Wow, it's been a long time since I last posted! I had just arrived at BYU-Idaho. In the past year and several months, a lot has changed. To keep this simple and not too long, I'm going to just list what all has happened.
1. I graduate with my bachelor's degree in English on April 9. I'm getting ready to leave Rexburg, and hopefully relocate to Utah for work. I'm a Professional Writer & Editor.
2. The ITP is almost in remission! I actually find out tomorrow if my platelets are back to normal. Over the past year and a half, my counts have slowly gone up - 150,000 is the normal range, and my last check showed 143,000. I'm nervous-excited to find out the results.
3. I've faithfully continued autism therapy every two weeks, and I can now detect facial expressions. Instead of being unable to understand any facial expression, after a few minutes I can tell that someone is happy or upset. I can't tell any more than that, but I can tell that much, and that in itself is a huge improvement.
4. The Gospel continues to be my greatest joy. I became a Temple worker in January and served until July. Now I'm serving for February and March. The first time I worked in the laundry. This time I'm working in Clothing.
While this blog was originally intended to focus on how I feel and how the Gospel gets me through it, that's no longer my theme in life. That theme served me very well while I needed it, but my health is much better. I rarely have panic attacks. I deal with my autism ruminating more than anything else now. I don't deal with being sick all the time because I'm not allergic to Idaho! Life is just really good right now. I'll sign off here--I would make a commitment to blog every week again, but I'm thinking maybe once a month or so. We'll see what happens.
Well, not for the autoimmune disease!
So August flew by so quickly. I couldn't work as much as I wanted, but I was able to work 30-ish hours a week. It's just disappointing sometimes, being a 24-year-old woman with illnesses that hold me back from what I believe to be my full potential. It can be disappointing and disheartening at times.
So a week and a half before my steroid treatment, actually just two days after my last entry, I got sick with yet ANOTHER sinus infection. And when I say sick, I mean hacking sick. It was my fourth case of sinusitis in 6 months and the worst. Yep. It was pretty awful. And when I say pretty, that's an understatement. So you get the picture, yes?
So I was sick enough to go to the doctor and get an antibiotic. She also gave me a steroid shot in my hip. I'm never getting a steroid shot again, unless it's a life or death situation, because it didn't help me feel better and it took longer for me to feel better. Because I had the steroid shot, it was in too close proximity for me to get another one the following weekend. And since I was preparing to move halfway across the country, I didn't have time to do it in Texas.
But my counts were stable, so I wasn't too concerned. We decided we would just check my iron levels and my platelet counts before I moved, so I would have an idea of how quickly to get a hematologist. I got the call 9 days ago--my counts had gone from 43 to 76. For perspective/reference, normal platelets are 150 or higher. This was the highest platelet count I'd had in a YEAR. A year!!
So we'll check my platelets again in a month and see how I'm doing, but the possibility of my body healing itself is more hopeful than it was six months ago, when my platelets continued to decrease in number.
I moved from Texas to Idaho, to study here at BYU Idaho, a week ago. So far my allergies have been much better and I haven't needed Sudafed or Flonase! We should be expecting snow in the next month here, so we'll see if the colder weather agrees with my health.
Back to homework now. Thanks for reading and supporting my random, semi-frequent blog posts.
Hello... three months later! It's been acrazy three months. I keep meaning to blog, but then I get sidetracked by something else. Yep, that's how it always goes.
So a lot has happened in the past few months. First of all, I did graduate my local community college magna cum laude a few weeks after my last post. I needed a 3.75 GPA and I earned a 3.77 GPA. It was close, but I achieved that dream.
Since then, I've made the decision to accept my offer from Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYUI). I'm moving in early September to pursue my Bachelor's in English. I'm given 4 years to complete my degree, since I have autism. I have 1 1/2 times the amount of time given to the average student to complete my degree. I'm so thankful for the Americans with Disabilities Act!
As far as my health goes, it's been crazy.
Here's what I feel comfortable sharing with the whole wide world.
I had my autoimmune disease check up in early June. Based off the blood work results then, my doctor did not deem it necessary to test me for celiac disease. My iron levels were where they needed to be. I was shouting praises to the Lord! A severe dietary restriction like that was the last thing I needed. The very last thing. Such a tender mercy.
My doctor is 99% certain I have idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP). It's a pretty rare autoimmune disease that causes lower red blood cell counts in the blood, and interferes with platelets correctly clotting/coagulating. While I had the iron deficiency simultaneously, I was consistently and constantly EXHAUSTED BEYOND WORDS. I had no energy. I'd sleep for 11 hours and want to sleep for a few more days. I was dizzy and lightheaded all the time. I couldn't concentrate. So the iron infusion my doctor ordered for me was a game changer, and I'm so thankful to be in good medical hands. Not every doctor cares. Many are sadly just in it for the money. But my doctor is the best.
