I’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease for about four years now, having symptoms of it for about five. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of things that were helpful from other people, and a whole lot more of things that aren’t helpful AT ALL. Here’s some of the things I’ve noticed that happened to me after being diagnosed with a chronic illness.
1. People tell you what you should be doing.
I had an old man tell me once in an elevator “young thing like you should be using the stairs…” As you can imagine, I was completely throw off guard at this. I laughed in his face and didn’t say a word, but as soon as I exited that elevator I broke down in tears. Sure, I know on the outside, I look just fine but at that moment in my life, a walk up the stairs would have left me out of breath and exhausted.
2. Good blood work is a cause for celebration.
But unfortunately, you can’t truly “celebrate” it because cake or too much sugar will upset your intestines…
3. When people find out your diagnosis, they offer their suggestions.
“Try this shake,” “try this diet,” “there’s an oil for that,” “take this supplement,” “oh my aunt’s cousin’s boyfriend’s sister has that and she swears by…,” and so on and so on…
4. When you find the perfect doctor, they move.
What is a “fellowship” anyways?! And why wasn’t I told this when I first met them?! They should really be saying “Hello, I’m Dr. ___ and I’m only at this office for one year.“
5. You know which nurses are good at finding your veins.
And you ask for them by name. When they aren’t there or you have a newbie, you watch them like a lion watches his prey.
6. You know the correct order and combination of numbers to dial when you call the doctor’s office to get to who you need.
Thank you f4…Gast2….Nur1…”Hello.”
7. They just stop asking for your insurance card.
They see you way to often to even ask if anything has changed.
8. Your nurses ask about your family.
They know their names, age, and what’s going on in all of your lives. They sort of become friends.
9. When you feel too sick to go out, people will question you.
Since you are sick a lot they will start to wonder if you just don’t want to hang out with them or see them. Which usually causes you to go out and be a buzz kill and then they are upset you are a buzz kill.
10. Male vs. female doctors do not matter anymore.
Only a male doctor is available to perform my colonoscopy or rectal screening?…Yeah, I’ll take that appointment, whatever.
11. Ups and downs are a part of life.
Everything from depression and anxiety to high on life and loving every minute to every single feeling and thought in between. Predictability becomes a thing of the past.
The one thing I’ve learned over these past 4-5 years is that staying positive really helps me from falling into those lows and staying there for awhile. I’m a pessimistic person by nature but I have a great support system filled with optimistic people who pick me up when I’m down. Chronic illnesses are exhausting, but with the right attitude and determination – they are do-able.