Not that anyone is counting...but it has been 26 days since my last surgery.
Last week, Dr. Scherl reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in speaking to one of her patients about my journey. This patient had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer and has been a long time sufferer of Ulcerative Colitis and would soon be going thru what I am currently going thru.
I told her that I would of course speak to her patient. I would be more than happy to.
Dr. Scherl gave me his number and sent him mine and after a few texts back and forth, we finally got to chat on the phone. I never could have expected what would come to pass after our 30-minute conversation.
After our brief introductions and how-do-you-do's, we got down to the nitty gritty. It turns out that he is about twice my age, has been suffering with Ulcerative Colitis for over 25 years, and had recently been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and would be undergoing some intense care.
We bonded over our symptoms. We laughed. We got angry together.
And I told him the truth. The surgeries suck. The recovery is not fun. I didn't sugar coat anything. We had some real talk. I told him of the shoulder pain from the laparoscopy, the starvation, the weakness, the slow road to recovery. But I also shared that it all will get better. He would have new freedom. He would be able to walk to work without the anxiety of needing to know where every single public restroom was along the way. He would be able to hop on the subway without ever worrying that he'd get stuck underground and have an accident. All real life worries of someone with Ulcerative Colitis.
I told him the colostomy bag is super annoying. But although it's annoying, it's freeing. I told him he'd hate it for a long time, but then it would become part of his everyday life and that he would learn to appreciate his new lease on life.
It felt good to share my experience with someone. It helped me in my recovery to know that I could help someone else. I told him to save my number, let me know when his surgery was, and that I would be there to walk some laps with him in the hospital. And I will.
I've been blessed to have the support system that I do. I've been blessed to meet new friends like Abby Bales. I've known her for a handful of weeks yet I feel so connected to because we've both been there. Abby didn't have to extend her hand, her time, her support - but she did. And it is very important to me to pay it forward...to help others and in doing so - to help myself.
I have an appointment with Dr. Michelassi tomorrow and hope to schedule my 3rd and final surgery (the "takedown," they call it) and to put this all behind me. And with it behind me, I can help others move forward to health, healing, and happiness.