[headline_arial_small_centered color=”#000000″]There Is No Bad Day[/headline_arial_small_centered]
[headline_tahoma_medium_centered color=”#000000″]Doing Drugs[/headline_tahoma_medium_centered]
“So what’s the treatment?” I asked. “What do we do now?”
“We start you on a pretty high dose of steroid, called Prednisone,” the Doctor said. “Go fill the prescription I’ll send to the pharmacy right now and call me in about 10 days to report in on the progress.”
I picked it up immediately and took my first pill, filled with a weird sense of contentment and relief because it felt so good to finally think I knew what was happening. The Doctor seemed very confident, so we placed our hope and trust in him and went forth with the drug.
Within five hours of taking the pill, I had a bowel movement with no blood. “It’s working already!” I told Nan excitedly. I slept easier and felt less discouraged than I had the entire month so far.
I had just received a diagnosis of a chronic disease that had no known cure and would plague me the rest of my life. The Doctor told me I would take medication for it until the day I die. Yet, strangely, that was comforting and made me feel much, much better than not knowing what was going on. I guess it’s not that strange though…I guess it makes sense now that I could see a pathway out of the pain. “Great, give me the drugs! Whatever it takes to get rid of this insanity of pain, I’ll do anything at this point!”
Physically I felt better already the next day. And my bowel movements were no longer bloody. I still didn’t have enough energy to get out of bed, but I did feel better.
[headline_tahoma_medium_centered color=”#000000″]Reflections on a Chronic Diagnosis[/headline_tahoma_medium_centered]
As Nan brought me a lunch in the bed we had set up in the back living room, I gazed out the window at the perfect, sunny, autumn afternoon. I watched my beautiful wife and children getting ready to head out and my heart filled with gratitude. I wanted to go out and play with them, and I might have been a bit bummed that I was bedridden. But I felt contented gratitude. As they left, I grabbed my journal off its make-shift brown leather couch ottoman nightstand and wrote:
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9/22/2012 – 3:00 pm on a gorgeous fall Saturday afternoon
Reflections on a Chronic Diagnosis
My beautiful wife and children just excitedly left to go swimming. I am remaining here to rest and to watch over Kelsie.
My body has been relatively pain free today as long as I’m lying down. I am so thankful for the reprieve and rest from the physical pain. Yesterday I received a diagnosis that my body currently has the condition known as “Ulcerative Colitis”. Which means that my colon has ulcers in it due to my immunse system attacking my healthy cells from what I know so far.
Why is it doing this? I don’t know. The cause is not determined in the medical community apparently and therefore the permanent solution has not been found either according to the doctors. Supposedly I have a chronic disease or disorder.
It’s an interesting position to be encountering myself in. On one hand I am ecstatic to feel like I have a proper diagnosis because now I have been given a drug that has already in the first 5 hours stopped my rectal bleeding.
On the other hand, it naturally seems unfortunate to be given a chronic disorder to be able to deal with for the rest of my life. But then as I consider it, I immediately must say and am inclined to believe that it is not unfortunate at all. In fact, I firmly believe that it is actually most fortunate.
I cannot with perfect clarity and knowledge explain all the ways in which it is a very good thing. But I believe it is. If it were not for my best and the good of the universe in general, it would not have taken place. I believe that to accept that unforeseeable and unavoidable conditions are detrimental, is to deny the existence of goodness in general. If God’s aim is our glory, growth, and all good things, then to me, to espouse the belief that some things we are allowed to pass through are for our benefit, and others are there with the purpose of harming us, would be putting God in contradiction with Himself. I frankly think it’s a ridiculous notion and I don’t buy it.
Instead, I hold and will continue to maintain even stronger now having experienced such recent suffering and diagnosis – that Everything is conspiring for my benefit.
I simply know that it is. It cannot be any other way. Otherwise the very meaning of all things would be thrown into question.
So where am I now? Where do I now stand in light of recent intense sufferings of pain endured and a “chronic” diagnosis obtained?
Do I now go forth in life in fear and trepidation as I wonder when the next round of debilitating pain may take over? Certainly not.
So how do I reconcile this? How do I reconcile myself to the will of God?
I must confess thoughts of defeat and despair have not entirely avoided me over the last few weeks of agony as I lay 95% of the day on my back on the ground, and suffer intensely painful bowel movements constantly full of blood for weeks at a time. Is it not natural to experience those despairing thoughts? Absolutely!
