Wednesday, February 7, 2018

√Čl vive, mi amigo fiel!





I am friends with people from various religious backgrounds. We’ve been known to discuss our beliefs and disbeliefs in depth. We aren’t afraid to ask each other what we believe in. At times, we carry on intense conversations about our religious journeys. We aren’t afraid that we are going to offend another person because we all go into the conversation with an open-mind. We respect each other and the beliefs we all hold. We don’t talk down or ridicule each other based on what/who we choose to worship. We are adult in our conversations and don’t talk down on each other. We don’t worry about hurting feelings or seeming better for our beliefs. We are all still friends when the topic of religion ends. We don’t feel ostracized or insulted.

Today, I want to tell you what I believe. I’m not going to go into terribly great detail, as some of the things I believe in, in terms of religion, I hold sacred. I feel inspired however to share with those who will read this, my true beliefs. I’ve done so in the past and have received nothing but positivity about my words. Tonight, I ask that you respect me as much as I’d respect you if I were reading about your beliefs.

I’m choosing to focus this post on the things that I believe in, instead of those that I don’t. It’s our beliefs that connect us. I feel that feelings of mutual disbelief only cause contention to build in our hearts.  

I believe in Jesus Christ. He is my Savior. He is my redeemer. He is my advocate with the Father. He suffered, bled, and died so that I would be able to return to the presence of God. He paved the way for us to be resurrected by rising from the dead himself. He is our elder brother. He knows our desires and wants. He knows us better than anyone else. He loves us with the purest heart. He is the light in the darkness. He is the truth that will set us free. He is The Christ.

I believe Christ. His words ring true to me every time I read them in the scriptures. His voice echoes in my head as I study his sermons. He spoke the truth. He wants us to become like Him. He wants to be there for us. He spoke of being perfect like Him and He wants to helps us accomplish that. Through studying His words, we can know exactly what we need to do to become perfected in Him. As I’ve engrossed myself with those things that He spoke, I find a peace in my heart. I find a joy that is incomprehensible. My days seem less burdensome as I learn the things that He spoke. There is true power in words, and especially in His.

I believe that God is our loving Heavenly Father. He is the father of our spirits. He watches over us, guiding our path that will one day return us to Him. He sent His son to die for our sins because he loves us. He wants to know us. We are His sons and daughters. As I look at the world around me, from how it was created to the things that encompass its surface, I find evidence that there is a God. We feel His presence as we pray. When we pour our hearts out in faithful prayer to God, he fills our spirits with peace and joy. He wants us to tell Him about our day, our desires, are goals, and our fears. He wants to comfort us when we are feeling lonely and offer advice when we might be heading in a wrong direction.

God has inspired both men and women to lead and guide us back to Him. But, I believe we all have it within us to feel inspired from God. We can receive personal revelation that will guide our lives. The Heavens are not closed. Through special and sacred experiences that I have had, I know that angels are among us, helping us through our darkest hours. They inspire us to be better people. They teach us to be humble and prayerful. God is definitely on the move and his words are spreading throughout the world. His mission is to bring us back to Him. He wants us to spread the message of peace and love that was taught through Christ. He wants us to preach the Gospel of Christ from every roof top, until our voices give out and we can speak no more. He wants us to love our neighbors, our friends, family members, and our enemies. He wants us to help the old and sick, the poor and needy, and the rich and greedy. He wants us to be willing to give the shirts off of our backs and the food from our table if someone truly needs it. He wants us to spread the love that He offers to us.

God doesn’t want us to forget about Him. He wants us to thank Him for the things that He has given to us. He wants us to be humble and to acknowledge that through Him we have received all of the good things in this world. He also wants to bless us. He wants to provide us with all that this world has to offer. He’s instructed us to learn all that we can from the world that He created. He didn’t create it so we’d sit at home and watch TV every day. He wants us to be outside exploring the vastness that surrounds us. He wants us to get our feet dirty, to smell the sweet scent of wildflowers, to climb the tallest mountains, and explore the deepest caves. He wants us to accept every opportunity that we have to learn and grow. He gave us this life so that we could live, not just survive.

