Monday, April 16, 2012

'I'm Taking My Talents To Cleveland'

I have wanted to write this blog for about a year and two months, but even when I received the good news then that the doctor’s all of a sudden couldn’t find Crohn’s Disease in my body, I wasn’t offered a sufficient remedy to the suffering I was going through. I guess I didn’t felt led to write, because sure it was great that my digestion was disease free, but no one could explain why I was still going to the bathroom every half an hour.

I don’t want to get too into the difficulties of my physical life the last 15 years. The people who have seen it and understand it the most are my mother and now my angel of a fiancé. Most others just know the basics- that I go to the bathroom a lot. I guess I would best describe it as a non functioning digestive system and a chronic stomach bug.

But this is an article about hope. I have hope in recovering from this ailed digestion. My hope comes from Jesus, who in his time has provided me a route and a way to get better. I face major surgery but I face it with the hope that the rest of my life is ahead of me. And the rest of my life is going to be good. I know this for sure.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 1997 and in 2002 I had my Large Intestine removed. The thing is I never got better after the surgeries like they told me I would. They later diagnosed me with Crohn’s Disease, a catastrophic diagnosis for a delicately rebuilt system. Medically I had the worst digestive condition and disease you could have.

About 2 years ago when I quit gambling I started to believe I was going to be healed and cure of this disease. Many people told me they believed it too. Mary Lou Reilly, one of the most spiritually in tune people I know, felt like God told her to tell me that he has already began healing me. In the midst of the storm I started to proclaim I was healed, as it is biblical to speak what is not yet as though it is.

The night before I went in for a colonoscopy last February, I was praying alone in my apartment when I felt God’s presence more than I have ever felt before. I felt him telling me that “tomorrow is the day, the day I have promised you, the day of your healing.”

I was overwhelmed in that moment and told Melissa that the doctor’s were going to look in tomorrow and find that there is no sign of Crohn’s disease. Mind you this made no sense because for 5 years I had been told unequivocally that it was Crohn’s by more than one doctor. Also, I was very sick that night- sicker than usual- thus why I was going into the doctor the next day.

But I just knew I was healed. I told the doctor before he looked in that he wouldn’t find any disease. When I woke up he asked me who told me I had Crohn’s. I told him a few different doctors had. He said he doesn’t understand the diagnosis because he doesn’t see any sign of it. I was not surprised because God had given me the peace the night before of knowing his promise was coming true that next day. I can’t explain it in words fully. It was just an amazing experience.

The problem however was that I was still not offered what I thought was a proper solution to why I was going to the bathroom every half hour or so. He told me it was scar tissue, and gave me a silver bullet dilator I was supposed to use to self medicate on a daily basis (It’s exactly what you think it is). I chose not to go this route. (No pun intended)

Another doctor later confirmed he didn’t see Crohn’s either, and wanted to blast some scar tissue and I had surgery for this in December. I only felt worse after. At this point I felt like God was making it clear that it was not disease or scarring. That the system was not built correctly and I needed to have it revamped.

So in January, feeling awful but knowing I was healed and cured of disease, I googled “Crohn’s testimony miracles.” I knew that there must have been other stories like mine and that I was not the first one God cured the incurable for. What came up was a link to a you tube video (short version: long version: with the lead singer of a Christian band called “Sonic Flood” speaking about his healing from Crohn’s. His name is Rick Heil.

His story was almost identical to mine. He got sick as a teen, had multiple surgeries, was clinically depressed, and was at the end the rope both mentally and physically when he decided to just trust Jesus no matter what happened.

He was suggested to go to Dr. Church at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland Ohio. He said he felt comfort in his last name. He found out Dr. Church was a Christian and he did a surgery on him. Later Dr. Church looked in and couldn’t find any sign of Crohn’s Disease.

When I watched this video I knew it was for me, and Dr. Church in Cleveland was where I was supposed to be. Over the last few months I have fought my HMO to approve my visit and they denied me, saying I could try some more doctors’ in New York. I was initially frustrated but I had made an appointment just in case I was approved. 4 days before my appointment I found out I was denied coverage.

I was going to call to cancel because I thought the visit would be too expensive to pay out of pocket.I felt God telling me to keep the appointment. It turns out that once I got there I found it was more affordable then I thought.

On Wednesday night, 2 days before the visit with Dr. Church, I was not feeling well and had a moment of being overwhelmed. I was driving home from Syracuse and asked God to please help me through the night. The moment I asked him for help I looked up and passed "Church Street."- Confirmation of what is to come.

This past Friday Melissa and I headed to Cleveland with faith that God was going to orchestrate the whole day to his will and to my benefit. It turns out her faith was stronger than mine… A wrinkle was thrown into the day when I immediately was extra sick when we left. I wanted to turn around and cancel because I knew it was going to be a long tough ride feeling the way I did. But my diligent, selectively and aggressively directive fiancé told me that we were not turning around. She knew it was a spiritual battle that had to be won.

So we pressed on and went. It was a tough ride, having to stop every few minutes along the way. But here’s the thing-because I felt so sick I didn’t want to eat, and not eating would benefit me enormously later that day.

When we got there we waited 2 and half hours to see Dr. Church. When he walked in you could feel his humble nature immediately, and when he spoke it was only verified with his soft spoken New Zealand accent. I told him how I found him and that I was also a born again Christian.

