s up, coughing is down. Yet they tell me the Bronchiectasis is actually a bit worse and the infection is still present. Which tells me my lungs were not necessarily my biggest problem and whatever was causing the fatigue is, indeed, being addressed.
I’ve come to see our bodies like a Whack-a-Mole game at the carnival. While one specialist whacks one mole, another pops up, and another and another. Meanwhile, something is wrong with the basic mechanism of the machine and it’s being ignored. Naturopathy addresses the underlying problem. By building the body’s immune system, we strengthen it for battle so it can fight off the enemies regardless where they pop up. This is what I’m hoping for, and why I’m sticking with it for now.
The parallels between my road to health and my road to book publication are uncanny. Sure, I could self-publish my book and be done with it. But first, I need to know I’ve done everything— EVERYTHING — to make this book the best it can be and I know the best way to do that is on the long road. Taking advice from contest judges, critique partners, editors, and my new agent. Rewriting and rewriting and rewriting again.
I have no way of knowing how either of these journeys will end, but at least no one can accuse me of taking a short cut. And I know something else. God walks with me, every step. He’s teaching me, every step. And I don’t want to miss anything he has for me along the way.
Today, I’ve been listening over and over to a Robin Mark song called All is Well. Please, please click the link and listen to it. These lyrics really resonate:
All my changes come from Him who never changes
I’m held firm in the grasp of the Rock of all the ages
All is well with my soul
He is God, in control
I know not all His plans
But I know I’m in His hands.