From Drug Pusher to Drug Addict to Sobriety

Yes, that’s part of the story of my life! Many years ago, when I was young, vibrant and energetic, I worked as a legal drug pusher – the way pharmaceutical representatives fondly call our job title. I have left pharma for almost 10 years now. A little more than 2 years ago, after being diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis (MG), I went down the path of pharma drug addiction – by necessity! It became a journey of unlearning what I thought I knew and learning a new way of honoring my body. Praise be to God, I am now in sobriety for a little more than 2 months.

In the background is a snapshot of the cocktail of drugs I was on

Having a pharma background has indirectly made me ignorant to the natural healing ability of my body. As I am also not free from confirmation bias, so it was kind of an eye opener to walk down the path desiring total sobriety from pharma drug. It is not uncommon for patient living with an autoimmunity being told that they have to be drug dependent for the rest of their lives. I stumbled upon stories of people who defy the odds and achieve something called a remission, some even successfully reversed their autoimmune condition with the right protocol. In the beginning it was amazement for me and kind of a wishful thinking that I want to be one of those who beat this. As time goes, the more I learned about this amazing God given body, the more I am convinced that healing is possible.

So started my quest for an alternative natural treatment. In the quest for healing, one main attitude that I took on is radical self responsibility for my health – I am responsible for my health, not my physicians. Hence that calls for a shift in the way I treat my body. What comes in contact becomes important be it the food I take, supplements, cleaning agents or even medical treatment I allow in my body. “Are those interventions necessary?, What are the risks vs benefits?” are among the questions I will ask before proceeding with any medical intervention. Thanks to my pharma background, reading products insert and clinical paper is something I am accustomed to. What it comes down to is doing my own research and own my decision as I should be the one who is most in tune with my body, knows my body best – not just following orders from my physicians. Self responsibility is an attitude welcomed by my physicians, it’s much easier to work with me as I do not put the burden of my health on them.

The initial part of the journey felt quite lonely as MG is a rare condition. What’s more rare are people who successfully reversed their condition naturally. The support group I joined are mostly conventional based which is fine as that’s the best known ways. I am grateful that I got support from my family who also believe that natural healing is possible. With heaps of prayer, I met my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician. Acupuncture, chiro work and TCM herbs worked for me. It may not the answer for every MG patient but it’s worth a try. I recognized the importance of radical self responsibility when it comes to healing as I met people who unconsciously embodied their victimhood in their healing journey. Living as a victim will not bring any freedom or victory. We are better off doing the heart work of getting out of victimhood to accountability if we want any progress at all in our lives. Talk to me if you’d like to explore tools to shift from victimhood to accountability.

Has there been bad trial for me? Yes, you bet! Some of the stuffs I tried not only did not help, it worsened my condition. When that happened, I simply stop and keep searching for things that may help. Have I been reckless? Oh yes, indeed recklessness was the main driver towards my sobriety. In March this year, I ventured into mushroom growing at home. It was an awesome experience to able to harvest fresh mushroom at home. What I did not consider was the spores from the mushroom. For any healthy person, those spores are easy peasy to get rid of from their body. For me at that time still on immunosuppressant, I got infected and suffered prolonged cough. Tried all sort of medication and it only just helped the condition a little bit. I knew for a fact, I need to be weaned off the immunosuppressant in order for the fungi infected cough to be healed. Praise God I have at that point started the weaning process. The cough been quite an ordeal and I thank God once I was off the immunosuppressant, my condition started improving exponentially.

A very interesting experience of being off pharma drug was the withdrawal syndrome. My hands and feet were swollen for a month; I shivered at my neck while the peripheries of my body felt crazily warm. To intensify the drama, the prolonged cough finally affected my taste buds. When my taste buds were affected, that’s when things got hard. I enjoy my food and for that simple pleasure to be taken away, I was left in a state of choice again. Do I rise up victoriously or do I sulk in self pity? I chose victory. Well, experiencing drug withdrawal with an affected taste bud has become a reality, I may as well laugh it out. Not in my power to stop that with a switch but definitely in my power to define the experience with an attitude of praise and gratitude. As I continue to praise God for His healing power upon me and His overflowing grace that helped me through; I find peace, strength and courage to persevere in my healing journey.

So today, I am a little less young, still vibrant and regaining my energy; being thankful for the experience I had journeying from a drug pusher to a drug addict and now in sobriety. Thank you for your support dear friends through my journey. It is my prayer that you will also embody radical self responsibility when it comes to honoring your body. May your journey be an exciting one!

With lots of love,
Irene

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What I Learnt Through Sickness

The vivid thing that I remember was being overwhelmed with grace in the beginning of the diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis (MG). When I first started having symptoms, we did some research and were desperately hoping it was something mild and less nasty. The illness progressed really quickly to the point of hospitalization and looking back I now know I was just a day or two away from a full on myasthenic crisis, where intubation would be necessary. We are ever so grateful for the grace and the favor from the Lord upon us that I was just in time.

