The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'I'll never be well again'

Chronic illness doesn't kill the body, but it plays havoc with the soul

It's difficult to remember what life was like before I was sick. I recall that once I had enormous energy and was hardly ever ill.

My personal and professional life was satisfying and full of hope.

But 23 years ago everything changed. After a wonderful evening with my wife, I woke in the middle of the night with excruciating abdominal pain. We rushed to the hospital where tests and examinations revealed an acute small bowel blockage. A tube was inserted through my nose into my stomach--an inhumane procedure. But this gave no relief. Surgery was completed early that morning.

I was told I had Crohn's disease. I felt relieved, at least there was no cancer, no terminal disease. "Just a chronic illness," my surgeon said.

Now--after three more major surgeries and a dozen or so hospitalizations--I know what that means. My daily ritual involves multiple medications. Each new flare-up is unpredictable. I no longer trust my body. It operates on its agenda quite apart from my wishes.

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