We All Need Some Sort Of Outlet
When I was in the hospital in 2002, for my second surgery in two years, I coped by writing poetry. Doctors would come into my room, making rounds, to find me sitting there with a stitched-up intestine, scribbling madly.
Needless to say, they were impressed by how prolific I seemed, even if, frankly, they could not read a word I wrote (since my handwriting resembles hieroglyphics). Writing kept me sane during this difficult time when I was not only battling physical ailments but a number of family problems.
Using poetry to cope while in the hospital for Crohn's
I probably wrote 100 poems while in Mount Sinai Hospital. Some were about these troublesome family dynamics. Some about memorable experiences. And, of course, as you might expect, quite a few were about my stay in the hospital; the morphine drip, the NG tube, the sterilized hallways, the nurses and bedpans, the strange, metallic tools in the O.R.
At least one of those poems ended up in my first poetry collection, Butterflies Lost Within The Crooked Moonlight. It was a dark poem, depressing, really, and it made friends question my sanity (which is probably part of why I was eventually given the nickname Berserker). Nevertheless, it was rather therapeutic, a needed outlet, a way for me to cope.
Confronting the pain and suffering
In those dark days when I wondered at times if I'd even prevail—for I'd lost quite a bit of weight and was having serious Crohn's issues—poetry was there for me, waiting, like an old friend. I could vent. I could go on tangents. I could speak metaphorically. I could confront my pain and suffering and maybe even try and transform it. Plus, I could share what I’d learned through various struggles.
Most of us hate to feel like a victim, hate a sense of powerlessness. This is for a good reason: we are not victims and certainly are not powerless. We have agency. We can influence our destiny in many ways in spite of any health challenges.
Finding an outlet to help me cope
Even when confined to a hospital bed, even when on painkillers and suffering after surgery, we can assert our individuality. We can find an outlet that reclaims our identity and reminds the world of who we are.
Poetry was just this magic elixir. It helped me feel like a person again. I was no longer just body parts, just medical terminology, just little more than the fabricated embryonic clones in Huxley’s Brave New World. At last—on my own terms—I counted.
I still write poetry to this day, having just last year published my second collection, Feast of Sapphires, and currently at work on a third book that will come out in the holiday season.
Finding an outlet can help with Crohn's
Hence, my advice is that in order to best cope with the horrors of Crohn’s disease, find your own unique outlet. Maybe it’s drawing, maybe it’s singing, maybe it’s crocheting a blanket.
I don’t know what yours is, but I can say with certainty that, if you find it, there is a strong likelihood it will help. Thanks for reading and as always feel free to comment below.
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?