I'm really excited to introduce you to a courageous and inspirational woman today.
Her name is Stacey and she has Ulcerative Colitis.
Stacey lived a few doors down from me when I was a kid and
I recently came upon her new blog IBD Baggage Claim through Instagram and I knew I share her incredible and encouraging story on my blog.
Stacey wrote a little about her journey living with Ulcerative Colitis below for my blog but I encourage everyone to stop by her blog to learn even more.
We all come with a little extra baggage. That is my new motto I have taken up in 2015. 2015: my year of trauma, turmoil, pain, uncertainty, frustration and sickness. Also my year of love, support, perspective, growth, outreach and positivity. In no other time in my 26 years have I learned the power of optimism, and taking on new challenges with tenacity and grace. In the ugliest of scenarios I have attempted to keep the humour in a shitty year while sharing my story in all honesty. I have taken the perspective that although this year has been difficult, it has been difficult for a lot of people. And I have attempted to grow as a person by showing the importance of kindness and compassion in the sense that everyone if fighting some sort of battle. And no matter how big or small, we all come with some sort of back-story that shapes us.
Throughout the last 6 years a little monster named Ulcerative Colitis has lived in my gut. A disease caused by an autoimmune disorder has lived in my large intestine causing inflammation, bleeding, ulcers and cramping. Up until 2015 this little monster was no more than a minor pest that I could wipe out with simple oral medication. But for some reason in January of this year, as I took on new courses, a new position at work and new overall goals, this monster became fierce, unruly and BIG. He quickly crushed these goals by putting my ambition and whole life on hold…..for 12 whole months.
After hospital visit after hospital visit we had hopes that by June I would be in remission and 2015 part 2 (#2015part2 took over my Instagram) would be in full affect: the better half. Unfortunately as my hair fell out, my weight dropped and my energy level plummeted it was clear this monster would be relentless. By September, after many leaves of absences from work, difference courses of treatment, many scopes and many doctors, my most trusted health care professional and I decided to take this monster head on, and cut it out. Surgery was a reality and likely my best option.
On October 31st I had my entire colon removed. You can’t have colitis if you don’t have a colon. In a sense I am cured. But now I have a whole new set of obstacles in front of me: Life with an ileostomy. I wear a bag on my stomach where my small intestine has been pulled through an opening to eliminate waste. It’s sexy, extremely attractive and makes me really confident…...NOT.! But I’m healthy and I’m learning to cope. I chose to take back control of my life and take it off hold. And as we wrap up 2015 a new hashtag is on the horizon: #2016wholething
I have seen extreme forms of encouragement and benevolence from nurses, doctors, family, friends and strangers. I have seen first hand the humanity in others as they extend a caring hand towards me. And these are the biggest things I have learned: Roll with the punches with positivity; Lean on your people, that is what they are here for; There are more important things in life other than work and making money so take the time for your health; Be open and honest about what’s going on because it minimizes awkwardness; And most importantly, every body has some sort of struggle and we need to promote kindness and compassion while considering everyone’s extra baggage.