When the husband and I relocated to the Toledo area two years ago, I found myself living in a brand new city, surrounded by strangers (and some built-in friends and family), and starting a brand new job.
The very first person I met on my first day of work was my new boss, Lisa. I could never have known that day how much she would impact my life, or how much her life had already been impacted itself. I could tell immediately that she was a wise soul, but I wouldn’t know until later how much her life had been touched by infertility, loss, illness, and struggle.
Lisa became so much more than just a supervisor to me; she became a mentor, a friend, a confidante. She was someone with whom I could be completely honest about my personal struggles, and someone who really understood and sympathized because she had been through it all herself. She was an amazing support system for me almost instantly, which is one of the reasons why it was so easy for me to make time for fertility treatments while getting established at a new job.
After time, I found out that Lisa was sick. She was suffering with a chronic illness called gastroparesis, which caused her debilitating nausea and excruciating pain on a daily basis. She missed chunks of time at work, and was hospitalized almost weekly, sometimes for days or weeks at a time. Her life was hell, and she was a complete angel to me…
It was incredible to me that a person who had suffered for years to conceive her daughter, and then received that miracle only to be thrown immediately into chronic illness had enough compassion left in her for other people, but Lisa was one of the sweetest people you’d ever met. She had a smile for everyone, and was well-known for her shopaholic tendencies. I began to rely on her to keep me afloat on days when I just wanted to curl up and die; I knew that I might be having a little sad-uterus pity-party, but that she was struggling with pain and illness and somehow still had it in her to encourage me to get up and try again.
I think that if it hadn’t been for her, I would have run out of determination a year ago after the miscarriage. Lisa talked me through that whole process, and was one of my biggest cheerleaders as I returned to work and took the world by the balls. She was my inspiration as I tried to get my head and body right, to get myself ready to fight again, just like she did every day.
One day though, things for Lisa got worse. She would be out of the office for a week. Then two. Then she’d be back for a day or two, and then she was in the hospital for three weeks or four. Her doctors recommended not one, but two completely experimental procedures to attempt to alleviate her symptoms, but though they helped for a short time, nothing was working…
By early this year, Lisa was no longer working. She was sick and in pain daily, and in and out of the hospital with regularity. The doctors were not optimistic about her chances at controlling her illness, and things were looking bleak.
At Easter, she landed in the hospital while visiting some out-of-town relatives a few hours from home, and was soon in the ICU. At one point, Lisa was being prayed over by the hospital chaplain. Things were dire.
This is when a doctor she had never met decided to run a very common test, just in case something basic had been missed in the past.
That doctor’s intuition was right, and it literally saved Lisa’s life.
Her chronic illness had been misdiagnosed.
She had her gallbladder removed immediately, her body began to heal itself, and she is a completely different person today.
I had dinner with Lisa last week, which never would have happened when she was sick because she couldn’t actually eat food, and it is still amazing to me to see the transformation in her. In the past year, she had gone from a hopeful, colorful person, to a deflated version of herself, and back again.
She’s almost as good as new today, and that, my friends, is a miracle.
Lisa’s story gives me hope, perspective, and the courage not to give up. It’s also an excellent example of why we should always advocate for our own health, even with the doctors and professionals who are supposed to do that for us, and who are only human as well, and therefore may also make mistakes from time to time.
Lisa never gave up, and now she has her life back. She is back to shopping, and laughing, and spoiling her miracle baby rotten, but one thing hasn’t changed:
She is still keeping hope alive for everyone whose lives she has touched.
If you want to read more about her story in her words, you can visit her new blog here. I promise you’ve never met a more spirited, determined, and joyful person, and that all comes across through her words.
Miracles don’t just impact the recipients… Sometimes just being in their presence can change the lives of those who experience them, the same way my life has been impacted by Lisa’s miracle.
If you’re struggling – whether it’s fear, depression, infertility, illness – don’t give up.
Don’t ever, ever give up.