-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 week...it 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.