...continued from yesterday(scroll down for Parts 1 & 2)
Over the years Dr. Campbell would refer me to doctors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. They would do numerous tests on me as well, including blood work, numerous types of x-rays involving digestive organs. They also did a test where they stuck needles in certain areas of my body to test for muscle damage. Needless to say, this was no fun at all. They tried me on certain physical therapies on my hands since I was now experiencing contractures of my hands, making my hands resemble someone who had rheumatoid arthritis. The proctoscopic exam was nothing I would ever want done again either, as they would be checking for blood in the stools. The UAB doctors would eventually feel I was mostly showing the symptoms of scleroderma and lupus erythematosus.
I would also experience Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition where your hands would not receive good circulation in cold weather, causing them to become numblike and quite pale. Another very peculiar activity would happen to my body. Little sores would develop deep under the skin of my hands and would work their way up to the surface. They would be painful. Calcium started accumulating in certain areas of my body, such as at the back of my forearms underneath near the elbows, and in my groin region. The groin region was probably where lymph nodes were present. These calcium deposits would start opening up, causing a white pasty material to ooze out. After a while, I would squeeze these areas, knowing what was about to happen.
One time I bumped the backside of my upper arm, and it caused an abscess there. Eventually that area would become painful, requiring a surgeon to open it up and clean it. It left a terrible open wound, looking much like a shark took a chunk out of my arm. It was horrible looking. But amazingly, my arm healed over time only leaving a small scar. And also surprising to me, it seemed that I began to feel much better. For months during 1982 I would go through the same nagging symptoms. I would wake up in the morning with a fever for some reason, and after I took some Ascriptin for the fever and it broke, I would then feel well enough to go to work. I was working back at Jackson Hospital again, by the way. After this incident with the abscess in my upper arm, the disease’s activity lessened considerably. It’s almost like my body needed to get something out of it with that experience.
The disease would end up changing the way I looked. It changed my facial appearance and even my hair color to some extent. The joint contractures in my hands remained. The upper body muscle damage remained. My voice was also affected. When the disease was very active, my voice would weaken during the day. I would begin the day talking with my normal voice, but as the day wore on my voice would weaken to a whisper even though I was trying to talk louder. My speech was also not very clear. My voice is much stronger now, but I still have the effects of the disease with my voice being different now.
I would like to feel that the Lord has miraculously healed me of the muscle disease. However, he left me with some evidence of the disease’s effects to remind me from what He has delivered me. I certainly hope I have become a stronger Christian as a result of this disease. I am so thankful to my wife, parents, friends, and church family for their prayers and encouragement over the years. Thank you, Lord, for working mightily in my life! May You receive all the glory!