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Thought I'd update my initial minimalistic profile statement:

So, I'm a military brat. Grew up mostly in Alabama but we lived in Germany for 5 years when I was 9 through 14. Moved back to Alabama where I completed high school. I attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and then completed the Army's helicopter flight school. After assignments in Korea and Fort Bragg, I then became a helicopter instructor pilot for several years at Fort Rucker. I was selected to return to West Point as faculty and I was sent to the University of Virginia for a M.Ed in kinesiology and exercise science and subsequently taught for 3.5 years at the Academy. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease my first summer as faculty and was medically retired from active duty after 13 years of service.

I struggled with a loss of identity and purpose after I was retired. If you're a veteran and feel similarly, I'd love to chat. If you're not a veteran and the disease took a portion of your identity, I'm here too! I honestly think I still struggle with it.

I then worked for Johnson and Johnson (Ethicon) as a surgical medical device rep for 8 years. Hated the job but I learned so much about surgery, and most importantly, which surgeons are skilled. My first year in the job I contracted a MRSA infection which began in my face, then my hip, and finally my left foot. This was due to my long term used of prednisone to control my disease. I had already failed remicade and humira, plus 6MP. My foot and lower leg became necrotic (so called flesh-eating) and the surgeon told me, after 2 weeks in the hospital, that he would amputate my foot the next day. I had numerous surgeries for my face, hip and foot, but the leg infection was rather intractable. My sister, a PA, convinced them to hold off on amputation and I kept my leg, though with significant skin grafts and reduced range of motion. I spent 4 weeks in the hospital and 3 months learning to walk again.

After 8 years of disease, my gastroenterologist felt that I presented more like UC than Crohn's. After some additional tests, we both felt confident that I had UC and was therefore a candidate for a colectomy. In December of 2014 I had a subtotal colectomy with end ileostomy. I ended up with ileus for 2 weeks and then a partial obstruction and subsequent trip back to the ICU. Things calmed down and I went home. The original plan was to attempt a J pouch, but 6 months after my initial surgery, the inflammation in my rectum was awful and I went back to the OR to have it removed. Ended up with a pelvic abscess this time, so I lost another couple of months to recuperation.

After my convalescence, my wife was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. Over the next year of her treatment we decided to move home to Alabama to be near our parents and allow me to get a job I enjoy.

As of February 2021, we are still living in our hometown. We have 3 kids (15, 13, 9) and my wife of 20 years is approaching her 5 year mark of being cancer free.

I am a contractor for the Army working on future aviation projects. I hike, camp, and mountain bike as much as I can. My ostomy, while sometimes annoying, doesn't stop me. I SCUBA dive, skydive, long distance backpack, work out with kettlebells, swim, you name it. I don't walk with a limp, but running is really out of the picture for me.

I love talking to fellow ostomates, sharing tips and tricks, and especially sharing dreams. I'm often reminded of my favorite Bob Seger lyric: "Dreams die hard and we watch them erode but we cannot be denied...the fire inside"
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