The scriptures are true. If we read them we will be protected from the things of this world that try and harm us. They are shield and protection for us. I’ve personally learned, albeit the hard way, that reading the scriptures provides and armor that blocks out the things of Satan. They teach us to how to rely on Christ and they give us the motivation to do so. The scriptures are self-help book full of wisdom and truth.

Satan is real. He tries every day to wrap his chains around us to drag us down to hell. He tempts us to do things that are contrary to the words of God. He wants us to be as miserable as he is. He wants us to suffer. He was cast out of our Heavenly Fathers presence and wants that we never return to it either. He is the purest form of evil. He’s cunning and sly. He makes terrible things look good. I’ve found that the closer I get to The Savior the stronger Satan’s hold on me becomes. He wants us to stay weak and sad. He wants us to feel dejected and unloved.

God loves us all. He wants us to do the best we can with the things that He has given to us. I know that this was a very generic version of my beliefs but like I said in the beginning, some of the things that I believe in are sacred enough that I don’t want to share them on here. I know my Savior lives. I know that God is my Heavenly Father. I know it and am truly grateful that I have that knowledge.

-Jer


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Blood-Soaked Fingers and Paper

The following is not something that I share lightly. It makes me feel very vulnerable. I only share it in hopes that it might help someone else. There are people all over the world suffering in silence. They walk around with smiles on their faces but pain on the inside. They don't want to seem like a burden to others so they trap this pain, whether it be physical or not, deep within themselves so that they don't have to bother anyone. I'm comfortable enough to publicly share these very personal things with others. I'm not looking for sympathy or special treatment. I only hope that through my experience others will know that they aren't alone. We never know what is going on in other peoples lives. Please, be kind.


**DISCLAIMER**

This is a very raw and emotion filled experience. I describe things in a way that may or may not make someone feel uncomfortable. I'm blunt and descriptive. You have been warned.

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 I had been in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) for about six hours when I found myself sitting in a bathroom stall, hunched over as my body revolted in unidentifiable pain. It shot through my stomach, searching for a way to escape from inside of me. I sat there, listening as little drops of blood landed in the water, making that “ping” sound a dripping faucet makes when water leaks into a sink. It felt like my anus was spitting out the blood in little drops. I could only akin it to the feeling your lips have when you spit water out of your mouth in a tiny stream. “What the hell is wrong with me?” I thought, as I dyed the toilet water a nice fruit punch color.

I didn’t tell anyone my problem. It was foreign to me and I knew that if told someone I’d end up going home. I can’t begin to address all of the thoughts that streamed through my head but none of them seemed more important as not going home.  As a young Mormon missionary, the last thing you want is to be told you can’t go on your mission. It seemed like the most important thing for me to do was to pretend like everything was okay. I kept it hidden from everyone. It was my own little secret that I hoped would just go away. 

Eventually, it did stop for a while and I tried to move on with my mission. I wanted to forget that the little episode had ever happened but it was hard. I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to about it. I was embarrassed. A guy shouldn’t be bleeding out of his butt and I was sure I’d be made fun of for it. Also, even though it had gone away I knew that if I told someone I’d be sent home. I did not want to go home.  

This freedom lasted for eleven months and then one morning, almost as if a dam deep within my colon had ruptured apart, a torrent of blood flooded the toilet bowl. I sat there trying to stop the flow from coming. It soaked through every wad of cheap toilet paper I crumpled up and used in order stop the onslaught of gore. I wiped and wiped, my hand becoming drenched in rich metallic blood, the sticky secretion gluing toilet paper onto my fingers. When I’d pull my hand from the disaster, droplets of deep red would stream down my fingers, leaving little trails in their place. I slowly began to be light-headed and stopped everything I was doing. Placing my head against the wall, I listened as the blood, which was now only dripping, fell into the toilet with a “ping”.  An iron-rich smell permeated the room when I was finally able to stand up, clean the caked blood and crusted paper off of my hands, and walk out. This time it was different and I knew that I couldn’t keep it a secret anymore. I told my mission companion, who told my Mission President, who did what I didn’t want him to do. He sent me home.

