Tuesday, December 17, 2013

if i'd been given a healthy body, and a different life....

it's hard, sometimes. i don't want to sound melodramatic or like i'm feeling sorry for myself by saying it, but it's hard sometimes to be me.

before you roll your eyes, here's why:

i was healthy and normal until i turned twenty-two, at which age i was stricken with a chronic disease that responded to no treatment and was killing me. literally. (and not literally the way everyone these days seems to use it.....REALLY literally.)

the treatment? to have three grueling surgeries to remove my colon, make a "replacement" out of part of my small intestine (and a temporary ileostomy while my replacement pouch healed) and then a third surgery to connect it all and get rid of the ileostomy.

so....the surgeries themselves were hard. the recovery is hard and ongoing. i was given a six months to a year recovery time without the incidence of complications....

...and lately, i've been having complications.

i don't want to go into them. i am so tired of thinking about this....about ALL of it. i'm tired of complications. i just want to have the "normal" life i was hoping for once i chose the path of surgery. i made big sacrifices in choosing that path. i have suffered a lot physically and mentally. and i continue to suffer, seven months after my final surgery. i continue to suffer, in having complications that have onset recently.

and that's why sometimes it's hard to be me.

sometimes i just wonder what it would be like, to be a healthy twenty-five year old woman. i see people i know, having these busy lives, and wonder sometimes if i will ever have that. will i EVER be "normal" again?

i want to travel, i want to go on road trips with friends. i want to have just a night out, without being too exhausted or having issues with my stomach. i want to wake up ONE morning, and not be in pain. i want to get one night of sleep without waking up from pain and having to take a pill to get back to sleep.

it's hard because i hate complaining. it does no good to complain. everyone needs to let off steam sometimes, but i learned pretty fast that i was alone in what i was going through. when it's a battle with your own body, you're alone. it's not melodrama- it's a fact. your doctors are trying to help you....but it's YOUR body, and in the end.....you're the only one there 100% fighting. fighting in your sleep, fighting it every moment of every day. fighting it by ignoring it enough to have a life, when you're tired of your only life being the battle against your body. and after all of this....

I'M JUST TIRED.

i'm lucky that i've been able to work, because i love my job so much and it's one of the few things i can give energy to. it brings me joy and takes me out of my head for a bit, because i am 100% focused on my work when i'm there. but this past couple of weeks at work have been hard again. hard like they were before surgery, when i was so exhausted that i crashed for hours after my shift ended. it's been like that again, and i'm frustrated. the last few months at work i was so blessed to (mostly) have energy and REALLY apply myself and enjoy it. and then....the complications have worsened, and i feel almost like i'm back to before...when i can't give 100% to my kids, and my co-workers have to help me with some things....and i really, really hate that.

i just needed to write, to purge myself of this feeling which has been building the past few weeks. i drove myself to a christmas party for work tonight...sat in my car for a bit, and decided to go home. i just didn't feel well enough to go in. and as i drove home, everything compounded. i felt frustrated and angry and sad, because this battle has been so long and it's just not over yet.

and the thing is, even with all of this.....i can't say that i would 100% choose to have someone else's healthy body, or someone else's life if i had the chance. because truthfully, these past few years have sloughed off the things about myself i didn't like. i've been made in the refining fire of this illness, into the kind of person that i'm proud to be. i wasn't that person five years ago, before this all began. plain and simple. and i can go through life as the person i am now, and be happy as that person.

so THAT'S why it's hardest for me, really. i'm tired of all of this, but....i don't think i could ever really trade it. and i do believe that someday i will have a normal life, and i am already grateful in many ways for what i have been through. i believe that someday, i will be grateful for it all. i believe this is what will shape me, most of all. and from this, i found the love of my life in working with kids with Autism. so no, i wouldn't trade it.

i'm just tired. i need respite.

and then i'll go on.

Monday, November 18, 2013

my equivalent of a battle cry to the world....which means just a less badass version.

i feel free.

so free.

i can't even begin to explain what i'm feeling....the hope i finally feel, after years of despair watching my body turn traitor on me, never knowing how it was going to end....

finally, i am coming up on a year since my first surgery. i feel again as though i have all life ahead of me. but it's better than i've ever felt, because this time i am going back into the world hopeful but armed. hopeful for all the good the world holds, the opportunities and excitement.

armed to the TEETH with my own self-worth. i would not go out into the world before, i shrank back behind people i used as security blankets and crutches. i feared the world and what it had in store for me.

now? are you kidding? i'm heading out into the world as a capable, smart, hard-working, fun, attractive, enthusiastic person who intends to make her dreams come true. the big ones, the small ones, the weird ones, and the funny ones. especially the funny ones.

i am ready to go back into the world ready to LOVE instead of throw up my world-class walls in people's faces who try to get close. i am ready to bond, to care, to develop loyalty for my ragtag team of adventurers.

oh, you can apply for this team directly via "you're awesome and going out to tear up the world? me too!" transmissions. i will get them. duh. and trust me. ;)

right now....."to the world as it appears to be right now...." i'm shattering my "champagne glass" and setting out into the world as someone with a lot to offer. i hope i see you out there, too.

Monday, August 26, 2013

the blog is back? thankyoueverso! ;)

ah, the old blog is back!!! this feels goooooood after over a month of no personal blogging!! creepy stalker guy from my IBD support groups and then from reading my blogs, necessitated a step back for me. when i saw how nuts he was getting, i immediately went and looked at THIS blog's stats to see if he'd been going through my personal blog. the reason i was suspicious was a good one- i'm not THAT egotistical, kids ;)
no, what he started to do was add in his many, many emails he wrote me, these little references to some blog post i wrote a long while ago, or pretty much parroted what he THOUGHT he knew about my being independent, not NEEDING people, etc. and it was funny because whenever he would throw in some imposter "oh i said that in a blog i wrote two years ago...and now you're trying to use it like YOU came up with it and therefore proving that ZOMG WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON!!!!!!!!!!!!

