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Why I Wish Healthy People Could Walk a Day in My Shoes With Crohn's Disease

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When we get unexpected news regarding our health, we may deal with it in a variety of ways: tears of sadness/fear, anger, denial or acceptance.  When I was told the news a few days ago by my GI surgeon that he needed to do an outpatient exploratory procedure to check on the severity of my Crohn’s disease, tears just started to flow for a few minutes from my eyes. Then I reassured him that I was fine and able to cope with this as I’ve already accepted that it’s just the nature of my illness.

When I left the office, I was angry at the fact that it reared its ugly face as I’ve been doing rather well for several years. I just wished it was something I could put in a box and shove under the bed never to see the light of day ever. Since that wasn’t possible, I started to prepare myself to battle with this invisible monster yet again. I knew if I contacted my girlfriends, I could always count on them for prayers and support because they have always accepted me as I am without prejudice or judgment.

It wasn’t always like this. There were times in my life I can remember when I was accused of having an addiction, faking my symptoms or out to ruin a relative’s wedding day when I was maid of honor and in a very bad flare-up. Instead of getting angry and explaining myself repeatedly, I decided to be the bigger person and ignore their hurtful words. It was obvious they had already labeled me without even attempting to get their facts straight on what I have to endure on a daily basis.

drawing of a puzzle piece in the middle of the globe

I wish that society, in general, would realize that those of us with invisible chronic health issues are just like everybody else, except our “insides may be rearranged or wired differently.” Even though our physical symptoms can’t be seen, the pain and discomfort is very much real. There are people who have to take it one hour, one minute, one second at a time just to make it through the day. Getting up can be draining for some and it can take them longer to get ready to start their daily routine. Then there are those who have a tough time being mobile so they have to rely on a family member or friend to take them to their medical appointments or running errands such as grocery shopping. Something healthy people may take for granted because they are able to get around and do more. So why, then, do some folks assume they know everything about our circumstances without getting their facts straight directly from us? Are they afraid to hear the truth or are they afraid to admit they were wrong to misjudge?

woman's feet

The next time a family member, relative, friend or stranger decides to judge us with their comments or actions, we should take off our shoes, put the pair in their hands and say, “Try walking a mile in these.”

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Originally published: November 7, 2017
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