Crohn’s Disease, Me, Myself, and I, but most importantly concerning you
It does not bother me that I am sick. It does not bother me that there is no cure for what I have just yet. I am content with my life and make the most of what I have and can do. What I do not like is people who have a lack of knowledge or understanding about conditions and ailments people may struggle with on a daily basis. This could be any invisible illness or auto immune disease that does not manifest on an easily identifiable level.
“You don’t look sick.”
“You don’t feel good? But you look fine.”
“You’re sick? –steps away— I’m not going to catch it am I?”
People need to understand that there is more meaning to something than skin level. Whatever happened to the sayings “don’t judge a book by its cover” or “Beauty is only skin deep” ?
There are people that tell me that I am skinny and I look healthy, but they are only seeing me dressed in clothes. They have no idea what is going on the inside. Sure I might be skinny, but if I had to choose between being skinny and sick, or healthy and having a few extra pounds? I would always choose the latter. When people say I am skinny, or that I need to eat more… or that I am not sick. It really baffles me. I weigh about 160lbs and that is my healthy weight, even though I still do appear ‘skinny.’ There is nothing I can do about it when I eat four to five meals a day, and I am constantly snacking.
“Oh you eat that and that?”
“You mean to tell me you eat all that?”
Yeah I do eat a lot, but I also eat healthy. My stomach cannot handle the fat greasy foods from restaurant chains, and even some nicer sit down restaurants. I rarely ever eat out because I have to be so picky and order wisely, otherwise I soon regret it.
The one time I was having radiological testing done with a barium swallow, the technician had the nerve to ask me: “Did you have a stomach resection before?”
Quick note: Thankfully I have never had to have a surgery related to my condition.
I responded with: “What, why did you even ask that?”
“Well this just went through you so quickly, normally it takes longer.”
If you do not understand a disease, or how the body works, generally speaking you probably should not question functions in such a way. Looking back, I should have lectured her ear off about it. There are times where I can literally take a single bite of food or get a few bites in, and have to go to the bathroom and relieve myself. Imagine taking a bite of food whenever you eat a meal, and then going to the bathroom as if you had just engulfed a five course meal. Yeah, my stomach works fast. Ask me about it, don’t ask absurd questions and freak me out.
I suffer from Crohn’s Disease and it is not fun. It is not a miracle to being skinny. Hell, it is not even a good excuse to eat healthier. (The last thing you want to do is eat healthy, when you are down, not feeling well, and just want to pig out on junk food). I would never wish this on my worst enemy. I would not trade it for anything. Crohn’s is just one aspect of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
If I told people today that I was overweight from the fourth grade up until high-school they would not believe me. I used to wear the largest husky pants available in the children’s section, and even then it was hard to find pants. I would choose to be that heavyweight kid ten times over being sick and skinny today. Sure I am skinny nowadays, but I am also sick intermittently and a flare can occur at any time in any varying degree.
Having an inflammatory bowel disease is not a pleasant experience. However, it has created some nice opportunities for me. I work full-time in a retail store and normally you never see corporate or anyone outside of the store take an interest in the low-level employees. Not me. There’s an awesome guy who used to be our district liaison and is now our human resources manager. He suffers from ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are pretty similar but they affect different areas and have some differences. We’ve been able to bond over our shared illness and he periodically checks up on me to see how I’m doing. He’s in his 30’s and had only found out about what he had. I’ve been dealing with it since 2008 when I was only 19. I’ll be 24 this year, but it is still quite the amazement to him that I’m so young and able to persevere.
I might appear healthy on the outside, but my illness is invisible. I went for about three years without a diagnosis, and there are other illnesses out there that people struggle with for even longer.
Before you ask someone or question whether they are sick or not. Rethink.
Maybe you should ask them how they are feeling or how are they doing today.
I may look healthy. I might not call off work sick as liberally as other people (who are actually faking being sick). That does not mean I am not in pain, suffering, feeling down, or just plain exhausted. This isn’t just for Crohn’s disease. It is for anyone who has a condition you cannot see presently.
I don’t have rock hard abs. I’m not healthy. I’m sick quite often. People question an illness they cannot see, because I appear healthy. If you put your ear to my stomach and listened to it, or could see how narrow my intestine can get you would be surprised.
In my case, if I start having a flare up and I do get inflammation in my intestines? The smallest narrowest part of my intestinal track gets inflamed. It is not a pleasant experience having substances trying to squeeze the narrowest part of your gi tract, especially when it is inflamed.
Moral of the story: Don’t assume I’m not sick. If I show up to work and am moving slower than usual. If I am asking for your help with something. If I disappear randomly at intervals. If I just stop what I’m doing, ignore you, or run away. If I say I’m sick or not feeling good.
Trust me. Don’t question it. I’m not trying to be lazy. I’m not trying to delegate tasks. I’m not picking on you to do my work for me. I actually am ill, you just can’t see something that is invisible to the naked eye. Unless of course, you hop on the Magic School Bus for an intestinal journey of epic proportions.
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