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4 Positives of Living With Crohn's Disease

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Living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can be painful, isolating and can really complicate life. However, once you accept your life with a lifelong disease and find peace, you may discover the beauty of IBD. The following are some of the positives of living with Crohn’s disease I have experienced.

1. Relationships

Dealing with the symptoms of IBD, medication side effects and generally not feeling well can get in the way of relationships. This disease is unpredictable; one moment we may feel perfect, but the next, we may be doubled over in pain and have to cancel or modify plans. Struggling with a chronic disease really helps you discover who your true friends are, and they can make all the difference when you are not feeling well.

Several occasions in college, I remember distinctly how my friends’ presence and laughter made me feel so much better when I was at my sickest. I was taking a chemotherapy drug at too high of a dose, which made me extremely nauseous. I was constantly in the bathroom, and I had trouble sleeping from the steroids. My friends may not have realized how much a difference they made, but simply hanging out and laughing together helped me forget about the pain temporarily. As cliche as it sounds, my friends have been there at my weakest, most vulnerable moments and supported me through it all, especially when my family was hours away. I am eternally grateful for these incredible friends and fortunate to be on this journey of becoming a physician with many of them.

My friends from home have also been incredible throughout this whole process, checking in on me daily and sending their love from afar. Through illness, my family has grown stronger. My mom attends all my doctor appointments when she can, even though I am an adult and not living at home anymore. Additionally, my mom and I have bonded over diet, lifestyle and exercise as we both prefer holistic therapies over traditional medicine. My dad and sister are always checking in on me, and our group chat is very active. While all four of us are not together often, we cherish family time more than ever.

2. Autoimmune Community

Following the Autoimmune Protocol and blogging to raise awareness about chronic disease has allowed me to become part of the wonderful autoimmune disease community. We share recipes, advocate for our respective diseases and support each other unconditionally. If I had never struggled with an autoimmune disease, I would have never changed my diet, lifestyle or met any of these wonderful other autoimmune warriors.

3. Perspective

Some days are very hard with chronic disease, physically, socially and emotionally. Dealing with bad days really makes me appreciate my good days and realize just how lucky I am. I am so fortunate to be living in a country with great medical care, attending medical school and to be sleeping in a warm and safe bed each night. Crohn’s disease may throw a few curve balls here and there, but my health could be so much worse. For that, I am grateful. There are billions of other people fighting tougher battles, and we need to be there to support each other as much as possible. This support can range from simple smiling at and complimenting others to offering a homeless person a meal to working with large advocacy organizations. The support possibilities are endless; what is important is spreading kindness.

4. Passion

Living with Crohn’s disease has really developed my passion for healthy living, preventative medicine and holistic therapies. I have experienced firsthand the benefits of changing my diet and lifestyle, practicing self-care and managing my stress. Plus, I have witnessed similar benefits in others. I am so excited to be a nontraditional physician working in a traditional medical center with a traditional MD degree. My goal is to take care of the whole patient, not just the disease, and I will emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

If you take one thing away from this post, please do something you love every day, and spread kindness.

This post originally appeared on Sweetened By Nature.

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Getty Image by BartekSzewczyk

Originally published: February 15, 2018
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