40 Days of Prayer: Day 30
I have a rare condition. It’s not life threatening and doctors say it doesn’t shorten my life expectancy; though, for about a year, between 2010 and 2011, I wasn’t so sure. My chest hurt a lot, almost every day. I couldn’t sleep because I would wake up vomitting. Fevers were common because I was exhausted. The disturbing thing was that when I went to the doctor, I was told that I had sinus drainage with infection. This happened several times. I explained that I hadn’t slept more than three hours a night in over six months, but they insisted it was just drainage. Jennifer and I were very discouraged.
Then one day, about eight months in to the ritual, I mentioned to the doctor that I was having trouble swallowing. Well, that changed everything. Instead of the knowing smile, understanding head nod and usual answer: “This is only a sinus infection.” Concern furrowed her brow. “You’re having trouble swallowing?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “When I take the pills you gave me. They continuously get stuck at the top of my throat.”
“That’s not good,” she said and then started writing.
I laughed out loud and said, “No, it’s not. That’s what I’ve been telling you for eight months.”
She refered me to a specialist who immediately diagnosed me with achalasia. Achalasia is “a condition in which the muscles of the lower part of the esophagus fail to relax, preventing food from passing into the stomach” (Apple Dictionary). At the time of my diagnosis, about 61,000 people in the world had been diagnosed with it. That’s less than 1% of the population. I was started on several medications to rule out other possibilities. Once those proved futile, I was told to fast for 24 hours and he performed an endoscopy. The results of the endoscopy convinced him that I had achalasia, and he then sent me to a surgeon.
The surgeon sent me out for several test to ensure the proper diagnosis. I remember one test above the rest partly because of the tube that was ran through my nose and down my throat and partly because of the look on the technicians face. It was a swallowing test. My particular form of achalasia was caused by the lack of nerve development in my esophagus. When you swallow, your nerves in your esophagus activate muscles to squeeze your food down. This squeezing action relaxes the muscles at the bottom of your esophagus which opens the stomach allowing food to pass through. My esophagus simple does not work.
The technician, unfamiliar with achalasia, did not know how to respond when her computer registered no muscle movement when I swallowed. Unsure of what had happened she had me repeat the test which consisted of drinking nasty barium-laced liquid multiple times. Her voice was filled with genuine concern when she said, “Oh honey, nothing is happening.” I smiled politely and said, “I know.”
The date was set for the surgery and all went well. Jennifer even surprised me that night by telling me that she was pregnant with our youngest child, Molli. These last five years have been great, and I haven’t had any complications. Though, the surgery did not cure my condition, because there isn’t a cure, I can still see the hand of God in the entire story. You see, my condition most likely was a birth defect which means that I have had it my entire life. Looking back I remember numerous times when severe chests pains would momentarily paralyze me as a teenager, my parents prayed and the pain left.
I left a major part of the story out. Six months before my surgery, my surgeon moved from Boston to Savannah. He was as close as possible to being a specialist in this condition because it was such a rare disorder. He had performed about 120 operations for achalasia which doesn’t sound like much but it was more than anyone else at the time. Had I been officially diagnosed six months earlier, he would not have been there to do my surgery. Sure, for six more months, God allowed me to suffer. Some nights I thought I might even die, but God knew what he was doing. I can honestly say now that I would not trade that six months for a lesser resolution.
Timing is everything. Whatever you are facing right now, God is still working behind the scenes. You may feel helpless or abandoned but know that God has never left you alone. Trust Him and rely on His perfect timing. Who knows what He may be orchestrating for you right now.
Thank you for reading. Now, please go to our Prayer Wall and pray for the needs there. You may also add your own needs.