Bending, Not Breaking: My Consent to Surgery

Bending, Not Breaking: My Consent to Surgery

Goodness knows, battling chronic illness requires resilience. And resilience is about bending, not breaking, about forging ahead, not stopping. Easier said than done, however, when we find ourselves at a troublesome T-intersection. In order to go forward, we must first make the decision to turn.

Recently I found myself at one such tricky junction. For the last year or so, I was in denial about a Crohn’s complication and found myself gazing aimlessly at the seeming dead-end in front of me. But then I began longing for the comfort of getting back on my forward-moving path, so I decided to take a turn.

Consenting to Surgery

That turn came in the form of consenting to surgery. I’ve been combatting Crohn’s for 22 years and up until last Tuesday, I had never had any surgical intervention thanks to always using food as medicine to some degree – not a bad run!

Early in the new year, though, I had to confront the reality in my very-much-ongoing healing journey that no amount of medication, clean eating, and stress management could address this current complication. I required surgery to deal with a chronic abscess resulting from fistulising Crohn’s Disease.

So I met with a small-handed (because, good golly, that’s important), conservative female surgeon whose examination revealed that incision and drainage of the abscess cavity along with placement of a seton drain would finally tackle and remove this infectious pocket from my body and allow the fistula tract to heal from the inside out.

In a different post, I’ll address in more detail how fistulising Crohn’s plays out, why these infectious complications occur, what the recovery from this kind of surgery looks like (as I’m still in the throes of the this), and what ongoing conventional medicine I require to best treat this kind of disease.

Finding Peace in My Decision

But for now I want to share with you that in spite of the physical pain I’m feeling after surgery and in spite of requiring daily visits from a nurse to properly pack the deeper-than-anticipated wound, I’m at complete peace with my decision to go ahead with surgery.

And having that inner peace is priceless.

This was an elective procedure, not an emergency. I’ve been an emergent case, and I know how bloody terrifying that can be. I also know and am endlessly grateful for the fact that as far as surgical interventions go, this was relatively minor. Every day many an IBD warrior faces much more complicated, serious, and life-altering surgeries. And every day, my heart goes out to those courageous people whose lives are forever changed by the insidiousness of inflammatory bowel disease.

I’m well aware that using food as medicine – namely, an AIP framework – and taking serious strides in stress management put me in the best place possible for undergoing surgery last week. And these are vital aspects of my lifestyle that I’m committed to and that will continue to work in my favour not only in the immediate future as I recover but in the long-run as well.

Understanding What Is Needed

But sometimes more is needed. Sometimes diet and lifestyle and even conventional medicine are not enough. I learned this after a couple years of exhausting all those options.

So if you are struggling, if you are facing one of those thorny T-intersections, don’t be afraid to make the turn. Explore that arc in your path, and keep your resilient chin up as you do. Because, to paraphrase Albert Camus, if you bend, you can’t be broken.

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Martine Partridge, founder of Eat Heal Thrive, is an eater of whole, nourishing, real food. She is also a combatter of Crohn's Disease. Martine wholeheartedly believes that food is the fulcrum for good health and has had wonderful results in managing autoimmunity by eating to heal, and healing to thrive.