HEALTH UPDATE: THINGS GETTING BETTER!

I wanted to share with everyone a health update here on September 15th by telling everyone that my health issues have improved since January. Praise the Lord for that!

First of all, My heart has improved and I have been feeling better since the heart ablation procedure back in January of this year. Of course I will be having follow up appointments coming this fall to make sure things stay well but I am very thankful that the procedure has seemed to regulate my extra pvcs and heart rate (https://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=UTF-8&fr=crmas&p=pvcs+heart). I will continue to do my part and make sure no issues develop because I do not want a return trip back to the hospital. I would like to avoid another hospital visit so being proactive will be one key to assure things do not escalate.

Second thing I wanted to share is that my entyvio infusions are now every four weeks instead of every 8 weeks which was changed several months ago by my Gasterologist at the time Dr. Stallwood. However, he has relocated back to Canada and I now have Dr. Frederickson (https://www.pondvillemedical.com/services/norfolk-gastroenterology-pc/) who was my original Gastoenterologist until he relocated back in 2017 but is back and I am glad I have him again. I have been blessed the past six years with great doctors so I have no complaints except please stay longer than 2 years. lol. My infusions are now located in Foxboro which is closer to where I live which is so much better now thanks to the teams from my doctor’s office and the new infusion company (http://infusioncenterne.com/). I am very thankful to say that the entyvio has been working the past few months and things seem to be going in a positive direction. However, having ulcerative colitis which is an auto immune disease changes from day to day but things seem to be getting better!

A third thing I wanted to share is that I have seen an ENT specialist due to having some sinus issues which seemed to develop into a viral infection or sinus infection. I had issues similiar to having Covid so I once again had another covid test that tested negative Thank the Lord!!! Seems like things got better after being sick a few days with covid like symptoms and a fever. I have had no sinus issues for seven years so it was weird that I had issues again but who knows what caused it. I am just thankful that it seemed to be only a virus!

These are several updates that I wanted to share and let all of you know what has been going on! Thanks for your continued prayers and thoughts! Till next time!!

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HEALTH UPDATE 2021: THE HEART STRIKES BACK

August of 2020 was my last blog entry and I talked about my five year battle with ulcerative colitis which I am still having issues presently. However, I am scheduled my next entyvio infusion on February 1st but this time I will have blood tests that will determine if I need infusions more frequently or if I need to have a different medication all together. I have been on prednisone for six of the last eight months since my abdominal reconstruction surgery from May of 2020 and have experienced two different flare ups which have been uncomfortable and very exhausting to say the least. I am really hoping and praying that we will get answers and that the entyvio will start working again so I can achieve remission from the horrible disease that has plagued me for almost six years now. This is the latest update on my ulcerative colitis but now unfortunately my heart has now become an issue which I will now talk about:

In the fall of 2020 I started to have some issues that I thought were side effects of either entyvio or prednisone but did not think it could be my heart because the heart has been okay even with all the health issues I have had the past six years. I started having some health issues such as: breathing issues, dizziness, headaches, tightness in the chest, being light headed, runny nose, tiredness and some exhaustion. Several times at work and at rest I checked my fitbit which shows my heart rate and there was times when the heart rate got as high as 140 and as low as 40. When this happened several times I told my cardiologist and then the beginning of December I was given an event heart monitor (https://www.irhythmtech.com/patients/why-zio) to wear for 14 days and I was to record any issues I would have during this time. My cardiologist several weeks later got the results and shared with me the concern about heart rhythm issues due to many extra heartbeats which would cause all the symptoms I had shared with him and the heart rate issues. We planned a follow up visit and scheduled a echocardiogram to see what issues might be going with the heart (https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/diagnosing-a-heart-attack/echocardiogram-echo).

I was still working full-time and was experiencing the above symptoms for several weeks that I decided to go to the ER on Sunday January 10th because I was feeling awful weak and having the issues I described above. My cardiologist admitted me in the Hospital where I stayed for several days to get tests done and some treatment. While at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital I met Dr. Wiley who determined from all the data and information about my heart to do an echocardiogram (https://providers.steward.org/ma/brighton/John-Wylie-736-cambridge-street;-cardiovascular-medicine). He also told me that I needed a heart ablation procedure done because it would help with my heart rythmn issues and extra heart beats (https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/prevention–treatment-of-arrhythmia/ablation-for-arrhythmias). Before getting this procedure I was told the results of my echocardiogram was lower than it was back in June of 2020 which is not good because it showed that the heart was working harder causing my issues. (https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/diagnosing-heart-failure/ejection-fraction-heart-failure-measurement).

I was released from the hospital several days later and currently I have follow up appointments and tests scheduled over the next few weeks which I will report when I know more. Unfortunately, I developed a hematoma after the heart ablation procedure but it seems to have gotten better after two weeks (https://scarysymptoms.com/2018/07/thigh-hematoma-after-cardiac-ablation-causes-solutions/). THere is a lot more I could say about the procedures and my hospital stay but I will say that the nurses, doctors and health assistants at St. Elizabeth’s were so understanding and so caring for me and my needs (https://www.semc.org/services-directory/heart-vascular-center)!! Everybody was so good to me and I am so thankful for everyone who took care of me the several days that I was there!!

More details to come soon since there is going to be follow up!!

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THE REALITY OF LIVING WITH ULCERATIVE COLITIS: THIS IS MY ON GOING STORY

My five year journey with this auto immune disease is just one of many stories you will hear but it is my story to tell which will be uncut, unedited and as truthful as I can be.  The struggle is very real and this horrible disease has effected millions of people in different ways because it is unique and specific to the individual that is suffering.  My journey started five years ago and it has been an ongoing battle that has taken a heavy toll on me physically, mentally and spiritually but I will not let this disease define me!!!  However, it has refined me!!!! More about this later.  

I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the end of 2014 after my first colonoscopy which showed mid to severe inflammation of the colon and rectum area.  Several months previously after a CT Scan I had an abscess found on my sigmoid colon which led to several hospital stays and eventually surgery that removed part of my colon. The abscess was linked to active diverticulitis found in the colon during my first colonoscopy along with mid to severe ulcerative colitis found at the same time.   It was determined the reason I got ulcerative colitis to begin with according to my first Gastroenterology is that in  2013-2014 I was on a lot of antibiotics for various infections which caused the bad bacteria to overtake the good bacteria causing severe inflammation in the colon and rectum area. According to one of my surgeons I was one of his only patients to have active diverticulitis and ulcerative colitis at the same time. He told me that he discussed my case with other doctors during training and they were amazed of how both of these were active in my colon at the same time. I write about this battle in an earlier blog entry so check it out (https://ravishingron39.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/ravishings-new-medical-battle-part-one/).