I was determined to make my season of healing a season of grace and that mindset became the guide of my search. The journey was tough and at every juncture, I searched for the blessings behind it. My mother was in my house helping me at the early stage and she needed to get back to my hometown for her doctor’s appointment; so my niece helped for a week followed by my sister for another week. Then the lockdown happened. I was a little more than month out of hospital, still very weak and found myself without any help. My attitude was “think possible and do what’s possible”. With the outlook of gratitude, here are some things I learnt (please note that these are my personal opinion derived from personal experience);

Emergency care is life saver
I am alive today thanks to emergency care where I get immediate help and rescue medication. In my case IVIg was administered to bring my body back to a more stable state. I am evermore grateful for my dear friend who helped me in the admission and also my neurologist who is respectful and dedicated to saving me at the time of hospitalization.

Get a medical insurance coverage in case you need it
This is where grace was really abounds. My work as a lay missionary paid me nothing monetarily and so that led me to a decision to put my insurance to a holiday mode. Thank God I get to restart it in time for its use. We are privilege to have private hospitals that can attend to us immediately. The bill was really huge for us and thanks to my medical insurance, I paid only a fraction of it. I got my medical insurance when I was young with the desire to not ever need it and it turned out to be a blessing when I needed it.

It’s liberating to unlearn limiting beliefs and learn new ones
I’ve worked as a medical representative for quite some time and the medical field was one that I looked from a one sided perspective. When I was diagnosed I was told there is no cure for MG and that I would be on medication for life. I know the fact that there is a possibility to depend on drugs for life but I do not like that option. So I start researching extensively on the topic of autoimmunity. The search opened my eyes to a whole new possibility of healing naturally. I learnt not only about autoimmunity but also about cancer. The whole dynamic of the body becomes something I start seeing a whole. It’s like scales were peeled off my eyes that I now am able to embrace the fact that the body is really interconnected. I may have an autoimmune of the nerves but healing my gut would be the gateway to heal the autoimmune.

Understanding the modality of natural means of healing gave me a lot of hope. My research led me to meet my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor who helped me to heal to the point of wellness. This in turn enabled me to start tapering down the immunosuppressant I am on. This is hope enfleshed and I am so grateful.

Diagnostic tools of modern hospital are helpful
I have a good relationship with my neurologist and I appreciate his care for me. Some MG patients are not as lucky as they did not meet good doctors who are respectful. The diagnostic tools in modern hospitals are really helpful in the navigation of disease management. Yearly CT scan is needed for me to monitor the thymoma, blood tests will give an indication of what’s going on. So for me, even though I am experiencing healing through my TCM doctor, I am still going under the care of my neurologist.

Mental fitness is a plus for healing journey
I am privileged to have gone through my own mental fitness journey in 2021 and now on the journey of advance coach training in this area. Mental fitness is our ability to take on life challenges with a positive rather than negative mindset. It’s the work developed by Positive Intelligence (PQ) and the programme has helped me tremendously in stress management. It is a well known fact that stress is a root cause of many diseases and I believe the it was major contributing factor to me getting MG. Since the diagnosis in 2020, I made it a point to regulate my emotions well. With PQ I was able to identify the source of stress in my life and am able to regulate even more effectively. I learnt tools that helped me to stop the spiraling down of negative thoughts and emotions that often resulted in stress and unhappiness. My PQ journey has seen me being happier and more productive in my work. I run an eight weeks mental fitness journey to as a foundation for clients who desires to achieve their desired outcomes with ease and great happiness. Connect with me to find out more.

Healing is possible when we take responsibility
Self responsibility is so crucial in healing. I take full responsibility for my healing by educating myself on the disease, being discerning on what I put into my body and choosing a healthier lifestyle. Education is what helped me to tap into hope of healing through the natural means and what I learnt is such a treasure on every front. Formerly a drug rep, I know well how modern drugs work. I acknowledge that modern drugs can be quite helpful especially in the beginning phase of getting ill. Dealing with symptoms can be debilitating and having drugs to help control it for a little while helps us get back on track. However, to gain full healing, it would be worth it to look at natural means. In my condition, the drugs I was on just could not bring me to a state of wellness. I thank God for TCM modality that brought me to where I am. Getting to know other people who are sick and stuck, it became apparent to me that they lack the courage to take responsibility of their bodies. They are likely to embody an attitude of helplessness and depended fully upon the advice of the healthcare provider without any question or research. Those advices are great but as responsible adults, we are invited to discern what’s best for us. Nobody knows your body better than you do, in all logic, we should be the “expert” of our bodies. What went missing that we became so disconnected from our bodies? I can answer that for myself – I was not present to my body and I did not know how to love my body fully. Through MG I learnt to reconnect, listen to and love my body the way God intended me to.

I intentionally choose my diet, lifestyle and what kind of medication I allowed in my body. Healthcare providers had encouraged me to take certain drug for prevention of some disease. My response was to check on the recommended drug; is it necessary? What are the contents of the drug? What potential side effect would it bring? Would the mechanism of action injure me due to my condition? What is known about this drug? Is it even ethical? These are some of the questions I would bring to the table of discernment whether to take any additional drug. In my discernment I would tap into grace of the Living God and connect to my instinct for decision. When it concerns life, I think it’s important to go beyond our rational mind to our intuition. All these requires a sense of self responsibility. This body is a gift from Christ and it is my responsibility to take good care of it.

God heals the way He pleased
One of my first response when I got sick was to pray. I invited family and friends to join me on a 54 days rosary novena with the intention of my healing. I secretly wished I would be one of those who received healing instantaneously. However, in my case God is pleased to heal me according to natural law. It’s a process that I go through with some days being great and some being really crappy. I learnt to be grateful through it all. This is a journey of endurance and trust training. I certainly see my trust in the Lord increase steadily. Do I still cry when it’s difficult? YES I do! I also experience recovery from the negative emotions way faster and with every hurdle comes greater trust. I am learning as St. Paul taught us to find contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4: 12).

