It’s May 19, 2014 (A.K.A: World IBD Day), but I don’t feel that it’s a special day to me. Since getting my ostomy back in August 2013, I’ve been an active member of the IBD and ostomy community, and I’ve finally had the energy to help answer questions, raise awareness or simply be there for someone else with IBD or an ostomy who’s looking to open up about their challenges. But the thing is, EVERY DAY is an IBD Day for me. How can it not be? Every joint pain, every worry about next flare, every peek to see how full my ostomy pouch is a constant reminder that IBD is still a passenger in my vehicle of life.
To clarify, I don’t like most “special days” like Valentine’s day, Family Day (statutory holiday in Ontario), Thanksgiving, Boxing Day, etc., because they tend to undermine the importance of celebrating the things you should already be valuing every day. Take Valentine’s Day, for example: Husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, secret crushes and admirers all do something on February 14th to show a special person in their life that they care. They give overpriced flowers, purchase way too much chocolate (dairy-free, I hope!), buy fancy jewelery, have a romantic dinner or send a card on Valentine’s Day, but often neglect to do these things the other 364 days in the year, as if their partner wasn’t worth as much effort on the “off days”. That’s how I feel about World IBD Day, and I don’t want to fall into that routine.
You’ll likely read dozens of tweets, Facebook posts and Google+ shares meant to raise awareness about IBD today. I think awareness is great, we NEED awareness, but when it’s all focused on a single day, it simply becomes noise and diminishes the importance of the messages being sent. UNICEF has a powerful ad campaign to reiterate that “Likes don’t save lives“, and I have to agree. I know several wonderful, hard-working advocates who do amazing things, and no doubt will be very active today spreading as much awareness as possible. I applaud their efforts, because for the most part, they are putting forward the same effort every day, regardless if it’s World IBD Day or not. That is what I’d rather celebrate and participate in; Advocacy that comes from the heart, not because of obligation.
If you feel good about taking time to raise awareness this World IBD Day, please continue to do it! We all have our own special story that drives us to want to find an end to IBD, and I get how motivating today is for many people, but PLEASE don’t forget that we need to bring year-long awareness in order to make a difference.