Three years ago, I should have been walking up to the Hohensalzburg Castle in Austria to paint. The day before I was set to leave for this summer study program, I started with a new neurologist. I had waited months to see her, and she recommended starting an immune suppressant regimen to manage my symptoms. The year leading up to this appointment, I had been receiving IVIg infusions monthly. I was flying back and forth between school and home, missing weeks at a time. I had the option to do this 7 week program and start the medication on my return, knowing that my symptoms would be getting progressively worse. I was used to infusions every 4 weeks. 7 weeks would be a long time. Or I could start the medication, and give up my study abroad program. Immune suppressants are powerful drugs, and they require “tapering up” to monitor how your body reacts. The last thing a doctor would want to do is start a new intensive medication while the patient travels in a foreign country.
So with a lot of tears and frustration, I emailed my program director, roommate, and professors explaining my situation. I decided to start taking the medication, vowing that it would be the last time I would miss out on something I love because of MG.
That was three years ago. A lot has changed since then. I still haven’t been to Austria, but I have graduated college, moved 5 times, and I got engaged and married. I worked as a portrait model, a nanny, an executive assistant, a photography assistant, and an alternative healthcare office coordinator.
Now that we are settling into our new home in South Carolina, I am excited to say that I am officially employed as an artist. I did not anticipate finding a job this quickly down here, but decided to start applying the week we moved in. I knew it could take awhile to find something I really wanted. Trusty Craigslist did not let me down – in fact 3 out of the 5 jobs listed above were found on Craigslist! I am now an artist at a floral preservation shop! It is a niche business, and I am learning new skills that are already inspiring me in my personal painting work. I can’t tell you how we do what we do – that is a trade secret. But I help in the restoration and enhancement of pressed and freeze dried flowers for events like weddings, funerals, etc. We also make beads out of dried flower petals for earrings, pendants, pandora bracelets, etc. I haven’t learned that part yet, but I already want to turn my dried wedding flowers into a monogramed pendant!
There have been many twists and turns in the path from that summer to our new chapter of life. Not all of it was pretty, and in fact there were some pretty crappy parts that at the time felt impossible to survive. Here I am, testifying to God’s faithfulness. I am the healthiest I have been in years, but I am not “out of the woods” yet. I am the happiest I have been in months, settling into a new city full of opportunity. We prayed for months for there to be community being prepared for us to call home. It would be unrealistic to think it would happen overnight, but Travis and I are both at peace with the opportunity we were presented in coming down to South Carolina. It will continue to require hard work and prayer. But for now, let’s celebrate the small victories! I am an artist!