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Dying to Meet Him: How a 30-Year-Old With 1 Year Left to Live Thinks

Introduction to Elle:  

My name is Gabrielle "Elle" Devenish, a 30-year-old single Christian woman. I have struggled – and do struggle – with an eating disorder that I developed in my teens. I have had awesome periods of recovery, but certain triggers (i.e. major life changes, etc.) send me spiraling again, each time damaging my body more, as it can only take so much in one lifetime.

A few days before Christmas (2011) I was feeling nauseous and faint. I laid on my bed and slowly I felt all the sensation going out of my body, starting with my toes. This continued until my lungs became paralyzed and the loud roar and bright spots flashing on blackness in my head dimmed. I knew Jesus was taking me, and I was ready. My last final cohesive thought was "Into Thy Hands I commit my spirit" and then there was complete silence, emptiness, darkness.

Then I felt like a cool water washed over me as I focused on a bright light, and suddenly, slowly, I was able to take a little gasp of air. Then my body would convulse and I could open my eyes briefly, before going back to the black. Then I would convulse again, and I'd be able to move a little more, like one finger. This black-convulse-move-black pattern continued until I was fully conscious and could feel and move my body once more. God had breathed life back into me.

I don't know why He has given me another chance, but it moves me to tears every time I think of His infinite mercy and grace.

I continued to have seizures and convulsions on the way to the ER and in the hospital. I was put on a feeding tube and other fluids, and I gradually gained strength to eat on my own plus the feeding tube. I had EKGs and CAT scans and a heart monitor.

I was released just before Christmas Eve, without the feeding tube. (Drinking Ensure instead).

I continue to struggle in my health situation. My heart, lungs, bones and muscles have all deteriorated beyond repair, according to doctors. My white blood cell count continues to match that of a last-stage chemo patient and my electrolytes are always on the edge.

This past hospital visit (Jan. 3-7), I was told that I am expected to live less than a year, maybe 6 months. I was released from the hospital to home hospice, where I do not intend to die, but to live my life as fully as possible for as long as it may be. It has been difficult struggling with things I have to give up – not only things I can no longer do because of loss of strength (run, hike, walk for long periods, carry more than 1 grocery bag in each hand, even take a shower alone, etc.), but I can no longer drive and I walk with a walker. I am experiencing the effects of a lifetime of not treating my body well and ignoring God's strength in getting well. Every day I am in critical condition, but every day I'm alive and praising God. Still, I know God has a Future and a Hope For ME (Jer. 29:11) and will somehow provide all my needs. He already has; I'm ALIVE!

Adjusting to Life With Another
(Originally posted January 10, 2012) 

I'm having to adjust not only to having daily nursing/social care visits, but also my mom staying with me most of the time. For a person who's lived alone her entire adult life, it's – different. But I'm glad I'm getting help.

While my car hasn't been officially "taken away" from me, I'm not supposed to drive. I just got a new, sweet car in November, so this is killing me. When they formally take away my keys – oh, that day will be hard to come to terms with.

Mostly talk about death is so matter-of-fact with everyone. It's weird getting used to talks about "WHEN I die (in recent future, not when i'm old)" instead of "IF I die"... But I have accepted that my life will be a lot shorter than most people's. It's hard for some of those who love me to understand.

My work (second day back) is going good so far. I am so grateful to have loving and supportive coworkers, and to be working for a Christian company.

It is nice having my mom's company cuz there are times I do get lonely. She is really good at being strong and tough but I know this time is heartbreaking for her as well. My dad will cry at the drop of a hat lately. Sigh...

I'm trusting God every day for whatever this process is He has me going through. All I hope is to bring Him glory, and to show others that Jesus makes all things possible, whether that's living, or dying, and that He brings ultimate healing – forever.

Organized and Responsible Till the End
(Originally posted January 12, 2012)

I am slowly losing my mental capacity and it's INCREDIBLY frustrating. It's small now, like forgetting my purse in a restaurant, mixing up words, losing my train of thought. But I'm not as sharp and articulate as I once was and it KILLS me. I have a lot of ideas for stories in my head but I just don't know if I have the energy to write everything I want to or planned to.

It makes me sad, knowing that me, the perfectionist, the overachiever, the smart one – well she just can't be that way anymore. Still, I haven't changed. I am so blessed that my employer, The Christian Post, is a Christian workplace and is only treating my difficulties with love and encouragement. Praise the Lord! Every day I feel so blessed with this job – ever since I started! It is my way to just, well, work for God and show His glory, after decades of trying to achieve things for my own name.

I get tired so easy – I used to be the girl that stayed up till 3 a.m. and could still function full force the next day at work with just a few hours of sleep. Now I find myself nodding off in the middle of the day. Still, I don't want to waste time asleep, but I guess I need to listen to my body.

The importance of certain things and the meaninglessness of others is really starting to come into focus now. Today, my friend Allegra came over and brought her young son. I never thought I could really get along with kids, they always just were so obnoxious to me. But this afternoon, I was having so much fun with Joshua, coloring, singing and playing games. Allegra apologized for bringing him, but really, that was the highlight of the visit. Kids really are special and kids are just kids – they can't be expected to act like adults.

I just shared this site and my story with every single person I know on Facebook. Now my life is laid bare for everyone to see. All the fear I had clicking those few tabs – I see now that God wanted me to do that. I don't know if my time is days, or months – no one knows. But I don't want to die with a lie, or with any misconceptions people may have because I artfully talked my way around the big "A" word.

So that's it. Take it or leave. Love me or hate me or be angry and betrayed and hurt. We all have our struggles and issues in life and we all have a thorn in our flesh, like Paul. This is my cross to bear, my daily struggle, the temptation I wrestle with and often give in to. I am so thankful the Lord always grabs me and sets me straight. And most of all, when I come running back to approach Him again, tears streaming down my face, He is only there with open arms, waiting to just give me a big bear hug and say "I forgive you. It doesn't make Me love you any less than I ever did or ever will."


Another Scary
(Originally posted January 14, 2012)

Last night I had another seizure and it very well could have taken my life right then. Luckily, the nurses were on hand to help my dad and to give me some medicine to make it not so scary. I woke up for a little while to enjoy a glass of the finest champagne with my dad (I had resolved to do that before I die!) and then when back to sleep. I don't remember anything else untill this morning, when my father lovingly patted me awake.

Now I am even more weak; I can barely stand. Seems like it might be the walker from here on out. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, so it's not so bad.
It's funny, lately all my senses (except for taste – I can barely taste even the spiciest of foods) have been super heightened. I can smell a cigarette butt in a trashcan several yards from me. My vision is super clear (when my eyes are open, ha!) and I can hear the slightest motion. My dad was telling me that T.W. Hunt once wrote that in heaven, all your senses will be greatly enhanced. There will be more colors in the spectrum; pitches, tones and melodies no human could ever hear, wonderful smells unlike anything else. Maybe this is a peek into that or just a side effect of all the things my body is going through. Either way, I'm looking forward to heavenly sensations.

Last night, I couldn't think or breathe or anything, but this little chorus kept repeating in my head (from "Away in a Manger")

Be near me Lord Jesus
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me, I pray
Bless all the dear children
In Thy holy care
And take us to heaven
To be with You there.

Anyways, I haven't breathed my last yet – for I do not know my days (as God tells us). But for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

I continue to be overwhelmed by people's response to my brutal honesty, every part of my life I've laid bare. It leaves me speechless. Thank you my friends and family - each one of you has something I truly love and hold dear.

Check back with CP soon for more updates on Elle's condition in "Dying to Meet Him."

Gabrielle “Elle” Devenish is a Christian Post reporter in Utah.

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