Guest Fox – Kimberly Rae

This week I’m gonna break with the routine.

We’re supposed to talk about memories we have about Drive-In theatres. Well, I’ve got zilch. Never been to one. Never seen one. I’m not even sure whether there was one anywhere near the town I grew up.

So I’ve got a Guest Fox with me today and I’m delighted to introduce you all to Kimberly Rae today.

Kimberly is a fellow Astraea Press author who has recently released her latest book Blue Ridge Setup – I added it straight to my kindle, because not only did she include Addison’s disease into the story line, but the story’s set in North Carolina, a place I’d love to visit one day. You can find more details about the book on my blog .

Considering that we share a similar illness, I asked Kimberly whether she’d like to come and visit “FourFoxesOneHound” – She said yes. Obviously, she’s much braver than me, as I still haven’t found the courage to open up publicly with my ailment.

Please make her very welcome!

First of all, thank you very much, Kimberly, for being my guest today!

Thank you, Iris! I’m happy to be here.

Q:  You said in one of your interviews you were shocked to find out that nearly one out of every two people in your country has some type of a chronic illness. You have Addison’s disease. What is Addison’s?

A: Addison’s disease is a very rare disease that means your adrenal glands don’t work right. The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and produce cortisol, one of the most important hormones in the body. They do a lot of other things too, but their main job is to help the body adapt—the stress, both good and bad, everything from conflict to a change in the weather. When the adrenal glands don’t work, the body cannot adapt and becomes vulnerable to sickness and even death.

 Q: How did you find out, you have Addison’s?Kimberley

A: It took 15 long years to get a diagnosis. I had a list of 53 symptoms and went to a heap of doctors and got tested and poked and prodded, but no one could figure out what was wrong. I did at least a hundred hours of personal research and continued searching, and finally went to a Pituitary specialist at Emory in Atlanta and they were able to give me the diagnosis. I’m thankful to finally have a name for it—those of you who live with chronic illness know that when you don’t have a name, people tend to wonder if you’re making it up or it’s all in your head. (Ironically, I found out I have a cyst on my brain and when they told me that I laughed, because it if is the cause of many of my symptoms, it really is in my head after all!)

Q: How does Addison’s affect your life?

A: This disease kind of runs my life. To explain it to a healthy person, I guess I’d say it is my part-time job. Because of the Addison’s, I also have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and a few other “issues” that require daily focus. I live my life on a 3-hour schedule of eating very specific food, taking required pills, responding to symptoms, etc.—and that’s when things are stable! I’m on 6 prescription meds and a few non-prescription ones. Only sickness is different from a job because you don’t get vacations or, oddly, sick days. =) I have to set my alarm and get up at 6 to take pills and eat, no exceptions, even if I didn’t get to sleep till 4 a.m. that morning.

My husband and I used to live overseas and planned to remain there for life. Addison’s has forced me to return to and remain in the US. The medication I need is not available in many countries, and if I get sick, it can get dangerous quick, so I need to be near good medical care. I have to be careful about germs, and though I used to get annoyed by people who were always washing their hands and avoiding germs (I did live in third world countries after all), I’ve had to turn into one of those people.

Q: We’ve been “talking” a bit about the ‘side effects’ of having the disease, one of which is fatigue. What other symptoms do you have and how do you cope?

A: Hmm, well most people would be aware of my typical asthma symptoms, or the pain from having scoliosis. With the hypoglycemia, if my sugar drops, I get weak, shaky, irritated, nauseated, and can’t think straight enough to answer questions. My husband learned that if I’m acting strange and he asks me “Kim, do you need to eat?” and I look at him like that’s the hardest question in the world, he should go get me something. =)

As far as Addison’s, I just can’t keep up with the rest of the world. I don’t usually play with my kids in the backyard and I miss long walks and hiking in the mountains. If I get sick, I have to shut down completely and totally focus on recovering so it doesn’t end up in major surgery and 9 days in ICU (as it did once before I learned about how to change my meds accordingly). Going up on the steroids, if I get sick, turns my brain into a high-speed locomotive (which is great for writing books!), can’t sleep (not so great being a mom), and it suppresses the hormone that makes you feel full while storing fat, so you think you’re starving (not so great, no need to explain that one!). After the sickness is over, my body has enjoyed the extra steroids and wants to stay on them, so I have to slowly taper down and go through plain old drug withdrawals (nausea, terrible headaches, nightmares, etc.).

I could say more but you’re probably getting overwhelmed! How do I cope? It’s amazing, the ability God gives the human spirit to adapt. This is my normal now. You cope or you despair or become bitter. I know God has purpose even in my illness, so if I trust Him and let Him be in charge, He gives strength for each day and bright hope for tomorrow.

Q: How important is it for you to have the support of family and friends?

