Laugh Always Spotlight Edition: My Journey Through Celiac Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

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The Laugh Always Spotlight Edition features guest posts from members of the Laugh Always Ambassador Community. Laugh Always has been created to highlight those difficult journeys and to celebrate the badass people that live to share their journey. This is the first edition of the Laugh Always Spotlight!

I want to introduce you to Melissa. Melissa has become one of our first ambassadors and we have been getting to know each other ever since! Little did we know, we are pretty close in distance and in age to one another. It has been great connecting with her so far and I only want to continue to get to know her and learn more about the battle she is facing.

She is VERY creative and her art work is on point. Only by scrolling through her Instagram will you quickly decide this also for yourself. She creates bullet journals and they are amazing!

Melissa has been battling Ulcerative Colitis and Celiac Disease. I personally know a few people in my life who have had a battle with this, and while I don’t know a lot about the disease, I do know it is a difficult journey; especially on the bad days. Please read on for Melissa’s story!

Lord knows I have seen some bad days but thankfully the good days are starting to outweigh the bad!  When Lo asked me to guest post on her blog as a part of my ambassador role, I was excited!  It has been awesome being a Laugh Always Ambassador as I get to share positivity with others as we travel through our different journeys.
Let me tell you all a little bit about myself.  My name is Melissa and I’m 29 years old (the big 30 is only six months away! Lol).  I recently got married in May to the love of my life and my biggest support.  If it wasn’t for my husband, I don’t know how I would’ve survived my biggest flare up this past year.  Also, I’m a Midwest girl.  I was born and raised in Chicago then moved to Indiana after college.  For my “real life” job, I am a social worker and I enjoy bullet journaling and being creative when it comes to my self care.

My journey with chronic illness started around four years ago when I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Celiacs disease.  At the time, I was having some symptoms but nothing that couldn’t be patched up with some medication and a change to my diet.  However, that all changed two years ago when my symptoms reared back their ugly head and showed their true selves.  For anyone who doesn’t know what Ulcerative Colitis is, it is when the colon becomes inflamed and the body cannot absorb appropriate nutrients.  Not only do people affected by Ulcerative Colitis experience malnutrition during a flare, but they also experience multiple trips to the bathroom, the inability to hold their bowels, joint pain, abdominal pain, and the list of physical symptoms go on and on.  Emotionally, people affected with UC experience depression, isolation, and anxiety.  Today, my colon is back on track of being healthier and happier thanks to oral and IV medications.  I still have some bad days but thankfully the good days are starting to outweigh the bad.

One of the best things about my journey is that I recognize how strong I have become over the past year.  If it wasn’t for the bad times, I wouldn’t have grown as I have.  Not to mention I wouldn’t be as positive as I am today due to what I have experienced.  I’ve learned to enjoy the good days more throughout my journey.

It was great having this opportunity and I certainly hope to get to know you all better! Please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram or my blog if you have any questions or just want to connect!  Thanks for reading 😊

To connect with Melissa and to find out more about her, you can find her on Instagram @these.thoughts.are.mine and her blog is thesethoughtsareminesite.wordpress.com
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Thank you for coming to Laugh Always and reading about Melissa’s journey.  If you have a journey you would like to share in an upcoming Spotlight Edition, please feel free to contact me through the site here.  You can also connect on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with Laugh Always.  We would love to add you to our Ambassador group!

Thanks!

Lo

 

I am my mother’s daughter…

There! I said it! Happy now Mom?!
I thought that since my mom’s 9th (wow) anniversary of her passing was this past weekend, I wanted to dedicate this blog post to my mom and motherhood.

In my first blog post with introducing “Laugh Always” to the world, I shared that I don’t believe I would have made it to where I am now, or have the positive attitude I have if it wasn’t for my upbringing. I had a really fun loving mom. One that wanted to be our friend most times than to be the disciplinarian in the house. My mom, known as MC to MANY people, was very outgoing and very energetic. She was passionate about us kids for sure; and always very involved in our lives from the beginning. She was very organized with everything; from pictures to planning all of our birthday parties (we each had two, one friend party with 20+ kids and one family party), she did it all. She was “mom” to all of our friends throughout our life; and she wanted everyone to call her Maricarol or MC (mostly on the softball field). My mom coached every single team that my sister or myself were on either basketball or softball, was a “room” mom for class parties, and became a substitute teacher at the middle school my siblings and I went to. If we had the same lunch period, she would check us out of school to take us out to lunch for an hour (shhh! Don’t tell my teachers!). In high school, if I wasn’t feeling well, rather than being sent to the school nurse, she was a text message or phone call away for her to come and get us from school.

I can go on and on about how absolutely awesome she was to us. We were SPOILED; and I don’t mean the materialistic kind. My dad and my mom made us earn our material things, whether it be to save our own money, or to get a job if we wanted to get our license or get a cell phone. We were spoiled in the sense that we were never without our mom. Mom was always there for us; making us food, taking us places; she hardly said no to us. We had countless sleepovers during softball season and made each team that we had special with our parties, with our practices, and our team meetings.