I hope my little nuggets of learning is helpful for you. Wherever you are in your healing journey, the burden feels lighter if you have someone who walk alongside you. Should you be considering a coach, I am here. My prayer for you is that you find fullness of life in the midst of your circumstances.

With lots of love,
Irene

Recounting 2 Years of Healing Journey

The recollection of events that happened 2 years ago is still vivid in my mind. It sometimes felt surreal that we’ve been through such drama, especially now that I am in a much better state physically. Just a few weeks ago I shared my grace of healing with a Myasthenia Gravis (MG) support group, one response that I got was pretty astounding: “that’s crazy, you are one lucky person!”. Indeed I am really blessed to have found healing through Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

I can count so many blessings that came out of my healing journey; one of them being my openness to unlearn what I thought I know to be the “right” way of viewing sickness and relearn to connect to my body through natural means. As a former drug rep, this is a sanctifying journey and I am just simply amazed at the grace of openness that I was able to tap on. Because of MG I enrolled myself into all sort of health education programs and the irony is that I finally understand a little bit of the principle of TCM through an English speaking American program despite growing up more deeply rooted in Chinese culture (I only speak a few Chinese languages but am unable to read or write Chinese scripts).

Acupuncture has been attributed to being quite helpful for MG, with that knowledge I started praying and looking for an acupuncturist from the very beginning of the diagnosis. I finally found one after more than a year of searching when my friend shared his experience with his TCM who also does acupuncture. Meeting my TCM doctor was an answered prayer. I only wanted acupuncture to supplement my current conventional medicine regime but I was given more.

At my first appointment, I found out that my TCM doctor did his masters in autoimmunity, hence he was totally unsurprised by MG with thymoma. Another assurance came my way when I met his wife who had MG with thymoma 17 years prior. That gave me a lot of hope as I know then the doctor I found knows what he’s dealing with as MG is a rare condition. I started off with just acupuncture as I wasn’t sure about taking herbal meds on top of my current conventional regime. After consultation with my TCM doctor, his advice was to take the different meds at an hour and a half apart.

It was Aug of 2021, I started experiencing slight worsening when I finally met my TCM doctor. Came Sept, I lost my dearest younger brother and that bout of emotional stress threw me to the floor of MG flareup. I was so weak to the point of having difficulty in swallowing water. So at that time, I restarted steroid and pyridostigmine to help control the symptoms. Both my neurologist and TCM doctor had great empathy and were really supportive.

By early Oct, I started herbal meds with weekly therapy that involves cupping, chiro work and acupuncture. Within 3 months, I showed signs of improvement to the point of wellness. One example would be computer screen time. At the peak of when symptoms was relatively low on conventional drug treatment, I could withstand computer screen time up to 10 minutes and then my eyelids will start to droop. By that point, my whole body would feel a tiring sensation like an out-of-sync-electric-current numbness that runs through my body. I would need to lie down for at least 20 minutes to recover. After 3 months of TCM treatment, I can withstand computer screen time up to an hour before I started feeling my eyelids. I only need to take an eyelid rest by closing my eyes for about 30 seconds and then I am ready to continue with my work at the computer again. That’s a massive difference and I can only praise God for His grace that led me this far into my complete healing.

Today I am on yet another milestone journey – the last leg of immunosuppressant dose reduction prescribed by my neurologist. The last appointment in Dec showed how much I improved clinically and that somehow gave him the confidence to propose the beginning of the dose reduction. I am ever so grateful at the mercy God is showing me. His mercy that enveloped me from the beginning of the journey. His grace that led me to decide to make this a meaningful season. I’ve learnt so much through this and it has certainly changed me in the way I view life, the world and the way I honor my relationships. My heart is filled with gratitude towards everyone who jumped in support of me and my family during the most difficult time. I am praying for you daily as I thank God for the healing I received.

Being able to turn any circumstances into blessing is indeed a grace I received and happy to tap on. One of my way of blessing others is sharing my journey and what I learnt. My next post will be focused on what I’ve learnt through my healing journey. When I prayed for healing, I was expecting an immediate miracle. God, however has a different thought (Isaiah 55: 8-9). In His mercy, He allowed me to experience the fullness of loving myself – transforming my mind, teaching me patience, forming me in His love and my trust in Him. I experienced a miracle that manifests itself in the ordinariness of life, the power of natural remedies and the effectiveness of life long mental fitness training. Praising God in my own transformation and looking forward to share more with you.

With lots of love,
Irene

Celebrating Progress

I recently learnt that healing is circular instead of linear; that was quite astounding for me. There’s great encouragement and wisdom in that school of thought. I found myself experiencing setbacks in the midst of progress periodically. Those moments can be discouraging but when seen through the lens of a circular healing journey, it’s quiet empowering. Setbacks just meant it’s time to take a pit stop and evaluate. It becomes a circle of learning more of myself and the condition. With every circle of learning, I also come to appreciate myself and the whole journey more deeply.

