You never know what part of your life God will use to help build your faith and draw you closer to him. For me, it has been a twenty-three year battle with Crohns disease. In 2005 I had posted online my humorous faith journey that living with Crohns has brought me. In the coming months I will have to face my third intestinal surgery so I felt it would be a good time to revisit this journey. I can’t help but wonder where it will lead next.
Crohns… What is it? Crohns is an intestinal disorder that can cause bleeding ulcers, intestinal swelling, scar tissue, blockage and a multitude of other issues. It usually attacks at the Ileum, where the small and large intestine meet, but it can occur anywhere from your intake to your output.
It’s funny… they say that Crohns doesn’t kill you. Instead, they say that the symptoms of Crohns can kill you. In any event, either Crohns or its symptoms have almost killed me four times.
I’m the last child in a family of eight. The last three of us, Paul, Charles and I, are all close knit and close in age. My brother Paul got Crohns in the late 70’s while he was in high school. It was misdiagnosed for quite some time and his health continued to deteriorate. He got so sick that, in his prom pictures, he looked as if he was a concentration camp survivor. When he was able to keep his meals down, after dinner he would lay over an ottoman and ask one of us to rub his lower back… it made him feel better. When you touched his back it was just skin and bone. He was so, so sick.
Paul rarely complained. He kept his sickness primarily to himself. Sure, it impacted the family, but he never tried to leverage it for attention or other personal gain. He suffered in silence.
All three of us were very involved with our church youth group. As Paul got more and more sick, Charles and I were getting really concerned about his health. So, one night, after youth group Charles and I sat and prayed about it… just the two of us. We prayed that the Lord would heal Paul. We even prayed for God to give us the disease. Paul was always a notorious bookworm and Charles and I were much more athletic… we could handle the disease. No problem!
About six years later I got Crohns. And Charles… well he apparently didn’t mean it when we prayed because he’s one of the healthiest people I know. Of course, he now has eleven children, so maybe we’re even.
To be continued…