I was very nervous when I first went to a doctor. I didn’t know what to expect. I had both of my parents with me, which was awkward. They knew what was going on but not to what extent. I sat on the observation bed, the paper crinkling underneath me. My stomach hurt and all I wanted to do was lie on the floor. I had grown accustomed to lying there when I didn’t feel well. The hard surface provided resistance to my stomach and I found that when I was in pain, the harder the surface the better. I sat there though, on the crunchy paper, pretending that everything was okay.

When the doctor walked in I lied. I told him about the pain. I mentioned that it felt like my stomach and intestines were having a sword fight. I mentioned how it took my breath away. I failed to go into detail about the blood. I don’t know if it was the fact that my parents were in the room or that this issue actually did exist, but I wouldn’t tell him what was slipping out of me every day. He ordered an endoscopy and a colonoscopy to figure out what the sword fight was all about. I felt hopeful that something would finally happen.  

I’d like to say that I went to the doctor, found out what was wrong with me, and everything got better. I’d love to say that everything went back to normal and I moved on with my life. I’d like to say all of that but it would be a lie. I did see a doctor. I saw several. Each one more concerned with the stomach pain than the faucet that drenched my underwear if I wasn’t careful. I’d go to the doctor. I’d tell them that the pain shooting through my stomach would reach up into my head, shock my vision and thoughts for just a second, and then travel back down past my stomach and escape through my feet. I’d tell them that this pain was associated with a constant trip to the bathroom to relieve a pool of blood that waited impatiently in my rectum. They were always more concerned with the pain and gave me drug after drug in order to help it. 

It was at this point that I started down the road to many appointments and many inconclusive results. I had MRI and CT scans done on my head and stomach. I had urine and fecal samples analyzed. The doctors checked my prostate, my allergies, and my pancreas. They made sure nothing was wrong with my thyroid or lymph nodes. I even had an ultrasound done on my scrotum. They didn’t want to rule out anything. I sat on a table with my balls exposed. The young female ultrasound tech was very professional and didn’t seem to mind having to run a machine over a man’s sack. All of this was done in search for answers. It was like I was a question being posed to a group of scientists and they were all trying to take a shot at answering me. It wasn’t until three years after I started all of this that I said no more, and I walked away from the doctors.

Shortly before Melissa and I got married, I had a roommate who took the time to notice that I wasn’t always feeling my best. He’d find me laying on the floor moaning. He’d smell the metallic odor in the bathroom when I was done and wonder what it was. He’d sit with me, asking if I needed anything. He took me to the E.R. one night when he felt like the pain was too much for me to bear. We sat together in a triage room, listening to a doctor yell at me for not remembering the last time I went to a doctor for this issue. I told him that I had stopped going because the doctors weren’t helping. I don’t know if he felt like his integrity was on the line, but his little face turned very grinchy and he let me know that if I had continued treatments then maybe it would be figured out. He sent me home with some narcotics. I was glad to take them as it would help me forget this moment. 

I couldn’t bear to feel for something that wasn’t giving me any answers. There were nights that I would cry myself to sleep because I was in so much pain and figured it was never going away. I got depressed. I started hoping that I wouldn’t wake up the next day. I’d pray to a God that I had stopped believing in that my life would just end. I was ready to die. Melissa and were married at this point. She didn’t understand why I’d curl up and sleep on the floor. She felt abandoned by me when I’d choose it over her. We’d fight. She would worry. She felt like I wanted to leave her. I didn’t want to leave her. I wanted to leave the pain. When I could no longer bear to watch her cry I wrapped the feelings I had towards this unidentifiable issue in a box and put it in the attic in my head.

It was year six of our marriage when I began to discuss with Melissa the problems I was facing. I had kept it a secret for so long that I didn’t think that anyone needed to know. I’m sure it was obvious when she’d do the laundry and see the giant stains in my underwear but she never said anything. It wasn’t until I showed her the gruesome site that she became concerned. I pulled out my phone and took a picture of the blood that covered my pointer and middle fingers from the tip to the knuckle. There was so much blood on those two fingers that it was dripping from them and into my palm, leaving a trail of crimson as it moved. I wrote the caption, “it smells like steak, wanna try?”, and sent it to her. She was at the door within seconds, pleading for me to go to the hospital.

