In Pieces

THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES OF MEDICAL SITUATIONS.

VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

ME!

ME!

This is a special Saturday post in honor of today being the start of Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week. Congress made December 1-7 of every year a week to bring awareness to Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (sexy, right?) and the people who live with these diseases.

If you’d like to participate in this week’s events, please reach out to your local Congressperson to invite them to become part of the Crohn’s and Colitis Caucus. Tell them my story. I won’t mind. 

This is my (abbreviated) story from the past two and a half years. 

________________________________________________________________________________

It’s weird to think about things in terms of “a year ago, I was…”

So much has happened in the past six months, I still can’t even get my mind around it all. The enormity of it overwhelms me sometimes so I just put my head down and plod forward.

Like a mule.

I got baggage.

I feel like I’ve lost little pieces of myself along the way, literally and figuratively. Maybe they were pieces I didn’t need because I don’t feel as bogged down as I did a year ago, but it hasn’t been an easy road.

Ulcerative colitis took my health and my running for almost two years.

Poison in my body for a year.

One year spent almost entirely on a treadmill because I was so sick.

Married to the treadmill.

And then came the big one. My colectomy. My colostomy bag. The end of being a whole person (in body, not in spirit). No turning back.

Little, innocuous purple spot.

Post-op surgery #1. That purple spot seems A WHOLE LOT bigger now.

4 drains coming out of my body. A stoma I couldn’t look at for days. Barely able to walk. My life changed forever.

Mom took me for a walk every day until I could walk far enough to see the beautiful mural on my floor.

I felt like a freak. I didn’t want anyone to see me, see my stoma. But then my loved ones asked and I suddenly didn’t seem to mind. They marveled at my new “gear” and how fast I was recovering and I started to find my strength again, without my colon and with my new bag.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was Rosebud. She gave me my life back.

I ran outside again. I started my doctorate program. I got back to the business of living. The love of my life gave me the confidence and support I so desperately needed to push forward.

10 mile race? Piece of cake!

And I finally showed the world what colon-free and kicking ass looks like!

Catch me (& Rosebud) if you can.

I felt brave and strong. Until I was in the ER. Until they didn’t know why. Until I was faced with surgery #2 before I was ready.

The ER is not the place to be with a stoma, I promise you.

And then I was back on 14 North. And my Mom was here again, holding my hand, brushing my hair, protecting me. It was like a nightmare.

And she walked me again. And she and my Dad and JB talked me down from the ledge day after day. No matter what anyone said or did, I felt broken.

In pieces.

Back to the drugs.

Here I am. Two months post-op from my second surgery. Five weeks from my last procedure. Feeling like myself again.

No bag. Just scars. Getting healthier every day.

No bag. Just scars. Getting healthier every day.

I feel like I’ve been to Hell and back. Back for all the world to see. To tell other patients that there’s life after surgery. That this disease DOESN’T have to hold you back. That only YOU hold you back.

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I would have never gotten through it alone. I tell everyone about my disease, my surgery, my journey because I refuse to hide.

I will NOTbe silenced. I will NOT be ashamed of my disease. I will NOT be the reason someone else suffers.

I have colitis. I had a colostomy bag. I have a J-pouch now. And I have am a BADASS.

Thank you, Run Stronger community, for your unwavering support. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for sharing mine with others. Keep up the good work.

Now go out and run!

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14 thoughts on “In Pieces

  1. Such an amazing story. YOU are amazing! I’ve only recently commented but have been reading your blog for most of this year, and while I don’t have even a fraction of the IBD that you have had, I have suffered my whole life with having a messed up digestive system and definitely IBS. It SUCKS, in any capacity you deal with it. It’s embarrassing. But you can only let it hold you back as much as you will let it. You have beat it and then some, girl! My hero! :-)

  2. This had me in tears. My best friend has been living with Crohn’s since 2006. Tomorrow, we are running her first half marathon together, the Vegas Rock N Roll, with Team Challenge for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

    The amount of courage you have shown — never giving up and coming out the other end of your surgeries in a good mental place — is inspiring! In fact I’ve shared your story with my Team and we’ve included you as one of our “heroes.” :D

    You are amazing!

  3. I am a newbie to running and need a friend to guide me. I too have an ostomy and it has beaten me down long enough. I want to do a marathon but am scared to start running alone.Anybody on Long Island,NY want to train a disability ridden girl who’s sick and tired of being sick and tired?????????????????? Please respond to me on how to get started one foot at a time and if anyone wants to help me out there………..I thank you in advance Kerriann

  4. This left me speechless. You are amazing Abby. Seriously so strong and so brave. Thank you so much for sharing your story, for standing up, for not hiding and for kicking ass the whole way. I know that it might not feel like it sometimes because it’s hard but you are so inspiring to so many people.

  5. You.are.so.BADASS.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I didn’t know anything about Crohns or Colitis really before I started reading your blog. Thanks for educating all of us, and for being YOU. As others have said, you’re an inspiration!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your story. I saw your pictures on Google Images. I face a surgery for Anal Pre-Cancer Stage 1-2. I’m very worried about the possibility of something going wrong (colostomy bag). Thank you for being brave enough to show that no matter what we face…we’re stronger than we think and are able to overcome it.

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