I have to be honest, I started writing this on Thursday evening on a flight to Charlotte, NC, and while I did pray and ask God to let His words pour out of my fingers and speak through me, I still kind of had it in my head that this would be how I finally “come out” about some health stuff to everyone in my circle. I had a wonderful (and kind of unexpected) conversation with God this weekend, so I definitely have a fresher perspective, and instead of continuing where I left off, I took it in a new direction. I feel moved to leave the first half pretty close to how I originally wrote it. Either way, I pray God’s words speak to your heart.
Some of you have been Facebook friends with me for a while, so you may recall some of the more significant events in my life. Well, for those of you that are new to the party, I will catch you up on a specific bit of Brittny History.
5 years ago on June 15, 2011, about a month into life as a 21 year old, I had the grand pleasure of having a brain tumor removed. YEP! You read that correctly, I had brain surgery. I know some of you are probably thinking, “no way! She’ pulling my leg,” but I assure you, I am not. You can even go ask my Momma!
Technically, it was a Pituitary Adenoma, which the Internet will explain to you as a tumor on your pituitary gland. Most people’s first reaction to that word is a sinking feeling in the gut, followed by a shaky question: “cancer?” Take heart dear friends; this is not that kind of story.
I will give you the SparkNotes version. The fall semester of my sophomore year of college found me with some terrible headaches, but they were not happening all the time, so I just assumed they were a symptom of withdrawals due to my caffeine dependency or lack of sleep. I cancelled the appointment I had with my primary care physician over Christmas Break because the headaches appeared to have stopped, which reaffirmed my initial idea that they were stress, sleep or caffeine related.
Spring 2011-I am back at school, ready to kick some butt! Within weeks, the headaches are back, but they are MEGA headaches, migraines. I have to be honest here: I kind of always thought that those folks that had migraines were just being dramatic, until I became one of them. They continued to get worse. Caffeine did not help them subside, and weaning myself off of caffeine did not help either. In addition to being tired all the time, I struggled to sleep and get good rest. THAT was frustrating. The headaches continued to intensify.
Luckily, my mom knows a few good people, so I was able to get in to see a Neurologist- and he was lovely. Diagnosis: chronic migraines. I had to keep a log of my diet, and my headaches. I also got a prescription for medicine to take daily in an effort to help prevent the migraines altogether. This did seem to help a little bit, but not enough to manage my pain. Meanwhile, I had a several MRIs of my brain completed, just for good measure. These scans did indeed reveal a little something on my Pituitary Gland.
With this new information, I was sent to an Endocrinologist in hopes of identifying this pesky little thing that is making my life completely miserable. The headaches only continued to get worse as time ticked along. They were so bad that sometimes I could not get out of bed. I just laid under the covers and cried because nothing could relieve the pressure in my head. These episodes were debilitating, and becoming more frequent. I had to drop 2 classes that semester, but to this day, they are the only ones. 😉 More appointments, scans, and labs revealed that indeed this tumor was trouble. It was 9mm, which I know, does not sound very big, but that particular gland is only about the size of a pea; so with this tumor, it was about twice the size it was supposed to be, in my brain, where things are already little more than cramped.
There was only one option for fixing this situation: surgery.
FYI this it’s where I picked up writing on the flight back to Houston on Sunday! You’ll probably notice a different tone of writing from this point forward.
It just so happens* that my mom knew a guy by the name of Dr. Kim. *This is not by happenstance. God has so carefully orchestrated every relationship for a purpose.* Kelly knew Dr. Kim because of working with one another for several years, and that ultimately led to her simply sending an email, receiving a very calm and reassuring response within 3 minutes, telling her that “this was just a bump in the road and [he] would take care of me,”and this ultimately led me in to see him to have this tumor removed.
Remarkably, I was never fearful. I had complete faith that God would deliver me. Completely. It didn’t hurt that LOTS of wonderful people were praying God’s healing on me for those few months. Surgery was smooth: up through the nose, poke, drain, slice, remove, done. Two days in recovery at the hospital. Two weeks in recovery at home. Headaches are gone, tumor is gone, and I am healed. GOD IS SO GOOD, YALL!!!!
