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The Love/Hate Relationship I Have With My Medication

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My last semester of college, I sat in class as my professor brought up side effects of medications. I don’t remember how or why the conversation got brought up. He went on to say that he didn’t understand how people could willingly take medications that had such risky side effects, and sometimes wondered if he would take the “skin condition” or “stomach ailment” over the medication.

Immediately, my body filled with anger because I have a so-called “stomach ailment” known as Crohn’s disease. He didn’t know this of course; all he knew was that I was registered with my school’s disability services because I had something chronic. The moment passed, as it always does, as I reassured myself that it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t know any better. The only way you can know is if you have something that requires that sort of medication.

I hate my medication, but I also love it. The first medication I tried provided instant relief, but gave me insomnia. The second one, that I still take to this day, helped even more, but it caused my hair to fall out until it was extremely thin. The third medication I tried, which I also still take, is a painful shot that could also cause lupus or cancer.

I didn’t want to take this medication; my doctor and I both wanted me to take a different one. Unfortunately, insurance said no, twice. I had panic attacks over the idea of taking it, scared of the pain and of the possible side effects. For the first seven months, someone else had to administer the shots for me because it is very painful. I hated it, but I didn’t have a choice.

A few months after starting this injection, my feelings for it became complicated. Combined with my other medication, I found myself feeling the best I had since being diagnosed. It was the most I had ever felt like my pre-diagnosis self. I could eat French fries and chocolate in the same night if I wanted without worrying about terrible consequences. The anxiety I felt about eating foods I would normally stay away from while out with friends or colleagues started to disappear. The stomachaches I was used to tolerating decreased. My energy returned. I regained freedom and ease of mind. For that reason, I love my medication.

If I didn’t take it, I would have stomachaches so bad I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. I wouldn’t be able to digest food, and would continue to lose weight until I was hospitalized. It’s not a stomach ailment I can just ignore and choose to live with. As much as I don’t like it, I need the medication more than I can worry about possible side effects because my life depends on it. I despise it, but at the same time I am grateful for it. It’s a fine line to walk, but one that anyone with a chronic illness knows all too well.

Originally published: August 28, 2018
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