During 2015- to the end of 2017 I was treated by a good Gastroenterology, Dr. Derek Frederickson (https://www.healthgrades.com/physician/dr-derek-frederickson-2lm7l) who prescribed several different medicines, performed several colonoscopies, offered several natural remedies to help control my symptoms and checked on me while in the hospital for a non related issue but he was concerned about me which impressed me a lot.  He encouraged me to loose weight, watch my diet and stay on top of my various medicines during this time which included: prednisone, mesalamine enemas, probiotics, turmeric and mesalamine (https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6073-6146/mesalamine-oral/mesalamine-5-aminosalicylic-acid-extended-release-oral/details).  During this time period the ulcerative colitis flared up several times so I was put on prednisone several times to control the flare up symptoms which included; rectal bleeding, many bowel movements with urgency, cramping, fatigue, tiredness and some dizziness.  However, prednisone also has side effects which include: weight gain, round face, skin issues, breathing issues, irritability, insomnia, and many more negative side effects.  Unfortunately, during this time I gained weight due to the prednisone but the prednisone seemed to control the many bad issues I was having during this time but prednisone is not a good long-term solution.  During the end of 2017 Dr. Frederickson and I talked about using different medicines going forward so I could permanently get off prednisone.  However,  He told me he was leaving to start his own practice which was too far away for me so He had to recommend another Gastroenterology.  So after two years with a Gastroenterology I could trust and depend on I had to look for another one but he recommended Dr. Winnie Szeto who was out of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital (https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=AwrJ4NZxYD1fAYUAgvKJzbkF?p=dr+winnie+szeto&fr=crmas&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Ai%2Cm%3Apivot#id=1&vid=d57e63026ebcb3372c6f0ee6ca5e97f9&action=view).  

Dr. Szeto performed a colonoscopy the fall of 2017 and I was diagnosed with severe inflamation in the colon and rectum which put me back on prednisone to control the symptoms.  After several discussions she determined the best and safest treatment for me was to go on entyvio infusions since my other medicines were not working.  So in January of 2018 we started the entyvio infusions which would be every 8 weeks.  I would go to an infusion center and receive the medicine through an IV for about an hour each time after they give me Tylenol and benadryl to control any side effects from the entyvio infusion.  At this point I would try anything because I was in a major ulcerative colitis flare up which gave me all kinds of health issues while starting a new job at the same time.  I was cramping so bad, going to the bathroom about 12-15 times per day, feeling tired and fatigued along with having a sore rectum because all the times I had to go to the bathroom.  I was working a new retail job while going through all of this and some days I wondered if I would make it because of the fear of having a bathroom accident or something else.  Along with the physical pain comes the mental pain because your brain starts working in overdrive giving you the many fears that ulcerative colitis brings because of its nasty flare up issues.  

From January to May of 2018 I was getting health coverage through the Massachusetts health connector because it was too expensive to go on my wife’s medical insurance.  Unfortunately, because we were not poor enough so my deductible and plan was changed without any notice which caused a lapse in coverage so two entyvio infusions were not covered by insurance and i was billed over $32,000.  To make a long story short I finally went full-time in May and got my own health coverage through my employer but I am still paying $25/month for this ridiculous bill.  This happened while I was going through an ulcerative colitis flare up and the stress of insurance issues made things worse.  

I continued on the entyvio infusions every 8 weeks right up to August of 2018 then I was dealt a major blow which landed me in the hospital for five days that sucked big time!  Friday morning I woke up and had pain on my butt which prevented me from lying down and I had a fever over 101 making things worse.  I was admitted in the hospital and they drained what they thought was an abscess just above my rectum.  Possibly an extra hole that swelled up with puss that needed to be treated and drained.  I had various tests, antibiotics, surgeons, doctors and Dr. Szeto trying to figure out why I got this possible abscess during my five day stay in the hospital that was driving me out of my mind.  To make a long story short they determined it was an abscess and the wound had to be treated at a clinic for the next two months with a nurse changing the wound bandages because of the location right above my butt hole which is pretty embarrassing to say the least.  Well unfortunately the wound did not heal much due to the prednisone but my surgeon at the time never said it was an abcess.  I saw him two months later and he said it was an anal fistula from an MRI reading and that it would heal on its own and to stop any clinic treatment.  He did not think the entyvio caused it but I decided not to get any more entyvio infusions for several months. Unbelievable!!  I thought the entyvio could have caused this so I was pretty uncomfortable of going back on it in 2019 but Dr. Szeto and I decided to restart the entyvio infusions in January because I needed relief from my ulcerative colitis flare up.

In 2019 I went back on entyvio infusions every 8 weeks and then I went on another round of prednisone in April to help some of my many symptoms.  I was going to the bathroom multiple times throughout the day while having cramping and feeling exhausted while working but made it through each day barely.  When I got home I would crash and burn from exhaustion, fatigue and deal with the side effects from the prednisone.  Dr. Szeto sent a letter to my employer about my ulcerative colitis issues asking them to be patient during times of flare up which was a great thing for her to do.  My fellow co-workers have been so understanding and patient because they knew I had some issues but I would try like hell to work each day the best I could in-spite of how I felt.  I put on the happy face and raced to the bathroom when needed or took Tylenol to control the horrible cramping that seemed to follow me each day during any flare up.  I had to learn not to eat during the day so I could control and limit my bathroom visits but those of you who have ulcerative colitis know that each day can be an adventure because each day is different.  

I stayed on entyvio infusions throughout 2019 and was able to get off of prednisone in April and things started to improve slowly then after an endoscopy in May Dr. Szeto found a mass in my colon and became very concerned.  I then had a procedure in August to remove this mass and was thankful it was not cancerous and was smaller than they originally anticipated which was great news.  I was told the mass was due to inflammation from my active ulcerative colitis and not from any possible cancer growth which made me feel more at ease  because colon cancer is a high risk for those with any kind of bowel disease and my grandfather had colon cancer.  The good news during this procedure is that there was some improvement found in the colon because the inflammation had some improvement which indicated the entyvio was possibly starting to work.  The months following I started to feel better and things started to improve as I was able to tolerate more foods and not have to run to the bathroom with a sense of urgency.  I had more energy and could eat during work without the fear of having any issues which was such a relief.  However, Dr. Szeto left in December of 2019 to start her own practice which was too far away for me to drive so I decided to continue with Dr. Christopher Stallwood who assisted Dr. Szeto with the procedure to remove the mass back in August (https://providers.steward.org/ma/brighton/Christopher-Stallwood-11-nevins-streetsuite-402?)

Dr. Stallwood continued my entyvio infusions in January of 2020 and things were going well for months without any prednisone for over one year which was a huge win without any steroids.  I was excited because things were finally going in the right direction and we even talked about cutting down my mesalamine tablets from 4 to 2 which is huge because that means the entyvio is working and possibly on my way to remission.  Then I had to have abdominal wall reconstruction surgery to repair hernias and defects at the end of May of this year because it was necessary and planned.  

On June 22nd I went for my first entyvio infusion after major surgery and within days of my infusion I flared up once again and I started to have bleeding issues, cramping, multiple bowel movements with urgency, fatigue, tiredness and other symptoms that were not welcomed.  My intestines after the major surgery were inflamed which unfortunately put me in another major ulcerative colitis flare up that I am presently experiencing.  Dr. Stallwood did a colonoscopy in July of this year and the inflammation is mid to severe again in the colon and rectum which put my inflammation blood marker very high.  This is too bad because my abdominal wall reconstruction surgery was a success and I have been back to work for three weeks after spending 9 weeks recovering from this surgery.  

So I am currently in another major flare up back on prednisone for the first time in over a year which is disappointing considering the past year has been a year of improvement with positive results.  The last six months I have had two surgeries which have played a major role in the state of my ulcerative colitis from going to possible remission to now a major flare up.  I talk about the surgeries here on my blog so check them out.  

On August 10th I went for my latest entyvio infusion hoping that the entyvio will bring healing in my colon and rectum so I can begin to recover from this current flare up and continue to work towards remission.  I am currently on a prednisone slow taper to minimize the side effects of tapering while managing flare up issues that continue to be bothersome and tiresome. While on prednisone it is hard to know if the entyvio is working or is it the prednisone masking the unwanted flare up effects.  I will find out in the next several months because I am tapering off prednisone and scheduled another entyvio infusion on October 5th.  I am remaining hopeful and positive that the entyvio will once again work and maybe this time it will bring with it some healing for my colon and rectum.  Now I have to use enemas once again to bring relief to my rectum which is not fun but you gotta do what you gotta do to get better. 

