It Takes Guts
Sunday 19th May 2019 is ‘World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day 2019’. This is a time to reflect and to raise awareness of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease affecting 300,000 people in the United Kingdom and millions more worldwide.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of thirteen in November 2007. It took four years, blood test, colonoscopies and a second doctor’s opinion to get a diagnosis. This was after my first doctor stated the regular symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss and vomiting I was experiencing were ‘imaginary’ and a product of an ‘over-anxious mother’. Since then I have undergone surgery, liquid diets and medication to try and manage the disease. In October 2013, during a flare-up that hospitalised me for six days, my potassium levels dropped to such a dangerously low level that I was put on emergency intravenous drips.
However, I have also graduated with a first-class honours degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from University of Hertfordshire; passed my driving practical test first time in an automatic car; completed a tandem skydive in June 2018 in aid of Crohn’s and Colitis UK and Dyspraxia Foundation; and have met many kind, support, determined, empathetic, passionate people living with hidden disabilities. As Crohn’s and Colitis UK have campaigned this year, it takes guts to live with this disease.
It takes guts to live with a hidden disability where inside your intestine or colon is inflamed and ulcerated but on the outside you look like a ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ boy or girl.
It takes guts to inject yourself with biologic treatments; take medication tablets with unwanted side effects; to go to hospital in order to survive; to cry in toilets; to feel so scared.
It takes guts to confront doubters, who claim you ‘don’t look sick enough’ to use the disabled toilet as you need to go or need to empty your stoma bag.
It takes guts to stand up to school bullies who call you ‘lazy’ or ‘stupid’, who laugh that your underweight or overweight, you are ‘different’.
It takes guts to say no to friends who have invited you out, because you are too exhausted, too anxious, too depressed to go along.
It takes guts to write poetry, to sing songs, to make videos to express how you truly feel.
It takes guts to talk, and realise you are not alone.
It takes guts to do what is right for you to get through the day.
Thank you for your kindness and supporting me living with Crohn’s disease, dyspraxia, anxious and depression. I am proud to have written most of these words whilst sitting on the toilet. I will not let any of my conditions beat me, and that in itself takes guts.
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