I laid in bed, clutching the transverse region of my large intestine. The pain was so intense, I could hardly breathe. “Call for an ambulance, honey,” I whispered to my husband. “Now.”
As the red flashing lights appeared outside our bedroom window, my eyes filled with tears. I was scared. The last time I had had a Crohn’s flare up this intense, I stayed in the hospital for eight days and just barely avoided having my entire large intestine removed. No, Lord, I prayed as my heart weighed heavy with frustration and sadness and fear. Don’t put me through this again. Please. You can’t.
I thought of all the therapies and specialists and appointments on our calendar. I put my hand on my raging belly and the tiny baby inside it, and felt the tears begin to crest on my eyelashes. Don’t let them spill over, Katie. Don’t give in to your fear, I told myself.
The EMTs came inside and helped me walk to the ambulance. I walked past dinner on the kitchen counter, dishes that hadn’t been cleaned, and babies in their bedrooms who did not know mommy wouldn’t be there in the morning when they woke up.
Jeff kissed my forehead as they laid me on the gurney and rolled me into the ambulance. And off we drove into the night.
I wretched as the EMT asked me questions and then, with understanding, he said to me, “I have Crohn’s, too.” I was so thankful the Lord chose him to take me to the emergency room.
The ER was packed when we arrived, and I laid on a bed in the hallway for hours, making my way to and from the bathroom while nurses bustled between dozens of patients lining the halls and filling the rooms.
Around 11:00pm a nurse came to check the baby’s heartbeat. After searching for several minutes with a fetal heart monitor, Jelly Bean’s little heartbeat finally pounded loud and clear, letting us know he or she was alive and well. I fought back tears again as I heard the precious and rhythmic whoosh of my baby’s beautiful heart.
At midnight, a dear friend came over to stay with the kids so my husband could come be with me for a few hours. At 3am, with him by my side, I dozed off and was wheeled from the ER to the hospital. With my trusty IV in tow, pumping fluid and steroids and life back into my colon, my recovery began.
For the next 24 hours, I sipped on tea and broth, praying I would be able to tolerate mild, solid foods soon. God heard my prayer and the next morning, baby and I were able to enjoy a breakfast of home fries and yogurt. It was delicious and I was thrilled, but soon realized it was not the true sustenance the Lord intended for me that day.
After breakfast, a chaplain came by and administered communion. It was the first time I’d received the Eucharist in months, as going to church is difficult for our Jack, and I felt something flicker in my heart that I had buried under layers of hurt and pain and stress – Jesus.
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51)
I realized that I had forgotten His presence in my life. I had forgotten His tremendous love and healing power. And started to see that in the midst of my frustration and anger with the journey God has laid before me, I had forgotten that it is beautiful and blessed and wonderful.
Sometimes, it takes adversity for us to pause and give thanks. To realize that Christ lives in and through our lives. And that oftentimes we have to be made to stop in order to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. (Psalm 34:8)
I am thankful for a God who knows when I need to pause. Who strengthens me even when I feel as though I can’t take another step. I am thankful to Him for bringing me home to my husband and children again. For friends and family who love us through our joy and our pain. And for you, dear reader. For your time and prayers and heart. For joining our family along this journey.
I don’t know what lies ahead but I do know He lives within, and with His grace and love, I can live with joy and thanksgiving. With Eucharisteo in my heart.