You Don’t Look Sick

Has this been said to you? Those of us chronically ill or injured have probably been given this all too common line, “You don’t look sick.” Or how about this one, “Well, you look good!”*

If we look sick, we are sick, if we don’t look sick we aren’t. Right? No!

Most people have five senses; taste, touch, see, smell, and hear. Now, we can mistakenly use our sense of sight to judge someone’s sense of touch.

An injured brain can not be seen. The brain is enclosed by the skull and a protective water layer called dura matter (both of which are damaged on me). Injured brains are felt.

Fatigue can not be seen, it’s felt.

We can’t judge a person’s sense of feeling based on our sense of sight.

This is why invisible illness is so misjudged ending up with the ill feeling very much alone.

I met a lady in my brain injury group whose teenage son suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after being struck by a car and then run over by a second car which dragged his body underneath it before stopping. When she arrived at the hospital she told me he looked to her like an alien. His brain was actually visible and he was so beyond recognition, she could only identify him based on the fact that he bit his nails which was the only recogizable part of him. This is probably the worst case of TBI I have ever heard of, and by some miracle, her son survived his brain injury but with many many deficits.

Yet, this is not the norm. TBI is typically an invisible malady. It effects all of life in so many various aspects most of which go unseen to onlookers. TBI is felt. Chronic fatigue is felt. Autoimmune diseases are felt.

We want to be well. We don’t want to wake up every day wondering what we have to do to just barely get by. We don’t want to tell our best friend we can’t receive her visit because we are too weak. We hate missing church. We want to get up, feet hit the ground running and get everything done while having strength and energy to play with our kids and make chocolate cake for dessert.

Not all ilnesses are visible, rather, they are hidden inside the intricate workings of our very fragile bodies that can easily become disfunctional living in this fallen world. While we may not look sick, believe me when I say we are bravely fighting every day and never, ever giving up….. and are courageously smiling and enduring through the pain.

Much love,

Viv 😍

*This post was written a long time ago. I’m no longer frustrated over the way people respond to invisible illness, but I still feel this post holds a few valuable insights worth sharing with others. ~Viv

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Just Say No

One thing I’ve recently learned is that the word “no” is a complete sentence. For some reason in our culture, we feel led to giving others long, drawn out speeches as to why we can’t participate, do something, go somewhere, etc. Our embarrassment over having to decline someone by saying no is underscored by giving immediate excuses highlighted and given in a long speech. We feel like we have to explain. In this sense, our lives become plundered by questions, raised eyebrows, and an overall sense of feeling like we are in the defense zone. We feel bad for saying no. We feel guilty for saying no. We feel embarrassed for saying no.

I know I do.

My mentor recently told me, “no” is a complete sentence. It’s okay to simply say no.

Living with chronic illness or injury requires extra effort to keep up. We wear out easy, things are harder, take longer, and leave us wiped out.

If I push myself or allow others to push me, my brain injury pushes back harder! I have learned out of necessity I need to say no. It’s not a preference, at times it’s a requirement.

If you don’t feel up to going, or up to doing what others ask…….simply say no. If you’ve had your personal space, or your boundary lines crossed, just say no. If it’s against your beliefs or makes you uncomfortable, just say no. Or maybe if you’re like me and you just have nothing left to give, just say no.

We are not obligated to constantly feel like we need to explain. The minute we start giving out reasons as to why we say no, it’s giving others a chance at convincing us to say yes. They will try to overthrow our no, by undermining our reasons and then we feel pressured to change and give in.

Yes, there are times when it’s necessary to give an explanation and in those cases, the person you may need to say no to may need to understand for important reasons. That’s when we must be ready to give our reason(s) tactfully and not allow them to make us feel badly for declining their request.

If we feel like it’s not respectful to simply and tactfully say no……let me ask you this; will others respect your no or try to turn it into their yes? Will a long drawn out explanation with roman numerals and subpoints A and B be respected? If not…..then your no is not being respected and quite possibly neither are you.

Photo taken by my mentor

Much love,

Viv

For prayer requests please visit my page Come Pray With Me and join in prayer with a loving community of believers.

