She’s 20 years old and looks 15, yet grey streaks mask her chocolate brown hair. She lives in one of the world’s richest countries, yet she looks in the mirror each morning and sees each rib bone poking out her sides. Purple bags hang heavy under her tired eyes, but others don’t notice them because she covers them up with a bright smile each morning. She spends the entire day cultivating a pristine image and spends the entire night laying awake, anxious and afraid if she’ll live to see the next day and wishing sometimes that God would just take her home to heaven already.
Most college-aged females fight the freshman 15, work out at the gym everyday, and follow all the latest health crazes. This girl faces the exact opposite. She lost 30 pounds since her freshman semester at Biola University — going from a healthy 129 to a dangerous 94.4 — and sees four different doctors. She barely has energy to walk around campus, fights against the urge to cry when she feels severe heart pain, stays up late due to insomnia from anxiety, spends a half hour on the phone with her parents during panic attacks, pushes past extreme nausea, and forces herself to eat so her petite body can survive off a measly 1,000 calories per day.
This is a modern-day Job story of a girl who has suffered through an autoimmune disease and does not know how much longer she has to live. This is my story. This is my song. I barely make it through some days and have asked God a couple times why I suffer so much, yet I continue praising my Savior through it all because I know he will use my story to bring him glory.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Jehn and I’m a senior journalism major at Biola University. I work two jobs, manage a campus media group, have an internship, play in wind ensemble, and serve as a worship instrumentalist. Most people have no idea that I push through extreme physical limitations to accomplish these tasks and often spend nights alone in my room laying in bed and crying because I’m in so much pain.
I have spent the past year fighting a hidden autoimmune disease, Gastroesophogal Reflux Disease (GERD) and it still takes over my life because it’s a chronic illness. Although my health has improved a bit after I received my official diagnosis in Feb. 2017, it will take a while to completely recover from this disease. Only 20 percent of people in the U.S. struggle with this condition. Many who have it are overweight, yet I defy definitions and remain severely underweight with a BMI of 16.4. I still ask myself, “how can a healthy, 20-year-old athlete like me develop so many health problems?”
I have started this blog, Rising from Rubble, to tell the world about my journey with this autoimmune disease and how God’s carried me through it each step of the way. I hope it touches the lives of others with GERD, chronic diseases, and even those who are physically healthy but need to rediscover God’s goodness. Through this blog, I’ll share details about my journey, discuss how my story relates to the book of Job, provide suggestions for those struggling with GERD, and explain what God has taught me throughout this brutal battle.