Would you want to be your doctor?

Recently, I got the official word from my doctor (Gastroenterologists) that he is retiring. I had heard some talk of it at a conference that I attended a few months ago, I was hopeful it was just hear say. My first response when I heard about it was, “Nooooooo, my doctor is leaving me!” The one who visited my bedside when I was fighting for my life, who finally helped get me into remission after years of sickness, procedures, and surgery. However, it gave me an opportunity to really think about what this means for me and the future of my healthcare. I started to realize there are some important qualities I want in my doctor.

  • I want someone who looks me in the eyes and smiles when they enter the room. 
  • Who asks me what I’ve been up to and how my morning’s been?
  • Uses words that I can understand. 
  • Makes sure I don’t have any questions before they leave the room. 
  • Pays attention to me and not just the computer. 
  • Honest when they don’t know the answer. 
  • Offers to research something for me that I am interested in trying. 
  • Invites me to make my own calls about the direction I want my treatment to go in.
  • Truly gives me options and ultimately passes no judgement on me for my decisions.
  • Gives me honest feedback. 
  • Can get on to me when I need to be gotten on to, but in a nice way of course. 
  • Calls and checks in on me when I’m not well, even if it’s their nurse.
  • Makes me feel like I’m the only patient there for those few minutes they spend with me. 
  • I want to see that their staff respects, admires, and listens to them and I want them to treat their staff the same way.
  • It doesn’t matter to me where they went to school or how many awards they have received.
  • What truly matters to me is that they care about me and doing what is best.

Wait a minute! I can’t expect all this from a doctor and not give anything in return. So a better question I should be asking myself is

WHAT KIND OF PATIENT DO I WANT TO BE?

  • I want to be the kind of patient who smiles when you enter the room, even if I don’t feel good. 
  • I want to put my phone down and pay attention to everyone in your office.
  • I want to be kind to all of your staff.
  • I want to be the patient who asks good questions.
  • I want to be the patient who listens to your recommendations. 
  • I want to be the patient who tells you everything that’s wrong. I’ve been known to leave somethings out and I know some of you can relate.
  • I want to be the patient that tells the staff if I see an area that needs attention, not to complain about it on social media. 
  • I want to still have a good attitude if I wait too long, because I know it’s because someone else needed a little extra attention from you that day. 
  • I want to pray for my doctor and be a light to their day no matter what I’m battling.

It’s been humbling to work alongside many healthcare providers over the years through a pharmacy, in a doctors office, and now working with medical equipment.  I have seen many sacrifices made by dedicated doctors and staff. Many who continuously go above and beyond to find answers and figure out the best treatment plan for their patients. I’ve seen examples of wonderful community involvement, teaching and giving to others without question. I’ve seen them consoling grieving staff members in between patients and customers. I feel like I can speak from experience when I have walked away from a cheerful kind patient and customer, they make a great impression on the doctor, staff, and facility that’s not forgotten.

You know doctors are people just like me and you, they have tough days. They have awesome things to celebrate in life too – like retirement! Just something to think about…A doctor can’t treat what they don’t know about, they can’t recommend without knowing the struggle. They can’t listen if you don’t share. Don’t look for an excuse to be a bad patient. Be a good one and you will see a difference!

Your Greatest Fear Could Be Your Biggest Opportunity

Have you ever had dreams or goals so big they scared you? Good! Now that I have you thinking about your dreams and goals let’s dig a little deeper.  Ask yourself…

What are you so scared of? Is it that someone is going to think it’s a bad idea or think you’re crazy. Who cares what other people think, it’s your dream not theirs. This dream is planted in your heart and mind. You don’t need anyone else’s approval – just your own!

How long have you had this dream or goal? If it’s been years, what are you waiting for? The stars to align and someone to knock on your door with a million dollars to get you started?

