Me! A very different person.

I have been inspired to write a blog by new friends and recent shifts in my perspective on life and my quest for overall happiness.  What I will write about is unknown at this stage but whatever I write it will be ‘from me’.

The real me

Who am I? Well my name is Lee and I am 41 Years old. I have Crohns Disease and I’m 3-year post op after a full ‘Panproctocolectomy’ which left me with a life changing iliostomy. This all followed an horrendous 3-year battle incl. 9-months in hospital during which time my family were called into hospital many times as I was not expected to last the night.  I did survive but came out the other side a very different person, as did the people close to me.

I guess trauma has a habit of doing this to a person, but for me I went to sleep in 2005 and awoke in 2008 having completely lost 3-years of my life.  I have very little recollection of those days as my mind went into ‘survival mode’ and I became what my wife described as a ‘non-human’.  Not an alien, but someone she didn’t know anymore, a shell, this thing in bed wasting away.  With no two-way communication, no feedback, and this bag of bones constantly nagging, it was a pretty lonely place for her and a hard job bringing up two kids alone, especially with a sick dad and all that involves with keeping kids balanced and safe.  She did a great job but I think at a price to her own character.  When you are on your death bed after investing everything in a relationship for so long (20 years), that is pretty hard to take and I think shapes the way I feel now.  Crohns is a horribly destructive disease, not just on the body but to everyone affected by it.  However, ‘Life goes on’, which is what someone recently told me (you know who you are) and to her I am ‘forever’ thankful.

Since hospital I have rebuilt my career (now careers) and fought to save my marriage and be a good dad to my two beautiful children.  I think I have done alright considering where I was 4 years ago.  I am consulting during the day as a Facade Engineer / Designer, which was my previous career of 20 years and enjoying the fact it supports me and my family.  Photography is probably what brought me back into the world quickly and on reflection saved me from continuing to go downhill when I left hospital.  I couldn’t go out for at least 6-months as I couldn’t walk due to my muscles wasting away.  The ‘Physio-terrorists’ sorted me though, despite my anger and reluctance.  In mid-2009 I got an assignment at Worcester City FC shooting a game in the Football conference for a local newspaper.  That was ‘my big opportunity’ and I embraced it, delivered the goods and fell in love with sports photography.  Sitting pitch-side with an iliostomy was a huge challenge but I overcame it and it showed me that there is nothing you cannot do with a stoma.  I have been published in the National newspapers and my work gets good review which is all that matters.  I have been told by some Crohnies that I am a bit of an inspiration to them.  I don’t know whether that’s true, but if I am then that just adds to my achievements.

Most sports photographers take 3 to 5+ years to get the required experience, published shots and ability to shoot in the English Premier League.  I did it in 11-months.  Getting my Premier League accreditation card was a  5-year goal for me so getting it in 11-months really was a special thing.  Now there is nothing I cannot do.  Sometimes I am too tired but 95% of the time I am always challenging myself.  I have the occasion blip, like yesterday and today were I had an ambulance trip to hospital, CT Scan, X-Ray, another x-ray; you get the picture, but I can take this in my stride.

As a person (who has changed) I would say my outlook on life is so much better than it was before.  My priorities have changed considerably and my family comes first.  I think before I was ill, I had a little selfish streak in me which is thankfully gone.  Not a selfish person, but if I wanted to do something I would do it regardless of the consequences.  I consumed and aspired to gadgets and crap like that.  Thankfully I no longer subscribe to that blinkered sheep like existence.  Nope, life is much different now and much better too.  There are a few things I wish I could change or get back but I know I can’t.

Recent events have questioned my expectancy from life and made me ask, am I happy, what about the future, what path do I take?  Whilst this has derailed me slightly I am not a quitter, I remain a person that is loyal, trustworthy, hard working, fun, respectful and most of all ALIVE.

Lee x

July 2008

My last day in Hospital. August 2008

Getting published is incredible.

  1. James Wright says:

    Nice to know a bit more about where your from Lee. Hope your bladders ok 😉

  2. T says:

    You are an inspiration and you have been through more things that anyone would ever go through. I had the same thoughts and feelings after my surgery and it takes a long time to bring yourself back up in to the ‘norm’ again but, I know you will do it- as you said you are
    No quitter. Life is there for the taking and grab it with both hands and do what you want to do in life as before you realise it will be over. You have all the qualities of a great person and you should be proud of yourself for pulling yourself back up despite everything you had been through.
    It’s a pleasure to know you and have you as a friend
    Keep on going x

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