My family: Rachel, Chris, Me, and Andrew
Written by April Dawn White
My life was forever changed on Friday, December 11, 2015. That was the day I was diagnosed with CIDP. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy is a rare neuromuscular autoimmune disease in the same family of diseases as Multiple Sclerosis.
Andrew and I at the Drumstick Dash 2014.
For a little over a year, I have been experiencing pain, burning, and a tingling sensation in my feet and legs. Initially, I thought these symptoms were related to my profession as a pharmacist and standing all day. I purchased several expensive orthopedic shoes and compression stockings, but nothing helped. Around the same time I began to experience numbness and tingling in my hands, which I thought was related to my new hobby, playing the violin.
Over the past year, these symptoms have increased in frequency, intensity, and duration. Late October 2015, during a weekend get-a-way, I experienced the worst exacerbation of symptoms; the numbness radiated up to my elbows and my feet felt as though I was wearing electric socks. It felt as if my body was being totally electrocuted. Immediately, I knew this was not a work or violin related problem. I also began to feel increasingly weak. I was unable to participate in my mother-son tradition of running in the Drumstick Dash, a local 5K on Thanksgiving Day to raise money for the Roanoke Rescue Mission.
My family doctor diagnosed me with peripheral neuropathy. My blood work returned perfect, ruling out a vitamin B12 deficiency or diabetes as the cause. I was prescribed gabapentin, a medication that aids in nerve conduction. This medication helps with the numbness and overall feeling of being electrocuted, but does not help with muscle weakness. There are times when I cannot walk without assistance or lift a gallon of milk.
I will praise Him with the strings. (Psalms 150:4)
A month later I met with a neurologist. When he inquired about my violin playing, I thought he was interested in how to teach new tricks to a forty-year-old-working-mother-of-two-dog. Instead, his response surprised me, “Mrs. White, you shouldn’t be able to play the violin. Your muscles are too weak. I’m amazed you have the strength the play.”
I have a nerve conduction test scheduled for Monday, December 21, 2015. The results of that test will determine my course of therapy, oral steroids at home or IVIg infusions at the hospital. Upon leaving the office, the doctor told me not to research CIDP (he didn’t want me to scare myself). What do I do? I look up CIDP. My eyes locked in on the four dreaded words: There is no cure.
There is no cure. Those words echoed in my mind as I walked to the car. Tears sprang from my eyes as I sat behind the steering wheel wishing I had asked someone to accompany me to this appointment. I cranked the engine and immediately these words blasted through the stereo speakers “My hope in anchored in the name of Jesus Christ.” I was not alone. Christ was with me. Christ my hope and my anchor.
Every year I ask God to give me a verse for the coming year. The word ‘anchor’ kept coming to mind and God reaffirmed this word over and over in many unusual ways. He knows how to get my attention. My verse for 2015 is this:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19, NIV)
I had a choice to make. I could go home and have a pity party or I could attend my group violin rehearsal. I could choose pity or I could choose praise. I could choose defeat or I could choose hope.
There is HOPE!
The words from my neurologist echoed in my mind “Mrs. White, you shouldn’t be able to play the violin.” Hopeful defiance erupted from my heart. My stubborn and strong-willed personality caused me to sit up straight and grasp the hope Christ has already provided. I choose praise! I choose to praise Him with the strings (Psalm 150:4), while I still have the strength to play.
At the violin rehearsal God continued to get my attention. This Christmas ornament reminded me that when scientific research states “There is no cure” God leans in and whispers, “There is HOPE!”
I welcome each day in prayer and the audacity of hope. Each day I tell the Lord, “I choose praise!”
This is my story.
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