Ten years later

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/

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Josh Lipovetsky
    Apr 29, 2013 @ 22:26:28

    That is absolutely AMAZING! Keep living the life, Erica! :)

    Reply

  2. penelope
    Apr 30, 2013 @ 15:50:01

    Dear Erica
    I could relate so much to so much of what you wrote. I rejoice in your good fortune and the wisdom and compassion you share with the world.

    Reply

  3. denis taylor
    Apr 30, 2013 @ 18:50:21

    Congratulations Erica!! I’m so happy you are healed. It helps me appreciate everything great in life, a ton more. Best wishes to you and your family and thank you for sharing your life with us.

    Reply

    • Erica
      May 01, 2013 @ 17:33:27

      Thank you Denis, for reading and for appreciating more in life. I believe that appreciation of the simple things in life is a potent medicine in this world.

      Reply

  4. Toffer
    May 01, 2013 @ 00:00:58

    Hi Erica, I found your blog a few years ago. It inspired me. I don’t know what it is like to have Crohns colitis but I do understand chronic pain and life feeling broken and shattered into a million pieces wondering if there will ever be relief. You bring hope. Do you think that it’s possible for anyone to determine themselves to heal?

    Reply

    • Erica
      May 01, 2013 @ 17:39:44

      Hi Toffer, I believe that it is possible, yes. I believe that the determination to heal oneself can bring about healing on a grand scale, both of oneself, and maybe even the world at-large. In my own experience, and in my psychological research, I have found that self-determination is extremely important in coping with a chronic illness and/or chronic pain. And according to many researchers, coping methods have a lot to do with how much pain one experiences, and how much it affects other areas of one’s life. Determination itself is important because we take the power to steward our lives back. We refuse to be victims of an illness or of pain, or if we do feel as if we are victims, those feelings are short-lived, and we can return to self-empowerment as the mainframe of our healing path. That’s what I think anyway!

      Reply

  5. Raili Bolay
    May 05, 2013 @ 08:21:41

    You bring hope to many people by sharing your experiances of how you have been struggeling to transform hurt to hope.
    Love 2 you <3

    Reply

  6. Michelle
    Sep 22, 2013 @ 23:13:56

    I found your blog while reading your excellent article “The Gifts of Illness” on Elephant Journal. I absolutely identify with that “but I could get sick again” thought when I try and think about my future and make plans. I still have my illness (it’s stable) but I am slowly trying to be optimistic about things I can achieve :)

    Reply

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