A teenager’s trust in God’s plan while facing Crohn’s disease
When I was 14, I was a vivacious eighth grader who liked to play tennis and spend time with my friends. Then I began to feel very unlike my usual self. I had severe abdominal pain, was losing weight and experienced a huge decrease in energy. Countless doctor’s appointments and blood tests revealed nothing of relevance!Then one September day in my first year of high school, I was rushed to the ER with unbearable pain in my midsection.
A CT scan showed inflammation in my gastrointestinal tract, which is a red flag for Crohn’s disease. After other tests, we finally got the official answer: I had Crohn’s! I immediately started taking medicine to help with the inflammation and then continued about my normal life: going to school, playing sports and hanging out with friends. Little did I know that my life would soon change drastically.
A few months later, while working out, I experienced a pain more severe than I even thought possible. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was an 11. After many scans, doctors discovered that I had a bowel perforation, which occurs when the inflammation gets so bad in your intestines that a hole forms, leaking harmful fluids into your system. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and I had emergency resectioning surgery (I say that my surgeon was the real “MVP” of the day!). I awoke later in the intensive care unit with an ileostomy bag and a feeling of disbelief.
Thus began my career as a “frequent flyer” at Texas Children’s Hospital. I spent months there facing various complications and more surgeries, so I was not able to go back and finish my freshman year.
Some may view this as an atrocious circumstance, but the way I see it, attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure. My faith kept me going. Every night, my parents and I would read from a devotional and talk about what God was trying to say to us through certain Bible passages.
Throughout my struggles, I held on to this one simple truth: I knew that God had a plan for me more incredible than anything I could ever fathom for myself. This was my cross to bear, and my grandma helped me remember that I could offer every suffering by saying “For you, Jesus.”
Even though I might not have always understood his reasoning, I wanted to let the Lord’s light radiate through me to others in the meantime. For example, I would keep a brave face for my parents, my brother, family and friends, who suffered because I was not my usual bubbly self. I also tried to get to know each doctor and nurse a little and thank them often.
In the hospital, I put little Bible verses on the outside of my door so that when people would walk in they could see them. One of my favorites was Psalms 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” It brought people into my room, a lot of nurses and physician’s assistants kept coming back and wanting to talk to me, and they were telling me that the phrase encouraged them in their day. My parents said that my faith helped them a lot too.
Many blessings have already come from my experience! I have grown in my faith. My family and I have grown closer. I met some incredible doctors and nurses. I have a position on the Children’s Advisory Board at Texas Children’s Hospital, where I get to work with other frequent patients and give feedback on how to improve the hospital environment. I have even realized that I may want to become a doctor someday! Currently, I am back in school as a sophomore. I have resumed the medications that keep my inflammation down, go in for monthly treatments and am feeling pretty well.
While over 1.4 million Americans are affected by Crohn’s and colitis, there are currently not too many treatments out there. That’s why this May, a team of my family and friends and I will be walking in the Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, to help raise research funds and awareness about Crohn’s. We’re looking forward to coming together with many others facing similar challenges, having fun together and encouraging each other, while supporting a good cause so close to our heart!
By Caitlin Rowley, 16, Houston
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Teens A simple truth from Living City April 2015