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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stepping UP- My Struggle with Illness Revealed

Hello my friends.  I've debated for quite some time whether to do a post on such a personal level about my struggles as an artist, mother, wife, and my life in general and the illness that I've been fighting since 1997.  I finally decided to come public with this.  This will be the first time I've talked publicly on this matter, and although this is not a typical 'Loving Life, happy go lucky' post on the face displayed in usual posts, I hope this helps open doors to others that have their own personal struggles in life.  So to begin, I just want to say thank you for listening to my story.  I am NOT looking for sympathy, just trying to face this matter head on and hopefully touch someone's life with my story.
This is my story.
In 1997, I began having mysterious issues with my health.  I was in my early 20's at this time.  I just given birth to my first child the year before.  Unexpectedly, I began experiencing problems with severe headaches (which I had been plagued with since my teen years).  Soon after these headaches began, I experienced symptoms of weakness in my legs, numbness and tingling in my extremities, visual disturbances, and so on.  It was hard, being a new mom and struggling with such weakness that I felt uncomfortable holding the baby without sitting down, in fear of dropping her or my legs giving out.  I was thoroughly worked up by local doctors, which they all believed at the time I was experiencing the beginning signs of Multiple Sclerosis.   I began pregnant with my second daughter later that year, but was still struggling with these unexplained issues.  I was sent to Mayo Clinic in MN, to which was much a wasted journey because I was expecting.  The physicians there could do very little but view some of my previous testing I had before becoming pregnant.  I returned to my home in MI days later without much resolution to the problems.  As time went on, throughout the year and pregnancy, my symptoms slowly vanished, as quickly as they came on.  I later in 1998, gave birth to my daughter, and life went on without a hitch.
Since nothing conclusive ever came of the mysterious illness which plagued me for approximately 6-8 months in 1997, it was excused, and life was good.  No real signs of it ever existing until again in 2002 or so, I again went down with a similar mysterious illness.  This time it was much worse.  I basically could not function day to day, and some days never made it out of bed.  Between the severe headaches, tremors, weakness now through my entire body, visual issues, generalized pain, incontinence, among a long list of other random problems, my life as I knew it was completely shut down.  At the time, I owned my own business, to which I had to pay people to run.  I saw a long list of doctors, was on a number of prescription medications, and was finally once again sent to Mayo Clinic in MN.  My scheduled 3 day visit lasted over a month.  I had so many issues to address, I was there doing non stop testing. I was amazed at all the things that needed to be addressed!  I was on the verge of losing my liver, simply because doctors had not tested its functional back home.  All the dreadful medications they had put me on to get well, back fired severely.  I had what they called a 'mutant' blood disorder concerning my lipids.  The neurologist was sure so many of my ailments were due to a strange type of migranes.  It was as if I had all the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, but no proof.  There were tumors on my pancreas, which were biopsied and found to be benign, and the list went on and on.  My brain function was slowly, and at some times in past tests, showed very little if no activity at all.  They called many things, like that, a mystery.  The top doctors of the US, stumped.  Over a month went on will testing everyday, trying to figure it all out.  My family and I decided I finally just had to come home.  The cost involved in hotel, meals, let alone the actual Clinic were driving us into bankruptcy.  My husband was working full time, trying to pay for sitters, and run my business (our brick and mortar store).  The Clinic set goals for me to recover- liver, pancreas, etc.  I went home with a new look on what they had provided.
I remember walking in the door, when I first arrived home that evening after being away from my family for over a month.  My son, was alseep in the entryway way on the floor waiting for me, my daughters both came running out, and my husband was crashed on the couch.  I was so glad to be home.
That didn't mean I was well.  I continued to struggle daily.  I remember one night at a praise and worship evening at my church.  I had just closed the shop, and just felt awful.  I had really wanted to go to the church that evening for the worship, something our church did once a month in place of Wed night service.  I mustered up the strength to just go, and this was what happened.
