To the Person Whose Chronic Illness Is Forcing You to Grow Up Quickly

I see you there. Wise and strong beyond your years. You might not realize how strong you truly are, but I can tell because once, I was you.

Typically we grow up over a long period of time. Hitting essential milestones as we go. We crawl, then walk, then run. But sometimes when chronic illness strikes life goes from zero to 60 in a matter of seconds.

When I was diagnosed with chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIPO), I was only 17 years old. And I wasn’t ready to grow up. I wasn’t ready to be tough and fight for what I needed against people who were truly “adults.” But overnight I had to become a strong, well-informed adult patient so I could fight my disease head-on. It was scary. I was a high schooler who just wanted to have a good time. I wasn’t ready to stand up to this monster of a disease, but I had to. I was forced to grow up before I was ready.

Looking back, however, I’m a better person because of it. My CIPO has allowed me to see what is really important in life and helped me learn not to take things for granted. I’ve learned how precious every day is and to cherish every moment as it happens because things can change on a dime. Something as simple as a hug becomes huge when spending large quantities of time in the hospital. While I still have some actual growing up to do (hello, turning 21!), I’m grateful to my disease for helping me mature and realize what is really important in life and what’s not.

So to you, standing there scared and not feeling ready to tackle what’s coming your way, I want to say don’t worry. It might be hard now, and chances are it’ll be scary. But you’ll get there and do a lot of growing up along the way. And I promise, one day you’ll realize how strong you truly are!

Follow this journey on Sara’s Army.

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