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!
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.
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.