search instagram arrow-down

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Bravery has taken on many shapes and sizes during my life.  Sometimes it has been in dramatic ways, while other times it has been simply getting through the day. But each time it has meant momentum moving forward. Bravery often times begets bravery…if only we can remember those many times God has given us courage in the past.

When I was 14, bravery was moving with my parents to a new town while my brothers were away at college, and walking through the doors of my new high school alone, not knowing a soul. As a college student, bravery was traveling to a developing country for the summer, with my luggage arriving seven days after I did! And as a new mom, bravery was leaving the hospital without our precious son, born eight and a half weeks early, while he stayed behind in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for extra medical care during his first month of life.

Each of these times God gave me the courage, strength, and the ability to move forward. There was nothing in me that could have managed these situations on my own.

These days bravery means living in the moment, not in fear of what may be ahead and not in agony over what has been lost.

While there are times to process both the past and the unknowns of the future, bravery means not being controlled by either realm. And that is difficult, because a lot has been lost, and there are many unknowns, especially in regards to my health.

Just over three years ago I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, meaning my airway was closing multiple times an hour and depriving my body of valuable oxygen during sleep. The Apnea–Hypopnoea Index (AHI) measures these occurrences. An AHI of 0-5 is normal, 5 – 15 is mild, 15 – 30 is moderate, and 30 and higher is severe. I was at 61.  No wonder I always felt exhausted and suffered from terrible depression. I wasn’t able to get restorative sleep. Ever.

For several months I used a CPAP and then BiPAP machine, sending pressurized air through a tube and mask in order to keep my airway open while asleep. However, the side effects were unbearably painful for me, hurting my jaw and blowing my abdomen up like a balloon each night. Desperate and in even a deeper depression after having so much sleep deprivation, I had a genioglossal advancement, opening up the airway by cutting the mandible (lower jaw bone) and moving it forward, which, in turn, moves the lower part of the tongue that can close off the airway. This did help my sleep apnea initially, bringing my AHI clear down into normal range!

However, the pain and complications following surgery were extreme.

My bone structure itself was problematic; in surgery my doctor had noted how unique it was, unlike anything he’d ever seen before. My joints were also unstable, and my jaw dislocated multiple times. Additionally, my lower teeth all became loose, and eventually one tooth had to be removed. But probably the biggest concern was that my broken mandible was not healing from surgery. Bone grafting was done all throughout the surgical site, but it was unsuccessful.

More doctors.  More pain.  And so many tears.

Extreme TMJ pain developed, and a mouthpiece was made to stabilize my joints, but this didn’t help long-term. My husband and I traveled across the country to a world-renowned specialist, one of five trips we made last year for treatment. I was given a new mouthpiece, Botox shots, infrared therapy, and physical therapy exercises. Still I would only experience short-term relief, only to cycle back to the same pain again and again.

In the midst of all of this, my husband’s dad and my dad both passed away from cancer. We were close to both of them, and their absences were – and still are – felt immensely. Only three weeks after my dad’s memorial service, I had a bad fall, dislocating my patella, breaking my leg, and spraining both wrists. I was wheelchair and walker-bound for three months. I couldn’t drive or even care for myself for much of that time. I continued to have jaw issues and even had to have a surgery to remove prolific scar tissue. Thankfully God provided family and friends to pray and also help out in tangible ways, because physically and emotionally I could hardly take any more.

Bravery means trusting God when circumstances are beyond our understanding. Even when loved ones are called Home. Even with ongoing pain. Even with unknowns ahead.

Now three years later, I am still living with a broken mandible, a vertical fracture that developed where my tooth once was, TMJ pain, and unfortunately, sleep apnea again.  My most recent sleep study showed an AHI of 51, nearly back to where it was pre-surgery. I am exhausted, and I miss the ability to talk and laugh without pain. Complications have been so unprecedented and severe that, of the 17 doctors (both mainstream and alternative) that I have seen for these issues, none have seen a case like mine.

I have been asked if I regret having the first jaw surgery. Looking back with more information now, it is clear that this was not a good idea. But at the time, doctors didn’t realize the extent of my issues. We all knew sleep apnea is life threatening, especially with as severe as mine, and I was desperate for help.  Years before, I had success with extensive reconstructive surgeries in both knees after I had had nearly 40 patella dislocations.  No one understood how different my jaw would be.

