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Season of Hope

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.

Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear.

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.

How do you measure, measure a year?

This song has been on my mind these past couple of days. Every time I think about this I start crying tears of joy. So naturally I have been crying trying to write this blog.

Last year on April 2nd I went into the emergency room in so much pain. Pain that I thought I should not be having post surgery. My colon and rectum were now gone, so why was my rectal area hurting so bad. Come on, give me a break! I was immediately scared, scared because I thought they were going to have to operate on me. I was terrified that they were going to have to cut me open again to figure out why I was in so much pain. I called my colo-rectal and they said they needed to see me right away and be prepared to stay. My recovery from my last surgery was tumultuous. I remember driving home thinking, Gaylyn try to calm down, you have been through this before you can do it again. But that was just the thing. I didn’t feel like I should HAVE to do it again. This was entirely too much, there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to do this again. I had had enough! I had the usual test, MRI, CAT SCAN, blood work. All the test came back negative. They did not have to cut. Which should be a good thing, but I know that the pain I was in was very real, and now I had no real explanation as to why just when was it going to strike again. I became depressed. I became depressed thinking about “what if?”

As always, I came out of my depression. As always, I began to feel better. And as always, I pressed on.

After about three months I realized I hadn’t been to the hospital after my last big scare. Then I thought to myself, let’s go for 6 months hospital free. I made it. Then after I hit the 6 month mark I was like let’s go to 9 months hospital free. I made it. I didn’t tell anyone I was secretly counting because then that might have broken my winning streak.(Yes, I feel like I have hit the lottery!!) After I hit 9 months, I was like, umm heck yeah let’s do 1 year!! And by golly!!! I made it!! Jackpot!!

My speech:

I first and foremost want to thank God, for without Him this wouldn’t be possible. I want to thank God for being there even when I didn’t realize. I now know it could have only been Him. I want to thank my family. I want to thank my parents, for always always being there. I can’t even imagine what this is like for you, but I do know your support, encouragement, and unconditional love means the world and I could not have endured this without you. I want to thank my colo-rectal surgeon, for being patient and compassionate (and attractive) while traveling this journey with me and being medically skilled enough to do so! I want to thank my friends for putting up with me and sticking by me, for bringing me food, for accompanying me to appointments and staring at me when they are not sure what to say. Being there is more than enough. Whoo! I kinda can’t believe this! I want to thank every hospital that has accompanied me in the past; I will prayerfully no longer need your services (straight face and side eye). And last but not least, I want to thank myself for holding on yet again just a little bit longer. Glory be to God!

I was having breakfast with my friend the other day and she asked “What’s new?’I said “Well…next week I will have officially not have been in the hospital for 1 year”…and smiled. She immediately broke down and burst into tears. And then she too started to smile. I was talking to another friend and she said I think I am going to make goodie bags, cupcakes, and what else? I said umm I don’t know. She said “Gaylyn, THIS is a CELEBRATION!” we need to Celebrate!! To those that do not know me and may not realize the magnitude of this feat this hasn’t happened since I was diagnosed in 1998. So that has been 16 years. (Wow! I just did the actual math) If I wasn’t in the hospital for Crohn’s Disease specifically or directly it was something related like gall stones, kidney stones, severe allergic reaction to a medicine, excruciating pain, etc. Something always came up and landed me in the ER and/or being admitted to the hospital. I pretty much set up residence in every hospital up and down the east coast for the past decade (clearly I should have had some type of stock at MCG/University). Prayerfully that chapter of my life has ended or at least diminished.

As my year began to creep closer and the reality of I might actually make it set in I began to reflect. The past two weeks I have been very careful not to overdo anything in fear that I might not make my year. Please note I didn’t say I haven’t had pain this past year, I still have difficult times. But my pain has not brought me to the hospital. Yes there will always be the probability that I may have to go into the hospital or the emergency room in the future because hey, I have Crohn’s Disease. If something happens and unfortunately I am back in the hospital, when I get out of the hospital I will start the clock all over again. And maybe this time I will stay out of the hospital for a year and a half, or maybe two years. And God forbid after those two years I am back in the hospital again. I will start the clock back over again and then this time maybe I will stay out of the hospital even longer, maybe even for 3 years. Eventually, I firmly believe I will be able to say, I will be hospital free.

They say there is normally a breakthrough after the battle or a breakdown before a breakthrough. They don’t ever really say how long this breakdown and/or battle is supposed to last. The past three years post op have been especially challenging and probably one of my biggest since diagnosis. And last year around this time, I had almost reached my breaking point. I was at a point that I didn’t think I could possibly go on and I didn’t want to go on. I don’t know. I guess what I am saying is there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a rainbow after the storm. So next time, you start thinking “what if?” or “why me?” When you have those feelings of fear and uncertainty that living with a chronic illness will most definitely bring, think back to the times of hope and hold on to faith. My grandma told me when I was first diagnosed that my good days will always outweigh my bad days. I didn’t necessarily know what she meant because my journey was just getting started. But over the years I have come to realize and develop my own understanding of what she meant. And it is simply this, when you are having bad days think back and remember your good days to get you through. For me unfortunately it seems that I have theoretically had more bad days. I have been struggling for over a decade. I am constantly holding on to my good days and in days of despair struggling to hold onto faith. However, I firmly believe that things are looking up. Things are starting to come together and things are starting to turn around and I now have five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes of hard core, tangible evidence to hold on to. My season of hope.

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