What part of the dream scares you the most? Is it the financial part or the unknown? Could it be your lack of knowledge in the area? I bet you know of someone or somehow that you could overcome these challenges. Maybe talk to a financial planner to see how you can start saving to get to where you want to be. Maybe find out who is more knowledgeable in that area and learn from them.

What are you going to do today to move closer to your dream? Pick up the phone and make that call you’ve been putting off. Go visit that place you’ve had your eye on for a while now. Maybe it’s time to send that email and schedule that meeting. How about carve out sometime on the calendar to plan and focus on your dream this week?

All it takes is one small step to crush fear and open opportunity. 

The definition of fear isto be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening. 
I bet your dream is not seen as dangerous, painful, or threatening – is it? No, of course not – your dream can help people. It can grow your community. It can help your family. It can make you a better person. 

Working towards your dreams and goals are hard and there will be some setbacks and times you fall short, and wonder if you are doing the right thing. With all those setbacks and hard days come wisdom and lessons so that your dreams can live out their fullest potential. 

As I type these words, fear is creeping in. I’m wondering if I have everything grammatically correct or if it’s going to make sense to the reader. I could let that fear overcome me so much that I never post this – believe me, I’ve let that happen more than you know. I will have some people proof read this for me though, Ha! I know there is someone out there that doesn’t care that I’m not a professional writer, they just needed to read these words to get them going towards their dream.

Move your fear out-of-the-way so you can get to your opportunity!

Are you bitter or better?

What if today you choose to look at your situation a little differently? I know it can be hard to see past the pain, suffering and diagnosis; but you have a choice even when it seems out of your control. You have a choice in how you are going to react to your pain, suffering, diagnosis, surgery, hurdles, battles, and heartache. You can choose to be bitter or better.

When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 19, I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t understand it. I was in the best shape of my life and ready to take on the world. I was angry that it stole away the goals that I was working so hard for at the time. I found myself getting bitter about my Crohn’s diagnosis and all the ugly stuff that came along with it. I didn’t like how that made me feel, it wasn’t me. I was allowing my diagnosis to redefine me. Well…from that point on I decided Crohn’s would never define me or my goals. I was going to allow Crohn’s to make me better not bitter. It did not happen overnight and I constantly work on my attitude and outlook on life to this day. When I have a negative thought about how Crohn’s is affecting me, I stop myself and think of something positive about the situation that I’m in. I have days when I’m frustrated because I’m exhausted for no absolute reason, or battling a blockage, going on my 3rd bag leak of the day, aching joints, missed plans, stomach pains, soiled clothes, or wondering if it’s time to go to the hospital. It’s in these frustrating moments when your thoughts are going to determine your opportunities for growth or destruction. You have an opportunity to help others even when you’re in the midst of your suffering.

Just think about this

What if the next time you go to the doctor and you’re in the waiting room you get rid of that bitter attitude and ask yourself this question… Who am I here for today? Your challenging health issues are not just about you, they are about other people too. Guess what? There might be someone in the waiting room that day that was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, or scared that they are about to have surgery and you’ve already been down that road. You might be just the person they need to see that day, but if your bitter, you are going to miss out on the opportunity to meet a really awesome person.

What if the next time you go to the hospital. You ask yourself….Who am I here for? There might be a nurse that has been pooped on, thrown up on, cussed at, and spit on right before they came to your room. Could you be the only light they see that day, despite the pain you’re in? Maybe you could choose to be better that day, so that you can remind them of why they chose to be a nurse in the first place?

It’s easy to fall into a trap of constantly feeling like you have to explain to people that you are not well despite how “good you may look” on the outside, but your job isn’t to make people realize how sick you are and how bad you have it. Your job is to inspire, encourage, educate, and lift others up, because you choose to let your challenges make you a better person. Crohn’s or any challenge in life can be a gift, if you let it be. I cherish my gift and all that it has taught me over the years. So I leave you with these questions…Has your situation left you bitter or better? What are you going to do about it?


Ewwwww…Changing Your Bag in a Public Restroom!

