july 17th, 2023

We all have something that rules our life, something that we’d rather not have to deal with, but makes our lives worse when observed forthrightly. Many of us have multiple problems which could be categorised as this “something”, this nasty burden which we must bare, because we have no other choice except death. For me, it is a chronic illness. It isn’t uncommon; many people in the modern world suffer from some sort of incurable disease or disorder which has drastically affected their lives. Mine is IBD. 

Diagnosed at 17, It happened to me at time where I was unsure what my next few years would entail, but I guess it ruled out the military for me. For me this illness was traumatic at first, as anyone would normally feel after facing extreme health circumstances. I lost almost 20 pounds, 20 pounds I didn’t have to lose in the first place; I’m pretty thin as is. But it was a slow route to get there. It took about a month or so for me to fall into life threatening health circumstances. Anyone who has gone through the diagnosis of a chronic disease has likely been misdiagnosed once or twice before being properly assessed and treated; from what I’ve observed, that’s just how the medical field works. It takes something negatively extreme to occur for something positively extreme to reversely happen, and for me I finally went to the emergency room. 

I had already spent two weeks out of school, because on top of bowel issues my immune system was shot, and I had developed a sinus infection. However, the doctor that saw me before believed my bowel issue was bacterial, so I was on several other antibiotics to treat something I didn’t  have. And not surprisingly, these medications caused more harm to my system in the short term. It only progressed my symptoms to a point where drinking water became difficult, never mind eating. A glass or two of water and a few crackers were all I could tolerate for a week, and that barely stayed down, I was too nauseous. For that week or so I spent half my time in the bathroom; either my head or tail was in the toilet. 

After the emergency room things looked up. I was lucky enough to find a fantastic doctor who got me on meds which kept me in remission for a year. Not a bad run for the first drug! That’s pretty typical for this disease, having to swap medications every so often because your body stops  responding to it, and your symptoms slowly return. My most recent and longest lasting flare started about a year ago and lasted for about five months. Chronic stomach pain and “about to shit myself” urgency is not preferable when you have the responsibility to go to class everyday. I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping an extra pair of undies on me during these times. What sucks the most is the impending fear of a medication failing for no specific reason. You’re just living your life and your symptoms decide to return. Sometimes that means a total flare and the eternal recurrence of medication changes. (From this past year, I’ve learned it can take a lot longer for doctors to do something for you than you’d hope.) Sometimes you’re just never the same. Medications can render your life nearly indistinguishable from before diagnosis. But recently it’s felt like my body has changed so much, seemingly beyond repair. Every subtle change, whether consistent or erratic, the mind struggles to deal with. What’s strange about this disease is how sensitive it is to emotional irregularities; the more you stress, the worse it gets!

I think what I’m trying to get at by sharing this is that I have it pretty good all things considered. And if you don’t feel that way, always remember that someone else has it worse. For me, I’m just glad I have an asshole that kind of works. I’d prefer not to get a bag attached to my hip this early in life. I’m open to the reality of it though, and I’d like to empower those who’ve had no choice but to remove their colon; I may have to follow suit some day. But today, the gratitude is the only thing that keeps me afloat, keeps me from falling into existential dread, and as a result, shitting my pants. I’m just glad I haven’t resorted to diapers yet. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *