Revealing Truth Today

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The Year-Long Test

on November 1, 2019

~St. Teresa(1)

I am just now completing a year-long test of my faith. I have had other ongoing tests which have lasted for many more years; but this particular year-long test was quite intense and had an impact on me. Let me tell you, a year-long test is no “pop quiz”. It’s gruelling – but moreso, mentally. I have many other first-hand accounts and trials of my faith which I could write about (and hope to in the future, Lord willing). However, this most recent year-long test has showed me some insights that I wish to share with you if you are going through a test of faith.

The Online Test

In 2018, I began doing research into my chronic health issues in an attempt to get answers. I have a whole host of issues going on, but I decided to address the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Mast Cell Activation Disorder I had been diagnosed with. As I studied online, I looked at possible neurologic causes for my diagnoses. I landed on a website offering a visual contrast sensitivity test. This test could give you insight if you were experiencing any neurologic issues or not. I took the test and failed. Since I had an upcoming doctor’s appointment, I decided to print out my results, on a whim, to see if there may be some straw to grasp at in searching for a cure.

After reviewing my test results, the doctor decided to schedule me to have an MRI on my brain to make certain there wasn’t anything sinister going on. She didn’t much think there would be anything abnormal but wanted to make sure.

The MRI Test

I do not enjoy being in small, closed spaces; nor do I enjoy feeling trapped. But to my surprise, I wasn’t nervous to have this MRI. I can only attribute that to God comforting me. When I got back to the room, I was laid flat on my back and my head was positioned on the table. Then, the technician took a rigid, plastic mask contraption and locked my head into place on the table with a loud “Snap, Snap!” I was offered the drug, Valium, for my nerves if needed, but I declined.

As I entered the enclosed MRI tube with my head bolted to the table beneath me, I kept myself distracted so I wouldn’t get uptight. I found consolation in knowing that this was just a one-time thing – or so I thought.

The Test Results

A few days after my MRI, I got a phone call with the results. I was fully expecting everything to be normal… but it wasn’t.

The nurse told me that my MRI came back abnormal and that the doctor would like to refer me to see an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Specialist. She didn’t really have much more information to give me, so I hung up with her and called the ENT’s office to schedule my appointment. When I called the ENT’s office, I explained the situation and the receptionist said, “Yes, I see you were referred to us for the Cholesteatoma that was found on your MRI.” I had her repeat herself and asked her what a Cholesteatoma was. She did not know, exactly, but scheduled my appointment.

Immediately, my heart began racing. Since my Mom and Sister have had formal medical training, I had learned quite a bit of medical terminology over the years. I knew the suffix “oma” usually meant a tumor of some sort. Therefore, the word “Cholesteatoma” really alarmed me.

I told my family the news but didn’t want to worry anybody. I initially had a confidence, faith, and inner assurance, somehow. I told them, “God’s got this.”

The Appointments

My baby pic with lump on neck

Mysterious lump appears on my left side as a baby

After I had my appointment with the ENT Specialist, he was, more or less, at a loss. He said that it could be a number of things; namely, a Cholesteatoma or a Petrous Apex Cholesterol Granuloma. He seemed more convinced that it was a Petrous Apex Cholesterol Granuloma (PACG for short) and said that he had very little training on PACG’s. He referred me to a Neurotologist in another city, over one-hundred miles away, since there were only two Neurotologists in our entire state.

The ENT also ran a hearing test on me which seemed to be normal. That was good news since I’d had slight hearing loss as a child due to repeated ear infections and tubes placed in my ears. Incidentally, I was also hospitalized when I was a baby due to a mysterious lump that had appeared behind my left ear. It was never determined what caused the mysterious lump, but it only went away after our Pastor and his wife came to the hospital and prayed for me.

Since my abnormal MRI showed a spot on the left side of my Petrous Apex/Temporal Bone, I wondered if it had something to do with the undiagnosed, mysterious lump I had behind my ear as a baby. All sorts of thoughts raced through my mind. It was so hard for me to wait until my Neurotology appointment to find out what was going on.

The Official Diagnosis

After some time of waiting, the September day in 2018 had finally arrived for my Neurotology appointment. The long, straight road to the appointment made the trip seem even longer and harder. Then, my husband and I ran into construction and a downpour of rain on our drive. Nonetheless, we still arrived quite early to the appointment, so we decided to have lunch downstairs in the hospital cafe.

As we began to eat lunch, a wave of grief and fear overtook me. I began feeling physically unwell and had a difficult time eating due to being so upset. I broke down in uncontrollable tears at the table, with people milling about and staring at me as they walked by. I covered my eyes with my hand and tried to pull myself together. It was all just so hard, and every emotion I’d tried to stave off for the past few months came crashing in on me at that moment. Was I about to get some really bad news? Could it be an aggressive type of tumor? How was all of this going to play out? I had no idea – so, I became afraid.

