I am convinced there is too much pain in the world. So much of it is cause by us and those around us. Other times, though, pain is inevitable. In many senses, pain is necessary. Because what would happiness and contentment and peace look like if there was no pain? Everything would be the same. It would all get boring. That being said, it doesn’t make pain any easier to swallow when it happens to us. But such is life...
(Warning: This is a story I usually don’t tell people because (1. I am sorta shy, and (2. it’s not exactly dinner conversation material if ya know what I’m sayin’ ... but):
One night in late-December of my sophomore year of high school, I noticed that my poop didn’t exactly look like it usually did... It was blood red... and didn’t look like poop at all... just like blood... which I assumed was not necessarily a good thing. For whatever reason (probably just my own stupidity), I convinced myself it was no big deal because I had a basketball game the next day and I wanted to play (sometimes I’m way too competitive for my own good... yeah this might have been one of those times: Whoops!). I was hoping that this strange phenomenon would just go away and order would be restored in my bowel ASAP so I could continue playing basketball as I wanted. However, this did not happen. I felt horrible the next day and blood continued coming out of me instead of staying in (never a good thing). I began to get weaker and would get tired just by walking up a few steps. Despite all of this and the fact that my stomach kept hurting and I continually had to go to the bathroom, I played in the game that next night (and scored 20 points while internally bleeding!). After the game I immediately felt exponentially worse and thought, “hey it might be a good idea to tell somebody (parents, doctors, Red Cross?) that something ain’t quite right.” So I told my parents, and apparently this sorta thing didn’t exactly happen to everybody (who woulda known, right?). We went to the doctors and they didn’t know what was wrong with me so I went to Children’s Hospital and they didn’t know what was wrong with me. They put me through all sorts of tests, each one was terrible--moreso because of the “prep” than the actual test, in most cases. The first time this all happened, I bled for ten days straight before it stopped. I lost A LOT of blood though. My hemoglobin level (which is normally around 13 or 14) was down to 6.4 I believe. I could hardly get out of bed through the later days. To put it simply, it was not a fun time for me. But then, when it stopped, I thought everything was fixed and I would never have to worry about it again... I was wrong. It kept coming back randomly. (I think I missed about 15 games due to this in my high school career which is almost an entire season!) The first time was the worst it has ever been. The length and severity have gotten better. But every time it happens, even if it only happens for a day, I get exhausted and can go from being in pretty good shape for basketball to basically having to start from scratch again. For the longest time, doctors would tell me there was really nothing they could do to stop it or prevent it, and that I had something that was extremely rare. Basically, what they told me was causing all this was that the veins in my colon (which I previously didn’t even know existed) were bigger than they were supposed to be. Apparently that meant that when food was going down my pipes, there was a chance the food could slice my vein open and that is why this all happened. I’m not sure how many people in the world have what I have, but I don’t even know to this day if it even has a name. I was referred to some specialists in Boston, Massachusetts and went there to get checked out and they did basically an experimental procedure on me to see if it would help at all. It seems like that procedure has helped because my bleeding has not happened as often or been as bad since the first procedure. They then did the procedure a second time right before I came to college last year. I wish I could say I don’t have to deal with all of this craziness anymore, but it still sneaks back up occasionally.
This experience has taught me so much about life in general and pain and how to deal with the pain we encounter in our lives. First of all, I let this condition be an excuse as to why I wasn’t going to do things or why I “couldn’t” do things. I decided not to play basketball at MVNU last year because I didn’t want to have to deal with that again. But also, I thought I would be okay with not playing. I don’t necessarily regret not playing last year, but I decided that I don’t care what I have to go through this year, I love basketball too much not to at least give it a try. So I am determined to overcome this condition. I have found out that it can’t control what I do. It can’t hold me down. I am going to fight through it because I am stronger than that.
One of the things that I had to realize in this battle I went through, and am still going through, is that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it is so hard for me to believe that, but I know that this whole experience has made me a stronger person, and I needed that. I know that God has a plan for me and that there are things I am going to go through that may not be fun, but each one of those painful things are preparing me for who God wants me to be.
The thing about pain is that most of the time, it gets us down so much not because it is that overpowering, but it gets us down because we let it get us down. If we tell ourselves that we can’t do anything to stop the pain, then we won’t be able to. What we have to do is understand that we have the ability to overcome pretty much anything, and it is up to us how much pain controls us and how much we overcome the obstacles keeping us from our desired goals.