A: Very. I’m so thankful God gave me a husband who believed me, who helped me find answers, and who understands when I can’t function. Illness is a challenge to any marriage (75% divorce rate when there’s a chronic illness), but we’ve chosen to become closer because of it rather than drift apart. That takes work, but any good thing does, so it’s worth it.

My family is also great, and I don’t take that for granted. I know many people do not have that support system and that would be so hard. For them, I would say turn to God’s family and especially God Himself. He knows your body and your heart, and accepts both as they are.

I’m also part of a facebook group of other “sickies” where we encourage each other and give a place to vent where we don’t feel like we’re complaining. It’s a blessing.

Q: Is there any advice you would or could give to others out there with a chronic disease?

A: Do not let sickness become your life. Mine kind of runs my life, but it is not who I am. You are more than your illness, and there is purpose for you through it and despite it. And don’t ever let how much you can function or accomplish determine your worth. It’s taken me years to get to that point, but God is really teaching me that my worth to Him has nothing to do with how much I can do. My worth comes from the God who made the universe, and Jesus, who says I’m worth dying for. Nothing can take that away or add to it. So stop trying to pretend you’re not sick, or prove you still have value. And please know you’re not alone. When you look around, thinking everyone around you is healthy and happy and you are the only one suffering, remember that almost 1 out of every 2 people has some kind of chronic illness, and 96% of them are invisible illness, meaning many of the people around you are also suffering and feeling like the only ones. One of the best ways we can encourage ourselves is to encourage others!

Q:  What made you add Addison’s into your latest story?

A: In most novels, if the heroine does have an illness, it is a crisis that gets resolved by the end, and she gets to go on to live her life happily ever after and blah, blah, blah. I wanted to write a book to show that a person can have a lifelong illness and still get a happy ending. I thought about giving my character some other disease, but then I would have to research it and wouldn’t really be able to feel what she was feeling enough to write it well. So giving her Addison’s not only made it easy to write about (the medical crisis in the book actually happened to me!), but it also is a way to tell people about a rare disease and give encouragement to those who have it, who rarely see anything about it in print.

Q: Tell us a bit about Blue Ridge Setup

A: At its heart, Blue Ridge Setup is a fun read about a young woman getting set up who doesn’t want to get set up. Kayla Madison moves in with her eccentric romance-novelist great aunt, who is determined she and Ryan Cummings would make great characters for her next novel, if only she can get them together! Poor Ryan has no idea what he’s getting into when he agrees to do a landscaping project for the great aunt, who intends to keep coming up with jobs for him to do until her plan works!

But it also has the serious themes of what illness takes away, struggling with feeling useless, needing to find worth for who you are, not what you do. It was good therapy for me, writing the book, and I hope it will good therapy for others reading it!

About Kimberly:

Amazon bestselling author Kimberly Rae has lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and Indonesia. She has rafted the Nile River, hiked the hills at the base of Mount Everest, and eaten cow brains just to say she’d done it!

Rae has been published over 250 times and has work in 5 languages. Her articles have been published in BRIO/BRIO & Beyond, Proverbs 31 Woman magazine, Mature Years, Diabetes Health, SusieMag, Women of the Harvest, Clubhouse Jr., Keys for Kids, Insight magazine for teens, Standard, and Woman Alive, the only Christian magazine for women in the UK. She writes regularly for Union Gospel Press and Regular Baptist Press. Rae’s first published book, A Trip to Where? (ABWE Publishing) takes children on a 5-day story adventure to Bangladesh. Her series of Christian suspense/romance novels on human trafficking (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, Stolen Future) are all Amazon bestsellers.

Rae’s Website: www.kimberlyrae.com
E-mail: info @ kimberlyrae.com
Facebook Page: Human Trafficking Stolen Woman
Twitter: @KimberlyRaeBook
Blog: www.kimberlyraeauthor.blogspot.com
Blog for Writers: http://www.kimberlyraewriting.blogspot.com

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About Iris B

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her dog. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio
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19 Responses to Guest Fox – Kimberly Rae

  1. Suzi Love says:

    Kimberley, an amazing story. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished. Chronic illness is hard to live with and it sounds like you’ve done an awesome job of coping with it and writing so many books.
    Can’t wait to read this one.
    And thanks, Iris, for giving us such a great interview.

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      Thanks for coming over Suzi and your kind words.
      I agree, Kimberly is doing very well coping with everything, as well as “spreading” awareness. It’s an absolute pleasure having her here.

      Like

  2. jeff7salter says:

    wow, I’m exhausted just reading the list of Kimberly’s publications!
    Very inspiring column, Kimberly.
    My chronic conditions are not nearly as serious as Addison’s, but they DO lack the visibility which some folks find necessary before they’ll “accept” some of my limitations. Mine are scoliosis, disk problems, osteo-arthritis, hypoglycemia, and fibromyalgia (finally diagnosed in late 1992). Plus, I’ve had chronic exhaustion since the spring of 1974.
    Battling symptoms — as you note above — can be challenging enough, but it’s additionally demoralizing to have people look at you like you’re a big faker … or scoff at you for not doing whatever they’re doing.
    I definitely agree that faith is hugely important in coping with conditions like these. One thing we can always be sure of, our Heavenly Father DOES understand … and he offers comfort.

