The birth of freedom from Crohn's disease thanks to my ostomy.

Today we celebrate the 4th of July and our country's independence. That got me thinking about the freedom I felt after having ostomy surgery. 

When I had a permanent ileostomy placed at age 21, I was depressed over how long I'd have to live with it. The days ahead seemed unbearable, let alone thinking about the next decades. It can be so hard, almost impossible, to see past all of the physical and emotional pain to the light at the end of the tunnel.

It took many years of working on self-acceptance to appreciate the life I was given. I felt like giving up because I was looking at how far I had to go, but 23 years later I can now see how far I've come.

Sometimes I forget to give thanks for the greatest gift of all—independence.

I’m able to live and work where I want. I’m able to travel and experience new things. I am in charge of my own health and nutrition. I have the ability to be an informed proactive patient when faced with any medical treatment.

My ileostomy makes me pay attention, so I stay in tune with my body.

I've learned to understand the flow of my digestive system. I am aware of what causes my body discomfort and know how to make simple adjustments to prevent further complications. I am mindful of what I drink and eat, knowing that nourishing food is important to keeping my body healthy and resilient. I’m also conscious of how dehydration affects my energy levels, mood and even the bond that keeps the wafer on my stomach.

Sometimes I forget to give thanks for the greatest reality of all—freedom.

I am free to believe what I wish and worship where I want. I am free to choose my opinions and reactions, accepting the consequences of both. I am free to express myself and use the power within me to create the life I want. From 1776 until present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence thanks to our Founding Fathers. From 1994 until present day, I celebrate the birth of freedom from Crohn's disease thanks to my ostomy.