Why am I so weak?

Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner – August, 2002

I have now been working in this very busy clinic for 4000 employees of the insurance company for several months. One of my duties is to give routine vaccinations to employees when they request them. During an unusually slow afternoon, I checked my vaccine stock to see if I needed to order any more. I am praying about doing some medical mission trips, so I decided to give myself a Hepatitis A vaccine. Hepatitis A is common in many developing countries and is transmitted by unclean food or water.

The next morning, my alarm awoke me at the usual 5 a.m. I tried to move and get out of bed, but I ached all over and was overcome with weakness and dizziness. By 6 a.m., I felt the same so I called my boss and said I was too ill to come to work today. I knew there was no way that I could survive a busy clinic day.

The terrible weakness, dizziness, and aches continued, so by the third day I went to see my personal physician. He drew blood tests and said my blood pressure was low and to try and drink more fluids. I was thankful my friend from church could drive me to and from the appointment.

These symptoms continued day after day, until a month had passed. After the first week, I had no paid time off remaining since I had only worked for the company a short time. My physician could not determine the cause of my symptoms, so he sent me to a neurologist, chiropractor, and endocrinologist. I became very discouraged and cried out to God for mercy in my weakness.

September 17, 2002

On September 17, my doorbell rang. The postman had me sign for a registered letter from my employer. I sat down on my couch and opened it with trembling hands. “We regret to inform you that due to your prolonged absence, you are no longer employed at this company. You may begin collecting unemployment after you recover from your illness….” Because I had not worked for the company for 12 months, they were under no legal obligation to continue my employment.  The tears flowed as I asked God to help me and teach me all the lessons He had for me. I asked Him to give the doctors wisdom in finding out what was wrong with me, heal my body, and provide my every need.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 43:5

I began reading books by other Christians who went through their time of suffering with victory. Corrie Ten Boom was imprisoned in the concentration camp during World War 2 because she sheltered Jewish people. She suffered from starvation, cold, beatings, and watched her sister die. After Corrie was released due to a clerical error, she wrote a book called “The Hiding Place” and traveled the world telling people that no matter how deep the pit, the love of God was deeper still. She also said,

Faith = Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him!

Joni Eareckson Tada, who has been confined to a wheelchair because of a diving accident when she was a teen, wrote, “People with disabilities are God’s best visual aids to demonstrate who He really is. His power shows up best in weakness. They persevere. They love, live, trust, and obey Him. Eventually the world says, “How great their God must be to inspire this kind of loyalty!”

September 30, 2002

“Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Psalm 25:4

God encouraged me with this verse.

“Your weakness will be your strength if you accept it with a lowly heart. Trusting in God is a simple resting in God’s love, as a baby lies in its mother’s arms. The point of trusting God is not to do great things that you can feel good about, but to trust God from a place of deep weakness. Nearly all God’s jewels are crystallized tears. All I ask is that you rest in faith with a teachable spirit.” Fenelon

“Lord, give to me a quiet heart that does not ask to understand but confidently steps forward in the darkness guided by Thy hand. Mercifully, God does not leave us to choose our own curriculum. Let the Lord of the Universe do the worrying! Wide soaring gives wide seeing! Keep looking down from your heavenly position.” – Elisabeth Elliot (widow of Jim Elliot who was martyred in Ecuador)

“Godliness with contentment is great gain…. Having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content.” I Timothy 6:6-8

Reflection

And so began the most difficult time in my nursing career and in my health. After many tests, my endocrinologist finally determined that I had developed adrenal insufficiency from the Hepatitis A vaccine. The adrenal glands control all the hormones in your body. If a person does not produce enough of their own natural steroid, they experience low blood pressure, severe weakness, and dizziness – all my symptoms. I had to take a low dose of steroids for the next six years. How I thanked God that I finally had an answer!

I called Dr. A., my former coworker at the psychiatric hospital who also conducted vaccine research. He confirmed that in very rare instances, vaccines can effect the adrenal glands like this.

After much prayer, I decided to sell my dream house that I had built a few years previously. By God’s grace, I made enough profit on the sale of the house to pay cash for a small condominium where I lived for the next four years. It was a huge financial relief to be rid of a mortgage and a good lesson to hold everything with an open hand to God. My real home is in heaven above with Him for all eternity! After six months, I recovered enough strength to seek employment part-time. Next post, I will tell you how God wonderfully provided again.

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New Position?

