Friday, May 6, 2011

Told You So

I’d say I hate to say it, but, let’s be honest, I totally love it, so here goes, in caps:


Who, you may ask, am I telling?

Good question. I have had at least three doctors and two professors over the past month ask if I was going to take a medical leave from the academic semester. They stared back with misunderstanding when I insisted that I would finish the semester off, nothing was going to get in the way of finishing my sophomore year. Each person who approached the subject did so with great care and good intentions, and yet each attempt was met with me shaking my head and my persistent disapproval. They suggested reducing my course load, I shook my head. They suggested calling in my parents for back up, I shook my head. They suggested taking it easy, I shook my head.

To understand my insistence, let me take you back to an experience I had when I was a little girl. I was (and still am) terrified of carnival rides beyond the carousel, and a trip to an amusement park when I was seven put me in the environment that I could have cared less for. I watched my siblings and friends wait in lines for big, scary rides, while I happily stayed on the firm ground beneath my feet. My Mom - someone who loved rides at my age - wanted to help me get over my fear and she bribed me (with a loonie, what can I say, $1 seemed like a lot to my seven year old self) to go on the ride where you sit in these shell like things and it twirls you around and around on this moving platform. Nervous, I convinced my Mom to ask the guy operating the ride to stop it if I screamed in horror, and he agreed. Satisfied and confident (and newly rich thanks to my shiny gold loonie), I climbed on the ride. It began, slow at first, the movement jolted me, but I held on to the handles and closed my eyes - and maybe prayed a little. But then it was moving too fast, and I felt like I was everywhere at once, I wanted it to stop, so I started screaming to the guy who had promised things would be okay. But he wasn’t paying attention, or maybe he didn’t care, and so around and around and around I went until the ride came to an end.

Having Crohn’s can be like that, we’ve been forced to get on a scary ride and the operator isn’t stopping it despite our incessant screaming. It can make everything difficult - having a job, going to school, having a life - these things all become way more complicated (but not impossible) with an IBD diagnosis. I’ve been on the ride long enough that I can ‘lean into the wind’, I know my body and circumstance well enough to be prepared for illness. And so, when doctors and professors ask if I’m going to step back from school, I shake my head and say no. I will always have Crohn’s and an ostomy, there will always be an excuse - a real, legitimate, honest-to-goodness excuse - but I don’t want to leave a trail of excuses in my wake. It’s like when you sell back your textbooks at the end of the semester, some people have the books still in perfect condition that they barely cracked open, and then there are those people whose books look like they’ve been eaten and have writing in all of the margins. That’s the life I want to lead - a life so lived that it bursts at the seams.

And so, yesterday, when 11 o’clock rolled around and my classes came to an end, my heart started to race with excitement because it meant one thing: I had done it (minus the two finals that I have next week...), I had finished all of my classes. The next time I’m in a lecture, it will be post-summer, I’ll be 20, and I’ll be a junior. I did it, I really did it, I finished my classes.

So to everyone who doubted me, who said that my disease limited what I could do - even if it was with the very best intentions - I only have one thing to say:

I told you so.


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