58 days

A lot can change in two months. I don’t look the same. I don’t feel the same. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but it’s the truth. In the 58 days since I last posted an update, we sold our home, moved, and I started a new job. I’m officially out of my comfort zone, and some mornings I wake up and wonder if I’ve made the right decisions. I suspect that a certain amount of self-doubt is typical when you’re processing change, but nonetheless, sometimes it keeps me up at night.

What else has happened in 58 days? I’ve gained 15 pounds, and I’ve completed three Remicade treatments without any adverse reactions or side effects. All in all, I’ve been blessed with a smooth recovery and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for that. Of course, I’m not immune to a bad day or a moment of self-deprivation, like when I hear hurtful words about my weight: “Go eat a stick of butter”; “You look like a skeleton”; “People probably think you have cancer”. I’d love to tell you that these words don’t affect me, that I don’t hear them in my head while I stare at the number on the scale, but that’s not true. Of course, it’s possible that some people don’t know what to say, that they want to share their concern or support, but can’t find the right words. I wish I could tell these people that it’s okay not to say anything all.

I look in the mirror each morning and I know that I don’t look the same, but that’s not really the point of my recovery, is it? I’m healthy, I have more energy, and I feel better than ever before – these things are far more important than the number on my scale. The large scar on my abdomen doesn’t even bother me anymore. I see it as a sign of strength, a reminder of what I’ve been through and how far I’m come. It might sound trite, but it reminds me each morning that I’m stronger than I realize.

The past six months, though challenging, have taught me compassion, patience, and simplicity, all of which have improved the quality of my relationships with other people. And why shouldn’t they? I know what it’s like to juggle home, work, and illness, and I know what it’s like to feel as if everything is crumbling around you. And most recently, I know what it’s like to face the harsh reality that I might be done having children.

Earlier this year, before I got sick, my husband and I had several discussions about whether we want more children or if we’re “two and through”. Although we were leaning toward the latter, it’s something totally different when your doctor tells you it’s no longer an option. To be exact, she said it’s not a good idea. I would have to stop Remicade treatment and if I got sick while pregnant, my treatment options would be limited. This information, combined with the statistics, doesn’t leave me with the warm and fuzzies. I think of everything I’ve been through this year and the thought of repeating it horrifies me. I’m practical enough to know that the risk isn’t worth the reward, especially when the baby could suffer as a result, but as a woman it hurts to accept this decision. As my girls continue to grow and my youngest turns 1 in three weeks, I can’t help but feel nostalgic about having a baby. Although I’ve shared these thoughts with my husband, I think this is something only a woman can really understand. I’m thankful for my two healthy girls, and I suspect it will take time to accept that our family might be complete. Of course, I don’t know what the future holds, but for now I need to focus on my recovery and the next 58 days, one day at a time.