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.
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!
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
Blog for Writers: http://www.kimberlyraewriting.blogspot.com