I am remaining positive and praying for the Lord to use the entyvio to bring healing and remission because having ulcerative colitis sucks big time!!  It is a never ending battle that sees some wins but suffers some loses at different times during the journey.  It is frustrating, complicated, personal and effects the lives of those we love which is family and friends because they do not understand how difficult and tiresome having ulcerative colitis can be.  Friends and family do not understand at times why you do not want to go out or be around others while experiencing a flare up because they have no concept of the pain and personal battle one has with having this auto immune disease.  It is a humbling disease that can effect you emotionally and spiritually because like any disease or cancer you can over think negative stuff especially if you are hurting physically.  I refuse to let this disease define me because it does not define who I am!!!  However, it can define you if you let it ruin and control your life with thinking nothing but negative things. 

As a Christian I have learned to ask the Lord to give me strength to endure the negative so I can celebrate the positive!!  I know remission is coming and I realize this is a major setback but I will not let this be the end of my story!!  Don’t let ulcerative colitis, cron’s disease, cancer or any other horrible disease define you!!!  God defines you as fearfully and wonderfully made!(https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20139:13-16&version=NLT)  There have been many times throughout my journey with ulcerative colitis and my other physical issues that I wanted to quit, but this verse has been the verse I go to when I want to quit.  Psalm 73:26

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,

but God remains the strength of my heart;

he is mine forever.

Trust me I have wanted to quit many times because ulcerative colitis has tested my patience, endurance and at times has taken everything out of me personally, spritually and emotionally.  Let me add this by saying ulcerative colitis is only one of my major health issues not to mention my dilated cardiomyopathy and the abdominal reconstruction surgery I just had so I know the pain and suffering involved.  I just choose to continue to trust in the Lord knowing He is in ultimate control of my body and I need to trust in Him with all of my health issues!!  My faith is in Christ the one who died for my sins and offers forgiveness and eternal life and I did that many years ago.  I have peace knowing my sins are forgiven by a God who loves us and died for us.  Do you know the peace and forgiveness that only Christ can give???  He forgives our souls and can give strength to our bodies even if they are broken and sick like mine.  If he can forgive a sinner like me he can forgive anyone wanting forgiveness.  

I hope I have been able to encourage you today and please leave your comments and share this with others!!!  Like you I need some encouraging words so please let me know if this story has given you hope and some encouragement!!!  

Till next time!!!

 

https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/

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GOOD NEWS UPDATE:

Wanted to let all of you know that I officially return to work next week and my short-term disability compensation was finalized today!!! Very thankful and appreciative to all of you who have continued to pray for Pam and I because your prayers and continued encouragement continue to carry us giving us faith and hope!! Continue your prayers for Pam and all those looking for jobs that the Lord will open new and better opportunities for all involved!! So good to report how faithful the Lord is even though at times you wonder where He is. He is there with us during the storm upholding us to just wait and trust Him!! So with that said remember what the Lord has done for us He will do for you!!!!

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MY SURGERY DURING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC: CHALLENGING BUT REWARDING

What was I thinking????  Why would anyone want to have major surgery during this Covid 19 pandemic which has taken our world, country and our states hostage by closing our economy while causing worldwide panic????  You might be thinking that would be crazy to have any surgery during this time and I would say you are absolutely right. Unfortunately I had no choice in the matter because back in February of this year before Covid 19 shut things down I had oblique abdominal expanders surgically inserted at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston as a prequel to the reconstruction surgery I just had.  Each side of my abdomen had an expander inserted that was already filled with saline to begin the expansion process which is very uncomfortable believe me. The purpose of the expanders is to expand my abdomen to produce extra skin and muscle so the reconstruction surgery which would be done at a later date would be successful.  I had various expansion appointments over the next three months with my plastic surgeon in which they would add saline to each expander causing the skin and muscles to expand making things very uncomfortable. It was very difficult trying to work while the expansion process was going on because I was literally expanding and feeling the pain and discomfort especially after each expansion appointment. Then Covid 19 shut down elective surgeries in Boston so I had to wait extra time to get clearance to get the reconstruction surgery which finally happened on May 27th.

Before I tell you about the reconstruction surgery I need to tell you why I needed this surgery to begin with so let me back up a few years and briefly describe what led to this surgery.  Back in 2014 my issues started when I was diagnosed with an abscess on  part of my sigmoid colon which caused urinary issues and fevers landing me in the hospital to get treated. After various hospital visits at Norwood Hospital (https://www.norwood-hospital.org/) and procedures over a few months I had surgery to remove part of my colon which unfortunately I was given a temporary ostomy due to the surgery.  This ostomy was only supposed to be for a few months then they would perform a reversal surgery and put my plumbing back to normal.  However, due to complications the ostomy lasted over a year and I was recommended to another surgeon at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton Massachusetts (https://www.semc.org/). Some of these complications were due to the skin around the ostomy which had to be treated over the next year before the reversal surgery would take place. I also was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis during this time which presented other issues and other treatment along with treatment for the ostomy.

Then finally in March of 2016 I was scheduled to have my reversal surgery and was looking forward to having the ostomy removed and hoping to be normal once again but due to complications the ostomy was made into an ileostomy. The surgeon removed the ostomy from one side of my abdomen and made an ileostomy on the other side.  Unfortunately several weeks after this surgery I returned to the ER with other complications from the surgery which were later resolved setting up the reversal surgery I finally had in May of 2016.  Unfortunately I had complications from this surgery as well which ended up into another stay in the hospital but things finally got better and I was normal once again!  Thanks so much to my surgeon and his team for taking care of me during this time because it was very difficult and tiresome as you can imagine (https://health.usnews.com/doctors/alan-hackford-4565).

During the next few years the sites on my abdomen that previously had the ostomy and ileostomy started to compromise as the abdominal wall started to weaken causing hernias and defects which grew in size causing discomfort and issues.  My Gasterologist at the time started me on entyvio infusions for the treatment of ulcerative colitis in early of 2018 because my ulcerative colitis was nearing severe which caused some major issues and the use of steroids to help ease the symptoms. In May of 2018 I first consulted with my current plastic surgeon Dr. Morris on abdominal wall reconstruction surgery (https://www.lpsmd.com/) and the risk factors involved in the surgery and it was suggested by my surgeon Dr. Hackford that due to recent complications from the previous two surgeries and until I can get the ulcerative colitis in remission without steroids that surgery should be postponed for now. I took his advice and continued on the entyvio infusions and have been the past two years which has taken time to bring some healing and relief in the colon.  Unfortunately, due to the hernias and defects in my abdomen there was some complications that needed to be treated which took awhile to heal putting any delay of any surgery.

Then in late 2019 my ulcerative colitis was getting better as the entyvio infusions was working and I was no longer on prednisone but the hernias were growing and my abdomen was having issues and I could no longer tolerate the hernias so another surgeon suggested I consult Dr. Morris again about abdominal reconstruction surgery for 2020.  I finally got the approval for elective surgeries in Boston so on May 27th of this year I went to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and had abdominal wall reconstruction surgery done (https://www.bidmc.org/).