This was all to set up what I am about to share about life now. PCOS. Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. If you don’t know what this is, here is the short answer: an endocrine disorder in which hormones are alllllllll out of wack. Hair thinning and loss, weight gain, inability to lose that icky extra belly weight, cysts on the ovaries due to irregular ovulation-which can cause infertility, facial and body hair growth, acne, Keratosis Pilaris (skin condition commonly the referred to as Chicken Skin), insulin resistance, which can lead to development of Type 2 Diabetes if not properly managed, and a few other random symptoms. What? Sounds cool!
Anyway, I was diagnosed with this in October of 2015, 3 months into my wonderful, brand spankin’ new marriage, and here I though I was in the clear of any health issues. God has a sense of humor, right?! I quickly found a support group on Facebook, and this community has helped me find ways of overcoming this, both naturally and with modern medicine. I learned about what kinds of things I needed to ask my doctor. I finally put the pieces together, and everything made much more sense! My brain tumor was directly related to my PCOS, and 5 years ago, I had no idea! Endocrine disorder and a tumor on the gland that controls the endocrine system. Oh, duh! I learned more about how to deal with it, and fighting to keep a good attitude. These awesome ladies have been so helpful in keeping me positive in the midst of this annoying disorder. It is hard to feel beautiful and feminine with a mustache and the constant urge to cry for no apparent reason other than your hormones and your body have betrayed you. More importantly, I felt this constant stress and worry about whether or not I would ever be able to conceive. PCOS is the number 1 cause of female infertility, and with a family history of numerous other medical issues, this scared me. I tried to convince myself that I would not worry about that until later because that was a problem for future Brittny, not me. It always felt like it was hovering in the back of my mind, quietly nagging me. “What if I can’t give my husband the children he desires? What if I can only take give my parents grandpuppies instead of grandbabies? What if I never get to know the miracle of growing life inside me? I have always dreamed of motherhood; is this suddenly unattainable? Well, modern medicine is pretty amazing, so it is probably attainable, but how expensive will it be? Could we afford it? How long will it take? Should we start trying now, before we feel ready, so we are finally pregnant by the time we actually want to be?”
It was exhausting.
This weekend, I saw God, and spent some quality time with Him, in a pretty unconventional way, but all I can say is WOW! God will most definitely come and meet you wherever you are. I know I have said this so many times before but YALL!!! HE WILL! Jesus is always trying to find a way to speak to us and be with us. He never gives up on trying to walk with us. The same Dude that CREATED THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE, just wants to love us and spend time with us. That is pretty cool!
Anyway, what I heard this weekend was this:
- Words are so powerful, especially the words you put on yourself. When you say “I am ___________. ” That is a label. What do you write in that blank? How do you label yourself? Strong? Intelligent? Kind? Wonderful? Dazzling? Witty? Pretty*? Anything less than these words is the enemy trying to steal your joy and peace.
*My sweet Granny, Linda Jo Ashton, used to say, “pretty is as pretty does”, so your beauty has nothing to do with what you look like.*
- “I Am” is a God Breath, because He is the I AM and breathes LIFE into every single being on Earth. When you say things like, “I am average. I am fat. I am not very pretty. I am not as _____________ as [any other person],” you are polluting the breath of God. That is kind of rude, don’t you agree? He thinks you are wonderfully, perfectly made, and He wants you to love yourself like He does. That is kind of mind blowing to me, and I am humble enough to admit that this is something I struggle with daily. As a human, I can’t help it, but maintaining focus on the JOYS of The Lord all around me, definitely makes life as a human a little easier to handle.
I am sure you are probably wondering, “yeah, but what does that have to do with PCOS?” I am getting to that.
- The Lord Jesus is the ultimate healer, right? That’s what I’ve read in the Bible. I remember a few people who were labeled as “sick, gross, not fixable”. They suffered from blindness, leprosy, paralysis, and even a mild case of death. Jesus told this dude to just get up with his mat, and WALK, after a lifetime of being carried around because his legs did not work. Another person had already died, and Jesus said, “psh, I got this. Yo! Wake up and go do stuff- you are healed!”
Those are what we call miracles, people!
Wait, science, and myself -if I am being honest, have labeled me as “having PCOS”. While lots of women don’t really struggle or have difficult lives with this diagnosis, many woman do have a hard time because of this diagnosis- it looks different on everyone. “I have PCOS. I am Poly Cystic.” You are probably thinking, “yeah, Brittny, It sounds like a scientific diagnosis. That isn’t a label; that is just science.”
