Lately, my life has been a big rollercoaster of dreams and thoughts but no action. I lay here in bed and ponder questions like when am I going to be able to go back to school, am I ever going to get a good job, or will I ever be able to support myself? Things healthy people my age are doing at this time in their life I’m not able to do. Everyday I see my friends planning for when they graduate and what types of jobs their going to work towards. I then hide away in my mind wondering if that will ever be me.
Living with Crohn’s disease is not an easy task to say the least. I am constantly wondering how others my age are dealing with this illness and thought it might help one person, or many, to read my story and relate (as well as have an outlet to complain and/or celebrate my days of feeling great!). One of the major annoyances we face at all ages is my favorite, the famous “well you look great”. Yes, I admit when someone tells me I look good it boosts my confidence a little bit, but after a while don’t you just get sick of it? I want to say “take a look at my insides and then tell me what you think!”
But, a little bit about me.. My name is Michelle and I am 21 years old. I have had Crohn’s Disease since 2005 (well I was diagnosed then). I am a very active person as I was a dancer and gymnast most of my life. This disease doesn’t define my life, but that is only because I don’t let it. I have tried almost every treatment out there and am still finding myself in the hospital one to two times a year and on prednisone more than I want to be. I travel about 2 hours to see some of the best doctors in the country in Boston, MA and seek every opportunity in new treatment as I can. I have a very difficult case to treat and as you can imagine it gets frustrating. My support system is unbelievable though, which I am so lucky for. Most comes from my family, especially my mom.
At any age this disease is pretty shitty and embarrassing (pun intended), but you have to laugh about it. Admit it, we’ve all had our accidents and potty emergencies and we know our way around every bathroom in town. That’s just how it is. At my age, the college years, when you’re supposedly “figuring out who you are” this disease is especially hard. Relationships, partying, making friends, getting jobs, an education. This illness affects every part of your life whether you like it or not. It’s just about how you deal with it and who you surround yourself with. You could hide and let it consume your life with embarrassment and shame OR you could tell it how it is, make the best of it, and laugh your way through the hard, embarrassing times. It is ultimately up to you.