Thank You, Jesus, for my Crohn’s Disease – Part 1

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“…I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses… Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  ~ 2 Corinthians 12: 5,7-10

I thank Jesus for what I have considered my thorn in the flesh, an autoimmune disease, called Crohn’s disease.  It’s an inflammatory bowel disease, which when flared up, it truly is a thorn in any area of the gastrointestinal tract causing pain, discomfort, and possible embarrassing moments (since it does have to do with the bowels)!

My senior year of high school started like most students: excited to be graduating soon, anticipating college, figuring out God’s will for my life, and having fun the last year of high school.  However, that Fall I started having some bowel symptoms that were concerning, so I went to get it checked out. My doctor referred me to the BEST pediatric gastrointestinal doctor, Dr. Susan Maisel. After a colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy, it was confirmed that I had Crohn’s disease. My stomach, small and large intestines looked like raw hamburger. (I’ll spare you the pictures…I do still have them!)

The place where I had the colonoscopy was near Long’s Bakery,  a donut shop downtown Indianapolis. So Mom did what Mom’s do: we bought some after the procedure since I was starving after not eating for 24 hours.  Bad decision.  Note to all who have colonoscopy procedures: donuts should NOT be the first food you eat.  Mom ran into Walmart for a quick grocery run while I sat in the car.  No sooner than my last bite, well….. need I say more?  Let’s just say Mom didn’t get back quick enough!

Oh, and a note on my Dad. He took me to a Shania Twain concert the night before my colonoscopy! Right before the concert, we sat in the car while I drank the prep drink to get my bowels moving. Unlike with the donut, my bowels waited until I got home! 🙂

I remember sitting at Panera Bread with my mom when the nurse called to confirm that I did have the disease.  I had never heard of the disease before; therefore, I was fearful because I didn’t know what to expect and how this would impact my life.   At my follow-up appointment, I walked out with a handful of anti-inflammatory prescriptions to lessen the symptoms and get the disease under control. That meant taking up to 20 pills every day.

In addition to the several oral medications, I received Remicade treatments every 8-10 weeks.  Remicade is an IV infusion drug to treat Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.  The first couple infusions were done in the PICU at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and took up to 6 hours!  Fortunately, Dr. Maisel made it possible for her patients to start receiving the infusion at her office, which only took 2 1/2 hours. (Oh, and that Panera Bread that Mom and I were eating at when I first got my diagnosis? It is right down the street from Dr. Maisel’s office, so it became our lunch date spot after my appointments and treatments).

So at 17 years old, I started the life of having a chronic disease where there is no cure (except surgery to remove the diseased area, but there is no guarantee it won’t return in a different area of the GI tract). 75% of Crohn’s disease patients have surgery at some point in their life.  I was taking several medications, receiving IV infusions, and was fearful of the future. I even became depressed as a side effect of one of the drugs.

Crohn’s disease became my thorn in the flesh. If this was Satan’s doing, he meant harm, but God meant it for good. I am weak, and He is strong. Yet, stay tuned to see how God’s power has been made perfect in my weakness…

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