Friday, March 25, 2011

I'm Still Here

Think of someone who’s done something incredible - like Albert Einstein. Even if you’re not a physics aficionado, you probably know that e equals mc squared. We connect the infamous equation to Einstein, we wonder at it, even though it’s unlikely that the man constantly thought about that one equation that defines him in our minds.

When I was younger, I had a handful of friends that had some abstract medical conditions - one girl had been in a bad car accident, one was born with a hole in her heart, and so on. I couldn’t get over the scars on their faces or bodies, on some level I could only think of them as survivors of their medical conditions. But when the situation is reversed, when I’m the sick one in the spotlight, I feel like I’m so much more than the girl with IBD. Years ago at a family gathering, I had a moment of ill clarity when I thought that everyone thought that I was just the sick girl, and nothing else.

But of course, that’s not true. I have likes and dislikes, things I’m great at, and things I’m not. I have favorite books, I like to cook, I can’t skateboard to save my life. I’m still here - beyond all of the IBD and medications, I’m still Jennie.

We all need people who are going to stand by us, with us, those who will help us stand back up. Sometimes I feel like I’m asking people to witness my fall, like I’m asking them to watch me sink, and then asking them to help me get up. I struggle with the asking for help and asking for support, I want to be stronger, braver, better. As much as I’m hesitant to ask for support, I desperately want someone to say “I’m still here.” The ongoing illness pattern leaves me feeling that the support is one-sided, as if I’m only asking for a cheering section for life and giving nothing in return. And it can feel like that, when your health never seems to stabilize, but it’s not true. I do my very best to be a thoughtful friend, and even though there’s always room for improvement, I’m here for my friends, and similarly they are for me.

Einstein may have discovered fancy equations. I may have IBD. You may have it too. But I’m still Jennie, you’re still you, and we’re still fighting for the day when IBD isn’t here.


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