Finding out about my Autoimmune Hepatitis occurred during my first year at DPJH. It is funny how you remember things in your life. I remember some things by the pets I had in my life at the time, others are the friends I was with, and then some are by my job at the time. That summer I started taking my immunosuppressants and steroids. GROSS! That is the best word to describe steroids. It makes you grow hair, makes you gain weight, makes you irritable, makes your bones brittle, makes you feel like you are never full, makes you feel nauseated and the list goes on. I decided that I was going to stay upbeat while taking steroids and it was/is a daily battle within myself. I got my very own waxer to take care of the hair issue, and I adopted a new motto about gaining weight, "I would rather be big and happy instead of a skinny sack of bones in the ground." It kind of put things in perspective for me. I know that when I get to heaven, Jesus is going to say, "Katrinia, here is a skinny body for you, go and eat whatever you want and don't even think about exercising." Guys, I know that this really won't matter in heaven, but it still makes me smile. I have to be honest, some days I lose the battle and I lash out at the people that I love the most, but luckily most of them are very forgiving and understanding. I had already purchased plane tickets to go back to Africa with my Pawpaw, Aunt Kim, and my brother John. I asked my hepatologist about this and he said I could go, but this should be the last time. Since I am now immunocompromised, I was extremely vulnerable to all the diseases and new bacteria the country of Africa had to offer. My doctor made me promise I would never go back after this summer. I agreed with my fingers crossed, I have never been a person that likes it when people try to put boundaries around me. If you really want me to do something, all you have to do is tell me that I can't do it.
What a blessing that trip to Africa was, the only bad thing was that I missed Paul while I was away. I now see that God had this in his plan. First off, after going to Botswana and seeing all the hospitals there full of sick people, I suddenly was so grateful that I lived in America, and not only that I lived in Houston with some of the best medical care the world has to offer. Thank you Jesus! I also became grateful for this precious time with my very elderly grandfather. He is truly a legend. He is very giving, but you would never know because he never needs the credit for his gifts. I only know this secret about him because I lived with him for three years and I caught him in the act of his kindness. I was able to camp out in a tent with my Pawpaw in Africa. Who else can say this? This trip was also the first time I realized my brother had a true gift and passion for sharing the Word of God. He can witness to anyone unashamed. I wish I was more like him in this way, there have been way too many times that I passed an opportunity to share my faith. Strange, when you are sick, things are suddenly easy to prioritize in my mind. I am unashamed of the love I have for Jesus Christ. Anytime I am down, all I have to do is look at my son and there is no mistake that God loves me and fulfills His promises. On the day Thomas was born, I wanted to shout from every rooftop about my God! This trip also allowed me to truly bond with my Aunt Kim. I will never know how she accomplished all that she has in her life. She is a single mom to 3 wonderful kids, an RN, a believer, a sister, a daughter, a volunteer, a friend, and my hero. Did you know that when my parents couldn't afford new school clothes for me while I was in high school, Kim took me shopping for new clothes and I got to buy something that wasn't on sale? Now, as I am a grown-up, I fully understand the sacrifice she made for me. I am sure she had to work an extra shift for that or she had to give something up that she needed for herself. I am forever thankful for her love and her example. She is happy and content, you can't really say that about too many people these days.
There are plenty of funny stories from Africa too, so as I continue to blog, I might throw in an Africa story or two. When I came back home, it was time to get ready for the next school year. I couldn't wait, I was moving up to the 8th grade and I had absolutely loved my seventh grade students, so I was pumped to get to continue with such a great group of kids. I was excited about taking over the cheerleaders and I didn't feel like the new kid on the block anymore. I realized that I had to just keep living my life the best I could.
One area that was still a little crazy was my relationship with Paul. While I loved him with all of my heart, and I knew he loved me too, I had a lot on my mind. I struggled daily with the thought of him not being a dad, I watched him with children all the time and I knew he would be amazing. His dad is the same way, children are drawn to them. I wanted him to experience that. I mean, I wanted children too, but I could deal with no children by myself, but I didn't want to be the cause of him not having children. I think I had a small glimpse of some of the emotions that infertile couples struggle with. I'm not saying I know what they go through, just a little taste of the emotions that engulf you when you think you can't reproduce. The one thing I didn't count on, was my amazing God. I wish I could go back and have no worries or fears about this It would definitely have made Paul's life easier. I also was worried about gaining weight. I wanted Paul to have a beautiful wife for the rest of his life. I worried about dying and that changing his life, I worried about him having to take care of me. I worried that my illness would ruin his life. I probably should have shared all of these worries with Paul, instead I did what an insecure woman does and I pushed him away. Insecurity was a new feeling for me, I had always been extremely confident and fearless, but when you have a chronic illness, something inside of you says, "see you aren't good enough, you are damaged." I wish I hadn't listened to myself because I would have been married a lot longer these days if I had just followed my heart.
Okay, my baby just started crying, he is a little under the weather, so I must go, more to come......