Maddie’s Story: Finding Hope in the Struggle

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This week I have been reflecting a whole lot on how much life can change in just 2 years. On this day exactly 2 years ago I was laying in a hospital bed in the ICU at Phoenix Children’s Hospital fighting sepsis, which meant that my own blood was poisoning my body. I had just moved back to Arizona on my own and was working on navigating this new phase of life and all of the accompanying ups and downs. I was terrified that I couldn’t beat sepsis. It felt like my body was shutting down. I experienced so much unconditional love from family and friends who covered me and my family in prayer and support that week.

This life has been quite the rollercoaster from the very beginning. I was born 2 1/2 months early with fluid on my brain and without my right eye. I have been battling really bad anxiety, depression and an eating disorder for about 7 years now. I found out that I had POTS in 2016 which meant a lot of passing out and concussions because my body couldn’t compensate when I would stand up. I then discovered I had a paralyzed stomach which led to me being fed with tubes and through my veins for over a year. Then about a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease which has included IV treatment therapy on a regular basis. I still have a central line port in my chest which is used for IV treatments, and a pacemaker in my stomach to help me be able to eat. I have spent the past 7 years in and out of the hospital, from blood infections to surgeries.

The hope was that all of the medical interventions would at some point be helpful and provide relief. The one thing I can tell you is that it did and that it does have a purpose, and things are slowly getting better. Everything in the last 22 years that has led up to this point happened for a reason. All of the pain, heartache and the struggle has a purpose greater than I might ever truly understand. I grew up going to church with my family but never felt like I really had a true personal relationship with God. When all of the medical chaos started about 7 years ago, I felt lost, angry that I couldn’t understand how a loving God could allow pain and suffering, not just for me, but for all of the people that I have met along the way who are struggling too. I didn’t understand why it often felt like it was one thing after another. When I was struggling, so many amazing people came into my life that walked alongside me and encouraged me in my faith and in the hope that I have today. I would never have had the perspective that I do on faith and what it means to me personally if I didn’t go through that experience.

It has been a gradual process of slowly being able to see the beauty and hope that can only be seen when you are in the depths of struggle. I see the beauty in the relationships I have made when we related to each other based on the things we were going through. I see hope in the progress that has been made over 2 years, and that the last time I was inpatient hospitalized was in April 2019! I am now able to eat with a lot less pain, which I am so thankful for because that was never a guarantee. I see hope in being able to travel to see family and being able to laugh more in 5 days than I have in a really long time. I see hope in being able to find some stability and finally start working on my degree and start taking classes again. I see a lot of hope in being able to look back at the past 7 years and know that I am so grateful for these little, but impactful things that have come from pain.

I promise there is even good coming out of COVID-19. It has encouraged us to be more caring, kind, and thoughtful to those around us. It has helped us slow down in some ways and spend quality time virtually and now gradually in-person with people we love. It has pushed us to be thankful for even the little things and to never take things for granted. It has even reminded us of the importance of covering our cough/sneeze and how to wash our hands 😉

My life is so far from perfect. I continue to struggle and am still sick. I still experience pain. Even still, I am so incredibly thankful because I have a good perspective on what hope continues to mean in my life. I have great peace in knowing that even if I am never “cured,” it isn’t for nothing. This life isn’t made to be perfect, it is how we find the purpose in the imperfect.