Sunday, May 27, 2012

Too bad my shit isn't invisible!

People often refer to Crohn’s Disease as the “Invisible Disease.” I couldn’t think of a more perfect nickname. Invisible refers to the internal pain that we deal with daily. People don’t see any dramatic, exterior changes like those who are in a wheelchair, or use a walker daily. I believe that I’ve learned to deal with every day pain. I can probably tolerate pain better than most, mainly because there’s not a day I live without having pain in some form. I do my best to carry on and appear “normal.” People then like to make the assumption that I must be 100% better. The infamous, “you don’t look sick!” “Look, she’s playing with her nephew. She doesn’t look that sick.” “She did her hair and makeup…she must be feeling better.” “It’s all in her head. She seems fine.” “She just needs to be very strict with her diet.” “She needs to just get off all those medications. I know someone who did it, they’re doing great!” The best is when people judge what you eat. When you mention Crohn’s they automatically assume that it’s ALL in the diet. So if they see you take a nibble of something they believe is bad, well, they assume you eat like shit every day! It’s like us Crohnies feel sick because we’re making ourselves feel that way. That’s my favorite: being judged. Invisible means that most of us can carry on with life, work a full-time job, and have a social life. However, for me that requires eminent effort. I have never been able to just jump out of bed. In fact, I can sleep until the cows come home. I will wake up and feel like I’ve never even slept. Most people my age have the energy to climb mountains and party in Vegas. That’s where I struggle. I want so badly to be an average twenty-something, single woman. Before my medication and treatments I was far more outgoing. I was in better, physical shape. Once I began Prednisone, Apriso, Cimzia, Imuran, and Remicade, my energy deflated. Slowly I started watching it decrease. At my age it has an impact on my future. I want more than anything to maintain a career. I want more than anything to have a successful relationship and someday raise children of my own. Some people think they can handle dating a person with Crohn’s, and then later see that it’s not that easy. I know for a fact that my ex-fiancé wanted a more eventful life. He was too young to realistically settle, and my disease was a lot to handle. I did my best to keep up at times. I knew that he secretly felt I would always exaggerate my symptoms. Men like to think we use Crohn’s as an excuse to get out of intimate situations. That’s far from the truth. When I experience pain, there’s nothing I want more than to take it all away. I’d rather be camping in Big Bend, or swimming in the ocean. Trust me. If anyone in the world needs to realize it’s an invisible disease, it’s your partner. The reality is that people don’t know about Crohn’s Disease. It’s not something that comes up in conversation, nor is it studied in the classroom. A lot of people don’t even feel comfortable discussing their disease. Crohn’s isn’t exactly something you can bring up for conversation at dinner. “Can you pass me the beans?” However, it’s not just the physical aspects of Crohn’s that affects our daily lives. Your friends and family may not even realize that Crohn’s causes depression. Depression can definitely be invisible. Some days you’re physically and emotionally drained from having this disease. Some days I get so angry having to deal with pain, and other days I’m just sad. Sometimes I don’t have the energy for anger. It’s easier said than done to take charge of Crohn’s and not let it rule your life. I would like to have a t-shirt for every day that explains how I’m feeling…. Monday: Dehydrated. Dizzy. Weak. Don’t talk to me! Tuesday: Body feels like it’s bathing in needles. Wednesday: Feeling ok…don’t tell me I don’t look sick! Thursday: Lunch didn’t sit well. Don’t talk about food. Friday: My gas will blow you away…literally. Saturday: I can’t party. Sunday: Sunday is not fun-day. Just sayin’…

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