Monday, July 16, 2012

Because I Have Crohn's Disease - Part 2 of 2

(click here for part I)

My mom is kind of like Forrest Gump’s mom except she’s not as nice.

Don’t get me wrong, my mom is one of the nicest people on the planet but when it comes to advice she’s tough and doesn’t let people be victims.

When I talked to her after I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I remember her being silent for a second and then instead of expressing sympathy she told me about her life.  My mom revealed to me that she has had to deal with allergies since she was a child, mostly in the form of hives. Only in recent years with new medicine and the availability of foods without preservative has she been able to get this under control.

My mom told me to deal with Crohn’s. She was strong enough to live life with hives, therefore I could live life with Crohn’s. It’s part of my life and I had to make it work. I couldn’t let this thing petrify me.

The problem was that it did.

After being diagnosed with Crohn’s things didn’t immediately get better.  Instead of being a relief, knowing that I had Crohn’s, the diagnosis meant that I couldn’t forget about it.

This all occured when I was doing job interviews. I remember packing toilet paper and an extra pair of pants whenever I went to an interview for fear of my stomach turning on me.  While I’m glad to say, I’ve never had an “accident,” I’ve had a lot of close calls especially during that period of time.

The fear of having an “accident,” is something that we all have felt at some point in our lives. It’s a horrible feeling.  There really is no reason to be embarrassed about this, but when it happens you feel alone and powerless. Like a soldier in battle, you start making deals with God if you can just make it to a bathroom in time.

Crohn’s was going to change my life, so I figured I could either let it scare me or I could take control and make those changes positive. I started going to a psychologist for biofeedback training and consoling. I started exercising. Most importantly I took a careful look at what I was eating and I made sure to never miss a of medicine.

Somehow the combination of all of those things worked.

At one point in my life I feared not being within eyesight of a bathroom. That same guy in the past six years has gone on a 20-hour long bus ride with a group of teenage band students, traveled through Europe, hiked through remote areas of this world, and survived, no more than that, triumphed in some of the most stressful situations in my life.

I’ve done all of these things and more with Crohn’s.

Crohn’s is still a challenge. I do have occasional flare ups and there are times when I need to cancel on social events at the last moment because of my Crohn’s. Most of the time I don’t tell people, because I am still irrationally embarrassed by it and I don’t want people to pity me.

If you have a medical problem that hinders your dreams and the life you want to live, face it, deal with it and make it better.  It's not going to get improve by ignoring it.  Chronic digestive issues lead to major, sometimes life-threatening problems later in life so please get yourself checked out.

Because I have Crohn’s Disease, I need a pill box to keep my medications in order.  Because I have Crohn’s Disease, I’ve now had two colonoscopies an experience that only people my parents’ age can relate to.  And because I have Crohn’s Disease, I’ve learned that if you take the bad things life, the parts that aren't fair and you embrace them as part of who you are, there's strength that is revealed that can take you to places that you never imagined. 

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