I just want to be normal.  I want to be able to go to dinner with my family and enjoy the experience instead of enduring a massive pain in my chest and abdomen due to an untimely panic attack and obsessive thoughts.  I want to be able to eat without hurting, to sleep an entire night without waking up with restless legs, heartburn, coughing, choking, or panic attacks.  I’d love to wake up feeling rested and refreshed without a killer headache and neck pain.  I want to go grocery shopping for my family without needing a heating pad for my lower back when I get home.  Better yet, I’d love to be able to shop for bulk items at Sam’s but can’t anymore because I don’t have the strength to push the heavily-laden cart. I would love to be able to carry a basketful of laundry up the stairs without having to stop halfway up to rest.  I’d like to be able to chat with a bunch of friends without losing my voice, and it would be so nice to be able to take a deep breath without wheezing.  I would love it if my heart didn’t pound and my head didn’t spin when I go from sitting to standing.  It would be fantastic to revel in the feel of my husband’s hands scratching my back or running his fingers through my hair, but I can’t tolerate the pain that creates any longer.  Exercise would be nice. It’s a sad day when the pain in my elbows and wrists is too extreme to allow me to do any yoga pose that requires me to hold myself up with my arms.

Oh, if I could eat pizza again!  My diet is so limited that I’m bored to tears.  You try cutting out dairy, tomatoes, beef, pecans, soft drinks, sweets, yeasty breads and carrots and see how far you get following Pioneer Woman recipes.  Imagine a life with no ice cream, no pizza, no chocolate cake, no cookies, no pretzels, no steak, no spaghetti, no lasagna, no milkshakes, and, worst of all, no Dr. Pepper!

In fact, there are times that I think I am allergic to food.  Just hook me up to a nutritional device that bypasses my digestive system, and I’d feel better again.

Before you comment that I should try “gluten-free” foods, I’ll tell you that I probably will. I have an aggressive new doctor who thinks something I am either eating or breathing is triggering an immune response.  So I see some sort of elimination diet in my future. Not looking forward to that since it seems like I’ve been eliminating things from my diet my whole life.  It’s like my whole world keeps shrinking, and all I want to do anymore is sleep.

The worst part of this journey is that my family does not get the best of me.  I try not to complain, but when they ask why I’m not eating or why I have left the basket of clothes at the foot of the stairs or why I don’t feel up to going to Six Flags, what can I say?

I feel like the Psalmist who beseeches God to heal him, to rescue him.  I need rescuing from myself, apparently.  I’ve prayed for it.  My husband has prayed for it to such an extent that I am afraid if God doesn’t answer his prayers and heal me, his faith will suffer for it. And that would hurt my heart more than any of my pain.  So do I lie and say I feel fine? No, I am truthful but holding on to hope.

I’m grateful I still have the energy to cook and take care of my family.  I’m grateful I have a new doctor who hopefully will help me find solutions.  I’m grateful that my family puts up with the worst of me, and I’m hopeful that one day soon I will have a reversal, and instead of having a life that keeps narrowing, I will be like the eagle, spreading its wings, pain and worry-free.

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