Almost exactly ten years ago, I was in the hospital for a flare of Crohn’s colitis. On May 4th I will celebrate ten years of being Crohn’s-hospitalization free.
When I think back on that time of my life and see images of the past, my eyes well up with tears. My life seemed to be in pieces so much of the time. But paradoxically, those years were also rich with love, joy and compassion. People were there for me in amazing ways. I was there for me in ways I never thought I could be.
I took nothing for granted. Every morsel of food that I ate was a treasure. Sleeping through the night was a gift. Just feeling the energy to do what healthy people did would make my day.
I haven’t forgotten what it was like to be a person with a disability. I haven’t forgotten the mortal fear of death or writhing in pain with no hope of relief. I haven’t forgotten the debilitation nor the emaciation that I experienced. There were weeks of being starved by doctors, months of eating baby food, and years of not knowing if I could plan anything in my life without a whisper of fear in the back of my mind saying, “But you could get sick again.”
I also remember the deep connections I had with people and nature during that difficult time of my life. I remember staring at the sky through hospital windows and feeling great solace in seeing birds and trees. I remember the loving care of so many friends and family members who brightened my days with conversations and visits to the hospital. When I felt as if I couldn’t carry the burden of being sick, I leaned back into the open arms of my family and my community and felt their strength in me.
It is ten years later and so much has changed. I live in another country with my partner and son. My days are filled with motherhood activities and responsibilities. And I am completely free from Crohn’s colitis. It is gone and has been for eight years. Where did it go? I have no idea! It vanished as mysteriously as it appeared.
In each of the last ten years, I have lived an embodied life. I have listened to my body and especially my gut. With mindful insight, I know what is healthful and what is going to disturb the delicate balance in my body. I’ve managed stresses that I feared would throw me off-kilter: moving to another country, writing a dissertation, giving birth and caring for an infant. And here I am now, tired after 13 months of mama-hood, but feeling centered and whole.
For more information on my healing process, please see: http://determinedtoheal.org/2010/09/23/tips-for-ibd-patients/ and http://determinedtoheal.org/2010/08/27/hello-world/