Personal essay: Shaken to faith

(zmescience.com)

(zmescience.com)

Blood-filled tubes snaked down my neck and across my body when I awoke in a hospital bed one Sunday evening. Nurses and family members stood by my bedside. I felt like an 8-year-old Frankenstein’s monster. But I wasn’t a monster. I was a little boy with Type 1 diabetes. Coughing and vomiting about a month earlier, I had gone to my doctor and been diagnosed with a stomach virus. He recommended drinking more fluids, but the Gatorade, Sprite and other sugar drinks only raised my blood sugar. The “stomach virus” lingered until that Sunday, when my insides wanted to pop. Or collapse. Or both. My pancreas could no longer make the necessary insulin to process the sugars I ate. I began hyperventilating, and my parents rushed me to the hospital. I remember being put on a stretcher. Then, I blacked out. Sometime later, I don’t know how much later, I woke up. And information came in puddles, because I could not understand the waves: blood-sugar levels that could have killed me, a nurse injecting an orange with a needle (hint, the orange would soon be me) and a new “diet” that involved managing carbohydrates.

Diagnosis and prayers

Anthony Cave (20) is a junior at Florida International University in Miami. Photo by Hadley Jordan/University of Miami

Anthony Cave (20) is a junior at Florida International University in Miami. Photo by Hadley Jordan/University of Miami

Whatever this disease was, I wanted it to stop. So I prayed.  My family always went to church every Sunday, so praying made sense to me. I always had faith, or this vague concept of it from Sunday Masses and the trips to the back room with other children and fruit punch. And candy. I continued to pray for no more diabetes over the next two years. When I turned 10, we took the annual family and holiday trip to Trinidad and Tobago, where my parents were born. Typical of the islands, I dressed to impress for this “special” Mass: spikey hair, a jacket, dress shoes and all. After Mass, my mother and aunt asked the pastor to pray for a cure for me. Two years ago, I had done the same thing, but this felt different. There was a presence beyond my control in the church that day. I sat in a wooden chair in front of my pastor. It did not rock, as I had hoped earlier, but it didn’t need to. With my family watching along, the pastor tilted my chair while placing his hand on my post-Holy-Water-dabbed temple and started to pray. I started shaking like an early earthquake tremor, chair and all, and knew I had found God. I felt Him, and, much like the tremor, knew that something far bigger was in store for my life.

Strong faith
Eleven years later, my faith is a constant reminder of what God set in my heart that day. His power is more evident in the face of all sorts of different personal struggles. After a rejection or break-up, God reminds me that my future spouse is out there, often through dreams where I see a faceless woman, from my view at least. The scenes vary, too — a wedding, a beach or even the deck of a cruise ship. But I still cannot see her face! The latter can get frustrating, but I know I will recognize her when the time is right. God’s will lets me look past temporary stresses, like a college application, too. I stayed local to attend college in Miami because it was cheap. It made sense. And I have never looked back. Decisions with God are filled with trust rather than second guessing. On test days, for example, I wear a T-shirt with “I Can Do All Things” printed in bold, capital letters.  That Bible verse is absolute, like my decisions with Him.

Challenges
And even when struggle’s face is a teenage sister who runs away for a few days, faith comes through. The faith, then, was the courage to send support, not ask what’s wrong or why she did it. Faith can take on many complexions, too. It comes in the form of supportive friends and family, spiritual leaders and good news. Even in my struggle to understand why I have this disease, I have begun to realize that God wants me to leverage his given talents for the greater good. It is not about me. It’s also about me talking to newly diagnosed children, emailing their parents and praying for others. I have stopped praying for a cure. Maybe I was meant to have diabetes, although I really don’t know. But I sure can leverage what I have been blessed with, diabetes included. I still don’t understand it all. I may not agree with everything that happens to me either. But since that day in the “rocking” chair, I trust God.

Anthony Cave (20) is a junior at Florida International University in Miami