Surviving Health Challenges: A Rollercoaster of Loss & Resilience


Venting My History of Crap
Oh my, where does one begin?
Got married young, had a son in 1978, then a daughter in 1980.
Well, in 1981 I lost a kidney after having kidney stones that had turned into bigger rocks and engulfed the entire kidney.
Physically abused, then divorced on our 5th anniversary.
About 5 years later, I remarried.
Then cervical ovarian cancer in 1990 and they removed it all. I was better...again.
I was pretty good health-wise, skinny, ate healthy, exercising, adventurous. I traveled the world.
Then in 1995, I was so sick in my gut. Everything came out by every means. They removed my gall bladder thinking that caused the pain and other symptoms. Nope, didn't do it. They put me on all sorts of meds including Entocort, pain meds...After 2 years, it suddenly disappeared, overnight.
But the next morning, I woke up with a small itchy rash. Within 24 hrs it spread...then swelled...then my skin cracked and blood everywhere. They did a punch biopsy and I was diagnosed with a rare form of PRP (pityaris rubra pilarous). My dermatologist was well known and I was his first acute case. During 2 yrs of being bedridden, peeling my entire body like a snake, lost my nails, eyelashes, almost all my hair screaming in pain as ointments had to be put on my body, so much pain in the shower from water, high doses of methotrexate, kemo, I just wanted to die. No one recognized me. Then as fast as it came, it began remission. I was better?
But wait, there's more!
In 2000, after finally beginning to feel like a regular person, hair grew back, etc., the runs began again. I was still on low doses of methotrexate. Over time, it worsened. What was I doing wrong? Of course, I thought maybe it was the air, so I moved. Nope, it was still happening. I couldn't eat, held nothing down. So, back on Entocort, then all biologics, you name it, I was on it. Every time I landed in the hospital for low sodium, potassium, and unbearable pain. They used me as a test subject, then began shipping me around the USA to other specialists at various hospitals. Sometimes by medical planes, ambulance. I puzzled them all as no treatments worked. I was finally on my 16th colonoscopy each time showing colitis, but slowly they discovered it was turning into a rare form of refractive microscopic collegeous colitis. I still traveled the world and continued doing my bucket list, tried sucking it up, life goes on. I used to say at least it's not cancer, and I'm not dying.
By 2019, I was admitted to the hospital weekly then every couple of days. Always the same thing. Shi* happens. I was eating meals in my bathroom as stuff wouldn't stay in anyway, curled up in a ball due to the pain. Finally, my dr said...I need you to go to a surgeon, there's no more hope. The next day I went to see him on an emergency basis. The day after I was admitted for surgery. This was May 2019. I was so ill, I had no idea what he was going to do, I just knew he was removing my infection.
I woke up and he were so infected I had to remove everything down there. Were my organs that valuable that they wanted more of them? I cried so hard. He told me he took out my large intestine and much of my small, removed my ass and my appendix and closed my internal cavity to prevent what's left from dropping. I was introduced to my ileostomy...ok, no big deal I thought, so I'm not an asshol* anymore, I'm a bag lady, but I kept crying. I took everything, even my vagina...he laughed and said no and it will still work just fine!
I was released in 5 days, went home but couldn't pee. Back in the hospital. I was infected everywhere inside. So there I stayed for 1 month. Now it's the end of June. I went home with an IV and antibiotic for an hour 4 times a day and the best visiting nurse for months. In September, I finally graduated! I never felt a teenager again, healthy, skinny, and owned my ileostomy thanks to the support of my daughter and support groups for Ostomy.
That same week, my husband of 30 yrs was diagnosed with cancer and left the earth in November 2019. Then Covid hit the world, I'm thankful it didn't hit me.
What a ride my life has been....but now my path will begin again with positivity, love of life, grateful to be alive and well.
Thanks for letting me those who ask bits and pieces of my you know. Live life as full as you can while we have today and tomorrow and Thank you for listening to me vent. That felt good.
I look forward to listening to your vent, I'm a great listener and no one's journey is worse or better than another. We are all exceptional individuals, embrace one another with respect and compassion.
Ritz...(my childhood nickname) is like that cracker, fragile.


Hi Ritz!

Uhhh.......WOW! I'm humbled.........and that's hard to do! Think I'll just shut up and stop complaining FOREVER! Whenever someone asks me how I'm able to deal with my condition and keep smiling and loving life.......I would say "Hey, there's always someone worse off than I'm not complaining". They'd say yeah, and agree and we'd both laugh. I haven't actually met many that went through more crap than me......but I did just now. Wow. I mean WOW! You go girl!!! You're my new poster child for "Just shut up and stop your bitching, you don't know how good you have it!!!" Thanks for sharing that........and for the inspiration!!!



