Diane Dike was an elite athlete, professor, & coach. Yet pain became her constant companion at the tender age of 23. Three years later she was diagnosed with a debilitating, incurable disease called Cryoglobulinemia Vasculitis. In the midst of her despair, Diane found the transforming love of Jesus, & discovered the secret to happiness, serving others – & that God has a purpose & a plan for her life – even in a broken body. She challenges people to realize that “With God nothing is impossible, & it’s never too late to be all He created you to be.” We are delighted to share her story with you today & tomorrow.
Pain became my constant companion at the age of twenty-three. I had no idea what “Cryoglobulinemia” meant or even how to pronounce it. The words, “incurable, life threatening, chronic” overwhelmed me. The way I looked at the world & my purpose for living changed in an instant.
Prior to the mysterious diagnosis, at 19 I married my high school sweetheart, became a special education teacher, church youth leader & coached swimming & track. We realized personal & professional dreams, while making a difference in young people’s lives, even as I sang for thous&s at a popular theme park. We had big goals & plans.
One terrible Friday in 1990, a severe pain stabbed my left hip. Later my left foot began to ache with two red spots on the arch. Sunday I stepped out of bed & fell to the floor. While crawling for help I noticed that my left foot had doubled in size & was hot to the touch. My husb& rushed me to the emergency room where I was prescribed painkillers, crutches, rest & ice for my “hematoma”. I would later discover that icing was the worst possible treatment & the painkillers only aggravated symptoms.
Each week a new body part became swollen & covered in hives, rashes, or red/hot spots. Poked & prodded by specialists & admitted to hospitals every few weeks, they tested for lupus, leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis & AIDS… Concerned about the possibility of gangrene from the horrific discolorations & red spots that broke through my skin & turned into ugly sores, two doctors contemplated amputation of my peculiar legs.
When the attacks came on with sudden vengeance, all I could do was helplessly watch my body deteriorate. Flu-like symptoms made working, socializing, shopping, & performing the simplest of daily chores excruciating. In addition, insomnia & the gnawing pain of fibromyalgia that began when I was 15 became more intense. Deep sorrow, weeping & anguish ripped all hope from my being. I cried out, “God, help me!” As if dragging around a thous& pound ball of shame, no matter how hard I tried to kick it away, it shackled me & plunged my life into ruin.
Almost three years after those two red spots first appeared on my foot, the doctors performed a special blood test that revealed that I suffered from a rare, incurable blood disease called CRYOGLOBULINEMIA, cryo-cold, globul-clotting, anemia-blood. It’s an excruciating autoimmune blood clotting disorder that destroys vital organs & gets worse when I’m stressed, sitting or st&ing. When my body gets cold my blood dangerously turns to a jello-like substance which can result in death. I never would have thought what a luxury “normal” daily activities would’ve been. They also confirmed vasculitis (the hurting disease), purpura & Raynaud’s Phenomenon with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & the list grows on. I was told to minimize all exposure to the cold & avoid ANYTHING that inflames the potentially life-threatening symptoms.
Even though I felt relief over finally getting an answer through a diagnosis, I disconnected from all I’d known & loved because a fulfilling life now seemed impossible. Deep depression sunk in & I lost everything that mattered. My divorce & subsequent homelessness led to suicide attempts & confinement in a psychiatric hospital. I could only see these diseases as a source of never ending agony. I didn’t know how to accept or ask for help. I prayed for death to come quickly & I didn’t care how, Just make this pain end. What use am I to anyone broken?
In complete despair, God answered me by directing my focus from my misery to Jesus & His promises for my life. The Bible taught me that peace, protection, good health, wholeness, & provision could be mine despite the storm that surrounded me. One day I made the choice to leave behind old behaviors, thoughts, prisons, & labels. Embracing my second chance at God’s saving grace & the opportunity to live my life well, in spite of my depressing health problems.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2 of Diane’s story. In the meantime, you may be interested in visiting her web site, Second Chance with Saving Grace. Diane Dike is the founder & President of Second Chance with Saving Grace. (SCwSG) a non-profit 501c(3) organization whose mission is to impact the world by focusing on serving, evangelizing, equipping, empowering, & encouraging people to be all God created them to be. They visit schools, churches, hospitals, prisons, civic organizations, delivering Love Kits of encouragement & empowering others to do the same while sharing their personal testimony!