I will always remember May 5, 1989. It was the day my life changed forever. I was diagnosed as having Crohn’s disease. I was 26 years old and married with my first baby. How could this be happening to me, I thought? Why me?
I was given the phone number of someone to call who would apparently be very supportive and answer all of my questions on how to learn to live with this disease. Little did I know how much harm that call would cause me. The girl I spoke to was bitter and said having Crohn’s disease was like having cancer but never dying. I instantly became scared and very depressed. I wished I could just have my life end right then and there. Days later, I had my first appointment with a gastroenterologist in Mississauga. I told him about this call. He was outraged. He assured me life would go on and I would be fine and I would learn to live with this disease. He had the person I spoke to removed from handling support calls. He then gave me a push to book a holiday. My family and I planned a trip to Quebec City. At home I was seldom able to leave the bathroom let alone the house. I thought he was crazy thinking I could travel by car for 6 hours. However, he prescribed a wonderful drug call prednisone and within several days of taking it I could eat. The amount of energy I had was unbelievable. I can still remember being in that park in Quebec City and watching my baby girl sleeping on the grass. I thought, “Thank God for this doctor”.
It was not long after that trip that I began getting involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. To this day I have given support to over 700 families of those who suffer from Crohn’s Disease. I got involved with one of their committees and started selling cakes and cookies. I began to just take one day at a time. I found that if I got overtired, stressed out, upset or ate the wrong food, it would not be a great day. I can remember having to set up a play area in the bathroom for my very busy little girl. I would sometimes spend over an hour in the bathroom. If it were not for the support of my parents, I would never have gotten through all of this. It is very important to accept help and support when it is offered.
Months after being diagnosed I developed fistulas. Within weeks, I had to have surgery to have them removed. I remember going into the operating room and hearing beautiful relaxing music. As I was going under the anesthetic, the surgeon held my hand and he assured me things would be perfect. It is important to have a surgeon like this to help make the situation more bearable. After the surgery, V.O.N. nurses came to my home to check on me. More fistulas developed. One nurse kept telling me, “You are going to have to have another operation and have a colostomy”. I was horrified. I was young and I decided I would fight this disease.
It was then that I started having weekly reiki treatments. In time, the new fistulas were gone. The strong will and determination that I was born with was really beginning to show. I would have days where I would not be able to keep anything in me. I can remember my Mom making turkey dinners and after reiki treatments, I could not eat enough. It was so great to be able to eat and not have to run to the bathroom.
Many health professionals told me that some day I would find out the reason why I contracted this condition. Doctors also told me that I would have a hard time having another child. During a flare up, it is very difficult to become pregnant. Once again, I proved them wrong. However, in the first 3 months of my pregnancy the disease flared up again. I constantly vomited, was hospitalized, and fed intravenously. My doctor suggested that I consider aborting the baby as my health was at risk. However, this was something that I would not consider. On March 29, 1993, I delivered another beautiful baby girl. I called her my miracle baby. Throughout my pregnancy a gynecologist confirmed my thoughts that hormones played a huge part with this disease flaring up.
As a child, I had joint pain and a significant lack of energy. Doctors told me it was growing pains or lack of fitness. I was very involved in sports so that was surely not the case. When my second daughter was born, hormonal changes put the disease into remission.
Sometime later, we moved into a new house. I started having pains in my side. I didn’t have diarrhea but I did have unbearable pain. A doctor told me it was the disease again. I did not want to accept this news and continued on. Weeks later, the pain was so intense that I could not roll over or breathe easily. I was taken to the hospital and sat in the emergency department for about over an hour. When it was finally my turn, the doctor on call immediately got a surgeon who confirmed I had an abscess the size of a tennis ball in my side and that my intestine had burst. I was given about half an hour to live because of the poison going through my system. I agreed to have surgery but didn’t want to hear any details. Hours later, I was in my hospital room with 3 feet less intestine. That was September 1996. It was just before Christmas that year that I regained my strength, but I still could not do normal activities. I guess my strong will and determination got me through.
I began to take different steps in self-healing. In May of 1998, I joined the Goodlife Fitness Centre in Milton. I was low in energy, overweight and I felt I should try exercise as my first step. This changed my life. I was given a plan of action. I began slowly and was constantly monitored. The Goodlife Fitness Centre has been a great place for support and motivation. I totally recommend exercise to everyone with Crohn’s Disease. Just be sure to check with your doctor as to what type of activities can be done. I found that within months my blood levels showed an improvement. I lost weight and toned up. I felt confident to tackle anything. Since I have started, I have tried a different activity each season. One year I tried rock climbing and another downhill skiing. It is so great to have accomplished something new for myself that keeps me positive and makes my life interesting.
It was also in 1998 that my marriage ended and I became a single Mom with two girls, aged eleven and six. I had always been a stay-at- home Mom and now I had to figure out what I would do to earn an income. I started assisting at a nursery school and working in an inter-generational program. I needed more income and wanted a job where I could go on school trips with my girls and help out with their sports. It was suggested that I think about going back to school. I wondered what I would take and soon realized I had always been very interested in health. A friend of mine thought I was very gifted with healing and felt I should study reflexology. I studied very intensely and finished with a final mark of 97% at the Ontario College of Reflexology. I began working with a registered nutritionist. She assessed my nutritional imbalances and designed a program to help my body heal itself. Initially she recommended a few supplements and diet changes. There have been wonderful changes and we are now beginning a more advanced program designed to help my body rebuild itself even further. I took courses in transcendental meditation, became a reiki practitioner, and I took courses in stress management and visualization. The courses helped me deal with stress and grow as a human being.
When I look back on everything that has happened in my life, I can say without a doubt it all happened for a reason. My children have become better people in that they are more caring, always volunteering for charity work because they want to help people who suffer. For me, I have become an award- winning, internationally known radio host, motivational speaker, empowerment coach, trainer and author. And in my personal life I am happily remarried and together we are enjoying our grandchildren. In closing, I would like to offer some advice. Always stay positive. Take one day at a time. Enjoy the small things in life such as the scent of a flower. Know that everything that happens to us happens for a reason!
To learn more about Sue London’s healing journey read her book, Soar Above It All – Overcoming Adversities In Life. Available at http://asksuelondon.com/books-by-sue-london/
Copyright Sue London 2013. All rights reserved. Sue is the Author of “Soar Above It All”, “Rocky’s Trip To The Hospital” and “Rocky’s Positive Thoughts Coloring Book”. Sue London can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org To purchase books by Sue London please visit http://asksuelondon.com/books-by-sue-london/