1.23.2015

The Cost of Being a #Hypochondriac

If you're considering becoming one and are curious about the cost of being a hypochondriac, I can tell you. It's $180 and some change.

Until the fall of 2014, I would never - NEVER - have classified myself as one of those people. Those people who think every mole is cancer, every leg cramp is a blood clot, or every headache is a tumor. I'm an INTJ (just not embracing it as much), I'm rational, level-headed, and not inclined to panic. For heaven's sake, I'm the daughter, granddaughter, sister, and niece of physicians, and I picked up quite a bit of the lingo during my 15-month stint as a pharmacy tech. Me? A hypochondriac? HA!

And then I had the gallbladder colic. Writhing on the floor in our bathroom while our guests sat at the dining table, I realized that I had never before experienced any real pain. I had never had anything really wrong with me. If this came out of the blue, what else could? And just like that, the seed was planted.

I put off having my gallbladder plucked out last spring by suggesting that we "wait and see" if I had another attack. Everyone said I'd be back. Over the course of the summer I felt okay. Never really GOOD, but okay. From time to time I started dealing with bouts of nausea - never vomiting, more like I was randomly carsick. Summer turned to fall and one morning in October I woke up feeling an immense sense of dread. My heart was racing, I felt like I couldn't breathe, and in that instant my inner-hypochondriac emerged. I was having a heart attack. This was it - "the big one, Elizabeth!"

As it turns out, I wasn't having a heart attack. Peter prayed for me, I paced the floor of our bedroom, drank a lot of water, took some deep breaths, and eventually felt okay. After Peter left for work, I went to Dr. Google - and that's when my inner-hypochondriac turned into a raging beast. Every twinge, every ache, every moment of soreness - off to Google I went, coming back with two options: I was feeling the normal aches and pains that all humans feel, or I was dying. If you've ever been to WebMD, you know what I'm talking about.


On my birthday in early December, the Hubs took me out for a nice steak dinner which I picked at, feeling nauseated again. It was at that point that he'd had it, and told me to call my doctor because this had gone on long enough. Whether I was dying or just paranoid, I was tired of not feeling normal and of being randomly queasy, so I made an appointment to see my GP on Christmas Eve.

As I sat in her office waiting to see what she would tell me, I wondered how I got here. How had I allowed myself to become so consumed and focused on every ache and pain that I was now in a doctor's office the day before Christmas? As I explained my symptoms to the (unsympathetic) nurse, I started to feel my face flush in embarrassment. That humiliation skyrocketed when my doctor came in and said, "Anxiety causes physical symptoms like you've described, and your gallbladder is causing the rest. Stop looking at Google." BUSTED.

For the month since she called me out, I've been focusing a whole lot more on my relationship with the Lord, and a whole lot less on Googling, "why are my shoulder blades sore?" The lessons I have learned - both Spiritual and personal - in the last month could fill up several blog posts, but needless to say, the first step to a cure is admitting you have a problem. I had a problem - several, actually: I was inwardly focused, prideful, arrogant, and blind. Google doesn't have a solution for that... but my Heavenly Father does, and He's been working hard on me the last few weeks.

I'm scheduled to have my gallbladder removed next week, because that really is part of the physical aches and pains (and nausea) that I've been experiencing. While no one likes to sign a piece of paper that says, "I understand I could die and I won't hold the doctor responsible," I'm excited about the prospect of feeling normal again. And more than that, I know that no matter what happens - next week or for the rest of my life - I can rest in Psalm 48...
"For this [great, mighty, powerful, loving] God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end." Psalm 48:14
In the meantime, I got the bill for my Christmas Eve appointment this week and I now know the cost of being a recovering hypochondriac. Sometimes the lessons we need to learn aren't cheap, but they are important. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get on with the business of living.

#iamthankful for God's faithfulness to me - at all times.

1.17.2015

Weekly Update: The "Ravi" Edition

Long week, but the weekend is off to a great start as the Hubs and I attend a conference put on by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. If you've read our story, then you know the role that Ravi played, even though he'll never know it. 

What Books I Recently Added to My Never-ending Stack:
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris and The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914

   

What I'm Listening To:
Beethoven and Mozart to help with concentration

What I'm Watching:
Elementary

What I'm Studying in Scripture:
1 Samuel, Psalms, and Isaiah

Special Verses of the Week:


What I'm Loving:
The Hubs 14 year old, but new-to-us car: a station wagon named "Sophie"

What I'm Thinking About:
The state of the church in North America, and my role in it.

What's new in your life this week?

1.10.2015

Weekly Highlights: January 10 Edition

Just 9 days into the new year, and I'm already blown away by the lessons I'm learning. Here's to year of getting out of ruts and embracing growth!