.....i wish i could say i was joking. i even wish i could say i'm dramatizing it to make him look bad. i'm not....he's done that all on his own lol.

so anyway.....for now my IBD blog is kind of on hold as i figure a few things out....namely, the possibility of this kind of thing happening at least a few other times once i'm really pushing my blog. more readers, more crazy readers-  makes sense, yeah? ;) so....i've got some deciding to do about that blog. and now that i'm back at work, i have less time to spend on the blog. but if i decide that i need to continue writing that blog, then i'll hang on to that no matter what! so yeah...

....in the meantime, personal blog's still up. i'm certainly not going to allow some heebie jeebies to get in the way of it anymore. i was freaked out for a couple of weeks, now i'm over it. i love my personal blog, and although i write it solely for me, it's nice to have something that people could discover about you if they were so inclined. and for a writer, what could be a better medium? ;)

so.....the blog is back! i think this calls for a biggiant THANKYOUEVERSO

Amen


Monday, July 22, 2013

hmmm

well, it's been a pretty fast and quite "busy" couple of months in some ways.

starting up my UC blog has given me writing to do and new people to talk to. some days of course i feel like i don't want to talk to anybody, and i can't write worth crap. ha. pun wasn't intended but man that's a good one ;)

i started thinking about how long it's been since i've dated. sometimes i feel like i want to, and sometimes i feel like i never will. i remembered recently how the only guy i've been interested in that way since splitting up with derek, didn't even seem to like me in general. i wonder sometimes if it really matters. sometimes i think of unhappy marriages that i know of, and stories that friends have told me about their ball-and-chain unions that make me fervently happy i'm single.

but then i think of jenn and tyson, and how different their relationship was/is than anybody else pretty much that i know. witnessing their relationship and its growth has been my sole motivator in some ways. it's not that my own divorce made me lose hope, or made me bitter. far from! sadly my own marriage and divorce are happier than marriages of other people's that i know. when derek and i split, i wasn't thinking, "i'll never get married again!" but seeing other people, the way they treat each other. the way they "settle", get bored, and fight....doesn't excite me haha. i'm solitary and independent, and i like it. i used to use people as crutches, and it was gross and wrong. i have no need for crutches anymore, but other people do. i see it all the time, and it scares me.

i refuse to be somebody else's crutch.

being interested in a guy is going to take a lot for me, but i'm okay with that ;) the only kind of relationship i want is one i rarely see, especially among young couples. seeing my sister being so happy and having something so great showed me what i want to aspire to myself, even though it's so hard to find. but i accept that, knowing it's hard to find people that your soul recognizes. you connect in a different way, like you've met them before. i'm not just talking about romantic relationships here, but friends. it's rare to find that but so worth it when you do.

just some thoughts......

Friday, June 14, 2013

on my own

i'll go ahead and admit it; i've had a strange time lately.

maybe even a hard time lately...which is not something i dig saying, because i feel like i should be done talking about myself having a hard time....i mean, haven't i been talking about having a hard time for seriously a few years now? can't i just shut up about it?! :P

no but really....i guess i might stop blogging about "hard times" when said hard times end. i'm not naive enough to think that life will ever be easy. i don't want life to ever be easy, frankly. but i just mean the din quieting a bit. the fever breaking. the tide ebbing away from my now-soaked beach towel. and on and on with the metaphors. (i especially liked the last one. it made me feel cool.)

jenn being gone almost two months is just...i can't really give it a word. it feels like so much longer because it's coincided with my "in and out of the hospital every couple of weeks" stage of life...which seems like it's been foreverlong. random little note: i am pretty sure some kind of weird timewarp happens inside hospitals, because every time i go in one to stay, the minute i'm gone it seems like it was centuries ago that i was in the hospital at all. oh, and bonus time if i was there for surgery.

so anyway....jenn's been gone, but she's still been "here" at the MTC. we've been able to write her as much as we want and have regular correspondence, and that will change when she "ships out" next week. she'll be on the other side of the world, literally. and let me say here that absolutely NOTHING fills the jenn-shaped hole in my life and in my heart. nothing. sometimes it feels like i cut my heart in half and lent it to someone for eighteen months. i don't feel complete with her so far away, we have always been so close. i never realized how glad i was that she got so into her songwriting and recording her music and stuff until AFTER she'd been gone a few days and i found that listening to my favorite songs of hers did something to pack the wound a bit that her absence has left in me.

i think her being gone has probably had an effect on me in ways i'm not even consciously aware of. probably it contributes to several aspects of why i've felt i've had a strange and rough time lately. the thing is, though, the timing of everything in her life and mine is honestly so perfect in a weird way. i thought for a long time that when i was "done" with my illness, the process and the surgeries and everything, and getting back into the mindset and life of a SINGLE and HEALTHY person, that she'd be there. that we would maybe even move out together and take on the world together...the grand and exciting world of student life in provo and orem ;)
...but as it comes down to it, i am on my own for this. i'm on my own to get physically back in a place where i can work as much as possible so that i can pay debts and move out. i'm on my own to tackle that single healthy person world, which i never really got to do before i got married and before i got sick. i'm doing it all on my own, it's down to me. and the thing is, it's always been that way for jenn. she has been on her own with school and work and making a future for herself. jenn being across the world on her mission, able to write and send support but not to actually BE here is almost perfect. i know myself and the weaknesses i've had as i've blundered through becoming an adult. i know that i might have ended up being too dependent on jenn in some ways. i have worked HARD to shed the whole dependence thing that slowly came on during my marriage. i had a couple of people who literally became crutches for me. *shudder. i KNOW i could never go back to being that way again. i have grown and changed too much.
 BUT- i also know that jumping back into life and into the world with jenn here....it would have been like an automatic comfort zone.
and i don't want a comfort zone. i don't want crutches or relying on someone else to push me to do what i should be doing and what i need to be doing. i want to do it ON MY OWN.

