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.

Continue Graduate School or Drop Out?

April 19, 1997

Show me Thy ways, O Lord, teach me Thy paths. Psalm 25:4

I am seriously debating whether or not I should continue with graduate school. They are raising the tuition to $380 per semester credit hour, and I have 29 hours to go to complete my Master’s of Science in Nursing, so it will cost me $10,000 to finish. It will take me about three more years to complete and I have already been taking two courses each semester while working full time as a visiting nurse. I am just so weary of it all.

Psalm 25:4 was my prayer which God answered wonderfully!

Psalm 25:4 was my prayer which God answered wonderfully!

Then I read in a nursing journal that they are producing too many Nurse Practitioners (NPs), and that the new graduates are having great difficulty in finding a job. By the year 2000, there will be a glut of 30,000 NPs. I recently spent the afternoon for my clinical rotation with a school NP at the community health center. There was a middle school girl on drugs and so many other kids on antidepressants, etc. At the clinic, there were many pregnant unwed teens who have already had several abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. I don’t think I want to work with that population. A NP came and spoke to our graduate school class this semester, and she is working all kinds of strange hours in the Emergency Department of a local hospital.

After that lecture, my job as a visiting nurse with the elderly seems like an excellent place to work! I work 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday, ten weekends, and one holiday each year which isn’t too bad for nursing. The pay isn’t great, but I could pick up some extra Saturdays here and there to make some extra money. The VNA office is only one mile from my house and my territory is so beautiful in rural New England. I am able to come home and finish my charting in the afternoon if we don’t have any meetings at the office. Now that my knee feels better after surgery, maybe I can remain in this old three story house a while longer. I think I’ll make a few more phone calls on Monday after reviewing the job section in the Sunday newspaper. It is so good to rest in the Lord and let Him show me the way!

May 24, 1997

“In the day when I cried, Thou answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul.” Psalm 138:3

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

The Lord has answered prayer in such a marvelous way concerning school since I last wrote on April 19! Last Thursday, my Dad called me and said he wanted to support me financially so I could quit my job and go to school full time and finish my degree. He asked me to send him my monthly budget to cover my expenses. I met with Dr. K., the Dean of the graduate program and she was so excited for me! We worked out my schedule so I can graduate next May. Because I missed the research course last semester, she is teaching me individually this summer for two hours weekly so I can catch up.  I thank my heavenly Father for moving the heart of my unsaved earthly father to help me out in this way, as I never asked my Dad for any financial support. I’m still in shock as to how wonderfully the Lord worked this out, way above what I could ask or think. I thank God for making my path so clear. One of my advisors at school said I definitely should not drop out as she thinks I will make a wonderful Nurse Practitioner, so her encouragement was much appreciated.

My final day as a visiting nurse is June 10. It is hard to believe that I have worked there for five years. It is tough to say goodbye to some of my monthly patients who I have known for five years. Some of them are like grandparents to me. I really hate goodbyes!

Reflection

And so the Lord made the way open for me to continue in graduate school and finish in four years rather than six years. In the fall, Dr. K. told the five of us who were full time students that the school had received a grant from the USA government that would cover our entire tuition and books for both semesters! The government says there is a shortage of NPs, so this is their way of graduating NPs more quickly. Because it was a grant, and not a loan, I graduated debt free which was a huge blessing. The tuition for the previous three years of part time courses had been reimbursed to me at the end of each semester by the Visiting Nurse Association. They did not require me to work for them as a NP after receiving my MSN as many organizations do today.

The prediction in the nursing journal of a glut of NPs never materialized as far as I recall. I never had any trouble finding a job as a NP. In fact, I have been inundated with job recruiters my entire career with a multitude of NP openings. In fact, I received a phone call earlier today from a job recruiter even though I told her last month I am not interested in a NP job at this time. Nursing is still a good career for job security in my opinion! There will always be sick people to take care of no matter what the economy is like.