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      I agree with you both, the visual aspect of it all is a big factor when dealing with others. I suppose that makes my next comment kinda sound silly or obsolete: I had no idea you’ve had all these illnesses, Jeff.

      Like

      • jeff7salter says:

        And this kinda goes along with the mythology that if others can’t “SEE” your ailment — in the form of a visible injury or infirmity — then surely it’s all in your head.
        Among the most difficult things I’ve faced — besides family/friends clearly not understanding that my limitations are not due to stubbornness or choice — is when people would make jokes (at my expense) about me being too slow or seeming too scared to do something which would be perilous to me. Or other hurtful things along that line.
        Having my own list of infirmities had taught me a lot about dealing with other people. It’s taught me a lot of compassion, tolerance, and patience with others … which I did not possess before I began experiencing these symptoms.

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      • Iris B says:

        Yes it has made me more tolerant in many aspects as well. AND more mature, although I don’t like the expression.
        I try not to worry about what people think why I seem lazy, not flexible enough or always tired – it’s the way I am, accept it or move out of my way 🙂

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  3. Diane Murphy says:

    Kimberley thank you so much for publishing this interview and for your honesty about your illness snd your faith. I also have Addisons so I was really interested in how you’ve coped with it. I live in UK and most people you speak to have never even heard of Addisons so thank you for spreading awareness. It’s so good to know we have the Lord as a solid rock in the midst of difficulty. Really looking forward to reading your book. Thank you!!! Diane

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    • Kimberly Rae says:

      Hi, Diane! It’s so nice to meet you though I’m sorry for the reason why. You’re right, most people haven’t heard of Addison’s. That makes us unique, but more unique than we’d like to be. =) I’m curious as to how you got diagnosed. It took me 15 years, which seems to be kind of the norm with Addison’s. I blog about it quite a bit at http://www.kimberlyraeauthor.blogspot.com if you want to come over sometime.
      God bless you and keep you,
      Kimberly Rae

      Like

    • Iris B says:

      Thank you Diane for stopping by. I’m really glad you enjoyed the interview. It was an absolute delight having her here talking about Addison’s today. She’s such an inspiration.

      Like

  4. Kimberly Rae says:

    Thank you, Suzi, Jeff, and Diane for your comments! You know what a struggle it is to have a condition but “you don’t look sick!” and all that comes along with that. I think we scare people sometimes–especially healthy people who desperately want to remain healthy, and they subconsciously decide that if they can find some reason why it’s our “fault” that we are ill, then they don’t have to worry so much about anything like that ever happening to them. So often the things people say or do have less to do with us than with them. We can leave them to God and the work He wants to do in them, but not let anything said or done to us affect our own walk with God or our peace in Him!
    I pray you all have a joy-filled day today!
    Kimberly Rae

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  5. I am so sorry I missed getting here to you yesterday,Kimberly, and welcome!
    I have several chronic illnesses and you have hit so much on the head…(not your head!) Although illness is nothing to be ashamed of, I can understand anyone not openly sharing; I have swung both ways myself! The biggest issue is all the unsolicited advice from almost everyone!There is a lot of hatred and distrust of the medical profession and the last thing anyone wants to hear is a tirade on how the doctors conspire to keep you ill or other peoples’ horror stories, right? Plus, with our “hidden” diseases,especially those that cause fatigue and put you on a feel-bad/feel-better roller coaster, people treat you first like you are dying and then as a hypochondriac…I live this.
    Al though family and close friends are important, I have learned that often it is very beneficial to speak with others who experience chronic illness.So many ill people fall unwittingly into chronic complainers, only because they desperately want others to understand what they are going through.Unfortunately, sympathetic some may be, empathetic they cannot be, and sooner or later almost every loved one will pull a “Well, I’m tired, too”, or complain of some discomfort of theirs that will soon go away, as if they are suffering the same way. God bless the “Healthies” and may they never truly know what we go through but …gee whiz! Sometimes….!!!
    It is a hard line to follow, not letting illness(es) define a person and to give in to it/them,or living in denial and pushing oneself too far. Again, I live this.
    What I always tell others is to truly do their own research, (as you have done; thank God now for the Internet), as the medicos hard questions and to listen to their own bodies, trust their instincts. The only person who knows how you feel is YOU, and if a course of treatment isn’t working, or a medication is making you feel worse, YOU will know.I have also found that speaking to others with like illnesses will help in understanding what is and what isn’t ‘normal’ or caused by side effects of medications. Some doctors will tell a patient that a symptom is caused by a prescription, when, in fact, fellow sufferers will have the same symptoms and not be on the medicine.Or vice versa; the doctors will say a problem is something new or different, when it is a side effect. So many unusual diseases, or ‘orphan’ ones, are just not researched enough.What bothers me about many,(Not all), medical people in the last few decades is their lack of intellectual curiosity about why certain symptoms occur and if they are related to one another.
    Boy,I certainly went off on my own tirade! But you can see you certainly hit a nerve with me.
    I never even gave you my list….most of mine are autoimmune;Lupus(SLE), Sarcoidosis, RA, Sjogren’s, Gout and now , some OA. Between all the arthritis, I need a spine transplant!
    I wish you the best of luck, success and happiness, Kimberly!

