TESTIMONY BY CAROL BRYANT
SURFING THE WAVES OF LIFE – WITH A PURPOSE
Have you every sat on the beach, or in a high rise building, and watched the waves as they roll in and break on the beach, or further out to sea. Some humongous and frightening in size and challenge, and others small enough to ride with caution, but still have fun.
I’m not a surfer, but if you’ve ever watched surfers go out to “catch” the waves, you’ll notice they go out there with a purpose, not just to drift in the calm waters, but to challenge the big waves with respect and endurance, and then enjoy the exhilaration of their success.
The pattern of our every day lives is very similar, with highs, lows, and sometimes even breaking through to calm waters. All measured by the way in which we live our lives. The choices we make, the things we say and do, the way we react or deal with different situations and circumstances.
I would like to share some of the waves in my life, and how by the grace of God, I have managed to ride them, and find purpose.
I was born and raised in the good old southern suburbs of Johannesburg. Blessed with wonderful parents and family. I was however ill from the day I was born, and eventually at the age of two, I was diagnosed with the disorder which was then known as Fibrocystic disease of the Pancreas – now more commonly known as Cystic Fibrosis.
Basically, C.F. is a genetically inherited disorder, affecting mainly the pancreas /digestive system, lungs and sweat glands. Usually diagnosed in infancy, it is life threatening, and to date there is not cure. Many children diagnosed with CF do not reach adulthood. My parents were told my prognosis was “uncertain”
Now at age 49, and some change, I am believed to be ONE, of the oldest surviving patients still living with the disorder in S.A. Whilst this by no means makes me special, it does highlight just how blessed I am, and how much I have to be thankful for.
Having said that, it has not been an easy journey, and my life has been a series of highs and lows health wise, and more so, as an adult.
I have been in and out of hospitals, more times that I care to remember. In fact I should have shares in Entabeni and Westville Hospitals by now, so next time you go there, mention my name, you may get a good bed.
I am on first name terms with many Drs. and nurses at both hospitals. At this point I usually insert my own IV lines, administer my own meds, and monitor my diabetes, during hospital admissions.
Living with CF can be, emotionally, physically and financially draining
- On going infections weaken immune system and resistance, resulting in low energy levels
- Medical Bills even with Medical Aid – well I won’t even go there.
- Treatment is both costly and time consuming
- R12000 to R15000 p/m, p/patient (conservative estimate)
- Daily physio, nebulising, breathing on a daily basis.
At this point in my life, no two days are the same. Some days I can spring out of bed and be full of the joys of life, other days, I can hardly get out of bed, but it is on those days that I make sure I do.
I choose not to dwell on the negatives. God never promised us a problem free life. We all have a cross to bear, mine just happens to be CF. CF however is not the be all and end all of my life. I prefer to see it as a means to learn, grow and help others. THEREIN LIES PART OF MY PURPOSE!
I truly believe that it was part of God’s plan for my life, although it took me too many years to realize it. Before I did, I thought I could do it on my own. WOW! Was I wrong.
Reading “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren, confirms so clearly that God has a special purpose for each of our lives. We just have to be open to recognize and make the best of it.
In 1985, I was offered a transfer from JHB to Durban. I was working as a sales rep at the time, and gladly accepted the opportunity. I was in an unhealthy relationship, and, I was in total denial of C.F.
Little did I realize, that by accepting the transfer, my next blessing was staring me in the face. About a year or so after moving to Durban, I moved into a commune. There I met my knight in shining armour, and now, my husband and best friend Mark. I was also blessed with an amazing extended family of in-laws.
Our love for each other, and decision to marry, were unquestionable, but we still had to deal with the reality, the facts on hand, bearing in mind that at this point we were still trying to do things in our own strength.
- probability of shortened life span
- possibility of no children of our own – we both love children
- financial impact
- the fact that CF is not an individual journey, but very much shared.
By the grace of God, and against all odds, we were married on June 1st 1990. A truly memorable occasion.
Two and a bit years later, we were further blessed with a little boy to raise as our own. A little boy who at 2 yrs, 8 months, came along with his own set of challenges. It was through Josh, now 18, that Mark and I found our way back to God, and for the right reasons. In hindsight, I believe it was God’s way of saying – it was about time.
God has thrown many a curved ball at us over the years, C.F. and other, but He has also always been there for us when we have fallen short of figuring them out.
Living with a disorder, and a child with special needs is challenging, and definitely builds character.
Part of that character building, is to be able to laugh, to see the funny side of difficult situations.
Mark one Sunday was reading the papers, when he noticed an advert for a dog. We were keen on getting a dog, so he phoned. The owners were re-locating. The lady explained that whoever took the dog, needed to understand that it had a pancreas problem. “No problem” said Mark, so does my wife, they can share medication”
Acceptance and knowledge help to understand and deal with the difficulties of C.F. I have tried wherever possible to keep up to date with medical advances. I am also actively involved in both the KZN and S.A. Associations.
A few years ago, I decided to put my knowledge in writing, and what started out as a therapeutic exercise, turned into what I call my “God Inspired book”. Three weeks before going to print, I had no title, no ending and no funds. I prayed about this “book” and before I knew it, I had a title, I had an ending, and what’s more, I had a sponsor.
My book – “Behind the Smiles” Our journey through life with Cystic Fibrosis has sold many more copies than anticipated. The glory however is not in the number of copies sold, but in the amazing people I have met along the way. Many of who, have influenced my life. As a result of my book, I have been able to fulfill a part of my dream, .. to become a Motivational/Inspirational speaker. This came about as a result of my being “re-trenched” on medical grounds, after holding the position of Regional Branch Manager for a Top Brand Hardware Manufacturer, for 12 years.
Support is imperative, and I am blessed with support in abundance, in my life with C.F., and in general.
Living with CF has enriched my life. It has opened doors of opportunity, built true friendships, boosted my confidence, memorable travel journeys, ability to council others in need, respect life and be humble, but more importantly, by God’s grace I have found Purpose in my life.
I give thanks daily, on the good days and the not so good.
God and I have a great relationship. Because he made me human, I do get anxious, frustrated, even scared sometimes, and I let him know too, but I can honestly say that I have never been angry, at having CF.
God has spared me for many extra years, and given me a great life. A Life with a Purpose.
Reality tells me that my health is and will continue to deteriorate, and I accept that, but it does not mean I’m ready to give up. In fact, I have my foot firmly on the brakes, but I am also not afraid to die. I know that when my times comes, I will be with God, and He with me. Until then, I will continue to surf the waves.
At the end of the day, in the big sea of life, C.F. is a small wave to those who don’t know any better, and a big wave to those of us who do.
MY PRAYER FOR EACH AND EVERYONE READING MY TESTIMONY,,IS THAT YOU SURF THE BIG WAVES WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT, AND ENJOY THE CALMNESS OF THE SMALLER ONES, AND FIND PURPOSE IN ALL.
My motto, you may want to share:
Learn and grow from yesterday, live, love, laugh and be thankful for today, plan for tomorrow, but never take it for granted.