If I never had Crohn’s disease, I would never have known how much pain one internal organ can cause.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I wouldn’t have missed out on so many nights out with friends.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I wouldn’t know so well the awful sounds and smells that fill a hospital ward.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I may never have known how far my family would be willing to go and all that they would be willing to do for me.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I would never have filled my body with medical-grade poison, because it was the lesser of two evils.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I wouldn’t have spent so many nights crying when I was in middle school because I felt so alone.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I may never have learned to have true compassion and empathy for what others might be going through that you don’t see.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I may have spent a good deal of my life wrapped up in petty arguments because I never understood that there are more important things in life.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I wouldn’t have sped home so many times hoping I could make it to the bathroom.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I definitely would have had far fewer times where I didn’t make it to the bathroom.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I may never have realized what a blessing each and every day is.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I never would have gone through two separate surgeries to remove my colon and my rectum.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I never would have met so many amazing people who inspire me every day.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I never would have found my voice in a world where people don’t want to talk about pooping into a bag.
If I never had Crohn’s disease, I wouldn’t have spent a month of my 13th year in the hospital, where I never would have met a wonderful nurse who told me all about China and I never would have become fascinated with that country and its language. Which means I likely never would have attended the University of North Carolina (since I only applied for their Asian studies program… which I didn’t end up doing, but that’s another story for another day) where I never would have met so many awesome people or had such incredible experiences. And I never would have gone out dancing with one of those friends one night and met a guy named Jarrod, who I never would have married and I would not be carrying this incredible gift of a child right now. And only God knows what’s in store for this child and all of the things that will happen because of this new life.
So you see, even if I had the choice to go back and live a life free of Crohn’s disease, I couldn’t do it. This disease has played such an intricate part in the creation of who I am over the past three decades that I do not know who I would be without it. Would I be happier? Maybe, but I doubt it. I have a family and friends who love me and have stood by me through some very difficult times, so I know that they will always be there for me. I have found an incredible community of people who have lived through so much and come out stronger on the other side, and I find them to be the most beautiful people in the world. I have learned that you never know what someone is dealing with behind the scenes, and that has given me patience and taught me to not always take everything at face-value. I have learned to be thankful for everything that you have been given, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. I have learned that sometimes shit happens and life sucks, but it’s what you do in those moments that matters most because that’s what makes you who you are
I realize that what I am saying may be controversial, so if you don’t feel the same way, I completely understand and I can’t blame you one bit. There’s nothing wrong with that. I realize that my story is not everyone’s story. I’m not belittling anyone else’s experience. This is just one girl’s opinion and is by no means a commentary on what anyone else should or shouldn’t do or feel. In fact, not feeling the way I do is probably a much more normal reaction than mine. But this disease has taught me so many things… about myself, about other people and just about life in general.
This disease takes a lot away from you: your energy, your ability to go to the bathroom on your own schedule, your dignity, your immune system, your blood, your feeling of safety, your desires, your goals, some friends, your health, your freedom. But it has also brought me to where I am today and I am so thankful for that. Yes, this disease takes a lot, but I have found that it has given me many things, too. And the things it has given me I would not give up for anything. Not even a healthy colon.