Note: I am writing this blog post in a café near the apartment we are renting in Haight-Ashbury. I do not have an oxygen tank with me. I do not have to fight through the fogginess of oxygen deprivation to write. I keep getting this big grin on my face. I keep wiping away little tears. God is good.
19“Or God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds,
with ceaseless aching in their bones.
20 They lose their appetite
for even the most delicious food.
21 Their flesh wastes away,
and their bones stick out.
22 They are at death’s door;
the angels of death wait for them.
23 “But if an angel from heaven appears—
a special messenger to intercede for a person
and declare that he is upright—
24 he will be gracious and say,
‘Rescue him from the grave,
for I have found a ransom for his life.’
25 Then his body will become as healthy as a child’s,
firm and youthful again.
26 When he prays to God,
he will be accepted.
And God will receive him with joy
and restore him to good standing.
27 He will declare to his friends,
‘I sinned and twisted the truth,
but it was not worth it.
28 God rescued me from the grave,
and now my life is filled with light.’
29 “Yes, God does these things
again and again for people.
30 He rescues them from the grave
so they may enjoy the light of life.”
± Job 33:19-30
Just read that. Read it, please. If you’ve followed my blog from the start, you might recall Kristina randomly opened to this page of her Bible when seeking comfort during a time that I was fighting for my life. In pain, at death’s door, bony and wasting away. She read this and knew things would be okay. When she showed me the passage after I became lucid, I was overcome with… meaning? It had meaning to me. It was me. It is me.
Job has always been my favorite book of the Bible. While I can’t say I suffered nearly as much as him, I do find his situation relatable. I’ve had people tell me to hate God, I’ve lost so much to ailments, I’ve felt like this is all one big test that would eventually mold me into a living testimony.
Just read it. Again, if you can.
I was wasting away. I had no appetite for even my favorite foods. I was on my deathbed. Prayer surrounded me. I was delivered not just from death, but into a life of breathing that is as healthy as I have been since I was a child. These lungs are not fighting numerous infections, and the airways are not inflamed and collapsed. The best part is, I was delivered into an uncontainable joy that I cannot help but share with the world. With family, with friends, with strangers, with people I once was afraid to reveal my “religious views” to. I have repented for the sins of my past, and I am willing to share those with any who ask. God has forgiven me—I know this. I have been enjoying life more than I can ever remember. It’s beautiful. I was saved. I am saved. I want you to be saved. I want you to enjoy the light of life. Preferably without having to almost die first.
I know there are some who think it is ridiculous to say such things. How is this a blessing? Wouldn’t a blessed life not have the disease to begin with? I like numbered lists. Here we go. Because of my ‘situation’:
- It is how I became me.
I was forced to grow up fast. Most people with CF need to. We face things other children do not, and those things we face have the power to disrupt the most simple, taken-for-granted things in life. I learned to put myself in pain for my own good rather than hiding things from the doctors. I volunteered myself to go to the hospital and take horrendous antibiotics. I missed a lot of school. A lot. I was constantly fighting to stay at pace with my peers, both socially and academically. Wrestling infections was exhausting enough. Add on learning math lessons on my own, and man. It wasn’t easy. But the work ethic that gave me is the reason I am able to work my journalism jobs from the ICU. It’s the reason I never miss deadlines or complain about how much work I have. I suck at doing chores, but you can count on me for doing my job right. I really don’t know how to convey the lessons learned by CF without droning on and on. I was a kid. I had obstacles. I overcame them. Here I am now. I’m not the most mature, wise guy my age. But I cringe when I think of how I probably would have been if I hadn’t learned to live with CF. If you ever meet someone with CF, give them a big pat on the back (after sanitizing your hand).
2. Relationships are so strong.
It seemed I lost a handful of friends every time I went to the hospital. They wouldn’t communicate with me and would act all awkward once I saw them in person. That seemed like a curse in middle and high school. But now I realize that it really just weeded out weak relationships in my life. (If you are reading this and you think you’re one of those people, don’t sweat it. I still love you. No one should force you into a relationship you feel uncomfortable with.) My family bonds are also unbelievably strong. We are all best friends. I drive them nuts, but they’re always there for me. I mean, my parents sacrificed their entire lives in Hawaii (their dream living location) to save me. I am heartbroken when I read about people undergoing lung transplants without social support. Even families abandon each other. I don’t take my family’s love for granted.
3. More awareness and comfort for the CF community.
Despite the tens of thousands with CF, it really isn’t well-known. At least, not as much as things like cancer, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s. I’m not sure why. But if you look on my Facebook posts, literally hundreds of people are commenting and liking my posts (I have no idea why so many people are interested in my story, but thank you!). Many of them had no idea CF even existed before now. This isn’t just a God testimony, it’s a testimony to the struggle of CF. Within CF, there’s this big, nasty antibiotic-resistant bug called Mycobacterium abscessus. This one bug is the reason so many transplant centers rejected me. There simply haven’t been too many people transplanted while carrying this bug, so doctors are afraid to take the risk. My doctors did take the risk. And, so far, I have exceeded all expectations. I am a member of a Mycobacterium CF group on Facebook, and they were all so excited to hear about my transplant in spite of the bug. I told them this wasn’t just about me. This is about getting word out that this is possible—that centers should take the risk and save lives. I’m hoping my case will provide ammunition for research regarding this matter, so hope is restored for those suffering from CF and this bug. It’s also good to dispel myths about lung transplants in general. There’s a lot of misinformation on the internet since it’s still a fairly new science. Don’t bother googling it and getting scared. Just talk to me, I’ll tell you the facts and comforts of transplant.
4. Evangelism is happening.
People have contacted me to let me know that my story has encouraged them to seek a relationship with God, or renew it. I cannot describe the soaring, euphoric feeling in my heart when I speak to these people. Man, here are the happy tears. It is an honor to serve as an ambassador to God, especially in times where Christianity is under more critique than usual (which, in my opinion, is deserved and healthy). I’m being real with you when I say I love you. I want you to be saved. Please reach out to me. I want to help you build that bridge with God. I want you to experience the joy of God.
5. It brought me to God.
I never had much problem with going to Bible studies or church. It was where my friends were and it had some “cool philosophies.” I ‘accepted Christ’ and was baptized, yada yada. But it wasn’t… real. I was walking the walk and all that, I thought. But I wasn’t feeling what I should have. I wasn’t feeling humbled, joyful, heartbroken, at peace, in love, uncomfortable. All sounds very contradictory, right? I like to think of all this as being bundled into an emotion that isn’t experienced by “human things.” It’s something unique to my relationship with God. I don’t know how to fully describe it. I mean, you have this whole couple-thousand-page Bible trying to explain it all and even then we are left with questions. But I entered these tough (understatement) times and found God was one of the very few things that really made sense. He was the only “thing” that could completely release me from the terrifying binds/blinds of depression and anxiety. Somehow, the calmest I’ve been in the past several years has been when I’m been undergoing the biggest trials. Cue “Jesus Take the Wheel.”
Wow, I typed a lot. Sorry about that. I’m just so excited to share my blessings. These aren’t even all of them, not in the slightest. “My life is filled with light.” There will be more trials ahead as I continue recovery and try to sort out my deafness, but I feel confident right now. Thank you all for joining me on my journey and reading. Cheers to a new start!