Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Update: part 2

So I wrote that part in January, still really unsure where life was going, but in an effort to keep people posted. Well, I didn't end up finishing it until now (April 8) so that was kinda a fail.

Wow, It has been about 2.5 months since I wrote. And so much has changed. I tried to drop half my classes and still continue, I even kept attending the lectures of my dropped classes to make it easier for when I actually had to take them, but things kept getting worse. My doctor at the time put me on antibiotics and tried to give me ADD meds to stay awake and nausea medicine, but nothing was really helping. The straw that broke the camels back was a accidentally ate gluten a week or two later and that knocked me out for a whole week. I tried SO hard to keep going, keep up with classes and homework, but it was physically impossible. In a very hard decision, but VERY inspired, I withdrew from all my classes and decided on focusing the rest of the semester on resting, doctors appointments, healthy eating and general recovery. I decided to stay in Utah for this recovery and not return back to my parent's house in Texas mostly because I've heard how hard it is to stay positive and many cases of Lyme are also followed by depression and I didn't think my mental health could handle it. Through it all, I'm so grateful for Provo. For the fact I live with my best friends and the nicest people on the planet. For the fact I have so many mission friends around and I get to see them so frequently. For the MTC just up the street and for my opportunity to use my Cebuano to serve others. For the temple just down the road and for my chances to serve in my student ward as visiting teacher and Sunday school teacher. To be able to serve and feel needed. Service is the best way to handle something hard because it gives you a chance to truly forget yourself and focus on others. It's the best medicine.

My mom was also kind enough to drive up here for 2 weeks and help me navigate doctors and what to do next. People have been SO nice and have given so many recommendations, but after doctor #4, I made my mom promise that we would see these through rather than going from doctor to doctor to doctor and never really following through.

#1 To his credit, he FOUND my Lyme disease which is really difficult apparently. But his treatment was to take various antibiotics for a year which we were willing to try. Problems: super hard to keep in touch with, he gave me no expectations (timeline, symptoms, etc.). At one point, my symptoms got way worse, but for all I knew, that was normal! When my mom told the nurse, she said, well of course you should call as soon as something is wrong! But I had no idea. It was hard.

#2 Basically only took me because of my positive blood test. Even ran it again just to be sure- Yep! Same results. Definitely positive. His treatment was an antibiotic via IV for 30 days. EVERY SINGLE DAY. My mom and I weren't convinced that was all it took based on all our research, but we figured it was worth a shot and a quick way (relatively) to rule out one of our options. Problems: even though I had the positive blood test, he kinda made me feel like I was crazy, like it was all in my head. I've been through that quite a bit on my medical journey and it is hard! I saw him every week throughout the treatment (Feb 20-March 22) and my main complaints (fatigue and nausea) Didn't really improve. Like at all. I'm just so glad I didn't invest all my hope in that treatment because that would've been really discouraging. But the whole time he was asking if I was going back to school and exercising everyday, no, crazy! I have zero desire to do that, because nothing has changed! Most of all, he just made me feel like my symptoms were not a big deal and it's a part of life. Which made me mad because I didn't just drop my classes because I got this positive blood test. I tried and tried and tried and pushed myself to the limit of my physical and mental and emotional capacity, and this guy just wasn't really buying it. By the end, I kinda just ignored everything he said and was excited to be done with it.

#3 By far my favorite. He is a naturopathic doctor and I never thought I would choose this alternative approach, but I strangely have the most faith in him. He just seemed to understand. He didn't make me feel like I was crazy. He made me feel like-"woah, your body is really messed up and it will take a lot of different approaches and it won't be an easy fix, but you will get better. You will be able to move on with your life." He gave me hope. I actually started seeing this doctor about a week after Doctor #2 because he really gave me perspective. It made sense to me that I would need to change my diet (avoid dairy and sugars) and that my body needed supplements to help it fight off these multiple infections ( I tested positive for 3 herpes viruses that like to come back when your immune is shot like, you know, when it's destroyed by Lyme disease.) It just really made sense! Also, it's no coincidence that every single person who has said they or a friend had Lyme disease recommended alternative approaches to medicine. I think all the normal doctors just made them feel a little crazy.

