6 ways God gave me grace during and after my lupus flare and seizures

Whether you have been a long-time reader or new to my blog, you probably know that last year around this time, I was experiencing bad lupus flares. Like, serious vertigo and head spinning. It was debilitating, and I even went to the doctor for it multiple times. I even had posts exclaiming my despair, such as this and this one. This was posted the day before my seizures: I woke up 5 days later, stayed in the hospital for 11 days, and took medical leave from work for all of May.

In addition to the vertigo, I started getting high fevers on the daily: I wasn’t new to this. There was a period during 2013 when I was getting high fevers every single day, and my doctors were increasing my prednisone until I reached 80 mg and then they stopped. Anyway: during work, I was so terrified I was going to pass out or get a seizure. I would walk up the stairs SO lightheaded and out of breath. I knew something was wrong, and Cecilio and I even went to the ER in April of last year. We waited 8 hours only to be told that I had the flu and to be sent home. I guess if you have a chronic illness, the ER nurses and doctors don’t really know what’s going on with you since they aren’t specialty physicians, so they can only assume. I would cry at work wondering what was wrong with me and I left early, like a lot. It was that bad.

During this period, I started questioning God as a Christian.

I know a lot of my readers aren’t religious or believers, so whether you want to keep reading or not it’s up to you.

I knew deep down He was good, but I was torn between wondering if He would heal me or believing He wouldn’t because He wanted me closer to Him. I actually resented Him for the latter because I just wanted to be healed and to be better! I wanted to be close to Him too but I am only human and want what I want. Lord, I thought. Why did you give me and my family lupus and autism?

I started getting annoyed with Christian posts from my family or other Christian bloggers. I started understanding why people became disillusioned and turned to atheism. Yet I still clung and cried out to Him. To be a Christian to me was/is to be a masochist. I would get irritated when others would say “even if God doesn’t give me this, or heal me, or [insert desire here], I will still praise Him.” If God loved me, He would heal me!, I always felt. I wasn’t asking for much! I just wanted to be normal and healthy and not be free of health issues! I wanted to be close to God but I also wanted to be physically healed!

Yet here I am, a year later, and my brain is sharper than ever. I could’ve almost died. Or been in a vegetative state. I don’t even know. Yes, I know that the only thing you need from God is Jesus dying for you and a relationship with Him. I would get so upset when other Christians would make me feel like I should not want anything more or less or that my desires are/were invalid. Maybe I’m being entitled, I don’t know.

But what I do know that yes, even though I KNOW that Jesus died for me…God still showered me with so much love and grace during this dark period of my time and gave me the desires of my heart, including healing.

1. I got in a bad accident that could’ve ended up worse. And Cecilio was there by my side while I had the seizure.

I was already in an altered/dreamlike state the day before I had the seizure. It’s hard to explain unless if you’ve been through it before. What I DO remember the day before was that I got in a car accident. I was driving on my way to my doctor’s appointment and I was SO lightheaded that I was swerving. It got seriously bad that I fell off an overpass and crashed into someone’s fence. Worse could’ve happened, but I stepped out of the car uninjured. But I was in a serious state of confusion when I texted Cecilio and my mom and called 911. I vaguely remember the ambulance coming and having dinner with my family, constantly saying how much I wanted to go to work (there was a big event the next day so I absolutely had to go). My stepdad kept telling me, “if you want to go to work, you have to eat”. I had a tough time eating. The thing was, I thought Cecilio and I were in my parents’ house, when it turns out THEY were in our apartment the whole time. That’s how messed up my brain was. Anyway: Cecilio felt the need to take a day off from work in case something happened. Sure enough, he told me I was having seizures at 6:30 a.m. He works at 6 a.m. I shudder to think what would’ve happened if he didn’t take the day off and if I was there in bed all by myself. I feel like it was probably a divine appointment for him to be there by my side and call 911 and my mom.

2. God used the doctors to help me regain consciousness.

Oh, the doctors tried everything on me. They gave me 15 different antibiotics while I was unconscious. Then they decided (with Cecilio’s consent) that they were going to do a treatment on me called aphresis, a treatment in which they take away some of your blood plasma. Cecilio said during the first session was when I started regaining my consciousness. They wanted to remove as much as the antibodies that were affecting me as possible, and I had 6 sessions of it while I was in the hospital. I had to take a boat load of medications too, and I woke up finding out that I had to be on 60 mg of prednisone (I’m now on 5 mg). I found out that through my mom advocating for me, that I would be doing an infusion treatment called Cytoxan. At first, I was doing it every 2 weeks, then I started decreasing the frequency to every month and now I’m only doing it every 2 months.

3. I did not get fired for being sick and out of work. In fact, I had so many people at work praying and rooting for me.

I know it’s illegal to fire someone for having a medical condition, but some organizations will sneakily find a reason to do so anyway. Plus, California is an “at-will” state, meaning that your employer can fire you for no reason here. I mean, they had every reason to because I did not attend 2 required work events. I work at a nonprofit and every year in May, there is a Saturday event in which all the staff are required to attend (except in extenuating circumstances like mine). Yeah, I was still in the hospital that day. When I woke up from my seizure and unconsciousness, I texted my boss apologizing profusely about what happened. She reassured me that it was fine and that she actually met Cecilio (he works at a news station and she was there since she is our PR lady and the one who talks at the news and radio stations representing our organization). She actually called for him asking about me. Cecilio had to go to my work and give and get paperwork from them, speak to our HR director, my bosses, etc. it was a huge mess. But he said that that was one of the first things he did after the whole seizure and hospitalization because he knew how much my job meant to me. Anyway, I got a card weeks later from ALL of my co-workers praying and wishing me well. When I came back, I was welcomed with open arms. I guess you can say I am lucky or blessed because not many organizations would be willing to work with you after that. I work in a “judgment-free zone” (I say that because that term is a part of our new key messaging, and it couldn’t ring any truer)

4. I had to take Uber for 3 months because I didn’t have a car and my license was suspended for a bit. But I got it back and was able to get a new car.

