Today I am going to write about some pretty icky and personal things that are commonplace for someone living with Crohn’s Disease in an attempt to dispel some of the discomfort in talking about symptoms and procedures related to Crohn’s. This blog may also include some major self-bragging. Sorry, not sorry!
First, I’ll tell you that my day to day probably looks pretty similar to most mid-twenties, graduate students working multiple jobs and involved in the community. I’m hella high functioning and for that I am incredibly grateful. I work 46 hours a week at two jobs, babysit on the side, I have had a boyfriend for almost five years, I am secretary of a graduate student organization, I work on a political campaign in my free time, I blog, I enter essays for money, and I attend town halls and social events as well. My trivia team won first place last week!
On Tuesday, I am taking two days off of work to travel to my hometown near Chicago for a colonoscopy. Part of having had Crohn’s Disease for as long as I have (17 years) is routine colonoscopies and blood work. Every five years, I will get a colonoscopy. Everyone knows what that is, they feed a camera through your butt into your intestines to take a look around.
For some reason, no one talks about it. But I openly told my boss that’s why I needed work off, I told my closest friends I’d be out of town for that reason, and I even have openly expressed my discomfort with anesthesia and the general procedure. I have an intestinal disease so yeah, I get diarrhea if I eat the wrong thing, I throw up fairly regularly for random reasons, I’m constantly sick, I take self-injected medication, give blood regularly, have a lot of gas, fight with my insurance company a lot, and even get tubes shoved up my ass from time to time. Granted you probably would never see that side (unless you were Wyatt-poor guy gets the good, bad, and the gross).
And I am still sexy, desired, powerful, intelligent, successful, and worthy.
I am stronger and more in tune with myself and my body than most people.
I am often connected to other people my age who are struggling with a recent diagnosis and feeling really discouraged by the daunting uncertainty of an autoimmune disorder. I think it’s because in many ways I’m like the Grandmother Willow of Crohn’s for young adults and because I basically have no filter when it comes to talking about my dysfunctional body.
Anyways, in many ways I feel fortunate to have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at such a young age. I don’t remember having many social issues, missing a lot of first grade wasn’t too big of deal, my body rebounded from illness rapidly, and now I’ve had over 17 years to know my body and adjust to always functioning at less than 100% health. For my friends and new acquaintances who are going through the painful and stressful trials of diagnosis at this age, I often tell them what I tell myself that helps me keep moving forward:
From now on, everything you do is even more badass because you’re doing it with an added layer of physical and mental challenge. Did you get through this workday? Did you have a big project you turned in? Did you make a presentation? Go for a run? Hang out with a friend?
Everything you accomplish is a victory now. No one can see that you’re fatigued, that you’ve had that cold for 2 months, that your joints are a little swollen, that you vomited all night last night, and yet you conquered this day, week, month, year. You’re fucking amazing. Even on days when you don’t feel like you are achieving at the same rate as your peers, you’re still doing everything you can while basically walking through life with a disease that makes functioning the same as walking through air that’s as thick as gelatin.
Pardon my crass language and inappropriate table talk, but the only thing stuck up my ass this week is a colonoscope. Your intestines might hate you, but let that be the only thing that does. ❤
*If you are 50, you better get your ass in to the gastroenterologist for that colonoscopy. My mom did her 50 year colonoscopy as recommended and they found a very rare cancer that would have killed her within 5 years. They caught it early and she has been cancer-free since. Don’t take the risk because you’re uncomfortable or embarrassed by the process of a colonoscopy.