Re-gaining Control: An Update from Emma

By: Emma Chapple
Companion Magazine Editor
Instagram: @emmachapple

It was an evening in September when it hit me. I had just finished 30 minutes on the elliptical at the gym in my building. I came upstairs and had my usual post-workout snack of apple slices dipped in peanut butter. I thought about the next day – the things I needed to do, the things I wanted to do, the things I had to study for the week.

I realized – medical appointments were nowhere on my list. No going to the wound care clinic before class in the morning. No leaving class in the middle of the day to see my surgeon or my specialist. No dealing with unwieldy wound VACs.

I was in control. I was so in control that I said it out loud. I had control of my life again.

Plastic surgery gave me control again.

For three years I didn’t have any control. First I was sick because my Crohn’s disease had come back in my detached rectum. I didn’t know how sick I was until I came home for spring break and didn’t go back to school for three weeks. Maybe I thought things were okay because I didn’t have a colon anymore; it turns out a bleeding rectum isn’t exactly great either.

Then it was the chronic rectal wound. I no longer needed iron infusions every few weeks. Instead, I was going to a wound care clinic every three days. While going to law school. To get my rectal wound stuffed.

Did I mention the wound was in my rectum? I guarantee, however much the average law student hates sitting in class, it is much, much worse when you have a rectal wound.

I had the wound for two years, around the time they start to use the c-word: chronic. I was 23 years old and I had a chronic wound – again: In. My. Rectum.

I really didn’t want plastic surgery. If the two years had taught me anything, it was that a surgery meant I would end up with a chronic wound (Chronic! They were using that word!). It meant being tethered figuratively, to my home, the clinic, the hospital; or literally, to a wound VAC bandage.

“Maybe my body just isn’t meant to heal,” I would say to my mum. After all, I was in my early twenties, I didn’t smoke, my Crohn’s was in remission – why else wasn’t I healing?

When I met my plastic surgeon, he told me he was going to give me my life back. I believed him.

When I went for the consultation, I wasn’t sure if I was going to go through with it. By the end of the day, I had a surgery date for the next week.

When I went back a month and a half later, he finally said it. “You’re healed.”

It didn’t feel real. Not until that evening in September.

I truly have my life back. I can go to class like a normal student. I can balance school and career networking and a social life. I can take spur-of-the-moment trips out of town to do a late-night podcast show. I can plan for a semester abroad next year, and not just dream about doing it if and when I’m healed.

I forgot how control felt until I had it again.

Brooke Bogdan