The evil Crohn’s monster has enjoyed stomping on my life for the past 10 years. Sadly, many people suffer from IBD at much younger ages, the most common age of diagnosis ranging from 12-15, yet this doesn’t exclude littler ones who deal with it from elementary school age or even birth.
I’ve spent my twenties learning to navigate this disease while becoming a teacher, wife, and stepmother. Many times I’ve broken down because I can’t be all that I want to be in every category BECAUSE of Crohn’s disease. “But it’s not your fault. Don’t beat yourself up.” So? I don’t get to live the fullest life because I’m sick. And oh yes, I’m sick. Pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, a decrease in a sense of well being, depression…it’s a rocky roller coaster. And again, I’ve only had it since 18.
This is not a bathroom disease alone. It’s not IBS. It’s incurable. And in some cases, it also causes death. Not all patients respond well to treatments and have severe cases of the disease. Post resection surgery, my bowel leaked and I nearly died from septic shock, and what followed was a long, harrowing recovery. Yet it feels like we suffer in silence. Do you have any idea how it feels to be an island?
Then I started hanging out on twitter, and decided to look up #crohns. I started connecting with people. Belly pictures with #GetYourBellyOut flooded my feed. Tons of photos of scars and bags and tattooed bellies and plain bellies were taking over, all in the name of awareness and fundraising for a cure!
The girls started a Facebook group, where all of us IBD sufferers can update, vent, have a laugh, WHATEVER WE WANT. We give each other advice, cheer each other on, and celebrate victories together. These 4 ladies and everyone else on the page have changed my life, and I don’t even think they realize it. Who cares if they are across an ocean in the UK? I finally feel UNDERSTOOD. And after 10 years of solitary confinement, that’s an incredible gift.
But I didn’t just find friendship. Oh no. It doesn’t stop there. They gave me the push to become involved with donating for a cure. In the past month, I’ve done 3 things I should’ve gotten off my butt to do a long time ago:
1. Joined ccfa.org to be a part of their widespread research on IBD. All it took was a short survey, and they check in with me every 6 months. Seriously no skin off my nose.
2. Joined the take steps walk for a cure and created Team Zahmbies, as well as making my donation.
3. I’ve been POSTING on Facebook and twitter facts about what life is like with IBD to spread awareness, as well as links to current ccfa research, and asking people to join Team Zahmbies and/or donate for a cure.
That last one is huge. I abhor asking people for money. But this isn’t for me personally. It’s for a cause, to learn more about this debilitating illness and find a cure once and for all. World IBD day is May 19, and YOU can help by donating at:
Canadians (or anyone): http://m-crohnsandcolitiscanada.akaraisin.com/8016/participant/1719474?lang=en-CA (This supports my Candian buddy Justin’s Gusty Walk for a cure who’s had Crohn’s Disease since age 12.
UK (or anyone): http://www.justgiving.com/teams/IBDAwareness/eurl.axd/80c36e35de4c4d4a92037ff638b55479
Last but not least, you can support or join me for my Take Steps Walk for a cure happening in Columbia, SC September 28 at Saluda Shoals!