before i got sick

the following is a collaborative piece that would simply not exist without the knowledge you have all given to me. i dedicate these words to all of the generous souls who have let me inside of their personal worlds. on the good days.. and on the worst days of their lives. this is my love letter to all of the people who have made an impact on my personal journey.  xoxo, kelly

before i got sick:

  • i didnt understand what health was. i had no idea what crohns disease or ulcerative colitis was. i took what i had for granted – i never knew any difference. “health is never valued until sickness comes”; its true. until you get an eye-opening experience or diagnosis, you tend to take things for granted.
  • i didnt know what the word “remission” meant. other than remission of Cancer. but Remission is real. i capitalize Remission because it is just as more important as any disease. but remission is REAL, and people experience it – i will, too.
  • i could spend the night at someone elses house without worrying i would wake up in a panic, sick to my stomach.
  • i never had to worry about pulling over on the highway puking my guts out or keep an empty grocery bag handy in case i cant stop going 70mph on the highway, but such is life living with GI diseases.
  • i didnt feel guilty about cancelling plans.
  • what the hell is moonface?
  • i could run competitively, but chose not to. looking back, im upset with myself i was not more health-conscious.  im aware i didnt do this to myself, but after i put my health (or lack of) into perspective, it was clear what i wasnt doing that i was capable of doing.
  • i had no excuse not to eat my vegetables. now that i have IBD, its not even a choice.
  • i didnt have to depend on people. my doctors, my parents, my support system. helplessness sucks. i depend on doctors offices, medications and visits to the ER to keep me out of surgeries. to keep me alive.
  • i didnt know i would have such shitty luck with incontinence at a young age.
  • i had no idea my future would be in the care of others. on my journey to wellness, i discovered my heart was in helping others.
  • i didnt know how much fight i had in me.
  • i never asked for help. luckily, and thank god, i have parents that know when i do need help and go out of their way to help me with daily tasks im not always able to do myself. 
  • i didnt know what friends were. anyone with a chronic illness has a certain “you learn who your friends are” opinion.
  • i didnt know that i would like take a form of chemotherapy the rest of my life. before i got sick, i didnt know that chemo was used for anything else other than cancer.

a little help from my friends…

  • i never failed a class, my house was clean, i actually had sex and had never had an IV. before UC, my marriage was strong, but not colitis strong! – katie w.
  • i was a work-a-holic who never stood still, never enjoyed or had time to enjoy the simple beauty of life. never took medication not even for a cough/cold and was happy traveling, holidaying and exploring the world. i have had time to evaluate life and realize who I am. – victoria
  • i was a bit of a self-absorbed jerk.  Crohn’s Disease has imposed limits on the amount of energy i have and has made me think about where – and with whom – i choose to spend that energy.  it has allowed me to connect with some truly amazing people, otherwise known as my “IBD Family”, and has given me an opportunity to slow my life down and realize that the most important things in life aren’t things.  basically speaking, having Crohn’s Disease has made me a better person in every way that counts.- stephen dempster
  • i don’t find much holds me back. i try to make light of it. in work meetings when my stomach makes huge noise like normal i say “my Crohnie doesn’t agree”. raises a smile and diverts attention from the noise and people stop noticing. much better than when i sat my exams and used to hold me stomach tight so it wouldn’t groan and moan.- crohnies in need
  • before i got sick i was really blind to those that were. i would always help those in need but sometimes my mind would tell me they are faking, because i couldn’t see it! this is the reason now folks hear me using the line “But you don’t look sick” because i don’t but am. – joshua robinson
  • i never imagined i would ever know this much about about medicine and medical procedures! i never imagined i would have had to learn how to insert N.G. tubes on a nightly basis. i never imagined i would have to learn how to give sub-q injections on a weekly basis. i never imagined that i would become a health activist. i also never imagined i would have meet so many great and wonderful people, that i not only consider my friends, but my family too! – the Crohn’s Colitis Effect

because i have crohns disease / ulcerative colitis:

  • i have a backbone. i have a say in my treatment. i have learned what it means to be an advocate for myself and give others the tools required to become their own as well.
  • i am educated. i loved learning about epidemiology in college, looking at the intestinal lining underneath a microscope, memorizing all of the medical terminology. it something i could relate to in a time i didnt relate to much around me. it too all of me to get through 5 years of college, but 2 degrees later, here i am. despite all of the setbacks, IVs, injections, hospitalizations & a surgery my sophomore year.
  • i treat my good days like gold. and max them out when they happen. because i have IBD, i know what a bad day can be.
  • i am a virtual road map to the nearest restroom at all times.
  • i have learned to treasure [uninterrupted] sleep. as a kid, i never slept. as an adult, i envy others who are able to sleep “regularly” in an unhealthy way.
  • i believe in healing power of pet therapy.
  • im motivated by the smallest challenges in my everyday life.
  • i smile more. generally, im 300% happier after accepting struggles and claiming small victories that may just be getting making it up a set of stairs successfully with no injuries!
  • i laugh. whats not funny about a fart? maybe a wet one..
  • setbacks can be a slingshot forward.
  • i have the ability to help others struggling with IBD around the world.
  • i hold family tighter.
  • i matured faster than those around me in certain aspects of my life.  i will likely be a child for the rest of my life in many ways, as sometimes it helps to cope living freely, lightly and with child-like humor. sometimes, its fun to be a kid and feel disease-free again.
  • i love my body more today than i did yesterday. i see scars and stretch marks and reflect on the milestones that have made up my life.
  • i have to be selfish at times, because i know no one else will do that for me. i have to advocate for myself to ensure my voice is heard whether it has to do with my course of treatment or educating others when they ask me about IBD.
  • i have twice the amount of determination and perseverance to  juggle my daily workload, to complete a half-marathon, to beat my disease.
truth be told, before i was diagnosed with anything, i didnt have much perspective on life. ive been through some unfortunate setbacks living with autoimmune disease, but none that have killed me! i do believe that i will overcome this disease entirely one day. and im not sure i would whole-heartedly believe that without the people who have helped me get here. it is a heavy load those who live with autoimmune diseases carry, but i dont believe i cant handle it. there are certainly days i wish i didnt have to, but in perspective, no matter how many bad days you have, the good ones still outweigh them all. before i had crohns or colitis, i had a wonderful life but i wasnt living it, not fully anyway.
dont let my positivity fool you. i have had hardships and struggles in my life with disease. i will not lie; there are days i quit, knowing i can start over fresh the next day. but the things that have been taken away from me due to my disease, have in turn provided me in opportunity; ten fold. friends, networks of support, communities filled with IBD & autoimmune patients just. like. me. who knew?

14 thoughts on “before i got sick

  1. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
    I am soooo proud of you, and you have come so far! I can only imagine your future! And how sharing your story, is helping so many to understand. Not many can share such a personal story with others. And you do so with such humor and positive ness! (Is that even a word!?). Love you, always remember that!


    • funny part to the vomit bags… the first time i had an episode of cyclic vomiting syndrome, all i had was a large cup from mcdonalds. i can’t see a cup and not think about my rush hour drive & that awful day.


      • Yep been there done that! I can’t believe I mastered vomiting and driving! Oh and I was on the phone at the same time. My poor friend.
        I think the salad was a bad idea yesterday 😦


  2. What a great post! I believe it to be important to show others exactly how much having Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis can take away from someone suffering from the disease. However!! I am not alone in saying that the illness has made us stronger, more determined and provided us all with a voice. Great post, keep up the great work you do for us IBD’ers Xx

    Liked by 1 person

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