When I had the accident, I drove a 2000 Mitsubishi Diamente. It was old, but I was okay with it. It got taken to the junkyard after. Thank goodness for Uber for sustaining me for the next 3 months though! I took it everyday going to work, and Cecilio picked me up. I had a hearing about my driver’s license, health issues and the accident. When I got a letter from the DMV that I was going to have a hearing, it turned out that they were going to call my mom’s house. I didn’t see it until the day before, and it turned out that we were sleeping at my mom’s house to take care of the dogs while she and my stepdad were out of town. Talk about a divine appointment! 3 weeks later, I got another letter from the DMV stating that I could drive again and that they were sorry for the inconvenience. Now, I needed a new car so I was on the search immediately. I fell in love with a 2016 red Volkswagen Jetta I found online and then applied for an auto loan through my bank to get it. I was so afraid that they would deny me because I thought I had a bad credit score, but it actually turned out to be wayyyy better than I thought because they still gave me the loan! And when Cecilio and I went to the car lot, it was still there! We test-drove it, signed the paperwork and it was mine!

5. Cecilio and I pray together more than ever.

We hardly prayed together when we were dating, and I often wished we did. But I guess it took this horrible situation to happen to realize that we need God every second of our lives. My mom always said to me God doesn’t cause this to happen, but He uses those circumstances to be closer to Him because without those “thorns in our flesh” (see 2 Corinthians 12:7–10), we wouldn’t need Him at all when He is our greatest source of strength. It sucks because lupus is a chronic condition and I WILL have it forever. It’s the thorn in my flesh. But now I pray a lot more, and I notice on days when I don’t read a devotion in the morning or pray, I feel much crappier about myself.

6. He gave me more wisdom and compassion to others going through the same thing.

I wrote a while back about how I probably wouldn’t be blogging if it weren’t for lupus. And my sister told me if there’s any good thing that comes out of our issues, it’s that we do experience the grace and wisdom we probably wouldn’t have if we were healthy. That’s nice, but sometimes I felt like retorting with, I just want to be normal and healthy. But it couldn’t be any more true. We also don’t take anything for granted because we experienced firsthand our near-deaths.

I also follow Kristen Dalton, Former Miss USA/author/blogger of She is More. She wrote about her traumatic labor experience, wondering why God left her when she needed Him the most physically and spiritually. He did answer prayers even though if it wasn’t in the way she wanted. It sucks when you turn your life to Him you realize it’s not about you. But He shows you grace in many ways like He did to her, such as having a healthy baby that slept up to 6 hours a night as a newborn, and giving her a lot of milk to feed her baby. He also showed her that she needed community and to be in the company of family and friends to help out. As introverts, we tend to keep people at arm’s reach. But to experience God is to experience to love for and from others.

A co-worker of mine last week was just being normal and picking up Girl Scout cookies from one of the leaders for his daughter. Later on, I heard that she was slumped over at her desk and had to be taken to the hospital. The same hospital I stayed in. My boss texts me letting me know that my co-worker had a seizure. She was discharged and has to eventually get a follow-up appointment. I just feel nothing but compassion and empathy for her because that was me in that situation last year. I bought her a card that I still haven’t written yet but will get around to doing so, and I will just let her know she can always talk to me about it because of what I went through as well. And then I will drop it in her mailbox.

If being a Christian means being a masochist, then means that Jesus is the biggest masochist of them all to die on the cross because He loved us, even though He too was only human and wanted to be free from the pain and humiliation. But He still did it out of love. It’s something even my human, physical mind can’t fully grasp. It sure doesn’t feel good at the time to go through whatever you’re going through, whether it be health/marital/financial/relationship issues. Sometimes it feels like God is far away and that He hears you but ignores your cries. I get it. And sometimes when you feel ignored you can’t help but want to get more distant. But God is at work, and as hard as is to believe at the time. And if it makes me a masochist for believing and trusting that He will give me grace throughout suffering, then let it be.

I’m just so thankful to still be here and to be thriving more than ever. Now, that doesn’t mean that things are easy peasy. In the back of my mind, I am constantly worried about the next flare, the next seizure, the next big blow up…and even though I have follow ups with my nephrologist and rheumatologist next month, I have severe anxiety over it. First off, I hate being weighed and that’s the first thing they do when I get called in from the lobby. Secondly, just the fact that I always need to go to the doctor is a reflection of my health in itself. I also am constantly worried about hearing bad news about my health. But we were able to pinpoint a lot of the factors and get the treatment I needed.

And I know that being a Christian doesn’t mean your life is going to be easy: quite the contrary actually.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were
happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12–13)

And even though suffering and going through horrible trials does NOT feel fun at the moment..they are for a greater purpose.

We know that all things work together for good[a] for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.

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