Friday, December 5, 2014

{Crohn's Awareness} :: You Don't Look Sick...Are You Really?

This is often one of the most misleading things about Crohn's Disease. Most of the time, I look fine and {relatively} normal, and no one can tell that my insides are wreaking havoc on themselves :)

So the bright side is that I often don't look sick! For the most part, Crohn's only affects my insides, and there are often no visible signs of the disease. That is an incredible gift from the Lord, in that He has allowed me to be well enough to go about my daily activities. I really have not experienced huge limitations, and for that I am grateful.

But looks can be deceiving! While I don't look sick a lot of the time, I am often battling abdominal pain, intestinal issues, body aches, and fatigue. Crohn's is autoimmune, so my body just doesn't function like it is supposed to all the time. I have mentioned living with a "new normal;" and often that really means that I work/play/smile through the pain and discomfort. That's not meant to elicit pity, that's just reality. My co-worker often {lovingly} scolds me for not mentioning when I don't feel well; often her only clue is that I just get a lot quieter than usual. So while I may not look sick, I often still feel it.

And let's just be real for a minute...Crohn's is an intestinal disease, which means that a lot of visible symptoms are experienced in the privacy of the bathroom. Now of course, I have been in very public places when Crohn's symptoms have manifested {which is miserable for everyone}, but I can at least hide behind a closed door. You might have to cover your ears and comfort small children, but I can hide out until the coast is clear if absolutely necessary. TMI, I know. Just keepin' it real.

My sweet husband is the one person who sees more of my actual sickness than anyone else. He is with me when I am at my worst, and he patiently endures the day-to-day realities of living with an autoimmune disease. So he could probably tell you better than anyone, that yes, I am really sick :)  I am so thankful for him, how he takes his vow of "in sickness and in health" very seriously. It was dropped on him pretty early in our marriage, but he is awesome. I couldn't face Crohn's without him. But I sometimes even mask my pain and discomfort from him {and especially him} because he has to deal with it so much. I can't imagine how exhausting it must be to constantly have a sick wife.

Anyway...part of the process is learning how to live with your disease. There are the obvious physical aspects, but there are also the emotional aspects of living with an autoimmune disease. It can be really tough some days. On a bad day, it's hard to be at work, be out with friends, or keep a positive attitude. And there are definitely times when I need to pull out the sick card and actually "look sick." But most days I grin and bear it...because I have had to accept my new normal, making the best of it. While Crohn's is very much a part of my life now, I refuse to let it define me. It would be too easy to let it take over, and then it would be more overwhelming than I want it to be.

So yes, I am really sick...sometimes even if I don't look like it   :)

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