I’ve conquered quite a few personal battles since being diagnosed and having surgery. I went back to work, went out to dinner and even had my first alcoholic beverage in 2 years 🙂 Today, I did something I never thought I would be doing with an ostomy. I had my picture professionally taken with my boss to be featured in Capital Style Magazine’s winter issue. Capital Style is a popular women’s lifestyle magazine located in Columbus, Ohio. I was just thinking how crazy it is that I would schedule this to happen while I have my ostomy. My picture, being posted all over Columbus, for thousands of people to see, with an ostomy under my shirt.
Can you tell? Nope. I pulled out one of my fashion tricks and threw on a cute scarf. Was I even thinking about my ostomy showing. Honestly, no! I was more worried about whether you could see my cute lipstick or not.
Over the past 3 months, which have gone so fast, I have overcome so many of my fears and anxieties. I often wonder what other people going through the same situation as me are afraid of. It’s nice when I read about other peoples stories or fears and I can relate with them. I remember my biggest fear when I had UC was getting in the car. I used to try to close my eyes and pretend that I was somewhere else. I used to try to hum or sing songs, move my foot around, bend forward, put my knees up. You name it, I’ve tried it. Not being close to a bathroom is a scary thing when you’re living with Crohn’s or Colitis.
My therapist even told me to try deep breaths and imaginative thinking to help my pain. I can tell you right now that nothing works when you begin to experience the indescribable pain that comes on when your colon is attacking itself. Besides getting in the car, the unpredictable pain of my disease was by far the greatest of all my fears. The question I would be asked the most when I was sick was. “What does it feel like?” Anyone with UC or Crohn’s will tell you the same answer. That it’s hard to describe. It’s electrifying. Everything around you stops. I swear I used to see red when my pain would start.
The worst part about it is that it never ends and you never know when it’s coming. You know that if you eat, you will eventually feel pain. Which in turn makes you develop a fear of eating. Sitting anywhere but your house or apartment is scary in general. I look back now and think, “how did I survive all those fears?” Living in pain and in fear is the hardest thing to do. It’s like you have to motivate yourself every day to just get out of bed and take your first breath.
I know I said that my pain was my greatest fear. But I’m going to scratch that. My biggest fear was always having surgery and living with an ostomy. 5 months ago if you would have told me I would be living, working, playing with an ostomy, I probably would have slammed my bedroom door in your face. I would have told you I don’t want to hear about it, just like I told my parents countless times. Maybe that’s why when the time finally came when my doctors and family told me I had to get one, it felt so unreal. Because I was so afraid of the reality that I didn’t want to believe it.
Now that I actually have an ostomy and have been living with it for over 3 months now, what am I afraid of? Nothing. I wake up everyday like a normal human being, without having to be afraid of where a bathroom is or how long my next car trip is going to be. Am I ever nervous that something bad is going to happen with my ostomy? Sometimes, but very rarely. The only feeling I have often is excitement. Excited that I can workout, eat and go out with my friends. Excited for my next surgery (which is now only 8 weeks away!!!!) Excited for things that I would have taken for granted a year ago. To put on a shirt without having to look in the mirror a million times, to not have to worry about carrying extra supplies in my purse, to take a shower and look down and see my normal, beautiful and BARE stomach!
That time will come, but for now I try to focus on the fact that I am living life again. I know I say that a lot, but for people with IBD it means the world. God only puts in front of you what He thinks you can handle. Well, He must think I can handle a lot, because I’ve overcome fears and obstacles that I never would have dreamed of happening to me and I couldn’t be happier.