Strength When I’m Weary

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Isiah 40:29 says, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” As a person of faith I believe this. I’ve seen this in my own life.

I shared some of the ways I’ve witnessed proof of this during my speech at the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association public forum. I’m sharing examples of this in my fifth and sixth video of the week. One will tell you why it’s okay to ask for help sometimes. The other shares how I get the best medical care.

Maybe one of my video clips, if not all, will allow people to see a chronically ill individuals differently in the future. If you missed my other video, you can find them on my page here, search my name on YouTube or on my blog: NikaBeamon.com

Everyone Needs Help Sometimes

Ensuring I get the best medical care

 

#autoimmunedisease #invisibleillness #chronicillness #chronicpain #igg4 #disability #detroit #spoonie #africanamerican #women

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Reason To Smile

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It shouldn’t take a day on the calendar like today, #worldsmileday, to get each of us to smile every day. There’s so much to be grateful for that should cause a grin.

Every morning I thank God for my ability to walk, talk, see hear, breathe and just be because I know I didn’t have to wake up. This morning, I smiled when I woke up next the man I love, realized it was Friday, I wasn’t in a lot of pain for the first time in 3 days, and my family and I were about to take a weekend trip together.

Yesterday, a co-worker I hadn’t seen in a while brought candy in the shape of a happy face, my mother told me she loved me, I wrote about happy news and I made it through another day. Those were all great reasons to smile.

It’s hard for me to find my smile some days but I try. I smile through the pain caused my condition, the procedures its triggered and the difficulty walking because faith tells me suffering only lasts for a day. I smile through the loneliness because with God in my heart never alone. I smile through the aggravation and stress of life because the alternative, frowning or crying, wouldn’t make things any better. A smile on my face gives way to joy in my heart.

So, can’t you find a reason to smile today?

#chronicpain #noexcuses #worldsmileday #chronicillness #invisibleillness #autoimmunedisease #igg4 #faith #smile

The Need To Escape

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I woke up after just six hours of sleep and thought I’m not going to be able to function today. My eyes burned and my head throbbed as I glanced at my phone. Just for one day I wish I could escape this body, I thought.

I swallowed a pill and used my legs, which had a tingling sensation from the knees down, to stumble to the bathroom. As water washed over me, I mumbled my morning prayers. I asked the aching in my joints and the pins and needles in my calf to end. But, it didn’t.

So, I got back to my bed and did Yoga stretching. Finally, I felt okay. Unfortunately that changed as my fiancé and I made the 1 1/2 hour long drive to CT to pick up his son.

We could both barely stand when we got there but the smile on that child’s face upon seeing us made it worth it. We hurried off to Chick-Fil-A for lunch in North Haven. A worker came up and asked about our visit, cracked some jokes, and made us feel as if we were in someone’s home. The banter relaxed me as I took more meds.

When we arrived at our house a few exits away, yard work had to be done. I clipped bushes with a hand held hedge trimmer. The whole time, the rotator cuffs in both arms felt like they would give out. I kept thinking, I wish I could escape this life; everything is so hard for me.

At around 6:45 we decided to head to the mall. We were about to try to escape from Alcatraz.

50 minutes were on the clock when the door to our prison cell was locked. My fiancé, his son and I figured out the first clue easily. Then, my ” stepson” found a box with the second clue. My fiancé solved it and we were on to the third with forty minutes to spare. But, we hit a wall. Nearly 17 minutes and a mini meltdown passed before we got into the box that gave us the code to find the final clue. We were free wth six and a half minutes left.

On the ride to dinner, I thought, I’ve often wanted to escape from paying my bills, my job, my body, and my chaotic life. Today, I learned from an escape room that there are no easy exits. I may always require help, a plan and a drive keep me from giving up. But, with the love of family anything is possible.

#NeedToEscape #ChronicIllness #ChronicPain #Disability #AutoimmuneDisease #CT #NJ #ChickFilA #EscapeRoom

Will Relying On Faith Be The Only Way The Sick Survive Under the AHCA?

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I bowed my head and prayed yesterday as I watched the votes roll in for the American Health Care Act. I wondered, how can elected leaders vote on a plan without knowing its impact, it’s total cost, or its benefits? How could they, in good conscience, believe that agreeing to something blindly is the right way to protect any American?

By the time my prayer was over, the tally was in and the measure passed in the House. I watched as President Trump heralded Republicans for a bill that will allow states to get a waiver to let insurers  off the hook for covering people with pre-existing conditions.  I wondered, how the same man who denounced discrimination just hours before could applaud a bill that is biased towards the chronically ill?

