“I had to mature. I gained that ability to recognise what was REALLY important.” – Me, 23.10.16
There is nothing more scary, awful and plain inconvenient than being chronically ill.
But, those people who are, are the best people I know.
They have this amazing ability to see good in what hell they are going through. They smile when they are in pain, they celebrate the small victories they make over their body. They fight and struggle through the worse times. They are, in my eyes, amazing. I am in complete awe of them.
I say this because, I too am chronically ill. I have Crohn’s Disease, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and now a permanent ileostomy. I am one of the lucky few who’s surgery has resulted in coming off my medication. That is not to say that my journey towards having an ileostomy wasn’t fraught with pain and confusion. I too struggled to see the good times when things were terrible. I struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I struggled for months to get to surgery. I still struggle but it is no longer overwhelmingly physical, it is mental.
Having a chronic illness meant that I had to grow up.
I had to look after myself because no one else was going to do it for me. I was 22 when I was diagnosed and I was thrust into this new and unfamiliar world. There wasn’t a trial beforehand, there was no building up to it; I was well until I wasn’t. I suddenly had a new label – I had a disease. It was shocking, it was almost incomprehensible, it was life changing. I felt half of my former self. I felt everything from happiness all the way to intense anger. Most days I felt sad, just beyond words and emotions.
But I had to mature.
My journey since being diagnosed has been complicated and at times, very consuming. It’s changed many things for me, and not just my health. It has tended to help me focus. It’s given me something to move towards; that goal of becoming stable. It has shown me just how driven I can be. When it has been at its worse, my health problems have given me the ability to recognise what is REALLY important. I have worked hard to help myself, educated myself in my condition, its medications, its side effects, to help get some of my life back. Accepting my condition has been a hard and long road.
Accepting my new life – my life with an ostomy, of having a different digestive system – has been easier than I expected. I believe this is because of the time I spent accepting my IBD gave me the tools to accept my stoma. Not that that was without its problems, but I have the experience of experiencing similar problems with my Crohn’s Disease. I have used my past to help me accept my present. Feeling so well in my surgical recovery has also helped. Knowing that life is greatly improved with my ostomy helps me see the positives of being an ostomate.
What is important now is what should be important anyway: having a good support network, the ability to seek medical help when I need it, learning to see the positives in my life, giving and accepting love, seeing my own worth and being proud of who I am.
NB: This was originally posted on the Pelican Healthcare blog.