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Who Would I Be without Crohn’s Disease?

Sometimes I wonder who I would be if I were never diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Officially, I was given that diagnosis when I was 13 years old, but I had been dealing with symptoms for at least a few years before that. I spent a lot of the next 13 years dealing with symptoms such as stomach pain, joint inflammation, and feeling like my life revolved around how close I was to the nearest bathroom. I had surgery to have my colon removed when I was 26, and I am one of the lucky ones who has seen a huge decrease in active symptoms since getting a permanent ostomy.

When I look back now, I can clearly see how big of a role having Crohn's has played in my life

It played a role in the past and still affects me on a daily basis. It impacted my adolescent years, it kept me confined to my room during much of my time at college, it has obviously played a role in my relationship with my husband. Today and every day for the rest of my life, I will have to deal with emptying an ostomy bag and all of the care that goes into living with an ostomy.

So it makes me wonder if I would have become the same person I am today if I had never gone through any of that.

As someone who has been near death during their life, or at least secretly wondered if death might be easier, I now have a much lower tolerance for petty arguments that do not mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps if I never had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease I would have spent a lot more of my time wrapped up in this sort of thing. I feel I have a greater appreciation now for the blessing of each day, especially a day where I feel healthy and happy.

I am currently pregnant with my second child. Complications from my ostomy required that I deliver my first child a month early, and having been through that has made me so grateful for each day that I have not dealt with complications this time. Even as I near the end of this pregnancy and am dealing with the normal frustrations of being tired and uncomfortable, I have a hard time wishing away any day that I am pregnant and healthy and not in pain, because I know how easily that can be taken away.

I feel I have a different perspective of the world since I live with IBD

And while of course I am not glad to have IBD and I wish I could remove it completely from the face of the planet, it is hard to imagine what direction my life would have gone without it. I wish I had the answers to these questions. But perhaps by giving a purpose to what I have been through is just how I cope with all of the disappointments and difficulties I have experienced because of IBD. And since I do not have the option of going back and changing things, I will at the very least be thankful for the things I have learned through this experience.

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