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Living With Chronic Illness with Chioma Alade

In this episode of The Soulwork, Ify Alexis Lee is joined by her dear friend Chioma Alade to discuss walking with God through chronic illness. Chioma, a wife, mother, and Pastor, shares her passion for empowering those who have been abused and those who are chronically ill. She emphasizes the importance of understanding and accepting God's love, regardless of our experiences and challenges. Ify admires Chioma's compassionate heart and is excited to dive into this inspiring conversation. Tune in to learn more about Chioma's incredible story and find encouragement in your own journey of faith and healing.



Timestamps:


[00:02:44] Nigerian soup favourites.

[00:04:18] Favorite scripture at the moment.

[00:08:39] Journey health-wise.

[00:11:38] Healing and God's intentions.

[00:16:08] Advocating for your own health.

[00:19:46] Black women and advocacy.

[00:23:15] Not wanting diagnosis to define.

[00:29:00] Ableism in the church.

[00:33:45] Motherhood with chronic illness.

[00:36:27] Women with disabilities having children.

[00:40:15] Ableism in the church.

[00:44:42] Taking care of your soul.

[00:48:28] Chronic illness.


Transcript:


00:00 IFY Hey everyone, welcome back to The Soul Work with myself, Ify Alexis Lee. We are all about doing the inner work of healing, wholeness, growth, refining and defining. And on today's episode, I am joined by a dear friend of mine, Chioma Alade. Chioma is a wife, she's a mum, she serves on the pastoral team at her church. She has a passion for empowering those in the church that have been abused and those who are chronically ill. She has a special place in her heart for women. I'm so excited to share with you this conversation that I had with her on walking with God through chronic illness. Lean in, take some notes, share it with a friend and enjoy. Oh my gosh, I was so excited to have you on the podcast. Like when I was thinking about the people that I wanted, your name was up there. I feel like your story is incredible. You have so much to share. And of course, I want my audience to know exactly who you are because the gift of God inside of you is so amazing. So welcome to the podcast.


01:10 CHIOMA Thank you. an introduction. First of all, thank you for the honour, like it really is an honour to be asked, I'm just, I'm really grateful. My name is Chioma Ade, I love Jesus, I love cake, I love nature, and I'm passionate about seeing people really loved the way you understand that they're loved, like God loves them. I think If there's anything that I could sum up my life and my life's aims in, it's just that. For people to really understand how truly loved they are by God, irrespective of their experiences, irrespective of their current challenges, and irrespective of their past.


01:54 IFY I love that. I love that. And I feel like you embody the heart of God in just such a sweet way, like especially his compassion. So I'm excited. Let's get into it. I want my audience to get to know you a little bit better. So I'm going to do just some quick questions off the cuff. Well, it's not off the cuff. It's going to be off your cuff. OK, quickly, tea or coffee? Tea. What's your favorite tea?


02:20 CHIOMA Oh, I try.


02:22 IFY Okay, I like some tea. I like chai. I like a chai latte. I love a chai latte.


02:27 CHIOMA Yeah, I prefer a chai latte, but I like the flavour of chai. Actually, do you know what? Let me go English breakfast. Let me go English breakfast tea and coffee, chai latte.


02:37 IFY Yeah, love that. Afternoon tea or like brunch, like breakfast, pancakes, waffles, that kind of thing? Afternoon tea every day. Yeah, sweet tooth, isn't it? Yes. Okay, rice, like a rice dish or like a swallow? Nigerian, I knew it. I just, I'm there with you. What's your favorite Nigerian soup right now?


02:58 CHIOMA I had Okona soup last night with pounded yam. And I have efororo in the fridge. It's giving, it's giving,


03:13 IFY I love it. I love a good draw soup. For me, it's Ogono soup, but I like it with eba. I like mine with like hot yellow eba. Like that for me, ministers to myself. Healthier too. How is it? Oh, see, see, there you go.


03:26 CHIOMA Healthier than tandoori yam, I'm very sure.


03:29 IFY Eat out or take away? Eat in, sorry, or take away? Eat in.


03:34 CHIOMA I like experiences.


03:36 IFY Eat in. Okay. Oh, I love that. I'm like such a comfort person. I would much rather eat on my plate knowing that it's fully washed.


03:43 CHIOMA The way I think about it, I'm like, there's rice at home. So if I'm going to buy the food, it's preferable for me to eat there and have the table service.


03:51 IFY I feel you. Are you more alert in the morning or the evening?


03:56 CHIOMA I think everybody that knows me would say evening. It takes me a while to wake up.


