Category Archives: Grad School

The Stolen Colon turns 4

It was 4 years ago today when I started The Stolen Colon. At the time, I was dealing with some really severe Crohn’s disease symptoms and I wasn’t even sure yet what I was going to do as far as surgery or treatment or anything. I say I wasn’t sure, but really, I think I knew surgery was inevitable, but I wasn’t able to fully admit that quite yet. (I mean, why else would I call my blog “The Stolen Colon” if I didn’t know what was coming??) I remember after leaving the consult with my surgeon to set up the surgery, I asked him how soon I needed to let him know if I wanted to cancel so as to not mess up his schedule too much. I knew I wasn’t going to cancel, but knowing that I wasn’t 100% committed just yet gave me a little peace of mind.

I started this blog because I was scared. I was scared of the surgery and what having an ostomy bag would mean for my relationship, my self-esteem, and just my life from that point on. I can’t remember the particular moment that I decided I wanted to start a blog, but I remember searching for people who had been through this surgery before me. I found a few brave individuals out there who were sharing their stories and I will always be grateful for them. But even then, I didn’t find enough. I remember thinking, “If I have to go through all of this, I at least want it to be helpful to someone else.”

the stolen colon blog post ileostomy crohn's disease inflammatory bowel ulcerative colitis stephanie hughes

I felt very alone during this time. I felt like no one could understand what I was going through and the decision I was having to make. So I started writing about it. It was partly to help myself process everything, and partly because I didn’t want other people to feel as alone as I did. I had no idea at the time the world it would open up to me.

My first post was titled: The blog I didn’t want to write. And that still rings true. I never wanted any of this. I never wanted to be “that girl who blogs about her ostomy.” But in doing so, I realized how many other people could understand what I was going through and had dealt with the same uncertainties I had.

You may also notice that I focused on Crohn’s disease in that first post, because that’s what I knew and what I was already comfortable with. I don’t know that I had much to say about ostomies at the time other than I didn’t want one! It’s amazing to think about how much has changed in just 4 years.

By starting The Stolen Colon, I have been given an opportunity to use what I have learned and experienced and help others not feel the same way I did when I was going through with my surgery. I am so happy that there are many more advocates writing and talking today, and there is a much bigger support network for those living with an ostomy. And while I may not have wanted this, I am glad for where starting this blog has led me to today. And I look forward to where it will go from here.

Please excuse me, my brain is fried

So as anyone who has been following The Stolen Colon for any length of time probably knows, I tend to over book myself. I think this happens for a couple of reasons… first of all, I do have a problem saying ‘no.’ I’m just not good at it. And secondly, almost all of the things I get involved in I really WANT to do, which makes it even harder to say ‘no.’

Right now, I’m in the middle of a bunch of big life moments. Four, to be exact. I have made my way through two of them: Running a half-marathon and being a part of the planning committee for CCFA’s Take Steps Walk. But I am still having to prepare for the next two: Finishing up my graduate school research study and taking a really big trip with my husband.

I have been pretty overwhelmed with things lately and, sad to say, finding time to write on here tends to be the first thing that falls to the side. Especially when I feel that I am spending every waking moment dealing with this research project and whenever I have a moment to breathe, I feel that my brain is so tired that trying to do something like writing more just doesn’t sound appealing. Usually anything beyond sitting on the couch or taking a nap doesn’t sound appealing.

research project graduate school study final paper writing stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd blog ostomySo I am really looking forward to having this research project completed. (It has to be in just 5 days!) It has been a really interesting project, as I have had to opportunity to focus on IBD-related things, and I am excited to share it all with you at some point.

I am also looking forward to tell you about the Take Steps Walk we had over the weekend. It was a crazy day of running around and trying to get everything done, but we had a beautiful day for it and raised over $100,000!

But all of that will come soon. As I mentioned, I will finish up this project by next Monday and then I hop a plane for Europe just 3 days later! I am really excited to have a few days of vacation and nothing to worry about besides not getting lost in Italy and finding some place with yummy pasta. And once I get home from that trip, it’s time for a breather. I am trying my best not to make many plans for the weeks that follow because I just want to enjoy some down time.

I’m in the homestretch. The light at the end of the tunnel is rapidly approaching, which just means I have to kick it into high gear for the last few miles. I look forward to catching up on here soon. So, until then…

Arrivederci, inverno

I will never understand how the months continue to fly by so quickly that you hardly even notice them coming or going. It seems that every time I turn around I’m looking at another month and another set of things that need to be done in the following four weeks.

april spring flowers warm hot weather season stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd blog ostomy

On the bright side, however, Spring has finally decided to make its way to North Carolina. And it’s really coming on strong. I believe we got up to 86-degrees today. And while I usually do like a bit of more transition in between my seasons, I am not complaining about the heat because all I care about is the fact that the cold is gone! And I’m just hoping it’ll stay that way.

March was a little sad for me on here. I hate that I didn’t get the opportunity to write more on The Stolen Colon, but things have really picked up around here. But thankfully (and hopefully!) April is my last month, at least for the foreseeable future, where I have more things to do than I have time to do it in. So as long as I can make it through the next 30 or so days, I’ll be in the clear.

I have a few major events going on this month. I actually am heading out-of-town next week for a work trip in Florida and I will be gone for four days. Two days after I return is my third half-marathon race. And just two weeks after that is the Take Steps Walk for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and I am on the planning committee. And during all of this, I am having to conduct my research for my grad school project and getting the information ready to present as a final report. Needless to say, I am a little worried about being able to get it all done.

Usually in times like this, I just take a deep breath and take it a day at a time. But the fact that so many of the things going on this month need a lot of leg work and planning done beforehand, that practice doesn’t seem to be working well for me. I am having to think about three steps ahead and try to get as much done in each day as I possibly can.

There is good news, however. Well, first of all, let me say that none of this is bad news. These are all things that I really love and enjoy and I am so glad to be participating in all of them… I just wish they didn’t happen to be going on all at the same time. But I do have big plans for unwinding afterwards. My husband and I are planning our first trip to Europe!

As soon as we get to May, I have my final paper due that first week and then three days later we will be boarding a plane for Italy. I am so excited! We haven’t taken a big trip since our honeymoon and, like I said, this will be both of our first trips to Europe. And I am so looking forward to not worrying about anything that I need to be doing and just enjoying the history and the food… and the wine!

It’s going to be amazing. Although, I haven’t had much of a chance to really think about it because there are so many other things that need to be thought about right now. But in the back of my mind, I know that all I need to do is push my way through the next five weeks and prepare for an incredible trip.

  • The Stolen Colon
    • Plan things ahead of time so I don’t run out of time and not put up any new content.
  • Grad School
    • Finish research and interviews for my project.
    • Work in small amounts whenever I can so I’m not overwhelmed with too much all at one time.
  • Work
    • Enjoy my first work trip to Florida!
    • But don’t let the trip put me behind on everything else I need to do.
  • Training
    • Finish out the final two weeks of my training strong.
    • Run a great half-marathon! (And hopefully PR!!)
  • Personal
    • Work hard on the CCFA Walk for the next three weeks so we can put on an amazing fundraiser for Crohn’s disease & ulcerative colitis research.
    • Finish up planning for trip to Italy.
    • Find some time to breathe.