I’d Never Trade My Diagnosis For a Clean Bill of Health

OstomyLife Co-Moderator
10/24/18  8:00 AM PST

“Don’t take your health for granted, Honey.”

“Oh to be young and healthy.”

I often hear these statements and they make me happy because a few years ago no one would have ever said them to me. However, at first I also find these statements offensive because I don’t take my health for granted and I am not “young and healthy.”

Nonetheless, I would not be who I am today had I not suffered from ulcerative colitis (UC) and ended up an ostomate. 

Ulcerative colitis and ostomy surgery completely changed me. It changed the way I think about things, it changed my very nature. In a way, ostomy surgery corrected my path.

Before my surgery, I was not as compassionate as I am today. I was never a bad person, just young and negatively impacted from previous hardships. Being stressed every day and working too hard toward goals that weren’t necessarily right for me, I wasn’t taking care of myself. Perhaps this could explain my UC flaring. I didn’t try to see things from other people’s perspectives. I even remember saying “I would not want to be a nurse.”

Now, I am a nurse and love it!

I have realized how strange it is that becoming an ostomate impacted me in the opposite way that previous struggles had. The hardships I encountered before ulcerative colitis and ostomy surgery left me bitter. But when I got sick with UC, I developed an appreciation for those who never judged me. When I got my first colonoscopy, I couldn’t believe how kind and caring the nurses in the endoscopy suite were to a complete hot mess of a stranger. And every time I sought help for something related to my condition, I was shocked to encounter the most compassionate humans I had ever met.

While waiting for ostomy surgery, I was texting a friend about what was going on. I also shared how supportive my boyfriend was being. Her response, “Of course he is, it’s not like you can help it.” That statement really impacted me. To hear someone tell me that this situation wasn’t my fault was like having a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. After that I realized how much I had overlooked in others: how I never considered that maybe the things I was opinionated about in others weren’t things they could control, nor were they any of my business.

Suddenly, I developed a level of compassion for others that I could have ever imagined before this experience.

It is this compassion for and understanding of being the one anchored to a hospital bed that makes me feel I will be a great nurse. Being given the opportunity to develop a deep level of compassion for others is just one of the things I have gained from my experience with ulcerative colitis and ostomy surgery.

I also now understand how silly it is to stress over things I can’t change. When my mind starts heading in that direction, I try and remember the stress of my pre-ostomy UC: a time when I could barely leave my house and, when I did leave, I had to know where every single bathroom was.

So, would I trade my ulcerative colitis and my ostomy for a clean bill of health?

How nice it would be to have a functional intestinal tract and to not experience partial blockages every few weeks. But no, I would never trade it. If I hadn’t had this experience, who knows where I’d be. Probably stressing over things I can’t control and driving myself mad, pushing people away when I don’t know their stories. I can finally say that I am happy with myself and where I am in life and I owe much of that to my health struggles. I would choose to keep that experience, because that experience is me.

Serving Medicare Ostomates Nationwide
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