I remember waking up in the recovery room after about a four hour surgery and was told that the surgery went well and that I would spend up to five or more days recovering from the surgery.  To my surprise I woke up with a NG tube (https://www.drugs.com/cg/nasogastric-intubation-inpatient-care.html) down my nostril into my stomach which was uncomfortable because it gave me a sore throat and was in the way.  I had this tube for several days and was so glad when they removed it because it really was uncomfortable but not painful.  However, removing the tube was an experience but not as bad as having it put in while you are awake like my roommate did.  I was glad mine was put it in while I was out in surgery and did not remember anything.  It was about five days before I could eat or drink anything but the worse thing was getting out of bed after two days of being in it.  I had the nurses help me get up and go to the bathroom which was a lot of pain and discomfort as you can probably imagine due to the major surgery I had just had.  Thank goodness for pain meds!!!! To my surprise I would spend the next 12 days at Beth Israel Hospital recovering from this surgery due to complications with my heart, inflammation, and having a distended stomach (https://www.simple-remedies.com/health-tips-4/distended-stomach-after-abdominal-surgery.html). Having your stomach distended is very uncomfortable and painful and I had it several times while in the hospital but the nurses were so good in taking care of me when experiencing this.  My intestines became inflamed after the surgery and I had some issues with this as well but they treated this with antibiotics through the IV and I was told they will heal over time which unfortunately has led me into a current ulcerative colitis flare up.

During my stay for 12 days I want to brag about the nurses, nurse assistants, doctors and surgeons that personally assisted me during my stay at Beth Israel in Boston especially on the 5th floor where they kept Dr. Morris’s patients like myself. They are awesome and they took such good care of me during my time there by assisting, caring, checking and walking with me when I needed it which was awesome!!  They were so positive on my recovery and encouraged me every day that I would get better and to not get discouraged but know things will improve over time even though at some times I wondered why I even got this dreadful surgery because of the pain and some of the complications I had.  One of the surgeons that checked on me worked at the other Beth Israel location and he told me that he used to work at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.  He said the covid 19 cases there were unbelievable and out of control months ago and many of his co-workers were burned out and tired due to the long hours worked.  He said covid 19 is very real and you don’t understand unless you are there on the front lines battling each day.  He also told me that he came down with the corona virus many months ago and that it caused him not to taste food and he still could not taste food at the time.  He was a good surgeon who time out to check on me while he was working at the other Beth Israel location.  Nurses would tell me stories of patients with covid 19 issues that were on separate floors at the hospital but they said it was very real but they treated everyone the same.  During my stay I would see the nurses run to patient’s rooms that had an emergency and I was amazed how quickly they responded to those calls not knowing what they were going to encounter.  The nurses on this 5th floor were amazing and I got to see these heroes in action every day and every shift.  Nurse assistants are the true  heroes because they do the jobs that nobody wants to do but they do them because they truly care for their patients and want to help them.  I experienced this first hand every day while I was in the hospital recovering from this surgery because I received this wonderful care from them personally.

 During this time I could not have any visitors so my wife could not even come to see me which was difficult being that it was a major surgery and she could not check on me physically but the nurses kept her updated on my condition which helped.  It took me about five days before I could use my Chromebook and update everyone about my condition but used Facebook messenger and my cell to talk with family and friends.  I was not in any condition the first five days to do anything but rest, recover and talk to the several roommates I had during my stay.

I was finally discharged on Monday June 8th after recovering in the hospital for 12 days which I was so glad to go home because it was a long 12 days with no visitors.  However, before leaving the hospital I took a picture of the several nurses that took care of me which was emotional because you build a bond with those that care of you because you learn to appreciate them in a way that is so much different from a friendship.  I cannot describe it but it is a closeness that cannot be defined because I think it is more than friendship but a relationship built on a bond of recovery and appreciation.

It has been over 7 weeks since my surgery and I am glad that I had this surgery done because the hernias, defects, discomfort and pain in the abdomen are gone!  Dr. Morris and his team have given me my life back because my abdomen is fixed finally and I can now resume some sense of normality going forward because my stomach and abdomen are now normal.  It is amazing what has been done and I will post pictures in the near future so you can see for yourself.  I am rewarded with a new abdomen, new appreciation of surgeons, doctors, nurses and I am blessed because the Lord carried me through it all and he placed some remarkable and awesome people in my pathway!! I am so ever thankful and appreciative of everything I have to the glory of God!! 

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MY HEALTH JOURNEY: CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE- 2020 UPDATE

In restarting my blog here in July of 2020 I wanted to take a look back at my beginning story when I was first diagnosed with congestive heart failure or dilated cardiomyopathy because looking back makes me appreciate how blessed and fortunate I have been the past 13 years.  I have been blessed with a great cardiologist that has taken care of me the past 12 years while living here in Massachusetts.  He has been with me every step of the past twelve years either getting hospitalized, prescribing medication, performing many tests and procedures and encouraging me to live a healthy exercise type of lifestyle that will keep my heart strong and going (https://health.usnews.com/doctors/john-kinch-217845). 

There has been some scary moments over the past 12 years when it seems like my heart took a turn for the worse but thanks to modern medicine and God’s divine healing and strength I can safely say I have been blessed more than you know!! One of these times just recently happened after I had total abdominal reconstruction surgery back in May of 2020 at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston which I will talk about in the near future.  Due to several complications from the surgery I had heart issues that made my stay in the hospital longer than anticipated but they were resolved and things are back to normal currently. My recent echo-cardiogram which was done in while in the Hospital revealed my injection fraction to be at 50% (https://www.healthline.com/health/ejection-fraction).  What a big difference from the 10-15% which was back in March of 2006 when I was near death’s door and did not even know it!! 

One thing that has been constant throughout the other physical issues I have had the past six years is that my heart has been strong enough to undergo several major surgeries which I will share at a later time. 

The medicines that continue to help me the most is Metoprolol and lisinopril because of the positive effects they have working together when treating heart issues (https://www.drugs.com/mtm/metoprolol-succinate-er.html).  I have been on different dosages at times throughout the years depending on the circumstances and issues at hand. Just thankful that the medicines have helped me over the years to gain heart strength even though the heart is damaged but fortunately the Lord has watched over me for sure!!! There is much more to be said but I wanted to give a quick update to let all of you know what has been going on recently.  Thanks to all of you for your continued prayers!!!!

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MY HEALTH JOURNEY: CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE- A LOOK BACK 2006 PART 3

Well I did tell you in Part 2 that this story would continue and surely it has.  Last week I saw my cardiologist and told him of my breathing issues and sleeping issues so he examined my heart and we decided that another resting chest echo test would be a way to make sure all is well with my heart.  He did say that he felt that my heart should be fine and that I just needed to stay dieting and to get some exercise.  He thinks my breathing issues are linked to the weight I have gained and thinks once I loose this weight and get some exercise I will feel better.  He then told me that I was lucky to have my heart injection fraction at low normal.  My last echo last August said that my heart was in the healing process with injection fraction near normal.  Anyway, I went this past Tuesday for another echo and I got the results yesterday.  I am excited to report that my injection fraction was between 50-55% which is low normal.  I have been told that 50-70% is considered normal so I am at the low end but in the range that is normal.  Thanks to God for that!!!  In March of 2006 my injection fraction was between 15-20% which was near critical.  I know that rest, taking the medicine, watching my diet and God’s divine healing has been the contributing factors of my recovery.  I still will be taking the medicine and will return to my cardiologist in six months but it looks like I can return to work but with some restrictions.  I have worked in retail management the past five years but unfortunately I do not feel comfortable in doing a lot of lifting and being on my feet for over 50 hours each week.  In August I will be meeting with an ad-visor who will assist me in finding a job which will be conducive to my physical needs.  It has been a long road the past year or so but it looks like the worse is behind me and now I can concentrate on resuming some normality in my life now.  I just thank the Lord for his healing power on my heart and all the prayers from my family and friends.  This surely is great news to report and I wanted to share this with all of you.  I have gone through a lot this past year or so but it looks like my heart has healed from the infection I got in March of 2006.  A website that has some great information about heart failure is this one:  http://www.chfpatients.com/CHFinfo.htm

Anyway, I know this is the beginning of the healing process.  This story I am sure is still not done but at least it is a positive beginning. 

