A Valentine's Day Letter to Crohn’s Disease

Yes, you read that title correctly. I used the words “Valentine’s Day” and “Crohn’s disease” in the same sentence. I’d be lying if I said I would have been able to do that years ago. Hate would have been a more relatable feeling and word. As Valentine’s Day approaches and love is in the air, I’m choosing to look at my disease with my whole heart and to share my feelings with you.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t know my strength.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t have my perspective.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t know the meaning of a “feel good” day.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t be able to empathize with others on the same level.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t be able to see people’s true colors.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I may have ended up marrying a person who really wasn’t about being with someone in sickness and in health.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I’d feel invincible and take my health for granted.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t be me.

In life there are triumphs and there are challenges. There are stresses and there are successes. There are highs and there are lows. I find embracing the good, the bad and the ugly enables us to reach our potential. The painful, low points are difficult in the moment, but in hindsight they push us to our limits and show us all what we are capable of.

A photo of the writer holding a heart with "Crohn's" written above it.

People often ask me if I wish I didn’t have Crohn’s disease. I find it to be a loaded question. I’ve gotten to the point in my patient journey where I wouldn’t change a thing. So much of taking on this chronic illness is your attitude. There’s no sense in wondering and wishing for something that is not possible. Once you take a deep breath and stop living in your healthy past, you come to realize that you were given this hand of cards for a reason.

Your voice, your experience, your journey has the power to inspire. You have the ability to change lives. You have the opportunity to show that invisible illness and everything that comes along with it doesn’t need to destroy your dreams.

While I know some days, weeks and months are going to be treacherous in this journey, do yourself a favor and stop being so hard on yourself. Love yourself. Love all of you. Even the part of you that is broken on the inside. I’ve been through the flare-ups and the scares. I’ve overcome pain that causes me to pass out. I’ve weathered the storm of being wheeled into surgery. I’ve done hundreds of injections and blood draws and pokes and prods. At the end of the day, you rise. You take those steps to heal. You focus on getting better. You do all you can to make it through. Crohn’s and any chronic illness for that matter gives you this opportunity over and over. So, while we all tend to have negative feelings about our health and worry about what the next hour will bring, try and pause and stop for a moment. Think about all the beauty and insight it’s provided — and love yourself and your disease for a second.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Crohn's Disease

two women wearing dresses and stained in a church holding flowers

To My Mentor: Thank You for Loving Me Through My Battles With Crohn's Disease

To a very dear mentor, teacher, friend and someone I consider a second mom… Thank you. I know I have already thanked you time and time again, but there will never be enough thank yous to properly thank you for everything you have helped me through. So… even though I know this won’t be the [...]
Black and white image of grown daughter hugging her mother

To the Mother Whose Child Is Hurting

To the mother whose child is hurting — I have never been in your position. But I have been in your child’s. And I want to say what I wasn’t able to as a child: thank you. Thank you for taking me to appointments and tests and treatments, even when I get upset about having [...]
An illustration of a person facing an angry dragon.

When the Crohn's Disease Dragon Attacks

The cycle begins. Hour one. The first flutter of nausea starts to grow, stretching its angry wings within. Something will soon be very wrong as the body prepares to void. An application of heat to a tender set of intestines lends hope that the wave of retching will be absolved. The trash can a holy [...]
A photo of the writer walking on a pathway surrounded by water.

What I'm Thankful for After 365 Days With Crohn's Disease

Dear 2017, You were a year full of surprises. I thought I knew what to expect, but you shattered all of my predictions. I anticipated a year full of bittersweet endings and new beginnings, with my college graduation, a final summer before the real world, and the start of my career. And while all this [...]