Receiving a Crohn's diagnosis is hard in itself. Then, compounded with medications, surgeries and adapting to life with a chronic disease, things get a whole lot more challenging. I've been living with Crohn's for 12 years, even though I believe I've had it since a small child. Throughout the years, I've engaged in a lot of conversations with a variety of people who frankly just don't get it......no matter how many times I've tried explaining exactly what it is.
As a result, I've come up with a little list of things that I feel probably aggravates the average person with Crohn's disease. Disclaimer here. It's not anyone's fault, so take a look at these as helpful tips if you happen to know someone who also suffers from IBD. I've also included my rebuttal if you will, and why it might be considered offensive.
Crohn's disease is psychosocial: Really? If it were all in my head, believe me I would've turned things around by now. Certain behaviors can certainly exacerbate symptoms, but the way I conduct myself hasn't caused my Crohn's.
But you don't look sick: I also don't like wearing makeup, but I do because most days I look gray from blood loss, severe diarrhea and minimal absorption from food.
You're so lucky, you don't ever have to diet: I would also prefer not to poop 20 times a day, eat whatever I want and not have to constantly check for bathroom....in.......every.......situation.....possible. Just the other day on my run I was incredibly lucky there was a porta potty, otherwise, I wouldn't have made it home without an accident.
You should try this diet: Food doesn't cause Crohn's disease people. Yes, certain foods, or "diets" can help/ease symptoms, but ultimately my body is going to flare when it wants to flare.
I know how you feel: Sorry, unless you have Crohn's disease, you don't know how I feel. Does everything you eat give you abdominal cramps? Does one bite of an apple send you running to the loo? Do you know what kind of day you're going to have judging by the amount of blood in the toilet? Crohn's can manifest into a plethora of other medical conditions. I've struggled with arthritis off and on as well as a glaucoma suspect diagnosis. It affects everything from your mouth to your bum.
You're so skinny, you look great!: Awesome, it took me having diarrhea all day, every day, for a month.
Have you gained weight? Why yes I have. My body is pumped full of prednisone which causes weight gain, and "moon face," both of which are side effects for me when undergoing steroid treatment.
You must be really stressed out: Again, stress can make symptoms and flaring worse, but it doesn't directly cause Crohn's disease.
Are you sure you can't make it?: This one has come up with family and friends more than once. Some people really don't understand this disease, which is why education is so key. I HATE cancelling on people, but if I do there's a really good reason behind it, and usually it involves being on the toilet all week. I guarantee you wouldn't feel like sticking with plans if blood was coming out the back end, and you couldn't form a complete sentence due to total brain fog.
Can you hold it? Unless you want me to have an accident right here, right now - NO I can't hold it.
Well, there you have it. This is just a glimpse of crohnie myths debunked. Over 3.1 million suffer from IBD. It's not in our heads. It's not just a stomach bug. I don't take 11 pills a day for the hell of it. My exhaustion is real. If you, or someone you know suffers from IBD, please check out the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation for information on how you can educate yourself, and others around you.
"The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about" -author unknown