Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Heart Breaks...

My youngest has had swine flu this past week and is finally starting to come around. It's exhausting when your kiddos are sick! It's one thing for ME to live with chronic illness, but it would be something entirely different if any of my children did.

Tonight I'm thinking about those of you who have emailed me worried about your sick children and my heart is breaking for you. I can't begin to know what that must be like.

Please know I'm praying for you and your sweet children and wishing you refreshing hope.

With HOPE,

Friday, August 14, 2009

Just an update...

Had a treatment last night after work. I'm so blessed with a wonderful nurse who tries to work around my crazy schedule! Felt fine after the IVIG, but tossed and turned all night. Had a little trouble getting up this morning, but made it to work...early even! Queasy today, but no migraine. Just a little headache and I can't complain at all. Luka's giving me a fantastic shoulder massage in exchange for a milkshake. Can't beat that!

With hope,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Do You Remember?

I don't have a particular fondness for Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett, but talk of their deaths has been the focus of just about every news clip I've seen today. If you were a fan of either of these celebrities, chances are you'll always remember exactly where you were today when you heard the news of their passing.

I remember when Elvis Presley died. I was home watching tv with my mom and dad who were huge fans and both cried. (Yes, it's true...they really cried). I remember where I was when the space shuttle exploded. I was at JCPenney's after a college class. I remember where I was when 9-11 began to unfold. I was walking through my bedroom after taking Ellen to school and caught it on ABC.

Do you remember when you first heard about Jesus? Do you remember the first time you realized how much he loved you? Do you remember when you felt as though you would simply burst with passion for him? Do you remember when you walked into the water on the day you were baptized?

I remember it like it was yesterday. Just thinking about it leaves me breathless and my eyes well up with tears. If you haven't thought about it for years, take a moment and think back to that day when you let down the walls around your heart. Remember how it felt to trust so completely? Remember that child-like faith and reckless abandon? Do you remember?

I remember and I never want to forget.

With hope,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When it's time to change, then it's time to change!

Remember the Brady Bunch episode where the Brady kids are in the recording studio singing "When it's time to change, then it's time to change. Don't fight the tide, come along for the ride. Can't you see? When it's time to change you've got to rearrange who you are into what you're gonna be. Sha na na na na na...."

Well, life has certainly changed. Whew! Hold on a minute while I catch my breath! Life doesn't stay the same for long these days, does it? I thought I'd just share some of the changes in my life in the recent months with you...

The first drastic change I experienced wasn't quite as light-hearted as the Brady Bunch episode...It was heartbreaking for me. My family and I left the church we loved dearly and began the painful, dreaded search for a new church home. We had been part of this church for many years and our children never knew anyplace else. Many tears were shed in this decision, but looking back now I know it was the right decision for all of us. Difficult, but right for everyone involved including the loved ones we left behind.

In addition to leaving our family, I was also leaving my job. A job that I was passionate about for countless reasons. This was a huge financial blow to my little family and one we are still recovering from.

Shortly after leaving my job, my three kids and I were in a terrible car accident. All four of us walked away by the grace of God, but I was very slow to recover and still deal with a few issues. Thankfully though my kids were all okay after a couple months of physical therapy.

I started a new job (shortly after the accident) which I'm enjoying. I'm the Quality Control Manager for a rental management company here in our coastal city. I handle vacation rentals of all kinds and am learning way more than my little brain can handle. Great co-workers and one amazing boss and I still get off in time to pick up my kids from school (most days!)! Who could ask for more?

We have found a new church home and are starting to let our guard down. I've been a spectator for awhile now while I've healed and restored my mind and heart. Still not quite ready to get in the game, but creeping ever closer to the scrimmage line.

Through all of this my CIDP has flared more than you can imagine. No feeling in my back, weakness in my neck, tremendous joint pain. My body's had such a hard time getting used to working and for awhile there I didn't think I was going to be physically able to do it. At night I'm so tired I could just cry, but I seem to be less and less tired at the end of the day as time goes on. This gives me hope that my body will eventually adjust. For now, I just keep rolling along! Still having monthly IVIG infusions and praying for a cure.

And you? I know I'm not the only one who's life has changed lately. What's going on in your little corner of the world? I'd love to hear about it. And Robin, thanks for the gentle nudge, my sweet friend!
Remember, when it's time to've got to rearrange who you are into what you're gonna be!

With hope,

Shampoo and Caviar

Running errands for condo owners awhile ago, I was in an area of town I'm not quite familiar with. Anytime I'm in a new area I find myself reading every imaginable sign until I'm on overload! You might think I'm crazy, but it's exhausting to go to a new city just because of all the new signs! You think I'm kidding, but it's true. I don't wanna miss a thing!