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    • Iris B says:

      We hit the spot again with this post, Tonette, didn’t we 😉 And I add the post to the “I’ve learnt a little bit more about my US buddy T” 🙂
      Sorry to hear about all your illnesses, but kudos to you how you keep going !

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      • Kimberly Rae says:

        I know what you mean. I’ve found that looking up side effects and symptoms on the typical medical sites don’t give me much info, so I go to forums or blogs where “real” people with illness talk about it, and I find all kinds of things! Sometimes it’s enough to convince you you are sick even if you aren’t =) but mostly I find validation that what I’m experiencing isn’t in my head (except that cyst! ha ha) and even if no one can figure out what to do with it, it is still legitimate. I’m so glad God understands us all, even more than others understand us or we even understand ourselves! He is so good. May He bless your day full with reminders of how much He loves you!

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  6. pjharjo says:

    Dear Kimberly,
    You are SO correct about all God has given and does give us to cope! I can, in a way, say I know exactly what you are talking about when you talk about your illness. I can only say “in a way,” bc while I don’t have a chronic illness, I do have a permanent disability. It is and will be with me every day for the rest of my life. And I know how people who are seen as “different” are treated by those of society who see themselves as “unimpaired” .

    Jeff- I’m also slower than most people, due to my brain injury, but people don’t or won’t understand- I’m just told I’m not good enough. I too have been told it’s all in my head, and like Kimberly, I have to laugh when I’m told that, because it IS all in my head! LOL!

    I have a “Traumatic Brain Injury,” and have joked about my “invisible” disability with a friend of mine who has MS ,which is also an invisible disability. Nobody sees anything wrong with me, so they think there isn’t. As you have said, this “is my normal now.” It has taken me a long time to come to terms with my disability and take ownership of it. But I am so glad God put me in touch with the right people and I have done so. It has made my life So Much Easier!

    I wasn’t lucky enough to have a husband like yours, who “believed me, who helped me find answers, and who understands when I can’t function. Illness is a challenge to any marriage (75% divorce rate when there’s a chronic illness), You guessed it, we’re divorced now. LOL! My life is so much better now with a boyfriend who is like your husband. 🙂

    So much of the time while I was married, I believed I had “no value,” but those days are gone now. Whereas I could not see it at the time, I now know and agree with you in that, “you cope, or you despair, or become bitter,” but now I can see that we all have choices to make. Like you, I have chosen not to do those things with what life has offered me. God stepped into my life on the night I was injured, and I am now happier than I have ever been! I could not agree more about all He will do for us if we let Him.”

    Sorry this has morphed more into me than a response to your blog. I am so happy for you that you understand your illness and what you can do for it, and in that you have allowed God into your life and are grateful for all He has done and will do for you! Congratulations on your publishing success and may you have a long career ahead of you!

    Janette

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    • Iris B says:

      Don’t apologise for a “morphed” post … I’m just really glad for everyone to be able to relate(although I do not wish for you all to have illnesses), and be able to find people alike !

      Like

      • Kimberly Rae says:

        Janette, I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through and are going through. I agree with you that knowing that it will never go away is the really hard part. I searched all those years for a diagnosis, hoping that once they knew what it was, they could fix it and I could finally be and do all I wanted to. God had better plans, and even though it means doing less, it doesn’t mean being less. He is teaching me to find my worth in Him, every day to come to Him with the symptoms and the unknowns and yes, even the people who will never get it (I write about that in my Sick & Tired books–it’s a theme I hear over and over again from my “sicky” friends!). I hope you get through a whole day today without one single person saying, “But you don’t look sick!” =) God bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you, and give you peace.

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      • pjharjo says:

        Don’t be sorry Kimberly. All my trials have made me strong. I know I am now a much better person bc of my injury. I praise God everyday for what I have gone through and what He has given me through it! 🙂

        Like

      • pjharjo says:

        zing how many of us are the same, even though we think not.

        Like

  7. pjharjo says:

    It’s amazing…(to complete the beginning of my comment) LOL!

    Like

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