All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn in the Northwest, and Joy's Health

Seeing as how it's been over four years since we last enjoyed a fall scene, we're truly soaking up the beauty of our favorite season out here in the great Northwest!
It's amazing how crisp, clear and cool it can be out here on a nice day. And the humidity is so low! We're practically bathing in lotion just to keep from shedding our skin like Britton's python back in Indonesia.

The change in seasons from late summer to fall can be seen as you drive up into the mountains.

The full brilliant colors haven't quite made it down to our level yet, but they're on the way! And we've enjoyed sneaking in a a few weekend drives up into the Cascades to fully appreciate the beauty of autumn in the U.S.
Of course, at any moment the weather can change, and it's already snowing in the higher elevations. That's another first for most of our kids--snow! We're looking forward to playing in the snow sometime before we return to Indonesia. Of course, we'll need to find something other than Crocs and shorts to wear!

In other news, things continue to be busy here. We've already filled out visa applications for our return to Indonesia and are working on finalizing ticket arrangements and other details. In the meantime, we're still making many, many trips to the doctors and dentists, buying supplies, sharing with groups, churches, and supporters etc. etc.!

Speaking of doctors, you may be aware that for the past two years one of our biggest frustrations and challenges overseas has been Joy's health. She's had off and on pain and inflammation in many of her joints, that often has been very intense. In fact, I remember many times when she couldn't lift one of the twins (this was even back when they were still really little) because the pain was so bad. And she often has trouble holding her hands up to do her hair or simple things like that. In addition, she's often dizzy, very fatigued and has headaches and chest pain.

She's actually really tough, and hides it well. Many folks wouldn't even be aware. She doesn't like to make a big deal about stuff like this, and she's always hoped that we'd find out what was wrong, and then she could take some medicine and it would quietly go away. I've tried to "tell the world" about this before, but she's preferred to keep it quiet. But as time has gone on, the absence of answers has grown more frustrating and concerning. At one point when we were in Tarakan, Joy flew to Singapore for various tests and consultations with a specialist. (Our MAF program manager has always been very supportive of our efforts to find what the problem is. And in that case, I was able to take some time off to stay with the kids in Tarakan. We've appreciated MAF's support in trying to find answers.)

In the end, nothing conclusive was discovered. Later she did a bunch of tests and blood work in Tarakan. The blood work and labs were done in Balikpapan, a much larger city with a "better" hospital and lab. After those tests, they were convinced that Joy had TB. Well, we were very skeptical for numerous reasons, but after talking to several other Indonesian and western doctors, we finally decided that there was no harm in her taking the TB medication just to see what happened.

She stayed on that until we returned to the U.S. in late June. Her symptoms initially improved, making us think that maybe we really were on to something. But alas, they returned again with a vengeance a few months later. During our routine MAF-required medical exam, the doctor in the U.S. clearly found that she did not have TB, and never had. But he was sure there was something fishy going on.

So after seeing another doctor here in Portland, doing further blood work, and then getting in with a specialist, they've determined that she has either Relapsing Polychondritis or Lupus. Since they're both in the autoimmunity family of diseases, and similar in nature and symptoms, and since there's no specific test to 100% identify which is which, we don't really know for sure. But in both cases the treatment is similar. At this point we're just glad to know basically what we're dealing with. There's still much that doctors don't know about these diseases, and truthfully there's not a whole lot they can do. The specialist wanted to start Joy on steroids, but for now she's opted not to do that. You should know that in some cases the symptoms can simply vanish. Often they come back, but other times they don't. Will you join us in praying that God will simply heal Joy completely?

And just to be clear, at this point nothing has changed with our plans. We are excited to return to Indonesia in a few months, as originally intended. But it would certainly be a HUGE blessing if Joy was not dealing with the pain and fatigue that was clobbering her for the past couple of years. Thanks!


Suzanne & Duncan Forbes said...

My mom has had Lupus for the past 40 years - and has a wonderful doctor there in Portland - Dr Bulger.

I'll be praying for you guys as you search out possible remedies to help keep the symptoms under control.

Sandy said...

I will be praying for you. I check your blogs from time to time to see what you are up to.

When you first described the symptoms, I thought that is how I was til they took most of mine out. Sometimes it takes doctors ages to get around to testing that and yet I speak to so many people who have that problem. I was going through all that when I was on deputation, too. They didn't hit on the thyroid problem til I actually got a goitre. Then I married a Brit and so got good care when I came to the UK.

But I will pray. I know how hard it is to go from day to day, but just like Paul said, He gives the sufficient grace.

Sandy in the UK

Kristi said...

I myself have struggled for a couple years with unidentified health issues. I completely understand how difficult it is to have your own body hindering you from doing all you would like to do for your family everyday. I will be praying for Joy, and I pray that the great physician will heal her from all this in His time. Thank you for the update. I know it's not fun to talk about our weaknesses, or problems, but if people don't know, they can't pray, so thank you!

Lisa said...


I always read Joy's blog and check yours for updates. MS was my diagnosis, but God has been full of mercy. I follow a diet called the Swank diet. I do not know if it would help Joy or not, but maybe google it. If you want to know more:

Joy and your family are in my prayers!


Anonymous said...

my husband and i will be praying for joy's healing and for His perfect peace to fill her heart and mind...i am a reader of her blog and had noticed she hadn't written for awhile and so i decided to check on her here...i'm so glad i did. please let her know that the body of Christ is lifting her needs up to the Lord...
in Christ,

fixedonHIM said...

I am of reader on Joy's blog...our family also enjoys reading all of your jungle adventures too. :)

We will be praying for a complete healing for Joy from head to toe in Jesus' name. A few years ago I was diagnosed with a possible/probable MS and I can joyfully tell you that I have been healed by the blood of Jesus. I believe that Joy will be too!

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Sheri said...

I have just started praying and will continue too. Our Father is ABLE! So much more than able! And, please give your sweet, beautiful, godly, precious Joy a hug from her friend Sheri. Your family is being covered in prayer!

thebartols said...

We are glad that you "shared with the world". We will pray. Small world. We were in Africa with the Dr. Bulger mentioned by Suzanne. Praying for you. Melanie

Pamela said...

God is so faithful and He is a mighty healer!! Praying for peace and rest and healing!!

God bless, Pamela (a former Oregonian...turned Floridian)

Auntie said...

I am so glad that you were able to get a somewhat firm diagnosis. I think it's better than wondering. It certainly points out that Joy is an exceptional person to do all that she does.

I also will continue to pray for her headling.

Becky Perez said...

I will be praying for Joy and for your family. I also look at Joy's blog from time to time and wondered why there were no updates, but now I see why. I'm praying that you will be able to find the answers you need to help Joy be the best mom and wife she can be.
My husband Daniel and I hope to be joining you soon in Indonesia! We aren't sure where yet, but we are raising our support with MAF and hope to be there in August. We have really enjoyed reading your families' blogs and old newsletters. They have been really helpful in preparing us a little bit for our new home and mostly just getting us excited! We also enjoyed watching your pre-field support-rasing video up at MAF :) It was a good one!

Kate said...

My husband and I will definitely pray for Joy and the rest of your family. God has worked miracles so many times before, and I pray He will this time as well.

Casey said...

I can say with almost 100% certainty that your wife has Lyme Disease. I have it myself and have had the EXACT same symtoms. Lyme is known as the "great imitator" as it mimics many others diseases, including Lupus. I would urge you to find a "Lyme-literate" doctor who will do a Western Blot through Igenex Labs. Please know that a negative result DOES NOT mean she doesn't have Lyme. There is a high rate of false negatives with the test. A good Lyme-literate doctor will treat based on symptoms alone. Has your wife ever had a tick bite? Many people don't remember ever seeing a tick. That was the case with me. PLEASE look into this. She may get much worse without treatment. Here is some good information:

I truly believe the Lord has led me to your blog! This might be the answer you are looking for!!


Elaine said...

I enjoy both Joy's and your blog and will be praying for her!

Anonymous said...

Praying that Joy is healed before your return to the mission field. Thanks for letting the blog world know of her infirmity.

My son was praying just yesterday for your family as we pray specifically for the nations every Wednesday in our homeschool. Once in a while I show my sons the "cool" adventures of missionary kids from your family's blog posts.

God bless you and keep you as you continue to make "Him" known in Indonesia!

Anonymous said...

Doctors are quick to put people on TB medication. TB medication is so strong that it messed up my friends liver . We were all international students in US and they diagnosed all of us with TB after a skin test came positive. (it was false positive because most international students have had TB vaccination.) I'm glad I challenged it and they opted me out after doing a chest x-ray.

I hope your wife gets better.

My wife is 23 and she has always had pains in her joints. Recently she was diagnosed her with arthritis (which is uncommon for a person her age)

Ronda said...

Dave, these photos are GORGEOUS! I am a bit jealous, to say the least. I would love to be a part of Fall in the States again. Oh well. I'm glad that you guys are able to get some kind of a diagnosis for Joy. I hope and pray that she will be healed and not have to deal with this again this new term.

So when are you coming to visit us in Banda? Miss you guys!

Unknown said...

I am sorry to hear what Joy is going through. Having health issues myself I can definitely sympathize. Praying for your family!