Before the vote, President Trump signed the Religious Freedom Bill. He said his administration wouldn’t allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, silenced or discriminated against again. Was his outrage over oppression genuine? Or, is it reserved for people who shared the same income, values or political views?

Of course, the executive order the President signed relaxes the tax rules for religious organizations and the rules regarding punishing them for participating in political campaigns. Conservatives hope this will mean more money in their pockets and speaking opportunities. Meantime, the AHCA  they support will take more money from the working poor, elderly and chronically ill Americans. Aren’t the people affected by the ACHA the same ones religious leaders should be striving to protect and help?

The ACHA will also defund Planned Parenthood, removing medical care options. Conservatives see this as a victory for family values and the right to life movement. But, who will care for sick children born to parents without healthcare? What kind of quality of life will they have without proper medical attention?

I can only assume the President has decided the sick will survive on faith if the AHCA passes in the Senate. Or, perhaps his administration is sending message that discrimination against the sick is okay if it’s good for his political clout.

#ACA #obamcare #healthcare #ACHA #trump #PresidentTrump #sick #discrimination #ChronicIllness #Autoimmunedisease #PlannedParenthood #ReligiousFreedom #ChronicPain #igg4

Wash Away The Pain

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I turned on the shower early this am so the water could drown out my tears. The hot water flowing across my shoulders relaxed me, if only for a few moments. I wanted to scream, shake my fists to the heavens or falls to my knees. But, I couldn’t decide which one to do so I cried. No matter what I did, I couldn’t ease my pain.

I kept thinking about the harsh words from someone I love that wounded my souI so deeply I’m not sure it will ever heal. I could see my father’s face in the hospital as he tries to be brave amid heart trouble. I could see my mother acting as the rock while I know she must be racked with fear like me. I glanced down at my broken toes and bruised arms from the crutches I’m using to get around and thought about the money yet another illness will cost me. I stared at my body riddled with scars from more than 25 procedures because my autoimmune condition and thought, how much more can I take?

I stood under the shower head until my face was only wet by the water coming out from it. Then, I silently prayed for God’s guidance. By the time I stepped out, I had no answers but I was a bit more calm because I’d gotten my pain and fear out and I felt a bit less lonely. All I could do is dry off and begin again. #autoimmunedisease #chronicillness #faith🙏 #backpain #nevergiveup #family #igg4

Huffington Post Blog: Testimony Is Good For The Body, Mind and Soul

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As a little girl, I’d go with my grandmother Nettie to her church, Beulah Baptist in Harlem, on Sundays. I would sit there, eating the peppermints or caramels from her pocketbook, as the organist played. I’d sway when the choir sang hymns while I waited to receive the “word” — that’s what my grandmother called the pastor’s sermon. However, before we’d find out what Bible lesson we’d hear about, a church elder would share the church announcements; a list of the sick, choir rehearsal times or special events. Then, the parishioners would be invited to testify.
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I recall being mesmerized whenever someone stood up and began bearing their soul. The stories of sin, woe, or physical pain were told honestly and without shame. They often ended with these lines: “Praise Jesus, he didn’t bring me this far to leave me or God is good all the time,” that’s when the congregation would say, “Amen.” I’d often sit there bewildered about how anyone could thank God for the upset in their life but now I understand.


In my teenage years and early twenties, Catholic Church became my home and I was encouraged to go to confession; the same idea but your testimony is done in private. Still, I avoided sharing my most intimate thoughts with anyone. Now, more than 20 years after I was stricken with an autoimmune disease, sharing my testimony is necessary part of my life.

About five years ago, a lump on the left side of my throat changed my approach to my overall health. You see, my head, neck and throat surgeon said he was told to perform a surgical lymph node biopsy because my doctor suspected I had Lymphoma. The thought of dying before I was 40 years ago shook me to my core. Sure, I put on a brave face with my boyfriend, friends and family but inside I was consumed with thoughts terrifying thoughts like will the cancer kill me? Will it bankrupt me? Will my boyfriend leave me because I’m too ill? Why am I going through this? In addition to my physical pain, the mental suffering was almost unbearable. I’d often sit on the toilet in the bathroom and run the shower so that no one could hear my tears. Sleeping wasn’t any easier, if the nightmares didn’t wake me up, I’d rise in the morning with my heart beating fast and a headache.

Within two months, I’d lost almost 40 pounds. I’d shrunk to the weight I was in college in an unhealthy way. My hair was shedding and my skin and mouth were constantly dry. But, what people noticed most was that the light in my eyes, that sparks that I used to have, was gone. I knew I had to get that back if I was going to survive this fight and the other that came with having a chronic condition that requires me to take more than a dozen pills a day.

