I have been thinking lately about how much things have changed in the past couple of years. I honestly feel like I am a different person with completely different worries and concerns.
I just spent this weekend on a trip to the mountains with my work. It was a play trip that we got as a bonus for hitting one of our goals last year. And it was really a lot of fun. I haven’t been at this job for that long, so this was one of my first opportunities to get to know everybody in a more relaxed setting. I am very thankful to work in a place where I can enjoy a weekend away with friends.
But even more than that, I am thankful for the ability to enjoy this weekend without worrying about how I would feel or all of the things that could have happened.
We rented a full-size bus for this weekend and took it on a four-hour drive. A couple of years ago, that would have terrified me. There was a bathroom on the bus, but that is the worst nightmare for someone with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Driving on someone else’s terms without an easy ability to jump off of the next exit to find a bathroom used to be one of my biggest worries. In this scenario, I probably would have driven all by myself just to have the option of finding a bathroom when I needed it. But I didn’t have to worry about that this weekend. Sure, my bag started filling up along the way, but I had the ability to empty it on my terms.
I think we all can agree that we’d much rather use the bathroom in our own room, rather than a public one. My room was up a flight of stairs and down a hall and not once did I need to run down that hall and hope that my room key would work the first time and get the toilet in time. It was easy to sneak away when I needed to go back to the room.
I’ve mentioned that I am training for another half-marathon in a couple of months, so I knew I needed to stay on schedule this weekend. Fortunately, there’s a group of runners that I work with, so we decided to go for a trail run yesterday morning. We went out for about an hour and ran in the snow and made our way to the top of the highest peak on the grounds. It was a long, hard incline to get to the top, but the view was so worth it! (The picture doesn’t do it justice.)
The last time I went on a mountain trip was right about three months before my surgery and some friends and I rented out a cabin for the weekend. We were at the very end of a long winding road and there was one point that weekend where the girls decided to go for a walk down the mountain. I made it to about the end of the driveway when I knew I had to turn back. And unfortunately, it was a very long driveway. So I went back by myself and it took everything I had to get back to the top of that hill and hold everything in at the same time. It was miserable.
But this time, I made it all the way up that hill and the only problem I had was the leg strength it took to get there! And standing on top of that mountain, I was so thankful that I could even make it there. I felt like I have come so far since that other trip on the same weekend just two years ago. And the four mile run it took to get there seemed to really represent that.
When I say that getting an ostomy gave me back my life, I mean it with all of my heart. I would not be the same person I am today without being willing to give up one my vital organs. The funny part is, I actually had one point this weekend where my bag started to pull off and I had to make a run upstairs to change it before it started to leak, and I didn’t even care. It seemed like such a small trade-off for what I have been given. For the first time in my life, I can look at that mountain and know I will make it to the top.