My mom did a lot for us and taught us a lot about life. When she was diagnosed with colon cancer for the first time, I was 14 years old. To us kids, she made it seem she was still unstoppable. While going through chemotherapy, she still wanted to be as involved as she could through her good days. She still wanted to substitute teach and she was involved in our basketball team that winter. CHEMOTHERAPY didn’t stop this woman for being there for her kids. As she went into remission, life got back to normal pretty quickly. While she had some lasting side effects from chemo, it was a quick cry or a quick complaint but it never got her down. She was diagnosed a second time, and again she remained her lifestyle as much as she could. She was still involved with softball, as much as even umpiring softball games before her condition worsened.

During her worst days, she was attached to an oxygen machine due to several blood clots that were being managed.  However, she hardly could ever sit still. One of my favorite last memories of her is when she used a rolling computer chair to roll around the kitchen (attached to her oxygen) and was cleaning dishes and putting them away. She was blasting music and having a great time rolling around. She participated in a weekend long softball tournament where she was also in charge of the specific tournament – while at her weakest.

My mom died unexpectedly in 9-2-2008. Yes, she had colon cancer but that is not what ultimately killed her. Unfortunately, the blood clots made their move to my mom’s heart and she felt no pain. Through this time, life was numb. The holidays quickly approached and the house would usually be filled with the dozens of desserts and food that she would have. We usually hosted Christmas Day dinner, and that also stopped. Life felt empty and while my mom taught us a lot, the one thing she didn’t teach us was how to live without her. She was the center and the heartbeat of our family.

The longer we get from her being here with us on Earth, the harder it gets. I miss her more now, and I want her hugs even more. It’s hard to stay positive when all I see is fantastic relationships among my friends with their moms. My mom passed away when I was 21; so I lacked that adult bond that I now see my friends having with their moms. I was still coming around to the idea of being on the same level as my mom, as an adult and I will never get that. I will never get to do a manicure or pedicure with her, I will never go wine tasting and she did not get to help me plan my wedding nor will Darrin (my husband) ever get to meet her. My children won’t get to meet her and she won’t get to see her family grow. These things hit me like a ton of bricks, and it is the harsh reality of it. But as my mom always taught me to do, you must move on and get over it.

Needless to say, I had an incredible mother and the 21 years of life I was able to share with her will be something I will never forget. Everything she did for us and with us, she provided us with the best life she could and I am proud to finally say I have turned (mostly) into her. I have always been a daddy’s girl, and always refused to admit I am my mother’s daughter. Being the oldest siblings in both of our families, my mom and I frequently argued. But again, there are times where I feel cheated because I was coming into adulthood, and I knew that we would have probably gotten along more than we ever would have.

I’d like to think that I can be just as good as she was. I mean I feel that I do a great job with my puppy (I KNOW IT IS NOWHERE NEAR THE SAME). There are times where I also think that motherhood isn’t for me.  With my own bout of cancer, I went through the process of freezing my eggs. I don’t know for sure if I can’t have children, but the chemo was supposed to knock all of that out.  I’m 30, and my body has aged because of the chemo so I feel like I am running out of time. I still feel young, too young to be a mom and I’m selfish in the fact I want to do my own thing. I’m not ready to put my body through more trauma.  But there are also times where I look at my husband and how adorable our children would be if he impregnated me one day!

I am lucky that I’m surrounded by amazing mothers. My friends who have children, I am honestly amazed. My cousin has two little boys and I spent some time with them this weekend. We rode in the car with them for two hours on a road trip and she sat in between them. The 8 month old is pulling her hair and squealing and the 4 year old is picking her nose and poking her in the other side. She does nothing but LAUGH and keep her cool the entire time. Another one of my best friends is raising the sweetest, smartest little girl I know, and I don’t know how she does it. She is an amazing mom where she has worked full time while pregnant and comes home to provide for her daughter and husband. These girls, like many of other moms out there amaze me. Like my mom, I am dumbfounded how moms are selfless creatures. I hope to be like this one day.

There are some people who don’t get that relationship with their mom. By being a full time mom, you are doing something amazing; please know that. My mom put herself last, as any other mom does. You are incredible. Maybe motherhood isn’t right for me now but I hope that one day I can be like these examples I have shared.

Please give your mom a call today, a text or a hug. Some of us can’t do that. Let them know how appreciated they are. I wish everyday I can let my mom know how much she did for us because she probably has no idea and was only doing these things because she thought she had too.

To my mom: I miss you more and more each day and I know that I talk to grandma every week for at least thirty minutes, but I know I would be texting you non stop everyday. I know that Caryn and me would still poke fun at you. I hope you would like Darrin, but I have faith that you would have. I love you so much and you have no idea how much you STILL do for us kids. My strength through my cancer battles came from you and you alone. Thank you for being my inspiration to keep living life to its fullest. 

Thank you again for reading. Please comment below to share your story 💜

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