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MY HEALTH JOURNEY: CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE- A LOOK BACK 2006 PART 2

In part one I gave you an honest look into what took place from March of 2006 to December of 2006 with expressing to you my thoughts and emotions during this time.  I did mention depression and I still struggle with it even now.  Do you need to call the men in white coats???  No, not at all.  At least not yet.  ha-ha.  I mentioned depression because I honestly think I am close to the edge now struggling with it but that does not mean I am going crazy or near a nervous breakdown.  It just means that I am struggling trying to accept  things and what has happened to me the past year.  Hey, I am spiritual just like the next person and believe God to do great things but I am human and also have to deal with my emotions and need to learn to accept what has happened.  The fact is that I do not accept what has happened because I am still in shock that it has taken place.  I know some of you are saying you just have to accept and go on but you have no idea of what I have gone through and what I have experienced the past year.  I came close to death or at least was knocking at deaths door and still could face that fact in the next few years.  I hate what has happened to me at my young age and find no reasoning or explanation good enough for me to accept.  Before all of this I played softball, basketball and other sports, walked the mall several times over at a fast pace, could walk without breathing issues, could carry groceries up the stairs without having to sit down from exhaustion, never had any weight issues till now.  Now I have to start all over and work my way back slowly and that sucks to be honest!!  I hate it!!!  Sorry to be so real in my emotions but this is the honest truth and I know some of you will not like it but before you judge me just imagine your heart not being normal and limiting you.  How would you feel?  You do not know what heart patients go through until you walk in their shoes.  I know now what they feel and never did I imagine the difficulties physically, emotionally and spiritually that are involved on a daily basis.  I now have a true understanding of those who suffer from heart issues and now feel their pain and join in their suffering but the good thing is that I have a chance to live and remain positive to get better.  Anyway, sorry to depress some of you because I know some of you are hoping for a wonderful speech or a great feel good sermon but I do not have a sermon that feels good right now.  Lets continue on.  Well it is near Christmas now and Pam has legal issues at work which put her out of work just before the Holiday so along with my heart issues we now have to deal with legal issues.  Gee, I thought things were suppose to get better but they take a turn for the worse and have been since then.  I will not get into all the legal stuff of this case but as of today Pam is out of work collecting unemployment waiting for a decision on returning to work. This case is in the local courts and it has really taken its toll on both of us.  My fear is that this has affected my heart because  I have noticed breathing issues and other physical issues as well but we remain positive to a resolution on this legal stuff soon but it has dragged on for six months now.  The past six months I have continued to take my medicine and rest not knowing how all the stress has effected my heart but return to see my cardiologist on June 19th.  Since Pam lost her job back in February we loss our medical insurance and now I am not covered by any kind of insurance.  It cost to much to get Cobra and the state will not offer me anything unless I apply for social security but I have hopes of going back to work in a less physical position in the next few months so I will not apply unless my heart has taken a turn for the worse.  I remain positive in spite of everything but honestly know that I feel something is not right in my body.  It could be just the stress I am feeling but I do not know right now.  A positive thing is that I started the Nutri-system diet plan last month and have lost 12 lbs so far on it but need to loose more weight since gaining 30 lbs the last year due to inactivity.  I am doing whatever it takes to make my heart pump more efficient and carrying extra weight is not good for someone with my condition.  In spite of my emotional state I am determined to loose this weight and then some so at least I can begin the slow road back to feeling good again.  I know there are no guarantees and honestly the stats are not in my favor to making a full recovery but my will to live is stronger than my battle with near depression.  So, you do not have to call the men in white coats just yet (ha-ha).   I plan to stay on the nutri-system diet plan until I loose all of my weight but realize the cost of this plan might become an issue.  I am going to try to do what I can to continue on it because it seems to be working for me.  Recently, I have experienced sleeping issues and more breathing issues than before so I really do not know if my body is trying to deal with the stress of everything or that something negative is taking place in my heart.  Next week I will see my cardiologist so I will know more when I see him.  I will tell him my issues and I know he will suggest to stay on the diet and to exercise more but I want to make sure all is still okay.  A fear I have is that my heart could take a turn for the worse but I am not going to dwell on that unless it happens.  I remain positive and know God has the ultimate say on what happens even though sometimes I do not understand or comprehend how it all works out.  The important thing is to do whatever I can do so I can live a long and healthy life but the stats and all the negative things I hear really are not in my favor.  Then I am reminded of others who have had worse health issues than me but they continue to remain positive and live a long life in-spite of the health issues that have taken a toll on their bodies.  My uncle George is an example of someone who lived with health issues all his life.  He had cerebral palsy, was blind and was restricted to a wheel chair most of his life but never complained about his situation but unfortunately passed away in October of 2004.  He was in nursing homes most of his life getting cared for because he could not care for himself but yet showed an inner strength and joy that still to this day is unfounded and remarkable.  His life is a testimony to me and really a role model for me to follow.  If he could be positive then surely I can do the same!!  That does give me hope and peace even though I complain at times but I am human so I do not apologize for that.  Anyway, I wanted all of you to see the human side of someone struggling to find his way through the darkness of life and I must say I am seeing the light ahead of me.  If you are looking for a conclusion to part 2 here there will not be one because this story will continue.  After my appointment next week I will have a better understanding that I can share so there will be more to talk about I am sure.  So for now I hope you understand that I am not wanting people to feel sorry for me but rather I am just wanting people to see how human I really am and the struggles I face on a daily basis.  Congestive Heart Failure is a serious condition that attacks man or woman regardless of age, religion, race, political status, health or any other thing you can think of.  The fact is Congestive Heart Failure kills lives, stresses loved ones and changes families no matter the outcome.  I hope to bring awareness and the need for future research for cardiomyopathy and why healthy people end up with congestive heart failure.  There are no answers for me and why I got this disease because I was healthy and active but now my life has changed big time.  I hope to know more and seek answers that will explain to me the reason for this sickness.   Anyway, this story will continue in the next week because as I still get treated for this sickness I will have more to experience and a lot more to say.  Stay tuned…………

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MY HEALTH JOURNEY: CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE- A LOOK BACK 2006 PART 1

I will break this story into two parts because there is so much to say about it:  Here is Part 1

When you hear about congestive heart failure you automatically assume that this is a health issue for senior citizens or those with heart disease but the honest truth is that congestive heart failure effects people at any age in any physical condition.  In March of 2006 I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy which is congestive heart failure but caused by a viral infection according to my cardiologist.  Anyway, here is my story:

