I am frequently described by doctors as “complicated” due to my medical history. When I was 21, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis: an autoimmune disease which affects the large intestine, and I’ve had an ileostomy (stoma bag) for 11 years now.
My case is unusual and, between the ages of 23 and 29, I underwent five major surgeries and had numerous hospital admissions and procedures. Unfortunately, so much internal scarring caused new problems – particularly, pain – and it became difficult to maintain my weight and nutrition.
After several years of trial and error with operations and feeding tubes, I started Parenteral Nutrition (PN) last June as my permanent and sole method of feeding. This bypasses my gastrointestinal tract by taking in fluid nutrition through a major vein. Only around 750 people in the UK are on long-term home PN. I am attached to this method of feeding for a minimum of 14 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Day-to-day life looks different from how I imagined. It’s tiring having so many hospital appointments and phone calls, and arranging life around my health needs. Being unable to eat food is particularly tough when it comes to social situations. However, I’m very thankful for small mercies God has given, such as being able to tolerate a very small amount of snack food.
Thankfully this new method of nutrition has drastically reduced my abdominal pain and greatly improved my weight and nutrition. It does, however, come with long-term risks, and that is where I have to rely on God.
I am a Christian, which means I have a personal relationship with Jesus, and I believe God holds my future in his hands. Jesus is both God and man, who lived on earth 2000 years ago. He experienced the ups and downs of life, the same as any of us do, and knows how it feels to be hungry, grief-stricken, in despair, embarrassed, rejected … to name a few!
He also experienced pain, to the point of being brutally tortured and then executed even though he was innocent! He willingly came down from heaven to live and suffer as a human being in order to take our sins to the cross in our place.
Jesus understands everything I am going through. As a human, he lived through the worst that life has to offer, but as God he can comfort us in that pain.
The good news is that Jesus didn’t stay in the grave – he was brought back to life! Because I’ve given my life to him, the Bible promises that after I die I will be raised to a new life in heaven with him, and I will be given a new, perfect body – one free from feeding tubes, pain and a messed up digestive system!