Today brings many emotions for me.
The past fourteen months of my life have stretched and pushed me in ways I never imagined. While I’ve been at Appalachian, I have woken up each day reminded of how a year ago, I was in terrible shape with so many unknowns about how my life would go on.
However, today is a more special day.
One year ago, I coded. Although I can’t remember much, I don’t want to ever relive the chaos that surrounded me while staff tried their hardest to revive me. I am so thankful that they kept trying, and, after fifteen minutes, were able to find a heartbeat. The months to follow were hard, but I truly believe this awful experience has shaped me into who I am today. Being 18 years old at the time and having to use a walker/depend 100% on family for help was beyond humbling. Although 2014 hasn't gone exactly like I hoped, I know that God has something bigger for me.
Throughout all of these trials, I am reminded of my favorite verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9–10.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This past year, I have never felt more weak... or more used by God. Recently, I felt really drawn to apply to the National Council of College Leaders, a part of the the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I would be able to get the word out about this awful disease while interacting with other college students who have been affected. I have been praying for a burning bush as to what my purpose is with my new life, and while I haven’t seen one yet, I am praying that God uses me in the NCCL if I were to get the position. I know that if I am not chosen, God clearly has other plans for me.
Currently, I am feeling good. Back in August, I got another abscess and the doctors tried something a little different, which seems to be working. Over my fall break later this month, I will be having a "pouchogram" so the doctors can get a feel for the size and placement of the fistula. Then, over my Christmas break, I will have a fifth surgery – this time to take out the section of intestine with the fistula. With any surgery, there is always a chance that I could get a fistula, but the only way to remove it is with surgery. I am still praying every day that God will heal me so I do not have to endure another surgery.
When I look back on this past year, I am amazed at the support and love from so many people.
To my parents: thanks for holding my hand and wiping my tears every day. I love you both so much and I couldn’t have gone through all of this without you both. Thanks for sleeping in hospital chairs and floors, and for fighting for me with so many doctors. Thank you for the hours of therapy, both physical and mental. Words honestly can’t express how grateful I am for you and the unconditional love you’ve shown me.
To my sisters and brother-in-law: thanks for letting me be the center of attention for the past fourteen months. Thanks for driving to come see me, because your visits meant so much to me. Most importantly, thanks for making me laugh and helping me make good memories throughout the rough times. I love you all so much.
To my boyfriend, Carter: thanks for telling me that I was beautiful every single day even when I definitely did not feel like it. Thanks for letting me call you whenever I needed someone to talk to. Thanks for driving four hours to come see me in the hospital or at my home, and being so proud of all the progress I made in between visits.
To my roommate, Carter: I’m sure this is not what you envisioned in a college roommate. I appreciate you praying for me, washing my stuff, and buying me food when I do not feel my best. Thank you for being the most understanding person I’ve met.
To the UNC Memorial Hospital Staff (shoutout to my 6 East nurses): even though being in a hospital sucks, I could not imagine going through this without you. Everyone has shown such care and love and with a smile. Thank you for helping me get back to “normal.”
To anyone else reading this: thank you for taking an interest in my life. I appreciate the genuine concern and care that has poured out from so many. I cannot thank you enough for the cards, flowers, gifts, meals, and most importantly: prayers. It feels so great to know that I have so many people cheering for me.