I had a colonoscopy (or a “scope” as us kids who are in the IBD scene like to call it) as a follow-up a little while back and it was quite the ordeal.
I had been off meds since August 2011 and the docs wanted to see what the heck was going on. So, I had a scope. Now, if any of you have ever had a colonoscopy, y’all know how dreadful the process is. They make you take this horrid laxative and fast the day before. Imagine being on the toilet the whole day, basically peeing out of your bum (I apologize for the candidness) and then not being able to eat anything! It was like a Crohn’s flare-up prescribed by a doctor! It sucked!
Anyhoo, I went to the hospital for the “procedure” (I think it’s important to use many quotations when discussing ugly health stuff, I’m not sure why, but I think it’s important), put on the gown and awaited my destiny. Now, the thing is that for some reason unbeknownst to me, anesthesia doesn’t fully work on me. I’m out — in the sense that I cannot move anything — BUT I can hear what is happening around me. I’m already in a sucky state because I’ve had diarrhea for the past 24 hours, I am HUNGRY and, on top of that, I am freaking out because I’m afraid that the GI will find the Crohn’s still active. And then I hear the dreadful words from from the GI, “Ooo there it is.” The “there” being the ulcers — so I think. Those words would haunt me for the next couple of hours.
The next thing I know, I’m back in the recovery room, I wake up and remember what I heard. I am crushed and the tears start rolling down my face. I had worked so incredibly hard for the past year and a half getting myself healthy: I totally changed my diet, quit my job, went on meditation retreats, did intensive therapy. I did EVERYTHING to get rid of the toxins from my body – WHAT MORE COULD I POSSIBLY DO?! After all my hard work, giving everything I could possibly give to heal my body and my mind. I failed.
There I was, crying myself a river, when the GI walks in. Completely emotionless he says, “Well Kiran, everything looks good, your colon looks great, looks like you don’t have Crohn’s.”
WHAAAAAAT?! WHAT THE #$%^ did I hear when I was under then?! God knows, maybe the anesthesia does work on me and I was dreaming the whole thing! Well whatever it was, I was just glad to get validation from the doctor of my good health, get the bejeezus out of my hospital gown and go home to eat my super power breakfast (although I did have a Vega Smoothie on the ride home).
I told my family the good news, they were all really happy for me. The weird thing though, was that I wasn’t. A few days passed and I was feeling kind of depressed, like a dark shadow was following me. I was taking a shower and then it finally hit me! Crohn’s was officially behind me and I (or a part of me) was sad to see it leave! This was Crohn’s! MY Crohn’s! (Side note: NEVER identify with a disease, don’t ever say MY Crohn’s, MY flu, MY cancer. It’s definitely not yours, don’t give it that power) Crohn’s, who had changed my life for the better or for the worse (definitely for the better). Crohn’s, who’d enabled me to take time off of “life” to rest and to heal and to learn about me! It sounds so cheesy, but it is true! Without Crohn’s I would NOT have quit a job that was stressful, I would not have gone to all these meditation retreats which let me really breathe after 26 years of NOT breathing! Crohn’s gave me the push to get the therapy I so desperately needed, and to find a new career path. Crohn’s made me healthy after being so ill for decades. Crohn’s was, kind of, my saviour.
I got out of the shower, grabbed Irfan and sat him down on the sofa. He was really confused around now. Here I was, right out of the shower, wet hair and all, bawling my eyes out.
“Irfan” I said, “I need to divorce Crohn’s.”
He got it now. “No” he said, “You need to bury Crohn’s.”
I nodded. “Crohn’s, you were my dearest friend and my meanest enemy. My “frienemy”, as they say. Only we know what we went through. Thank you for giving me my life back. I will forever be grateful to you. But, Crohn’s, you need to leave now. The fear of you returning is more harmful than helpful. You need to go now. Goodbye, Crohn’s.”
And with that, I buried, divorced — whatever you want to call it — Crohn’s.
You see, Crohn’s was over long before my scope. But it was the FEAR that was toxic. Every time I ate something that was not on the diet, or I had a little stress, or would have loose bowels I would FREAK OUT. My jaw would clench, I would get tight in the chest, I would get nauseous — all because I would fear a flare-up. A flare-up that would never happen. The fear of Crohn’s was actually worse than Crohn’s itself. At least during a flare-up, I was in the present moment. My fear would always take me in the future, a future in which I would completely ruin the rest of my life, where I would be on all of these horrible steroids, with multiple surgeries, hooked up to IVs in the hospital. I DID NOT want to live that like anymore. I would like to have a piece of chocolate and not have to place myself in this Crohn’s-filled, horrible future.
So, Crohn’s is gone, my friends! Well, most of the time. Sometime he creeps up (he’s male for some reason) when my stomach is touchy or when I want to have an omelette with tomatos (tomatos are inflammatory, after all) but I’m able to kick him to the curb. Well, until he creeps up again. The sooner I see him, the sooner I’m able to give him the boot!
Lessons learned: Fear of the Crohn’s can be worse than the having of the Crohn’s (sometimes a flare-up is so horrible, I DO NOT want to downplay the experience of that, but I think you know what I’m trying to say).
This was kind of a personal story and I held on to it for a while, but my friend Naaz (my amazing yogi, three-time-cancer-survivor friend who you can follow @naaz_a, facebook.com/yogawithnaaz, popupyogacalgary.com) convinced me to share it.
I hope this helps people. Sharing is caring. Sharing helps me.
Be well, friends 🙂