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Ritz... "life is like a cracker, fragile"    You don't sound so fragile to me, kid.  I salute you, and wish I was there to give you a hug.  Stay well.  HenryM

Reply to w30bob

Thanks, Bob! My slogan is... As long as you're not dying, suck it up, it could be worse.

Reply to HenryM

Henry... I feel that hug, thank you. We all need one always.

Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister


We all have our stories...what we endure to arrive where we're at. Reading yours, my jaw literally dropped, and while I haven't walked in your moccasins, Sweetie, I believe you are made of pretty stern stuff. Yes, Life may be fragile, but I'm certain that you are not.

So glad you felt comfortable enough with the rest of us to share, to enlighten, and to (hopefully) unburden your heart.

BIG HUG, Honey! You are resilient and amazing!



Hello Ritz.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Like others, I found it quite humbling, yet inspiring. With that positive attitude in the face of adversity you are an inspiration to us all. I do think that a good rant is cathartic for the raconteur, but it can also be beneficial for the readers.
I leave you with a rhyme, written in full support of the concept of 'ranting':

Best wishes


I want to rant and scream and shout
and show my discontent.
I want to let the venom out
‘till all of it is spent.

So listen to me rant and rave
then you might understand.
The way you see me now behave
results from life’s crap-hand.

Sometimes I’m sick of all the shit,
the troubles and the strife.
I wish that I was rid of it
the pains and banes of life.

If my life was sweet and fair
I would not need to rant.
Because my life seems so unfair
I just need to decant.

Pour out my feelings one by one
and empty out my soul.
So anyone and everyone
can see in my hellhole.

It does me good to shout and scream
take’s strain from off my brain.
What better way to let off steam
it helps to ease the pain.

Life has been both cruel and mean
to leave me as I am.
So now I need to vent my spleen
as often as I can.

As I say, life has a way
of being most unkind.
A rant a day keeps life at bay
and lifts the troubled mind.

So let us all appreciate
the rant in all its glory.
For rants are so appropriate
to tell a bad, sad story.

                            B. Withers 2011

Morning glory

Ritz, thank you for sharing your "rant." You truly are an amazing person and tough as nails. I, along with the others, agree that you're not fragile as your handle implies. Your living life to the fullest is an inspiration to us all. Continued health and best wishes.


Past Member

Hi Ritz, your post helps give the rest of us the strength to face our perceived disasters! My mother would always say, " could have been worse..." a woman with endless strength and patience dealing with ten kids! No matter how hard we think our personal journeys have been, there are people who make us look and feel like amateurs, especially when faced with a veteran/professional disaster expert like yourself. Slainte Ritz (= Health to you Ritz). I had some horrible times, just like everyone else, and we have all faced the Grim Reaper more than once. He even grabbed a hold of some of us, but we managed to beat him back and crank up our heart again to get back in the game.

Don't know if I might be unique, but I doubt it in my attitude to dying. I never once entertained the idea that I was going to die, never once thought that "...when I go asleep this time (as the mask goes on and you count down from 10) I might not wake up again". I never once thought that. I didn't wake up for maybe two weeks one time, and the doc told my family that he had no clue when I would or if I would wake up, my systems just stopped working and I was treading water, just out of reach of the Grim Reaper. Eventually, I woke up just fine and totally unaware of the panic I had caused!!

Your journey strikes me as one of the toughest I have read about, but you survived! The best revenge is survival! My health has leveled off in recent years and is more dependable and predictable. The chaos and turmoil of the bad times feel like a bad nightmare sometimes. When I'm lying in bed and sometimes thinking about some of my narrow escapes, I find myself thinking, "...that thing actually happened to me! That really happened and I survived, and now I almost feel like a normal person." I hope you are really at that stage Ritz, it feels so good to be able to look in the rearview mirror and think, "That really is behind me and it will be better from now on.

This was my feeling when I met Kitty, my new life is starting, I actually have a ready-made family and I just have to accept it, that it really is true and we both deserve this after our long painful journeys, Kitty's two kids deserve the road trips, the new experiences, the new house we were looking at. I was becoming like the surrogate dad who spoiled the kids and got their favorite ice cream, cooked the shrimp and scallops that they love. Everyone deserved this new beginning. Sadly, that future was not to be, it feels like someone planted a landmine on our favorite walking trail and our lives just exploded around us.

I didn't mean to undercut your very hard struggle Ritz, my personal medical history has been a walk in the park compared to the horrors you have had to deal with and fought through. Our stories told will strengthen us all.

Love and best wishes Ritz, keep improving and enjoying life.

