If At First You Don’t Succeed

It was an early Spring day; for the first time in a few years I was having a good day, having regained use of my back, from months of physical therapy for 6 simultaneous disc bulges (I tumbled down a mountain side in Tibet while searching for Yeti) (JK). I had almost completed my voyage of putting myself through college; the last six months entailed a back brace and mostly standing in the back of the classroom. At times the pain was so bad that I had to double over just to find a bit of relief. I was in no way a social butterfly during those years, which I now regret. That time in life could’ve been enjoyed with my classmates, non-traditional students with fulltime jobs, families and massive responsibilities. We were in this together, we all had a unique story, viable struggles, yet knew that a B.A. was paramount towards our futures, either personal or professional. Having spent the last two years of night classes with each other, within two months, we would walk across the stage during our commencement ceremony, signifying our academic achievements. I crammed four years into 17 and graduated Magna Cum Laude; this sought after momentous day had been a long time coming.

Within a few months of graduating, I began having stomach issues, literally overnight; I recall sitting at work, overlooking part of an old equestrian town, having hosted our team of realtor’s and city council members as guest speakers, for our monthly meeting. There were left over sandwiches, I was hungry so I helped myself to one half. Within five minutes I had to run to the bathroom, hence my symptoms began. I knew that sudden lack of rest and digest was not something to ignore. Bewildered is the best adjective to use as I pondered these sudden GI changes.

At the prompting of my parents and close friend, Paul, a former Ulcerative Colitis patient, I made an appointment with a GI. My symptoms matched those Paul experienced during flares, so I knew I had to go straight to the top. About two weeks after symptoms began, I found myself in the office of a GI in what formerly was a reputable practice. At this point, I was losing weight, hair, could keep nothing in my system for more than a few minutes, and had an “ache back there”.

GI #1 examined me, and after taking a call on her cell, diagnosed me with having a virus, a fissure and to return in one month. Simple, except for the fact that I was pale and exhausted; my body was fiercely waving the white flag. I sat in her circus, I mean exam room (complete with catch netting and a ring of fire), staring at her, wondering if she even considered my symptoms. Wearing a thin exam room gown, in a very fetching shade of light blue, I once again stated the above, assuring her that I could eat zero. She looked surprisingly perplexed that I questioned her valiant expertise, and repeated her earlier elementary conclusion. To this day, I’m convinced that somewhere a statue for academia merits alone has been erected in her honor.

Depending on where you are in your care, you know that a fissure is not caused by a virus, but rather is “indicative of bowel disease,” as I was told later by GI#3. I fired the intro GI; out of desperation and survival I booked an appointment with GI #2, who received rave reviews online. Note to self, do not believe everything you read. Question it all. If you book an appointment with a GI and they can see you “right away”, run – the other way.

As you can tell, my diagnosis of Colitis Crohn’s Disease came at the most opportune time in my life; I lived in the suburbs of an overgrown, bustling city that never sleeps, with my fur baby; I was office manager of a real estate agency and felt like I had the world on a string…my age of diagnosis was later than some, earlier than others. How thankful I am that I travelled the world partaking of and enjoying life prior to becoming chronically ill.

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