Grateful to be Diagnosed

I know you’re probably reading this title and thinking, “WHAT?” but hear me out...

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with a friend who has struggled with stomach issues for the past five years. She has seen countless GIs across the country and has had numerous endoscopies and colonoscopies, yet none can properly diagnose her. We were discussing her diet and means of dealing with chronic constipation and diarrhea—neither of which are easy to live with, especially if there is no treatment for it. 

Lucky to have a formal diagnosis

It was then that she said to me, “You’re lucky. At least you know what you have (Crohn’s) and are treating it.” It was then that I realized that maybe I am lucky to be diagnosed with Crohn’s, and perhaps all of us who have a formal diagnosis of Crohn’s or UC are indeed the “lucky ones”?

When I was first told that I have Crohn’s disease, I went into complete denial. I was one of the few who was diagnosed before symptoms presented themselves (it was an accidental finding through a CT scan to check for kidney stones) so I was literally issued a life sentence with a disease overnight.

At that time, I had no stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, joint pain, etc. that would later come as a result of my disease, so I simply put it in the back of my mind as it not being a big deal. Fast forward a little more than a year later, and the disease would be in full force, but at least I knew what I was dealing with and knew who to contact for further evaluation and treatment.

Many people are still seeking answers and a diagnosis

But, what about those who aren’t as lucky to have a proper diagnosis? I have encountered many people through my personal life and career as a Health Coach that have dealt with similar issues as those with UC and Crohn’s but “nothing” shows up on colonoscopies, blood work, or imaging. A blanketed term of “IBS” is thrown out and that’s about it. No answers. No solution. No plan. Nothing other than an “It may be all in your head” response and further daily frustration.

Feeling grateful for a Crohn's diagnosis

As devastating as it was to hear the words, “You have Crohn’s disease”, I feel grateful that there was a diagnosis and a plan of what to do when I had a flare. The feeling of gratitude is a crucial part of dealing with a life-long illness, as it is easy to feel sorry for ourselves and have a pessimistic outlook on our future.

But the truth is, our disease is not being cured anytime soon (hopeful, but being practical) so the best way to deal with it is to practice gratitude for the little wins that we have.

A treatment that put my Crohn's into remission

I often use this practice of gratitude when administering my Stelara injection every 8 weeks. Rather than thinking, “It’s awful that I have to do this to myself every 8 weeks” I think about how great it is that I was able to find a treatment that helped to put my Crohn’s in remission.

If I did not have a proper diagnosis of Crohn’s, perhaps I would be playing the guessing game of what foods work and don’t work for my body and popping Immodium every time I dined out for fear of getting sick. But now, I have a plan that works and it is only because I was able to be properly diagnosed with Crohn’s.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling down about having an illness like Crohn’s or UC, be grateful that your symptoms were able to be diagnosed properly and you are not playing the guessing game that so many others have to endure with no treatment plan and no answers for their persistent symptoms.

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