and i'm going to! and i GET to. and the best part is, when jenn gets home, we will both be stronger women and more independent human beings. that is what we both deserve and want and strive for.

life is so poetic sometimes it can be downright nauseating. ;) after all the Lord knows what He's doing...jenn and i are both where we need to be and doing what we need to do in order to become all that we can. i'm not sure that either of us would be able to reach certain heights if things had been any other way.


everything is falling into place. i may not be able to see more than a few steps ahead of me, but i trust the path i'm on.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

i think the moon worked me into a frenzy!

tonight i went driving to run an errand. it was just barely dark....the edges of the valley were smudged with residual light...at nine o' clock. nine o' clock and lightness! my heart was soaring.

i drove with my music blasting. the moon was full tonight and let me tell you- she was a sumptuous beast of a moon! i kept looking out my window while driving, very aware that getting in a car wreck due to the moon was the last thing i needed right now. (just got out of the hospital....and the MOON puts me back in....it's like a bad olden day fairy tale or something)

anyway, i felt so alive tonight. the air was teeming with the noises of bugs and birds and wind in the trees. i passed so many people walking! some in groups, some alone. i was blasting my rock n' roll thinking back to summers before, and how they were always times of excitement for me.

so be it once more! i am ready to shake off the chains from my last stage of life to SOAR to the next!! and hiking this entire state is just one part of that. working again with kids i love is a HUGE part of it. going to school and anything and everything having to do with medicine is a MASSIVE part of it, because my interest in medicine has taken me over and i'm so jazzed about it and so wound up....i'm excited to start! i'm excited to see how well i'll do, how i can push myself because i know i'm smart and i want to test those limits! and the exercise plan...whew, don't even get me started on that....my whole outlook is so different now, i enjoy things i really didn't used to like before...and knowing that i've survived what i have, and with DIGNITY- that allows me the confidence to pretty much try anything and know that i can do it.

i'm like a kid again! with those boundless hopes and seeing endless opportunity stretching before me. i intend to do a lot-and i intend to add a little magic to everything i do :)

but, words are cheap. in the end....watch me!
you WILL see :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

schemers trying to control their little worlds...

today i feel full to bursting with a certain knowledge. it's something i've learned over the last long while through my marriage ending, my illness and the surgeries.

you cannot make a person feel or be ANYTHING.

you can't force loyalty, love, respect. you can't control where people decide you belong in their life no matter how hard you try. think you can? sorry, but you can't. if you're a controlling person by nature, like i (was), then that sucks to hear. you may even be in denial about it for awhile. but it's a fact, and the thing about facts and truths is that you can't alter them to fit your vision, either. no matter how hard you try and how hard you may want to. you can't make something so just because you pretend it is. in fact, going along pretending something IS when it's an absolute truth otherwise is sheer insanity! but we do it anyway.

let me give an example...i used to HATE winter. (i don't really love it now, even). i hated it so much, that i pretty much pretended it didn't exist. if you live in a place like utah, where it's winter for a big chunk of the year, and winter is REALLY really wintry...then you know how absolutely nuts it is to pretend otherwise. but i pretty much did. so guess what? i failed at dealing with winter. my SAD would come rear its ugly head every year and completely own my face, because i refused to learn how to cope with winter. i was too busy ignoring its existence. but guess what? it didn't go anywhere. nope, winter showed up every year like clockwork (who'd have thought?! ha) and like clockwork, i was miserable every year. and everyone around me knew it. just ask derek. there is a reason i believe the guy should be nominated for sainthood ;)

anyway, long story short is this....when i got sick, ignoring it just made it worse. to the point that i almost died a couple of times. so, i started to learn. but i REALLY learned when i had to have the dreaded bag. i hated it. it was my worst nightmare come true. and i couldn't pretend it away. it was there, and i couldn't  control it. in fact, my surgery was rescheduled SEVERAL times...i believe with all of my heart that this happened to teach me this lesson. i could NOT control when my surgeries were. i could NOT wish the bag away. i learned to deal with it, to accept it. i learned to wait for the surgeries. i learned that i couldn't make other people understand what it was like to have the bag, and that i didn't want to waste energy on trying to. i learned to relinquish control. to STOP trying to control everything and everyone around me. people don't like when you try to control them. it pushes them away. i've learned for myself that i refuse to allow anyone ELSE manipulate or try to control me, either. and man, it's been a lovely change!! why didn't i figure all of this out sooner? ;)

i've just learned, though it's taken a LONG time, that the thing you CAN control is yourself. your reactions, your feelings. i could learn to stop hating the bag, and deal with it. i could learn to be patient and see something good in having to wait for my surgeries rather than being angry about it. the awesome thing about nobody but you controlling you is that nobody can make you be ugly about something. nobody can make you feel hate or anger or any of those kinds of emotions. just ask emperor palpatine...he really would have loved to force luke to feel anger...but it didn't work ;)

but seriously....the worst things can happen and you can meet them any way you wish, no matter how hard anybody may try to make you feel to the contrary. that's a freedom that can't be taken away! there's true dignity in that.
you cannot FORCE anybody to feel or be anything. you cannot control other people. the sooner you relinquish your stranglehold on everything, the happier you'll be. i realized that i wasted a lot of energy trying to control everything around me. it takes a lot less energy to learn to control yourself.
take it from someone who has grown from being a very controlling person.

of course....i can't MAKE you do anything ;)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

a love letter to life.

 this post comes after one of the more difficult weeks i've had. my last hospital stay was really tough and i was finding it REALLY hard not to be negative and defeatist for some reason. luckily, i have an amazing support system around me, including my dearest missionary jenn. by the time i left the hospital, i was feeling like a different person. it's been a really amazing week!    


   it is absolutely INCREDIBLE to me the way that life works. i am baffled day after day by how honestly beautiful it is to be human, by what complex beings we are and our endless potential. i know i might sound cheesy and maybe even a little pretentious in my wording, but seriously...

