4 Things I Learned From Being a High School Student With Crohn's


Almost a month ago, my life as a high school student came to an end – no more waking up at 6:00 a.m. every day, no more school dances, no more crowded hallways and no more rules that, as a person with Crohn’s disease, were really hard to follow. Rules like “ask before you leave to use the restroom,” “no water bottles in class” and “no food in the classroom” all came to an end. Rules aside, what did high school teach me, besides how to solve overly-complicated matrices and what taxes are?

I learned…

1. To put my health first. Most of my classmates knew me as one of the quiet kids who missed a lot of school, which didn’t bother me all that much. The majority of my past four years were spent recovering from surgeries, figuring out life with an ostomy and fighting flares. I didn’t have the time, nor the energy, to try and fit in with the “cool kids.” In the midst of staying caught up with my schoolwork, I was fighting a battle within myself the vast majority of my classmates and teachers knew nothing about. My health always came before my social life and schoolwork.

 

2. To appreciate my friends. During my senior year of high school, I had surgery to remove my entire colon. During that time, I received support from people I had not talked to in over a year. Friends drove home from college to visit me. Friends came to the hospital after school to bring me gifts and take me on walks that were very much encouraged by my family and physical therapy team. Never in my life had I been more grateful for the friends I have. The support I received and continue to receive is more than heartwarming. I have been blessed with friendships that will last a lifetime, and I appreciate every one of them.

3. To believe in myself. Senior year was harder than any of the others – a worsened flare combined with the stress of applying to colleges was definitely not a recipe for easy success. Everyone always told me senior year is the “blow off year, the easy year,” but for me it was far from it. I had nearly 200 class absences during my senior year, but I did it – I got accepted to the college of my dreams, graduated and started to gain my health back again. Now, I have no doubt in my mind I will do great things in college. I believe in myself and I know what I’m capable of.

4. To appreciate the good. My freshman and sophomore years of high school are slowly becoming a blur of time spent in remission. There is nothing I regret more than not appreciating that time when I was the healthiest I have ever been since my diagnosis. I have ended high school with many hard-won achievements, and with the knowledge and ability to appreciate everything I have. Whether it be good health, great friends, a supportive family or the will to keep fighting, chronic illness has taught me what a beautiful gift life is and it should never be taken for granted.

As I look back, I am amazed by how fast these past four years have flown by, but I am even more amazed at how much I have learned about myself and about life in general. Although I hope college is a healthier time for me than high school was, I am still very excited to see what college can teach me (and maybe even what I can teach college) as someone with Crohn’s disease.

This post originally appeared on Improve Care Now.

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Thinkstock photo via shironosov.


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