When It Feels Like I've Been Left Behind During My Battle With Crohn's


I think there’s probably nothing worse than being sick and having no one call to see how you are – or maybe worse is when people leave.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at about 14 years old. I went dark as many of us do when hit with something so much bigger than we are. I honestly did not understand my own disease until I was about 30, and I certainly never talked about it – no one did. But I made sure I looked good. That’s a secret talent we ladies who live with chronic illness have. We whip out the blush, scribble on eyeliner and smudge on pinky lipstick over our pale lips and bingo! We have that sporty glow… but ours is from the bottle. Not wanting people to leave me is at the heart of so much I fake.

When I have to have procedures or surgery and cannot find anyone to take me, I joyfully say, “Hey, no worries,” and then worry…. a lot. When no one calls to see how I’m doing after a procedure, again, as a warrior I show no fear of abandonment, but in reality, I am going even darker.

Flowers die if you don’t attend to them. I actually talk to my only plant left that my dear cats haven’t eaten. It’s not the prettiest, but that makes me try even harder – I want it to thrive.

It’s the same for people with chronic illness; we want to thrive and we don’t want to have to give stuff up – our dreams, animals, fun times, careers or even heels, darn it! We rail against the unfairness of it all. Me, I’m going to take stock out on tissues. I think I have just wiped out my local supermarket’s supply.

I ask, trying to sound nonchalant, like I just thought of it on my way to the Rivera, “Oh, and please don’t leave” or “Could you call more often?” But then people don’t and people still leave. Maybe I show too much courage in the face of the unthinkable and people think I’m fine, so they leave without a thought.

Friends leave, family leaves (that’s a biggie), potential partners leave, hell, sometimes even my hair leaves! When there’s so much leaving and nothing coming back, I’m like a balloon that looses all its air – I drop to the floor, abandoned and, well, pretty sad-looking… But then that one special person comes along and hugs me. They say, “Let me come for tea and I’ll bring the tea. Don’t worry, everything will be alright. I’m your person.” And, as if magic were real, I expand and float to the ceiling with joy. I feel hopeful, like I am lovable and wanted. I love that person so much that I eat all the cookies they brought and get sick again, but I don’t care – because in that moment I feel (dare I say it)…”normal.”

If you know someone with a chronic illness, call more often, go see them, bring the tea, ask if they need more tissues… but please, don’t leave them.

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