This month is a weird time for me, see it was my birthday on the Ides, but also the anniversary of my diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. One week after my 18th birthday I did the first adult thing that I could do, and that was sign myself out of the hospital. Little did I know that my time spent there was only the beginning…
A short time after having Jello and whipped cream birthday cake (because I was on such a limited diet) I was back in the hospital. It wasn’t until after my surgery that I finally got the answer to what had been causing me all this trouble….Crohn’s disease was the ugly culprit.
The life that I had known was gone, I was smacked the realization that I would be sick, for the REST of my LIFE. Talk about heavy hitting at the age of 18, when I should have been excited about my upcoming trip to Greece, or college. Little did I know then, but this disease has caused me to reprioritize my life, and provide balance during a very hectic time.
Instead of going far away for college, I stayed relatively close to home and attended the University of Scranton (the U), just in case I had to get home to the doctor. There, I met some of my best friends that I have remained close to, even 10 years later. If it wasn’t for Crohn’s, I would never have met my boyfriend, gotten my dog, or pursued a degree in Chemistry in a department that was truly my second family. Attending Scranton was honestly the best decision of my life, and that is a result of the prioritizing, balancing my new diagnosis with my personal goals. I stayed there for my master’s degree, and since my health wasn’t the concern that it had been six years earlier, I decided to do something crazy and pursue my Ph.D. at Temple.
Looking at my past, it is truly amazing I went from hours away from sepsis and death to four years spent attempting to solve problems that you don’t even know exist, but serve a fundamental purpose in perfecting electronics, medicinal transport mechanisms, and countless other situations. Crohn’s may have been my only focus in 2008, but I have been lucky to have the support system, excellent health care and hope for a brighter future, just because of that fateful day when I woke up from surgery with a diagnosis.
Balance isn’t something easy to find, and honestly, I think it was slightly easier for me to accomplish because I had this limitation. To those reading who do not suffer from a chronic illness, balancing your life may be a little more challenging, especially in the world of social media, where everyone else out there is showing their new houses, wedding pictures and children (trust me, my timeline is flooded with this stuff). I think in this case you truly have to follow that old adage “don’t be worried about where you are going, but focus and enjoy where you are.” Enjoying where you are, relies on balancing work, life and your dreams, and takes some time.
Don’t worry you’ll get there.