Did I blink and this was over? I officially have NO ostomy. I am speechless. It’s great, better than you could ever imagine. My life is back, my freedom is back, my family’s freedom is back and all of that is priceless.
As I lay in my hospital bed, for hopefully the last time for a long time, I can’t help but to think about how fast this all went. Do you want to know why I feel like it went so fast? Because I had a positive attitude towards all of it for the majority of the time. Am I perfect? No, far from it. Have I handled this situation with grace and positivity? I can tell you that I have given it my best effort, but there have been break downs and that is ok. I went through a lot of things to fix those negative thoughts and actions. It was a lot of work, but now that I’m at the end I can tell you with 100% certainty that it was worth it.
I always catch myself asking others if they could give anyone who is newly diagnosed or who just had their surgery advice, what would it be? After these past few days experiencing my last surgery and its aftermath, I know what mine would be.
It can’t be as simple as just staying strong. Because there are so many more things and much more effort it takes to be a true survivor than just saying that you’re strong. Actions speak louder than words and that is true. You have to do everything you can to show that you are more powerful than a diagnosis, you have to realize that there are other people who are going through similar situations that may not only have it worse than you, but that may be looking up to you.
Sure, it’s understandable to be afraid and confused. It is lonely to be diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, or you may feel bad about yourself when you learn you have to wear an ostomy for a certain amount of time. But there isn’t anything you can do to change any of the cards that were dealt to you, all you can do is bet with them to the best of your knowledge. Because there is something more important than money on the line, it’s your future and you choose what you want to do with it.
There were many times when I thought I would spend my future with my ostomy or with ulcerative colitis curled up in my bed or in my bathroom. But I wasn’t so tough laying on the bathroom floor. I wasn’t accomplishing anything by allowing this disease to beat me. I wasn’t making anyone proud by screaming at the top of my lungs how badly I didn’t want to have an ostomy. No matter how many times I said no, the inevitable was going to happen. This happened because, I believe, it was time for me to learn how to live my life to the fullest. Not necessarily partying or drinking, staying out late, traveling, spending money, and all the other things normal twenty-somethings partake in, but appreciating the little things in life. Like being able to put make up on without being in an intense amount of pain, or by going to a public place without having to panic about where the bathroom is.
When I got my ostomy everything changed. I hated it at first and that was no way to spend my time productively. I had to pick myself up, brush the dirt off of my shoulders and keep moving. Who wants to be known as the girl or the guy that let an ostomy beat them? Who allowed a life saving surgery to bring out the negativity, instead of all of the blessings that were in fact, hidden.
Looking back I am in disbelief that I look down at my stomach and see only and just that, my stomach, with a square gauze over the place that my ostomy used to be. The thing I one hated, but the thing that saved my life. I will forever be able to look at that scar and remember the lessons that it taught me without even being a living, breathing, individual. It taught me more about myself than I have ever learned from any relationship with any person, maybe that’s because I found such an independence within my ostomy, I found what it takes to be a stronger woman, someone who understands suffering and sickness. Happenings that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but those that I think everyone should have the privilege of learning at a young age like me.
24 was such a perfect age to experience all of this. There really is no perfect time to get deathly ill and put your life on hold, but if I had to choose, this age would have been it. I have such an excellent support system, my parents graciously take care of my health care costs and still support me through every walk of this life, I have friends who are mature enough to understand that sitting at a table by themselves for half of our get together was just part of being friends with me. I have a boyfriend who shows his patience while I run and use our only bathroom in our one bed/bath apartment. That is how it has had to be for a long time now, it’s what everyone is acclimated too. Now, it’s time to get used to health again. It’s time to laugh and smile and really mean it. It’s time to get dressed and love my clothes again. It’s time to stop grabbing at my stomach every 3 minutes checking to see if I need to change my pouch. All of that is over, but just because it’s over doesn’t mean it will ever go away.
I’m sitting in my hospital room now, my surgeon just told me I could go home tomorrow after just having surgery yesterday. I’m still having some rough pain and cramping in my lower abdomen, but nothing I haven’t experienced or fought through before, which is probably why he always lets me go home so early. By the time I go home tomorrow, I will have only been in the hospital for 2 and a half days. A new record for me 🙂
It’s time to celebrate, I’ve been waiting for this day for months and months and months. Since the day I laid on the bathroom floor at Average Joe’s begging to know what’s wrong with me. It’s time to figure out where life is going to take me and my jpouch, where I can find a new, exciting job in an even newer more exciting city where I don’t have to have a care in the world about where the bathroom is. It’s time to vacation and road trip and not have anxiety about the nearest toilet or whether I’m going to have an accident or be in excruciating pain.
I’m not only going to celebrate my 25th birthday this year, I’m going to celebrate my “re-birth,” because I AM starting over again. All over. A new life, new goals, new things to look forward to other than surgeries and doctors appointments, and instead look forward to vacations and new life discoveries. Now, how exciting is that?
Oh, a few more exciting things to add to that list? I WILL be able to eat whatever I want again, eventually. Shellfish, sure. Popcorn, in small amounts, nuts, quite rarely and spicy food with caution, but I will be normal. I can eat, sleep, talk, love and live like the 25-year-old woman that I have been re-born into.
So, what is my final advice to those newly diagnosed or those who have chosen to have surgeries completed. Congratulations on deciding to get your life back and for giving yourself the opportunity to live again.
Patience is virtue and the truth will set you free.