The trailer for Inside/Out: My Battle with IBD (available for viewing on Vimeo on Demand) features a vibrant young woman, Rebecca Zamolo, learning to live with a chronic illness (ulcerative colitis) and the "accessories" that come with it. In her case, it's an ostomy bag. I'm awed by her graciously sharing her story in such a public way.
In the video below, you'll hear her wonder aloud, "Like, I don't know how I can feel...good, wearing a bag...but I'll figure out a way, I guess."
Where there's a will to live, there's a way to make it happen. It is evident from just the trailer that Rebecca isn't content to simply be alive, though. She wants to live well, do the things she enjoys (like running half-marathons), and raise her voice so people facing the same challenges know that they are not alone.
In an interview with Carrots 'N' Cake, Rebecca shared some raw insight into the challenges she encountered after her colon removal and subsequent use of the ostomy bag. Anyone who lives with a chronic invisible illness or wears a medical device can relate to the sentiments shared below, in one way or another:
How did your colostomy bag change your life?
Once I got used to it, the bag really gave me my life back. Even the most simple things (like walking to dinner, going to the movies, shopping with friends) I was able to do again, when before these things caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. I finally got to just be present and live in the moment. I got to be spontaneous! I felt like a child again experiencing life for the first time. The biggest thing for me was getting to run again, without the pain I had before, and without having to stop a million times to use a bathroom. I have always loved running, but my disease had taken it away from me.
What was the hardest part about having a colostomy bag?
The hardest part of having the bag was figuring out how to live with it. The first couple weeks were like a boot camp. From dealing with leaks, to my dog ripping the bag off in my sleep, to not closing the bag correctly and having it spill on the floor, I pretty much cried everyday over something. Also, figuring out what clothes to wear was an adjustment. It was really hard because I was used to dressing a certain way, and I didn’t think it would be possible to look or feel sexy with a bag.
What’s something you want people to know about you/IBD?
I want people to know that IBD is not something to be ashamed about. The only way we can spread awareness is if people are willing to talk about it. That’s how we can educate others. Also, many people suffering with IBD you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at them. I know many people had no idea I was sick, but yet I was private.
Despite the sweat and tears involved in attempting to run a half-marathon as an individual learning to live with an external organ, it's not all serious, all the time. An actress with an active YouTube Channel, TeamRebecca, you may have also seen Rebecca in one of her non-disease related productions around the internet. She and her team lightened the mood (and stigma) around wearing an ostomy bag with their parody of the SNL favorite, "D*** in a Box", aptly named "Poop in a Bag".
If you're living with a chronic illness and need more direction or support than you are currently receiving, partner with GraceMark to overcome your fears and realize hope. Don't live in distress any longer. Contact us today.
To read Rebecca's full interview with Tina from Carrots 'N' Cake, click here.
For more information on ulcerative colitis or to find out how you can get involved in the cause, visit the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.