Anxiety, Faith, and the Outcome Spectrum Method


I have a weird approach to life’s obstacles.  I think about the best thing that could happen in any situation, and then also the worst case scenario.  Somehow it’s comforting to know that however things actually unfold, it will be somewhere on the spectrum of things I’ve already considered.  Maybe I could call it the Outcome Spectrum Method.

With Cee’s upcoming specialist appointment in Cincinnati, though, I’m having a hard time constructing my spectrum.

There are some possibilities that are easy to categorize.

The doctors in Cincinnati offer an affordable, safe, treatment for SJIA that dumb ole Mayo Clinic didn’t think of.
-That’s obviously the best-est outcome…but it might just be the most unlikely.  Mayo Clinic isn’t actually dumb or ole.  It’s not like our doctor lives on an island with no access to current medical journals or medications.

The doctors in Cincinnati tell us that all the MRI and Xray machines we’ve used previously were hunks of junk, and there actually isn’t any damage to Cee’s joints.
– Ummm…yes.  Also unlikely.

In Cincinnati we meet a magician who has devoted his life to curing sick kids as opposed to cutting attractive women in half like his lame-o peers.
– Okay, okay.  Now I’m just grasping at straws.

So that rounds out best case scenarios.  (Is it troubling that the magician is our best chance at a positive outcome?  I’ve never put my eggs in the “David Copperfield” medical basket before…)


I won’t even include the worst-worst case scenarios like “we die in a plane crash on the way” or “we are kidnapped by drug traffickers in Cincinnati.”  They seem a little disconnected from the actual issue at hand.  Here are some outcomes I’m having difficulty spectrum-izing that are much more probable.

The doctors in Cincinnati have a drug trial available that’s only available there, as a research facility.
– We might be able to slow down the disease. (Yay!)
– Cee might end up taking a drug with unknown, or serious possible side effects. (Boo.)
– We may have to travel back and forth to Cincinnati for monitoring. (Boo.)

The doctors in Cincinnati have an experimental surgical procedure (and not the hip replacement that Cee isn’t old enough for) that will provide at least temporary relief for Cee’s hips.
– We might have an extended recovery time in Cincinnati. (Boo.)
– The procedure might not be covered by insurance. (Boo.)
– Putting a figurative bandaid on Cee’s hips won’t slow down the progress of her disease elsewhere. (Boo.)
– She may walk without pain again.  (Yay!)


There is nothing that Cincinnati can offer.
– That means we wouldn’t need to travel there multiple times a year.  (Yay!)
– However, it also means we’re out of options.  (Boo.)


If a drug trial is our only option, I’m not sure I can do it.  I’m not sure I can get behind another medication with “death” as a side effect.  I’m not sure I can give Cee a medication with a black box warning on the slim chance it keeps the disease from attacking her organs.  I’m not sure I can sign the “informed consent” form that says we understand that a medication hasn’t been approved by the FDA and accept full liability of what might occur.


So.  My Outcome Spectrum Method isn’t helping much right now.

Where does that leave us?

Alone.  At this point we have little hope in Cincinnati.  We have no hope in our own knowledge or abilities.  We have nothing.

(I feel like this is where all my posts of late end up.   Yike-ty yikes, things are bad.  I’m a hot mess.  But there’s an answer for that.)

The answer is right in front of me.  Quietly present.  Waiting for me to calm down and open my eyes after my careful spectrum construction.


The Mass.


It doesn’t change anything.  It doesn’t make the black box warning any less terrifying.  It doesn’t make a magician appear.

It doesn’t change anything.  Except me.  My Catholic faith changes me.

It was at Mass that I clearly felt words from God.

It was at Mass that I found hope for our seemingly hopeless situation.

It was in the message of Ash Wednesday that I embraced my family’s mortality.

And on Good Friday, I was reminded how our suffering can be transformed for a greater good.

I am a hot mess.  Until I can turn back to the cross through the Church and gain the strength to get through the next day.  One day at a time, through the grace of God, I can get through.  I can’t begin to imagine who I would be without having clocked a lot of time at Mass.


I don’t know of anything that could fill this…hole? place of honor? need?  that Catholicism fills for me.  Although I’m not an expert, I don’t think that drugs or gambling would be as effective.  Nor would joining some sort of club sport.  Or getting a puppy.  Increasing social media use certainly wouldn’t.  Atheism is more of a void itself than a filler.

Perhaps another Christian denomination or Buddhism might offer centering, mindfulness, and self-improvement.  Otherwise I could get those from a whole host of books from Amazon.

