Recovery time, a gift…..

Recovery time, a gift…..

Dear sis,

It has been one week and one day, post my 4 night stay in the hospital.

I decided today to blog about Crohn’s disease.    Something I have kept very quiet about in my life.   The reason for doing so,  is that I never wanted to put any energy in to it.  I would rather think of “feeling good” and creating wellness in my life.  So for the last 25 years, it was my choice to live this way.   I managed this disease on my own terms.      I have taken no meds, I have had no pain and the specialist confirmed that I am only 1% of people who has managed to do this.

Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.   When people get this disease, especially children, it is so heartbreaking as it can be ruthless.

Karen, as you know I was diagnosed at the age of 24.  It was  one  year post dad passing away and one year pre mom passing away.  During this time I was hospitalized several times.  I think the biggest challenge, was that it took doctor’s over a year to diagnose me.

I recall one of my overnight hospital visits – at UBC Hospital in Vancouver – talking to mom on the phone.  She was to sick to travel out to BC, as she was personally battling cancer.    I could hear in her voice how weak she was.  She was sucking on ice cubes as her mouth was so dry.  She was dehydrated.  I felt helpless.   I hung up the phone and cried softly.

My goal that evening was to get out of the hospital as soon as I could and fly home to be with mom.   Within a few days, I managed to do this, thank goodness because two weeks later she passed away.

Unfortunately the physical pain I suffered with Crohn’s was ongoing for approximately two years.   However,  in-between hospital visits, I would go running (in pain) work out at the gym (in pain) go dancing in the bars (in pain) work  (in pain).  So much of what I did was in pain.   Yet, I persevered.

At the age of 26 I had surgery.   All went well, it was only a small part of the bowel they had to remove.   However what I do recall was being in hospital for 3 weeks (they told me it would be 3 months but I got in and out as I wanted to make it home to be your maid of honour in your wedding) Those 3 weeks were exceptionally challenging as I was anemic,  I had to have a blood transfusion and I had to have a tube that went into my nose and down my throat (Nasogastric intubation – NG tube – Yuck, I recall that being so painful)  My weight was  25 – 30lbs less than I am now.

So now moving forward, 25 year years later,  my gastroenterologist suggested he do an MRI as he was retiring and he thought it would be a good idea for me to have a specialists lined up.   “Just incase ever needed.”   My specialists in Vancouver had retired ten years ago and for me personally, I never really pursued another specialists.   Not needed.    Well, the MRI showed that in the exact same area as past surgery, there was a stricture that was so tight, that it would eventually close and bring on challenges.

I received this news in Feb.   It was 3 weeks prior to me leaving for Bali.    The doctor called me at home.    He highly recommended that I start taking medication asap.     I reluctantly went on the meds for months and in September another MRI showed that the medication would not help.  I was too far along.     It needed to be surgically removed and so a bowel resection was scheduled.

So here is where I am at today…..

I had my surgery on Wednesday November 14th.  It was a 2.5 hour operation.   The entire process and the care that I received    was phenomenal.

When I was released,  my two girlfriends Michelle and Kerri assisted with driving, housework, meals ect.    I can’t even explain how full my heart is.     These two ladies have been friends of mine for almost 30 years.   When I told them I had to have surgery, they both said the were going to clear their schedules. move in and help with the caregiving post surgery.    As humans we are constantly measuring our time.    Well I measure the time I shared with them,  as sacred time.

I was on my walk this morning – first one on my own – and I started thinking about what a friend said to me the other day.  She said, “You don’t want to be posting about how well you are doing.  You are taking time off work.  People WILL judge you.”    My response was so intimately thought out that I found myself responding….

“If there is someone who is going to judge me, then that person does not truly know me.    So I really don’t  care what they think.”

We all know how the social media world works.   You create your own story about the picture you are seeing.  But really,  all that matters is that I know the truth to that picture.

I truly believe that the universe has given me this time to, “Slow the fuck down!!!”    Both my parents died when they were in their 50’s.  So I am feeling that all this has been orchestrated by the powers above.

Over the last 4 years I choose to ignore many of the signs that I was given.   There were times when my stress level was so high that I could not take a deep breath.    My daughter was also commenting on how her mom was always working and not being present.  If anything broke my heart, that did.  It was a big wake up call for me.

