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

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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