I was lying in a hospital bed in the Surrey Memorial emergency department. I could only whisper, I was in so much pain. The nurse who was assigned to me spoke very kindly, explaining why she couldn’t give me anything until the CT scan results came back. When she finally administered hydromorphone through a butterfly needle in my arm, I fell in love with her. Tears streamed down my face in relief, as I thanked her over and over.
A surgeon sat down beside me and told me the news. If he didn’t remove 75% of my large intestine right now, I would I die. I was going to live with an ileostomy for four months. He gave me a pen and a paper to sign. I signed it. A short time later, I was moved into an operating room. It was November 2012.
Those four months with an ileostomy were the hardest months of my entire life. On top of going through withdrawal from hydromorphone, my marriage was strained, and I was deeply depressed. My children were 1, 7, and 12 at the time. I struggled to care for them, while navigating an embarrassing appliance that made me feel helpless. After getting the reversal surgery, I vowed I would do whatever it took to prevent ever having an ileostomy again.
Recovery was long and hard. My scars from two open abdominal surgeries stretched across me, bright and red. I was deeply insecure about my body and very sad that I would never strip in a club again. I had always loved knowing I could dance for a few nights here or there, if I wanted to. Now, that was taken away from me. However, I later did return to the strip clubs. In 2015, I left my husband, moved into a basement suite with my children, and I became a Massage Goddess – I felt I was much too old to be called a “Massage Girl.”
For the next several years, I followed a strict diet and lived a mostly normal life. I went through several square jobs after the strip clubs closed. Now, I was working as an independent provider giving massages. I’d finally realized that this was the work I was meant to do. I was relieved that I wasn’t trying to be someone I’m not anymore. I loved everything about my life.
It seemed like my worst health issues were behind me. My natural health strategies were working … until they weren’t. One day about four years ago, I developed a little infection in my lower intestine. Over the next few years, more little infections cropped up. I used a combination of natural antibiotic supplements to control them otherwise I would have been on antibiotics constantly.
When I spoke to a surgeon in 2021 about my options, she recommended an ileostomy. Hell no! I wasn’t giving up yet. How could I? I was doing work I loved and supporting my family better than I ever had before. The thought of losing everything was unthinkable. I resolved to find a way to heal on my own. But I also started working on a backup plan.
First, I tried real estate but the course was too difficult with my health issues, working, and caring for my family. Next, I got fitness and life coach training. I wanted to create a sexy fitness program for people with health conditions. But as my own health worsened, I realized that I needed a new plan. Focusing on what I do best, I settled on an “author + speaker” path. I began seeing a very reduced number of massage clients and writing, editing, and rolling-out my new business as quickly as I could.
A few months ago, I was collecting feedback for my “Business Bible,” when my health turned suddenly for the worse. I attended a sex worker conference in Edmonton struggling with pain and illness, and loving every minute of it. It was one of the most incredible, inspiring experiences of my life. Support and kindness from other sex workers about my book fueled me. I pushed forward hard, knowing that my sex work days were numbered.
I realized that I was going to need an ileostomy, if I wanted any kind of quality of life. I could fight it no longer. I thought of the stoicism book I’d recently read, “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. For me, the obstacle was a surgery I didn’t want to have. But it was the only way left for me. I had to accept it because fighting it would destroy me physically and mentally.
Turning to my community for support, I shared my news in a SW group on Facebook and a colleague there made me aware that there is a SW with an ostomy who goes by the name “Go Ask Alex” and runs a very successful adult entertainment business. After following Alex for several weeks, I got up the courage to reach out to her. She was incredibly sweet and supportive, sharing advice and giving me courage I desperately needed at the time. She made me realize that I could still do Only F@ns after my surgery. For me, that was a light at the end of the tunnel.
My surgery date was finally booked and I thought I would have to cancel everything – particularly, my book launch and my 50th birthday party in January which I had already hired entertainment for. I thought I would lose my workspace and everything that I had been striving for with my author + speaker business.
Once again, a colleague from the SW community came to my rescue. She encouraged me to move forward with my book launch. She convinced me not to worry about my birthday until after the surgery; to wait and see how I’m feeling before making any big decisions. She said that she would help me. Bolstered, I agreed.
Next came bittersweet goodbyes to my dearest clients, many of whom have become dear friends. I was shocked when several of them told me that an ileostomy wouldn’t stop them from being my clients. I thought they would find the thought distasteful, if not downright repulsive. But they surprised me with their loyalty and love. It made me examine my own beliefs about myself and my worthiness.
Their words of assurance drilled down the truth for me that our jobs are largely about intimacy and connection between PEOPLE. Our best clients see us as whole people who are beautiful despite the parts of ourselves we may view as flaws. We see our clients the same way, which is why we develop such meaningful friendships with so many of them. Out of all this pain and uncertainty, I experienced incredible new insights about myself and my work.
My surgery is happening in less than two weeks, but I have managed to get to book launch day, thanks to the incredible support I’ve gotten from my community of colleagues and clients. I’m hoping to make it a bestseller because WHY NOT?! I need 50-100 people to buy my book TODAY to make me a bestseller!
If you can relate to my story in any way and would like to help me make my dream come true, please help me become a bestselling author by purchasing my book. Then, let me show you how I can support YOU to achieve YOUR dreams! Get your free bonuses at my website after purchasing.: An “Ask Annie” token you can use to ask me anything you want, a pocket business bible that is handy to keep on your phone, and a Manifestation Video to inspire you and give you courage to reach for your dreams.
Thank you sincerely for helping my dream come true despite all of the challenges I am facing and thank you for all of your love and support. Xoxo
Get your book at this link!
Let me know if you have trouble finding a link for your country. I hope to see you at my birthday party in January. More info to come about that!
WANT TO SUPPORT MY DREAM OF BECOMING A BESTSELLING AUTHOR BUT DON’T NEED THE BOOK?
Purchase one or more Business Bibles and have them sent to this address – we will distribute them to SW organizations to hand out to their members.
PO Box 73007
Surrey, British Columbia