20 years ago this week, after a month of every test known to man, plus a brain biopsy that was inconclusive, at a highly regarded National Cancer center in Tampa Florida, I finally got a diagnosis that would change my life forever: You have Multiple Sclerosis.
I had no idea what that was, but considering the different diagnosis that doctors had been whispering in my ears...brain cancer that had metastized to my entire body, and Hodgkin lymphoma, I got up off my chair and hugged the head of neurology, Dr. Stephen Brem. He said, "Well, I've never gotten a hug from someone when I tell them they have a lifelong disease like MS." I said, "Doc, you have no idea what I've been through this last month." I'm happy to have a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, at least I have some time to live." Of course, I did have no idea what I was up against, but I knew that whatever I would face in the months and years to come, Jesus would be by my side all the way.
During that extraordinary month of my life, amid the crisis, the tests, the numerous doctors, I had God's peace, the very peace that Philippians 4"7 talks about "And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." It's so true that I found out very quickly that when I had no where else to go, getting on my knees before the Lord was where I needed to be and where I found that peace.
I knew that worrying about everything that was happening to me was a waste of time. I knew that whatever happened to me, my life was in His hands, not my own. As they put me through test after test, I remember praying the entire time,saying Lord, your Will be done, not mine. And I truly was at peace, not faking it. It's hard to understand if you haven't been through it. Those around me couldn't quite grasp how I could be so calm, but deep in my heart I knew that the Lord would take care of me and no matter what the outcome, I would be with him, either here on earth, or in heaven.
I remember having a dream one night. An angel came to me and tapped me on the shoulder. My husband and I would get down on our knees and pray together each night. In my dream I was on my knees and the angel said "Nicki, don't worry, you're gonna be just fine." A dear friend of mine told me on the day this all began, "The doctors are mortal men, your life is in God's Hands." Another friend said " All those doctors just keep on Practicing medicine." No truer words were ever spoken. When everything is against you and it seems like it's over, just remember that God is the one in charge, not them. He is the one with the plan for your life. He knows the beginning and the end and everything in between.
The power of prayer is so powerful and I witnessed it first hand during that time and in the months following my diagnosis. Long before the days of social media, I still had many people all over the world praying for me during that time. Leading the way was my incredible husband and kids, my faithful church family, my family and friends and my workplace, a tight knit group that was an international art print publisher. We had artists, suppliers, galleries and distributors in different parts of the world and they were all lifting me up to the Lord. People who told me they had never prayed for anyone in their entire life. I gotta say that kinda blew my mind. I felt totally surrounded by prayer during that tumultuous time in my life and it was a humbling feeling to say the least.
I knew that what was happening to me was all part of God's plan for my life and He could use this to bring others to him if I would just continue to be strong in my faith. One of the verses I claimed during this time was from Romans 8:18: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Use me Lord was my prayer, use me.
So, here we are 20 years later. It is by the Grace of God that I am still here. I am in a scooter full time now, have many cognitive challenges and other issues like numbness in my entire body and head pain. The most frustrating is the cognitive challenges. Not being able to communicate as quickly as I used to is tough. Having to think things through more often and sometimes not being able to put the pieces of the puzzle together in my mind is often overwhelming. For example I wish I could write in this blog more often but it's so overwhelming sometimes I can't handle it, but I still try. And still, the Lord gets me through the every day challenges that come with living with this disease. I couldn't do anything without Him.
I am very, very fortunate to still have my loving and supportive husband and now caregiver Steve/ We'll be married for 40 years this May. I truly don't know what I would do without him. He is an incredible man in so many ways. Still working full time at the age of 66 at a new job, (we moved to a new state in 2016, with a new environment, culture, and job) he amazes me everyday with everything he does for me and our family and I know that I am so blessed that the Lord brought this man into my life. I could not have survived the last 20 years without him. That I am sure about and I am so thankful.
Friends, whatever you may be going through in your life right now, please just remember that Jesus is right by your side. He knows every hair on your head, and only He knows the beginning and the end of your life. Trust Him and He will make a way where there seems to be no way. That's what He does, every day for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
My verses for today are above in Red.
My prayer for today:
I'm still here Lord. Thank you for that. Thank you for your unending love and support. Thank you that you have never left my side from the moment I became sick. Thank you for giving me the strength to continue on each day. Use me Lord, continue to use me for your Glory.