I remember singing, and listening, and just taking in the awesomeness of the night.  In the middle of a song, the worship leader stood up and began speaking.  He spoke of having faith like Daniel in the Lions Den.  The kind of faith many of us will never be tested on.  How amazing it was that the reality of literally being thrown in the Lions Den and knowing God will protect you and keep you from harm.  It hit me very hard.  I began sobbing and realized I had tried everything.  I ran from doctor to doctor, from drug to drug, and never truly put all my effort into knowing God would heal me.  The hairs began to stand up on my arms, and I felt a rush over me.  After the song ended, I still was on the floor in my row sobbing.  I looked down at my tattered IV drawn arms, all bruised and ugly, and my hands were not shaking like they always had.  As I stood up, and exited that evening I knew something had happened.  I didn't want to speak a word of it to anyone, lest it go away.  I drove home, knowing I was healed.
When I walked in the door, my husband looked up at me and just said, "What happened to you, you look...better."  He saw too.  I went back to my local doctors to be re-tested.  Liver was back to normal, no tumors (which the doctor had to look at papers to see if they weer ever there), no headaches, no weakness, or pain.  He asked me what I'd done, so I told him.  He scoffed, he never believed me.
Now years went on with no headaches, and problems.  Like it had never happened.  Until approx 2007.  I began having minor issues with my heart, colon, and some other ailments, but nothing like anything I had went through before.
Then in April of 2010, I became ill once again.  Much like before.  I felt like it couldn't be happening, what had went wrong?  Since then, I have suffered daily to live a normal life.  I sometimes wonder what I'm holding back from God, or myself, that is keeping me from receiving His healing once again.  I continue to stay faithful- I know it is possible!  And I also know there is a reason for everything.  Over the course of the past couple years, I have found an amazing peace within myself and everything around me.  Something I never have experienced before.  I still struggle everyday with my extremities, and pain & numbness.  Somedays I walk with a cane, others my hands are too sore to do anything.  I drop things often, run into things because my perception is off, I have visual problems which cause headaches, I'm being worked up for a possible heart problem, and life is just plain hard.  I have some good days too, to which I fully tend to overdo it.  Trying to fit in everything I've had to push aside.  I have a slew of ailments from time to time, some new, some the same old stuff I dealt with before. I have a number of 'diagnosis'.
I have learned to slow down, my body will stop me in my tracks if I don't listen.  I am still a go getter, and always over work, now at home only.  My artwork was created out of this illness.  I always thought I wasn't talented in this type of way, but it has proven to be a beautiful therapy.  Yes, I care if it sells, I think we all want someone to appreciate what we do, but creating and selling gives me importance once again, rather than lying down and living without purpose.  I rest in the joys of the little things in life, the sea and its beauty is one of my greatest inspirations.  I love the laughter of my children, and I regret the things I missed out on because of my careers.  I'm going to live each moment to the fullest I can.
It's taken me many days to complete this post, just because of pain in my hands, but its out.  I hope that whatever you may be struggling with, whether illness or not- this brings you inspiration to keep going.  Thanks for taking the time to listen, I know I've forgot a tons of stuff, but now you know.  You know when I may speak of my illness, this is what it is.  I've met many artists in the same boat since my illness.  I hope this gives everyone a little insight to what is behind my art, and the reason it exists.


  1. Hello. I am fairly new to your website but have been enjoying everything I have seen so far. I read your account of your illness and I am so sorry you have had to deal with such terrible symptoms, and the recurrence of them after being so well at times. I am an artist as well and dealing with personal struggles too. I admire your determination to go forward every day with your life. You are an inspiration. Thank you for posting your story.

  2. You truly are an inspiration and I can't thank you enough for sharing your story. I, too, struggle with daily pain from numerous diagnosis. In many ways it sounded like you were telling my story of daily life. I could "feel" that you and I were bonded some how and now I know that we really are. It actually is a bit comforting to know that I'm not alone in my physical struggles. Thank you, Lynnette for being you - you're wonderful, talented, and I'm so very happy to know you.

    Hugs & Thanksgiving wishes to you & your family,