As the end of 2014 arrives, I look back at the year in amazement of all the wonderfully positive IBD and Ostomy awareness efforts I’ve been able to both witness and take part in; while I’m not back to perfect health yet, I’ve been so grateful to have had relief from years worth of illness.
Well, there’s no fun in having an ostomy if you aren’t going to get at least one major leak, and that happened in Feb of 2014. I learned from that experience, and while I’ve had several similar leaks since, each new leak gives me insights about how I use certain products and how those products work on my skin.
With an ostomy, I was finally able to eat the way I wanted to, and my blood lab results were improving substantially from just 6 months earlier.
Little did I know when I agreed to support my good friend, Victoria Marie, by showing off my belly, that it would be the start of a massively viral and highly successful IBD awareness campaign! The #getyourbellyout movement has been highly inspirational for tens of thousands of people around the world, who now feel comfortable about showing off their ostomy, surgical scars and IBD belly to the world!
I was asked to write a guest post for the Crohn’s Forum Blog, which was a wonderful experience!
I experienced the first intestinal blockage that would land me in the hospital back in April. I learned a few lessons from that, and haven’t been in the same situation since; I still eat black beans, but very carefully now!
June was a HUGE month for me when it came to Crohn’s disease and my ostomy, because I was able to complete my first Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, raising over $1500 for IBD research in the process!
August was an active month for blogging, and so many important topics came up. Topics like Depression and IBD, Extraintestinal Manifestations, Censorship and the ever-popular “But you don’t look sick…” became the part of many great discussions.
August also marked the first year with my ostomy!
September was a really busy month for me, but in a really positive way!
I received my first ever nomination to the WEGO Health Activist Awards, which was an incredible honor! You can endorse me and other IBD/Ostomy advocated until Jan 31st, 2015, where a winner will be chosen in early 2015.
I was invited to meet with other IBD advocates from all over Canada to participate in this event. It was fun, informative, and gave me the opportunity to meet face to face with advocates and influencers for the first time.
For the first time in nearly 15 years of being vegan, it was the first time I was able to get to this veg festival, and I’m glad that I did! Not only was it fun, but I also got to meet with Jessica Grossman from UncoverOstomy!
My first invite to speak happened in October, and I was happy to be a part of the Ostomy Toronto group that day! We had a great discussion about diet and ostomies, and it was a positive experience!
I introduced my a new layout for the site this month, which has already generated a lot of positive feedback. A lot of work went into testing the layout and editing over 100 past articles to make thumbnails work right and to update any information that might have changed over the past year, but I think the effort was totally worth it, as it made the content on the site more easily accessible.
Yes, I celebrated my first year without an asshole, which is ironic because at the time of this writing, I have TWO holes on my bottom end, and I’m waiting to get answers on that!
I worked hard to create a clothing guide for men, since it was information that seemed to be sorely lacking for male ostomates, and it also helped to kick off my Mini Guide to Ostomy Supplies, which I hope will help both new and veteran ostomates learn about products they might not be familiar with.
It seems like perianal disease won’t leave me alone, and so I had my first MRI this month. Pending the results, I’m hoping that it’s not related to Crohn’s Disease.
I was so happy to be able to connect with other people who were thriving on a vegan/plant-based diet, and started a new section on the VeganOstomy site to get common questions answered by those people. This is something I plan on continuing through 2015 and beyond, and I find their stories and ways of dealing with certain concerns to be highly inspirational!
Along with a WEGO Health Activist Award nomination this year, I also won 3rd place in the 2014 Canadian Weblog Awards, which was a great honor.
I can’t predict the future, but I will certainly try to make sure that 2015 is a great year! I plan on connecting with more advocates in the New Year to discuss ways that we can improve our advocacy work and offer more support to the IBD and ostomy community.
I wish everyone a very safe, happy and healthy New Year!