IBD | Ostomy
My name is Theodora Pestana. I am a 35 year old Greek-American, Greek orthodox Christian. I have a degree in Spanish and am a certified Spanish to English interpreter. I am a wife, mother, and an extrovert who loves to talk! Dancing is my passion. I’ve studied ballet (including pointe), contemporary, hip-hop, modern, ballroom, Greek folk dancing, and Latin (which is my favorite). I also have IBD and many other auto-immune diseases and chronic health issues.
IBD means never knowing how long the good days are going to last or when the next bad one is coming. Post-op I have had to re-learn how to sit, stand, and walk so many times I’ve lost count. After having to fight to simply roll over in bed post-op, I am able to use dance to celebrate my getting back up each time IBD knocks me down! IBD has given me wisdom beyond my years in having to face mortality as a young adult. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “carpe diem”. Those blessed with heath have the option to say “I’ll do it later…” with my chronic illness I am not granted that luxury. It can be easy to focus on the things going wrong in your life but my view point on everything is “If I’m still alive, anything else is small potatoes!”.
Facing flares, surgery, and long hospital admits together, has strengthened my marriage. When my husband and I are exhausted from parenting, or the day to day grind all adults feel; The knowledge that a flare or surgery could come any moment gives us motivation to dance whenever life allows. We often film our dances so that we remember the happy times and are reminded of what is waiting for us when illness takes the lead on life. When people literally fight death together one gains a wisdom few couples get this early in their marriage. We have better insight as to what truly matters in life, leaving no room to squabble over the small stuff, as we know that everyday together is a gift.
I once heard a quote that really summed up how I try to seek the positive side of the negative situation having illness “sometimes God has to break you to use you”. Throughout my journey of battling IBD I’ve counseled fellow patients and their loved ones while recently expanding my outreach through YouTube and Facebook vlogs my husband and I have called “Pestana Life/La Vida Pestana.” Our goal is to offer bi- lingual outreach, education, and encouragement to others by sharing our story as a dance couple living life with illness. Throughout my battle with IBD I have been blessed with the gift of seeing who is truly in my corner. I have an amazing church, friends and family that have continued to show up time and time again whenever called. Illness can take a lot from you but if you open your eyes you can also see the blessings that come from the burdens you face!