You Have What?

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of people that don’t have a clue what Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis is. I was one of them! Before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I had never heard of it before. When I first told my friends about my disease they did not know how to react. They first thought I was making it up...

Opening up to my friends about Crohn's

I remember going to a party at my friend’s house. I was home from college (on winter break), and I had not told my friends what was going on. I remember my stomach hurting really bad, and eventually, I was going to have to use the bathroom. I was embarrassed because there was only one bathroom. After a few bouts of the restroom, my friends asked me if I was ok.

I started telling them what they didn’t know. I told them about the stomach pains I was having, and that I had to travel home from college to have a colonoscopy.

My friends didn't understand what I was going through

So basically you just have to poop a lot, my friend said.

I tried to explain to them that there was more to it than that, but they didn’t seem too interested. As the weeks went on during the winter break, my friends noticed a reoccurring theme. Everywhere we went, I had to run to the bathroom. I could tell that my friends were getting annoyed because they always had to pull over, so I could use the bathroom.

My friends realized how serious Crohn's is when I was hospitalized

It wasn’t until I was first hospitalized that my friends realized this was a serious thing. It was amazing how embracing they became. They all visited me in the hospital that July 2007.

When I had large intestine taken out, ALL of my friends were at Temple hospital for show their support. And even during the 371 days, that I was there, they were right by my side.

Supportive and understanding friends

Let’s fast-forward eight years. I am now thirty years old, and all my friends have practically become professionals at Crohn’s disease. They are more than accommodating towards me. They always make sure our plans are configured around the bathroom. They know the foods I can and cannot eat.

If you looked at me, I don’t look like I have a disease. I don’t look sick. My friends look at me and know what I been through. They saw me at my worst. If you asked my friends, “Is Paul sick?” They would say, “No.”

To me, being sick means you are in bed with various symptoms and or at the hospital. Today I am considered in “remission.” Technically I still have the disease, but I don’t have any active flare-ups.

I don't let Crohn's control my life

I don’t associate my life around being “sick,” because I am not. I don't allow the disease to take over my life. I learned and continually learn how to cope with it.

If you say that today is going to be a bad day, then most likely that will be a true statement. I am a strong believer in mind over matter. I may not be good at it, but the art of positive thinking really works with some patients of IBD.

Friends are important because you need them when times are tough. It may take them a while to get used to your bathroom use, and limited food, but true friends will adjust and modify according. I am so thankful for my friends. They get me, they make me feel alive, and best of all they don’t judge me when I run to the bathroom 5 times in an hour period. You need your friend’s support! And sorry to be so blunt, but if they don’t understand what your going through, then they don’t deserve to be your friends.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.