It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. I took the past month to rediscover my motivation for writing. I have realized how difficult it is for me to be vulnerable on this platform because I take criticism much more personally than praise. I wanted one month where I could hide for a bit and keep my life private – just to see if that was better than sharing my personal life with the world. While I enjoy privacy in certain areas of my life, I realized that writing these blog posts allows me to deal with my emotions much better than keeping silent.
While I was on my hiatus, I celebrated four years of my IBD diagnosis on January 4th. This day is never an easy one for me, but I will always choose to celebrate how far I’ve come and what I can do to keep that going. I think it is important to remember and celebrate days like these, because as patients with chronic illness we are warriors – and that in itself is an incredible feat. I also discovered oral health problems that may be related to IBD which confirms that IBD affects more than the gut. It makes me scared for what other health problems will pop up in the future, but the best I can do right now is take care of myself and my body.
Now I am fighting off COVID for the second time in four months. It’s not so bad this time around, but I still went through one box of tissues in one day. I like to think I am superwoman. That I can do anything and everything despite being chronically ill, but that just isn’t the case. I hate admitting that I have limitations, but I do. I have not done a very good job of listening to my body lately, which I now know is more important than putting on the façade that I have it all together in my life.
When I’m under stressful situations, my body enters fight or flight mode. I have to admit that I fought it pretty hard last week as I had just started my new teaching job at the university and had to attend MBA orientation – which didn’t go as planned. Instead of giving myself the break that I needed, I chose to push through and pretend that I could handle the stress. Only to end up with COVID at the end of the week. A lot of people do not understand that I have a very weak immune system. When I’m the only one spraying Lysol and others make fun of me, they do not understand that if I get sick, I get really sick. It means a lot to me to stay healthy because I cannot risk losing all the progress I have made with my IBD. You never know what is going to set you off into a flare and that is uncertainty we have to live with everyday.
Your body knows you are stressed before you do. That is why it is so important for not only chronic illness patients to listen to their bodies, but everyone in general. I always know I am coming down with something days before it happens. I start feeling run down and fatigued, which are common symptoms with IBD so can be hard to tell a part from a cold or flu. When this happens, you have to listen to what your body is telling you and rest.
I am a perfectionist. I hate missing out on things that I work so hard to plan for. I never want to disappoint anyone for being sick. It is a huge burden that I carry on my shoulders. But honestly, what is more important to me is my health. Without my health, I would not be able to go to work, hang out with friends, attend sporting events, or go out to dinner. These are things that I am so grateful to be able to do as someone in remission. So today I choose to listen to what my body is telling me and not what the world is telling me.
What is your body telling you today?