04:06 IFY What's your favourite scripture at the moment? Oh, gosh.


04:11 CHIOMA Can I say book? Go for it. Exodus. Exodus. I've been in Genesis, Exodus, reading other things, but been in Genesis, Exodus this year. And I've just had a revelation, actually Genesis too, but you know, I'll stick to Exodus. I feel like I've really understood a lot of things and I realize it's so much more for me to understand from Exodus than I have imagined. I've been really enjoying it.


04:39 IFY Oh, I love that. What is the best series you've watched in a while? TV series. Oh, gosh. You know, I should actually ask first, are you a TV series person or a movie person? You know what? You're not even a TV person, are you?


04:56 CHIOMA No, I am a TV person. I'm just trying to choose. My favorite TV series of all time is Grey's Anatomy. OK. I do like, I like movies. I like period dramas. Actually, maybe I am more of a TV series person because I like people in old outfits going on mountains and things like that.


05:21 IFY interesting for me I would say like I really enjoyed watching Hijack on Apple TV recently that was really good. Okay the suspense was too much like it was just oh I was like it was like seven episodes or six episodes and I felt like it could have been three it was just so much suspense but the actual story I loved it like I was like at the edge of my seat you know


05:44 CHIOMA Yeah, but isn't it nice when they, when they drag it out? I don't, you know, I'm definitely a TV series person.


05:48 IFY You know what, it's nice when they drag it out when you know you can watch them back to back, but they actually like staggered how they released it. So like, you could only watch the next one the next week. And I'm like, there's a reason why I don't watch actual TV. I watch Netflix and stuff like that, because I want to be able to come to it when I'm ready. So yeah. Okay, fair enough.


06:06 CHIOMA I get you.


06:07 IFY And I'll say Riches. I watch Riches on ITV. Good. I really love that. I love the infusion of like Nigerian like culture and names. Oh, I love that.


06:17 CHIOMA Okay. No, I'm definitely a TV series person for sure. I'm thinking about it like all the detective crime stuff. No, definitely TV series.


06:25 IFY Yes. Yeah. Shonda Rhimes is my girl. Like anything that she does, I'm there.


06:30 CHIOMA Yeah, she's a writer. She kind of writes.


06:34 IFY Okay, last question. What's your favorite pastime? You've got an extra hour, two hours. No one's in the house. It's just you. What do you go to? Oh, sit in the garden.


06:46 CHIOMA Okay, doing what? I love sitting in the garden. Thinking, reading. I love being in nature. Okay. Drop me in a field somewhere. I'll just sit down and watch. I learn a lot from just observing nature.


07:03 IFY Oh, I love that. I feel like that's how I want to be, like just one with the insects, but I will literally be like swatting away flies.


07:13 CHIOMA I did say that I'm not a princess.


07:17 IFY So I'm not trying to get bitten, but I… John the Baptist. Yeah.


07:22 CHIOMA But I love it. I do love it.


07:25 IFY Yeah. Oh, I love, love, love that for me. I will be if I'm not sleeping. Unfortunately, I don't feel like sleeping should be a pastime, but sometimes I feel so sleep deprived of young kids that whenever I get like free time, I'm like sleep. But outside of sleep, I'll be watching a TV show, reading a book or like cooking or baking.


07:44 CHIOMA You're a great cook, I have to say. You have invited me round and I've yet to take up the offer.


07:49 IFY Come girl, when you're ready, when you're ready. OK, so let's get into today's topic. When I thought of you, I thought it would be great for everyone to kind of have an understanding of your story in regards to chronic illness and how that's been for you. I think Christians and healing or Christianity and healing can be such a technical subject like people err on the either on one side of the extreme or the other side of the extreme and that can look like God always wants to heal you and sometimes it can look like just endure always like healing you may never find it, right? And I thought it would be great to hear from someone that's actually living with a chronic illness and how you navigate that and you navigate your faith as well. So before we get into that, it would be great to hear a little bit about your journey. You shared who you are, but tell us about your journey health-wise. How has that been for you?


08:43 CHIOMA I'm going to sum this up in the shortest amount of time because my health history is literally pages long, but I was born on something called a PDA, which is a Pater Ductus Arteriosus, which means that you have a an area that is supposed to close up that doesn't close up and causes a lot of kind of more heart issues. I was born in Myanmar, I was sick, basically I have been sick my whole life. And I was just last year diagnosed with something called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which is basically the root cause of everything and it's in my genes. And it basically affects all my connective tissue, which is your whole body. So your brain matter, your skin, your muscles, your joints, everything is held together by connective tissue. And it basically is too fragile. So it means that vessels, organs don't work or overwork. And it kind of just affects every single aspect of my body.


