On April 10, 2014, I had a life-changing surgery for my Crohn’s Disease. I had been avoiding this surgery for quite some time, but it was apparent that my bowel was too diseased for any medication to work, so 12 inches of my small intestine, and appendix, had to be removed.
Most of you know my story by now, so I will keep it brief. I decided to make a complete lifestyle change, remove gluten and dairy from my diet, better manage stress, and had begun to prioritize my health (as we all should do but often don’t) in order to stop the endless cycle of being hospitalized, sick, and stressed.
So now, 5 years later, I have so much to reflect on, and be grateful, for that I honestly don’t even know where to start.
First, I am reminiscing when I was told in the Summer of 2013 that I “better hope I am married in three years because then you will have an [ileostomy] bag and no one will want you”. That leads to me recalling the painful days in the hospital that were spent without food or drink due to “bowel rest” and endless IVs blowing through my veins because I was so dehydrated.
I cannot neglect to note the amount of work that I missed while I was a Financial Advisor due to being sick and debilitatingly exhausted, which of course had a negative domino effect to follow. In addition to missing work, I missed out on countless social events with friends, had to leave vacations early to go directly from the airport to the ER due to a flare, and nearly missed my best friend’s wedding because of this chronic disease that just would not leave me alone.
You can imagine the wave of emotions I am feeling as I am typing this, looking at the 8x10 picture of my husband and I from our wedding on April 21, 2018, and seeing my growing baby bump that is our child’s home until September when we bring him/her into this wonderful world.
And honestly, had I been in the same condition I was 5 years ago, none of this would be possible. I used to be terrified that I would be sick for my wedding day (which didn’t happen!). I was concerned, not only about fertility issues due to my Crohn’s, but the ability to carry a child because my blood work results were always so poor. I also knew that when I was ill, I had to put all of my focus on caring for myself, so could therefore not be responsible for another human being.
Lastly, in addition to my physical improvements, my mental health has greatly improved, which is equally as important when living well, and creating the life you want. I have learned to meditate, deal with my emotions in a healthy way, not let things get me too down for too long, and to see the world in a brighter light. This is often difficult when suffering from a chronic illness to be optimistic and happy, but it can be argued that much of the chronic suffering stems from the mind (total chicken and the egg situation). Now that all of that is in check, I know I can great my future and raise my family in a healthy and emotionally stable environment.
As you can see, a lot has changed over the past 5 years. I am healthy, living the life I always wanted, married to the guy I had always dreamed of, building the career I had always strived for, and most importantly, growing Baby Palumbo as best as I know how. We don’t know why lies ahead of us, and if I could go back in time to April 10, 2014 I would tell myself that this is just the beginning of a beautiful life, and it starts today.