|BWS Stories - "If I Could Save Time In A Bottle"...Embracing Our Authentic Selves|
"If I Could Save Time In A Bottle"...Embracing Our Authentic Selves - My Reality Show
Patti Iverson is a freelance writer in Medford, OR. She is a clown, Mrs. Claus, and giver of tea parties as a ministry to women of all ages. Patti writes a monthly column for the Christian Journal called "Life and Laughter." Occasionally you can find her on the back of a Harley Davidson laughing her head off. firstname.lastname@example.org
My Reality Show
Life is so oddly weird at times you don’t know if it is reality or not. For nine years, ulcerative colitis plagued my intestines and my life. It is a condition affecting miserable millions of sufferers around the world and doesn’t discriminate with gender or age. Eating becomes a trickier proposition than trying to slurp soup with a fork.
You bet! I’d love to join you for Mexican food. I’ll just have water and chips, thank you.” Salad bars, coffee houses, Chinese or burgers all attack your digestive system accompanied by cramps, diarrhea and a jiffy sprints to the bathroom or worse…home to take care of unavoidable accidents. It is handy, knowing where every restroom in three states is located.
My family and close friends were well aware of my “condition.” Many dates cancelled,
plans rearranged, prayers and comforts accepted, and occasionally rejected. It is an embarrassing disease, to say the least. I mean, really. Who wants to discuss my bowel problems? Certainly not I.
Pills, prayers, potions and lotions over the years seemed to exacerbate the issue, as opposed to healing. Soon I was almost a prisoner in my own home, afraid and unwilling to venture out, fearful of the consequences. Heavy-duty medications like Prednisone were ruining my system. Diabetes complicated everything, as it usually does.
After four different doctor, I found a dear gastroendocronoligist who began to make some progress. Unfortunately, the disease had made MORE progress. When he started talking surgery, I refused to consider it.
“Have a bag of my feces, my waste, my POOP on my stomach? A thing called an ileostomy? Not a chance! Not an option! No way, Jose. I’d rather die!” was my kindly and respectful response to that crazy Doctor.
And then I almost did. Die, that is. I was entirely too close to cancer and meeting my Maker to even care for myself. Soon I started losing weight just lying on the couch. My only exercise was running to the bathroom or moaning. My husband called Dr. Chow and he said,
“Get her to the hospital within 20 minutes. I will meet you there.”
Oh sheesh! I didn’t even get dressed, put shoes on, or comb my disgusting hair. Of course, a lovely man from our church stood in the lobby and saw me in all my messed up glory. Oh joy and doggone it all. Mickey hugged me (or was he holding me vertical?) with the promise to pray. He reminded me God was still in control. Good thing, since I sure wasn’t.
I still didn’t realize surgery was imminent. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, you know. The thought of Ostomy surgery never entered my head as I thought that issue was closed. Ha! It had just been opened. I was too incredibly ill for surgery to be performed, so they began building me up with IV’s here, there, and everywhere. Tubes and medical personnel became my way of life for three weeks. Everyone was so very “hospitable” (pardon the pun) to me as my body rebelled and did terrible things they had to fix or clean up through the weeks that followed. Those nurses became my dearest friends and occasionally my worst enemies, yet they professionally performed their jobs with love and caring above and beyond the call of duty.
When I was alert and aware enough to realize I was now deformed and flawed beyond recognition (in my mind), denial set in. ‘Course, the drugs kept me in a lovely, “no pain” stupor so I did not inspect the ugly protuberance on my belly.
Soon an nurse came to teach me how to care for myself and change the plastic bag. Oh woe, alas, and alack! This seemed impossible, but I half-heartedly paid attention and counted on the kindness of my husband and daughter to understand. My muddled mind couldn’t comprehend more than the lamest show on TV. How was I to grasp my new “plumbing” and where I’d be going to the bathroom for the rest of my life? The ugly, red thing sticking up out of my “smaller than normal” stomach appalled my senses. It didn’t hurt a bit, though. That was pleasant. The nurse called it my “rosebud”. Rosebud my foot! It in no way resembled a beautiful bloom. The incredible staples parading down my stomach to my pelvis did hurt. Everyone said they were “beautiful” and the surgeon did a wonderful job. That statement thrilled me, too, as you can imagine. Oh, gag me! Actually, they did, with the NG tube stuck in my nose down my throat and blasted oxygen mask.
Home to heal after saying a fond farewell to my fine friends at the hospital. It was a good time with tears, grieving, and learning how loved and cared for I really am by family and friends. An unwanted dose of Prozac took care of the constant crying. Home health nurses were angels sent straight from God. They took over my care and my heart with straight, no nonsense “you can do this” attitudes. In ‘n out they paraded through my door with smiles and supplies when all I did was present new problems for them to solve.
I knew I was going to make it, and make it good, when my twin sister, Peggy, came to take over. She bought junk food, made me eat it, get dressed, cut ‘n colored my hair, shaved my legs, called me @#$%! names when my attitude stunk, and in general, she was a General. When she forced me into the car for a trip to a Dairy Queen drive – thru, I thought she was crazy, and then simply adored her for working so hard to make me laugh, ruffle my feathers, and find joy again.
Life is good, God is good, and there IS life after life altering surgery. I felt ugly and deformed, but learned to realize this life-giving appliance is really no big deal. It’s not as big a pain as the ulcerative colitis. There is nothing I cannot do that other folks do. Oh, I cannot do cartwheels, but then I never could. I’ve learned to NOT swallow gum (oops) and to chew food like a masticating cow. I can love my handsome husband (mmmm!), be a real clown again and Mrs. Claus in December, live well, and even wear good clothes. Food is incredibly awesome to me now. Oh great. Forty pounds fell off my frame with six feet of my colon gone and now I’ve gained back 50.
Unfortunately my middle name is “Murphy”, and anything that can go wrong, will. So my new reality was another ileostomy and my rectum sewn up permanently. They say that’s like a hedgehog coming out of hibernation. Oh, joy. Yes it is.
Now I am well and happy, ready for challenges, changes, and deliciously delightful days to come, knowing there’s nothing we cannot handle in life as long as we have love, laughter, and support.