09:37 IFY Wow. When, so from as young as you can, you can remember, like you've always kind of felt like you've always been unwell, would you say? Yeah.


09:46 CHIOMA Yeah. Yeah. I've been in pain my whole life. In fact, the only day I was not in pain was on my wedding day, which is kind of how I knew I made the right decision. But yeah, for sure, that was a prayer request because I was like, God, I really need to not be in pain on my wedding day. And he answered that request. But yeah.


10:06 IFY Yeah, I guess always being in pain from as young as you can remember. And the only day was your wedding day where you weren't in pain. That is, that is something. How has that been in terms of how you journeyed with God? Like, how has that felt when you've, you know, when you became a Christian, did you ever have any hopes of healing? Like, what was that like for you?


10:28 CHIOMA I would say when I was a teenager, I was really obsessed with healing. and I didn't have a diagnosis yet, I wasn't sure what was wrong with me at all, but I knew that I was sick, it was quite obvious, I was fainting all the time, and I used to listen to a lot of, and still do from time to time, a lot of word of faith type messages, and I was really obsessed, and I'd watch the Christian TV channels, and like, and this is your day, I just was desperate for it to be my day, you know, where I would get healed, it was like, I think it almost verged on obsession, if that makes any sense. And I had to come to an understanding that the word of faith does work and God heals, but also the power that sustains is a very real thing too. And learning to trust the Lord, whether he healed me or not, was definitely a journey. And actually as the struggle that I had was believing that God still loved me and had intentions for me even if he didn't heal me and the difficulty I had was explaining that to other people. Most Christian communities only believed God was present if I got healed.


11:43 IFY Wow, I love the way you term that. I recently released an online course about anxiety and one of the things that I said, especially around anxiety disorders, was that sometimes we can experience healing through an instantaneous miraculous healing. Sometimes healing looks like the help of medication, therapy, doctors, sometimes it's endurance, God gives endurance to actually bear the load of anxiety. All three of those are miracles, like all three of them show the hand of God and I love the way you place that, that actually God can heal, God does heal, but even when God doesn't heal, when he gives the grace to endure, that's still his power at work, that's still his grace at work. Can you remember a time when you felt maybe discouragement setting, especially at that time where you were heavy in the word of faith, listening to, you know, listening to that. How did you manage that discouragement at the time that, God, I'm seeing these other people being healed, but I'm not?


12:42 CHIOMA I think it was a discouragement. It was very heavy in the mornings. And I think for many years, I definitely struggled with what I now understand as probably depression, because I had this dream of waking up and then it all being over. But I would wake up and I was still in pain. And I think day after day, it was just, It was very disheartening. I definitely felt the presence of God, honestly, through the Word. I was and still am a lover of the Word of God. And I think it's hard to read the Bible often and frequently and not feel His love just off the pages, not feel His intention just like really grab you. And I think what really kept me during that time could have only been my love for the Word of God. because I saw people in the Bible who were going through challenging things and people like Job who were innocent and still had bad things happen to them. And I was definitely in spiritual surroundings that told me that bad things only happen to bad people. And then I read the Bible and I was like, well, that's not true. The righteous definitely go through challenging things, but his words says that he's never seen the righteous forsaken and God can love us and we still have challenges.


14:00 IFY Wow. I love that. I know that you've been in pastoral leadership for a very long time now. I'm sure you've witnessed firsthand praying for people or praying for people for healing and seeing that and to hear that your resolve is still that like, wow, the word of God, like God still loves me even in absence of this thing. And actually, for a lot of us, we link God's love for us to his ability to provide certain things for us. we link his care for us to well if you care for me why don't I have what I'm asking for and that can look like healing, that can look like financial breakthrough, that can look like the job or anything and sometimes it can be very hard especially when the overwhelming message of faith is God will do it, God will do it, God will do it. Sometimes we miss out on that extra bit that even if he doesn't do it, he's worthy. Even if he doesn't do it, he still has a plan for you. How have you felt, God, to be in pain consistently is something. How have you felt the Holy Spirit or God like coming alongside you, even in the place of pain?


