Happy Birthday dearest Bernie..

I have just come to the end of a full week’s worth of work, so apologies for the lateness of this post.

Friday was my Crohniversary!

I sadly spent it doing what I only wished I was doing a year ago; being at work.

September 7th 2011 will always stick in my head. It was the day they shoved a camera up my backside and told me I had Crohn’s. It was shocking and scary, my experiences of Crohn’s up until that point was through my disastrous ex boyfriend, who spent lots of time before and during our relationship denying his condition and failing to take his medications. This resulted in me being an absolute arse to him about his lack of determination and strength. Boy, did I eat those words last year!

I guess what I felt a year ago is pretty common between Crohnies and Collies alike; that complicated mix of relief and fear. I had spent a month with what my GP suspected to be food poisoning. I was in fact having an – at least 4 week – flare up of my newly discovered Crohn’s Disease. I’d had a pretty normal childhood, spent it happy and healthy, and then in the space of about a week I went terribly downhill. Last summer was horrible for me. I was surreal and I was sure that by the next day things would pick up. I was naive. It took almost four months for me to feel completely well enough; most of my time spent in hospital or at home trying new medications, one straight after another.

The fear I had last year has been replaced by a different type of fear; more for the uncertainly and unpredictability of what Crohn’s can do to my mind, body and life. It’s been a rough year to say the least. I’ve learnt how strong I can be – and have to be – to just get through some days. I’ve experienced terribly frustrating people, ignorant colleagues, lovely strangers, faithful friends, amazing fellow sufferers and extraordinary support from my family. I’ve had to recommit myself to a new lifestyle, had to become hardened in certain places in order to remain in control of the extend my symptoms. I’ve attended counselling, IBD meets, Crohn’s and Colitis meetings and spent many happy times talk through my problems, fears, amusements and tears with great people.

So, it’s been a year of Crohn’s. Sadly, things do not end here. I spent all of last autumn on different medications, trying to find a fix for my most debilitating symptoms. I’ve worked up the ladder of medical treatments and I’ve come across all the extra ailments Crohn’s can throw at you. I’ve endured countless sticks with needles; for bloods, canullas, fluids, medications. I’ve been at the mercy of the nurses and staff in Good Hope’s Gastro ward and had my fair share of humiliating experiences. I’ve always tried to smile and laugh or joke about it, instead of getting sad or embarrassed by it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger eh? (I must be a Rhino or something by now, by my standards!)

I’ve learnt alot about who I am too.

I’ve had to accept that there are people in the world who are unwilling to help someone in need. They will mock you in a sarcastic fashion as if you are fit and well enough to take their comments lightly. Sadly, IBD does not come with a manual nor a continuous stream of fake smiles, and you will reach a point where it is all too much. That is okay, it is not to be feared. I’ve had many wise and wonderfully older Crohnies tell me that this happens and it will continue to happen and maybe baffle you to the extreme, but it is a guarantee; people can be shitty towards you. Don’t take it to heart. For me, that is extremely difficult. I spent alot of time in denial when I was first well enough to return to my life before Crohn’s. Unluckily – or luckily – that life does not exist anymore. I have had to make adoptions in order to keep myself healthy and happy. That hasn’t always gone to plan, nor has it always been welcomed with open arms and smiles. I’ve had rough periods where my depression was sky high and I couldn’t do anything right in my own eyes. Cutting myself some well deserved slack had helped. My boyfriend does alot of that for me, because we click and his friendship comes before our relationship, to me.

I’m not sure how much this year will be compared to the others that come before me, I’m pretty certain that diagnosis is hard, but as I no doubt will come to learn, everything else is just as difficult.

So, despite that, here is to many more Crohnie years to come! Happy or sad, weak or strong, I hope they continue to enlighten myself and Bernie.

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