Cam and I are back from our honeymoon and boy was it a doozy!
I almost didn’t even write this post, because I was worried that it wouldn’t fit with the theme of this blog – joyful and whole. But, with some coaxing from my wonderful mother, and husband, I realized that the purpose of this blog is not to pretend that hardships don’t happen, but to find and share ways to be ‘joyful and whole’ despite life’s challenges, and perhaps even because of them. This blog is about overcoming the hurdles that are thrown at us and finding ways to be happy and true to ourselves even in the face of hardship. So, today’s post might have a bit of a different tone, but I have decided to be brave and give you a real dose of authenticity today in hopes that maybe even one person will read this and be reminded that hardships happen to all of us, in different forms, but you are never alone.
Cam and I were incredibly excited for our honeymoon, but our excitement was not without hesitation. For the past two years I have been struggling with digestive complications which were getting progressively worse and were threatening to become debilitating, and Cam and I were worrying that the severity would be exacerbated on the trip.
To understand where we were coming from, I have to go back and explain the problems that having been plaguing me. What began as infrequent and minor digestive upsets during the spring of my final year of my undergrad degree, slowly progressed to frequent, horrible stomach pain and the inability to tolerate, well…food. I was finding myself tired constantly, having muscle aches and pains, dizzy spells, and frequent fevers. My doctor was of little help. Because I didn’t seem to have ‘textbook’ symptoms of any particular ailment, I felt as though my doctor decided early in the process that I must have been exaggerating my symptoms. Finally, after nearly two years of problems that were getting progressively worse, my doctor was convinced enough to order blood tests for me. My tests showed high C-reactive proteins which indicated that I was experiencing inflammation and I also had lower amounts of iron in my blood than before. These results lead to a visit to a specialist’s office and a scope.
When we left for our honeymoon Cam and I didn’t have my diagnosis yet. All that we knew were my symptoms and that my scope showed inflammation. And this is why we were nervous about our trip.
So, this brings me to our honeymoon. Our first three days were absolutely wonderful – everything we could have hoped for in our honeymoon. And then, to our surprise, Cam got sick. We had been so fixated on my health issues that it had not occurred to either of us that Cam would get sick; but he did, and I was afraid. I had never seen Cam so sick and the added stress of being in a foreign country where the first language is not English was too much of a stress for me. I took Cam to the hospital and he was given an IV to rehydrate him after being so sick, and luckily, he was better almost instantly. Unfortunately, by the time he was better, I had already stressed myself into a major flare up. Within only a few days, I was so sick that I had lost 10 pounds and became severely dehydrated. I too had to go to the hospital and was immediately put on an IV treatment. Unfortunately, after my hospital treatment, I was not better. We returned to the resort and spent our last night in Cuba wishing for the moment we could leave and go back home.
I knew that the journey back home would not be fun. I woke up the morning of our flight feeling weak and none of my symptoms had subsided. The idea of our bus ride, not knowing if the bus would have a bathroom; the idea of having to wait in lines at the airport; the idea of the portions of the plane ride where we would not be allowed to leave our seats to use the washroom; the idea of our car ride from Toronto to Peterborough, all created humiliating scenarios in my head. Fortunately, the only thing that sounded worse than all of the scenes was the idea of being away from home for another day, so we left Cuba, on-schedule. Despite -40 weather and high winds, we arrived safely in Canada, only to find ourselves stuck on the tarmac for nearly 2 hours while waiting for a gate that wasn’t frozen. We didn’t care; we were just so relieved to be home.
Unfortunately, coming back to Canada was not the end of my troubles. After being terribly ill for another two days, I found myself in the hospital again. Although I wasn’t thrilled to be there, I was thankful to be in a hospital in Canada. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for the care I received in the hospital in Cuba, but there is no denying that Cuban hospitals and Canadian hospitals are not the same.
Then, on Wednesday, I met with the specialist again and finally received my diagnosis. As it turns out, I have had an infection for a long time that has now caused erosion of my colon; and at this point, though I have been told that I should see some healing with treatment and dietary adjustments, I do not know if I will ever see a full recovery. So, if you are reading this and you are experiencing problems that your doctor is not taking as seriously as you think they should be, I implore you, keep fighting for your health. There was a period where I started to question myself, and started to wonder if my doctor was right to question me, but if I had given up and not listened to my body, the damage in my intestines would have continued to get worse and worse. So, if there is anything that I hope you get out of this post, it is this: never stop being your own advocate. You know your body, and if something is wrong, make sure that you do not take ‘no’ for an answer.
This blog is about the wonderful little things that happen each day, but I have to admit that it is hard to think about the positives when you are too weak, too nauseous, and in too much pain to even get yourself out of bed. But, what I will say is that even in that awful state, there was one thing that I was immensely grateful for: the incredible people around me. The Sunwing representative and hotel manager who both personally ensured that we received the treatment we needed, the doctors who treated me, our wonderful families who were prepared to help us in whatever way we needed when we got home, and my amazing husband who got me through that awful time. He advocated for me with the doctors, he worked with the hotel staff to make sure I got everything I needed, he comforted me when I was scared and in pain, he literally lifted me out of bed when I couldn’t get myself up, and all after he himself had been very ill only a few days before.
We all have struggles; they are inevitable, but how we overcome them is what matters, and sometimes we need to rely on the generosity of those around us to help us through these tough times.