Part of this weekend was about just being me. This was the first time I have been away since I was diagnosed at the age of 13. I have had mini overnights but nothing that required me to be a plane ride away. I was always too sick whenever my parents planned any trip.
This past weekend was really awesome in the ways I have described in previous posts. But it was also a stepping stone for me. This was the first time I was not only away with an ostomy, but away from my parents in a strange place having no idea what to expect. At the age of 27, you wouldn’t think that was a huge accomplishment but it was for me.
Up until about two years ago, the only people who knew and understood what I was going through were my parents. Therefore, it created a unique relationship between the three of us. They were the only ones I talked to about what was going on with me physically, how I was doing emotionally, etc. They were the only ones allowed to visit me in the hospital or even see me when I was at my worst. It was even difficult for me to be myself around Jeremy, my brother. I was a fake person to everyone else besides my mom and dad. And I thank God for them every single day. They kept me alive.
Anyway, point being, I haven’t had a lot of experiences being myself with other people besides my parents. Get Your Guts in Gear was the first time I got a glimpse of what it was like to be surrounded by people who understood, didn’t care and didn’t judge.
This past weekend was like that for me too. I even left the meeting a little early (it did go over anyway) because I wasn’t feeling well at all. Sunday was also a tough day for me. Walking around so much and only having the powerade (which was a huge step for me to even get in general) caused me to be exhausted and have a bad migraine. I just wanted to be home and I knew I had about an hour shuttle ride to the airport plus a number of hours until I was going to board and actually land.
But. even though it was difficult, I did it. And I was actually honest to those people who asked me how I was doing. And any food related questions were answered completely truthfully too; Even to non IBDers.
This conference made me realized that there are so many good, caring, wonderful people out there. We are all different and our ways of approaching things will differ but at the end of the day, we are all just doing the best we can. We all want to be accepted and loved for the exact person we are. So while I used to only really feel comfortable telling fellow IBDers the truth about how I was feeling, I am slowly able to be more honest and upfront with others now too.
Being able to be truthful about your life with inflammatory bowel disease with other people besides immediate family or close friends is a huge step forward in creating awareness about these devastating diseases to the rest of the population.