Throughout my childhood I add a ton of allergies, asthma, and a cough that I still have from time to time. As we talked about "Autoimmune Diseases," we mentioned that asthma is an autoimmune disease when associated with allergies. I had many primary care physicians and an allergist but no one could put the entire picture together as an autoimmune disease.
I was treated with allergy medications, an inhaler and cough medicine... but none of those medications worked. I continued throughout my whole life with those symptoms.
My tween years brought on symptoms of great fatigue and getting up for middle school became a real challenge. Then my knee joints began to swell, with warm and redness. The doctors hospitalized me and put me in traction thinking I had "water on my knees." But, that treatment didn't work and eventually my knees went back to normal.
A Full Blown Lupus Flare Up...
I was married in 1975 at the age of 19 and had a baby boy one year later in 1976. The pregnancy went very normal... but a few weeks later I began having entirely new symptoms. I began having cramping and then hemorrhaging rectally.
I was hospitalized for almost a two weeks and diagnosed with "Ulcerative Colitis" which is an autoimmune disease. However, the doctors still really understand the cause, they just treated me with medication.
Still, the symptoms wouldn't stop and after several hospital says, I would up staying in the hospital for one full year. They tested and prodded me for several hours a day and medical students were brought in along with my doctor when he finally realized, I had Lupus (SLE) and autoimmune disease, which we learned was fatal.
I Had A One Year Old Son and The Doctors Said I Was Dying...
I felt depressed and desperate... I had only been married a year and I had a brand new baby boy! I had dreamed of having more children... but it was all slipping through my fingers. My mom and my aunts took care of our son. My husband would visit me in the morning, and then go visit our son until he had to go to work from 3:00 - 11:00pm. This was not our idea of the first married years of our lives.
I hadn't been serving the God I once loved... and my husband was an agnostic. But, my heart began to cry out to the Lord and I rededicated my life to Him. I asked Jesus to come into my life, forgive me of my sin and let me live. I also asked Him, "If you will heal me and give me another child as a playmate for my son, I would make Him my Lord and Savior and would serve Him.
Yet, the doctors sent me home in a wheel chair due to all the pain from my joints, they put me on 140 steroid pills per day and said, "You will never carry another baby, Judy, You are going to die!" They did give me a name of a doctor near by who would care for me until I died.
I Learned To Pray...
I wasn't ready to die... I wanted to stay married and I wanted another child. So I started going back to church to keep my commitment to the Lord. The men would carry me up the steps along with my husband... and then he would go home. He wasn't ready for God to enter his world.
Each Sunday I would invite my husband to go to church with myself and our son, his answer was always "No!" After several months went by, I stopped asking him. I don't know if he was insulted or if he saw my life changing as I grew in my Bible reading and prayer life... but one Sunday he blurted out, "Aren't you going to ask me if I want to go with you?"
What A Difference A Prayer Makes...
It was New Year's Day 1978 when my husband carried me up the stairs to the church in my wheel chair with the help of other church men. I was determined that I would be healed that day... but there was nothing special about that service. I think people were in a hurry to get home for their holiday dinners.
But, I refused to leave... I told the pastor and my husband to go home. I had to meet with Jesus in prayer! They agreed to pray for me... it was just the three of us left in the assembly hall. As they began to pray, I felt each of them place their arms on mine and almost jolt me out of my wheel chair... I was standing on my own when I opened my eyes in astonishment.
I was able to walk for the first time in almost 18 months. I was healed! The three of us were rejoicing when I told them they sure used power in getting me out of that wheel chair... then I was taken back when they told me, "we never lifted you out of your wheel chair!"
I Had Been Touched By My Lord Jesus...
I was so excited I ran out of the church and down those steps. I had my husband take me over to my parents home where our son was. They had taken him when they left the service.
Very excitedly we told them, "God healed me!!" After Sunday Dinner on that particular New Years Day, we went over to the pond where the young people were ice skating... You never saw a happier bunch of teenagers and they knew they had saw a miracle.
I had an appointment the next day with the doctor who was going to take care of me. He was so confused and he thought someone had mixed up the charts. I was supposed to be dying, so he left the room to find 'the right chart!' While he was gone I opened the chart that he left behind... it had my name and all my information... including my terminal illness of Lupus and the life expectancy date. I read the expected to live date, it was: January 1, 1978!
God Is So Good...
He had not only healed me... He answered my prayers and on October 13, 1978 after a normal pregnancy, I delivered another baby boy! My older son would now have a playmate.
I raised my boys as a stay at home mom until they were in school and then I worked part-time so they're dad could watch them on the weekends.
Then Something Went Wrong...
I began having horrific back pain in both my cervical and lumbar spine. I went to the doctors and they did some tests and scans. Eventually, they sent me to a rheumatologist and he diagnosed me with Psoriatic Arthritis, an autoimmune disease.
Before I could accept that, I learned I also had Lupus (SLE). I asked the doctor, "How can this be? I've had no symptoms for 20 or so years!"
He said, "One thing that is important to understand about autoimmune disease is that it is incurable. The condition can go into remission, but it never goes away. Unfortunately, some healthcare practitioners and patients believe this remission is a cure... but I've learned, 'it always rares its ugly head' again and again."
TO BE CONTINUED MONDAY... "WHERE I WENT WRONG!"
BELOW: For Those Tears I Died