I can’t believe it is the beginning of September! This month is special to me for a lot of reasons.
It is my birthday month. It represents the beginning of fall and end of my least favorite season, summer. And it also marks the year anniversary of when I really shared my story and started this blog.
Before I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, summer was my favorite season because it meant that I was able to be a part of my summer swim team. I swam all year round for a very competitive team which required me to train everyday for two hours after school, plus do dry land workouts for an hour beforehand and also attend practice before school at 5am for two hours three times a week. Not to mention weekend practices and swim meets. So, my summer team was what I looked forward to all year. It was my time to actually enjoy the sport. I always loved working hard and training so much but summer was my time to shine.
But, since I got sick when I was 13 and swimming is an endurance sport, I was always struggling to keep up. Being on prednisone also made it difficult for me to be in a bathing suit as well. I never felt like I was the same as my teammates because I would work so hard, get sick and be out of the pool for a while, get back into training mode and just as I would get back to where I was before, something would always happen to take me out of the game. It made me feel like all I was doing was busting my butt without getting the results that other people who didn’t have their training schedule so altered were able to achieve.
So after I was diagnosed, my whole views on summer changed.
I was always the sickest during the summer or right before. So, whereas usually I would work insanely hard during the year in preparation for summer swimming, it became a time of catch up for me. I still enjoyed being a part of the team because I loved my teammates but it was just different. I was different and it was very noticeable that I was no longer the same person or swimmer I had been prior to being diagnosed with UC. The events I would normally excel at (200meter butterfly and 200/400individual medleys) were something I could barely do. I did adjust and began to focus more on endurance freestyle or backstroke since it required the least amount of strength and I didn’t have the body to be a sprinter.
After I had my first ostomy surgery at the age of 16, summer became challenging in ways I never imagined. I was used to being able to hide the bag behind layers of clothing; something I wasn’t able to do when it was hot out. I also hated the fact that my body was more exposed since as I have mentioned a lot, I liked to keep what my mind and body was experiencing to myself for the most part. I would count down the days until the cold weather returned.
A year ago tomorrow was when I sat down and wrote out my story to the world. I will re-post it tomorrow and while it is definitely lengthy, it still is just an overview of my experiences. It was one of the most spontaneous and outrageous things I have ever done. I couldn’t believe I wrote it all out and then actually had the courage to post it publicly for the world to see on facebook.
After that, my world change for the better. I was met with unbelievably warm and supportive comments from not only people who were close to me but still didn’t really understand the magnitude of my situation, but also had a lot of people who I had either lost touch with or who I barely knew – and even received messages from people I knew once upon a time dumbfounded at all I had gone through.
It was empowering to say the least. I was so grateful and thankful to have been met with that kind of support. I ended up starting this blog about a week later which paved the way for me to connect with other IBDers and ostomates and meet some of the most amazing and inspiring people I have no idea how I ever lived without.
It is pretty incredible how much has changed since last year at this time. I have made so many new and irreplaceable friendships and feel like I have a purpose and a passion like I have never felt before. Not to mention, the enormous weight that has been lifted by sharing the true person I am.
I am very happy to say goodbye to August and hello to September. J