life has stretched and molded and tested me in ways these past few years i would never have imagined. i have gone through things that i don't think i would have anticipated surviving when i was nineteen or twenty, before all of this really "began". my view of myself used to be so one-dimensional. who i was, what i cared about, the things i wanted...they were like little strips of paper taped to a posterboard, just waiting to blow away with the next strong wind. just waking up and LIVING each day is such a different experience now than it was a few years back. i feel like my soul was shaken awake from slumbering through adolescence. my soul, the old part of me, the infinite part. it's as if it were in hibernation and finally shook off the sleep and came into action. the lens i see the world through is just so different than i ever imagined it would be. i feel like there's an understanding in me that only that old part of me which has always existed somehow, could possibly possess. in so many ways, i feel limitless! and i am meant to be limitless. we all are!

i hope for EVERYONE to have the chance to view life through a different lens, to struggle and to transcend. to realize that you are a LIMITLESS being, worth so much more than you or i could possibly understand. we are able to experience life on such a grand scale- every moment can be filled with emotion and every moment can mean something. the dark places you find yourself in, you are meant to rise from. you are meant to BE MORE. going through things that seem hard and horrible serves to broaden your very capacity as a human being. take every chance to take on the hard things and RISE ABOVE them. WIN. go to bed every night knowing you've accomplished something and that you're on your way to being the best human being you possibly can be, and living to your maximum potential. the more you do this, the more you realize what you are capable of. and when you know what you're capable of, you will stop letting things happen TO you and you will HAPPEN instead. you will never again be satisfied being a victim of anything.

human beings are the most amazing and beautiful of creation. like i said above, i am honestly baffled daily by the experience i get to have in living. we are not animals, passively going through life with limits on what we can be. we are granted that capacity to become MORE, and all i want for everyone is to realize that. in that realization there is unimaginable joy.

-love, me

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

maybe i'm amazed

i realized recently, that to people who don't know me (or even just don't know me well) my blog posts may seem like self-righteous ramblings most of the time. i should probably state that i don't think i'm better than anybody. i don't post blogs hoping other people will read them, so i never have an ulterior motive. writing is, and always has been, my topmost form of self-expression. when i'm confronted with a problem, i have to write about it to fully figure it out. i could talk about it until i'm blue in the face, but it's not "officially" solved until i've written about it. the way i think when i'm writing is like putting a puzzle together. it helps me see more clearly, and maybe confront things that i wouldn't like to admit.

i've kept a journal that's been pretty much daily since i was a kid. this turned into (mostly private) blogs on myspace, when myspace was first around. it graduated into livejournal and then blogspot. believe it or not, i still have my myspace simply because it has years and years worth of "journal" blogs in its guts. i STILL write on there because i like the layout of it. nobody reads those but me. nobody is meant to.

with this blog, i occasionally write things i might want others to read. but most of it is wordvomit. most of it is me figuring things out, and when i've figured them out, cementing them in my brain. i can promise that as much as it might seem like i'm patting myself on the back, i've probably beat myself up a million times more.

why? because i AM my own harshest critic. i have no doubt that a part of my illness has had something to do with the way i judge myself, and "Self-punishment". it's too much to get into on this post, i've puzzled it out a million times before and that's not why i'm writing this.

i'm writing this to say that if i ever seem unbearably narcissistic or self-righteous, well....i promise i'm not lol. i'm proud of myself because i have worked my effing tail off to become what i am today, and i LOVE what i am today. all the same, i don't think it makes me better than anybody else. i don't expect everyone to progress the same rate that i do. some progress faster, and some slower. and others, not at all. i FEEL for people who are stymied, because i know how agonizing that can be.

so....i hug myself rather than pat myself on the back ;) my writing is raw and unfiltered, and it is what it is. if you're a reader of this blog, i hope that it's clear that i see myself the way i see everybody- as human, and imperfect. and as an imperfect human, i don't make it a habit to look down on others. because guaranteed, if that's the kind of person you are- somebody will ALWAYS be looking down on you.

-love, me

Saturday, April 20, 2013

here's some things i've realized/learned as of late:

i'm obnoxiously introspective ;)


i want a career in medicine- a PA, in fact!


i hate, hate, HATE not working every day in some way


i'm actually really good with kids. not just the kids i work with, but kids in general! who'd have thought? ;)


i love skinny. i rock it.


what matters in life vs what truly does not



that i don't want to have to spend time on things that don't matter any more than i have to



that i'm tough



yes i just mentioned skinniness above, but as far as it goes: i am so much more than my body and my beauty (or lack of) and it really really REALLY doesn't matter that much



i WANT to be a mom someday



i am a completely different person now than i was only a few years ago. it's been a literal transformation.



i am really REALLY excited about fitness and health, and feeling strong! i finally feel seriously stoked about getting into great shape with my mom's personal trainer and being able to hike and rock climb and ride bikes! fitness is truly exciting to me!!




that the Lord knows best. i am baffled how true this keeps ringing to me the more and more i go through. this second surgery was sosososo much harder than the first in many ways. though i didn't have any of the whole "waking up seeing the bag and losing my sanity" stuff. it was actually a relief the have that be familiar and not an obstacle to my immediate recovery.

there were some complications with this surgery and i actually got two surgeries for the "price" of one during my stay, oh goody, amirite?  BUT the complications have been (and still SLOWWWLY) are calming down and dying off. there was extremely GOOD news in all of this, though. they were able to test my small bowel for any sign of  crohn's and were able to confirm finally that it most certainly IS (or was) ulcerative colitis! so that takes away a HUGE concern about just getting sick in the j-pouch years or even just getting sick again in general. to have that confirmed- that this is really the journey coming to an end. and it will follow with the next!

