April 30 2017

What does your tattoo mean?

I saw this tattoo someone posted yesterday.  It was script across the forearm: “Better a bag than a box.” I just stared at the image; stared until tears welled in the corner of my eyes.
When I was twenty my disease got bad. I ignored the pain for a long time. I kept thinking that if I ignored it or kept busy, it would go away. After countless scans and doctors’ appointments, a week-long hospital stay with a feeding tube, an abscess, and a healthy dose of reality, I found myself sitting in a surgeon’s office.
Believe it or not, I can’t remember the exact words he used. I can see images from that day: him pushing a Kleenex box my way, sitting on a lone bench in a ginormous clinic all alone, crying. I can even see the drawings he did to describe what would happen next, but the words…they escape me.
He wanted to perform surgery, one that would result in a temporary Ostomy. It was not a suggestion, it was more of a do-this-or-live-out-whatever-days-you-have-left statement.
I was just a kid, what did I know about it? What did I know about anything?
I felt like a victim. I was angry, I was afraid, and I was alone.
I went through with the surgery, but not as a survivor; not even as a girl who yearned for a future, but as a kid who was faced with an impossible choice.
Being sick, to me, is as normal as breathing. I wouldn’t know any different, yet I cannot even begin to describe how much I hated myself, my disease, or my bag in the months that followed. The surgeon was true to his word, the Ostomy was only temporary, and I wish like nothing else, that I could have known then what I do now. I was so mad at the world that I didn’t take the time to understand or appreciate this magic, this chance at a life, at a future. I spent so much time hiding away in my apartment and blaming all my problems on the bag that I never got to be thankful for it.
It saved my life. That surgeon, saved my life.
After thinking all of this, I thought, “Who would tattoo something so powerful and personal on themselves?” And then I realized: Tattoos are not supposed to make sense or be for others; they are a way of sharing with the world a little bit of ourselves.

Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Posted April 30, 2017 by in category "Crohn's Disease


  1. By Danielle Lavoie (Post author) on

    This post touched my heart in a very deep and meaningful way. Thank you for sharing this!


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