I recently passed two important days in my life, not the most important, but important nonetheless. One was on November 14th. That was my birthday. I turned 39 and the countdown to 40 has officially begun. The other was October 4th, which was the day I had what was essentially life-saving surgery that forever changed my life in so many ways.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in middle school. I fought off-and-on battles with the disease throughout middle school with many different medication, treatments, etc., with not-so-nice side effects. In high school, I was fairly fortunate because the disease went into remission and I was able to enjoy most of my high school years free from any major flare-ups.
That was definitely the calm before the storm. Shortly after graduating from high school, the disease came back with a vengeance. The Crohn’s began manifesting itself in ways that are not very appropriate to be detailed about. Over the next two years, my physical pain and malnutrition had increased to the point where my life was confined to a bathroom or a bed. I had lost close to 50 pounds in the span of about six months. I was dying.
I would have died had it not been for God’s kindness to me in giving me a mother who refused to bury her son and a doctor who pointed us in the right direction. Long story short, the only way to save my life was to remove all of the organs that the disease had ravaged. Therefore, on Friday, October 4, 1996, I had all of my large intestine removed (along with a few other things) and woke up from an eight-hour surgery with a permanent ileostomy. Although things didn’t get immediately better because I was so sick going into the surgery.
I stayed in somewhat of a remission for the next 10 years. Then in 2007, the disease returned and I had a second surgery to resect a small part of my small intestine and relocate my stoma. By God’s grace, I have been in remission since then.
As October 4th came around a few months ago, I realized that in two years I will have lived as long with an ostomy as I lived without one. That realization led to me thinking about the past 18 years with an ostomy and my battle with Crohn’s. And somehow I stumbled upon the #ostomy and #crohns hashtags of social media. You have to remember that eighteen years ago there were no Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. As I searched #ostomy and #crohns, I found this world of people of which I am a part. I think seeing their statuses and pictures gave me the courage to post one of my own. So, I posted this picture on Instagram with the following: “My every-four-day routine for the past 18 years. Hard to believe that in only two years I will have lived life with an ostomy for as long as I lived without one. It has been a blessing of eternal proportions. It has been God’s kindness to me.” I believe every word of that post.