Endometriosis

Bearing the Pain

pain

A co-worker sent me the link below. It’s an eye-opening account of what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I would imagine many readers of this blog will be able to relate to Christine Miserandino’s descriptions. Perhaps it’s not physical pain you carry with you each day – perhaps it’s emotional or psychological. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, if it occurs each day, or for certain seasons of your life, you know what it means to wear the “I’m doing fine” mask, and it makes you weary and feeling closed off from the rest of the “healthy” world. See Christine’s unique analogy here: ButYouDon’tLookSick.com.

Allow me to put things into perspective, though.

First, from Romans 8:18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

And second, from the Lutheran Service Book, Hymn 423:

Jesus, refuge of the weary,

Blest Redeemer whom we love,

Fountain in life’s desert dreary,

Savior from the world above:

Often have Your eyes, offended,

Gazed upon the sinner’s fall;

Yet upon the cross extended,

You have borne the pain of all.

A Great, Big, Giant YES

We become so used to hearing noes from God when it comes to our request for children.

We even become conditioned to hearing noes when it comes to our request for relief from the physical pain and expensive medical procedures that often accompany our chronic diseases. We grow up in our suffering and recognize the Refiner’s fire for what it is, and we cling all the more to God’s promise to work the burning for our good and for the good of our neighbors.

We expect the fire, and, in good faith, we accept it.

I guess that’s why it’s always such a sweet, pleasant surprise when God gives a yes.

Oh, now, I’m not talking about a yes to the gift of children nor to the gift of physical relief. No, I’m talking about a yes to the gift of vocation.

You see, it seems the more I pray for children, the more God gives me books to write. (Don’t get me wrong! I do not believe these gifts to be interchangeable, nor is a book better than a baby. But still. This is how it is today in the life of Schuermann.)

In this particular case, God has said yes to House of Living Stones, my very first fiction book and Concordia Publishing House’s (CPH) first, bold push into the choppy waters of the Christian fiction industry. We’re both excited and nervous; we’re both eager to put a Lutheran stamp on a largely un-Lutheran market; we’re both small fish in a big sea; and we both need your help.

Though the Christian fiction market is big, our church is small. There is risk in publishing a book outside of one’s Fach, but that risk is worth taking when it means our brothers and sisters in Christ will have a little story to read and enjoy that teaches, confesses, and celebrates the Good News of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of our sins.

So, dear friends, could you please help out a small writer and a small publishing company by preordering a copy(ies) of House of Living Stones? This book is for men and women alike, so it would be the perfect thing to put in your special someone’s Christmas stocking or your bestie’s gift bag. Truth be told, it would make me the happiest writer alive if you bought a copy of this book for yourself and holed up in an armchair at your favorite coffee shop with a mocha or cup of chamomile in hand and indulged in a little Lutheran read-fest of your own.

If this book does well, then maybe CPH will be able to launch more rich tales of our delightful, quirky, faithful church heritage into those perilous, choppy waters. This is good news for our church and for all of you talented writers out there currently crafting the next novel of import.

November is not too far away, but you can preorder House of Living Stones today and save 20% by using the promo code YHS at checkout!

In the meantime, click on the book icon below and enjoy a little taste of the fictional but all-too-real life of our zany, fun brothers and sisters in Christ at Zion Lutheran Church in a small town not too far away from your own…

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schuermann

Stretch Marks

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It struck me this morning as I lay on my bedroom floor, stuffing and tucking and pushing and pulling and pinching my Athena flesh into a wetsuit, that pregnancy is not the only experience to produce stretch marks in the female body.

Nor is birth the only kind of labor. Plenty of groaning and growling and measured breathing are required to pull one of those blasted things off.

To all of you entering triathlon season: May the road rise to meet your running shoes. May the wind always be at your back on the bike. May the sun shine warm upon the lake and rise the water temp above 70 degrees. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

Artifice

20071224-1937 copyA long time ago in a land far, far away – long before Prince Charming entered the story – I used to sing for my supper. Literally. I taught at a private music school during the day and gigged at night, and some evenings my teaching schedule crept dangerously close to the pit orchestra’s downbeat.

On one such evening, I remember having only a meager thirty-five minutes in between my final piano class of the day and curtain call at the theater to turn my loafer-ed, spectacled, teacher-self into a seventeenth-century princess with full corset and wig – all without the help of a fairy godmother, I might add – and every one of those thirty-five minutes needed devoting to transportation. The theater sat a good forty-five minutes across town.  

I did what any reasonable adult would do. I applied my stage make-up before my final piano class and strategically set my bag by the door so I could bolt to my pumpkin-carriage the second my students finished playing their major triads.

Only, there was a small glitch in my plan. One of my voice students lingered too long after her lesson, and I only had time to apply make-up to one eye before the piano class started.

I felt like a freak show as I walked into that classroom, my right eye a circus act of blues and pinks and curling lashes while my left eye remained a plain, unadorned stagehand. I remember little, blonde Alexa looking at me with wide eyes, and I braced myself for the unfiltered truth which would inevitably pour from her six-year-old mouth.

“Oh, Mith Katie,” Alexa lisped. “You are thoooo beautiful.”

Huh. She didn’t seem to mind that only half of my face was a rainbow. Apparently, even a little bit of make-up was an improvement in Alexa’s eyes.