What I'm Reading:
The Attributes of God Volume 2: Deeper into the Father's Heart



What I'm Listening To:
Abiding Radio - Instrumental

What I'm Watching:
Father Brown


What I'm Studying in Scripture:
1 Samuel and Psalms

Special Verses of the Week:


What I'm Loving:
Cashmere turtlenecks on chilly days

What I'm NOT Thinking About:

What's new in your life this week?

1.09.2015

The #INTJ Who Wants #MoreOfHim

It's no secret that I'm a sucker for things that help me figure out what makes me tick or define my personality. If you've read any of my INTJ posts, then that would make complete sense. Over the holidays I added "Type A" to my personal definition. Combine those two and you'd probably come up with a pretty accurate representation of me: people annoy me because I can't control or fix them. Ouch. That's not the kind of thing you want to put on your "about me" section of anything.

I'm changing, growing, and learning a lot, but the statement on this image still holds true. And, thankfully, God created me with a sense of humor. ;)

I am very thankful that over the holidays the Hubs (strongly) suggested that I start reading The Attributes of God Volume 1: A Journey Into the Father's Heart by A.W. Tozer. As I've worked my way through Tozer's definitions of God's attributes - attributes defined as not being something God HAS, but something God IS - the shell of my cynical heart has been shattered, turning me into a sobbing, broken, introverted mess, gloriously redeemed, but absolutely in need of the continual mercy of God. I've been a Christian for 29 years, but my pride took the biggest hit of my life in the last month.

I was struck this week that for the last year(+), I have defined myself by the measurement of man. I'm an INTJ (man's "wisdom"). I am a Type A (man's definition). I am an introvert who doesn't like people (my own assessment!). And it's not that I should suddenly say, "I'm not like that at all" - because that would be a lie. Those things still describe me quite accurately, but my goal should NOT be to embrace MY personality more, but to embrace God's attributes, even when (or ESPECIALLY when) they go against my natural human tendencies.

I should not want to become more like the INTJ me, working to make the definition MORE accurate, but I should instead desire to be more like God. I will never be infinite or immense, omnipresent or immanent, and though I will never come close to the goodness, justice, mercy, grace, holiness, or perfection of God, those should still be the attributes I'm focused on practicing. Not becoming more introverted, but learning to love people more; not stopping my judgement, but tempering it with mercy and grace; not thinking more of myself, but looking upward to Jesus, and outward to the needs of others.

I am a work-in-progress, and these thoughts are still being sorted through in my head (so I ask that you exercise grace if something isn't quite clear - I'm working on it), but the bottom line is that TODAY I choose to learn less about ME, and a whole lot more about HIM. I choose to grow more in His Word, and less in the wisdom of man. I choose Jesus today so that other's will look at me, but see Him.

It's a lifelong process... care to join me?

1.07.2015

#My2Cents: 3 Financial Myths People Believe

If you've ever had these thoughts...
  1. Having money will make you happier than you are now. 
  2. If you just had a little bit more money, life would be easier.
  3. If you buy the item on sale, you're saving money.
Then you need to keep reading!


Money will make you happier than you are now. This is one of the biggest myths out there. The tragic deaths of Marilyn Monroe, Robin Williams, and Michael Jackson are proof that this is a myth. Money cannot buy happiness. It can buy experiences - which can make you happy for a moment, and it can buy comforts - like a large house or a fast car, and it can even buy so-called friends; but when the house is empty and the car is no longer new and the "friends" move on to the next loaded pockets, you will still be left with an emptiness that no amount of money can fill. I have personally met happy paupers with (literally) one chair to their name, and miserable folks who have everything money can buy. Don't subscribe to the idea that having money would make you happy. Happiness comes from within, and it is my belief that true happiness can only come from God.     

If you just had a little bit more, life would be easier. This is oh so easy to believe when you are on the lower end of the pay scale. Having been on the lower end (while working with humanitarian organizations overseas), and now on the very comfortable side, I can truly call this one out as a myth. What I have found is that when you have less, you watch where every penny goes, because every penny counts. When you have more, you pay less attention to where it's going, and before you know it, you're wondering, "How come my bank account is still empty?" Having more money has the potential to make your life easier, but it also requires the same amount - or more - of self-control. Without self-control, you'll quickly find yourself in the same situation: wondering where the money went!

If you buy the item on sale, you're saving money. January clearance specials are everywhere, when everything that you wanted before Christmas is now marked down 50, 60, even 75% off. I know as well as anyone how dazzling clearance stickers can be, but before you fill a cart - virtual or otherwise - step back and take a look at the original price tag. If you have a smart phone, do some quick comparison shopping online. In many cases you'll find that the clearance price really isn't any better than the pre-Christmas sales, or the original price is so jacked up (because no one ever pays full price these days), that even 60% off is more than the item is worth. Unless it's a quality item (e.g. I usually purchase clearance cashmere sweaters in January from a high end store), or something that won't be out of date by next Christmas, you're probably not saving much - if anything. Don't buy into the myth that you need to "spend to save" - money leaving your pocket is still money.

What money myths would you add?

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