Jake Diekman provides insight on what he wish he knew a year ago, during his j-pouch surgeries
Written By: Jake Diekman
A year ago, baseball season was starting and I was in a way, not a part of it. Yes, I was able to be around my teammates and be at the field, but I wasn’t participating. I wasn’t able to help my team win games or go on the road with them to play. That was a bummer for me because for over 10 years now, the grind of baseball season was all I’ve really known. I was preparing for my second of three surgeries, trying to take my mind off of it by being around my teammates and baseball as much as I could, because these surgeries weren’t easy. Every surgery was a scary thought that pulled me out of my comfort zone and required significant recovery time after each one. However, I pushed through, even when I wasn’t sure if I could, and now a year later, there’s many things I wish I would have known then.
Here are some tips that I wish I would have known:
1. Find Your Support System
After each surgery, the one thing that helped me the most was support. It sounds simple, but when you’re in the moment and you’re hurting mentally and/or physically, it can be easy to push people away. I was stubborn sometimes in that aspect and I wish I wouldn’t have been. When I allowed my wife, my family, and my friends to support me and help me through my tough days, it really made a huge impact on how I felt!
2. Find Activities to Keep Your Mind Off Surgery
Knowing your next surgery is looming can be daunting. It can be mentally debilitating. No matter how tough you are, it IS nerve wracking. That’s human nature. So for me, keeping busy when that next surgery was approaching helped prepare me. Whether it was baseball, my dogs, playing video games, all of these things helped me just make it to that day. Because once you’re there, you just push through it and it’s done.
3. Stay Positive
Those lead me to my next tip, staying positive. Another one that sounds simple and can be easier said than done. It’s easy to throw yourself a pity party, but doing that caused the worst days I had through recovery. I surrounded myself with encouraging people, especially my caretaker, my wife Amanda. She never let me be negative, she always encouraged me to push through and would take me to get out and do things to take my mind off of it. There are days where it seems impossible to stay positive, when you’re feeling so bad. Amanda always reminded me that I was ALIVE, I was blessed to be able to take this path to recovery and better health, and that there is always someone out there who has it worse than me.
4. Do What You Can, When You Can
Missing out can be a really hard part of recovery. I wasn’t able to travel with my team, I wasn’t able to be a part of my normal routine, I wasn’t able to be as active as I always had been, and it really pulled me into a funk sometimes. What pulled me out of it, was doing WHAT I could, WHEN I could, and being CONTENT with whatever that was. If I was able to go to the field and lift weights after I was cleared to lift, I would. If I was feeling well enough to play long toss, I would. It didn’t seem like much at the time, but now looking back, if I would have just realized it was ok to be where I was, I think it would have been much more “acceptable” to me. But, there were also days where I would call Amanda in tears in the middle of a home game and say my bag was leaking and I needed her to pick me up and take me home. In that moment, it was a really sucky feeling, but it was my reality and sometimes you just need to accept that and move forward with what you CAN control!
5. Focus on The Future
My last tip would be to focus on the future. For me, it was setting a timeline of when I wanted to return to baseball. That time line didn’t happen how I had planned, but it was close, and gave me something to look forward to and push toward. I knew I was getting married and we were going on an amazing honeymoon to Saint Lucia that required a long flight and lots of foreign food, two things that would have been a nightmare had I not done these surgeries. I knew it would be such a reward at the end of a tough year! Find or plan something for the future and fix your eyes on it, it will be that much sweeter when you get there!
Thank you everyone for your support over the last year and for helping us make strides in our foundation! I’m excited to see what we can do for those suffering from Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis!
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.