Last night was my first night back in therapy, which I currently really need. I can pretend for days, weeks, months that I don’t hate this. That I’m not angry that this all happened to me. But all that eventually does is build up and lead to a breakdown like I had the other week.
Therapy is so helpful when you are going through something that you feel like you can’t control. Which is exactly what my therapist helped me see last night. I have always been in control of my life. Making smart decisions that I knew were the best for the rest of my life. I always have planned to be a successful, driven person. I don’t like to feel lazy or like I’m not doing anything. When I was sick, I still forced myself to find a new job after my old one wouldn’t take me back, regardless of the countless hours I logged there sick as ever. In the days leading up to my final diagnosis right before they caught the parasites, I was lying to my parents about working. They begged me to stop, please come home. No way was I letting my illness stop me from working 12 hours a day. So help me God, I was literally peeling myself off of my bathroom floor to even make it. One night in particular sticks out in my head. I had just gotten out of the shower. I felt so weak and I had to be at work in only an hour. I sat on my bathroom floor in only a towel, forcing jell-o down my own throat.
Looking back on that now, I told my therapist that I wonder all the time if I am the own cause of my demise. If the stress and pressure I put on myself caused my surgery. I admitted to her that when my doctors would put me on high doses of prednisone in the beginning, that I would secretly take a lot less. I was not going to be suffering from the disgusting side effects of prednisone while I was trying to get work done. Not only that, I didn’t stop work when my parents and doctors advised me not too. I wasn’t going to let this disease have control over my life.
My doctor shared with me a great point. I’m always trying to look for something or someone to blame for what happened to me. Looking for my control. When in reality, it’s no ones fault, not even my own. My disease became so bad so quick that I didn’t have time to try and think of someone to blame. Unfortunately, I still catch myself thinking all the time, “why, how, who?” When really, I will never have those answers. I have to work with what’s in front of me and keep trying, even if it hurts so bad some days.
I discussed with her how on the day I found out I had to lose my colon, I hated my surgeon. I was backed into a corner. TOLD that I was going to have surgery, with no option otherwise. That, is where I lost all control over my life.
If I’ve learned anything from all of this, it’s that challenges are given to you for a reason. All of us have battles to face, life barriers to overcome. How you handle those challenges will show how strong of a person you are. I can sit in my room at my parents house until I get my j-pouch and mope all I want, but that isn’t going to change the fact that I have to deal with all of this.
There are days when I’m really proud of myself, I told her. I often reflect on my hardest days and how they still are affecting me emotionally. When I first had to get the Humira shots, which felt like strong electrical currents in both my thighs and both sides of my abdomen. I went to that appointment thinking, shots, please. Bring it on. I remember laughing instead of crying after the nurse injected me with the medicine. Saying to her, “Are you serious!?” “This hurts THAT bad?!” She told me that she has an adult male patient with Crohn’s that has to come see her for his Humira injection every due date, that he can’t give it to himself like you’re eventually supposed to. Anyone that has the strength to inflict that much pain on themselves, bravo, because I could NEVER have done it. Humira was the last drug we tried before I knew I was going to have to have surgery. The nurse told me that Humira has worked like a miracle drug for many UC patients, feeling better after only 3 days. I remember praying to God that this would be my miracle. By the time the due date for my next 2 Humira shots came and I still had found no relief (in fact, I became worse, my disease process in my body was almost at 100%) I knew it was over for me and my colon.
Another day that really sticks out in my mind was during my 3rd hospital stay. I told my dad (who is a doctor as well) that I read that people who began vomiting with UC often had an inflamed gallbladder, hoping that might be the case with me. My doctors ordered me an ultrasound. A nurse (one that I specifically did not like) came into my room at 3 p.m. and told me I couldn’t eat for the rest of the day, that I was going to get an ultrasound at 9:30 p.m. I wanted to say, “Lady, are you kidding? I actually feel good today, have been eating a few light snacks and you’re going to take that away from me?” As 9:30 drew closer and closer, my hunger pain grew higher and higher. I don’t know if it’s like this for any other UC sufferer, but when I would get really hungry, my symptoms would intensify. My stomach would cramp over, more blood and more trips to the bathroom. They rolled me down in my hospital bed to the x-ray room. The x-ray technician began pressing down on my stomach SO hard with the machine, on top of my already intense pain from starving. That x-ray sent me into the worst flare on top of an already flare I had ever had. She had to stand outside the bathroom, holding up my IV bags. I was so embarrassed and in so much pain. She had to keep wiping off the gel from my stomach, helping me up and walking me to the bathroom with my 50 IV bags. You want to know what that x-ray/ultrasound showed? Nothing. That my gallbladder was fine, in fact, it was small.
Those are just 2 among the many days I spent suffering with that horrible disease. I told my therapist I realize that when I’m acting out and saying I’d rather still be sick I’m not remembering how hard being that sick actually was. I’m not being the best person that I can be. I can complain, blame and whine day in and day out. That’s not going to change a thing. Even the tea I was drinking the other night told me, “feel great, act great and approve of yourself.” The only way I’m going to gain back any sort of control of myself like I had before I was sick, is to try my best to control my emotions. I have a lot of people counting on me to finish strong. Of course I’m going to have days when I don’t want to see or talk to anyone, but that is ok and everyone who loves me is going to have to realize that. I’m a fighter, I’ve always been that way. I’ve always fought for what I really wanted. Good grades, trying to look the best I can, being the best friend, sister, girlfriend I can be. Above all, I have shown I can fight extreme suffering and illness. I can’t let that reputation slide just because of a few emotions, I’ve worked too damn hard.