What I Realized After a Nurse’s Compliment Offended Me

I’ve had ulcerative colitis (UC) for 10 years, which is more than half of my life. Along with all the symptoms of my UC came countless needle pricks, blood draws, IVs and shots. I’ve gotten used to all of these things now. They’ve become just a regular part of my life.

But about a year and a half ago, on the day I started my Remicade infusions, as I got yet another IV placed in my arm, the nurse said to me, “Wow, you didn’t even flinch. I’m impressed.” Now to most people, this sounds like a compliment — and don’t get me wrong, it totally was a compliment — but I hated that she said that.

All I could think was that I would easily trade my so-called “bravery” to be the same as the average kid. I would think, Kids are supposed to flinch when being pricked with needles. Kids aren’t supposed to be used to the feeling of getting poked and prodded. Kids aren’t supposed to worry about whether their veins are good or not because they’ve had poison pumped through them countless times.

Now, I realize how flawed my logic was.

It’s difficult to put a positive spin on a chronic illness. Knowing there is no cure and always having to worry about having a flare is not an easy thing to live with. But having UC has shaped a lot of my life. And I could decide to focus on the negatives and think about the pain I’ve been through. I could look at all the skills I’ve gained and blame my disease for them. Or I could value the fact that I have grown so much because of my disease. Everything I’ve been through, bad or good, has helped shape me into who I am today. All things, disease-related or not, have impacted me.

And, you know what?

I am strong.

I am resilient.

I am a fighter.

There is no denying I have my off days or maybe even weeks. But that doesn’t take away that I have grown into a better person because of my chronic illness. And, most importantly, I am brave!

woman in blue cap and gown at graduation

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