*Disclaimer- not all posts will be this long*
Hey, fam. I wanted my first blog post to be a sort of “get-to-know-me” so that I can explain my reason for starting my blog and what I hope to accomplish through it. I am 26-years-old. I love Jesus so much! All my hope is in Him. I am married to my best friend, Steven Rice. We have a precious son that we prayed and prayed for named Gideon. Gideon is two-years-old so life is fun ;p. He is our pride and joy. I love my big crazy, family! We live in West Monroe, Louisiana. Another big part of my life is the disease that I live with, Autoimmune Liver Disease.
Autoimmune Disease causes your immune system to attack certain healthy parts of your own body. In 2012 I fell ill while on a family vacation. I started feeling sick to my stomach mainly in the evening but by the end of the week I was getting physically sick throwing up and having to run to the nearest toilet from sun up to bedtime. I couldn’t hold down any food but I was able to still hold down fluids. I was so tired all day everyday. My eyes and skin became jaundice all within that week. When I got home I went to a local walk-in clinic where I was sent to the ER at a local hospital. I was then sent to three different specialists until I was finally diagnosed in late August/early September of 2012. In the month and a half of being constantly sick I became depressed even after I got my official diagnosis. In the time I had been sick I had to quit my job, sit out a semester in college and basically stay in quarantine because they did not know what was causing me to stay sick and if it was contagious. Even after being diagnosed and starting treatment I was still at risk of catching serious viruses and diseases that are passed on through air or basic touch. Once diagnosed I was actually relieved to finally have an answer as to why I was so sick and now we could treat it. Autoimmune disease is not curable but it is treatable if caught before too much damage is done. After being placed on steroids and immunosuppresants , Imuran and Prednisone, I was starting to feel like my normal self again, just heavier. Within 4 months I gained all the weight back that I had lost from constantly being sick plus about 20 extra pounds. This did not help with the whole depression thing.
Learning to Walk By Faith:
I can remember thinking this was the worst point of my life. Boy was I WRONG! I had started trying to find ways to get my mind off being sick. When I was a little better I started to take photos and post them on my Facebook page. I had people request that I take some photos for them and I decided to try my hand at photography. It started as more of a hobby but it eventually grew and became a little business that distracted me from sulking on my couch all day. I was looking up ideas for a “business” name that gave glory to God. I knew if I wanted to have any kind of success I would need to put God in it. I came across the verse: “For we walk by faith; not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7. I was like “oh that’s cute because it is a photography business and the verse refers to ‘sight’”. The more I got to typing it and writing it the more it spoke to me. I had heard the verse many times throughout my life but I never really paid attention to it. I had been questioning God and wondering why He had let this happen to me. Not only was I sick and would always have this disease, but I also didn’t have a job and I wasn’t in school and I was fat! By the way, I was engaged to be married in May of 2013 so I was 8 months away from walking down the aisle and the dress I had already picked out and purchased was probably 4 sizes too small so that was a little soul-crushing too. I was always a “good girl”. I never drank or did drugs, I was respectful to everyone, and I loved God so why was He punishing me? This mentality had me really down until one day that verse really stuck in my mind. My life seemed to be in shambles. I was going through the motions or praying and being thankful but I didn’t really mean it. I was hurt and I wasn’t giving God the glory He deserved. I realized it was time to stop whining and questioning and learn to walk by faith! Even though things seemed like a mess He had already started to bring me through it. I had been too busy focused on the bad things to see the great things that He was doing for me.
I sat down one day and counted my blessings and I claimed my healing. I realized that He had taken care of me from the beginning of all of this and all the good things happening were because of Him. He made a way to the right doctor after seeing a few that had no idea what was wrong with me. He had also saved my life by giving us answers as to what was making me sick, some people die before getting a diagnosis or live with their disease unknowingly until it is too late to treat. In October I was ordered to have a biopsy on my liver. This is where they go in from the outside of the rib cage and stick a long thick needle in to grab pieces of the liver and remove them from your body. (I know sounds disgusting and it doesn’t feel good either!) I had to wait until my blood counts were up so I wouldn’t be at such a high risk of bleeding out before having the biopsy done. Liver disease messes with your platelets and can cause you to have very thin blood. This biopsy would allow the doctor to look at pieces of my liver to determine how damaged it was from the disease. I remember waiting to go back for the small procedure and thanking God for the good news I was going to get even though I hadn’t had the biopsy done yet. I knew it was time to live my life by faith rather than darkness and negativity. A few days later I got a call that my liver was not severely damaged as expected. It had started to attack itself but the liver can heal itself unless there is cirrhosis and there was nothing like that present. God allowed us to catch the disease early enough that there was no serious damage and the small amount of damage that had started to take place would be reversed with the medications I was on to treat the disease. The doctor told me that the first time he saw me he thought for sure the disease had progressed so much that my liver wouldn’t recover and that there was definitely people praying for me.
While I was going through this season of my life I thought it would surely be the end of me. God was with me the whole way I just wasn’t paying attention to Him. Sometimes God lets us go through trials to help us realize that we can’t go through this life on our own and just because we are “good people” doesn’t mean everything will be sunshine and roses. Without God I am nothing and it is a shame that it took something so traumatic to be reminded of that. Because I faced this trial and God saw me through I am able to face every other one with complete and utter confidence in HIM and His plan for my life and not my own. With each trial He makes me stronger and builds my faith even more. Obviously from my About Me section you can tell that I did eventually need a transplant but I will share that blessing in another post. There has been a lot more that God has done for me from my diagnosis to my transplant and after!
Why Start a Blog?
One of the reasons I started this blog is because when I was first diagnosed, and then later told that I would need a transplant, I couldn’t really find stories of personal experiences with either. I read medical journals and broad outlines of peoples’ conditions and treatments but I still didn’t feel informed. I wanted someone to tell me about what they faced and what I should expect. That is a mission of this blog. I want others with this disease and going through the process of a transplant to not feel alone. I want them to know that they will be fine because I have been through it and I am fine. I want to share these experiences with all who want to listen and know how great God is. In the process I hope to discuss other things about life not related to liver disease; such as family, marriage, faith and everyday life in hopes to encourage others. So please keep an eye out for future posts! I hope to create a space to share about life and ideas and learn about yours as well!
Lets be social media fam!
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