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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

April's Story

As many of you know, I have been through quite a bit with Crohn's Disease.  I was diagnosed in October of 2001 after being sick all summer and then having an emergency appendectomy.  Then something wasn't quite right so they went back in three days later and took out a foot of my small intestine and part of my large intestine.  They came in the next morning and told me I had Crohn's Disease, which I had never heard of at the time.  Well, after 2 emergency surgeries within 3 days, and alot of prayers, I remained in the hospital for about three weeks or so and then recover was another two months after that.  It was not fun.  I was living in Northern Virginia at the time and I missed my cousin's wedding, in which I was the maid of honor, which was devastating to me.  The sadness of not being with my family and the guilt of feeling like I was letting my cousin down were the toughest part of all.  I never complained that I went through all of that but I did let God know that I was upset about missing Anne's wedding.  I had to learn that heartbreaks will happen but God is still in control and has a plan to use everything for good if we allow it.  

Well, that was October of 2001.  About 15 months later, in Jan of 2003, I ended up with a massive ovarian cist that had to be removed via another emergency surgery.  I've never had to worry for too long about any surgery because almost every surgery in my life has been emergency.  They removed the cist, my left ovary and fallopian tube, and left the right ovary and tube damaged.  Crohn's made the entire surgery and recovery more difficult and we left the hospital on my mom's 50th birthday.  The recovery from that surgery was about a month.

I got married in October of 2003 and my Crohn's seemed fairly under control.  About three years into our marriage, we had no children so I went to the doctor to have some testing done to see what could be getting in the way.  Well, it really was no surprise when Dr. Garcia explained that my fallopian tube was blocked and recommended that I have the surgery to remove the adhesions from the tube to increase my chances of getting pregnant.  Well.......let's just say that didn't go so well.  I woke up from surgery with Dr. Garcia explaining that it was unsuccessful and that he had never seen anything so bad.  He said I had no chance of getting pregnant, nor should I carry a baby because it would actually be a danger to my life with the mess that's inside me.  I had adhesions everywhere and he couldn't get near where he needed.  One of the places he removed adhesions from was my intestinal wall.  Well, I went home because I seemed to be doing ok.  That night things took a dramatic turn but I begged Craig not to take me back to the hospital because I just thought my Crohn's was making my recovery more difficult.  That was Friday.  On Monday morning he put me in the car and took me back to the hospital because I was beyond sick and miserable.  As it turns out, my small intestine had burst open Friday night so needless to say, on Tuesday night I had lifesaving surgery.  What I would learn months later is that the surgeon was not confident that I would make it.  He still didn't expect me to make it through the following weekend.  During the surgery, they had to give me an ileostomy which lasted 10 weeks.  That go around was much worse than any other one and by this time in my life, most everyone I knew learned that I had Crohn's disease if they didn't know already.  

During the first few weeks, I struggled more during that time than ever before with the disease.  It was definitely a dark time for me.  Craig wouldn't allow visitors because I was in CCU and was still so sick that I couldn't handle visitors.  One thing I did learn during that 4 month struggle was that I was beyond blessed.  I wouldn't wish Crohn's on anyone but I learned that I worked with some amazing people, all who wanted to help in any way they could.  I went to church with an even more amazing group of people who did anything they could to help us.  They mowed our lawn, brought us meals, sent encouraging cards.  The love that was poured out on us was more amazing than anything I could've imagined.  

Since then I've done ok.  I go through ups and downs with Crohn's.  In the fall I learned that my Crohn's is active so I've worked very hard at remembering my medicine.  My GI doc warned me that I run the risk of more surgery if I didn't get better.  Needless to say, I started remembering to take it and I've been doing well since then.

One of the things that I love about this fundraising challenge is that it's a half marathon.  Most of you know that I love to run.  My dad got me started running in elementary school and I've been running ever since.  Someone said to me in the last six months that they did not enjoy running and couldn't understand how I run so much.  I explained to her that I run because I can.  I remember being in the hospital in the past and wondering if I would be able to run again and if so, how long until I could.  I thought I'd just about give anything to be able to run again.  Starting all over to get back in shape and feeling like your body has defeated you is never fun but running is simply something I can't live without.  I'm not letting this disease take running away from me.  Now I might often run along Blanding so that I have bathrooms close to me but I'm not going to stop running.  So that's all the more reason why this half marathon is so important to me.  I understand that not everyone is in a position to support me but even $5 helps.  I'm not just running for me.  I'm running for all my friends I've met through CCFA who suffer with Crohn's disease.  Some of them have it so severe that it blows my mind what a positive attitude they have.  My friend Dani deals with more than we'll ever understand on a day to day basis, especially after recently having her little boy.  She has such a sweet and positive attitude and disposition.  She never complains and just keeps pushing through.  If only we could all be like that.  I find myself wanting to just throw a temper tantrum from time to time over the frustrations of Crohn's.  I have another friend Jessica that I went to college with who has dealt with so much over the past 10 years.  She doesn't complain either and just keeps doing everything she can to take care of her husband and adorable little boy.  These ladies are my heros and neither of them could finish a half marathon and so I'm doing it for all of us. 

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