So here I am, April 8, 2015. I'm taking lots of supplements, on an alkaline diet, and a homeopathic therapy where I take a mouthful of gross liquid stuff every 3 days for the next 2 months. I sleep until 1pm everyday. I sit on my couch and rest like it's my day job. I read the newspaper, lots of books, watch netflix, enjoy listening to General Conference talks, eating fruits and vegetables and talking to my friends. Occasionally I'll attend a living Prophets class on campus. Occasionally I'll play a game of basketball or tennis (that's a new one) or frisbee or (insert sport here). I don't know when I'll finish school, I don't know when I'll stop being tired, I don't know my summer plans, and I don't know what my future holds, BUT I do know that I have a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for me. I do know that his son, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for me so that I will not be alone during the hard times. I do know HE is the PRINCE of PEACE and I have been given that peace in abundance that speaks to me saying, "everything will be alright". I do know that this sickness is helping me develop the Christ-like attributes of patience, humility, long-suffering, trust, faith, diligence, hope and obedience. I do know that I want to draw near unto Him in every moment because that's what gives me true happiness. And to quote Elder Teixiera from general conference, "I know by personal experience that the joy of living in righteousness and abiding in Christ can continue despite the tribulations characteristic of mortality." And I do know that I am happy. This is an update of my life:)

Until I get around to updating you again,

An Update: Sister Pike in 2015.

-I wrote this January 26, 2015-

Hello! So I'm back from my mission in the Philippines and I've been home for just over 6 months. So what now? A few months ago, my mom was saying how much she missed my letters and how so many people were asking about me and wanted to know how I was doing. I kinda brushed it off, I'm no blogger! But things have changed and for some reason unbeknownst to me, I feel the need to share this. 

If any of you know anything about my mission in the Philippines Tacloban Mission, you will know one thing. It was crazy. Seriously. Who knew someone could have so many things happen to them in a short amount of time! Mysterious virus...crazy bad eye infection...super typhoon...more mysterious sicknesses... It really is a miracle I made it through! The last month of my mission was particularly rough and I was super sick the whole time! So President Andaya told me to go home a transfer early. Actually he said I think you should but you should definitely pray about it. So I did! It was hard initially, but I received a strong confirmation that it was the right thing so I moved forward and never looked back! When I finally got home, I was still sick and had nearly reached celebrity status in my ward. "Ohmygosh, you don't know me but I've heard all about you and your mission was so hard you are just so amazing. I'm so sorry...blah, blah, blah." Don't get me wrong, I appreciate these people and their concern for me, but I just felt so unable to tell my side of the story! It's like they didn't get it! Every time this happened I just wanted to scream, "DON'T BE SORRY! I loved my mission. Every second of it. Every sick day (143) included.  If I could change anything, I would change nothing at all. Yeah, all these things were really hard and challenging, but I LEARNED! I GREW! And that's the whole point. I saw miracles. Developed a personal relationship with my Savior. Came to learn of my own nothingness, but also the incredible ability of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to make us better, stronger than we ever could have on our own. Not to mention all the incredible blessings I received: angel companions, other missionaries, Mission Presidents and their wives, so many people who looked after me and loved me and helped me in countless ways. But unfortunately it's really hard to bear testimony of these things in 2 second conversations with strangers. So I would just smile and say thank you and lament their distorted view of my reality. And I felt the same way about the super typhoon! How do you answer a question in passing, "How was the typhoon?" Uh...It was hard? But nothing I really say to you in this 5 minute conversation can really cover my true feelings on it. So why bother?

