Can You Thrive With Crohn's Disease?
It has been 12 years since I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. I look back at all I have been through with this complex diagnosis, and I feel like my head spins. The magnitude of highs and lows that come with the journey is overwhelming.
I can envision myself at my lowest points – boy were there so many low points. Moments of wanting to throw in the towel. Moments of utter disbelief at my situation.
At my lowest with Crohn's
I'll never forget enduring 1 of my hardest flares. I must have been 25 years old, and I weighed 82 pounds. For reference, I am 5'6". I was emaciated. I remember needing a walker to walk around in the house because my legs were so weak. They were twigs. I couldn't even pick up a heavy book, my arms were so frail.
And I had a moment where I must have looked nuts because I began to hysterically cry. I was in my 20s and I felt like I was 80 years old. I couldn't wrap my head around what was going on. And so quickly the tears turned to laughter. Because my situation was so bleak that I had to laugh at how absolutely crazy and out of control things had become.
Constant pain and exhaustion
This would happen to me multiple times. I remember crying in the shower because it was so hard to scrub myself. I would literally have to sit down and take breaks because I would get out of breath and my legs would get tired. And I'd do the same thing. Hysterically cry then laugh at myself – utterly nuts, I know.
There was a point where I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I got so bad physically, that for a second, I lost hope. I didn't see how I was going to improve and live a life of independence. Live a life where I could work, take care of a home, travel, and just live.
I can't believe how things have changed
And now, 12 years later, I can't believe where I am at today. I am the healthiest I have been since my diagnosis. I weigh 132 pounds. I feel strong and like myself again.
I can eat most foods. I can leave my house in peace and not fret about where a bathroom will be or if I will be in pain. I have energy. I can go to the grocery store and not have to stop in the middle of shopping to run to the bathroom. I can travel and take air planes and road trips without crippling anxiety because of fear of having an accident.
I am working. I am working out. I feel like myself again. I can exhale. I can be spontaneous. I can get in my car and drive far with the windows down. I can walk along the beach without a care in the world. I can run. I can skip. I can dance.
I am thriving with Crohn's
I am me again. I can dream again. I can plan for the future. I can set goals. And goodness, there was a time where none of this seemed fathomable.
So can you thrive with Crohn's disease? The answer is yes. Is it a hard, horrible, challenging journey. Yes.
Looking back, the 1 thing I didn't do was give up. Trust me, I had my moments of depression and moments of losing hope and vision. But I never allowed myself to stay there. I would pick myself up and continue doing all I could do to improve.
I'm rooting for you, too
So I encourage you to do the same. Keep trying new medications and treatments until you find the one that works for you. Do the best you can with diet. Research supplements that can help. Change your lifestyle so that it complements good health and habits.
Yes, you can thrive. Yes, it is possible.
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