Faith while Facing Trials

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ang, reading me Bible stories on the
floor at Barnes and Noble. 
The middle is my new Bible! The left is the
devotional book Angela and I share.
 In May, at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, I was told things I had never been told before while dealing with this illness. Before I left, I thought I would be given answers and medical treatment to fix whatever it was that was going on. We did not know why my pancreatitis kept happening. I told my friends and co-workers that I was so excited to go and "get fixed" by doctors that knew what to do for me. A clear memory I have from before my trip was when Amie, my roommate at the time, and I were chatting about what I expecting to hear in Minnesota. She said "this has been ridiculous, something has to be able to fix this." I agreed with her wholeheartedly. We both thought the doctors in Arizona were giving me the run around and must just not know the right stuff. We were both happy I was heading to Minnesota to get some answers and everyone, including myself, thought I would be given a treatment to fix this chronic pancreatitis I kept getting.

Minnesota was a learning experience for me and I even think some of my friends. We are so used to answers and fixes as people living amongst this technology that we are lucky to utilize. We are also young, and not used to hearing that something can't be fixed. Most everything my friends and I have had to deal with are things that can be fixed. A cold, fixable, an infection, fixable, even a cancerous spot on your skin...we have dealt with that as friends. Doctors made us feel better, they fixed things. Unfortunately, in Minnesota, after something called an endoscopic ultra sound, which is basically a scope with a camera on it that goes down your throat and into the area where your pancreas is located, I learned the depth of my illness. I learned that I had irreversible damage that was already done to my pancreas from many attacks. I learned that it was scarred and would continue to scar throughout my lifetime until it turned from scarring to calcification or even worse, pancreatic cancer. I learned that I had a "chronic illness that was progressive and had no cure."

After hearing that, and sharing a box of tissues with my mom in the doctors office, we left to head back to Arizona. On the way out of the exam room I had profound thoughts and said things I would never have said prior to that news. I looked at my mom with tears streaming down my face and told her I just wanted to have a baby. That was all I wanted to do. I asked her how we could make this happen. I felt like I didn't know how much time I would have left before this "progressive" part of the disease would start. She loves me so much that she said that she would help me make that dream come true. We both had no idea what we were talking about or why, it was just happening and that was my reaction. I felt like that might be taken from me, and I didn't want it to. Fortunately, Mall of America was a closer place than some baby making clinic, and we didn't end up with a child. Instead we ended up with a huge mall at our disposal that made the two of us feel better, much better. I had to buy an extra suitcase to carry home all of my loot from that trip, and no I am not kidding.

My point in going back to share my beginnings is that this is where my faith kicked in. I have always been a Christian, a Catholic, a child of God, but it was that day that my true and deepest faith began to kick in and my spiritual journey took off. I have always read a blog called www.nieniedialogues.blogspot.comstarted reading this blog when it was featured in the Arizona Republic ages ago, long before I got sick. I loved it because this lady inspired me. She was burned over 80% of her body from an airplane crash she and her husband were in. She and her husband survived and have 4 kids together. Her survival story is one of the most incredible stories about faith. I know she would not be alive if it were not for her faith. This lady, Stephanie, is a Mormon, and she is so tied to her faith that it literally saved her life. I do not know her, but it was so obvious reading her blog back when I read it daily. The funny thing about this is that I remember being almost envious of her, even with her 80% burned body and her disfigured face. Because she had something so strong, so unwavering, which was her faith. I remember thinking I would love to get to where she is with her faith with my own faith one day. She was also so happy, no matter what happened to her, because she was alive. I thought that would be so amazing to have that outlook on life. I remember my mom asking me if this women I had never met was my hero. I said yes. I even wrote her to tell her this once, creepy I know, and so unlike me to write a women I have never met, but I felt I had to, I felt I knew her. 

I can proudly say that my faith, although it may not be fully developed, has helped me today and most days since May when I found out what I was facing. This experience has made me a much more faithful person, a stronger believer. As the days lead up to my surgery, I try to let my faith be what drives me and what keeps me strong. I have been having moments of panic where I feel I will back out of this surgery if given the option. I have moments where I think I am saying "goodbye" to my friends and moments when I think I am going to have some horrible complication and be so sick (Oh, the human mind!). When I feel that way I pray. I pray when I don't feel that way too. I pray and I tell the Lord how much I love my life here on Earth and how I am not ready to leave it. I tell Him how great of a mom I am going to be and how much I will love being a wife. I tell Him how I want to help others and give back. I tell Him that I will use my experience with this as a platform to share His word. I dream big and out loud. I speak to Him. I know that He knows this, and I know that He will have me wrapped up in his arms protecting me the day of my surgery and during my recovery. 

Tonight Angela and I picked out a book to read together. It has a daily devotion to read each day and she is going to call me at night when I am in Tucson and we are going to talk about the prayers for the day. I feel so blessed that I have a friend to do this with me as I recover. We also picked out the prettiest new Bible for me, it is the one with the pink flower on it, and I am taking it to Tucson. I picked out another women's prayer book, just to have when I feel down or the going gets tough. Thank you God for making me a stronger believer through all of this. It is an added, and unexpected, bonus to being "sick". 

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