I'm going back to him in a week and a half and he'll be putting me on a 3-day steroid treatment. This will serve as an "experiment" as he put it, to confirm my diagnosis 100% for him. The steroid should skyrocket my platelets. They may or may not stay up or go down. That's not super important, since my counts are stable. What matters is that my counts do go up. This will convince my doctor that I have ITP and continue my course of treatment. My doctor is a watch and wait doctor, which is my cup of tea. I don't believe in taking all the medications in the world to get better as soon as possible. I like to let my body heal itself and be patient with it, supplementing it with the necessary medical care required. I'm confident in my doctor and his judgment concerning what I need.
All in all, it's not fun having this autoimmune disease, but my counts are a stable 46k. So many people deal with fluctuating counts, from 6k one day, to 0 the next, and 15 the day after that. Trials come and go... but the Savior is Kind through it all. Keep your eyes on Him and you will be safe through it all.
It's been three weeks since I posted, which is never the intention for a blogger who just launched her new blog. But it's been a CRAY three weeks. And I mean, crazy.
I remember halfway through the semester, when I thought I was going to have to drop the LAST class I needed for graduation, I had a meeting with my disability advisor. I told her I would rather fail trying than give up so close to earning my degree. Today we are 10 days away from graduation. I am one test away from my Associate's degree. And I am one summer away from finishing my undergrad at BYU-I.
"But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
In 10 days, I will put on my cap and gown. I will receive my honors card. I will put my Phi Theta Kappa honor stole on. The stole that I have earned with a lot of hard work, tears, exhaustion, and sweat. I will walk the stage. I will hear my name. I will graduate magna cum laude.
It doesn't feel real, but it is.
The best part is that this wasn't handed to me.
No did my homework for me. No one took a test for me or wrote a paper for me. No one went to class for me.
I did not skip class one single time. I missed one assignment in 60 credit hours because I thought it was due 24 hours later. I did not cheat one single time. I did not plagiarize.
And so, knowing, that I truly earned this degree and that the diploma I will receive truly belongs to me, and was not given to me out of grace; that there wasn't an exception made for me; that I did this...
It's pretty much the most incredible feeling in the world. I'm going to graduate with 3.77/4.0 GPA. I'm going to continue to rock my education at BYU-I. I'm going to take on the world. I am proud of myself. I believe in myself. The best is yet to come, and I can't wait to see what the future holds!
Wow, what a blessed week. The week started out with a spiritual high from conference. After watching eight hours of conference, I wanted to go run a marathon from sitting for so long, but I was too full from the Easter goodness we had. A group of us YSA's from my local branch got together and we were invited to watch conference at a high council leader's house.
I was super excited all week because I got a concert ticket to see my all-time favorite band, Hillsong Worship, in concert, so I was counting down to Saturday night. I went with a good guy friend and we had a total blast. It was at our Verizon Theatre, and I guess since my phone is AT&T serviced, I had no service. So I turned my phone off at 50% battery (after maybe 15 minutes of use) so that my phone wouldn't die if we got separated, before we made it back to my car. So I don't have any HQ photos or videos from the concert. But maybe that's good because I was really in the present moment. Several of my favorite songs were sung, including "Who You Say I Am."
Who the Son sets free, oh, is free indeed
\This song particularly resonated with me because I had been thinking about Elder Brian Taylor's General Conference talk. When He talked about Satan tempting Moses, and Moses said to Satan, "Who art thou? I am a son of God." His identity was strong enough within him to know who He was and not to be shaken in his faith when he was confronted by the devil himself.
I also went to the Temple this week. On Wednesday night, I was sitting on the couch reading my biology chapter, when I got the prompting to drop everything and go to the Temple after work the next night. It was a clear, strong prompting, and I've learned to trust those, so I went straight to the Temple after work, about a 30 minute drive. I went to an endowment session, anxious to see why Heavenly Father wanted me to go.
Hopefully I don't tear up writing this... so this week I felt pretty good. I'm on a really good diet regulated by my PCP and hematologist and I felt better than I've felt in weeks. Very minimal vertigo, no lightheadedness. Just very blessed overall. But since I have a plethora of diagnoses, just because I feel well in one aspect, doesn't mean I feel great all over. Another one of my diagnoses is obsessive thinking. It's basically where you can't stop thinking about something, no matter how hard you try.
About 6 weeks ago, I came dangerously close to having to drop my Biology class--my very last class to graduate with my Associate's degree in one month--because my iron levels dropped so dangerously low, I lost the ability to concentrate. It was very scary and I had to have an iron infusion to revive my system (praise God for great health insurance that approved this infusion in LESS THAN 24 HOURS!!!). Well, since I was so sick, I had a failing grade in my class. The test after that, I passed, but I didn't get the A or B I wanted to get my grade back up to a good place. So my brain has been non-stop obsessing over anything and everything I can do to boost my grade up. AND I MEAN NON-STOP. If I'm awake and not occupied, it's on my mind. And you can only study so hard for so long, or it has a reverse effect, and you don't do as well as you want to.
So I've been studiously reading my chapters, writing down important vocabulary, and turning in my homework. I have a solid C in the class. There's no question of whether or nor I'll pass. And finishing with a C will lock in my GPA at a 3.77 and I will graduate magna cum laude. The reason I will graduate with honors with a C on my transcript is because I have made all A's and only ever gotten 2 B's for my Associate's degree. I wanted to get into BYUI, so I worked really hard, and I achieved that goal, so I'm not worried about it now, but I don't want to lose my honors right before graduating, you know?
