3 Things I Didn't Have to Give Up
With a diagnosis of a chronic illness (such at Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD), comes the “giving up” of so many things in our lives that we cherish. Things such as coffee, hobbies or even relationships (because we all have at least one person in our lives who doesn’t “get it”).
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. IBD, in many ways, causes an identity crisis for many patients. You lose yourself. Your life is forever changed to some degree or another. It is difficult, frustrating and even maddening. It’s no wonder so many patients deal with things like PTSD and depression or anxiety.
Because of our losses, it’s almost as though you have to rebuild parts of your life. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you once knew! There are still many things I didn’t have to give up when I was diagnosed.
Mr Darcy came into my life about a year before my diagnosis. He was my first indoor cat and the bond that we built was strong. During the process of my diagnosis, he sat on the couch with me and gave me so much comfort. He made me feel less alone. There were even times where he would “knead” my abdomen with his little paws. I truly believe that pets have a sixth sense about things like illnesses, and my sweet cat is no exception.
I have been drawing since I was two years old. I grew up loving to draw with a pencil. I studied art in college and continued drawing and painting since then. Art gave me a way to express my feelings during my darkest hours. Art is my therapy. Since diagnosis I’ve created several pieces to help me cope. One of those creations was my little cartoon, Colitis Ninja. But I’ve also created some fine art pieces as well.
I have had several boyfriends bail on me when I was sick (this is before diagnosis). One of them couldn’t handle my nasal allergies. The other couldn’t handle my hypoglycemia. “You’re too sick all the time!” They complained. Clearly, both of them were very shallow… and looking back, I’m very glad they didn’t stick around. Can you imagine the pain and heartache that I would have had if I was dating them when IBD hit me? Yeah, I’m glad they’re gone. Despite the bad eggs in this world, I finally snagged a good one.
I had been dating Dave for a year when I was diagnosed. I was convinced he’d leave me when he found out I was sick. When I began exhibiting symptoms, I didn’t tell him what was going on at first (because, why bother him if it was just a stomach bug!?). But eventually, it got to the point where I had to tell him. I was getting sicker and sicker. I was in excruciating pain, so I called him to talk to him about it. I was pooping blood–a lot of it. At first he was taken aback. He was frustrated. He didn’t know what to think, but after the initial shock, he came around. Six months after diagnosis, he asked me to marry him and he’s never regretted this decision.
I challenge all of you, when you’re feeling your worst, to look around you and find things that you still have despite your disease. You may have to look hard for those things, but I promise you, they are there.
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