This past weekend, I got to go spend some time with my friend Nichole. I have to say, she is pretty amazing. So is her family. But, before I tell you about how awesome she is, let me rewind just a bit.
Nichole and I met our sophomore year (now that we're getting old, I don't even want to put the year anymore!) at Fresno Pacific College in good ol' Module G. She was a transfer student from a little hick town in Northern California who was adjusting to life in the "big city" of Fresno. I, on the other hand, was entering my second year at FPC, still adjusting to life in this cow-town called Fresno after having grown up in a large city in a foreign country. We came from backgrounds that were about as different as you could imagine but that didn't stop us from becoming friends and developing a relationship that has spanned several phases of life and over 15 years. We had our share of fun in college and stayed friends afterward. She met and eventually married a great guy from Canada, Jason, and became a teacher in Sacramento. I had the honor of being in their wedding.
A few months after Jason and Nichole's wedding, I met John. It was ironic because at their wedding, I remember feeling very much like I was "always a bridesmaid and never a bride". John and I formed a special bond with them when he drove to Sacramento then hunted for their apartment (where I was staying during a clinical rotation) and then got down on one knee to ask me to marry him in their living room. We were all a bit shocked and excited. Less than a year later, they were in our wedding.
Now, fast forward a few years. After our weddings, we had gone through some periods of time where we lost touch with each other. I don't even remember how, but we got back in touch when John and I had just had our miracle baby and they were pregnant with theirs. We've managed to mostly stay in touch since then and have had some great family time together...day trips just to hang out, family camping trips, big girl time in Turlock (the half way point between our homes) and most recently, a weekend hanging out at their house.
Nichole has always been one of the most organized, bright, creative and persistent people I've ever known. Her life over the past 18 months have left that description in the dust. Their little girl, Elianna, who is 6 days older than Noah, has had a rough first year and a half of life. Through much agony, research, perseverance, tears, and hours in prayer, she was diagnosed with food protein induced enterocolitis (FPIES) which essentially means that her body mounts a severe reaction to any form of protein, which by the way, is in just about EVERY food. This is a very rare and poorly understood disorder that doctors basically don't know what to do about. Nichole has spent countless hours researching, networking and coming up with a plan to literally save her baby's life by finding safe foods to feed her. Little Ellie simply CANNOT eat regular food or her body literally goes into a gastrointestinally driven shock.
In her hours of research, Nichole discovered a doctor and diet plan from the UK that has the potential to completely heal Ellie's GI tract and hopefully trick it into not hyper-reacting to all forms of food. It involves making homemade meat broths and mixing them with little bits of her prescription formula. Not only does she have to make and store all this broth, which takes hours and hours, but she has to drive all over her area looking for meats that come from grass-fed, chemical free animals. Not an easy task. As if all that were not enough, Nichole has had to take a brave stand in not going with the local doctor's advice and go it on her own. Well, not on her own. Nichole is also one of the most faithful, passionately committed to her Lord women I have ever known. She has literally spent hours on her knees praying and seeking His guidance in this process.
One of the most amazing things to me about all of this is that our lives have been intertwined in such unique ways over the past few years. We have struggled through many of the same issues and through it we have prayed for each other, listened to each other and sent countless e-mails and texts to help each other through. As I have seen glimpses of what her life has been like the past 18 months, I am so thankful for her friendship. Her example of faith, perseverance, and devotion to her family is inspiring. Really. She's amazing.