So yes, over the last year I have made some personal changes.  I am more mindful.   Jenna has noticed a difference.  I have more fun in my job.  I do not take things personally.    I live everyday appreciating all that I have.

So in the months ahead, when I look at a picture of me walking down a trail, hiking a mountain or climbing a tree (I love to climb trees, I can’t wait to climb again) this is what I will see in that picture…..

A girl who will not let this disease get her down.    Someone who walked up and down that hallway in the hospital every night, determined to get strong again.  Someone who is going to take the time that my surgeon has given to me and make the best of it.    Someone who is going to go another 25 years with no meds or complications.   I will bounce back stronger than ever, both physically and mentally.

This is my personal journey.  It is my responsibility to maintain my own alignment with well being.    By not focusing on the illness, this will allow it to dissipate.

As I mentioned, one can view a pic of me however they choose to see me.    But I do hope that when you do look at me you are cheering me on !!!!   Sending me positive vibes and thoughts.

I love you sis,

Kathy xo

ps. Karen I really hope JP is reading this.  JP if you are I just wanted to let you know that we are all routing for you.   I know how much you miss my sister.  Please know that your sister Tara has been so wonderful with sending me pictures of Karen and staying in touch.   She also FaceTime’d with me – pic down below – when I was in the hospital.   JP take care of you.   You have given so many wonderful years of care and love to my sister.  This time should be all about you.

ppss.   Karen, when Kerri and Michelle were here, I thought of you often.  As you know, they are my BC sister’s.  OMG did we laugh.   My third night home from the hospital I was laughing so hard that I honestly thought I was damaging my insides lol it is so painful to laugh but I didn’t care.     Anyhow sis, I hope to come see you when I am off.   I can sit with you and tell you all the stories xoxoxo


A few hours post surgery
My baby girl Jenna xo
When it comes to recovery, there is no place like home.


My friend Michelle even caulked my bathtub when I was in the hospital…sent me this selfie…:)
Kerri and I….even in the pouring rain I would say, “I need to get out for my walk.”
Day 3 home – day 7 post surgery


Karen I recall back in 1996. post surgery, your wedding was a huge motivation for me to get out of the hospital post surgery. Doctors told me I would be in for 3 months. My response was, “Well my sister is getting married in a month and I plan to be out within the next few weeks, on a plane to Ottawa, as I am the maid of honour.” And yes I did it. I do recall being in a wheelchair at the airport lol I was so physically exhausted!!! I could not find a pic of just you and I but what I did find was this pic at your wedding. I am dancing with Bobby Horn. Our dad’s best friend since they were teenagers. Look at the smile on my face. I was so happy that I made it !!!! But as you know, there was nothing that was going to keep me away xoxo

13 thoughts on “Recovery time, a gift…..

    1. Thank you so much Tim. You are so kind. Let me know what works for you. I am pretty flexible over the next little while 🙂

  1. You are an amazing lady… so much courage and love for so many. Jenna is so lucky to have a mom like you… I hope I see you over the holidays..

    1. Ann, thank you so much. I very much appreciate your kind words. Funny, because I was actually thinking, “omg this may be the year I can finally join you all for a Christmas cheer!!” Would love to see you. One day at a time, but I will be in touch xo

  2. Kathy, you and Karen remind me of my mum. Like you she lost both her parents by the time she was 24. She was full of positive energy and lived life to the fullest. Take care and continue to live your life loving every day.

  3. What a great read! All the best in your recovery and all the best to you and your family this holiday season and new year. Your strength and attitude are unparalleled and a lot of people can find strength in just reading your stories! Lots of Love!

    1. Thank you so much David. Those words mean a lot. It is not an easy disease for many people to manage, so yes I do hope I can bring hope and strength to many. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. ps. All is going well. I even climbed a tree the other day 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing Kathy. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 43 and have had 2 fairly scary bouts in the hospital because of it but have been healthy for 2.5 years now (touch wood). I also refuse to let it define me and don’t talk about it much. I take the meds as I just cannot risk returning to the debilitated state I found myself in 2 other times. I am glad to hear you are quickly recovering and following your dreams. The one upside of health issues is that it does quickly remind you of how precious and fleeting life is. Big hugs to you and happy new year! Xo 💖

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