Thursday, 31 July 2014

Rose Tinted Recta-cles

When I think back to my life before I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, it seems I'm wearing rose-tinted spectacles so tight they're almost superglued to my skull.
In my somewhat hazy memories of my pre-pain, 'healthy' life, my days were filled to bursting with fun. Dancing, drinking, romance, abandon, performing 14hr shifts with as little as a 10 minute break, never worrying about running out of toilet paper… the list goes on. However, it’s very easy to focus on the good stuff in the past when in the present might not particularly feel so great.
Torturing yourself with perhaps not entirely accurate moments from your past can be unhealthy and detrimental to your recovery. I learned this to my cost in the process of beginning to write my own Crohn’s book. I thought it would be a good idea to refresh myself in how exactly I felt pre-Crohn’s, post-Crohn’s and all the nasty gory bits in the middle, by reading my old diaries. I’ve kept a diary since the age of 14 so I had plenty to work with. I half expected to see a massive change in my lifestyle, to read dejectedly as the pages turned from joy to misery in the space of the weeks and months leading up to my diagnosis. I didn’t.
I read about a woman who was growing and learning about her body and her heart. Learning how to use her own mind, how to separate the wheat from the chaff in her social circles and how to treat those around her with kindness. I read about a woman becoming a woman, in every sense of the word, and worrying about not becoming the type of woman she, or others wanted her to be. About a woman who was completely and utterly pant-wettingly terrified about what was happening to her body and about losing herself and the people around her. I read about a woman who had a horrific crush on that boy in high school who would have received the blackest of black-eyes from her Dad if he’d so much as come within 15 feet of her.

I cried into my own pages and struggled to remember that this was me. I realised that I had felt incredibly alone in my suffering for a long time, and how happy I am now that I don’t have to go through that loneliness and confusion ever again. As I read my own forgotten words I felt sorry for this woman and wanted to tell her it would get better. That people love her and won’t desert her, and that eventually the pain will get easier to bear. And that she will end up with a hilarious and handsome man who loves cats just as much as her, because miracles do happen.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Devil's Crohn

Often the main obstacle in getting well with a debilitating or chronic illness is you.
Many patients find themselves embarrassed, ashamed or just downright awkward when it comes to explaining their symptoms to medical professionals. Understandable of course, but utterly unhelpful. In the early stages of living with an illness like Crohn’s Disease, the more gut-churning symptoms can be somewhat hard to stomach. [Other tum related clich├ęs are available]. It can be an incredibly embarrassing time expressing what’s going on ‘down there’ to anyone outside of your triple-locked diary. For me, getting to grips (literally and otherwise) with my own bodily functions was a far from easy process. It can often feel as though you are forced to endure a continual series of humiliating tests of will-power as you progress towards a diagnosis.
In my relatively short history with the disease I’ve had countless men and women investigate my every crack and crevice, insert implements of mild torture into every available orifice and collect samples of my outpourings for investigation. I’ve also had some medical procedures done too.
From day one there has been a continual feeling of “well at least I’m not getting [insert unappealing procedure here]” –until I inevitably get said unappealing procedure. Repeat to infinity. Things I thought I’d never be able to tolerate, I have. Not because I am in any way ‘brave’ or fearless, in fact the complete opposite; but because I’ve had no choice. Pain in itself isn’t a choice; it’s forced upon you. So when you encounter someone who may be capable of helping to ease your suffering, you grab the chance, regardless of what unpleasantness you might have to endure to get there. If not, the you are the fool. You are causing yourself unnecessary misery and are standing in the way of your own wellbeing. And you are allowing yourself to feel at your worst. No one, I repeat NO ONE, likes having needles and cannulas inserted into their veins, or having cameras inserted into their rear ends or down their throats, no one wants to find themselves reliant on medication and pain relief to get them through the day - but what is the alternative? Unrelenting and self-imposed misery? Again, there is no choice.

Much like the emails I constantly receive asking if I want to enlarge my penis, suffering in silence is pointless. Talk to someone about your symptoms before things escalate and get over yourself. If you have to deal with something unpleasant to aid your doctor in finding the right treatment for you, then woman up and get it done. In the long run you will feel embarrassment drift away and find it replaced with nothing but pride at what you’ve endured.

Update: I’ve been checking my briefs for weeks and there is still no improvement on the size of my penis.   

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Future is your Crohn

I've slightly neglected my blog lately for various reasons. I've spent more time writing my regular posts for the Crohn's Forum, I've been working, I’ve been in and out of the doctors' surgery in the process of getting tested for various other potential ailments, I’ve been trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, and I've been sick. All not excuses just reasons. But mainly I've been trying to work on 'me' and how to make myself happy.
I'm pretty sure this sounds like an incredibly easy and straightforward task, but in reality it can be an extraordinarily difficult and often painful experience. 
When you take human existence back to basics, all we really need are food and water, the ability to breathe and rest. So why do we worry and stress ourselves over the most insignificant of issues?
I've come to realise I've spent much of my life 'catastrophizing' [therapist-speak for always seeing the worst case scenario and acting accordingly]. I've panicked over the smallest and most insignificant issues and that's clouded me dealing with the bigger ones. This is absolutely in no way uncommon. We are all guilty of this to varying degrees. I’ve started on my journey to fix this by making some small but incredibly positive changes in my day to day life. For starters I am trying to deal with each issue that rears its head with a level of panic and downright terror it deserves. For example, previously, upon establishing that our boiler had packed in, our oven broken down and shower ceased showering all in the one week, I may have, in lesser enlightened times thrown my proverbial toys out of the pram and had the tantrum to end all tantrum’s. (Inwardly though). I’d panic and stress and do rapid fire calculations and write lists upon lists, create pie-charts and hold focus-groups with members of the local area to work on various solutions. (The last two may or may not be exaggerated).
Now I seem to have reached a point where I am more at peace with my life and my illness. I realise I can only do one thing at a time. Women may be considered excellent multi-tasker’s, (for example I am currently writing this blog alongside checking my Facebook AND Twitter), but when it comes to piling on the pressure it’s just not necessary. And certainly isn’t good for my already shaky health. 
I of course understand that I will still feel this panic and overwhelming pressure from time to time but I think I’ve learned not to let it rule the roost. By throwing out ways of behaving or thinking that weren’t working for me I feel more positive and more excited about my future. My insides and pensioner-esque body may not look it but my future feels pretty rosy.