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What to do you when you are decades younger than other patients at a doctor’s office?

Let me tell you about the time that I am the youngest patient in a doctor’s office…oh wait I should probably clarify the situation for those who haven’t read my biography blurb…..

Let me tell you about EVERY time that I am the YOUNGEST patient in the gastroenterologist’s office.  I have been the youngest for nearly 10 years and at the beginning it really bothered me.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed that someone who didn’t look sick was there, almost as if I was taking appointments from other patients.  My Crohn’s disease was “angry” at the beginning, so doctor’s visits were very often.  And everytime, I was by far the youngest patient in the office.

At first I didn’t look or talk to anyone besides the receptionist, but once I started college, I began to be more outspoken about my disease.  See, I stopped caring about what people thought, and stopped worrying about how it looked that a bright-eyed and bushy tailed young lady was talking about a disease, that let’s face it, is NOT remotely glamorous.

In the ability to overlook the worry and fear of being seen as the one thing that does not clearly belong (most people in gastro offices are older and in the beginning of their mandatory colonoscopy range) I embraced it.   Since I have been a patient at my current doctor’s office (over 9 years now), I make it a point to talk to someone, whether its waiting in line to check in or making jokes about the awful choice of advertisements in the waiting room.  In making this decision, I have found that those people I was nervous around before,. are just people.  Whether they are in for their typical one time visit, or are regulars like myself, I have actually found that it has made me more relaxed, and at the surface has made others more relaxed as well while we are waiting (or at least I hope they are).

Now, I realize that only a few of you know what I am talking about with dealing with an invisible disease, but that doesn’t mean that you haven’t gone through your own epiphany. Maybe it is the first time you get to train someone at your first job, and you realize that you love teaching and want to pursue that as a career.  Or maybe it is your love of sports that leads you to coaching and volunteering with under-privileged youth.  Whatever your moment is, don’t ignore it, embrace it.  These are the moments that allow you to grow to be the best human you can be, and trust me you don’t want to miss out on that opportunity.

Taryn Anthony

Taryn is a 27 year-old Physical Chemistry PhD. Candidate at Temple University. She loves watching and playing sports, advocating and educating people about Crohn's disease (Crohnie for life since 2008), hanging out with her family and friends, and most importantly talking to new people about anything and everything! Her attitude about how to look forward and stay positive was really fostered at the University of Scranton, where she actually met HKP. Taryn absolutely believes a strong community can help you through anything.

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