You say that I am not sick because you can’t see anything wrong with me. But do you know what you don’t see? Countless injections over the course of seven years, countless pills, countless doctor visits, rapid weight loss then weight gain. Everyday I feel alone, when in reality, 1.6 million people suffer with me.
Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that I have had since I was 8. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), such as Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, affect the gastrointestinal (GI), or digestive, tract of the person. My Crohn’s is attacking my large intestine, which as we all know is shaped like a tube. The walls of my tube, at one point, had gotten so inflamed that the opening was as big around as a pencil.
Let’s take an example of my, what I call, “Med Day”. For you, it’s called a Sunday. Now, my day up until about 4:00 is completely normal. But when my alarm goes off at 4:10, I head to my freezer and start icing the fat of my upper arm, because I’m a wimp and hate pain. My parent then wipes the numbed spot with an antiseptic wipe and shoves a needle into my fat, injecting something called a TNF blocker. TNF is tumor necrosis factor. Tumor necrosis factor is what is thought to cause inflammation in the GI tract.
I go to a summer camp for IBD effected kids and I’ve made quite a few friends. One of them, who I love to absolute death, told me over lunch one day, “Bri, you gotta live your life to the fullest. Tomorrow, you could be admitted to the hospital and be on death’s door.” That’s resonated with me since. I try to live by that and take risks. It’s why I’m not afraid to be myself anymore.
My Crohnie friends and I are strong supporters of Take Steps, Be Heard, a fundraising walk put on by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). The walk is meant to raise funds for a cure. Oh, did I mention there’s no cure? There are, however, treatments and surgeries.
My father, who also suffers from Crohn’s, has had two major surgeries to remove parts of his large intestine that were infected. This is called a resection. A friend from the summer camp has had a colostomy, which means he’s had so many resections that he has almost none of his intestines left. His waste then has to empty into a colostomy bag, because he doesn’t have enough intestine to form feces.
We have made some progress in finding a cure, I won’t deny. But it’s so far in left field, it’s not even a valid idea. So we continue in taking steps and being heard, raising money for our intestines. We will continue supporting each other. We will continue kicking Crohn’s to the curb.