Dear Crohns Disease
You’re a right little pickle aren’t you?
You joined me in my life at just four years old. I still remember the day I looked down the toilet bowl and saw a big pool of blood, and even my four year old brain knew you were going to be constant in my life. You were here now for the long haul.
You scared me as a child. I wanted to play like everyone else, but instead you chained me to the bathroom. You made me painstakingly thin, and then the steroids made me huge. Other children noticed. I went on a 8 week liquid diet because of you. I spent Easters and birthdays in hospital because of you. I missed months of school because of you. You literally annihilated my large bowel and with every medication, every treatment, you just got stronger. How the hell did you do that? You had hulk levels of strength and despite the fact literally nobody wanted you around, you persisted. Until my large bowel was at the point of no return. They removed 90% of my colon when I was 12, because of you.
I lived with an ileostomy when I was a teenager, because of you. I felt numb to you then – like you had scooped out my ability to feel and replaced it with a large empty hole. But I became a pro at pushing you away – right to the back of my mind and doing everything I wanted to do. School trips, parties, friends, holidays, activities, boyfriends, exams – I did it all. You didn’t stop me from doing anything, you didn’t hold me back. The problem was though – I still couldn’t talk about you. I didn’t know how to explain you.
I went to university to study drama and it was incredible. I met so many amazing friends, and it was the first time I lived on my own with you. It was harder to keep you a secret when you impact so much of my daily routine – my normal. Because of you I had internal scar tissue – and at uni I had to have two major operations to fix bowel obstructions. I had to talk about you then – I had to explain why I left uni for months on end. And my friends were amazing about you. They didn’t care one bit, didn’t see me any differently. Suddenly I realised NOBODY cared that I had you in my life. I was so much more than you. I wondered why I had lived with the burden of keeping you a secret for so long.
This breakthrough was pretty life changing for me. You were no longer a secret. You were just part of me – as much as I have brown hair and brown eyes.
You have made me so strong.
You have taught me to live in the moment. You have taught me to be compassionate. You have taught me to live one day at a time.
I’ve cried lots of fat salty tears because of you. I have smashed plates in anger because of you. I’ve had parts of my body examined and poked by more healthcare professionals than I wish to count because of you (that is one major downside tbh, why can you only be accessed via the rear?)
But do you know what? I am so proud of you. Well, I’m proud of me. You made me who I am today. You make me, me. I am well aware that we are nowhere near the end of our journey together, but now I know that whatever you hurl in my direction, I can deal with it. I’ve got control over you. How you make me feel. I’m not scared of you anymore. And whilst you will probably try to own me for the rest of my life, you should know you never will.
You are part of me, but you will never own me.
Ps please could I just request one fatigue/pain free day? I think I’ve earned one. Thanks.
A letter to our IBD/gut issues – from you
Today is World IBD Day. To mark the day, I wrote this open letter to my IBD and I asked you guys to get involved too.
I was overwhelmed at the words you sent me – I could relate to every single one of them.
They were honest, relatable and some of them, very very funny.
These are your words to your gut. xo
“You’ve turned my world upside down and you try to beat me almost every day, but I always come back stronger, more resilient and grateful in ways I never thought possible.” @laurenhintonx
“WHY ARE YOU HERE?” @claireharman and @natalia.santacreu
“Can you just behave yourself and not give me any more surprises?” @djfranks1
“I’ve grown as a person and all but why did you feel the need to take my colon?” @billieandersonx
“You make frustrated and anxious at times, but I won’t let you beat me!” @_lottiec
“You suck but you’ve made me, me!” @fayezyfizz
“You are exhausting. You make me angry. I hate you for taking away my old life. You’ve made me kinder. You’ve made me stronger. You’ve made me weaker. You make me so anxious I can’t function. You make me fearful and anxious for the future. Thank you for my scar, it looks awesome. I hate you for what’s behind my scar, my body doesn’t work properly anymore because of you. Thank you for introducing me to the IBD community.” Anon
“We’ve had a tough journey together and although at times I hated you, you have made me who I am today. You have showed me how strong I am, you have enabled me to be more compassionate towards others and you have made me realise what’s important in life. For these things I am grateful.” @clemmiemacphersonnutritionist
“I knew my body so well until you came along.” @vickimg89
“I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying.” @naineos
“Please can you stop being such an attention seeker!” @katiebenhaaam
“You are not going to defeat me. Even when you hospitalise me I’m still going to win.” @ruth.cotton
“It’s given me compassion for others. You never know what’s hidden behind the facade”. @hegoswife
“Calm down angry tum. We’ve got this.” @the.gfg
“Thank you for making me grow up more compassionate and empathetic. Please don’t be passed down to my baby, like how it was passed to me from my mum. And finally thank you for letting me have my baby boy.” @chronically_successful
“Even though some days you suck, you’ve changed me life in good ways not just bad.” @flower.power.xxo
“You gave me strength and a new appreciation for life.” @bhavini44
“I would say ‘let it go, let it gooooooo!'” @tinaambrose87
“Would you just cease and desist so I could get into a decent exercise routine?” @hannah_views
“Thank you for making me appreciate the good times much more!” @clare_the_pear
“You made me strong.” @allyadamsx
“You made me not take life for granted.” @nmonk_ostomy
“I’m in control.” @em.ily_.__
“You are part of me and I accept you.” @gabriellagrees
Thank you so much to every single one of you who sent in such beautiful words and I’m so sorry I couldn’t include them all.
As always I’d love to hear what you think – you an find me on Insta, Twitter or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.