In about a month, it will have hit the one-year anniversary of my having to have an emergency colon resection and ileostomy installed.  I understand that this is fairly graphic and personal, but bankruptcy could feel the same way for those who are thinking about it.

For years, I have lived, dealt and managed Crohn’s Disease.  I have had to deal with health insurance issues (or, rather, the issues resultant of NOT having health insurance), prescription drugs, flare-ups and more.  Diet is a big part of the equation that I struggled with.  Over the years, I have grown to tell myself that I know my body, and I can eat and drink most anything I want as long as I respond to what my body is telling me.  I was alive.  I was active.  I felt OK most of the time, so I thought I had Crohn’s at bay.

Many people and businesses go through the same thing with debt.  The business may be in the red, but its principals are hopeful (as they ought to be) that their due season is approaching.  Personal and business lines of credit get mixed up to keep the business (or even your personal affairs) afloat.  In your personal life, you recede to making the minimum payments on credit cards.  Finally, just as I had this nebulous idea about what my diet should be in my head, many people and businesses operate on a day-to-day basis with a nebulous idea of what their BUDGET should look like.

Last year, August 2014, a good friend of mine got married.  The wedding was a great time, out in Missouri.  There was a ton of food, and a ton of liquor.  I, admittedly, consumed quite a bit of both.  I remember on my way to the airport that Sunday morning to catch my flight home, I started to experience those dreaded Crohn’s cramps.  They became progressively worse during the flight back, but I convinced myself that if I can make it home, I will be alright.

When it comes to debt and bills, many of us, in our personal lives and business lives operate the same way.  You sense trouble and volatility, but you don’t know how you will deal with it (or maybe you do know what needs to be done, but just don’t want to face it).  You convince yourself that if you get through this month’s bills, you are confident next month you will come out ahead.

I got back to New York.  These pains became progressively worse.  I had two court appearances that Tuesday morning, but woke up around 3am and hobbled over to a nearby hospital.  Two days later, I was having an unscheduled colon resection and woke up with an ileostomy – something doctors had mentioned to me for years, but I wanted nothing of the sort.  It turns out that a large portion of my large intestine had, by this time, been damaged from some combination of Crohn’s/diet/ulcers/etc., and just gave out, leading to this internal blowout.  The brutality of the situation hit me from every angle – physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually: I had not properly addressed my health for years, and it led to a result that, for years, I refused to acknowledge as a potential aid.

Much in the same way, as we float along bills and debt, often barely making it by, many of us would not be ready to handle an emergency.  An emergency that occurs – an unanticipated car repair, an unanticipated house repair, stuff being stolen, a business deal gone bad – would throw many of us into a very bad place.  I would like to share that, like the ileostomy for me, bankruptcy may not be something that people and businesses want to even fathom, but it could help.  The resection and ileostomy resulted in a large part of damaged colon being removed, just as bankruptcy may help to relieve yourself or the business of crushing, draining debt.  I am happy to share that I am doing much better and feeling much better than I have in years, thanks to that ileostomy.  I have some huge scars to always remind me what happened, but those scars also remind me to put my health in first place.  Be aware of my diet.  Be aware of my physical activity.  Be aware of my mental health.

Many fear bankruptcy.  The emotional charge of saying, “I filed for bankruptcy” is most fearful to many.  There is stigma attached to it.  I get it.  It isn’t easy.  It wasn’t easy to take my shirt off in public for the first time this year.  But it could help.  Moreover, if you think long and hard about what brought you or your business to filing, you can improve those skills to improve your financial life afterwards.  Be aware of your REAL budget.  Be aware of your income and expenses.  Be aware of spending habits.  Be aware of spreading yourself too thin.

I want great health for myself, those in my life, and for you, as well.  I also want financial prosperity for myself, those in my life, and for you, as well.  Sometimes, though, we’ve got to go through some things that we otherwise wouldn’t want to go through to improve our lives.  The ileostomy was that in my life.  Bankruptcy could be that in your life, or the life of your business.  Just as with every experience every day, it occurs to make you stronger, wiser and better than before.

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