15:07 CHIOMA I'm not, and I'm also not going to, you know, it's very easy to kind of give a the impression that it doesn't, it's not challenging. It is very challenging and it is a consistent struggle. I guess where I found my sweet spot with the Holy Spirit is journeying with him and telling him how I feel. I actually, I keep a journal and I'm better at it now than I was the last few years. And I was really good at it when I was a teenager. And I would just talk to the Lord. I'd write to the Lord and just tell him how I feel. Throughout the day, I'm always in constant communication with the Lord. I think that's honestly what keeps me sane. And I sometimes forget that I haven't necessarily told other people how I'm feeling because in my head I have, I've told the Lord. And just that communication has been life-giving. Also, like, leaning on community, telling people how I feel. um you know actually going to the doctors i feel like a lot of christians don't do what they need to do or do their part because they're told that it's a lack of faith um or they've been told that it kind of dumbs down like who god is and if you don't go to the doctors and you're not well like one of the disciples was a doctor um if you don't do your part you have to do your part i have to do my part i had to fight for a diagnosis. That was my part in this. And then I give it over to God. And then I was like, okay, great. We have a name for it. Now let's deal with it spiritually. So yeah, just doing what I need to do, which is living as healthily as I can. There is no cure for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome yet. But there is definitely a supernatural God who cares for people that have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.


17:08 IFY I love that. I know that just from speaking to you privately, like to get a diagnosis was a huge thing for you. It was something that you had to kind of like battle for because you bring our listeners, our watchers into a little bit of that journey, like and just things that people can get in terms of how to advocate for themselves in the place of chronic illness.


17:30 CHIOMA Yeah, I will first of all say that no one else is going to advocate for your health like you will. You have to take your health. I think people feel like doctors are just, first of all, doctors can be wrong, as I have seen. If I had relied on doctors, I literally would be dead. Because they, I didn't get a diagnosis until last year. And my son was born in 2020. And because of the efforts that I made, they made medical adjustments, which if they had not done that, I would not have made it off the table. So I think We have to first understand that it is our responsibility and the Holy Spirit can absolutely guide us in advocating for ourselves, not taking no for an answer. If you still have symptoms, you have to keep going. You have to keep fighting. And unfortunately, our medical system in the UK is extremely stretched right now. And you need to either be able to speak or have people in your corner if there is a real issue going on. I was in A&E for a decade of my life. um literally consistently and it just wasn't taken seriously and I actually had to lodge a complaint with the trust um with the hospital and the trust and it was literally elevated up to their board um and the person who um was in charge of my medical at the time um left left before it could get taken um before it got higher and higher and higher and higher and I was, I received an apology. And if you know anything about the way that hospitals and trusts are, they never apologize because that opens them up to legal action because it's saying.


19:12 IFY It's an admission of guilt, isn't it?


19:14 CHIOMA Yeah. And if not for the grace of God and me fighting and honestly, in this virtual environment where I was told not to go to the doctors like that, I literally would have lost my life.


19:27 IFY Wow. Wow. I just echo what you said about advocacy, like being able to advocate for yourself. You know, your body better than anyone knows your body. And so if you know that you're experiencing something, don't don't push that down, like actually speak up and speak to people that might understand as well. I wonder, do you see an intersection because you're a a black female, you know, do you see an intersection with that and your ability to advocate for yourself or maybe at times when you felt like your complaints weren't being seen as severe enough?


20:03 CHIOMA Absolutely, like statistically black women are most likely to be ignored than any other group on the planet when it comes to pain and with medical concerns. So I have to shout louder. I have to be more specific. I have to, you know, some of my doctors actually call me Dr Chawla, because the amount that I know, and I'm very, very thorough, and that black female thing, we have to fight harder. And it's not to make us feel sad, but it should empower us to know that it really is in our hands, and we have to really work hard to make sure that we are heard.


20:46 IFY Okay, just a little bit on community. How have you navigated the place of community, especially dealing with chronic illness that, would you say that your chronic illness is invisible? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. That's one of the things that we look at in therapy, visible and invisible differences, right? In that place where people can't always necessarily see what's wrong with you, how have you found that in bringing your community alongside you to be a bit more cautious or compassionate or aware that you might not be doing the best or you're in pain?


21:19 CHIOMA I think from the outside, it's absolutely invisible until you see me collapse one or two times.


21:27 IFY That's why I was unsure, like, is it visible?


