Updated: Apr 4, 2020
First Things First
Let me begin by formally apologizing to all my loyal followers and supporters for my extremely long hiatus; three years is about three lifetimes in blog-land, but it really was unintentional. Time just got away from me, cliched but true. I could say it was due to any number of things - health issues, family commitments, other projects, my beloved pet's unexpected illness and sudden death (which I'm still trying to come to terms with), laziness, just life in general, and they'd all be true. In future blogs, I'll get into some of these reasons, but for now there are WAAAY more pressing matters, like, you know….CORONAVIRUS!!!
Lord have mercy! Where to begin?!
When this all first started a couple months ago, before Covid-19 was declared a Global Pandemic by the WHO, and even after, nobody (well, except for Bill Gates, who actually predicted it in 2015, and a few insightful movie-makers, like those who made the movie "Contagion") could have ever imagined in their wildest fantasies that the world would be in the state it's in today! And what a state!!! This isn't just unprecedented, it's incomprehensible, confusing, frightening! So why did this find its way in my blog, and what does this have to do with me in particular, and/or Crohn's Disease?...Well, nothing and everything.
What is HAPPENING?!
Tragically, as you all know, unless you've been in a three month coma and just woke up, most countries in the world are on "lockdown", enforcing varying measures of Self-Isolation and Social-Distancing. What exactly does that mean? It means that life as we know it...the way we conduct our daily activities in mindless, autopilot mode, which we take completely for granted, has come to such a screeching, soul-jarring halt, that we've all ended up with mental whiplash. For the first time in our existence, we're told we have to completely isolate ourselves from others, which means, we can't leave our homes, can't go to work or school, can't carry out the most basic tasks, can't socialize with our friends, can’t even visit our family, can't...can't...can't! This entire situation is all so overwhelming, depressing, and scary! To make matters even worse, we have no idea how long this is going to last, or how or if we're ever going to recover in the aftermath and get back to something resembling normal. This sense of isolation, helplessness, hopelessness (for some), of being trapped, leaves us feeling like we have no control over our own lives! So, have I completely bummed you out? Yes?...Well good, that was precisely my intention. And, no, it's not because I'm a sadist or a meanie!
I'd like you to now take all these distressing emotions, add in a very generous serving of physical pain and fatigue, and welcome you to the world of those of us living with Crohn's Disease! Most of us at one point or another have lost complete control, not just of our mobility and our lives, but our bodies, for weeks, months, years at a time. And despite your current situation, it’s probably still incomprehensible for many of you, this must be an exaggeration you’re thinking! It’s not. It’s truly not. In fact, it’s even worse, because unlike with Covid-19 where we’re ALL in this together, with Crohn’s, while we’re on our own personal “lockdown”, we get to watch the people around us going about their normal lives; we’re trapped in a prison, because for unknown reasons, we drew the short straw.
For most sufferers of this disease, it’s a constant battle to carry out everyday tasks “normal” people take for granted, to integrate into normal society. That’s why in IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) circles, we call ourselves WARRIORS. Before I go any further, on behalf of my fellow crohnies, let me be perfectly clear, we’re not looking for pity or sympathy, that's useless, but rather empathy, understanding, appreciation. Because while we may not “look” sick, that is in no way indicative of how we feel, the struggle is very real. Our inability to leave the confines of our homes is frustrating and depressing, much like the way you’re feeling now. Want to hear something truly pathetic, but is a direct result of having this disease?... Despite not having left my house for three weeks now, as I stopped going out one week before the actual Lockdown, my life has been virtually unaffected! Most people have been going stir crazy, losing their minds etc. but for me it’s business as usual, just another day in my disease-imposed lockdown. How’s that for perspective?
Like Crohn’s, Covid-19 is an equalizer, it doesn’t differentiate by gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or your income bracket. And again, like Crohn’s, the reactions it evokes vary vastly, it has brought out the absolute best in some and the absolute worst in others, not to mention all the internet-educated doctors who are so eager to share all the treatments and cures that have somehow eluded the doctors who actually attended medical school. (Oh! And let’s not forget all the kooks and conspiracy theorists!).
Having Crohn’s for almost thirty years, I have learnt to change my mindset, adopt a more positive outlook on life, learnt the true meaning of gratitude, discovered that I have more than I need, and that I can manage with less than I have, but most importantly, I learnt very early on that I was dependent on others, that I would never be able to overcome and survive my challenges without the love and support of family, friends, caregivers, even strangers. The same applies to Covid-19, another invisible anomaly that seems to have descended upon the world to show us that no one is invincible or immune. We as people are all equal and dependent on each other, and as countries, we are interdependent. The greatest tragedy of overcoming and surviving this event would be if we came out on the other side of this experience the same, unaffected, unchanged. Let’s not do that...let’s be better.
P.S. I’ll continue on my personal journey with Crohn’s in my next blog, hopefully in a week, maybe two.