Just three years ago I entered the operating room during the final months of my senior year in high school in New Jersey. I, like so many battling Crohn’s disease, had no choice but to remove a permanently damaged area of my intestines due to prolonged disease activity. I initially responded to the operation quite well. I was back on my feet and eating normally in a matter of days. And just five weeks later, I graduated from high school as if nothing ever happened. What many don’t know is what followed just three days after I received my diploma.
On June 26, 2003, I rushed myself to the Emergency Room because I was completely unable to eat or drink, and was incessantly throwing up. Massive complications arose from the operation, which caused me to be hospitalized in the trauma and intensive care unit of my local hospital for the next 180 days.
When I finally returned home on December 26, 2003, I had an open abdominal wound the size of an American football, as surgeons entered my abdomen over five times to save my life. During the process, I had over 40% of my intestines removed, underwent twenty blood transfusions, as many of my other organs started to fail.
In April of 2004, I moved out to Los Angeles, California in hope of finding a medical team that could help me get my life back. At the same time, my life really hit the breaking point as a harsh reality set in. I was well aware that I had somehow miraculously survived the six-month hospitalization back in Jersey, and had no idea what the future held for me. Even as I consulted some of the best and brightest medical professionals known to man, many were reluctant to give me any false hope. As I embarked on a mission to find a better way, I stumbled upon a book titled, “2 Do Before I Die,” which forced me to ask myself the ultimate question: If I were to die tomorrow, what did I really want to see happen in my life today?
When I initially asked myself this question, I never thought an answer would come so quickly, but it did. If I were to die tomorrow, I would want to have left with the knowledge that I have done everything in my capacity to raise more awareness of this dreadful disease that millions around the globe silently battle everyday.
Most specifically, if there was one project that I wanted to see through to fruition, it was the Stamp Campaign that I had started over six years ago. I wanted the United States Postal Service to issue an awareness stamp for Crohn’s disease. But how exactly did I intend to make this happen? After a couple of weeks of contemplating the idea, I realized that I had never fulfilled my “wish” from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, because I was merely too sick during my final days in high school until...it clicked: I phone the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and told them that if I could wish for just one thing, it would be to meet the United States Postmaster General.
Almost two years after realizing this wish, it finally became a reality. John Potter—the current U.S. Postmaster General—met with me on May 25, 2006. The upcoming posts to this blog will detail exactly what happened at our meeting, the next step, and how each and every one of you can help make this stamp a reality.