Friday, December 13, 2019

Living with an Ambiguous Disease

Welcome! This is the sixth post in my 2019 guest blogging series. Bailee Beauchamp, the author of this piece, is a boss corporate lady, fantastic (energetic) dancer, and one of my best friends. Ha, no but for real, Bailee is incredibly compassionate, self-aware, and her spirit is contagious. I’m so thankful for her vulnerability in this post. In this piece, she writes out her thoughts on living with an ambiguous diagnosis, what she’s felt through it, and how she not only fought God because of it, but also learned to praise him for it. 

I was diagnosed with indeterminate Colitis about seven years ago. Then Chron’s disease four years ago. In the past month, I was told I may have been misdiagnosed these past seven YEARS and might have a mild form of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. WHAT. IS. GOING. ON.

I’m not quite sure what triggered the symptoms at age 19, but I do know that while on a trip overseas, I became violently ill. It’s not possible to pinpoint this as the reason as colitis/Chrons can be linked to several things like:

1. Genetics (although I don’t believe anyone in my immediate family was diagnosed)
2. Anxiety/stress (definitely have)
3. Accutane (took this is 9th grade, and some ideas are linking it to IBS or Chron’s).

During my first colonoscopy, my doctor found ulcers in my ileum and transverse colon. Ulcerative Colitis is when the ulcers are concentrated to one portion of the colon while Chron’s disease can be ulcers from your mouth all the way down and out!! She said my ulcers were patchy, but she couldn’t make a strict determination as she hadn’t observed my esophagus, and therefore assumed it was indeterminate. About a year after my colonoscopy, I swallowed a pill camera that takes pictures of your upper GI. They didn’t see any ulcers (praise!). About a year after that, I switched to a doctor in Austin, and he called it Chrons.

Living with an Ambiguous Disease

At this point, I don’t care what it’s called. I am 24 years old, and I don’t want to die.

I go to the bathroom, I see a lot of blood, and what looks like the insides of my body be scraped out and I do not want to die. The emotional roller coaster of living with something you think is eating you from the inside out can make you feel crazy at times because you can’t see it, but you can feel it.

And at the same time, I feel so incredibly selfish because I know there are people in the world with much, much worse happening in their bodies, minds, souls, but all I can do is spiral into “I’m not going to live past 32”, “my body is eating itself,” and calm down/stress out/calm down/repeat. The enemy wants me to feel these things. He wants me to worry. He wants me to spiral and take my focus off God and others, and put that focus on me. Don’t get me wrong. I need to pay attention to what’s going on with my body. Just not to the extent that it is a detriment to my mental health.

So back to this misdiagnosis. Honestly, I’m still confused, but I believe the Lord has healed my body for now. Ahhh, I don’t know what to think about being “misdiagnosed,” but I know two things. The symptoms I had were real and I do not have ulcers anymore, which is a miracle. Sure, I still wrestle with wanting to wrap my logical human brain around it, but I don’t need to. I choose to be grateful for my body right now – that it can move, laugh, play, and be prepared to give a reason for the hope that I have within me. 1 Peter 3:15-16

Living with an Ambiguous Disease

I have realized this ambiguous illness is what I need right now.

It’s what I need to rely on my maker consistently. You may not be living with Chrons, Colitis, or IBS, but I think a lot of us can relate to wrestling with God on why we aren’t getting all the answers. We can always go to our creator and ask for his help. But in the meantime, we can be thankful for the unknown, which keeps us hungry for him. And maybe it’s what we learn in the unknown that is the real answer we seek.

Thank you, God, for the unknown and the beauty of what it means to completely trust you with my body and soul.

PS: Both of these super fun headshot images in this blog post are by the amazingly talented @paigenphoto at @headshothappyhour

Xoxo
Bailee

 

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