I’ve been thinking a lot about UC(ulcerative colitis) and how differently it affects those who have it. Some of us are really positive, some are negative and resentful. Others seem to have just given up hope that one day things will be better. Me, I was very angry for a long time. I felt UC had stolen my identity – as a daughter, a wife, a friend, a student, a bodybuilder. During the first month of being in the hospital (prior to my initial surgery), I wrote this in my journal: “I am nothing but a disease.”
Those were extremely difficult words to read a year later – and it was even worse that I’d written them about myself. Looking back, and having the perspective a year offers, I’m starting to feel glad that I had that emotion. Prior to UC, I don’t think I ever really appreciated my health, mental or physical. Now, every good day (hell, every good HOUR) is a victory.
The picture I’ve included with this post is of myself, taken in the middle of 2009 about 2 months after my diagnosis and approximately one month before I entered the hospital. It shows two of my tattoos, STRENGTH and 1915 – .I’ve posted it for two reasons:
1) What people say is true: UC doesn’t define us. But STRENGTH does. You may not realize this right now, but one day you will. I promise you it’s there, you’ve just got to dig deeper to find it.
2) 1915 is the birth year of my grandfather, who passed away in April 2009. I got the tattoo about one month after his death. As you can see, his death year is not included. However, notice that the dash (” – “) is. What’s important in this life is not the amount of time we were here, but what we did with that time. The dash represents all of those things that make up our lives starting from birth: friendships, family, love, and tragedy. For me, there is no end date for those memories. UC is just one more. Even though it was a bad time in my life, I’m glad it happened because without it I’m afraid I would never have realized just how valuable life really is.
I’m a 30-year-old grad student living in NC with my husband and our five cats, one of which has UC as well!