After months of neglecting this blog I'm back with a bang talking about something off topic but hugely important to me. This week is 'Invisible Illness Awareness Week'. (I didn't even know there was such a thing). Why am i writing about this? Well, I live with an invisible illness on a daily basis.
Three years ago my life changed drastically as I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. After years of unexplained sickness and every test imaginable I was both relieved and heartbroken when I was diagnosed with this incurable illness. Relieved that there was finally an explanation to the mystery sickness; and heartbroken that I was faced with a condition that will affect me for the rest of my life.
What is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel, autoimmune disease which affects areas of the digestive track. It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. It is a highly embarrassing illness that is rarely talked about. Most people have never heard of it. Yet over 20,000 people in Ireland suffer with this illness. Most of these people suffer in silence looking perfectly healthy on the outside but crippled on the inside.
My Crohn's Story...
In the years leading up to diagnoses I was very sick. I could not digest food properly, I had ulcers everywhere and I was tired all the time. Whether I got two hours sleep or twenty hours sleep it made no difference. I missed an enormous amount of school and had to deal with some relatives thinking I was 'faking' for a day off.
When I was first diagnosed my life was turned upside down. I had to come out of college as I couldn't attend lectures and keep up study because I was so sick. I had to restrict my diet to rice and chicken breast, I was lacking in every vitamin you can imagine and I started treatment by testing medication. I was fortunate that the first trial medicine worked for me and I have to take minimum 6 tablets daily.
Living with an Invisible Illness...
Living with this illness is difficult to say the least. I have to take every day as it comes. Some days I am full of life and ready to take on the world. I can eat what I want and not worry about where the nearest bathroom is and I can just be normal, look and feel healthy. These are my good days and I'm thankful for every one I have.
My bad days are awful. From the moment I wake up I feel ill. I have no energy and spend most of my time lying down or in bed. I cannot eat anything and if I do it makes me worse. I still look healthy, but I feel miserable. Today is a bad day, but I've got through it like always, and hopefully tomorrow will be better.
It's not all bad though!
I have been fortunate enough to have an incredible support system. Both my family and friends are compassionate and understanding when they could be frustrated.
I have learned how strong I am and how even though I've been cursed with this it won't stop me from doing anything I want to do. (It just might take a little longer than usual).
I've lost some much needed weight through both sickness and working my ass off with a personal trainer. 95lbs to date!
I've learned life is for living and to enjoy every minute of it. My illness won't stop me seeing the world!
The point of this blog post is not to have you feel sorry for me, I don't need any sympathy and it's not me looking for attention either. It is purely to raise awareness for us soldiers living with invisible illnesses.
If I had a broken arm - you would see it, you would know my arm is broken because it would be in a cast. You would understand it was sore and painful. Think of these invisible illnesses as a broken arm, just on the inside! I look healthy but I'm fighting a battle with my health every day.
I AM A WARRIOR!
Thank you for reading this far. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my story. Hopefully you are more aware of invisible illnesses. And if there is anyone suffer in silence I'm a listening ear if you need to talk or vent or whatever.
Until next time...