In an older post, I elaborated the importance of celebration. Living celebration through my healing journey from Myasthenia Gravis (MG) has been a great experience of affirmation. We started celebrating from the moment we’ve got a confirmed diagnosis as we finally knew what we are up against. When I was discharged, we celebrated with a good meal. I remember vividly how nervous was I when I finally started driving again. Thanks to the lockdown, the option at that time was me driving out to collect donations of expressed breast milk (EBM) for my child. We were blessed to have generous donors who helped us through those early months of fully breastfeeding our child. I knew my limit very well at that time, so there were great planning involved – with full gears of sunglasses and hat plus praying really hard for an overcast morning. I came back within an hour with new supply for the baby and feeling victorious. We celebrated that big time as it was real progress and such a great milestone.

Then came the time when I started on the steroid dose reduction, it was a happy day and great celebration. After a few months and was almost off steroid, I started having regression. It was quite discouraging but I did not allow that to stop me. Pushing through with a good mindset and a strong network. I was still experiencing a fair bit of symptoms back in Dec 2020 but we decided that my birthday is a good day to celebrate. Every initial disappointment after the doctor’s visit was being treated as an opportunity to find a better remedy for me.

Having friends that introduced various natural remedies to me is a true blessing. I am glad people are open and they know me well enough to be confident that I take responsibility for my decision whether to try the remedies they introduced or not. The values that I believe in and live by has also been a navigating post for me. I cannot imagine missing out on good remedies just because of being a scary blamer that absolutely nobody dare to recommend anything. Being daring to try stuffs (some of which did not work) is certainly something worth celebrating.

Celebrating progress keeps us going and it makes the journey pleasant. Dear friends, I encourage you to be creative in your celebration keeping in mind that this is not just a reward system. Celebrating yourself is directly celebrating the One who made you. Think about it, who gave you the grace to see goodness in the midst of darkness? Who enable you to work through your issues? Who is the happiest when you are happy? My answer to those questions: none other than God. I wish you a great time honoring your Creator by celebrating you.

With lots of love,
Irene

Healthy Mindset Makes Healing a Great Journey

A very important but seldom talked about element when it comes to bodily healing is mental health. We are a whole being, therefore mental health is vital for any healing journey. It was clear to me one of the biggest aggravator of Myasthenia Gravis (MG) in me was chronic unmanaged stress. Hence managing stress and regulating my emotions became a primary goal. I learnt to let go of a lot of unnecessary worries, grudges and heaps of things not in my control. I began to set better priorities and strengthen my boundaries all the while learning to live with MG as well as learning to mother.

What helped me to stay on the course was an overall healthy mindset. I am determined to beat MG and thrive in my life. I know well the reality may be difficult at times, not denying it in a bit. It was tempting to get into a pity party when symptoms hit hard. In all honesty, symptoms are discouraging and hard to live with. I felt like I want to get over and done with it fast whenever it hit me. However, there’s a hard reality that my body needed the time and conducive environment to heal. So, bouncing between “yes, I got this” to “I just want to give up” were common occurance especially in the beginning. I am so blessed to be surrounded by people who support me in this journey, constantly reminding me who I truly am.

Those reminders were fuel for me. Every time I felt beaten, I face the giant instead of running away from it. I allow myself to acknowledge how I felt and also decide not to stay in that low state for too long. How do I rise above the feeling of defeat? – that has been a question I asked myself over and over again. Friends, this is where it is so important to have someone (or a few people) you trust that you can share your life with. I have a few people that I share deeply with; just being able to talk to someone who love you for who you are, is healing. It would be extra awesome if the one you share with is able to just listen and ask you meaningful question. Effective questioning practiced by coaches has power to unlock certain perspectives that would otherwise be blind to us.

In our fast paced world, so many of us lack the time to even be present to ourselves. Some of us due to childhood trauma may not even know how to regulate our emotions. When I was on the peak of taking steroid as a means of MG disease control, my emotions were so messed up. I cried for small matters and it was hard to even regulate my emotions properly. Thank God my husband was really understanding and supported me through those tough times. This is where having some tools in hand would be helpful. When we feel a certain uneasy emotion, it is important to take a pause. A simple way that I practice is to first name the emotion, then ask Jesus how would I like Him to minister to me at that moment?. These kind of pauses helped me to calm down. With a calm mind, then I can tackle the source of those uneasy emotions. From then praise will rise. In the same way, I think it is also good to take a pause when good emotion arises – just taking time to thank God for the blessings and share that moment with Him. I am pretty sure God loves celebrating with us.

Whatever journey we are on, the path would sometimes be smooth and sometimes there are potholes on the road. Whether it be a nicely paved road or some bits where we are met with holes, always remember to look up – I bet the view is beautiful. Dear friends, I wish you a great adventure in your journey. If you find it particularly hard at this moment of your journey, reach out to someone – a family member, a true friend, a coach or a counsellor. Please share your life in all sincerity because it is normal to want to be known by someone. Indeed it is very good for our mental and overall health if we are able to allow ourselves to be truly seen and heard. I leave you with this quote and pray that you are blessed in your journey.

With lots of love,
Irene

Self Responsibility and Healing

One common outcome I observed from coaching is the client’s shift from chaos to ownership of their actions. This eventually lead to a happier life as they embody a lifestyle that empowers them to self responsibility. They no longer see the surroundings as disadvantaging them, rather they are empowered to take the responsibility for the actions towards their wellbeing. In other word, self ownership is a major step towards meaning in life. When it comes to my healing journey, self ownership plays an important role for me – it shifts my perspective and energy towards the important and necessary. When I first got the diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis (MG), the question I asked myself was: “what needs to happen to give me the best chance to beat this?”.

