Once upon a time there lived a happy healthy young girl. Playing with friends, creating things, dancing and dress ups were amongst her favourite pastimes. (Not so) secretly she had aspirations of becoming a princess. Though a little shy, she was full of life and energy.
One day, when she was no longer a young child but not yet a grown up either, she became very sick. She had a sore throat, incredibly swollen and tender glands, a large headache and felt very dizzy. Light was too much. Focusing became difficult. A rash spread across her stomach. Resting in bed with the lights off and the curtains closed, she wondered what was wrong and hoped to be better soon.
The first doctor poked and prodded, looked down her throat, inspected the rash and otherwise did not have much of a clue.
“Some sort of virus,” he said, sending her home.
Mother was more on the ball. Taking the medical book from the shelf she soon found that the symptoms matched those of glandular fever.
“Oh, I hope not,” she worried, and booked an appointment with another doctor.
The second doctor (more worthy of his qualifications) poked and prodded, looked down her throat, inspected the rash, ordered a blood test, and confirmed that, yes indeed, Mother was right.
Much too sick to attend school, she cried upon learning that it might take six months to recover. This was a lonely time, though not as lonesome as it might have been. Her sister was also unwell and unable to go to school. Jesus too was there. Reaching out to him, she became surer of his presence.
Slowly healing came. After two months she was able to return to school but could manage no more than two or three days a week. Determined not to repeat a grade she pushed herself really hard - eventually able to attend all five days a week. This was not a sign of full health though. Coming home each afternoon she would climb into bed and sleep until dinner time - utterly exhausted.
A year went by. The glandular fever had gone, however energy had failed to reappear. Any kind of physical activity left her weak. Even day to day tasks were sometimes too much. Concerned, the family sought answers. The verdict this time was chronic fatigue syndrome. Although she suspected this was the likely answer, it was not something she wanted to hear. But once again she was not alone; her sister was given the same diagnosis. As always, she had Jesus.
By the grace of God and sheer determination, the girl finished high school and went on to gain a degree at university. She studied when she could and slept and rested when her body was too tired for anything else. Sometimes it was a real battle to focus; comprehending new things made difficult by a head that felt, at times, like it was stuffed with cotton wool – or enveloped in a big grey cloud.
Speaking of which, they all have a silver lining don’t they? Chronic fatigue has its uses too. Not being a very sporty type, it came in rather handy for being excused from school sport and those dreaded Physical Education classes. Not everybody understood though and some, no matter how much explaining was done, just thought she was lazy. If only they really knew.
The tale is not all sad though. She met and married her prince charming and now is the mother to two very wonderful and unique individuals. Taking each day as it comes she is (still) learning to look to Jesus. He is teaching her how to dance in the sunshine and the rain.
Her earthly father (who himself has battled leukaemia - but that’s another story) once told her that, if nothing else, she can use this experience to reach out and be an encouragement to others who may be facing similar circumstances… And so that’s why she wrote this down for you. Wherever you are at, whatever you are going through, Jesus is there, right by your side. Just reach out and take his hand. He’ll carry you.
PS: take a moment to listen to (and watch) Laura Story as she sings ‘Blessings’ – a beautiful song that speaks of the ‘heart lessons’ I've been learning.