Failing Health but a Renewed Spirit: Kim's Story

Kim West picture.jpg

My eyes had been black for weeks, my skin had a yellow cast, and the pounds were dropping off me like butter. As I walked through the emergency room doors I collapsed to the ground. I remember waking up with tubes coming out of my arms and my nose, being hooked up to several monitors, and hearing my heart beat over and over. Then receiving what would be my first of  “manys.” Many blood transfusions, iron infusions, EKGs, CTs, MRIs, and every test that ends in –oscopy. I went from being a proud, independent professional to a desperately sick individual seemingly overnight. 

 Over the course of the next year I experienced things I never could have imagined. I began having violent seizures, losing my vision for periods of times, and having my muscles swell so badly that my joints wouldn’t bend. There were days I was carried to the bathroom because my legs just would not work! I lost my job, my driver’s license, and my home. I felt like my entire foundation was being shattered, but I hadn’t even begun to crack the surface.

 One year turned into two, then three … and here I am seven years later still fighting. I have been through thirteen major surgeries, have had nine organs removed, experienced a mini stroke last Thanksgiving, received a permanent ostomy bag, and am currently awaiting yet another surgery. I have been diagnosed with not one, but five different autoimmune diseases. I never thought that this would be my life.

 Being allergic to all pain medication made things very difficult in the beginning. Training your brain not to focus on the things you are feeling and experiencing is a tricky thing, but it can be done! God truly blessed me in giving me the gift of connecting with music. Worship music, and singing the Word of God, has become my medication, my meditation, my joy, my comfort, and my peace in this storm. When the water was too high for me to catch my breath and I felt like I was drowning, God gave me that sound to meditate in. When rage was rising and I felt as if I couldn’t keep it bottled in any longer, He gave me that release and that peace through His voice in so many different melodies. When the pain was so bad I felt as if I was dying, He gave me that comfort through his lyrics and His promises of temporary suffering and eternal bliss. Worship music takes me to a place of joy that only can be described as “everything” to me. It is my way of talking to God, listening to God, connecting to God, and feeling His presence. He is so tangible in that moment for me. It is the warmest feeling of love that I can describe. I want everyone to feel it. I want everyone to receive the same joy in their own suffering that I do in mine.

 Discouragement, worry, doubt, fear, anxiety—usually these words tie themselves in with pain. Not having control of your destination, let alone your day, can be very scary. This is fear from Satan. Isn’t it awesome that we have God that will conquer those fears, diminish those doubts, and trample those worries away! When we seek His kingdom first, everything else will fall into place. Prayer is so much more effective than worry. Satan wants you to get stuck in your head, in the white noise and the clouded thoughts of the world. He wants to isolate you. We must rebel against him and his evil ways and seek God’s kingdom with prayer and praise, with worship music, with the Word, with friends, and with family. Allowing others to come beside you and walk with you, help you, support you during difficult times is very humbling, but it is so important. You are never alone with God.

 I once heard that people kneel when they pray because it is a more intimate way of speaking with God. I remember on one of my most discouraging days when I knelt before Him with my hands open, empty, and raised. He already had everything I owned, but I was offering Him my heart and my soul. I remember thinking, I am just flesh, Lord; do with me what you will. Just giving Him that ultimate control not only was so freeing but incredibly beautiful. Relying on Him and only Him daily and watching Him work in my life has just been blessing after blessing. He continues to shower me with unconditional love. I don’t know how I got so lucky to be chosen by our King, living out His purpose, wearing his suit of armor. Some days I just sit in awe and wonder. I am living proof of the joy in suffering. My life is greater for it … I promise you that!

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