Now, you're all probably thinking, what does this have to do with your life 7 months later? Good question. Fast forward to August. After spending a month in bed reading 15 novels and being too nauseous and weak to really do anything with my life except to be dragged to various doctor appointments, FINALLY an answer came. FINALLY! Do you know what's worse than being sick? Not knowing anything about it. Really. It's the worst. Mostly because you need to reality check yourself all the time. Is this real? Or is it in my head? Will this prevent me from living a normal life? No one knows. The answer: I do not have Celiac disease, but I am gluten intolerant! Is that even possible? Yes. What is my reaction? If I accidentally eat some, which has happened a few times, I'm totally fine for 3 days then I die essentially. Both times I stay in my room and sleep ALL day and have really bad stomach pains which linger for about a week as drag myself around trying to keep up in school. I've learned quickly that I don't ever want to accidentally eat gluten ever again. Answer part 2: I have a weird chemical imbalance which I need supplements to fix so between these pills and my new gluten-free diet, I got better! Woohoo! After 3.5 months of weakness, tiredness and constant nausea, I was ecstatic. I was able to return back to BYU! Play basketball again! Racquetball again! Reunite with some of my favorite people in the world! Life was good. Really, really good. 

BUT...I still got pretty sick. Luckily, my sister and I worked out a pretty easy schedule so I could ease my way back to school and I was able to mostly survive the semester, but the huge problem was every time I would have a major test, I would get way sick! Can you say, worst timing ever? It was horrible. Don't even get me started on finals was a nightmare to say the least. But I survived with mostly okay grades and that was that. When my family came up for Christmas break, she took me to a specialist, highly recommended, dealing with fatigue problems which was perfect timing because all throughout the semester I had problems on and off but after finals week and the start of Christmas break, it wasn't going anywhere. Constant nausea and weakness/tiredness, it's not that easy! So he looked at my ginormous file of medical records and tests and told me that I probably have a disease or virus that I picked up in the Philippines that my body can fight MOST of the time but when it gets stressed or sick from other things, it's just too much to handle and it comes back. It made so much sense! So he ordered about 30 blood tests and waited to figure it out. 

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago. Still kinda nauseous and tired, but mostly super excited for a new start. New classes that will be difficult and challenging. New year. I'm pumped. I had been taking probiotics and stomach enzymes to help my stomach to no avail. And that's when it started going downhill. I would get done with my classes at noon and NEED to go home and take a nap. Getting out of bed to go to class in the morning was a huge chore. There were multiple times I would be at home and stand up to go somewhere only to dive to the floor because I was so weak! And then I proceeded to laugh like a crazy person because of the ridiculousness of the situation. Needless to say, my roommates were worried. My parents were worried. I was worried about my complete inability to do my homework and get the things done that I need to. I was given a pill that would help my energy and I was supposed to be getting better, but it just felt like I was getting worse! My energy was so crazy, my endurance was about 3 hours then I would just crash! All the while, I attended all of my classes, saw my friends on campus, went to basketball games, went to my Zumba class with a smile on my face. No one had any idea. They still don't, actually. My roommates, they see it all, but 95% of my day-to-day interactions have no clue. I think it's hilarious. Am I really that good of an actor? Or maybe it's because most of my day-to-day interactions see me in my good hours of the day. 

On Thursday, my mom called and said the doctor got my tests back and say it's positive for Lyme disease! What is that? I don't even know. So finally, long overdue, I asked for a priesthood blessing. Can I just say blessings are the best?! Seriously, my life would be 500x more difficult without them. I didn't receive a blessing of some miraculous healing, but I did receive some much needed guidance, direction and comfort and often, at least for me, that's all I really need. I received a blessing to learn to manage my symptoms, to learn what treatment to do, to learn his will and follow his desires for my life, to turn to the scriptures and prayer for guidance and as always, to continue to radiate happiness and my love of the Savior.

Soon after, I headed up to Bear Lake for a weekend long mission reunion. I still wasn't feeling great, but it was exactly what I needed. All these people asked about how my sickness was doing and I could give them a real answer! They are all well acquainted with everything that happened my mission. These people know me. They were with me through all the months and months of hard things and they just get it! No more hiding what I'm really feeling, no more pretending everything is alright. I still had to take naps and opt out of activities due to weakness, but I just loved being around everyone, talking and laughing, it was the best!

Tuesday was rough. Still behind on homework. Still weak. tired. very nauseous. unmotivated. And while talking with my parents and sisters, it became very clear that I needed to drop some classes in order to keep up with everything and keep my stress low. But I was optimistic. I was gonna keep going and doing the best that I can. My life was seriously about to change.