So, one day, I dropped to my knees and I prayed hard than I had before. And, I can’t explain it, but I rose and knew that writing about my story was one thing that would free me from the stress, self-pity, and worrying. That day, I began updating my blog. A few months later, I started the manuscript for my memoir, Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House. However, I still felt lost and alone; like the burden of living with my illness was still weighing heavily on me. It didn’t help that over the next few years my body kept failing. There were three more surgical lymph node biopsy, my stomach was repaired and I began have radio frequency ablation on the nerves in my spine.

I kept praying but I also started sharing my testimony about my everyday struggles on social media and with my loved ones. Being brutally honest about my feelings about the trials and tribulations in my life released me from the secrecy that kept me isolated. With each post, the tension in my shoulder lessened and my sleep patterns stabilized. There was another unexpected benefit, the way I thought about my struggles changed. I began to seeing both the positive and negatives of my experiences. I made a point to include each of these perspectives in my testimonies; this helped me learn how to cope with what I was going through. It also reaffirmed, for me, that faith gives you hope when life and medicine sometimes does not.

Here’s my latest testimony. Every step I take I’m afraid: of slipping, falling, injuring another part of my delicate body, of the pain of moving, of appearing to a victim because I’m a woman who moves slow with a cane. I fear getting too weak to get home; of being stranded, alone out in the elements. Yet, I push myself to get up and out every day. Why? I love the crunch of snow underneath my feet; it lets me know I’m still walking. I enjoy the rain beating down on my shoulders; it’s then I know I can still feel. I adore the sun on my face; it tells me I lived to see another beautiful day. I’m aware my chronic illness, autoimmune disease, gives me an excuse to stay in bed. But, days like to today remind me I’d rather fall living the best life I can than sitting in a corner of laying in bed waiting to die.

Follow Nika C. Beamon on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NikaBeamon

Originally posted on the HuffingonPost.com on 2/19– http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nika-c-beamon/testimony-good-for-the-bo_b_9265086.html

Faith in the Face of Death, Destruction and Mayhem

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When anyone asks me what I do for a living, I say I spend my day covering death, destruction and mayhem. I add in that every once in a while someone saves someone, some celebrity does something, someone is caught on camera, or someone creates something awesome. However, the vast majority of the time when I look wire copy, desk and reporter notes, listen to a presser or talk to an official or a public relations person, I’m covering tragedy; and that makes me wonder what’s going on in the world.

In the last two weeks, I’ve written about a TV cameraman and reporter gunned down by a former colleague. I wrote about the first hearing in the case of six officer accused of killing Freddie Grey. I covered a suspicious fire that may have been a murder suicide. I also detailed rapes, carjackings, and robberies. Sprinkled in between, I wrote a handful of happy stories. But, there are too few to count.

Every time I hear about an animal abused, a baby killed, a mass shooting, a terrorist bombing, etc… I wonder how there could be such evil. My faith tells me that both good and bad exist in the world; that if there is mercy and grace that the opposite also exists: wickedness, callousness and cruelty.

22 years, into my television career, I can’t imagine how I’d get through the day without my faith; it’s my most valuable asset while covering the news. Why? It gives me a sense of hope when circumstances tell me otherwise.

I revel when I get to cover the Pope who espouses a message of peace, forgiveness, charity, humility and preserving the world for future generations. I marvel at the relatives of victims of crime, especially those affected by the Charleston shooting, who are able to forgive the gunmen or attackers right away. My heart leapt when I heard about the three Americans who risked their lives to save their fellow train passengers. And, I beam when I’m selected to write the obituary of a person who has reshaped the world for the better so other won’t forget them.

These stories show me that the impossible is possible if you don’t say can’t, if you don’t give up, if you’re not discouraged, and if you believe in something greater than yourself. After all, that’s the definition of faith; it’s having faith or confidence in a person, thing or idea without proof.

I know that despite all that I’ve seen and the horrific stories I’ve told (9/11, the Tsunami, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Haiti Earthquake, tornadoes in the South and Midwest)I can still see the resilience of the human spirit. I can still tell the difference between right and wrong. I still want the underdog to prevail, the lost child to be found, the wars to end, the militants to be caught, the economy to recover, and the senseless murders to cease. My faith gives me hope in mankind, even if by achieving these things, I’d be out of a job.
About the author:

Nika C. Beamon is a TV writer/producer working in New York City. She is the author of the memoir, Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House about her nearly 20 year quest to find the correct medical diagnosis.  In 2009, Chicago Review Press published her non-fiction book, I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married.  She’s also written two mystery novels.