Five Lessons Learned from Chronic Illness: Alisha’s Story
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference virtually from home. This conference taught lessons on everything- from how to take an idea and run with it to new marketing ideas for the published author. During this time, I also connected with other writers through zoom, and we shared how God led us to be writers; these stories not only inspired me to keep writing but I felt led to share them here with you
Growing up, Alisha Scroggins dreamed big just like any other little girls. She wanted to get married and someday serve as a missionary to those in Africa. Scroggins believed in Jesus and thought she had her whole life to look forward to. At 23, she was working as a middle school teacher in the daytime, but also served as a supervisor for a Christian residential school in Grundy Virginia. But after just 2 1/2 years of working there, Scroggins began exhibiting strange symptoms and unusual food allergies. In fact, she even developed hives after eating Chick-Fil-A.
“One freak reaction turned into more and more,” said Scroggins.
It was then that she decided to consult a doctor and was diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation-meaning she was virtually allergic to everything. This limited her diet to only eggs and carrots. Unfazed by the diagnosis, she didn’t take it seriously at first; despite being extremely weak and fatigued, Scoggins did whatever she could to keep her jobs.
“Honestly, I blew it off as being no big deal. Although as it took over more and more of my world and caused me to lose my job by the summer of 2019, I was devastated and definitely felt completely alone,”
Her “New Normal”
From that point on, her lifestyle changed drastically; no longer was she consumed by her outdoor hobbies, instead she remained vigilant about her health doing whatever she could to stay alive. Over the course of the next year, her symptoms began to intensify, seven to several other diagnoses and the decision to insert a feeding tube. Instead of simplifying matters, it only complicated things for Scroggins. These complications included think everything from two blood clots, a pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis several bouts of sepsis as well as other infections. Despite these setbacks, she never gave up hope that God had something bigger in mind for her.
The Near-Death Experience that Changed Everything
As her condition worsened and she found herself hospitalized over 100 times, Scroggins refused to give up and feel sorry for herself. Instead, she discovered solace in her writing; there she was able to make sense of her emotions and everything she experienced.
“It really became a way for me to express all that was going on in my head and heart when I got sick and was in bed/resting so much.” Scroggins said.
She began to take her writing more seriously one day in April 2020. During her stay at the hospital, she coded due to a of her central line. In those few minutes, she had no pulse; however, she felt God speaking to her.
“I remember very clearly God telling me ‘I am not done with you yet’ as I took a big deep breath and came back to life in my body. It was from that experience that ‘Mess 2 Masterpiece’ and really my vulnerability with everything I was going through birthed.”
Five Lessons Learned from Chronic Illness
From then on, she has remained dedicated to her mission – teaching others to search for Jesus in even the darkest of circumstances. She hopes that her story will encourage others not to take a single day in life for granted-because tomorrow is not promised for anyone. Although her experience with chronic illness has been a painful one, she has learned some invaluable lessons:
- Never judge someone else. Always extend grace. So many people are fighting battles we know nothing about
- There is such power in prayer. I could give example after example of how I’ve seen God move in the big and little… He is so personal and intimate.
- God’s purposes and plans may not be in the timing nor look like we expect. He doesn’t require that we understand but just that our hearts are open to Him.
- It’s okay to have emotion and even express that emotion to God. He isn’t scared of us or even our strongest emotions and it produces this beautiful rawness.
- Our purpose and significance isn’t found in a job or relationship, making a certain amount of money or being able to fit in a specific size. Even in bed, God can use us when we surrender all and make the mission of our lives glorifying Him. I’ve come to realize that if one person comes to know Jesus because of me/my circumstance then it was all worth it.