Monday, July 5, 2010


It’s almost my anniversary.

No, not with a boyfriend or even a job. Mine is with a disease.

And it’s even getting me a present, believe it or not. Yes, this, the seventh summer of having Crohn’s will mark my first IBD surgery and the removal of my colon. Finally.

Let me rewind and go back a little. Seven years ago, I was fresh out of elementary school, psyched for junior high and student councils and was also beginning to experience sudden and unbearable cramps. My pediatrician thought I was getting my period, I was growing up after all, but I insisted the blood was coming out the other end. I went to the first day of junior high with electric-colored blue band-aids lining the inside of my elbows, the evidence of a white-blood cell scan, and a belly full of butterflies in every sense of the expression. I met with a GI that month and he mentioned Crohn’s Disease casually, but when my parents and I asked more about it, he said, “We’ll get there if we have to.” As soon as he started talking about the colonoscopy I started freaking out - I had an eye surgery in the 5th grade and had a bad experience with surgery, so naturally the thought of it all again creeped me out.
September 23rd, 2003 came and I found myself in the OR surrounded by the doctors. They asked me to tell a joke, I was told them the following: why didn’t the skeleton go to the prom? Because he had no body to go with. Lame, yes. As they pushed the medication that made me go off to sleep, I thought about all the other jokes that were a thousand times better. And that was my life pre-Crohn’s.

I woke up to my parents, crying. They told me I had Crohn’s and I blinked at them - so what? Little did I know how much my life would change. For a few months after my diagnosis, I sank into denial like someone being sucked into a black hole. I would sit by the phone for hours, waiting for the GI to call to say I had been misdiagnosed, I wouldn’t take my pills unless my parents physically made me, I would lie on the floor in the front hall and cry because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was, in a word, pathetic. Pathetic and lonely and confused and afraid - and chronically ill.

Over the years, something changed, something deep within me and all of a sudden I was able to talk about my Crohn’s Disease with passion, with excitement almost, I wanted to talk about it and make a difference in the world. That’s a tall order for a young girl, but through the CCFC and the YAC, I have been able to do this for the past several years and will keep working until a cure is found.

When I think about my life, I think about all the things I’ve done, the friends I’ve made - the usual. But when I really focus on the past seven years, I remember how I have been constantly severely sick, only a token two or three month remission sprinkled sparingly in between. I have ‘failed’ every drug and have exhausted my medical options, surgery is the only choice left on the table.

It’s hard to say good-bye to a part of yourself, to decide to cut out a organ, to want to do it. But I do. I want to part ways with my colon, keep in mind we haven’t been so compatible, it’ll be for the best. So my anniversary will become a break-up, but I can honestly say the decision was mine.

Colon, it’s not me, it’s you.

Jennie David
YAC Chair, Halifax Representative

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