A continuation of my faith journey with Crohns disease.
Thankfully, I was eventually able to leave the hospital. On the drive home, even the fresh air smelled like wet, smoky laundry. It ended up taking two days for the smell to completely disappear.
When I told my Miami doctor about this upon a follow up visit, he stated he had never heard of such a reaction to anesthesia and the follow up meds before. He was really excited about it all! I wanted to shove his face into a sheet soaked in year long ash tray waste… then see just how exciting he’d think it was. Thinking about the odor, even now, turns my 2-liter stomach.
The expectation after a surgery is that you have about two years where your symptoms should be relatively small… enough time before the scar tissue begins to build. This gives you time to heal and to make some headway in your life before the disease begins to slow everything down again. More importantly, it was time for me to emotionally and spiritually heal from the recent events.
Unfortunately, the Lord had other things in mind and things went from bad to worse.
Soon after my surgery, when they removed my effected areas of my intestinal tract, my Crohns decided to invade my colon. The troops were rounded up and the attack was imminent. Unfortunately for me, I was not informed of this impending colonic battle.
My recovery from this second surgery was very difficult. I just didn’t seem to be getting any better. But, I continued to offer up my illness, my sacrifice, to God. Though my suffering was beginning to take a very large toll, I was determined to praise Him by dealing with it the best I could.
Over the next two years my health continued to worsen. From a year before the last surgery, through surgery, through recovery and now this constant deterioration… would this never end? I was starting down the slipperly slope of declining health and I just didn’t have much strength left to fight journey. I had always thought this would end someday… as if the Lord would reward me for my sacrifice by curing me or something. But, then, it wouldn’t have been a sacrifice would it? No. I knew that wasn’t the deal with offering up my pain… I just hoped beyond everything that the Lord would grant me a miracle.
At this point it seemed as if there was no end in sight. I started to accept the eventual outcome of this latest path and my wife and I started making plans for what would happen if and when I moved on to the next life. We made a will, talked about my final arraignments and what I could do to help her now, in case I didn’t make it.
That’s not a discussion many people ever plan on having with their spouse. How do you correctly end a sentence that starts with the words “When I die…”
It was emotional, it was painful, it was sad, somber and depressing. It hurt me at the deepest levels of my soul. I looked at my kids and wondered if they would remember me. Was I in their lives long enough for them to look back and remember their father? Or would I fade away, like my body was doing? Is this the point of my life, to be half forgotten, fractured memories in my children’s minds? That’s why I was put on this planet? That was God’s plan for me? That’s what my offering up my suffering had gotten me?
Eventually, as my health continued to worsen, Dr. Levy did a colonoscopy. The end result was that over 75% of my colon was covered in ulcers, along with new areas of my intestinal tract and near my stomach. He would try some new medicine, but things were not looking good. Enduring future surgeries was a given. Retaining the rest of my intestines was not a guarantee. The end result of all of our attempts, cloudy at best.
Day after day I was growing weak. And year after year, my faith was evaporating. I was growing more and more afraid. At work, I would get light headed simply walking to the restroom. Almost daily, I felt as if I would pass out. What would happen? Who would find me? What if I passed out in a meeting? Or in the hall? Or in the parking lot? Fear was overwhelming me… “What ifs” filled my mind. I didn’t want to do anything, go anywhere, be anyone… I just wanted to lay in bed.
Finally, I had come to the end of my rope. Something had to change or else I would lose everything.
To be continued…