That question was the beginning of a creative journey of exploring my options. I left the hospital with prescription medicines, some advice on managing the symptoms with the prescriptions and nothing else. Lifestyle change, diet and management of stress was never mentioned. Thank God I have people who were experienced in managing other autoimmune with diet who immediately suggested that I research on the right diet. From our observation, autoimmune seems to be triggered by chronic stress, environmental change and sudden diet change. So, that became the first point of research.

There were so many articles and so little information about healing MG naturally. So a lot of decision were made based on the little knowledge we can garner. The first step was making a change in diet. My best decision was to cut down on sugar and carb. About 9 months afterwards I was so grateful I made that change. Turned out one of the side of effect of steroid is insulin insensitivity. My blood sugar was on a rising trend though still within limit. When we saw the trend, my doctor then asked me to cut down on sugar and carb. Imagine if I did not make that move earlier on! It also help as sugar worsen the symptoms for me, so it’s easier to say no.

Apart from diet I also explore the option of natural remedies that would support the healing process. MG is so rare that I never hear testimonies of any products that helped. I came across products that helped other autoimmune diseases and was very keen to try. Everybody asked me to consult my neurologist before trying anything out which is a safe move and I thank God my doctor is a very open minded and respectful person. When I brought the idea of trying the herbs out, his response was so encouraging. He told me he has no experience and the only way to find out is to try it out. If it doesn’t work, just stop it. I shared this experience with a friend of mine who is healing from another autoimmune disorder, his response was: “good on you, your doctor is very open minded and supportive”.

That is the right patient and doctor relationship. I recently came across so many instances where the opposite was true. It is utterly unacceptable that some doctors telling the patient to either listen to him/her or go home and die when the patient raised some concern. This is where we need to draw the line as patients. Something important to bear in mind is that your physician is responsible to help you co-manage your disease and you are responsible for your own well being and health. Get this, your attending physician is your hired hand, they work for you not the other way round. They are hired to provide professional opinions but it is still up to you to accept it or not. That’s why when things doesn’t feel intuitively right, it’s wise to seek second opinion. After all, informed consent of procedures and prescription drugs is the right of every patient.

Hence it is very important to NOT place your doctor as your ultimate health authority. They are also human and they like us can also make mistakes. Remember that God is your highest authority, with that set right you’ll discover great freedom in within you to listen to your body and you’ll also find creative ways to honor your God given body that has an amazing ability to heal with the right condition.

Some of us may have heard stories of people given the diagnosis of cancer and was given a “death sentence” by their physician who say that they only have a short period to live and the person really die at the predicted date. We know that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18: 21), hence that makes it even more important to know God is your authority. I was told I have a malfunctioned immune system at the beginning of the diagnosis but my immediate reaction was: “No, that’s not the truth and I refuse to believe that”. I said a prayer breaking those words and bless my body instead. I proclaimed to me that my immune system needed time to heal. This gave me great inner strength especially on difficult days that I could not even hold my eyes open for 10 seconds. Through the difficulties I still believe my body is amazing and has powerful ability to heal itself.

Another important responsibility of a person on the healing journey is to ALWAYS do your research and keep learning about the condition. Absolutely no one on this earth knows everything, even so called experts do not know it all. You are supposed to be the one who knows your body best. Unfortunately for some of us (myself included), we can be quite disconnected. When our body show us a symptom, our modern attitude would likely look for ways to suppress the symptoms like popping paracetamol whenever there’s a headache without even stopping to think if our body is trying to tell us something. Taking the symptoms seriously can help us to navigate our healing journey. Whenever the symptoms improved or worsen, I asked the question: what has been done differently? I go into all investigative mode just to make things a little fun for myself. That would give me a good way forward on what to continue or what to avoid.

Continuous education and openness to try different things has led me to a season of great progress in healing. I learnt to be patient with myself as most natural healing remedies take time and there bound to be some progress and some regress. That has been my experience with Terahertz treated water. I was initially drawn due to a lecture that pointed out our healthy cells vibrational resonance that is similar to the treated water, hence that would slowly promote healing with effective hydration. I tried it because it made sense to me and I took full responsibility in doing so and praise be to God I’ve been responding well to most of the remedies I tried.

It is really empowering to be more in tune with my own body especially when I can tell what works and what don’t. I did not choose to be sick but I chose to get the most out of my season of healing and celebrating every step of the way. Every medication weaned off is a great cause to celebrate. Every improvement on my eyelids strength when I drive is a great occasion to offer highest praise to God. I refuse to own the disease but I am owning every bit of my healing journey.

Dearest friends, have you stopped to think how in tune are you with your body? Do you agree that bodily health gives us the freedom to live out our calling more fully? Be encouraged therefore to take ownership of what you do with your body. Take time to read labels of food ingredients and discern well what you allow into your body, medication included. I pray for a great healing journey as well as a blessed journey of self discovery. Most importantly trust your God given body because your Creator designs well. May you be blessed.

