Today is my birthday!
Before you start, NO I didn’t write this today; like a true Blue Peter viewer this is one I prepared earlier. I'm not a complete loser! I’ll be much too busy having orgies and snorting cocaine with rolled-up £50 notes on my ACTUAL birthday for sitting typing away at a keyboard!
So, as it’s ‘my birthday’ it’s a time for reflection, and of course celebration that I am still walking the earth. So celebrate good times with me (C’MON) ‘cos there’s a party goin’ on right here oh what a feelin’ when we’re dancin’ on the ceiling etc etc.
Let’s take a festive look at two of the best ‘gifts’ my disease has given me over the years:
People will consider those living with chronic illness to be ‘brave’. “You’re so brave getting that needle stabbed in your tummy!” “You’re so brave getting that doctors hand rammed up your colon!” -will be statements you may hear when living with IBD. These things, pleasant and exciting as they understandably are, may be essential in order to keep us well, or even alive. The ‘bravery’ doesn’t lie in us running into burning buildings to capture a kitten (which I would totally do by the way), it lies in the perception from outsiders that we are going outside of our comfort zone through choice. There is of course, always a choice; we don’t have to have our insides removed, we don’t have to take medication for the rest of our lives, but we also don’t have to help doctors keep us alive.
Choice is a bit of an easy one to make when you are forced to weigh up painful and undignified procedures against death.
Bravery doesn’t really come in to it as far as most of us are concerned.
It’s not an insult to be referred to as ‘brave’ though, it’s just inaccurate.
But in terms of ‘feeling brave’, I do!
Most of the time. When I face things alone and get through them, when I dread a procedure then come out of it OK at the other end, when I spread open my backside for a complete stranger and let him fiddle about inside. I also do that sometimes for doctors.
In the age P.C. (Pre-Crohns), I’d say I was a considerate and patient person, understanding and kind and willing to help others. However, since I’ve become ill myself I’ve truly begun to understand what empathy means.
It physically hurts me when my friends and family are unwell. It’s an inbuilt need to solve their problems and make it all better. Maybe this stems from a subconscious wish my loved ones could do the same for me, regardless, it’s a feeling of deep sadness at times when things go wrong for the people I love. Even people I don’t love, and don’t even know; when I’m lying a hospital bed and there are sick people all around me, my empathy buzzer dings more loudly that an Avon lady at the door chomping at the bit to sell you bubble bath. It’s a nice quality, a Mother Theresa-like urge to heal the world and make it a better place, even if that can only involve being nice to your fellow in-patient.
So in conclusion it's not all bad having a chronic illness. Well OK it's mostly bad, but there's always some good that can be gleaned from any bad situation. And as it's my birthday, I'll choose to take the good today.