September 8, 1982 – Labor & Delivery Nurse

I read a book this summer by Margaret Clarkson called, So, You’re Single which was helpful. She is a 60 year old single Christian woman who reviewed phases of her life with her struggles and victories in her singleness. She authored the well known missionary hymn “So Send I You.” I especially like this poem which she wrote at age 22.

Oh, hold my heart, Lord Jesus, within Thy wounded hand;

Its stirring or its stilling must come at Thy command.

My love is Thine, my Savior; No other sway I own;

Bestow it where Thou willest, Or keep it Thine alone.

I am now 27 years old, and sometimes the thought of being single all my life frightens me, but I think I’m facing it more and more as a reality. I probably fear the loneliness more than anything, but then I remember that Christ is my best Friend. It is so comforting to know that Christ was single here on earth and knows what it is like.

Let your manner of life be without covetousness, and BE CONTENT with such things as ye have; for He hath said, I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER (5 times in the Greek) leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

Each year, more of my friends marry, so the singles are definitely in the minority at church. At work, sometimes 3 or 4 of my patients a night ask me if I have children. Also the other nurses are determined to get me married off and constantly try to match me up with medical students who rotate through each month. I must constantly remind myself that this is the way of the world and not God’s way. The world says, “Be aggressive and go get him!” But God says, “Be still and wait on Me, be content.” I just keep praying that the Lord would make my desires His desires, and that I would not compromise. I know it is not God’s will for me to marry a man who does not believe in Jesus Christ. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? (I Corinthians 6:14) I will be so glad when I get to heaven and these inward struggles are over and marriage is no more! (Matthew 22:30)

I’ve been looking at the job postings at work for a different nursing position, but have not had much success. I think it would help me emotionally and physically to get out of labor and delivery since my back continues to hurt from all the physical labor. I would like a daytime Monday through Friday job so I can attend church more on the weekends. I’m also not sleeping that well during the day and have trouble turning around from night shift. This is a tall order in the middle of a recession, but I know God won’t test me above what I can bear, and that His timing is perfect.

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.  Psalm 62:5

March 5, 1983 – Nursing Staff Development

I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength. Psalm 18:1

Oh, I just want to love and know Christ more, and make Him known to others! “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” as the old hymn says. In rereading my entry written in September, I can see how the Lord has answered prayer in so many ways. When I had given up finding a new job and was thoroughly enjoying working in Labor and Delivery, the Lord opened a new position for me in Staff Development.

I just started this week, and I think it will be a good fit. I still work night shift Sundays through Thursdays, but I have weekends and holidays off. I will be orienting new nurses on the various units of this 1000 bed hospital, teaching inservices (continuing education)  for the nurses, responding to Code E’s (cardiac arrest), and writing policies.

Answering Code E's was part of my new job.

Answering Code E’s was part of my new job.

The job has good variety and freedom to develop other projects that I can design. The Director seems excellent with high standards, but lets all the staff work independently. For the first time, I feel like a professional and won’t be punching the time clock. I pray that I would be a good testimony for the Lord, and point the many new people I meet to Him.

Reflection

As I reread this portion of my journal, I asked the Lord about how much to share with you about my ongoing struggles with being single. I searched on Kindle for Miss Clarkson’s book under “Christian Single” and was amazed when over 1800 titles came up! I had to stop the search because I was afraid it would crash my tablet! So I guess I’m not the only one who has struggles with being content in the Lord and waiting on Him. How I praise Him for His grace, tenderness, and patience with me in leading me along over the years and helping me grow in this area of my life. As I shared a couple posts ago, He has truly made me so content in being single. And now I am encountering quite a few widows and divorced women my age and am able to help them with this new stage of their life.

The most helpful book I ever read on Loneliness has this title by Elisabeth Elliot. She was widowed twice. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was martyred 27 months after they married in Ecuador by the Indians they were trying to reach with the gospel. She tells that story vividly in “Through Gates of Splendor”. She raised her daughter alone after his death. She spoke of the early days when she was a new widow and said God had given her the gift of widowhood.

At the cross of Jesus our crosses are changed into gifts. The Love that calls us into being, woos us to Himself, makes us His bride, lays down His life for us, and daily crowns us with loving-kindness and tender mercy, will not, no matter how it may appear in our loneliness, abandon us. Hebrews 13:5. (page 37)

I pray you all may discover that sweet deep contentment in Christ alone.