“Thank you, Alexa.”

I won’t bother you with the details of how I actually broke the law managed to get to the theater on time that night, nor will I spend time psychoanalyzing the concept of beauty as understood by a young, female child. I will simply tell you how this experience set me up to cope with something that occurred fourteen years later. 

“Aunt Katie,” my niece said a few months ago, sitting on my lap and eyeing my face with a good measure of fear and disapproval, “you don’t have any eyebrows.”

“I know.”

“Why?”

“Some medicine made them go away, and they never came back.”

My niece reprimanded that which was missing with a sharp wiggle of that which she had in abundance before settling back in my lap to resume the story we had been reading.

Thankfully, Alexa had taught me the magic spell make-up casts over young girls, so I didn’t panic. I simply purchased an eyebrow pencil and cut some well-placed bangs across my forehead. Now, my niece doesn’t even notice what’s missing. I’d still rather not have to walk through the Midway that is the make-up aisle in department stores, but I suppose I’ve hit that age when indulging in a little artifice is a service I can offer to my littlest neighbors.

So, bring on the Rimmel 001, ladies. Feather those bangs. Endometriosis may try to be an evil stepmother in our lives, but she need not keep our princesses from going to the ball.

The doctor’s in…

IMG_1879 copyWe were blessed to have an OB-Gyn speak with us at The Great Getaway last summer. Here is a collection of some of the wise tidbits he shared with us:

On infertility…

“Fertility is one of those areas in life where God has us where He wants us. We have to lay it down. We have to give it to God. Who ultimately is in control? It’s not me [the doctor]; it’s not you and your husband; God is the one in control.”

“Infertility is a cross. It’s the cross God has given us. We are to bear our crosses.”

“We can’t even claim to understand why this is happening. This is a wound only God can heal.”

“No matter what happens, your Father loves you. Your Father has your best in mind.”

“Our culture says, ‘I have a right to have my 2.2 children when I want them. Children are things.’ We do not have a right to have children…Children are a precious gift from God.”

“If we had something that worked 100% of the time, then we would lose the awe and wonder of creation.”

On IVF…

“Infertility is not a disease. It is a symptom of a problem. IVF circumvents that problem. Let’s figure out the problem rather than circumvent the problem.”

“Who in the world do we think we are in saying that someone is a Grade D embryo?”

“For every baby that is born through IVF, between 20 to 30 are lost.”

The cost? “$15,000-$18,000 per cycle”

On why life begins at conception…

“Genetically, that embryo is not the mom; that embryo is not the dad. That’s a new person.”

On whether or not the pill ever acts as an abortifacient…

“If it happens once, isn’t that too many?”

A Hot Mess

800px-Airman_executing_a_push-up_as_part_of_the_United_States_Air_Force_Fitness_Test copyI broke in my workout a couple days ago.

I was holding a high plank, staring at the black, cork floor as my sweat made a shiny puddle under my nose. My arms were shaking.

“C’mon, Katie,” the instructor knelt in front of me. “You’ve got this.”

I had just fatigued my shoulders doing renegade rows and double kettle bell push presses, and now, after completing a pushup, I was supposed to walk my hands backwards until I stood bent over my own feet, then walk my hands back out into a high plank and do another pushup. Over and over again. This was only the fifth one in the first set, and I was already about to fall flat on my face. There was no way I could do three sets.

“You can do this.”

I felt a familiar panic overcome me, a desperation of spirit that comes with the Law, with the knowledge of the limits of my own, fallen, diseased flesh. I had felt it before. I had felt it as my doctor filled out a request for diagnostic mammograms four years ago; as my menses started a week late when I was sure I was pregnant; as I rocked back and forth on the floor during a pain episode related to endometriosis; as I put on the hospital gown before my surgery; as I leaned dizzily against the gym wall while I was on Lupron.

My flesh always fails.

The puddle under my nose went blurry as hot tears mixed with my sweat. I gave in to my panic and leaned back on my heels, too embarrassed to look the instructor in the eye. My face was already red and shiny from my workout, so it took a second for her to see the tears.

She leaned back on her own heels. “What’s going on?”

“I just feel so weak.”

I don’t remember what she said in response. I know she was encouraging, and I am sure whatever she said was true. It’s just that there was so much I wasn’t telling her. The pain of endometriosis. The fear of it coming back. Every day of my childless life being a reminder of my failing flesh.

My tears weren’t really about a few measly pushups. My tears were about the grief of this creation groaning in response to sin. My sin. And it overwhelms me sometimes.

In those moments, there is only one thing to do: turn in faith to Him who has mercy on sinners.

“Christ, save me. Christ, forgive me. Christ, come quickly.”

Then, wait in hope for the LORD to deliver me from my failing flesh on the Last Day.

And, while I’m waiting, I might as well try to do another pushup.

Certainty

I am certain that doctors who recommend women with endometriosis abstain from beef are not actually referring to burgers.

I am also certain that naturopaths who recommend women with endometriosis abstain from dairy are not actually referring to feta cheese.

And I am most certain that nutritionists who recommend women with endometriosis abstain from sugar are not actually referring to the sugar in dark chocolate.

This I do swear to be the the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me to a bag of chocolate chips.

chocolate chips