21:29 CHIOMA Maybe, maybe she's not all right, you know. But I think I'm privileged now to be in a very helpful community, where if I said, like, I need help with myself, or I said, I need to sit down, or I need water, like, that would be available to me. I haven't always been in helpful communities, especially when it comes to the church. And I think Positioning yourself in a place where there is love, compassion and prayer, I have definitely been upheld by the saints, like massively. This year I survived sepsis, I should never have survived, and I think a lot of it was due to the prayer of the saints. Like when medically there should be no survival, and you just know it's the work of God. And finding a praying community, because I do believe in the supernatural, I do believe in the supernatural sustaining and healing power of God. And finding a community that is kind and that also understands the power of God and is willing to walk with you. A lot of people want to do the praying and the laying hands thing, but they don't necessarily want to walk with you or help you to appointments or things like that. actually it's that those acts of love and compassion that prove that you have that spiritual legitimacy to do every other prayer really because love love is a doing word and the lord loves us and it's he heals because he loves he does because he loves right um and i would just encourage everyone to be in a community that's like that but i also do understand that those communities unfortunately from what i have seen are you in the far between


23:15 IFY I've had conversation with some people that have struggled with chronic illness or have chronic illness and one of the things that gets brought up sometimes especially with regards to community is not wanting your diagnosis to be the sum total of who you are, not wanting to be treated like so fragile that, no, we can't invite Chima out, you know, we can't, oh no, like, you know, just maybe feeling like there's too much of a, would you say coddling? I think that's the wrong word. Is that something you've experienced?


23:49 CHIOMA Yeah. I think there's always that fear that when you, you know, when you're sick, I feel like, unfortunately, people just see that. Do you know what I mean? People just see that and it often means that people are not necessarily open about their struggles, whatever that is, whether that's chronic illness or disability, whether it's a sin that they're finding it hard to overcome or a personal challenge, there is always that fear and I would just encourage people to remember that sicknesses and chronic illnesses and disabilities don't, it's not the sum total of being someone else, they don't define them, they don't Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, chronic illness and disability is absolutely something that I struggle with, and it's a challenge for me. I'm not going to say that I'm proud of those things. I know there's a kind of pride element that's been introduced into some of our spaces about this, but I'm definitely not proud of it. And if you ask me to switch, I would ask for a healthy body tomorrow. But I will say that God has used it to give me a perspective on life that I actually think a lot of healthy people don't have. And I will say that we shouldn't look at that as a sum total of who someone is, and we should absolutely make efforts to be accessible, but not be patronising, and allow people to then make the choices. Obviously, make smart decisions. If you know someone in your church is in a wheelchair, choose events where there's going to be wheelchair access. So just make efforts to be accessible and allow them to make a choice as to whether or not they wish to or want to come and keep inviting them. You know, we also do this thing where someone says, oh, I'm not, she was saying that, oh, you're not going to invite them again because they're sick. No, just keep inviting someone, just keep including someone. It's our duty, you know, as those friends who lowered He literally broke down the roof to lower their friend down to be healed by Jesus. That is, that is the standard, not an excellent standard, but that is the basic standard for how our community should be made possible. Like you break down the roof, you break down the door, you do whatever you can to help your friends see Jesus, to help your friends feel love. And that is what we should be aiming for.


26:12 IFY Wow, that is so incredible. I'm so happy you said that. That actually leads me to my next set of questions, which were around ableism in the church. And I'm going to come to that question. But first, I did want to just have a bit more insight on what does support look like for someone that is struggling? I know chronic illness can be, it's very, very nuanced, and it looks different for different people, depending on the diagnosis, right? But what are some ways in which someone could come along and support? You've already kind of given some in terms of you are inviting them to events, consider the disabilities that they do have, like step free access. Is there anything else that you would add to that, like in terms of support and friendship, how to support someone that is, that has chronic illness?


27:00 CHIOMA People with chronic illnesses and disabilities tend to already be very aware of how it affects other people and can be very self-conscious about it. So what we don't want to do is make them feel any more other than they might already feel. And we can pick up on their cues. Sometimes they might not say things to us. So just doing things can be very helpful. dropping off meals and those kind of things like or saying to them oh you know what like can I pick you up for not even asking right you have an appointment today i'm actually bothering to find out that kind of information like i'm taking you i'll be like outside your house like being proactive and i would just say like verging away from asking and just doing because when you're you when you ask it's that awkward thing of like oh i don't want any convenience i don't know just just when we just act, we give people the understanding that we want to do it. You know, and it helps people not feel like a burden, just listening to them, like really listening to understand. So.