Friday, April 19, 2013

jenn

wednesday, jenn left on her mission.

i ache in a way that i didn't know i would. jenn and i shared a room for twenty years, give or take. we grew up doing everything together and have always remained best friends. when i got married and became a recluse, jenn would drag me out. i have always been able to tell her everything and have always looked up to her.

and now, she'll be across the world for eighteen months. i don't think it's fully hit me yet that i won't be able to simply send her a text, call her, go into the other room and see her, etc.

i've written her like a million letters already, and she's still in the MTC!

ugh :(


Sunday, March 31, 2013

easter

i'll never forget the moment i woke up from surgery on november 27th, 2012, minus my large intestine and plus one dreaded ileostomy.

i was lucky. my surgery, while suggested, scheduled and done fairly quickly- was not an "emergency" surgery. though i didn't have a lot of time, i did plan it and did my best to prepare for it. even though my thoughts usually went along the lines of, "well, no matter what i will only have the bag for a couple of months so it doesn't matter", i still wanted to be aptly prepared for what that would be like when it happened.

just as i'd done when i was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, i found a world of resources and communities of people who were going through and had gone through what i was about to do. some of them had cancer and had permanent ostomies. some of them had ulcerative colitis and had temporary ones or had moved on already to the j-pouch. there were blogs, forums, guides with pictures and videos...all kinds of stuff. at first i looked at pictures or illustrations on medical websites. then i got brave and started visiting blogs of "ostomates" as we're called ;) and even found videos on youtube of people talking about their ostomies, changing their bags, just showing what it was like to have an ostomy in general.

i remember watching one girl's video- she was my age and had had ulcerative colitis, too. she was in the process of the j-pouch surgery and currently had her temporary ileostomy. she made a video where she showed how she changed her bag. she had a wonderful attitude, friendly and cracking jokes, not getting upset when her stoma decided to go all mt. st. helen's on her during the video. i watched the whole thing without moving. when the video ended, i burst into tears.

that's going to be me, i thought. i'm going to have a piece of my effing intestine sticking out of my stomach so i can crap into a bag. i'm going to be technically incontinent. i started the video from the beginning again, in awe of this girl's positive attitude. that's going to be me.

i stopped crying. i told myself to accept it- it would only be temporary. maybe i would be just like this girl after a few weeks and think it was no big deal. and i wasn't even going to have an ostomy for that long, so who cared if i didn't?

that was all good and well until i woke up from surgery, with my stomach covered in bandages and a pile of gauze heaped on top of my stoma. i lifted them to look and felt like my world had ended. no amount of video watching, pictures or blogs could have prepared me for what i felt in that moment.

i had an ostomy- literally something i'd dreaded since first being diagnosed with UC. i had an effing piece of intestine sticking out of my cut-up stomach. and i was alone.

nobody around me had an ostomy. none of them could possibly understand what it was like to wake up and see that thing, to know that crapping into a bag attached to my stomach for the next couple of months was now my reality.
and maybe permanently, a little voice needled in the back of my mind. after all, there was always the risk that the j-pouch surgery would fail and i'd end up with a permanent ileostomy. it was a risk i knew going into it, and a small risk, but a risk nonetheless. i took it, because i really didn't have a choice. as my surgeon told me quite bluntly, i had six feet of rotting flesh inside of my body. it didn't respond to treatments. the meds keeping me alive would shorten my life, riddle me with side-effects, and it was almost certain i'd end up with cancer- and SOON, not later.

but none of that mattered when i woke up and saw my stomach. what followed was a breakdown the likes of which i have only had once before (not long after i'd been diagnosed). i was raging and crying and kept saying that i'd wished i'd died in surgery rather than lived and had the ostomy. when the nurses came in to help with the bag, i turned my face into the pillow and disconnected myself, refusing to have anything to do with it. i couldn't believe that this was my reality, that i had willingly done this to myself. i kept telling myself i'd have been better off taking my chances with the UC. i kept thinking that somehow i'd be one of the 5% whose j-pouch surgery would fail, and i would have this bag forever. i told myself there was no way i'd live if that happened.

one of my nurses, whose name was john, came and stood by my bed. he wanted me to look at him, to look at and acknowledge my ostomy. i was so drugged and out of it that i can't remember word for word what he said to me, but i remember it was something along the lines of, "you are young. you have so much to live for. you are not going to let this define you no matter what happens. you will be stronger and will be able to have a great life that you wouldn't have had without the surgery." i remember asking him through tears, if he thought less of me because i'd had such a huge breakdown.

and i remember him gently answering, "of course not."

i won't pretend that suddenly, i was filled with the will to thrive and everything got easy and i was okay with my ostomy and yay yay yay. it wasn't like that. i DID decide to change my attitude after john's pep talk and the rest of my hospital stay was positive and honestly pretty great for a hospital stay of such a nature. however, i had some dark moments ahead of me. i was in the hospital again only a month later from an obstruction- something common with ostomies that i'd REALLY hoped to avoid with mine being temporary. afterwards i came down with pneumonia and had to reschedule my second surgery four times.

the first two times that i had to reschedule, i cried and had a pity party and all of that. i didn't want to have the ileostomy any longer than i absolutely HAD to, and the time had already been doubled by the turn of events. however, after a lot of prayer and soul-searching and just TIME...i came to accept having my ostomy. i knew that i needed to prepare myself for the chance that it would be permanent, even though i honestly feel like the j-pouch will be a success for me, i didn't want to be caught completely unprepared if the worst were to happen. with each rescheduling, i learned to trust in the Lord more and more. i knew 100% and STILL know, that there is a reason my second surgery didn't happen in the past couple of months. i learned to surrender MY will with this, to the Lord's will, which is one of the hardest things i've ever done.

i finally found myself able to say, "whatever is best and whatever is right. if that includes me having this bag for the rest of my life, then i am okay with that." i trust the Lord and His plan for me. i have said this a million times by now, but no matter how hard certain things have been to go through, i am grateful for all of them because they've made me into who i am now. all of the things i've dreaded about having a bag, i have chosen to accept. i had deep fears and doubts about feeling unattractive and being afraid to date or anything like that. those are all things i have surrendered and let go of.

