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How Will it End

“Could you not write about this,” Thing1 asked me. I said of course. “At least not until I’ve had a chance to tell people and let it sit for a while.“

He’s told everybody in his small group of friends and larger group of family. He’s had a chance to digest it.

The week before we were supposed to take him to college, we’d gone for his third colonoscopy. I’ve written that I cried a few times after hearing the news, and I remember the doctor looking like she wanted to cry with me as she showed me pictures of his still very inflamed, diseased colon. we discussed moving him to another drug. Then we all, with Thing1 making the final decision about his now adult body, realized that it was time to consider the surgical option that would remove his colon and the disease – and the need to take so many drugs. We went home with our firstborn still planning to go to school on Friday. He was crossing his fingers that the next drug would kick in on Thursday, letting him have one semester before he had major surgery.

We spent Tuesday studying withdrawal and refund policies at the same time we were packing and buying a new set of sheets for the dorm. The Big Guy and I had serious doubts about the safety of sending him off. The drug might work, but five days before he was to become more independent, he was still in danger of having a perforated colon, with his primary need being the regaining of robust enough health to sustain the two operations he’ll need. Finally a talk with my father, a retired but still consulting pediatric gastroenterologist, helped Thing1 process all the risks – some lifelong- of going in September versus the three months of reward.

After the phone conversation he came down to my study to announce that he was going to withdraw, knowing it meant taking a full gap year for his health. For the first time since his first symptoms appeared, he cried. He sat in my easy chair, and I held him like I did when he was still little enough for a kiss on the head fix everything, knowing all I could do was be there to support him right now. he had lost most of his senior year. He had lost most of the summer and his job, and now he had to make new plans as he put college on the back burner for a year.

It’s been almost 4 weeks since that decision, and he’s made us prouder of him than if he had gone to college and made straight A’s for the first time. The first week he started feeling better with the new drug and went to hit a few golf balls at the local park. He test drove a few cars that he could never afford to buy and we would never buy for him even if we could afford to. And after he decompressed for a few days, he started looking for jobs he could do while he was in recovery. By the second week he had three interviews, and at the beginning of this week he had two offers which he is still considering. His surgery is scheduled for the end of October, and he’s started planning how to regain the level of fitness he had two years ago.

We think we have a pretty good idea where our journey with chronic illness is going, But the reality is we don’t know. If the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that anything can happen, and the only thing we can do is support each other and support Thing1. All we can do, when the news is bad or when it’s good is move on because in the end that’s all anybody can do.