A year ago tonight, I was sitting in a hospital bed, eating more-than-tolerable hospital food and visiting with my husband, my mama, my mother-in-law, and a friend from work. I was surrounded by flowers and little presents. I likely had TLC or the Food Network on and was getting two units of blood to begin the treatment for which I had been admitted a week and a half earlier to start. Earlier that year, we never expected I would need to start such a medication so soon because my intestines had mild inflammation that could be easily treated with the usual round of meds. But in the fall, the illness spiraled out of control, and this was our next option. We were nervous; this was a biologic drug that could have serious side effects and outcomes. But the possibility outweighed the risk. So I was admitted, missed Thanksgiving, and had test after test and antibiotic after antibiotic to clear me, to make sure I didn't have TB or any infections that would put me in danger when I started the Remicade. Of course, when the final TB test came back, it was inconclusive, so we weren't sure when I would begin. My GI doc called in nfectious disease physicians to examine me, and they finally cleared me for take off...
Little did I know that I would wake the next morning, Thursday, December 1, 2011, in the worst pain I had ever experienced. I knew something was wrong. I insisted something was wrong, and as a good patient, that was hard to do--to push my doctors to do something. After enduring a round of x-rays, they didn't pick up on anything and wanted to push forward with the plan. But I was so afraid everything would go wrong. I insisted they check again, After a CAT scan (the second since my hospitalization), they discovered perforations had formed in my colon while I was in the hospital. This meant emergency surgery to remove the perforated colon.
A year ago tomorrow, I didn't know what danger I was in. I didn't know what it meant to have part of your colon removed. I didn't know that I could die from what happened in my body, by my body, to my body.
This is something I wrote in response to that day in my daily Facebook photo album:
So many people prayed for me, people I do not know, some people I will probably never meet. It brings tears to my eyes when I go on Facebook and see where people said they were praying for me and sending love and support and encouragement. Prayer saved my life. I do believe that. If we had not all joined together, I do not know if I would be doing as well as I am. I have had some setbacks, yes, but, overall, my recovery has gone very well. I have tried to trust God completely and let Him carry me through this ordeal. I still have my moments when I lose faith and worry, but I know it is a result of the prayers we lifted up to Jesus together that have gotten me here. I had been praying the entire morning before my surgery, asking God to heal me from the inside and to bind Satan and to curse this horrible disease. I have been very careful not to say "my" Crohn's Disease anymore; I will not take ownership of it. It is not a part of me; it is part of this fallen world and is not part of God's promise to us. He wants us to be healthy and well and whole in His image. The thing about Crohn's Disease is that your body attacks itself and treats food, especially things that are often considered healthier such as raw fruits and vegetables, as something to be attacked as well. But God has promised otherwise in some of the first words of the Bible: "Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. '" (Genesis 1:29) I know we often skip through the Old Testament, especially those first passages, but I don't think it can be any plainer than that. I am going to be healed; I am going to be well; I am going to be stronger than before. Food will nourish not destroy my body. This experience has changed my life in so many ways, ways I could have never imagined. I am getting my life back physically and spiritually so I can go out and love and serve and do what I am supposed to do. I believed in prayer before this, but now I have experienced the true power of it, what it does, what it can do. It breaks my heart if you don't believe in God or prayer because I know that He saved my life on December 1 because we prayed to Him. I still have a long way to go and I still need lots of prayers, but I know it will be okay because I trust God has kept me here for a reason.
Tomorrow, we are going to Eureka Springs for a walking tour of Victorian homes decorated for Christmas. It will be a time of great rejoicing and happiness and fun. I know Zach and I will reflect on where we were a year ago and how far we have come, but I will not let what is passed be a burden on a glorious day and weekend. I thank God for giving me back my life, for all those that were instruments in His Hands to do so--my family, my friends, my physicians. He is my Father, my Friend, my Great Physician. I thank Him for letting me remember, for helping me not forget, for allowing me to process these memories with both praise and mourning, acceptance and disbelief, happiness and hurt and even a little humor as I remember how my colon crapped out (bathroom humor) and became a semicolon (English teacher humor). What a life I have! What a future I have! And, as the future is now, I will go enjoy the present that the Lord has given me. :)