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What It Means to Be a Millennial With a Chronic Illness

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To be a millennial with chronic illness, it means I must live at the intersection of school shootings, anti-Semitism and chronic illness. Just as my inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is in my DNA, so are Sandy Hook, Columbine, Tree of Life, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

To be a millennial with IBD, it means I must endure the pressing urge to defecate during a lockdown drill. It sometimes also means praying a school shooting does not occur during a vomiting episode in the bathroom. I frankly would not know what to do then. Do I stand on the toilet seat, so the shooter will not see my feet? Or do I freeze? I don’t even know how to hide in the bathroom.

To be a millennial with IBD, it means watching other kids punch kids with IBD in the stomach, simply because their surgery prevented them from participating in soccer.

It also means I am implicated by an ever-confusing healthcare debate, only to watch my rights to insurance taken away simply because I have a pre-existing condition (PEC) and was not “healthy” prior to getting health insurance. To be a millennial with IBD, it means I witness American leaders shout out injustices in the farthest corners of the earth while turning a blind eye to the discriminated people with PECs. It also means watching healthcare reform unfold “at a horse-and-buggy pace.”

To be a millennial with IBD, it means some adults will label me as immature and call me “picky” for deciding to keep my disease a secret from certain people.

To be a millennial with IBD, it means adults will diminish my advocacy (and teen advocacy) as “immature” to leverage their support and to suppress my message. They seem to forget that advocating for a personal cause takes courage, which is anything but a sign of immaturity. Sometimes, what we say goes over their head too.

Is inflammatory bowel disease the only chronic illness in my life? Shootings, bombings and wars plague my life too. I have never been hospitalized for any of these, but I know people who have been.

This is what it means to be a millennial with inflammatory bowel disease.

Follow this journey on Collin’s IBD Chronicles.

Getty Images photo via RyanKing999

Originally published: February 18, 2019
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