I’m not a theologian.  I am a stay-at-home-mom who rarely reads books without pictures.  I can only speak from my limited personal experience.  And in my limited personal experience, there is something unique about a tradition that doesn’t bow to trends or how I think things *should* be.  There is something unique about a place that defies all reason and claims to have the actual Body and Blood of Jesus.

My Catholic faith offers me a tangible, physical, supernatural link to God.  Through the Eucharist, I am able to touch Jesus every time I attend Mass.  It’s impossible *not* to be changed by that, if you’re open.  Where my Outcome Spectrum Method fails, faith fills in the cracks.  It oozes in and transforms me.

The diagnosis we face is rare.  Its prognosis is severe.  But our circumstances aren’t that unusual.

Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.  ~ 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

There are thousands of years’ worth of people who have found comfort in these same words.

There is more, a voice whispers to you.  To me.  To all of us.  And it is in the promise of that “more” that we can overcome whatever happens, no matter where it lies on the outcome spectrum.

I am anxious, worried, trouble, scared.  And I will take my burdens with me to Mass this week.  And next week.  And the week after that.  I will lay them down, over and over again, because I have no idea what to do with them on my own.  They keep coming.  And I keep laying them down.

There is more.  Every time I receive the Eucharist I am reminded.  I am changed.  I am able to get through another day.


I’m linking up with the Catholic Women Bloggers Network for the theme of “How my faith helps me worry less: Scripture and Tradition.”

PS– Thank you to all who have visited our “Let us know if you need anything” post.  We are grateful for the prayers and support.  <3


  1. // Reply

    I’m so sorry for what you see when you sketch out possible outcomes. The burden seems crushing to me. I think of Our Lady and how she had to know in advance what was going to happen to her son, and she still chose to walk alongside him on the Via Dolorosa, when she could have at least hidden back at home and not witnessed the suffering, and she never left the side of that cross. I would pray that none of us are ever offered this cross as a mother, but, knowing that some of us will be, I pray that any one of us could be as brave as she was.

    I have had some bad health news this week and your experience is reminding me to keep it in perspective, and to try to be more Christian about my self-pity.

    1. // Reply

      Yes! Mary is the perfect example of trust and courage in suffering. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

  2. // Reply

    I am almost in tears reading this… this is absolutely beautiful! I love how you are able to draw such strength from your Faith – how it helps to center you, and bring you consistently to the “more” part of our Faith. Furthermore, I think I was most struck by the small part of the reception of the Eucharist – the source and summit of Christianity… brings you strength. And, that is absolutely beautiful!

    Our relationships with God should be real – and, I’m sure (especially having read your blog for the better part of a year now…) you have a true, real, raw relationship with Him… but, you never let your anger, disappointment, worry, fears, etc. impede you from receiving Him in the Eucharist. And, to me, that is awe-some and beautiful!

    Sorry – I used the same word half a dozen times now… but, I want you to know how your faith is stunning, and such an inspiration!

    1. // Reply

      I was being serious when I mentioned not knowing who I would be, or where I would be without faith. A lot crazier than I already am, that’s for sure! Thank you for reading and commenting, Anni. It helps me see that I’m not alone in all this. <3

  3. // Reply

    Obviously this is a very busy time in your life. I want to thank you for continuing to share here. Your love and faith are raw and real. The world needs it right now.

    Also, it tickled me when you wrote
    >>”I’m not a theologian”
    >>Writes very profound theological Truth

  4. // Reply

    You made me laugh. You teared me up. And you inspired the heck out of me. Prayers for your trip and that there is a medical magician somewhere amongst the doctors there!!! If not, there is always hope in our Divine Physician! I particularly loved the reminder … PRAYER CHANGES ME!

  5. // Reply

    These are such hideously difficult moments to struggle with. Between this post and the last one, you’ve really hit the nail on the head. Turn around and face the suffering, grab it by the scruff of the neck, and drag it (and yourself) to the foot of the cross. Trust that there is more to the story, even if that doesn’t help you *feel* better about it.

    Your perseverance is a constant inspiration to me. <3

  6. // Reply

    I can relate to your ‘outcome spectrum method.’ Maybe it’s being half Norwegian. “It could be worse” is pretty much a default attitude. Then there’s my Irish side: and that’s another topic.

    1. // Reply

      Ha! In order to appreciate the “it could be worse,” you have to consider what that worst is. So there you go. It is practically the same mentality. Without the lutefisk. 🙂

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