I told him my situation and he listened intently. I told him I wouldn't be able to afford any surgery until after I get married and on my fiance's insurance in July. He decided to look in with a scope to see what was going on in my system. He did it without sedation, something that always has hurt me incredibly in the past. Somehow this time I didn't feel a thing.

It didn’t hurt at all. Missy and I had both prayed separately that it wouldn’t hurt and God answered that prayer. I had gone not planning on having a scope but prayed it would be an option. The x factor in all this was that I didn’t eat all day so he was able to see my intestine clearly.

His first words afterwards were “it is recoverable.” He explained that the pouch was built poorly. He said there is a twist that had developed up near where the small intestine meets the J-pouch, causing a narrowing of the junction, which is causing me all these problems. He also explained that the stem of the J did not stand up well, and that it just jutted out instead of folded up. He told me that the best bet is to go in and re-work the system in a major surgery.

After 10 years of searching and about 10 doctor’s, I had finally gotten an answer and a solution in just 10 minutes with Dr. Church.

He said that “You, I, and God are going to see that this gets fixed.” He also said, “You are going to be well again.” Both lines made me teary eyed on the spot.

I knew I was in the right place before I even saw this mans face. God told me and had set it up for me. But after speaking with him I knew that my life was never going to be the same. God had led me to a place and a surgeon that not only had a clue, but he also had rooted his clue in Jesus Christ. You could just tell in his voice that he knew, much like the situation with Rich Heil coming to him, that this was a divine meeting.

Non- Believers in Jesus might think that this is just another coincidence in my long line of crazy coincidences that I have written about in various blogs.However I know that once again I have been bestowed with the grace of the Lord.

So what awaits me is probable major surgery(I am thinking August 24th,revolved around a Yankee's visit to Cleveland, to make my families trip more favorable), but I am excited because I know I am at the exact place God wants me to be at. In the meantime I rejoice in knowing this particular suffering is closer to the end of its shelf life than it has ever been. I stand amazed at Jesus’ love for me, as well as his distinct realness.

The bible says to rejoice in your suffering because Christ has suffered first and it is good to be like Jesus. It also says that out of suffering will come perseverance and then character and then hope- and that hope never fails. I wouldn’t be surprised if the name of the nurse doing my surgery is indeed ‘Hope.’

I am thankful for this 2 year journey-first freed of gambling and then disease and also being given the gift of the greatest wife I could have ever asked for.

What’s really interesting is that I couldn’t have done this surgery until we got married because my insurance won’t cover it and hers will. Even if I had discovered Dr. Church earlier I wouldn’t have been able to pay for him. God’s timing is perfect. His grace is enough. His peace passes my understanding.

I write because I want to glorify God. I want non-Christians to understand that this is not religion I am experiencing-religion poisons and dictates a God who comes across as lifeless, dictating, and mundane. Religion has no living God, only figureheads who were human, died, and stayed dead.

But God is life. My blogs tell of a God who shows me he loves me so loudly and supernaturally, that I am either a chronic liar or Jesus is Lord. I hope this latest story helps confirm the realness of the need for Jesus in your lives. He is only a prayer away at all times. He wants to know you and he wants to spend forever with you. It is your choice. No HMO or disease can separate you from him, and no person or thing on this earth can replace him.

I am elated that my suffering has led me to this hope I have. But I would much rather my suffering result in new hope for someone who hasn’t accepted Jesus as their God. And if doubt starts to creep into your head about all this-about who God is; or even if God is..... Just remember my new surgeon’s name... And believe.


Melissa said...

I can't wait for you to feel better. It's a shame what your body has had to go through, but God is good and have given us the doctor you needed. Just a few more months to go:) Praise the Lord!

Ashley said...

I didn't know all the deets so I'm glad you wrote this. Check out God. Very cool.

Joanna (Ms. C lol) said...

Joe, this is wonderful! Hugs and bless you! I pray that you'll have complete recovery and relief.

Anonymous said...

This is a reminder that God never leaves us or forsakes us. He always has a plan and carries it out in His time. Keep proclaiming the gospel Joe. It is your mission. Mom

Anonymous said...

This is a reminder that God never leaves us or forsakes us. He always has a plan and carries it out in His time. Keep proclaiming the gospel Joe. It is your mission. Mom

Pami said...

Praise GOD!! HIS grace and mercy, healing and deliverance, along with HIS divine appointments are manifest in your life young brother!!! We rejoice in HIS working in your life!!

Katie LeClair said...

I think this is great! Even though you suffered longer than I did, the providence brought in from finding your soulmate is similar- after I met Benny, my hurt was healed so much faster- I used to play the victim and didn't know where my life was going but through God giving me the gift of having Benny in my life and now as my husband, I feel complete and whole in all aspects of my being. God bless you Joe- and thank God for His peace

SONICFLOOd said...

Praise the Lord that HE is holding your hand and you are allowing Him to lead you through the valley. but even though the evil one is trying to kill you, the Lord is using this pain to bring OUR GOD OF HOPE the glory!
i am so thankful that the Lord was able to use what i went through to encourage you... wow!
i pray that your faith will continue to grow as you reach deeper into your relationship with OUR GOD and as you do you will find life gets even more sweeter and sweeter!
im going to link this story of praise to our facebook site as i know it will encourage others!
and BTW, your fiance is a KEEPER!

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