In February of 2006 while working for Advance Auto Parts as an assistant store manager I noticed that I was feeling more fatigued than ever before with breathing issues while working and just your everyday walking.  As a manager I worked through the physical issues I had thinking I was just out of shape and probably had a cold or something so I did not think much of it until it got worse.  While working my 50+ hours each week I found myself leaning a lot on the counters to hold me up since I felt so fatigued and week not really knowing what was going on but others started noticing.  Well my wife insisted I see a doctor and I did go see my family doctor because I had a cold and some congestion.  My doctor said I had a case of pneumonia and gave me some antibiotics to get rid of the congestion so I took them but still was having issues after taking all the medication.  I was still working through this trying to work normal not knowing what was really going on in my body.  I returned to my doctor several weeks later this time to have a chest x-ray and some blood work done and I was told my lungs were cloudy just like the lungs of someone who smokes.  My doctor then said my heart was enlarged and that concerned her so she sent me for further testing which included a cat scan on my lungs and a routine cardiology appointment.  Well i had the cat scan done and now was having a chest echo and EKG done when I was told that the cardiologist on duty wanted to talk to my wife and I.  I thought maybe he just wants to do some other testing but to my surprise that is when my world was turned upside down.  The cardiologist told me I had a serious heart issue and said I had congestive heart failure and that my heart fraction rate was very low and very serious.  He then told me he was going to admit me in the hospital and not let me go home.  Wow!!!!  I told him that I had to work the next morning and he said your job is not important now but you are seriously in danger.  He assured my wife and I that they would take care of me in the hospital and conduct other tests to see what is going on.  Well for three days I was in Olathe Medical Center and felt like a pin cushion with all the blood work they took and I did have a heart catherization done to see if I had blockages in my arteries.  I had normal plague build up for someone my age so they ruled out me having heart disease.  They believe I caught a virus and that this virus went in my body attacking my heart causing swelling and enlarging of my heart due to the damage it had done.  Wow!!!!  I could not believe this was happening!!  I am 37 and have congestive heart failure!  This cannot be right!!  The worse part of my hospital stay was that I had to contact my family living 1500 miles away and telling them what was going on.  Thank goodness my in-laws lived at the time only several hours away and they came to visit Pam and I while I was in the hospital getting tests done.  My cardiologist told me I could not work and put me on several medications so for the next few months my situation looked bad.  I must say that the doctors and staff encouraged me telling me to be positive and that I would eventually go back to work but needed to seriously consider a career change because my position at Advance was too physical for me in my condition.  The next few months I stayed home and took my medicines while resting.  To be honest I started to get depressed and I withdrew myself from the public and started feeling sorry for myself.  I was devastated.  I worked for Advance for several years now and was looking forward to being a store manager again but now I had to face that this could be the end of the line working this type of position. 

Well it was July of 2006 when my last visit to my cardiologist was a positive one and he said that I could return to Advance to see how I could react to the physical demands the job required.  My heart injection fraction was just a little bit under being normal so this would be an experiment because the only way I would know if my body could do the work was to try it.  I did for about a week when I felt chest discomfort and trouble breathing.  I had my wife take me to the hospital to get more testing.  I was then told I had heart palpitations and that maybe my body could not handle the physical requirements of my position.  Again, I was put on short-term disability after this and spent the next few months really discouraged and wondering what kind of future will I have with my heart in this condition.  My long term future with Advance seemed to me to be coming to an end after four years so I inquired about becoming a trainer since I could no longer do the physical part of the position.  Well there was no available positions so therefore I was put on long-term disability since September of 2006 and I am currently still on long-term disability.  I was then released by Advance that month and really grew depressed and secluded myself from the outside world.  I did not feel like exercising and I found myself gaining weight which I have done the past year. Well I stayed home most of the time watching sports, playing playstation and going online just feeling like being to myself in my own world.   I just think it was a normal reaction to what I was struggling with and really did not want to be around people feeling the way I was feeling.  I guess that is just the way I am and have always been.  I am sure others feel the same way like me.  When I am struggling and needing to think and examine things I withdraw from friends and family to look inside myself to try to make sense of things.  Even Jesus secluded himself from others to go and pray but I am sure he also looked inward to take inventory and try to make sense of things.  Well what I came up with while looking inward and trying to make sense of my health issues is that nothing made sense at all.  I was 38 years old with congestive heart failure and just had my world crash around me so I thought during this time.  How could this happen to me????  What did I do to deserve this?  The questions we always ask our-self when struggling or questioning things.  So for months I would only go out with friends occasionally or to church hoping not to deal with these issues because inwardly i was crumbling fast nearing depression.  Yes I said the word which might shock some, depression.   I did take some lexapro, anti depressant medicine,  for a couple of months but that seemed to make me not care about anything which scared me.  Nothing bothered me and I felt like I was on the clouds playing a harp just waiting for life to pass on by literally (ha ha).  I mean working for Advance Auto Parts I felt that I had accomplished much since I was a store Manager for sometime.  I made bonuses, hired staff, endured a store remodel, made friends with other managers, was on the fast track for success and felt that I had arrived.  I felt proud of myself for the first time and enjoyed my work very much although I worked between 50-70hrs each week.  Hey, when you enjoy your job you loose track of hours which I did for nearly nine months but enjoyed the ride while it was good.  I eventually stepped down to become assistant manager again and enjoyed working without all the pressure I had but knew someday I would once again become manager again but that’s when the health issues started.  Before being terminated I hoped for a training position so at least I could feel like I could contribute to the company I worked for four years but unfortunately things did not work out.  This hit me like a ton of bricks because you feel your accomplishments are wasted and that you have to start over from scratch again.  This upset me more than I can say and it still bothers me today.  I guess I have more success in writing what I feel instead of telling how I feel.  It is weird but I guess that is true for me.  Anyway, this is the end of Part 1.  sorry…………

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RAVISHING’S SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION: RAVISHINGLY PUT- PART ONE

WARNING!!  WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READY IS MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY THAT IS FILLED WITH DRAMA, ACTION, INTENSE DIALOGUE, MUCH THINKING, PRAYER AND THE CREDIT GOES TO THE MANY PRAYERS OF THOSE WHO HAVE PRAYED, WALKED AND CHALLENGED ME OVER THE YEARS.   THIS SPIRITUAL JOURNEY WILL GRIP AND CHALLENGE YOU LIKE NO OTHER STORY YOU HAVE READ BECAUSE THIS IS MY STORY OF A GOD WHO HAS SHAPED, MOLDED AND STRETCHED ME INSIDE AND OUT AND OUTSIDE IN.  HIS CONTINUED GRACE, FORGIVENESS, MERCY AND LOVE FOR ME EVEN THOUGH I DO NOT DESERVE IT CONTINUES TO BLOW MY MIND KNOWING HE WANTS A RELATIONSHIP WITH ME.  WHAT A GOD!  NOW, THE STORY BEGINS………………….

 

THE BEGINNING:

I GUESS THAT IS THE BEST PLACE TO START IS TO SAY THAT  I WAS RAISED IN A CHRISTIAN HOME WHICH I AM THANKFUL FOR BECAUSE IT GAVE ME A FOUNDATION OR A STARTING POINT.   I WILL SAY THAT I WAS RAISED AND TAUGHT THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIANITY AS A YOUNG CHILD BECAUSE MY PARENTS TOOK ME AND MY BROTHER AND SISTERS TO AN ALLIANCE CHURCH EACH WEEK. I FIRST LEARNED ABOUT JESUS IN SUNDAY SCHOOL AND IN BOY’S BRIGADE (http://csbministries.org/) WHICH WAS THE CHRISTIAN VERSION OF BOY SCOUTS.  AS A YOUNG CHILD I WAS ALSO TAUGHT THAT JESUS DIED FOR MY SINS AND IF I ACCEPTED HIM AS MY SAVIOR I WOULD HAVE MY SINS FORGIVEN AND GO TO HEAVEN.  WHILE AT A BOY’S BRIGADE MEETING I ACCEPTED JESUS AS MY SAVIOR AND LORD BY ASKING TO LORD TO FORGIVE MY SIN AND COME INTO MY LIFE. THIS TRULY WAS THE BEGINNING OF MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY.

