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.

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?
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WEGO Health Activist Awards

20131217-192815.jpgWEGO Health Activist Awards

im a firm believer in…. standing up for what you believe in! behind every choice in your life should stand someone who has good moral, best interest for all parties involved & the ability to help support others by supporting the small goals towards one common goal. thats teamwork, right?

my support team doesnt just involve friends and family. my support group lives 25,000 miles away. my support group lives online through social media, through magazines we produce, through professional communities and national non-profits. many people make up my support team of IBD specialists – i say specialists in a unique way. we may not all be doctors, but we have something better than doctors will ever be able to tell us; personal experience. we have been operated on, tested on, criticized for not looking sick enough & criticized for the way we look when we are sick. something else doctors will never be able to tell us is how to deal with these things when they happen to us.

there are many people that have helped me on me journey to become who i am today. i am eternally grateful for the wisdom and advice they have given me throughout the years. it hasnt always been easy to hear, read and experience, but it has helped me cope. it has helped me come to terms with my diagnosis and live a better quality of life. most importantly, it has taught me to fight.. for myself, for others and for awareness.  many people look at social media like it is a negative thing, but i have had such an amazing experience connecting with others like myself, that i couldnt imagine a life without it. communicating with others who live with IBD and chronic disease, raising awareness to diseases like ours, finding funds to study and research towards a cure and… drumroll… advocate for others!!

im proud of who i have grown to be and that speaks volumes. ive fought like hell to be where i am today and have many people to thank for that.

i ask that you nominate your health activist heroes & the people who have helped mold you into a better person, advocate & patient. maybe you dont have a disease but you follow someone elses journey or blog through social media (instagram, twitter, facebook, website/blog)… i ask that you dig deep in your heart and thank them with a nomination like i have. take the time to browse around some of the blogs that may be related to mine & you will find some amazing, courageous and crazy, fun people who find ways to fight for others by providing them support and relief that things will be ok.

awards.wegohealth.com/   – nominate your favorite activist here!

http://instagram.com/jojocrabb https://www.facebook.com/jojocrabb  https://twitter.com/kjocrabb http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kelly-crabb/71/bb2/a44/

how ive grown.. (2013 IBD awareness week edition)

ask me.

ask me.

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..

xox