Bravery is accepting that this is my story, as much as I wish it wasn’t.

This is not the story I would have written, but I trust that God has His purposes. And while the process has been painful in every way, I have grown tremendously.

I am blessed with an amazing group of family and friends who care deeply for me and my well-being. Through their encouragement, promises of Scripture, and songs, God continues to provide me with strength to keep going.

Bravery means knowing there is somehow purpose behind this pain, but being authentic with God and others about the ache in finding it.

During the last three years, I’ve realized God can take my anger, pain, tears, and anxiety. He wants me to be authentic and lay down all of my emotions and losses before Him. It is only when I give him my broken pieces that He can redeem my brokenness. And then I am reminded how His love and faithfulness never fail, regardless of circumstances or my feelings.

This week bravery was going to a new doctor for sleep apnea, continuing to pursue answers. I also began a new kind of treatment to promote healing for my TMJ pain and mandible. We will see what is ahead. I rarely “feel” brave these days, but by God’s grace I am moving forward. And that is good enough.

SaveSave

19 comments on “Brave

  1. I don’t know you, but I’ve just said a prayer for your healing. I can’t imagine the disappointment you must be feeling about the failed surgery. Thank you for sharing your story. You have a gift for writing.

    Like

    1. Carrie Crabb says:

      Thank you so much. Yes, it’s been a journey!

      Like

    2. sladderley says:

      You are indeed brave to be able to withstand all of the physical and emotional turmoil that you have gone through and still trust that God has a greater purpose for it all. Never stop trusting in His plans. My prayers are with you…

      Like

      1. Carrie Crabb says:

        Thank you so much. I appreciate your words of encouragement and especially your prayers! May God bless you.

        Like

  2. Joanne says:

    Beautifully written. I have watched you over the years face each hurtle with courage and authentic faith that comes from a heart fully surrendered to Jesus, day by day. I was in a Bible study once where the leader had us add our names to Hebrews 11 and write our story, I think you just did that! My prayers and tears are many for you and I sure do love you! 💕

    Like

    1. Carrie Crabb says:

      Thank you, Joanne. I appreciate you so much!

      Like

  3. Your courage and bravery, Carrie, simply astound me. I know you will say, it is only with God’s help that you can struggle with all the issues you face, and that is absolutely true. None of us can manage without His help and the love and support of family and friends. May the cures you seek be blessed by our Lord, and that He will bring permanent healing into your life.
    Praying for you!

    Like

    1. Carrie Crabb says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers! I sincerely appreciate it.

      Like

  4. Vonice Hoffman says:

    Thanks for your transparency. I think we all have to be “brave” many times in our lives. Some more than others. You are brave in facing all of the health issues you face and brave to lay them down at the feet of Jesus. You have been in my prayers and will continue to be.

    Like

    1. Carrie Crabb says:

      Thank you so much!

      Like

  5. iowabeliever2012 says:

    Carrie,

    Thank you for sharing even more of your story. My dear friend, you are a brave woman of God. I thank the Lord for you and for bringing us back together about three (?) years ago on Facebook. You are in my prayers!

    Your testimony is already amazing. Waiting and watching how God is already at work and what He’ll be doing in the future.

    Love,

    Kim

    Like

    1. Carrie Crabb says:

      What a blessing you are, Kim! Thank you so much for your encouragement.

      Like

  6. DDHaverty says:

    BRAVE in your vulnerability to share this painful journey! Thank you for blessing us with your words! Love and prayers, Danna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carrie Crabb says:

      Thank you, Danna!

      Like

  7. Clint says:

    Excellent post, Carrie, thank you for this (I realize I’m late to the party!). We’re sure hoping and praying that the new treatment is promising.

    Like

    1. Carrie Crabb says:

      Thank you, Clint. Appreciate it!

      Like

  8. Hi, Carrie!
    I just got a notification that you are following my blog, but I’m not on WordPress. Here is the correct blogging address: https://marthaorlando.blogspot.com
    Look forward to seeing you there!
    Blessings!

    Like

    1. Carrie Crabb says:

      Oh thanks, Martha!

      Like

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: