Y’all, I know. It’s been a minute since I last blogged. Things are happening in my life that have made it challenging to blog on my regular schedule, but I’m attempting to get back in the groove as of right now.
Anywho, on today’s post…so in 2015, I started a seven-month interview series entitled “Resilience & the Bible” which is about how Scriptures can be used to bounce back from the trials we all have to go through from time to time. The last post in the series was published in 2016, but I only posted five interviews. So I owe you two!!! Since I’m getting back in my blog groove, I’m trying to make sure I follow through with important blog content for you my dear readers. In 2020, the concept of resilience is more important than ever as I am guessing that we’re all bouncing back from trial during this trying year.
So without further ado, let me introduce you to the courageous Tisha Foster , author of a book titled My Journey With God Through Stiff Person Syndrome. Tisha, who is also a mother, hopes to inspire others through her journey and create more awareness around the rare syndrome which affects one in one million people. Please see my interview with Tisha below…
1. What is Stiff Person Syndrome, and how were you diagnosed with this condition? It was thought that you had multiple sclerosis. How is Stiff Person Syndrome different from MS?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) is a “rare neurological disorder with features of an autoimmune disease. SPS is characterized by fluctuating muscle rigidity in the trunk and limbs and a heightened sensitivity to stimuli such as noise, touch, and emotional distress, which can set off muscle spasms. Abnormal postures, often hunched over and stiffened, are characteristic of the disorder. People with SPS can be too disabled to walk or move, or they are afraid to leave the house because street noises, such as the sound of a horn, can trigger spasms and falls.”
I was diagnosed through extensive blood work and MRI in 2011.
Both MS and SPS involve the immune system, and both attack the nervous system. But MS doesn’t attack the nerve cells – instead, it attacks the supportive cells. Stiff Person Syndrome doesn’t. Symptoms of MS include dizziness, vision loss, and numbness. Stiff person symptoms include spasms and back pain, and it always comes with something like hypertension, Graves’ disease, or cancer.
2. Describe your lowest point with Stiff Person Syndrome.
My lowest point was when I was just lying on my bed, feeling worthless. I felt as if I had lost my faith and, therefore, my battle and was contemplating suicide. I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to my parents being an only child, and it would have been very selfish of me to my kids who didn’t ask to be here and for their mother not to love them enough to want to be here for them. Life is way too precious just to cut it short on my own.
3. What Scriptures did you use to lift yourself from your lowest point? And how have they helped you? (Why did you choose them?)
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.
I chose those because they were very uplifting in what I was dealing with, and I would just go with what the Holy Spirit was laying on my heart. There were lots, but I just named a few. Every scripture that I used helped me in one way or another.
4. Are you a member of a support group and or do you know anyone else with Stiff Person Syndrome, and how has a support group or knowing someone else with Stiff Person Syndrome helped you? Do you have a church family? Where do you attend church?
A woman who was newly diagnosed woman purchased my book. After reading it, she reached out to me. She and I stay in touch. She gets to those low points as well and she’ll call me for comfort.
5. You prayed for two things at the start of your journey with Stiff Person Syndrome: that you would be able to take care of your youngest son and that you could wear heels again. How did you explain Stiff Person Syndrome to your children? Why these two prayer requests? How has God answered these two prayer requests?
I have two children. At the time the disease attacked my body, I had a four-year-old and a young adult. I felt like my youngest son needed his mom, and my oldest son was already with my mother (his grandmother). I was asking to wear heels again because I was once a model and never wore sneakers. When wearing heels, I felt empowered and elegant – everything that is the essence of a woman. At that time, I didn’t feel pretty anymore and struggled with self-worth. So, that’s why those two prayers stood out for me.
When explaining the Stiff Person Syndrome to my children, my youngest son didn’t understand at first, so I had to walk him through the fact that my antibodies were attacking my muscles. My oldest son would attend doctor appointments with me, and the doctor would also explain it to him. My first main concern was that the disease was fatal, and once I found out it wasn’t, I knew I found myself in a battle I couldn’t fight on my own and needed God’s help.
So while resting, bed-bound, God answered me. I got out of bed, and He said: ‘Live your life, go be a mother to your child.’ I slowly got back into heels that I would never throw away – and I will continue buying them. Always the day before church, I would ask God: ‘Can I wear these to church on Sunday?’ I would get a granted yes. God has definitely answered my prayers.
6. Why did you decide to write your book My Journey With God Through Stiff Person Syndrome and was it difficult to share your story with the public?
Yes, because in a mix of the prayers I said to God, there was this: ‘If you can allow me to walk again and be a mom to my son, I will tell the world how good you are,’ and I wanted to keep my promise. The only way I would be able to tell the world is to write a book. Yes, it was very difficult to write this book and expose the trauma my body has gone through, but it actually humbled me.
7. What is your life like now?
My life today is almost the same – in the sense that I am still the same person. I’m still very bubbly and outspoken. I am loving and giving. I just learned how to live with God. Being first and foremost, I seek Him at all times for everything. I travel, I get family time, I’m very much loved. I just know today always to make sure God is first. I didn’t allow this condition to control my life. God is in control, and eventually, I’ll have my completion of healing.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
After being diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome, I truly believed life was over for me, but with God’s help, I continued to not only live but also enjoy life. Travel was one of the adventures I’ve undertaken despite being told I would be bed-bound for life. My book is a testimony on a hidden disability that affects millions. Check out more here: godsangelinstilettos.org.
Also, I would like for people who are in a dark place and looking for God to guide them to know that He’s there and He would never leave them or forsake them. That He is who He says He is, and He does what He says He can do. God is so real, and I wish that I can just tell everyone.
Below are the previous entries in the “Resilience & the Bible” series:
For more Bible scriptures online, go to BibleGateway.com.