Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It doesn't define me.

I have started and stopped this post a handful of times.  People are constantly asking about my story, my health and how I have got to the place I am in my life.  So here it is... Halfway through my senior year I went to donate blood and found out that I had lost about 10 pounds.  At the time I wasn't feeling sick or anything, I just ignored it and continued on.  A few weeks later I started feeling really sick.  I went into my pediatrician (because I was still 17) and he told me I probably had ulcers.  So after getting on some medication I wasn't getting better. Since I was 17 I couldn't see a pediatric GI doctor, but a regular GI doctor wouldn't take me either.  Luckily we have friends in good places who pulled some strings and finally got me into a doctor.  After a bunch of testing and a colonoscopy and endoscopy I was told I had C-Diff, a bacteria in my stomach. I continued to loose weight and was very sick and I couldn't get rid of it.  The majority of people who get this take a medication and it goes away, or they die.  Fast forward 10 months and I finally was told it was gone.  Doctor after doctor have told me they don't know how I survived having it that long.  A few months later I still wasn't getting better, my GI doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong. I spent the last half of my senior year hardly ever making it to school, basically spending all of my days on the couch at my house because I was too sick to leave.  It wasn't the ideal way that someone would want to spend high school. As a senior in high school I already was thin to start, but after loosing over 20 pounds I was classified as anorexic, even though I was eating as much as I could but my body can't absorb anything.  As a girl in high school it rumored that I was anorexic and people just didn't understand that I was sick.  Months went by and still no answers. After being told I could have cancer, I did the whole Huntsman Cancer thing, luckily I didn't. We tried holistic doctors, infectious disease doctors, more testing, many days in the hospital, more colonoscopies, MRI's, scans and more doctors and finally a GI doctor at the University of Utah, a year of being sick with no answers, found out I have Crohns, a gastrointestinal autoimmune disease.  I remember when I got the call when I was sitting at a restaurant in St. George when I was told I have Crohn's.  I remember I kept wishing that wasn't what I had.  I wanted something that they could give me medication and it would go away. This was something that I was going to have my entire life.  It was hard for an 18 year old to hear.  I soon started IV infusions and steroids every 8 weeks, one of the strongest drugs you can get for Crohn's. They can try to treat the symptoms but it would never be completely gone.  Luckily I had amazing family support through all of this and I couldn't have gone through this without my parents and a few close friends. I know it could have been a lot worse of diagnosis, but for me, it was hard.  I felt like I was broken, like I was never going to get better.

I felt like my life was revolving around being sick. I wasn't able to do all the things I wanted to. Throughout this whole process I have tried to remain positive, even though it isn't easy.  I constantly was getting priesthood blessings and I would get frustrated because they never would bless me to get better, it was always that I would have strength and positivity throughout my trials. It became frustrating to me.  But I tried to not let the people around me see that, because I knew it was hard on them, especially my parents.  One night I was praying for some answers. I got the most straight forward answer I have ever gotten, "being sick doesn't define you."  Up to this time I felt like everyone was looking at me like I was the sick one, I was doing it to myself.  I had constantly been telling myself that I was sick and always was going to be and that was how people were going to view me.  I learned that I have Crohn's, and yes I will be sick, but it doesn't define me as a person.  I have learned through my trials that I am not here to be healthy. I am not here to just have fun. I am not here to travel the world. I am here to learn to know Christ, we all are here to come unto Christ. Through my trials I have been able to learn that I am gaining a relationship with my Savior and that is what is important, since I am stubborn sometimes maybe I wouldn't have turned to Christ if I haven't had gone through this in my life. So for that, I am grateful.
A few pictures from my glory days... haha!


This goes to all of the trials in our lives. Whether it is health problems, addictions, family issues, divorce, depression, whatever the trial may be, they do NOT define you as a person.  We are all going to have trials, and they are different for everyone and sometimes it feels frustrating when no one seems to understand. But through our trials we can choose to take it as an opportunity to get a closer relationship with our Savior, and realize we are not alone in this.  That someone else has felt every pain that we feel. That no matter what we are never alone. We are given strength to carry on. Just because I have health problems, doesn't mean I can't be a good mom.  Since I got pregnant I had a hard time with it because I didn't know how I am supposed to take care of a baby if I struggle with my health.  But I have had to tell myself that just because I won't always be able to take my kids to go and do everything all the time, I will be trying to teach them the things that really matter. I can teach them the gospel, I can teach them to be happy, respectful, and loving.
So yes, I am far from perfect but I am not broken. And its now been three and a half years into this and yes, I am still sick but I am trying to do what I can to get feeling better. And I am so grateful for an amazing family, including my amazing husband who goes above and beyond to help me when I am sick. But just because I am sick, does not mean that that is all I am.  I am a wife, mother, daughter, friend, leader, a daughter of God.  So I sit here, in my chair at the hospital receiving my IV, content with my situation.  Because it doesn't define me.

To learn more about my religion go here
To learn more about Crohn's go here


  1. Hi Jessi! This is Cali. :) I don't know how well you remember me, but i used to live in Kaysville and my Grandparent's near your parents until just recently. Anyway, I super appreciate your story. I have been sick for the past two years and have been to so many doctors with still no answers. It seems like we come pretty close to finding the problem but nothing has made me feel better and stay better. I've been told I'm broken. I've seen myself as the sick girl a lot and I think others must too. I can relate in so many ways. It's stinky being sick! I'm not glad you have had and will have so much to go through, but I'm glad you've shared what you're learning and how it's brought you closer to the Savior! I have so much to learn and am grateful when I see people finding answers and hope. :)

  2. Jessi-
    It's been a long time since I was your primary teacher. However, just like those days ten years ago I continue to learn from your example and shining countenance.
    -Bryan "Sherbert" Schuurman

  3. Love this. You're right, you have stayed positive and fun through all your ordeals, and they haven't been small! We love you and are so grateful for your strength and testimony. You are still the "coolest":)!!

  4. Jessi this was amazing!!! What faith and strength you have!! I don't know of any spirit in heaven that would chose a "fun traveling" mom over a faithful, happy and loving mom!! Your sweet baby girl is SO lucky to have you as her mom!! I love you!

  5. You probably don't remember me either, but I was in the single's ward when your dad was bishop. Thank you for sharing your strength! You have such a great attitude, and looking back on those days when I saw you pretty regularly... I don't think I ever would have known that you were struggling with health issues - you were always happy and had a great attitude and I really admire that.
    I have a good friend that was diagnosed with Crohn's in high school and after struggling to figure it out for a few years, he is now one of the healthiest most fit people I know!

  6. You are beautiful inside and out Jessi. Thank you for your example and sharing your story. Love you!

  7. Love, love you Jessi! You really have come such a long way. Even still when your mom or Amy will tell me how sick you've been, when I see you I always have no idea. You are always such a shining light, and radiate happiness. You have never let it define you, and I know you never will! Hopefully you will just continue to improve. Love you!

  8. Love you you cute thing! We still need to get that BBQ planned!

  9. I just got around to reading this. It has been on my to-do list for the past month. What a blessing/example you have been to me throughout my entire life. You are incredible Jess! Love you so much. :)