how can i count the ways?
i started this journey as a 17 year old girl. i thought i was invincible then. truth is, i
was just really naive. though ive always been fascinated by the human body & had a guilty pleasure growing up watching creepy, gory shows like CSI, my love of the human body grew the day i learned i also had ulcerative colitis, in addition to my initial diagnosis of crohns disease. devastated, i made a pledge to myself that i would educate myself and do what it took to have control over the parts of my life i could control. though it was a lengthy process, im proud of the person i am today. that statement in itself is something i never thought id be able to say. even before my diagnosis, i had terrible self-image; something im also proud to say today is much better.
not only have i grown to accept myself in the eyes of myself, i learned to educate others about IBD. in this turn of event, my passion for becoming involved with non-profits grew. i became involved with CCFA, BloodCenter of WI & also some national non-profits that tied into the work i was doing at the time. its easy for anybody working with non-profits to fall in love with what they do and later on down the road in my career, i realized its what i was meant to do. so, i began sharing my story. by the grace of God, i was asked to share this story in front of what seemed like a million people at Miller Park for a Take Steps event in 2011. standing in front of such a large crowd of people so accepting of what IBD is & honestly interested in hearing what i had to say was nothing short of inspiring, motivating & terrifying! i knew if i could do this, i could do so much more than what i thought i was capable of. so, i began to tell others. many of who had a family member with crohns or colitis but didnt know all too much about it. i learned to expect all sorts of reactions. (i still laugh at some facial expressions to this day). it wasnt always the easiest to explain a disease that heavily involves ones bowel movements & heck, it may never be easy, but it does get a little better every day. and honestly, there can be a lot of good conversation that stems from it. much of physical disease involves emotional well-being too. so, its nice to know that someone genuinely wants to know about you & learn about how youre able to overcome so many struggles. when i talk to you about my disease, it means im comfortable with you and that.is.big. 17 year old kelly would not be caught dead in a fishermans net talking about poop or living with IBD.
so yes, im proud to have GUTS. im not sorry if you find my facebook, instagram or twitter posts annoying. not only are they my form of therapy to occasionally vent into cyberspace, it allows me to connect with others in the same situation as me. i used to struggle with getting out of bed in the morning. & that was when i was 20! ..at the prime age you should be enjoying college & forming life-long relationships. immature & inexperienced, i thought my life was over when id wake up & see prednisone cheeks – until i learned that waking up morning after morning was a blessing!! i embraced who i was, became comfortable with time in telling people about my IBD after becoming educated about it myself. i lived in denial the first few years post-diagnosis and thats no ones fault but my own. not saying you can learn to deal overnight, but living with disease is MUCH easier than living in denial with disease. im thankful for my fellow IBD blogger, Mel, who taught me the phrase “coming out of the bathroom”. its true. i spent too many years living in denial that robbed me of a few good youthful years (sick or not). i felt bad for myself, became depressed and hid in my apartment in fear society would eat me alive. i settled for relationships that were emotionally & physically bad for me. i have crohns, not cooties. im not contagious. im not sorry that i came around & finally found the positives and now embrace the person i am and deserve good things in life. im a person first, who has a condition. it seems the people who most often roll their eyes are the ones who know the least. as a patient who will likely live with these diseases the rest of my life, its my responsibility to help educate our community to help accept us, so we learn to accept ourselves. i wont apologize for being comfortable in my own skin, using my backbone & advocating for a cause i truly believe in. how much have i changed? let me count the ways..