28:14 IFY I love that. And I do, I really appreciate what you said about just doing instead of asking. I mean, how many times have we asked someone like, oh, do you want, do you want the last chicken? And really you want them to say no. We're not really asking out of a real care. Sometimes it is, there is care associated, but real compassion leads to action. And it just alleviates that, that, that mountain sometimes of the other person having to think of what is it that I need? and can you give it to me? Do you know what I mean? Just being able to see and identify and need compassionately and fulfilling that. That's really, really good. Do you feel like there is ableism in the church?


28:56 CHIOMA It's definitely a problem that we have in the world. And unfortunately, it has tripled in to many areas of the church. There are a lot of churches that are doing their best to really circumvent it. And first of all, ableism is favourable with people that are non-disabled. So people that are essentially healthier. And definitely, I think even in the way that we handle volunteers sometimes, like I think to myself, I was thinking to myself, even on the team that I currently lead at church, I was like, okay, if someone was, if another member of the church who happened to be disabled joined this team, would we have to make adjustments? And if so, I'm not, I'm probably not running an accessible team. Just those kind of conversations that I have internally, like walking around looking at floors, pumps, if someone decided to walk in today with a crutch or wheelchair, how would that person get in or out? And our church building actually does have disabled members of both the churches that use it and it's wonderful to see that we are in a building that can and should facilitate that. It's a minimum requirement, it's not a tick-box exercise. I feel like a lot of our churches do these things, they say, right, tick-box, that's what the government wants, but not because they actually understand that it's their duty to provide a house, a temple that God dwells in, that every single child that he has made can visit, can regularly come to. And I think it's definitely something that we need to be more intentional about, whether it's physical disabilities or mobility challenges, or whether it's neurodivergence. I think neurodivergence is something I'm really passionate about and educating people, especially in the church, on how to deal with, especially children, because they can't speak for themselves, but they definitely know when they're not wanted. And no one should come into God's house and feel unwanted.


31:10 IFY Wow, I just love that you mentioned that. It just reminds me a bit about, I think it's in Acts chapter six, but people were complaining about the distribution of food and this is when the apostles say, you know, separate onto us a certain amount of deacons so we can be about, you know, other things, ministry of the word. And the people that were complaining the most were the Greeks. And it's so interesting how they appointed Greek speaking deacons to be the people that would actually right the wrongs in the distribution of food and without placing the onus solely on people that have disability but it requires a team effort to right some of these wrongs, to make sure things are adequate. Do you need this? Do we need that? Should we have someone that's signing on one side to make sure that the service is accessible to people, that it's providing sign language, making sure videos are captioned or can have closed captions? All of that, like it's such a team effort and we are a body in that. So I love what you mentioned. Do you feel like there's any other ways that the church can be more accessible to people?


32:21 CHIOMA Yes, I would say even things like making, this is a very simple one to me, but making sermon notes available. Yes. Like you write sermon notes. I don't understand what the big deal is with just if someone asks for it, just sending it to them. like the whole point is for it to bless people. So I remember once being at a church and it was written on kind of white paper, like even just printing it on a coloured paper makes it really easy for people that are neurodivergent to be able to read it. Stuff that we do at our church, like having dark images and brighter writing instead of white backgrounds on on text and black writing. It's just a lot easier. Also just paying attention and things like surveys can be really good. Doing anonymous surveys in the church, finding out what kind of people's needs are. People know that their name is going to be put out, they might not answer honestly. We do those kind of things for things that are a lot less relevant or important. So it's finding out honest opinions. How can we make it easier for you to come to know Jesus within our midst?


33:34 IFY I love that. Thank you for sharing. I wanted to spend just a few moments talking about what motherhood looks like with chronic illness, how you found that journey. Please bring us into that.


33:47 CHIOMA First of all, there's this idea that disabled women don't make great mothers. And in the medical field, there's definitely this discouragement of disabled women actually being mothers. And it's definitely implied, it's definitely said, for sure. I've expressed that a couple of times. I remember years ago, before I was even diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, saying to a doctor, kind of, bear in mind my health. If I did get pregnant, what kind of things should I be thinking about to keep myself healthy, to keep baby healthy? And I remember her just looking at me and thinking, saying to me, like, I wouldn't imagine that someone like you would be thinking of becoming a mother or having a child.


34:32 IFY Wow.


34:33 CHIOMA And when I was pregnant with our son, like just so many hints about, you know, medically ending the pregnancy, which is like, which is obviously an abortion. And I like, I know that I'm not doing that. I believe that every life has value. And I think, first of all, you have to decide that you're not going to believe the rhetoric that disabled women can't have children. I think that's really, really important. As long as it's not putting your life into serious danger and there is a community or even like a way that you can look after the child. I don't

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