Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Beginning: Mission in Florida

     Hey everyone! What better place to start, than with the reason for the blog! To get going, we need a little backstory!

     Many of my friends know that I just recently returned from serving an LDS Mission in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had served almost 7 months when I had to return to take care of some medical issues. Soon after I entered the Mexico MTC in July, I developed the normal stomach issues that most new people to Mexico find themselves bogged down with. The only difference is that after arriving in Florida, the problems didn't go away, they actually worsened. Doctors appointments commenced and testing started. After a couple months, the doctors finally found the problem, and infection called Clostridium Difficile or CDiff for short.
     CDiff is an infection that takes over the digestive system causing the infected to become super sick. Typically, it is a bacteria that everyone comes in contact with but doesn't actually cause infection. There are millions of little bacteria (good and bad) that live in your digestive tract so the CDiff doesn't actually get a chance to grow. A serious case of "Montezuma's Revenge" or a broad
spectrum antibiotic will clean out all of the good bacteria and allow space for the CDiff to grow. Don't worry, it's actually pretty rare to get the infection; it is most common among those of the older generation that spend a great deal of time in hospitals or nursing homes.
     Well, I haven't spent time in either place nor do I consider myself to be of a "mature" age =) It turns out that there is a newer kind of super strain of CDiff that they are calling "Community CDiff" It's still pretty rare but it is infecting healthy young adults. It also seems to be stronger since it doesn't have to clean out the good bacteria first, it just takes over. This strain has an even stronger hold making it tougher to get rid of.
     The tricky thing with CDiff is that it is pretty tough to get rid of and it has a high recurrence rate. There is actually a list of steps to do when the treatment fails. The first time, they give you this medication; the second a different; the third in a different way and so on. After you "beat" the CDiff, you are on a constant watch and almost a fight to keep it away. The reason it is tough is because the infection will create a kind of "shell" around it that keeps the medication from killing it. Instead, the meds will keep it from reproducing and growing and you hope that the existing infection will die off during that time. After treatment, you can feel really good and think you're over it but then it will come back in a month or so.
     There was actually a good month that I felt I was over it, but it came back worse. After three failed attempts at treatment and over a quarter of my mission spent sick in bed, the mission decided to send me back home to receive the rest of treatment and make sure I don't have another recurrence before I return back to serve as as Full Time Missionary, inviting others to come unto Christ!

     So here is the purpose for the blog! I don't share that whole story as a cry for attention or pity; in fact, I can honestly admit that on the mission, you don't even think about the fact that you are sick. You just keep trucking along and find great joy in what you are doing. I have never been happier in my life! Sick or not, I loved it! That is where this blog comes in. If I learned anything on my mission so far, it is to find the awesome, the amazing, the wonderful in whatever you do. No matter how hard or discouraging something seems to be, you can always find awesomeness in it! That is what I hope to do, to share the amazing experiences that occurred, continue to happen, and will come for we can always find joy in the journey. Just as President Thomas S. Monson said, "Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family." (Finding Joy in the Journey - President Thomas S. Monson Nov. 2008 Ensign)

     Throughout all of this, I have learned that God has a plan for us. I remember talking with a man that told me that he believes that God created the world and us in it, then left it on its own -- that God doesn't intervene, speak, or deal with man. I'm glad that we do have the freedoms to believe and think what we want but I couldn't ever believe that. I have seen the workings of God in my life and I know that He is there. He never leaves us alone. Everything that happens is part of a great plan. "All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." (Doctrine & Covenants 122:7)