Tuesday, September 22, 2009

this is it...the long awaited post part 1

this is the one. the one i talked about. the post i started a few weeks ago. it's morphed into something a little different than i planned. i've decided to post it in 3 parts...this being the first. reasons being: number 1, it would be super long and no one would be able to finish. number 2, i get blocked and freaked out when i think of how big this story really is so i'm breaking it down. and number 3--well, who doesn't love a little suspense. :)

that being said...deep breath...here goes...

i came home from class today with the intention to take a nap before going to church later this evening...my plans were thwarted as i logged onto facebook and began watching a video posted by one of my friends. i've heard of gianna jessen. i remember reading about her in my teens when her story first released to the world, but i had yet to hear her speak. i am not saddened in the least that my much looked forward to nap was interrupted. in fact, i know that i will not be the same after watching these two videos.

i am by no means a radical in my pro-life stance. i choose not to stand at the entrance of abortion clinics carrying with me my sign and my anger screaming at those unfortunate enough to pass by. there are those who will disagree with me; they feel that it is an effective strategy to fight the battle...and that is ok...they can be wrong. ;) i believe strongly that abortion is wrong, and i feel strongly for the babies that are never given a chance at life. yet i also feel strongly for those whose choices for a baby's destruction has, in turn, furthered them on the path of destruction that they themselves are on.

important subject that it is, i am in no way minimizing what gianna has gone through...but, i was struck by several of her comments and how they are very much parallel to my own story of survival.

it is no secret to anyone who knows me that i live with a disease that periodically ravages my body. my closest friends and family are very aware of the war that wages inside of me, both physically and emotionally every single day of my life because of crohn's disease. those of you not my "in real life" friends, if you've been hanging out here for awhile, have traveled with me through my blog as i've spent nights in the palace on ballas (otherwise known as st. john's mercy) working out, with my amazing doctor f and nurse sk, a plan of attack on this seeming plague.

and though my disease is no secret, i tend to hide behind a facade of independence and strength...pushing those i love most away; pretending that i am no different than any of them. that i do not struggle. that i can handle anything. in reality, i am extremely frightened by the possible rejection i could suffer because crohn's is by no means something beautiful. i carry scars...not just from a scalpel's blade...but sadly from some of those i thought loved me dearly.

i was called out (lovingly, mind you, but nonetheless called out) on my mask last friday night and challenged to look for avenues in which to share my story...not for my own profit or distinction, but that i, as gianna has done, could offer the hope that i have to those struggling with life...whatever the circumstance.

"i fall gracefully sometimes and very ungracefully at other times, depending on the situation but i consider it all for the glory of God...i am weaker than most of you, but this is my sermon. and what a small price to pay to be able to blaze through the world as i do and offer hope...we misunderstand how beautiful suffering can be...we forget that God is in control and God has a way of making the most miserable thing beautiful."--gianna jessen

i grew up in a small town about 60 miles south of st. louis. an only child with a large extended family, and a mom and dad whose job i thought was simply to play with me, i never wanted for attention or playmates. i had a normal childhood...well, as normal as slip n' slides in the kitchen, and the occasional flour or water fight in and around the house can be. :) that all changed the year i turned 13.

little did i know this would be the year that my life would change forever. i was a rather chubby kiddo and started to lose weight...as most adolescents tend to do, but then i began to have the occasional bout of flulike symptoms. doctor visits were frequent that winter, but every time the results were the same...she has the flu..."take this and call me in the morning" kind of deal. that is, until i passed out while in choir one day. my doctor felt it was time to finally figure out what was really going on and admitted me into the hospital.

up until this point i had never been in the hospital, never had blood drawn and i was not a fan of shots by any means. needless to say, i was plunged into the middle of it all very quickly. many tests were run...GI series (here drink this nasty wet concrete like substance and then we will push around on your stomach really hard until it feels like we're touching your spine), ct scans (again, drink this watered down red koolaid nastiness, then we'll shoot your veins with this dye and make you glow...fantastic!), colonoscopies (i'm sorry, you're putting WHAT WHERE????). i can't remember what else, but i was terrified and humiliated.

the results came back and i was told that i had crohn's disease. well, great!!! let's clear this mess up and get out of here! i had no idea what chronic disease really meant. armed with a book and a few pamphlets (which of course, my 13 year old self didn't bother to read), i was sent home on some serious meds and i returned to school.

there i found that many of the students, my friends included, didn't know what to do with me. i felt stared at and pitied. i remember one particular day after class, i was taking to a boy i liked. of course he didn't know it, but i had been crushing on him for awhile. i was having a rough day physically and doubled over in pain at one point in the conversation. one of my friends shouted "look out! she's going to throw up on you!!" (i wasn't). he jumped up and left quickly and after that, never spoke to me again. it was then that my adolescent heart translated to my adolescent brain that my disease made me an untouchable. that i was disgusting. that no one would ever want me. and i shut down.

i began to create a shell of anger and independence. i don't need your pity! i can do just fine on my own thank you very much. i don't need anyone. and that shell quickly became a wall that VERY few people in my life are able to scale. i told myself i would never marry...never have kids. who wanted a sick wife, or a sick mother? nobody. that's what i told myself.

the rest of my high school years were a tumultuous roller coaster of good health and bad. medications made my face swell and i gained weight. my once 4.0 gpa slipped slowly farther down the scale with each flare. i was just too sick and too tired to make the A's that i craved. i spent the last few months of my senior year on a homebound schedule in which a teacher was assigned to tutor me at home a few times a week...she came twice from february to may. in that time, i completed my assigned work and graduated one person from the top 10% of my class. looking back, i realize it was a major accomplishment...and honestly i have no idea how i did it, but at that point, it devastated me. i had lost everything...my friends, my health and my grades. God hated me. and i hated Him right back.

thankfully, my story doesn't end here. but this chapter does. more will come in the next few days. i'm still writing and struggling over this. please be patient....and thanks for hearing my heart.