I’ve already declared my undying love for all things Halloween, which is entirely accurate but not complete. My paranormal passion for October 31 is the biggest and most important slice of a large chunk of love for American cultural holidays. My adoration of these special days took root at home (Easter-egg dyeing and vampire puppets) and flowered at school. That colored crepe paper that teachers use to make seasonal borders for the classroom bulletin board; the treat bags filled with brand-new pencils printed with tiny hearts or shamrocks; the gooey homemade cupcakes one of the moms always brought in; coloring in an Easter bunny instead of having to learn about things. I could even stomach a 3x9 equation on a coloring page if it was tucked into the leprechaun’s pot of gold, but found it in poor taste.
So this is where I should transition into talking about luck and IBD, and the pot of gold that is taking ownership of your health and finding out who your true friends are who’ll stick by you no matter what your gut may do. Meh.
It’s not that these things aren’t true (or that I don’t love writing holiday-themed columns!). It’s just that I’ve heard them so much that it’s become obnoxious even when it’s done well. There are tons of columns and books about it. I’m fantastically fortunate in some areas of my life, averagely advantaged in some, and helplessly hapless in others. Which I’m sure I have in common with many other IBD patients, but also people with no chronic disease at all. I do imagine I appreciate food more, because I can’t just pick up a meal at any ol’ roadside restaurant. And I appreciate video games more, because the distraction of playing Mario 3 for the first time in a decade is what got me through my first, very painful colonoscopy prep (that, and the promise of post-procedure pancakes).
So this is where I should talk about luck and IBD, and the pot of gold that is taking ownership of your health and finding out who your true friends are who’ll stick by you no matter what. Meh.
But the rest of the world wants to hear about the good stuff, the comeback stories, your luck turning around – everyone asks, “Are you feeling better now?!” and they really want the answer to be, “Oh my God, yes!!! All wrapped up in a bow and completely better!” like a healed sprained ankle (although, speaking from recent experience, a badly sprained ankle is anything but easy to recover from).
But I know that IBD isn’t going away any time soon; I’m in it for the long haul. Getting giddy about me getting out of the hospital, or having a clean colonoscopy, is like if UGA over-celebrated a regular-season victory over the University of Florida – don’t forget that we’re gonna have to play them again, so maybe don’t gator-chomp taunt them too hard. Maybe we even have to play them again this season, but definitely next year. And the year after that.
Thinking about IBD luck versus destiny versus faith versus what you ate for dinner last night or when you were in college can drive you crazy. So I won’t. But I will be making a rainbow-striped, pot-of-gold wreath for my door, cuddling with my (potentially Irish) mixed-breed hound, and, during my upcoming prep, chugging some shamrock-tinted sports drink and swooping up some gold coins dressed in green, as Luigi.
Author Katie McLendon is a CCFA support group facilitator in Atlanta who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2005. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist with a Master of Public Health degree from Emory University, and works as an editor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Follow Katie on Twitter: @katiefmclendon
Want to contact Katie?
Send a question or comment to gutcheckCCFA@gmail.com. Questions may appear in a future column (names and e-mail addresses will not appear in print, and remain confidential).