As part of my healing process I have learned to be reflective and evaluate all aspects of my recent circumstances. I’ve learned that in order to fully reconcile and begin to rebuild I need to accept. I think I’ve always been pretty good at forgiving other people. I don’t like holding grudges and I find it far more exhausting to hold onto anger than it is to just let it go. But through the past two years I have held on to a lot of anger and a lot of sadness. It’s consumed my thoughts, my conversations and my behaviour. And now at the cusp of my fresh start, it’s time to let go, and forgive: forgive my life for the destruction and chaos that it has become. And here’s how I’ve broken it down.
My Immune System:
Offence: Attacking my body. My immune system is guilty of being so aggressive that it mistakenly attacked my digestive system. Ulcerative Colitis is not a disease of the colon. It’s an autoimmune disease in which my natural defense mechanism betrays my body and goes on the offence towards the lining of my large intestine.
I forgive you: It’s not your fault you’re so dumb. I may never quite understand it, but for some reason you thought my colon was dangerous and thought you were doing your job. In turn, you MADE it dangerous. But you’re stupid and I can accept that.
Offence: For being inconsistent, absent, unclear or having poor bedside manner. A bad medical team makes you appreciate the good ones. I went through 5 different GIs before I could recognize the one good one. I was with my initial GI for 5 years before I realized how bad he was, and before I finally made the switch. In addition, the different opinions and outpour of different options only made me more familiar as I took the liberty to research and ask questions so things would become clear.
I forgive you: Now I firmly believe I am in the hands of the best gastroenterologist in Newmarket, as she took the time, and care to help me come to my own decisions. If it weren’t for the other doctors I would have never made the switch and I would have either gotten much sicker or would have removed my colon much earlier. This may sound like a good thing but I think if I wasn’t able to come to that decision on my own, it would have hurt a lot more and I would have held a lot of resentment towards my ostomy. So thank you other doctors, for also being stupid.
Offence: For not working, making my cheeks puffy, for causing my hair to fall out, for making my hands shaky or giving me mood swings, for endless pills or countless bruises up and down my arms. The series of medical treatments I went through were toxic and I strongly think did more harm than good. For many people treatments such as Remicade work wonders and I am happy for them. For me, as an immunosuppressant, the only thing it was doing was weakening my immune system to the point that a small cut on my hand would become infected.
I forgive you: First of all, my cheeks were SO puffy that it actually makes for a fantastic laugh looking at all photos. And since my hair all fell out, I get this once in a lifetime opportunity to regrow it from scratch, which I think (hope!) will turn out much better than before. Also, because all these medical treatments didn’t work, it left me with the only option to remove my colon, and therefore I no longer live a life of pill popping. Aside from an ostomy, I don’t look or feel sick, which is more than I can say when I was on all those drugs. Even in remission I was taking up to 8 pills a day. Now I take nothing. No side effects, no bad taste in my mouth, no alarm reminders to take this or that. Just a multivitamin in the morning for this girl.
Friends or Family
Offence: For not knowing how to appropriately deal with a sick person. Now I will tread lightly because there really isn’t a right or wrong way to deal with a sick friend or family member, other than simply letting them know you care. I did not need gifts or flowers or Instagram shout-outs. But I really did need those visits or messages to let me know you’re thinking of me, or better yet that you’re proud of me. Those words go a long way, and those kind gestures go even further.
Let me be VERY clear that this group of people is miniscule. But they exist. There were people in my life I thought would be there, who I was close with and who admittedly said they just didn’t know how to deal, and just never showed up. There were also people who did a fantastic job being there all year, but then during the disaster of my last surgery, were absent. I understand Mount Sinai was a commute for most people, or work schedules got in the way, or I was only supposed to be there for a couple of days. But in reality I was there for 14. And one was my birthday.
I forgive you: I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t care so much what people think. And I don’t really care to mend relationships that weren’t meant to be. I don’t need to go out for coffee and stay in touch with someone from high school just because we used to be friends. I can be pleasant and honestly wish well on those old friendships, but if we’ve fallen out of that relationship, there’s a reason. So to those people who hurt me, I can peacefully let go of that bond and let go of that negativity. I would rather have strong, quality, meaningful relationships in my life. So I forgive you, because you’ve allowed me to see clearly who those important people are. You’ve made me appreciate the good ones…..And you’re just stupid too.
Offence: For being such a cluster of guilt, scatter and confusion. A lot of my anger and sadness stems from the new anxiety monster that’s developed in my brain. It has made bright days dim and dark days black. It has haulted plans, or at least made them overwhelming. It has made my confidence plummet and my motivation disappear. It has made social gatherings lonely or solitude populated with disarray.
I forgive you: This process has allowed me to become far more self-reflective than I have ever been. It’s probably part of just getting older but I think my brain has been so significantly altered that I’ve forced myself to address the reasons why I think the way I do. That process in turn has made me become a better patient, writer, friend and person (in my opinion). Most people build a hard shell around them after trauma however I think this course of action has softened my heart and made me more susceptible to feel. I am not stronger because of the last few years, but rather more aware. I feel pain, sadness and fear easier but I also feel health, happiness and gratitude like a ton of bricks.
Offence: For kicking me down so many times. You know when you send an e-transfer to someone you have to send a secret question? Sara once asked this: “What does the universe not give you?” And without hesitation I typed in “A break” and opened my money, with no conversation had. That’s what it feels like some days when one thing just hits right after the other. Right after my last surgery after a week of ileus, obstruction, dehydration, c-diff and another obstruction I was throwing up my hands saying “Really universe!? For the love of all that is holy just give.me.a.break!” Some people have days where they say, “When it rains it pours.” I’ve been having one of those years for the last two. Sure there are bits of sunlight which is where my immense gratitude comes. But I swear if I get C-diff one more time…
I forgive you: Every time I’m kicked down, it’s an opportunity to stand up. I lose motivation to write, to plan, to work hard and I just want to say fuck it. But then I get this tiny bit of inspiration to just put it all into words. If the universe didn’t give me colitis, put my life on hold, force surgery on me, and put me in this rut, I would have never started this blog, developed writing as a hobby, made so many new connections, or gave myself a purpose.
When I was first admitted to the hospital in March 2015 I was 2 weeks away from finishing 3 courses towards my HR Management certificate. But I had to drop all three and put that on hold while I focused on my health. And I have not been able to re-register since…until yesterday. In March 2017 I will begin that goal of mine, again and for the first time in a really long time, I see the light at the end of that tunnel….and it isn’t another train.
I don’t know why things happen the way they do, or to certain people. But what I do know is the way in which we handle them will change the course of our circumstances. I forgive the universe for handing me a defective colon, because it’s now a part of my story. It’s not WHO I am, but WHY I am. It’s part of my narrative, my transformation and my baggage.