Thursday, November 19, 2009

As if I didn't have enough crappy news

I was really hoping for some good news when I went to see my rheumatologist, but I didn't get any.

As most of you know, I have rheumatoid arthritis and I have been struggling with it for about a year and a half now. I have been on various different medications, trying different doses to find what works. I have finally reached a point where I feel that the medications are working and I have been feeling better and more capable of doing "normal" things. But, after I had some blood work done, it turns out I am not doing as well as I had hoped.

First, my CBC showed a high platelet count. According to my doctor, this is an indication that I continue to have inflammation which is not being controlled by my medication. Normally, he said, at this point we would probably try to change my medication up to the "next step". However, looking at the rest of my blood test results, we can't do that because the other test that came back high was my ALT (liver function). So, my liver is not responding well to my medication and my ALT more than doubled from my last test a few months ago.

So, what this means for me is that I will actually have to cut my current medication in half. We will have to try to manage pain with pain medications and try to control inflammation with prednisone (which I hate taking!). After two months of that, I will do blood work again, and if the test is o.k. then we can start slowly increasing my medications every couple of months back up to where I am now. Basically, my doctor told me that I am looking at 6 months of trying to deal with the pain and discomfort I thought I was done with.

On the bright side, I talked him into waiting until January to change my meds. Jason and I are going to Rome the week after Christmas and I did not want to have my vacation ruined. At this point, this may be my last chance to take a trip like this.

So, just for future reference, anyone willing to donate half of their liver to me???

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How do you explain the unexplainable?

My friend Suzanne has breast cancer. She is one of the most incredible women that I know and this has been a huge blow to me and all of her friends. One of the most difficult things for me to deal with has been explaining it to Darian.

Darian adores "Mrs. D". He once told me that if he could live with any of his friends, it would be with Sam, mostly because "Mrs. Di Silvestri is, like, one of the greatest moms ever." Darian knows that we have been praying for her health, but last night he happened to read over my shoulder while I was reading Suzanne's blog regarding the diagnosis of breast cancer. He asked me about it, we talked a bit, and he simply said, "We just have to keep praying."

Then, about fifteen minutes after he went to bed, he came out of his room, sobbing. I asked what was wrong and he said, "I'm so scared for Sam's mom." I held him for awhile and we both cried together. After a few minutes, he looked up at me and asked, "Mom, why did God let Mrs. D get cancer?"

That, my son, is the million dollar question. I wish I had an answer. I know that God has a plan for all of us and I know that we won't always understand those plans. I know that our God is a God of love, and whatever the outcome, it will be for the greater good. But, knowing these things in my head and knowing them in my heart are two different things. So, for the moment, my most honest response is simply, I don't know.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rite of Candidacy

Yesterday, Jason received his Rite of Candidacy, the first milestone towards the Diaconate. It was a nice ceremony with Bishop Wilkerson presiding. I felt...left out.

From the beginning of this whole process, the diaconate office has stressed to us the importance of the wives participation. We are required to attend class, participate, and do homework. It has been stressed to us that this journey is a journey we make together, as a couple. If I had not given my o.k., Jason would not even be allowed in the program. So why, then, were the wives excluded from this important milestone?

Don't get me wrong. I am not asking for ordination or even my own "rite". I just think it would have been nice to at least have been able to stand up there next to my husband when he confirmed his commitment to this calling. Would it really have changed anything, liturgically speaking, if I had stood behind him with my hand on his shoulder?

He is called to this ministry, but I am called to be his wife and support him throughout the journey. I think what bothers me most is just the inconsistency from the diaconate office. Support your husband, attend your classes, do your homework, but don't expect any recognition or appreciation.

All my b*tchiness aside, it really was a nice ceremony and I really appreciated that not only did our mentor couple (Deacon John and Diane) attend, but so did our pastor and our pastoral intern. I did feel support and appreciation from them. Plus, much to my embarrassment, at the end of mass this morning, the priest and Deacon John called our entire family up for a special blessing and we processed out with them.

I am certainly not leaving the program, nor am I going to start picketing in front of churches to demand female ordination. I know that the permanent diaconate is a new concept for the Church, and I am confident that this Church that I love and believe in will, in time, find the "happy medium" needed to truly support the Diaconate Families.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Prayer Requests

Yesterday was a big day for prayer requests, so I have decided to pass them on in the hopes of generating more prayers for some lovely people.

In the morning, upon visiting with a friend, I learned that her sister-in-law was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer. A hysterectomy was performed, but they discovered that the cancer had already spread to her liver. My friend's children are having a difficult time dealing with the illness of a much beloved aunt.

After this visit, we went (with my two youngest) to visit at one of the local convalescent homes. We visit twice a month and say a rosary and just pray and talk. At our last visit, one of our "regulars" thanked me for bringing my young children. She said sometimes people bring older children, but they never get to see little ones. Just their presence brought her joy. Many of the residents are scared and lonely. Please pray for their comfort and peace of mind.

Lastly, and very close to my heart, I have a very good friend who discovered a lump in her breast. Though the lump was discovered a while back, her doctor originally brushed it off because she was breastfeeding and told her it was probably a lactation issue. She weaned the baby and continued to have problems. She went in for an ultrasound and was told that the mass was architecturally abnormal with uneven edges (I think that's right). This is a dedicated mother to her many children, ages ranging from 11 to 11 months. Please, fervent prayers for this incredible woman.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My name is Briana and I am an addict

For those of you who don't know, I am a book addict. My family can attest to this. I am never without a book to read. At every possible moment, I am reading. I go back and forth between reading "fluff" (anything Nora Roberts, Twilight, James Patterson) and reading "religious" books. To be honest, I usually prefer the fluff simply because reading is my escape. With books, I can go anywhere and be anything. I have made an effort to read Christian Fiction, but I found most of it to be, well, crap. Most of it was way too Protestant for my Catholic soul. Until now, the only decent Catholic fiction I had found was Michael O'Brien and his Father Elijah series. Then, I discovered the "new" Anne Rice.

I have been a fan of Anne Rice for many years. I thoroughly enjoyed her vampire books as well as some of her novels. What I didn't realize was that she had a major "reversion" to her Catholic faith a few years ago and has now dedicated all of her writing to God. Her first series is "Christ the Lord". The first book, "Out of Egypt", is a story from the perspective of a seven year old Jesus and his family's return to the Holy Land after their self-imposed Egyptian exile. One thing I have always enjoyed from Anne Rice is her historical accuracy. She always thoroughly researches her time periods and is able to truly place you there. This book was no exception. We travel with this young child, through the political upheaval after the death of Herod, from the temple in Jerusalem to the tiny village of Nazareth. We see the struggles of a young child, trying to understand who he is.

The second in the series, "Road to Cana", begins with a 30ish Jesus, just before he begins his ministry. Here we have a man, knowing his divinity, and not sure what to do with it. Anne Rice does a fabulous job of presenting a very human Jesus, while never ignoring his divinity. Not an easy task! In Diaconate Formation this year, we are immersed in the New Testament. While reading all the textbooks has been interesting, I think Anne Rice managed to really bring it all alive. She pulled stories from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and other apocryphal writings. She studied many respected New Testament authors and theologians. She managed to pull all of that together and give us a fiction story that maintained the Jesus of the Gospels. Extremely well done.

So, if you are an addict like me, or you are just looking for a good read, I highly recommend the "new and improved" Anne Rice. She also has a brand new book out called "Angel Time" that I am hoping to find at Barnes and Noble this week. If any of you have read any of these, let me know what you think!