After 7 years of ups and downs with ulcerative colitis my story is finally coming to an end. Less than 24 hours before I’m in the operating room.
I had hoped after the last surgery that my ileostomy would be reversed and I would be “normal” again, but unfortunately my body had other plans.
I was deflated when I found out my ileostomy was going to be permanent. Mostly because my expectations and my reality were clashing…
I flew rapidly through the stages of grief.
Denial: There’s no way my surgeon is right. He should take another look. The whole point of leaving my rectum the last time was so this would not be permanent.
Bargaining: There are SO MANY medical advances—there’s got to be something else that can be done. Maybe he is wrong. Will he just TRY anyway? (that was a solid, “NO” by the way)
Anger & Depression: Why is my body such a piece of shit?! Why the hell can’t I just be normal? Nothing ever goes as planned. I can’t believe this is happening to me.
And slowly, I’m coming to Acceptance: “It is what it is.”
The truth is that my ileostomy has given me more than it’s ever taken away.
Prior to having ostomy surgery, I was so sick. I was on a multitude of medications, from pills to monthly infusions. I couldn’t even take a walk around my neighborhood most days without succumbing to excruciating pain and embarrassing accidents. Most of my communication with my family was had between the door of the bathroom – them on outside and me on the inside. It was miserable.
Once the toxic colon was removed from my body I healed tremendously fast. I always joked that my body was just “ready” after so many years of torture. An anticipated 5-day hospital stay turned into three, and an anticipated 6-8 week recovery turned into two.
Sure, I’ve had some embarrassing moments… the moments when the bowel bag wants to leak… you know, on a new date, at a party, shopping, while I’m sleeping, in a meeting at work.
Luckily, I have a morbid sense of humor and an uncanny ability to laugh at myself. My humor is a survival tactic I developed during my brutal journey.
But guess what I can do with an ileostomy?
Anything you can do without one.
And that’s a much better situation than the one I was living in with ulcerative colitis.
So, I’ll just wear my bag, until death do us part, with gratitude and grace.
Some things in life just don’t make sense, but we always have the choice to embrace it and make the best out of it. Scars are proof you survived. They are marks of strength, resilience, and perseverance. Release any doubt. Wear them with pride.
If you’re struggling with something, regardless of the circumstances, I challenge you to rethink your situation. Look at it from a positive perspective. Seek a way to grow from it, to change, to use it to impact someone else who is struggling. It doesn’t matter what it is… we all have unique struggles that we overcome… let it be your testimony.