Trying to take in all the signage in this unfamiliar part of town, there was one that caught my eye. It read "Shampoo and Caviar". Interesting concept, isn't it? Bringing the finest to the simplest. Bringing the extraordinary to the ordinary. Shampoo is definitely not extravagant, but caviar certainly is.

I thought of how it's the same with me (and you!) and Jesus. I'm nothing more than a simple, ordinary shampoo. Jesus on the other hand is the finest, most extraordinary caviar. No one would've put the two of us together or even imagined the caviar would want to be associated with the shampoo. No one would've assumed that we even belong in the same sentence, much less on the same sign.

Thank you Jesus for being this shampoo's caviar.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Who Knew Things Could Change So Fast?

Hi Friends!

Who knew life could change so fast? Ha! My world has changed drastically since my last post and I can't wait to tell you all about it...some good, some bad. Such is life!

I'll be back in a few days to fill you in on all the details.

With hope,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome to the party!

Thanks for stopping by for the Ultimate Blog Party! Grab a cup of coffee and chat for awhile! I'm Kristen and I write about living with chronic illness and REFRESHING HOPE. Thanks for coming!

With HOPE,

Monday, March 16, 2009

After the Diagnosis

On Tuesday (tomorrow) on Oprah, Dr. Oz will report on what happens "After the Diagnosis" with special guest, Montel Williams. I don't normally recommend anything on tv unless I've watched it first, but this looks very promising. Check out the link below and see if it's something you might find interesting. I'm thankful they're interviewing someone who's closer to my age than what I usually see when chronic illness is discussed. Hopefully, this will be honest and not sensationalized. Transparency would be refreshing to see on tv!

With HOPE,

Saturday, March 14, 2009


When I was first diagnosed with CIDP, the future was incredibly scary and uncertain. I couldn't count on much...other than change. Changes in medication, treatment, changes in my ability, strength, changes in everything. One thing I wasn't expecting though were the surprises. If you live with chronic illness, you know the surprises I'm referring to.

I was surprised to find that others didn't see me as the same woman anymore. I was now the one who couldn't have lunch at the drop of a hat or the mom who couldn't make a sandwich for her three year old. I was no longer the same woman in the eyes of others. Surprise!

I soon found out who would surprise me as well. Who was it that loved me just for being ME and who loved me for the person I used to be? Family would be my biggest surprise. The strength my mom showed was unimaginable, but the ignorance of others I loved dearly was devastating. Their reaction to me still hurts to this very day. Surprise!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all came out of nowhere. The biggest surprise was hope, refreshing hope. Even when faced with a rare disease I was filled with an inexplicable hope. Even when family and friends reacted in fear and ignorance, I was filled with hope. Hope for a cure, hope for remission, hope for relief from pain, hope I would again feel my hands and feet, hope for something bigger and more meaningful than just my simple existence, hope for eternity in heaven.

I pray right now you are living a life filled with refreshing hope. A hope that washes over you like a fresh rain. A hope that quenches a thirst deep within you. A hope that comes only from a relationship with Jesus.

Refreshing hope...what a beautiful surprise!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sally's Story

I want to share an email I received from my new CIDP friend, Sally. She and I have shared emails and she writes about her CIDP experience below. I was honored when Sally contacted me as she has not communicated with others with this disease. If you would like to send her an encouraging note, please email it to me HERE and I will forward it on to her. Just wanted to post this because the unlikeliest of us benefit when someone shares their story. A special thank you to Sally for allowing me to share this!

Again, CLICK HERE to send Sally a note.

