1. Do you have a primary diagnosis, if so, what is it?
A: Terminal ileal Crohn’s Disease
2. How long did it take you to get diagnosed?
A: My appendix ruptured due to fistula and inflammation in my ileum, during an emergency surgery my Crohn’s Disease was discovered, so I was blessed with a quick diagnosis.
3. How did you feel when you were first diagnosed? (ex: relieved, upset, numb?) What was the first thing you did?
A: I was upset, my alcohol addiction and heavy abuse of alcohol was what I thought was causing my many symptoms. When I found out it was a much more serious condition I was a bit shaken up. The first thing I did was homework on my disease, and I began committing to sobriety (unsuccessfully at first) and spiritual principles to heal my mind, body and spirit.
4. What advice would you give to someone who is chronically ill but undiagnosed?
A: keep pushing for diagnosis. I don’t have much experience here, as stated above, but I know treatment options and remedies are much more available when you have a concrete diagnosis.
5. Has your chronic illness changed your perspective, and if so, how?
A: My chronic illness has changed my perspective drastically. I am more conscious of my body, my needs, and my diet. Emotionally and spiritually I am more fit than I’ve ever been, despite my physical symptoms. I have much more compassion for a world I never even considered before, and I commend the bravery and strength of anyone who battles chronic illness, addiction, invisible illness or mental illness.
6. What moment are you most proud of in your chronic illness journey thus far?
A: I believe finding the strength to get sober has been my proudest moment along my journey so far, and my chronic illness and support from my friends, family, and community have been huge drivers in my success. I still battle my disease daily, as we have not found adequate treatment for remission yet, but my gratitude is through the roof due to outside support inspiring me to make the next right decision on a daily basis.
7. What was your hardest (or lowest) moment, mentally and/or physically, that you’ve been through on your journey
A: Being hospitalized for almost two weeks due to an active GI bleed, nothing but IV fluids for nourishment and losing 30 lb was probably my bottom so far on this journey. It is difficult to cope when you have no control over your body, and despite staying positive, watching your body go through such turmoil isn’t by any means easy. I still haven’t recovered physically from that, but I have come to have compassion and love for my body regardless.
8. What or who has helped you the most during the lowest days?
A: My favourite authors, family and friends, as well as online support communities have been my go to during the hard times. The compassion from someone who actually knows what you’re going through is unparalleled, so I would say other chronic illness warriors head the list for effective support.
9. If you had any words of advice for someone struggling with a similar diagnosis, what would they be?
A: Keep fighting, be patient, and be grateful for your body despite its challenges. Your mental attitude goes a long way in healing and enduring the time it takes for symptoms to come and go. Reach out, seek help and treat your body with love.
10. What would you like the world to know about life as a chronic illness patient?
A: We are warriors! It takes a little, and sometimes a lot of extra gumption for us spoonies to walk, talk, live and love the same way someone without chronic illness does. We become accustomed to going the extra mile daily to promote self love, and compassion from an altruistic stand point, because we know how it feels to suffer. Speaking for myself, I do not take my days for granted, and I smile even when inside I feel like crying. I embody love and soulful positivity for self love, so that others may be encouraged to do the same, I don’t ask for sympathy; only for acceptance, compassion and understanding that my daily ability to participate is circumstantial. Some days I’m on, other days I’m off. Don’t hold it against me, and love me as I love you, unconditionally.