My daughter has Crohn’s disease. If you’re not familiar with that particular ailment (I wasn’t), then you should know that the disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It can be a pretty severe disease, and it’s not something that just goes away. There are various methods of treating the disease, which I won’t dig into at the moment. The National Library of Medicine has a pretty good write-up about it if you want to know more.
For my family, Crohn’s disease has meant a few things:
- My daughter Brenna (now 4 years old) has to deal with some serious discomfort — enough to warrant hospital stays.
- We have to get Brenna to the doctor fairly regularly.
- We pay the fine folks of various medical institutions regularly.
Crohn’s disease is no joke. It can mean internal bleeding. It can mean sores throughout the digestive tract. It can (and has) meant a lot of restless nights. It’s a big challenge for a little girl.
Yet, while Crohn’s has been difficult for us, we’ve learned of so many families who face much tougher illnesses. (I just recently read about a guy that I really respect who is now facing Follicular Lymphoma. That’s crazy tough, and I’m praying for you, man.) My daughter gets sick, enough to make our hearts ache. But she still has so many ways to be a little girl. She’s healthy in so many ways. She can walk. She can run. She has a beautiful personality.
Through it all, we are still blessed.
Still, this ordeal caught us by surprise. It has pushed us into some serious changes on a number of levels.
The financial side of a chronic disease hit us full on, and we struggled. No need to put on airs about it. We struggled, and family and friends stepped up and blessed us. My wife, who’s much better at asking for help than I am, asked our community for help, and they responded.
There are still medical bills that we have to face, but we have a shot at them now. Even this week, friends unexpectedly sent financial support. It’s humbling and awe-inspiring at the same time to have friends like that.
The Bike Part
So… where does the bike-riding come in, right?
Well, back at the beginning of the year — in the midst of some parking rate increases and the knowledge that we had medical bills on the way, I decided to try to ride my bike to work. The ride turned out to be 13 miles… one way.
Fast forward through many flat tires, several stitches, and sore muscles.
The current commute averages at about 80 miles per week (depending on how often I get a ride, work from home, etc.).
While I ride, I know that our family vehicle is available for my wife and the kids. I know that we’re saving on gas and parking.
Cycling is something that I could actually do to make a difference in our situation. Using what I had, I could do something.
Using What You Have
There are so many causes out there that bless those in need. There are simply too many folks in the world who don’t have family and friends that can step in and help them.
I think about Trent and Carmen who are helping street kids in Ethiopia. That’s intense. It’s beautiful.
I think about all of the charitable organizations and the philanthropic movements working to change the systems that allow for the suffering that we see (and so much more that we don’t).
In the face of all the suffering in the world, it’s easy to feel that we can’t make a difference.
But I can ride my bike. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for my health. It makes resources available for the care of my daughter.
It’s not going to end world hunger. It’s not going to solve everyone’s problems, but it’s something.
To everyone who has helped, I say Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
To everyone, we all have the capacity to help each other with what we have right now. It won’t solve the world’s problems in one fell swoop, but I know it will make a difference.
Continued Involvement with Patient Communities
The pictures in this post were from our first time interacting with a patient community (The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation). I wrote more about our interactions with patient communities in July, 2019.