I've been a member of Weight Watchers for almost a year now. In that time, I've lost 55 pounds with the program (coupled with 15 of my own in the month prior for a grand total of 70). It hasn't been easy, but the tools and support of the program have made it doable. One particular meeting topic has been stuck in my head for a few days now just begging me to write about it, so here I am.
During the early fall holiday season last year, my WW leader gave a presentation where she talked about how all phases of the weight loss process are hard. It is hard being overweight. It is hard to lose weight. It is hard to maintain that weight loss once you achieve your goal. As a group we shared the things that are hard about each phase and created a list on a white board. Once they were all up there she looked at all of us and told us it's up to us to chose our hard. If all of these phases are hard, which one do you want to be in while you are experiencing hard? It was a light bulb moment for me and a message I've drawn upon many times during my weight loss journey.
In the last few days, I've been thinking about how this same message applies to life with an IBD, especially for those of us who end up on the path to surgery. There is no doubt at all that many things about life with an ostomy are hard. The learning curve is steep, ignorance and stigma abound, and there is a lot of forging your own way to be done. The thing is though that life with UC was also hard. Fighting flares is hard. Dealing with the side effects from medication is hard. Gritting your teeth and hoping you'll make it to the front of the grocery store to get to the bathroom in time is hard. Being anemic is hard. Knowing you could poop your pants during a training run but going out and doing it anyway is hard. Being in daily pain is hard. The decision to have surgery is also hard. For me, it meant accepting that I would be cut into and hospitalized on three separate occasions and deciding to embrace that process. There is no question that recovery is hard, and so is the separation from my children when I have to be in the hospital. All of these things are hard.
I've chosen my hard. I picked the one that restored health to my body and freedom to my life. Yes, I have an ostomy which means I have some daily things I need to do that not everyone does. There are things about it that are hard---like sometimes worrying about leaks, fighting dehydration, and working around some dietary tweaks. There are times when I wonder why on earth I did this, and then I remember and I take my newly healthy body out for a nice run. I'm only part of the way down a road that is sure to bring more hard, but it's my hard. It's the one I've chosen and I don't regret that choice one bit.
You have to chose your hard.