Today, January 4th, marks three years since I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I still remember it like yesterday. I woke up from my colonoscopy with a cup of water in hand and I overheard the doctor tell my parents that it was definitely colitis. “There are ulcers covering her entire colon.” At the time, I had no idea what this would imply. I just knew that I wanted whatever medication he would prescribe so I could get better. The fact that there was no cure didn’t hit me until later, once I got my bearings.
My dad says I need to start making my blog posts more positive, but I know that living with chronic illness isn’t always positive. Every time I go on Instagram, I see the perfect image of everyone’s life. We don’t share the negative things – the things that ail us, the things that make us who we are. I want to share a few pictures with you of myself over the past three years. You would never tell that I was sick in these photos, but they were times when I was at my worst.
As I look back through these pictures from 2019, I can’t help but get a little teary eyed. I’m sad that I was diagnosed with a chronic illness with no cure, but I’m also grateful that it happened. The emotions I feel today are hard to describe because they are so complicated. If there’s anything I could tell my younger self, it would be that you can make it through anything. You are stronger than you think.
I got to do so many things the first year I was diagnosed, and I didn’t even realize it! I studied abroad for the second time in Chile, I went to a few baseball games, I spoke at the College of Business Honors and Awards Banquet, and I graduated college! What great feats I was able to accomplish and all while not feeling my best. I get emotional now because I seemed so fearless back then. I never wiped the smile off my face, I never chose to pity myself, and I never for a second doubted that I couldn’t survive it.
If there are two things I could convey about my experience with ulcerative colitis, they would be that: 1) you don’t have to look sick to be sick and 2) life doesn’t stop just because you are sick. I will never forget the day I was diagnosed and I’m sure I will continue to grapple with everything else that a chronic illness brings physically and emotionally, but I know for a fact that I will do it with a smile on my face. I’m not a quitter and I will never stop fighting this terrible disease. So, today doesn’t have to be a sappy day, but rather a celebration of how far I’ve come and how lucky I am to now be healthy.