I have found through the circumstances I have found myself in the past two years the only thing that helped changed the way I felt was my attitude. I am a true believer, now more than ever, that your attitude towards any situation, whatever it might be, will change even what you might think is the worst possible situation.
I have noticed on the days when I don’t feel the greatest, are the days when my attitude also isn’t either. I’m too tired and don’t want to go to work, I let someone ruin my day or my mood, or my jpouch is giving me frustrations.
I learned something a few weeks ago during a meeting at work that has really stuck with me and I think could be applied to a lot of different situations in life, not just in the workplace. The advice stated, “the only way someone is going to ruin your mood or day, is if you give them permission to do so.” That applies to situations as well, especially health related ones.
The only person in charge of your attitude, your mood, your determination, your anything, is you. You have to find it in yourself to accept what is happening and try to make the best of it.
I am constantly thinking back to this time last year, when I couldn’t even get out bed. The month of June strikes such a weird feeling in me now. My attitude last year was that of giving up, and that’s exactly what my body was mirroring. After months and months of pure suffering, my mindset was reflecting my health situation.
I’m sure any of you that might read this blog regularly might know with experience that when you don’t have your health, it’s hard to really have anything. But I wasn’t allowing myself to have anything. I was angry when anyone would speak to me about having my colon removed. I would shut down when someone recommended looking into the surgeries and how it might benefit my life. I shrugged off suggestions of taking a higher dose of prednisone, more of my 5ASA medications. I didn’t want to do any of it. Maybe because I didn’t want to admit that at 24 I had absolutely no control over what was happening to me.
I am such a control freak. When I was at my sickest I was seeing a therapist and she made that suggestion to me. That maybe since I felt so out of control of what was happening to me, that it was making me angry and stressed, therefore making my disease process worse.
You know what? She was right.
I thought I had it all under control. But when it came down to it, I had nothing under control, including my attitude. It was so incredibly negative that I was moving nowhere fast.
By the time June 28th rolled around and it was time to meet my surgeon for the first time, I was so deep in this black hole of illness, disease and anger that I didn’t want to hear anything from anyone anymore. I just wanted to take my pain medicine and go to bed. When he said that sentence to me, “you have three days,” I’ll never forget that sentence, that day, that second. That’s when my entire attitude shifted from angry to determined.
It took me a few minutes to snap out of my tantrum/blackout, but once I did, I realized that this was all happening for a reason. This man was telling me this because I didn’t have a life to have control of. I couldn’t make any decisions for myself because there were none left to be made. Was that path my fault? I don’t know, I don’t think so. There are still times to this day where I think, “Did I do everything I could have possibly done to prevent all of this?”
Even if I had would it matter? There are so many more questions that could go on forever. But I know that sentence that changed my attitude changed my life as well. I realized that there was more to life than vanity, than living with this disease that had taken the control from me. I realized that helping people who suffer should be more important than how I personally felt about having an ostomy, about going to the bathroom 60 times a day, about being embarrassed to tell people that I was sick, it all changed.
As soon as it did, everything got better. I read others stories of determination and positivity and realized that they were the most beautiful people I had ever seen in my life. The most positive people, to me, are the most beautiful. They can take any situation and spin it so that it makes you feel better. And they aren’t doing it for themselves, they’re doing it to actually HELP another.
That’s when I decided to start Companion Magazine. I tell people all the time that helping people and having them tell me that my story has changed their life is the best reward I have ever gotten.
So, reflecting on this time of year, when even walking outside, seeing the leaves on the trees or my pool being opened reminds me of being sick, it also reminds me of the change that occurred within me. I can look back and think of this time last year of the time when I almost died and lost my life, or I can look at it as the time when my life and my reason for being on this earth changed.
I was given that disease, those surgeries, and this new colon as a gift. Not a gift for myself, but for other people. It is so important to look outside yourself and at the bigger picture, because there is always a bigger picture. It’s so easy to get caught up in what you’re going through, but if you take, even just a second, to consider what someone else might be going through, or how you can take your negative situation and make it positive, then I promise you will feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.
I remember that weight being lifted when I wiped the tears from my face, stood up straight, and told the lady who drew my blood for my immediate pre-op tests that I was having my colon out Monday. I accepted it, brushed myself off the best that I could and put one foot in front of the other.
Am I perfect? No. Do I still have days where I hate my jpouch and get frustrated with what I have to deal with. Sure do. On days where I’m having pain or when I feel like I’m going to the bathroom a lot I want to find someone to blame. That’s a big fault of mine. I can never accept responsibility for what is going on with me. Maybe I’m having pain because I ate something wrong, or maybe I’m going to the bathroom a lot because I had some coffee when I know I’m not supposed to.
It’s easy to blame your disease, your doctors, or someone else for a bad situation. But the first thing that you AND I should be doing is looking in the mirror.
It’s perfectly fine to have days when you might be feeling a little down about your health situation or something else that is bothering you. I always try to find the light in the situation!