Patience

Learning to be patient through suffering is one of life’s lessons most of us would rather just skip over.

Teach me patience, O Lord

My soul is uneasy, distraught

Help me to wait, O Lord

This battle so long I’ve fought

Mold and shape me, O Lord

You are the Potter, I’m clay

I’m being remade, O Lord

Inwardly renewed each day

Guide and direct me, O Lord

My eyes greatly need your sight

Step after trembling step

With your wisdom be my light

Hold me up, O Lord

My spirit yearns for strength

Trials that persist

Give me faith unending length

Help me give it over, O Lord

Surrendering everything unto you

Nothing’s impossible ever!

Your LOVE, POWER, MERCY hold true.

Written by Vivian Joy, June 2019

My dear friend Ana and I have recently been discussing how the Lord’s been using our weak bodies to teach us patience. I struggle so much with an impatient attitude and need to constantly run to my heavenly Father for strength as I endure nearly 4 years of chronic fatigue and TBI. He is faithful in calming my spirit, while I wait on Him in hope. He is teaching me to abide in Him with a quieted spirit as a weaned child (Psalm 131:2).

Colossians 1: 9-11
9
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

In this school of being taught by pruning, I am grateful for His love, mercy, and compassion each and every moment, as I surrender to His will. Truly, His plan for my life is good (Romans 8:28) and His grace is sufficient. I’m asking God for wisdom in this and to show me patience with joyfulness as I wait on His timing for healing. He’s healed me so much already and I’m getting stronger but like a child waiting for Christmas, the anticipation of my healing gets greater and more intense as I slowly start to see progress and experience more good days. I want to dive in and unwrap my presents of healing now!

2 Corinthians 12:9 King James Version (KJV)

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


My mama once told me there are three ways we need to learn patience;

1) to be patient with ourselves

2) to be patient with others

3) to be patient with God (His timing)

Being patient is being more like Christ. How glad I am for God’s patience with me! I was just telling Mr. Sweeney the other day what an incredibly slow learner I am. In God’s classroom, I feel like the dunce most days but I’m so very grateful God always extends merciful patience with me as He instructs me through His word.

Please dear God, continue to show me how to wait on you in faith with a renewed spirit of patience.🙏💗

Much love,

Viv 🤗

For You 💖

A very sweet lady wrote these comforting words for me and I now pass them along to YOU my beautiful readers. Whatever is bothering you, wherever you are, however you feel. At this very moment, YOU ARE LOVED!

Wish I could sit down with you and give you a long, gentle hug.

I am sad to hear all of the pain in your voice.

I get it though.

You are Enough.

You are Beautiful inside and out.

God is with you.

He is your nearest, your dearest Friend.

He will never leave you.

He will never forsake you.

He will never be too sick.

He will always be there for you.

Always.

I am praying that He will wrap His Arms

around you and be your Comfort and your

JOY right now.


And that’s my prayer for you too! If you are sad, lonely, depressed…..look up. God cares and hears your cries. He understands. He knows. He will never leave or forsake you. Ever. Run to Him. Sit at the foot of the cross in full surrender and let it all go.

Much love,

Viv 🙏❤

Survival Mode

For years now, my family and I have been in this mode. Barely keeping our heads up above water……..just getting by.

Are you here, or have you been here?

Sometimes chronic illness or injury feels like grasping for a buoy and hanging on, barely keeping your head up above water. Then a huge wave of unexpected symptoms wash over your head pulling you under, leaving you fearful and disoriented, trying to figure out which way is up, and struggling to come up for air. Each new challenge, whether physical or emotional, is like an extra weight, pulling you downward so then you struggle even harder to stay afloat treading the deep waters that never seem to dissipate.

Yet, God is our buoy. He keeps us up and afloat daily. His grace never ends and His strength is beyond us. He is the ultimate source for enduring hardships, and fights alongside of us in the deepest, darkest, oceans of trials. His grace is sufficient and His mercy does endure forever.

