Jeremiah 29:11 has always been my favorite Bible verse, the one I cling to when life gets sticky. At age 18, I was bright-eyed and excited for college. A little apprehensive, I moved away to dorm life and embraced it. I was ready to chase after that high-powered business career I’d envisioned for myself. A few months into my freshman year, I started having stomach issues. I had the reverse “freshman fifteen”–I lost weight instead of gaining.
Admittedly, I was more immersed in my classes and social life than I was into nutrition. I called home in tears from gastrointestinal pain one Thursday and my mom drove to bring me home for an appointment with my family physician. He was able to treat the acute problem, but the chronic pain continued to the degree that one morning I found myself fainting in the parking lot of school from having lost so much weight.
I finished my freshman year with some success and returned home for the summer where I secured a great job working in a fast-paced construction office where I had major responsibilities and loved every minute of it. The symptoms, however, worsened. Doctor after doctor insisted it was a result of the stressful lifestyle I was leading: full-time work, with full-time classes and a commute. No one cared to look any further so I suffered for three more years when a procedure performed for something else entirely delivered the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. I was oddly relieved: finally, a name to my suffering and a plan to treat it.
I had no idea that relief would give way to more questions, experimenting with medication in search of one that would work, mountains of medical costs, and a complete reorganization of my goals. That high-powered career was suddenly so elusive and I was left wondering why on earth I had this illness and “what was I going to do now?”
The month after diagnosis, the job I loved so much vaporized when the company surprisingly dissolved along with my income and great health insurance. This was a deeply depressing time in my life, partly due to circumstances and partly due to side effects of medications. For the first time since I was 16, I was without a job (though thankfully living with my parents) and unable to return to school as per doctor’s orders to pare down my stress.
God is good and He had other plans for me, a redirect. Within three months, I was in better health and working at the local hospital which eventually turned into a 19-year career as a medical language specialist, enabling me to work from home and be available to my children every minute of every day. God knew that because of the Crohn’s, working outside the home wouldn’t be feasible. He also knew that I would need income and He provided me with an incredible skill in a field where working from home was a reality. He also knew I’d never have been able to leave my babies and go to work outside the home. My stay-at-home mother warned me of this when I was just a teenager: “I know you, Mel. You’re going to want to stay home with your children.” As teenagers do, I balked. Mom knew best. And God provided that way.
Crohn’s disease has thrown me many curve balls and some scary times, the most frightening being when my intestines perforated when I was carrying my son. At 34 weeks gestation, I was in the operating room having part of my intestines removed. God brought us through. My previously preemie son is healthy, strong, and smart as a whip (like his sister).
Though the diagnosis was fierce and I battle the symptoms daily, God has brought opportunity and provision. He has given me new dreams and ways to achieve them. He has given me a heart filled with compassion and empathy and a head full of nearly two decades’ worth of medical experience and knowledge with which to help myself and others.
He is good. He has great plans for us. He promises us a future and hope and I claim every bit of His promises!
Melanie Pickett is a writer and blogger and is currently completing her first nonfiction book. She worked as a Medical Language Specialist for 19 years and is an occasional substitute teacher. Melanie posts on BlogHer and has been a guest writer on various other blogs, but spends most of her time writing her own at Flying Blonde. A native Michigander, Melanie is a wife and mother with a tween and teen happily at home. She loves Jesus, her family, working out, reading, playing piano, whimsy, hot tea, serendipity, and traveling adventures. She has a school trip planned with her teenage daughter to Paris and Rome in 2015 and of course, plans to write all about it. Connect with Melanie on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
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