When you want to give up…give it to God!
People say your illness doesn’t define who you are, but unfortunately- that’s not true for everyone. When you are chronically ill, especially if you also have a history of, or are presently struggling with, mental health issues as well, you automatically have an identity set in place. We often try our hardest to be strong and put on a happy face. You would think that the people you’ve been closest to your entire life would be the ones who understand the most, but that’s not always the case either. Some people will never understand and you cannot make someone understand what it’s like, especially if they’ve never experienced it.
I disagree with the statement,“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”.
If God didn’t put more on our plate than we could handle, we wouldn’t need Him to lean on and hand our life over to Him.
It sure seems like it is impossible sometimes, but to me, those are the times that He’s asking you to rely on Him even more.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.”
He is always beside us, going through every single thing with us.
He uses us and our experiences through life to help others.
So here’s my story, at least an extremely shortened version:
I was going to explain my medical history as well as the stuff I am still enduring to this day, but I figured there was no way that I could get so much into one blog entry.
The long story short is that I was in the doctor’s office a lot from the ages of 16 to 20, of course getting the whole “You’re young and you look healthy, there can’t be anything wrong with you!” mess that I thankfully don’t really get much anymore. My doctor at the time said that I was just depressed and couldn’t find anything physically wrong with me. At 17 years old, I was diagnosed with depression and put on all kinds of psychiatric medications (and in-turn, gained a lot of weight. Not just from those, but also from what I had wrong with my digestive system). I had to believe him, because after all, he’s a doctor. God healed me from a lot of the depression when I was 24, not to say I don't at all struggle with sadness and frustration, but the lasting damage that it did, was huge. All the years I went through being told the pain and actual physical signs were “all in my head,” really made those years the hardest I ever had to endure. My teenage years, the years that should have been the most fun and least stressful, I struggled extensively with getting doctors to listen to me. I even had one doctor ‘fire’ me as his patient, because I was too much trouble since I had to go in so often and he couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
You truly have to be your own advocate and I learned that way too late in life. It’s truly amazing how fast you see a person’s face and attitude change when they see your films, history, and even see your internal organs during a surgery, and how messed up things really are, and realize that you do, in fact, have severe and painful problems. I’ve had health care professionals say, having me as their patient, really opened their eyes and heart to not be so quick to judge patients by what they look and act like.
I struggle with multiple severe digestive disorders, undiagnosed intestinal problems, and anatomical abnormalities within my abdomen. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer as well as colon cancer, but thankfully both times, they were able to remove it all and I was not required to undergo treatment for either of them! It wasn’t until I turned 20, when a colon surgeon didn’t know what else to do, so he did a series of x-rays for two days that revealed that my colon was not working. It had gotten to the point that I was only having a bowel movement once every two months. Two weeks later, he removed my entire large intestine, leaving my rectum. Since then, I have lost half my body weight, and it feels so much better!
The last 11 years have been full of surgeries, tests and being in the hospital sometimes more than I am at home.
January of 2016, I was taken to the ER with a pain that I had experienced many times before, but it had always gone away within the hour. The pain is best described as if someone pours gallons of battery acid into my abdominal cavity. I still get that pain, but I know to go in if it lasts longer than a couple of hours. That night, I was admitted with a “possible mesentery infection”. They could not do anything to even touch the pain or nausea, so I was transferred by ambulance to the hospital that I worked at in surgery at the time. Six hours later, I had major emergency surgery. My bowels were twisted and dark purple. The surgeon tacked my stomach up as well as my intestine, to hopefully keep them in place, but it didn’t work.
Exactly 3 weeks later, I ended up back in the ER with severe abdominal pain. The ER doctor came into my room in disbelief as the imaging revealed that my stomach was flipped upside-down and very distended. I was then admitted to ICU for gastric volvulus and pancreatitis and waited for my fellow coworkers to come in for surgery that Super Bowl Sunday. The surgeon made references there would be a lot of scar tissue that has formed since I just had an emergency surgery just 3 weeks prior. Much to his surprise and mine, he did not find one shred of scar tissue. Therefore, he referred me to a higher level of care that specializes in intestinal issues. Though you might think that no scar tissue is great since having too much is bad and extremely painful, but they said it is actually much worse than having too much.
Those two surgeries caused more questions, but also more opportunities for help in a more advanced facility. My GI doctor got with his colleagues to find out where the best place would be for me to go next. University of Nebraska Medical Center was decided, because they specialize in intestinal disorders and transplants.
A year later, in February of 2017, it happens a third time. My intestine is twisted again and I had to have another major emergency surgery. My stomach and intestine is tacked again. Two months later, it happens a fourth time and it’s abdominal surgery #4 in one year. In that year between those 4 surgeries, I also had 5 knee surgeries on top of all that. I had a knee scope from an old softball injury, and it had gotten septic…IV antibiotics at home, drains and crutches for months, kind of septic. I was also on IV nutrition for several months at home, between and after each surgery.
2016 and 2017 was like one big royal nightmare, all except October when Ryan and I got married!
Thankfully, our experience at UNMC has been extremely wonderful and though we don’t have many more answers, I have had nothing but great care! My surgeon says that they may never find out what exactly is wrong with me, but that they will do everything they can to help. I’ve had more than 50 surgeries so far and will continue to have them for rest of my life, only God knows. We went to Mayo Clinic in the summer of 2015, but they obviously couldn't tell us what was going on, especially since this new information hadn’t developed until 6 months later.
They were able to put a port in my chest for easy IV access, so that’s been a huge help! They also asked the hospital in Tulsa to put a G-tube in my stomach last February, because it got to the point where my stomach wouldn’t stay in place anymore, despite being tacked 6 or 7 times. I have to remove the air from the outside through my tube before it makes its way to my intestine, since my intestine doesn’t know what to do with the air, it stays at the very top and sometimes partially collapsing my lungs making it hard to breathe. Though it’s very inconvenient on a day-to-day basis, as well as having the tube changed out every month, I am very thankful for it! I don’t have to have NG tubes (in my nose) anymore, and I have been able to stay out of the hospital much longer than before!
I have been unable to work since January 2017. God allowed me to work in surgery for almost 3 years and I couldn’t have asked for more supportive and caring staff! Not being able to work is extremely discouraging, but I keep faith in God knowing that He will always take care of us.
When my husband came into my life he has been there with an immense amount of love, care and support. When I wanted to give up, when I wanted to throw in the towel and say “Lord, I cannot do this anymore…I know you’re always with me, but I physically and emotionally cannot do this one more day,” he's been there. Those are words I have prayed through floods of tears so many times I couldn’t even begin to tell you just how many.
It’s amazing how you can physically feel God “giving you a break.”
I know that sounds strange, but I thank Him when I have a good day or when it doesn’t take quite as long to do the exhausting daily things that most people will never have to do in their lifetime. I thank Him for the small things as well as the big things.
It’s so crazy how many people I don’t know, and may never get to meet, who have prayed for me and sent me cards. God is amazing that way. It’s always encouraging to hear people say that I’ve “helped and encouraged” them, just by hearing my story.
They’ll say that I am “the strongest person” they know, but they don’t hear about the times I break down. They don’t know about the times that I’ve thrown outright childish tantrums and uncharacteristically and shamefully cursing about having to spend so many hours every day in the bathroom just trying to stay out of the hospital. Of course, in turn, having guilt afterwards about how I acted. I have a brave face on most the time and when I don’t, my husband is usually the one to see it. He reads my face well now, so I can’t hide much from him.
I’ve gone through some very hard things in life, but God has been extremely gracious to allow me to go through some things I never thought was in my future. I never thought I would ever meet a man who literally couldn’t have been more perfect for me AND be lucky enough to marry him! God saved him for me and me for him. I just knew I wouldn’t live long enough to get married.
Shows you just how much we know about God’s plan.
I try to never put a limit on what God can do. It’s hard, but He is proving that point to me every single day. I look forward to seeing what He has in store for both of us in the near future.
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a plain-jeans, hoodie and Converse ALWAYS kind of girl, but is outgoing, laughs easily and gets along with everyone! Amy has lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma the majority of her life and loves the outdoors. She is very close to her sisters and 3 beautiful nieces! Amy loves people and is always happy to get the opportunity to help in any way that she can. Amy met her husband 5 years ago while working in the Operating Room and she couldn’t be happier!