1981-1985

THE JOURNEY CONTINUED BECAUSE DURING THESE YEARS  I WAS INVOLVED IN THE ALLIANCE CHURCH YOUTH GROUP AND IN 1983 A GROUP OF US WENT TO “LIFE 83” IN SPRINGFIELD ILLINOIS WHICH WAS A NATIONAL YOUTH CONFERENCE THAT IS STILL GOING ON EVEN TODAY ( http://allianceyouth.com/events/life-2016/ ). THERE WAS YOUTH SPEAKERS AND MUSIC GROUPS DURING THE WEEK WE SPENT AT “LIFE 83”.  DURING ONE NIGHT ONE OF THE SPEAKERS CHALLENGED THE YOUTH THAT ATTENDED THAT NIGHT TO MAKE A COMMITMENT TO GOD TO FOLLOW GOD’S CALLING IN POSSIBLE FUTURE MINISTRY. I MADE THAT COMMITMENT TO THE LORD DURING THAT SERVICE TO GO AND BE ANYTHING HE WANTED ME TO BE ALONG WITH MANY OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE.  THROUGHOUT MY YOUNG YEARS AT THE ALLIANCE CHURCH MANY OLDER CHURCH MEMBERS TOLD ME THAT GOD SEEMS TO HAVE A MINISTRY CALLING ON YOUR LIFE AND EVEN THE PASTOR AT THE TIME ENCOURAGED ME TO SEEK THAT CALLING.

1985-1989

DURING THESE YEARS MY FAMILY DECIDED TO CHANGE CHURCHES AND DURING THESE YEARS I GOT INVOLVED IN THE YOUTH GROUP THERE AND IT WAS PERFECT TIMING BECAUSE THE ASSEMBLY OF GOD CHURCH WE NOW WERE ATTENDING INTRODUCED A NEW YOUTH PASTOR.  I GREW SPIRITUALLY UNDER HIS DIRECTION AND LEADERSHIP AND BECAME INVOLVED IN THE YOUTH MINISTRY AND THE CHURCH THERE AS WELL.  I  WAS INVOLVED IN BIBLE STUDY’S, PRAYER MEETINGS AND TAUGHT A SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS.  SEVERAL TIMES THE YOUTH PASTOR GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS AT OUR YOUTH GROUP MEETINGS (CALLED THE WAY STATION).  DO NOT KNOW WHAT HE WAS THINKING (LOL).  ALSO, DURING THIS TIME I WAS ELECTED TO THE DEACON BOARD OF THE CHURCH AND GREW IN THAT POSITION BEFORE MOVING TO FLORIDA IN 1990.

I WAS ATTENDING NEW ENGLAND INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY STUDYING HOUSE CARPENTRY AND CABINETMAKING DURING THE YEARS OF 1986-1987 BUT KNEW I WAS NOT CUT OUT FOR THAT LINE OF WORK BECAUSE I TRULY SUCKED AT IT…….LOL……….I SENSED A DEEPER CALL ON MY LIFE AND DECIDED TO LEAVE THE COLLEGE TO THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF MY PARENTS BUT WAS OPEN TO THE LORD’S LEADING IN MY LIFE.  

IN 1988 I MET PAM AND WE STARTED DATING DURING THE YEAR BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP THAT WOULD EVENTUALLY LEAD US TO GETTING MARRIED IN JUNE OF 1989. AT THE TIME I WAS HER SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER AND BOTH OF US WERE INVOLVED IN YOUTH GROUP AND OTHER CHURCH ACTIVITIES.  THEN IN JUNE OF 1988 A GROUP OF US FROM THE YOUTH GROUP  WENT ON A MISSION TRIP TO CANADA.  WE DID SKITS, PREACHED, SANG AND SPENT TIME IN WORSHIP WITH THE CREE INDIANS.  IT WAS A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE BUT I WAS STRUGGLING WHAT I SHOULD DO ABOUT MY FUTURE.

1990-1995

I REALLY STRUGGLED WITH WHAT I THOUGHT WAS A CALLING INTO FULL-TIME MINISTRY SO WITH MUCH PRAYER, ENCOURAGEMENT AND FAITH WE MOVED FROM MASSACHUSETTS TO FLORIDA.  I ATTENDED SOUTHEASTERN COLLEGE FOR FIVE YEARS ON AND OFF DUE TO FINANCIAL ISSUES BUT DID NOT GRADUATE.  HOWEVER, I LEARNED AND GREW SO MUCH IN THE LORD STUDYING AND ATTENDING CLASSES WHICH CHALLENGED MY THOUGHTS FORMING A BASIC THEOLOGY FOR ME TO BELIEVE IN. THE PROFESSORS I HAD WERE AWESOME AND VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE WITH A DEEP RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD.  I GREW FROM THAT EXPERIENCE.  HOWEVER, NOT ALL THE EXPERIENCES WERE POSITIVE AND UNFORTUNATELY THOSE EXPERIENCES GAVE ME A BAD TASTE TO BECOME A FULL-TIME PASTOR IN THAT DENOMINATION.  

DURING MY EDUCATION THERE PAM AND I TOOK A CHURCH PLANTING CLASS AND WE WERE INTRODUCED TO PASTOR TIM WILSON FROM CALVARY CHURCH WHICH WAS NOT PART OF THE COLLEGE’S DENOMINATION BUT A DIFFERENT TYPE OF CHURCH AT THE TIME.  PASTOR TIM SHARED HOW THE CHURCH REACHES OUT TO THE COMMUNITY USING RELEVANT PREACHING, CONTEMPORARY MUSIC AND DRAMA.  WE THEN ATTENDED THIS CHURCH FOR SEVERAL YEARS AND MET SOME WONDERFUL FRIENDS THERE.  I WAS GOING TO DO AN INTERNSHIP THERE BUT THINGS DID NOT WORK OUT AND THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND OUR CONTROL WE ENDED UP MOVING BACK TO MASSACHUSETTS UNSURE OF THE NEXT STEP IN OUR JOURNEY.  I REALLY WENT THROUGH A SEASON OF DOUBTING AND WONDERING IF I WAS REALLY CALLED INTO FULL-TIME MINISTRY.

