THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES OF MEDICAL SITUATIONS.
VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
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 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.
One year spent almost entirely on a treadmill because I was so sick.
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.
4 drains coming out of my body. A stoma I couldn’t look at for days. Barely able to walk. My life changed forever.
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.
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.
And I finally showed the world what colon-free and kicking ass looks like!
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.
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.
Here I am. Two months post-op from my second surgery. Five weeks from my last procedure. Feeling like myself again.
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.
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!