Rare Illness

Me in July 2019

Jeremiah Prays for Deliverance. Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved. For You are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14

Yeah that’s me in the dorky pic above, all 6’5” of with the spindly legs. I’d just finished walking 5km at Camp Whitesands and felt pretty good. We spent that week at camp enjoying time with our fellow Christians, sharing fellowship, prayer and worship, education and some good food. My wife and I had rented a motorhome for the week so we were living in luxury.

Our rented accommodation in July 2019

Little did we know how much our life was going to change in just a few short weeks. We left our vacation spot and headed back to reality. I returned to the job I loved, driving semi and hauling grain. I was a relatively healthy person. I didn’t always eat the best foods and didn’t exercise at all, but I did get lots of exercise climbing in and out of my truck, loading and unloading, and cleaning out the grain and fertilizer from my hoppers.

Just prior to my going on holidays I had been given a brand new 2020 Freightliner. This new truck had been promised to me for months prior, but it kept getting delayed. Finally it had arrived and it was beautiful. I had given up the Volvo that I’d been driving for about five years and was behind the wheel of a powerful and beautiful truck. This was my second new truck, but the first one I got in 2010 was an absolute lemon. This one though was everything I had dreamed of and I was enjoying every second of driving it.

“MY” 2020 Freightliner

August 2019 arrived and on the first weekend of August, a long weekend for me, I came home and had a pain in my hip. It kept me awake Friday night and we didn’t go to church on Saturday because of it. I rested most of the weekend but something just wasn’t right. On Tuesday I left in my truck and headed out about six hours from home to deliver the load on my truck. I realized when I was about 1/2 way there that I was really not doing well. I was exhausted doing the slightest work and my body felt weak. I advised my boss that I needed to get home ASAP, and after some effort that was arranged.

My wife and I, independent of each other, had searched my symptoms on Google and both come to the same conclusion, a rare illness that could have devastating consequences, but I dismissed it because until that point I had been healthy. How wrong I was to toss that aside.

I arrived home after a failed visit to the emergency room and was told to rest and drink water, so I did. I rested for over 24 hours and on Friday morning woke up and could barely move. We left home on a sunny August morning to head to the emergency room, and it would be seven months before I would be home again. This is unfathomable even to this day after going through it myself?

I was eventually diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS), which was exactly what my wife and I had found on Google. I was hospitalized and went through some ups and downs, but more downs. My nerves were misfiring due to the outer coating being eaten away by my own body. Starting at my feet and toes and moving up my body I gradually became paralyzed.

I couldn’t swallow food, I was struggling to breathe and I couldn’t move at all. When I present my testimony to people, one of the questions I often ask is “Do you know how many times a day your nose itches? “ The answer to this question is “A LOT!” Which you realize when you can’t move to scratch it! As things got worse I was intubated and placed on a ventilator. So now I couldn’t eat ( I was fed with a feeding tube) and couldn’t breathe on my own, and I also lost the ability to communicate!

Not long after being intubated

One of the last things I remember asking was to the doctor that was sending me to the ICU to be intubated, I asked him if I was dying, and he responded, “Not today!” It was a terrifying time for myself, but also for my wife. It was amazing how quick this had happened and had no idea what was ahead. I had many challenges as I went through this illness. I had a very rare form of it that had taken hold throughout my body, but especially in my kidneys and bowels. My kidneys were not functioning properly and that caused many issues, and during my long stay in hospital it was rare that I had regular bowel movements. There was never any real explanation for either of these issues, but thankfully they’ve both resolved now.

As I went through this illness and slowly recovered, which is a strange term to use because you never fully recover from GBS, my life changed quite dramatically. When I was released from hospital after seven months I came home in a wheelchair and with a walker. My legs were weak but they would get stronger. I parked my wheelchair not long after I came home, but used the walker for much longer. I couldn’t drive, not even our personal vehicle. I couldn’t feel the pedals beneath my foot and didn’t have the strength or confidence to move my foot from the gas to the brake.

We live in a very small town so I would try and give up and pass the wheel back to my wife. For anyone that knows me well would know that was really one of the hardest parts of this. Driving for me was independence and it hurt to not be able to drive. But I kept at it and eventually I was able to get behind the wheel and drive again. I will never be able to drive a semi again, and that hurts. To drive professionally you need to pass a medical and I just couldn’t do it. I also lack the physical strength to do the job as I get fatigued quickly still and my balance is not good either, I still walk with a cane and probably will for the rest of my life.

We go through this life, never knowing what is coming our way. The grand plan is not in our hands, but we must accept it. People wonder how I kept my faith through all this and wonder why I don’t blame God. It was not Him that put this on me, He may have allowed it as He allowed Satan to challenge Job, but He didn’t cause it. He may be using what I went through as a way to reach someone who needs to be reached. Since I became a Christian in 2014, I have always said I want to bring just one person to Christ, and maybe, just maybe, what I went through is the conduit to do that!

Are YOU that one person that needs to be saved? Are YOU that one person that Jesus is calling to? Are YOU ready to ask Him to enter your heart? All YOU need to do is ask.

God bless

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