With lots of love,
Irene

From Fear to Fullness of Life

Teal is the color representing Myasthenia Gravis

June is the month dedicated to the awareness of Myasthenia Gravis (MG) and it has become really close to my heart being on my journey of healing from Myasthenia Gravis. Yes I know the general consensus said that the condition has no cure but I choose to trust in my body’s ability to heal. MG thrivers are sometimes called snowflake warriors for the fact that every case is unique. That pose a challenge of its own as there is no certainty or a good pattern as reference. I have taken the path of looking at my unique condition as an opportunity to experience fullness of life in ways I would not have explored otherwise.

When I was given the diagnosis in Feb 2020, my world was an utter chaos. There were so many things that I needed to consider and to take care of, all at the same time giving myself the best chance to beat this. Not only my world was chaotic, the world around me turned into a real chaos with the lockdown and restrictions started to affect our lives shortly after I was discharged from the hospital. The looming fear at that point of time was intense and I can feel it in the atmosphere. If anything you need to know about autoimmunity, extreme stress is very bad for any autoimmune condition. Mine was triggered by a prolonged period of unmanaged stress plus sudden change of environment. It is also known that people who are immunosuppressed like myself are categorized as being high risk of viral infection. So it was natural of me of being fearful.

I was just beginning to navigate life with a chronic condition and then this virus chaos came about. Fear was all over the place and I was not spared from it. Fear causes stress that worsen my condition and it’s very easy to see how bad it affect me. So I made a conscious decision since being out of the hospital to manage my stress well. This fear business took a toll on me as almost everyone around me were fear filled about the virus. I reached the tipping point real quickly and decided that fear is no way of living. It was sucking life out of me and I did not like it. In my desperation for life literally, I called upon the name of Jesus and asked Him; what should I do? How do I live?

Let your faith be bigger than your fear!”

That was all I heard and that was enough to propel me forward. The first strategy of winning a battle is to know the enemy and that’s where I started – naming my fear. It was not hard to name them as the first and biggest one that came out was the fear of death. I feared death after escaping death not too long ago. I feared that an infection may kill me because at that point of time I was swallowing 20 tablets daily; a majority of which were immunosuppressive drugs. That would made me really vulnerable. Nailing this fear to the cross and charging forward in life with faith was my experience of saving grace. I have confidence and courage that I will live and thrive. Proper precaution taken, the rest is trust and choosing to live in joy. After all, my health is my responsibility, I personally think it is unfair to put my health risk as a burden for the rest of the society. Praise be to God for His protection; all through this year of healing I have regained strength and is rarely sick.

Putting fear in perspective is an important element in moving forward. The way to do that is to seek the truth about the specific situation. We know that the truth will set us free although it is likely to be uncomfortable. Let’s look at some comparison: if you catch a cold, you know that the chance of you recovering and healing is more than 99%. With that knowledge, fear is by logic small in comparison. The inconvenience of being unable to function optimally for a few days that may bother you more than the fear of death. In my situation with MG, nothing was certain. When I was administered with the rescue medication, there was no guarantee that it will work on me, we hope I respond which I did (with no side effects). Same with the maintenance medication, we can only hope I respond, which I also did until we adjusted the dose. When I asked if a remission is possible, the answer I got was “I can’t tell you for sure because MG is so variable. Some patients get into remission and it came back again, some get into permanent remission and some never get into remission”.

With such variability and uncertainty, it was very easy to despair and let fear grip over my life. But I knew this very clearly, fear perpetuate stress and stress worsen the symptoms. Given the situation, although saddened, I made the choice to live in hope. If some people get into a permanent remission, I shall be one of them. The choice I made to live in the fullness of hope and life carved my way forward. I took actions that would give me the best chance to get to the remission. A massive change in lifestyle was required – diet, habits, routine etc. It was a sharp learning curve to be in tuned with my body again. I realized how brainwashed I was! And that was uncomfortable! One great thing coming out of this healing journey is the deepening of my empathy towards myself as well as to others especially those who could not see a way forward in a fear saturated world.

Being able to face my fears with the truth and knowledge in hand and then move forward in faith has been a great blessing. I live in freedom precisely because I never allow the disease to define who I am. I admit it is not the easiest of journey and fear does creep in from time to time. I allow my self to process the fear and then to formulate the way forward with my Saviour. All this is possible thanks to my years as a coach and also those years in ministering to people as well as support from my inner circle.

Fear is a constant companion whether we like it or not. Some are necessary like in the case of meeting a tiger, you better let your fear propel you run for your life. I would say most fear we face today are opportunities if we allow them to. Dear friends, if you are having difficulty in navigating fear and are feeling stuck, do feel free to reach out to me. I run my own coaching practice and I can also recommend other coaches or counsellors to you. Know that it is my prayer for you to be well. Fear does not have the final say and it is possible to live victoriously. May you be blessed!

With lots of love,
Irene

A Year On Living with Myasthenia Gravis

It was a bright and beautiful morning but the symptoms of muscle weakness has been worsening. We were planning to go back to my General Practitioner and then head out for our delayed Valentine’s lunch afterwards. As we arrived at my GP’s clinic, we decided that I would go in to check if she could see me (it was first come first serve with a limited number basis pre covid era). Unfortunately she could not see me, so I walked out to wait for my husband to drive by. When I saw him, I took a step down to the road and fell flat on my face. My husband saw someone fell but was shocked to find out it was me. I could barely lift myself up. That incident propel us to go to the hospital that very day.

