I can’t believe tomorrow is my one year anniversary of being colon-less! When I think back to this day last year, it was the worst of my life. I remember being so angry. I wasn’t sad, depressed, or even scared of the impending surgery I faced the next day. I was so, so angry.
Angry at who, what though? I will admit that I am one that has to find blame for any problem I run into. I was trying to put on a brave face, trying to muster up all of the courage I could find, suppress the anger and tell myself that it was going to be ok. When in fact, in my mind, nothing was ok.
We went to church the morning before my surgery, because it was a Sunday. I looked up from my pew, near death and so sick I could barely stand, looked up and asked God, “Why?” “Why is this happening to me, what does this all mean, where am I supposed to go from here, how am I going to live this next year of my life in and out of surgery, with an ostomy?”
I stood and cried silently to myself, searching for anything I could think of that may have helped comfort me, but I could find nothing.
After church we went to one of our favorite lunch spots (I couldn’t eat, why was I even out) I think everyone was just trying to distract themselves from what was happening the next day. I sat at that table across from my dad and sister, sitting next to my mom, and felt so alone. I felt like no one, even the people who were closest to me, understood what I was going through. That I was being forced into this and how was it possible that we tried everything? We couldn’t have tried everything. There had to be something else out there that would fix this.
Surgery was never supposed to happen.
That night I did everything I could to sleep. I’m sure I did, as I was on so much medication back then to help get me to the next day. I wrote a letter to my favorite TV personality, Andy Cohen and tweeted him. I remember reading a response from him on twitter was the first time I had smiled in 4 days.
I woke up and we drove to the Cleveland Clinic. I went into that surgery with no fear; I suddenly felt a sense of realization. Knowing that this was the only option, I would get through it. I couldn’t live the way I was living anymore. It was time for my life to change. I sat on the bed, had my picc line hooked up to the necessary IV’s, said my good-byes to my mom and dad and touched my stomach one final time.
The last thing I remember is my surgeon waving to me from the corner. He was sitting at a computer.
I woke up and felt better than I had in 2 years. But the new ostomy on my stomach startled me. As much as I tried to tell myself to, “be strong,” I couldn’t.
I cried, a lot. I panicked.
I tried to distract myself with silly movies or cartoons on my ipad, anything to keep my mind off of what was happening with my body.
My ostomy hit me hard when I was putting on clothes to leave the hospital. I couldn’t put on my normal clothes without it showing through. I remember being so frustrated in the hospital bathroom.
We got home and I cried the next day, sitting on the couch, my dad asked me why I was crying.
“We couldn’t have tried everything,” I cried. “There had to have been something else.”
My dad became angry, and explained to me that there was nothing left. No trials, nothing. This was the only option.
I was so incredibly lost.
As the days went by, I had a few break downs, but I realized that it was better for me to be open then to keep what was going on to myself. My friends, family and the general public needed to know that Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are not diseases that come without struggle. I almost died from my disease, I’ve worn an ostomy at 24, I’ve had 3 surgeries, countless hospital stays, numerous prescription drugs, some that only made me sicker.
The openness is what saved me, what changed my attitude. If I had chosen to be closed off, and stayed angry, I am certain I would have never accomplished anything. Then what would all of that suffering have been for?
The important thing is that I’m sitting here, a year later, with my jpouch, happy, working, living, loving. I made it through. Thinking that all of that happened a year ago tomorrow is so humbling. It reminds me of the struggle I came from. Why I am the way I am.
Remember, there is always comfort in your suffering. There is someone out there who understands what you’re going through, no matter what it is. Find your open place. Even if it’s in secrecy, be open and honest with someone, even if it’s writing in a journal or blog.
Happy 1 year colitis free to me!