At the age of 12, I never anticipated how far God would take me or how I would be stretched spiritually, physically and mentally. It was during this year that I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called ITP placing me at high risk of bleeding internally.
I would like to say it went away, and I outgrew the blood disorder like the doctors wanted both myself and my parents to believe; but it didn’t.
While learning how to live with ITP and its limitations, I inherited my grandfather’s digital camera and discovered I also had his entrepreneurial spirit which fueled the start to selling greeting cards that combined my photography and graphic design work.
Restrictions were placed on my life and an intense struggle took place, but in it, I found God; and He opened doors I had no idea were right in front of me preparing me to where and who I have become today.
Fifteen years later, in the year 2018, life was very different from when I was 12. I still was living with my blood disorder and running my stationery & custom design business. I was preparing to celebrate 5 years of marriage, had two beautiful daughters; one who was happy and healthy after receiving life-saving surgery and the other an energetic bundle of joy. On top of all these things, I had a new place to call home that we had moved into; our first place we no longer had to put rent down for.
I was a blessed woman, but the sad part was I didn’t see myself as blessed.
I loved my children and desired to be a good mother and wife but in the year 2018 I lost myself and failed miserably at the roles God placed me in.
In order to understand how I got there, I need to take you back again to my medical history. In the years prior while living my blood disorder, I rarely needed medication, and when I did, they typically would bring my platelets up for a longer period of time (meaning I could go on them short term). My platelets levels, when tested, would come back just above needing treatment. The only things I had to worry about was not doing contact sports, going in for my bi-weekly blood tests, trying to push through my exhaustion, and, as odd as it sounds, explaining to others how no one is beating me up because of the bruising I get associated with my blood disorder.
2018 was a different year for me medically.
I began to continually have my platelet counts drop and found myself in the critical zone for bleeding internally. My doctor placed me on several medications, but none of them were working. Instead of providing a longer-term solution to bring my platelets up, it only gave me a one-week window before dropping again. What I was left with, instead of successful results, was discouragement as I faced side effects from the medications of brain fog, vomiting, insomnia, and more. Other trial medications fellow ITP patients had seen success in were explored but were discovered to not be an option due to the location of where I lived. The only things that remained available was to receive a spleen removal with a 50/50 chance of it being successful to put me in remission.
My body was weary, my soul downcast, and with running out of options came running out of hope.
On the outside, I was holding it together as best as I could, but on the inside, I was a mess.
Dishes took over an hour due to exhaustion, the thought of making dinner overwhelming, and the idea of sleeping the day away on the couch was inviting. My body was exhausted beyond its normal exhaustion associated with my blood disorder, and try as I might to push resentment and bitterness from taking root, they did.
I became overwhelmed with grief, scared that my years with my daughters and husband would be short. I envied women around me who seemed to have abundant amounts of energy to juggle their work and home life. I wanted to yell at moms who complained they were exhausted, letting them know they had no idea what exhaustion looked like.
I hated my life and made those around me miserable because of it.
After several weeks of this behavior, I looked in the mirror and hated who I had become.
Earlier that day, my husband had pulled me aside and confronted me about my character. He addressed with me that I needed to find joy in my life, take pleasure in the days I have been given, and that he wouldn’t take my bitterness any longer. He was right, and I hated it because my soul screamed out that this was truth speaking, this was the Holy Spirit speaking and I had a choice to change or stay entangled in my newfound bitter life.
I would like to say everything changed that day but to change one’s character and attitude takes much time as habits and behaviors are so hard to break. Over time I began to heal, I began to take joy in the everyday moments in my life with my family, friends, and community. I pushed through the exhaustion that pressed against me and began involving myself more to be a part of my community, investing in friendships and trying to make quality meals for my family. I gave myself permission to step away from my work when needed and to find rest in other ways apart from sleep when it was not an option. I found a joy in all the years of raising children and running my business that I had never had before. My business vision changed and no longer were numbers and figures important but instead, I celebrated individuals with stationery & custom design. My passion for my home life, work, and community life came back again. I began to bloom where I was planted and made the most of each day ahead of me.
Today I still have days that I am overwhelmed by the thought of living a short life with my family and the fact that treatment options are slim, but instead of drowning in them, I find myself carrying them straight to God, praying through them and being able to laugh about the future.
Since those days of changing my character began, my platelets have gone above the point of needing treatment and I have been able to hold off of a spleen removal for now. I know I can’t put off surgery forever but these couple months in 2018 God has granted me to be treatment free I will not forget because in them I have discovered as Irenaeus did that “the glory of God is man fully alive.”
I choose memories over wallowing, new friendships over isolation, and being present where I am at. I have been surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and so I run the race set before me with endurance looking ahead to the prize of being with God forever making everything I face here on this earth worth it.
Nicolette owns Nicolette Anne Design a stationery & custom design business. With an education in Digital Media and the knowledge that life is a gift and everyone is worth celebrating, Nicolette strives to create stationery products that show others that they are loved and their life has value.
When not running to the post office while juggling an energetic preschooler, a toddler on one hip and a bag of mail Nicolette can be found experimenting with new recipes in her instant pot, reading a book, or going for walks in the forest and the mountain-filled area she calls home. Nicolette currently resides in the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia with her husband and her family.