For a year now, we are very grateful that the protection of God was upon me and still is holding us tightly. Just days before the incident, I saw my chiropractor for a different issue and told her what happened. She checked me and found that my muscles were fine. She also told me if things worsen, go to a neurologist because that would likely be nerve problem. Looking for a hospital with a neurologist was made easy thanks to a dear friend of mine who worked in that hospital. After checking in to the hospital, a brain MRI scan was ordered immediately to rule out stroke. No stroke but Myasthenia Gravis (MG) was given as a preliminary diagnosis. My neurologist needed to confirm the diagnosis through a nerve test and that was only available on weekdays (it was a Saturday when we checked in). We decided that we will go home and get back to the hospital on the following Monday for outpatient consultation.

My condition worsened to the point that it was difficult to breathe and that got us to decide to admit me the very next day. The difficulty in breathing freaked everyone out. My neurologist initially thought he could treat me as outpatient but when he saw me the following Monday in the ward, he ordered the nerve test to be done immediately and rescue medication to be administered right after the test. The nerve test result baffled my neurologist so was the ultra high autoantibodies level. MG is so variable that he could not predict what would happen to me, his only hope was that I respond well to treatment and hopefully I can get into a remission.

Ever since my diagnosis, I have learnt a lot about MG. The variability and uniqueness of each patient’s condition are just simply mind blowing. The more I learnt the more I am in awe and grateful for the goodness of God. I was literally days away from a myasthenic crisis. If I had been a few days late and got into a crisis, I would have needed intensive care and intubation would be necessary because MG also affect voluntary muscles including those for breathing. Those thoughts brought tears of gratitude and just filled my heart with praise of God. He is really good to me. My autoantibodies level was 200 times above the minimum trace level, an 8cm thymoma was present and the nerve test was horribly failing. Who could have saved me from the worst if not God?

From the beginning of my journey of healing I’ve sensed the Lord assurance of His presence and love. He meant this for His glory and for my good. Living with MG has brought me to a place of even higher praises where I learnt about surrendering in victory. I name this a process of spiritual healing that affects my physical healing. One of the greatest victory is my ability to let go of my burdens. A dear friend of mine lovingly reminded me to let the One who loves me most carry those burdens I was carrying. From the beginning, I’ve recognized stress as a harmful trigger to my symptoms, what I did not recognize was how much stress I put myself through. Motherhood was new, I did not realize the years of living in the lies of the world has dampened my ability to connect to my natural maternal instinct. The rejection of genuine womanhood in my surrounding has chipped away my own natural womanly instinct. It was stressful when most of the voices around me were literally telling me what I’ve done wrong as a mother. I began to shut everything down and was determined to reconnect to my heart again on top of all the stress of new motherhood. Not only that, I was also malnourished but I just did not realize it back then. When my body could not take it anymore, it broke down to bring me to a place of clarity again. I regretted my lack of care towards my own body and I apologize to my body, made a promise that I am going to take care of me seriously.

We took so many actions to give me the best chance to beat MG in many aspect like changing diet and lifestyle.  Even our prayer life changed for the better. For this post, I’d like to focus on the blessings of prayer. I initiated a 54 Days Rosary Novena for my healing on 19 March 2020, the Feast of St. Joseph. I was daring enough to ask for a forever remission to happen on 19 March 2021. My prayer journey with the support of numerous people has blessed me tremendously.

I’ve improved so much and am now on the last leg of steroid dose adjustment (I am still on high dose of immunosuppresant). The most stubborn symptom that remain is ptosis. Throughout the year of good days and bad days, I’ve remained positive and hopeful thanks to the grace from prayer. Then finally in mid Jan, I started experiencing more symptoms free days (I’ll share more about it in the next post), my boldness to hope for a full remission also increase.

Meanwhile the current climate of what’s happening in the world is pretty chaotic. We see a greater need to pray even more fervently. By Divine Providence I stumbled upon a video talking about consecration to St. Joseph by Fr. Donald Calloway. I’ve wanted to do it last year but MG was just overwhelming (plus another major drama of my brother’s hospitalisation), so when reminded about, we made a decision to do it this year. I wanted to consecrate on 19 March 2021 and my first action was getting the book early Jan but it was on restocking list that may take up to 5 weeks to arrive. We bought it in faith hoping that it’ll arrive on time.

Praise be to God, we got the book on time and when I realise the significance of the date to begin the consecration journey, I was awestruck. It begins today, 15 Feb – the anniversary of that fateful day I fell flat on the road. Wow!!! The love of God through our Spiritual Father, St. Joseph moved my heart to praise Him. I felt so loved and it’s like St. Joseph is assuring me of his prayer. How awesome is that!!!

I am feeling hopeful!
Photo Credit: Karen Soh

Dearest friends, I pray that you are blessed by my story. I believe our personal story is a unique and exciting one when we see it from the perspective of the One who love us most. May the coming Holy Season of Lent brings grace upon grace in your life and may your story be one that bless the people around you.

With lots of love,
Irene

Navigating Motherhood through a Chronic Disease

My world was in a daze back in February when I fell flat on my face on the road before being diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis (MG): an autoimmune disorder that attacks the neuromuscular juncture causing muscle weakness; including voluntary muscles used for breathing. The first thing I was asked from every person I talked to was: “Were you carrying your baby when you fell?”. Thank God I was not carrying my baby. It all started a little less than a month prior to that fateful mid February day, when I noticed difficulty in chewing my food. I thought it was the effect of me feasting away during Chinese New Year.

The symptoms got worse that I started making my food softer and did some research on what could be happening to me. MG came out as the top possibility. Reading more about it made me dread it and kept hoping that it’s not MG. My GP was hoping of the same but somehow my symptoms worsen to the extent that I could not lift myself up from sleeping position, chewing became increasingly difficult that often followed by slurry speech, lifting my arms for short while took a toll on me, smiling was a task and I was constantly exhausted.

Upon arrival at the hospital, the neurologist ordered a brain MRI scan to rule out stroke. MG was given as a preliminary diagnosis that was to be confirmed the following Monday (I went in on a Saturday), when the nerve testing centre is in operation. We decided to go home for the night and planned to be seen as outpatient on Monday. However, I started having difficulty in breathing. It was a scary evening, the what ifs were all over the place.

Sharing with community of friends who prayed for me certainly helped me through that evening. I received the grace to accept the diagnosis and to enter into treatment regime. Upon seeing me as inpatient, my neurologist quickly ordered the necessary tests to be done and had me started on IV immunoglobulin (IVIG) rescue therapy while also start me on my longer term treatment. I was blessed to have tolerated the treatment well. After the first dose of IVIg, I could tie my hair and that felt so good. A Chest CT scan also revealed the existence of a thymoma which means surgery is needed to remove it but that can only be done once I am stable enough.

My biggest worry was my daughter. How am I going to mother? How am I going to provide for her anymore? I enjoyed our breastfeeding journey and does that mean I need to stop altogether? God was so gracious to speak to me at that time by inspiring me to seek breastmilk donation. I am grateful we have a very good network of breastfeeding advocates. Through the group and through friends who helped out, I managed to source out enough donated breastmilk that nourished my baby. Till today she is still enjoying the benefit of human breastmilk thanks to the generous giving of our local Mama Tribe. My own breastmilk supply has suffered a great decline due to the treatment. Even if it is limited, I am still grateful my child still get something from Mama.

We recognized that strength is the major challenge for MG patient, hence we were quick to get practical help. My mother arrived the day I was admitted to the hospital which was such great help for us. She helped me with the baby and daily household stuffs when my symptoms was at the worst. We also arranged for cleaning company to clean the house. My mother’s stay for almost a month helped me to balance a new lifestyle. I was able to get the rest I needed and to get around organizing stuffs that would aid daily living.

At the peak of the treatment to suppress the autoantibodies and to replenish my strength, I was swallowing 20 tablets daily with the help of 5 alarms to remind me of the timing. On top of that, I also started taking specific health supplement tablets to aid with my body function as well as to counter side effects of treatment. The first month since the diagnosis was really blurry. I could only hold enough strength to play with my daughter. I was afraid to carry her in case my strength fail and she slipped off my arms. My emotion was all over the place partly due to the side effects of the medication. Normalcy were hard to imagine.

Source from this link

Days passed and then months, I started to feel much better. Looking back at the timing, I can testify to the goodness and mercy of God. After my mum left, I got help from my niece and sister for a short while. I’ve also got a friend to help out with cooking on some days. At that point I started to take back the cooking role at home. God in His mercy showed me His unique way of empowering me forward.

Due to the lockdown, we were short of an extra pair of hands after my sister went back to her home and also was locked away from hiring help for cleaning. By that point, my symptoms has started to stabilize to the point that I was confident to carry my baby with the help of a carrier. But I still occasionally feel overwhelmed and limited. So I asked God what was the best view to see my situation? God was quick to answer: “think possible and do what’s possible!”

It was a great place to begin. What’s possible were different on day to day basis. Some days possibility looked like a clean house and warm meals, some days it’s the grace to be grateful that the day went well with little done in the house. There were times possibility meant just being able to pray and connect to my Source through the demands of motherhood. The invitation was to enter to a place of trust and rest; and I happily accepted that invitation.

One of the first breakthrough was me driving alone to pick up my baby’s breastmilk donation. Heaps of preparation ahead of time and I was so pleased that I made it. Driving can be difficult as the bright sun tends to tire me and often resulted in ptosis (droopy eyelid). That fateful morning was bright as and I responded with praise because if God allowed it, then He must be planning to show me His glory.

Thinking possible and doing what’s possible has also helped me to recognized my own preference. I realized piles of chores can overwhelm me, so I start to manage household chores in bite size. Meals became simpler and priority to spend time as a family became our top agenda daily. As my baby grow, her needs also evolve and I am invited to follow her growth with an open mind. The abounding grace I receive through prayer has helped me to have enough time and strength to learn about supporting my child’s development. One of the most fun thing we have decided to apply is Baby Led Weaning method of introducing solids. I had so much fun watching my baby enjoying her food and growing in her fine motor skills. Through all these, the joy of the Lord is my strength!

What brought me through from the peak of my flare up (with the autoantibodies level 200 times above the positive trace) to where I am now; is this scripture;

do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 41: 10

A dear friend of mine reminded me to let the One who loves me hold everything up for me. That encouragement has helped me in my process of surrendering and that eventually led me to my rest in trust of the Lord. There’re still heaps to figure out and many are graces that I need. I pray that sharing my story with you will give you a sense of awareness about MG and that you are also encouraged to live in your victory through your circumstances.

With lots of Love,
Irene