Don't let your Crohn's win. Beat the Crohn's.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Being a Crohnie College Student

*Disclaimer* I may be rambling because I'm not feeling the greatest.
Today I woke up feeling absolutely awful. I have a headache, cramps, diarrhea, and the overall spaciness I sometimes get when not feeling well. It really put my last post into perspective for me; it's a lot easier to be thankful about a disease when you aren't feeling super sick from it. On the note of being thankful, I thought about making a post about being a college student when you feel like crap (poop jokes!).
We all know how much it sucks to be sick. All you want to do is lie in bed, drinking 7-up and watching movies or sleeping. There isn't anything that can get you out of bed. Except for having organic chemistry, a biology test, and a test that 30% is participation. There's not really the I-can-miss-class-because-I-have-Crohn's situation going on here.
I know a lot of people that take advantage of anytime they are "sick" to miss class. People with diseases especially have an excuse because they can't help it. Frankly, I don't live by that rule. If I'm not down and out on the bathroom floor, I will make it to class. My professors know that on a bad day I won't be participating, but they know that I will not be using my disease as an excuse. I've found that you will be respected a lot more when they see that you are making an effort to be places even when most people would have called it quits. IBD has made me so much stronger, that I know I can make it to class even when I feel like a bus has run me over.
I'm trying to think about what my overall message for this post would be. It isn't that you should go to class every time that you feel awful, because sometimes that just isn't possible. I guess it's that we are a strong people. We know what it's like to be in such immense pain and have accidents and not be able to eat the things we want. I think it's important to not say that you are going to skip something because it's okay since you have a disease. You have to fight and do everything that you can, because otherwise you'll be stuck in your bed everyday, and that doesn't sound like fun.
One thing I've found helpful, is keeping in contact with my professors and my support advisor about my disease. They know when I'm not feeling well, and they work with me to make sure I'm still doing everything to get the best education possible.
You can do everything any non-digestively challenged person can, you just have to fight a bit more.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful for Crohn's

I know it's been pretty much forever since I've last posted, but with finals coming up I am so incredibly busy.
With Thanksgiving come (and gone), I felt it time to really think about how thankful I am to have Crohn's disease. It's not that IBD is rainbows and unicorns, but I've spent so much time in the recent past being angry about my never-ending flares to really remember why I love having this disease.
Because of my Crohn's, I've been able to enjoy life more.
Since the start of my clinical trial, my CDAI (Crohn's disease activity index) has reduced dramatically, not to a remission, but I have quite a bit less pain. The other day, I had one formed bowel movement and almost no pain. It was such a glorious day, and I fully enjoyed it.
That day made me realize that, without my Crohn's, I would not have been able to appreciate feeling healthy and well. I will never take a day that I am able to get out of bed and do everything I want for granted. I think that's pretty darn cool. Each day that I wake up in little-to-no pain, I feel fantastic.
Even when I'm feeling fairly ill, I enjoy everything I do more, because I know I'm going to pay for it later. Eating a greasy pizza, or popcorn is absolutely amazing, because it has to be, or it wouldn't be worth putting myself through the after-pain.
I realize it sounds silly to be thankful for pain and accidents, but they help put life into perspective. Today, I was so thankful to not have to rush to go to the bathroom. I casually waited until it was a convenient time, and then walked over. Best bathroom time in a long time. Most people just go to the bathroom, and that's it. I'm so happy I have the chance to be grateful about making it on time.
For all those people who feel sorry for us with a chronic disease, I feel sorry that you probably don't have the chance to appreciate some of the simplest things in life.
Crohn's disease is an awesome disease :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Accepting Your Disease

Accepting the fact that you have a chronic disease is a hard pill to swallow, especially when that pill causes unendurable pain and sadness. Although I was diagnosed almost 10 years ago with Crohn's disease, I still find myself getting very angry or depressed, especially during times of flares.
I've always tried to see the positive side of IBD; my best friends were met through Camp Oasis or other IBD conferences, I've discovered my passion for the medicinal field, and I've become a stronger person because I have needed to deal with a terrible chronic illness since I was a child. However, that doesn't mean I'm always super ecstatic that I have this disease that's attacking my digestive system.
The most difficult times for me have been when I haven't been able to eat what I want, or had to completely sit out of something because I couldn't push myself any farther. Today, with health care such a hot topic, I worry about being able to fulfill my dreams because I will need to find a way to pay for expensive healthcare, and the rising cost of medical bills. I see other people not needing to worry about what they do to their bodies, and I wish that I could have just a few less worries in my life.
Every once in awhile I hit this roadblock, in which I see my entire future before my eyes, painful day after painful day. I'll never be able to eat without worrying about whether or not I've just given myself some extra hours of pain. I see a life in which I will be worried about passing on my Crohn's to my children; in which case I would feel so incredibly guilty for causing them the same pain and suffering I go through on a daily basis.
There are so many points in my life where I have cried and cried, thinking that life cannot possibly be fair. Why was I chosen for this disease? What did I do to deserve this?
Recently, I have learned that realized that things happen for a reason. I may not like the fact that I can't always do the things I want, but I pray and ask God for the patience to understand that life is not meant to always go the way I want. I've also definitely learned to slow life down. I do not need to get the best grade on every test, be the fastest, be in the most activities.
All I need to be... is me.
Crohn's disease, although it does not define me, is such an integral part of my being. I am who I am because I have had tribulations. I think the way I do because I know what it's like to be picked on because  my medications have made me fat or slow. I know what it's like to feel all alone. Crohn's disease has made me empathetic to those who suffer and it makes me so happy to be able to help other people. Although I still have many hurdles on my road to acceptance, I know that I am okay with who I am, and that has brought me closer to my goal.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Telling Your Significant Other

During our IBD talk at Camp Oasis, the teenage girls were asked to talk about how and when they would tell their significant other about their disease. I thought this was a really interesting topic as some people are super open, and others don't tell many people. This can be a delicate subject, and it's up to you when you tell him/her about your IBD.
If your SO didn't know before you started dating, how do you start up the conversation about IBD? "I'm really enjoying this salad. By the way, it may give me uncontrollable diarrhea." Not exactly an easy topic to broach.
The perfect time to break the news is different for each relationship. If you start out strong, it may be easier to get it out in the open right away (probably not during a meal). Honestly, if your SO can't handle the fact that you have a digestive disease and thinks it's gross, he/she is so not worth your time. Telling your SO early on means that you can slowly bring up other topics about it - food, bathroom issues, doctor appointments, etc.
However, if you don't feel comfortable telling your SO right away about your IBD, that's fine too. It may be better to tell them before things get too serious - some people are jerks and it's easier to get hurt if you're deep into the relationship. As well, it may be difficult to explain why you have to run to the bathroom several times or have to cancel on several dates. Complete honesty is best to keep relationships healthy.
I've found it to be so much easier when my guy knows about my Crohn's. They understand why I can't eat certain foods and know that I'm not being a party pooper when I say I don't feel like going out. Plus, many people will be truly curious about the disease and want to know more. As great as Crohnies are, sometimes it's nice to talk to someone without IBD just to get out your frustrations.
Telling someone that you have IBD can be a truly terrifying ordeal, but so rewarding as well. Most people will be on your side and so eager to help you fight your battles. Don't be too scared - they care more than you think.