In the early days of 2014, I wrote about the resolutions I wanted to carry out over the course of the year. Because of my first surgery and all the complications and frustrations that came with it, 2013 was without doubt the worst and hardest year of my life. In the midst of the anger and sadness I felt towards the end of 2013, I knew that a new calendar wouldn’t magically bring about a new set of better circumstances. Still, I had a thread of hope that things would get better, especially as a result of my second surgery, which was scheduled for February 2014. I did have my second operation then, and after the expectedly difficult transition from life with an ostomy to life with a J-pouch, things did get better.
My new year’s resolution post from January 2014 noted a few specific tasks, but they all boiled down to one central theme: spend less time surviving life, and more time living it. As I now look back on 2014, I think I have been able to see that overall resolution through. But before getting to that, here’s a review of the four specific resolutions I made, and whether I actually got those right.
Resolution 1: I wanted to run again
Check. I waited 12 weeks after my surgery to test out my running abilities. It felt good for the first 30 seconds or so, and then my lack of stamina became painfully evident. I managed to jog a few blocks, then walk a few, then jog a few more. Still, I proved to myself that yes, I could run again. That first run was back in May, and since then I’ve managed to regain a good deal of my endurance. Over the summer I managed to run 2-3 times a week, going at least 5 kilometers each time out. Occasionally I was able to stretch my run out to 8 or 9 kilometers. I’m confident that I could today, if needed, run a 10K in under an hour. I still have a lot of work to do in strengthening my running abilities, but at least I have been able to run again.
Resolution 2: I wanted to have pain-free days
Check. Although every day comes with at least some discomfort as a result of my J-pouch, I haven’t had to endure the vicious pain that my ostomy caused me daily. I can lie down in bed at night comfortably, and over the course of the day, I don’t wonder when the pain will strike and how bad it will feel when it does. Life with a pelvic pouch isn’t pain-free. I still feel pain in the pelvic area when gas builds up or when the pouch is full, but it’s more manageable than the pain I used to feel during the recovery after my first surgery.
Resolution 3: I wanted to be less of a pushover
Fail. I’ve learned that changing one’s body, while difficult, is often easier than changing one’s personality. While 2014 brought some positive changes for my physical self, my mental self did not make the advancements I wanted it to. I still have a hard time saying no to people, and I prevent myself from saying what’s really on my mind. I do so because I feel as though keeping quiet and doing things I don’t want to do just makes things easier with the people. But in not trying to upset others, I end up upsetting myself. Maybe a little more selfishness would be a good thing.
Part of my third resolution was to be more assertive with my health care team. To that end, I did make some improvements. I used to sometimes leave doctor’s appointments with unasked questions, but I haven’t this year. I suppose it’s because my health has been better overall, so there’s less of a need to demand answers and treatments. I still go into my appointments with my notebook and pen, and I’ll continue to do so, and try to ensure all my concerns are adequately addressed.
Resolution 4: I wanted to be an IBD awareness-spreading machine
Half-check. I helped promoted the IBD cause, but I wasn’t exactly machine-like in my efficiency. Over the summer, I raised over $1300 for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Gutsy Walk. I like to think that the friends and family who donated to the cause did so not just because I asked, but also because they had gained at least some understanding of IBD because of me. I kept this blog going, but my post frequency waned considerably since I starting working full-time. I have however volunteered with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, and I look forward to doing more for the organization in the coming year.
Now, back to the overall theme of living more. Check. I can’t overstate the importance of being able to run again. Running, combined with the full-time job I landed in August, have made me feel as though I am living again, and not just struggling to survive from one day to the next. I’ve also been able to take a few little day trips out of town, and I still go for walks and take pictures of the interesting things I see.
I owe an unpayable debt to my surgeon, specialists, doctors, and nurses for helping me progress to this point. That being said, I still have much, much farther to go before I can feel as though I’m living a life of real worth and self-sufficiency. But that’s next year’s concern.