October 24th isn’t a day I tend to celebrate as it marks the day I received my diagnosis for Crohn’s Disease back in 2008.
The date gives me mixed feelings.
I often look back at the last nine years and replay the difficult times in my head. I try to let go of the past, I really do, but the date often serves as a constant reminder that life used to be so different from it is now.
Truth be told, I had a very hard time dealing with my illness before having my ostomy surgery in 2013. It was emotionally crushing and the physical pain I endured for years on end seemed as if it would go on forever.
I tried my best to outwit my illness, to try to avoid medication and surgery, but Crohn’s Disease would have none of that.
In fact, it seems like that harder I tried, the harder it would hit back with an extra bit of, “and stay down!” for me.
During the past nine years, I’ve also learned a lot about myself and the incredible amount of resilience that is inside each an every person who’s dealing with chronic illness.
I know that a large part of the problems I had during the first many years of my illness was because (metaphorically speaking) I was trying to navigate a boat during a storm with the belief that I could control the water. We are all in this boat and most of us will be navigating through the roughest waters imaginable, but we will never be able to control the water – it’s not ours to control! It took me far too long to understand that.
If I could go back to October 24th, 2008, I would do my best to prepare my “boat” for the incoming storm.
A diagnosis doesn’t have to be bad or tragic. Our diagnosis is like a map that shows us the potential for what could lie ahead, but it is NOT the journey itself.
Our journey is rarely known in advance, but as long as we have a “map” and work towards preparing our “boat” through education, peer and family support, the right doctors, and the ability to look forward, then things won’t be as difficult as it would be if we tried to control the waters.
These past nine years have been full of missed opportunities. But knowing that I’ve learned many lessons along the way does make up for a lot of them!