With hope,

In May of last year, I was suffering from a pulmonary disease that was later diagnosed by lung biopsy as Pulmonary Fibrosis, another rare disease. It's where the lung spontaneously starts scarring, which causes the lung tissue to get very stiff, and air can't pass through as it should. There is no real known cause, and, unfortunately, the only cure is lung transplant. That would be a long way off for me.... I went to Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida, for a regular appointment just prior to having the lung biopsy. I was complaining of weakness, numbness and tingling in my lower legs and feet, and forearms and hands.Pulmonology wanted to check it out before they did surgery, so they got me in to see a Mayo Neurologist that same day. Well, the docs did all kinds of nerve testing and a spinal tap, and pronounced me with Guillian-Barre. They then admitted me to the hospital (a brand new one at Mayo) and administered 5 days of IVIg. I have no idea what kind they were using. At any rate, I was CURED !!!, or so I thought. All the feeling came back into my hands and feet, and the tingling seemed to get better. I was instructed to be aware of the symptoms. and if they should come back, I was to contact Mayo again. Well, they did come back......about 6 weeks later I felt the tingly feeling in my hands again, so Mayo had me come back there for a 3 day dose of IVIg, which seemed to relive my symptoms. They discharged me on a "maintenance dose" of 3 days, once a month, to be done by home health because the local hospitals didn't have enough supply. I do know that home health was using GammaGuard. It did seem that just when it was about time for the infusion, I would have some return of symptoms, but not really significant, and it would always go away after treatment. Then I turned 65 (Ugh) in November and went on Medicare and a supplemental insurance policy. They would not pay for in home infusions, so I had to start going to our local hospital infusion center to get my treatments once a month. I have no idea what brand of IVIg they used, but I'm going to call today and see about getting copies of my records, which should show the brand name. None of my doctors have mentioned the Brand issue, and I find it very intriguing. Just last month, the treatment I had at the beginning of the month did not work, and I got no relief. In fact, I became weaker and weaker as the days went by. I returned to Mayo, and they felt I should try another infusion, since I had responded so well before, so that was accomplished within a few days. No response again....and great difficulty contacting my doctor at Mayo. I was so frustrated ! I've forgotten to tell you that I am on high doses of Prednisone for the Pulmonary Fibrosis, as well as the CIDP. I had a Pulmonary relapse in January, spent 5 days in hospital getting better, and was discharged on 60 mg Prednisone for 2 weeks, then 50 mg for 2 weeks, 40 mg for 2 weeks and now I'm on 30 mg. Will "step down" once more on Monday to 20 mg a day, and will stay on that dose for 6 months. My head looks and feels like a bowling ball, and I'm really having trouble with swelling. The weight gain is depressing for one who started out too heavy in the first place! I finally spoke with my doctor, and they have EMG testing scheduled for next Tuesday. He says that since the IVIg isn't working, there is nothing they can do for me if the testing doesn't show that I need further treatment. I asked about plasma-exchange and paraphrases, but he didn't even want to talk about it until I've had this testing done. I can't believe there's nothing they can do, and now that I know about the Brand issue and possibly having infusions more often, at least I can have a rebuttal for his "nothing they can do" statement. The worst symptom I have is extreme weakness in my knees, lower legs and feet. I have no feeling in the toes and the small ball right under my toes. I have no knee jerk reflex and no ankle reflex. I have a problem with balance, especially when turning around or turning to walk in a different direction. I do use a cane, and on bad days I use a rolling walker. I'm also on a long oxygen tube that can go throughout the house, so I must be very careful not to trip over that. I did have a fall yesterday.....onto soft carpet, Thank God! Just a little rug burn on my right knee and a couple bruises. It happened in our walk in closet when I tried to turn around to hang something on the rack. This is only the 2nd time I have fallen. My hands tingle a lot, and I've lost the dexterity in my fingers. Magazines slip out of my hands, and I drop things more often. I am currently doing Physical Therapy, but it's not going too well because I tire so easily. I feel like such a wimp....the exercises are not difficult, and I'm only up to 10 so far, but I just get so tired! (This is my second round of PT, and I requested it to try and keep my muscles in tone. I would like to go back to Pulmonary Therapy, but I can't walk on the treadmill right now (obviously). I'm going to start the Imuran when my husband gets home this weekend. (He's a retired physicist, who's following a life long dream of being a long distance truck driver......and he loves it!). I'm also to have an inhaled medication, Pentamidine, once a month the ward off the old PCP bug. I hope to be able to reduce the Prednisone even more one I get "settled" on the Imuran. Thank you for letting me "bend your ear". I probably should have put this on your blog page, but I've never done that before and not quite sure how to proceed. If you think it might help someone else, please feel free to cut and paste it there. Sincerely,Sally

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Am Tired

For the past few days I've been dealing with mindblowing exhaustion. It's not the exhaustion that comes from "doing" too much or running myself ragged, but rather the exhaustion that comes from CIDP. It's an inexplicable feeling, but one many can relate to. Exhaustion/severe fatigue is a symptom of many chronic illnesses. Mine tends to manifest itself more as weakness, but this month fatigue has reared it's ugly head.

I'm not talking about "I need to take a quick nap" type of exhaustion. I'm talking about "Crawl into a corner anywhere" type of exhaustion. Every step requires concentration and determination. Chewing becomes a nuisance and it's easier to skip meals. Driving kids to school is difficult because it's hard to hold down the pedals for an extended period of time. Walking becomes a planned event.

THAT'S the type of exhaustion I'm referring to. It's just the way things are. It's just a fact of life for me and for many others. So what can we do to live with this? The three suggestions below are just a few I'm going to focus on today.

Surviving exhaustion/fatigue:

1. Meditate on God's Word. Mt. 11:28-30 is already running through my mind this morning and will be the promise I focus on today.

2. Pray. I keep a constant conversation going with God on days like these (and many other days!). I talk to him about everything and listen for Him to talk to me.

3. Watch encouraging tv/movies. When I'm too weak to hold a book or the laptop, I turn on the tv and find an encouraging show to watch. Redbox is a great inexpensive way to keep movies on hand for days like this.

Please let me know if I can encourage you today. I would love to pray for you by name.

