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A Letter to My Newly Diagnosed Self on January 9, 2009

Hey Julie,

I know this came out of nowhere. I know you feel like you were a completely healthy, normal 22-year old yesterday and now you are assigned a life-long sentence with a chronic illness that, as your doctor said, “will only get progressively worse”. But, as you sit on the couch crying and wondering what your future holds, know this…

Your symptoms will not be what you think

You may think the only symptoms of Crohn’s are going to the bathroom nonstop and suffering from insane stomach aches, however yours will be different. Pay attention to any type of change in your body. From being chronically exhausted to having extreme joint pain. These may be a sign of a Crohn’s flare and if left untreated, will get really bad (like 3 weeks in the hospital bad, but you will live and learn from that experience).

All that comes with a chronic illness

The next 5 years will test you…and then test you some more
The next few years will be a test, and I don’t mean the endless blood work, CT scans, MRIs, Small Bowel Follow-Through, or Colonoscopies.  You will be tested on your strength, relationships with others, self-confidence, and willpower to overcome the disease and the negativity that comes with it. Vacations will be cut short or completely canceled, relationships will be strained, work will be a challenge, and you will have to give up some of your favorite foods all while trying to keep it together from the outside so that no one sees the emotional pain you are suffering on top of the physical pain.

Life with IBD will get better

Don’t worry, you will get it together
But, have no fear. After dealing with the vicious cycle of being sick, stressed, and sad, you will finally get off the carousel and make a change that will save your life. Sure, you will have a scar to prove how much of a Warrior you are, but after surgery, a lifestyle and diet change, and not running your body into the ground, you will get it together. A medication will finally work, and you will reach remission—and stay that way. Your new diet will give you life and make you realize that feeling sick after every meal is not normal and does not have to be that way. Your new workouts will become your favorite hobby and you will get your “Julie-ness” back that was hidden for some time. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And, the most important component of getting it together is changing your attitude. Once you stop feeling sorry for yourself and start seeing the blessings life has given you, you will have the power to change your mental and physical state. You had your early and mid-20s to fall apart…but your late 20s is a time to turn it around and you will see a difference.

It will all work out
You may be scared now, which is understandable. And, as I mentioned, things will be rough for a few years. But, there will be good moments peppered in with the suffering and in the end, it will all work out.  You will have a solid support system in friends and family who love and support you. You will meet your husband 3 weeks after your surgery (funny story–I can’t wait for you to experience it), and he will not care that you have Crohn’s and will love you unconditionally. Your career will take a major left turn and become what you were made to do—coach others on health & wellness and put them on a journey to becoming their best whole self, as you had done for your body over the years. You will travel the world with no worry of having to cut it short due to Crohn’s (however, travel insurance is always a must!) and you will get pregnant with a beautiful, healthy baby.

Being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease overnight may seem like a life sentence of doom, but in a few years you will turn it around and it will become part of who you are, make you stronger, and leave a lasting impression on those around you. Get excited.

xo,

Julie

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

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    4 months ago

    Absolutely love this! Beautiful story. If you you knew this at the beginning, right?

    You have come such a long way. Give yourself a pat on the back, girl!

    Keep pressing on, warrior. You are inspiring!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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