5 Things My Disease Taught Me
Every difficulty in life can be used as a teachable moment or it can help change you for the better. You may not always realize it, however, until much later. This has been the case with my disease.
I realize that everyone’s disease journey follows a different path. We’re all at different stages in our disease journey. We all have different experiences, lessons and stories to tell. Here are some of my experiences, lessons and stories that might encourage you...
What living with ulcerative colitis has taught me
1. Who my true friends are
There are a lot of people out there who will stick with you during your healthy moments—fair weather friends. It takes a strong person who sticks with you through your disease. That person will ask you questions about your disease. That person will research your disease with care and drop everything to take you to your doctor’s appointment in a pinch.
2. True empathy
When I was young and "invincible," I didn’t much think about people who were sick. I mean, I cared… but I didn’t understand illness back then the way that I do now. I didn’t understand all the dimensions of living with an illness day in and day out and I didn’t know how deeply it affected people. Now, when someone talks about living with an incurable illness, my world stops and I reach out to them. I understand the difficulties they face.
3. To strengthen my relationship with my husband
When I was first diagnosed, we were only dating. But he stuck with me through it all and married me anyway. He has been there for me helping navigate the healthcare system. He’s been there for me fighting with doctors and nurses when I wasn’t receiving proper care. He’s helped bathe me when I was in the hospital and couldn’t do it myself. He held my hair when I was puking my guts out in the toilet. He helped give me my biologic injections because I just couldn’t do it on my own. My husband has been my rock and it taught both of us what it means when you say "for better or for worse... in sickness and health."
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4. That I'm not invincible... and that's ok!
When you’re young, you think you’re a rock star and nothing can destroy you. It’s quite a shock when you’re hit with an incurable disease. When you’re diagnosed you’re forced to stop and really think about what’s important in life. You learn to appreciate things more. You learn to stop taking things for granted.
5. How strong I am
When I was first diagnosed, I can honestly say that I didn’t think I would make it. I often wondered how I was going to live to see another day... But I did. I realized that I’m stronger than I thought I was. I learned how to roll with the punches. I learned how to cope and I learned that being vulnerable doesn’t equal weakness.
During my five and a half years of living with ulcerative colitis, I’ve faced many demons and challenges. I’ve changed for the better and learned a whole lot about not only myself, but also about life and love. I’m convinced everyone can take away positives from any negative situation. Is it easy? No... Sometimes you have to dig deep and look hard. But the positives are there. And you will get through this.
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