To Melanie, from Your Future Chronic Illness
You’re an adult now, newly 18. You’ll leave for college soon and it won’t be easy. The adjustment won’t be too bad, you’ll make a few friends and earn good grades. But as the year progresses, the real difficulty begins. When you can’t use the restroom without crying because of pain and your mom comes to pick you up to rush to the doctor, you don’t know that that’s the just the beginning of this autoimmune road.
You’ll finish this freshman year with success and move home for the summer. When you get your dream office job with a pension, health insurance, more than double minimum wage and responsibilities that a college grad would expect to handle, you are elated. And you tackle it all with ease and impressive skill. This is your wheelhouse and you rock it.
But with this new job, your first car (purchased by you), and summer breezes comes intense abdominal pain that drops you to your knees when it strikes. And it strikes hard and often. You’re desperate for answers as is your sweet mom who aches right along with you. Answers don’t come. Band-Aids in the way of antacids are thrown at you, one ineffective and expensive prescription after another until you happen upon a new doctor who tells you it’s stress and you’d better get a handle on it because “in a few years you’re going to come to me begging for Valium and I’m not going to give it to you.” You’ll never forget his name, his face, or how unfair, inaccurate, and irresponsible his words were. Click To Tweet
You’ll suffer for a few years and you’ll have to eventually forget about that double major dream of journalism and business administration. Gosh, you would have been an astute businesswoman. Your boss recognized it when he sent you on business trips and let you take meetings at the ripe old age of 21. But your body has other plans and its name is Crohn’s disease. You’ll be inadvertently diagnosed–perhaps it’s serendipity—during a gynecological surgery. Days later, two scopes and a biopsy confirm the suspicion: Crohn’s disease.
Though you’re washed with relief that there’s finally a name to your suffering, you have no idea what it really means. But after lots of pain, sleepless nights, and experimenting with countless medications (can’t any of them be cheap??), you finally get a bit of a handle on it and though your dream job went away when the company folded, you find a new skill and a new workplace: medical transcription and home.
Your health road is bumpy. You’ll have a beautiful child with ease and the next pregnancy will come with great challenges, including not once but twice battling back from death’s door. But take heart, your children will be healthy and you will be strong. This illness will not conquer you because when that gene defected and imprinted Crohn’s disease on your DNA, also imprinted were determination, strength, and the heart of a warrior and champion.
Melanie Pickett is a blogger who writes about healthy relationships, abuse survival, and encouragement at MelanieSPickett.com. Melanie is currently completing her first nonfiction book. Melanie contributes at The Mighty and HuffPost as well as Defying Shadows. She has been published on BlogHer, Splickety Magazine, Whole Magazine online, and Sonoma Christian Home where she is an Associate Editor Intern. Melanie is a wife and proud mother of two beautiful teenagers. You can also find Melanie at https://twitter.com/MelanieSPickett, and https://www.facebook.com/melaniespickett/.