Back in the Saddle Again!!
After several years of illness and surgeries, I am once again on the trail and enjoying life. I am 37 years old, and am very physically active. I teach fourth grade science and am a single parent. During the summer I manage the city pool and lifeguard. I walk from 5 to 9 miles several days a week, and swim laps in the summer. This year I coached two "littledribblers" teams and I play basketball in a women's league. In addition, I ride my mule every chance I get. My daughter and I trail ride regularly during the fall and spring.
I spent many months just hanging on because I felt so sick, and many weeks were spent in recovery from surgeries. My journey began in December of l990. I was diagnosed with UC, but I only had one ulcerated place in my colon. I was passing blood, but had no pain or diarrhea. At the time, I was jogging a couple of miles a day. In July of l993, while out jogging, I had to make a RUN for the restroom. That flare-up lasted for five weeks, and ended in the hospital. After a colonoscopy, it was discovered that my colon was now ulcerated from one end to the other. Here I began the prednisone nightmare. I will crawl on one hind leg before taking that stuff again! I was never able to taper off the drug without having another flare-up. In April of l994, even the steroid wasn't helping and I had the j-pouch surgery done. My take-down surgery was in July of l994.
I had one really good year, and then developed a fistula in the fall of l995. The surgery to repair it left me with some problems, so I had a sphincteroplasty done on my daughter's birthday in May of l997. Since then I have done well, although not as good as the first year. However, it is so much better than being sick, that I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
In the summer of l998, I went on a dinosaur dig in Big Bend, Texas. Of the 25 teachers that went, only 10 of us made the cut to go out to the dig site, and only 4 of those were women. (105 degrees by noon) We worked for four hours each day, breaking rock with a pick axe and putting it in five gallon buckets to be dumped about 20 ft. away. I packed 3 gallons of water each day, and returned with only a quart. Dehydration was a factor for all of us, but especially for me. It was a great experience, and it helped me emotionally to accomplish something that was physically taxing. I spent so much time wishing I could get up and go, that I do not want to waste any time sitting around.
I would recommend the surgery for anyone that has ulcerative colitis. It may not be a totally problem free option, but you will have your life back and will be able to function much more normally than before. Long term use of steroids, as well as the inflammation from the illness can do irreparable damage to your body. By having the j-pouch, I am not only feeling well, but I believe that my future will include many more years of healthy enjoyment and an active role in my daughter's life.
Please feel free to e-mail me if you would like to talk about the surgery or have any questions. I enjoy learning about other people's situations, and I feel that this type of support is of monumental value. I have already enjoyed corresponding with some people that I discovered in the guestbook, and it has been a great help to me.