Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Greener for a Reason...

Many emotions haunted my soul these past months. Bear with me, this will have a touch of "Debbie Downer," but I promise the finale is encouraging.

It's difficult to find a worthy starting point. These past months are filled with so many emotions, both tragic and joyful. Let's just begin...

In early June, Wes began having some abdominal discomfort. He's had digestive issues in the past (minor proctitis), but nothing severe enough to not be fixed with medication. He's been pain free and without medication for almost a year now. During this time, he was dealing with a good bit of stress. He was in the middle of a job transfer, his Uncle Larry was struggling with his cancer, and we started to undergo fertility treatments with a specialist. (Talk about too much on your plate). He lost a little bit of weight, but being the stubborn man that he is, decided not to see his doctor. After losing almost 30 lbs., I persuaded him to see his doctor. In late June, a colonoscopy confirmed the diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis. He was given "top of the line" medication and was told he would recover in a couple of weeks.

Those couple of weeks turned into long days and hard nights. His uncle, Coach Larry Ginn, lost his battle to cancer. (However, as Christians, this is not a battle lost, but one that is won for Christ. Still hard for our flesh, but glorious for our hearts.) He is well-known in our area for being an Alabama Hall of Fame coach, winning state championships in both basketball and football. But to Wes, he was a second father. A mentor, an example of the coach Wes strives to be. We stayed with him and the family during his last days. Leaving his side was not an option for Wes, but the stress and pain of the situation continued to take a toll on Wes's already tired body.

After continued weight loss and continuous pain, he underwent a treatment of Remicade. A therapy used for Crohn's Disease patients. After this treatment proved no relief, we sought after the opinion of a specialist. The specialist decided to alter his medication and encouraged us that things should improve soon. I never would have guessed that soon was somewhat far away...

On August 10th, Wes was admitted to a hospital in Birmingham due to severe malnutrition and ulcers in his colon and esophagus. Scopes confirmed the ulcers in his colon were "the worst he'd ever seen" and they had spread to his esophagus. (Which explains why Wes was chasing all his food with buttermilk.)

After being admitted to a room, he weighted in at....ready for this?...110lbs. Oh you read it right. He had lost a total of 50 lbs. He was placed on a strict liquid diet the first few days while they discussed a diagnosis. After several days, and many consults with different specialists, our diagnosis is Ulcerative Colitis AND Crohn's Disease. They can't make a clear separation in the two, so they're saying he has both.

We spent the next week and a half receiving excellent care in one of the best hospitals around. He was given a pic line in his arm where they hooked up a TPN (nutrition bag) to help with the malnutrition. His condition improved daily and we were able to go home (with TPN bag in tact) the middle of the next week.

We've been home and recovering for several weeks now. I am happy to report he is improving greatly!! He is back up to 161lbs. He still receives TPN through his pic line. We will ween down to every other day tomorrow. He is back at work a few days a week and is enjoying being able to be with his students. He's not coaching yet, but anxious to get back into it.

His diet is still strict. We now eat lots of fish and chicken, rice, and fiber. He's been pain free (with no pain meds) since he's been home.

We have an amazing support system. Family and friends never ceased to encourage, support, and carry us these past months. We'll never truly be able to sufficiently thank them.

Despite the emotional condition of our summer, my heart still smiles. God is forever showing me His truths. He has granted me a responsibility to prove the impossible. That no matter what the difficulty, discouragement, or trial, you must always find your true joy in Him. Now don't get me wrong, my strength crumbled to dust many a time these past months. But it won't defeat me. I choose daily to stand firm on His word.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

I leave you with this...
"The grass is always greener on the other side, but remember it took a lot of manure to get it that way."