I’m Thankful for Crohn’s Disease this November?
Many Americans honor the holiday of Thanksgiving by reflecting on what they are thankful for in life. It’s easy to be thankful for the good things like a bonus you got at work, your kids, your home, or your health. What isn’t easy is finding things to be thankful for in the challenges you face in life. How do you find something to be grateful for in a life altering disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis?
From Anger to Acceptance
For many years I didn’t want to consider even trying to find something to be thankful for in my disease. I was angry about all that it had taken away from me and I felt like finding something good in it was almost like accepting it. That’s an important word: acceptance. I have moved out of the stages of anger and denial and everything else and into a place in life where I have accepted my Crohn’s disease. That doesn’t mean that I like it or that I have given up. It means that I acknowledge that it exists and isn’t going anywhere and that I will do my best to take care of my health but accept my limitations and work with them.
No, I don’t like having Crohn’s disease. I don’t like that I spent weeks in the hospital throughout elementary school. I don’t like how it caused fights and stress in my family and in relationships. I don’t like that I had to have multiple major emergency surgeries or all of the complications that I have had. I certainly do not like the mental health struggles that I have had or how I felt like it set me back in life.
I could go on and on and on about what I hate about having Crohn’s disease.
From Acceptance to Gratefulness
But this is an exercise in finding things to be thankful for. I do think that in almost all bad circumstances in life that there is some good to be found, or at least lessons to be learned to help you grow as a person. So here are some things that I am thankful for because of having Crohn’s disease.
1. My friends:
I had planned to be a high school teacher but right when I should have been graduating college I spent 6 months in the hospital undergoing 2 emergency surgeries and many complications. Recovery was long and so I didn’t go back to school right away. Instead I took a part time job at a place where I ended up meeting the best friends that I have ever had. They are still in my life today. I was angry about what was happening at the time but it was because of Crohn’s disease that I met those people AND found out that I didn’t want to teach after all and fell in love with another profession.
2. Health Advocacy:
Over 5 years ago I started my website, Inflamed & Untamed. I wanted to help other patients who had IBD. I never imagined where it would lead me but it has opened so many doors and led me to meeting wonderful people who have also become great friends.
He has Crohn’s disease too and obviously I would have never met him (at an IBD event) if I didn’t also have Crohn’s. The fact that he has Crohn’s disease isn’t what makes him perfect for me; it’s who he is as a person. I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else and I wouldn’t even know him if I didn’t have Crohn’s.
4. My flexibility:
I’m not talking about physical flexibility (though I was a dancer for 20 years so I am flexible). I mean how flexible I have been able to become with life plans. I used to be sooooooo Type-A that I feel sorry for anyone who was around me back then. I was a perfectionist to the extreme and everything had to go exactly according to plan. I still might fight my perfectionist personality but I have had to learn to majorly chill out. I like the person I am today a lot more than who I was 15 years ago. Now if I have to cancel plans, don’t get the dishes done, or don’t look “perfect” I don’t even care.
Alright! Those are 4 things that I can find in my life with Crohn’s disease to be thankful for. Your turn! Comment below with what you can find to be thankful for because of having Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.