but here's the thing i REALLY know, the most important of all: i woke from that surgery and i'd never felt more alone. i felt that nobody around me could even begin to comprehend the horror i felt when i first saw my ostomy. but that's what's so amazing....the atonement is there for this exact purpose. it's not just there for when we've sinned. it's there so that we never have to be alone. we can choose to be alone, if we're stubborn or whatever else- but we never HAVE to be. Jesus suffered so that He would understand how to comfort us. maybe nobody else around me knew how afraid i was in that moment firsthand- but HE did. and so i wasn't alone.

we don't have to be alone. i wish i could convey that to every single person i know and love.

on this Easter Sunday, remember that. you don't ever have to be alone.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

extract of happiness

happiness is amazing. it's beautiful. wonderful. and it's not elusive!

everyone can be happy...i truly believe that. i have had many dark days and lived on rock bottom for awhile. i've worked very hard to achieve the happiness i now have. i've spent a lot of time pondering, praying and reflecting. i've taken a magnifying glass to my soul and found scrapes, bruises and imperfections. i have a long way to go, but i have come a LONG way.

i have learned to trust the Lord. i know now who i am and what i want to be. i'm not looking forward to my surgery on tuesday necessarily, but in a way i am. i can't wait to have it and get past it so that i can have the next one and then be DONE! but at the same time, i'm so grateful everything has played out the way that it has. i've had the chance to become someone that i'm proud to be at a young age- what could be better? i know now that i will excel at anything and everything i choose to do. i'm not afraid to work hard to get what i want. i'm happy and i want others to be happy!

 i'm so excited for what the future holds- to become a registered nurse! i feel 100% that this is my calling and what i'm meant to be. i love working with kids so much and will always have that be a part of my life, but i think i truly will have a talent in medicine and that my experiences have built me into the perfect candidate to be a nurse. i know how important it is to have the right people around you when you're sick, having surgery, recovering, whatever! the people who cared for me after my first surgery had a HUGE impact on my accepting the situation and in my personal growth. EVERYONE deserves to have people caring for them who really do CARE for them, who are passionate about what they do, and understand what it's like to be sick and suffering. i know that i can be that for people, and that's so exciting to me!

my niece and nephew are here right now. they are rays of sunshine in my world, i can't believe how much i love them and enjoy them. i used to REALLY not like kids hahaha. working with children has really changed my perspective, and my niece and nephew have as well. here i will admit that i have realized that i am going to be a really great mom! haha. i never thought i would say that, or that i'd even want to.

i've reached a point where i can let go of my vanity, which has been a struggle of mine for years. feeling beautiful is fun but it's not everything. it meant way more to me than it should have for years. having this bag and taking a medication that affected my very face was one of the hardest things that i've ever gone through. it's forced me to look beyond physical beauty. i appreciate myself for so much more than that. i enjoy feeling attractive and taking care of myself but i also know now that it's not the most important thing in the world. it's moved down several rungs and settled in the correct place on the ladder of my priorities. by the same token, where i used to take beauty for granted, i don't anymore. i am grateful to have what i do and will always make the most of it! but there is just so much more to life. yeah it's nice to feel beautiful. but for a long time i let my happiness depend WAY too much on physical beauty, if i felt "ugly" or not. and the truth is, it's not just a trite or cheesy thing that being happy makes you beautiful. i can SEE my insecurity and misery in old pictures- i wore it as obviously as the nose on my face. true happiness really does change your countenance.

life is a crazy thing. i think back to just a few years ago and i don't recognize myself. it's like i'm a completely different person. i think about people i worked for in those rough years (one place that i just walked out of one day, leaving them high and dry. one of my low points) and i think about my ex and his family. it's hard to think that there are people who know me as THAT rachel- a person who doesn't even exist anymore. a person who is so different from what i am now that it feels like she's a stranger. i wish sometimes that all of those people could know ME, that they won't remember me the way that i was. the only way i can make up for that is to make sure that everyone i know from here on out will always know ME 100%, and that their lives will be better for it.

i stand on the threshold, ready for this upcoming surgery. ready to recover and have the next one, and then move on with my life. i am determined to make something of myself, to be the best at what i do. to be independent from everyone and everything except the Lord. i'm not going to be the girl that waits around for the right guy who will then "take care" of me. i'm going to ALWAYS be my own person, and when the time comes for me to marry and have a family, i will bring 100% of that person and those talents to the table. and i will always do so for the people i love.

this is pure joy, plain and simple. worth the hard work, the pain and the tears. and i owe it all to the Lord. making changes isn't easy. it's painful a lot of the time. but sometimes there are people or things in our lives that are detrimental to our growth and we need to learn how to identify what/who they are and take the necessary action to be happy. in the end, it's worth it.

the beginning of 2010, a whole other person :)
yayyyy! now :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

i'm okay....really

i've been thinking a lot lately.

(i know, big surprise)

my upcoming surgery is The Big One ala toy story. it's like that rocket, srsly. a big deal.

it's the one that is really important and matters. the last one is the the biggest change but the "easiest" or whatever...if any part of getting gutted and using your small intestine as a colon is "easy"...

anyway....i'm ready to give 100% to some things that i haven't given 100% to yet. i'm also okay with whatever outcome there is. i trust the Lord, i can truly say that. everything that has happened that i am happy with, has been the Lord's doing...hard to go through or not. so i choose to trust Him.


i will be okay.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

how's that working out for you?

for a long time i felt like i was being rocked by life.

 now, it's the other way around :) no matter what your circumstances YOU are the one who gets to decide how you react...and that is the most important thing in the world. 


NO ONE can take that away from you.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

fireproof.

i'm thinking about a lot tonight. stuff that's hard to adequately put into words. stuff that makes me feel like i might be the most frustrating human being in existence sometimes. stuff that i wish sometimes i was too dumb or too shallow to even have cross my mind in the first place (yes that sounds conceited, no i do not care).

the thing is...i'm one of those people who thinks about everything. i overthink things up and down and inside-out, and just when i think i'm done with them...i unearth them from their shallow graves and overthink them some more. i think a lot about why my life has turned out to be what it's been. i think about where it will go from here, when all of this is over and i'm left with what it's made of me.

the thing is, illness and recovery aren't as simple as just that. at least, they haven't been for me. my illness coincided with the end of my marriage. it was a slow death and by the time we knew it was "over" we'd gone through the tunnel of pain and sadness and come out the other end okay. but when your marriage ends it affects your identity. suddenly things that were part of that, aren't anymore. maybe they're things you've done away with for good and maybe they're things you put in a drawer for later, but the point is that it's a big change. i knew i'd need to adjust to being a twenty-something single mormon girl whose beliefs mattered a LOT more this time around than they ever had before.

but then sickness came, and it took over everything. thoughts of living as a single person again and building that identity back were pushed aside by the basic thoughts and needs of survival. that has been largely the story of my life the past couple of years now. survival. making it from one day to the next. weeks. months. being sick became part of me the way that being married had. when it seemed there would be no end to my being sick, i tried to build my identity around it.

that identity was temporary. i knew it would be, because i have known from the beginning that i will not spend my whole life sick. but as the end has approached it's opened up a new challenge for me: take away the sickness and the survival and everything, and WHO AM I? that's the million-dollar question. that's what i spend hours and days trying to figure out. there are things that have naturally been a part of my personality for as long as i can remember, and there are new things. there are things that are ugly and things that are wonderful.

i find myself testing and pushing limits with everything, trying to establish my own boundaries as a person. am i kind? am i patient? am i dishonest or sincere? are my intentions good? are they all centered completely on ME? how much do i love the people i love, and what does that mean to me? all of these things i think about, and much much more. when all of this is over and i'm "free"...what will rise from the ashes of it?

i made a promise to myself after a dear friend visited me last winter. we hadn't seen each other in years and had just gotten back in contact shortly before she came home for christmas. it was one of the hardest times of my life and i was in a bad place. it took me awhile to admit to myself that i didn't want to see her because i was ashamed of what i'd become and how i was handling my illness and everything else. when she left, i promised myself that the next time i saw her, i wouldn't be ashamed of myself. i'd be someone i was proud to be. she loved me and still does, and i knew she could see me better than i could. when she came to visit just recently i realized that no matter how much further i still may need to come...i was no longer ashamed of myself. i'm proud of who i am.

it reminded me that even though i still have a lot to figure out when all of this is over...that i'm on the right path and in a good place, and that i will be exactly who i want to be and exactly who the people who love me know i can become. for better or worse (and i'd say better) overthinking has actually been a great blessing to me. i've been spurred on to rebuild the house that burnt down with something a million times better.  and not only better, but something that will stand as long as i do. something fireproof.

strong souls don't burn.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

hope like a joshua tree (flowers are pansies) (see what i did there)

once upon a time, i had these amazing dreams.

they were epic and seemed endless, and i didn't care about how possible they seemed or bother to make them seem "real". everything was real to me and possible was just a silly word. the world was a big open place for me to explore, the way i used to explore the mountains above my house like an "indian" when i was a kid.

i'd grow up to be an indian alright, and the world would be my wikiup.

but then something weird happened. i got married. i got fat. life fell into this awful and plain routine, and all of the hope i had withered out of existence like an old dead flower. the world became small and boring and scary all at once. my dreams went into a closet on wire hangers, covered in dust and smelling of mothballs.

life went on this way for awhile. things happened, they came and went. my marriage dried up and died like an old, dead flower. i decided i needed things to be more durable than flowers from now on...when my hope awakened again, it was something different this time. it was a joshua tree.

you know what i mean...movies get "re-imagined" right? so...my hope was re-imagined. this is what it came out as:


 much more durable. much more reliable. scorching heat...crazy winds...droughts of living MUERTE (see what i did there....is this becoming redundant?)

nothing could get my joshua tree of hopes and dreams down. nothing. suddenly my dreams were back, bigger and grander and more absurd than i ever hoped they could be. i'd be the first gutless person to climb mt. hanawazaloo (probably not) and i'd live in a trailer in the middle of the mojave desert for awhile, doing nothing but writing and probably becoming a whiz at several musical instruments at the same time.....yes....my hopes returned.

on this night of a full moon, my hopes returned as joshua trees, reaching toward the sky with spiky little "i shall have it" hands....

will i grab everything i wish to grab with those hands? why yes, i plan to. can i do so without sounding totally pervy in the process? i don't know...i think i might have already done that....however....


i have dreams and hopes and big full moons to lasso....and i'll be ready. ready in may.....the world is mine.


never forget that flowers are pansies.

the end.

Monday, February 4, 2013

so apparently, i invented "the creep" ;)

here's the video evidence ;) i remember this night PERFECTLY, and that our whole concept of the weirdo little move i'm doing was EXACTLY like "the creep". i almost died laughing upon rediscovering this.

video

that wonderful moment where you find a video from 2007

....randomly on some old memory card i didn't know i still had. this is totally classic...an ex-boyfriend and my best highschool friend. the three of us hung out all the time and apparently (according to the video) had a blast doing nothing. this was right around the time i first got scout. we three would sit in my basement playing guitar hero, taking turns babying scout and taking him outside for potty training. funny how one little video brings back SO many memories.

here's the video in er...question...

video

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

my fitness dreams are ZOMG-ified!

