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5 Helpful Tips to Guide You Through the Day You Receive a New Crohn's Disease Diagnosis

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I have Crohn’s disease. I was diagnosed in February of 2021, so I am coming up on a year of clarity about my health.

Prior to my official diagnosis, I was battling extreme pain and subsequent frustration. Then, sitting in a hospital gown, naked from the waist down, and groggy from an anesthetic, I received an answer.

My gastroenterologist said, “Well, it looks like you and I are going to be great friends” after a colonoscopy, which is nothing anyone wants to hear from a specialist. I was not looking for friends — especially “friends” with medical degrees.

If this experience sounds familiar to you, I have some tips to get through your first days after receiving such life-changing news. If you’re anything like me, you may have felt a sense of relief when you were first given a concrete diagnosis. The day of your diagnosis does not have to be a day for anyone else but you, and here’s how to manage it.

1. Nap if you need to.

Medical procedures can be utterly exhausting. You’re more than likely going to be tired, and if you’re not ready for a full sleep, at least take some rest. You don’t owe anyone answers to what’s happening with your health right away.

2. Sit with your new Crohn’s disease diagnosis.

As comforting as it can be to hear that a medical term matches your physical symptoms, it can also feel like a huge loss. It’s OK to be sad, but sitting with the new diagnosis and accepting it is the first step. Don’t freak out — it will ultimately be OK.

3. Stay away from Googling your new Crohn’s disease diagnosis.

Using the internet may not help you right now. The only screen time you might need is funny TikToks and Netflix. Not as a distraction per se — more as a way to get in some “me time.” Until you have factual information from a doctor, there is probably no point in trying to research your diagnosis, as the internet can be fear-mongering and blow medical conditions way out of proportion. 

4. Talk to whomever you want about your new Crohn’s disease diagnosis.

If you have a family like mine, you will more than likely hear from everyone when they ask how the procedure or diagnosis went. However, it is OK to continue to take time to yourself to process the diagnosis (because it can be a lot) before relaying the information to other people.

5. Join support groups for people with Crohn’s disease.

Nothing is more comforting to me than reaching out to strangers with similar experiences to my own. The internet can be an excellent place to meet people who are struggling just like you are, and you can hold each other accountable while reminding each other of how strong you all are. It may also be less pressure than real-life relationships because it is just online, and you can choose when to engage with others.

Your day of diagnosis is yours for the taking. Handle it however you see fit while also taking care of yourself. It is the beginning of a long journey, but at least you have answers now.

Getty image by FG Trade.

Originally published: February 3, 2022
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