I still remember the looks on the faces of those who came to visit me that day and the tears that fell from my aunts, uncles, cousins, and mothers eyes as they wheeled me back into my room as I repeated the words “I can’t do this” over and over again like it was my mantra in agonizing pain. I won’t lie to you - July 18, 2008 was one of the hardest days of my life. You all know my story by now so you know how horribly sick I was before my surgery, and you know that after surgery things just got worse and I didn’t really get out of the hospital until 6 months later.
No one just says remove my colon without thinking it over once or twice or a million times. I didn’t really have a decision because my large intestine was so diseased that if I had waited much longer it would have perforated anyway. Still, that doesn’t mean I didn’t think and re-think surgery every second of every day leading up to my surgery as I sat in the hospital. I knew life would forever be different and I had no idea what the future had in store for me. I was going to live the rest of my life without my entire large intestine and rectum and I couldn’t wrap my brain around how crazy that was. Was this really happening to me?
I talked today a little bit on facebook about “the silver lining”, meaning the good that came out of all of this bad. I suppose we could also call it “the light at the end of the tunnel” or whatever other phrase you fancy. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for some time then you know how hard life was for me after my surgeries. There was no silver lining, in fact, I couldn’t see one good thing that came out of my surgery. I had complication after complication and lived six months in the hospital where I withered away to 82 pounds and wore adult diapers because I lost control of my bowels for awhile after surgery. I became angry, fearful, and depressed and turned into an ugly person who yelled at everyone who came to see me and laid in my hospital bed in the dark because I didn’t even have it in me to get up and turn on the lights. I thought my life was forever changed in the most negative ways possible.
The truth is that July 18, 2008 changed my life in the most positive ways possible, it just took me some time to get here. I celebrated my first year after my first surgery (July 18, 2009) at my first year at Camp Oasis, a place that means more than words can express. I also celebrated year two and year three at camp and this year I celebrate at home writing this blog. Had I not gone through my surgeries and all the suffering that came afterward I would not be the person I am today. I wouldn’t have camp, I wouldn’t have this blog, I wouldn’t be the Sara that I have become. I am so proud of myself and so proud of what I do…that is the silver lining.
A lot has changed in the past 4 years. I have found out that I have Crohn’s disease and not ulcerative colitis. I still have to take medications that scare me most days and I still have hospitalizations and times where I am sick and the fear of an unknown future that has the potential of even more surgeries or complications. But what I learned through the suffereing that happened 4 years ago is that I am a lot stronger than I thought and that even when things seem like they have no hope or potential to get better that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
So if you’re sitting there reading this and you’re in a position where you doubt the future or that things can get better please keep hanging on. There is not a day that goes by that I look back and wish I still had my colon. That thing was a diseased mess and needed to come out and though I still have times where things get hard healthwise, they have never been as bad as when I had my colon.
This July 18th has been particularly good. I’ve been smiling all day long. :)