Sunday, January 22, 2012

What I've Learned So Far Part One

Life's not fair.  I think we can all safely assume that it's not fair for anyone.  Mentors and advice "givers", Rabbi's and Priest will all say the same thing, "God never gives you more than you can handle."  I say, "fuck that...we all need help sometimes."  In this day and age all we see is strife, strife and more strife.  Whether it be from an outside force, such as a bully or the loss of a loved one, or an internal pain such as going through years and years of bad health and never catching a break. 

For me, it has been both.  School was hell on earth...literally.  But this post is not about that.  There are so many posts about anti-bullying and how to cope and the stories that people went through.  No, this post is about the other struggle I face.  I am of course talking about health and how it's best not to judge someone before getting to know them.  You never know what struggles a person may be going through just by looking at them.  Believe me, I have been the victim of that more times than I could count.  I mean, if I had a quarter for every time my jackass neighbor told me I couldn't park in the handicapped spot outside of our apartment building, I'd be a freakin' millionaire.  I just casually hang up my sticker on my rear view mirror and walk away and ignore her.  But seriously, even if there is a lot of people who don't have their sticker up in their windows when they park, you should still shut your trap and get on with your life.  Especially since you have known us for the last year and a half.  Seriously, some people have nothing better to do than try and push others around.  But anyway, back on point.

I have never had the health of a horse...ever.  I've always either had asthma problems or loose ligaments.  Meaning my knees dislocated a lot and I had to have reconstructive surgery.  But since 2004 I got hit with an inflammatory bowl disease.  I'm talking about Crohn's disease and what I have learned because of it.  Crohn's is a severe inflammation of the large intestine or colon and it can also affect the small intestine.  I have the unfortunate luck of the disease attacking my large intestine.  It hurts, and it's not a pretty topic, so if you are squeamish, I suggest you don't continue reading.  I will be going into detail about some of the problems that I have faced and the consequences there of.

In September 2004 I had just started my Sophomore year in high school.  That's tenth grade for those who don't follow the same school structure.  When I was diagnosed I had to go through a whole battery of tests.  I had several colonoscopy examinations and barrium x-rays.  Barrium fluid is this dense chalky drink that tastes like you're drinking sidewalk chalk and cement blended into a chilly beverage.  Absolutely nast.  It is so dense that the x-ray cannot penetrate it, therefore highlighting your intestines in the pictures.  Really cool to watch, no so cool to actually have to go through it.  But I digress.  The diagnoses was Crohn's.  I was put onto heavy duty steroid doses to help reduce the ulcers and swelling that was developing.  I remember asking if it would ever go away and the doctors told me the disease is for life.  Almost eight years later I'm still dealing with it. 

My health was so bad that year that I was out for a total of three and a half straight months.  It was so long that a rumor had started to spread that I had died.  One rumor was that I committed suicide.  Another was that I had gotten deathly ill...and another was a fatal car crash.  There were others of course, but each one was more outlandish than the first.  It must have been a shock to everyone when I came back after getting well enough.  But it certainly didn't help the rumor mill when people saw me talking my pills in school.  They said I was in rehab for drug abuse and that I was taking anti-depressants.  Of course none of these rumors were true, and I just had to deal with them and tell people the right story.  Which of course nobody wanted to believe because it sounded so ordinary in comparison to all the hyped up stories that everyone was spreading.  In twelfth grade my health tanked again and I missed most of my senior year.  The same rumors spread although I could to nothing to dispell them because I never when back to school.  I went back of course for graduation day...must've scared the living piss out of everyone when I came back to pick up the yearbook.  Hah!

In college I actually had to drop out because of my health, which kept growing worse and worse.  All of that lead up to  more and more medications which failed...miserably, emergency surgery and an eventual reversal of that surgery.

2010 was the worst year on record for the Crohn's.  I had gone into the hospital in July and was there for almost four weeks.  I had an emergency colectomy.  That's when they either resection your colon or just remove it all together and you are left with something known as an "ostomy."  Not a pretty picture.  The worst thing ever is that you can't do so much with it.  No bubble baths, swimming, or the like, and you have to carry around a huge bag of extra supplies so that you can empty and clean it while your out.  It's just gross.  November was the reversal for that.  May of 2011 was a major hernia repair and scattered through out 2011 were multiple hospital stays for things related to Crohn's, such as fistulas, abdominal abscesses...etc.  It was hell...still is.

2012 didn't start out too smoothly either.  I just got out of the hospital for another Crohn;s flair, and the worst part of it is that if the meds they just put me on don't work, I'll be stuck with a permanent ostomy.  And all of this is because of the stupid part of my colon that is left that doesn't even measure a whole 12 inches. 

What I find amazing though is, that despite all of this, one would never guess that I have been through all of this.  What amazes me still is that my support system has never faltered.  My mother and sister and my few good friends have always been there for me.  Even with all of the haters and tormenters I endured throughout my life, I still couldn't imagine my life any other way.  It's strange isn't it?  This is all I have known, for my whole life even, and I still couldn't imagine my life differently.  Would I like to have a different life sometimes? Yes.  But who, in all honesty, would change their life for someone elses?

Which brings me to the moral of the story:  Be happy with what you have in life, you never know if the person next to you, even if they seem happy, is struggling with something bigger than either you or I could imagine.  They may look perfectly fine on the outside, but you never know what is going on inside.  It's hard to tell when you are looking in from the outside world.  Name calling and violence never gets us anywhere.  Even if that person just happens to be the biggest jackass in the world (and I say jackass in loose terms, what I really mean is naive and totally into themselves and they can't see the bigger picture), just be grateful you have the friends and family you need to help you get through.  It's like I always say, I'd rather have only a few great friends (three best friends), who I can count on no matter what, than have a ton of friends who don't even know me for me and are only acquaintances. 

Try to examine thing a little more closely before judging.