2018 Honored Hero, Fort Wayne
My name is Mallory Carter and my world was forever changed 6 years ago. It was a crazy time in my life! I had moved to a new state, was newly engaged, and learning how to create a new life for myself and my future husband in Indiana.
I had a history of seizures and a bladder pain disorder that was seemingly under control… yet my health was declining. I tried to shrug it off, sought advice from my doctors who already managed my other problems, and assumed that my pain and discomfort was an unfortunate side effect or complication. After 6 months of excruciating pain, lack of appetite (and let me tell you, this girl LOVES food), sleepless nights, countless trips to the emergency room, and constant worrying about where the nearest restroom was…. my doctors were stumped. They didn’t know what the root of my problem was, thought maybe I was just too stressed, and had spent too much time trying to manage my symptoms instead of running more diagnostics.
My wonderful family physician finally wanted me to see someone for a colonoscopy, but everyone was booked for months. Not only was I terrified, but I had little control over my body and my wedding was only a couple of months away. Fortunately, she’s a determined woman and contacted anyone who would listen until I was scheduled for the procedure one month from my wedding. Did I mention we were getting married in Mexico???
One June morning in 2012, my husband and I went in for my appointment and left with the answer to all of my problems. Though it wasn’t what I’d hoped for, this thing that had taken hold of my body finally had a name and we could begin treating it. Leaving the office that day knowing I had Crohn’s Disease was terrifying, but we made a plan to treat my symptoms (in the short term), an emergency plan for our travels, and I had medication to get me through our trip. Life altering news aside, we had a wonderful time celebrating our marriage with friends and family that very next month!
All too often, the delay in diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease takes a toll on our bodies. After failing a couple of treatments, it became clear that there was too much damage to my intestines to leave them as they were. My doctor recommended a bowel resection in the near future and kept me in the hospital to help gain some strength. Surgery had been my greatest fear! I was extremely emotional over the next few days, but somehow I found a way to make peace with his advice. It became clear to me that only so much of my healthcare was in my hands. It was time to hand over the reins and submit to surgery.
By this time, I had started writing to get my feelings out and to hopefully reach others who were in similar situations. I started writing a blog called Chronically Inspired to share the ups and the downs of my journey. I’m not sure if it was the fear I had, the knowledge that I was out of options (or at least the ones I was ok with), or the fact that my husband and I were buying a home in the same month as my surgery (who does that?!)… but somehow, I learned to let go and let others take the lead. As my surgery date got closer, I became less worried and more hopeful about the future.
4+ years later, I’m still learning to accept the changes my body goes through due to medication, side effects, complications, and surgery. However, I do feel like I have a new lease on life! I know that I can’t control when my body will flare, if I will need surgery again, and how long my current medicines will work. What I can control is my attitude. I’ve chosen to feel inspired, be proactive, and take action where I can. Now, I use my extra energy and confidence to take on more responsibility within the Junior League of Fort Wayne, volunteer at Camp Oasis, help to raise more awareness by advocating for Crohn’s & Colitis patients, and giving back whenever I can!