“In order for me to get here, I had to go there.”
I’ve never really sat down and thought about what having a chronic illness actually means.
It means a great deal of things to different people, so there is no one true answer to what having IBD actually is like. The wide spectrum of symptoms, side effects and general wellbeing leads us down very individual paths.
My path has been around since September of 2011. But I’m sure there was a few bricks being laid in the months and even years before that fateful month. My problems were small and often resolved by simpler explanations other than “you have an autoimmune disease, your body is just going to keep fighting itself“. It was a strong and painful bout of food poisoning that set my Crohn’s Disease into overdrive.
Last year I spent a significant amount of time in the hospital. I’d lost my job early in the year after disclosing my troubling need to have my current situation – a long stricture in my small bowel which was causing no end of problems – resolved with surgery. I had said stricture removed – along with a huge ovarian cyst, yay for my colorectal surgeon recommending its removal at the same time! – and was sent home to continue recovering. This however would be the beginning of my troublesome summer.
It took me a long time last summer to finally say enough was enough.
The three months between my right hemicolectomy and my subtotal colectomy was the worst three months I’ve ever had with my Crohn’s. Even in those first few weeks after my diagnosis when I knew nothing about Crohn’s and I just wanted fixing; something that took months, not days like I naively assumed. Comparatively, last summer was dreadful on a new scale.
I would endure three awful admissions; in which no one could explain why I was back and in pain. I would have two MRI scans, one CT scan, numerous x-rays of my abdomen, numerous rounds of IV antibiotics, oral steroids, BAM medication and a failed pill cam. Not to mention the constant agony I was in; unable to eat, sleep, function like a normal human being. I was at my lowest; both physically and mentally. I saw no future, this was going to be it. I put up with it because I thought that some day, any day soon; things were going to turn around for me and I was going to get better. So I waited. And waited. And waited. In agony for months. Admissions were my way of venting my frustrations – I would go to A&E when I felt my worse but once I was hydrated and seen to, I would calm down. I could cope with it all again; I remember saying to my parents. They looked on, sceptically. I told myself that I just had to be patient.