It was a Tuesday morning in December 2019, just a couple weeks before Christmas. I was at my doctor’s office getting results from some blood work he’d ordered because my liver enzyme numbers kept increasing. I wasn’t really worried. I thought if something was wrong, the doctor would just give me a prescription or tell me to make some lifestyle changes, and all would be well.
But that’s not what happened.
I listened as the gastroenterologist explained that there were three possibilities as to why my enzyme numbers were out of whack: fatty liver disease, autoimmune liver disease, or cirrhosis of the liver. To make the correct diagnosis, I needed a liver biopsy. A doctor would take a piece of my liver and determine whether it had too much fat or any scarring.
On another Tuesday morning, after my biopsy, my doctor told me the good news: I did not have cirrhosis; the not-so-good news was that I did have autoimmune liver disease. He said the fact that I don’t drink alcohol saved me from having cirrhosis.
I was never a big drinker—only a glass of wine here or there, but in 1989 I stopped drinking all alcohol. In my high-school Sunday school class, we signed agreements not to drink until we were 21 years old. We did this in support of one of the girls in our class who had become an alcoholic. I signed an agreement not to drink at all. By the time those kids graduated out of my class, my desire to drink alcohol was gone and it never returned.
I found it amazing that a choice I’d made in 1989 saved me from catastrophe in 2019. It was only God’s grace that kept me off the liver transplant list. I had no idea that He was preparing me for what would come 30 years later.
I listened as my doctor explained that autoimmune liver disease happens when a person’s body attacks their liver. My immune system thought my liver was a foreign object and that it had to protect me by destroying it. The treatment for this was seven days on a steroid, followed by an immunosuppressant for the rest of my life. I take this medication every day, and praise the Lord, it’s working for me.
I thought this would be the end of my story where medical problems were concerned, but it wasn’t.
In January 2020, I was taking down our Christmas decorations. I was carrying a bin of lights from the yard inside the house, and I got so out of breath that I had to sit down. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but in the coming days, my breathing issue got worse. I couldn’t stand for more than 10 minutes at a time. There were days I couldn’t walk from my car to the Walmart entrance without getting out of breath before I even got inside the store.
So, my primary care physician referred me to a cardiologist and a pulmonologist. I lost count of the tests they ordered for my heart and lungs. I was frustrated when they couldn’t find a reason for my breathing problem. After my last appointment with my pulmonologist, I made a decision. Right there in my car, I had a serious conversation with God.
I told God that I knew He could fix whatever was wrong with me. He knew I was going to have to be able to stand up for longer than 10 minutes at a time, and since He had much more work for me to do, He was going to have to fix it. I told Him I wasn’t going to see any more doctors or take any more tests—I was leaving it all in His hands.
I wish I could tell you that everything changed overnight and God instantly healed me, but that’s not what happened. Over time, my breathing did improve. I went from only being able to stand for 10 minutes to standing for 20 minutes. By the time 2020 elections rolled around, I was able to stand in line for 40 minutes so I could vote.
Now I can stand up for two hours. Anything more than that and I have to sit for a few minutes before starting the 2-hour countdown again. But I am so grateful to God because there were days when I wondered if I would ever get my life back. All of this has taught me so much empathy for people who deal with chronic illnesses. I was prescribed a pill that I will have to take for the rest of my life. That’s easy for me to do. But there are so many who don’t have a simple fix like that.
The thing I’m most grateful for is God having a plan for my life. It doesn’t always look the way I want it to, but He is in charge of every aspect of what happens—to me and for me. And for that, I am extremely grateful.Leave a Comment