Part two in a series: I am thankful for Doug

I am thankful for my husband, Doug

The other morning, I wandered downstairs and started making myself a cup of tea, still a little groggy after allowing myself the luxury of sleeping until 10 a.m. Doug, always the early riser, had already been up for 5 hours and was bouncing with excitement over some news he had to share. He told me to stop what I was doing and go take a look on the computer. There on the screen was a touching post on my blog regarding Doug’s thoughts on my surgery and his plans to contribute the site. I was incredibly moved by his efforts and reminded once again of the continuous love and support my husband gives me. He is always there for me… whether giving me high-fives on a run or hugs on a hard day. Doug proofreads blog posts when he is trying to watch a football game, understands my need for quiet time when I want to be a hermit in my art studio, and is my biggest fan with any endeavor I attempt. I know there are times when I am difficult, yet his love surrounds and comforts me eternally.

Of course, Doug and I have had our share of hard moments and misunderstandings, as I imagine most couples who have been together for a long while do. After navigating the waves and rapids of tough times and conflicts, we always find our love steadfastly waiting on the other side. Oftentimes, the challenges faced in those rough waters makes our love even stronger than before.

Every day, I am thankful for the day Doug came into my life. Over 20 years ago, I stopped Doug in the stairwell at our college dorm. I had seen him in some classes and was looking for an opportunity to talk to him. Not knowing what to say when the chance finally presented itself, I blurted out the most geeky pick-up line ever, “Hey, how do you think you did on that wildlife management exam?” Fortunately, he wasn’t scared away and we immediately struck up a conversation. I must have been pretty smitten afterwards, because when we were done talking I couldn’t even think straight and went down the stairs towards the basement when I actually lived on the 3rd floor.

At that moment in time, could I ever have imagined that the stranger I had just talked to would become my best friend, husband and partner though the greatest times and the hardest? Could I have anticipated all the amazing adventures we would share or the unconditional love we would have for each other? Could I have fathomed the the support and care Doug would give me when I was facing and recovering from surgery? I know now that those were the luckiest few minutes of my life. No words can begin to describe the love I feel for Doug or how grateful I am to be his wife.

Celebrating our adventure on Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford in July 2011. On a side note, we cannot help accidentally dressing alike after all these years.

Another view of Heidi’s story

My name is Doug, and I’m the lucky one who is married to Heidi, the champion of the effort called Ostomy Outdoors.

When Heidi started this blog six months ago, I didn’t imagine that I would be writing in it myself. You see, I’m not an ostomate. But I live with an ostomate, and I’ve become intimately familiar with a whole new world of experiences, vocabulary, and feelings related to ostomies, surgeries, and recoveries.

We digitally recorded a happy moment between a painful wound-packing session and a slow recovery walk last winter.

I found out from Heidi that it’s not just people considering ostomy surgery who are reading this blog and watching the videos. Some readers are people like me: intestinally healthy friends, family, and acquaintances of those who have IBD, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and/or ostomies. So, I figured it was time to diversify the writing a bit on Ostomy Outdoors, and try to provide not only a different perspective for this readership, but possibly serve as a sounding board for the “others” who are in the lives of readership.

Continue reading “Another view of Heidi’s story”

The Man Behind the Camera and the Love of My Life

Seventeen years ago today, I married my husband and best friend, Doug. We had already been a couple for four years at that point, which equals a grand total of 21 years together.

Our life together has always been steeped in outdoor adventure. One of our first dates was a winter camping trip to the Porcupine Mountains in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Snowshoeing on a winter camping trip in the Porcupine Mountains, Michigan, in 1990

Since then, we have made may trips into the wilderness to rock- and ice-climb, backpack and ski. Such trips are often riddled with trials. We have weathered storms for a week in our tent, dealt with some scary moments on climbs and made it through some of those tension-filled arguments that oftentimes erupt between couples during stressful moments in the outdoors. We have always emerged from these events stronger.

On top of Gannett Peak, Wyoming, in 1999

Perhaps facing these adversities in the outdoors together helped us prepare for one of our biggest challenges yet: my severe UC flare up and eventual ileostomy surgery. Just like facing those trying times in the mountains, this experience has helped strengthen our bond and has showed me the depth of my husband’s love for me.

Often in life, it is the simple things that demonstrate love the most. Almost every morning, when I woke up in the hospital around 5 a.m. Doug would be there. During my hospital stay for my final UC flare, he helped get me through the seemingly endless days by bringing my favorite chick-flick DVDs to my room and watching them with me (yes, this included The Notebook–not one of his faves). Doug strolled the same hospital floor walking route with me countless times to help me maintain strength and kept me from becoming too scared when we stopped at the scale in the hall each day to discover I had lost yet another few pounds. When I was too tired and sick to stay in contact with my family, friends and coworkers, he worked hard to keep everyone updated. Doug held my hand during my first Remicade infusion and monitored my vitals even more diligently than my awesome nurses. He took off from work so he could be at the hospital when I was making important decisions about my treatment with the doctors. He came with me to my initial surgery consult so I wouldn’t miss a bit of information.

After surgery, Doug reminded me to push my pain machine button on schedule. He brought me ice chips and summoned the nurses for help. He sat with me during my first couple of appliance changes with the nurse and then helped me when I got home, never once showing any aversion to my new plumbing. He got to know my surgeon and became a partner in my care, oftentimes calling and communicating with him when I was just too exhausted and sleepy. Doug became my wound-care expert when my incision opened up, coming home on his lunch break to painstakingly pack it with gauze–just one of three times he did this each day.

And most importantly, he was always supportive of my desire to have the surgery, and has continuously made me feel beautiful even with the addition of a stoma and pouch on my belly. When I had moments of doubt and tearful times, he was there to lift my spirits and remind me of how awful I felt before the operation and the new life this was going to give me. Now that I am feeling better, he continues to support me by helping to make these films. I pretty inept at most things techie, and could not do this project without his help. My biggest hope for all new ostomates is that they have someone as loving and supportive as my husband in their life to help them get through surgery and on the road to recovery.

Hopefully, in 30 more years we won’t be sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch, but instead will still be swinging from ropes on rock faces. There are likely to be more uncertain times between now and then, but I know after this challenge, we are ready for anything.

Climbing at the City of Rocks, Idaho, in 2010