Nearly 6 years ago, I graduated from 8th grade and was about to start high school. I was super excited to transition from small middle school to a large high school. Yes, it was nerve wracking, but I felt prepared for whatever was to come.
Or so I thought…
Two weeks into my freshman year, I was hit out of nowhere with an unknown illness. I was unable to move from bed for about a month. During that time, I didn’t get out of bed because my body couldn’t.
My parents and I were confused so I sought direction from my doctor. He sent me to a few other specialists and we found out that I had mono. We didn’t know where I got it, but I had it. They started me on antibiotics and we still weren’t seeing any change.
Multiple specialists later, the Lord finally provided some answers from a visit to pediatrician in Portland. My parents and I were physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted from all we had been through. We just wanted answers and a cure.
Then the news came. The pediatrician told me that I had amplified pain syndrome (APS)/fibromyalgia and that I had gotten it from the mono virus.
If you’re not familiar with APS or fibromyalgia, they are essentially the same. APS is a autoimmune disease that increases your sensitivity to nerve pain. APS is basically fibromyalgia, just in adolescent form. With this illness comes horrible musculoskeletal and nerve pain, severe migraines and decreases your energy.
Now that we had a diagnosis, we began intense therapy. This was all during my freshman year — and instead of enjoying high school, I was in doctors offices and physical therapy.
A few times a week, I was sent up to a hospital in Tualatin and exposed my body to intense physical and occupational therapy. At this point, my body was so brittle and frail that I could barely do some of the simplest moves they asked of me without crying. Plus — I had gained like 15 pounds from my inactivity. I wasn’t used to these extreme physical limitations.
By the grace of God, I made it through the physical and occupational therapy process a little stronger. The moves began to get easier and I was slowly rehabilitating. I was far from remission, but they had noticed some improvement. The specialists told me that they did all they could and it was time for me to go home and find a consistent regiment of my own. The purpose was to get me back to a “normal lifestyle”.
The thing about fibromyalgia/APS is that there isn’t a quick fix. There isn’t a drug or a diet that can fix it. You have to do a few things or a combination of a few things: a workout regiment.consistent activity, adequate rest, stress management and medication.
I went back to school for my second semester of freshman year and was severely behind. I worked with multiple tutors at my high school to get me back on track. Every single day, I dreaded going to school. I still wasn’t feeling much better and I didn’t want people to know that I had a “disability”.
My parents and I found a gym where I could work out and I got to know a sweet trainer that I started to train with. We met a few times a week and she helped me through simple workouts. I began to feel better by moving and slowly put myself back into dance.
There were so many days when I didn’t want to get out of bed for school. My doctors and specialists told my parents that they had to push me to do things. If there was even a possibility that I could get up, they needed to push me. They needed to pull me out of bed. (If you’re a parent — you know that pushing your child to do something when they’re screaming and crying is torture.) My mom and dad knew that it was the best thing for my health.
In conjunction with a consistent lifestyle, my doctor and I looked into trying some medication to help aid my nerve pain and migraines. (I know some may not approve of medication, but my parents and I know that this is something God wants us to do.)
Fast forward to today — I’ve been on a medication that helps control my fibroymalgia pain and also my severe migraines/headaches. After trying various ones, God has finally led us to this one and we have seen so much fruit. It’s provided me increased energy and I’ve seen the frequency of my migraines decrease.
Fast forward to today! Only through the grace of God, I am doing SO much better. Today Tara is so much better than Freshman Year Tara. Today Tara has better energy, less pain and less days in bed. Today Tara knows how to manage stress in a healthier way.
This is my typical regiment to control my pain: a consistent workout regiment, adequate sleep, stress management and a lot of listening to God and my body!
But most of all… Today Tara has a stronger relationship with God than ever.
This seems so cliche, but I would NEVER change my circumstances. I would NEVER ask God to take away what I went through.
Because God grew me dramatically through those times. If it wasn’t for those hard times, I would have never trusted and leaned on the Lord as much as I did.
The apostle Paul said it perfectly…
“Jesus said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamaties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
I wouldn’t trade any of my pain or the hardships because of what it taught me about God. I wouldn’t trade any of it because of how God showed Himself to be faithful, merciful and loving. I wouldn’t trade any of it because I had the opportunity to glorify God through my weaknesses.
In all honesty… I was nervous to write this post, because it can be raw and vulnerable. Although I didn’t even scratch the surface of the last six years, it can still be daunting.
But I want to be real, honest and open with you guys. My desire is to show, ultimately, that God is bigger than my weakness and that He has a reason for leading me through this. And that my disability points to One who is stronger.
Thank you for reading and if you relate or felt touched, please don’t hesitate to comment or reach out to me! 💗