This I Believe

Lou - Belle Mead, New Jersey
Entered on February 8, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50

I Believe Suffering Brings Understanding

I had never bled so much in my 38 years of life. Everyday for a month I ran to the bathroom and bled. One day I visited the bathroom over 20 times, but others days only 5-10 times. I lost 35 pounds; I lost my ability to care for my loved ones; I lost my ability to care for myself. Did I have colon cancer or Crohns? A mid-month trip to the hospital and a colonoscopy later and, I was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease ulcerative colitis; ulcers on my intestines that caused bleeding and mucus in my stool and made me run to the bathroom with little warning. Medicine might control it. Removal of my intestines and a stoma with a bag attached would cure it.

Fast forward to 3 years later. I am standing on stage in front of 200 children, teens, and adults at beautiful Camp Oasis telling everyone I manage Ulcerative Colitis and life is beautiful. I’m absolutely thrilled the charity group I direct, Juggling Life, is visiting the camp for children with Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis. I tell the audience I’m having one of the best days of my life. Earlier that day we ran circus arts workshops; and after my speech we present a mesmerizing talent show.

How did I start this story in the fetal position lying on my bathroom floor for a month and end up at Camp Oasis making an inspiring speech and directing a show. What I believe, allows me to make sense of every life experience, everyday. I believe suffering is part of my life journey. Others agree with me, but the difference between me and most people is that I truly accept suffering. I appreciate the understanding it brings to my life.

I believe as a human, during my life, I will encounter problems, many problems. These problems NEVER surprise me. I lose my wallet, the car won’t start, my throat is sore.

Sometimes these problems are bigger and bring real suffering. When I was younger I felt depressed and I’m not sure why, but I cried. People I loved have died, of course I cried. My wife nearly died when she suffered an aortic aneurysm. I held her hand tight and cried. And yes ulcerative colitis brought tears too. But all of these tears make me human. I was meant to suffer and I was meant to cry.

Now here’s the good part, I was also meant to smile, and laugh, and hug, and kiss, and of course love. I know I will suffer sometimes, but other times things will be ok, and other times I will feel joy, immense joy.

This is the really good part!

I am surrounded by loving family members and friends. My amazing wife and I traveled to China and adopted a little one and she brings laughter everyday.

I teach fifth grade language arts; and I know I’m sick many days, but teaching children to read and write brings meaning to my life and a feeling of accomplishment.

The charity program I direct teaches circus arts to ill and disadvantaged children.

The program’s talented and caring volunteers bring smiles to disadvantaged children, and children with cancer, and yes, even children with ulcerative colitis. Sure, I was meant to suffer, but suffering barely registers…when you compare it to joy.