I'm getting to that age where I can't really remember my life without Crohn's disease anymore. To a point, my illness is like an arm to me now, it's such a part of me that I'd feel pretty lost without it. That's sounds perverse, but it's true. Sure, I'd love someday to be disease free, but I can't deny that I've lived with this illness for so long now, it's part of who I am. To a point, it does define me. Now, you might think that that's a really negative way to look at illness, that you shouldn't let it define who you are, that you should be a better person than the illness makes you feel. All true. However, if I hadn't had Crohn's disease for the last 18 years, I think there's some good parts to my personality that I'd be missing.
Suffering from IBD has given me strength and perspective when it comes to illness. I know what it feels like to suffer, but the sweet calmness of remission brings with it an appreciation for wellness that I just can't describe. Crohn's has also given me drive and ambition to be the best I can be in my periods of wellness, and it has given me sensitivity and empathy towards others' suffering. In particular, those with invisible disabilities who are often on the receiving end of a scathing look for using a disabled bathroom or parking space. We already have a chronic condition to contend with, we don't need your negative judgements and confrontations to deal with too.
Some might disagree, but I think that strength, empathy and drive are good qualities, and I definitely owe at least some of them to living with Crohn's disease for 18 years. Yes, I do wish that I didn't have Crohn's, but if this is what I have to show for having it then I guess it hasn't all been bad, and Im grateful for that. Happy world IBD day everyone, and if someone you love is living with IBD, give them an extra big kiss and a squeeze today, they deserve it.