I was diagnosed having ulcerative colitis in 1995. Despite diet control and medicines including occasional use of steroids, I kept on bleeding, sometimes profusely resulting in a severe weight loss. God granted me the serenity to accept the things I couldn’t change. But my condition started worsening. Many of my friends and acquaintances started showing concerns over my deteriorating health. I never revealed having ulcerative colitis to either my friends or my employer. I decided to choose hope over desperation, fight over flight. I got the entire colon removed and a J-pouch built from my own body tissues in place of the colon. That was in 2004.
After a few years, the J-pouch started malfunctioning giving me incessant cramps, stomach aches, diarrhea and urgency to go. Doctors told me that there was no way out except replacing the inner pouch (j-pouch) with ileostomy (wearing an external pouch through my stomach). I had to decide between living with the present condition confined in home or go for ileostomy. I still kept working and socializing with constant fear and insecurity of losing control. After all, “When God gives you lemons, take a bow.” (Dale Carnegie).
On October 5, 2019 my original surgeon at Cleveland Clinic took a chance. She opened me and found that the J-pouch she had created was choking under massive scar tissues that I had developed in my stomach over the years. Fortunately, she was able to correct the problem. Consequently, I got rid of unyielding misery and sinking feelings. I got a new life.
The purpose of the above story is not singing the blues. I am not trying to declare valiance of any kind either. I simply realized that I had now the capability to make an effort towards accomplishing many things. I don’t believe in the saying, “You can accomplish anything, if you have life and health,” but we, certainly, can make an effort to achieve anything.
We become quite adaptable to any condition when we are forced into a do or die situation. I came across many people around me struggling and going through more intense situation than mine. Their courage gave me something to aspire to, something to emulate.
During the many tedious hospital visits that were part of my life, I came across hundreds of people with afflictions worse than mine, young patients going through painful therapies, patients too weak living with bouts of pain. Many had spent much more time in the dreaded hallways of hospitals than I did. Their struggles opened my eyes.
I now have the ability to maintain a daily routine, learn new languages, and acquire knowledge about new technologies. And a chance that I will maintain my health removes that gut-wrenching feeling in me (no pun intended).
I’ll leave you with the lines of Longfellow to ponder:
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal; …
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.