2 Corinthians 12:9 King James Version

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

It may not look pretty……this survival mode. But, we ARE surviving. We still get up every morning to see the sun rise yet once again.

I still see the faces of my darling children every day and here the soft whispers of, “I love you, Mommy” at the breakfast table.

Though for long or short durations life can be tough at times we can still glorify God and enjoy Him forever; because His grace abounds when we are weak, when things aren’t pretty, when bodies fail and life appears to go under. He’s always here, always surrounding us with His loving arms, and he loves us more than our finite minds can ever fully comprehend.

Hold onto Him in faith and never fear because when we are too weak to hold on, He holds us still and always is holding us. God will never ever let go because He promises to keep us, preserve us, and protect us until He calls His beloved safely home.

Much love,

Viv 💖

Progress and Prayers

Dear Readers, I’m so grateful for the huge overflowing of kindness and prayers received by so many as I push along towards healing. I am getting stronger in many ways although my emotions are healing at a slower pace than my body. I’ve reached out to several prayer groups for prayer as well as many of you individually. I feel your prayers for me and the comfort of the Holy Spirit as I have struggled off and on under the stifling blanket of depression. I’m still battling challenges of my emotional health but God has given me a profound sense of His love in the midst of this storm. He has used several blog posts from old and new friends, and my weekly Bible study with Kim, to hold me up and to keep my eyes fixed upon Him. He has heard the cries of my heart, and given me scriptures after scriptures to wash away sorrows leaving hope, and pouring truth to my soul. Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers! Truly, I’m grateful for this body of believers who have loved on me and showered me with support. ❤

As I mentioned before, I am getting much stronger physically. I can see a HUGE difference in contrast to where I was a year ago to where I am now.

Last year walking was a huge obstacle that seemed insurmountable. There were moments I wanted to give up trying to walk because this exercise made me feel worse instead of better. I could barely walk to my next door neighbor’s house and back without needing hours to recover deep inside my head. When mentioning it to my Dr. she said something about the cerebellum and how it was changing, and to not go beyond my physical limits but to still walk as much as I could. It seemed like a catch 22 because I needed to walk but it’s effects were so scary, I was afraid. But I kept trying. I would wait several days and try again. It was a long arduous process. Trying, waiting, trying again because I knew I couldn’t give up. So, keeping at it, pushing through the pain and fear I’m excited to report I can now walk three houses down my road, nearly 1/2 of a mile!! This is huge because there was a time three years ago, I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom and my husband had to carry me from room to room because my muscles were so weak.

I am physically gaining strength but still facing the challenge of not able to handle climbing more than one or two stairs at a time. My balance is not great and there seems to be a mild disconnection between my head and legs leaving me feeling all Loosey Goosey and wobbly in the space around me. My dear husband is like my own personal scout, scouting out places, locations and surroundings, making sure my body can handle it before we try adventuring out there into the world. My husband also has the additional challenge of handling all things pertaining to our downstairs basement/laundry room since I can not handle going down them unless I go slowly on my rear end. This is exhausting and doesn’t leave much energy left over for other tasks like laundry, cleaning, or sorting so those tasks rest on him now.

Your prayers are very much appreciated and I just want you to know I’m truly seeing results! God is slowly healing me and He is giving me moments of reprieve from the TBI, glimpses of hope and good sunny days. I’m able to handle social settings better (minus the stairs) and I need less recovery time then I required before. I even went to church last Sunday and was greatly encouraged by it.

The road to recovery is long and hard but I do see progress. And like a dear friend once said to me, “slow progress is still progress anyway.”

Much love,

Viv ❤

Here’s a link to my podcast where I was given the privilege of sharing my story.


Romans 11:33-36

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

For prayer requests please visit my page Come Pray With Me, and join in a loving community.

Lovely Little Rascal

It took time but I was able to capture a sweet little hummingbird feeding at our feeder today. This may be a female. She’s such a clever quick little beauty isn’t she? I hope you can see her even though the big white play arrow is smack dab in the middle of it.

Have a lovely day everyone!

Much love,

Viv ❤