Eamon XX


Wow Ritz, yes, we all have our stories, but I think it's safe to say that yours makes most of us feel like we have nothing to complain about. As others have said, you are one strong and resilient lady. I'm glad the vent made you feel better. I know that it's a cliche, but what doesn't kill you, does make you stronger. Considering what you have gone through, you must be made of steel! I'm also glad you felt safe enough to share it all with us.

All the best,


Reply to Lily17

Lily... Thank you for your strengthening words. I worry so about others and their experiences through life. I hope that those who read my history will not feel alone. We always have each other to lean on... Isn't this site the best place?

Stay strong and focused on life ahead, Ritz

Reply to Bill

Bill... I scream and shout a lot at times, but it helps me keep my inner peace.


Reply to Morning glory

Rebecca... I love your name Morning Glory. Every day is a morning to glory, that's for sure.

Reply to Anonymous

Magoo... You're so right... my life, your life, all the experiences of everyone have made me the strong person I am today. Parts of me I'll keep working on emotionally, but I keep my chin up.

Reply to delgrl525


Having not many for me to vent to, this site and the people on here have made my days bearable. Thanks for reading... stay well my friend

Ritz... Cathi


Hi Ritz, there is an old saying "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger". You have to be a strong person to go through all that you have. I used to think I had a lot of problems until I read on this site what problems others have had to deal with. Thanks for sharing and best wishes.

Reply to lovely

Lovely, we are all strong. Sometimes I think I'm weak and I ponder back the years and realize... I got this!

Stay happy... Ritz


Hi Ritz,

I have always said every ostomate and caregivers are heroes! You have made the "Superhero" list. I just hope the medical field learned something from what all you experienced. We all have our stories and mine is nowhere near pretty but like you, I have survived and am better for it! Thanks for sharing and "venting"! Maybe more of us should try that! Felt good, huh?
Take care of yourself and enjoy your newfound love!
Happiness is yours for the taking!



Jeez Louise Ritz ........ You're a rockstar ......I'll never complain again

Axl ... oxoxo

Reply to w30bob

Ritz and Bob,

Wow!! I feel the same as you, Bob.
My horrible last two years of life pale in comparison to Ritz. You are an amazing woman and God brought you through the storm a stronger lady. My heart goes out to you and I'm so sorry for the struggles you went through.
I thought my life of the last two years was horrible (and it truly was), but as Bob said, I have no right to bitch and complain.
I had to have a permanent colostomy, as I had pelvic floor dysfunction and severe incontinence. And high-grade dysplasia.

Going forward with my new life, and pray that the worst of it is over forever!!


Reply to Puppyluv56

I absolutely agree with you. We are all in this together and I love having this site to talk and share things that we all can relate to.

Reply to Puppyluv56

Puppy... I believe we are all superheroes. We can only support each other.


Reply to Axl

Axl..... Thanks Ax, but my point, besides it feeling good to share, was we all have and had issues... none too small or too big. None worse than another, except for death. I'm just grateful to be alive... well... and moving, not letting a day go by without being thankful.

Reply to Dlynn

Dylnn....Everyone has a right to bitch and complain, long or short journey... it's all a journey. So yes... bitch and complain, it's okay to do. I must say it feels good too! My life is still a fast carousel, not knowing what to do or where to turn. But my health is good so that's a plus!
Thank you for your kind words, but I was never one to be pitied... I'm the girl that has always been the glue and grateful that my glue is still intact caring for others.
Stay strong and enjoy the rainbows, Ritz

ron in mich

Hi Ritz, sorry to hear you've had such a rough time. Around here, we have a saying that comes from Finnish heritage. It's called SISU, or determination and will, and it sure sounds like you have it.


Well done Ritz. By that I mean you have taught all of us a lesson in how to face up to adversity. What you went through makes my own troubles fade into insignificance. All the very best wishes for the future.

Reply to ron in mich

Ron... I don't consider what I went through a hard time, I'm chalking it all up to my life experiences and wouldn't wish any of it on anyone... good or bad. Moving on!


Reply to bowsprit

Bowspirit... Ya know, when I read and listen to what other people have and are going through, I think to myself... geez, I wish I could take away their aches. No one's adventures are any worse than another. I just hope that my story of crap lets others know to just keep on living.




All that you've been through and you're still looking forward to amusement parks and roller coaster rides. You survived this "Roller Coaster Ride" of life. You can do anything. Keep the faith and smile. You're an inspiration to all who think their day has been bad.


Reply to SharkFan

Thanks SharkFan... and yes, the big coasters are on Friday! I can't wait! I'm tough, but I do think I'll sit in the middle!

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