Part of the week of daily blogs for #crohnsandcolitisawarenessweek Read the entire week here.
“I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength”
Somewhat of a cliche now, but it’s a cliche because it’s true.
I was diagnosed at 23 when I knew nothing about anything. Sure, I had graduated university, lived away from home, lived in a foreign country; but I knew nothing about who I was or what I wanted from my life.
Do not get me wrong, I did not want a chronic illness but sometimes, life has a funny way of chucking things at you. It likes to test you. I began thinking that my diagnosis was a test, something I had to beat in order to win. But as the years went on, I learnt more about not winning and more about what would come out of a struggle than anything else.
I learnt how to do things I never ever dreamed of.
I learnt that the more I got kicked down, the better the come back would be.
I learnt that sometimes admitting you are struggling is better than braving it out.
I learnt that weaknesses do not make you any less of a person, any less of a character.
To live with IBD, day in and day out, it takes something.
Some thing you don’t really understand or appreciate when you are first whacked over the head with the news of your disease. It isn’t even something you see every day but when you look back, you think just how much you’ve been through, of how much you have survived; in a grand scheme and in the smaller aspects too. And it is something you only know about if you have a chronic illness.
For me, it’s like having a special power. It sort of makes me superhero.
The way I can just rock up for a procedure and just do it, still amazed the heck out of me, let a lot the techs doing the scans. The way I can just talk about the medical aspect of my disease without any training or education – it all comes from first hand experience and alot of reading during insomnia! – can shock my doctors and nurses. Being able to vocalise my requests with respect and armed with my own evidence and opinions has been a great asset that has comes from these seven years. It is what bore and grew this blog into a website. It is what makes me stand up and give advice to others. It is what makes me proud.
And whilst living with IBD is certainly challenging, it also has its moments. And these moments will be personal to you and you alone. Take strength and courage from your own battle. Rejoice in the things that give you joy.
What do I want this #CrohnsandColitisAwarenessWeek to achieve?
Please don’t ignore changes in your health.
If anything feels off to you, even for a couple of days, please please please seek an appointment with your GP. Do not hesitate or put it off. Do not be discouraged by the length of time you have to wait to see someone. It could save your life.
You should see your GP as soon as possible if you have:
- blood in your poo
- diarrhoea for more than 7 days, which may contact mucus or pus
- frequent stomach aches or cramps
- lost weight for no reason
- abdominal (tummy) pain
- needing to empty your bowels frequently
You may also experience fatigue (extreme tiredness) and a loss of appetite .These symptoms may be constant or may come and go every few weeks or months. When they come back, it’s called a flare-up.
A GP will try to find out what’s causing your symptoms and may refer you for tests to check for IBD.
And if you have already been diagnosed or they have begun testing for IBD and you are “undiagnosed” and you think you may be having a severe flare-up, contact your GP or the IBD service for advice.