It’s really not that bad as long as you are prepared. We can all agree the only place you’re truly comfortable changing your bag is in your own bathroom. So how can you make it easier when you’re in a public restroom?

Grab some paper towels before heading in the stall. Paper towels?? Yes….they can help provide clean surface for you to put your supplies on. They’re also are good to wipe off around your stoma. Public restroom toilet paper is usually thin and does not help when you are trying to clean your skin up from a mess. I usually keep a few paper towels folded up in a zip-lock bag in my purse along with my spare supplies. Just in case- nothing worse than going to a bathroom that’s out of paper towels and toilet paper. Ugh!

Be creative with the limited space you have. Let’s face it, you won’t be able to spread all your supplies out like you usually do. So take some of your paper towels and lay them on any surface that you can. I know of some people that had to use the floor. Yep-sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  You can use the top of the toilet paper dispenser to rest your supplies on while your removing your bag. You can use the back of a toilet if it has a tank. You can use the baby seats that fold down on the back of the stall door. You can even rest your supplies on your pocket book as it hangs from the hook on the door- I’ve done this one many times.

Always keep little disposable bags that come packaged in your ostomy bags or little disposable bags or doggy bags (the bags used to dispose of dog waste). These really come in handy when you’re in a public restroom. If your ostomy is like mine it always seems to have output when I’m changing my bag which can delay the process and make a mess. If you have one of the “disposable bags” you can tuck it in your underwear line just below your stoma to catch any output while you are changing it. It will help keep your clothes clean too.

Take extra clothes with you if you are going to be a good ways from home. There is nothing worse than having a fun day planned and a leak happens that ruins your clothes. It leaves you feeling defeated and frustrated that you had to miss out on the fun. Anytime I have a fun event planned that is going to be taking me a good ways from home for the day. I pack a bag with extra clothes just in case. That way I only miss out on the fun for 20 minutes… not all day.

Ways to buy time if you DON’T want to change your bag in a public restroom…

Hylan Pink tape – This stuff is amazing! It’s waterproof and the adhesive stays on for a good while. Most of the time you can feel the leak happening or can see it coming through the flange a little. The pink tape comes in little rolls so you can tear off a piece and cover up the part of the flange where the leak has started and buy yourself some time to get home and change it where you are more comfortable.

Large adhesive bandages- Made by Band Aid brand – It has four adhesive sides so that you can place over the part of the flange that the leak has started in. It will buy you a little time so that you can get home and change your bag before it gets on your clothes.

Superglue and pink tape on small holes that randomly happen. This happened to me on a big hiking trip in Utah.  I slapped some super glue on my bag with some pink tape over it and kept on going.

A little patching job to get me through a fun trip of hiking through Utah!

Just remember there will always be challenges to overcome no matter what life you live. Just take every challenge that comes your way as a way to learn and become better. Then pass what learn along to someone else.

-Be the person that helps others along in life-

Bags, Barriers, Paste, Oh My!

It was day two for me in the hospital, my stoma nurse was at my bedside ready to show me how to change my colostomy bag for the first time. He had a great personality, was a good teacher, and was so patient with me. We laughed and laughed about how awful I was at cutting out a circle on my flange. I blamed it on all the medications they had me on. Overall, it went quick and easy. I cut out my circle, peeled off the plastic, stuck it to my stomach and wah-lah! My first bag change went perfect. I remember thinking that was too easy.  I can soooo do that when I get home. I got this!

Well….it didn’t go anything like that when I got home. The hospital was the perfect set up. The bed is adjustable which helps you can get in the perfect position, you have very minimal bowel movements if any, and you have a nurse telling you what to do the whole time.

For me it was a complete disaster with my bag changes for a few weeks after I came home. I wasted so many flanges because of my mistakes. It would take me forever to change because my output was literally going everywhere. My skin would stay irritated. I was overwhelmed with all the sample stuff  that I had. How in the world do I use a bottle of stoma powder? What is the ring thing for? Where do I put paste and how much do I use? How long should my bag really last? Do I have to change it everyday?