Being a Christian does not mean that we won’t ever be afraid. Psalm 56:3 says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” So, I put my proverbial “game face” on and pulled myself together for my appointment, by God’s grace.

jrm

It was also during this time that I highly suspected I was pregnant – so I desperately wanted a good doctor’s report so that I wouldn’t be facing surgery if I were pregnant. My husband bought me a pregnancy test which I was going to take the morning after this appointment. I saw a pregnant lady on the elevator ride up to my appointment and thought that may be a “sign” of some sort. Nonetheless, I had to put thoughts of pregnancy behind me as I faced this potential life-changing appointment.

After a very long visit with a room full of doctors marvelling at my rare case, the lead doctor came back in to give me the news. She sat down in the chair beside my husband, leaned forward and said to me, “What you have is a Cholesterol Granuloma on the left Petrous Apex.” She continued, “It measures 1cm in size and you will need to be monitored for the rest of your life with MRIs and CT scans every six months. But I’d like you to have them every three months for a year. We just want to make sure it doesn’t grow and start causing problems.” I asked, “How sure are you of your diagnosis?” She said, I am pretty sure… like, 95% sure, or more, that it is a Petrous Apex Cholesterol Granuloma.” 

In her entire practice and training, she had only experienced maybe one or two other patients with a PACG since they are extremely rare. If this proverbial “monster” inside of my head grew, it could cause all sorts of problems, even deafness or other serious neurologic issues. It was growing on the bone, so she assured me it was not near my brain at this point.

Most PACG’s are considered inoperable since they are located in the middle of the head and very near the carotid artery and jugular vein inner workings. However, if surgery is necessary, they are usually only drained and have a high recurrence rate. Surgery can be performed through the nose or by a craniotomy.

As my husband and I left this appointment, we were both a little bit quiet in the car, but my husband’s faith never wavered. As we embarked upon the long drive home, we stopped to pick up some dinner and take a restroom break at a roadside McDonald’s. As if the news of my diagnosis weren’t enough, I discovered that I was bleeding heavily and knew that my perceived pregnancy hopes and dreams were all shattered. I remembered journaling three days before my appointment, “I somehow feel ready [for pregnancy] even though my body isn’t exactly ready.” I calculated the baby’s possible due date and ended my journal entry with the words, “Feeling hopeful.” But now, the hope of pregnancy that brought me happiness was gone; and I had a new, scary diagnosis to top it all off. I cried inconsolably for most of the car ride home. I’m ashamed to say that my previous confidence in God’s healing power began to waver.

The Test Was Positive

BFP 11.26.18 - CopyMy next scheduled MRI was in late 2018 – just two or three months after my Neurotology appointment. During this time, I tried not to focus on my upcoming MRI. But, as the next few weeks passed by, I began to have a sense fo dread overtake me. I didn’t so much dread the MRI itself, as much as I did the prospect of what the updated MRI would reveal.

I felt so alone with such a rare diagnosis, the ongoing MRIs, the perpetual “what if’s” swirling in my mind. I tried to remain positive but I felt a heaviness weighing down on me. Then, I began to feel unwell mentally and physically; moreso than normal. I chalked it up to stress and tried to carry on with my life. Then one night, it dawned on me…

I began thinking about my symptoms and trying to figure out why I was feeling so poorly. As I did some calculating and thinking in the wee hours of the morning, I had the idea that maybe – just maybe – I should take a pregnancy test. I grappled with the idea since my previous pregnancy suspicion a couple of months ago proved to be false. I didn’t want to get my hopes up for them to be dashed again. Also, we had been married nearly 18 years and I was nearing the age of 40 – so I saw the odds stacked against me. Nonetheless, as I thought about it more and more, I decided that I would take the pregnancy test to put my mind to rest, and so I would quit thinking about it.

I remembered that I still had one more pregnancy test stick in the box which my husband purchased a few months prior, so if it were negative, it was no big deal since I wasn’t out any money for another test. Since it was in the wee hours of the morning and my husband was already asleep in bed, I snuck in the bedroom and tried to quietly sort through the drawer with my cell phone light illuminating the drawer contents. I just couldn’t locate the pregnancy test box and didn’t want to wake up my husband by making noise or turning the lamp on. So, I resolved to try again the next day to search for it.

The next day rolled around and I could easily locate the pregnancy test with the daylight sun shining through the window. I took a deep breath and promised myself that I wouldn’t get upset if the test was negative. As I took the test, both of the pink lines on the test stick (indicating pregnancy) started “lighting up” immediately! I stared at the test, thinking maybe I was misreading it – but I knew what it said. I kept covering my mouth saying, “Oh my God”, “Oh my God.” I wasn’t taking God’s name in vain, I was literally saying to him, “Oh, my God” as I whimper-cried and laid my hand on my tummy to pray over my newly discovered pregnancy.