A new tradition started at that point. Whenever I’d have a butt blood day I’d send her a picture of the brutality. I made a peace sign once, blood surging from my finger and down to my wrist. On another day, I held my appendages up to my nose and sent her a picture of me pretending to bask in the iron perfume. There was a moment when little clots of dark blood decided to join the rush of liquid. I had blood clots stuck on my entire hand and decided to take a picture while I pretended to lick them off. 

One night I found myself curled up on the bathroom floor in tight little ball. Melissa sobbed as she stood over me. She thought that I was dying. She leaned down and embraced me tighter than she ever had before. She wanted me to know that she was there for me. She wanted to take it all away. The pain was so excruciating that I couldn’t stand. It felt like something was inside of my stomach trying to claw its way out of me. It felt like little teeth chomping on my gut, feasting on the intestines. Melissa continued with her embrace as I screamed out, “it hurts, it hurts”. She felt helpless. She had the phone in her hands, ready to call an ambulance. I told her no. I told her that this was normal for me. She insisted. I told her that it would pass. “You can leave if you need to”, I spoke through my gritted teeth. She stayed, feeling defeated. She held onto me as I wept. 

My entire stomach was moving like a roller coaster. Melissa told me that it looked like something was literally inside of me trying to push its way out. I started throwing up so hard that the pressure in my face made me look like I had two black eyes. As the pressure grew, the capillaries around my cheeks, eyes, and forehead burst under my skin, causing blotches and red spider webs to spread across my face. I couldn’t get any oxygen in because of the amount of vomit, bile, and blood that were protruding out of my mouth. I was suffocating. My tonsils grew so big that they blocked my airway and I passed out. When I woke up the whole process began again. Melissa watched as I threw up so hard that a few of the pores in my head burst, causing blood to trickle down the side of my face. She felt helpless. She cried. She told me that she never wanted to see me go through this again. She made an appointment for me to figure out what was wrong.

She held my hand as the nurse put the IV into my arm. I was being prepped for another double scope. She was nervous and shook as she held my hand. I assured her that everything would be fine. She was convinced I had cancer. She thought that they were going to tell her that I was dying. She didn’t want to lose me. When they wheeled me away she told me that she covered her face and cried. 

The procedure room looked like a biology lab on a college campus, except everything was sterile. There were little wooden desks surrounding all four corners of the room and white drawers and cupboards hanging off the walls. In the middle of the room, several black tubes shot down from the ceiling, stopping in the midair. This is where they wheeled my bed. The doctor shook my hand and asked if I had questions. The only thing I made sure to find out was that they weren’t going to use the same scope for my mouth as they did for my butt. 

The 12 years that have passed are a blur. I’ve sat down to try and write out the experience but can never fully express what has been happening. I walk around every day hoping that when I visit the porcelain goddess I won’t see blood-soaked underwear. I pray to the butt blood Gods that the fruit punch won’t be thin enough to soak into my pants. I wear a side bag in order to cover my backside just in case it has. I always check the seat after I’ve sat down for a while to make sure there is not stain. I wear shorts long into winter as a precaution. They tend to sit looser on my waist than pants. Pants squeeze my insides enough to make me feel like I’m leaking. I spend far too much time in the bathroom. I sit on the toilet wiping until I feel justified that nothing will drip down my legs. The first thing I do when I enter a building is seek out the restroom. I want to know where it is in case I have to stop what I’m doing and run. I will walk to several bathrooms until I find one that is completely empty. I don’t like to enter a stall if someone is sitting in the next one over. These rituals take time but they are worth it. I try everything that I can to save myself from the embarrassment of having to explain to someone what is going on.   

I live in a constant state of wonderment. I wonder when the next painful episode is going to happen. I wonder how long it’s going to last. I often wake up in the middle of the night, barely making it to the toilet at times. When I wake in the morning I wonder two things: Why do I feel like I’m going to throw up and why did I wake up. I hate living like this and wish that I finally had an answer. I hide my pain through my humor but sometimes it’s written all over my face. I’ve learned that you can’t always hide something that wants to be seen.

-Jer