right now, i'm totally in a "fitness envy" mindset. seriously. i cannot WAIT to be all done with surgeries and cleared for yoga and other workouts again...i am stoked to work my butt off to be strong and healthy and look awesome. no more being boney or skinnyfat ;) i have all the motivation in the world to make my lifestyle ridiculously active. it's going to be amazing!!!! i'm going to learn to cook this spring/summer too...cook up healthy eatz to have with my fancy fresh-squeezed juices (i have a BEAST of a juicer, babez.) also....jiu jitsu with george!! i can't wait for it all to begin! i'm so impatient...i'm going to ask my surgeon if i can do yoga the next three weeks until my surgery. cross your fingers that he says i can!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

this is happening...

this is real for me right now, unfortunately. any help is SO appreciated. 


http://www.giveforward.com/rachelssurgeryemergency?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fb_wall&utm_campaign=vanity_page&fb_ref=637847

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

did i mention i love my job?

i am a very blessed and happy girl! i was able to go to work today, to sub, and i'm subbing again tomorrow. i could not BELIEVE how much i had missed my job, the people i work with and of course, the kids. just walking in there today for the first time in two months was like...crazy joyful haha. it's awesome to work somewhere where i feel like i'm truly among friends. my coworkers are amazing people and i like them all :)

and of course, the kids...wow!! one of the boys i worked with today, i just kept hugging him over and over. it was just so good to be there, doing what i love! and i am GOOD at it! it's almost like i forgot how well i connect with children with autism. i speak their language ;) i LOVE having a job that i feel i am good at and am a valuable employee. and honestly in this kind of work, you never feel like "just" an employee. it's truly so much more.
anywho!
unfortunately due to the holidays and my impromptu hospital stay last week, this will be the only week i get for work for another several weeks or so because i have my next surgery on tuesday. i hope the recovery is as quick as this first one so that i can get back to subbing ASAP. and then when it's all over....working a full-time shift again! until then, i am so SO grateful i was able to go in today and get to go again tomorrow! it's crazy, but i was SO sick the last while before i went "on leave" for my first surgery, that i honestly could barely manage my half-day shift. today, i was able to just keep playing and doing everything i needed for the kids without feeling tired at all or having to worry about running out of the room ;) haha
i have never worked with kids while being anything but really sick, and i thought i realized how much less energy i had before but i was wrong. i was pretty much the energizer bunny today and it was awesome haha! i am just SO GLAD it will all be uphill from here in regards to that and i am so grateful and will always be grateful that i was blessed with THIS job. at THIS school, with these kids and coworkers. i truly could not ask for anything better or anything more.

Monday, January 21, 2013

here's a thought:

it's taken me a long time to become someone i like.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

the refiner's fire

well, after another whirlwind visit to the hospital and one of the most painful weekends i've ever endured..i'm home.

i can't explain, but even though these things i've been going through are really tough and even hell sometimes...each time i survive something else, i feel like one more piece is being added to my armor. that armor that will help me to face the world and life without fear and with grace.

so it might not sound so absurd when i say that even though this was one of the worst weekends of my life physically...i am okay that it happened, and even glad.

just a particularly hot blitz of the refiner's fire.

stuck at lds hospital....

andddd right in time to throw myself for a loop again......i'm feeling pretty alone tonight in a hospital forty miles from home. third night here and i just want to go home. i've had to turn down three sub jobs at my school...i just want to get back to work! grrr.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

to love another person is to see the face of God.

i know myself so well at this point. so, so well that it shocks me everytime i manage somehow to throw myself for a loop.

i am solitary, introverted and very independent in many ways. and i've always been this way, except for the Lost Years as i call them ;) when i was married, and overly dependent on both my ex AND my best friend. the two of them made a wonderful pair of crutches, to the point that i wasn't sure that i could function without them.

well, life has plans for all of us. life's plans for me included not only grabbing my crutches and running away with them, but yanking out the rug of security right out from under me. my illness played a huge role in life's plans.

but i'm glad.

like i said, i know myself pretty well. but i can still surprise myself at times. i know, for instance, that who i really am is the person i was leading up to, and after, the Lost Years. the person i was during that time was the phoenix bursting into flame, and the subsequent naked and vulnerable baby bird that made its way from the large and smothering ash pile that was my life.

i didn't know that, at the time. i was worried this new needy and insecure and MISERABLE thing was who i truly was now that i'd "grown" up. i thought it was who i was going to be the rest of my life.

but i was thrown for a loop, and thank God that i was.

the truth is, once it all settled from having the rug yanked from under me and my crutches taken away...i began be reborn. it was painful at times, scary...it took losing people i loved from my own doing, and illness that i had no control over, that almost killed me, to realize...that i was NOT that vulnerable and weak thing anymore. i was the full-grown phoenix again, and stronger and more beautiful than ever.

i no longer needed crutches. i was no longer afraid to be on my own. i learned to love it again, the way i had for years. i learned that i could do much more by myself than i'd ever have imagined.

i also realized that while i am happy alone, and love solitude and the peace and strength it gives me...

that i want to love again. a man, at some point. but not only that...friends. i knew i that i wanted and needed friends again. and that i am no longer someone so broken and miserable that i wasn't fit to BE a friend for quite awhile.
now, i know i have something to offer people. things i WANT to offer people. and that i'm no longer afraid that the minute i have support around me again in the form of friends and boyfriends...the support will NEVER become a crutch for me again.

so i hope it is, that i can expand my life by letting more people in. and that i can be the kind of friend/girlfriend/whatever, that touches each life i meet for good.

it was a quote from les miserables that got me thinking, and i'll end this post with it, because it sums up so much about why we need people to care about and pray for in our lives...

"to love another person is to see the face of God."

i completely agree.

oh you should have mentioned it!

my life lately is the following:

watching and obsessing over downton abbey (thomas is evil!)

reading. tons.

getting ready for my next surgery in three weeks.

hanging out with an old new friend :D



the end.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

i need a miracle

the prospect of not being able to have the next two surgeries due to financial stuff, is literally horrifying to me. i would never have agreed to surgery in the first place if i thought having this bag was going to be permanent. i would have taken my chances. i feel sick inside about all of this. i feel helpless.

i need a loan.
or a miracle.