So now that you have that back story, back to the Temple. I didn't even really pay attention during the session. I have it memorized from doing it so many times, and it's the same every time you go. But Heavenly Father wanted me to go to give me peace. He enveloped me in peace. I didn't have any obsessive thoughts during the session. I was just so at peace as I went through the motions of the sacred ordinance work we were doing. A woman was taking out her endowments for the first time and those sessions are always really special. My favorite part was going to the Celestial room at the end of the session. Everything we do in the Temple is symbolic, and going to the Celestial room is symbolic for entering back into Heavenly Father's presence after this life. For anyone reading this post, who may not be familiar with the Temple or the sacred things we do in the Temple, click HERE to learn more.
It was so special to me that Heavenly Father gave me a specific prompting to go to His house to feel his peace there. It had been a couple months since I'd gone to a session, so it was special. As I drove home from the Temple, the lyrics of the song I quoted earlier were going through my mind. "In my Father's House, there's a place for me." There's no where in the world where I feel more at home and more at peace than in my Father's House.
So here's to a good week. I have my next Biology test this Friday, but I have no homework due this week, so I can just focus on studying the parts I don't understand yet. Wish me luck! Thanks for reading my blog, I'll talk to y'all next week!
Launching my blog the day after conference was a decision I made 2 months ago, after prayerful consideration. I received this prompting nearly 9 months ago. First it came as a thought, then a feeling, then it deepened enough to know this was coming from the Lord. I’ve felt hesitant because there are so many mental health bloggers out there.
But when I asked Heavenly Father why he wanted me to start my own blog again, he had a different reason than I had first supposed. This blog isn’t a place to vent. It’s a place to be honest about how I feel and how the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ daily assists me in my journey home to Heavenly Father.
Trials are not meant to distance us from Heavenly Father. Our relationship with him is not meant to only be there when we’re happier than ever. Nor only when we’re desperately sick.
I firmly believe that trials are an essential part of the refiner’s Fire. Part of this testimony comes from my favorite LDS book series, The Work and the Glory. In one of these books, Thy Gold to Refine, The Prophet Joseph tells the fictional character Benjamin Steed that trials and tribulations were coming because the Lord needed a refined people, who were willing to have their gold refined and their dross consumed. A people who stand in obedience to His commandments no matter what. A people who would not walk away when things got tough. And Heavenly Father allowed trials I could not imagine to reach the Saints. Many were taken home from this world.
I’m thankful for Gerald Lund’s inspiration in how he wrote about the wrestles and strivings the Latter-day Saints endured. His books have transported me to a different place spiritually. I read half his series while not knowing what I was sick with, prior to my ITP diagnosis.
Each week, I will blog on Sunday. I will share highlights and lowlights, and Scripture verses that encouraged me, whether the week was primarily good or bad. Some posts will be longer than others.
This past week has been a blessing for me. I was sick enough earlier in the semester that I almost had to withdraw from my Biology class. I was failing from constant exhaustion and reduced ability to concentrate. This past week, I brought my grade back up to not only passing, but to the magna cum laude status I have been working for. I graduate on May 11, 2018, with my Associate of Arts degree and I did not want poor health to take that honor away from me. I pulled my grade up from failing to a C. That’s two grade levels.
I’ve also had a lot of questions this week. A lot of answers I’ve been searching for. And I’m not sure when those answers will come. But I found comfort reading the words of Alma, when he taught his son how steadfastly he prayed to learn just a portion of doctrine concerning the resurrection. After steadfast prayer and diligent searching, he received an answer to a portion of his questions. He accepted that he didn’t have the answer to all things. This gave me a lot of encouragement as I try to accept what I do not understand and move forward with faith that my Savior DOES, because he knows the meaning of all things.
I was also deeply edified this weekend. I had a pretty bad sensory meltdown and had to sleep through part of the Saturday afternoon session (click the 'About my illnesses' section to learn about a sensory meltdown on the autismspeaks.org website), but I didn't miss too much, and I still felt the Spirit so strongly. I've never participated in a solemn assembly before and I felt my heart and soul soar as we anointed our new Prophet, Seer, and Revelation.
Indeed, our President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The truth of active, ongoing revelation. SO many changes are taking place in the Church and I love the witness the Holy Ghost manifests to my heart as I prayerfully ponder the messages I hear. No one in the Church is perfect because the Lord's church is lead by the humans he chooses. But they are His chosen leaders and, together with everyone, we are changing the world and preparing for the second coming of our Savior. HOW MAGNIFICENT IS THIS?!
Being a convert to the Church and experiencing all these firsts--seeing how the Lord's Church works and how He guides and directs the work through His leaders, and then feeling that manifestation in my heart, seeing the blessings in my personal life, is electrifying. It sets my heart on fire to live steadfastly on the covenant path for the rest of my days and to love my Heavenly Father, my Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, my companion, with all my heart.
The Church is true! I'm so thankful that I was healthier this week and I pray that this coming week I am also healthy. But I also pray for the strength to endure my challenges and trust my Savior through whatever lies ahead. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.