I had an interesting discussion with a Crohn’s buddy recently. She said she doesn’t think of herself as sick, despite the fact that she’s had at least a half-dozen surgeries and taken biologics over the years to control her Crohn’s.
I thought about that. Do I consider myself sick? When we hear the word sick, we usually think of people who have caught a bug. Right now my husband has bronchitis; he is sick. I have Crohn’s disease; am I sick, too?
I think of myself as a person with Crohn’s disease, like I would think of myself as a person with dark brown hair, or who is short, or who loves chocolate. Crohn’s disease is just another way to describe my physical self. But at the same time, there is so much more to me. I’m a wife, mother, writer. I’m a friend. I love to go to the movies and read novels. I’m not only Crohn’s disease, but I can’t avoid the fact it is a major part of my life.
I try to think back to a time that I did not think about Crohn’s disease daily. I was diagnosed at 33, nearly 17 years ago. In the beginning, I was easily stabilized with Asacol. I took nine pills a day, and didn’t think about it too much. People would be shocked that I had to take so much medication, but I felt good and it didn’t seem like a big deal to me.
Then I started getting sicker, (there’s that word again,) and I needed many more treatments. I was constantly calling my doctor for medication to treat flare-ups. I was in bed more often. I was weaker. I lost weight. Crohn’s disease become apart of my daily language.
Over the past four or five years, as Crohn’s has consumed more of my time and money and thinking; it’s rarely off my mind. What will today be like? Am I about to flare, or am I just tired? Was that pain I just felt from the patches in my stomach, or did I just move the wrong way? Will my insurance cover my Stelara, or am I going to have to fight for it? Do I feel ready to take the next shot of methotrexate? Can I risk eating some of that salad today?
So, does all this mean I am sick? Or is Crohn’s a condition? Or is it nothing? Is it what we make of it, or is it what we are forced to be made from it?
I am sick, I suppose. But my husband is sicker today. He has bronchitis. I just have Crohn’s.
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