December 19, 2014
It has been one year since my First Surgery and it has been a whirlwind of ups and downs. A lot has happened since I walked into UPMC Presby Hospital for my total abdominal colectomy with ileostomy surgery last December. The last year has flown by, I have done so many things, and I’ve opened up many new doors that I am very thankful for.
Reflecting on the last four years of my life, especially this last one, was difficult to grasp and put into words. Even in writing this post, it is hard to summarize my thoughts and feelings as to what I endured this past year. I don’t know how to sufficiently do so, but I thank the doctors at UPMC, my friends for the support, and my family for being there with me every step of the way. I am so thankful for being able to have the surgery last December as so many new opportunities and situations have presented themselves that I otherwise would not have experienced. I pushed myself beyond my mental limits.
I thought having ulcerative colitis was going to limit my life in what I could do on a daily basis. When I look back on this first year, I think I challenged myself mentally and physically to show myself that I am not going to let UC bring me down. I have to lead my new normal, healthy life.
I never would put money on the fact that I would start a blog and share my story of IBD with the public. I never enjoyed writing in school. And when I did have to write, I always had my sister, Heather, review everything I wrote before I turned it in. In the weeks leading up to first surgery, I contemplated whether or not to write a blog to share my story. Blogging, I thought, could be used as a way to process my situation.
I know the web is flooded with everyone trying to share their story. I may not get a lot of people visiting my blog, but I hope that my story can provide at least one person with background information into my situation that can help them out. I know that I found numerous blogs by people in the same situation as me: surgery or no surgery. It helped me to connect with the IBD community; understand what my options were; what people, with my same condition, went through; what the positives and negatives were; and how others weren’t going to let ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease stop them from living an amazing life. I drew my inspiration from the community I found.
The next love/hate relationship I have experienced the last few years is running. Over the last four years I had off-and-on spurts of running during the summer, but I never stuck with it. I knew before the first surgery last December that I had signed up to do the 2014 Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May; I was not going to let the surgery interfere with this new challenge. It was definitely up in the air in my mind: How could I go from my first Recovery Walk mid January, my First Run in February, to running 13.1 miles 4.5 months later? However, I was able to accomplish that goal and enjoyed every second of running through Pittsburgh with Heather that morning.
Each time I go for a run, it’s a surprise whether or not it’s going to be a good run or a bad run, but I am thankful that I am able to go outside for a 10 mile run on a Saturday morning. Before surgery, there were very few days that I was able to feel comfortable enough to go out for a run and now the only thing stopping me is the weather or not being in shape enough to run for an hour. I am in the midst of my Run 1,000 Mile Challenge and will continue to show that no matter what your situation, you can overcome adversity and push your limits!
It still amazes me what has happened in the last 12 months: Surgery, Buying our First Home, getting married and going to Hawaii in May 2014, getting a second dog, as well as the daily routine of working and running. Again, I can’t thank my friends and family enough, especially my wife, Emily, for helping me through the tough times this past year. Everyone has helped me through the pain and has been there with me for every happy memory and event. I would not have had such an amazing 2014 without them!
I hope that 2015 is just as amazing, but a bit less eventful than 2014, so I can continue my new normal and share my story.