This blog post is a letter to my younger self. To that younger me, when my crazy beautiful health journey started. You are welcome to join me on this journey.
Dear 2002 Todd,
Hello 2002 version of myself. You are about to start a crazy beautiful journey. Today, you cannot see the beauty. At this moment, you are in shock. You and your bride are trying to process everything the doctors have told you. Did that doctor really say I could be in a wheelchair in five years? Or worse. How could this be happening? So many questions. You are definitely not seeing the beauty at that moment. But hold on. The journey is just starting. You have no clue what a journey it will be. That is a good thing. You would not be able to handle it. Your life is going to change dramatically the next 17 years. Yes, 17 years. And counting. Just a quick side note. Everything is going to be okay. I promise.
Yes, the journey will be a long one. But hey, it’s 2019 and your still not in a wheelchair or worse. Oh by the way, you and Laura also fired that doctor. You two will get pretty good at being patient advocates. And not just for yourself. That will be one of the blessings birthed out of your journey. Believe me, you are going to add a lot of job titles to your resume the next 17 years. You will also become a Runner, Abolitionist, Missionary and a Speaker. Just to let you know, you will not be paid financially for any of those titles. Those will all be passion projects. And guess what? You will love it! But in 2002, you cannot even imagine how God could use your journey. That is a good thing. You would be overwhelmed by it all. At this moment, you are just trying to get back to a normal life. You will experience many “new normals” along this journey. Those will be tough to understand, but God will walk you through it. You and God are going to have some amazing conversations at 1am over the next 17 years. You might not appreciate those 1am discussions at first, but you will come to cherish them. I promise.
Hey 2002 Me, this journey is not going to be easy. Your body is going to be beat up beyond what a person can take. But remember you serve a God who is bigger than any storm you will face. There will be times you will doubt that, but God will still be faithful. I promise He will never leave or forsake you. In those dark moments you will face over the next 17 years, God will constantly remind you of His loving presence. Remember those 1am conversations with God I told you about? Those conversations will help you get through those dark moments.
I am going to let you in on a little secret. During this crazy beautiful journey, you are going to be blown away by your bride. Laura is going to become a total rockstar. You have no idea how strong she is. But believe me, you will be blown away by her strength and love for you. Do not ever take her for granted. Do your best to love her well. Your marriage will become stronger during this journey. You will see other relationships crumble under the pressure of health issues. So make sure to thank God for your bride every morning.
The 2002 version of yourself, is also going to be blown away by the friends that are going to walk beside you during this journey. You have no clue how loved you are. I am not joking. There will be multiple times over the next 17 years, you will face death. During those moments, you will have people from around the world praying for you. You will have so many friends surrounding you and Laura during this journey. You will learn the meaning of true friendship along this journey. Sometimes those lessons will be hard because some of your friends will walk away during the journey. Don’t worry, God will help you during those tough moments.
During your journey, God is going to bless you with a beautiful medical team. They will become like family. They will save your life on more than one occasion. Make sure you always treat them with love and respect. Because you will learn first hand how hard they work.
You cannot see it now, but there is going to be this thing called Social Media that will explode upon the scene. You will reject it at first. A lot of people will. But you will come to embrace it. You will not only embrace it, you will use it to tell your story and encourage others. Oh yeah, your story. Let us talk about that.
You will go from not wanting anyone knowing about your health issues, to sharing your story with the world. Guess what? You and Laura will even write a book about your journey. I know! You of all people will write a book. And your mom will not be the only person buying a copy. Your story is going to encourage so many people. Promise me you will never think the story is about you. Make sure you always give God all the praise and glory. Promise.
There will definitely be some sad moments along the way. You and Laura will both lose a parent during this journey. I promise God will get you through those tough moments. I pray you take the time to properly grieve during those times. Do not be afraid to asked for help when needed.
There will be some amazing moments during your crazy beautiful journey. You and Laura will decide to truly embrace each day. You will learn to love well. You will learn to think outside of the box. You will be forced to step out of your comfort zone more than once. You and Laura will take adventures that you are only dreaming about right now. You will be given the incredible gift of truly thriving in life.
Dear 2002 Todd, this journey will not be easy. Part of me is sorry about everything you will face the next 17 years. But a bigger part of me is so excited to see everything you are going to experience. The person you will become. Do not get comfortable with the 2002 version of yourself. In the next 17 years, you will not recognize him. And that is a good thing. I promise all the pain and loss is going to be worth it. Just keep your eyes on God and see what He is going to do. Plus you are going to get some really cool nicknames. Enjoy the ride!!!
Todd “OC” Shoemaker 2019