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Last Sentences

Somewhat recently, my father was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). When I first heard the news, it was devastating, yet familiar. In moments of crisis, time seems to slow and we look for answers in anything we can find. Even the most fragile patterns become all the more significant when everything else is alien and unrecognizable. Thus, in that moment, I couldn’t help, but to think back to the moment of my diagnosis with ulcerative colitis.

Diagnosis is the beginning of a new journey

It’s funny to me that the intention of a diagnosis is to provide closure, but often it is simply the beginning of another journey. An answer to the cause of our ills brings new labels, questions, and choices into our lives. One of the most difficult aspects of chronic illness is knowing that it is until the end, while also accepting that life will go on. In 99.9% of cases, a diagnosis will not also result in zombies rising from their graves, nor a cataclysmic meteor striking the Earth and sending it haphazardly spinning through the vast empire of space. Instead, the truth is that we must go on living after the beginning of the end.

The morning after everything changes, one will likely wake up and get out of bed. They will get dressed, eat breakfast, and brush their teeth. Then they will continue down the road to their routines, stopping every once and a while to confront the fact that something is, in fact, radically different. Occasionally, you may find that some other individuals are able to pick up on subtle signals that the trajectory of the affected’s life has been disrupted. They may ask if the individual has gotten a new haircut, or they may have an even deeper insight into the disconnect than that.

How do we move forward with a new diagnosis?

When we face a turning point or diagnosis in our lives, it can be incredibly difficult to know what to do. It’s easy to get lost in the normalcy of life, but it can also be enormously distressing to confront change. Nonetheless, the question remains. How do we live with something that is permanent like the ink from a Sharpie? How do we prepare for the end before it even begins? The truth is that these are unanswerable questions. Every situation like this is different in its own difficult, complex way.

Still, I believe that the answer lies in realizing what exists around us. While we may not know how much time we have left, or how our symptoms will impact us, we can control how we react. We can approach our fears head-on, embrace adventure, and blaze our own paths or choose an alternative route. Truly, there is no correct option, but there is power in the unknown for it is ours to shape. Thus, instead of focusing on my diagnosis or my father’s diagnosis, I am choosing to focus on the people behind those conditions. I am choosing to remember the moments of hope, joy, and strength. I know I cannot stop the end from coming, but I can write the last pages, paragraphs, and sentences.

Here’s to living with exclamation points, instead of periods, at the end of our last sentences.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    3 days ago

    I love your message in that it is “how” we react that matters. I firmly believe that if you cannot change it, change your attitude and that is precisely the case with this disease. While we cannot change it, cure it, or absolve it, we can change our attitude to embrace what we have and deal with it in the most positive way possible.

    Thank you for sharing this article, and I am wishing the best for you and your dad.

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    7 days ago

    When I was first diagnosed, it was so hard to swallow. I don’t think I knew how to truly move forward until years after. And even in some ways, I still find it hard to let go of my “old-self” and embrace this “new” me.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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