The test was, no doubt, positive for pregnancy!

The rest of the story is too lengthy to tell now – but since I was pregnant, I was now unable to get my MRI. That was fine by me, except now… I would have to wait another long nine months or more before I could be tested again. The unknown is a scary thing. But I knew that God’s timing was perfect, so I tried to forget about this “monster” growing in my head and focus on the blessing who was growing in my womb.

Over a Year Later… The Test Ends

I hope to share my pregnancy story in more detail at some point, but our precious baby girl was born on July 19, 2019. After adjusting to having a newborn and all, I needed to get my MRI and CT scan rescheduled, after being long overdue for testing. Towards the end of October 2019, I had a CT scan on my head. As I awaited the results, I felt myself becoming burdened with the stress of it, once again.

My husband and mom kept telling me that God was going to heal me. I also know that my dad, sister, extended family, and friends were all praying in faith for my healing, also. It comforted me that so many people were praying for me and I am so blessed by that. Nonetheless, when my mom or husband would tell me that God was healing me, I thought they were simply saying that since they were in denial. It’s a hard truth to accept such a scary and unknown diagnosis, so I wouldn’t have blamed them; but no, it wasn’t denial – they truly believed in God’s healing power. I must admit, I was doubtful that I would be healed, however, I still had a small seed of hope within my heart. That’s all God asks for; a mustard seed size of faith. I prayed that God would heal me even when it was hard for me to believe.

The imaging facility technician called me after my CT scan and asked if I could send them my previous MRI since the Radiologist wanted to compare it to my current images. She said, “The Radiologist found a mass on your most recent CT scan.” Right then, my heart dropped. She didn’t give the mass a formal name, but I just knew it was the same old thing… Petrous Apex Cholesterol Granuloma.

As the days passed and my patience began wearing thin, stress began setting in even deeper. But, I had to be patient. Pregnancy forced me to be patient and now, awaiting these test results did also. James 1:4 says, But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. God was teaching me patience and he still is.

Then, as I was casually checking my e-mails, I get this report from my doctor:

“I have reviewed your recent CT scan. It was normal. The area of previous concern correlates with bone marrow on this exam and there is no abnormality. There is no need for further testing.”

~St. Teresa(2)

Click to enlarge

The burden was lifted and God had healed me!!

I covered my mouth with my hands and cried tears of joy! I embraced my husband and we rejoiced together quietly with smiles and hugs as our precious baby slept peacefully in her bassinet.

Some may be skeptical of my healing, but I’m not. I have seen God’s healing at work before, so I know his abilities go beyond what we can imagine. Just as with my perceived pregnancy hopes being killed then resurrected shortly thereafter — my hopes of healing were killed yet miraculously resurrected. Christ died and was resurrected; likewise, those who die in Christ will be gloriously resurrected. God revives!

When there is a dead end road, God makes a path. When Moses was backed up to the Red Sea with no escape, God parted the waters. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you” (Isaiah 43:2). 

God’s word says: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1st Corinthians 10:13).

~St. Teresa

Look what God can do in just a year’s time! I am overcome with gratitude – this is such a huge burden lifted off of my shoulders. I don’t have to live the rest of my life getting MRIs with my head is bolted to a table! God spared me of this. He knew it was wearying me and weighing heavy on me. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). The 56th Psalm says that God sees it all… our tossings and turnings, he has taken account of; and he bottles our tears. Are they not all recorded in his book? 

When we feel that his face is hidden and he seems a million miles away – perhaps, he is hard at work in our hearts and on our behalf. Revivalist, Leonard Ravenhill, put it like this: “There are times when God will withdraw himself and make you feel as though you are dropping into the nethermost hell. He’ll leave you alone to see if you’re going to struggle after his anointing or you’re going to go on in your own eloquence and ability.”

God has truly blessed me. No, my life isn’t picture perfect. I still deal with a lot of health issues and I am often anxious. I fail, I cry, I will likely face more tests, and I am still a work in progress. But I do want to give God all the glory for who he is and proclaim his limitless power! For all he’s done for me – I just have to testify!

 

Rest assured, God is Almighty and he may choose to utilize healing for his glory – or he may delay healing for reasons known ultimately by him. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, we can all rejoice as his children, knowing of his power and that he will make all things right in the end, whether here or in Glory. Never lose hope in God!

Sources: biblehub.com, facebook.com, youtube.com, canva.com


3 responses to “The Year-Long Test

  1. Deb Kean says:

    It’s wonderful that you have your baby, and that God has been with you through out, thank you for this account!

  2. Susan Dunn says:

    God is our Healer. Since He doesn’t go by our system of time, we “wait” sometimes for His miracles. He had you in the palm of His hand all along!

  3. Kimberly Dunn says:

    Praise God! So happy for you and what God did! ❤

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