With Hope,


Friday, February 27, 2009

It's A Girl Thing!

Last night, the leaders of It's A Girl Thing held a dinner for all their volunteers and speakers. It was awesome to be with such amazing women! It was a pleasure to finally meet Nancy Darnell face to face after numerous phone calls and emails. What a great woman of God!

If you haven't already got your ticket, you'll definitely want to be there! Teenage girls (high school and middle school), youth/student leaders and volunteers, mentors, and moms will be encouraged, informed, and uplifted. Ayeisha Woods and Jenny Broughton will be there! Wow!

There are many breakout sessions on Saturday to choose from. I'm leading a session entitled "Refreshing Hope: Uncovering Three Keys to Raising Teenage Daughters While Living With Chronic Illness". I would love to have you join me if you're in the area.

Check out

With HOPE,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crawling into my cave

Without going into the gorey details, my church life has recently changed dramatically and it has been extremely painful. I've shared before how I tend to withdraw when I'm going through a difficult patch and this time is no different. I find myself not answering phone calls, saying "No thanks" to lunch invites, and basically crawling into my cave. Call it hibernating, pouting, or self-preservation. The fact remains, this is my natural tendency.

I've tried not do that this time and have done fairly well. I have my moments, though and today was one of those moments. Our small group meets on Wednesday nights. It's just a group of us who've been friends for years and our families get together for uplifting, encouraging Bible study.

Today, I didn't want to go. I just wanted to hide from the uncertainty, the pain, and just do my own thing. Luckily, my friends didn't let me off the hook that easily and my family and I went after all. I was quiet through the entire meeting because I was fighting back tears. Tears of anger, betrayal, grief...but more than that...tears of thankfulness. I'm thankful for TRUE community and family. I'm thankful for the love of family that exists based on our shared belief in Jesus and that has grown through living our lives together. I was overwhelmingly uplifted and encouraged just by being there.

The same can be true in dealing with chronic illness. It's extremely important to stay connected. Isolation can be devastating and lead to depression in some cases. Staying connected to friends, family, even online friends can be a tremendous blessing. I encourage you to reach out even when you don't "feel like it". Pick up the phone, say "yes" to lunch invitations, even email or visit forums or health blogs. Even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone, don't allow isolation creep into your life with chronic illness.

I'd love to hear what's worked for you and how you've stayed connected to others. Email me (kristenreyna at gmail dot com) or leave me a comment.

With HOPE,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Put on a happy face

Well girls...this is one of those days.

A day when I know I've got to suck it up, put on my big girl panties and put on a happy face. I can take charge of my own life and choose joy or I can wallow in self pity.

Today, I choose joy! What about you? Are you going to allow your symptoms, your financial situation, or even the rest of the world determine your attitude today?

Suck it up, put on your big girl panties and your happy face. I'm not saying that's easy to do because it's not. "Easy" would be wallowing in self pity today. If you find you can't do it alone today, email me and we can find strength together.

Don't fake it, but make the choice to find joy this morning!

With hope,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What A Weekend!

Welcome to my new Dallas and Plano friends! I was honored to spend time with you this weekend and so encouraged by you!

I was blessed to participate in a Women's Conference last weekend held in Dallas and Plano and it was fantastic! I met so many new friends and was tremendously blessed! I hope to have pictures up soon, so be sure to check back.

I led two breakout sessions, gave a talk in the main arena, and did two of my original dramas as well as shared songs. I was tremendously encouraged by the hearts of my new friends and amazed at how God brings us together through events like this one.

MacKenzie, you've been on my heart since Saturday. I'm praying for you. Your courage and your faith in God is inspiring. Hope to hear from you!

To those who shared their personal stories of illness with me, I'm truly blessed and honored you would share such intimate experiences with me. I would love to hear how things are going for you. Leave me a comment or send me an email anytime! It became even clearer to me this weekend to continue sharing about my illness and the HOPE I've found.

God is good and he never leaves us without refreshing hope. Embrace the hope that comes only from HIM and let's walk together on this journey!

With HOPE,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Need Your Help

I'm busy preparing for Refreshing Hope which begins next Monday. It's a motivational, inspirational class for women living with chronic illness. I can't wait to get started and next Monday will be our first meeting.

That's where YOU come in! If you live with a chronic illness, please consider leaving a comment for me in answer to the following question:

What is the ONE thing you do for yourself that makes living with chronic illness just a bit easier?

Now I'm not saying anything makes living with illness EASY, but what is it you do for yourself that takes the edge off just a bit? I have never been much for pampering myself, but after living with CIDP for many years, having a pedicure is something I do for myself that makes life easier for me. It's a treat and it's a healthy thing for me.

Now it's your turn!

What is the ONE thing you do for yourself that makes living with chronic illness easier?

With HOPE,