Guest post by Bo Parrish: YOU’RE NOT DONE…

One of the things I love most about blogging is meeting others who have gone through ostomy surgery and are out there overcoming fears, living their dreams and making a difference in the lives of others. I recently had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with such an individual when Bo Parrish emailed me about doing a guest post on the blog.  Bo is a semi-professional, nationally sponsored triathlete who shares his story through his website www.conqueryourcomfortzone.com. He is also the recipient of the 2012 Great Comebacks® South Region Award. Bo’s message of embracing change resonates with me and his guest post is a perfect fit for Ostomy Outdoors. Enjoy!

You’re Not Done
By Bo Parrish
Can you imagine a life other than the one you are living right now? Is there something about you that you wish were not so? Does the thought of change excite or terrify you? Well, however you may feel about your current situation I can assure you that it will change! The road that you are currently traveling will indeed change in some way, form or fashion. Life has a funny way of working itself out with or without your liking. My life is a testimony to the incredible blessing that change can and will bring. I wish I could say that I chose it, but it chose me and I am extremely grateful!
SUB-TOTAL COLLECTOMY SURGERY CLEVELAND CLINIC, APRIL 2007
SUB-TOTAL COLECTOMY SURGERY
CLEVELAND CLINIC, APRIL 2007
I grew up a fairly normal kid in a small town. I never had to deal with adversity until my teenage years. You see, Crohn’s Disease chose me and my life would take a dramatic turn. I spent the better part of the next 14 years in a vicious cycle of stomach pain, fever, weight loss, anemia, bone loss, and social anxiety among others. I was the sick kid, the one who sat on the floor outside of the classroom so that I might make it to the bathroom multiple times throughout the day. I was the one who missed the prom and the parties for fear of not being able to find a bathroom. My entire freshman year of college was spent in the medical clinic while discovering that alcohol absolutely wreaked havoc on my comprised digestive system. Life was miserable and I knew of no other alternative. This continued into my early adult years as I transitioned into the workforce. I was sick more often that well and my employers quickly discovered my lack of productivity. All I could think about was making it through the day to return home to the comfort of my bed. My doctors recommended surgery to removed my diseased bowel, but the thought of a “bag” absolutely horrified me. I told myself that any amount of pain and suffering was better than a body-altering, image-wrecking surgery. As I mentioned before, life has a funny way of working itself out.
In the fall of 2006, I found myself in a rural emergency room in Canada in the hands of general surgeon. My large intestine had ruptured and my body was becoming septic. If I were to continue living, surgery was my ONLY option. I was on the verge of slipping into a coma before giving the doctor consent to operate. The next six weeks were pretty much a blur, but I was alive. My recovery was the farthest thing from comfortable that I can describe. I had a hole in the middle of my body and my midsection had been carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey. BUT….I WAS NOT DONE! Eventually, I started to recover my strength and shortly after my surgery I was introduced to the sport that I credit with my current athletic success. Triathlon gave me confidence; it gave me conviction that my life would be better. In the seven years since my life-saving surgery I have become an endurance athlete and have married my running coach. I have competed in Ironman events all over the world and raced in two world championships. I have learned how to eat and fuel my body for athletic performance. Most importantly I have gained a keen sense of gratitude. It is now my passion to encourage and support others who have recently faced or are anticipating ostomy surgery.
MUSIC CITY TRIATHLON, JULY 2012
MUSIC CITY TRIATHLON, JULY 2012
I know it sounds crazy, but life begins with your ostomy. If only I could have known how sweet life could be on the other side of surgery, I would have gladly volunteered. My biggest problem was my attitude. I was sure that my life would be forever ruined by an ostomy. I would never be able to take my shirt off in public. I would never find a woman who would be attracted to me much less get married. I would lose my ability to to be transparent. Oh, how ridiculous I was! Change is such a wonderful thing and in our particular application of an ostomy, it can be the difference in that other life you wish you could live. Life is too short to suffer without hope. Please, please, please don’t allow yourself to become an emergency surgery. Take it from me and my path these last seven years: change is the only thing that is keeping you from living the life of your dreams.
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3 thoughts on “Guest post by Bo Parrish: YOU’RE NOT DONE…

  1. Wow. This post has left me speechless – and that doesn’t happen often.

    Six months ago I had a subtotal ileostomy, I had suffered from Crohns/colitis for 13 years and just like Bo had always been too freaked out by life with a bag to truelly consider it as an option. That was until I ran out of options and had not quite as urgent but emergency surgery.
    I totally agree that life fully begins following surgery. Yes it’s not for everyone, I know that, but I wish that I’d considered it all those years ago instead of dismissing it due to fears about how my body would look.
    Since my operation life hasn’t been perfect and my illness isn’t gone, but I feel more alive and more hopeful of the pain free days to come. I have started a post-op challenge of aspirations for the next five years.
    Yes, I’m not becoming a marathon runner or an ironman (wish I had that inner strength) but I’m hoping to embrace my new found health. This blog has made me even more determined to do something incredible now I’ve had the dreaded op.
    Bo, you are truelly inspirational. I hope others dreading the surgery read this and realise life with a bag is just the beginning of an amazing journey.

  2. Bo i’d love to get in touch. i’ve got a colostomy myself and have competed in several sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. i have my first 70.3 coming up in september. would love to discuss your “management” style as i am concerned about the longer distance races.

    Greg (gskalt@yahoo.com)

    1. Hi Greg,

      It looks like Bo hasn’t seen this comment. I will email him and let him know that you would like to get in contact with him.

      Best wishes with the long distance racing!

      -Heidi

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