Ehhh……. I am going to go ahead and say that is a label.
- In my time with The Lord this weekend, I heard Him say to me, “What do you want to believe in? Science or Miracles?”
WHOA! Okay, Lord. You got me! I have always thought that the two were intertwined, but sometimes, miracles can happen outside of the understanding of science. I have experienced miracles in my life many times, but with this whole health situation, it just felt different. It was a permanent diagnosis because there is no cure; there are just methods of managing the symptoms. I feel moved to share my whole heart; and that means being honest.
- I did not realize that while I believed in miracles, faithfully, I was kind of cutting myself out from experiencing them. It was pointed out that I was being a bit of a control freak and trying to handle this myself, which is kind of funny because generally, I am not a controlling type of person. I was trying to rely on science and the natural techniques I learned from the group to manage this on my own. I even rationalized that with thoughts like, “God can heal me from this, but on His terms”. I was too afraid to even ask for total healing. I put myself on the back burner so he could spend some miracles on His other children, because I was “doing okay for now”. WHAT AN EGO, but I thought I was being courteous to other people in line, letting them cut ahead because they might need God more than me at that moment. Newsflash! Everyone needs Him. Period. The only difference in how much we need Jesus is actually just how much we realize we need Him.
- In our conversation, I heard Him say to me, “you are healthier than you think you are. Stop worrying so much. I am the ultimate physician. There are no health problems.”
It rattled me a little bit. I had to ask for clarification. (God tells me something explicitly, and I asked for more information. I can’t help but laugh at how silly that sounds now.) Wait, God, are you sure I don’t have any health problems? I had all these signs and symptoms of a very clear health condition. I had proof of it! You are sure I am healthy?? I trust you, and I am so happy to hear that, but are you sure?? I realized that I needed to shut up about that and just say, “Yes Sir.”
I believe in miracles, and I always have. Science is a feeble human’s way of explaining those miracles, and I definitely still believe in science 100%, but regardless, I 100% believe in miracles. More importantly, I was reminded that I do believe that I am worthy of actually experiencing those miracles, and I need to be better about recognizing His grace and little miracles on a daily basis.
Jesus loves us beyond what we can even comprehend, and craves a relationship with us so much! He keeps our pictures up on HIS refrigerator, after He died for us. He let himself be crucified and basically murdered so that we don’t have to spend eternity lost without Him. I feel like I can’t find the words to fully express the magnitude of this action or my thankfulness for this. What kind of pure and perfect LOVE that must be?!
Jesus literally BEAT death. Not just when he brought someone back to life, but He, Himself, died. “Now, death where is your sting? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated!” If God can put death (the most final thing) in its place, I am pretty sure my wild ovaries and crazy hormones ain’t nothin but a thang. How can I not trust His healing?!
It is apparent that I am not ready for children right now, and this health situation was just my body pressing pause for me. The Lord knows that my heart and my soul need a little bit more work and a lot more self love before I can be responsible for another human. I am trusting His plan for me, my heart, my body, my marriage, my life. I will not let His Light in me be dimmed or dulled by the mundane and annoying portions (people) of life. Of course, I will still get annoyed and frustrated, and sad, and angry because I am still a human. I will combat that as much as I can, with a little help, of course. I will let myself feel and rely on The Holy Spirit in every situation. “Refine me, Lord, through the flames.”
When there is constant communication, a relationship flourishes. Why would my relationship with my CREATOR be any different? Hint: it shouldn’t. 😉 I am going to seek His guidance and plan for my life, because I want to live fully. I want to THRIVE! I realized that I am not thriving. I’m surviving. How boring and sad is that?! I am willing to encourage others to live a full life and to seek God’s plan for their life, but I can’t encourage myself to do the same?! Sounds a bit hypocritical to me. Ouch.
I want to be the absolute best version of myself, in every possible way, because I am doing myself and those around me a humongous disservice by being content with mediocrity (or being downtrodden by a diagnosis). We were handcrafted by THE CREATOR OF EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE GALAXY! Each of us was made to be great; we can’t be afraid to go for that greatness! I’m going for it, and I pray you find the strength and courage to do the same.
If you made it this far, thank you and I love you! I hope you received something from this. Feedback is welcome, so let me know what you think!