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My Body…Part 1

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Over the last 10 years (at least) God has shown me many things by using my frail, human body. I could probably write a book about it, so I’ll try not to add too much detail. I guess I’ll start with my digestive issues. They became noticeable in college (even though looking back I had had minor problems for years). And they seemed to coincide with increased anxiety…leaving home, starting college, not knowing anyone, trying out for the soccer team, starting the engineering program, taking honors classes. It was a lot at once, especially for a very shy person. I left a group of friends that I knew and loved and started a life where I didn’t know anyone. Freshman year came and went. I enjoyed it, but I still didn’t feel like I fit in/hadn’t made many close friends. Sophomore year came with it’s own challenges…not being 1st string on the soccer team anymore and wondering where I stood, going potluck for a roommate again…and starting the year off horribly with her, classes getting more challenging, starting a job in the engineering department. That summer I had my first internship at Delphi. Being a 20 year old woman working with all middle age men is not the easiest thing. Especially when you lack confidence in the work you’re doing. So again, the anxiety increased…and the digestive issues intensified. Junior year I started dating Justin (now my husband:). Boys can be a source of anxiety for anyone 🙂 To add to that pressure, I did not make the soccer team. Another event that made me question my abilities/my worth. And again, classes started getting more challenging. That summer I had my 2nd internship. It was at Delphi, but a different facility…all new people and products to work with. Senior year Justin and I were dating very seriously. School was as challenging as ever. I was still working in the engineering office (which I loved, by the way). I was the president of IEEE (electrical engineering society). I had a lot going. But was still unsure of myself. And my digestive issues and anxiety continued to increase. After graduation I started working at Smiths Aerospace. Now I was a real engineer, not just an intern. I had no clue what I was doing. And I was living 100% on my own for the first time. I’m sure you can guess where this is going. Year after year I was faced with challenges that made me less and less confident, gave me more and more anxiety, and made my health issues worse. I got married in 2003, which was one of the best things to happen to me. But I was still so insecure that I worried about every little thing…was I being a good wife, did I make good meals, is Justin happy. And one of my biggest worries was that my digestive problems were limiting my life…what I could do, where I could go. I finally got the courage to see my doctor. We tried various drugs…anti-depressants, anti-spasmodics, Zelnorm, fiber supplements, I had various tests done. None of it seemed to help. So I went to a gastroenterologist. I went through more tests (colonoscopy, endoscopy, etc.)…and found nothing. That doctor basically told me I was young and healthy and had a little IBS and pushed me out the door. So I felt even worse…I felt sick…and nobody would listen or help. I decided to take things into my own hands. I researched IBS and started to change the way I ate. I gradually cut out all red meat, all dairy, almost all wheat, raw fruits and veggies, all caffeine, all carbonation, all artificial sweeteners, all kinds of stuff. I started to lose weight (not wanting to). But I continued to feel sick. And it became more and more consuming. I was afraid to leave the house half of the time. I had to bring my own food wherever I went. I started having panic attacks. Things just got worse and worse. In 2005 I started seeing a psychologist (thanks to the suggestion of my in-laws). I think that was the first step in things changing…and in seeing that God was still in control, even if it didn’t feel like it. I realized there was a connection between my stomach and my anxiety. So I continued therapy and felt a little better mentally. But physically things were still bad. I knew therapy wouldn’t totally change that. I did more and more research and finally diagnosed myself (since my doctors weren’t much help). I managed to get a referral to a colon surgeon who confirmed my diagnosis (after more unpleasant tests). In September of 2006 I had major surgery to fix the problem (feel free to ask me about it if you want to know more details, but I won’t gross everyone out that doesn’t care to know:). It was one of the toughest things I’ve had to go through. After 5 days in the hospital I came home. I then went through 2 months of initial recovery. I slept on the living room floor for 5 weeks so I didn’t have to go upstairs and so I could get up as much as I needed to in the night without bothering Justin. I had to go very slowly with increasing food quantities at one sitting. It was difficult. The full recovery probably took a good year. I gradually started trying “forbidden” food again…and doing fine. I was seeing the change I had dreamed of for years. Looking back I can see God’s hands and God’s timing in it all, as strange as that sounds. And I realize that sometimes you have to get to a low point to truly see God and his love…and to hear Him. God continually has to tell me I can’t do it all on my own. He is in control, not me. I still struggle daily with digestive issues…my body will never be totally “normal.” But it is so much better than it was. Sometimes I don’t even know how I managed before. I have limitations, but they remind me daily that this body is frail and human. And gives me the longing for a perfect body someday. And I am learning each day to accept myself the way I am. God made me just the way He wants me to be. I may have to do more planning than other people or stick to a more rigid schedule so my body can work well. I may have to be more careful about what I eat, how much I eat and when I eat. I may have times of the day when I just don’t feel all that great. But that’s ok. God can still use me. He is renewing me and refining me each and every day.

I guess I’ll stop there for now. Be on the lookout for Part 2, what came after recovery from surgery.


  1. Sara says:

    Wow, I guess when you put it all down on paper (or internet), you really did go through some major stressors one right after another after another ever since high school. Just a few of the things you struggled with would push some gals fresh out of high school right over the edge almost immediately – and you dealt with so many and it seems like they never ceased – or at least took a very long time to. I think you are/have become a very strong woman, wife, and mother – as a result of all of your struggles and now learning to accept yourself. Your life is very blessed now and I’m so glad that you’ve persevered through all of your challenges and are now sharing them with all of us. Its probably good therapy for you, too. 🙂

  2. julia says:

    Hi Mary,
    Can I just ask — what was the colon surgery that you had done? I’ve been having GI problems for the past year, trying to figure out what is wrong (with doctors being extremely unhelpful), so I’ve had to turn to the internet/people’s experiences for ideas and possible solutions. Your experience sounds sort of similar to what I went through prior to my symptoms (the only cause I can attribute to them is major stress at work), so I am curious about how you diagnosed yourself and what you did. I hope it’s OK that I’m asking. Thanks so much, and I wish all the best to you and your family.

  3. The Voogts says:

    Hi Julia,

    I don’t mind at all. I put my story out there so I can help others. I too had to resort to other people’s experience to diagnose myself.

    I had surgery for rectal prolapse. The diagnosis is fairly simple…just look 😛 A prolapse is something falling/coming out. So if there is something coming out when you use the bathroom, you have a prolapse. It sounds gross, but you can use a mirror to check. If you think you do have a prolapse you need to go to a specialist and have a true diagnosis. I wouldn’t say this is a common problem. But it’s what I had.

    Feel free to ask any other questions. I hope you find some good info and encouragement here.

  4. MimiLee says:

    Have you tried the Paleo Auto-immune protocol? I had many of the same issues you had, and feel much better after doing a gut repair diet for 6 mos., as well as eating clean Paleo (I do not eat eggs, dairy, gluten, soy, grains, beans occasionally. ). I can have some ‘cheats’ now and then now that my gut is healed, but I feel so much better in general, I am so grateful! http://www.thepaleomom.com

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