Why I am Grateful for Crohn's Disease

It is common, if not expected, for those with IBD to have the "why me?" mentality. Sure, we deal with chronic pain, the urgency to find a bathroom, extreme fatigue, joint pain, and more. But when I stop and look at the positive side of Crohn's Disease, I cannot help but smile and think, "yes, me!" instead.

This may come as surprising, but I am grateful that I have Crohn's Disease. The many blessings it has brought into my life can sometimes go unrecognized, so I want to point out ways that it has actually enhanced my life as opposed to taking away from it.

The reasons I am grateful for IBD

1. It has brought special people into my life

I met one of my best friends through the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation almost 6 years ago. Actually, in my Maid of Honor speech at her wedding, I noted that I was grateful to have Crohn's Disease, for without it, I would have never met my best friend--and I meant it.

I continue to meet others in the IBD community through the Foundation, and other support communities like InflammatoryBowelDisease.net with whom I feel have created a life-long bond. There is a sense of understanding and camaraderie that comes with fighting a disease, so those I have met along the way have had a lasting impression on my life, and have enriched it immensely.

2. I know my body better than most

One of the benefits of getting numerous tests, blood work, and doctor visits is that I feel like I truly know my body inside and out--and not much is getting by me without going unnoticed! From the faintest joint pain to a slight fever, I know what is normal for my body and what is not. Additionally, going for annual checkups with my dermatologist, getting a flu shot, and staying on top of all other vaccines puts me ahead of the game to catch something before it wreaks havoc in my entire body. I feel lucky to know that I am always keeping a close eye on what is going on in my body so that despite having Crohn's, I can keep it healthy and going strong for many, many years.

3. I treat my body better than most

Staying with the same theme as above, I feel that I treat my body better than most because I know it is more fragile. I am more particular about the foods that I eat (pass on the processed food, thank you!) and am super careful when traveling to foreign countries as to not eat fruits or vegetables that were washed in potentially contaminated water and to always ask how foods are prepared.

I also value working out multiple times a week so that my bones remain strong, my heart and cardiovascular system are pumping at an optimal level, and to do stretching and breathing exercises to keep my stress levels in check. I never take my body for granted and know that the better I treat it, the better it will treat me. And, that will more than pay off in the long term.

4. I am more appreciative of every day

Lastly, I have realized that I find joy and appreciation in every day. I know all too well what it is like to spend days in the hospital attached to an IV pole, and too sick to enjoy a simple dinner with friends. I also know what it's like (thanks to my partial colectomy in 2014) to not be able to walk more than 5 feet without being in pain. So the days I can do a vigorous workout, I feel blessed. The days I go out to dinner with my husband, I feel extremely fortunate. 

Sometimes, when I want to be frustrated about a minor event that happened throughout the day, I remind myself that it can be so much worse and just take it in stride. Having a chronic illness has definitely put things in perspective for me, and I am sure to never take a mundane activity for granted. I find beauty in all people, places, events, and even chores because I know what it is like to have them absent from my life.

Take time to appreciate what you have

It is important for us to take time to appreciate what we have, and look for that silver lining among our gray clouds that we call IBD.  I know not every day is going to be great but you will be able to find a minute of greatness in every day if you try. I know my life has not been easy, and I have lost out on a lot due to my disease, but the above reasons are just four ways that having Crohn's has enhanced my life, and for that, I am grateful and would not have it any other way.

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