I is for Inflammatory.
More specifically, I is for Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD for short.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) involves chronic inflammation of all or part of your digestive tract. IBD primarily includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Both usually involve severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications.
I have had the privilege (yes, you detect a bit of sarcasm there) of experiencing both Ulcerative Colitis (UC) AND Crohn's. July 2004 marks the anniversary of UC diagnosis. I have an ileostomy because of UC. My colon was so diseased and beyond the help of modern medicine that it had to go in 2011. January 2015 marks the diagnosis of Crohn's. We thought having my colon removed in 2011 would bring an end to the UC and it did. What we did not count on is that IBD has two spectrums to it, UC on one end and Crohn's on the other. Some have asked if maybe I had Crohn's all along? Possibly. Was I misdiagnosed in 2004? Hard to know, really. What we do know is that I presented as a textbook case of severe Ulcerative Colitis to all medical professionals and testings. When my colon was removed it was sent to the lab where it was determined to be a worthless organ completely destroyed by UC. Whether or not I had UC or Crohn's then didn't matter, I was gravely ill and needed to get rid of my colon. Having a Crohn's diagnosis back then would not have changed my therapies leading up to the ileostomy, the fact is, the colon had to go. Maybe the 3 years post colon removal would have been watched a bit closer for reoccurrence of active bowel disease, this is the only thing that might have been different.
I can't let myself wonder on the 'what ifs.' It's a deadly mind game. The fact is, I have Crohn's disease and that's that. There isn't a cure but there are options in therapies.
Today, May 19, 2015 is World IBD Day. I find it a bit ironic to have 1 day a year to bring awareness to and focus on IBD when it rules the lives of the people it affects 24/7, 365 days a year. For those of us on the IBD battle field, it's just another ordinary day. It's a way of life just as sobriety is for a recovering alcoholic. It's a constant struggle to feel good, to get things done, to live in the moment, to be positive. A choice to move forward.
IBD takes and takes from you. It can rob you of so much more than just your health. It has and will continue to cost people their jobs, friendships, relationships and marriages. Nothing is too sacred, IBD's reach knows no boundaries. It is a cancer set on destroying it's host. It has claimed the lives of some amazing warriors who fought very hard until the end.
So today, I want to honor my brothers and sisters who fight this battle too. I want to tell you, you are brave and you are strong and I find hope and courage through you. Even when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, you amaze me with your will and desire and dedication to make this life a better one. Putting others before you. Always stepping up to the challenge of awareness. There is comfort in knowing this isn't just my fight, I am only one of an incredible army of warriors. This is awesome because I do not feel strong enough to be alone in this. I need to be carried or at least helped along right now. I want to become one of you, the warriors, the super heroes, so that I can eventually carry someone weaker than I am. So I can pay it forward. So I can raise a fist in victory with you.