1995-2000

PAM AND I ARE BACK LIVING IN MASSACHUSETTS AND I TOOK A JOB BACK WITH THE COMPANY I PREVIOUSLY WORKED FOR BEFORE MOVING TO FLORIDA.  DURING THIS TIME WE ATTENDED SEVERAL CHURCHES BUT I WAS NEVER ABLE TO FEEL COMFORTABLE AT ANY WE ATTENDED SO THIS REALLY MADE ME FRUSTRATED QUESTIONING GOD’S CALLING ON MY LIFE. HOWEVER, PAM AND I FINALLY FOUND A SMALL CHURCH AND BECAME INVOLVED IN THE MINISTRY THERE FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS BEFORE MOVING AGAIN BUT THIS TIME TO MISSOURI IN 2000.  THE EXCITING THING ABOUT THIS CHURCH WAS STARTING A SOFTBALL TEAM TO REACH OUT TO THE COMMUNITY AND WATCH SEVERAL OF THE PLAYERS BECOME CHRISTIANS.  I WAS ABLE TO COACH IT FOR TWO YEARS AND MET SOME GREAT PEOPLE DURING THIS TIME AND WE WATCHED THIS CHURCH GROW FROM GOD USING THE SOFTBALL TEAM AS A COMMUNITY OUTREACH.  HOWEVER, I STILL WAS STRUGGLING WITH MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD BECAUSE I REALLY DID NOT KNOW IF I WAS TRULY CALLED TO FULL-TIME MINISTRY.  DURING THE TIME AT THIS CHURCH I WAS ABLE TO BE INVOLVED BUT I SENSED THAT GOD HAD OTHER PLANS FOR ME IN THE FUTURE NOT KNOWING WHAT THOSE PLANS MIGHT BE.  

SINCE I WAS NOT ABLE TO FINISH MY DEGREE FROM SOUTHEASTERN I WONDERED HOW AND WHEN I WOULD EVER FINISH AND PURSUE FULL-TIME MINISTRY.  I ALSO WONDERED DO I REALLY WANT TO FINISH MY EDUCATION AND GIVE UP EVERYTHING FOR FULL-TIME MINISTRY. THIS WAS A MENTAL ONSLAUGHT JUST ABOUT EVERYDAY FEELING THAT I MADE A MISTAKE PURSUING A FUTURE IN FULL-TIME MINISTRY.  DO I REALLY WANT TO BE A PASTOR AND LEAD A CHURCH?  DO I REALLY WANT TO DO THIS?  WITH THE NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES THAT I EXPERIENCED IN FLORIDA AND SOME IN MASSACHUSETTS I REALLY WONDERED IF I REALLY WANTED TO GO INTO FULL-TIME MINISTRY AT ALL.  

2000-2001

WE MOVED TO MISSOURI DUE TO PAM GETTING A JOB TO DIRECT A CHURCH DAYCARE MINISTRY AT A CHURCH IN KANSAS CITY WHERE HER PARENTS WERE INVOLVED IN.  WITH THEIR ENCOURAGEMENT AND GOD’S LEADING WE THOUGHT IT WAS THE BEST MOVE TO MAKE AT THE TIME.  WHILE PAM WAS WORKING I FELT THAT THE LORD WANTED ME TO FINISH MY EDUCATION SO I ATTENDED MID-AMERICA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY FOR ONE YEAR AND GRADUATED IN 2001 WITH A BA IN RELIGION.  I WAS ABLE TO DO A MINISTRY INTERNSHIP AT HEARTLAND COMMUNITY CHURCH WHICH WAS THE CHURCH WE WERE ATTENDING AT THE TIME NOT THE CHURCH THAT WAS PAYING PAM TO RUN THE DAYCARE. HOWEVER, DURING THIS TIME THE CHURCH DAYCARE WAS CLOSED AND SO WAS HER POSITION THAT WE MOVED 1500 MILES FOR OVER A YEAR AGO.  I MUST SAY THIS TIME WAS DIFFICULT FOR PAM, HER PARENTS AND I BECAUSE THERE WAS DIVISION IN THE CHURCH BOARD AND UNFORTUNATELY SOME OF THEM DID NOT ACT LIKE GENUINE CHRISTIANS IN MY OPINION WHICH INCLUDED OUR LANDLORD BECAUSE HER HUSBAND WAS ON THE BOARD THAT VOTED TO CLOSE IT DOWN.  NOT A GREAT POSITION TO BE IN AT THE TIME.  

DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND OUR CONTROL WE MOVED BACK TO MASSACHUSETTS AND PUT OUR BELONGINGS IN STORAGE AND LIVED WITH SOME GREAT FRIENDS OF OURS FOR SEVEN MONTHS BEFORE MOVING BACK TO KANSAS WITH ANOTHER FRIEND WHO OPENED HIS HOME FOR US.  A CROSS COUNTRY MOVE TWICE WITHIN A YEAR WAS NOT WHAT WE WERE PREPARED FOR BUT IT WAS THE BEST DECISION AT THE TIME.  BOTH OF US NEEDED SOME TIME TO HEAL AND ALLOW GOD TO SPEAK TO OUR HEARTS TO SEE WHAT DIRECTION WE NEEDED TO GO.

WILLOWCREEK WEEKEND (NOV 2001)

 WHILE LIVING WITH OUR FRIENDS IN MASSACHUSETTS I APPLIED TO BETHEL SEMINARY AND WAS ACCEPTED TO PURSUE A MASTER’S DEGREE IN MINISTRY. I FOUND OUT THAT I COULD PURSUE A MASTER’S DEGREE WHILE SERVING FULL-TIME IN MINISTRY AT WILLOW CREEK COMMUNITY CHURCH IN BARRINGTON ILLINOIS.  THEY OFFERED A  3 YEAR INTERNSHIP IN WHICH I WOULD BE TRAINED IN VARIOUS MINISTRIES IN THE CHURCH WHILE WORKING ON A MASTERS DEGREE.  THIS SOUNDED LIKE A DIRECTION THAT I FELT THE LORD WAS LEADING ME SO I APPLIED AND WAS ASKED TO ATTEND A SPECIAL WEEKEND AT WILLOW CREEK ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHER APPLICANTS THAT APPLIED FOR THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM.  SO I WENT AND ENJOYED SEVERAL DAYS AT WILLOW CREEK COMMUNITY CHURCH MEETING THE OTHER APPLICANTS AND BEING INTRODUCED TO KEY LEADERS IN THE CHURCH.  I HAD A ONE ON ONE MEETING WITH ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE INTERNSHIP TO SEE IF I WAS ABLE TO DO THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM.  HOWEVER, THE WOMAN I MET WITH FELT THE HOLY SPIRIT TELLING HER THAT IT WAS NOT THE RIGHT TIME FOR ME TO BE IN THE PROGRAM.  SHE MENTIONED THAT WE COULD MOVE IN THE AREA AND SPEND SEVERAL YEARS WITHIN THE CHURCH BEFORE DOING THE PROGRAM.  I WAS SHATTERED AND DISCOURAGED!!!!!!!!  I FELT LIKE MY HEART WAS BEING RIPPED OUT FROM MY CHEST.  I REALLY THOUGHT THIS WAS THE DIRECTION THAT THE LORD WAS LEADING ME BUT OBVIOUSLY IT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE. THE FINAL EVENT OF THE WEEKEND WAS WATCHING AND LISTENING TO BILL HYBELS SPEAK ON GOD’S DIRECTION FOR YOUR LIFE.  I WAS SO MOVED AND TOUCHED BY THE SERVICE THAT IT GAVE ME ENCOURAGEMENT AND DIRECTION TO WAIT ON GOD AND SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN. 

NOVEMBER 2001 (BACK IN KANSAS)

WE MOVED BACK TO KANSAS DURING THIS TIME AS I WAS WORKING FOR AUTOZONE AND THEN PAM FOUND A JOB AS AN ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR KNOWLEDGE LEARNING CORP. AND THEN BECAME THE DIRECTOR WITHIN A SHORT-TIME. DURING THIS TIME PAM AND I WERE INVOLVED IN A GREAT CHURCH AND THEN WERE ABLE TO MOVE INTO OUR OWN PLACE IN SEVERAL MONTHS. 

2002-2007

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