I had a ton of sample products and didn’t know how to use most of it. The three things I knew exactly how to use was the bag, flange, and scissors.  Ugh! I began watching videos and reading other people’s stories. I did it for hours trying to figure out what all these different products were and how in the world they would work for me. Eventually, I did find out the best products for me, before long I was making emergency bag changes at work, my friends house, and even in public restrooms (Yuck! really don’t like this one). So for you my new ostomy friend, there is hope.

It is okay that you don’t know what you are doing when you get home from the hospital. It will take you sometime to figure it all out.  We are all so different; shape of our stoma, how sensitive our skins is, where our stoma is, and our eagerness to learn and change. It’s definitely all trial and error. Just keep trying new things and being open-minded about products. Please don’t settle on what you get sent home with from the hospital or what your home health nurse gives you. Contact the ostomy companies and request samples of products to try. Once you find the right combination you will have the confidence that you need to get back to doing what you love.

A Crohnies Prayer

 

crohnie prayer black and whiteLord as the day is set before me….

Help me keep the plans that I’m looking forward too.

Let me smile through all the pain.

Remove all the worry from my family’s heart.

Oh Lord…please let me hold it together while on these steroids.

Will you allow me to see the positive in the things that surround me.

Please guide all the doctors decisions on what’s next for me.

Show me how I can use these challenges to help others.

Help me educate myself on the best treatment options.

Bring the right people into my life today.

Let this make-up cover these dark circles and pale cheeks.

Please…please…please I’m not asking for much, let there be toilet paper in this bathroom.

Give me a restful night without a bag leak.

Bring that nurse in to tell me I’m being discharged today.

Give me enough energy to cook a nice dinner for my husband tonight.

Hug my body tight and ease this joint pain.

Lord, thank you for another day to fulfill your plan.

Amen Read more

Where do you hide that thing?

     I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that “thing” referring to my ostomy bag. No one really prepares you for what it’s going to be like with a bag hanging from your body. When I was told that I would need an ostomy bag because my Crohn’s had become so severe, I worried about how it was going to change my life.

     Those first couple of weeks while recovering I was constantly wondering, how is going to feel when I put jeans back on for the first time? Will I be able to wear a fitted dress, swimsuit, or even my favorite shorts again? Will I be able to hike, kayak, swim, bike, play softball, or workout?

     Yes…Yes… and Yes!! I was able to do all of those things and more! I will be honest it felt different and I was constantly touching my stomach or even holding it because I was so self-conscious. I would check and double-check in the mirror after I put on an outfit just to make sure you couldn’t see my bag.

They’re all looking at my stomach…I just know it!

     As soon as I would enter a room I felt like everyone was looking at my stomach. I worried. Is my bag bulging out of my clothes? I bet it’s leaking! Uh oh, I just felt something warm come over my lower stomach. I better go check! I spent so much time running into bathrooms checking on my bag. My poor husband, I can’t tell you how many times I said, “hey babe can you see my bag?” Believe it or not you CANNOT see your bag through your clothes. But so what if you CAN…be proud you have story to tell and you are a stronger person because of that bag.

Don’t hide that thing

     Embrace your ostomy bag and all those scars that came along with it. Be open with people about your bag and how it came to be. Some people avoid talking to you about it, because they don’t understand it. I enjoy answering questions. Probably one of the best questions came from a little kid, “Does your bag catch whole pieces of food when it comes out?” Hmmm…well I guess it kinda does. 

     Well here I am a few years and a couple of surgeries later and…I ain’t got no colon and I feel better than ever!  Having an ostomy bag does not keep me from doing the things I enjoy. I’m able to do all the activities that I want and wear all my favorite styles of clothes. I find I push myself more to do things, because I don’t want my bag to hold me back. I have truly embraced this new body that God has given me over the years and all the challenges that come with Crohn’s Disease and an ostomy bag. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.