Really, how could I not have some despairing thoughts and still be considered alive and reasoning? Because I had such amazing, comfortable, joyous, and pain-free circumstances just 8 weeks prior. Of course the feelings of grief over the loss of those comfortable circumstances was natural at that point! And I definitely felt that grief. There is such immense contrast and such a huge difference between my daily activities currently and what they were two months ago.
And I cannot say I enjoy the latter more, far from it. In fact I desire more strongly than ever those comfortable days when I was completely unencumbered by my body’s limitations.
So what do I do now? How shall I respond to the moment I now face? In despaired longing for what I had in the past? NO!
How about discontented wishing for the future circumstances to come sooner? Absolutely not!
How I shall respond is with gratitude and awe at the beauty and wonder of it all.
How amazing is it that I am actually capable of suffering such intense and relentless pain with no apparent cause? I don’t know how, but somehow I survived it and it passed for the moment. And I know if it happens that I have future pain, I will be fully capable somehow of getting through that also. What’s more, I am intrigued and fascinated by the search for meaning in it all. Because quite frankly, it excites me a lot as I think of the amazing potential for good that is being created by way of this painful suffering. I know there is something amazing coming as part of this, and it is fun to wonder about it and look for it.
Who can I now help with my increased depth of ability for compassion and empathy? There must be thousands, maybe millions suffering pain right now that can use a compassionate understanding and uplifting words and energy. Am I not now more equipped to lend a hand? Am I not now a sharper, more effective instrument in the surgeons healing hand? Yes! Yes I am.
I know more than ever what it is like to suffer unavoidably. And I know it is possible to find goodness and meaning in it all.
And so I respond with gratitude, awe, and wonder. I’m grateful to be alive and coherent, and feeling gratitude in this moment. I’m grateful for all the trials and adversities as well as the prosperity and abundance I am blessed with. Because who am I to claim to know whether something, someone, or some event is bad for me? In fact, better said, who am I to assert in defiance of God, that anything he allows me to go through is for my detriment? That would be pure absurdity!!
I absolutely believe God when He has repeatedly said that all things work together for our good. Certainly if I choose to oppose goodness through my own hatred and selfishness and purposefully fight against goodness then I’m causing my own misery. But to suggest that our creator, the source of all that is, the source of life, light, and everything else, all knowing, perfectly loving, and all powerful, could or would intend harm upon us?
That is absurd. There is nothing about that thought that makes any sense to me.
So I will stick to what I know works and what will serve me immensely: the belief that everything is conspiring for my benefit.
I love that belief! It is so inspiring, hope giving, and good feeling.
I love to search for and find the beautiful and good in all things. And I view the past 2 months of intense pain and suffering as a holy and sacred time in my life. I am honored and humbled by the experience. Honored because I feel God’s immense love for me, and I see more than ever how strong He knows I am. I feel Him preparing me, refining me, and sharpening me for His service. And humbled by the same token. I know that I am being refined for a great purpose and I’m humbled and grateful to be viewed worthy and capable of great suffering and thus great leadership.
To conclude for now, I don’t know what this evening will bring, or tomorrow, or next week. I don’t know whether I’ll be in massive pain or whether I will feel perfectly whole. I do know this. I will keep doing everything in my power to feel whole physically. And I will hold high in my mind continuously my ideals, which are to serve and bless my family, and to serve and bless humanity. I will spend my free moments elaborately envisioning and creating my ideals in the canvas and workshop of my mind. I will focus my attention on clarifying the details of my visions and ideals. And I will do everything in my power to serve those around me and to heal my body so that I am in a better position to serve and bless others.
I am so indebted and grateful to my amazing and strong wife Nan. She is an angel to me, as are my children, all serving me selflessly in my time of adversity.
Thank you God! This is a truly amazing life you have given us.
What a beautiful day! What a welcome, soul-recharging reprieve from the emotional and physical pain.
What I knew that day was I felt grateful, humble, and optimistic about the future.
What I didn’t know (which is probably good because it would have squashed those amazing feelings flat on their face) was that was only round one. I had no way of seeing that round two would soon begin, and that it would be twice as challenging.
Let me know you’re alive! Leave me a comment.