This has most likely been one of the best weeks of the 19 years that I have been alive. Not only was it the first Christmas in a long time that I actually enjoyed, I got to spend it with my family and my wonderful boyfriend. I also had my consultation with my surgeon, who said I should be healthy enough for my reversal in around three months, I’m so excited about this. It may only be the type of person I am, but I am choosing to only take the positives out of this whole experience, as I don’t think there are any negatives! It’s a relatively small procedure, considering how big my first op was. I’ll most likely wake up with a nose tube going down my throat, a urinary catheter in, staples in my stomach, as well as stitches were my stoma was, I may have a few lines in my arms again, but it will all be totally worth it! I know I may need another bag in the future, and there may be complications with my re-join, but I’m willing to give it a try! Don’t get me wrong though, having an ileostomy hasn’t been a negative experience at all. It has allowed me to enjoy life again. I spent two years physically and emotionally shutting myself down, that I seem to be going into overdrive now that I’m well again. It’s made me realise how ill I really was beforehand. I now understand that it isn’t normal to sleep for 16 hours of the day and still wake up tired. It’s not normal to fear your meals or to spend the majority of the night in the bathroom doubled over in pain. It isn’t normal to need to sleep with a hot water bottle violently pressed to your stomach every night, and it most definitely isn’t normal to not enjoy life. When things like this happen to you, your body does everything it can to make things better, it is a lot stronger than you could ever imagine and it was this strength that is the reason I’m alive today. Each and every one of you who read this are stronger than you believe. You can do whatever you put your mind to, you’ve just got to believe you can do it. I know this may sound corny and some of you may even cringe at the thought, but whether you can or you can’t, you’re right.
I’ve always had a keen interest in the human mind, specifically positive thinking. I don’t think there is any tool that is more powerful than a human’s mind. It can create objects that aren’t really there, it can store hundreds of thousands of memories, words, lyrics. It allows people to communicate in different languages, create machines that we once thought impossible. Due to the power of the human mind and the brain, we have invented a 600 tonne machine that can fly through the air, a method of transport that exceeds the speed of sound. I bet you if we’d told this to human beings 200 years ago we’d be flogged for talking nonsense. We are incredibly powerful creatures and we don’t use our minds to their full potential. Tell me one thing, how many times do you say you “can’t” in one day? The answer is most likely too many. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. You’ve just got to believe yourself.
When I was in hospital I decided I was going to make a few rules to live by in order to surround myself with the positivity that I needed to live happily. The past three months have been an incredible journey and if you’re willing to try out these few rules I can guarantee you’ll feel the difference soon.
1. Remove any negative factors from your life. – For me, this was one of the most important changes. I needed to remove any factor that had a negative impact on my life. I needed to spend less time with people that drained me of my energy, and spend more time with the people that energized me. Life is far too short to spend any of that precious time with people that make you feel angry, sad or frustrated. To do this, I cleared out my facebook friends to people I actually had an interest in. I made sure I spent time with the friends that made me smile, laugh and remember what it felt like to live my life. I made time for the friends that needed me as much as I needed them, and I stopped spending time with people that left me feeling as though I needed to impress them, or entertain them.
Removing the negative factors also includes things you say to yourself. If you don’t believe you are beautiful, then no one else will. I have promised myself that I will stop saying the negative things I used to say to myself. I’ve met a few people who have stopped living after they have gotten their bag, because they think they’re ugly. But I can guarantee they are the only people who think that. When I first got my bag, I stood in front of Matthew and asked him “do you think I’m ugly now?” He paused for a minute and answered with “That’s such a badass scar, I want one!” – he is a positive impact on my life. I showed my friends the bag and they embrace it, they ask questions, laugh, joke and make me feel completely comfortable about it all – they are a positive impact. My family love my stoma because it means I am alive today, they think my scar is beautiful because it reminds them all of what I can overcome, and how strong I am. – They are an extremely positive influence in my life, so they can all stay!
2. Stop judging other people.– This is another form of negativity and it is only going to drain me. I get filthy looks from people when I walk into a disabled toilet because they can’t see a disability on me. But I need the extra room for my stoma products. Should I have to explain my story to them when they look down their noses at me? No. I no longer judge people when I don’t know them, why should I? People are often too quick to pass judgement or come to conclusions, which in my opinion, is wrong.
3. Spend time on yourself.– I’ve always followed this rule, just more so recently. Try spending time by yourself, it’s extremely beneficial. Try going for a walk without your iPod, or going to the cinema to see a movie by yourself. This allows your body time to relax, to gather your thoughts and have time to pamper yourself. Sit and read a book for an hour or two, or just lie there. Enjoy the beauty of the word without anyone there to pass comment.
4. Keep fit.– Exercise has many benefits. It’s good for your health, your body and your mind. It releases endorphins which are a feel good hormone. It relaxes you and I believe it helps to centre your mind. Exercise will always make you feel better about something, whether its that extra packet of crisps you ate or that fight you had with your partner. Plus you can exercise by yourself so you’re killing two birds with one stone! (no birds were harmed in the making of this blog)
5. laugh!– Laughter really is the best medicine. I’ve been in far too many situations where I could have just curled up and died with embarrassment, but choosing to laugh about the situation makes everyone else feel at ease. When my stoma starts farting really loudly, I’ll make a joke out of it, or blame it on someone else. When I can feel my bag all pumped up with air, I’ll show my friends and we’ll make jokes about it being a whoopy cushion on my stomach. Laughing about situations always lightens the mood and puts other people at ease, who may not know how to react with the information you’re giving them. It also releases the endorphins which I was talking about earlier!
6. Don’t regret.– What’s the point? Regrets focus of what you wished you would have done, instead of what really happened. It will only waste your time and energy on something you can do nothing about. If it’s good it’s a memory, if it’s bad it’s a lesson! Learn from your mistakes, move on. Don’t dwell on what you can’t change.
Life is a precious thing, many people waste it, spending too much time arguing, bitching and worrying. Just stop. Take a minute to notice what’s important, and cherish it while you can, because it could be gone in an instant.