78: Past My Expiration Date

78: Past My Expiration Date

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

Past My Expiration Date

By Shelley Mosley

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

~Isaiah 40:31

I sat with my husband and parents in the bleachers watching my son and daughter march proudly with their teams in the soccer parade. As I raised my arm to wave at them, pain shot from my shoulder to my fingers. A red, stinging rash covered my hand. My head felt as though it would explode at any moment, and I was so dizzy I needed to lie down. Fortunately, the parade came to an end, and I could go home and rest.

I tried to stand, but I couldn’t move. Somehow, my family got me down the bleachers and into the car. I was exhausted. As soon as I got home, I fell into bed. After I awoke, I glanced at a mirror. My face was swollen, and a red rash covered the bridge of my nose, part of my cheeks and my forehead.

Two days later, I told the doctor about my experience at the soccer parade. “Shelley,” he said gently, “I’m afraid you have lupus.” He arranged for me to see a rheumatologist as soon as possible.

I called my husband and mother. Although they were upset, I had an odd sense of peace. For several years, my random symptoms had been severe enough to send me to the doctor. They had tested me for everything, including lupus, but the tests always came back negative. Putting a label on what was wrong with me made it easier. Now my enemy had a name. With God’s help, I could fight it.

A few days later, I saw the rheumatologist. This time, my tests came back positive and verified the other doctor’s diagnosis. We discussed my treatment and changes I needed to make to my lifestyle. Then he dropped the bomb. He said if I took my medications, got plenty of rest, stayed out of the sun, and got a check-up every three months, I might live as long as ten years… if I was lucky. Ten years sounds like a lot of time, but I had a six-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son, and it was possible I wouldn’t live another year, let alone ten. Even in the best case, I wouldn’t be around to see Jessica graduate from high school.

The doctor tried various combinations of medications on me. Some of them made me feel so much sicker that I didn’t think I’d make the one-year mark. I joined a lupus support group, but their death rate was high. I dropped out, determined not to join their numbers. As the years went on, I developed more autoimmune problems — fibromyalgia, arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome — but I kept going.

I asked God for one thing over and over — to let me live long enough to raise my children. He has answered my prayer with abundance. I made it to my ten-year deadline. The years went by. By His grace, I’m fourteen years past what my husband calls “my expiration date.”

I will always believe in miracles. After all, I’m living one.

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